Only three months after playing a short set in Boston with Killswitch Engage, Dark Tranquillity returned to treat their loyal fans to a headlining show at the cozy Harper’s Ferry. Hometown heavies Acaro were the first to take the stage that night, and they controlled the room with ease. Frontman Chris Harrell engaged the early arrivals with a charming and energetic sense of humor, which his band backed up with terrific, raw energy and enthusiasm in their brief performance.
Mutiny Within continued the same standard of crowd interaction, making frequent eye contact and shaking hands with fans while unleashing an excellent blend of technical wizardry and well-implemented melodic ideas.
Although vocalist Chris Clancy was too low in the mix, his fervent vocals matched his bandmates’ ferocity – and exceptional pop sensibilities – with equal skill. Guitarists Dan Bage and Brandon Jacobs pulled off their challenging parts live with room to spare, and the entire band clearly enjoyed every minute of their time on stage.
Threat Signal changed up the vibe of the night with ferocious, syncopated riffing and harshly melodic vocals courtesy of frontman Jon Howard. Howard strained a bit on the rare clean vocals, but his gravely melodies and frequent screams were fearsome.
Guitarist Travis Montgomery was noticeably quieter than counterpart Adam Weber, which highlighted Weber’s outstanding rhythm tone but regrettably also masked Montgomery’s burning solos – which were a definite highlight of the performance. Most importantly, Threat Signal were incredibly tight throughout their entire set, nailing every hit with an almost mechanical ease that turned the floor into a flurry of frantic limbs.
As soon as their backdrop lit the stage, Dark Tranquillity were summoned by a room packed full of fans.
Their arrival was met with an explosion of excitement, which frontman Mikael Stanne immediately took advantage of – getting up close and personal with the crowd from the outset.
The audience weren’t as familiar with the material from this year’s We Are The Void, which opened the show, and so it wasn’t until the third song from 2007’s Fiction that they completely opened up. Regardless, Dark Tranquillity stood by the quality of their latest work – delivering a riveting rendition of the majestic album closer ‘Iridium.’
Guitarists Martin Henriksson and Niklas Sundin both had a more reserved presence than Stanne, and each took time on both sides of the stage to connect with as much of their audience as possible.
Their live tones, powered by their well-tweaked V-Amps, were as strong and consistent as ever, while the duo’s tight harmonies in songs like ‘Misery’s Crown,’ ‘The Fatalist’ and the stunning ‘Iridium’ helped make those tracks highlights of the evening.
Niklas had some terrific solo moments, particularly during his well-placed lead in ‘The Wonders At Your Feet,’ while Martin took the night’s award for most exceptional headbanging.
Towards the end of the set, Dark Tranquillity unleashed two live favorites that took the crowd over the edge: ‘Lost To Apathy’ and their infectious final number, ‘Terminus.’ Afterwards, the whole band graciously mingled with fans near the merch tables to chat and give autographs – an extension of their performance that felt natural in such an intimate venue.