Review by Paul Quinton, photos by Rob Stanley
Firstly, before any discussion of the evening’s entertainment, I would like to doff my cap to the organisers of tonight’s show. Four bands, including a well-known name in the genre, for twelve quid on the door, is pretty fair value at the best of times, and it was pleasing that they were rewarded with a decent sized crowd, despite reports of disappointing turnouts at other dates on the tour.
Local metal band Apparition opened the evening’s entertainment, featuring their new vocalist, American Grace Meridian. She cuts a very striking figure on stage and has a very atypical voice for singers in this genre, being a lot deeper and richer than most. I’m not completely sure it works as well it as it might in this format, although these are early days for this line-up, and possibly things weren’t helped by her singing one song solo with the aid of a backing track, which did nothing for the flow and rhythm of the set. As I said, though, early days and it will be interesting to see how the new line-up has progressed when they play in the Dames of Darkness Festival at the Robin in May.
Next on stage were Danish symphonic metal band Sage’s Recital featuring the clearly prodigiously talented guitarist, Niels Vejlyt. Tonight the band played as a four piece, two guitars, drums and Jonathan Arneson contributing vocals, whereas their debut album had former Royal Hunt singer John West taking care of the singing, which are some big shoes to fill.
This was extremely ambitious, highly technical, neo-classical metal, very reminiscent of bands like Ring Of Fire at times, but often there was a distinct lack of passion and soul about the performance, and while it was impressive, it was a little too cold for a rock gig. They were allocated a 30 minute set, and chose to use up half of it by closing with the quarter hour long epic ‘The Last Battle’, which didn’t really help the set to flow. There’s a lot of talent in this band, but it’s likely they need more live experience to really come into their own.
The sound had gone slightly awry during Sage’s Recital, but it was cleared up by the time Holland’s Seventh Sin took the stage. This was several steps up in terms of presentation and performance from the previous sets in the evening. The band had a decent backdrop as well as banners at the side of the stage letting everyone know who they were, and best of all, this was a band who had clearly taken the trouble to assemble a decent set of songs.
Musically the band can fit firmly the mainstream of female fronted symphonic metal, but in Monique Joosten they have a capable singer with an engaging stage personality and a well-drilled band that played really well. There was a slightly strange moment when Edenbridge bassist Wolfgang Rothbauer bounded on stage to contribute a few seconds death grunts, before Seventh Sin guitarist Roy Geelen took over again. All in all, this was a really enjoyable set from a very promising band and judging by the size of the queue that quickly formed at the merchandise desk when the band came off stage, they made quite a few new fans tonight.
There was still, a fair buzz around the merch desk and the venue when Edenbridge began their set, but this was one of those occasions where the headliners were unable to assert their status on the night. They weren’t helped by the sound regressing, with the guitars in particular sounding really thin, the drums dominating and the vocals often being lost in everything else, and for a song like ‘My Earth Dream’, the guitars were mixed way below the samples, let alone the drums. Overall, compared to the enthusiasm of Seventh Sin, there was definitely something missing from the set. Early on, singer Sabine Edelsbacher had warned the crowd she was suffering from a cold and it was having a clear effect on her voice as the set progressed.
The last part of the set was a medley of older material, which showed that a lot of their songs are rooted more in traditional hard rock than in what’s known as symphonic metal, which on other nights would have made an interesting listen, followed by an encore of ‘Higher’ which turned into one of the best parts of the show, although Sabine’s voice seemed about to give up once and for all. Fortunately the band were joined onstage by the members of Seventh Sin for some clapping and singing along, leaping about and general silliness to bring the show to an end. With the problems with Sabine’s voice, it would be unfair to be overly critical, but for all the good reception they received from the crowd, this wasn’t the most memorable of sets.
As well as the value for money of this show, mention also for the organisation, which include some quick turnovers between the respective bands. Hopefully the headliners will have better luck next time they visit these shores, but in the meantime, there’s another very promising name in female fronted symphonic metal to keep an eye on.
See more of Rob’s photos here;