By the time I’d battled across the Pennines, in the now all too familiar tailbacks and gridlocks of the M62 and Manchester City Centre, I arrived at the Ritz just as the closing chords of the mighty Nailed To Obscurity were ringing out. I was absolutely gutted as I had been really keen to catch the set from these Germanic Melodic Death Metal advocates and it only made it even harder to swallow when I heard some of those who had been lucky enough to catch the 17.30 doors report back that the brief set had been one filled with bruising power and crunching brutality. Oh well, I guess I will just have to set off before lunchtime in future.
Up next were the Swedish powerhouses, a facet in the pioneering of the Gothenburg Sound and a firm favourite of mine when it comes to Melodic Death Metal, Dark Tranquillity. Complete with a backdrop onto which we were treated to continuous projections of all matter of signs, words and videos, the Melodic masters showed up and showed up with intent, simply to destroy the place. The set list was one of which dreams are made of in the Dark Tranquility community, made up of tracks from a myriad of albums, classics and newer offerings, even stretching back to 2002 from which they delivered a flawless ‘Cathode Ray Sunshine’ and an equally epic ‘Hours Passed In Exile’. Stanne led from the front, prowling like a man possessed, interacting with the crowd at any given chance and spitting his vocals out with pure passion and delight, backed up with perfection and precision from Amott et al, each component of the Melodic Death juggernaut was masterful and on point. As they closed out with the awesome and truly muscular ‘Misery’s Crown’, I pondered the thought that in my humble opinion Dark Tranquillity should really be headlining a venue this size given their pedigree, and even the amount of shirts on show tonight, but I guess I will just have to settle for being able to catch them as a support band tonight, I guess any chance to catch Dark Tranquillity in the live setting is a true blessing so take a bow gentleman, that really was one hell of a performance.
Up next was the Celtic/Folk/Melodic Death phenomenon that is Eluveitie, and boy did those microphones and various instrument stands have to be strategically placed in order to get all nine members to fit onto the somewhat cramped stage but they seemed to all fit quite elegantly and gracefully. As they launched into the charismatic ‘Exile Of The Gods’, the beauty of Fabienne’s vocals was mesmerising as was the guttural growl of Chrigel, both working in complete harmony and unison to create a display of vocal talents which had to be respected and admired for the decadent display that it was. As the set progressed it gathered momentum, a breath-taking ‘Epona’, an enchanting ‘Thousand Fold’ and an absolutely glorious ‘The Call Of The Mountains’. All members of the band brought their absolute ‘A’ game tonight and they delivered with absolute awe inspiring beauty and splendour, it’s not often you will see mosh pits spark into action with the catalyst being a hurdy gurdy, whistles, a harp and a set of bagpipes amongst others, hell we even got a crowd surfer towards the end. Towards the end of the set, the band allowed us a moment’s respite as they left the stage only to enter it again seconds later and launch into a powerful ‘Aidus’, a beefy ‘Ategnatos’ and an absolutely iconic ‘Inis Mona’. Awesome, simply awesome.
So then we were onto the final act of the evening, please step forward Amorphis, and we were absolutely battered. From the opening chords of ‘Northwards’, you could tell that Joutsen and his fellow Finns only had one thing on their minds and that was to deliver a pummelling, mauling and absolutely battering set and one which was delivered with clinical excellence. The crowd seemed to have thinned slightly but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm on stage or indeed the maniacal reactions the crowd sent back up onto the stage. The set covered a wide cross section of the Amorphis back catalogue, treating us to tracks from a total of seven albums with of course the live staples of ‘House Of Sleep’, ‘Silver Bride’ and ‘Black Winter Day’ all making an appearance in Manchester tonight.
This had really been a great night of an eclectic mix of styles yet all encapsulated with the same undercurrent of Melodic Death metal, a true celebration and a true victory in every sense of the word.