First on stage was the unfortunately-named local band Tons of 'Em. They were playing when we walked in and played only two songs that we saw. The sound was interesting enough, somewhat technical, and a little doomy. The most interesting aspect of the band was that the two guitarists and bassist were all in their 20's, while the drummer appeared to be in his 60's. I made the joke to my wife that it was nice of the band members' dad to play drums for them. Apparently that is partially correct. He is only one of the members' dad.
The next band was Traverscion, a prog-death metal band from Sioux Falls, led by a Sheldon Cooper-lookalike and a Thor lookalike, which thrilled my wife by the way. This band I really enjoyed. Their sound had kind of a Lovecraftian murkiness to it and the three vocalists complemented each other quite well. The times when they would play more melodic sections were the definite highlight. I will be keeping an eye on this group.
Side story: I made a comment at the Kreator show to my wife that there would probably be some scary-looking guys there. She responded that they are probably more scared of her than she is of them. The ratio of men to women at most of these concerts probably bears this out.
And we are back. Canada has become quite the fertile ground for traditional metal bands over the last decade or so. And Striker is just one example of this. I have heard one of their albums and quite enjoyed it, so I had a decent idea of what to expect, but for some reason I thought they were thrashier than they actually are. They played a blistering 20 minute set with some of the catchiest songs of the night. They definitely looked like throwbacks to 1980's metal too. I will have to check out more of their material. I wish they had had a t-shirt with their Armed to the Teeth album cover on it. I would have grabbed it quickly.
Where was this t-shirt, Striker?
Hell, my wife would have bought one!
Next up was Warbringer. I saw them about five years ago when they were an up-and-coming band in support of Overkill. They played their entire new album Woe to the Vanquished. A little unexpected, but that is a monster of a modern thrash album, so it was damn good. Of particular note is the absolutely infectious neck-breaker "Remain Violent". They looked like they were having a blast too, which was true of each of the five bands of the night.
And finally, Dark Tranquillity took the stage. I have been a big fan of the band since I was in college, though I preferred their heavier material prior to their more gothic metal-influenced melodeath (my favorite of their albums is still the Of Chaos and Eternal Night EP). That being said, they have some damn great songs and they played a lot of that material last night. Mikael Stanne was a very charismatic presence and explained some of the stories behind some of the songs. My wife stated that Santa Claus has a lot more tattoos than she remembered, referring to bassist Anders Iwers, who does bear a resemblance to a badass metal Santa. The best song was "ThereIn" from the Projector album, which surprised me at its inclusion. The band played in front of a projected screen that played music videos the band did, which also surprised me. They were in top form last night and sounded just as potent as they do on their albums.
I was definitely glad I went, though my wife was not nearly as pleased. It was a damn late night, but seeing Dark Tranquillity for the first time was well worth it.