Samael Gets Your Attention But Amorphis Owns Your Soul
Show date: September 29, 2008
Venue: B.B. King’s Blues Club & Grill
Bands: Amorphis, Samael,
Lately my music cravings have been sated exclusively by men from cold harsh climes, generally famed for their inapproachability and cruel mythology. I was understandably excited about Samael and Amorphis joining up to play B.B. King’s on the 29th of September. D42 concurred and accompanied as per usual.
I have a bit of a history with Samael. They played Wacken Open Air 2007 and from the shivering depths of my tent I heard the strains of distortion and glottal fry of Vorph. I couldn’t force myself out that night and when my sudden tentmate woke me up at 3am to tell me how good a show I missed a seed of discontent was planted. Surely, seeing Samael open for Amorphis in a small venue in NY isn’t as awe inspiring an experience as seeing them on a German battleground at 2am with thousands of rabid metalheads, but I still felt a little better. There is a large portion of my music worshipping being dedicated to the industrial sound, which is why I’m still babbling about this Swiss ensemble of black, doom, and above all industrial metal.
Amorphis, hailing from icy Finland, was new to me. I knew in my heart of hearts that I blasphemed by not getting their music earlier, but somehow I just let them slip through my fingers until now. With Tomi Joutsen on vocals they offer not only the death metal screech or growl, but also clean vocals, which admittedly is manna to my ears in the usual discordant mess of music that I subject them to.
Tonight the crowd at B.B.’s was gothier than usual, but also more gregarious. In between sets a guy who was certainly not American and identified himself only as The Troll demanded photographic evidence of having been in our company. During Amorphis, a girl with some serious stamina attached herself to us rather bodily and refused to let go. She is Sharon. She tasted our love, and it tasted much like wrath.
Samael was on stage for only 45 minutes if not less and didn’t appear to have a setlist per se, but played “Solar Sound”, “Slavocracy”, and a few others from Solar Sound, their 2007 effort. Lunar Rise is still in the works.
“Into the Pentagram”, from Worship Him (1991) was introduced as an “old song, more dark and evil” and it was pretty evil during the first few wails to hammering drums, but then quickly became standard Samael—insistent drums, energetic keyboard, and typical guitar riffs with droning vocals. The effect was entrancing, but admittedly the songs did not differ greatly from one another, saved from being one long song only by the different intros and the chorus. In any case, during “Alliance” I screamed my head off. Whatever their shortcomings, the lyrics are distinguishable and I was part of a crowd growling along with Vorph like nobody’s business.
The last cords died away and as they left the stage Vorph, Makro, Mas and Xy yelled things and blew us kisses. To be honest I felt ridiculous throwing up the horns at them, they were just so damn lovely.
During the break d42 and I went for a quick jog around the block to get some crap from the car. We were still wonderfully high on coffee and wound up by Samael. Going full speed through Times Square I barreled into a man who didn’t even get a chance to voice his horror as he saw me coming directly at him.
Amorphis came out on stage to a low roar of approval. Niclas Etelävuori (bass) announced that Tomi was having some trouble with his voice so he wouldn’t talk and in general, they would do their best not to fail us. Tomi mouthed something at the crowd between gulps of water, and then went all out during every song.
Whereas I enjoyed Samael, I was owned by Amorphis. Whatever trouble Tomi was having did not in the least prevent him from lashing the audience with his dreadlocks and screaming his heart out. I also loved their versatility: Tomi actually crooned a bit into the mic and the clean vocals made something in my chest expand and tears stung my eyes. Niclas, as the spokesman, talked about Silent Waters, their new album and they played a few songs. Sounded like it needed buying to me.
There was an obvious but understandable lack of a mosh pit (you may remember this crowd was somewhat gothy and goths are good only for swaying carefully in one spot) but after a few hand gestured from Tomi my blind headbanging was interrupted by a body hurtling in my direction. I made my way closer to the pit and was faced with a dilemma. I itched to go in, but wanted to do so without damaging the expensive camera in my hand and the equally expensive surface piercings in my chest.
My answer came in the form of Sharon, a small girl with an unending supply of energy who spent a minimum of two hours jumping up and down and screaming in people’s faces. She grabbed my arm and started pulling, I grabbed d42 and pulled too. Then I smashed us up into a hug, grinning faces close, and careened at the first convenient pile of unsuspecting bystanders.
After some minutes of this behavior I tried taking a short break, but Sharon kept grabbing my hand and trying to make me jump about. I’m not a small person and I wear heavy boots—me jumping is detrimental to all feet around me. So I grabbed her up and back into the pit we went. Inexhaustible as she was, she let off a bit after that and d42 became the primary victim of her energy.
During the performance Niclas announced that as they were walking around NY, they ran into an old friend from Finland who is going to help them on the vocals. Which he did.
Amorphis played an encore during which I nearly broke my neck headbanging and then walked off stage with huge grins. They, too, blew kisses. D42 and I laughed all the way home.
Go Forth and DIEEEEE!!!