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  TREBLE METAL HEAVEN IN VIENNA: POWERWOLF, EPICA AND BEYOND THE BLACK IMPRESS AHEAD OF LONDON GIG
Powerwolf/Epica/Beyond The Black
Gasometer, Vienna, Austria, 21st January 2017

24th January 2017

ian sutherland
Words: Ian Sutherland

powerwolf



With an impressive three band bill touring Europe and due to hit London in a couple of weeks, MetalTalk headed to Vienna to get a preview of the action.

The Gasometer is an impressive entertainment complex built around the remains of four huge towers from an old gasworks. The concert hall in the basement of one of the towers is compact yet still holds around 3,000 Metal heads, most of whom are already in the hall when Beyond The Black take to the stage.

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A band on the up with impressive album sales in their native Germany, recent line-up changes have obviously worked out well judging by their confident entrance. Working the crowd from the start they launch into the title track of latest album 'Lost In Forever' with singer Jennifer Haben all youthful vigour and big smiles. Vocally she shows that her melodic, tuneful voice is just as good live as in the studio.

They were going down really well but for me they were undermined by a severe lack of volume. It's hard to sound symphonic and bombastic when the lack of punch in the PA leaves you being drowned out by the crowd clapping along.

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The volume improved a little as the set went on and all the guys in the band never stopped working in an all too brief twenty five minute set. The crowd seemed to already know catchy closing track 'Running To The Edge' well, allowing them a big finish and a great reception.

Beyond The Black have all the pieces in place now for a run to the top, a cracking band, a great singer and some hugely memorable tunes. I just wish the sound man had given them a better platform to show all that off.

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On this co-headline tour Powerwolf are going on last in the areas where they are strongest around their homeland in Germany so tonight Epica take the middle slot following Beyond The Black. Starting off with 'Edge Of The Blade' from latest album 'The Holographic Principle' there are thankfully no signs of the volume issues that plagued Beyond The Black.

These guys have toured a lot in the last few years and it really shows. They are at the same time a well oiled machine and so relaxed and comfortable in what they are doing they can allow themselves to have a lot of fun on stage. Keyboard player Coen Jansen is a prime example, thoroughly enjoying drifting around the risers either side of the drumkit with his keyboard on wheels. That's when he's not jumping into the photo pit with his portable unit.

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Any time any two members of the band get face to face all you can see are smiles and a shared joy about where they are as a band right now. That's also felt by the Saturday night Vienna crowd who are really up for it and roar their approval at every opportunity.

Fully confident in their new material these Dutch symphonic metal masters put real life and soul into the memorable metal mayhem of 'Divide And Conquer’. 'Dancing In The Hurricane' has an eastern groove which singer Simone Simons loves getting to play around with as much as she enjoys letting her pure, shimmering vocals hang over muscular classics like 'The Obsessive Devotion'.

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Those older songs like 'Sensorium' and set closer 'Consign To Oblivion' with the now obligatory wall of death moment in the crowd at the beginning were obviously huge audience favourites but for me it was new song 'Beyond The Matrix' which was the highlight in a set full of impressive moments. Not only is it a hugely memorable metal tune which sticks in your brain like glue but the band encouraged the hall to bounce along with the chorus however by the end of the song it was the people on stage who were flagging while the crowd were still bouncing. Smiles all round and a really nice moment between a band and their fans.

This was quite simply a magnificent performance from a band on a very hot run of form. Epica are on a creative high and that along with the chemistry built up on the road and in the studio makes them one of the most accomplished live acts around right now. Miss them at your peril.

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After the amazing performance and huge crowd reaction to Epica's set I wondered if the German wolves would have enough power to fight off this challenge in their own territory. I needn't have worried though.

The sound was a bit muffled through opener 'Blessed And Possessed' but the crowd didn't care, and sound issues sorted by following tune 'Army Of The Night' these German masters of memorable power metal started to give us a masterclass in working a crowd.

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Powerwolf play a particularly European kind of metal, songs seemingly written to get fields full of people to sing and clap along. Tonight this wasn't the muddy fields of Wacken or Summer Breeze but the creation of a community sing along was what it was all about.

Just about to a man the Austrian audience responeded on cue to songs like 'Resurrection By Erection' and 'We Drink Your Blood' while chanting the band's name endlessly in between. When singer Attila Dorn decided to do a call and response skit it was like Freddy Mercury in his prime, anything he sang he got back in spades.

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Encore time saw the whole hall reverberating to band and audience together in the chorus of 'Sanctified By Dynamite' and I thought the evening was crying out for their classic 'All You Need Is Blood' to end the show with a bang. However this time round they opted for 'In The Name Of God' which for me didn't have the same impact.

Powerwolf may have that strange set up using no bass player live and may be steeped in the Euro power metal scene which has never really taken off in the UK but they know exactly what they are doing and are extremely good at it. Tonight was a triumph on familiar territory and I would love to see them embraced by a U.K. crowd the same way.

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Catch all three bands at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London on 3rd February. Tickets available right here.

Check out more of Ian Sutherland right here.





judas priest



MONSTERS OF ROCK IN FULL FLIGHT SURE TO BECOME FUTURE COLLECTOR'S ITEM

monsters of rock

Monsters Of Rock In Full Flight is strictly limited to 300 worldwide and is available from 30th November but those ordering before 31st October will have their name published within a dedicated page in the book.

It's a deluxe 128 page hardback book in a metal flight case with a narrative by Jerry Bloom.

When promoter Paul Loasby put on the first Monsters Of Rock Festival in 1980 he could probably never have imagined it would become an annual event that would endure for so many years.

Featuring bands from the UK, Germany, Canada and USA, Loasby chose to stage the event at the Donington race circuit in the middle of England and it would prove to be a defining moment for many of the bands on the bill.

Not least for headliners Rainbow as it was the their last ever show to feature drum legend Cozy Powell. As it would happen it turned out to be the last for vocalist Graham Bonnet as well. For many of the other bands on the bill such as Scorpions, Judas Priest and Saxon, they were all on the ascendancy and would soon go on to even greater success.

Now in celebration of this first ever Monsters Of Rock Festival comes this hardback book full of glorious photos of the bands that took to the stage for that inaugural event including back stage shots. Most of these shots have not been published before which add to the uniqueness of this deluxe 128-page book which is packaged in its own flight case.

Also included are stories surrounding the event with tales and recollections from those who were there, including artists and fans alike. Each book will be signed by the author. The 300 will sell fast and definitely go on to become collector's items so order yours now right here to avoid disappointment.



 


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