Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US)

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AMORPHIS / DARK TRANQUILLITY / MOONSPELL / OMNIUM GATHERUM

Date: 13th September, 2018
Venue: The Forge
Ticket: $25/€21.50
Promoter: FM Entertainment


There was no way to miss this amazing billing; from start to finish, this show covered the wide spectrum of Gothic to melodic Death Metal with strong Scandinavian presence and a powerful Portuguese twist. The only downside was that this show was part of a concert streak that was flirting to deplete our fuel tank, but there was no other option but to bite the bullet and forge on.

The Forge was almost filled with people still coming in as OMNIUM GATHERUM stormed the stage with their always contagious energy. Yeah, each and every time I have seen these friendly faces from Finland, it has been pedal to the Metal from the get-go. However, this instance turned out to be the best of the shows I have been, but I cannot put my finger on a single reason for this. The band had definitely fans occupying the first rows because the moment Jukka Pelkonen greeted Joliet somewhere in the middle of “Frontiers”, he got a quite loud cheer. This was one of the times when having a young audience pushing the energy one notch higher (especially during the first set of the night which is always challenging for the band to get everyone into concert mood), does the trick. But no, OMNIUM GATHERUM did not seem to try hard, although seeing them sweating their arses off during the sticky-as-super-glue “Gods Go First” that Jukka dedicated to the Joliet audience indicates a hard-working band. There is absolutely no way to stay indifferent during the guitar / keyboard combo and their chanting-along melodies.

“We have a really cool package for you tonight” acknowledged the constantly smiling singer, and I bet there was not a single soul able to argue with him. The only complain I dare to make is that all those fines and melodic layers OMNIUM GATHERUM have in their music are somewhat getting buried under the loud volume and you can only notice them if you have already heard the songs and know where to look. Still, the Finns gave a solid performance that night, and judging by the growing fanbase, I predict that we will be soon seeing OMNIUM GATHERUM live again.

OMNIUM GATHERUM setlist:

01. “The Burning”
02. “Frontiers”
03. “Gods Go First”
04. “The Unknowing”
05. “Refining Fire”
06. “Over The Battlefield”
07. “Skyline”

OMNIUM GATHERUM

Omnium Gatherum @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Omnium Gatherum @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Omnium Gatherum @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Omnium Gatherum @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Omnium Gatherum @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Omnium Gatherum @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Omnium Gatherum @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Omnium Gatherum @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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I was super excited for MOONSPELL’s set and I had lots of reasons for this; first of all, “1755” turned out to be a fantastic album sung in Portuguese, so getting to hear how these songs would behave on concert could be the one and only reason. Secondly, MOONSPELL have been playing the States only in supporting slots, so getting more of them could ease a bit our pain for having more than a decade since the last headlining show we have been. The third reason was having this band part of such a tour package can potentially help MOONSPELL get the wider exposure they definitely deserve in order to make their visits on this side of the Atlantic more frequent.

This time around the theatrics were better enhanced with “Em Nome Do Medo” being the right vehicle for doing so. Yeah, the bass-driven intro and the slow build-up created the perfect platform for Fernando to show up holding a lantern searching for some hope amidst the chaos that earthquake in 1755 brought upon Lisbon. In case you have missed the memo, MOONSPELL’s latest epos deals with that fateful incident and this is why the lyrics are in Portuguese. This may seem a bit odd selection for a show starter but for me it perfectly works in revealing how this band mixes and matches theatrics into the music, triggering all types of feelings under the Gothic-looking glass. For “1755”, Fernando put on a plague doctor mask and gave us goosebumps with his passionate performance, having as perfect partners in crime Ricardo and Aires on guitar and bass respectively. By the way, how amazing do the Eastern melodies sound in this one?

The last LP suite ended with the groovy and dark “In Tremor Dei” and right there I realized how much more passionate Fernando sounds when using his native language and this is why I would love to see MOONSPELL doing more of this. I was hoping to see also “Todo Os Santos” on the setlist but after seeing that the Portuguese band had just eight songs worth of time and some must-haves, I immediately let it go. After all, making the decision to cut some of the songs that followed would be an impossible thing to make.

