Finland's Omnium Gatherum are the main support act on Dark Tranquillity's eight date 'British Fiction Tour', an apt choice with their generic similarities to Sweden's melodic death metal pioneers. Formed in 1996, though not signed until 2001, they released their debut EP, 'Steal The Light', on English label Rage of Achilles in 2002, followed by debut album, 'Spirits and August Light', a year later. A brief stint on Nuclear Blast spawned 2004's 'Years In Waste', before striking a deal with Candlelight and releasing latest album 'Stuck Here On Snake's Way' in 2007. The band appear on stage to a two-thirds full Rock City basement, and are plagued with sound glitches for their first two songs, most noticeably a constant, loud buzzing noise that mars the overall delivery of their melo-death aptitude. Fortunately, sounds problems are soon resolved, and a previously static crowd warm to Omnium Gatherum's music as the set progresses with ubiquitous head banging for the last couple of tracks. Vocalist Jukka Pelkonen, also responsible for the death growls in Finnish band Elenium, has only been with Omnium Gatherum since 2006, though looks like he's been fronting the band for years with a commanding performance as he interacts well with both audience and his band mates. There is little original in the Finn's music, though their blend of keyboard infused, melodic death metal with occasional progressive overtones is played with technical precision and, together with a collectively energetic performance, they are an engaging live act.
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Thursday 7th February 2008
Rock City (Basement) in Nottingham, UK
I last saw Dark Tranquillity on the main stage at Bloodstock Open Air last year for their first UK festival appearance with an hour long pre-headline slot in front of over 4,000 metallers and, previous to that, supporting Arch Enemy in a sold out 2,000+ capacity London Forum. Tonight is, therefore, a welcome opportunity to witness the talented Swedes at work in a much more intimate setting. I guess an eight date UK tour of small club venues, and tonight's show in Rock City's tiny basement, is indicative that, although well known over here for many years on the underground circuit, they remain largely undiscovered by the mainstream. While their Gothenburg peers and fellow protagonists/pioneers of melodic death, In Flames, incorporated metal's changing ephemeral trends into their sound to garner more mainstream success, Dark Tranquillity have musically progressed as a band, though admirably stayed truer to their roots. Other less trend-driven countries have embraced their music album after album though, it seems as is often the case, UK metal fans en masse have yet to catch up with the rest of the world. Having said that, with the continuous growing popularity of melodic death metal in this country, and the hype surrounding the imminent return of the sub-genre's other originators, At The Gates, perhaps the time is right for Dark Tranquillity to seriously make their mark in the UK market.
Appearing on stage shortly after 9.15pm, Mikael Stanne & co launch into 'Terminus', followed by 'The Lesser Faith', both from last year's critically lauded new album 'Fiction'. With a sound as good as the PA in Rock City's basement will allow, they work their way through an hour and a quarter of material, including older tracks such as 'Punish My Heaven' from 1995 album 'The Gallery' and 'Hedon' from 1998's 'The Mind's I'. Absent from last year's Bloodstock set, 'Therein' is a pleasing inclusion this evening, and affords Stanne the opportunity to exercise his captivating clean vocals. The Swedish frontman is generally on fine form tonight and, renowned for his highly charged, dynamic performances, doesn't allow himself to be constricted by the small stage. He seemingly relishes being in such close proximity to the fans as he sings with an unrelenting passion to those stood at the front with a concomitant array of physical gestures. In fact, during one song, lost in the moment, he accidentally kicks a monitor speaker half from the stage, tries to retrieve it with his foot, before a fan kindly repositions the displaced item, acknowledged with a thumbs up by Stanne! Guitarists Niklas Sundin and Martin Henriksson also defy the confines of the cramped stage as they headbang their way through each song, intermittently raising their guitars high in the air as if standing before a crowd of thousands. Every song played tonight is greeted with enthusiastic cheers and lively crowd reactions including perennial fan favourites 'The Wonders At Your Feet' and 'Final Resistance' to new tracks 'Misery's Crown' and 'Focus Shift'. As Dark Tranquillity's set nears its climax, Stanne informs the audience "we won't embarrass you by doing encores" to which they remain on stage and continue playing, finishing with an incisively heavy version of 'The New Build', opening track from 2005's 'Character'. As was the case with their hour long Bloodstock set, as they exit the stage, an hour and a quarter seems all too short - with such a strong back catalogue of material to draw upon, I would be very content watching this band for four hours! Eschewing the genre's incessantly changing trends with each new album, Dark Tranquillity remain an archetypal metal band in 2008, both through their music and live performances. And for those who have still yet to discover Dark Tranquillity, then I urge you to do so...immediately!
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Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes