Event 13th November 2016 @ Token Lounge, Westland MI.
Reviewed 2nd December 2016 by DoomMaster
Token Lounge Review:
This marks the second time I've been to Token since Omnium Gatherum and Insomnium played there in 2015. Not much has changed since then, and I doubt anything has changed there in the last 45 years other than the alcohol prices (shots - $7, beer - $4). That being said, Token is still a decent place to go for an intimate show with very little security presence to prevent you from getting shitfaced and doing a stage dive. Its distance from downtown Detroit and private, free parking lot gives it an edge up on other Detroit venues as far as ease of access from outside the city. The small bar located in the entrance of the venue is separated from the stage and general admission floor by a pane of glass, so the concert can still be seen and heard by bar patrons. On the performance floor, there is limited seating with a majority of the space used as standing area only, and a few merch tables in a kitty corner along the wall.
Perhaps the only real issue with Token is its inconsistent sound quality. The speakers up front frequently emit intermittent buzzing or ringing sounds and the effectiveness of the sound checks is questionable at best. Although the sound quality may not be the best, the atmosphere at Token just about makes up for any shortcomings. The staff are nice, the bartender is attentive, and the low ceilings with autographed band pics covering the walls make it pleasantly quaint.
When the doors finally opened 40 minutes after the advertised time of 7pm, Starkill wasted no time kicking off their set. Starkill play a thrashy version of melodic death metal but come off as sounding rather commercial and borderline comical when the whiney lifeless cleans crop up to assault your senses in all the wrong ways. Their excessive array of makeup including eyeliner, painted fingernails, and an overall emo look don't do anything to help their case of being just another over-produced, commercialized, recycled, fake melodic 'death metal' band.
After Starkill's mercifully short set, Enforcer took the stage, ready to bring the crowd back to the 80's with some glammed up revival speed metal. The band's glam look along with Olof's completely over-the-top vocals and exchanges with the crowd had me with a huge smile on my face for the duration of the set. Enforcer also had the benefit of being the best sounding band of the show, with each instrument screaming their verses through the speakers in a rapid heavy metal assault. Unlike Starkill, Enforcer completely pulled off their look with the music and antics to back it all up. This was my first experience with Enforcer, and I will not deny that this isn't exactly my favorite genre so I will probably not check out their studio offerings, but Enforcer are absolutely a great live band and I look forward to seeing them again.
Next up was Swallow The Sun, which I have been a huge fan of for years. I seem to be in a minority to think that Songs From the North was pretty average, so I was hoping for more content from their back catalogue. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, two of the four songs the band played were from that album, with the other two being the title track to New Moon and "Silence Of The Womb" from The Morning Never Came. To compound my setlist woes, Swallow The Sun had by far the worst sound of the night. The front-left speaker crackled the whole time and Mikko's cleans could barely be heard and had a strange equalization-like effect on them when they were heard. In addition to this, his vocal performance was pretty hit-or-miss. The quiet cleans sounded off-tune and whiney when compared to the album. On a positive note, his harsh vocals were excellent, dare I say better than any studio recording I've heard from him. Had the vocal issues not been there and the instrument levels been a bit better, it would have been a great set, even if I'd have picked a different setlist. Swallow The Sun will be returning to the Token Lounge in March 17, so I'll be looking forward to see if these issues are remedied by then.
It's always exciting to see bands of such status as Dark Tranquillity, even if you've never been a huge fan of the band. Luckily I had picked up their new album, Atoma a week before the show so I had a bit of an idea of what to expect from their set in addition to some of their old gothenburg anthems. DT opened with a song from the new album, and the crowd reacted as if it was an all time classic. The reception all throughout the lengthy hour and a half setlist was fantastic, with a vast opening in the middle of the room for a moshpit that lasted not a moment less than the set itself. Four songs from Atoma were played, three of which from music videos released prior to the album released date, being ”The Pitiless", "Atoma", and "Forward Momentum". I was a bit upset from the lack of "Punish My Heaven", but with eleven albums in your discography, it's tough to make everyone happy. Every member of DT plays with incredible energy and brings a spot-on performance. I will definitely be looking for these guys next time they get around to touring the US.