Fri. Feb 22nd, 2019

18.1.2018 Damnation Plan @ On The Rocks, Helsinki

Finnish progressive melodic death metallers Damnation Plan released their latest album “Reality Illusion” in 2017. Even though I noticed the album was praised a lot by other media, I never got around to listening to it. However, when announced that Damnation Plan would play at On The Rocks on 18 January 2019, I figured it’s the best opportunity to get to know their music a little bit better.

Before going on with this review, a couple of things have to be straightened out here. The band hasn’t played live in a long time, and even had a lineup change, as their second lead singer Tommy Tuovinen left the band. Instead of looking for another singer, the band decided to go ahead with Asim Searah taking over his duties.

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An instrumental intro filled On The Rocks and the band marched on stage, after which they immediately threw themselves into the second song “The Unknown Presence”. The now five-piece melo-death squad immediately made their mark, when Asim Searah switches from his powerful clean vocals to the crushing growls Tommy once unleashed upon the audience. An unexpected surprise, which felt like a slap in the face.

The more I analyze the show and my notes, the more impressed I am. Admittedly, at times the switches between both vocal parts perhaps weren’t that smooth, and some finetuning might still be in order for the future. Transitioning, however, between 50% clean vocals and 50% harsh vocals is by itself quite impressive. Let’s also remember that the vocal melodies were written for two singers, not one. Sound-wise, nothing much changed, while Tommy has an excellent and very distinctive sound, Asim sure knows how to fill his shoes with his own distinct style.

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The band took us on a journey to crushing guitar riffs and pounding pulses of the bass. We strolled down to memory lane together by hearing them perform all of their music videos. We went through lots of fun interactions with the audience, and in the distance, fans were screaming and shouting funny things (eg. “On The Cocks”), and Asim responding to them.

Comedy aside, the setlist was very diverse and represented songs from both albums. From the doom-laden powerful ballad “Maze Of Despair”, to more intense songs like “The Final Destination”, we were served with battering riffs, compelling solos, and melodic guitar-driven melodies, all while the band was dynamic, and clearly having a good time on stage.

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All-in-all considering the outside factors of not having performed in a long time, and a lineup change, the band has managed to deliver an explosive set. I looked around me during the set, and I saw an excited and happy audience that finally got to see the band live again. The latter became clear because of the good turnout for the show. The event clearly marks a new chapter for the band, which will definitely entice new fans. Let’s see what the future brings for Damnation Plan.

Setlist

  1. Intro & The Unknown Presence
  2. The Wakening
  3. Edge Of Machinery
  4. Rise Of The Messenger
  5. Maze Of Despair
  6. The Final Destination
  7. The Empowerment
  8. Reality Illusion
  9. Ashes
  10. BlindsightedEncore
  11. Don’t Talk To Strangers
  12. Rulers Of Truth

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