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Live Reviews : Wintersun, Orpheus Omega & Claim The Throne @ Max Watts 02/11/2017

By on November 6, 2017

Images: Shane Henderson
Words: Matthew Hansen

Being a Wintersun fan for the past 13 years has come with its fair share of patience. After their highly acclaimed debut release in 2004, fans had to endure an 8-year wait for new material; a wait that was surrounded by one controversy after another. Regardless of all the drama and torturous years of waiting, people still stuck around. Now, here we are many years later and Wintersun has just released their third full-length album in ‘The Forest Seasons’ and finally grace Australian shores for the first time.

Perth Melodic Death Metallers Claim the Throne was first up off the ranks, and although it’s always tough for opening bands, these guys absolutely tore the place to shreds. Currently on tour supporting their new album ‘On Desolate Plains’, Claim the Throne made sure not to hold back and got the crowd absolutely pumped with their new tracks. Although some of the finer melodies found in their songs were lost in the live atmosphere, they made up for it with sheer brutality and a high energy show that enticed people in. The thing that caught my eye was the fantastic work behind the drums by Ashley Large, a mixture of going hell bent for leather for the most part, and pushing through with great rhythm sections that highlighted Claim the Thrones folky-infused riffs. The shared vocal work with male growls and female cleans also worked tremendously, and sounded impeccable just as it does on the recordings.

Orpheus Omega was next up and to be perfectly honest are a band I have seen before, but did not enjoy all that much. Although I was worried, it still managed to go in with an open mind and I’m glad I did because they tore up. The crowd work by vocalist/guitarist Chris Themelco was outstanding, getting people up and about as they were eager for Wintersun’s set. I really feel like this band is starting to hit their stride, especially when they whipped out a few new songs. Their songwriting feels stronger, and their stage presence was evident throughout the whole show. I did, unfortunately, find myself cringing with some of the keyboard work, it definitely feels out of place in some songs and could definitely be toned down. Orpheus Omega definitely seems to be on the rise and is a band I suggest we keep a keen eye on over the next few years.

So, at this point, both supporting bands have come and gone and done a fine job, but now there is a feeling of angst and overpowering excitement filling the room. The room is filled to the brim, as people stand in their new Wintersun t-shirt, beer in hand. People have been waiting so long for this, but just now as we stand in front of a dark empty stage the wait couldn’t be more painful. Every second feels like hours, everyone is staring around at each other and the feeling in the room is one of suspense and excitement, then all of a sudden it hits. The intro from the new albums opening track ‘Awaken From The Dark Slumber’ begins and everyone pushes forward to get as close as they can to the stage. The guitar and drums kick in as Teemu, Jukka, Asim and their tour drummer hit the stage, a minute passes by before Jari rushes out screaming the first line of the song; I’m not sure what roar was bigger, his voice or the roar of the Melbourne crowd.

Although it’s sad that we can’t enjoy the beautiful guitar work of Jari Maenpaa, the addition of Asim as the second guitarist has allowed Jari to focus and his live vocals and that call has absolutely paid off. Jari would have to be one of the leading heavy metal vocalist that excels in both clean and screams, and his stage presence is undeniable. It was also great to watch Teemu play live who is an extremely talented guitarist, as the night went on he was standing in from of a fan blowing his hair back which made him look as majestic as his guitar work.

Wintersun has been known for long songs, and whilst they played songs spanning through all of their albums, they played 5 songs that were over 10 minutes in length which took up over half of their set. Not once did you get bored of a song, or even realise that you were 12 minutes into a 14-minute epic track, at times it almost felt like time was standing still.

Jari worked wonders with the crowd, consistently getting people involved and chanting along with the songs. Asim, Teemu and Jukka also worked well as a unit and clearly looked to be enjoying playing together. All the riffs were impeccable, which was all tied together with Jari absolutely nailing his vocal performance. The highlights for me was the final track from the latest album ‘Loneliness’ which had that real cold, dark feel to it and was absolutely spine-tingling. I was also extremely pleased that they played one of my favourites from the first album, ‘Death and the Healing.’

Wintersun was never really seen as a touring band, only really playing festivals for a matter of years, but it looks like that is set to change. If this show is anything to go by, Wintersun could be up for a whole lot more touring and have the potential to get even better. This was definitely one of the best live shows I’ve seen, but in saying that I might be slightly biased as Jari could stand on stage and just burp into the microphone and I’d probably love it.