Metal Alliance Tour 2014 – May 2nd, 2014 – Rickshaw Theatre, Vancouver, BC

This was a heavily anticipated night – tickets for this event sold out the day of the show! It was the second-to-last show on the Metal Alliance Tour, and they wrapped it all up the following night in Seattle.

First up were Tyrants Blood from Vancouver, opening with Destroyer. This is a large band, their singer and guitarist are HUGE – the singer’s built like a brick wall and the guitarist has arms like a caber. They also had the biggest crowd I have ever seen for an opener at the Rickshaw, despite the show starting around 6:30. It seemed like a good omen for the night.

Their bassist, Vinnie Borden, wanted to make sure everyone knew he’d achieved a major goal. “I got to throw up on a bitch’s tits last night.” They all seemed quite pleased by this. It was rather like Conan when he’s asked “What is best in life?” and instead of “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women,” it’s “to puke on a bitch’s tits“. I think Conan’s version was more poetic, but hey, the guys beside me thought it was funny.

Their closing song was my favourite of the set, and I loved the intro to it. The band is strong musically, and played a good solid set.

Black Crown Initiate from Pennsylvania were the next up with an excellent technical set. They also took home the epic beard award for the night.

The bass kicked out super heavy right from the beginning – excellent work from Nick Shaw. The vocals were clean, and James Dorton & Andy Thomas sounded great harmonizing together. James has a much deeper voice and a good growl, with an excellent stage presence. I’m not usually a fan of clean vocals in my metal, but these two did them right – it matched the music instead of detracting from it.

I was puzzled by James leaving the stage for their last song, but the song was a good one and they finished the set off well. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more from these folks.

Inquisition weren’t able to make it into Canada – another casualty of overzealous border guards. Given that they’ve played Canada once on this tour already, there wasn’t a great rationale for denying them a single show.

New Orleans’ Goatwhore was next on the bill. These last three bands showed how much of a difference a dozen or more years of experience can make. Their singer, Ben Falgoust, knows how to put on one hell of a show. He was all over the stage! Playing air guitar with arms clad in massive spiked gauntlets, gesturing, pointing, and bending down to the audience. He had a great connection with the crowd.

The bassist, James Harvey, looks like he was born to play the bass – the sort of person who you can tell is a bassist from a few miles away. His fingers were moving like mad. Their whole set was incredibly fast and tight.

They put on a great show, and the crowd loved it. I’d say the best line was “Vancouver! I want you to make me one promise, please. To keep Satan in your heart for all eternity.” They wrapped up with “Apocalyptic Havoc.” The music drove hard, and it was an outstanding set.

The drumming was excellent – precise and super fast. My favourite song was the new one they played, “Slave.”

As it drew to a close, there was a melodic pipe noise as smoke filled the air, and they went out to the haunting notes. It was an almost ethereal end to a vicious set.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a massive band at the Rickshaw before, and they impressed me with how well they rose to the occasion. Polish giants Behemoth are touring with their new The Satanist album. It was my first Behemoth show, and definitely lived up to their reputation for theatrics. The whole set felt like one big ritual, especially when Nergal started waving the smoking thurible out over the audience.

Nergal came on slowly with torches held high, turned to the drums and held them there before raising them to the audience. “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” started when he dropped them to the stage.

Guitarist Seth and bassist Orion stood on risers in front of double-headed eagle icons so it looked like they had metal wings in the flashing lights. Orion stood like a gigantic golem, raising his fist and then pounding the strings. The band nailed the choreography, and the coordination contributed a lot to the atmosphere and excitement.

Nergal’s yell of “It feels so fucking good to be alive!” brought a hell of a cheer – he’s looking good after his brush with leukemia a few years back.

There was an amazing break where a second drummer joined in on the set. They were pounding the rhythm in unison while all the others gathered around the drums to watch.

For the encore, Orion added a hood and Nergal opened his shirt to expose a garland of chicken feet. Then they came out in the black horned masks from the “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” video for their final song, “O Father O Satan O Sun.”

This show was excellent! The line-up was a great mix and I really liked the contrasts between the bands. The early start meant that the bands got to do good long sets. Behemoth were clearly at the top of their game, and I’m definitely going to be keeping a close eye on Black Crown Initiate.

(Previously published at Bucketlist Music Reviews)

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