Sunday, November 19, 2017

Live review: In Flames + Five Finger Death Punch at Scandinavium, Gothenburg

In later years, the whole Co-headline concept has become more popular, with two or more bands joining forces throughout a tour, sharing the work load to bring a great experience to the fans. I think it is a great way to get a lot of value for your money, getting to watch two fantastic acts in the same evening to make your night complete. So I was obviously excited when In Flames and Five Finger Death Punch decided to tour together through Europe, giving me a chance to finally get to see two bands that are known for explosive shows.

It also made sense that exactly these two got together, because they are sort of in the same spot in their careers (even though one of them has been active for a longer time). Both are insanely popular acts that have released several big hits over the years, but they have also been receiving a lot of hate for various reasons, even to the point where some do not even consider these band to be metal at all (which is ridiculous, what else are they? Techno?).

Anyway, I was not alone in wanting to watch them, the show in the indoor stadium Scandinavium (located in central Gothenburg) was completely sold out, bringing some warmth in this cold Autumn evening. Let me tell you how the night was.

Opening act: Of Mice & Men

Opening up for the two big guns were Of Mice & Men, a metalcore group from Orange County, California that I have heard of before, but have never digged deeper into... which is also why I did not see these guys.

Now, it would have been pretty difficult to get in time for them anyhow because I live close to two hours away from Gothenburg and I cannot leave work how early I want. Besides, the group of guys I went to the show with did not really want to see them, so... yeah. It is nothing against the band, I simply did not have the time/peer pressure got to me.

I did more research since and I even listened to the songs that they did play, and to be completely honest, I do not think I missed much. While I believe most music does become better when you experience it in a live setting, I think I would be pretty bored with the band's predictable and unoriginal brand of metalcore (although I do have to admit that the new single "Warzone" has a really nice groove to it). All of the songs were nothing special, maybe heavier than your average metalcore band, but still fairly bland, it is close to just being needless noise infact. And once again, it is unfair of me to judge them solely by studio efforts, who knows, they might have killed it on stage. I will probably give these lads another chance when their fifth album comes out next year, but I doubt that the music will make me do backflips out of shear joy.

Public Service Announcement
You Make Me Sick
The Depths

Five Finger Death Punch

After all of what has happened with this band during the year, I was a little afraid that I was going to witness another massive meltdown, Fortunately, that did not happen, instead we got a band that was obviously pumped up, ready to kick some metal ass. And you could clearly tell that singer Ivan Moody was the happiest of the bunch, coming in wearing the jersey of the Swedish national ice hockey team Tre Kronor. Ivan was soaking in every moment of the show, really enjoying himself and playing with the crowd, despite very minimal small talk between songs.

The energy is obviously the band's biggest strength, but they tried to make it a very visually appealing show as well, and they did succeed... to some extent. There were a lot of lighting and lasers that tried to make the show more colorful, and while I do like lasers, it became pretty tiring after a while, being more of a gimmick than any real help. Then we had the huge prop that hung behind the band, which depicted their mascot Knucklehead and a couple of baseball bats crossing behind, making some kind of an urban Jolly Roger. It looked cool and all, but the way it was shaped and assembled made it look more like Vic Rattlehead from Megadeth, and that was an image I could not get out of my head. Why did they not just paint a hand palm on the right side of the face, like in the album covers? So yeah, it looked cool, but it did not look like it belonged with the band.

Go home Vic, you are drunk
Anyway, the music is still the main thing in a concert, and without a new album in recent time, the setlist was pretty well versed between all of the band's releases. I was a little surprised to hear that their latest single "Trouble" (from the upcoming best of record "A Decade of Destruction") was not in the setlist, because even if I think the song is pretty meh, it is kind of a missed opportunity for the band to not market it. It was also surprising that the band went acoustic on two songs, with also Ivan sincerely apologizing for his behaviour the last year. It was a touching moment for sure, but when you think of 5FDP, you do not think of slow songs that you can play around the camp fire. No, you think of adrenaline pumping songs that gets you incredibly hyped up, and that is what I wanted to see, so that acoustic part was kind of a buzz kill.

