Hanging Doll + Triaxis + Incassum, @ Asylum 2, Birmingham – 8 February 8 2013

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Hanging Doll - BandReview by Paul Quinton

Incassum, from Manchester, opened tonight’s bill in the Asylum’s upstairs room, with their inventive take on death metal. Obviously the presence of Sharleen Kennedy on vocals, both death and ‘clear’ will invite comparisons with Arch Enemy, but there’s something more to this band than just that. They spice things up with genuine prog metal overtones, reminding you of To-mera, and have a lot of invention and good ideas, and are more than capable of realising them on stage. Speaking personally, I normally find ‘death-grunt’ vocals a bit of a trial and, more often than not, pretty monotonous, but there’s no doubt Sharleen handled them well, even sounding more comfortable than when she sang ‘normally’.  It will be interesting to see how this band develops, to see into what areas they can take their variation of the genre.

And by the way, it shouldn’t have to be said, as unfortunately all too often the opposite is true, but a pat on the back for the Asylum.  Incassum’s sound was absolutely spot on, loud but clear, a genuinely pleasant surprise for what was, after all, the third band on the bill.

Cardiff’s Triaxis were an interesting change in style from Incassum, being far more from the traditional metal school. Their sound is firmly rooted in Power Metal, with distinct tastes of Maiden and Testament, and seeing singer Krissie Kirby sporting an Iced Earth T-shirt for the set probably told you a lot of what you need to know. This was a highly entertaining set, based, as you might expect, largely around their latest album, ‘Rage and Retribution’, excellent, hugely enjoyable, foot-on-the-monitor metal, and it was good to see all of the band working the stage, except drummer Giles of course, all too often you see bands who leave the presentation to one or two members, but Triaxis really put some effort into their show. I could easily see the band going down a storm at the European metal festivals like Wacken or even Hellfest. Good band, good set.

It’s ironic that, having praised the sound for the opening act, it has to be mentioned as one of the few things that marred the enjoyment of a powerful set by tonight’s headliners, Hanging Doll. They have a lot more going on the other bands, as well as using two guitars live, plus the rhythm section, they add keyboards into the mix, and vary the typical female voice/male grunting style by having an additional male vocalist, guitarist Daniel Leddy, who contributes both ‘death’ and ‘clean’ vocals. The problem with this wall of sound is that it’s all too easy for the individual sounds to get lost in the mix, and it was noticeable throughout the set how Sally Holliday struggled to make herself heard, especially when Kev Wilson and Daniel Leddy were in full voice. Nonetheless the band absolutely powered through their set and gave us plenty of evidence of what a fine band they are.

Obviously the new album, ‘The Sacred and Profane’, dominated the set, with only ‘Hope Springs Eternal’ to represent the debut album. If the opening song, ‘A Question of Faith’ sounded a little disjointed, it seemed the band grew much stronger as the set went on, and when they ended with the excellent ‘Carnival of Souls’ and the title track off the new album, they were undoubtedly in full flight, and this rounded off an excellent gig all round

For all that the three bands on tonight’s bill had female vocals in common, there was an interesting mix in styles, from the death metal of Incassum, via the power metal of Triaxis through to the dark, symphonic metal of Hanging Doll, making for a fascinating and hugely enjoyable gig, which it must be said, was also terrific value for money, at a mere six quid on the door. Here’s to the next time.

  • And if you didn’t already know, Hanging Doll’s Alex Cooper is also a producer. Read MR’s interview with him here