I had never heard Junius before I saw them open for Enslaved at Toronto's Opera House. I was impressed enough to peruse their merch table but a few weeks later I find Reports from the Threshold of Death less inspiring than their live performance.
After missing Alcest headlining in 2010 (for various unfortunate reasons) I was excited to see how they come across in concert. I enjoyed their set - they sounded good - but felt the atmosphere wasn't quite right: too big, too bright, too rock'n'roll? The stage-front fan raising a single leaf in emblematic tribute amused me (unanticipated entertainment). Am I misremembering, or did people try to get a bit going during the heaviest of Alcest's songs?
I was thoroughly wowed by Enslaved's set opening for Dimmu Borgir last December (and kicking myself for missing earlier performances). They were my main motivation for this Friday night run to Toronto and I was not disappointed. Grutle Kjellson's bad puns are no match for the stand-up comedy routine of Opeth's frontman but the jokeyness was cute. (in fact, I'm thinking there's a research project here on Scandinavian metal humour) And Enslaved, as a group, are fantastic performers, playing persuasively to a diverse crowd (including the guy yelling, "play some black metal!" behind me). There was no pyro or blatant theatrics beyond the charisma and talent of the band members themselves, but there might as well have been in terms of dramatic effect. Enslaved have secured a place near the top of my list of favourite live performers.
If you want a more coherent review with some excellent visual documentary evidence, check out the killer Walschots-Wills combo over at Hellbound.ca.