Eluveitie Opera House, Toronto ON February 6

Eluveitie Opera House, Toronto ON February 6
A meeting of two tours makes for an epic barrage of metal but doesn't guarantee the people will come. This Toronto convergence landed Death Angel and openers Lazarus AD and Bonded by Blood right in the midst of Eluveitie's headlining North America tour, supported by 3 Inches of Blood, Holy Grail, and System Divide. The show began necessarily early with four half-hour sets in various shades of metal. By the time 3 Inches of Blood came out like a galloping mammoth, the venue was pleasantly full, only a few people distracted by the Super Bowl on the bar TV.

Eluveitie's Celtic metal -- which made up the longest and final set of the night -- presented a stark contrast to Death Angel's straight-forward San Francisco thrash. Besides the usual guitar/bass/drums foundation, the Swiss band features a violinist, hurdy gurdy player, bag pipist/flautist and a lead singer who plays flute and mandolin as well. Big metal guys with flutes make for an unusual but oddly symmetrical lineup, and that symmetry carries over into their songs and tight performance.

The drinking pen emptied out for Eluveitie's set while the floor teemed with life, a sign of how well they played to the crowd. Inviting a contest-winning fan to join them on guitar for one track, the band emphasized audience participation throughout, including an untranslated language lesson of sorts. Layered melodies reigned over riffs, the whole propelled by a steady forward momentum. Eluveitie are heavy, but intricately accessible, interweaving traditional tunes and instrumentation, female and male vocals, folk sounds and metal. It's a lighthearted, even fun, combination. And in the end, one more reason for choosing metal over football.

For reviews of the other bands on tonight's bill, head here.