Amorphis + Eluveitie + Dark Tranquillity + Nailed To Obscurity
@ O2 Kentish Town Forum, London, UK
Friday, 25th November 2022
Review by Kira Levine
Photography by Artur Tarczewski
After Journey’s “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” rang out in Kentish Town Forum, Nailed To Obscurity took to the stage. The German melodeth/doom quintet began their set with “Black Frost,” and the spotlight was on Raimund Ennenga as he rasped some of the lyrics to the song with a pained expression on his face. Their sound is sorrowful, heavy and full of uplifting riffs that provide glimmers of hope.
In between the mix of cleans and screams during “Protean”, Jan-Ole Lamberti delivered a triumphant solo. The lead vocalist shouted, “C’mon, London!” to encourage some more movement and gained some cheers in response. After the track, he expressed how happy the band were to be playing live in England again (they toured Europe with Dark Tranquillity in April).
When single “Clouded Frame” was announced, a few fans whooped excitedly as this was the second song released this year they would have the pleasure of experiencing live. Guitarist Volker Dieken’s backing vocals provided variety as the cleans were delivered, contrasting with Ennenga’s almighty howl at the end of the track.
Nailed to Obscurity p“Desolate Ruin” featured a dual solo from Lamberti & Dieken while lights beamed on them. All other members except stickman Jann Hillrichs (who stopped drumming when the pair began to play) left the stage as the axemen played. Bassist Carsten Schorn then came back on for the last part of the song to complete the rhythm section, switching stage positions with Jan-Ole. The crowd were impressed with the performance, complying when the frontman said, “Gimme a roar!” shortly before the band took a selfie with them.
Nailed to Obscurity setlist (18:00-18:30):
1. Black Frost
3. Liquid Mourning
4. Clouded Frame
5. Desolate Ruin
Fifteen minutes later, the baton was passed to melodic death metal masters Dark Tranquillity. Londoners were ecstatic to see them return to their city, six months after performing at Heaven London. Cheered on as they gradually emerged, the Swedes wasted no time to deliver an energetic performance of “Identical To None,” the first of a trio of offerings from their latest album, Moment.
“Lost To Apathy” followed and the visualiser featured some key words from the chorus. Hyping up the crowd after a fantastic solo from lead guitarist Christopher Amott, mainman Mikael Stanne chanted “Hey, hey, hey!” as he threw his left hand in the air, getting dozens to mirror him. His clean vocals caused someone in the standing area to raise their glass in appreciation, whistling as they did so.
“It’s fucking good to be back in London, guys. Thank you so much!” Mikael smiled, addressing the audience for the first time that evening. He went on to tell them they looked awesome, then asked, “Do you feel awesome?” The cry of happy voices confirmed that they did. While “What Only You Know” was a great display of singing and screaming, “Atoma” was a melodic highlight thanks to Martin Brändström’s catchy keyboard melodies.
Having heard fans’ positive response, Stanne thanked them, then said, “All right… so let’s play something now we recorded way back when, for an album called Damage Done. We never played this back in the day, we never played it since. We’ve been coming here since mid 90s, but we never played this song before. This is the first time we’re doing it on tour and the first time in London. So let’s see if you recognise this one. It’s a classic, a favourite of mine. Let’s see if you dig it!” While the bandleader took a swig from his beer bottle, Johan Reinholdz’s riffs signalled the beginning of “Cathode Ray Sunshine” and the crowd went wild, later singing along to the lyrics throughout the song.
While Reinholdz stole the show with a blistering solo during “The Dark Unbroken,” upbeat number “Hours Passed in Exile” was a heavy highlight thanks to bassist Christian Jansson and drummer Joakim Strandberg-Nilsson. Pleased with how well people received “Phantom Days,” Michael Stanne beamed, “London, you guys are awesome… thank you so much.” He went on to give shoutouts to the other bands on the bill, then announced that “Misery’s Crown” would be their final song. Incorporating cleans, screams, riffs and melodic motifs, this proved to be not only a great representation of Dark Tranquillity’s sound, but also a fine way to close the set as many in the audience knew every word and pummelled the air with their fists as they sang.
Dark Tranquillity setlist (18:45-19:30):
1. Identical to None
2. Lost to Apathy
3. What Only You Know
5. Cathode Ray Sunshine
6. The Dark Unbroken
7. Hours Passed in Exile
8. Phantom Days
9. Misery’s Crown
The first of the co-headliners, nine-strong Swiss folk metallers Eluveite arrived on stage with their latest single, “Exile Of The Gods” and were welcomed with cheers of approval. The voices of Chrigel Glanzmann and Fabienne Erni melded together, displaying a contrast of emotions.
For “Nil” singer Fabienne played the harp, and even though Chrigel was without his mandolin, he proudly showed off a tattoo of the instrument on his inner forearm. “Anu” brought angelic vibes to Kentish Town, as Erni stood solo centre stage and sang under a spotlight and her voice caused attendees to fall virtually silent for almost three minutes as she uttered the mysterious lyrics, appeasing only when she finished.
“A Rose for Epona” proceeded an impressively long solo from Jonas Wolf, before “Thousandfold” shifted the mood as it employed male vocals only. Having ditched his mandolin for the majority of the song, Glanzmann was armed with it once again just before the last chorus, as the metal textures were muted, while the string and wind instruments shone during the folkiest moment of the song.
