It's always a special occasion when a band decides to do an album launch concert, gig, party, however you wish to term it. The truth of the matter is that not only are album launch parties great for showcasing a wide variety of bands, in this case metal bands, but also the nationalities drawn it from it. With Epica's EpicMetalFest II, people from far and wide came to the 013 Poppodium in Tilburg to witness bands from Europe and as far away as Tunisia and Canada.
(This was my first time at a concert abroad and first time flying alone having come from the UK)
Sadly despite best efforts, due to some rather annoying maintenance works going on the Dutch railway and highway between Arnhem and Tilburg, I missed Off The Cross (BE), For I Am King (NL) and Myrath (FR / TN) and so cannot really report on either band. However, by chatting to some punters who said all three bands were on the ball, I'll take their word for it and give all three bands a 7.50/10.
Dutch Modern Metal outfit Textures certainly had their A-game in check as they carried off where Tunisian Oriental Metallers Myrath had finished. By unleashing a charismatic on-stage presence with some rather tight and malicious sounding music, there was no reason why the crowd couldn't have matched the intensity radiating from Textures performance. Underrated at times, Textures have shown during this evening why they're worthy of a Bloodstock slot next year. Ballistic at all angels, Textures were simply raising the bar for the evening, was there anyone capable of stealing the show (besides Epica)?
Having only made their Napalm Records debut last year, Belgian Speed Metallers Evil Invaders showed exactly why the Austrian label snapped up the quartet without question. Blisteringly fast riffs crashed against all four walls of the Universe Stage, all whilst Textures were doing their own shindig next year on the Storm Stage. Evil Invaders have been knocking around for nearly 10 years and yet despite the age of the band as a unit, the members started off as teenagers, yet they're capable of proving that they've shed their teenage skins and morphed into a formidable, respectable force. By belting out songs as if they went out of fashion, Evil Invaders only had one thing in mind... total carnage and boy did they deliver.
One of a handful of Dutch Metal bands performing at this year's EpicMetalFest, Stream Of Passion are really no newcomers to the erotic world of female-fronted Symphonic Metal, in fact all but one band member have been in previous bands thus being no strangers to the scene. Moreover here is a band who despite their best efforts at delivering sweet music that is so sumptuously good to the ears, hasn't yet managed to reach the heights of their fellow contemporaries in Within Temptation and Epica. However their set demonstrated that they're on the path to achieve that goal and despite it still being late afternoon, had no reservations about keeping the crowd on their toes. Drinking was in full flow during their set, Stream of Passion? A Stream of alcohol more like.
Since the departure of Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist kicked Alissa out of the band, thus enabling her to join Arch Enemy after Angela Gossow became band manager; thereabouts), The Agonist have been finding their way with their new vocalist Vicky Psarakis. Now, Vicky showed she is up to the task-in-hand by delivering a performance worthy of continuous applause if not for some of the other band members who seemed rather lost and at times not fully convincing; it's as if they haven't stepped out of the shadows of their former vocalist, resulting in a rather disappointing set. Not entirely sure what their plans were for the evening but it seemed to not involve band practise, despite this the whole set was of reasonable standard yet without a doubt, probably the most disinteresting performance of the night.
Herewith is an example of grandiose perversion of the extremely meticulous kind, and now you're probably thinking what the actual f*ck am I on about? It's certainly a technical sentence no? Perfect for Italy's Fleshgod Apocalypse who once again don the theatrics and emit such musical ferocity that earth tremors could be felt. Seriously enough they did not put a foot wrong, in fact they are so rehearsed in their dramatis personae that they would do well at Eurovision next year (are you reading this RAI?). Strobe lights abound and an air of operatic grandeur circumventing the venue was certainly the case, plenty more where those came from as walls of death came to and fro by the commands of Tommaso Riccardi; it was as if he was playing the king and the punters as the fools, either way Fleshgod Apocalypse demonstrated once again why they are still underrated.
