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


Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland

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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.

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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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virginmarys THE VIRGINMARYS ANNOUNCE HEADLINE UK TOUR FOR JUNE 2016
"It's going to be so great to get back in front of our home fans again, and really important to us to play some of the towns we've been wanting to come back to..."

weapon uk WEAPON UK TO HEADLINE THE RETRIBUTION ALIVE ROAD TRIP IN MAY
"They toured with Motörhead in the 80s, including four sold out shows at the Hammersmith Odean and I have to say, we're pretty excited about this!"

headbangers ball ICED EARTH AND ENSIFERUM TO HEADLINE MTV HEADBANGERS BALL TOUR 2016: FULL DATES HERE
"So brace yourselves for the ultimate Metal experience of a lifetime! See you in front row!"

bloodstock BLOODSTOCK ADDS MORE BANDS, DETAILS METAL 2 THE MASSES FINALS AND ANNOUNCES FIRST NEW BLOOD STAGE WINNERS
Bloodstock HQ is readying to send Team M2TM out on the road for the finals, but in the meantime, there's a few more band additions to the August bill

dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPEAN DATES FOR JULY/AUGUST IN SUPPORT OF NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'MAKE SOME NOISE'
The Dead Daisies, the biggest new name in Rock, have just recently announced the addition of Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio) as their new lead guitar player

wolf hoffmann WOLF HOFFMANN TO RELEASE SOLO ALBUM 'HEADBANGERS SYMPHONY' ON JULY 1st
"I have always incorporated classical music in my song writing with Accept, especially with 'Metal Heart', but I constantly felt there was so much more that I could do..."

jaegermeister JÄGERMEISTER RELEASE FULL DOCUMENTARY OF WORLD'S FIRST MUSIC GIG ON AIR, SEA AND LAND
"We go bigger every year and because of the nature of this world first this gig was not only a test of friendship but one of supporting each other too..."

john otway JOHN OTWAY PLANNING ON BEING FIRST ARTIST SINCE THE ROLLING STONES TO RECORD IN MONTSERRAT
"Although the old Air Studios are now derelict the studio in the basement of Sir George Martin's house is sound – it just needs rebuilding..."

fates warning FATES WARNING - NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'THEORIES OF FLIGHT' ANNOUNCED, ARTWORK UNVEILED
"There's a loose theme running through a lot of the lyrics, and this developed organically and separately..."

amon amarth RAISE YOUR HORNS AND BE IN AMON AMARTH'S NEW MUSIC VIDEO
Swedish Heavy Metal goliaths Amon Amarth are inviting their fans around the globe to be a part of their forthcoming video...

sixx am SIXX:A.M. ANNOUNCE THE "#REASONTORISE" CAMPAIGN, TOUR DATES AND 'VOL.1 PRAYERS FOR THE DAMNED' DETAILS
"It is our duty as citizens of this world to come together, communicate with one another and rise up to demand more of ourselves and our leaders."

armored saint ARMORED SAINT ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN FESTIVAL AND CLUB APPEARANCES
"For our first time in Spain, it's gonna be sick! And as if this wasn't enough - Saint is playing for the first time ever in Japan..."

black country communion BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION TO REFORM IN 2017
"Preparing BCC Rocket Ship Re-launch for 2017 - all systems go."

tarja TARJA PREMIERES OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO OF HER NEW SINGLE 'NO BITTER END'
'No Bitter End', the opening track of the prequel album 'The Brightest Void', is the first glimpse of Tarja's new work – her heaviest to date...

stratovarius STRATOVARIUS RELEASE LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'UNTIL THE END OF DAYS'
"To me it's a testament to the fact that paying attention to song writing and production was expensive, but so worth it..."

brian johnson EXCLUSIVE: PROMINENT AC/DC CREW MEMBER GIVES REMARKABLE INSIGHT INTO AXL ROSE APPOINTMENT
AC/DC are covering themselves in case Axl's poor reputation for unprofessionalism manifests itself...

brian johnson THE DARKEST DAY OF MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE: BRIAN JOHNSON ISSUES PERSONAL STATEMENT ON AC/DC DEPARTURE
"I wish to assure our fans that I am not retiring. My doctors have told me that I can continue to record in studios and I intend to do that..."

thin lizzy THIN LIZZY ANNOUNCE BASS PLAYER AND NEW DRUMMER FOR 2016/17 ANNIVERSARY SHOWS
Thin Lizzy are undisputed legends and to be a small part of their lineage is a humble honor for me...

ian gillan IAN GILLAN TO PERFORM UNIQUE SOLO SHOW OF DEEP PURPLE CLASSICS IN BULGARIA
There is a possibility that Ian will also play some material from his catalogue outside of Deep Purple...

don airey DEEP PURPLE'S DON AIREY AND FRIENDS ADDED TO CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL PLUS ATOMIC ROOSTER
Expect to hear many classics from Airey's illustrious past which includes time spent with Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne as well as his current job with Deep Purple...

wildfire festival WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2016 ANNOUNCE SUNDAY NIGHT HEADLINERS AND FIVE MORE ACTS
With June creeping ever closer, Wildfire Festival's impressive main stages line-up is all but finalised...

whitesnake THE END OF WHITESNAKE: DAVID COVERDALE TO RETIRE IN 2017
Whitesnake headline the UK's Ramblin Man Festival in July in what could be their final ever UK appearance...

axl rose AXL ROSE CONFIRMED AS AC/DC SINGER FOR THE REMAINING ROCK OR BUST DATES
The worst kept secret in rock is now official...

aerosmith THE END OF AEROSMITH?: NO FAREWELL TOUR CONFIRMED AT THE MOMENT
"A farewell tour is something we've talked about doing for years, let's say roughly in the last five years..."

hrh united ALESTORM, HAMMERFALL, FINSTERFORST, NAPALM DEATH, ARMORED SAINT, VENOM INC. AND EVIL SCARECROW ANNOUNCED FOR HRH UNITED
HRH United 3 will be an exclusive upgraded Metal Edition taking over the entire site @ Camp HRH, Pwllheli, North Wales...

rolling stones PROUD GALLERIES PLAYING HOST TO FABULOUS ROLLING STONES PHOTO EXHIBITION: TERRY O'NEILL TO ATTEND SIGNING SESSION
It's a wonderful book by photographer Terry O'Neill of Rolling Stones images from 1963 to 1965, an era when the Stones were just "breaking through"...

between the buried and me BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN SUMMER DATES
As well as the European tour dates, BTBAM have launched a live video for 'The Ectopic Stroll' whih you can see here...

jade vine LONDON BASED ALTERNATIVE PROG ROCKERS JADE VINE ANNOUNCE ALBUM LAUNCH SHOW
Jade Vine's music has been influenced by artists such as Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Anathema and Pain Of Salvation...
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