Amorphis / Orphaned Land / Ghost Brigade
11 November 2010
Islington Academy, London
Ghost Brigade are a band who, probably like many others present, only came onto my radar because of this gig.With the benefit of a very loud, but clear sound, they would certainly have left with quite a few new converts.As a reference point they dwell in the same dark shadows that fellow Finns Swallow The Sun lurk with a hint of Katatonia and Cult Of Luna for good measure.
This is obviously then not happy clappy stuff, but music to become immersed in.Light and shade is applied with the guitars and bass weaving subtle gothic passages before they crash down with distorted energy.Similarly, singer Manne Ikonen switches between a clean melancholic vocal and pained screams.The frontman clung to his microphone stand as if the weight of the world would drag him down, whilst either side of him guitarists Tommi Kiviniemi and Wille Naukkarinen switched from swaying and shoegazing to attacking their instruments.
Highlights included the heavy Suffocated and instrumental 22:22 – Nihil woven around a repeated riff at various volumes and levels of aggression.
Ghost Brigade setlist:
Deliberately / My Heart Is A Tomb / Into The Black Light / Lost In A Loop / Suffocated / 22:22 – Nihil / A Storm Inside
By contrast Orphaned Land’s sound seemed far less balanced.A lot of additional instrumentation and effects were consigned to backing tapes, which on a couple of occasions were not behaving, which really exposed their use. The set was split between latest album The Never Ending Way Of OrwarriOR and previous releases Mabool, with a focus on songs to bounce or sing along in a “la-da-da-da” fashion.
With shoulder length hair, beard and white robes, frontman Kobi Farhi took to the stage with a raised benediction hand gesture to the crowd.Quelling any doubts he confirmed, “I swear to God, I’m not Jesus Christ”.Meanwhile to his left bassist Uri Zelcha’s mass of hair had him resembling Captain Caveman.
However, whilst I’d been impressed by the band when I’d seen them at ProgPower UK 2006, they didn’t really do anything for me tonight.The set felt torn between Orphaned Land’s pretentions of a more progressive nature and trying to be a Middle Eastern Korpiklaani, but without live traditional instruments.It took until penultimate song Ocean Land (The Revelation) for anything to truly grab my attention, by which point I’d been glancing at my watch wondering how much more was left to come.
Orphaned Land setlist:
In Thy Never Ending Way (Epilogue) / Barakah / The Kiss Of Babylon (The Sins) / Birth Of The Three (The Unification) / Olat Ha’tamid / Sapari / Ocean Land (The Revelation) / Norra el Norra (Entering The Ark)
Whilst the venue had not sold out, it couldn’t have been far from it by the time Amorphis took to the stage.The turnout and reception must have had the Finns wondering why they left it until last year to finally make a trip here after 20 years.
Frontman Tomi Joutsen spared little time for chat tonight as the band ploughed through a 15 song set which touched on all their albums with the exception of Tuonela and Far From The Sun. With Joutsen mainly singing with his eyes closed and the rest of the band relatively restrained, it did feel a little detached at times, however the organic quality of Amorphis live was sufficient to ensure a quality performance.
The set opened with a trio from the Skyforger album before taking us back to Elegy with Better Unborn which had the crowd chanting “hey, hey, hey” along with the opening riff.
With the band having just released Magic & Mayhem – Tales From The Early Years, which features re-recordings of songs from their first three albums, some “ancient” material came as no surprise. Song Of The Troubled One felt like it had a new lease of life with a 1970s vibe created by the keyboards, whilst Exile Of The Sons Of Uisliu provided the most aggressive moment of the set, with Joutsen standing on the monitors windmilling his lengthy dreads.
The Smoke invoked a crowd bounce along, with the band pausing mid song and Joutsen beckoning the crowd. A switch to the tour setlist saw House Of Sleep into the tail end of the main set, with Joutsen telling us it was our turn to sing and the crowd obliging.Meanwhile old favourite Black Winter Day wrapped up the main set.
With the likes of Silver Bride and My Kantele still up their sleeve, Amorphis ensured they left London with a thoroughly satisfied crowd and have now marked the UK as a territory worth keeping in their future touring plans.
Skyforger / Sky Is Mine / From The Heaven Of My Heart / Better Unborn / Silent Waters / Song Of The Troubled One / Exile Of The Sons Of Uisliu / The Smoke / Alone / My Sun / House Of Sleep / Black Winter Day / Into Hiding / Silver Bride / My Kantele