It can hardly get more appropriate than to have a night dedicated to doom metal in the middle of November. Crisp, cold autumn air, grey cloudy skies, mist in the air and an occasional rain along with the sounds of melancholy coming from the stage. All that in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Back in Budapest, in Dürer Kert’s, this time in the main concert hall, this time for an evening of gloomy, melancholic somber and doom. Visitors were presented with a trio of great Scandinavian bands and their new material.
The first band for the night was the Oceanwake, a band from Finland, promoting their new album called “Lights Flashing in Mute Scenery”. Luckily for us, the scenery wasn’t mute, and Oceanwake offered us three-quarters of an hour of a quite decent performance. Here I will admit that I have heard their name, but didn’t really know any of the songs, except the one that I listened to on youtube a couple of hours before the concert.
One thing that I actually enjoy with supporting acts on concerts is getting pleasantly surprised by their performance. Listening to Oceanwake was one of such occurrences. Very decent performance from a band that was giving their best to entertain the audience and make them interested in their music. It worked, at least in my case. Oceanwake plays something that could be labeled as melodic death doom metal, although they aren’t really a band that can easily fit into one or two genres. It might be just my impression, but at one point I felt a strong Gojira-like vibe on one of the songs.
So if you are into bands like Agalloch, Opeth, Draconian, Riverside, Katatonia, you get the idea… Then be sure to give these guys a chance, I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed their performance quite a bit, despite not knowing any of the songs in advance.
After a short break, we welcomed Swedish veterans October Tide on stage. Not sure why, it might have something to do with a decade long hiatus, but it seems to me that they are only now emerging on a death/doom scene as one of the established acts, despite the fact that they exist for twenty-five years. They started as a side project of then Katatonia members, now the band is led by Norrman brothers. Their latest album came out earlier this year, titled “In Splendor Below”. As expected, that album was the most represented in the setlist, but they had enough time on stage, to take us on a journey through their discography. In just a bit less than an hour, we heard songs from the mentioned “In Splendor Below”, but also a couple of songs from “Tunnel of No Light”, which many consider their best work so far. Also, we got to hear “12 Days of Rain” and “Grey Dawn”, old songs from their early albums released back in the late nineties. It was a really good performance by the Swedes, and despite being quite impatient to finally see the main act on stage, I can’t help but rue the fact that these guys only got to play a bit less than an hour.
After the first two bands warmed us up, finally the hour for Swallow The Sun to come on stage came. I am unsure if warmed up, is the right choice of words, more like froze our hearts in the northern wastelands… Anyway, it is great to see Swallow The Sun again. Last time, when I saw them in Budapest they played in Dürer Kert, but in the smallest venue of them all. So it was quite a pleasant experience, to see and hear them in the largest of Dürer’s venues.
I deliberately changed the place where I stood a couple of times during the concert, and ended up in the front row, hunting for the spot with the best sound and view. It was good to hear this band in a large venue, where the sound they can provide is more than adequate. Although they played in the largest of the halls, there was quite a bit of space in the back. The place was only maybe a bit more than half full, but it was much more crowded than four years ago, and there would probably be even more people in the audience, if this November in Budapest wasn’t so packed with great concerts.
Personally, I think it is really great, and heartwarming to see Juha Raivio on stage. Quite expected, if you bear in mind that they are on tour promoting their new album, most of the songs were from the new album “When the Shadow is Forced Into the Light”. That is also my greatest complain, even though the new album is fantastic, one of the best albums this year. But they only played one song from their previous masterpiece “Songs from the North”. I don’t know if they played so few songs because of the tragedy that happened to Aleah, and the fact that the new album is dedicated to her. Aside from really missing some of the songs like “Heartstrings Shattering”, I can’t really find any other flaw to their perfect performance.
When you are watching bands that play doom and similar genres that are not, let us say happy or joyful, it is a bit harder to get the audience to participate and communicate with the band. It was pleasant to see the band and the audience enjoying the show. Even if Mikko Kotomäki isn’t the most talkative frontman you can get, it was obvious that people really enjoyed the show from the Finnish doomers.
Monday indeed was a perfect day for all the fans of doom. It was great to be privileged to see three quality bands. All three bands had a quite decent performance, although it is clear that Swallow the Sun were the main stars of the evening. Their performance hardly left anyone indifferent, and I really think a couple of more songs, especially from the mentioned “Songs From the North” trilogy would make it even better.
But all in all, we can summarize that Ocean was wake riding on October Tide to Swallow The Sun while the rain cried over the full moon over Budapest.