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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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21.5.14





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UFO, Toseland, The Screaming Eagles and Trucker Diablo are just some of the acts in today's announcement, joining Saxon this November in Wales...

hackett stolt STEVE HACKETT REVEALS NEW BASS/12 STRING PLAYER FOR UPCOMING TOURO
Multi-talented guitarist Roine Stolt joins the line-up. "It's marvellous to have both Swedish talents Roine Stolt and Nad Sylvan as part of the band for these Hackett solo/Genesis Revisited shows..."

hammerfall HAMMERFALL ANNOUNCE ONE OFF LONDON SHOW IN MAY
"We're pulling out all the stops to make this a triumphant return to British shores and this time there will be no restrictions on lights, sound or production..."

krokus KROKUS ANNOUNCE FIRST US TOUR IN OVER 25 YEARS
Following the Monsters Of Rock cruise the tour continues through several US cities, ending at the legendary Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles...

wildfire festival WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2015 ANNOUNCES SUNDAY NIGHT SPECIAL GUESTS, ACOUSTIC LOUNGE AND MORE
For 2015 the Acoustic Lounge is back, bigger and better than ever....

the darkness BREAKING NEWS: THE DARKNESS ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM AND UNVEIL NEW VIDEO - WATCH IT HERE
Summer 2015 sees the return of multi-award winning music band The Darkness....

jim cregan JIM CREGAN POSTPONES MARCH CREGAN & CO TOUR FOLLOWING CANCER NEWS
Soon I'll start treatment which I'm hopeful will lead to a full recovery and I'll be back doing what I enjoy most, performing with this great band in May and on tour in October..."

hang the bastard HANG THE BASTARD ANNOUNCE TOUR DATES WITH CORROSION OF CONFORMITY & UK HEADLINE DATES
"It's gonna be heavy and it's gonna be loud!!! Bang your heads, we are coming for you!..."

aaron keylock 17 YEAR OLD GUITAR HERO AARON KEYLOCK SIGNS TO MASCOT LABEL GROUP
One of the most exciting and brightest young talents in the UK, Aaron is a mesmerising live performer with over 200 shows to his name...

bruce dickinson BREAKING NEWS: IRON MAIDEN SINGER BRUCE DICKINSON UNDERGOES CANCER TREATMENT
Sometimes a news item breaks that shakes you to your foundations...

rock goddess ROCK GODDESS ANNOUNCE FIRST LONDON DATE IN OVER THIRTY YEARS
The waiting is over. The reformed South London hard rock trio have announced details of their first London concert in over 30 years...

nigel glockler BREAKING NEWS: SAXON DRUMMER NIGEL GLOCKLER PRONOUNCED 100% RECOVERED WITH ZERO DAMAGE
"This means that I am okay to get back to work, but I am told to ease back into it and on my own timeframe..."

turbowolf TURBOWOLF RELEASE BLISTERING NEW SINGLE 'NINE LIVES'
"Nine Lives is a song about making the most of our limited time; about living with no regrets; about changing our attitudes towards death and about life..."

arch enemy ARCH ENEMY ANNOUNCE NEW LIVE DATES FOR 2015
European fans will see Arch Enemy again in late April. The band are coming back with support from US Metal force Unearth and Drone from Germany...

motley crue EXCLUSIVE: MOTLEY CRUE PAY TRIBUTE TO GARY GLITTER ON THE FINAL TOUR
Debauched rockers Motley Crue are currently in Japan performing their last Asian dates on their much publicised Final Tour...

music for nations LEGENDARY HEAVY METAL LABEL MUSIC FOR NATIONS IS BACK
As well as reissues, the label will be signing new artists for the first time in over a decade...

satyricon SATYRICON SIGNS WITH NAPALM RECORDS FOR RELEASE OF SPECTACULAR LIVE DVD
"It's not a live album. It's a celebration of what Satyricon stands for as a band..."

absolva ABSOLVA RELEASE NEW VIDEO FOR 'IN SOME WILD UNIVERSE' PLUS TOUR UPDATE
This video features the touring line-up of the band for 2015...

rival sons RIVAL SONS WITHDRAW FROM SOUNDWAVE 2015
Australia will have to wait a little longer to see Rival Sons in the flesh as family matters take priority...

the answer THE ANSWER RELEASE BRAND NEW LYRIC VIDEO FOR TRACK 'LONG LIVE THE RENEGADES'
"The song is about just doing what you do best and having a bit of a bunker mentality..."

dead kennedys DEAD KENNEDYS ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPE HEADLINE TOUR FOR JUNE 2015
US punk pioneers will bring their distincitve sound to four countries over ten dates...

carl sentance BREAKING NEWS: CARL SENTANCE ANNOUNCED AS NEW VOCALIST FOR NAZARETH
Persian Risk vocalist Carl Sentance replaces Linton Osbourne to start the next chapter for the Scottish hard rockers...

rockingham firefest BREAKING NEWS: ROCKINGHAM RELIGHTS THE FIREFEST; GOTTHARD, DAN REED, STAN BUSH AND MORE ANNOUNCED
The AOR flag will be raised high yet again over Nottingham Rock City...

pentagram PENTAGRAM RE-SIGNS WITH PEACEVILLE RECORDS - ALBUM RECORDING UNDERWAY
Through four decades of adversity and triumph, Pentagram have become a legendary international act...

uriah heep URIAH HEEP 2015 UK TOUR ANNOUNCED
This tour follows on from the release of the band's acclaimed album 'Outsider' which enjoyed excellent reviews...

godsmack GODSMACK VOCALIST SULLY ERNA TO MAKE AN ONLINE POKER COMEBACK
For Godsmack fans this could be disheartening as Erna shifts his attention from music to poker...

quo convention FIRST EVER STATUS QUO FAN CLUB CONVENTION ANNOUNCED
There will be live music, very special guests and a packed programme this October for this very special celebration...

queensryche THUNDER CONFIRMED AS VERY SPECIAL GUESTS TO ZZ TOP AT WEMBLEY ARENA PLUS MINI UK TOUR ANNOUNCED
The group's first studio album in six years, 'Wonder Days', reminds us why Thunder are now more revered than ever before...

queensryche QUEENSRŸCHE TO TOUR EUROPE AND RELEASE NEW ALBUM IN 2015
It's a busy year for Queensrÿche with headline shows and festival appearances before the new album release...

dir en grey dir en grey RETURN FOR TWO EXCLUSIVE SHOWS
The Islington O2 Academy will be the scene for Japanese avant-garde Metal in May...

unleashed SWEDISH LEGENDS UNLEASHED REVEAL ALBUM TITLE AND ARTWORK
The founders of the Viking Death Metal movement are back and as brutal as ever...

santa cruz SANTA CRUZ REVEAL LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'MY REMEDY'
Get a taste of the new album with 'My Remedy', the third single to be released...

Shattered sun LEGENDARY BRITISH MELODIC ROCKERS FM RETURN WITH 'HEROES & VILLAINS' ON APRIL 17TH
"We're on a roll! Some of the tracks on this album are better than anything that the band has ever produced, and Steve's voice is as good as ever..."

nightwish NIGHTWISH ANNOUNCE ONLY UK DATE THIS YEAR WITH ARCH ENEMY SUPPORTING
"Who would have thought about headlining at Wembley Arena one day when we were starting our UK touring history..."

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS GO UNPLUGGED AND PERSONAL: ACOUSTIC DATES ANNOUNCED
After last year's highly acclaimed unplugged tour, The Quireboys are pleased to announce a very intimate string of evenings early 2015...

killit KILLIT UNLEASH DEBUT VIDEO AND ANNOUNCE FIRST EVER LIVE SHOW
'Shut It Down' is the first single from the album and is out now and available...

state villains STATE VILLAINS TO RELEASE SECOND EP IN SPRING
State Villains have an honesty that harkens back to an era of integrity and a distinct lack of gimmicks...

chris slade BREAKING NEWS: CHRIS SLADE IS BACK IN AC/DC
Chris will rejoin the legendary hard rockers for their appearance at the 57th annual Grammy Awards as well as the band's upcoming tour...

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