Behemoth w/ Watain

 The Opera House 

May 08 2012

   The Decibel Magazine Tour (sponsored by the same mag) featuring four extreme European metal bands playing North America together for the first time, hit Toronto near the end of the 26 date jaunt.

   Openers Sweden's In Solitude and The Devil's Blood from Denmark did an admirable job setting the stage for the true evil about to be unleashed upon the yearning crowd.

   When Sweden's Watain hit the stage is where things got really sinister. The band actually missed the first four dates of the tour in April due to a sudden (but not surprising) delay getting proper visas into the U.S. but wasted no time beginning their Toronto aural assault. Opening with "Malfeitor" from 2010's stunning  Lawless Darkness album, the band attacked the crowd with merciless fury. Their stage less resembled a standard rock show and more like a coven prepared for a ritualistic ceremony. Menacing front man Eric "E" Danielsson prowled the front of the stage proudly observing the chaotic mosh pit that had he had conjured below him. Ever wonder what Marilyn Manson has nightmares about? Believe me, it's this guy. By the time they finished their set with the sprawling epic "Waters Of Ain" the crowd had witnessed black metal performed live at its finest.

 

 

     Behemoth began their thirteen song, 70 minute headlining set with a dramatic rendering of the track "Ov Fire And The Void" with the stage bathed in shards of bright blue light.

     Many in the crowd seemed to be giving front man/ lead guitarist Adam "Nergal" Darski a reverential hero's welcome and for good reason. In 2010 Nergal was diagnosed with leukemia putting the future of the band in question. In the in-term a series of archival releases (the 2 DVD/1 CD live Evangelia Heretika  plus the rarities roundups Demonica and Abyssus Abyssum Invocata  both double CD sets) kept up the group's profile and most likely helped with hospital bills.  After a successful bone marrow transplant, the 2012 Nergal is cancer free and determined to prove that his powers remain undiminished. Considering what he has been through, it wasn't a hollow boast when at the beginning of "Conquer All" he shouted "It's so fucking great to be alive!"

   The band relentlessly ran through song after song with frightening intensity. "Decade Of Therion", "Slaves Shall Serve" and "Chant For Eschaton 2000" were all performed with an unremitting focus. The dramatic lighting effects also added considerably to the presentation. A dark purple tone often washed over the group interrupted suddenly by sharp flashes of bright crimson.

    Ending the night with a riveting reading of "Lucifer" left the sweaty congregation at the brink of exhaustion,  so punishing had been the proceedings.

   If Nergal is able to keep his health issues in check, there is no doubt that Behemoth are set to become the world's first arena level black metal group.

Robert Lawson 2012.

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Photos by Robert Lawson