Wintersun @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US)

WINTERSUN / NE OBLIVISCARIS / Sarah Longfield

Date: 06th October, 2018
Venue: The Bottom Lounge
Ticket: $25/€22 (in advance) - $30/€26 (day of)
Promoter: n/a


No matter how you feel about WINTERSUN’s crowdfund activities, you just have to accept that their studio doings are awesome (albeit a bit sporadic), and for this they have established a very strong and loyal following on both sides of the Atlantic. This is exactly why The Bottom Lounge was extremely close to reach the sold-out status (maybe it did after a while), with an already excited crowd. Yeah, there were WINTERSUN t-shirts everywhere and that was a solid guarantee that we would have lots of epic Metal fun.

After missing Sarah Longfield’s set, it was time for the Aussies of NE OBLIVISCARIS to hit the stage, and clearly, there was a group of fans in the first rows proving what I had realized a while ago - that this band from down under has been a hard working one spreading their music upon US soil. Yeah, I can recall a couple of times seeing the name of NE OBLIVISCARIS touring the States and the loud cheer welcoming the six-piece lineup was a loud attestment of my aforementioned realization.

“We are NE OBLIVISCARIS from Melbourne, Australia”, said Tim Charles and without further ado he let the music doing the rest. “Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes” kicked off the set with the fast double-bass drumming and the growling from Xenoyr’s throat. NE OBLIVISCARIS play an intricate mix of Progressive Metal with strong Black Metal undertones, and this can be a hard shell on a live setting, if one is not familiar with the music. The venue’s PAs system and sound mix need to be perfectly calibrated and setup to handle all the layers these Aussies have set on their songs. I think The Bottom Lounge system did quite well and gave the band the opportunity to reach out to ears that were oblivious of what NE OBLIVISCARIS’ high-skilled musicianship delivered. Sure, it was challenging to start the set with a 12-minute song, but at the same time, being a WINTERSUN fan, one should be accustomed in following complex song structures. This means that pairing NE OBLIVISCARIS with the Finns was a great idea and it did work great. The slow part with the violin melodies and the clean vocals came out awesome and the way it guided us back to the growling and the faster tempo was perfect. Plus, the chunky guitar part was the perfect occasion to headbang, no matter if you knew the band or not.

Being an opening act and having this long in time duration songs meant minimum talking but that perfectly ok because once you enter the realm of NE OBLIVISCARIS it is better to stay there and not get distracted by the in-between-songs chit-chat. The moody “Intra Venus” was next, and watching the audience’s clapping-along participation during the clean-guitar / bass-part was (another) proof that the Australian band has been on a rising course here in the States. During “Libera (Part I): Saturnine Spheres”, Tim stepped into the photo-pit to join the fans in the front rows and spiced a bit more the already high-level of enthusiasm. I love when band’s members do these small gestures, especially nowadays where spontaneity seems to be missing from the majority of Metal shows. The efforts of getting more people engaged in the show paid off, and if I am not mistaken, during Libera (Part I): Saturnine Spheres” there was some chanting along. Despite the long songs,  NE OBLIVISCARIS managed to build the excitement and led the show into a climax during the fast part of “And Plague Flowers The Kaleidoscope” which was the last song of the night for the Australians who after thanking  everyone for coming promised to return and, honestly, I would be surprised if they don’t. Yes, NE OBLIVISCARIS delivered the goods and piqued my interest even more to dig deeper into their backcatalogue.

NE OBLIVISCARIS setlist:

01. “Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes”
02. “Intra Venus”
03. “Libera (Part I): Saturnine Spheres”
04. “Urn (Part Ii): As Embers Dance In Our Eyes”
05. “And Plague Flowers The Kaleidoscope”

NE OBLIVISCARIS

Ne Obliviscaris @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ne Obliviscaris @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ne Obliviscaris @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ne Obliviscaris @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ne Obliviscaris @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Ne Obliviscaris @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ne Obliviscaris @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ne Obliviscaris @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ne Obliviscaris @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ne Obliviscaris @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)


It was time for the main course of the night, and since the name of tour was ‘The Forest Seasons’, it made absolutely sense to have the cover artwork of the namesake album as a backdrop (ok, the venue was not big enough to host that size, but about ¾ of it was visible). It also made sense to start the set with “Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring)” as the building the tension intro was great to put everyone into the WINTERSUN mood. On the other hand, starting things off with a song about Spring during Autumn created a most welcomed antithesis (in a way trying to delayed winter...) Season-talking aside, it was an extremely excited band that took over the stage with Jari spearheading the attack. Being free from the guitar duties, the charismatic (and perfectionist) singer was able to roam the stage wearing the biggest of smiles. As you may be suspecting, there was no warming up period and the dedicated audience picked up this energy surge and increased it to the point of establishing a mosh-pit. That’s right, a nice mosh-pit in a WINTERSUN show (one would be expecting to see such actions in a Thrash show). After all, the riff-based break was like butter to hot bread for such festivities and it was great to participate or in my old(er) case stand and watch. “Chicago, are you awake?” asked Jari but I am sure he already knew the answer, but in case he didn’t, he got a loud cheer and a definite response.

