2017 to date has been an epic year for heavy metal/extreme music tours that has had many touring packages that included first class lineups from the headliner to the opening act. Saturday night April 8 continued this pattern as Finnish extreme metal act Amorphis headlined City National Grove in Anaheim with direct support from fellow Fins Swallow the Sun. Both bands are out supporting their 2015 releases Under the Red Cloud and Songs from the North I, II & III respectively. It has been quite some time since Amorphis has played in North America and the fans in attendance were certainly full of anticipation for their set (this being their 2nd SoCal appearance in as many nights as the band played The Whisky a Go Go the previous night in Hollywood).
The night was front-loaded with local bands that included The Dafneys, The Black Stone, Heavy Justice and one of Orange County’s favorite metal bands Voices of Ruin. VoR turned up the intensity level a few notches as they had all in attendance headbanging and throwing the metal horns throughout their set. A perfect way to prime the crowd for a double dose of Nordic metal brutality that was yet to come.
Swallow the Sun has toured with many different types of heavy bands and last played at City National Grove in late 2016 with Dark Tranquility. On this night Swallow the Sun played a lengthy 45 minute set and it was without a doubt one of their best performances both from an onstage perspective and a fan response perspective. With their style deep rooted in doom/death metal, their slow crushing delivery provides a chilling vibe and atmosphere. Vocalist Mikko Kotamäki has a beautiful mixture of clean vocals and death metal growls while the band delivers a sonic wall of doom. The crowd was certainly into this set as every head in attendance was nodding back and forth with the rhythm of the music. Usually hidden in the darkness of the stage with little front lighting, this night was a bit different as the band was literally in the spotlight throughout as the lights flashed and shone bright on each member. A memorable set by Swallow the Sun that now had the Amorphis faithful’s chomping at the bit for the band to hit the stage.
At about 11:25pm the members of Amorphis took their respective places on stage and began this epic musical journey with the title track off their 2015 release Under the Red Cloud and delivered 75 minutes of heavy, progressive metal with bits of folk and death metal sprinkled in equaling one of City National Grove’s best metal performances so far this year. Vocalist Tomi Joutsen led the charge with his melodic clean vocals mixed in with one of the most ferocious death metal voices out there. His energetic stage presence fueled the crowd to give back an equal amount of energy. Joutsen has one of the most interesting custom microphones that is almost impossible to describe aside from that it has small “handlebars” on each side of the actual mic which adds an interesting element to the visual of his singing.
Lead guitarist Esa Holopainen was in the spotlight often as he thrashed out his guitar solos while rhythm guitarist Tomi Koivusaari and bass player Niclas Etelävuori held down their side of the stage. The thumping drums provided by Jan Rechberger anchored the bands driving barrage of sound. The band played four tracks off their Under the Red Cloud CD and mixed in some other gems including “Sampo” and “Into Hiding” that demonstrated their death metal skills as well as their more progressive side.
After 13 songs the band played a grand encore that included a newer classic “Death of a King” and an older classic “Black Winter Day” . . . a magnificent way to end the show! If you were lucky enough to catch Amorphis at one of their two SoCal shows, consider yourself a witness of pure metal perfection as delivered by this veteran band from Finland. Amorphis continues their North American trek through April ending in New Jersey on April 23. If this show hits your city or town, you don’t want you miss it! New music from Amorphis can’t come soon enough!
Swallow the Sun Setlist:
Rooms and Shadows | These Woods Breathe Evil | Falling World | Heartstrings Shattering | Psychopath’s Lair | Don’t Fall Asleep (Horror Pt. 2) | Swallow (Horror Pt. 1)
Under the Red Cloud | Sacrifice | Sampo | Silver Bride | Hopeless Days | Skyforger | Bad Blood | The Smoke | Karelia | Into Hiding | On Rich and Poor | My Kantele | House of Sleep
Encore: Death of a King | Black Winter Day
Amorphis Photo Gallery
Swallow the Sun Photo Gallery
Voices of Ruin Photo Gallery