Canadian metal band The Agonist returned to Japan after a long absence and showed their Japanese fans that they still got it, reports Caroline Misokane.
The Agonist, Cellar Darling, Vulture Industries, Icarus Lives and Cancer at Cyclone, Shibuya, Tokyo, 25th August 2018
Following the two Australian opening acts, as the stage curtain is raised once again, five Norwegian guys dressed in a very peculiar way become visible, with vocalist Bjørnar Erevik Nilsen raising his hands for the audience to follow him. Vulture Industries starts playing the high-energy “Tales of Woe” from their latest album “Stranger Times”. While all the band members do a great job, with much passion and dedication, it is impossible to not feel mesmerised by Bjørnar’s psychedelic performance. His body is led by the beat of the songs, while his voice just comes from the bottom of his soul, paralysing the ones in front and beside him. Guitarists Øyvind Madsen and Eivind Huse are very connected with their riffs, but it is when they also assume the vocals that things get even more intense. To close its first ever Japanese show, the band chooses to do a cover of Devil Doll’s “Blood Don’t Eliogabalus”. During the song, Bjørnar comes down from the stage, dancing in circles among the people and choosing two fans that are pulled closer to him while he is singing with his dark voice very close to their faces. I guess they were a little frightened. The venue may not be huge, but Vulture Industries is definitely the kind of band that gives everything to an audience of 10 or 10,000 people, and that is what makes a show unforgettable in the end.
The Swiss trio Cellar Darling, formed by Anna Murphy, Ivo Henzi and Merlin Sutter, comes with folk metal roots from their time in the band Eluveitie. It is not an exaggeration to say that when the new group was announced I was expecting excellence – and that is what we get this evening. Opening the show with “Black Moon”, Anna Murphy brings deep emotion in her voice from the first to the last note. It has been a while since a band thrilled me this way. The atmosphere created by the connection between band and audience brings tears to some eyes, including mine. Even when her hurdy-gurdy instrument stops working, Anna continues to lead the show amazingly, even making some jokes about it. Guitarist Ivo Henzi has a fine personal touch in every riff and solo he plays. The chemistry in the band is incredibly beautiful. The highlight of the band’s set is “Avalanche”, the opening song of the “This Is The Sound” album and also the band’s debut single. With the audience singing every word, Anna lets them lead the final chorus, letting people scream their hearts out while showing the band their love and respect. As the problem with the hurdy-gurdy gets solved, the band starts to play “Redemption”, a beautiful song starting with only vocals and hurdy-gurdy that keeps growing until the final verse. They finish their much too short set with “Challenge”. This was definitely one of the best shows I have seen so far this year. A mixture of emotions and storytelling was present from the first to the last song. Doubtlessly Cellar Darling has much more to offer to their audience. The Japanese fans will surely see them again soon.
The evening’s headline act, Canadian metal band The Agonist, is back in Japan after a six-year absence. Starting their set with the aggressive “My Witness, Your Victim” from 2015’s “Eye of Providence” album, singer Vicky Psarakis shows us why she was the one chosen to give voice to the band’s lyrics. As the fans have been waiting to see The Agonist for a long time, soon the audience goes crazy, banging their heads and, following Chris Kells’ command, the first circle pit of the night appears. “A Necessary Evil” and “Thank You Pain” keep the flame alive, while Vicky does an awesome job combining screams and clean vocals. With her powerful-yet-sweet clean voice, it is difficult to decide which I prefer. When a performance is so intense, some brief pauses are needed for both band and audience to breathe. Continuing with “The Tempest”, considered by many fans as the band’s anthem, guitarists Danny Marino and Pascal Jobin give us a lesson in heavy riffs and fast solos, while Vicky and Chris share the vocals and leading the audience to madness. It is a short set, but it is long enough for the band to show that after some time of changes and conflicts, they have found their place and have stood their ground in the metal scene.