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  DAMES OF DARKNESS FESTIVAL
Robin 2, Bilston
10th May 2014


Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland



dames of darkness

Dames Of Darkness is a UK festival featuring only female fronted rock and Metal bands capitalising on the rise of this Metal sub-genre in Europe and now finally getting some attention in the UK.

This was the second time it had been held in The Robin 2 in Bilston which is a really nice large club venue. I was looking forward to the day but slightly worried at spending a whole day in a nightclub, it could get messy!

There was already a healthy crowd in attendance for the first band of the day, Stafford's Divided We Fall. A five piece symphonic Metal band they came out determined to get the festival up and running in good style and worked really hard at it. They were full of energy and commitment but despite the odd inspired moment they came over as rather workmanlike and lacking any really dynamic songs.

Article continues below...

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They got a warm reaction from a friendly crowd but I think they are a work in progress and with more experience may turn into something interesting.

Next up were the intriguingly named Incarnadine Coven from Reading. Another five piece with symphonic metal leanings they had a bit more imagination to what they were doing with some horror film atmospherics and unusual use of vocal styles to help them stand out. Many of the crowd watched the set with baited breath as lead singer Rebecca Cooch was obviously heavily pregnant and we all hoped she wouldn't get too excited and produce a baby of darkness during their set.

dames of darkness

After a promising start the set flagged a bit towards the end and to me the band could do with thinking some more about the placement of songs and pacing. However they were an interesting addition to the festival and received another warm reception. No births were recorded during the day either.

When you're at these kind of small festivals you're never quite sure what you're going to come across at the lower end of the bill. Sheffield's Dyonisis weren't known to anyone I spoke to but they turned out to be a real find. Performing as a four piece with two singers, a bassist and a guitar player they used samples and drum machines instead of a drummer and fused rock and trip-hop. You would think they wouldn't have fit at this festival but they went down a storm with their atmospheric, groovy songs with strong rhythms and hooklines.

dames of darkness

Visually with one singer with a shaved head(recently done for charity) and one who was tall, slim, pretty and blond it seemed like we were watching a band fronted by Sinead O'Connor and Gwyneth Paltrow. The look didn't matter though as the impassioned vocals of Nel Cave backed with the haunting voice of Louisa Welby, some really tasteful guitar from Tom Chaffer and Marcus Cave's throbbing bass lines won over the crowd easily.

They got a huge and genuine ovation at the end of their set. I could have done with some more of Ms Welby's amazing vocals but overall some good songs and a great overall performance. I love discovering new bands in this way.

dames of darkness

Following such a successful performance is always a challenge and today that fell to Apparition, in many ways the host of this festival as it was organised by founder member and bass player David Homer. Apparition are a project which has been around for some years and featured many different members, today vocals were by the lovely Grace Meridian.

I knew many people who know this band well and were looking forward to the show but I have to say that I just didn't get what the excitement was about. The songs didn't seem to be anything memorable to me and I couldn't really find any star quality in the set anywhere outside of the singers' good looks. They sounded like dozens of other female fronted Metal bands and I couldn't find anything in their music which made them stand out.

dames of darkness

They ended with a surprise though as four extra female singers joined the band on stage for a shambolic version of The Scorpions' 'Rock You Like A Hurricane'. One of those festival things where the people on stage seem to enjoy it more than the audience. Overall Apparition seemed to go down very well though and maybe they have something I'm missing. Apologies to the organiser of this excellent festival though as I'm not a fan of his band.

Fresh from her guest appearance with Apparition, singer Karolina Pacan returned to the stage with the first of the day's international acts Skeptical Minds from Belgium. They are a four piece band who do a sort of electronic/industrial/metal mixture and they turned out to be a lot of fun. The sound reminded me of White Zombie in places, bass heavy and with a nice groove. Ms Pacan herself turned out to be a real livewire and simply never stopped working the crowd.

dames of darkness

If she wasn't getting them to shout "hey" she was asking them to clap along or wave their hands in the air or sing along or something. You can have too much of a good thing and personally I could have done with a break from all the participation after a while but it seemed to have the desired effect and they went down really well with an enthusiastic crowd. I'm not sure how many great songs I heard but will check out the albums as I enjoyed the set.

Greek singer Maxi Nil is best known for her work with Visions Of Atlantis but with that part of her career behind her now she has formed a new band called Jaded Star and has chosen this festival as the location for their first ever show. While this is a nice coup for the organisers the band's first album hasn't been released yet so it meant a set of unfamiliar material to put in front of the audience.

The band were extremely tight and professional and are obviously all experienced performers used to stages as big as this or bigger. Ms Nil herself is an engaging front woman and overall the crowd seemed to warm to the band and enjoy their set. As for me however I didn't really hear anything special or different in the songs. The style was more of a melodic metal than a symphonic one and the playing and singing was fine but on first listen I couldn't find anything to get excited about. Maybe the album will change my mind.

dames of darkness

It was time for things to step up a gear now with the arrival on stage of Germany's Xandria. They have been around for a long time now and are well known but have never quite broken through partly because they seem to keep changing singers giving them an identity problem in the singer dominated female fronted genre.

Touring in support of their new album 'Sacrificium' which is the first to feature Dutch soprano Dianne van Giersbergen they enter the stage in confident, almost arrogant mood. These musicians are an experienced, well polished unit and despite more than half of the songs in the set coming from the new album they managed to please their many fans here.

Their sound these days is of an almost commercial symphonic metal, dominated by melodies and hooklines, riffs and harmonies, they are as happy to include a snappy chorus and a pleasing groove as they are an epic guitar solo or huge swathes of keyboards. The new singer comes across as already completely at home with her new bandmates and looking resplendent in her Egyptian style finery she covers every inch of the stage and flashes her eyes at everyone in the room.

Vocally she sings smoothly in the melodic parts and effortlessly switches to her operatic soprano where required but if I'm honest her voice leaves me cold. Technically she's very good but I don't really enjoy her style that much so overall while I quite enjoyed the set I couldn't fully embrace the display although most around me did. After an encore of old favourite 'Valentine' they exited the stage leaving a mass of happy fans behind.

dames of darkness

In general the day had run pretty smoothly but came unstuck a little now as headliners Stream Of Passion were held up entering the stage by a raffle in aid of a cancer charity. It's a worthy cause but I think they could have made the draw earlier rather than have their main act arrive on stage at 11.25pm after a not very rock and roll half hour delay.

Whatever frustration Stream Of Passion felt at the delay was soon chanelled into their performance. Riding on a high right now after the successful release of their new crowdfunded album 'A War Of Our Own' the Dutch symphonic metallers showed why they are a top live act, totally dominating the stage and for me the festival.

Huge amounts of energy come burning off the stage at you as every one of the six members puts their heart and soul into the performance. No matter how much they seem to fly around the stage they never seem to miss a beat though, whether playing the complex progressive metal of 'Monster' or the straight ahead metal sections of 'Collide'.

In a day dedicated to female singers it is fitting that the last band of the day features the best vocal performance of all. Mexican Marcela Bovio has always had a fabulous voice but she is in amazing form right now and whether she is sending shivers down your spine on the atmospheric 'For You', sounding exotic and sexy in her native tongue in 'Delirio' or soaring ever higher and more powerfully on 'Street Spirit' she is simply imperious tonight, totally in control of everything she does.

dames of darkness

Special mention has to be made of main set closer 'Lost' which has become an epic, emotional Metal masterpiece to my ears at recent shows and of course 'This Endless Night' which is now their traditional last song and allows the crowd to join with the band in celebration to end a great show. Despite the late finish the majority of the crowd had stayed to see the headliners finish the set and a huge ovation to such a performance was a fitting end to a great day.

I really enjoyed my first visit to Dames Of Darkness. It's a well run, friendly little festival and I look forward to seeing what line up they come up with next year.

Online:
https://www.facebook.com/TheDamesofDarknessFestival








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21.5.14









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journey toto JOURNEY AND TOTO LIVE SPECTACULARS ON THE WAY IN SEPTEMBER
"When I first listened back, the thought omnipresent in my mind was simply, 'That's that raw, sizzling energy we had in high school!'"

geoff tate GEOFF TATE'S OPERATION MINDCRIME UNVEIL TWO NEW TRACKS
"With the key finally in his possession, "H" has everything he needs to finally launch his long awaited project called The New Reality. Or does he..."

big country BIG COUNTRY HEADING OUT ON 'THE SEER' 30th ANNIVERSARY TOUR
Big Country will be performing 'The Seer' in its entirety when tbey hit the road for a 24-date UK tour starting on September 14th...

metallica UK EXCLUSIVE: METALLICA RELEASE 'HARDWIRED' - NEW VIDEO RIGHT HERE
"Has it really been eight years? Doesn't feel like it! We’re obviously beyond psyched to share new tunes with all our friends out there via MetalTalk...

manowar WAS BREAKING NEWS: MANOWAR TICKETS ON SALE FOR THE FINAL BATTLE WORLD TOUR
The Kings Of Metal are abdicating and our very last Call To Arms is coming...

