“Hmmm, they were in Holland
yesterday”, I tell myself as I scrutinise the tour poster while queuing up. Four
bands, four different genres, with the only common thread being a female
vocalist within their line-up. Ah well, variety is the spice of life. Eventually
it’s over half an hour late when the chains of the Underworld’s gate are
undone…not an auspicious start to the event considering the quantity of bands
and a typically strict curfew in place.
Once inside I
instinctively seek to get a grip with the general vibe and note an underwhelming
attendance. Well it is a Monday, I guess. I also notice that someone had
the common sense of placing the amps/speakers at the side of the Underworld’s
stage, thereby leaving more space for the band members to flex their muscles.
But there’s no more time to mull over other mundane issues as a pre-recorded
intro heralds the first band onto the stage...
First up is a band from the Northern
Italian city of Torino. I’m guessing that the bands that influence SoundStorm
are Rhapsody Of Fire and…..and that’s it really. But far from being Rhapsody
rip-offs, SoundStorm played with heartfelt passion and proved to be excellent
musicians too. The double-bass drumming was powerful and sharp, for instance,
and lead vox Philippe D’Orange showcased a suitably dramatic voice that didn’t
falter at those notes residing at the far
end of his range. At the same time, I struggled to understand what he was saying
In a similar vein to her male
counterpart, band soprano Ilaria Lucille de Santis, proved to be no mere
wannabee – her voice was remarkable and fit into the heavier parts with ease. A
better sound quality would have allowed the band to shine even more, I’m sure.
Sporting a selection of
garbs and props, such as coloured contact lenses, this young band seemed to
understand the importance of presentation when performing live. Despite already
having a number of albums to their credit, SoundStorm was a name I discovered
only a couple of days before this gig. Spurred by their performance at
the ‘Underworld’, however, I’ll definitely be watching their next move.
Intro + Immortalia
Back To Life
Wrath Of The Storm
Blood Of Maiden
Me And Myself
Like the music
of all Metal bands from France (well, at least all those that I know of), Kells’
music came across as high on technique and low on emotion. Quite a departure
from SoundStorm. Categorising their music is no straightforward task so I’ll say
that Kells sounded like a highly personalised brand of Nu Metal.
The band’s performance was
very tight and all members had an incredibly dynamic stage presence. Vocalist
lass Virginie Goncalves shifted from brutal to clean singing with impressive
ease. She delivered some genuinely fearsome ‘growls’ even though in itself the
‘clean’ singing sounded a tad bland.
Myself being new
to Kells’ music, there’s not much I can say about their set-list apart from the
fact that the band’s lyrics are all in their native French tongue. All in all
Kells gave an excellent and engaging performance.
Intro + Bleu
Sarah Jezebel Deva
actual performance kicked off, the audience got to witness Sara Jezebel Deva do
a hurried soundcheck. Not exactly a dramatic entrance then, but a supportive
audience egged the band on. A reduced set-list seemed likely at this point...
Backed by a
young but enthusiastic band, the ex-Cradle Of Filth vocalist started off with a
track from the recent “Malediction”EP - a release which was given a very
positive review by fellow writer Thomas Nielsen. In fact all “Malediction” was
included in tonight’s set, mingled with a couple of tracks from her Angtoria
project (‘God Has A Plan For Us All’ and ‘I’m Calling’) as well as songs from
her “The Corruption Of Mercy” album, released last year.
For the first
couple of songs, the band seemed disoriented – Sarah seemed to be aware of this
when she cited a recent excess of smoking afflicting her voice. Well no shit
Sherlock, then why did she smoke in the first place? By the time ‘Lies Define
Us’ came on, however, the band’s magic started to emerge. The set closer had the
most convincing delivery – it was, I felt, an epitome of classy modern Black
The bassist of
Sarah Jezebel Deva’s current line-up has German roots, the guitarist’s origins
are in Malta and the band’s drummer spent his childhood in Serbia. And of course
Sarah is English. Different origins therefore but tonight, despite
aforementioned glitches, the band members all seemed to go in the same
When It Catches Up With You
God Has A Plan For Us All
This Is My Curse
Lies Define Us
No Paragon Of Virtue
I had mixed
feelings about Tristania’s “Rubicon” album, their first release with Italian
singer Mariangela Demurtas on vocals – basically I felt that the band’s decision
to pursue the musical path of Lacuna Coil diminished Tristania’s uniqueness. So
I was eager to see how the current line-up would fare in a live scenario.
I needn’t have worried. The vibe the
band created with their music was absolutely magical.
More tellingly, when Mariangela came to sing songs originally recorded with
Vibeke Stene on vocals, songs such as the complex ‘Libre’ or the vocally
demanding ‘Beyond The Veil’, she rose to the occasion with conviction.
Tarald Lie, on drums,
also left a positive impression on me. His style
wasn’t overtly technical but his playing seemed to possess an innate
understanding of the songs.
Apart from their debut, Tristania
revisited all of their albums – an approach that I personally appreciated. The
band also played 2 unreleased songs
(‘Cathedral’ and ‘Requiem’), which male vox/acoustic guitarist Kjetil Nordhus
(Trail Of Tears, Green Carnation) said would appear on the next album. These new
numbers seemed to have some interesting rhythmic progressions weaved into the
vocal melodies. They immediately won me over and made my anticipation for the
next Tristania album all the more palpable.
observation…..call me pedantic if you wish but Mariangela hardly ever spoke to
the audience, a role which was almost exclusively left to Kjetil. It would have
been nice to see her bond more closely with the crowd. Incidentally there were
times when I could hardly hear her voice, although that was probably the
consequence of a hurried sound-check right before their performance.
In the end I was
all smiles as not only did all the bands give an enjoyable performance but as
far as I’m concerned Tristania haven’t lost their place amongst the elite of
Tender Trip On Earth
Beyond The Veil
Year Of The Rat