Oh well, I got enough macho metal to go around anyway, and the band did a fantastic job in getting the crowd going (seriously, the front mosh pitted during songs like "Bad Company" and "Wash It All Away", how is that possible?). So despite some weird things here and there, it was a pretty good show the Americans presented us with. No matter if you like them or not, you gotta admit, their energy is extremely contagious and exhilarating.

Best: "Burn MF" certainly has a lot of power to it

Worst: I did not come to see this band for their acoustic bit

Rating: 7,5/10

Lift Me Up
Never Enough
Wash It All Away
Got Your Six
Hard To See
Bad Company (Bad Company cover)
Jekyll And Hyde
Burn MF
Wrong Side of Heaven (acoustic)
Remember Everything (acoustic)
Coming Down
Ain't My Last Dance

Under And Over It
The Bleeding

In Flames

Going into this show, I was not worried that In Flames were going to phone it in or not give it their all. After all, Gothenburg is their city of origin, and for a band that travels the world year after year, there simply is no place like home. Sure enough, one of Sweden's biggest metal exports surely gave their home crowd a lot to cheer about with a show that a lot of people are not gonna forget in the near future. Simply put, In Flames love Gothenburg, and Gothenburg loves In Flames.

So instead of lasers and tons of lighting, In Flames put their chips on more technological stuff, putting together several screens and creating two pillars for the keyboardist (who I could not find out who it was) and drummer Joe Rickard. This allowed a lot of really cool and some times disturbing imagery to play around with the songs, feeding both your ears and eyes of course. We also got a big puppet prop as well that was revealed during "Alias", a recreation of that human with the bird head from the "A Sense of Purpose" record. It was pretty cool, but it just stayed the for the rest of the show, not doing anything besides staring at everyone with its glowing eyes. Kind of creepy if you ask me.

Damn Jesterheads, please leave the little guy alone
The setlist was mostly based around the last year release "Battles", and no matter what your opinion is on that album, it does show that the band knows how to make incredibly memorable sing along choruses. Songs like "Save Me", "Drained" and "The End" all work extremely well in a live setting, giving the crowd an excuse to sing their lungs out. Otherwise, there were few surprises in this setlist. All of the band's biggest hits were in here, mixed in with some old favourites. To be completely honest, the only real surprise was "Everything's Gone", the only representative from "Siren Charms" (thank god for that). It was placed in the first half of the setlist, where the band just went full on mad mode, almost burning off all of their heaviest materials with "Take This Life", "Trigger" (renamed this evening as "Twitter"), and "Only For The Weak".

While I did enjoy myself during the entire show, and I saw that the chemistry between the crowd and the band was good, there were more or less no small talk in between, even less than in the 5FDP show. The songs were fired with a machine gun, bam bam bam bam bam, close to no break at all. At the very end we probably got the answer to why it was so, because they had to be done before a certain time (because of Swedish law), and they wanted to maximize the time as much as possible. So that explained it, but it still felt weird the way the band handled it.

Oh well, no matter what, In Flames still delivered an impressive performance that echoed out into the Gothenburg night. The band were in their element all night, they simply felt like they were home, playing for all their relatives and friends. They were comfortable, but they made sure to not relax all to much, keeping laser focus. It is no wonder why this band is considered as one of Sweden's biggest bands, they delivered big time here in Scandinavium.

Best: "Everything's Gone" and "Take This Life" is an amazing one two punch

Worst: The setlist was way too predictable

Rating: 8,5/10

Before I Fall
Everything's Gone
Take This Life
Only For The Weak
Dead Alone
Darker Times
The Jester's Dance
Save Me
Here Until forever
The Truth
Deliver Us
The Mirror's Truth
The Quiet Place
The End

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