opeth OPETH DETAIL WEMBLEY ARENA SHOW
"We'll only play this set list three times on the whole world tour so if you miss it, you'll have missed it..."

tank UPDATED: TANK RELEASE DIGITAL DELUXE VERSIONS OF 'WAR MACHINE' AND 'WAR NATION'
"Doogies vocals were exactly suited to this period of Tank and we're extremely proud of what we created in these two albums."

pete way PETE WAY LEAVES HOSPITAL AFTER HEART ATTACK
"Pete Way and I would like to thank you all for your messages, kind thoughts and prayers..."

vader WAS BREAKING NEWS: VADER ANNOUNCE NOVEMBER LONDON GIG
Vader will be touring in support of their recently announced new studio album 'The Empire' which is due for release this autumn...

dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES RELEASE NEW VIDEO FOR 'JOIN TOGETHER' AS 'MAKE SOME NOISE' CRASHES INTO WORLDWIDE CHARTS
"We want to thank all of our fans and friends around the world for the amazing support of our new record 'Make Some Noise'!"

bloodstock POLICE APPEAL FOR INFORMATION REGARDING SEXUAL ASSAULT AT BLOODSTOCK
"Police are appealing for anyone with information to get in touch and are asking people to share this appeal..."

guns n roses EXCLUSIVE: GUNS N' ROSES DOWNLOAD ANNOUNCEMENT ON THE WAY WITH AUSTRALIAN AND JAPANESE DATES CONFIRMED
Other possibles for the remaining two headline slots are Aerosmith, Def Leppard and Metallica...

roger dean URIAH HEEP, BUDGIE AND ATOMIC ROOSTER ARTISTS WORK TO BE IMMORTALISED ON STAMPS
Roger Dean has designed over 100 album covers for artists including Yes, Asia, London Symphony Orchestra, Nightwing, It Bites and Snafu.

evil scarecrow WAS BREAKING NEWS: EVIL SCARECROW ANNOUNCE 'ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANADO' TOUR
"We'll be bringing our biggest, silliest show yet along with some brand new, probably never heard before, music 'genius'..."

blaze bayley BLAZE BAYLEY TO BE FEATURED IN MULTI-PART CANADIAN DOCUMENTARY
"I'm excited to be returning to Canada and I look forward to meeting my fans, with the opportunity for them to be a part of the documentary."

last in line LAST IN LINE ADDED TO WINTER STORM LINE-UP
Winter Storm, the festival that will take place over the weekend of 25th and 26th November in Troon, South Ayrshire, have already announced an exciting line-up...

tony iommi GREAT NEWS FROM TONY IOMMI: CANCER IS IN REMISSION
"The chemotherapy and the follow-up treatment appear to have done the trick — but I'm aware that it could come back one day."

suicide silence SUICIDE SILENCE ANNOUNCE NOVEMBER 2016 UK TOUR
"Hold on to your butts cause we will be headbanging our way through your town! Bring your A game cause we will be bringing ours..."

ac dc AC/DC IN FULL FLIGHT: QUALITY LIMITED EDITION BOOK IS A MUST FOR COLLECTORS
All of the photographs have been carefully processed and digitally restored to optimise reproduction quality.

ozzy osbourne BOB DAISLEY FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST OZZY OSBOURNE, WHO RESPONDS
"We would have hoped that after 36 years that Mr Daisley would have lost his unhealthy personal obsession and resentment towards Mr Osbourne's success."

70 tons of metal 70000 TONS OF METAL: SIXTY BANDS, BARS THAT NEVER CLOSE AND MUCH MORE
Heavy Metal bands from around the globe playing concerts on four different stages...

lamb of god WAS BREAKING NEWS: LAMB OF GOD REVEAL NEW MUSIC VIDEO FOR 'EMBERS': MARK MORTON HAS SOME DEEPLY PERSONAL WORDS
"Nearly a decade after 'Walk With Me In Hell' it was happening yet again. Art was imitating life..."

iron maiden WAS BREAKING NEWS: IRON MAIDEN RELEASE "THANK YOU" VIDEO - WATCH IT HERE
Now it's break time for Iron Maiden but they will be back for a full scale UK Tour in 2017...

meat loaf WAS BREAKING NEWS: MEAT LOAF RELEASES SECOND TRACK FROM FORTHCOMING NEW ALBUM WITH JIM STEINMAN - LISTEN HERE
"Now psychologist and psychiatrists all over America are giving it to their patients..."

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