AMATEUR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY HOUR: NEUROSIS/Bell Witch/DeafKids @ The Opera House, August 15, 2019

Not so long ago, a Neurosis concert in Toronto was a rare occasion — but lately, they’ve become much more frequent. In fact, I can now say that I’ve seen ’em four times in the last six years, as they’ve played here every other year since 2015. Not that I’m complaining; the post-sludge legends still put on an awe-inspiring show after more than 30 years.

Mind you, compared to previous tours with the likes of Converge, Amenra and The Body, the supporting acts were somewhat lacking this time around. Brazilian trio DeafKids opened the evening with a sound best described as “noise rock.” It’s not so much that they sounded like the Melvins or Unsane, but they were quite noisy, blending the occasional groove with a grindcore flourish amidst a whole sea of effects. Their bass player was wearing a Bl’ast t-shirt, which might not be a bad reference point…

Sorry, but I still can’t get into Bell Witch. I have yet to make it through Mirror Reaper, their one-track, 83-minute album, in a single sitting — even though I own four separate copies of Jerusalem/Dopesmoker — and even their supporting set with Yob last year failed to make me a fan. Unfortunately, it was more of the same last night. They were about five minutes into their set before I realized they weren’t just doing a soundcheck, and the mostly instrumental duo was too plodding for the most part to really capture my attention, yet again.

Now, even if the stage was less than adequately set, that didn’t take anything away from Neurosis’ performance. Everything was pretty much perfect, from the sound to the lights to the size of the stage, and they were so loud you couldn’t hear someone speaking right next to you. To the band’s credit, they played an almost entirely different set than their 2017 tour — with “A Shadow Memory” and “Bending Light” from their most recent album, 2016’s Fires Within Fires, being the only holdovers. Even without an encore, they gave us 80+ minutes, with the closing crescendo of “End of the Harvest” crushing everything before they ended things with “Stones from the Sky.” I’m looking forward to the 2021 tour already! 😉

Gruesome Greg

Seahawks/Stamps/Flames/Zags/Jays/Raptors fan and lifelong metal head with a beer gut and a self-deprecating sense of humour. Reviewer/blogger (Yon Senior Doomsayer) for Hellbound.ca.