Review by Paul Quinton, Photos by Russ Tierney
On the face of it, this might have been something of an unlikely triple bill, matching the symphonic rock of Leaves’ Eyes with the extreme metal of Atrocity, via the power metal of the U.K.’s own Pythia. As it happened, the combination of the three bands seemed to work really well, but there’s also no doubt the bill was a very attractive one, as the Temple was packed out from the very start of the show.
Germany’s ATROCITY opened the evening’s entertainment in thunderous fashion, beginning with ‘Pandemonium’, from their latest album, ‘Okkult’. It was a bit of a surprise to see them play the set without a bass player, and if they were trying to make up for the absence by using a pre-recorded bass track, it must have been drowned out by the power of the rest of the band. That’s no criticism of the overall sound, on the night it was superb for all three acts, loud as you like and brilliantly clear. The hyper-critical might say that occasionally the vocals for each bands seemed a little low in the mix, nonetheless the sound crew deserve a lot of praise. Reasonably enough, ‘Okkult’ dominated the setlist with five of the seven songs played, with two from ‘Atlantis’ making up the band’s half hour set. Atrocity manage to work several different influences into their music, and this was highlighted well on the night, with the percussive riffs of ‘Haunted By Dreams taking them firmly into industrial territory, and, best of all, ‘Satan’s Braut’, with its relentless, Rammstein-like, precision riffing.
For ‘March of The Undying, singer Alex Krull tried to persuade a couple of the female fans present on to the stage for some exhibition headbanging. Perhaps he wasn’t familiar with the traditional British reserve, but it took some effort before two brave souls ventured forth. It wasn’t an entirely successful display, but it was good to see a band, who were already impressing with the heaviness and intensity of the music easing off with a little humour. Good set by a good band.
The last time PYTHIA played this area, they were in support of Sonata Arctica, but the fact that they seemed quite at home tonight between the heaviness of Atrocity and the grandeur of Leaves Eyes is a good indication that it’s actually not that easy to categorise this band. Emily Ovenden’s operatic vocals suggest one thing, but the power of the band’s music aligns them far more with the European metal scene. Like Atrocity, they had some new music to offer, and although their new album will not be out before the late Spring, the new material dominated the set, with only a song each from their first two albums. The best of the new songs were ‘Sword of Destiny’, a great song with some cracking guitar work, although Emily Ovenden’s vocals were a little too low in the mix, and ‘The Key’ is a potential epic, but all of the new material bodes really well for the new album.
The band have always been hugely entertaining live, not just for the costumes, which the band promise will be updated when the new album is released, but their energy and the power of the band’s music will always help them stand out. They seem to have assimilated some line-up changes fairly smoothly, with Oz Wright taking over from the departed Tim Neale, although on a smallish stage, there appeared to be no room for new keyboard player Marc Matusiak, and not for the first time Pythia look more than ready to move up a level or two. This was really good stuff.
The size of Leaves Eyes backdrop indicated they’re used to playing on much bigger stages than the cosier confines of the Temple, but whether here or in a corporately sponsored arena, I don’t think they could possibly have given a better performance. Opening with ‘Galswintha’, from their latest album, ‘Symphony Of The Night, they hit their stride immediately, and the quality of the show rarely let up. The band’s line-up comprises the members of Atrocity, including singer Alex Krull, plus singer Liv Christine, and this meant that Leaves’ Eyes were also without a bassist, and although the sound was of the same excellent quality as it was for Pythia and Atrocity, it was still difficult to tell whether they were using a bass track. Nonetheless songs like ‘Farewell, Proud Men’ seemed to take on a new depth and scope when played live.
Unlike the other two bands, new material didn’t dominate the set, in fact only five of the set’s fourteen songs were from ‘Symphony of The Night’ and they gave us music from across most of their history. Particular highlights were ‘My Destiny’, with one of many fine performances by singer Liv Christine, and the encore ‘Froya’s Theme’, which was a genuine epic and ended the show on a real high. A mention also for Alex Krull’s wonderful anecdote about the band stopping off in Aston to visit Ozzy’s birthplace, apparently on behalf of Liv’s father who is a huge Sabbath fan, and the band having to cut short their photo-taking when they realised that modern day Aston is not exactly a tourist area. Less successful, at least live, was ‘Spirits masquerade’, with its Celtic influence and backing tracks of traditional instruments. Despite another fine performance by Liv Christine, the separate elements in the song never really came together live, and it all sounded a little bitty.
Overall, a brilliant performance by a band who, on tonight’s evidence, both in terms of performance and crowd reaction, should be playing bigger venues and gracing bigger stages next time they visit these shores, as this was a very impressive set. All in all, this was a fine evening’s music, with three bands whose different styles dovetailed extremely well. A really good start to the gigging year.
See more of Russ’s photos here: