Four years have passed since Dark Tranquillity visited Utah, when they were the opening act for a Killswitch Engage and Devil Wears Prada show in 2010 at The Great Saltair. But on Saturday night, the Swedish band triumphantly returned as headliners with support from Omnium Gatherum and Exmortus to play In The Venue.
Local band Turned To Stone was in charge of warming the audience up. Their enthusiasm was contagious and they managed to engage the crowd with their fast and melodic metal. But with only four tracks on their set, and a broken snare on the third song and a false start on the final one, little could be done to keep up with the great lineup that followed.
The next band blew me away. California’s Exmortus played a mixture of thrash and death metal imbued with high-speed neoclassical melodies with an intensity that reminded me of a faster and updated version of the classic thrash metal bands from the Bay Area. Every member of the band banged their head nonstop during the whole show, as they blasted rapid-fire riffs and solos. Their short set was focused on their new album, Slave to the Sword, released Feb. 4. The crushing performance ended with some guitar-acrobatics in which both axemen synchronized shredding on each other’s guitar for the crowd’s enjoyment. I’m totally sure this young, hungry band will produce quality metal music for years to come.
Omnium Gatherum took the stage with the excitement of a band that is touring the States for the first time in its 18-year career. Promoting their 2013 album, Beyond, the sextet was beyond death metal, layering atmospheric walls of sound on top of epic melodies. Their slower pace sounded heavier than Exmortum’s breakneck riffs, but no less impressive. When charismatic frontman Jukka Pelkonen introduced the song “Ego” from New World Shadows, the pit went wild. Their 50-minute set left the audience satisfied, but not before one final message from the band: “We’ll come back.”
The building level of excitement hit a fever pitch as Dark Tranquillity took the stage. The long-lasting pioneers of melodic death metal are on tour in support of their acclaimed 2013 album, Construct, and they drew from their 25-year catalog in their set. The opening track, “The Science of Noise,” was pulled from Construct, as were “The Silence in Between,” “What Only You Know” and “State of Trust.” But the band also offered the audience a collection of highlights from older albums, as far back as 1995’s The Gallery.
It is amazing how solid this band has been through the years, from the vocals to the keyboards and guitar arrangements. Every time Dark Tranquillity plays an old song, you are transported back in time to the date it was recorded and everything sounds as it did back then. “Final Resistance” sounded particularly fresh for a classic song.
Even without a bass player onstage (a surprising decision they made early this year), the band has kept the same chemistry. Mikael Stanne shook everybody’s hand and established a connection with the audience from the first song. Guitarists Niklas Sundin and Martin Henriksson switched spots continuously as they offered the first row their best licks. With no security barrier between fans and the band, the show had a special intimacy, but I would like to mention that despite the size of the venue, Dark Tranquillity managed to place their background computer projections and give us the show they had in mind.
Respect for their fans has been another constant in Dark Tranquillity’s career, and the fans returned the favor on Saturday night. As the band reached the end of their 17-song set list, it was obvious that they were not expecting such a reaction from such a small venue. It was also obvious that the show was one fans won’t forget soon.
Photography by Ivan Fernandez. Photos 1, 5 and 6 are of Dark Tranquillity; photos 2, 3 and 4 are of Exmortus.