Going back to the seasons-subject, the next one definitely made more sense as the Chicago weather has shown its sharp winter teeth more times than I care to count... That’s right; “Winter Madness” was next and saw Jari running from stage left to right making the stage look too small to hold his excitement. Chicago was wide-awake and threw more fire into the mosh-pit with young WINTERSUN fans who had a full tank of Metal fuel and were happy to deplete it, following this almost blast-beat tempo. After keeping a high gear for almost 20 minutes, it was time to slow things down with “Sleeping Stars” without moving away from WINTERSUN’s “old shit” as Jari introduced those last songs of the set. This was the first time for me seeing the new guitar duo live, and I have to say that Asim Searah is a great match to Teemu with his more outgoing style as compared to his fellow guitarist. “Chicago, how does it feel to be alive?” was another rhetorical question Jari asked before ending the “old shit” suite with the fast and epic Power Metal galore of “Starchild”; damn, this song comes ten times better than on the record and this says a lot about this band’s high musicianship. Then, it was back to the latest album with what I consider the best song of the bunch. Oh yeah, the pre-recorded intro marked the time for mid-tempo and dark “Loneliness (Winter)”. The dramatics of this one send shivers down my spine in the same manner the entire “Time I” does. The way the repetitive guitar parts (is there some BATHORY hidden there?) are combined with Jari’s expressive singing is an amazing thing to witness, especially during the massive chorus. Damn, that could have been a tough one to match if only there were more goosebump-sending songs our way. Jari introduced Asim and then asked the fans to light the stage with their cell-phones, and right there, I found myself for the first time in my life thankful for these little gadgets which are a pain in the neck in every show (people tend to watch entire shows through the eyes of the camera instead of using their own...) Anyways, Jari’s will was granted and “Sons Of Winter And Stars” looked as great as it sounded proving that WINTERSUN are in a champions mode. Until Jari proves me wrong, I will keep considering “Time I” as the best WINTERSUN album, and I believe watching the action around me, I was not the only one thinking like this. Oh my, the galloping part with the “I have awaken the darkness” line cannot get better than this, so watching lots of fists pumping made absolutely sense.

I am sure there were a lot of Chicagoans who agreed with Jari when he stated that “winter sucks” just before “The Forest That Weeps (Summer)” with lyrics that were totally out of season... Did I say that there is some BATHORY flair in this album? Oh yes, there is, and it sounds amazingly live. I am sure that all the online junkies out there were already familiar with the next one which was branded as a new song. Apparently, WINTERSUN had put together “Storm” as a treat for the North US tour but it is uncertain whether it will be part of the next album. No matter the case, this was a riff-driven and a fast one making absolutely sense with its title. After this one, the band left the stage but no one moved an inch because it had to be more... “Did you like the new song?” Jari asked once the band returned onstage, and after getting a positive cheer, he went on; “that makes us so happy” with another wide smile that underlined what he had just said. The two encores that followed featured 20 minutes of music with the first and shorter one being “Battle Against Time” which gave a great opportunity to get the mosh-pit going once more. For me, and for the reasons I have already mentioned, the climax of all climaxes was the amazing “Time” that dropped the curtain after an epic set of 12 minutes. I know that Jari has said that it will take a lot of time for WINTERSUN to return to the States, so with that in mind, the set felt not enough to quench our thirst, so hopefully his promise will fall short. At any case, when WINTERSUN will cross the Atlantic, we will be there to cheer and headbang!

WINTERSUN setlist:

01. “Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring)”
02. “Winter Madness”
03. “Sleeping Stars”
04. “Starchild”
05. “Loneliness (Winter)”
06. “Sons Of Winter And Stars”
07. “The Forest That Weeps (Summer)”
08. “Storm”
09. “Battle Against Time”
10. “Time

WINTERSUN

Wintersun @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wintersun @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wintersun @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wintersun @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wintersun @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Wintersun @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wintersun @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wintersun @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wintersun @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wintersun @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Wintersun @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wintersun @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wintersun @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wintersun @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wintersun @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)