On the night of May 28, Dark Tranquillity‘s 2010 WE ARE THE VOID TOUR made its scheduled stop at Studio Seven in Seattle, and two of your NCS collaborators were present to take in all the awesomeness this show had to offer.
This was a must-see event for us, because Dark Tranquillity was one of the bands that first hooked us on extreme metal. And apart from the significance of that, we catch their live act whenever possible because they dependably deliver outstanding performances. Of course, they weren’t alone — Threat Signal, Mutiny Within, and local band Blood and Thunder were also on the bill.
So, here’s our report on the concert, plus we’ve got an unusually large batch of performance photos to show you after the all the verbiage. (And if you think these photos are amateurish, you should see the hundreds we took that didn’t make the cut!)
BLOOD AND THUNDER
We’re not gonna say too much about this band’s performance here — because we devoted a whole post to them yesterday. In a nutshell, they kicked massive amounts of ass: A great stage presence; technically excellent playing; and one catchy, headbangable song after another. This band churns out modern melodic death metal that deserves a wider audience. (We do have some photos of the band’s performance that we didn’t put in yesterday’s post — so we’re putting those up at the end of this one.)
(stay with us after the jump for the rest of this review, plus all those photos we promised . . .)
We first saw these guys more than three months ago when they were touring with Arch Enemy (see our review of that concert here) just in advance of their debut album release. We said little about them when we reviewed that show, because the power-metal style of music they play just isn’t something that appeals to us as much as the gnarlier music we tend to cover on this site.
And it still isn’t. But that’s just a matter of personal taste, and this time we decided we owe it to you and the band to say something more. So, here we go:
On the bright side, Chris Clancy does indeed have an amazing voice. When he delivers harsh vocals (which is not as often as we’d like), he sounds powerfully nasty, and he can veer on a dime from blood-curdling shrieks to deep-throated growls without missing a step. His clean vocals also display tremendous range, and as compared to the performance in February, he was more on-key this time. We know that’s a tough thing to pull off on stage, surrounded by blast-force instrumentals, but the dude is definitely getting better at it.
And as for the instrumental work, this is a very tight band of very skilled musicians, and they play with high energy and flawless execution. We’re still not in love with the kind of music available on their album, but they do put on a pummeling performance in the flesh.
This Canadian band has always been a bit of a mixed bag for us. Their sound is a blend of melodic death metal and metalcore. There’s a satisfying degree of technicality in the instrumental work, and Travis Montgomery‘s riffs and solos (both on the recordings and live) are particularly impressive. And when Jon Howard belts out the harsh vocals, he’s got plenty of aggressive power.
On the other hand, although we’ve always found a few things to like in each of Threat Signal’s albums, the songs have just been too generic to draw us back to them — and we can really do without the clean vocals. They’re average at best, and didn’t sound any better live.
The Studio Seven crowd reacted pretty boisterously to Threat Signal’s high-energy set, but it wasn’t a performance we’ll remember for very long.
We don’t think we’re capable of offering any fresh insights about Dark Tranquillity, given the amount of ink that’s been spilled about them by thousands of other writers since the band helped changed the landscape of metal beginning almost 20 years ago. Plus, we lost our objectivity about them long ago. In the case of Dark Tranquillity, your NCS co-authors are reduced to the status of slavish fanboys (and fangirl).
Having said that, no matter how much we revere this band, the shine would have dulled some by now if DT hadn’t continued to put out worthy new music — and indeed they have. Their latest release, We Are the Void, continues to deliver the Gothenberg sound as no one but Dark Tranquillity can do.
There are many cool things about living in Seattle. One of them is that the city is large enough (just barely) to attract national tours despite its remote location, yet small enough in the size of its extreme-music customer base that you get to see bands like Dark Tranquillity in a venue that’s built for hundreds instead of thousands.
Sometimes we even feel guilty that bands which deserve to be playing arenas are instead playing clubs — but not too guilty, because (selfishly speaking) we’re the beneficiaries of that disconnect.
And so it was on the night of May 28 — the chance to see a globally revered and deservedly legendary band like DT in a relatively small, immediate setting where the band and an electrified audience connected in a way that arenas and big festivals just don’t permit.
We’ll limit ourselves to just a few observations, since it’s already obvious that we think these dudes walk on water:
Mikael Stanne. He’s been performing and touring for longer than lots of his fans have been alive, and yet, is there anyone who exudes as much unadulterated joy on stage? Every time we’ve seen him, including a couple nights ago, he’s just bursting with energy, and whenever he’s not blasting out his distinctive vocals, he’s got the biggest fucking smile on his face. You can’t help but smile with him.
The multimedia show. On a big screen behind the band, the most fascinating images flashed forward as DT hammered out the hits! We’ve got photos of a few of them at the end of this post. The images, standing alone, would be worth seeing, but the way in which they were arranged to connect with the music was just fucking brilliant.
And one of the high points was seeing the band play and sing almost exactly in sync with the video of “Shadow In Our Blood” off the new album. It’s a cool song, and pretty damned impressive to watch, given that DT couldn’t see the video behind them, but we could.
As of today, Dark Tranquillity has one show left (in L.A.) on this North American tour before heading off for a range of dates in Central and South America. Our metalhead brothers and sisters to the south have got a lot to look forward to.
And now here are some of our better photos of this show.
BLOOD AND THUNDER