Location: Tivoli Vredenburg - Ronda, Utrecht (The Netherlands).
This is the second time this Ultima Ratio concert tour/festival is going around Europe.
On the bill it says Paradise Lost is headlining and to many fans of the band that would probably be true but for me personally I actually enjoyed the other bands more. Funny how that sometimes works out. All bands get enough time to show their skills on stage and provide us with a nice show. Their last one of this tour. Maybe that is why all bands have seemed to have given it their all. It was a very good evening!
With a little traffic hick-up I walked in at a hasty pace because Harakiri for the Sky was already on stage. Luckily they didn’t seem to be there for too long as I got treated with many more songs to enjoy. First time seeing this band playing some heavily charged emotional melodic masterpieces on stage. This band is from Austria and formed back in 2011. Their style of metal might not be everyone’s cup of tea but if you like some atmospheric post-black metal with some darker lyrics, you will enjoy this.
So back to their performance. We got a rich pallet of emotions served from darker melancholic parts to more mid-paced riffs and enjoyable melodies to drag you forward. It is the type of music that needs to wrap around you and then it doesn’t let go. Singer J.J’s vocals are sharp and brutal. You do need to like the longer songs where the band takes you on a path of beautiful melodies and compositions, well layered bass-lines played by Thomas Dornig on a darker undertone making your head nod along. At the end J.J goes off stage and into the audience who gets swallowed by people while the rest on stage give it their all to end this set and this Ultima Ratio tour. I, for one, definitely enjoyed them.
The most fun band this evening: the Finnish Omnium Gatherum. Tempelores has seen them more than once before and they always deliver a hell of an energetic show, the same for this night. Their metal might be the most approachable of all of the bands tonight. Enjoyable melodeath that cheers you up. A little bit of happiness this evening.
They opened with ‘Slasher’ from their latest EP. Nice way to get us out of the melancholic darkness. One thing about bands that have a lot of moving on the stage by various band members is that you sometimes need an extra pair of eyes. Luckily they also take their little moments to shred a nice riff or play a solo with a little posing. With Jukka Pelkonen on vocals you know he will entertain the audience. With a lot of hand gestures like: come on and a little more of that. Not everyone in the audience seems to appreciate the style of Omnium Gatherum but the band itself seem to have a hell of a good time which also fires back on the people on the front row who clearly seem to enjoy themselves. Near the end guitarist Markus Vanhala (also in Insomnium & I am the Night) takes his few minutes of spotlight time giving us a solo while the others disappear a moment. They return to close it off with even more energy it seems.
To me Primordial is king in finding the balance between show and letting the music speak for itself. There is a splash of theatrics when he walks around the stage with a rope around his neck. They know how to present themselves on the stage and get the right intense vibe across the venue. No wonder as they have been a band for nearly thirty years.
After the first song you knew this was going to be a great performance. Everything seemed to work effortlessly together. Walking around with my camera, front row hearing a little bit more bass over the monitors is always making me a happy listener. So I clearly enjoyed myself out there but when looking around there were a lot of happy faces and fists up in the air. Powerful and atmospheric they bring forth their Celtic roots in an captivating set. I don’t know if the last part of the set was just amazing due to it being the last minutes of this tour but damn. They served us well with ‘No Grave Deep Enough’ and ‘Empire Falls’.
Clearly many came to see Ultima Ratio headliner Paradise Lost as the venue filled up with more people. Who clearly missed out on the other bands. Now I am not a fan of Paradise Lost, but always willing to listen and see. They always seem to be playing great but at the same time that is all they seem to be doing. Tonight all three bands, before them, played very good sets so the bar was set high and I think they didn’t reach it. Again this time their show was definitely not bad as they are skilled at what they are doing but it missed impact. They didn’t sweep me off my feet so to say. Guitarist Aaron Aedy gave his all, right from the start. He clearly enjoyed himself and threw a lot of happy faces and smiles into the audience. Big contrast to Nick Holmes on vocals. It might be how he is or what adds to their show in their own way but I never know if he actually enjoys performing in front of an audience. Musically it was tight and well played. Especially on ‘Hallowed Land’ and ‘No Hope in Sight’.
What has to be said is that the audience was super friendly this evening while I walked around with my camera. Thanks to those who offered their spot for a bit to take some photos!
This was a great Sunday evening. And sometimes the last show of the tour takes it toll on bands but tonight it was totally different. Most bands seemed to clearly enjoy themselves, they had fun on stage seen in the little interactions between them and it seemed they gave more then a 100%. Looking forward to the next Ultima Ratio Tour!
Harakiri for the Sky