Today I received folk/doom/black metal act Agalloch’s latest album ”Marrow of the Spirit” as an early Yuletide present from Stina. It is a wonderful album, and I’m so happy I now have the CD, with its exceptional artwork and the lyrics and all that. Recommended.
”The new album from the Pacific Northwest dark metal masters sees AGALLOCH deliver their darkest, heaviest, and most complex and detailed album to date. Through six time-stretching tracks, AGALLOCH thrust the listener through a bleak and cold cinematic soundscape that explores the very nature of humanity’s imminent descent into unrelenting darkness and despair.”
Arriving at 16:00, three hours before the show, Stina and I considered ourselves pretty late, often waiting for at least four hours for most shows, but we also noticed the line being exceptionally short, with only five or so people before us (the gang just ahead of us had waited for two and a half additional hours, and the two before them were Dutch, presumably following the band around). As it turned out, the lines stayed pretty much the same, and when the show was just an hour away there were hardly fifty people in line, most of them die hard 21st century goth chics.
When the entrance open at 19:20 the line has grown somewhat, but hardly what I could have expected, and I and Stina easily make our way into the front line, the rest of the audience a mixture of symphmetalgoths and your traditional beer drinking vikings by the pub section (this is a club concert after all). As a club the audience is surely less enthusiastic and the special effects are less outstanding, but this also makes an intimate environment, perfect especially for the fans of less wellknown acts such asReVamp (and Kells I guess, but I didn’t see anyone coming for their sake).
ReVamp are the first to kick off, and they immediately fire the crowd up with their album intro Here’s My Hell, followed by a number of their faster tracks before the duet ballad Sweet Curse, in which lead singer Floor Jansen does both verses in comparison to the studio version (though backed up in the chorus). Still a very beautiful song, if not more beautiful, with Floor getting more part, especially as I’ve never been to fond of the almostLinkin Park-ish sound of the male verse. I’m also happy to see one of my favorites, Kill Me With Silence, and one of their biggest hits Million, with its Epica– and After Forever-like chorus that really got the crowd going before a both heavy and catchy finale with In Sickness ‘Till Death Do Us Part: Disgraced and Head Up High. I’m sure ReVamp garnered a new section of Swedish fans as well as pleased a number of old fans. I, who never got the chance to see After Forever (Jansen’s ex band, founded by Epica leader Mark Jansen) and never having seen ReVamp before (this being their first Sweden show in existence) was certainly pleased, being met with an even more powerful sound than the album, and a band that surely had experience on stage. Jansen has an amazing spirit in her vocals, and it seems to me that she’s really been reborn with this new band.
Kells was second on stage, and they were the only band I didn’t come for. I had never heard of this French semi-symphonic metal band before the announcement of the concert, and I missed to check them out on forehand. And while I loved every moment of both ReVamp and Epica, I’m sad to say that most of Kells music seemed all too general and boring to me. The fact that they sung on French, a language I only barely understand, means less than the fact that most songs had very basic structures, that there were no interesting guitar riffs whatsoever, and that the singer sounded like a drugged-up daughter of Avril Lavigne and Amy Lee, and her very confusing dance, seeming like a strange rip-off of Sharon den Adel, destroyed the few really good moments. If the band is reading this and wants a pointer from a miserable music geek, the concept The heavier the better really works on this band. I was honestly surprised in one of the earlier songs (possibly Ailleurs) when the band fell into some crazed-out punk metal growl, and the lead singer’s vocals suddenly turned extremely promising, even reminiscent of the angrier sections of ReVamp tracks such as Kill Me With Silence. Why not turn into some female-fronted punk metal act (and I certainly don’t mean that in a bad way)?
Epica, the main attraction, kicked off beautifully with their latest album intro Samadhi ~ Prelude ~ and Resign To Surrender ~ A New Age Dawns – Part IV ~, which immediately got people going. I have always said that this is the perfect intro to both an album and a concert, and I continue believing so – not only does Samadhi build up wonderful hinting and suspense that is wonderfully brought down by the immediate action of Resign to Surrender, but the latter goes really far – about two minutes if I don’t missrecall – before lead singer Simone Simons joins on stage. And while the rest of the band is awesome, Simons is for many the one big attraction (sorry, boys). The setlist is quite phenomenal, mixing old and new songs – the constant live favorite Sensorium and Epica’s answer to UnOpened; the exotic and catchy Martyr of the Free Word; the beautiful piano balladTides of Time; the more folk metal track Quietus. The (original) setlist end with two of the band’s longer tracks, The Obsessive Devotion from The Divine Conspiracy and the title track Design Your Universe ~ A New Age Dawns – Part VI ~ off their latest album – both of which are some of my favorite Epica tracks. The band leave the stage and I start to wonder whether there will be any encores (this is after all a club playing) when the keyboardist returns to congratulate us for being a wonderful audience (in a way that actually sounded honest in comparison to most when the band doesn’t know where they are and won’t remember tomorrow). The band comes up on stage and runs a trio of songs, including another one of my favorite, their first song everCry for the Moon and the all-time fan classic Consign to Oblivion (or, well, Consign to Stockholm as they called it).
I leave happy, and Stina keeps telling me the whole way home how she can’t believe the concert, immediately marking the spot for her favorite ever.
But there’s more…
Members of both ReVamp and Kells stayed for signing merchandise, and Epica offered some really awesome shirts I wish I could have bought. With my poor economy I decided upon buying a ReVamp poster and I had it signed by Floor Jansen herself (after I couldn’t speak a word and she had to ask if I wanted her to sign it – possibly more nervous than meeting both Kamelot and Sonata Arctica.