The Rickety Old Shack

Live Show Review: Amorphis — September 24th, 2019

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In 2017, Amorphis was unable to make a scheduled tour stop in Ottawa. I don't remember why I wasn't able to attend, but it didn't matter anyway; I wasn't going to miss a second opportunity, however. The inclusion of Anneke Van Giersbergen upgraded this show to Can't Miss status. I don't follow either of them obsessively, but they've both released material that I really, really like, and advance tickets were a steal at $27!

True to form, I almost managed to arrive behind schedule for reasons reasons that are as numerous as they are boring. Nevertheless, I got to the venue 10 minutes before the first band's set began. As much as I liked the Sleep show (review) I went to 12 days prior, I was quite happy to be at show where I could have a beer during the performances. I didn't know which local acts would be providing support for the tour, but I've yet to be disappointed with any of the bands I've seen over the past few years.

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I walked in right as the first act was hitting their opening notes, and was really impressed with Whispers In The Maze. A local band, their material was a really groovy take on the melodic death metal style. A four-piece with some really good riffs and shredding leads, everything sounded great. It's a bit of a letdown that a pair of songs they played have not been recorded, as they were the strongest tunes in my estimation, but they still sold me on checking out their debut EP, Threads Unbind. I'm looking forward to seeing this project release more material — they made me a fan at this show.

Official Bandcamp: whispersinthemaze.bandcamp.com

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It took a bit of post-show homework to find out the name of this band. They never introduced themselves and both times other band's mentioned them, their name was muffled by other noise. Anyway, they were called Damnus and they sounded like a more riff-rock oriented Falls Of Rauros. Or, they did when their guitarist wasn't having technical difficulties. About 2/3 into the first song, his guitar cut in and out before going dead, after 5 minutes he swapped out patch cords and was good to go, but things were awkward for a little bit. Credit to the band for reacting calmly to the whole situation and playing through it.

I really liked what I heard, but their set was obviously compromised by the guitar problems. They lost about 1/3 of their 30-minute time slot, but what I did hear sounded great. A power trio with a thick, bass-heavy sound and some really good riff-writing, these guys left a good impression despite the problems with their performance.

Official website: reverbnation.com/damnus

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The third band was another semi-local act, a symphonic metal group named Sovereign Council. The vocals were split up between one of the guitarists and a female lead singer. The set was good, but all of the material is apparently unrecorded. Between songs, the lead singer said they had an album out but that it was "very different" from what they were playing at this show. The vocals were mostly clean, from both singers, and the instrumentals were catchy and heavy as Hell. I'm going to be following the band's social media so I can find out when they release these songs. Good half-hour set, and they kept the showing going at a brisk pace.

Official Bandcamp: sovereigncouncil.bandcamp.com

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Although I didn't know what kind of a set to expect, Anneke Van Giersbergen was, for me, the real draw to the show. I like Amorphis but if_then_else, by The Gathering is a really special album for me. Anneke's voice on that record — and many, many others — is incredible, and her live performance lived up to my highest expectations. It was a very stripped down solo show, just an acoustic guitar and Anneke's wonderful voice. She did renditions of her collaboration with Devin Townsend, "Ih Ah," my favourite The Gathering song in "Saturnine," and some covers. Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here," Dolly Parton's "Joleen" and Chris Cornell's "Like A Stone" rounded out a really enjoyable set. I never thought I would have a chance to hear "Saturnine" performed live and it was better than I could have imagined.

Official website: annekevangiersbergen.com

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The headliners didn't waste any time, kicking into material that mostly came from their latest record, Queen Of Time and their old school classic Tales From The Thousand lakes. Their live show was really energetic, blasting through melodic metal cuts from their discography with ruthless efficiency. I quite like the band's material, but they're not one I listen to with any real frequency. I think the last time I listened to them was when I had a promo of Am Universum I never got around to writing about. Great melodic metal band, but Amorphis just never pops into my mind for whatever reason.

Based on the quality of the live show, I'm going to be focusing my attention on their back catalogue. I also need to give Queen Of Time another listen, the material from it sounded great live and I'm wondering why the record didn't stick out in my memory. Near the end of the show, the band brought Anneke Van Giersbergen on stage to do her vocals from their collaboration "Her Alone." Anneke's voice works very well with the Amorphis sound and I'd love to hear more songs like this and "Amongst Stars." This was a great set to end off a quality show.

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Official website: amorphis.net

Aside from some ultimately minor technical issues during the second band's set, the show was great and went off without a hitch. The venue sound was good, as usual, and I was exposed to 3 impressive local acts. The support was strong, and the main attractions delivered the goods. I would not have expected a bar in downtown Ottawa to be filled with fans of a metal band from Finland singing along to acoustic covers, but that's what we got. Anneke Van Giersbergen was the highlight of the show, and I'm also a reinvigorated Amorphis fan. Really, my only complaint is the amount of unreleased material the opening bands played — which is an okay problem to have. Like I said in the intro, this ticket ended up being an incredible value; I'd easily recommend seeing all of these bands if you get the chance.

—by Derek

Published: September 26th, 2019.