Neurosis / Converge / Amenra Danforth Music Hall, Toronto ON, August 2

Neurosis / Converge / Amenra Danforth Music Hall, Toronto ON, August 2
Photo: Sarah Kitteringham
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Amenra's live show was one hell of an introduction to the Belgian band. Kicking off a tight, three-band bill at the Danforth Music Hall, the band gained hundreds of new fans with their sludge-meets-hardcore sound, evoking a myriad of greats before them. Merging Buried Inside, Breach and headliners Neurosis, the band had a subdued stage presence, with vocalist Colin H. van Eeckhout turning his back to the crowd for the vast majority of their set. The coupling of their aggressive songs with their sombre, reverent stage performance was heightened by a naturalistic backdrop projected behind them.
 
Converge and Neurosis have long intertwined histories, but the former felt oddly positioned on this bill, if only due to the venue's large size and elevated stage. Converge are one of the best metalcore bands ever, and accordingly, their Entombed-core, merged with apocalyptic ruminations approach to the genre, drew a massive crowd befitting their quality.

Therein lies the problem, though: they're best suited to a small venue, as their style is intense, sweaty and emotional. Regardless, they riled up the floor crowd to a fever pitch, causing much triumphant head banging to set closer "Jane Doe." By the end of their set, the sold-out venue felt that way as fans pushed closer throughout the set. There's little arguing they are fantastic live, and are aging gracefully.

Neurosis played a curious set focused on songs from their newest offering, 2016's Fires Within Fires. Throughout the legendary band's tenure, their sound has morphed from hardcore punk to tribalistic sludge to expansive post-prog (and that's hardly doing them justice). After warming up the room with classic track "Lost" (which sounded absolutely gargantuan with its unnerving pre-recorded sample-laden intro), they eased into back-to-back warm and sombre new songs. The juxtaposition of this decade's tracks and their '90s offerings made the differences abundantly obvious.
 
Classic banger "Locust Star" from career highlight Through Silver in Blood was received with ample head-jerking and swaying, while set closer "The Doorway," from the iconic wolf-clad Times of Grace, was similarly riveting. Neurosis closed out this perfectly booked bill, well, perfectly.