Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Haunted with Dark Tranquillity, Into Eternity, and Scar Symmetry [Worcester Palladium, 3/23/2007]

Despite the Kindermenge and the stress of the accumulated travel, this was still a good show and worth the time and grind.

I came basically right off the plane and into the venue; of course, I did have to go home and drop my gear off and get the car, but it was pretty much just another step in a continuous travel sequence that began when I woke up at 5 AM (4 Central). Because of this, I was initially uncertain about going, but as it turned out, I didn't fall asleep behind the wheel or anything, and the show was certainly cool enough to justify the strain and exhaustion.

Despite the usual problems with coming out of Boston in the evening, I got to the venue right around doors and got in. One impression was overwhelming: I would not have to wait in line at the bar this night, an impression that was borne out. There was a pretty good crowd at this show, but most of them were under 21 if not under 18; not really surprising, given the bands, but it's not what you usually see at a metal show. I got some merch, but passed on a DT flask; they looked pretty cool, but I have two more shows planned for this weekend, and only so much cash.

Scar Symmetry [5/7]
I was curious to see this band, because I'd heard them on record and found them kind of decent; the live performance was also decent, but somewhat impaired by the venue. The Palladium has a reputation, especially with opening bands, for making them sound like the speakers are currently being run over with a truck, but there have been few instances where it's gotten quite as bad as the few worst places in Scar Symmetry's set. When you could hear what the band was doing, the performance was pretty good, mixing classic Soilwork with a lot of Evergrey. The potential from their albums is still there, but still isn't completely developed yet, and the lead guitarist needs to diversify his style, because when they tour Europe, there are going to be a lot more people yelling "you are not Tom Englund!" Still, Evergrey wasn't on this tour, and Scar Symmetry, despite the sound problems, put up a good set, especially for an opening band.

Into Eternity [5/7]
Though this set was still pretty good, it was the flattest that I've seen from Into Eternity, and also still affected by sound problems. It was still a good and entertaining performance, but they did better at the Middle East recently, despite fitting much better with this package. The singer's protestations to the contrary, they aren't really death metal except incidentally (and that only because of where Chuck went towards the end of his life), but their progressive attack fits in well with Scar Symmetry and DT. They came off a little better than Scar Symmetry did, and several people have reported that Into Eternity substantially stole this show, but I'm not so sure about that; they've done better in the past, and there were some good performances following it this time.

If there's one thing that this show demonstrates, it's that Evergrey needs to do a full US tour; even though they'd have to go as support (at least the first time), the scene is more than ready for them.

Dark Tranquillity [6/7]
Even though I don't have any real points of comparison (not having seen them before), this also seemed a little flat of a set. However, because this is Dark Tranquillity, a slightly flat set can still be really awesome; from the Gallery stuff to the Fiction tracks that they ran out, there was no shortfall of killer material. The new stuff is every bit as good as what they've been doing recently, and I'm really looking forward to the new disc -- they were selling preorder slips, but it's like a month that I'd have to keep track of it for. This was a really good set, and well worth the ticket, even to this point. I hope to see a better performance from them sometime, but I'll gladly take any DT set that I get in the process.

I was thinking about leaving at this point, as I'm not really a fan of The Haunted, and it had been a long, long day to this point, but I wanted to see them with Dolving, since I'd only seen them with Aro in 2003.

The Haunted [7/7]
There were a lot of people who reacted negatively to this set, but that's probably due more to the nature of the material than the nature of the performance. This was probably the least technical and most mainstream set of the night, but the execution was simply incredible. The band was dead-on and the sound was clear and clean enough to show off their full range. And whatever "it" is that great rock vocalists are supposed to have, Peter Dolving has "it" in spades. He's at least twice the frontman that Marco Aro was (even though he didn't really do justice to the few Marco tracks that made it into the set), and as almost a force of nature has really taken over this band, which has had consequences for their live show as positive as the consequences for their recorded output have been negative. With Aro, the Bjorlers were able to assert the heritage of At The Gates; now and going forward, The Haunted is the Peter Dolving (Thrash) Band. It makes for a hell of a show, and I'm glad that I stayed, but it's made me more skeptical about getting The Dead Eye or further albums. Dolving is a great vocalist and an interesting guy, but my metal interests lie mostly elsewhere.

On the drive home, I had some close calls due to low speed; whether it was the headlights or my eyes, I wasn't able to resolve far enough ahead to drive at a normal speed of traffic and had to basically do the speed limit the whole way back. That's no way for a Masshole to drive, even at 1 and 2 in the morning.

Though this was a good show, it did have the negative side effect of making me unable to go to one of the few non-Sunday metal gigs at the Skybar; I missed Downfall and Zircon, among others, and what was allegedly a really good time. At least there's tonight and Sunday for local coolness; I'll have some notes and hopefully a few pictures from Texas up later.

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