It was clear very early in the night that this was to be another one of those great nights to see a show. It was tonight that Soilwork was to begin their US Leg of their first headlining tour in support of their Nuclear Blast Records release Stabbing The Drama. Joining them for the grand spectacle would be Dark Tranquility, Hypocrisy and Mnemic. Each of these groups offer an interesting blend of Heavy Metal for you to enjoy.
Sea of Tranquility's Ken Pierce was on hand, (along with Jack Toledano & Pete Pardo) and brings us his report of the evening's festivities at The BB King Blues Club!
Ken Pierce, Pete Pardo, and Jack Toledano
Mnemic was playing when I arrived and they sounded pretty good to me. This show would prove to be a night of firsts for me, ss none of the bands have been seen by me yet. I was very pleased in the chance to see all 4 perform on one night. The thought amused me especially since I have to a lot of concerts recently as I seek to bring the Metal news to the masses a little more than I used to. While I was excited about the lineup, I felt that Hypocrisy was an especially nice addition for me as they had played a number of shows I hit but for whatever reason I just had not been able to catch them. As I listened to their set I found myself very into this blending of traditional metal riffing and classic Death Metal styles. I had only heard a little of the last release The Arrival that they did and admitted quickly how much better I felt they were in the live setting than was able to be absorbed on the recording.
Dark Tranquilty was up next and I was floored with the reception they received. It is really impressive to see a capacity crowd for groups that otherwise get little or no airplay in the States (outside of your area college station of course). When they hit the stage it was with a vengeance that I had not seen in a long time. Lead Singer Mikael Stanne literally stole the show with his energy alone. At times during the performance he would jump down between the stage and audience into the photo pit and grab the audience singing right into their faces. Needless to say those in the front ate this up and from my side stage vantage point it was a killer visual. The masters of the Gothenburg style. The band employs a more advanced set of melody than others do and there is a great sense of technical ability showcased. Their latest release on Century Media Records entitled Character. I was not able to get the set list but totally recommend you checking them out if you see them supporting anyone the next time they are set to arrive in the States. Their performance level is superb and music intelligent and powerful.
As the smoke machines started up it was now time for Soilwork. The familiar rumblings of "Stabbing The Drama" began and as the band crunched into the set it was clearly on. The group employed the use of more elaborate lighting rigs than their openers; it worked very well for singer "Speed" and increased the sense of drama as they performed. Overall the set was heavy and intense and did not focus on too much from their release "Stabbing The Drama" but also included a fair amount of tracks from their older releases. As the group said, this was the beginning of their first headlining tour so they made sure to give the audience a nice mix of music. Peter Wichers on guitar was getting very into the show and looked soaked to the bone in sweat very early on.
Soilwork's Peter Wichers
I really enjoyed the drum work of Dirk Verbeuren as well. He was killer technically and the riffs almost seemed to be following him as the band progressed in the performance. The sound was also amazing and clean, that's not always an easy thing to achieve with a metal show as so many factors come into play. As I watched them play I felt as an observer that equal parts of the audience were there for Dark Tranquility as much as they were for Soilwork and that was impressive as well. I have to also say that Speed had a little competition from Mikael of DT, especially when he only stood on stage while his predecessor jumped right into the crowds face. In any case both groups were fantastic and given that neither of them get to play in the States often it was great to catch them. Soilwork was selected as a second stage band for this year's edition of Ozzfest and while it gives a larger audience some level of exposure for the group they are very early on in the day. I also don't think they will be given more than 20 or 30 minutes at that time slot. It seems there are some off nights where they are playing with Killswitch Engage and that merits investigation, check your area venues for news on that.
It was definitely a great thing to catch this show, for as Speed noted every band was Scandinavian making this a very Euro Metal tour. I was also very happy to have the assistance of the lovely Nell as my photographer as well. Her work is stellar and you can count on more from her as access is allowed for such activity.
Soilwork Set Listing
Stabbing The Drama
One With The Flies
Figure Number 5
Blind Eye Halo
As We Speak – encore
Sadistic Lullabye – encore
Follow The Hollow – encore
Pete Pardo-This had to have been one of the best nights for European melodic death metal here in New York City in quite some time. Not only was BB Kings packed with excited metal heads, but there was a sense of anticipation that I hadn't seen from a crowd in a while. Denmark's Mnemic kicked off the show and got the crowd into the evening with some kick ass industrial metal tinged with a bit of death and electronica, and many in attendance were well familiar with their material. Once the mighty Hypocrisy hit the stage, the mayhem really began, as guitarist/singer Peter Tagtgren led the band through almost 50 minutes of crushing death/doom metal that had the crowd moshing and headbanging with glee. A few tunes from the bands latest CD The Arrival were played, as well as a few older classics, and Hypocrisy's mix of Black Sabbath rhythms and Iron Maiden dual harmony lead work made their brand of melodic death metal a real success this night, and left the audience hungry for more.
Dark Tranquility's Mikael Stanne
Speaking of hungry for more, that is exactly what the Swedish legends Dark Tranquility left the manic crowd thirsting for at the end of their hour set. This band had the crowd in the palm of their hand the entire set, and really stole the evening from headliners Soilwork. Lead singer Mikael Stanne is quite the frontman, as he ran all over the stage and even put himself practically into the inferno in front of the stage with the crowd, spitting out shards of brutal death screams as well as melodic emotional vocals. The band plowed through a hefty dose of tunes from the new CD Character plus a few classics, and as I mentioned the fans wanted more. I see a headline tour for this band next time they come around, as they are one of the most entertaining of all the Swedish death metal bands going today. As melodic as they are crushing-this was a powerful set.
Soilwork closed out the evening with a very strong and energetic set, which unfortunately was a little overshadowed by the brilliance of Dark Tranquility. However, Soilwork have nothing to be ashamed of, as they churned out a great set of heavy tracks from their new album as well as from the critically acclaimed Natural Born Chaos and the rest of their discography, including a ripping version of their legendary tune "Chainheart Machine". Speed's vocals were strong throughout the set, and the guitar work of Peter Wichers and Ola Frenning just excellent. Perhaps Soilwork's more "accessible" sound these days clashed a little with the more traditional death metal crowd, as the fans seemed a little less into the show during Soilwork's set than they were for Dark Tranquility, but that didn't stop the band from steamrolling through a pummeling set. If any of the Gothenberg bands are set to break big here in the States, Soilwork, along with In Flames, are the band to do it.
Photos courtesy of Natalia Liaszkiewicz
Official Web site: www.Soilwork.org
Official Web site: www.DarkTranquility.com
Official Web site: www.Hypocrisy.com
Official Web site: www.Mnemic.com