Dark Tranquillity/Insomnium – January 12, 2015 – Altar Bar, Pittsburgh, PA

Saturday, 17th January 2015

Two winters in a row for a jaunt such as this for the steadfast Swedes, who are closing out the touring run in support of 2013’s Construct. And Dark Tranquillilty’s profile may be sturdier than the band they are often are lumped in with – In Flames, who have taken a considerable nosedive in the sonic department. DT, though, remain relatively on the straight and narrow, with the added element of keyboards serving to enhance – not detour their sound. Along for the ride were fast-rising Finnish melancholic melodic death metal troupe Insomnium, who clearly were the right pick. It’s as if they’re being groomed to reach the next level in this territory.

Pre-stage pleasantries were exchanged with Insomnium/Omnium Gatherum guitarist Markus Vanhala, who was kind enough to relay word that ten songs were in the works for the next OG platter. No sneak-peaks were given, perhaps hampered by the overwhelming sound of the opening bands. ‘Till next time, eh? Working largely off of their new Shadows of the Dying Sun effort, Insomnium provide the rare mix of melo-death intensity and spacious atmosphere. It’s mainly in the guitar work, where soft peddles do battle with strident riff-action, something that was quite the happening on “While We Sleep” and the excellent “Revelation.”

Foregoing all of their early catalog (the band’s In the Halls of Awaiting is an absolute gem), change-of-pace jams “The Harrowing Years,” “Unsung” and “The Promethean Song” provided ample balance, although this scribe wished “Regain the Fire” was slotted in instead. Vanhala has been given roughly 90% of the band’s lead guitar duties, something he handles with aplomb (of course), while the clean vocals of fellow guitarist Ville Friman had a rough go in the mix department. Nevertheless, stirring stuff. Onward to bigger things for sure.

Still touring without a bass player (several of this scribe’s fellow concert goers have a difficult time with that), Dark Tranquillity rolled out largely the same setlist as last year, launching into “The Silence of Noise,” “White Noise/Black Silence” and “Damage Done” rather effortlessly. And perhaps that’s the only beef with DT; they’re not exactly visual marvels, even with the assistance of a fancy-pants video backdrop. Vocalist Mikael Stanne does his best, perpetual smiles and theater-like moves and all. Nothing wrong with seeing a frontman smile, ya know?

By mid-set, DR had seen enough, though word was the band busted out “ThereIn” from the ever-controversial Projector album from 1999, one that saw Stanne nearly ruin the band’s reputation with his Gothic-styled clean vocals. Never sure what the big deal was…far worse clean singers out there than Stanne. (Looking at you, Friden.)

Dark Tranquillity official site
Insomnium official site