After really enjoying Paradise Lost open up the Saturn stage on the Sunday of Sonisphere Knebworth, I was very interested in seeing them again. When they announced they were going to be playing Islington Academy with Scandavian Doom Metallers Katatonia, that was too good a show to pass up, so myself and my friend Matt headed down to ICA on Tuesday night for an evening of Goth tinged metal.
First up on the bill were Gothenburg four piece Engel, who I had previously seen a couple of years back with Dimmu Borgir and Amon Amarth. On that occasion I was distinctly unimpressed but this evening from the first song’s build up into the crunching opening riff they had our full attention and held it for the next half hour. Elements of their songs bear more than a passing resemblance to fellow Gothenburg occupants In Flames but that is not at all a bad thing, and there is more than enough different about Engel to show they are more than an In Flames clone, the vocal styles for starters. Unfortunately I am not familiar enough with their material to provide a setlist, but it was a mix of songs from their 2007 album Absolute Design with a couple of new songs off their upcoming album thrown in for good measure. A satisfying start to the evening, and a pleasant surprise based on my previous experience of them. By the end of Engel’s set, the ICA was full to burst, and suddenly our great spot by the bar wasn’t such a good spot as everyone was either fighting to get past, or to get to the bar.
Engels fellow Swedes Katatonia were next up, with their unique brand of Doom/Alternative Metal. They got a very good welcome, and you know you are in for a good evening as a support band when the singer can leave the crowd to sing half the chorus to the opening track (Ghost of the sun). Katatonia’s music like Paradise Lost has a very wide range, and has evolved considerably from their beginnings nearly 20 years ago. They are somewhat more ambient than they were in their beginnings, and yet also capable of some wonderfully heavy riffs. Their new album Night is the New Day provides a wonderful balance of both styles, but perhaps mindful of the fact it is a brand new album, they based their set mainly on their previous two albums, Viva Emptiness and The Great Cold Distance.
Admittedly I am not very familiar with Katatonia’s music only having heard small bits and pieces but one of the main appeals of the band is Jonas Renkse’s voice, both on record and in their live performance. Renkse and the other members of the band choose to speak very little, apart from the obligatory “good evening London” and to introduce certain songs (July, Evidence), choosing to let their music do the talking and building the ambient mood very well. The moments of heaviness that punctuate the ambience to carry all the more impact for the fact they are not constant and the music all flows nicely. Another thing I particularly enjoyed was that there are parts of Katatonia’s songs where you feel there will be a traditional “drop” in the song, but when the break comes the song never goes in the direction you might have expected without being familiar with their music.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of live music for myself is to go to a show and be drawn in and won over by bands I know very little about. Tonight was definitely one of these instances. “Lets finish on something really old” remarks Jonas. By the time Katatonia leave stage after a cracking rendition of Murder from second album Brave Murder Day, they have captivated the entire audiences attention and get a thunderous send off. I’m sure they have played headline shows where they have been received less well than this evening. A thoroughly enjoyable performance and I would look forward to going back to see them when they return in March in proper support of the new album.
Apologies if this is incorrect, and thanks very much to Moccles from last.fm for providing the setlist, which was:
As loud as the cheer Katatonia got at the end of their set, an even louder one emanated from the capacity crowd when Paradise Lost took to the stage. They opened with The Rise of Denial from brand new album Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us before going back to 1992 with the Shades of God album for Pity The Sadness. This set the tone of the evening as the band made full use of their nearly 20 year back catalogue alternating between the old and the new covering most if not all of their 12 albums. The band seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves, especially in light of singer Nick Holmes revelation that “I’ve just sat around the venue all day, all I did was go to M&S”, particularly on As I Die where the crowd take over singing some of the instrumental parts of the song. New drummer Adrian Erlandsson (of At The Gates, Cradle of Filth and The Haunted fame) plays the songs like he has been in the band forever, rather than a matter of months. We departed halfway through their set, after a storming rendition of “The Enemy” from previous album In Requiem, leaving 1000 fellow metallers happily alternating between headbanging and monging at the more ambient moments. A thoroughly great evening and I would look forward to seeing all 3 bands again. Again with the thanks to Moccles from last.fm, here is the full Paradise Lost setlist:
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