PowerWolf – Live Concert Review
Supported by Amaranthe and Kissin’ Dynamite
Powerwolf are a dark and mysterious German heavy metal band. Exploring mythological tales of vampires and werewolves. Combined with their gothic clothing, corpse face paint and their use of fantasy pseudonyms and back stories, they create a dark and mystical atmosphere. They are embarking on their Wolfsnächte Tour 2018, after releasing their latest album “The Sacrament of Sin”., which contains plenty of their classic power and heavy metal anthems, with the added depth and variety from their first ever ballad and some of their darkest and heaviest songs yet! Powerwolf are joined by their very special guests Amaranthe and Kissin’ Dynamite. Amaranthe is a Swedish heavy metal band, rising to fame through the unique sound created by the varied female and male vocals. Kissin’ Dynamite are another example of a fantastic German hard & heavy band. I was lucky enough to get to interview lead vocalist Hannes, before the show.
The energy and excitement was at fever point before Powerwolf even reached the stage. Kissin’ Dynamite and Amaranthe had already drawn everyone to the stage, singing and dancing along. The lights go down and cheers ring out, with people chanting “Powerwolf, Powerwolf, Powerwolf!” and the cheers become deafening as they finally hit the stage. After the first couple of songs, someone dressed as a monks brings out a thurible, the catholic incense holder, handing it to Attila Dorn. Who steps forward and shouts out to crowd; “To power our army, we need iron! And incense!”… Crashing into one of the songs from their new album “Incense and Iron”. Which you definitely imagine being in the back drop of a Viking battle scene.
Attila has fun joking around with the crowd and getting them involved. He tells us to raise our fists into the air and cross our arms, to mirror his own, and asks us to sing along with him.
“We’re not just here for the heavy metal mass; we’re also here to sing! Will you sing with me?”…. The whole room joins in with the catchy “Demons are a Girl’s Best Friends”. Another song from their latest album, the fact people can already sing along to the songs released just months ago, is a testament to them.
There were continuous crowd surfers and then before you knew it half the room was engulfed in a mosh pit. People stomp and pound their feet, sending reverberations through the floor. The whole audience is awash with cheering, chanting and clapping. Attila lifts his hands into the air, basking in the applause from his adoring fans. Falk, organist, brings out a flag with their symbol on it, the material billowing about as he flies it across the stage. A couple of monks then roll out a piano! And he asks everyone to hold up the lights from their phones, as Falk begins his solo. Then Attila’s vocals call out clearly, forming a soulful but empowering ballad. Building in intensity and heaviness. The people in the mosh pit slow and form a circle, linking arms and head banging into the centre. Greywolf takes to the second raised stage and strikes a killer power pose. Then the lights go down, and then a single beam hits him as he begins to play. Finishing the song on an epic guitar solo as snow like bubble fell from above.
“A big thank you my friends! It’s so good to be back in London. Always get such applause and feels like home! Now we have your blood… Now we drink your blood!”, he shouts out as he raised a golden chalice. And they launch into “We Drink Your Blood” from their earlier album “Blood of the Saints”. Another powerful Viking ballad, calling all warriors to war. Blood red lights flood the room as the audience joins in chanting “we drink your blood!”… “We are altogether here to celebrate the heavy metal mass, and altogether here to sin! London, you’re f@cking amazing”!!!
After interviewing the lovely vocalist Hannes just couple of hours before, I was really excited to see Kissin’ Dynamite play. And they didn’t disappoint! The stage even had massive red glowing sticks of dynamite!
“We’re here to bring back rock ‘n’ roll!”… Hannes brought a full power hit of the 80’s glam metal scene, with skin tight leather trouser, half undone shirt and the obligatory big hair! Hannes has great stage presence; dancing, gyrating and joking about. You can tell they love performing! Hannes gets everyone’s fists in the air, punching the sky and singing along. He exits the stage, and we think it’s all over, but they hit back in with an epic guitar solo. And out comes Hannes, complete with fur trimmed red cloak flowing about him, and sceptre! For the catchy “I will be King”.
“I’m f@cking speechless! Serious f@cking goose-bumps, and that’s from you lot! We have bee to a lot of places, but this was my favourite to play, as it’s our first time in London town! Can you feel how strong a metal community you are?”! He stands at the front and looks out at the adoring audience, and he grins. You can see his raw love and passion for music and his fans.
The stage lights went down and a recorded voice started playing, a dystopian political speech about the state of society, seemingly fitting for right now! Then Amaranthe hit the stage, to raucous applause. Last to hit the stage is Elize. She takes off her leather coat to reveal a stunning red latex body suit and knee high boots. “Get those horns up in the air, and get ready to jump”! The layers of instruments and vocals add depth and a unique sound. The mix of Elize’s beautiful, lyrical female vocals combined with the death metal male vocals and proper emo screams. They create a formidable line-up with all three singers full on head-banging their long hair.
“Get your phones out and light them up, and sing with us”! Chiming in with the more soulful ballad “Amaranthine” with a beautiful solo by Elize and Morten on drums. Then hit straight back in to the heavy metal. Johan, bass, take centre stage at the end, “You kiss your mother with that mouth?! Now it’s time for the offending guy”! Laughter ripples through the room. He then proceeds to go through all the swear words and insults a few members of the audience, to everyone’s amusement. They really do have great fun and gets the audience involved.
In full corpse paint and gothic style, smashing their powerful heavy metal songs, they create an intimidating line up. Mixing up some of their old classics with the highlights from their latest album. Of course they played their famous heavy metal anthem “Blessed and Possessed”. They give the show an added dimension with theatrics and audience participation, their energy and passion was infectious. The whole room was chanting and singing along throughout, forming mosh pits or crowd surfing to the front. The obvious love their fans have for them is a true testament to their skills as musicians and their characters.
LORDI – Live Concert Review
Lordi are the infamous Finnish hard rock band, with influences from shock rock, melodic and 80s heavy metal. I was lucky enough to see them play on their tour, after releasing their new album earlier this year. Lordi rose to fame during the 2006 Eurovision, after becoming not only the first Finnish act to win, but also the first and only Hard Rock band to win. They’re also now equally famous for their incredible horror mask, costumes and stage effects. All hand made by the seemingly endlessly talent Mr. Lordi. As a cosplayer, I am in awe of his amazing masks and costumes. Lordi were joined by Egokills and Silver Dust. Egokills are another hard rock and metal band from Finland, who skillfully find a balance between hypnotic yet gentle melodies, fast thrashy drums and electric riffs. Silver Dust are a delectable dark rock and gothic metal band from Switzerland. They lead the audience through romantic yet eerie tales, using magical visual effects. This is not the first time they have toured with Lordi, so it seems to be a reunion of the 2016 European tour!
On stage throughout the support acts there were large objects covered in cloth, before Lordi began, they uncovered an epic drum kit. And a demonic archway to hell, even lit with fire to guide lost souls. The lighting melded perfectly, with fiery reds and yellow, on top of a cool contrasting blue.
After a fantastic job of warming up the crowd, by Ego Kills and Silver Dust, the excitement was at fever point. Even the drummer’s test solo before the start got cheers and applause. The monsters hit the stage, to deafening cheers and screams.
Mr. Lordi took centre stage and addressed his adoring fans: “I know it’s a Sunday, and some of you may have work or school tomorrow. But I have spoken to your bosses and teachers and have agreed that you don’t have to go to work or school tomorrow, so you can rock and party hard tonight”!
They played songs from across their repertoire, including their classic hard hitters like”She’s a Demon”, as well as a slower ballad piece, combined with the lights carried through the smoke, gave a mystical yet eerie vibe. Suddenly the large skull of the archway lights up with neon ‘day of the dead’ style design. Amen takes centre stage, dancing and spinning about. Then Mr. Lordi hits the stage complete with truncheon and police hat on top of the monster costume! And shouts “We are the Rock Police!” – sing it London!”… the audience respond chanting “We are the Rock Police”! Mr. Lordi gets the crowd riled up as Amen steps up for a blistering guitar solo. As each of the band members performs a solo, a single beam of light hits them. He builds the suspense and excitement, shouting “Get yo’ asses ready”! To my surprise they suddenly transition into an almost dance track style. Ox, on bass switches it up, as the strobe lights hit in with almost pop-art effects. Followed up by a “shake yo’ ass”! As Mr. Lordi re-enter the stage through the archway, injecting an extra shot of energy, spirit and fight into the room. Getting the audience chanting and stomping along.
Halfway they asked for song requests, but so many people shouted out in excitement, you couldn’t distinguish any words! So, Mr. Lordi replied “we couldn’t hear any of that, so we’re going to play one off the “To Beast of not to Beast” album, “The Riff”. Then there’s a sudden big scream and crash of the drums and bass. Mr. Lordi crouched down and let the fog consume him. Then Amen crashes in with a fiery guitar solo, as a pillar of smoke rose up around him, under-lit by fiery coloured lights. Amen stands centre stage with his arms crossed, holding his horns out, and the crowd raise their horns in return. Then they hit straight back in with a proper hard rocker. Mr. Lordi then enters with mischievous, evil laugh, and the songs turns to the thrash metal side.
If the costumes weren’t already amazing enough, Mr. Lordi stood with his arms out stretched as amazing wings rose from his back! The keyboardist gestures to hear the crowd chant that they want more! A slow ominous organ tune plays out, then there’s a sudden switch, as they launch into their most famous song “Hard Rock Hallelujah”. Mr. Lordi brandishes his double headed axe mic, raised above his head in triumph.
The green lights flooded the room, mirroring the greed of their namesake ego. A sudden crash of the drums announced the start: “Hello London, we are Egokills! Are you ready to kill your ego?”! Their passion and commitment clearly shows, as one band member had broken is arm but still played. And the slight give-away of Janne shouting out – “we’re so f@cking happy to be here”! In stark comparison to the majority of their grungy hard rock or metal songs, they threw a slower ballad style song into the mix, with a soft lyrical start. Joined by a slow and deep, yet heavy drum beat. Slowly building in speed, heaviness and intensity. Janne combines raspy yet sultry vocals with lots of energy, movement and crowd interaction. Getting the whole audience clapping and dancing along. In his excitement and dancing about stage he even accidentally sent the mic stand flying offstage at one point! Now that’s rock and roll!
All the lights went down, then a Victorian-esque apocalyptic video started playing on a large screen on the stage. Mirrored in their gorgeous Victorian clothes, including Top-hats. Which I absolutely adored, as part of me will always be a Victorian Goth. Watching a Victorian Goth playing electric guitar creates great juxtaposition-imagery.
Silver Dust have a unique and interactive performance style, using video clips in-between songs that told a story. It’s always important for bands, especially as a support act, to interact, captivate and entertain the audience. Silver Dust provide a refreshing yet compelling new way to branch media that attracts and retains a new crowd. With amazing theatrics and stage presence.
The righteous Lord Campbell has an impressive vocal range, hitting the softer, higher lyrical songs as well as the deep heavy metal and emo screams. They exit as the stage darkens. The video plays out and when it stops, all is silent. We think it’s all over and start to turn away. Then there’s a heavy crash on the organ, the video leaps into action and a blue light shines out. The plague doctor on the organ is joined by a blistering guitar solo, and lastly the drums crash in as an alchemy video starts. There’s a sudden increase in pace and energy, as they get the crowd to clap and sing along. As the rest of the band hit the stage once more. The alchemy scene ends with him making a necklace, which now hangs around the lead mic stand.
Just one example of how their whole performance and aesthetics was beautifully crafted, co-ordinated and interlinked. Their whole performance is incredibly well designed and produced. Not only do they play great music, they throw a mini movie and show in too. The video splits the show into distinct acts, yet also merges with the performance as they time their music to fit the video. Their final song had a shot of energy and a faster beat, in a more dance track style. They got the whole audience crouching down then jumping up, shouting and screaming. They even took a photo with the audience behind them to take back to Switzerland.
An incredible show, and so much fun to watch! They brought the theatrics to a new level, with ghostly dolls flying out at the audience, and guest performers joining them on stage to perform skits with them to the songs. The red lights in the eye sockets of the skulls adorning the archway gave an extra demonic hit.
Lordi are still going strong, even after over a decade has passed since they took the world by storm at Eurovision. Touring after the release of their new album “Sexorcism” earlier this year. With many die-hard fans trekking in from about the country to see them play. The love was returned, even after a full heavy show they came out to meet and take photos with their die-hard fans, before setting off to Sheffield for the next leg of the tour. Showing their true dedication.
Incendia Music offers band management, as well as help with publicity. Specializing in bands and artists across the heavy metal, rock and progressive genres. And it is headed by the talented Lulu Davis, who put on this fantastic Christmas Party, which showcased some of their top bands, such as Brutai. On the run up to Christmas there’s always lots of events on, but I’m glad I made it out to the Incendia Music Christmas Party. At club 229 Great Portland Street, it was a new venue for me and I’m not gonna lie, I got a bit lost! Then I saw a set of stairs leading down off the street, and discovered a whole music venue hidden underneath the street.
Brutai are a killer progressive rock and metal band, based in our very own city of London. Taking the genre by storm, and were nominated for the Metal Hammer Golden Gods “Best New Band” award in 2017. After the release of their popular album “Born” in 2016, winning many hearts over. Their new songs delve into an honest look into modern life and society. They have an interesting mix of aesthetics, the bassist dreads and Viking style beard, teamed with a bright red bass. They were joined by a new drummer, who hasn’t played live with them before. Not that you would know it! He fitted in well and smashed the drums.
“It’s good to be back! It’s been at least 10 months or so”! They played some of their popular classics, such as “Deep”, which was met with much excitement from their fans. But we were also lucky enough to be there for the first time they played their new single “Upside Down”, live. So it was a gig with lots of firsts! “Upside Down” started off with Alex performing a keyboard solo with soulful vocals. Then the others crash in with a heavy metal storm of drums, bass and guitars. Picking up the pace and intensity. Definitely one of my favourite pieces they played. It was great to see them master the slower, lighter tunes, as well as the heavy metal songs. “Better see you head-banging!”, he calls out!
They finished with one of their older songs “Sleepers” from their debut self-titled EP, back in 2013. With a light start, mixing layers of differing paces, they draw you in. Slowly building it up, adding more layers and sounds to develop it. The drums beat out, setting a battle worthy beat; you can imagine the pounding of horse’s hooves as they charge into battle.
When The Five Hundred steps on stage, the singer gives out a deep, throaty scream. Giving the classic emo scream of the 2000s, a face lift and plunged it into the heavier side of metal. Rough and raw roars bellowed out, backed up by the booming drums and heavy bass. They performed with great stage presence, a wide stance and head-banging in unison.
