While most people were sitting at the family table indulging in roasted lamb for Easter, we headed over to good old Biebob to see one of the godfathers of melodic death metal: Dark Tranquillity. With Nailed To Obscurity and Omnium Gatherum Gothenburg's finest brought some of the new forces in melodic death metal with them.
Nailed To Obscurity (****) took a timid start, which is not all that strange as they are the least 'up tempo' band of the evening. Their impassioned death metal drenched in doom influences captivated the audience. The Germans welcomed us with a perfectly Dutch sounding 'Good evening Vosselaar!' before offering us new material of the recently released album King Delusion. There was quite some movement on stage with the guitar players switching positions often, while vocalist Raimund Ennenga eye balled the audience with his expressive looks. Guitar players Jan-Ole Lamberti and Volker Dieken treated us with some amazing duets that got people's hands together mid-song. The resonating harmonies, varied melodies and funeral voice quietly made me beg for more, which is one of the best compliments I could give an opening band, I guess. Half an hour was not nearly enough for this great discovery.
But time moves on so it was time for Omnium Gatherum (***1/2) to take the stage. The tempo was immediately turned up a dozen notches with The Pit, also the opener of the band's latest release Grey Heavens. Unfortunately Biebob's sound panel was not prepared for this Finnish assault and it lasted a while before the sound was improved. It never reached the necessary standards, though, which is a real shame for a band whose music is characterized by many shifts in rhythm and melody. Therefore, make sure to give the many layers of their music a chance through the audio speakers at your home as well. Do not think the show was dull, though. While Nailed To Obscurity's singer preferred to intrigue the audience with a calm and poignant pose, Jukka Pelkonen is literally all over the place constantly seeking connection with the audience both through direct eye contact and lots and lots of handshakes with the front row.
Also the ever amiable Markus Vanhala drew attention with his amazing solos. We saw him deliver the same exquisite work a few months ago during Insomnium's Winter Gate tour (check out our report of that night here). The intensity and enthusiasm of the audience further increased throughout the show as the crowd recognized more and more songs, proving this band is building its repertoire and name over the years. When announcing the final song of the night (Storm Front) vocalist Pelkonen failed to notice the technical issues guitarist Joonas Koto was having, causing him to miss most of the finale. An unfortunate ending to an otherwise very entertaining show.
My excitement rose as I saw Dark Tranquillity's (****1/2) projection screen being revealed behind the drum kit. In previous tours this meant that the musical pleasure was accompanied with stunning visual animations. Tonight was no difference. I was deceived by my fellow spectators as I found their reaction during the opening song Force of Hand rather apathetic. However, I was gravely mistaken as the crowd bursted into frantic shouting and loud applause after the first silence that followed The Lesser Faith. Seldom I have seen a band that had to give so little to receive so much praise in return. And it was clear Mikael Stanne & co were just warming up! We got an intense show with no less than 20 songs with only a few breaks. While we did not go as far back as The Gallery, we did get songs of Projector and Haven. One important break was to introduce all the new faces on stages. Since Martin Henriksson left the band recently and Niklas Sundin is on paternal leave, new musicians had to be found for the guitar positions. For most people Johan Reinholdz could be a rather new name as he plays guitar and sings for lesser known bands Andromeda and Nonexist. Anders Iwers on bass should ring a bell for more people as he is the older brother of Peter Iwers (ex-In Flames) and bassist/guitarist of iconic melodic death metal bands such as Ceremonial Oath or Tiamat. And how cool was it to see Christopher Amott on stage again. The ex-Arch Enemy guitarist is missed by many on the scenes after he started focusing on his solo project Armageddon.
When near the end of the show the crowd continued to shout and clap for close to a minute long Stanne simply said "Well since this is usually the part where we go off stage and you shout us back, we'll just skip that and continue playing more songs already". That's the way I like it! There was plenty of room for fun and jokes on stage when Amott forgot how the intro of Therein went. The chorus was an intense singalong moment, while at the end of the bridge the crowd collectively took over the guitar line. Although it's a lot of fun to chant along with the band, sometimes it's worth it to let Stanne shine. During the a capella part of State Of Trust the singer demonstrates the incredible warmth in his clean voice. If he ever decides to chose a different occupation he can always give classes in stage performance as he is one of the most genuine frontmen out there. After the lengthy setlist it was finally time to wrap up the amazing evening with Misery's Crown.
We got to experience firsthand that Stanne is also an easy-to-talk to person off stage during our interview with him. The report of that talk is coming soon on our website and the Pick Your Poison column as we dug in to Stanne's love for beer as well!
To see more pictures by our photographer Gillian go here!