Live Report - Dark Tranquillity, Divine Heresy, Firewind - San Antonio, Texas - June 7, 2008
Century Media

Release year: 2008
Century Media
Reviewed by Ben

For the first time in three years, Dark Tranquillity made their way back to Texas. In tow for this jaunt were the Greek melodic metallers Firewind and the Dino Cavares led Divine Heresy. I was pretty excited, I am a long time Dark Tranquillity fan and have enjoyed Firewind since Burning Earth. As for Divine Heresy, well I just hoped they wouldn’t suck. I arrived at the venue (which had just opened its’ doors one week prior) and was taken aback at how nice it was. The stage was large with a spacious ceiling and had a terrific light and sound set up. I proceeded to interview Bob Katsionis from Firewind who I have to thank yet again because his quick intellect and technical savvy saved the interview. Following the conversation I got hydrated and prepared for the show. The atmosphere inside was one of metal community. I shot the shit with quite a few people about Dark Tranquillity and metal in general. Everyone was stoked, they knew this was a special show for us in San Antonio.

Soliders Of Scrape, who drove all the way from Detroit, were the first band to play. I wasn’t expecting much. It always seems to be the case that some boring ass, half realized death metal band opens shows like this. To my surprise these guys knew how to play. Despite the slow trickle of attendees making their way through the doors, their vocalist still worked the crowd and the rest of the band played their hardest anyway. That effort was rewarded between songs because the audience knew that Soldiers were actually enjoying playing to them. They have a definite nod to Slayer and Pantera, which isn’t hard to surmise when one of their songs is Kerry King Fucking Rules. There weren’t many solos but the riffage was tight. The only thing I wasn’t fond of were the breakdowns, give me a sweet lead instead. One song I do remember, Inebriated Youth, stood out from the pack.

Correct me if I’m wrong but Firewind have five albums. Divine Heresy has one. So why is Firewind opening for thirty minutes? I know that there is the celebrity status of Dino Cavares in Divine Heresy but they have one single, solitary release. I’ll put it this way. When Rob fucking Halford went on his solo tour in the US he opened for Iron Maiden and played first before Queensryche who at that point were riding the waves of their shittiest releases to date. That’s the Metal God and he’s opening for Q2K? It’s because he checked his ego at the door and he knows that his one solo album isn’t enough to be going around saying he’s going to be as high up as possible on the running order. Anyways, Firewind came out at full throttle speed and never let up. I hope I wasn’t, but I think I was the only one there that knew this band prior to the show. But if that is the case there were quickly converts made. Into The Fire opened the floodgates and hit the crowd like a three hundred pound tit punch to the chest. I wasn’t aware that Bob knew how to play guitar as well as he does. Even though he’s credited as a keyboardist, he donned the six string most of the night and him and Gus G went back and forth soloing and harmonizing. I was curious to how their singer Apollo would do since he sat out on two previous tours with the band. He did fine by me at this show. He didn’t struggle and he didn’t cheap out on the high notes so I hope he makes it back for Texas round 2. Mercenary Man and the uplifting Head Up High were aired from The Premonition. Insanity was in the mix but the highlight was the instrumental The Fire And The Fury. During this song everyone had a chance to show off. There was one more song from Allegiance played, I can’t remember what it was but it wasn’t Falling To Pieces which really surprised me. Despite the short set it was fun and the level of virtuosity shown on the albums is real because they played flawlessly.

Dark Tranquillity came out with a one two punch from Fiction, Terminus and The Lesser Faith. Mikael Stanne prowled the stage and really made the crowd his own. His writhing bodily contortions and dervish shrieks and growls were spot on. The most animated member was bassist Michael, he would get the fists pumping in the air and make some bodies move. The only pre Haven song was Punish My Heaven and you know what? It’s time to retire this one. I love the song but its too predictable at this point. If the band is only going to do one pre 2000 song then hey, change it around. I would love to hear Crimson Winds or Silence And The Firmament Withdrew or Scythe Rage And Roses. Fiction was well represented by Misery’s Crown, Focus Shift, and Inside The Particle Storm. Haven was touched on with The Wonders At Your Feet and Damage Done got its dues from the title track, The Treason Wall and Final Resistance. Bringing it home off of Character was Lost To Apathy and My Negation. Martin Henriksson and Niklas both looked a little under the weather but still stalked around from side to side. Again, I can’t find much to complain about. I can bitch about set length, I could have used an hour more but that wasn’t going to happen. I can complain about the song selection and no cuts from the earlier albums, but I enjoy the 2000 - present sound just as much. If there were songs that I liked that weren’t played, there wasn’t a song that was played I didn’t like. I hope it’s not another three years until the next time.

The show ended early, at ten forty PM. Ok, cool whatever. My friend Damien and I went out back to catch the bands and shoot the shit. I went back on the bus with Firewind and talked to Gus and Apollo for bit while I waited to run into Marten Brandstrom and Mikael to come out. Gus was really polite and a cool guy, talkative and confident in his demeanor, yet friendly and personable. Here’s a little known fact. Gus G and James Malone from Arsis actually started Firewind in its earliest days. The two met at Berklee and voila. Gus goes back to Greece and years later the two are know renowned gettar easts in the metal community. Who would have thought it, huh? After a bit I left the bus to give them their privacy and met with Damien were we kicked it and stayed and talked to various people for the next couple of hours. Mark Cross came out and carried on some good conversations. What surprised me though is that it was only us two that were back there talking to the guys. My first concert ever was The Misfits when I was thirteen. After the show, and I mean right after, Jerry Only came out and signed anything and everything for everybody. From then on I thought that’s what bands do, they come out and chill after shows. Going to Prog Power USA for so long and the atmosphere there also reinforced this notion. I was disheartened to see that there was one guy that waited for fifteen minutes and then took off. Another group of three girls talked to Martin H and then took off right away as well. I’m curious. Inside there were quite a few people singing along to the songs during Dark Tranquillity’s set but why didn’t anyone come out back? Mark brought up some very interesting points about his view on the metal scene and what he said plus the emptiness after the show made me ponder things a while. We stayed and hung out until the bus left at one in the morning and that was that. Here’s hoping to a sooner, rather than later next encounter.

Killing Songs :
Ben quoted
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