Music with That Human Element: How I learned of Swallow The Sun
Show date: February 15, 2009
Venue: Highline Ballroom, NY
Bands: Soilwork, Darkane, Warbringer, Swallow The Sun
I always think of bands as combinations of musical talent that create music which I love, but I never really try to get to know them or see them as regular people. This outlook can’t change overnight, but the process began when I saw Swallow the Sun, Warbringer, Darkane, and Soilwork.
d42 and I were a little late (my fault for thinking a cross town bus is in any way an effective mode of transportation) and therefore missed the beginning of the Swallow the Sun set. It only took a few songs for this Finnish melodic death metal band to become one of my favorites, however. And a few songs is all they played, because I believe I heard what must have been a part of “Losing the Sunsets / Plague of Butterflies / Evael”. This one song is technically over a half hour long. The Plague of Butterflies EP is their latest effort.
The songs were long and gorgeous. I thought I never heard them before, but thanks to Pandora Radio knowing that I like My Dying Bride, I was familiar with “The Morning that Never Came” from the album of the same title. Clear vocals and threatening growls made the songs perfect, and lots and lots of eye contact woke me up to the fact that they’re human beings.
Warbringer was ridiculous as always. We saw them play last year with a local NY band, Martyrd. They are now promoting their latest effort — Waking Into Nightmares. Seeing as how Warbringer is thrash metal, I couldn’t really get into them, but I loved taking pictures of John Kevill (vocals). They had about a half hour onstage, during which time the lead singer, with his baby face that looked strangely like Ozzy Osbourne’s, got into all these dramatic poses and screamed about bringing the war.
Darkane is another band that’s more thrash than I like and another band I’ve seen and not particularly enjoyed in the past. This time around, however, they were much better.
The guys were a lot of fun and after their set stuck around and were seen on the floor. Christofer Malmström (guitar) in particular threw some people around the mosh pit and later gave me the finger when I got a shot of Soilwork’s setlist. He also gave us hugs, and so did Klas Ideberg, the other guitarist. The friendliest Swedes ever! Peter Wildoer, the drummer, threw himself at the crowd and went crowdsurfing before leaving the stage. That’s right damn it! Drummers need attention too!
At no time at all, more Swedes got onstage! Soilwork, a melodic death metal band, were definitely more my style. But by the time they were halfway through their set I was completely exhausted. I couldn’t really hear them very well, so I couldn’t catch on to the melody and really get carried away by it. It’s time for me to hit the earplugs, sure, but the sound equipment at the Highline needs an update too.
Soilwork was very entertaining on stage. Ola Flink, on bass, was doing some sort of a polka dance while trying to look intense waist up. Then he just started making ridiculous faces at us and giggling. They were fun to watch, but I was dying on my feet. Then Björn “Speed” Strid (vocals) tried to get a circle pit going, and nobody did it correctly. He didn’t give us any shit about it, but tried it again later. Again, epic fail. Finally he just gave explicit directions about jumping up and down, and as tired as I was, I didn’t want to let him down, so we did it. The jumping woke me up. Later, a couple of guys exhausted themselves in the pit rushing in a circle, but no one joined them. The crowd was kind of lame that night.
Soilwork played songs mostly from Sworn to a Great Divide, their latest album, although it was released in 2007 and of course Stabbing the Drama. When they finished they let the crowd swarm up to them, shook hands, and grinned all around.
I’ll close with a word about Highline Ballroom as this was our first show there. It is big enough to be effective, but small enough to remain intimate. It has a balcony overlooking the stage, and of course a bar, as well as wondering waitresses with wonderfully refreshing 7 dollar beers. Sound was decent at first, but by the time Soilwork came on I couldn’t even hear the vocals. Some adjustments were made, but the music remained stilted. The bouncers were cool. One bouncer actually pulled a guy out of a mosh pit just because his girlfriend kept rushing in to get him, almost getting hurt, running out, then trying to get him again.
An overall enjoyable though not spectacular night. What between equipment malfunctioning, thrash, and unmotivated crowds, it could have gone better. I walk away, however, with a new band to love — Swallow The Sun.
- Soilwork Myspace and Homepage
- Darkane Myspace and Homepage
- Warbringer Myspace
- Swallow the Sun Myspace and Homepage