In Memorium, Virgin Black, Agalloch & Antimatter Live in Seattle

By Chris Slack, Contributor
Thursday, June 5, 2003 @ 2:18 PM

In Memorium, Virgin Black, Aga

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Sometimes living on the West coast stinks as a lot of bands don’t make it out this way. Other times it’s beneficial as we get bands that don’t hit the east coast. Last December Abigail made their way from Japan to do west coast dates only. Now I can say with pride that Agalloch has been in Seattle twice! One would think that they would have played here more often as they hail from Portland but that’s not the case, they have only recently started doing live appearances. In Memorium was originally scheduled to open the show but at the request of the bands (of whom 2 had only been in the US for two days ads as a result suffering from jet lag) they became the headliners shortly before the show started. Enough of the chatter, on with the review!

The evening started out with U.K. based Antimatter, featuring Duncan Patterson (ex-Anathema) on bass, Michael Moss on guitar/vocals, and Hayley Windsor doing additional vocals. Having no familiarity with the group I had no idea what to expect. I was quite surprised when they came on-stage, sat down in chairs and playing nothing but acoustic instruments! Despite the low volume (I didn’t even put my earplugs in) and calmness of the instruments and vocals, Antimatter delivered a powerful set of peaceful, yet at the same time melancholic and depressive, acoustic music that I found to be quite enjoyable. The crowd didn’t get to into it, mostly hanging out in the distance with only a few diehards (including yours truly) up in front but Antimatter still got a decent round of applause at the end of each song. I swear I heard an Anathema song during their set, I just couldn’t place it. I would have bought one of their CDs but only had a few dollars on me and simply had to have the new Agalloch 7”.

Photos of Antimatter from this show can be found here.

Next up was Portland, Oregon’s Agalloch. Guitarist/Vocalist John Haughm started things off by coming out and pounding two very low toned floor toms in a beat resembling that of a battle march while the rest of the band stood somberly and held their instruments. This drew the majority of the sparse crowd immediately up front to check out things from up close. This intro (the same as the last time I saw them) was a perfect transition from the mellow sounds of Antimatter to what was obviously going to be something much heavier. Agalloch then proceeded to destroy the audience with close to 45 minutes of their highly unique brand of depressive and dark metal. Their on-stage confidence has increased exponentially since the last time I saw them: even though they have only done a few live shows Agalloch were consummate professionals, making everything look easy, not missing a note, and playing with a conviction and feeling few bands can muster in the live setting. In this regard I think they can compare with one band that particularly blew me away recently, the mighty Opeth. Guitarist Don Anderson was particularly impressive, with his constant movement, flawless playing and obvious love of the music. Agalloch’s set was comprised of material from both “Pale Folklore” and “The Mantle” and was definitely the highlight of the evening. The band is simply incredible live, making their epic albums come to life in a fashion most bands only can hope to do. I wish the best for these guys in the future; with their haunting music and passionate performance they nothing less than major international recognition.

Photos of Agalloch from this show can be found here.

Virgin Black was next, yet another band that I was completely unfamiliar with. They definitely came to perform, wearing pale makeup, decked out in leather and rubber and looking quite gothic. This had me a little concerned as there have been a lot of mediocre goth metal bands over the past few years with only a few that I honestly enjoy. Virgin Black traveled from Australia to do this tour so they must have been quite tired as this was only their second day in the US. Fatigue certainly wasn’t apparent; the band played a very tight set of classically influenced operatic metal. I’m a big fan of the “heavier” classical composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Holst, Wagner and Vivaldi, powerful music with thick layers of sounds. I don’t think that Virgin Black came from that school of music though. I think people who are heavily into gothic metal would have really enjoyed Virgin Black’s show but it honestly didn’t do much for me. Their songs seemed overly melodramatic and the live performance reminded me of Hammerfall swallowed by the prince of darkness along with a few yards of leather and a couple of cases of Max Factor. On a more positive note I have to give Virgin Black credit; they all seem very proficient with their instruments and songs and obviously play from the heart. Crowd reaction, while not as loud as the applause for Agalloch, was pretty good at the end of their set.

Photos of Virgin Black from this show can be found here.

Seattle’s own In Memorium closed off the night with an impressive, albeit too short, set of their European flavored extreme black metal. I’ve seen In Memorium a number of times over the years and this show has got to be their best performance ever. For those who aren’t in the know, In Memorium plays an almost Swedish style of black metal not unlike bands such as Dark Funeral and Marduk, but with more melody to the compositions. They were as tight as anything on this night, professional as all get out and intense as hell. Vocalist Nihilist took full advantage of the Catwalk’s stage and was all over the place as the rest of the band (with the exception of keyboardist Susanna) headbanged furiously. While the crowd did thin out considerably after the first song (it was near midnight), In Memorium had those who remained headbanging madly along with the band, something that simply wasn’t happening with the rest of the bands. Check the band out next time you get the chance, I have a feeling that they’ll be signed shortly after releasing their new CD in the next few months.

Photos of In Memorium from this show can be found here.

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