Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dark Tranquillity, Omnium Gatherum, Exmortus - 2/2/14 at Soundstage, Baltimore, MD

Ok, another late one. Maybe I've been overloading myself with writing commitments lately, or maybe I need to get better about making time for my writing...

Anyway, so this was actually one of my most anticipated concerts this spring. Dark Tranquillity is pretty great, though they're one of those bands, like Iron Maiden and some others, that I just sort of like by default, without actually listening to them very much. But Omnium Gatherum is one of my favorite melodic death metal bands, simply because they are so, so overwhelmingly melodic. They had been on my short list of "bands I really hope will tour the US soon" ever since I found out about them, so I was pretty stoked to find out that they were coming over, and supporting Dark Tranquillity to boot.

We originally planned to get to the show early to see local death metal band March to Victory with their new singer, but due to a gap in babysitting we couldn't head out early enough - and then it turned out March to Victory didn't play anyway. Even though the two European bands had a bus breakdown and were running late. I talked to Bronson of (local blackened death metal band) Demiz and he said March to Victory was there, but didn't play; he didn't know why.

By the time we got there, Exmortus had just finished. I don't know much about them, and since S described them as thrashy, haven't really bothered to check them out. I'm digging melancholy, atmospheric stuff lately and don't have much use for pushing people around in the pit music most days.

Omnium Gatherum and Dark Tranquillity were delayed by a bus breakdown (the bands described it as being stuck in the middle of nowhere in Virginia for hours, drinking beer to pass the time and not knowing if they would make it to the show). There had been some doubt over whether they'd make it, but I think they finally arrived right around the time we did.

Fun people were there to chat with, so it didn't seem like too long before Omnium Gatherum took the stage. They came out to the intro from their latest album, Beyond, and they were actually playing, not just having the intro piped in. As they launched into "The New Dynamic," though I was a little disappointed to find the drums were too loud. Some parts sounded like just vocals and drums, the amazing melodies barely audible. The next song, "New World Shadows," sounded better, and I thought I might actually enjoy this thundering version of Omnium Gatherum, but then in "The Sonic Sign," again it seemed the melodies were being drowned out. That was unfortunate since that song has some pretty awesome melodies. By the end, though, they seemed to have fixed things, because the last song, "The Unknowing," my favorite from Beyond, sounded amazing. Although it has its harsh vocals and the some of the typical melancholy vibe of Finnish metal, Omnium Gatherum's music usually feels more like a ray of sunlight piercing clouds than a somber veil of darkness, and the impression was supported by the singer's appearance - he was so happy, with a huge grin on his face for the whole set. I shook hands with him after show and he was still smiling.

After that, Dark Tranquillity was just icing on the cake. They sounded great, with a perfect mix of melodic guitars and death metal heaviness, and Mikael Stanne's vocals charging through it all. He also seemed to be quite happy to be there, saying how glad he was they made it, thanking the crowd for supporting Gothenburg metal and shaking hands with pretty much everyone in the front rows. There was a decent turnout - about half of the parqueted "floor" area full - in spite of the fact that this was the night of the Superb Owl. (It had seemed like slightly more people during OG's set, but maybe they were just more spread out.) One of the most amusing parts of the night was Mikael Stanne's moonwalking, which he did constantly from one side of the stage to the other. In general, he moved very quickly about the stage. They played a sort of short set, about an hour, and no encore, even though it was still early (about 11 when they finished). Perhaps they were just tired from their traveling ordeal.

It was a pretty solid show. OG's sound and DT's short set perhaps made it less awesome than it could have been, but really, it was great to see two of my favorite bands from my favorite genre, especially considering they almost didn't make it.

Next show: Deafheaven (with Between the Buried And Me) on Feb 20.

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