Amaranthe / Soen / Dynazty - The Garage, Highbury, London (UK) - 22nd May 2012
This predominantly Swedish three band bill was a showcase for Spinefarm Records and was touted as a promotional event under the auspices of legendary Kerrang! Scribe Dante Bonutto who now works on behalf of Spinefarm.
My main reason for making the arduous trip to London was to see Dynazty perform once again after having been blown away by their dynamism and youthful exuberance headlining the Z Rock festival a fortnight ago. The fact that they were supporting Amaranthe, a band I had become acquainted with in the last few months made it a double bonus.
Dynazty, surprisingly, were first up, probably more to do with being brand new signings to Spinefarm rather than their present standing in Rock circles. And after the M.C. gave them a very exuberant introduction they launched into ‘Come Alive’, the opening track on new album ‘Sultans Of Sin’. In actual fact, the guys mentioned to me that this was kind of a launch party for the new album to celebrate their signing despite the original release being on a rival label. With that in mind six of the eight songs in their thirty-five minute set were from the new album with only ‘Lights Out (In Candyland)’ from their debut ‘Bring The Thunder’ and ‘This Is My Life’ from follow-up ‘Knock You Down’. And they didn’t disappoint. Despite only a three minute soundcheck (I kid you not) they were up and running from the off and proceeded to blow the cobwebs to the back of this 600 capacity (downstairs) venue. It wasn’t hard considering the strength and melody of the new songs and in the brooding and spikey attitude of Nils Molin they have an outstanding frontman and fabulous singer that brings comparisons to Sweden’s other charismatic frontman and female knee trembler Joey Tempest. Rob Love Magnusson and Mikael Laver are exceptional players and their relaxed and cool personas on stage mirror their demeanour off stage. They have a great deal of fun in the spotlight as they trade crunching melodic riffs and gorgeous harmonised solos one after another.
Drummer Georg Harnsten Egg, a relatively quiet and composed individual, not at all like the crazy sticksmen of most Heavy Rock bands is more than capable of pounding the skins really hard and has great timing which shows a very good ear with some lovely fills to match the occasion. And in bassist Joel Fox Apelgren, Dynazty has the glue that welds all the glorious Dynazty components together, a man not afraid to say it how it is, a strong character and natural showman with thumping bass lines and grooves to make the venue floor shake to the rhythm.
The large crowd, mainly here for Amaranthe really warmed to these super-charged Swedes as the party was instantaneously started the moment Nils raised his fist at the end of the opening song. These guys know how to entertain and with superb songs to match the visual spectacle this band are set for superstardom if there is any justice in this world!
Next up were Soen from Sweden and the U.S. and with less of a build up to their show from the M.C. maybe he knew what was coming. I have to admit I knew nothing about this band before the show and by the end of the first song a bemused crowd gave polite applause as I was left scribbling the band name ‘Tool’. As if by magic, a short while later Dynazty’s Mikael showed up and said to me “This band are interesting, they sound like ‘Tool’…”, so I showed him my notes. It was an amusing moment. Their forty-five minute set consisted of eight songs (from debut album ‘Cognitive’) although at times it was hard to distinguish between the end of one and the beginning of the next but did include a cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Hey You’ from their seminal ’79 LP ‘The Wall’. Ex Willowtree vocalist Joel Ekelof reminded me an awful lot of R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe (same height, build, bald head and sharp jacket over uniformed shirt) although his stylised Arabesque wailings at times were far more in the Christian Arab, Greek Orthodox sphere than Maynard James Keenan territory, and he did suffer pitch problems occasionally on some of the higher notes. Visually the band were quite static and during the quiter moments such as on the mellow introspective ‘Delenda’ (roughly translated from the obscure Latin ‘delere’ meaning to destroy) there was a distinct noise of chatter amongst the audience further back suggesting boredom had set in. Mikael’s use of the word ‘interesting’ was a good choice because although I couldn’t fault the musicianship (guitarist Kim Platbarzdis had some very nice sonic tones and played some dextrous solos plus they feature ex Death, Testament and Sadus bassist Steve DiGiorgio and ex Opeth drummer Martin Lopez) they left me feeling largely unimpressed. Admittedly, with a large fanbase behind them at a more intimate gig I’m sure they could showcase more of their repertoire but quite frankly it was always going to be hard to follow Dynazty’s dynamic set (See what I did there?).
A few teething problems throughout the evening had meant Swedish/Danish tri-vocalist group Amaranthe arrived late on stage to an impatient audience but as soon as they were announced the expectancy level rose. As they broke into first number ‘Leave Everything Behind’ with a melodic maelstrom (See what I did there again?) of guitar from co-founder Olof Morck screamer Andy Solvestrom bounded on stage to growl the opening lyrics causing the first half dozen rows to start bouncing in rhythm to what is the opening track to their debut album.
Second singer and co-band founder Jake E was next up to sing the third line of the opening stanza and although he sounds similar to a multitude of vocalists, off the top of my head he reminds me of a smoother Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids). Then third singer Elize Ryd stepped onto the stage very eloquently to start the second verse and there was a noticeable cheer among the male element of the front rows. What followed was an energetic, exciting performance where every track from the album was performed including one of the two bonus tracks ‘Splinter In My Soul’ but in a completely different running order. It was fortunate that I had become acquainted with said album because I was able to deduce that this band can indeed replicate it live. The due to be released tomorrow first single ‘1,000,000 Lightyears’ showcased great three way harmonies as Andy showed he can actually sing a little as well as growl. The intricate ‘Rain’ and Dream Theater style musicality of ‘Director’s Cut’ really allowed the band’s musicianship to come to the fore. The gorgeous ballad ‘Amaranthine’ was the seventh song aired tonight and what a treat it was as it allowed Elize’s crystal clear smooth soprano voice to shine. Also a treat was the beautifully melodic ‘Call Out My Name’ with dance like rhythms that were they to allow David Guetta to re-mix it, it would be a massive Euro dance floor hit. Rhythm section comprising bassist Johan Andreassen and sole Dane, drummer Morten Lowe Sorensen kept a very tight ship for what is extremely demanding Power/Melodic Death Metal hybrid music brushing the boundaries of Symphonic Metal.It’s very clever and works extremely well and this band have the capability to go far. I enjoyed their performance as much as Dynazty’s so it was a pleasure to be here tonight.