Live Report - Dark Tranquillity, Soilwork, Hypocrisy, and Mnemic - Austin, Texas April 19, 2005
Metal Reviews

Release year: 2005
Reviewed by Ben

This past week I was finally afforded the chance to see one of the best long running acts today, Dark Tranquillity. Their ongoing tour with Soilwork, Hypocrisy, and Mnemic found its way to Austin, Texas and I was there. This was to be one of the few shows that I go to where I am more interested in who is opening rather then headlining. While I respect Hypocrisy and Peter Tagtgren I am not that big of a fan of Hypocrisy. Also the fact that I was unfamiliar to Mnemic and haven’t been what you would call an avid fan of Soilwork going on three years now didn’t help either. I arrived at the Backroom at three thirty with my friend and got a little bit more excited at the site of a venue that has so far been good to me. Not more than a month ago I was there seeing Lilitu. I feel good knowing I have a venue that I can call my local spot, I say local even though it’s an hour and a half away. While waiting for the bus that had Dark Tranquillity on board (due to engine problems they arrived late, six thirty) I walked around and enjoyed the scenery as my friend went to the local liquor store to pick up some beer. As I headed over to the one bus I spotted what was obviously someone in a band and introduced myself as he revealed himself to be Michael, the singer from Mnemic. We shared a few beers and talked for a good hour, hour and a half while waiting for the bus to finally pull up. When the red beast arrived it opened its doors and people poured constantly in and out trying to make up the lost time. Because of the delay my interview with Mikael at five was replaced with none other than main man Niklas Sundin while Mikael did an interview for a local metal zine. Over on a small worn stoop that was partly in the shade is where I conducted my third in person interview with the warm sun shining gently down on my left and a cooling breeze that kept the temperature at a comfortable seventy three degrees. I found Niklas to be a very easy to talk to person and was my best and most comfortable interview yet. The aura of dignified class intertwined with sincere humbleness showed me even clearer that this is a man who is a seasoned professional, a true master of his craft. When the lengthy discussion was over after close to forty five minutes I wished Niklas luck for the night and he was kind enough to sign all my Dark Tranquillity sleeves, all ten of them plus the DVD. At seven fifty I found Michael (Mnemic) and asked him when they were going on. He promptly replied, “Eight o clock. Why, what time is it?” When I told him that it was ten minutes before show time he hurried inside and I made my way in as well to catch them.

Mnemic, despite having a short five song twenty five minute set, played a solid gig that appealed to the younger crowd there immensely. They gave a tremendous performance with every band member flailing around the stage and Michael himself never let up. Jumping on the monitors to get a better view of the crowd to head banging himself, he projected a tidal wave of energy into the crowd. I’ll have to give them a shot. While Hypocrisy was setting up I made my way to the bar and chatted with some friends before making our way outside through the back for even more metal discussions. I missed Hypocrisy as I was greeting Martin Henriksson . When I heard Peter announce that “This will be the final song for the night,” from inside I began to gather my camera and sleeves and began walking towards the entrance when I see Mikael Stanne coming off the bus. Knowing he was in a hurry I shook his hand and wished him good luck on the show as well. In a very gentlemanly fashion he thanked me and went in through the back. Because of my in between set shenanigans (hey gotta make the most use out of the media pass) I sacrificed front row honors but being in the third row and six foot five I wasn’t going to throw a conniption fit. As the tension and excitement grew I got carried away in a metal discussion with some people and was loudly exclaiming (in other more colorful terms) my dislike for Slayer’s last decade of material and that if someone were to tell me that God Hates Us All was a great album and didn’t know who Kreator was I would probably say something uncouth. As my rant was closing the lights went down and I thrust all my previous thoughts aside and began to grow ecstatic as the shadowy statures of the members graced the stage.

