LIVE IN TURKU, FINLAND
Thursday the 11th of November was a day for Progressive Metal fans at Klubi, Turku. Sweden's acclaimed Seventh Wonder headlined the gig, with support from the local band Simulacrum.
I've seen Simulacrum once before, and back then they were a bit too progressive for me. They haven't toned down their uncompromising style, on the contrary they sounded even more progressive!
There's no denying the talent within the band. Despite their young age the guys are virtuoso players, and took no prisoners with their little "warm-up" instrumental song "Flagiston". Bass player Olli Hakala played a special kind of an instrument called Chapman Stick, which is apparently the kind of thing that gives a prog band tons of extra credibility, because it's not easy to master.... Anyway, some jaws dropped when the band unleashed this monster of a million notes upon us.
The band's singer Niklas Broman joined the rest of the guys on stage for the rest of the set, but even with vocals added, the material remained unapologetically complicated. However, the band introduced a new song called "The Depraved", which was a hard-hitting metal song with a breakneck speed and less prog trickery than their other songs. It was probably the "easiest" one to get a grasp of for us in the audience, along with the Dream Theater cover "Under A Glass Moon". That one raised a few eyebrowns when Broman announced that they'd do it next, but in the end their rendition impressed many.
As long as Simulacrum continue the path they've chosen, it's unlikely that I'm going to start singing high praise for them. When it comes to musicianship they are very capable, but with their extremely progressive material I doubt that they are going to start appealing to anyone else than die-hard prog metal fans. Nothing wrong with that, if they are doing what they want to do, and I guess they are. Vocalist Broman did make a prediction that the slightly less heavier "Battle Within" would be heard on radio sometime soon... well, possiby, but I don't think it's gonna end up on a playlist of any mainstream station. Maybe a dedicated metal show might give it a spin...
Headliners SEVENTH WONDER raised their profile quite a bit with "Mercy Falls", their third album in 2008. The album recieved rave reviews and broadened their audience over the genre fences, thanks to an interesting concept and more importantly, a handful of very melodic, excellent songs. On the eve of the release of "The Great Escape", their latest masterpiece (see my review of it elsewhere!), the band embarked on a mini-tour of Finland. Luckily one of the three gigs was in Turku, so I had the chance to see them live in an intimate club setting. Things might be different in a year or so, if the band's immense talent and knack for writing great songs is rewarded - at the very least they should be able to sell out a venue like Klubi. Who knows, maybe they are conquering bigger stages by then.
When the band took the stage, it was cool to notice that the band had paid attention to the presentation as well. All four players in the "frontline" had a similar, uniform-type of an outfit, and especially vocalist Tommy Karevik and bassist Andreas Blomqvist were rather lively performers.
With the new album not out yet, understandably the band's setlist was based on "Mercy Falls", with a couple of older numbers thrown in. The show got a great start with "Unbreakable", preceded by an excerpt from the new album's title track as the intro tape. "Welcome To Mercy Falls" followed, and the crowd was singing along to the catchy choruses. The very touching "Tears For A Father" was a highlight, it's interesting how much emotion can be packed into a short little song like it. The only new track was the YouTube hit video "Alley Cat",and it got a great response, as did every track in the set. The few older songs played later in the setlist ("Not An Angel", "Taint The Sky" and "Edge Of My Blade" I believe) were obviously less familiar to most of us, and frankly the cannot really compete with the band's recent output. Still, they were decent songs, but I have a feeling that material from "The Great Escape" will soon replace them. In a way I'm disappointed that the band was playing here now and not a few months later, because I think that the inclusion of "TGE" songs to the setlist will make it even stronger.
The time went flying by, and the gig was over way too soon. I'm sure that the couple of hundred people in the house (my rough estimate) wouldn't have minded if the band had played more, especially since such gems as "A Day Away" weren't performed. Despite the relatively short set, I'm certain that most of the crowd loved what they heard, and a few new Seventh Wonder fans were converted. Maybe the band had it all worked out - they left us hungry for more. Clever...