On Wednesday November 28th, a very special tour began at 910 Live. Eluveitie, Wintersun, and Varg, with local appearances by Ex Amore and Adavant. Not only was it amazing to have the chance to see Eluveitie again, but this was Wintersun’s first ever North American tour… and Tempe was the kickoff! To help make this review a little easier on both of us, Kiara and I have decided to split up the reviews. So I’ll be giving you reviews of our locals as well as Wintersun. She’ll be giving you reviews on Varg and Eluveitie.
I arrived to the venue right on time. Ex Amore was setting up and about to play. Neither of us had actually heard their music before, but from what was being said through the grapevine, they sounded pretty cool. No one actually told me they had a black metal type of sound, but had I known that, I would’ve been even more anxious to see them, as I love black metal. Well let me just say that we weren’t expecting what we saw, but they definitely made an impression on us. With a lot of symphonic and black metal elements, impressive growls/screams, more than decent shredding, and technical drums, they were right up our alley. We were pleasantly surprised. And I know we weren’t the only ones, because we both had a lot of people coming up to us saying, “Ex Amore was pretty sick dude!” Sick, indeed. I very much look forward to seeing them again sometime, and maybe in their town of Prescott! Although, I do hope they can make it down here more, where the local scene is a bit more prominent, being in the valley and all. However, Ex Amore is a great example of what local gems you can find outside of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Make sure you check them out! You can find their music here.
Next up was Adavant – the perfect band for this show. Taking some influence from both of the major acts, I know all six of the members were extremely excited for this night. Their months of practicing and preparing definitely paid off, as they put on a hell of a show, like usual. And I have to make a quick note that once again, I (as well as Kiara) was appointed to painting people’s faces with war-paint, an Adavant tradition. I also met some new friends who drove down from Denver (as Wintersun was skipping Colorado), who got very into the war-paint and dancing, and were very excited to see what Adavant was about. Their walk-on was “Over the Misty Mountains Cold” from The Hobbit, and they put a metal twist on it to start things up. I saw a lot of people in the crowd really getting into that, and I heard quite a few compliments about their walk-on after they finished playing. There was a lot of dancing and moshing and songs about drinking, especially when they played Drunken Monks of Halamathunk. Their “prop-man” Devin walked out on stage dressed as a monk, drinking beer from a mini-keg, and then proceeded to dance and mosh with the crowd. If there’s one performance-based thing this band knows how to do, it’s engaging their audience and giving everyone a super fun time. They played a new song called “The Refill”, where both of the vocalists Nathan and Charlotte came out to dance and mosh with the crowd. They then busted out “The Charge”, where a catastrophic Wall of Death was formed. An awesome video of that can be found here. Finally, they closed out their set with the fan favorite, “Penny for the Folk, Jug for the Jig.”
Okay, really, the only thing I want to type about Wintersun’s performance is “HOLY SHIT”!!! And “JARI”!!! Because that’s pretty much what I was screaming during their set. They were beyond incredible. The whole set was so atmospheric and exciting. Even their backdrop of the Time I album art and the blue/purple lighting was beautiful, and helped pull the audience into their set more.. I think there was a lot of disbelief when this show was first announced because it seemed too good to be true. I mean Wintersun? In the United States? I heard statements like that quite a bit after the show was announced. They played a bunch of songs off of their new album, Time I, which is the first of two parts (Time II is to be released in Spring/Summer of 2013). I personally really dig this album. There’s some great folk elements to it and a few unexpected sounds (I believe my friends and I were discussing guitar riffs being recorded backwards) that really make it unique. But the thing that was even greater of course was when they played songs from their self-titled album. I know everyone in the crowd lost their minds when they played Winter Madness and Starchild, specifically. As soon as Winter Madness started up, the audience broke out into a mosh-pit, outlined with a bunch of people staring in awe at what was happening on stage. When they announced they were going to play Starchild for their final song, the crowd burst into loud, exciting cheers and growls, in anticipation for how their favorite song was going to sound live. And what energy this band has live! The coolest notion about their being on this tour was the fact that we were the first group of people in the United States EVER to see them live. I mean it still seems a bit surreal! So major props to Moshpit Army for putting this event together. It was hands down, one of the most unforgettable concerts of the year.
When Time Fades Away
Sons of Winter and Stars
Land of Snow and Sorrow
Darkness and Frost
Beyond the Dark Sun
As Ashley has stated, we split the review up into two parts, so now I’ll cover Varg, and Eluveitie, but first – I must tell you the epic tale about how my night began!
