Live Review: Dark Tranquility / Ensiferum / Nailed To Obscurity – Manchester Club Academy, Manchester 07.04.2022

Phil Pountney

As I arrived at the venue at what I thought was 30 minutes late for the 18.00 door time, I was
greeted by security informing the long snaking queue that the bands had been delayed arriving into
Manchester and were all still setting up inside the venue so the doors would be opening late, but
just how late, nobody was sure. We were then struck with even more bad news when the friendly
door team told us that openers Brunhilde had pulled out in order to leave the three remaining bands
with enough stage time tonight. Gutted as I had heard some good things about this German punk
metal outfit.

So the doors finally opened and it wasn’t long before a hefty number of black clad eager metalheads
had accumulated inside the Club Academy and as the lights dimmed, Nailed To Obscurity, with their
brand of Germanic Melodic Death Metal hit the stage. The set was flooded with Doom laden Death
tracks and Ennenga stalked the stage with obvious passion and intent. The stage stayed pretty much
draped in icy cold blue lighting throughout the set and the crowd showed their appreciation with the
only way they possibly knew how to, heads banging in unison and lungs expelling noisy roars as one
entity. The energy flowing from the stage was fairly impressive and Manchester seemed to be loving
the entertainment on show, although a few of those in attendance could be heard to be losing
interest towards the ends of the set and labelling it as all a little too repetitive for their tastes. From
where I was stood though it was a decent enough effort, and whilst their brand of doom death may
be a little too much out of my comfort zone I’m sure a fair few will have been converted tonight and
will be picking up the back catalogue at the earliest opportunity.

So, onto the Finnish Folk warriors. The crowd had visibly swelled for these melodic Folk soldiers and
they unleashed one almighty roar when the face painted Ensiferum marched out before us. The set
was top heavy with offerings from the latest release, ‘Thalassic’, with just under half of the set being
layered with tracks from this colossal album. Petri Lindroos orchestrated the whole victory tonight
and stood with an air of arrogance, not one with a negative connotation but one which was
endearing to everyone that stood before him. The flanks were managed with ease, energy, and
flamboyancy, Toivonen struck poses with ease and command while Hinkka was a true beast,
imposing and powerful beyond belief, working the thicker strings with authority and masterful
control from start to finish. As ‘Lai Lai Hei’ led into the closer, and totally magnificent ‘From Afar’,
this had been a success of huge magnitude. A true celebration of the heavier side of Folklore, and
one that needs to be revisited in the not-too-distant future, Ensiferum, you need to make it a
priority to revisit us very very soon.

As the stage was transformed in time for the second of the headliners, and one which for some
reason seemed to take a lot longer than previous turnarounds despite the stage seeming a little
sparser than for the rest of the evening, the crowd seemed to have thinned a little which is puzzling
given that Dark Tranquillity are one of the Gothenburg God Fathers (and in my opinion should be
playing bigger venues than this in the first place, but that’s a different debate altogether)

Stanne took his place centre stage and was obviously more than happy to be stood with the
receptive crowd beneath him, he genuinely looked ecstatic to be back in the live setting, plying his
trade with his brothers in arms. The set was stapled with a broad selection from across their history,
‘Terminus’ and ‘Therein’ generated a rapturous response with the heads banging even harder to
‘Focus Shift’. The drums were precise throughout the set and the violence with which they were beaten was measured and ferocious in equal measures, a sight to well and truly behold. The guitar
work was mesmerising and sincerely exquisite, and the vocals from Stanne were spat out with desire
and delight throughout the complete set this evening.

As the final chords of ‘Misery’s Crown’ rang out in all of the attendees’ ears, this whole package in
Manchester had been a success, albeit the fact that we were entertained by only three rather than
the planned four band assault. Sweden, Germany, Finland, a sincere massive thank you for this trio
of metal exports. You have spoiled us !

Previous Visions du Réel Review: A Marble Travelogue
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