I entered Corona Theatre a bit early to catch good seats to get the best experience, and I was lucky enough to get one. I noticed something unusual off the bat since— there were literally no traditional amplifier heads, every band used AXE-FX (digitally simulated distortion.) Although I appreciate the old-school sound a traditional amp gives out, these bands were using the highest tech available for guitar tone, so I was excited.
The theatre went dark, and ominous sounds start playing, followed by Finland’s Omnium Gatherum (courtesy of Century Media) entering the stage. They looked professional, all wearing the same uniform, even the guitarists Markus Vanhala and Joonas Koto were sporting the same white flying V’s. The dual’s solos were emotional and the whole band was tight; however, I didn’t enjoy the songwriting. The best way I can describe it is Aapo Koivisto’s atmospheric keyboards with Judas Priest-like fast sections from the drummer, Yuomo Latvala. Bassist Erkki Silvennoinen was the most animated of the bunch, running around and headbanging to keep the crowd entertained. My biggest problem was the clean vocals. Jukka Pelkonen’s growls are great, but his cleans are monotonous. They finished with “Skyline,” which is the only memorable song from them because it had Children of Bodom inspired riffing. Good starter nonetheless.
Next up was the Portuguese extreme gothic metal act Moonspell (courtesy of Napalm records.) Like the previous act, ominous church bells, dim lighting, and then the weirdness happened. Fernando Ribeiro came on stage with a trench-coat, top-hat, huge cross a la Ozzy around his neck, swinging a lantern, while the pure heaviness kicked in. This was pure gothic bliss. I felt like I was in a cult. For the second song, he even donned a plague mask. Every song was different. Ranging from passionate to heavy, to dreamy like structures, they even did bits that reminded me of eerie old-school Korn. I couldn’t catch any of the song titles because the singer’s Portuguese accent was thick, I even asked the person next to me and he didn’t know. Like every act on the bill, everyone was professionally tight. They ended with “Full Moon Madness,” where the singer grabbed a pair of drumsticks and helped the drummer with the cymbal punches. A fantastic display end the act.
Next up was Century Media’s titans from Sweden, Dark Tranquillity. I saw them ten years ago, so I was curious to see what changed. My experience was bittersweet. DT has recently strayed away from the melancholic formula older DT fans adore to a hookier, rock-oriented sound. For the first half of the set it was mostly songs from Atoma and Construct , and the newer fans seemed to enjoy it. I liked it, but it wasn’t my version of DT. Alas, they played “The Treason Wall” from Damage Done and both new and old fans went ballistic; mosh pit, headbanging, fist pumping, etc.
Mikael Stanne still has his timbre; however, his projection wasn’t what it used to be. I noticed something though. He was the only singer drinking beer instead of water for his set. Nonetheless, he is still the powerhouse of the band with amazing movement and a great crowd commander. The bassist had a spotlighted solo near the end, very middle eastern sounding with some guitar harmonies, followed by their closer, “Misery’s Crown ,” which was a fantastic choice, with chanting. I was just genuinely pissed they didn’t play “Punish my Heaven” though.
For the final act, it was a band I’ve heard of but never actually heard. The legendary progressive metal act from Finland, Amorphis (courtesy of Nuclear Blast.) I noticed that the keyboardist, Santeri Kallio had not one, not two, but three keyboards. I was going to be on a ride for sure. I was so in awe with this band, I couldn’t even write. I’m not going to mention song titles because any Amorphis song is good at this point, I’m convinced. The whole set felt like I was wandering the desert in search for an oasis, with a story in my head happening song after song, this band is like reading a book, yes, you are reading but, they know how to use your own imagination to their advantage. One last thing. The singer (Tomi Joutsen) looks like Glen Benton (complete badass) and his growls are great, but he can switch to clean, great sounding vocals on a dime.
“This is one of the best melodic death tour packages ever received” proclaimed Mikael Stanne (vocalist for Dark Tranquillity) in the middle of the set, and he was spot on .
Written by Peter Lountzis
Photography by Eric Brisson Photography
*edited by Mike Milito