Review by Woody, photos by Lisa Billingham
Local metal heads Glass Bullet opened the show up and I’m finding it hard to pass comment on these guys. They are a disciplined and well rehearsed live act who throw themselves into their music and you can’t knock the talent that’s obviously in the band, but their music style doesn’t really appeal to me so while I can’t knock them as musicians I can’t say I was enthralled by them either. Their music is way too sombre and morose for me personally and the singer is obviously influenced by grungier acts so it’s a tad downbeat and bleak. Obviously for the style of music they create this is of course exactly what they are aiming for but it’s not for me and I did feel like their set dragged on a bit. Not a criticism of the band, just the wrong reviewer for these guys!
I’ve heard of Aceldama before as they gig a lot locally and I actually thought they were all Brummies but vocalist Leanne points out that it is a local show for most of the band members as they live nearby. Which is cool, this does not make my Black Country ass at all biased towards them and make me refrain from making any posh Brummie jokes during my review – seriously! Never really knew what type of music they did, I wish I did as I would have checked them out a lot sooner. They play old school metal full of big riffs and pounding rhythms – I really felt the need to dig out my old Warlock and Doro albums when I got home. The difference been here though is vocalist Leanne has a more classically trained sounding voice, the sort you would associate with symphonic metal bands as opposed to eighties female fronted melodic metal acts where the singers went for more raw power and grit.
Sadly though, with a bad sound mix, the band didn’t come across anywhere near as good as they could have. Leanne’s vocals in particular suffered as when she was singing high notes they were coming out the PA in a distorted squeak, which is a real shame as this girl has an excellent voice! Match that too her enthusiasm, energy, stage presence and desire to include the audience and you have pure live arena dynamite. Aceldama as a whole are full of beans and are extremely active, maybe a tad unhinged but in a very good entertaining way. They are the sort of band I can see performing larger venues getting the whole place punching the air in unison! I’ll definitely be making an effort to catch them live again especially if I find a headline show from them locally. I loved their closing song a cover of the Pointer Sister’s ‘I’m So Excited’ which was great fun and sort of sums these guys up I feel, an upbeat party band who just want to have fun!
I’ve been digging Tainted Nation for a while now so I was very excited when they were added as support for this show! They have quite a unique sound I find, in that they blend metal, with modern rock but encase it in strong melodic sensibilities. So while they kick some serious ass that demands heads get a-banging, they never lose a core melody and hook to make the songs get lodged in your brain. The obvious example of this is tonight’s opener ‘Dare You’ which whilst hitting us with a bang also delivers one of the strongest choruses in the bands repertoire.
Key members Pontus Egberg and guitarist Ian Nash are missing tonight, but to call the guys TN main man Pete Newdeck has roped in to the band substitutes would be grossly unfair as they both were very impressive and threw themselves full force in to their performance. If you didn’t know any better you wouldn’t have known they weren’t full time members of the band. I was especially impressed with guitarist Neil Hibbs’s guitars skills, I saw him play as part of SHY’s memorial show for Steve Harris last year and thought he was incredible. I don’t know how he’s flying under everyone’s radar, but if I was starting a band I know I’d be after his number.
Most people will know Tainted Nation front man Pete Newdeck as an experienced and well respected drummer but to transfer from the drum kit at the back of the stage to the bright lights at the front is not an easy thing to do. I was curious how he would come across, I had heard mixed reactions from the bands tour a few years ago, but I’m happy to report his vocals were solid from beginning to end. I think the thing that shocked me the most, and this is a very positive thing by the way, was Pete’s stage presence. I had fully expected him to be quite demure and immobile given his wealth of live experience is in a totally different role, but he fully embraced the front man role working the mic stand and dancing about. He was also quick to banter and expose his natural sense of humour which warmed the audience to him. I did keep expecting him to either put the mic stand or his head through the low ceiling at the Slade Rooms!
Their short, energetic set had a lot of impact and it was a pleasure to finally see the band live! They finished with a cover of Ratt’s ‘You’re in Love’ which was a great closer as Pete tongue in cheek announces he thought he’d best play one we know and in that also acknowledging that a lot of tonight’s crowd were melodic rockers not metal heads!
The trials and tribulations of Eden’s Curse could be turned into a movie, probably one with a lot swearing and funny multinational accents, but they have built up a very devout following regardless, and on this their first headline UK tour they were keen to pay those fans back with a full headline set. With their fourth album Symphony Of Sin coming out late last year it’s not like they have a lack of material. The Curse are no strangers to the live circuit but have only ever played festivals and short support slots. This is actually the fourth time they have been to the Black Country, although it’s my first time seeing them due to me not wanting to see the bands they have supported.
With three support bands it did mean that Eden’s Curse had to knock a couple of songs off their set list; something Paul Logue apologised for at the end but obviously as it was well past the curfew as it was, it was just not possible to squeeze anymore in! It didn’t affect the bands impact or show and I think everyone there went home happy regardless following a solid performance.
The Curse are a power metal band but they do veer strongly towards more melodic territory and occasionally as you get with songs like ‘Rock Bottom’ Hard Rock which was one of my highlights from tonight’s performance. Symphony Of Sin is by far their most melodic album, one of the main reasons for this is new vocalist Nikola Mijic’s smooth melodious style. Even on the older tracks aired tonight he seemed to add an extra layer of smoothness which really appealed to my own personal tastes. Nikola’s first language may not be English (neither is mine!) so he does struggle a little bit communicating with the crowd, but this is only a minor thing and he does do his best to talk to the audience and draw the crowd into the show which is of course better than him being quiet between tracks. He is a great front man to watch and it’s obvious in his stage performance he is no stranger to the live arena.
Guitarist Thorsten Koehne may not been an overly active performer but watching his fingers on the fret board was mesmerising at times and he really dished those riffs out, of course there was the odd bump but that’s the beauty of live music! Bassist and founder member Paul Logue may play the unglamorous instrument but he is actually the driving force behind the band and its principal songwriter a bit like Steve Harris and Iron Maiden. Paul does take time to banter with the audience in his thick Scottish accent and does throw himself into his performance with plenty of movement and plenty of – I want to say ‘gurning’ but I’m going to say ‘facial expressions’ instead as that’s less likely to include a slap from Mr Logue! He’s also the one who dedicates ‘Unbreakable’ to the youngest Curse fan here who was only seven I believe, which was a cool gesture from him and surely made her night to be acknowledged from stage! I’m a massive fan of this song and it went down a treat, definitely one of the most stirring parts of their show.
New drummer John Clelland seems a dab hand behind the kit and does well seeing as he’s got big shoes to fill in departing tub thumper Pete Newdeck. My favourite new member though has to be keyboardist Steve Williams who only ups the melodic nature of the band; with his experience with the rather awesome Power Quest he knows just how to work loud and proud keyboards into power metal without the music losing its power. I’ve never seen Steve perform and he definitely dispels the myth of keyboard players been boring to watch, yes keyboards aren’t the easiest instrument to play and be active with but Steve does a great job and his wealth of experience shows in his confident stage presence – he’s the perfect addition to the Curse.
They closed the evening with probably my favourite Curse track ‘Judgement Day’ – that’s one killer riff! I’m really glad the Curse popped back to the Black Country and I finally got round to seeing them live! If they are coming to a venue near you, I highly recommend getting your asses down the front, they have definitely delivered on their promise to bring it for their hardcore fans!