Just witnessed your
best live gig?..send us a review!
Assembly Rooms,Derby 3/4 September 2004
Last year's event was so good that I had no hesitation is going along
this year - even if there weren't many bands that I found really
interesting. It was noticeable also for being one of the few
occasions when Primal Fear, Gamma Ray, Children of Bodom play a gig over here, as
well as being the UK debuts of Sonata Arctica and Evergrey. I've these the
last 2 bands a couple of times before, but I really wanted to be their for UK
Well the event kicked off early in the evening and having travelled
up from London on the train, by the time I'd checked into my hotel I'd already
missed a couple of the opening bands.
Sinergy (Main Stage)
I came in when their set was already half-way through. The crowd
loved them (slightly to my surprise). Alexi Laiho's guitar work was excellent.
I'm not really a fan, or at least I wouldn't have classed myself as such,
based on the songs I'd heard previously, but the spectacle of Alexi shredding
away on stage really grabbed my attention. Vocalist Kim whipped up the crowd,
who responding with lots of cheering and headbanging. Probably the success of
Invey (Darwin Suite)
Well I have to admit that I went to see them more out of curiosity
than anything else. Sure the lead-singer Claire Nathalie is an ex-Vogue
model, but I didn't think she was THAT attractive * checks eyesight *.
Anyway, it seems that they have improved from last years appalling performance
and they now feature a bunch of competent musicians, though the music really
wasn't my kind of thing. 'Modern' rock with Claire alternating between
screaming rapping and occasionally singing. 10 minutes of their set was enough
Threshold (Main Stage)
They played a slightly shorter set than they had played the night
before in Camden. Dogged by feedback problems throughout the set, the band
members seemed more unsettled by it than the audience who loved the mix of
old and new stuff that they played. I'm a big fan, but this wasn't one of
their most gripping performances, though they did play my faves like 'Ravages of
Time' and tunes like 'Falling Away' worked very well in the live environment.
Seasons End (Darwin Suite)
I saw them play the week before in Brentford and was really
impressed. Here again they played a good set, comprising 4 tracks from their debut
CD 'The Failing Light' and also featuring 2 new songs. The Darwin Suite room
was pretty full and the majority of the crowd seemed to enjoy the set.
Bekki's voice came over really well, but I think that they would sound even
better if the male vocalist had a slightly deeper voice. The new songs are
even better than those they've already recorded.
Gamma Ray (Main Stage)
It was the fifth time I've seen them and every time is the same old
mix of 80s cliches. The encore of Helloween's 'I Want Out' was great, but
didn't see too much else of their set. They arrived late from Germany and
then pissed off their fans by pulling out of a signing session at the last
Intense (Main Stage)
Sean Hetherington and the boys kicked off the day well with a great
35 min set of Power Metal. They warmed up the audience well and they must
have been pleased with the receiption that they received from the enthusiastic
Seven Years Dead (Darwin Suite)
Moving over to the smaller, second stage, I was encouraged to check
out this 4-piece band from the SOuth East of England. Unfortunately they were
really not my sort of thing and they just struck me as Pantera clones.
Panic Cell (Main Stage)
Back to the main stage for another South of England based act, whose
show was being filmed for an upcoming Bloodstock DVD. After barely a
minute I deceided that their music was really not my kind of thing, though
having subsequently heard their CD, I wished that I'd given them more of a
chance. The crowd seemed to love their aggressive style though.
Humanity (Darwin Suite)
Another Dream Theater-inspired Prog-Metal Band. They are very good
young musicians and I was seeing them for the third time in a couple of
Although I watched all of their set, I found that their music doesn't
have enough character to make them rise above the sea of bands playing in
this style. They need a killer tune to help them stamp their own identity.
Edenbridge (Main Stage)
Back on the main stage, this band from Austria were making their UK
debut. While I have several of their albums, I do find that their music is a
bit 'pretty' and 'sugary', not to forget 'samey' after a while. They
certainly pulled a decent crowd into the main hall and they received a good
response, but after 3 or 4 songs I'd had enough and like many others I found
myself leaving the hall.
For a band who rely so heavilly on keyboards and orchestral
accompaniment, I found it strange that they played without keyboards while using two
guitarists, one of which, the main composer, Landvall, could have
easily performed that role. 2 guitars seemed unnecessary as their sound is
not very heavy anyway. Vocalist Sabine Edelbascher sounded pretty good, but
like the rest of the band didn't move around very much on stage. Overall it
was a bit disappointing, but apparently their performance the day before, in
Nottingham, was much better.
Nowhere Near The Garden (Darwin Suite)
The Darwin suite gives a lot of smaller, less well-known bands, the
opportunity to play to a good sized audience. Sometimes they appealed
to the audience and sometimes they didn't. Nowhere Near The Garden fell into
the latter category and the room was less than half-full during their
set. They played a Rage Against The Machine style of modern rock, while their
frontman seemed to model his stage moves on those of Jim Morrison. I listened
to a couple of songs but they really didn't seem to offer much.
Evergrey (Main Stage)
Sadly here is where the sound problems on the main stage appeared to
become more significant. The sound was very muddy in the early part of their
set and the guitars of Tom Englund and Henrik Danhage didn't have
much 'oomph'later on. That being said, the band's performance was good, though
not as good as I've seen before, for instance, last year at Progpower IV in
Overall their setlist presented a good and very representative mix of
their material from all but their very first album. I was very pleased that
we got both 'Nosferatu' and 'She Speaks To The Dead', though time
restrictions meant that they were played at a slightly faster pace than
on 'Solitutude, Dominace, Tragedy'. Since the sound overall was a bit better towards
the end of the set, it was tunes like 'Recreation Day', 'A Touch of Blessing'
and a rip-roaring set closer of 'The Masterplan' which really impressed.
They must have won themselves some new fans as I understand that straight
after the show, all of the stalls which were selling Evergrey disks,
soldout of their Evergrey stocks.
Balance of Power (Main Stage)
Having seen these guys with Threshold at the Underworld a few days
earlier I skipped their set.
Primal Fear (Main Stage)
Again, really not my thing. If I want to hear this sort of Metal, I'll
listen to Judas Priest. Instead, during this period I spent the best part of 3 hours trying
to meet up with the tour manager of Sonata/Primal Fear/Children of Bodom and
when we eventually got to find him, it was time for Sonata, so we arranged to
meet after their set. By this stage I was starving, I hadn't eaten all
day, so Ipopped out for a bite and consequently missed the first 20 mins of
Sonata Arctica (Main Stage)
My big worry beforehand was that Tony Kakko's voice was not going to
be on form and as fate would have it, it wasn't. To be fair to the band,
they were handicapped with some serious sound problems which threw their
concentration, but on this evidence I really think that until they
find a decent singer, the band are in neutral and going no-where fast. By
the time I got back to the hall (after some great fish and chips) the sound was
better, but as a consequence the guitars seem to have been mixed
down, so that they were barely audible (at least at the back of the hall). The
keyboards however benefitted from the mix but the songs, particularly
the faster ones, still missed a bit of 'zip'. Yes they did play the
classics from ther debut 'Ecliptica' like 'Replica', 'My Land' and 'Full
Moon', but sadly Tony's voice and the mix slightly ruined the result.
Children of Bodom (Main Stage)
As I do have a problem with Alexi Laiho's voice (Its just awful), I
didn't see the whole set, but that was more to do with general fatigue than
because I didn't enjoy their music.
I saw about 3 or 4 songs of which 'Warheart' made a pleasant impression on me, but the lengthy day does make it
difficult for the headline band and us old farts. After last year's audience
full of fans carrying plastic swords and cheering along to Dragonforce, this
year it was the turn of the Bodom fans and their plastic Scythes. It was
really amusing to see them gradually make their way to the front of the stage
waving their scythes.
Overall I had a great time meeting and talking with old and new
friends, but the quality of music this year didn't seem to be quite up at the
level of last year. I did miss a few bands that I had been hoping to see, like
Crauchan, but as a social event it was still a great success and with
both nights having been sold out, it will hopefully also have been a
financial success too.
Review: Charlie Farrell