It wasn’t a very good night for openers Killswitch Engage, as they announced right before their set that their singer had “blown his voice” and Unearth’s frontman (who already sang that night) would be filling in. Fortunately, no angry rioting ensued, not even when they cut their set short and promised to bring a better show through town next time. Their technical defeat was accepted gracefully by the pierced-and-tattooed hordes, who gave KE a roomful of raised metal horns as a salute.
Without a doubt, the night belonged to Slipknot. With Number 8 (Corey Taylor) holding up a framed award for Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) reaching platinum in Canada, and a packed Arrow Hall, it was obvious that Canada and Slipknot work well together.
Despite focusing more on technical skill than image these days, Slipknot can still create a hell of a good atmosphere. As “Prelude 3.0” played eerily in the background, their banner rose and the nine masked weirdoes took to the stage, tearing into “The Blister Exists.” Percussionists Number 3 (Chris Fehn) and Number 6 (Shawn Crahan) stalked the stage like rabid dogs, their thunderous drumming tying in tightly with the rapid-fire drumbeats of Number 1 (Joey Jordison).
While Taylor’s voice is perfectly suited to the screamcore-slash-speed metal sound that Slipknot pulls off so well, he’s also found his melodic side and actually sang through several songs.
Although the majority of Slipknot’s set was culled from their newest release, there were a few older tracks tossed in, which got some of the loudest reactions. A spitting-venom rendition of “The Heretic Anthem” had all of Arrow Hall chanting the number of the beast as shirts, bottles and bodies flew through the air and the paramedics raced toward the pit. The traditional audience participation in “Spit It Out” wasn’t forgotten either – as Taylor barked the command for everyone to crouch, more than half the room excitedly got down to their knees; on Taylor’s word, the full group jumped up all at the same time. It was like The Wave, but the extreme metal version. Now that’s crowd control!
Although the between song pauses were a little long, the crowd stayed devoted to the band throughout the night. The encores, which consisted of two old favourites – “Wait And Bleed” and a middle-finger raising version of “Surfacing” – got the room so intensely hot that steam was literally pouring out into the cold night air. Not too shabby for a bunch of maggots.