Show Reviews



The HauntedThe Gramercy Theater is a brand new venue in an old converted movie theater on E. 23rd St. in Manhattan, operated by Live Nation (who also run Irving Plaza and Roseland). That the sound mix was absolutely atrocious when Axl and I entered during Scar Symmetry’s set was cause for worry, seeing as this was the first show we had ever attended there. Unfortunately Scar Symmetry couldn’t project through the muddled mix, though Into Eternity fared a little bit better due only to singer Stu Block’s sheer amazingness (everything else was completely inaudible). The guitars had absolutely no definition, the bass was all but absent, the bass drum sounded like a piece of cardboard and the snare sounded like shit on a stick. Fortunately by the time The Haunted came on these issues had been sorted out, or more likely The Haunted brought their own guy to man the boards. The Haunted and Dark Tranquillity then proceeded to rock the hell out of the Gramercy to a crowd of die-hard metalheads that wouldn’t be caught dead uttering the word “metalcore.” There were more Soilwork, Vader, and Emperor shirts in one room than I have ever seen concentrated in one single area.

I was quite excited to see Scar Symmetry because I have really been into Pitch Black Progress lately, but unfortunately the sound mix was so poor that I feel as if I can’t really judge the band from last night’s show. From what I could tell vocalist Christian Älvestam hit the notes on the album with surprising accuracy, and guitarists Jonas Kjellgren and Per Nilsson seemed to be exceptionally skilled (though who could tell?). The bass was nonexistent in the mix so I’ll reserve comment; but I’m afraid that drummer Henrik Ohlsson might suffer from Trivium syndrome. Ohlsson seemed to be all over the beat, rushing through fills and generally making the band sound sloppy. Whatever, I’ll get over it; these guys deserve another shot since Pitch Black Progress is so excellent.

Into Eternity, the only non-Swedish band on the bill, also suffered from god awful sound. I would have loved to hear the solos of guitar-mastermind Tim Roth, but alas it was not to be. The aforementioned Stu Block really impressed, however; how could you go wrong with this dude? I swear my nuts shriveled up into my abdomen every time this dude hit a high note.

Peter Dolving has got to be one of the most interesting guys in metal. Not only is he intelligent (just read his blog) but he just seems like a really cool, down to earth dude that is very, very passionate about his music. The Haunted took the stage and immediately had better sound than the previous two acts. His in between song banter was totally on point; “It’s so great to be in New York City. So, most of you guys aren’t actually from HERE, right?” as he pointed into the ground. “Who here is from Brooklyn? New Jersey? Anyone from Harlem?” I can only imagine how bizarre it must be to pull up to a midtown club in the middle of the day and be surrounded by professionals in full suit and tie garb only to have 500 dudes (and let’s be honest — it’s always all dudes) with long hair and goatees come out of the woodwork to see your band. In any case the Haunted put on an excellent show and their passion really showed through in their music.

Dark Tranquillity took the stage at around 11 and proved why they are the forefathers of Gothenberg metal (along with The Haunted, of course). Not only was the sound immaculate for Dark Tranquillity’s set (perhaps the openers were made to sound bad on purpose?) but each musician was totally on top of his game and in tune with what the rest of the band was doing. The band seamlessly mixed songs both new and old, all eliciting an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from the audience. At one point singer Mikael Stanne remarked “So how many of you recognized that one?” and after a good number of cheers remarked jokingly “You damn pirates!”

The audience at the show was great as well; clearly all die-hard metalheads who are true fans of all the bands they came to see. This was not your garden variety meat-head type of audience. Despite the no-moshing rule strictly enforced by the venues bouncers a good time was had by all and it was a fine night for metal in a city that sees few of them. Horns up.


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