FEBRUARY 11/12th 2013

Review By: Metal Mom
Photos By: Char Tupper
Seattle: http://www.metaltitans.com/concertpics/winter-rite-tour-2013-seattlewa/
Vancouver: http://www.metaltitans.com/concertpics/winter-rite-tour-2013-vancouverbc/

February 11th, I am up early and all ready packed to go to Seattle, Washington for the first of two shows I am covering. Am I excited, oh you bet I am, just saw them (ENSLAVED) in December on Barge to Hell, and both of their sets on that cruise were absolutely sensational. I knew what to expect anyway, there has never been a time when they have come my way, that I would have missed a show. These accomplished Norwegians are known as one of the most riveting live acts in metal, and believe me there is no doubt. But lets start with the opening bands.

But first, the venues are all different along the way, some of the good old standbys like in San Fran (Slims), but others are smaller, like tonight, it’s being held at the Highline Bar on Broadway, what did I expect, well wasn’t too sure. I arrived and parked close by, and was very impressed, there was much to see and do on this street, a much better place for the bands, lots of eateries, bars, shops, places to visit. I was definitely impressed, I have been to some real horrible venues, so am happy about this one. Inside it was smaller, but a closer friendlier feel to it. And it was packed. I much rather prefer the smaller venues like the Highline Bar.

First on stage is ANCIENT VVISDOM, a band from the dark corners of Texas, who have been deemed ’acoustic occult rockers’.  Band members are: Nathan Opposition (singer/songwriter), brother Michael Jochum (electric guitar), Justin “Ribs” Mason (acoustic guitar), TA (bass), oh and by the way the TA stands for Trans Am, there is a story behind it, so ask him when you see him,  and drummer Mitchel K. Morris. First I am ashamed to say, I have not listened to the first 3 bands on tonight, yes, I have heard of them, but that’s it. But what a great surprise when ANCIENT VVISDOM took the stage, a great performance, and loved the fact they had an acoustic guitar that you could hear. The drummer Mitchel, didn’t sit the whole time.  They each put on a great performance, the crowd enjoyed them for sure, chains were used to add to their show, it was just an all around great experience.  I think being a rock/metal sounding band, and being first up, really helps get the crowd enjoy the show. I will definitely be seeing them next time they come to town.

Next up is ROYAL THUNDER, haven’t heard of them? Well me neither, but I sure know who they are now after 2 of their shows. Wow, what amazing talent these 3 band members have. They are an Atlanta based progressive rock/metal alternative band. Let me tell you who the members are,  Mlny Parsonz (bass/vocals), Josh Weaver (guitar extraordinaire) , Jesse Stuber (drummer). Let me tell you, they had the attention of the crowd right from the start, with their haunting rock sounds, dark rhythms and the superb vocals of Mlny, which I will say caught my attention from the start. She has a fabulous range, and by looking around the room, everyone was so enthralled with the whole band, with the quick precise drumming and the energetic guitar work. Sadly though, before I knew it, it was over. Definitely a band worth checking out.

PALLBEARER hit’s the stage just before the headliner. They classify themselves as heavy metal band, forming in 2008, they are out of central Arkansas. Band consists of Brett Campbell(vocals/guitar), Devin Holt (guitar), Joseph D. Rowland (bass) and on drums is Mark Lierly. I guess you can call them that because basically it’s a form of  heavy metal, but with much slower tempos, a kind of thicker sound.  Personally I call them doom, a more stoner depressing sound, and definitely slow. I think they would have been a better choice, to be the first band on stage. I am not a big fan of doom metal at all. Sorry, just my choice, I like the uplifting heavier sound. And I think that maybe it was a little depressing just before ENSLAVED. Looking around the room, yes, it was full, but with people with their eyes closed, and swaying back and forth. I am glad they were enjoying it. And the area of Seattle the venue was in, made this a very popular band to play that night.

The venue is absolutely packed, I don’t know how they could say it was not a sold out show, wonder if they counted right. ;) But they were crammed in, and it was extremely hot in there, but don’t think any of us cared at this point, because we all knew who was going to hit that stage next. You could feel the anticipation building. So far, no moshing, what a terrific way to really enjoy the show, not having to look over your shoulder every 2 minutes to see if you are going to get nailed. Don’t think I have ever been to a show with absolutely no moshing, maybe it was just too full a venue to move to get one going, I don’t care. I was happy.

