Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Enslaved Oct. 5th, 2011 at The West End Cultural Center

The newly renovated WECC doesn't seem like such a pit anymore, compared to the time when I saw Sonata Arctica in February of 2007. Yes, the new renovations give new life to this venue, and it holds a special place in my heart. The acoustics are good, the stage is just big enough to host a decent enough metal band, but still small enough to do away with need for security. This time, I witnessed Enslaved, hailing all the way from Norway and Alcest from France.

The opening band was nothing terribly special and felt more like Blink 182 mashed up with a blackened Folk metal band and had zero alacrity on stage. Alcest on the other hand, is delightfully similar to Agalloch in their harmonious doom, softened with clear and light vocals. Alcest is a band I don't mind seeing live, but I also don't expect liveliness from the crowd, or a pit. Yes, this sort of doom metal is something I want to sit at home and drink alone to- Not that I ever do that, but one can understand the powerful melancholy this music can pull over a person.  A trait of good doom metal is that it tends to lack true querulousness that is a mark of so many unmetal bands.

After two decades of metal-making, their travels bring them to Winnipeg for the first time, and once again I corner a band and get the information I so crave. I witnessed Enslaved with a mixed nationality group of fellow metalheads: one hailing from Israel and the other from Brazil, as well as my faithful drummer AJ. I ended up taking about 150 pictures of Enslaved, and several of them are close-ups which necessitated my running up on stage.

After the show, the four of us stuck around and asked about whether Enslaved would be available to hang out. We waited by their tour bus and watched their merch wench bring aboard their pizza and beer. Soon the band appeared one by one, freshly showered and smelling of Irish Spring soap.

Soon we were mixed in and chatting as I asked about the comforts and pressures of touring. Enslaved  no longer rehearse regularly- once, maybe, before a tour. Their jobs seem mundane in Norway, like being bouncers or bartenders in pubs. As for their partying? They party with Immortal, and they warn us not to party with Abbath. My Brazilian chum ended up striking a nerve when asking the band about how they felt about Burzum's music. The reaction was that they never listen to it because they were very close with Mayhem and Euronymous particularly. "Why would we listen to the music of someone who killed our friend?"  So it came to light that a lot of Norwegian bands are tight-nit and play together often. As for partying with Abbath... CRABWALK!

For personal interest, I asked the vocalist/bassist how to be a good front person, and he simply replied with "You must convince your audience. Believe what you're playing is awesome." He even gave me a hug. After I asked them if they spoke German (which they all knew a little) we all got pictures with the band, and then let them retire to their comfortable tour bus.

Song of special interest: Extended cover of "The Immigrant Song" 

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