Volbeat/ The Sleeping/ Dommin @ the Mod Club, Toronto ON, August 17, 2010

Live review by Natalie Zed; Volbeat Concert Photography by Adam Wills

Despite the fact that I’m sarcastic bastard and a bitter cynic in all matters of the heart, when it comes to metal, I am usually a bundle of goddamn sunshine. I like metal. When I meet new metal, I actively try to be its friend; I want it to be good. Usually, when music disappoints me, it’s for a justifiable, quantifiable reason: the aesthetic is inconsistent; some aspect of the performance failed; or the overall sound is just not my thing. Any hint of negativity in the reviews I’ve written up until this point has been, I hope, positive criticism — useful, encouraging, pointing out a flaw to be rectified or a weakness to be improved upon. Usually, I want the bands to keep working, to do better.

This is the first time I have ever felt the need to actively protect the rest of the world from something I’ve experienced. I have no desire to offer something constructive or helpful. I would not like them to improve; I would like them to stop.

This review is going to be a bit odd, lopsided and out of order. I want to talk about Volbeat first, if only to separate and excuse them from the vitriol I am about to unleash. I have no bone to pick with them at all. Their heavy metal/rockabilly/early rock’n’roll gangster aesthetic is fantastic. They’re greasy, twangy and a hell of a lot of fun to see live. Michael Poulsen embodies their sound: lean, punchy muscles, the lines of his brow and cheekbone just a little haggard from hard living, slicked back, dark hair and covered in old-school tattoos. His voice is surprisingly clean (although he claimed to be suffering from a cold and therefore would be busting out his “Corpsegrinder” voice more than usual). Volbeat’s set was idiosyncratic and playful. They performed a cover of Misfits‘ “Angelfuck,” as well as a series of mini-covers during their encore, including “Raining Blood.” They closed with “Still Counting,” which stayed with me afterwards, and has become a surprisingly pleasant ear-worm, gnawing away ever since the concert. Like many of their songs, it is supremely singable, dark and cola-sweet, satisfying in the lungs. I’d love to see Volbeat again. They’re somehow both skeezy and classy; they fuck with boots on.

Pleasantries out of the way, let’s talk shittiness. What you need to know is that it’s a goddamn miracle I was able to salvage enough of my good mood to actually enjoy this set after the opening bands.

Immediately preceding Volbeat were the Sleeping. I’m willing to admit right now that I may not have been willing or able to give them a fair shake. After Dommin, I was in a poor enough mood that I was unwilling to extend them any generosity as an audience member. I experienced a brief flicker of hope when I saw them setting up a theremin, which was promptly extinguished when its only use was to provide a cool sound while the band members took the stage. While they were not nearly as offensively bad as their predecessors, neither did they do anything to impress. For trying to embody a hardcore aesthetic, their frontman was lacklustre and tired quickly. Their sound was devoid of anything that captured or held attention and after a few songs, I found my mind wandering away almost entirely. I was bored. If I am bored at a concert, something is profoundly wrong.

Saying that I am bored should be the grimmest insult I am able to level, the deepest cut at my disposal. However, whereas the Sleeping managed to make me, Natalie Zed, Supreme Liker of Things, actually apathetic, Dommin pushed me further, right out the other side into full-blown, righteous anger. They are revoltingly bad. They call themselves gothic metal and in identifying themselves as such, I want to garrote them on behalf of Peter Steele’s estate. Their stage presence is half-hearted and effete, barely slick and entirely humourless. They clearly spent more time and attention on their hair than on playing their instruments. They attempt to create an urban-vampire vibe with their set pieces (quasi-Victorian clothing, a curl of metal thorns, roses on the mic stand), but wind up coming across as disingenuous, stylistically bloated and artistically empty. Standing at the back, shaking our heads in disbelief, intrepid Hellbound photographer Adam Wills and I (and company!) managed to come up with the following phrase to describe what we had just witnessed: “the rape-baby of HIM and Billy Idol, conceived at the Cabaret Voltaire.” That’s the best we could do. The reality was so, so much worse.

Writing this has made me feel a little bit better. I am lighter somehow — cleansed. I hope only that, in suffering as I did to bring you this review (the good, the bad and the fecal), I might spare a few of you from ever having to tread such grim and douchey paths.

Adam has been a photographer for Hellbound since day 1 and also has a hand in the technical aspects of running the site. Plus he’s the man behind heavymetalhamilton.ca.

  • Natalie, I could have written this review (with much less soul and humor) without seeing the show. Why did you even go???

  • Because Volbeat are awesome?

  • Invisible Oranges: because I am an Journalist! I had to see the horror for myself before I could take fingertips to keyboard…

    And (@ Adam Wills) because Volbeat are awesome.

  • Couldn’t agree more on the opening bands. Ugh. When I saw Dommin take the stage, my first thought was “Oh great, this band has a keyboard player,” followed by “and they don’t have a bassist, either.” Their singer/”guitarist” used his instrument as an accessory more often than not, so that most of their songs were keyboard-driven.

    The ultimate lowlite had to be when they tried to hype up the crowd by saying “You’re not gonna have any voices left for Volbeat cuz you’ll all be screaming along to this one. I know you know the words…”

    The song in question? “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonite” by Glass fuckin’ Tiger. The first time I’ve ever seen a band try to hype up the crowd by covering Glass Tiger at a hard rock/metal show–and hopefully the only time. In fact, I’m surprised that it didn’t deserve mention in this review. 😛

    Peace,

    Greg

  • Kim

    Wasnt it Cutting Crew who had a hit with the track I Just Died In Your Arms???

  • Sean

    Yes, it was Cutting Crew. Sadly I must admit to knowing this mundane musical fact. I think it was a big hit when I was in grade 9 or 10.

  • What was Glass Tiger’s big hit, then? “Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone”? Neither band should be played at a metal show, in any case…

    Peace,

    Greg

  • Bob Wolff

    I’ve not followed Metal/rock music much since Metallica “sold out” in the 90’s…Just wasted away into early middle age subsiding solely on the music from my youth. I’ve been disgusted with the last 10 years of commercial rock (Papa Roach, Nickleback, Godsmack – I liken these bands to food from Denny’s or IHOP).
    But there is hope yet! Thanks to Sirius, my eyes have recently been opened to Volbeat – the first band I’ve actually been excited about in 15 years! I saw them in San Francisco Aug 26th, 2010 – and was blown away at the quality of Volbeat live…what an awesome and refreshing approach to Metal. They absolutely bleed Metallica…yet remain original with the overtones of Punk, Old School country, rockabilly…nods to Elvis and Cash, Metalllica of course.
    Natalie, as for the openers, I’m not sure who the first act was…someone from TX I believe, but Dommin played 2nd seat. Although I was not overly impressed with Dommin, I can’t say their show was horrible…certainly no 70’s rock throwback/tributes in there – just one Cobain tribute – also not terrible.
    Natalie, I felt it necessary to provide a review of Volbeat here though…hope you dont mind. Your scathing review is aimed more at the show as a whole, and I have no doubt very justified, but the openers aside, Volbeat deserves some huge nods. Truly one of the best Live acts I’ve ever seen!

    Bob

  • James

    The first 2 bands just sucked ,,,,,, can’t sugarcoat this ,,,, BAD BAD BAD. Volbeat on the other hand, lit the Mod Club up. Even if they were short 1 guitarist and limited in what they could play, they still put on one of the best shows I’ve seen. Live or CD these guys rock and roll old school.

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