“It is time to travel in the past with a song written in 1996”, said Fernando, and even though I consider “Opium” as a too much of a hit for me to bear, it is always an energy booster in a concert setting. And that’s exactly how it went down with the US audience knowing the tune and giving it the proper singing-along treatment. MOONSPELL lingered for one more song on the same album and sent shivers down our spine with the most dramatic and Gothic to the bone “Awake!”. It was amazing to watch the passion of these fine gentlemen delivering these songs that could have been of the same age with some metalheads present.

Fast forward to 2015 with “Breathe (Until We Are No More)” and I will state that I like this one better live because I think Fernando tried hard to hide his Portuguese accent in the studio whereas in concert the lyrics sounds 666% better. And if there are people being annoyed by accents, then they can look elsewhere for “factory-made / plastic” music. There were many metalheads requesting songs like “Vampiria” but alas there was not enough time… Still, getting to hear once more the powerful “Alma Mater” and getting the opportunity to scream along the opening growl with a clenched fist in the air is and will always be an amazing concert experience. Unfortunately, this was one before the end; “Give a round of applause to the rest of the bands. Hopefully we will see you next year; until then, stay in full moon madness”, said Fernando before inviting everyone without saying so to howl to the moon for the setlist closer. Did the hair at the back of my next stand up howling full moooooon, maaaadness? Of course they did, and I am already waiting for a reprise to soon happen on this continent.

MOONSPELL setlist:

01. “Em Nome Do Medo”
02. “1755”
03. “In Tremor Dei”
04. “Opium”
05. “Awake!”
06. “Breathe (Until We Are No More)”
07. “Alma Mater”
08. “Full Moon Madness”

MOONSPELL

Moonspell @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Moonspell @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Moonspell @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Moonspell @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Moonspell @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Moonspell @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Moonspell @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Moonspell @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Moonspell @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Moonspell @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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There was no slowing down that night with that billing, with Sweden’s leaders of the Gothenburg sound DARK TRANQUILITY next in line to challenge our energy levels. Sure, the Swedes did not have a new album to support, but getting a fresh opportunity to bang-along these melodic Death Metal tunes is more than welcomed. After all, seeing the wide smile on Mikael is impossible to resist despite the fact that his happy face does not quite fit the darkness coming from songs, like the setlist opener “Encircled” or my personal favorite “Monochromatic Stains”. However, this is one of the things to love in DARK TRANQUILITY who quickly build a communication channel with the audience having at the tip of the spear Mikael and his growling / clean singing. This time around the band had two step-in guitarists; Christopher Amott and Johan Reinholdz but this did not hold the Swedes back, and put the highest of gears from the start. “Holy shit, Joliet” acknowledged Mikael before slowing a tad things down with “Clearing Skies”. I think I am saying this for most shows in The Forge but I have to repeat myself as the young audience did push the energy levels higher with the mosh-pit and crowd surfing tireless participation. I could not expect something else other than what it went down during the killer “The Treason Wall” which made me feel that I did have miss seeing DARK TRANQUILITY live. Soon enough there were bodies surfing all the way to the front where Mikael was waiting for a high five or even a handshake and here kudos are in order for the venue’s bouncers who kept everyone safe and did not spoil the fun. The double guitars in “The Science Of Noise” and the groovy rhythm section of “Forward Momentum” were loud reminders of why I became a fun of this band and this scene some decades ago. It still amazes me how much fun it feels diving headfirst in the sea of melancholy served by the latter song. And yes, watching the video projected at the huge back-screen made this combo even stronger.

As I said, the connection between the band and the audience was solid from the start, and at some point Mikael pointed the mic to a fan at the front row who started singing, giving the singer a huger smile (if that’s even possible). Aren’t moments like this one awesome to watch? You bet they are! “Atoma” with the mix of clean and growling vocals was a fantastic pairing with “Force Of Hand” (love the fast snare-driven part) from the latest DARK TRANQUILITY LP (isn’t time to go back to the studio?).

Mikael dedicated “Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)” to their homeland (strange dedication, right?) before getting into the close to the end of the suite; the audience got more energetic and, to be honest, with songs like “Therein” and “Lost To Apathy” there was no other way. The combination of guitars and groovy keyboards is impossible to resist no matter if you are into this band or not (ok, unless, your eyes are Metal-deaf). The latter of the two came after the statement by Mikael: “it feels fantastic being back in America” and I think before the amazing “Misery Crown” he asked the same question as the last time; “we will go back to Sweden to record a new album and we will return; would you like that?” Do I need to reiterate what was the audience’s answer? “Fuck Yeah”!

