Eastpak Antidote Tour
Soilwork / Caliban / Dark Tranquillity / Sonic Syndicate
3 October 2007
Islington Academy, London

Glancing around the Islington Academy you’re quickly reminded who’s sponsoring the snappily titled “Eastpak Antidote Tour presented by Vans”. This is reinforced when a generous gentleman thrusts an Eastpak wristband and Vans key ring into my hand. I’ve attended the Eastpak Resistance tour in the past, which has always resided in a more hardcore realm. Whilst Caliban could easily slot onto that tour the rest of tonight’s “Antidote” line-up is certainly more metal.

Having said that, Sonic Syndicate, who were up first, do carry the look of a metalcore band, with two muscular singers and guitarists with jet black styled hair. In fact three of those four, being the two guitarists and one singer, are brothers. Aftermath came blasting out of the speakers like a track from a recent In Flames album with the band bursting into life. Sonic Syndicate obtained their record deal with Nuclear Blast by beating 1,500 other hopeful bands in a competition. Certainly watching this energetic performance you can see why they impressed.

The good looks of bassist Karin Axelsson certainly soften the macho approach, though she worked just as hard as her male band members and was animated throughout the short set. The band jumping in unison to the mid-pace Flashback transferred to the crowd up front, which degenerated into the first mosh of the evening. By the end of the song, they’re clapping along and Sonic Syndicate’s hard work was paying off. Enclave slowed things down, but we’re told we can mosh all we want, though the band will take it easy. Quickly though it’s back to the fast pace of Jailbreak, where we were instructed to “Move like Muthaf**kers!”.

Sonic Syndicate’s half an hour whizzed by, with barely a pause for breath. Whilst not the most original band in the world, coming across like a more commercial In Flames or Soilwork, they do appear hungry and made a lot of friends tonight.

Sonic Syndicate set list:
Aftermath / Denied / Flashback / Enclave / Jailbreak / Psychic Suicide / Blue Eyed Fiend

Switching places with Caliban from the previous night in Leeds, it was Dark Tranquillity who took the stage next. The stage lights took a more sombre tone of blues and greens for their set, which whilst not helpful for the photographers, certainly suited their darker tone. Frontman Mikael Stanne joined those photographers in their pit as soon as opener Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive). Whilst on stage the band appeared more energetic than I remembered them at Bloodstock Open Air. Guitarist Martin Henriksson windmilled so furiously his dreads formed a knot on his head.

Before The Lesser Faith, Stanne noted “It’s been too long London” and a loud cheer of agreement from the crowd caused a grin to break across his face as he responded, “Sweeet!”. With his usual stalking and contorting about the stage, often appearing in a trademark pose of one arm behind his back with his microphone held aloft in the other, Stanne, and indeed the rest of the band, seemed thrilled with their response. The cheer that greeted Martin Brändström’s opening keyboard refrain to The Wonders At Your Feet drew more smiles and comment of “You know this one?”.

Focus Shift encouraged the biggest mosh of the set, whilst the more Paradise Lost –like Misery’s Crown gave brief respite. Punish My Heaven took the crowd back to 1995’s The Gallery and at its conclusion, Stanne was so overwhelmed with the response he promised, “We’ll be back as soon as humanly possible”. The New Build brought the short set to a close with many hoping he’s true to his word.

Dark Tranquillity set list:
Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive) / The Lesser Faith / The Treason Wall / The Wonders At Your Feet / Focus Shift / Misery’s Crown / Punish My Heaven / The New Build

I’ve got to be honest despite the odd song, I’m not a fan of Caliban, finding the screaming and relentless aggression wears me down to apathy. However, I cannot deny the German’s passion in their performance and the movement it inspired in the crowd. Sporting a rather cool collection of white shirts with different bullet holes and bloodstains, Caliban incited a circle pit by their first song, which was invaded by a collection of large Attikus black balloons throughout the set. Frontman Andreas Dörner called for a wall of death prior to I’ve Sold Myself. As the band started the song, the two lines of fans crashed straight into each other, descending the pit into mayhem and for everyone else, a need to take two steps back to avoid disappearing into the throng. Meanwhile Dörner oversaw his creation leaning forward flapping his arms like a bird.

Dörner’s one dimensional screamfest is softened by Denis Schmidt’s melodic vocal and none more so than The Beloved & The Hatred, which the crowd actually sang themselves at its start. Co-guitarist Marc Görtz meanwhile swung his guitar around to the beat in a hardcore fashion.

Whilst my attention wandered during their set, Caliban had a strong grip on their faithful who didn’t leave disappointed.

Caliban set list included (I believe):
I Rape Myself / I’ve Sold Myself / The Beloved & The Hatred / I Will Never Let You Drown / It’s Our Burden To Bleed / Room Of Nowhere

It’s currently rather odd timing for Soilwork on this tour. They have a brand new album ready for release, however it’s not out until 13 days after this gig. Consequently they’re left with the choice to premier their new material or stick to the crowd favourites. For the main they go with the latter option, however opener Bastard Chain from 2001’s A Predator’s Portrait seemed a bit lost on many in the audience. The old school fans lap it up, as they do Chainheart Machine later in the set, however there seems to be a cut off where some of the younger fans only know material starting with the Natural Born Chaos album. This theory seemed proven when widespread moshing breaks out to second number As We Speak.

In his plaid sleeveless shirt, frontman Björn Strid surveyed the circle pit in front of him and concluded, “You seem quite an aggressive London crowd.” One With The Flies did little to change this. As ever the only member that came close to Strid for onstage energy is Ola Fink. The lofty bassist towered even higher when stepping up on to the monitors, occasional tucking his bass under his chin. Guitarists Ola Frenning and Daniel Antonsson were more restrained by comparison, though the shaven headed, wiry Frenning did take up a position on the monitors on occasion.

“You like Whitesnake?” asked Strid as he sang some “Woah-oahs!” with the crowd. The following distance saw Strid coping with ease with the most challenging vocal of the night and if the set was paced in order for him to build up to reach the higher notes, it worked. With a run of songs from the Stabbing The Drama and Figure Number Five albums, the announcement of a new song offered a bit of a breather to the energetic crowd. Exile is a track that has been out and about for general consumption on magazine cds and myspace, so it was familiar to many. The track sat easily in the set and seemed heavier than the recorded version. Of course Soilwork are participating in a package tour rather than a headline show and hence the set came to a close on the hour mark with a very well received Nerve.

Soilwork set list:
Bastard Chain / As We Speak / One With The Flies / Light The Torch / Follow The Hollow / Distance / Chainheart Machine / Rejection Role / Overload / Stalemate / Stabbing The Drama / Exile / Nerve


Eastpak Antidote Tour
Dark Tranquillity
Sonic Syndicate