“Next we’re going to play a song from our new album, called ‘Bleed Well’ and this one goes out to Lulu”!
In stark comparison to the heavy shredding metal, they also played light and mystical tunes, leading into a psychedelic symphony of lights and sounds. Then they suddenly crash back into their classic heavy metal style.
As Everything Unfolds, this female fronted heavy rock band, giving The Five Hundred a run for their money. Charlie packs a good set of lungs, switching between the lyrical vocals and emo screams. Giving an almost BabyMetal vibe, with high yet heavy female vocals, backed by heavy metal drums and bass. Charlie jumps, kicks and dances across the stage, with infectious energy.
The Incendia Christmas Party was a great combination of heavy metal, hard rock and a bit of classic Christmas spirit. Brutai’s music is a catchy combination of modern progressive rock with a hit of heavy metal thrown in for good measure, just the way I like it! They draw on other styles from across rock and metal genres. Their music is packed full of technical drum patterns and emotive electric riffs. Brutai have cultivated their own unique sound, by incorporating panoramic synths and keyboard into their heavy metal.
I arrived at the gig venue for the interview and I was led backstage, down the stairs and along a winding corridor. We found a small back room that was further away from where they were sound testing, but could still hear the booming drums on the background. It was fantastic to meet the talented Morten Veland, of the gothic metal band Sirenia, all the way from Norway. It was an absolute pleasure chatting with Morten, and hearing about his creative processes. Sounds like Sirenia have found their perfect line-up, musically and socially, now Nils and Emmanuelle have joined the band. And this will only mean bigger and better things for Sirenia in the future. With Emmanuelle and Nils injecting a fresh sound and unique vocals, they’re at the helm ready to help Morten propel the band to new heights.
How did you create the new album “Arcane Astral Aeons”? Any particular inspirations or influences?
M: Pretty much the same influences as always. I found that the Scandinavian winter is very inspirational to me; it gets cold and dark early. It makes me really calm, and gets into the composition mode. I can draw inspirations from anything around me, anything around me that makes an impression. (i.n.: Yeah, I can imagine! Must be really beautiful and peaceful.)
How did you come up with the album title “Arcane Astral Aeons”?
M: The album title is normally the last thing I do. I write the compositions, and then move on to lyrics. I normally have some basic ideas that I build from. Lastly, I chose a title, try and find one that reflects what the album is about, or the general atmosphere of it.
It’s been two years since the previous album with Emmanuelle on vocals – what has changed on the songwriting part and what are the new elements that you introduce on the new album “Arcane Astral Aeons”?
M: Most of the composition techniques have remained the same. But with Emmanuelle joining the band it has opened up a lot of doors and possibilities. She has a great voice span, whatever we throw at her, she can fit it. It’s a songwriters dream! She also contributed some lyrics on this album too. For the song “Desire” I wrote half the lyrics, and Emmanuelle wrote the French side. She also translated some parts from French to English for me. (i.n.: A girl of many talents then!)
Why did you decide to do a pledge campaign for “Arcane Astral Aeons”?
M: I started my music career 22 years ago, I have seen the whole industry changing a lot. Some for good, some for bad. In general there is less money in the music industry now. I want to keep improving and creating better and better music, but it’s hard with reduced budgets, so that’s challenging for sure. But we’re definitely not compromising on quality. And we saw the rise of crowdfunding, and thought it would be great to get the fans involved, and enable us to do what we needed to do to make a top quality album.
Do you believe that “Arcane Astral Aeons” is even more cohesive and ambitious as an album than the previous ones?
M: Yeah, I think we’ve broken in as a group now; we’ve been working really hard, and touring more than ever. So I feel we’re more fixed as a band, they all give a good proportion of their time to the band.
You also have a new lead guitarist on board, Nils Courbaron. Even though he has played live with Sirenia before, he is not regarded as a permanent member of the band, right? How did this occur?
M: He joined a year ago, he was filling it as lead guitar, and it fit really, really well. We were actually looking for a bass player, but couldn’t find anyone with the right fit. Then Nils came along, as it just fit perfect, so I decided to switch to bass, and let the other two guys take guitars. I’m very used to playing bass in the studio, but not much live. So it’s actually feels really new and fresh.
Funny how things work out, you can never predict it! But it’s great that you found a good fit and to complete the line-up.
M: Yeah it wasn’t what we were planning, but just felt right from the start!
Q: How have fans responded to the new album?
M: The album’s still really fresh, but we’ve had a lot of great feedback already! We had a release party in Russia, St. Petersburg on the day it came out. And the crowd was singing along to the new songs even though it had only been out for a day! And we’re really enjoying playing the new songs live.
How did you come up with the name Sirenia initially?
M: I’ve always been in to classical Greek mythology and Norse mythology. (i.n.: So, I was curious and had a quick look up about Sirenia in Greek mythology, it’s derived from the sirens of Greek mythology. That lured men to their deaths, and gave roots to the myths of mermaids.)
