Published Mar 08, 2016Fans escaped a slushy Montreal evening and poured into the Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre to see an eclectic mix of heavy music last night (March 7). Three bands, representing three extremely different styles of metal, were about to barrage the senses of those in attendance and incite an awful lot of thrashing and flailing.
On a triple bill, the opening act can often be a bit of filler, but not on this night. Ne Obliviscaris, the consummate six-piece prog death metal act from Australia, were sonic lightning. Touring North America for the first time, the band brought razor-sharp technical chops, blending the broad range of elements at their disposal: clean vocals, primal growling and heavily integrated violin work, provided a ceiling for the walls of guitar riffs.
The band wasted no time lunging straight into the action, opening with the relentless, soaring and spacey prog riffs of "Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes." The lengthy songs had prog stamped all over them, too, and in their 30-minute set, they managed to squeeze in just three of their cuts. Their standout song of the night had to be "Pyrric" from their 2014 album Citadel, a majestic track stitched together by a wonderful, bubbling undercurrent of bass that was reminiscent of work by Opeth — it was mesmerizing.
Next to take the stage were Butcher Babies. Led by the colourful and athletic frontwomen Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd, their music was chunky, anthemic, relentless and, yes, very accessible. Strongly reminiscent of Rob Zombie, their sound was massive, and it had every wall of the club creaking and groaning under the pressure. The singers spent a lot of time airborne, as they braved countless leaps from the two platforms flanking the sides of the stage while performing their many popular songs such as "Magnolia Blvd," "I Smell a Massacre" and "Monsters Ball." The band was very interactive with the crowd, not at all shy to jump in and join the pulsating chaos in front of them.
One moment had Carla getting into the crowd and letting a young girl, who must have been about four years old, perched on top of her father's shoulders, sing along to the chorus of one of the songs. "You're going to be a rock star one day!" she told the young fan. Another moment had Heidi beckoning the crowd to beat the record from their Toronto show and see how many of them could get to the stage. Peering down onto the two security guards below she asked them, "Do you have more than one or two of you? You might need 20…" During that song, fans clamoured and crowd-surfed their way to the stage and into the arms of security at least 30 times (Those poor security guards!).
Butcher Babies' performance was incredible, the sound was amazing and you can tell there's been no shortage of work ethic to achieve what they have with their sound.
The night wasn't about the get any more relaxing for those security guards, as the extreme gothic metal overlords Cradle of Filth were about to get to business. The band stoically gathered on the stage while the haunting, orchestral "Humana Inspired to Nightmare," from 1997's Dusk and Her Embrace, provided a sonic backdrop. A serene contrast to what would be a whirlwind set of about 20 songs spanning their 11-album catalogue from the past two decades. The lineup for the band has been a bit of a revolving door the past years, yet they are anchored by their frontman Dani Filth, a legend in his own right for his jaw-dropping vocal range.
At times Filth beckoned and growled to the Lovecraftian gods in the most guttural of tones, while adorned in what could only be described as ultra-spiky vampire armour, and moments later his shrieking, piercing vocals soared over the stupidly fast guitar riffs and the adept drumming of Martin Skaroupka. These guys have a lot of material to leverage, and they know how to use it. "Right Wing of the Garden Triptych," from 2015's Hammer of the Witches, was a mesmerizing live performance in which keyboardist/vocalist Lindsay Schoolcraft really got a chance to shine. Vintage tracks like "From the Cradle to Enslave" and "Her Ghost in the Fog" were incredibly intense and had the mosh pit churning.
The ability to balance that that raw brutality with a melodic, wonderfully composed song like "Nymphetamine" is really what sets Cradle of Filth apart from the rest, and last night, they performed it, like the rest of their set, with gusto.