Dark Tranquility Kick Off Our December Nights

Dark Tranquility help us kick off December the right way!
Dark Tranquility help us kick off December the right way!

It was a cold Thursday night and it was one night shy of the annual December Nights (Dec.1). Despite that, Ugh Metal got their December Nights celebration started by going to Brick by Brick for a night of metal from both local bands and bands from afar. Unlike most shows we’ve attended, this one treated us to an array of subgenres and, to lesser extent, some different cultures.

Although the Klown was looking forward to DiZaster Inc to sing along to “She’s Not Too Young For Me,” he still wasn’t disappointed. The Klown will tell you about how their substitutes opened, took charge and turned the stage into a battlefield. If you haven’t caught on to the analogy, the Klown is talking about the local boys known as Warpath. This quintet comprised of member from the Santa Ysabel, Barona, and La Jolla Indian Reservations were true to their name and set out on a warpath of the trash and metalcore variety.

Local warrior badasses Warpath slayed their opening.  (L to R: Guitarist/backup vocalist Chance Perez, frontman Johnny Osuna, bassist Jason Wolfe and guitarist Harrison Whitecloud)
Local warrior badasses Warpath crushing their opening.
(L to R: Guitarist/backup vocalist Chance Perez, frontman Johnny Osuna, bassist Jason Wolfe and guitarist Harrison Whitecloud)

It was more evident when Johnny Osuna’s vocals were reminiscent to that of Mark Owen’s vocals of the defunct band Calico System, accompanied with guitarists Harrison Whitecloud and Chance Perez thrash riffs. Shit got more awesome when the band treated us with “Unbroken,” a song in which Perez also lends his vocals during the performance to make the song a bit harmonic. This band of OG Americans finished their time with the energetic song “Leeches” and left the very sizeable reception wanting more.

After being caught in THE Warpath, death tends to linger… In this case, we got some local death metal in the form of Lurid Memory. It’s beyond the Klown how he’s eluded these gents for so long but not this time! And they didn’t hold back any punches, from beginning to end pure mayhem. These local badasses kicked off their set with the song, very synonymous with local bands on the rise, “Sacrifice.”

Lurid Memory stir shit up and captivate The Klown/audiences  (L to R: Vocalist/guitarist Oscar Padilla and guitarist Glen Davis)
Lurid Memory stir shit up and captivate The Klown/audiences
(L to R: Vocalist/guitarist Oscar Padilla and guitarist Glen Davis)

The Klown will not beat around the bush, that song was fucking awesome and intense. It even had a pit started by the time the first chords were struck. The real treat from these guys, unfortunately, happened at the end of their performance. The Klown says “unfortunately” because their set was cut short but front man/guitarist, Oscar Padilla, did well to invoke and honor his inner Chuck Schuldiner when they covered Death’s “Flattening of Emotions.”

After Lurid Memory cleared the stage, we went to space thanks to Starkill! The quartet from Chicago treated us to melodic death metal. The band treated us to material from their latest release, Shadow Sleep such as “Burn Your World.” The exchanges between Patrick Jameson’s vocals and riffs and rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Tony Keathley, brought out the melody in the death metal brand.

Starkill takes us to Mars, dude... (Lto R: Vocalist/guitarist Parker Jameson, bassist Shaun Andruchuk and guitarist/backup vocalist Tony Keathley)
Starkill takes us to Mars, dude…
(Lto R: Vocalist/guitarist Parker Jameson, bassist Shaun Andruchuk and guitarist/backup vocalist Tony Keathley)

During the performance, bassist Shaun Andruchuk proved to be the energetic member of the band by not only exchanging riffs with the guitarists but hyped the crowd. Starkill also took us back to their previous album, Virus of the Mind, by performing “Before Hope Fades” and closed with “Cloudless.”

After Starkill, we were treated to some Speed metal of the Swedish variety called Enforcer. If you are a real speed freak of the metal variety, y’all are definitely in for a real treat. This Swedish quartet kicked off their performance with “Destroyer.” For those who have never seen Enforcer live, they don’t halt too much but when they do, frontman/guitarist Olof Wikstrand tries to make sure that you kept up with them. These Speed demons emphasize their banner and go through performances as such.

Vocalist/guitarist of Enforcer, Olof Wikstrand, showing off his riffs and all that leather while bassist Tobias Lindkvist let out a battle cry in approval.
Vocalist/guitarist of Enforcer, Olof Wikstrand, showing off his riffs and all that leather while bassist Tobias Lindkvist let out a battle cry in approval.

The treat of the night was when Wikstrand and lead guitarist Joseph Tholl started shredding the opening riffs and traded vocal duties for their cover performance of Venom’s “Countess Bathory.” Right before thanking us to close out their performance, Enforcer left the crowd in frenzy and departed with “Midnight Vice.”

After the first batch of Swedes departed the stage, sounds of Finnish Doom Metal took over the stage. Unlike the typical doom metal bands, Swallow The Sun are of the melodic variety that is really more gothic than doom. Nevertheless, we basked in the Sun and saw  keyboardist Aleksi Munter before he departed from the band days after this performance.

The band started their set with “10 Silver Bullets.” That opening track alone was gloomy and melodic AF. Unlike the studio album in which it sounds like Septic Flesh’s Spiros Antoniou harsh vocals, Miko Kotamäki’s vocals are smoother by comparison. Not a bad thing, it’s just something the Klown felt like sharing.

We all devoured Swallow The Sun. (L to R: Keyboardist Aleksi Munter, vocalist Mikko Kotamäki, bassist Matti Honkonen and guitarist Juha Raivio)
We all devoured Swallow The Sun.
(L to R: Keyboardist Aleksi Munter, vocalist Mikko Kotamäki, bassist Matti Honkonen and guitarist Juha Raivio)

It is rather impressive to see Kotamäki’s vocals range from octave or tone to another almost instantly. We were also treated to “Silhouettes” and “New Moon” which were melodic and nearly resembled Moonspell. The group finished their set with “Descending Winters” which sounded more like an Amon Amarth song than a doom metal song. It was a great way to leave everyone clamoring for some more.

As the Finnish cleared, another group of Swedes tagged in and were poised for the kill. The Swedes the Klown speaks of are one of the pioneers of the Gothenburg metal scene, Dark Tranquility. These gents prove why they are THE Gothenburg powerhouse and continued to do so, whether it is melodic or actual death metal. They opened with “Force of Hand” to promote the current album, Atoma, as well “Atoma” and “Forward Momentum” to name a few from the new album.

Dark Tranquility shine in their San Diego comeback.
Dark Tranquility shine in their San Diego comeback.

In one of a few times the band stopped, frontman Mikael Stanne was taken aback for a moment on the superb reception they had received. During that moment, Stanne was slightly speechless and apologetically stated how Dark Tranquility hadn’t been to our humble abode in over a decade and that they loved San Diego. Stanne ousted lead guitarist Niklas Sundin as being a huge San Diego lover, Sundin grimaced at the fact.

After that was out of the way, the group treated us to some old favorites such as “Terminus (Where Death is Most Alive)” and “Monochromatic Stains.” Before we knew it, the band closed out “Misery’s Crown.” It was great show to start our winter. But most importantly, Stanne and company proved to be class acts from beginning to end. We hope to see these fine gents again, soon!

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