Opening with The Treason Wall, the Swedes tore into their set with all barrels firing. The roar from the crowd as the lights came on and everyone was unveiled was deafening and it made my energy levels soar. With only a slight pause to introduce the title of the next song the band went straight into a rousing rendition of the lead single from Character, Lost to Apathy. From the way the crowd was reacting they were more than familiar with the material from Damage Done and Character, going crazy throughout every song and I could even hear a respectable amount of crowd singing as well. This great response was obviously feeding the band because they were on fire from the get go and maintained that level of ferocity for the duration of their set. Mikael was prowling the small stage covering every inch of space available. Niklas and Henriksson were seemingly polar opposites when it comes to performing. Niklas had a more introspective way of playing than the crazy Henriksson. He would play with a look on his face of a man who seems to be in his own world doing what he loves to do, and every now and then would strike a metal pose with either Michael Nicklasson or his fellow guitar counter part. The other Martin, Brandstrom, played with a smile on his face as well and since he was glued to his keyboard stand he would headbang in between bouts of smiling or studious concentration. I couldn’t make out Anders’ from my vantage point but the few glimpses I caught of him was that of a whirlwind of activity. Michael Nicklasson was almost as much of a front man as Stanne, he urged the crowd quite often to carry on chants of <“Hey’s,” as well as clapping, I was quite surprised. Staying with Character material the next two numbers were the thrashy Through Smudged Lenses and the blistering The New Build. Taking a small trip back to 2000’s Haven album the finale of The New Build segued into The Wonders at Your Feet. Once the familiar intro began playing the crowd reached its apex of wildness. A mosh pit formed literally around me and while the kids did their shoving and pushing I stepped up to the stage and enjoyed my new spot front and center. Following this flawless execution there was a little pause as Mikael talked to the crowd to let everyone catch their breath. The only pre - Haven song was played next, the ultimate crowd pleaser, Punish My Heaven. I must say that at this point I lost it and was in a state of sheer metallic bliss at hearing and seeing a song that in itself is genre defining. Monochromatic Stains was next and thus began the countdown with the final three songs of the night. The melancholy My Negation was next and after thanking the crowd the band went into the closer, Final Resistance from Damage Done. Throwing every remaining ounce of energy they had left in them, they finished the night on an extremely high note and left the stage to much applause and cheering from the crowd.

Outside the venue and back at their bus Dark Tranquillity weren’t even given a fifteen minute rest as fans poured outside to catch a few words with the band. I admire that the guys didn’t blow one single fan off, even at times when they went inside to grab a bottle of water or to take a piss, they promised a quick return and made true on their words. The entire band was out there and we talked for a good hour, well into Soilwork’s set. Mikael Stanne is one of the nicest and most polite musicians I have met. Every person he talked to he looked straight in the eye and gave his full attention to their words whether it ranged from intelligent insightful discussion to “You guys fucking ruled man… I love you.” Nearing midnight and seeing the obvious fatigue setting in on the band me and my friends decided to head off and grab some late night dinner. I made my rounds with everyone one last time thanking them for the show (and Niklas again for the great interview) before we raided a local Chinese food restaurant.

I’ve been mulling around the fact that I missed Soilwork for the past few days now and I came to the conclusion that I made the right decision to forego their set for some time with the Tranquillity crew. I did find out that yes, a few songs from their earlier albums were played but in all honestly the notion of seeing a band play where I only would enjoy less than half the songs doesn’t sound too appealing. I’ll stick with their first four albums and enjoy those while the band goes on to success with their recent work. If you still have a chance to catch this package when it comes into town, by all means go. You won’t regret it and you will be able to see the best that Sweden has to offer.

Special thanks go out to George Vallee, Dark Tranquillity’s publicist, Paul their tour manager, and Skid from Century Media for the media pass and for the arrangement of the interview with Niklas Sundin.

Killing Songs :
Ben quoted
Other albums by Live Report that we have reviewed:
Live Report - Mgla, Lvcifyre, Wode - 15th March 2019 - Rebellion, Manchester, UK reviewed by Goat and quoted
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Live Report - King Crimson - Uncertain Times Tour - 9th November 2018 - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, UK reviewed by Goat and quoted
Live Report - Voivod & Bio-Cancer - 6th October 2018 - Rebellion, Manchester, UK reviewed by Goat and quoted
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