This was one hell of a quadruple bill of melodic death metal that rolled into San Antonio this past Tuesday.
Kicking things off in proper fashion were one of my favorite underground bands. Omnium Gatherum is one of those bands that I just can’t help but root for. And judging from the crowd’s reaction to their opening slot, I don’t think I’m the only one. Normally, the first band out of the gate gets a fairly lukewarm response from the folks that bothered to show up early. But San Antonio did me proud. Omnium came out swinging and hellbent on making sure the crowd was an Omnium Gatherum crowd by the end of their set. Lead singer Jukka Pelkonen had the crowd chanting and headbanging while the rest of the band’s energetic stage presence seemed to grab everyone in attendance. I keep saying that these guys deserve a bigger stage and if they keep putting on performances like this one, I can see it happening soon.
The second slot of the evening went to Portugal’s Moonspell. These guys were kind of the outlier for the evening in that they were the only band not from Scandinavia and in the fact that they are really more of a goth-influenced band rather than a straight death metal band. They definitely didn’t lack for stage props and atmosphere. Singer Fernando Ribeiro came out looking like an old-time town crier holding a lantern which was in line with Moonspell’s latest album 1755. He even broke out a plague mask for one song.
The last two bands were basically granted dual headlining sets. Finland’s Amorphis came out first and, in my opinion, really deserved the top billing for this show. Amorphis has really helped define the entire sub-genre of melodic death metal over the course of their career. Blending death and clean vocals over grandiose guitar and keyboard driven songs that play heavily into the folklore of their homeland, Amorphis is just one of the standard-bearers for this kind of music. It’s a moving experience in a live setting.
One of the progenitors of the Gothenburg sound, Dark Tranquillity finished out the evening. It’s always a little weird when a band comes out of stage and your first thought is, “OK, who the hell are some of these guys?” Present were mainstays vocalist Mikael Stanne, keyboardist/programmer Martin Brandstrom, drummer Anders Jivarp and new guy bassist Anders Iwers. But who the hell are these guitarists? Longtime guitarist Niklas Sundin was not on stage (it turns out that he is currently on hiatus). In turns out that Dark Tranquility had to hire two touring guitarists to fill out their lineup for this recent tour. Luckily, one of the replacements was none other the Christopher Amott, co-founder of Arch Enemy with his brother Michael and current guitarist of Armageddon. The other guy (Johan Reinholdz) I had never heard of before, but he was downright awesome. As such, the band really didn’t miss a beat live. This was probably as sharp as I’ve seen these guys in a live setting. I’m not sure of the liklihood of either of these guitarist joining Dark Tranquillity on a full-time basis, but it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for the remainder of the band to consider it.
Omnium Gatherum-Over the Battlefield
Dark Tranquillity-Where Death Is Most Alive