I guess it’s a sign that I am getting older but I have to admit I got really excited when this tour got announced and saw that it wasn’t a ‘five plus band bill.’ Three bands are that perfect sweet spot for my attention span which could be compared to well-behaved hummingbird; keep the show concise and to the point, kick ass and get out. Considering the show was a co-headliner and those bands would be playing longer sets, that didn’t bother me in the least because at least I knew the calibre was world class and my need for entertainment would be satiated. Sabaton, Kreator, and Cyhra did not disappoint, and the Montreal scene came out in force for the occasion.
Despite being a new band, Cyhra is not lacking in experience or notoriety considering their powerhouse line up, consisting of members and ex-members of Amaranthe, In Flames, Rhapsody and Shining. I had only briefly listened to a bit of their first single when it came out so this show was my proper introduction to their music. The Amaranthe comparisons are going to be unavoidable, unfortunately, thanks to vocalist Jake E Lundberg distinctive voice and the overall vibe of the music. Guitarist Jesper Stromblad (ex-In Flames) is certainly not trying to revive the old glory days of his former band here and his writing plays to Jake’s strengths as a vocalist and exhibits strong similarities to Amaranthe and Kamelot minus the bombastic orchestral arrangements. The live show was seemed well received by the nearly sold-out audience, and the band managed to effectively engage a crowd who, for the most part, were unfamiliar with their music. The band was also noticeably missing their bassist Peter Iwers and I assumed they just loaded the bass parts on the backing tracks because who needs human musicians in this day and age, right?
German Thrash heavyweights Kreator have been a Montreal favourite for quite some time now, and the adoration is well deserved. The band has been going strong for thirty years and time has not diminished their intensity in the slightest as they rolled through an hour set list with a vicious intensity that puts younger bands to shame. From the first note of “Phantom Antichrist,” the crowd exploded and kept pace for the duration of the set. Singer Miland Petrozza’s unmistakable voice boomed through MTelus and instructed the wanting audience in the customary rituals of moshing and a wall of death. Their light show was also second to none, using their own rigs, they utilized a fairly simple set up with flawless execution adding greatly to the already intense atmosphere of their performance.
Sabaton’s rise in North America has been astounding, to say the least. Year after year and tour after tour, their legions have grown and finally, they’re seeing comparable star status here in North America as they have in Europe. Last year they sold out Club Soda well in advance and now coming dangerously close to selling out Metropolis is no small feat, but well deserved as anyone who has seen their live show will attest to. This show was no different, as they stormed the stage to fan favourite “Ghost Division,” the war ensemble known as Sabaton reminded everyone why they’re the musical force they are around the world and still growing bigger. Seldom have I seen a band inspire so much devotion and fervour from fans and it’s impossible to not get swept up in the fun theatrics of it all. Their setlist was a great mix of old and new songs, showcasing their preternatural ability to write impossibly catchy songs. “Cliffs of Gallipoli,” ”Swedish Pagans,” and “Carolus Rex” got massive reactions from the crowd, but really there were no sleeper songs or lulls in the show. The stage itself was a little more bare than usual, not much for stage props on this run, but rather they utilized a huge projector screen that played graphics and video, which was a very welcome element that gave a unique visual aid to each song.
Written by Paul Ablaze
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy