Gloryhammer, Aether Realm and more at L'Astral (2019)

L'Astral (Montreal, Quebec)

Gloryhammer, Aether Realm, Valfreya
Face it JF, you are not 20, 25 or even 30 years old at this […]
By Jean-Francois Poulin
June 5, 2019

Face it JF, you are not 20, 25 or even 30 years old at this point. Hell, you are pushing 40! What
the hell are you thinking in going to see a show in the middle of the week, when you know you
have to get up pretty early to go to work the morning after? Well, its because GLORYHAMMER
came to town, and I sure as hell didn't want to miss this opportunity. This is their second time
                    here in the Belle Province. The last time was at Heavy Mtl a few years back but they only played
for something like 30 minutes I believe. This is the first time they headlined. I though this band was a highly
guarded secret and that not a lot of people knew about them. Well, I was certainly in for a shock. The place
was packed to the gills. L'Astral is one of the newer concert venues in Montreal, and holds about
600 to 700 people,  and it was completely packed. So, I was pleasantly surprised, and feel confident that the next time they come, they
will have to find a bigger venue.  That's for sure.

VALFREYA opened the show at 8 o'clock, right on the button. Gotta love that there was no
messing around and everything started on time. Everyone came out of the building at a much more
reasonable of an hour than many of the concert venues in Montreal. VALFREYA are a local band that
have been around for over a decade. They're a Folk Metal/Death Metal band that have been opening
for a lot of great Power and Folk Metal bands throughout the last decade. They have a female
singer that does  growling and clean vocals. She has a good stage presence but her vocal styling
do not fit well with the band's music all that well. Speaking of the rest of the band, there were 6 on stage
and that was too many cooks in the kitchen.

They felt disorganized and were stepping on toes of the
other members. It was chaotic at best. The violinist, which may be the best member of the band
and does an amazing job was, well she felt squeezed by the lead guitarist and the singer. She seemed a
bit out of place and when she wanted to do some of her solos, she was buried in the sound of
the rest of the band. From the little I have heard, she's an awesome musician, but we just couldn't
hear her well enough during the show. This band has some energy, and musically it isn't bad. But at times it
seems like every man (and woman) for him(her)self. The band did not seem to gel at all and
everyone was doing their thing. They did put a lot of energy in their performance and the crowd
seemed to react very well to it (including one hell of a "Wall of Death") and it's not easy to open
for Power Metal favourites like GLORYHAMMER. A honest performance but far from impressive.

The second band of the night was AETHER REALM. The Boston band is back again in Montreal,
after opening for ALESTORM a few years back I believe. They now are a more stable band, with
no part-timers this time. Last time according to people that were at the show, including Maxime
Pagé from Thorium Mag (great, down to earth guy who I was happy to talk to all night)
told me they were a bit complacent and that bassist was bored out of her mind. Fast forward to
two years later, and the band was on fire. I never really heard about the band until a few weeks back
when I listened to the ''Tarot'' album. It was really impressive, but you just have to see them
live to witness that sound; that magic in the air. The singer is one hell of a nice guy who was posing for pics
and signing autographs before the show, and it seemed he was just a pleasant guy to be around in general. He got
progressively drunker the longer the set was going (they actually had a bit of trouble beginning
their set, but it was all in good fun, and they thrived after that miscue).

AETHER REALM are a mix
bag of older WINTERSUN mixed with some INSOMNIUM. You have a bit of Progressive-Doom
Metal elements here and there, especially on the last song of the set that was ''The Sun, The
Moon, The Stars''
. The song is usually a 20 minute epic that was cut down to only 5 glorious minutes.
They tore the roof down and did a masterful job. The singer was happy to be there and they
delivered one hell of a show, making me an instant fan.

Well, the masters of ceremony were next, the glorious GLORYHAMMER. I was lucky to live
through the glory (pun intended) years of Power Metal in the late nineties to early 2000's and I was
pretty damn spoiled with the likes of RHAPSODY, STRATOVARIUS, SONATA ARCTICA,
HAMMERFALL amongst countless others. But for me, it's been about 15 years now, and there's been no new band
that has struck the type of passion in me as GLORYHAMMER has. You only have a few bands here and there that have that classic
sound and are delivering similar quality Power Metal. Bands like DERDIAN, POWERWOLF,
BLOODBOUND and then you obviously have GLORYHAMMER. GLORYHAMMER are the best of both worlds,
they live in this fantasy world and they have outrageous names and songs about undead
unicorns, goblins and a boatload of songs about hammers! They don't take themselves too
seriously, and they deliver quality Power Metal.

Tonight Astral was on fire. It was a party, just an epic party. Hell, before GLORYHAMMER came
on, we got a medley of Tom Jones songs for crying out loud! Funniest (and scariest) thing is that
everyone knew the lyrics and we just had fun with it!. We had some Carlton Banks style dancing in the crowd,
and it was really a sight to see.
GLORYHAMMER were pretty much epic. From the opening chords of ''The Siege of Dunkeld (In
Hoots We Trust)''
, the place was on fire. There smiles on people's faces, and you gotta love people
dressing up in costumes (that guy with the unicorn hat, and props to the guy that was literally
dressed up as the singer). It was a blast, they have so much energy it was contagious with everyone  jumping
around. We got 6 songs from the new album, which I was not too familiar with, as
it had been out for like only 3 days. Yet,it seemed everyone (except yours truly) knew the lyrics by heart, hell, all
the songs. The crowd was singing along with the band. It was a sight to see. We got some really
great classics like ''Angus McFife'', ''Legend of the Astral Hammer'' and ''The Unicorn Invasion
of Dundee''
. They finished their set with the latter. No wasted energy, everything was spot on,
they seemed to have a blast. The interaction between the charismatic singer and the crowd was
pretty fun, he even actually interviewed a fan in the front row (presented himself as Vincent from
France). The singer told him to go fulfill a quest, go get something at the bar and come back in
the front row, well, by god, the crowd brought him to the bar and he crowdsurfed back to the
front row and then onto the stage. He shared a beer with the lead guitarist, it was a beautiful

An epic setlist, just a big freaking party, and I haven't seen so many smiles on the faces of  fans
exiting a venue than I did that night. Even though you're tired the following morning, it was all
worth it.


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