Where Fleshgod Apocalypse managed to succeed in shitting the audience, Katatonia did not, instead they commenced the slitting. A once great and brutal institution has now turned for the dank and dismal worse; it was as if they weren't meant to be here because to be quite frank, the music did not fit in with the rest of the evenings line-up. That said, at least Katatonia trump Justin Bieber hands down and have the decency to sing, not lip sync live. But Katatonia just could not get the audience going, some just standing and watching bare-face, expressionless, it was as if they have been subjected to a public culling of animals, it was horrific. Despite all their might, Katatonia just did not deliver tonight... well they delivered, but the music was stale and too depressive.
Now whilst I interviewed Anis Jouini from Myrath, The Ocean were doing their thing (and we could hear it, so let's give them a decent 7/10). Now the time had come for the star performance of the evening, well it is Epica's show of course... joking aside, Epica are another band who know how to deliver a mesmerizing yet epic live show and they did not disappoint. Using props designed to mimic their new album's artwork (The Holographic Principle), Epica used laser deflecting pyramids to divert light beams across the stage, creating a psychedelic feeling as a result. Additionally in tow was Coen Janssen and his 'keyscooter' (let's call it that because it's a keyboard on wheels) and of course the expected pyrotechnics (which culminated in the end to a firework explosion). Epica simply were sensational, by delivering a set, performance and indeed day-concert worthy of being unleashed on DVD, all in the namesake of their new album, calling it magical is simply not enough and does not describe the overarching package that is EpicMetalFest... may the 2017 edition be as breathtaking.
Atmospheric tech death unit Wrvth continues to support their self-titled 2015 release with a string of late Summer headlining shows. The month-long trek begins August 5th in Bend, Oregon, and includes an appearance at Jamfest in Beamsville, Ontario as well as Dirt Fest in Pontiac, Michigan alongside Killswitch Engage, Hatebreed, Attila, Asking Alexandria and more. The live debauchery comes to an end on September 3rd in Sacramento, California. Support will come courtesy of Depths Of Hatred and Pathways on select dates as laid out below.
8/05/2016 Third Street Pub - Bend, OR
8/06/2016 Wandering Goat - Eugene, OR
8/07/2016 50 West - Salem, OR
8/08/2016 The Pin - Spokane, WA
8/09/2016 Railyard - Billings, MT
8/11/2016 Shorty's Hall - Milwaukee, WI
8/12/2016 Jamfest @ BMR Private Ranch - Beamsville, ON *
8/13/2016 Dirt Fest @ Crofoot Festival Grounds - Pontiac, MI
8/14/2016 Coalition - Toronto, ON *
8/15/2016 Piranha Bar - Montreal, QC *
8/16/2016 L'Anti Bar Spectacles - Quebec City, QC *
8/17/2016 Koto - Salem, MA
8/18/2016 3065 Live - Buzzards Bay, MA
8/19/2016 The Wreck Room - Peterborough, NH
8/21/2016 The Iron Heights - Augusta, GA **
8/22/2016 Bombshells Tavern - Orlando, FL **
8/24/2016 The Handlebar - Pensacola, FL **
8/25/2016 TBD - Houston, TX
8/26/2016 Tomcats West - Fort Worth, TX
8/28/2016 Mesa Music Hall - El Paso, TX
8/30/2016 Pub Rock - Scottsdale, AZ
8/31/2016 Til-Two Club - San Diego, CA
9/01/2016 PBW - Pomona, CA
9/02/2016 La Movida - Salinas, CA
9/03/2016 Starlite Lounge - Sacramento, CA
*with Depths Of Hatred
Beyond Creation have announced new European dates in support of tech death icons Obscura. The tour will kick off at the Feierwerk in Munich, Germany on the 20th of October. The fast rising Canadian technical death metal hope will be performing alongside Revocation and Rivers Of Nihil in twelve more countries, before coming to an end in the Danish city of Aalborg on the 11th of November.
A list of all currently confirmed shows can be viewed below.
