Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Agalloch w/ Crown (@Petit Bain, 17/8/2015)
Opening up for the evening was the band CROWN, of which I had only heard incessant praise from my friends. The three hefty, bearded men stepped up on stage, each of them wielding schecter axes equiped with two extra low strings, serving as a pretty clear foreshadowing of the heaviness about to strike down. The band played a sombre, very dynamic form of post-metal, with songs making an astute use of repition and steady industrial beats to set up an atmosphere of omnipresent tension. The bands' sound had an almost tribal-like feel mixed in with brilliantly placed sound-effect samples to support the drum machine sounds, adding a very interesting, industrial touch to their sound. Structurally, the band mainly stuck to a post-rock, post-metal driven formula, articulating quieter yet tense moments leading up to earth-shattering, massive climaxes. The performance was absolutely top-notch and the absence of a live drummer came little in the way of the quality of the show, though it did come off as "too fake" when the industrial beats made way for the occasionnal blast beats and faster sections, with stiffly programmed drums.
Other than this minor gripe, the quality of the bands' performance was uncanny and well deserving of the warm reception from the crowd.
Agalloch were up next, kicking their set off not a minute too soon, as my ability to keep my girly enthusiasm to myself was quickly wearing out. The band started off with The Astral Dialogue, off of their latest record The Serpent and the Sphere and I found myself immediatly struck with surprise, as their live sound did distinguish itself quite a bit from their albums. Contenting themselves with a standard 5-piece rock band setup without any samples or anything fancy, Agalloch had visibly pushed up the intensity and the heaviness of their sound, making for a rather different experience. The atmospheric, folky atmosphere from the bands' studio work was toned down in favor of a heavier, raw sound. The vocals were more at the forefront and the mix was led by "sharper" guitar tones, allowing for lead guitarist Don Andersons' breathtaking, ecstatic performance to really shine through and steal the spotlight for a good deal of the set for me. While I did find a few songs to be a little too "rushed" in their live rendition, the bands' live show allowed for a different outlook, a sort of reinterpretation of some of the tracks, complementing the bands' denser, more atmospheric studio work. I occasionnally did wish some of the calmer passager were slightly calmer so as to bring out more of the dynamic range of the compositions, but overall the band made for a brilliantly delivered set that held up to my expectations, though not in a way I had first anticipated. Whether you may qualify their studio records as as "post-black", "post-rock", "folk metal", this was undeniably a metal band performing live, and while the loud rock community seems to be shying away from this denomination as of lately, we should be glad and grateful that Agalloch is here to bring innovation and grandeur through their music while proudly reinstating their identity as a band born from Black Sabbaths' heavy metal legacy.
PS: I'd like to yet again send my thanks to Agallochs' management for making this review possible.