Talk about a great way to enter the Autumn season!
As I entered Théâtre Fairmount on October 6th, 2018, I saw something I haven’t seen in a while, a traditional back line—real amps, heads/cabs, drums, nothing really digital. This excited me off the bat because, for their doomy styles, analog is the way to go.
First on stage was Chicago based sludge metal outfit The Atlas Moth, courtesy of Prosthetic Records. I had a double take of singer/guitarist Stavros Giannopoulos because he looked like he was straight from the hardcore scene while the rest of the band looked like traditional metalheads. They were using an Orange™ line, which is perfect for sludge tones. This band is pure heaviness. It is never sacrificed. I did not catch any song titles other than the promotion of their album Coma Noir. Even during proggy sections, the heaviness was maintained by drummer Mike Miczek. Bassist Alex Klein, guitarist David Kush and keyboardist Andrew Ragin were professional and tight as well. It was Stavros that stood out the most; for every second song, he would set his guitar down and become a pure vocalist. He had comedic banter in between songs, even pointing at my section and saying, “Why aren’t you with the fuckin’ crowd, just kidding.” His vocals ranged from clean to hardcore yelling to what I can only describe as a “horse squealing (not pig).” This band is definitively a diverse and great live band.
Up next was Iceland’s post-metal Vikings SÓLSTAFIR, courtesy of Season of Mist. The band looked like ragged, rough rock stars, especially bassist Svavar Austman, with his paganist wolf howling that made my hairs stand up. This band makes you feel what they are trying to convey. I felt spiritual throughout the whole set. Vocalist/guitarist Aðalbjörn Tryggvason had a bit of trouble with his clean vocals at the beginning of the set, but he caught up fast. This band is shoegazey (imagine Nirvana gone post-Viking metal) but makes you feel connected (i.e. the singer holding his hand to his heart, eyes closed, singing ), afterwards, the singer went on to actually talk about depression and suicidal awareness. To me, it has a huge Woods of Ypres feel, which is unique. Guitarist Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson really has that flange effect in his leads that gives off that lovely Nirvana feels. Drummer Hallgrímur Jón Hallgrímsson was as tight as can be, giving emphasis when needed. Their last song was a home run with the singer having a 1-2-3-4-yeah chant at the beginning and brought it back at the end of the closer, with the whole venue chanting. I’m officially a fan now.
Last was Paradise Lost, the legendary UK death doom/goth rock pioneers courtesy of Nuclear Blast. The back line switched to a Peavey 5150 line up (grittier tones, less sludgy). Paradise lost has been around since 1988 and have gone through some style changes throughout the decades. They used to be death doom now they are more goth rock. This is what I found fascinating. I have never seen a band have such balance throughout a set. They played a perfect mix from all eras. It started with what sounded like a haunted ominous film-like score. Slowly one by one the members, Stephen Edmonson (bass), Gregor Mackintosh (lead guitar), Aaron Aedy (rhythm guitar), Waltteri Väyrynen (drums), and lastly Nick Holmes (singer) joined in.
The first song was a fantastic sludgy delight. “Pity the Sadness” was more driven and upbeat before hitting doom territory. “One Second” had a piano intro and the crowd started clapping to the beat without instruction! They played some older death doom material afterwards like “Faith Divides Us- Death Unites Us,” amazing growls, no wonder Nick is in Bloodbath now. They went on to promote their new album Medusa with “Blood and Chaos” which sounded like anthemic goth rock, where Nick showcases that his cleans are just as good as his growls. Mid-way through set Nick tasted a Tremblay beer and said: “meh, weird aftertaste.” The crowd started laughing hysterically.
Paradise Lost have perfect balance in every sense. From the actual choice of song catalogue, the contrast of growls and cleans, fan interaction and actual timbre/tone/ambience. When they ended I went to the bathroom, and to my avail, they played a three-song encore as I was about to leave!
Like I said, a fantastic way to start Autumn!
Written by Peter Lountzis
*edited by Mike Milito