Enslaved, Ne Obliviscaris, Oceans Of Slumber// Club CANN, Stuttgart, Germany // 30.09.2016
Friday the 30th day of the month and after a quite warm one, September was coming to an end. And what an end! It was time for me to see for the first time – and I hope not the last – Enslaved playing live. Fall was taking its toll on us for good with the weather getting gloomier and cloudy. So it was all in order to visit a dark and gloomy concert. The streets in front of the venue were full of people. It is the time of the year when here in Germany the Oktoberfest is celebrated. Well of course not in Stuttgart, but in Munich. In Stuttgart there is also one, which kind of antagonizes the original one. And the venue is really close to the locations of this festival. There are also thousands visitors every day, so the situation was a bit surrealistic. On one side German people were going to the festivities and leaving from them with their traditional outfits, and a lot of people dressed in black visiting the concert on the other.
The evening would start with OCEANS OF SLUMBER at 8 pm. At least that was what I was informed about. Unfortunately the gig started an hour earlier and the not so joyful position of the opening act became even more awkward, because the band had to play in front of a crowd of not more than 30 individuals. I was lucky that I had to watch them in full, missing just a couple of minutes. The setlist of the Texan band was largely composed of songs from their latest excellent album named “Winter” with the exception of “Remedy”; a song from their first release. The band had really delivered despite of their thirty minutes playing time. Their latest release is one of the top 3 albums I have listened to in 2016. Their music is at the same time enchanting and powerful, and those two feelings among others were absolutely evident through songs like “Devout”, “Nights in White Satin”- a cover version of The Moody Blues song – and the last one on their setlist “Suffer the Bridge”. Their on stage performance was remarkably good with Cammie dancing seductively on the progressive doom tunes, and the band headbanged with every chance, and when the hard brutal parts were taking their turn. The sound was perfect and my neck had already warmed up.
The next on line was a band called NE OBLIVISCARIS. This Australian band is consisting of six members and they are quite known for their technical abilities. And indeed what they have shown us was absolutely brilliant and worth watching. Though they played for about an hour, their setlist was not more than seven songs – if I had counted correctly. But it is totally understandable for most of their songs exceeding the ten minutes on duration. In spite the fact their music is complex and not likely the music that a headbanger or a mosher can enjoy easily at a live gig, their appearance was most complimentary. The crowd had increased in numbers and seemed to really enjoying the appearance of the six piece group leading by Xen – the harsh vocalist and founding member – and Tim Charles – the clean vocalist and violinist. As far as I am concern the complexity of songs such as “Devour me, Colossus (part I): Blackholes” or “Forget Not” is not favoured to perform live, but the energy that the band transferred to the audience was incredible. Songs with diverse tempos and emotions were performed by the group flawless, while the spectators were totally enthusiastic. Once more the sound was excellent and the transitions from the melodic, shifting and even dancing parts to the brutal death metal parts with the blastbeats, all were executed down to the last colourful note. And that was applied on all of their songs. “Painters of The Tempest” – I think all three parts – and “Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise” were in my humble opinion really breathtaking. What Ne Obliviscaris had to offer us, they did it a thousand percent magnificent. Although I haven’t got the chance to listen to them more carefully before, this performance had opened my eyes.
After the normal break that take place as always so that the stage could be prepared, and my eagerness was hitting high. The time was right and I was about to witness my childhood’s heroes after 25 years of their existence as a band, the almighty ENSLAVED. One by one the members of the Norwegian band were appearing on stage. First Mr. Bekkevold, then Mr. Larsen was taking their places behind the drum kit and behind the keyboards respectively. Ivar Bjørnson followed and Arve Isdal after him, both equipped with their guitars. The frontman Mr. Grutle Kjellson took his place behind the microphone also equipped with his Gibson bass guitar- an iconic image after so many years – and like that the five piece group from Norway completed their entrance.
All of them waved a bit welcome to the audience and with some last adjustments to their instruments; the first screams filled the venue calling us to approach life from the seeds of time. The sonic attack of “Roots of the Mountain” made the crowd headbang without hesitation. The night started with the perfect omens and what followed was worth my long waiting. “Ruun” came after and the ecstatic emotions begun to overwhelm me. Their sound was incredible. The energy was floating all around the venue and Enslaved were performing with the confidence gained through their long 25 year career. A small introduction for the next song was made, as the singer and bassist told us that this track is about the one who looks over the rainbow (perhaps referring to Heimdall?) and the chords of “The Watcher” spread through the speakers.
Taking a break in between the songs, the band took the chance to introduce them. If I was to be asked I should say that this seemed to be needless. Grutle having the role of the frontman made the introductions referring to Ivar as a grizzle bear and to Arve as the one man in band having a common with Lars Ulrich. What was that? They both played tennis, but of course Arve is still playing rock ’n’ roll. The mood of Enslaved was really uplifting and the atmosphere kept in high spirits with the humour of the band. Songs like “Building with Fire”, “Ethica Odini” and “Ground” demonstrate us the progression of the band through the years and how excellent performers they are. Grutle and Herbrand were creating in each of these songs their own dialogue of black metal screams and clean poetic singing words. Mr. Cato Bekkevold was a steady rocky mountain of rhythm on which the songs were built and Ivar with Arve were spitting their riffs, both headbanging constantly.
“The Crossing” and the big wolf “Fenris” gave us a taste of the band’s near and distant past. And while their set came to an end and the audience screaming for more, Enslaved came on stage for one last song. As it was claimed the time was not enough and there would be problems with the police – that’s how it works in Germany -, so the band played as encore a hymn for the father of all; “Allfǫðr Oðinn”. Thought the clock was only showing a few minutes to 11 pm and though a song was missing to complete the setlist (I think if I understood correctly, Grutle said to me to the interview earlier in the evening that they planned to play “Heimdallr” as well).
Nonetheless I can’t deny that it was definitely a closure into a great evening. I was enthusiastic to have a chance to watch three awesome bands live, and I will try to catch Enslaved again as soon as possible. If you are thinking to visit a concert of Enslaved near you, I recommend it 1.000.000%!!!