Dark Tranquillity, La Locomotive, Paris, 19th November 2002
La Loco is some venue. Situated in the heart of Paris' red light district and right next door to the infamous Moulin Rouge, with its lights, windmills and naked can-can dancers, it's definitely not going to grab your attention when you walk past it. Inside, though, it couldn't be better suited to an extreme metal concert. The bar is straight ahead of you on entering, the dancefloor is down a few steps and the stage is slightly elevated above the floor. This means that, even when standing at the back, you can see the stage without obstructions. That is, of course, unless you count stagedivers as obstructions.
With a career that has spanned nearly thirteen years, Dark Tranquillity have to be one of the best extreme metal acts I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing live. Their blend of technical metal and melodic trash had the dancefloor/mosh-pit heaving within moments of them coming onto the stage, mostly thanks to the fact that frontman Mikael Stanne's mix of clean and growled vocals was executed perfectly.
Dark Tranquillity have always been one step ahead of the rest of the pack, as is clear from watching how Martin Brandstom (electronics, keyboards) fills out the sound coming from the speakers with that extra element. That extra push, which shows experimentation, is what this band do and, with both guitarists switching from melodic verses to full on trash choruses with precision timing, this was a pleasure to experience.
Staccato riffs were dropped like bombs throughout, especially on the immense 'Monochromatic stains', a powerful raging song that sums up everything Dark Tranquillity is. Closer 'Final Resistance' came across as a severe blend of In Flames and Corporation 187. Its melodic moments were counter-pointed with grindcore elements, which made it the perfect exit note. There may not have been any naked dancing girls, but hey, this was definitely the next best thing.