Despite the unworthy contention caused by overall attendees, musicians and media press, Colombian festivals such as Festival Rock al Parque — an annual event that takes place in Bogotá, and unveils throughout three days a multitude of varying musical passageways — that is entirely free to attend without any admission fees whatsoever, remain of significance for its initiatives.
Admittedly, Festival Rock al Parque is set to be a platform created to upheaval various heavy metal countercultural movements and has been known for groundbreaking the standards by unleashing seminal waves of both controversy and appraisal while including on its line-up diverse musical genres. Nonetheless, from a cultural point of view, it is vital to comprehend that such event draws from the arts, humanities, and it is linked by the impact they have had or are having on contemporary culture.
Swedish melodic death metallers Dark Tranquillity took the stage on August 18th, at Parque Metropolitano Simón Bolívar while hatching their fifth live performance in the country. Their last appearance in Colombia was during their Latin American Tour 2014, when at the time they were promoting their tenth full-length studio album ‘Construct’ (May 27th, 2013), at Ozzy Bar Rock, where they shared the stage with local Colombian acts Unauthorized and Farewell for Dawn.
Supporting their eleventh full-length studio album, ‘Atoma’ released on November 4th, 2016 through Century Media Records, Dark Tranquillity, however, debuted live on this year’s edition of Festival Rock al Parque with their powerful Gothenburg sound at Escenario Plaza.
Initiating with the vigorous and powerful ‘Monochromatic Stains’ song from their sixth full-length ‘Damage Done’ (July 22nd, 2002), Dark Tranquillity melodic vein appraised the massive crowd that patiently endured in the nightly cold under a spectral half moon to see the Swedish act perform live.
Unfortunately, Bengt Mikael Stanne was called to attention by guitar player Niklas Sundin when his voice suddenly went silent for a few seconds due to technical issues. His voice failed to be projected to the audience above the other musicians’ instruments quite often, a situation that resounded throughout the entire concert as instruments often took over his voice, even thus, despite minor technical issues, Dark Tranquillity performance proceeded humanely flawlessly throughout the evening.
After their chivalric introduction to the Colombian audience, frontman Bengt Mikael Stanne addressed to the immensity of people attending to their performance with a “Good evening, Bogotá!” while complementing the audience and acknowledging their support, asserting that they have played in Colombia before, but never for such a vast audience.
After the early warm-up, Dark Tranquillity proceeded their performance with ‘Clearing Skies’, a song taken from their highly acclaimed eleventh full-length album, ‘Atoma’. Undoubtedly, a more melodic yet contemporary passageway to Dark Tranquillity overall sonority, complemented with calmer, mid-paced lonesome passages flowing by keyboard overtones at specific moments throughout the song.
Remarkably, Bengt Mikael Stanne had a very friendly demeanour toward the audience, showing his gratefulness to their support during their entire live performance, in truth, Dark Tranquillity stood out for their attempt to have a closer relationship with their audience.
He briefly mentioned atheism while referring to their upcoming song, making a small pause while idling for the audience response, to then inject ‘The Treason Wall’, a song taken from their sixth full-length album ‘Damage Done’, while unavoidable discharging the melodic atmosphere back to mid-2002, to more than a decade back on their remarkable career.
Interjecting ‘The Science of Noise’ from their tenth full-length ‘Construct’ as a “rational approach to critical thinking”, Dark Tranquillity discharged a fast and muscular song which made the audience applaud and hurl their bodies to the melodic riffs heaved on stage in dementia.
Immediately after, and with no further ceremonies, ‘Forward Momentum’ from the album ‘Atoma’ echoed through the evening and again, Bengt Mikael Stanne engaged with the audience by bestowing his humble appreciation as well as asking if they “can handle a fast one?” which lead the audience to respond back in an enthusiastically response. ‘Final Resistance’ again from their amazing ‘Damage Done’ album quickly followed, undividedly a faster song on their extensive repertoire.
‘Atoma’, a song taken from their latest album with the same title, gently overshadowed the stage in a melodic ambience, followed by ‘Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)’ from ‘Fiction’ (April 17th, 2007), their eighth studio album which Bengt Mikael Stanne presented as correlated association to their hometown, Gothenburg, Sweden, declaring that “it totally applies to you here in beautiful Bogotá, Colombia as well. Because this is truly a place where death is most alive!”, this while pausing to look to the audience with a sight of reprehension.
‘The Wonders at Your Feet’ from Dark Tranquillity’s fifth full-length studio album ‘Haven’, (July 25th, 2000) opened the opportunity for them to go even further back on their musical career and bring forth a song from the ‘Projector’ (June 21th,1999) era. The well-known and recognisable rhythms of the ‘ThereIn’ anthem was most likely one of the highest highlights of their performance as the audience sang the chorus almost on a unison embrace which resounded throughout the entire park in a beautiful sense of cognitive union between all the parties involved.
Before playing ‘Lost to Apathy’ — one of the most remarkable songs from their seventh album ‘Character’, released on January 24th, 2005 — frontman Bengt Mikael Stanne addressed to the audience saying that what always have stroke him regarding the Colombian followers, was their commitment to heavy metal. A commitment which has been shown by their passionate dedication to the musical genre that transpires to Dark Tranquillity every single time they perform on the country. He also stated that ‘Lost to Apathy’ is a song dedicated to those that are unable to understand the dedication and passion while waiting hours just to see them, from Sweden, playing at Festival Rock al Parque, referring to ‘Lost to Apathy’ as a “love song” to all metalheads, and a “hate song to them.”
Dark Tranquillity ended their superb performance with ‘Misery’s Crown’, another song from the ‘Fiction’ album, shortly after welcoming Dark Funeral — their countrymen — that would take the stage right after them.
Their entire performance remained quite charismatic, almost romantically poetic at times, and Dark Tranquillity managed to successfully establish a bond with their audience, a connection between them and the fans with their music, yet presenting themselves in a very professional way, with a great deal of attention to details.
Indeed, an unforgettable live performance that carried the audience back and forward in time for one hour, a passage through their entire universe embraced by an ambience of their own, positively, a live show that for many years to come will remain as one of the most significant live appearances of an act of the genre, not to mention that surprisingly, Bengt Mikael Stanne shortly after their performance, decided to enter the press area and assist to the Dark Funeral show among journalists and photographers, exchanging a few words with some of us (myself included) and taking photographs with fans. Genuinely, assuming the posture of a cordial gentleman.