Do you prefer to be on the road or on the studio writing and recording?
M: I like both; both have their charms and up-sides, and their challenges. I love being in the studio, creative part, writing songs from scratch, building them up to get better and better. It’s a very satisfying process. But after working for long periods of time in the studio, you feel a bit anti-social, so you can’t wait to go back on the road and meet people. But again when you’re on the road for a long time, you start to miss the studio! So it’s great to have the two together, they balance each other.”
What are those lessons that you have learnt over the course of your career and what are those things that keep you going on after all these years?
M: The whole time, from the beginning to now has been a constant learning process. Seeing the industry changing so much and so fast. It’s about trying to adapt to the new stuff that’s coming out, which is challenging for sure. You build your experiences and try to learn from them and take away the positives. When you’re travelling it is great, you meet so many different bands, and it’s very social, so you can learn from each other experiences too. It’s a lot about trying and failing, especially in the beginning, and there’s a lot to be learnt from doing mistakes.
Yeah, try and error is often best! Not so much at the time, admittedly, but it the future! You always learn the most from your mistakes.
M: You won’t make the same mistake again!
What are your future plans after touring?
M: For now it’s a lot of promoting the new album. Then we’ll have a small break. And then off to a festival in the Czech Republic. And then start touring the beginning of next year! So a lot on the horizon.
If you could play in any country, where would you choose?
M: At the top of my list would be Japan, it’s one of those countries we haven’t been to yet. And I’ve been wanted to go for ages. It’s a country that’s really different, and has its own unique culture.
Ohh, I love anything Japanese, so I’m definitely onboard!
M: We’ve been in discussions with someone over there, and I’m hoping we should be over there within the next year. And a run of ten shows in China and other countries in Asia.
Ah brilliant, so a full Asian tour! Would be a bit of a trek for one show! I’m very jealous.
M: I would also like to do a show in Africa, as it’s the only continent we haven’t performed in.
Ah, so you need to tick it off your checklist!
M: We have had some offers from places in South Africa, but they didn’t go through in the end. But we’d love to do one soon for the experience.
Anything you want try or explore in the future? Such as, genre, instruments or lyrical themes.
M: For every album I try to come up with something different, something new, or something we haven’t tried before. So I’m always on the lookout for a new sound, or new instruments. This album kind of drained me a bit, so I will take a little break before starting the new album. For now I’m just enjoying being on the road, after months in the recording studio!
What shall the fans expect from Sirenia in the future?
M: We haven’t played much in the UK yet, so we would like to tour around the UK more.
Sirenia are a delectable gothic metal band, hailing all the way from Norway. Started by the talented Morten Veland, famous for his time in Tristania. I luckily caught them on their first leg of their tour, since releasing their ninth album “Arcane Astral Aeons” in late October 2018. They are joined on this tour by the fantastic Triosphere, Paratra and Mind Whispers. Sirenia combine powerful drums and bass, with rhythm and symphonic guitars. Which bring to life the deep and dark lyrical themes of love and hate, life and death, emotions and mental states.
With three supporting acts, the small room was pretty packed before Sirenia hit the stage, with cheers ringing out at their first step onto the stage. Since the delectable Emmanuelle joined the band in 2016, they have developed the depth of their songs. Adding in layers of new elements and sounds, whilst bringing back components and their mind-set from their earlier days with Nightwish. Which struck a chord with me personally, as Nightwish were the first band that got me hooked on symphonic power metal.
They played one of the songs from the new album “Queen of Lies”. It started with deep, heavy drums and Emmanuelle’s high falsetto scream. The contrast between the high, lyrical female vocals and the deep, death-metal male vocals. Creating an impressive vocal range and combination of sounds. In response to the raucous applause, Emmanuelle says “Thank you very much, we love you guys”! Which was answer by a fan in the audience shouting out “we love you too”!
Nils gets the crowd clapping along to a song from their new album. The drums and guitars create a slow, deep and ominous backdrop to Emmanuelle’s gentle and mystical lyrical solo. Then the drums crash in, signifying a change in tone, as everything deepens and darkens, increasing in pace and heaviness. Creating a dark magic concoction of sounds. “Come on London, let me f***ing hear you”! “My Mind’s Eye” starts with a beautiful and mystical opening few bars, then in crash the drums marking the split change in genre. And lastly, ending on one of their classics, “The Other Side”. Then all too soon it was over.
With the crowd screaming and chanting “one more song, one more song”… they couldn’t disappoint their fans, and returned for a killer encore. Starting with probably their most famous song “The Path to Decay”. Which starts with this psychedelic sci-fi meld of sounds, then slowly builds up, and crashes into a heavy metal storm. Finally, they went back to their roots in the final song, and playing one of their classics from their first album, “Sister Nightfall”. “Thank you so very much, it’s been a pleasure as always”…
Triosphere, the Norwegian heavy metal band, were the final support act. Their songs were filled with fast pounding drums, electric guitar riffs and high, screaming vocals. With Tor and Marius joining Ida as backup vocalists, adding an extra dimension of depth with the combination of male and female vocals. They made a formidable line up, with the two guitarists and bassist owning the stage, with wide stance power poses. And impressively head-banging their long hair in unison.