DARK TRANQUILITY setlist:

01. “Encircled”
02. “Monochromatic Stains”
03. “Clearing Skies”
04. “The Treason Wall”
05. “The Science Of Noise”
06. “Forward Momentum”
07. “The Mundane And The Magic”
08. “Atoma”
09. “Force Of Hand”
10. “Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)”
11. “Inside The Particle Storm”
12. “The Wonders At Your Feet”
13. “Therein”
14. “Lost To Apathy”
15. “Misery's Crown”

DARK TRANQUILLITY

Dark Tranquillity @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Dark Tranquillity @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Dark Tranquillity @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Dark Tranquillity @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Dark Tranquillity @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Dark Tranquillity @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Dark Tranquillity @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Dark Tranquillity @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Dark Tranquillity @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Dark Tranquillity @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Thinking about the sets we had witnessed so far, made me wonder how AMORPHIS would respond. Well, they have a killer album under their belt and this was highlighted by the powerful entrance with the fantastic “The Bee”; the keyboard intro topped off by Tomi’s deep growl was exactly the nudge we needed to shift into high gear again. The sound was massive and this song’s groove was the only reason the front rows needed to get into headbanging mode and reactivate the mosh-pit in the center of the venue. To make my life difficult, AMORPHIS followed this with my personal favorite from their latest LP, the dreamy “The Golden Elk” starting with another growl / grunt. Oh hell, I think I have perfected the way to take pictures while singing-along and headbanging…

“Bad Blood” and “Sky Is Mine” came back to back and it was up to the a tad slower Wrong Direction” to give everyone a breather. “We have just released a new album, so let’s hear a new song”, said Tomi before delivering another set of vocal melodies that have become a trademark for AMORPHIS after all these years with this gentleman behind the mic. The Forge had reached the boiling point but one should not credit only the Finns for this; all the bands contributed to pushing the night into a set-list long climax and it was up to AMORPHIS to reap what all the bands on the billing had sown. Even though the sound was pretty clear throughout the night, I did not fully enjoy the keyboards and the Eastern melodies of “Heart Of The Giant” but this may had to do with my close proximity to the stage. I think this is one of the prices one has to pay if he wants to be this close to the stage, as the soundboard is all the way to the back, so the sound engineer has a different listening perspective.

After spending two songs on the latest album, AMORPHIS hit the button on the time-machine and guided us two decades in their back catalogue with “Against Widows” and “The Castaway”. There was no slowing down from the US audience and this meant that most of the AMORPHIS fans inside The Forge were well-educated and knew both eras of the Finnish band. In other words, the mosh-pit kept going strong (maybe a bit stronger during those two) and this, combined with the minimum breaks between the songs, created a killer flow. The flow was not at all disturbed when the band hit the fast-forward button all the way to the latest album with the melancholic “Daughter Of Hate” and the poetic “Sacrifice” which happens to be one of my favorite picks from “Under The Red Cloud”.

Even though I have praised the audience present that night more than enough, I should give them additional credit for the loud singing-along during “Silver Bride” and for pushing a bit more the energy levels during the last song of the pre-encore set. “The next one is a really important song for the band and for me personally”, said Tomi before getting into full growling mode with the mid-tempo “Black Winter Day”. The band did not leave us waiting for long (after all, the cheering was quite loud) and did a two-song encore. Oh yes, “Death Of A King” and especially “House Of Sleep” saw more fans singing-along, giving the proper send-off to AMORPHIS who definitely have to return because there is more than just a solid fanbase waiting for them here in the States.

AMORPHIS setlist:

01. “The Bee”
02. “The Golden Elk”
03. “Bad Blood”
04. “Sky Is Mine”
05. “Wrong Direction”
06. “Heart Of The Giant”
07. “Against Widows”
08. “The Castaway”
09. “Daughter Of Hate”
10. “Sacrifice”
11. “Silver Bride”
12. “Black Winter Day”
13. “Death Of A King”
14. “House Of Sleep”

AMORPHIS

Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge, Joliet (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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