Amorphis Performs at El Corazon in Seattle, WA
Band Photo: Samael (?)
On the night of October 10th, Finnish mythology came to life at El Corazon in Seattle, WA when Amorphis dropped in town. Along with these Finns came Switzerland’s Samael and Virgin Black from down under. Also on the bill were two local Seattle bands, Black Breath and Asema. Black Breath opened the show with some extended groove-metal hardcore and metalcore screaming, pumping energy into the crowd and prepping them for the rest of the other bands.
Up next was a band that, save for their frontwoman, has obviously had one too many cheeseburgers. Size-wise, Asema was almost like a metal version of Bowling for Soup. As far as the heavily-tattooed vocalist’s abilities go, Brit is no Angela Gossow. Her death metal vocals sounded like a less-coherent Scooby Doo, yet her metalcore yelps and weak and whiny clean vocals reminded me of a cat in heat. What disturbed me was the way she kept rolling her eyes to the back of her head as if Satan had taken over her body. Musically, the band played some decent metalcore, with hints of melodic death metal harmonies and Pantera riffs. Asema just needs a singer who can't be easily replaced by a possessed house pet.
As their name suggests, Virgin Black was “an anomalous harmony between the juxtapositions of purity and humanity’s darkness.” (Yes, I stole that quote from the band’s web site.) The band contributed some dark and bleak, yet beautiful and atmospheric, doom metal to the show, making me realize that Australia’s not all about sunny beaches and shrimp on the barbie. Their music gave the feeling of being lost in a haunted forest on a cold winter night. Just like the titles to their "Requiem" albums, the decibel ranged from pianissimo to mezzo forte to fortissimo. Singer Rowan London showed off his talents as he hit the high alto notes and lowered his voice down to the guttural death metal scales. Lead guitarist Samantha Escarbe did a fine job of using minimalist guitar work to blend with the overall doom metal feeling of their set.
Samael's brand of industrial metal sounded like Rammstein. Even singer/guitarist Vorph sounded like a raspy Till Lindemann. Vorph seemed to enjoy his first show in Seattle, despite his lamentation that the set was too short. Samael used a drum machine to keep a steady beat so that drummer/keyboardist Xy was free to leap up into the air and bang down on his set of drums, and tinker with the electronica intermittently. Just when you thought Samael couldn’t possibly be any louder and heavier, they proved you wrong on the next song by pounding even harder on the bass and the drums. They played a song off "Passage" and a few off "Solar Soul," including the mosh-pit-inducing title track and "Valkyries' New Ride." Might I mention that their use of strobe lights fitted perfectly well with their music?
After a long wait, our favourite Finnish progressive metallers Amorphis hit the stage with "I of Crimson Blood" off their latest effort, "Silent Waters." Known for basing their lyrics on the Finnish epic poem The Kalevala, the band performed a good mix of songs, both old and new, including a song off their first album, "The Karelian Isthmus," and three from "Tales from the Thousand Lakes." Playing to a crowd that consisted of no more than a few dozen people just shows how underrated Amorphis is. Words can’t express how amazing Tomi Joutsen was as a frontman. He can effortlessly pull off his emotional clean singing and powerful death metal roars. The guy radiated energy like the sun. As entertaining as it was just to watch him whip his long dreads around the stage, it also amazed me that he managed not to lash anyone in the front row by doing so. Guitarists Esa Holopainen and Tomi Koivusaari and keyboardist Santeria Kallio provided a flawless reproduction of their studio sound, proving that they can be just as great live.
Amorphis set list:
I of Crimson Blood
Sign from the North Side
House of Sleep
Magic & Mayhem
Towards and Against
Black Winter Day
Overall, it was a great show with its fair share of musical diversity as far as the metal genre goes. My only beef with it was that there were too many bands for a show that started at 8 and didn’t end until well after midnight. Not that it seemed rushed, just very tight. They could have done without the first two bands and extended the sets of Virgin Black and Samael. Hopefully, the next time Amorphis rolls around, they would play to a bigger crowd than that at El Corazon.
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