Entwine has been in no hurry lately when it comes to releasing albums. After taking a 6-year break, the band released their newest album, Chaotic Nation, in autumn 2015. Even though they had already brought the tour through Helsinki in October 2015, they brought their live show back to Virgin Oil Co. in Helsinki on April 13th, 2016. Accompanied by outstanding newcomers Arion as the opening act, it was time to see if the band could still deliver a solid gig on the infamous Friday the 13th.
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Virgin Oil looked a bit empty as I arrived at the venue 15 minutes prior to the start of Arion’s gig. The majority of the crowd were sitting at the tables enjoying their drinks, and I could only hope that they would get up and come in front of the stage when the band would start their show.
The last time I got the see Arion was last September at On the Rocks. Back then the band had just revealed their new vocalist, Lassi, Vääränen after Viljami Holopainen announced that he would part ways with the band. Being the first live gig with Lassi, the whole band was still adjusting to the new situation. Now, after some more shows behind them, I was eager to see how things had developed over the past 8 months or so.
The gig started with the intro “The Passage,” followed by “Shadows” and “Burn Your Ship.” At first it looked like the majority of the crowd would keep on glancing at the show over their pints but soon the front of the stage was occupied quite nicely by people, some even singing along to the songs.
Even though the band and the crowd seemed to enjoy themselves, I found it somewhat difficult to fully concentrate on the gig because the sound quality was just plain abysmal. Unfortunately, Arttu Vauhkonen’s keyboards were one of the worst victims of the sound problem depending on where you stood, which is a sad way to welcome someone back from their mandatory year in the military. I couldn’t say if it was because of the venue or the sound guy, but along with the keys, a lot of the time the vocals were overrun by the drums and the guitar. When Amy showed up two songs in, she mentioned that Moonsorrow‘s sound at the same venue had been decent even though VOC isn’t exactly known for their quality, so take that as you will.
Toward the end of their set, the band gave the crowd a pleasant surprise by playing two of their new songs from the band’s upcoming and thus far unnamed album. The first song, “Unforgivable,” is going to be officially released in a month or so, though it was already their new live debut last year. The other new song was “At the Break of Dawn” featuring Amaranthe’s Elize Ryd (via backing track). The song, along with its lyric video, was released in March, receiving an enthusiastic welcome from the fans. Both of the new songs are recognizably Arion but with a bit of a heavier twist. Needless to say, I can’t wait for the guys to release their second album whenever that happens. Also I hope at some point in the future, Arion will be able to perform “At the Break of Dawn” live with Elize.
Since the last time I saw them, Arion’s stage presence has developed, though I would have still hoped for some more action up there. However, I have to note that the space between the edge of the stage and the drum set was clearly too small for Lassi. He seemingly would have liked to move around a bit more if given the space. This works as a nice metaphor for the whole band: if given a chance, these guys look like they’re ready for bigger things in their career. As always, we’re all expecting big things from these guys and hope that their fanbase keeps growing exponentially!
The main act of the evening, Entwine, started their set at a quarter past midnight – a bit too late for my liking even though it was a Friday evening. Full-time workers know where I’m coming from. I have to confess that my past with Entwine is almost non-existent. Back in my early metal days I did give this group a try, but after a few songs I decided they were not for me. Now, almost 10 years later and one week prior to the gig, I gave their new album, Chaotic Nation, a try and found it to my liking at least for some parts.
As the band came on stage, they were greeted cheerfully by the audience. During their 6-year absence from the studio, the band had played only a handful of gigs and festivals, so I can only image the delight of the fans when the band decided to release new material and start touring again. It was also worth noting that we saw a familiar face on stage – Tomi Luoma of Machinae Supremacy was subbing in once again for one of the guitarists.
It really was Friday the 13th since the bad sound quality followed Entwine on stage as well. I noticed the band’s vocalist, Mika Tauriainen, signaling to the sound guy several times, apparently because he couldn’t hear himself well enough on stage, which Amy could attest to, standing right up front and being nearly 100% unable to hear the vocals at any point. However, the sound problems did not hinder the band. At least it didn’t stop Tauriainen from drinking straight vodka and spurting water from his mouth over his band mates (and the audience) several times. The whole band seemed to be in a good mood and excited to be on stage again performing their new material.
The new album was clearly on display during this show, with the same songs (in a different order) from their album release gig in Lahti. Entwine performed eight songs from Chaotic Nation, starting the show with “Saint of Sorrow” and “End of Silence,” which are two of the strongest choices to kick off a gig from the album. It was a bit of a surprise to find out that they also performed a total of six songs from Fatal Design, which dates back to 2006. In my experience, the artists tend to focus on newer material rather than performing music they did 10 years ago (unless you’ve been doing it for 30<, then 10 years is nothing), so that was an interesting choice. It’s interesting to note that the guitarists and bass player were switching out their instruments after nearly every song – it’s nice to see that they didn’t hold back on technique and style, even at a smaller venue like this.
Despite my lack of prior knowledge, Entwine’s material had some effect on me and I still found myself enjoying their live performance – even though towards the end of the gig I was too tired to really get excited about what was happening on stage. Luckily the rest of the crowd took care of the clapping and shouting. All-in-all, the atmosphere in Virgin Oil was great – people were singing along and reaching their hands towards the stage in hope for a hand shake from Tauriainen. The band really threw their all into this show, all of them soaked and flushed, which is commendable in a show with sound problems and a smaller audience – these guys are definitely willing to give the crowd a night to remember!
Ending the encore with the single, “Plastic World,” the crowd could see one happy band and the band could see a happy audience in Virgin Oil. When it comes to my own overall experience, I would definitely give Entwine a second go. They still might not be totally my cup of tea, but they’ve got elements both in their music and live performance that I found satisfying. The worst part about the night was that you had to make a choice between hearing the music and lingering back at the sound booth, or being up front and seeing the band. Here’s hoping that next time we see them, we get some proper sound so we can enjoy their show to its full potential!
1. The Passage
3. Burn Your Ship
5. Last of Us
6. You’re My Melody
8. At the Break of Dawn
1. Saint of Sorrow
2. End of Silence
3. Out of You
4. Chameleon Halo
5. Bleeding for the Cure
6. Bitter Sweet
8. Frozen by the Sun
9. Fortune Falls
10. The Evil Lives in the Shadows
11. Fatal Design
13. Revolt for Redemption
14. Lost, but Still Alive
15. As We Rise
16. Break Me
18. Plastic World
Text: Essi Nummi (& Amy Wiseman) | Photos: Mira Penttilä | Ed: Amy Wiseman