Next…what everyone has been waiting for …. that’s right…. Norway’s iconic ENSLAVED.  The crowd was ecstatic, cheers I am sure could be heard in the next town. And yes, you bet, I was right there , horns high, vocals strained. You want a riveting performance, then this is the one to see, they have the capability to deliver the highest standard of extreme/black/Viking/progressive metal sound. Do I even need to tell you who these more than capable musicians are, well just in case some don’t know, I will tell you because you want to know who it is that makes this band stand out above the rest: Ivar Bjørnson (guitarist/backing vocals), Grutle Kjellson (growling vocals/bass), Ice Dale (guitarist), Herbrand Larsen (keyboard/clean lead vocals), and on drums, the talented Cato Bekkevold. Where to begin…always an impeccable set, old and new songs alike were played, much to everyone’s pleasure, I know for me, unbelievable, and when I turned to look back at the crowd, there wasn’t anyone talking, texting, they were all eyes on stage. The energy level from ENSLAVED is phenomenal as well, even with such a small stage. Each and every one of them put so much into their set, and I think what I enjoy as well is the fact that I can pick out each of the instruments and enjoy their sound. These guys are experts in their choice of weapons with so much talent, you can be sure that you will be captivated the whole time they play. For me, I was really lucky because they played so many of my favourites, it was like my own personal concert. They played, in this order: RIITIIR, Ruun, The Watcher, Thoughts Like Hammers, Ethica Odini, Roots of the Mountain, Materal (my own personal favourite), Convoys to Nothingness, Allfáðr Oðinn /Slaget I Skogen Bortenfor, Immigrant Song, Fenris, Isa. Great selection of old/new songs to enjoy, was it enough….NO never, would always enjoy much more. What I find so fascinating about ENSLAVED, is the fact  they are capable of such variety in their music, and whether its their older material or new, each and every one of the people in that audience was taking pleasure in the extreme talent of ENSLAVED. The talk after the show of course, was all about how great a show they put on. A lot of people mentioned it wasn’t long enough, well of course not, when its such a good band, it never is. But for me, I get to do it all over again, in Vancouver tomorrow.

The only complaint I have, I wish the lighting would have been a little better. But that’s it.


February 12th

Got home nice and early to freshen up, yes hotels you can clean up, but not the same as your own place. Then off again into Vancouver, its only about an hours drive, so not too bad, but wouldn’t have cared anyway, happily drive the route to witness once again the almighty ENSLAVED.

This time the venue is the Biltmore Hotel on Kingsway, have only been there once before. Is actually a pretty good venue, great places for the merch, cool looking booths. ENSLAVED’s tour manager Vikki was working her magic getting everything set up again, and she always has a smile as she is doing it for the 11th time. She does such a great job, always happy, fast, keeps people moving. Always great to have someone that is so pleasant at the merch stand. Great job Vikki, we appreciate all that you do.

And so, it’s the same bands of course, same amount of time to play. But the lights are much better at this venue. No photo pit though for the poor photographers, who got crushed at this show if they chanced being up front and centre. You see last night in Seattle, there was NO MOSHING at all, everyone was just there to enjoy. But tonight, not the case at all, front row I am pretty sure were slammed into the low stage, as whoever was in the pit, were pretty brutal. I didn’t venture too close to the front until ENSLAVED came on. I found my spot early on, so I was safe, right up front, but to the side. And there was a big wooden box that I got to sit and enjoy the show.

Each of the bands, Ancient VVisdom, Royal Thunder, put on a great show, I don’t know how they do it though, night after night, driving their own van/trailer and then performing, they have got to be exhausted. But you know what…they give it their all when they are on stage, all for the fans. Its just what Metal does. Pallbearer, didn’t look to have as many fans this night, I think because they don’t really create a mosh pit with their doom style. But then ENSLAVED enters the venue and all “H” breaks loose again, but I didn’t really care, I was safe, and thoroughly got to enjoy myself once again. There was an issue with a fan member and Grutle, but I think the guy got the point to back off, or face the consequence. I mean, really, when you are at a show, don’t ruin it for others, and more importantly the band members, because they also like to enjoy themselves when they play. I am not going into details because its not important, it was just a short little thing that happened. Then it was over. I don’t know where some of these people crawl out from under the rocks though. But again, a much better place than the Rickshaw, and I am pretty sure ENSLAVED thought the same. The smaller venues have a different atmosphere, more enjoyable. I think everyone there enjoyed themselves, lots of energy, never ending supply of remarkable music.

What I would love to see, is ENSLAVED do a tour that is their own personal one, so meaning its like a 2 hours concert, with a break in the middle of course, to really get my fill of the talent they have been capable of over the last 20 years. There wouldn’t be a shortage of some really exemplary music. Just a thought.

Would I do 2 shows again, definitely, if I could have done more this time, I would have without a doubt, but work comes into play. I am pretty sure that it wont be long before I wear out their newest RIITIIR. it’s a daily listening.

As I am sure you can tell ENSLAVED is my favourite, but don’t get me wrong here, the other bands were great too, and it was an amazing tour package, something different for a diverse range of tastes. That’s what made this a unique tour. There are still some dates left…and here they are. If you get the chance, please, grab a ticket and enjoy a show that I am sure will be one of the greats for 2013.

Feb. 19 - The Opera House - Toronto, ON
Feb. 20 - Les Foufounes Electriques - Montreal, QC
Feb. 21 - The Sinclair - Cambridge, MA
Feb. 22 - Bowery Ballroom - New York, NY