GIG REVIEW: Dark Tranquillity, Swallow The Sun, Enforcer & Starkill Live at Slim’s, San Francisco
Gothenburg Melodic Death metallers Dark Tranquility announced a US tour earlier this year and I sure was not going to miss this. I remember not making it to Bangalore Open Air where they played three years ago in my city and later regretting on what I had missed. This tour was in support of their much awaited, much acclaimed and one of the best albums of this year in my opinion ‘Atoma’. The other acts on the bill were Starkill from Chicago, Enforcer from Sweden and Swallow the Sun from Finland.
Now, this was one of those shows where I had no idea about the other support acts. I had not done my research, hence did not know what to expect. With a barrage of riffs, Starkill got things started. Powerful and fiery fast drumming and the shredding got the horns up high and the heads moving. A lot of influences were seen in their music ranging from power metal to thrash and even metalcore. Vocalist Parker Jameson also did well with the clean singing. There seemed be some issues with the live sound mixing at times throughout the set. Still it was a good one.
Next up was a view, which resembled a scene straight out of an 80’s heavy metal gig. Clad in all leather, spikes and boots, they reminded us of the now dead glam rock/metal era. On stage were the legends all the way from Sweden, Enforcer. They played heavy metal in the veins of bands like Exciter and Anvil and their set was a delight for any old school metalhead. I personally am not much into this kind of music, but I have to admit, I did enjoy it. They sounded absolutely tight. The guitars and drumming were amazing but the aspect of the band that stands out is the insane vocal range of vocalist Olof Wikstrand. They played an entertaining set and the crowd was pretty happy and amazed.
The next act was one of the bands who by their sheer hard work have made themselves known in the modern metal world. They are a modern doom metal band from Finland and call themselves Swallow the Sun. Wow, what a set they played. It was the first time I was listening to their music and was absolutely spellbound by it. The down tempo rhythms backed with ambient synth structures acted as a potion of psychedelia. The clean vocal sections worked absolute magic on the sound. The band earned immense appreciation from the crowd and has a definite new fan in me.
Now, it was the time I had been waiting for. After minutes of opening visuals and Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron man’ being played on PA and being sung along by the crowd, the legends from Sweden Dark Tranquility were on stage. The first thing, that did strike me was their live sound, as in the live mixing. It was so well done and sounded so perfect. I have been to tonnes of shows and seldom get to hear such a sound. Kudos to their sound guy! About their set, it was a flawless one. As obvious, this is a promo tour for their new album ‘Atoma’, a majority of the set was from the album. But they also played classics off their older albums. Its not easy explaining their sound. I mean, how could a band entwine pure brutal force with mesmerizing beauty in their music. Only DT can answer that. Another thing I loved about them is the crowd interaction. The crowd was sure having a good time. Due to it being a small venue, the mosh was small but a good one.
It was a stellar gig consisting of some relentless shredding by Starkill, old school magnificence by Enforcer and mesmerizing doom by Swallow the Sun. And above all the amazing brand of melodic metal played by the Swedish legends Dark Tranquility would definitely go down as one of the best acts I have ever experienced live.