On Thursday September 24th a diverse prog-metal tour made its way to Irving Plaza in NYC. The line-up included TesseracT, Intronaut, Cult of Luna, and Katatonia. On a night when German metal legends Helloween were playing across town in New York, Irving Plaza drew a packed crowd for this stellar bill.
Opening the evening was UK prog-metalers TesseracT. Since making their debut on American soil back in 2010, opening for Devin Townsend, the band has steadily grown in popularity in the metal scene. Having been credited as one of the pioneer bands of what is called ‘djent’ style, TesseracT has progressed within their own style in the past decade. After a series of vocalist changes it appears the band has found stability with Ashe O’Hara. The band took the stage to much anticipation of their fans in the audience. They opened things up with “Of Matter – Proxy”. Keeping the atmosphere of their performance flowing they went into the “Of Matter – Retrospect”. Limited in time they were able to treat their crowd two the first to segments of this epic opening track off their newest record Altered State (2013). After getting the crowds blood flowing they went right into the first single off Altered State entitled “Nocturne”. Balancing out their set the band tapped into their earlier material performing “Deception” and “Acceptance” which are the first and 2nd parts off their debut EP Concealing Fate (2010).
TesseracT’s performance filled the room with an array of dramatic emotional melodies. Their music sounds clear and just as dynamic as the recordings. Even with an abbreviated set the crowd got a good dose of what these Brits have to offer. It will be excellent to see them perform some headlining dates during their time here in North America in the coming weeks.
Next to take the stage was Los Angeles, CA based band Intronaut. Having been on the scene since 2004, Intronaut have released 4 studio albums in that time. Opening their set with the leading track off their latest album Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words with Tones) (2013) entitled “Killing Birds with Stones”. Concentrating on the new material the band played tracks “Sore Sight for Eyes”, “Milk Legs”, and “Harmonomicon”. After 25 plus minutes of mind blowing performance showcasing the band’s newer material they closed things out with “Any Port” off Prehistoricisms (2008).
With a large catalogue of epic long tracks of metal Intronaut did an excellent job of bringing the room to life with their unique mix of jazz, rock, and metal.
With a buzz of energy flowing through the crowd the co-headliner Swedish post-metal veterans Cult Of Luna took the stage. This being their first tour of North America in 8 years only added to the excitement in the crowd. In their 8 year absence the band has released three records in that time. It’s clear after the release of their newest album Vertikal in January 2013 the time was right for Cult Of Luna to make the journey across the ocean again. On the heels of this tour the follow up Vertikal II EP was released on September 17th. Building the anticipation the band came out onto to the stage with “The One” to set the theme for their performance. Directly following, they went into “I, The Weapon” creating a harsh landscape of melody, darkness, and despair. Making up for lost time the band treated patient fans to tracks from Somewhere Along the Highway (2006) and Eternal Kingdom (2008). After completely engaging the audience in this dark journey they closed the set out with a newer track “In Awe Of”. The track was a perfect closure to their set with its eerie atmosphere and impending doom.
Cult Of Luna certainly has a knack for creating music that tell a story, although often a sad story, the music is pleasing and beautiful. Their performance was balanced and proves these soundscapes play out excellent in a live setting.
Closing out the evening was Sweden’s Katatonia. Since their inception in 1991 Katatonia has managed to grow and progress in sound with each album. Vocalist/ lyricist Jonas Renkse put the death vocals to rest early on with the Discouraged Ones (1998) allowing Katatonia to spread their creative wings. Since that time the band has put out a consistent line-up of majestic records. After making their debut in front of North American audiences in 2006, the band has toured here numerous times and built a strong following. Headlining this well put together bill of metal bands is well deserved for a band which has been plugging away so long now.
Taking the stage to a roaring ovation Katatonia started things with “Ashen”. From the Night Is The New Day (2009) album, the peaks and valleys of the track began things on a high note. Keeping up the pace they went into the Dead End Kings (2012) track “Hypone”. Early on the set concentrating primarily on later Katatonia material from the last 3 records. With clear emphasis on these records the band threw in the older bonus track from Discouraged Ones (1998), “Quiet World”. The performance of the track was a great addition to the set and mixed well with the flow of the show. Throwing in another treat for fans they broke out the 2007 heart wrenching track “Dissolving Bonds”.
With the set coming to a close Katatonia had a few more tricks up their sleeve and played “Black Sessions”. The Tonight’s Decision (1999) track made all in attendance sigh in excitement as the track has not been played live since 2004. Closing out their set the crowd was clearly not ready for the show to end. Cheering and clapping was acknowledged as Katatonia came out for an encore highlighted by the leading track off Viva Emptiness (2003), “Ghost Of The Sun”. Hearing this track live is always special as it allows you to see the amazing drumming skills of Daniel Liljekvist.
Renkse put on a solid vocal performance and Anders Nystrom continues to engage listeners with his guitar playing and stage presence. The addition of Per “Sodomizer” Eriksson (Bloodbath) on guitar in 2009 after the departure of long time guitarist Fredrik “North” Norrman has proven to be a great fit which clearly shows in their live performance.
Katatonia has come a long way in their musical careers. After a late start in the North American market they have built a respected name for themselves here in the states. Although many long time fans may feel dissatisfied with the band’s omission of earlier songs they must understand that the band has only so much time in a set to cover so much ground. With that said the band has put together a streak of interesting albums recently that deserve to be celebrated in live performance. Katatonia finished up a well rounded evening of dark, melodic, and atmospheric metal with a performance which will not soon be forgotten.