This past year, I was fortunate enough to attend 35 different metal performances. There were a couple of duplicates (This Will Destroy You), but for the most part each performance was unique and left an impression in its own way. So, in going back through the past year and finally deciding to tally these shows, I thought it’d be a worthwhile idea to go over some highlights. You’ve obviously seen the more detailed concert reviews the days and weeks following various shows here, but the goal here is a high level recap of my favorites. This has proven more taxing than I would have anticipated, however. Looking back now, I don’t think there was a single show that I did not get at least something out of. Regardless, in no particular order, here are nine (ten?) performances that stood out to me last year.
Bell Witch/Primitive Man, 11/3/2017, Geno’s Rock Club, Portland, ME
I’m going to cheat right off the bat and consider the Bell Witch/Primitive Man show a single entity. This concert left the impression that it did because these two sets fell back to back, so there is no way I could mention one without the other. This show absolutely kicked the shit out me in the best way possible. One set was a continuous piece of death/doom that seemed to go on for an eternity, and the second featured one skull-shattering track after another. The immensity of this show is still resonating.
Insomnium, 8/31/2017, Royale Nightclub, Boston, MA
I’ve seen Insomnium a handful of times now, but their performance preceding Lacuna Coil and Epica may have been the most rewarding. At least recently. Featuring a healthy portion of Winter’s Gate as well as a number of classics going back in the catalog a bit, it covered as much ground as we could have hoped for in the set time given. Their sound was perfect, the performance was full of energy, and there wasn’t a moment I didn’t enjoy.
Sannhet, 11/15/2017, 3S Artspace, Portsmouth, NH
Minor technical difficulties aside, my final show of 2017 was a memorable one. This Will Destroy You, the headliner, was awesome as always. But it was Sannhet’s set that stood out to me the most. As mesmerizing as their most recent effort, So Numb, is on record, the live performance is on an entirely different level. Between the music and the well-executed light effects on the stage, Sannhet offers a live performance that you get completely lost in.
Katatonia, 4/21/2017, Irving Plaza, New York, NY
I made the journey down to NYC for this show. The Fall Of Heats was beloved by just about all of my metal friends in the area, so this tour obviously needed to be celebrated together. And, as expected, the Swedes delivered. I’ve always sought them out when they come around, but this one meant just a little bit more. And now that it’s come out that they may be taking some time off, I am even more grateful that I was able to attend this show.
Black Anvil, 2/18/2017, Royale Nightclub, Boston, MA
Black Anvil was one my favorite discoveries of the past year, and this set was how it all came about. As Was obviously ended up on my EOY list, but I hadn’t heard any of those tracks until this performance. Each track resonated more than the last, building up to the concluding, incredible, “Ultra”. The set truly allowed their complex, catchy blend of black metal to absolutely take off. Between a killer new album and a tremendous live performance, Black Anvil had quite the year.
Heavy Temple, 3/11/2017, Geno’s Rock Club, Portland, ME
This ended up being one of those rare situations where I actually managed to convince multiple people to attend a show with me. That is always a risky endeavor. But this was a good one. Each performance was enjoyable in its own way, but it was Heavy Temple that took this night. Their fusion of doom metal and fuzz won over absolutely everyone. Not only new to my friends, it was also my first exposure to this trio. Needless to say, I will definitely be seeking them out going forward.
Mutoid Man, 6/4/2017, The Great Scott, Boston, MA
I had been looking forward to this show for awhile, given how incredibly fun War Moans was. The live show absolutely lived up to expectations. It was a blistering set that moved quickly, filled with tons of energy and personality. Especially Brodsky, who brought as much charism to the stage as I could have hoped. Plus, this night was significant because of my run-in with the Chimera folks. Mutoid Man, brining friends together since… I guess 2017.
Neurosis, 8/6/2017, Royale Nightclub, Boston, MA
I’m going to round this off with two sets from the same show. Neurosis headlined a show that opened with Amenra and Converge, and Josh and I were fortunate enough to cover it… at the same time and place. Yes, Josh made the journey to Boston for this ‘can’t miss’ tour. Seeing Neurosis had been a dream of mine for years. To say it was an experience unlike any other would be a total cop out, but it was. I really don’t have a ton more to say about this set beyond that. One of those ‘you had to be there’ kinda things.
Amenra, 8/6/2017, Royale Nightclub, Boston, MA
This inclusion comes as a complete surprise to everyone, I’m sure. (Sarcastic, obviously) The sound, the imagery, everything. A totally mind-altering set. I had waited years to see Neurosis for the first time… and this band I had only discovered in the past year or so won the night easily. And I was still extremely satisfied with the headliners. It was just that immense. Do yourselves a favor and experience their show if the opportunity ever presents itself. My only wish? That I could have been at their Mass VI release show.
Well, that should just about do it. Plenty of other sets left their mark last year, but these were the ones that stood out (slightly) above the others. I have yet to grace any shows to this point in 2018, so I’ve been in a bit of a slump in recent months and it’s frankly starting to get to me. However, there is plenty on the horizon and I cannot wait to begin the 2018 concert journey. Stay tuned!
“Ein Bier… bitte.”