This is what happened on Thursday: I went to a metal show!
Bill, being one of the GTA's last unreconstructed old-skool metalheads, has been threatening for years to drag me to one of these things, and when he found out super-loud Swedish death-metal combo Arch Enemy
would be playing the Opera House, he decided this was the perfect opportunity. He e-mailed me a couple of sample MP3s last week. I searched out the lyrics
and just about died laughing
. Seriously. I still cannot even think about the line "CARNIVEROUS JESUS! I NEED YOUR FLESH!" without cracking up. I decided this would be entertaining & agreed to go. Bill's friend Karen, whom he'd previously dragged to a Death From Above 1979 show, came along as well.
It was an all-ages show, and the crowd consisted almost entirely of fresh-faced 17-year-olds in metal t-shirts. The t-shirts were all for different bands, but they all looked brand new and exactly the same: black, with some kind of skull-based logo on the front, and some slogan or bandname on the back, in either gothic or stencil font. "'Batlord,'
that's an excellent bandname," noted Bill. "That's what Batman started calling himself after he moved to England and bought himself a peerage," I said. The crowd was about 70-30 boys to girls, and was perhaps the least seedy audience I have ever seen in a Toronto bar.
The most notable thing about Arch Enemy is that they have a female vocalist, Angela Gossow
. If Linda Blair's character in The Exorcist
had never had her demon exorcised, had moved to Sweden and acquired a thick accent, and after an awkward puberty and adolescence had grown into a stunning blonde, and if she and her demon had realized that with her looks and his voice they could make it big in the glamorous world of death metal, she would be Angela Gossow. I don't understand how it's anatomically possible for her to produce those sounds, let alone sing like that for ninety minutes without bleeding profusely from the throat. It's pretty cool, though. She's really stomping on the grave of a lot of sexist stereotypes about women in rock. She tossed words of girl-power encouragement to the female contingent in the audience: "This goes out to all my lady friends in metal! You are the true...DEMONS OF ROCK!!" The kids were eating it up.
The audience was at least as much fun to watch as the band. From where I was standing I had a good view of the mosh pit, which reminded me irresistably of animated educational films about what happens to the molecules in water when it boils. At first the kids were all standing around watching the band: cool water! Then the metal riffs broke out, and they all started jumping around and slamming into each other: kettle's boiling! There was a lot of crowd surfing, which was really something to see: big husky boys bobbing around on top of a sea of hands, like bits of styrofoam on a stormy lake. Three bison-sized security guards stood directly in front of the stage to prevent kids from being tossed onto it, like flotsam washing up onshore. Also, the kids threw the devil-horns hand sign
a lot, and even waved their lighters in the air. "They throw the devil horns when they feel the rock," Bill explained solemnly. "But only
when they feel the rock."
Here are Bill and Karen, feeling the rock:
Lots more METAL photos here