Murder! Death! Toke!
Enslaved, Electric Wizard, Macabre and Horde of Worms
at the Reverb in Toronto, ON on December 18th 2001

by: Adam Wasylyk
Having to make a last minute decision to attend the night's festivities, due to the unconfirmed status of many bands on the bill -- the Canadian/US border can oftentimes be an unpredictable obstacle in the face of tours -- thankfully the correct decision was made, as the bands on hand would play what turned out to be one of the best shows in 2001.

Florida's Diabolic ended up not playing -- one of its members was denied entry -- and I later heard that the members of Electric Wizard had to take a taxi into Canada in order to play. Despite the theatrics that occurred behind the scenes, the bill still proved to be a strong one.

Toronto's Horde of Worms opened the night to scattered applause, as many who would be in attendance had not been let in yet. Having had only three hours notice before playing may have had something to do with their lack of bite on this night, and the lacklustre sound didn't help. Their material just didn't seem to shine as it does on disc. What turned out to be a good set could have been much more, had circumstances been in their favour.

Ah, Murder Metal. The fiends from Chicago were in good form tonight, as the well-toured Macabre have had almost two decades to develop and sharpen their live bite. Delighting the audience with the storytelling hysterics of singer/guitarist Corporate Death, "Dog Guts" was the first plate of horror to be offered to its fans, which was eagerly consumed. The band's prior LP _Dahmer_ would prove to be well represented tonight, as additional tracks "Scrub a Dub Dub", "Exposure" and the pulverizingly heavy "Hitchhiker" were performed with the usual Macabre gusto. And what would a Macabre set be without its classics? Killer tracks like "Zodiac", "Vampire of Dusseldorf", "Montreal Massacre", "Albert Fish Was Worse Than Any Fish in the Sea", "Nightstalker", not to mention the inclusion of "Killing Spree (Postal Worker)", a track off _Gloom_ [Dr. Holmes (He Stripped Their Bones)] and a glimpse into their next LP _Murder Metal_ to be released next spring, in the form of "The Hillside Stranglers". An appetite for murder now satisfied, it was on to greener pastures...

"Green" being the key word in the sound and style of the UK's Electric Wizard. Having had ample time to consume some green in between sets put me in the right frame of mind to maximize my ability to absorb the super heavy riffs that the trio would produce in their 40 odd minute set. What I immediately noticed about the live stoner band was how relaxed they were. This may be an obvious observation, but when their live persona is compared to Macabre or (later) Enslaved, one will notice how the vibes differ. An intimate atmosphere was achieved; it was as if the crowd had been invited to a jamming session. And god dammit it was heavy. Very heavy. It was as if they had taken a page from the book of Black Sabbath and tore it into pieces, using the fragments as rolling papers for their cosmic weed. It quickly became apparent that I was either on par or higher than the band themselves, as moments of self-introspection took my mind away from the hard working trio on stage. And their drummer sure knows how to beat those skins. I'll have to check them out on disc when I get the first chance to do so. Hey, where did that joint go? Ah, it's in my hand. Fly on, you crazy albatross.

As they proved to me at last year's Milwaukee MetalFest, Enslaved may very well be one of the top live metal bands touring today. They perform their material with such feeling, with such energy. The intensity never gets a chance to lull, which is surely a testimony to the quality of material they've created over the years. Simply put, they're just that good. Opening with "Slaget I Skogen Bortenfor", a devastating opener, which was performed brilliantly sans keyboards. It proved to be a strong first impression by the band, who could have easily decided to coast from there on in had they wanted to. Keeping the intensity high -- and their set list diverse -- newer songs like "Convoys to Nothingness" and "Vision: Sphere of the Elements - A Monument Part II" off their new disc _Monumension_ were worked in effortlessly between classic tracks such as "Eld" and "Wotan". Having made the impression they wanted to, they left a crowd exhausted and wanting more. An incredible performance, one of best sets I had the pleasure to witness all year.

And so ended one of the more diverse tours to hit Toronto in some time. One could make a point that this tour is a clear example of different types of metal uniting under one single cause -- that unification is more productive than segregation. Think about it.

(article submitted 14/1/2002)


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