They treated us with a few songs from their new album, such as “Steal Away the Night”, which started with a fast pounding drum beat, with the audience clapping along. Then the guitars crash in. Lastly, joined by the soft vocals that grew in speed and heaviness, as did the instruments, as the song progressed. “Time to get those fists up in the air”! “Hey, hey, hey”! The crowd chants and pumps their fists into the air. Then in smash the drums and guitars with a fast, heavy beat. Only out down by the triple vocals harmonising. Afterwards Ida sips from a water bottle and holding it up, she adds a little humour an says: “I really wish this was a beer, but there would be a lot of mess on stage”!
Another fantastic song from the new album was “Breathless”, starting with a beautiful, gentle vocals, with a light drum background, created a mystical beginning. Building into a hard rocker, as the guitars and heavy drums crash in. But interchanging between the soft and heavy tones throughout. Creating a varied and different sound to the previous songs. They ended on two last songs from their new album, “Relentless” and “The Hearts Dominion”. They had wonderfully heavy, deep and dark vocals and drums. Finishing with the gracious; “Thank you so endlessly much”!
Paratra are a novel Electronic Rock band hailing all the way from Mumbai! And confessed to being a little nervous, as it was their first time playing in the UK! Their unique sound comes from their mix of old and new instruments and genres, which contrast yet also complement each other. This comes from the combination of the enchanting Sitar, modern Synth and the amazing high falsetto screams. They started with some killer songs, such as “Inferno”, “Waves of Time’ and “Willpower”. “Duality” started with a strong beat, getting the audience to clap along. Continuing the audience interaction they got them chanting along with the “oi oi oi!”… ending on the fantastic song “Stairway”.
The first supporting act was Mind Whispers, a Melodic Death Metal band from France. They had a powerful aesthetic with the band in matching black military uniforms, and the lead singer in contrasting white. All the more surprising when he came out with brilliant deep, raw and throaty screams and growls. “Again” was my favourite song they played, it had a slow ominous start. With a gradual crash on the keys, the guitars and drums slowly joined the mix, building in pace and intensity. It would be the perfect soundtrack to a gothic horror!
Sirenia are a mystical Viking metal storm! With the amazing contrast between Emmanuelle’s high, lyrical vocals and falsetto screams next to Morten and Nils deep death metal vocals. Although Emmanuelle and Nils joined not that long ago, they seem to fit in perfectly and altogether make the best line-up for the band yet. Starting the next chapter for the band, and ensuring they are all set to take the symphonic power metal genre to the next level!
Arcane Astral Aeons
Sirenia, a shining star in the Nordic symphonic gothic metal world, released their ninth album “Arcane Astral Aeons” through Napalm Records. I fell in love with this album when I first listened to it before interviewing Morten, on their latest tour. The dark fantasy style lyrics were brought to life by beautiful vocalist Emmanuelle Zoldan, complementing the rhythm and symphonic guitars and mystical keyboard. Combined with the contrasting Morten’s death metal singing, and the powerful heavy metal drums and bass. Forming their unique style and sound.
This is one of their first albums where all members of the band played in the recording studio. Morten is joined by Jan and Nils join on guitar, with some epic solos. Emmanuelle showcases her operatic, gothic vocal range, marking this as their second album together. Emmanuelle’s talents never cease to amaze, as she also brings French lyrics into the mix, in “Desire” and “Nos heures sombre”, which translates to “Our Dark Hours”. They were accompanied by the Sirenian Choir, consisting of Damien Surian, Emilie Bernou and Mathieu Landry. For recording they also invited guest stars Yannis Papadopoulos (Beast In Black, ex-Wardrum), Østen Bergøy (ex-Tristania) and Stéphanie Valentin. The secret up their sleeves was Stéphanie Valentin on violin, adding to the folk metal vibe. I particularly loved her solo on “The Voyage”. So, it really was a gothic metal collaboration, drawing inspiration and elements from across the genre.
My favourite track, of course, is the entrancing “Love Like Cyanide”. The single was released on the September 21st, 2018, with a lyric video directed by Swedish filmmaker and musician Owe Lingvall. The track starts with a gentle tune on the keyboards, then Emmanuelle’s vocals draw focus in the first rendition of the catchy chorus. The lyrics captivated me, on a personally level, funny how coincidental timing can be sometimes. Emmanuelle shows of her varied vocal talent, switching with ease between high and low pitches, with powerful, deep heavy metal vocals. She’s joined on vocals by the talented Yannis Papadopoulos, from the Finnish band Beast In Black. Halfway the vocals fade to allow the instruments to take centre stage. Going back to the light and mystical keyboard solo that started the song. There’s a twang and the mystical yet foreboding instrumental kicks in. As the heavy metal drums, eerie symphonic guitars and choirs deep and dark vocals are added to the mix. Then, for the last time, Emmanuelles’s beautiful voice calls out in the final rendition of the captivating chorus, above the throng of musical instruments, which fade til only the keyboard remains once more. Ending as it began.
