To mark what has been an extraordinary year in music (at least the genres we follow on Venia), I embarked on a trip to Vienna to close the circle with one of the best triple-bill concerts organised recently: At The Gates, Triptykon and Morbus Chron. To be perfectly honest, I was there for Triptykon, but since my professional duty here does not allow me to go on a kilometer-long ode to this band (which it definitely deserves, nevertheless), I will describe the whole atmosphere at the Arena on that cold December night.
Now, I don’t know what bands think of the Arena, but to me it has always been an interesting venue – it’s got spirit, and when you see a mass of people dressed in black in and around the place, it sort of warms even the darkest coils of your heart.
Speaking of warmth, Morbus Chron from Sweden did a fairly good job of warming up the audience before the performance by the greats – the place was already packed, and the reveal of Triptykon’s main flag and album covers on each side of the stage produced a massive response from the crowd. Talking to a couple of fellow fans on my left, we came to the conclusion that Triptykon was the main act of the evening – and rightfully so. From the very first sound that came from the darkened stage to the last one, followed by a bow from the band members and shouts from the mass for an encore, these extreme metallers from Switzerland with an unsurpassed pedigree in the metal world showed once again why they were so highly regarded in it – it seems odd to even call them „a metal band“, because the music they create defies simplified explanation. It is the purest and darkest form of art; the melodies evoke a subconscious recognition of landscapes and emotions that those who drink from the dark well witnessed aeons ago. You cannot do anything else but go frantic with admiration once the song has finished (for example, „Altar of Deceit“, which is one of my favourites from „Melana Chasmata“, our Album of the Month of April), for it was a masterpiece played live – the precisely synchronised movements and riffs on stage by Tom Gabriel Warrior and Vanja Slajh, the expert delivery by V. Santura, and the killer drumming by Norman Lonhard create not a performance, but sheer, unfiltered, brilliant presence that is, truth be told, rarely seen nowadays.
The show was too short, but I guess that’s just how we felt after such a breathtaking set – a small break followed by more than an hour of At The Gates set. Going through old hits and new songs from the newly released „At War With Reality“, Tomas Lindberg and his band members greeted the audience in Vienna with lots of enthusiasm and unrelenting death metal, and, judging by their fans in the crowd, they hit all the right spots. The singer even mentioned a wow fact – the last time they played in the Austrian capital was in 1992. Not so surprising, taking into account the band’s absence from the music scene in the past two decades. The Swedish metallers tried to give everything that was missing in the hearts of their fans in this region, and they suceeded. The Austrian audience is known for its „restricted“ response at shows and festivals, but you can sense the overall feeling – and tonight, it was of utter satisfaction. After more than 3 hours of excellent metal live, we all left the scene with our personal highlights etched in thoughts – for me, if you haven’t noticed already, it was the Triptykon set. At the end of the show, Tom thanked the audience and said it was an honour to play in Vienna for us. Actually, the honour was all ours! So, if you happen to be able to catch one or all three remaining shows of the tour, do not hesitate – you’re in for a treat of epic magnitude.
Review by: Ilhana Škrgić