Melodic death metallers Dark Tranquility are survivors of the Gothenburg scene and still creating quality music. They played London’s Underwor;d venue in Camden as part of the Uniformity European tour on which they are still promoting 2013 album ‘Contruct’ . Nearly a year to the day since they played the same venue on their European Construct Tour. This time around they are supported by Amoral, ACYL and Lehmann.
Italians ‘Lehmann’ on very early and were missed. Must have been pretty much as the doors opened and a short set but there was a lot to pack into the evening.
Metal fans are used to line-ups filled with acts from Nordic Countries but metal bands from much warmer lands are starting to becom a feature. Algerians Acyl (Arabic for ‘genuine) actually reside in France now but started creating music in their North African home land. They describe their music as ‘ethic metal’, which in my opinion is a superior term to oriental metal to describe Arabic/middle eastern influenced folk metal. Unlike many of the better known bands of their genre Acyl do not rely on keyboards for the North African melodies, instead the stage is littered with an array of ancient looking instruments, more likely to be seen at a hippy event.
The start the set with heads bowed. Upon lifting their heads, front man Amine begins plucking at a bass instrument called a gumbri, while two others are marking the beat with karkabous (metal castanet type instruments). Amnie is now layering over melodic Arabic vocals. Guitar is finally heard and with a crash of drumkit and derbouka they take off. Amnie is now also giving it hell on a derbouka drum. A slight bemused crowd get into them straight away. Their clapping becoming another percussive instrument and an part of the music. With a groove like that it is impossible not to be swept up in it.
After the impact of the intro Acyl continue into the technical death of ‘Obduracy’, which features yet more drums and North African/Arabic rhythms. The rest of their set features the previously mentioned traditional instruments and also at one point the whole band play another drum called a bendir. At more than one point the band performs choreographed turns and sways, reminiscent of North African folk dancing and their clapping once again leads to the crowd following their lead. They are fun yet not silly and still manage to be one of the heavier bands of the genre. Everybody should check them out. The band looked surprised yet very pleased to go down so well in London. I expect them to be everywhere soon due to the rise of oriental metal.
Finish melodic power groovers Amoral are massive in their homeland. Thanks in part to vocalist Ari’s fame gained from winning a TV talent contest before joining the band. Despite their name you could probably take Amoral home to meet your mother. Fresh faced Ari has ironed his shirt, which is paired with a brown waistcoat. Definitely not metal. During the show he sips on a can of San Pellegrino, to keep what you can’t deny is hell of a voice lubricated.
Their heavy metal groove failed to maintain my attention, or that of many of the crowd, leading to the chatter of punters being clearly audible. Amoral have many really well played passion filled songs, with Ari’s voice as the main focus, however they are difficult to get into, as they just are not catchy enough. Amoral’s set does ‘metal up’ with Ari pulling screams but by then they has lost me. Probably an act you need to ‘get’. Too hard rock for me but a great opportunity for any fans to catch them in London.
Dark Tranquility do not slack on presentation despite the Underworld’s pokey nature. A countdown starts up on a projector with the music firing up at zero. The projection is customized for the show with the city and venue flashing up – nice touch, From the outset the sound is absolutely perfect, as is their performance. Backed with time synced projections which take up nearly the whole of the stage, Mikael and the boys power through a 16 song set, not stopping for an encore.
During songs when not singing d Mikael takes the time to speak to and shakes hands with the front few rows during songs. He also smiles a lot and shares a drink from a fan’s hip flask. Gothenburg must be once nice city because DT are seriously chilled. The crowd interaction and amount of chatter between songs is in contrast to DTs powerful melodic death metal sound. In fact it is one of the most peaceful gigs I have been too. No pit, no jostling for space, just a group of likeminded people enjoying the music.
This was possibly the best show I have seen at The Underworld. Very slick and had the feel of a gig in a much larger venue, say Brixton Academy. The whole band made it look so easy; from the complicated riffs to Mikael’s seamless transition from clean to (yet still decipherable) death growls. They are a very accessible band on all levels.
Highlights for me were ’Endtime Hearts’ and ‘Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)’. I was disappointed that ‘Damage Done’ was not included in the set. Despite this other songs have now become favourites since experiencing them live.
Due to the amazing rapport with fans and intimate atmosphere I felt like I was crashing a party. The show closed at 10pm with ‘Misery’s Crown’, the band illuminated in white and blue from the projections. A slick end to a gig full of twists and new musical discoveries on Sunday evening.
The Science of Noise
The Silence in Between
The Lesser Faith
The Wonders at Your Feet
The Mundane and the Magic
The Treason Wall
Through Smudged Lenses
State of Trust
Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)