One of the other key highlights of the album is “Into the Night”, which was also released as a single along with another stunning music video by Lingvall. It also starts with a light tinkling tune on the piano, joined by soft vocals by Emmanuelle. Then they suddenly pick up the pace, adding layers of heavy drums and symphonic guitars. With a catchy back and forth between Emmanuelle’s lyrical vocals and the deep, heavy male vocals, in the shared, repeated chorus. With the occasional bit of French thrown in for good measure! As the tracks draws to a close, the layers unpeel, until only the gentle mystical keyboard is left once again. Slowly fading into darkness.
I would also definitely recommend listening to “The Twilight Hour”, “Aerodyne” and “Glowing Ember”. “The Twilight Hour” picks up the pace with pounding drums as the other instruments pile in. Then Emmanuelle’s strong and powerful vocals call out above the heavy metal instrumental back drop. Creating a gothic masterpiece, that transcends into a symphonic power metal anthem. As Nils shows off with an electric fast solo.“Aerodyne” starts with a techno space odyssey vibe, which is contrasted by the added layer of a fast, symphonic, gothic organ melody. Flying open the doors to the church of heavy metal. Østen Bergøy (ex-Tristania) brought with him deep, sultry and raw vocals. Which beautifully complimented Emanuelle’s magical, lyrical vocals that ring out above the fast & heavy drums.
For a lighter change of pace, “Glowing Ember” leads you on a mystical tour, and then suddenly the heavy drums and deep vocals kick in. Switching effortlessly between the two styles throughout the track. Emmanuelle beautiful yet powerful vocals are backed by the Sirenian Choir. A powerful battle march, with pounding drums, calling all the forces of darkness. The lyrics tell tales of battles past, and glory won. Full of hope, dreams and desires, really telling the story within someone’s heart. Of the light that shines out in the dark.
I have always been a big fan of symphnic metal music (with folk elements), since first hearing Nightwish, and Sirenia do not disappoint. I was caught by the stunning combination of the mystical, fantasy lyrical vocals by Emmanuelle and Morten’s harsh and heavy metal vocals. And for this album they also added new styles of vocals by calling on the skills of Yannis, Østen and The Sirenian Choir. Backed by the hypnotic combination of heavy metal drums and bass, with symphonic and rhythm guitars. The lyrics follow their usual themes of love and hate, war and glory and mental strife, leading the listener down the path into a powerful, gothic metal masterpiece. Perhaps the best Sirenia album to date!
Ross The Boss has roots all around the metal landscape, well known for being a founding member of the punk band The Dictators and the heavy metal band Manowar. His contributions to epic metal as part of Manowar earned him a place in the Hall of Heavy Metal. It also started him on the path to forming this band, as they met at a festival in Germany where Ross was a guest star performing with the “Men of War” tribute band, later changing their name to the “Ross The Boss” band. Ross’ repertoire stretches from punk rock and proto punk to heavy and power metal. He even originally started his musical career as a violin and piano prodigy, but quickly discovered that metal was his true calling.
Uproar are joining Ross for the whole tour, and we were lucky enough to catch the second leg of the tour. They hit the stage with a proper classic heavy metal show. They cleverly built the layers up through mixing vocals, two guitars, deep bass, and smashing drums.
The performance was enhanced with the minimal but atmospheric lighting; the dark room was set off by a single white light behind the singer, catching his long hair like a halo, although he is anything but an angel.
They mixed in a bit of humour with the crowd to warm them up. The lights and sound went down mid song, after a pause the lights hit Johnny and he shouted out ‘how are you doing London?’, then before the crowd had a chance to answer, they slammed straight back into the song.
For the final song, they put on a bit of a performance, for each of the guitarist’s solos they stood up on a step on the front of the stage. The drums crash in and Johnny sets it off with some stellar head-banging, and ended on one hell of a scream.
The Manowar T-shirts about hailing from Ross’ past and highlights his diehard fans out there tonight.
“Are you ready?” a cheer from the crowd ripples out, which wasn’t good enough for Marc, lead singer, “I said Underworld, are you fucking ready?!”, which was met by a raucous applause and shouting. To reward the crowd he started with a beautiful falsetto scream. Then Ross took the lead with a blistering guitar solo. The second song opens with the Boss taking center stage on guitar and moved up to the front for a solo and the horns went up in the crowd to meet him.
They mixed in some of their new songs with the old classics into the set, with “We are the Night” from their new album “By Blood Sworn”. Marc takes a step aside for Ross’ solo, giving the crowd what they were waiting for. Marc gets the crowd clapping along ready for the start of the next song and pumped ready for more electric fast riffs by the one and only Boss. Marc let’s out a scream to the sky and falls to his knees.