+OBSCURA +REVOCATION +RIVERS OF NIHIL
20 Oct 16 München (DE) Feierwerk
21 Oct 16 Weinheim (DE) Café Central
22 Oct 16 Haarlem (NL) Patronaat
23 Oct 16 London (UK) The Dome
24 Oct 16 Sheffield (UK) Corporation
25 Oct 16 Aarschot (BE) De Klinker
26 Oct 16 Paris (FR) Divan du Monde
27 Oct 16 Aarau (CH) Kiff
28 Oct 16 Les Pennes-Mirabeau (FR) Jas'Rod
29 Oct 16 Calenzano/Florence (IT) Cycle Club
30 Oct 16 Brescia (IT) Circolo Colony
31 Oct 16 Ljubljana (SI) Orto Bar
01 Nov 16 Wien (AT) Viper Room
02 Nov 16 Kosice (SK) Colosseum
03 Nov 16 Dresden (DE) Scheune
04 Nov 16 Praha (CZ) Nova Chmelnice
06 Nov 16 Oberhausen (DE) Kulttempel
07 Nov 16 Berlin (DE) Lido
08 Nov 16 Hamburg (DE) Markthalle
09 Nov 16 Stockholm (SE) TBA
10 Nov 16 Oslo (NO) Parkteatret
11 Nov 16 Aalborg (DE) Aalborg Metal Festival
Despite the chilly night outside, who would have thought that tonight would have been perhaps the strongest concert the Camden Underworld has seen for some time. This was the last date on the UK part of the "King" tour for Fleshgod Apocalypse and suffice to say they played the role of the 'King' tonight. For such a big band, a small venue did not hold them back from unleashing carnage, sure the 500 capacity venue was jam-packed, sure moshpits and stage diving happened for most of the night, sure Xerath and Hades Lab supported FA extremely well, but all in all this night belonged to one band.... Fleshgod Apocalypse. HAIL TO THE KING OF CLASSICAL DEATH METAL.
The horde from Perugia now take their Easter break before beginning their Russia, Estonia and Latvia tour. Then comes their festival shows, then as Tommaso indicated in our interview with him (click here), there may well be another America tour at the back end of 2016. But let's just recap last night shall we?
Having been on the scene for quite some time, dealing with various line-up changes and quiet periods of little activity, Hades Lab did their utmost to kick tonight off with a bang. Despite all of their attempts to ignite a crowd who were seemingly still chilled out from the cold outside, Hades Lab just could not get out of 3rd gear quick enough to leave a lasting impact. Although they performed some rather tight Black / Death / Grind Metal, the overall feeling was that they felt slightly uneasy performing, sure the crowd wasn't completely plenty and their mood was one of being expressionless, but that shouldn't hamper a band's performance right?
There was some glimmer of hope though as some songs did manage to get a response from the crowd, namely some ad-hoc headbanging but with some to most gigs, most people just hang around for the headliner which some would argue is disrespectful to those supporting, but anyway.... the fact that Hades Lab had the honesty (if you can call it that) to admit that their new song might not be perfect, could suggest a level of uncertainty resided within the band - if uncertain why try playing it at such a top notch gig, why not save it for a lesser riskier gig?
Again the goblins magic was at work because their playing at times was not in sync, that is they were slightly out of time with each other albeit the first which ironically was tight and played to perfection. Overall Hades Lab lacked that killer instinct, that notion that a band can whip out song after song like an endless machine gun firing away with no signs of slowing down or stopping.
Xerath bring their own brand of Orchestral Metal (with added doses of Groove Metal) to the fore, soon the crowd were into party mood as the band blasted them with a wall of sound (although Fleshgod would later on have the final say), initiating fans to clamber on stage by means of crowdsurfing and stage diving; some were so close to going wrong. Xerath here proved that they are no means finished, with their impending 10th year anniversary just around the corner.
As time flew by, some thought that Xerath deserved a longer set but in all truth the set flew by. Having been buzzing around the London metal scene, they were no stranger to big occasions having already played Bloodstock. Of course Xerath knew how to pull tonight's crowd up as they sussed out what this crowd needed, something to headbang endlessly to!
Cue the crowdsurfing and stage diving, during this performance there were at least 4, maybe 5 times were two people stage dived and whilst the moshpit opened up - some thought it wasn't small enough already haha (some said this), Xerath dealt the deeds through their infectiously groovy sermons of sci-fi faculty.
