Dark Tranquillity / The Haunted / Into Eternity / Scar Symmetry Opera House, Toronto ON March 29

Dark Tranquillity / The Haunted / Into Eternity / Scar Symmetry Opera House, Toronto ON March 29
A skull-crushing alloy of progressive, melodic death and thrash, the Metal for the Masses tour hit the dregs of March with a reanimating jolt of Swedish and Canadian head-banging. Co-headliners Dark Tranquillity and the Haunted both passed through Ontario several times in the last few years, winning over substantial, enthusiastic, and partly overlapping followings, so it’s no surprise the venue was teeming. My last point of comparison for the Haunted was a couple of ferocious sets from 2001. The raw viscera of the band’s hardcore aesthetic converts to live electricity extremely well, and this latest performance maintained the ferocity — but tempered with the ominous Southern drawl that’s infiltrated some of their more recent material. Seeing Dark Tranquillity, on the other hand, is an experience that keeps getting better. Closing out the show with no ego-stroking encores, the band introduced some of their new, unreleased tracks but also dipped into their back catalogue and pulled off the lot with precision and intensity — tight (but not stiff) and powerfully charismatic. Dark Tranquillity’s melodies and keyboards clearly didn’t appeal to everyone though; the crowd seemed less dense after the Haunted left the stage. Earlier in the night, Into Eternity and Scar Symmetry helped get the audience riled up, but neither band were in danger of stealing the show. Scar Symmetry laid down some impressive speed and harmonies, but their attempts to get fans to sing along fell flat. Into Eternity had a larger base of appreciative fanatics on hand, but their intricate arrangements don’t translate easily in a club, and the result, though good, was more messy than complex. None of these minor glitches tripped up the momentum, which steamrolled on till Dark Tranquillity said good night.