Performing “Ambiramus,” Fabienne returned without her white dress and the black sleeveless unitard underneath could be seen in its full glory. The song gave the nine-piece their first crowdsurfer, who landed in the photo pit before he was escorted back into the stall by security. Alain Ackermann drummed up a storm for over two minutes and caused fans to cheer him on, some even hey-heyed in time to his beats. The drum solo was applauded early twice as most were not expecting quite as much stick action as they got.
Things got very heavy and frantic as soon as “King” started, helped by the frontman shouting “London… come on, ladies and gentleman! Let’s fucking go!” As Kay Brem’s bass bellowed, the same pit diver from the previous song returned, followed by a few more individuals who headbanged in time to Salzmann and Wolf’s shredding. Carmen Busch’s violin solo added a serene, sorrowful touch, in between the harsher sounds.
While “Breathe” gave Annie Riediger on the hurry curdy a chance to shine, “The Call of the Mountains” was an exhibition of great onstage chemistry between the band members. The last song before the encore was also an opportunity for fans to take over singing duties for the last chorus, As Ms. Erni pointed her mic towards them as they belted out the song’s lines.
As soon as the band left the stage, chants of “One more song!” rang out until they returned with three more helpings. “Aidus” had people throwing their fist up in the air to the lines “Thy kingdom come” and “Thy will be done,” and set closer “Inis Mona” saw Matteo Sisti play the bagpipes and the band got the crowd to sing their hearts out, and momentarily paused the music the second time they did so.
An energetic show from Eluveitie, who breathed life into ancient stories about Helvetians with their fusion of folk and metal.
Eluveitie setlist (20:00-21:10):
1. Exile of the Gods
6. A Rose for Epona
11. The Call of the Mountains
14. Inis Mona
At twenty to ten, Finnish melodic death/doom metallers Amorphis took over. Boasting an orchestral intro that differs from the album version, “Northwards” lived up to the its majestic build-up once the metal elements kicked in. Guitarist Tomi Koivusaari shared unclean vocal duties with Tomi Joutsen, the latter switched and forth effortlessly between softer and harsher styles.
During “On the Dark Waters” many cheered Esa Holopainen after an epic guitar solo, before “Death of a King” saw the same guitarist begin to clap as vocalist Tomi Joutsen growled the title, which got people windmilling in time to his voice.
“Good evening, brothers and sisters in London!” the singer addressed the cheering crowd. “We have waited for this evening for very, very many days and finally, we are here,” and it was evident that fans were glad that they were, as they cheered back excitedly. “Thank you so much for coming, London! Hell yeah! All right, guys. Next one is called… Silver Bride,” and the squeals and screams of joy that followed told that the single is a sure favourite from Amorphis’ back catalogue.
“Into Hiding” came next, the first old school track of the night from the Finns. “This song is taken from Tales From The Thousand Lakes album,” the mailman explained. “Are you ready? Here we go!” Fans completely lost it, head banging furiously to the 90s number’s thunderous intro as bassist Olli-Pekka Laine stood on the middle plinth. Once again, Tomi K used his vocal talent, growling as Tomi J sung in his clean voice. Later in the song, Joutsen requested, “Let me hear you, London!” as Holopainen shotgunned the audience with his axe. The singer asked the audience if they had been waiting for Amorphis, before he enquired, “Have you missed us at all?” Both questions were answered positively. “Thank you so much. We have missed you too and that’s the truth.”
After yet another double whammy of tunes from their latest album in “The Moon” and “Seven Roads Come Together,” the newer music proved to as popular with the crowd as chapters from their older records.
“All good down there?” Joutsen checked in with his supporters who signalled that all was well with them. “That’s good to hear, man.” Showing some appreciation to the supporting acts who joined them on tour, he gave them all a shoutout. “We had a couple of cool bands playing here tonight, also. Did you like Nailed To Obscurity? How about Dark Tranquility? And, of course, our friends from Switzerland, Eluveite!” The level of applause seemed to grow as each name was mentioned.
“All right. It’s been one hell of an evening,” the frontman added. The next one is taken again from the Tales album, my friends. This is called Black… Winter…. Day!” A sea of raised arms could be seen as Santeri Kallio’s keys could be heard, which also prompted people to imitate the melody. As Tomi J growled the song’s name one final time, members of the crowd threw their horns in the air in time to his voice, while Jan Rechberger’s drumming made the ending all the more dramatic.
“My Kantele” continued the 90s nostalgia, providing the perfect balance of melodic and death metal. A spell in the form of The Queen Of Time’s “The Bee” brought everyone back to the 21st century, and virtually everybody front and centre became animated as soon as the rhythm section was introduced.
Eager to show how grateful he was, the lead vocalist enthused, “Thank you so much, London. You did a great job for us. Thank you so much! Thank you for the support! All right, brothers and sisters. We have one more song for you. Let’s sing this together and with passion,” just ahead of “House of Sleep”. As it would soon be time to say goodbye, the song’s clean vocals and ballad-like nature seemed very fitting, though audience members still took it as one last chance to how much they were enjoying themselves, and gave their all.
“Until next time… we are Amorphis! Thank you!” were TJ’s parting words before the six-piece retreated from view. Judging by the clapping, shrieking and whooping that went on as the band bid adieu to Kentish Town whilst Halo’s album closer “My Name Is Night” rang out from the speakers, it would be accurate to say that this was a November night that attendees would hold dear for a very long time.
Amorphis setlist (21:40-22:50):
2. On the Dark Waters
3. Death of a King
4. Silver Bride
5. Into Hiding
6. Wrong Direction
7. The Moon
8. Seven Roads Come Together
9. Black Winter Day
10. My Kantele
11. The Bee
12. House of Sleep