If this was a preview of what Xerath are going to unleash in shows to come, then they surely deserve greater appreciation and recognition than at present, because to tour and support one of Italy's finest and arguably successful metal exports (and to survive it) takes a lot of oomph and gusto. Xerath are underrated, after tonight they will have shed off that completely. Simply sensational.
HAIL TO THE KING.
HAIL THE KINGS OF 'CLASSICAL DEATH METAL'.
Check out below two videos we filmed:- "The Violent" in all of it's full glory and "The Fool" in part.
Apologies for some shaky camera moments, the moshpits and crowdsurfing was that extreme.
Tommaso bringing the Italian Renaissance to London.
We would love to know if Tommaso was actually drinking red wine in that photo, sure Fleshgod Apocalypse have released their own branded wine to promote the new album "King" (you can buy it online at their store - linked at the bottom of the page), but by bringing the Italian Renaissance visage to the fore meant only one thing. The purveyors of 'Classical Death Metal' were primed, poised and ready to unleash what could arguably be their best performance on British soil.
The videos we posted don't deal justice for their entire performance, sure it gives an idea but only let's say a third of it. Opening up with a selection of tracks from the new album "King", then whipping in the very first track from their very first album "Oracles" which is 'In Honour Of Reason' and closing up their set with the rather romantic number 'The Forsaking' (taken from their album "Agony"), Fleshgod Apocalypse are destined to become the new face of Italian music, let alone metal.
Backed by their honourable live musician and friend, Veronica Bordacchini, her soprano vocals injected the dramatics expected from a truly operatic, orchestral and theatrical performance. Make no mistake about it, the Italians of the Renaissance period would certainly look down at this band and nod with extreme approval. Hell this performance was equally as strong as their Bloodstock performance, meaning that they not only are consistent but do a f*cking good job of keeping their musical vision in sight without deviating down the wrong path.
Inciting the crowd at every moments chance, they know what it takes to deliver a stellar performance and then some, more importantly was the fact that they once again created an atmosphere that mimicked the same atmosphere one would experience at a ballet or theatrical play
Simply put Fleshgod Apocalypse are like the Leonardo Da Vinci of the art world, both dabbled in various areas - the former in Symphonic Metal, Death Metal and classical music, the latter in music history, inventions, etc. However attention cannot be deterred from the eccentricity of their stage uniforms, unique and perfected to detail, the quintet adorn themselves in uniform drawn upon from the Italian Renaissance period. Additionally Veronica does the same but also holds a caduceus of which in Roman mythology belongs to the god Mercury; the caduceus was uniquely used as a form of signature by the Italian Renaissance artist Jacopo de' Barbari.
Referring back the gig (or concert if you wish), it was clear that Fleshgod Apocalypse had left a lasting impression on those attending, rampaging on at the very last songs before being subject to the closing song 'The Forsaking' and an explosion of confetti being sprayed across the stage, band and crowd - what a majestic finale and what a way to end the night.
Now having done Bloodstock, the UK numerous times and travelled across the world, it would really be ace to see them at an edition of the Eurovision Song Contest - shame it wasn't this year as it would be 10 years since Lordi won it, so if they can enter and win then why can't Fleshgod Apocalypse? Fleshgod Apocalypse are 10 years old next year, so this would be a great party to devise and attend.
Hail to the King.
 RHYS STEVENSON
Italian Symphonic Death Metal masters Fleshgod Apocalypse are just about to embark on a UK headline Tour throughout March. Support for all shows comes from British metallers Xerath.
Comments vocalist Tommaso Riccardi:
"After the great success at Bloodstock Open Air last summer, we are proud to announce that UK will be one of the first destinations of our world tour in support of our upcoming album "King".
It's always extremely exciting to play in the same places where tons of the most inspirational Rock and Metal bands of all times were born and we are sure that the result will be killer, as usual.
Also, we can't wait to play the new songs and bring our new show on stage!!!"
Tickets are on sale now, full dates below:
March 10th – Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms
March 12th – Leeds, The Key Club
March 13th – Glasgow, Audio
March 15th – Manchester, Sound Control
March 16th – Bristol, Fleece
March 17th – London, Underworld
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