That being said, I generally detest standing at the front because, not only is the sound muddy, but is it also less optimal for listening. In this particular instance, however, that was not my concern, as I was interested in seeing the two perform since they were purportedly masters in a live setting. The other three bands--Withering Soul, Reign of Fire, and Lighting Swords of Death--would be like icing on the proverbial cake if they were decent.
As I braced myself for the coming onslaught, I moseyed over to the half set-up merch booth and looked over a vast array of tees, vinyl, cassettes, and CDs. Being the massive Vreid fan that I am, I decided to nab a Welcome Farewell shirt and Vreid Goddamnit concert that is grossly overpriced on Amazon and, better yet, playable in United States-coded DVD players. Much to my dismay, patches and other memorabilia from bands not even performing would later appear at the booth. I definitely missed out, but I suppose that's what the internet is for.
Reign of Fire appeared next and were band I was skeptical about based on their sound check. Most of their guitar riffs were composed of simplistic, syncopated chugs and painfully boring instrumentation--the song writing wasn't much better, either; and I grew increasingly disgusted through the remainder of their tedious song roster. In recent memory, I haven't seen a group more guilty of combining the laziest elements of metalcore and groove metal, which were good for reving the crowd up and a saving grace, considering their unusual paring with the other bands. To Reign of Fire's credit, they were fantastic performers, but their music was largely hit or miss, with the emphasis being on "miss."
|Lightning Swords of Death|
I'll shamelessly admit that my sole reason for making the trek to Joliet was Vreid. Starting with Milorg, I became a full-on convert toward the four piece's melodic black metal, and they rapidly climbed the ranks to being one of my favorite bands. I'm happy to report that Norway's finest didn't disappoint, but I was afraid they would fail to meet my expectations with their stiff introduction. Past the first song, thankfully, they loosened up and consciously made an effort to immerse every concertgoer in their music, fan or not.
With little variation between studio and live performance, perhaps Vreid's best quality was their trueness to their albums. I repeatedly caught myself thinking how flawless they sounded, reflecting upon the hours of practice needed make each member seem as one. Although most material was pulled from Welcome Farewell, "Disciplined," in particular, was the highlight because the spiraling ups and downs translated well into a live setting. Seeing the song firmly cemented my opinion that Milorg is the perfect gem in Vreid's discography, and a record you'd be silly not to have in your collection. I would be lying, though, if I didn't mention that "The Reap" is spectacular and excellent at reeling the crowd in.
Melechesh were the last to play, and supposedly incredible live, but Vreid were more than enough to satisfy me. It was clear most of the crowd had come to see Melechesh, as they congregated toward the front of the stage and excitedly chanted the band's name. Nevertheless, I still held my spot, only to be rudely tapped and pushed upon by a drunk, who gradually grew more annoying during the remainder of the show.
Of the songs played, I knew a few. The closer, "Rebirth of the Nemesis (Enuma Elish Rewritten)," received the most response, with its fast-paced rhythms and driving guitar riffs, but "Ladders to Sumeria" was arguably the best at achieving the Middle Eastern vibe the act is known for. "Deluge of Delusional Dreams" was also superb--the handful of songs I recognized were from Emissaries, prompting me to pick up Melechesh's most recent and, of course, the rest of their discography.
Despite not being familiar with a staggering amount of material played, taking the three hour drive to Joliet turned out to be worth the expense and effort. Vreid were absolutely killer live, I crossed Melechesh off the bucket list, and Lightning Swords of Death will find a place in my collection, sooner or later. I'd say it was a great night, wouldn't you? It's certainly one I won't forget.