Published Jun 10, 2009Post-metal and sludge shows can often suffer from one of two distinctive shortcomings: poor sound and lack of momentum. Fortunately, someone in charge had their head screwed on right, and Isis's (pictured) Toronto stop at the Phoenix on their Wavering Radiant tour went off without a hitch. A big reason for this was Tombs, whose unconventional blend of influences started the evening off with a bang and set a precedent the headliners were forced to match. Blowing the audience away with a deft fusion of black metal, post-rock, and sludge, ex-Anodyners Tombs are on the cusp of blowing up and seemed fully aware of it, delivering on both atmosphere and precision in spades. Pelican followed, suffering, as per usual from a mediocre drumming but pushing forward through the sloppiness with a moderately entertaining set of spacious instrumental tracks. What they lacked in dynamics they made up for with the euphoric infectiousness of their riffs, which are undeniably memorable and consistent.
Soon enough, Isis took to the stage, with many in attendance wondering how the band's denser, more melody-driven recent fare would do in a live setting. To the shock of some and appreciative headbanging of others, Aaron Turner and co. sounded incredible, lending the new material some heft not present in the studio recordings and holding the set down without delving too much into their back catalogue. Later on, certain mainstays such as "In Fiction" appeared, as well as Oceanic favourite "Carry" and the rousing "Celestial," as a predictable, yet effective encore. It's fair to say that the general impression left on all who attended was satisfaction. While the gig didn't really deliver any surprises, Tombs are ready for great things, and Isis and Pelican certainly won't be losing any fans anytime soon.