This concert had something very special that we rarely get here in Montreal, or should I say, the absence of something. Indeed, there were no local openers, only the two touring bands me and my friends came to see, and it felt refreshing. When I got in, the Irish post-black metallers Altar of Plagues were getting ready to play. Just by looking at them, two things caught my attention. First, they had two live members: a replacing bassist and a second guitarist, who (as smearCampaign already said a few days ago) was actually Stavros from The Atlas Moth. Second, James O'Ceallaigh looked more like a film actor than a black metal mastermind. Actually, he looked like a badass version of Robert Pattinson.
Though, he did compensate for his clean looks with his energetic stage presence (he was the only one in the band that really moved on stage) and the intensity of his screams. Though both session members didn't move that much they did a great job in creating the enormous, oppressive sound that is necessary to acompany Johnny King's bone-shattering drum attack and to create the beautifully depraved and stripped down sound that Altar of Plagues are known for. At some point during "Neptune Is Dead", Stavros even broke his guitar's sixth string and it looked like his hand had been snapped pretty hard, but he still managed to finish the song. This is what I call professionalism. To sum up, the Irish band brought us an amazing performance, and though I'm not a huge fan of theirs, I really enjoyed them. I'll have to give their albums more listens.
Next was the band that I came to see. This was my first time witnessing the atmospheric sludge of The Atlas Moth in a live setting, and the Chicago band did not disappoint. I had feared that the complex 3 guitars/3 vocals arrangements would sound muddy, but it was not the case. Everything was perfectly audible and balanced, while being extremely heavy. All the beauty of their songs was expertly translated into the live version, and the astral/spiritual feel of their music felt even more powerful. Stavros' shrieks gave me goosebumps, especially when they were harmonized with David's emotional singing. My personal highlights were "25's and the Royal Blues", "Your Calm Waters", and the moving chorus of "Holes in the Desert". I loved Altar of Plagues' set, but The Atlas Moth reached a higher level for me. Their performance affected me in an indescriptible way, partly because of how Stavros connected with the thin but receptive monday night crowd. He and the rest of the musicians seemed to be genuinely pleased to be on stage. I had to encourage them, so I bought them a CD and a patch.
If you live in or near one of the cities that will be hit by this tour in the next days (Boston, New York, Philly or Raleigh), please go support these two incredible bands.
Altar of Plagues
Neptune Is Dead
Earth: As a Womb
Earth: As a Furnace
Feather and Bone
The Atlas Moth
25's and the Royal Blues
Your Calm Waters
Holes in the Desert
...Leads to a Lifetime on Mercury
An Ache for the Distance