Let me just say, the enthrallment of the night was almost too much to handle. Upon arrival, I got there a little earlier than Ashley, I was instantly shocked at the fact that the band members of Wintersun were literally just standing there, without many people around them. Instantly my ‘spidey-senses’ kicked in and I flocked over to Jari without hesitation. I was able to speak with him for a few minutes, and I asked him things like, “Since this is literally your first time playing in North America, what does it feel like?” and he replied in his thoughtful, gentle tone, “It’s very exciting to finally make it over here!” Then when I asked. “The new album, it took eight years for you to come out with it, but it was well worth the wait! Time 1 is truly one of the most majestic albums I’ve ever heard,” he replied with, “Oh, thank you! It really means a lot. I didn’t expect the fan base over here to be quite this much”. -INSERTFANGIRLSQUEEHERE- He’s so flawless! Now, I understand he probably gets told the same things all the time, but it was his delivery! He looked me DIRECTLY in the eyes, and seemed very genuine! After a hug or three, and a picture with him, it was the absolute best start out to the evening. Also, I walked up to Teemu to say hello, where he was in the middle of hugging two girls. He looked at me and kindly said in his adorable Finnish accent, “You want a hug too?” and held his arms out to embrace me. Uhm, how was I suppose to resist a hug from someone like that?! I talked to him for a minute, and got a picture with him as well, before continuing on with my war-painting duties. Alright, enough about Wintersun, on to Varg!
Now, Varg was probably the band that threw everyone for a loop on this tour. Either you knew of them, were already a fan, and was excited that they were tagging along with the two leading bands in Melodic Death Metal, and Folk Metal… or you had no idea who they were and didn’t pay any attention to them beforehand – so you were completely blown away the second they took the stage. Now, I’m not going to lie, I was slightly confused by their Turisas-like face/body paint, but under the lighting, the red and black stripes looked DAMN amazing and they completely pulled it off. A little background information for you all – they are a Pagan Metal band from Germany who have been around since 2005. This was their first time ever playing in the US. They have four full length albums, including ‘Guten Tag’ which is what they mostly played from. Varg had the audience pumped up, chanting, and hollering like a group of lost vikings. They had elements of death metal, such as the brutal and powerful vocals mixed in with folk melodies and heavy, but precise guitar work, and thunderous drumming. During their song ‘Guten Tag’, they had the audience yell dramatically along with them… Let’s just say I now know a few new words in German, “Guten Tag, Guten Tag, Guten Tag!” Their lead singer, Freki, not only rocked suspenders, but kept the audience going. Following the lead of local legends Adavant, Varg brought the venue to a whole other realm, back into viking times! Their sound and style fit perfectly to the bill, and were, needless to say, a welcome addition to the tour. If you haven’t checked these guys out, I highly recommend it.
Presenting…. the main headlining band, Eluveitie! Personally, they have been one of my favorite bands for as long as I can remember. Now on this tour they were doing something special. They were going to play their latest album, Helvetios, in its entirety, which had me slightly worried as I feel their last album wasn’t exactly as strong as it could have been. But I was excited regardless. For Eluveitie, following Wintersun, (who had never played in the US before) it was a breeze for them. As soon as their intro came on, the audience erupted into cheering and started chanting ‘Eluveitie, Eluveitie, Eluveitie!’. Chrigel announced that this was their fourth visit to Arizona, and that they’d be playing through Helvetios, followed by some older songs. As they started to play through the album, I instantly found myself singing along, headbanging, and ‘dancing’ to the classical elements of the hurdy-gurdy and flutes. The crowd was absolutely ecstatic. Even our new friend Ryan brought his own tin whistle, and was playing along with Chrigel and Päde the entire time! Being a seven member band, they were sort of packed on the stage like sardines, but I’m not complaining because I was pretty much RIGHT next to Ivo and Päde. As they played, they entranced the audience, and sent them back to the days of the Gaulish War. The girls were swooning over Chrigel, especially when he decided to pause the playing, and as ‘tradition’ give one of his necklaces to a smoking hot babe that was in the front of the audience.
After they played through Helvetios, they literally played songs off of Ven, and Slania, which were their earlier albums. Although they didn’t play their classics such as ‘Thousandfold’ and ‘Your Gaulish Wars’, they did play ‘Inis Mona’ which absolutely electrified everyone in the audience, and had everyone singing along. Finally, during the last song, something magical happened… Remember our new friend Ryan I mentioned, and said he was playing his whistle along with them? Chrigel pulled him up onto the stage, where he was able to play together with the band! The audience went wild, as a lot of people know him (he was also proudly rocking an old-school Adavant shirt), and he really did play beautifully. Needless to say, Ryan was quite the little celebrity after the show. I can only imagine how many Facebook friend requests he had when he got home.
By the end of the night, my neck was absolutely thrashed, and my voice was nearly gone. Ashley and I had experienced true bliss at this show, having seen Ex Amore, Adavant, Varg, legendary Wintersun, and heavy hitters, Eluveitie. Easily, I can say it was one of the best nights, and shows of the year. If you didn’t see us at this show, make sure next time you look for your TWO METAL WENCHES!
Scorched Earth (Anna Murphy on vocals)
Meet the Enemy
A Rose for Epona
Everything Remains as It Never Was
Heyo! Ashley here! I am writing a couple music columns for the site, mainly in the areas of metal. I love to attend concerts, promote local bands, and I tend to hang around the recording studio with my friends and their band-mates. Aside from music, there are a few TV shows that I follow: Breaking Bad, Dexter, Game of Thrones, and more recently Orange is the New Black. I also watch South Park and Metalocalypse religiously. When I'm not catching up on my shows, taking care of GNN, or at a concert, I'm at Mesa Community College where I major in Journalism. I also hold interest in film and some video-games, and I am always open to discovering new and exciting things within the Geek community! Email me at email@example.com or follow my Twitter @iamaninsect.