Marc shouted out to the crowd: “I expect you to sing along”, which was met by shouts and screams reigning out. “Are you ready??”, answered by a roar from the crowd. He turns to the band “I think they’re ready!”. As Ross raised his fists to the air, then slammed one to his heart, the crowd uproared. “Are you guys all warmed up now”? “Shall we continue?!”, the crowd was lost into a sea of horns, headbanging and screams!
As well as their classic hard hitting metal songs, they worked in a couple of the slower ballad pieces. Starting with a slow bass solo, next joined by ballad style vocals. Gradually building up, and launching into a heavier second half, with a crash from the drums and Ross joining finally with another of his classic blistering solos. Building into a full on heavy metal storm. Ross jumped up on the step and all the fists went up. “Are we having fun out there?”…
“We’re going to need your help on this one”, Marc shouted out, and the crowd joined the bassist on back-up vocals. With all three headbanging together. Another crushing solo by Ross set it off, and Marc held a perfect falsetto scream throughout his solo. They ended on one of my favourite songs from their new album, a reinvention of Manowar’s classic “Hail and Kill”. The crowd was so pumped and starting to mosh, people were slammed forward into the stage. Marc started filming Ross shredding on the guitar with the crowd’s chants in the background. As they finished, Ross threw out picks into the crowd and exited the stage, to the crowd chanting “Ross the Boss”.
They performed an amazing show and Ross set the guitar on fire tonight. I was lucky to catch Ross, Marc and the guys from Uproar, after the show and get some photographs with them; Ross even gave me one of his picks! They were genuinely super friendly and chill. Ross was talking about how much they enjoyed producing their new album and having the freedom to play the type of music they want. I personally can’t wait to hear what they come out with next! Ross is a true pioneer of the punk and metal genres.
Ross “The Boss” Friedman is joined by Marc Lopes on vocals and keyboard, with Lance Barnewold smashing the drums and Mike LePond setting the bass ablaze. Luckily they all lived close by so the album was created organically. Starting with Ross and Mike playing around with some tunes and riffs, then forming the songs around them. Ross drives the direction of the song writing, but lets the songs form naturally and fits his legendary guitar skills around them.
The album art, by Stan Decker, gives you a big clue of what the album contains. Powerful heavy metal songs that can imagine in the backdrop of a Viking battle march. Driving the warriors forward to war and glory, pumping them full of energy and fight. It following their classic themes of war and glory, but with a heavier and darker undertone. But still packed full of electric riffs, booming drums and Marc’s classic falsetto screams.
A racing beat and electric fast riffs are joined by the deep booming drums. Only to be outdone by Marc’s skilled vocal range, switching effortlessly between deep and dark classic heavy metal vocals and piercingly high falsetto screams. His vocals bring a varied layer to the already outstanding musical accompaniments, and the lyrics tell a story, of battles and glory won.
The title track kicks off as they mean to go on, with Marc’s deep and dark lyrics about war and glory and his tell-tale screams. Building up pace and complexity, ending with a crashing drum solo by Lance.
There’s a mixture of styles of songs included in this album. More classic bouncing metal songs like “Play Among the Godz” popping with energy and sure to get you moving. Combined with some heavier metal tracks, such as “We Are the Night” and “This is Vengeance”.
“Fistful of Hate” was also one of my favourite tracks as it took a different style, starting with just a quick galloping beat on the drums, slowly adding layers with fast twanging guitar and bass chords. Built up into a full battle march by Marc’s vocals. The song escalates through a variety of pumping riffs and varied vocals, into a heavy rock and metal storm.
The first half of “Lilith” is another hauntingly beautiful ballad style piece. But after a brief pause, a classic electric riff from Ross signals the second half and they launch into their more classic metal style songs. Switching the feel and pace back down again to the mysterious ballad style. Which just felt a bit too chopped up without enough transition between the styles.
A key favourite of mine is “Faith of the Fallen”, as it’s a lot slower paced, mystical and the lyrics tell a story. It feels almost out of place in comparison to the rest of the album. I think they smashed the slower ballad style, a testament to their varied skills set, and would be great to hear them play more song like this added extra.
And for all of you Manowar fans, they’ve even included three bonus tracks of Manowar covers! My absolute favourite is the punky “Hail and Kill”. It showcases some of Ross’ and Marc’s best talents along with a catchy chanting chorus. Ending on a perfect falsetto scream and crash on the cymbals. When I saw their show last week, I was a very happy lil metalhead when they played it, and the crowd definitely seemed to concur as they chanted along.
This album is a great collection of songs, combining their varied skills sets and styles. Bringing in classic metal tones and riffs, set off with a heavy metal bass and drum beat. Finally, finished with their standard lyrical themes of war and glory. However, to compensate for the variety of tracks there could have been a stronger story or style progression to lead the listeners through the album. Ross dragged old school metal kicking and screaming into the modern metal age.