Eluveitie / 3 Inches of Blood / Holy Grail / System Divide
The Granada, Lawrence, KS
February 10, 2011
TyreeReview by: Tyree

Although technically I did enjoy an entire day of live music at Irish fest this year, the last actual heavy metal concert I attended was three years ago. Last night I put that right.

Last night was System Divide, Holy Grail, 3 Inches of Blood, and Eluveitie at the Granada in Lawrence, KS. Unfortunately, Patrick and I were busy bullshitting and not watching the road, causing us to overshoot our turnpike exit by quite a few miles. This resulted in our missing the opening act, System Divide, entirely. A shame because I've listened to a little bit of their stuff since last night and find I like it quite a bit. I'm a sucker for anything with soaring female vocals, and put off by anything with macho screamo vocals. System Divide has both but somehow the vocal duo (who are apparently husband and wife,) make it work and the music is brutally heavy. Would have really liked to see if they pull it off live.

We made it just in time for the second band, Holy Grail. Nothing here but nice, old fashioned heavy metal that makes you ask "Is it 1981?" We're talking spikes, leather, and songs about swords, enemies, Valhalla, running your sword through your enemy to send them to Valhalla, etc., which is exactly what I like. Even cooler is that the band members all looked incredibly young. Seriously, if you combined the ages of these five men into one person, that person might - MIGHT - just barely be able to draw Social Security. But they delivered crazy awesome guitar riffs, soaring vocals, and a great good-time vibe. Holy Grail have renewed my faith that our musical heritage is in good hands among the next generation.

Apropos of nothing, if the whole metal band thing doesn't work out, the lead guitarist could have a great future as a romance novel cover model. There seemed to be an atypically high number of females in attendance at this particular metal show and it seemed quite a few managed to cluster up in front of the part of the stage where he was playing. You can't tell me he's not buying his condoms in bulk while on the road.

3 Inches of Blood were up next and they won't be gracing any romance novel covers unless there's a subgenre I don't know about catering to women whose fantasy is paunchy, shaggy-bearded biker dudes. I've enjoyed the musical stylings of these five ugly, frightening Canadian men for a few years now and I was proud to see them pull it off live. They played most of my favorite songs of theirs too; always a bonus. And again, lots of songs about swords, battles, demons, and demons riding into battle, wielding swords, while mounted on goats. Not making that up, either. Google "The Goatrider's Horde lyrics" for proof. Alas, I forewent buying their newest album in favor of Holy Grail's debut, but it was with great regret that I did so.

Special props to the two members of 3 Inches of Blood who both wore Type O Negative t-shirts. RIP, Peter Steele. You continue to be missed.

The band I really came to see were the headliners, Eluveitie. They were every bit as good live as I'd imagine they'd be and what a sight they are. Their ranks include, but are by no means limited to, a hulking giant who plays a pennywhistle not unlike the great god Pan himself, a drummer named Merlin whose bushy eyebrows and foot-long gray beard make him look like his sorcerous namesake, a tiny, cute-as-a-button young woman who manages to do the airplane while playing the hurdy gurdy, and a frightening dreadlocked man who serves as this strange army's field commander and vocalist. Man, he knows how to whip up a crowd. It's a testament to the entire band's ability that they can whip out acoustic instruments and get a crowd of teenagers moshing to traditional Gaulish folk tunes. I honestly didn't know Eluveitie had this many fans in America, but if they didn't before then they made a few hundred converts last night, if the number of kids sporting brand new Eluveitie t-shirts purchased that night is any indication.

Man, I'm glad I went. I am not letting myself go that long without seeing live metal ever again. I seem to keep getting older while the rest of the crowd around me at the shows get younger and younger. But I actually feel pretty good about that, knowing I'm part of something bigger than myself; something multi-generational.

As if I don't have enough on my plate, Amon Amarth is playing Lawrence on April 16th. Definitely can't miss that. But first is next week and next week is Motorhead!

Band Links Venue
3 Inches of Blood
Holy Grail
System Divide
The Granada


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