October 22, 2006

Concert Review: Nocturnal Mourning Tour Featuring Moonspell, Katatonia, Daylight Dies (10/20/06)

Mark the date on your calendar, October 20, 2006, the first date on the Nocturnal Mourning Fall Tour, featuring the gothic metal sounds of Portugal’s Moonspell, the gloom stylings of Sweden’s Katatonia, and the doom metal of North Carolina’s Daylight Dies. The date is special, not only for the start of a new tour (I usually see the last date), but for it being Katatonia’s first show ever in North America. Considering the large and dedicated group of fans that had assembled, it was a long time coming. Before we could get to them, we first had the bottom end of the bill which was loaded with local acts.

I arrived at The Chance Theater Complex around 8:40. I got in line for the show in the complex’s The Loft. This building is broken into a few clubs and theaters, The Loft being the one I least like for a metal show, but what are you going to do if a band you like is playing there? The place is rather small and shaped like a J, yes a J. The ceilings are about 10 feet high, and the stage is up about 2.5 feet, so forget about jumping, besides the fact that the floor shakes with just about any movement, if the band wants to jump, they will easily hit their heads. Plus, the shape is not conducive to sound, there is nowhere for it to go. When you climb the steps, the left side has the small part of the J with a bar and a couple of tables, on the right is the long side of the J with the stage caddy corner in the J’s hook. The one thing that this venue gets you is intimacy, there is nothing between you and the band. I took up a space right next to the stage, put in my earplugs (a must these days) and started in.

By the time I got inside, the first band was halfway through their set. The band was Cytheran Theory, and while I only caught two and a half songs, I was impressed. They played a style of progressive black metal, I guess, I am awful with genre labels, but that is what I would call it. They were heavy and technically very precise. Their were a couple of people right in the front, clearly fans, with their heads banging and their horns in the air. This the first local act I have scene that falls under the black metal label, not sure if it is because there are so few, or that I just hadn’t seen any yet. The riffs were thick and the leads nice, but it is their combination with the vocals that sells the band. They are a perfect match of evil melody and raw throated vocal emissions. They are definitely an act to keep an eye on.

They were followed by a band that I could have sworn I had seen before, but checking my back concert listing, I could not find an entry. I guess I was thinking of somebody else. The band is called Within Another and they reminded me of Queensryche style rock, with a few other progressive touches. They were good, but not perfect. I think the mix in this room hurt them. Their sound needs a more expansive venue, or at least one with better acoustics. Besides the sound issues, there were also some performance miscues, to my ears the timing was off a few times.

Even with the problems, they were quite impressive. They have a lot of technique crammed into their songs. Strong lead guitars, great bass (especially the solo towards the end of the set), and a strong voice combine for a band that has very good promise. I plan on seeing them again next month when they play with a couple other local acts that I am a fan of, Audible Thought and Stone Devil Hill.

The third local band is one that I have seen a few times, and they keep getting better. Admittedly, this was not the best performance I have witnessed, but they still but on a good show. They are called Metadox, performing a brand of heavy power metal. This is a band that has grown over the past year or so, the music has gotten heavier and moved in a more original direction. The crowd seemed to be into them for their 4 or 5 songs. As their set came to an end, they asked for one more, along with members of the crowd, but were denied. They did put on a good show, and I would have liked to have heard more, but it was already turning into a long night.

Now was the start of the tour proper, the three acts which are on the tour began around 11:00. First up, doom and gloom for the south, Daylight Dies. They had a sound that is along the lines of Mastodon, but with a bit more of a European black/gloom metal edge. Their set did not start off all that smoothly, there were some problems with their levels and the monitors. As they tried to get everything set, there was a voice from the back telling them they only had 25 minutes to play, which they responded to with a “F—K You!” After getting their gear set, they began playing.

These guys were good! Raw vocals over this atmospheric bed of distorted guitars and driving drums. They played for about a half an hour putting on a set that I would have liked to have seen more of. There was a lot of interesting stuff to their music. They had a good stage presence, despite the lack of room to do anything. The vocalist is a big, physically imposing guy in a beard with a voice like death warmed over. Would have been better if we were in a room where we could get some movement.

Following them was Katatonia, which had the biggest assemblage of fans of any band playing tonight. It was something I got the distinct impression of while waiting in line. I was talking to a number of people who were only there for Katatonia. I had heard of them, but had never heard them before. After tonight, I will be sure to track down an album or two.

They took the stage and began playing, and I was entranced by their Swedish gloom metal. They took a moment to say how happy they were to be here, and that this was their first ever US show. I admit, that was pretty cool, it’s not often that a first of anything takes place when I am present. They certainly seemed to be glad to be there, and happy to be playing the US. They had a set that ran 45-50 minutes, and was filled with excellence from start to finish. Again, they would have benefited from a larger room, but we have to deal with the hand we’re dealt. Their set contained songs ranging from a good portion of their catalog, based on the variety of albums named in between songs. It is moments like these where it is easy to realize just how much more music is out there waiting to be heard. The more I hear, the more there is left to hear.

When Katatonia left the small stage, they took a large chunk of the crowd with them. The place opened up pretty quickly as Moonspell set about getting their equipment up. This was the band that I was looking forward to. Sure, I haven’t heard anything new from them in years, but the three albums I have, in particular <em>The Butterfly Effect</em>, are all very good.

By the time they started their set, it was 1:15 in the AM, and I was starting to feel the effects of the long day, but I was not going to miss the band I waited all night to see. Moonspell took the stage, and immediately had some issues with the stage, and the low ceiling. Fernando Ribiero is a charismatic frontman who is very active, and this locale gave him very little room to do his thing. He has his personal mic stand that travels everywhere with him, which he wanted to lift over his head and swing around, but it was a little too close quarters, nearly knocking over he other equipment and hitting the ceiling.

Then tragedy struck as the mount on top of the stand broke, as Fernando kept the show going, a roadie was busy taping up the stand, so it could be used somewhat. Moonspell was a very good live act, even if I did not recognize any of the songs. They were heavy, dark, and very theatrical, all good elements in my book. I only hope that they come back again and play somewhere a bit larger.

It was a long night of music, but it was worth it. There were a few minor stumbling blocks to get over, but the bands dealt with them fine. The crowd was good, save that one guy that got kicked out trying to start a pit. The Loft will never be a preferred place to see a metal show. I do hope to see most of these bands again.


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