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Concert Review: SOILWORK & JEFF LOOMIS Live In Ottawa

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Monday, March 25, 2013 @ 6:07 AM


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Infinite-ly Live In Ottawa: SOILWORK And Jeff Loomis Rock Mavericks; BONDED BY BLOOD, BLACKGUARD & HATCHET Sweden The Deal, Ottawa, Canada, March 19, 2013

To start off.......has it really been 5 months since I've gone without seeing a live show? Because I ask as a regular concertgoer who just recently watched the first year of Monsters Of Rock Cruise set sail without him whilst he toiled away in a frozen wasteland engaged in mundane government tasks for the past week-er, year. That's pretty much the same amount of time that's elapsed since hearing of the 80's metal-themed boat cruise on social media (actually, mostly on Facebook thanks to a friend's, er, constant reminder/update on the countdown to the cruise's launch-off date).

So in conclusion now you know why the Wild Side's been DJ-less for the past week.

Moving on to shows that took place on dry land (albeit snowy dry land on the first day of spring), a couple of up-and-coming Bay Area thrash bands, some poutine power-metalled Montrealers, a former guitarist from NEVERMORE and a bunch of bulky tattooed Scandinavians obviously used to nature's dandruff made up for the arrival of Old Man Winter hitching a ride with them from Hogtown with some grim and frostbitten metal on a Tuesday night. And much as I would like to start with rising Frisco bangers HATCHET I needed a good 30 minutes to nap after my usual 8 hour day job and hour long walk home and ended up missing their show by mere seconds. I'm told that their first Ottawa show was energetic and intense enough for the band to consider a return in the near future so hopefully I'll actually catch them live by then.

https://www.facebook.com/hatchetofficial

I was however fortunate enough to arrive and catch HATCHET's fellow Bay Area brethren BONDED BY BLOOD take the stage with most of their latest disc The Aftermath making up the setlist. Opening with the appropriately-titled "I Can't Hear You" the band harkened the spirit of 1985 with only the loudest and fastest sound and fury of the thrash era - and it clearly showed in the moshpit that night with "Immortal Rites" and "Restless Mind". Their set may have been somewhat short compared to 2009's outing with GAMA BOMB and EVILE when they played at the same venue as headliners but they still performed like they set a high standard for their followers to measure up to.

https://www.facebook.com/officialbondedbyblood

I already managed to miss them at least twice in the past year when they played with KITTIE back in October and again as part of this year's prelude to the MS Walk For The Cure marathon event and I was certain I also had missed them on this night too, assuming that NEVERMORE's guitarist was switching spots. I was relieved to be wrong as it would be BLACKGUARD who were next to grace the stage with their brand of outrageous symphonic power metal and full-on floor-stomping thrash that's been a staple of the band's sound since their first incarnation as PROFUGUS MORTI. With the band being from Montreal as well I probably couldn't have forgiven myself if I had omitted the Canadian content from this review. Their setlist mostly comprised of material from their breakout 2011 disc Firefight (the title track and "The Fear Of All Flesh") and a couple of not-immediately-recognizable songs from their upcoming release titled Storm set for release in the spring. And apparently the general opinion of the bands that have played so far is that Ottawa has been the best stop on the tour to date according to frontman Paul Zinay. That's one way of playing to the audience which BLACKGUARD did admirably.

https://www.facebook.com/blackguardband My first exposure to Seattle melodic doom merchants NEVERMORE was a good 13 years ago on KNAC when "Inside Four Walls" was on regular rotation which catapulted the band to near-mainstream status and claims that they were the new torchbearers for thrash metal for the new millennium. While they were worthy of the accolades that came their way sometimes it would be the over-enunciation of frontman Warrel Dane's vocals that kept a few people at a cautious arm's length. These few people would prove to be the ones to miss out on the stellar guitar work of Jeff Loomis both during his tenure in NEVERMORE and as a solo musician when he took a break from the band in 2005. Since his departure he's put out 2 solo albums: Zero Order Phase and last year's Plains Of Oblivion which both got some suitable mileage during his performance. Starting his set with "JATO Unit", Loomis and his backing trio delivered an instrumental performance that traipsed through intergalactic blues, standard hard rock, fast melodic metal and unapologetic thrash. Sometimes both himself and his rhythm guitarist were easily prone to upstaging each other as was the case during "Shouting Fire At A Funeral" and "Miles Of Machines" but by the climax of his set with the sinister groove of "Devil Theory", Loomis proved that his name outside of his tenure with NEVERMORE has a voice of its own.

https://www.facebook.com/jeffloomisfans

While lamenting that I was late for HATCHET I could confide in being early for headliners SOILWORK who apologized for being late themselves to Ottawa's live scene after close to 20 years as an active recording and touring band which has seen the Swedish melodic death metal sextet produce 9 studio albums including the upcoming double album The Living Infinite, rock out on various tours including those with bands ranging from KRISIUN and CANNIBAL CORPSE to CHILDREN OF BODOM and ANNIHILATOR and even Bjorn "Speed" Strid's work with Christian metallers DEMON HUNTER on their track "Collapsing". In fact, SOILWORK can even boast some Canadian content of their own thanks in part to Devin Townsend, who produced many of the band's early and most lauded albums such as A Predator's Portrait and Chainheart Machine.

And on that night they'd finally perform in the nation's capital for the first time in their career to hordes of anxious yet loyal local fans.

The catalogue of songs getting the live treatment featured new songs from their upcoming album (their second with new guitarist Daniel Antonsson) such as "Spectrum Of Eternity" (that's "the video with the crazy old guy dancing around" claimed Strid), "Tongue" and "Long Live The Misanthrope". And for the fans that wrote off SOILWORK somewhere between Chainheart Machine and when original guitarist Peter Wichers left for the first of two sessions they would've been pleasantly surprised at how proficiently fast and close to the Steelbath Suicide era that the new song "Rise Above The Sentiment" sounded, with rapid breakdowns and ferocious blast beats galore. In fact, SOILWORK themselves, knowing how much their early material was important to their core fanbase, treated the crowd to a solid performance of "Possessing The Angels" as well as other classics such as "Like The Average Stalker" and "Final Fatal Force". Frontman Strid definitely cut an impressive figure throughout the whole show, looking like the giant bouncer in the bar that you don't want to mess with after too much liquid courage and the dual guitar attack of Antonsson and Sylvain Coudret left many in the audience awestruck (while likely leaving both guitarists nearly blind with the amount of camera flashing going on).

It took a while, but Sweden's famous death metal sextet finally conquered Ottawa and I could use their first ever show in my hometown as a proper channel to vent out work-related stress. Infinitely awesome and for a fraction of the cost of paying to see them on a cruise ship.

Thanks again to Christina and Black Widow Productions for making this show happen.

https://www.facebook.com/soilwork

Setlist:

  • "This Momentary Bliss"
  • "Like The Average Stalker"
  • "Spectrum Of Eternity"
  • "Weapon Of Vanity"
  • "Figure Number Five"
  • "Black Star Deceiver"
  • "Tongue"
  • "Final Fatal Force"
  • "Long Live The Misanthrope"
  • "Let This River Flow"
  • "Rise Above The Sentiment"
  • "Possessing The Angels"
  • "One With The Flies"
Encore:
  • "Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter"
  • "As We Speak"
  • "Stabbing The Drama"


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