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Zine Main arrow Concerts & Events arrow Dames of Darkness @ Robin 2
Dames of Darkness @ Robin 2
Written by Ton Dekkers   
Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Dames of Darkness @ Robin 2
Bilston (UK)

 

 


Dames of Darkness

 

It’s already some time ago that Sonic Cathedral was present at the Dames of Darkness Festival at the Robin 2 in Bilston. The good reputation built up over the last years and of course the line-up were the main reasons to visit. Also the option to meet old friends makes it attractive. For me the festival day would be a long one. Flying in from the Netherlands and getting to the venue made me get up very early. Arriving after a reasonably smooth trip a little early was not really a problem. In the local pub you could find already visitors of Dames of Darkness (DoD) based on their outfit. After a beer in the pub it was time to go to the Robin 2. The Robin 2 is a nice venue for this kind of event. It attracted sufficient visitors to fill up the space in front of the stage. The crowd was a little too big for the two “corners”, the food and drinks area and the merchandise area. With the social behaviour of the metal heads (as usual) that was no problem. Everybody respected each other and looked after each other. That in itself made it already a nice party.


Jim Beerman introduced all bands to the audience. They were already enthusiastic from the beginning.

The first band introduced was Divided We Fall. This Stafford based band was a nice opener of the festival. Although early in the day the band performed well. The clear vocals from Phillipa Rickets was an attractive mix of mid-range and operatic lines. The songs were supported by heavy bass lines and strong keys. During the gig Melissa Adams (Aonia) joined the stage. The additional vocals gave the songs she joined a nice twist. The songs were from their debut album “Dreamcrusher” that was released on DoD.

 

Divided We Fall 

 

Divided We Fall:  Philippa Ricketts (vocals), Matt Nicholls (guitar), Lee Mulcahy (keyboard), Tom Walker (drums) and Aaron Pointon (bass).

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Incarnadine Coven was next to enter the stage. The quintet from Reading was fronted by Rebecca Cooch, who entered the stage with a cloak. As soon as it opened it revealed a clearly visible pregnant Rebecca. It was no limitation for a decent set. There were some technical issues but overall a pleasant show. The combination of harmonies, riffs, bass lines and key made it interesting to listen. The audience enjoyed it as well. The gig included amongst others songs from the recent released EP “Army of Ghosts” and a version of Alanis Morissette’s ‘Uninvited’.

 

Incarnadine Coven 

 

Incarnadine Coven:  Rebecca Cooch (vocals), Dan Bignell (guitar, backing vocals), Steven Wallis (bass, backing vocals), Chris Oaten (drums, backing vocals) and Jenna Grabey (keys).

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Sometimes you will find some nice surprises amongst the ‘unknown’ bands. After a very enthusiastic introduction, a quartet from Sheffield – Dyonisis – entered the stage. The line-up was surprising. Missing was a drummer. I don’t know if you can see that as a compensation, there were two female singers. For sure that gained interest. As soon as the set started you knew this was special. Nel Cave brought so much emotion on stage and so much energy that the audience got impressed. It was not pure metal but it was described somewhere as “music for the broken hearted”. That feeling was clearly recognisable in the passionate strong vocals. Combined with the more soprano vocals of Louisa Welsby the songs got an extra dimension. The guitar riffs, the strong bass and drums (“out of a box”) made the music very compelling. The entire set was an experience of emotions and passion. With this Dyonisis captured the hearts of the crowd. Bringing in Tina November as guest vocalist on a new song made it even more impressive. Dyonisis was for me a revelation and I still enjoy the album “Intoxicated” and looking forward to a new release.

 

Dyonisis 

 

Dyonisis:  Nel Cave (vocals), Louisa Welsby (vocals, piano), Tom Chaffer (guitar, programming) and Marcus Cave (bass).

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Apparition seems to be the “house band” of Dames of Darkness. With the latest addition of guest vocalist Grace Meridan from the US it was a nice change-over from full UK based to foreign (continental European) bands. The opening of the gig had quite some technical challenges. The professional Grace solved that with a great stage performance. Further in the set the difficulties are forgotten and we could enjoy the great voice and the band. The crowd appreciated the set despite the technical issues and became even more enthusiastic when they pulled out a can of beautiful singers to cover The Scorpion’s ‘Rock you Like a Hurricane’; Jamie-Lee Smit (Azylya), Lindsey Schoolcraft (Craddle of Filth), Karolina Pacan (Skeptical Minds) and Elina Laivera.

 

Apparition 

 

Apparition:  Grace Meridan (vocals), David Homer (bass, vocals), Nick Whitmore / Amy Lewis (guitars), Paul Collins / Gareth Jones / Alex Buckley (drums).

 

Apparition 

 

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Up next was the first of the foreign bands; Belgium was represented by Skeptical Minds. Belgian? Karolina Pacan is originally Polish, Michel Stiakakis is from Greece and Benjamin Lazzano has Italian roots. It is better to call them a Belgian based band. Karolina already warmed-up the crowd by doing some almost a capella work during the sound check that took some time. When they really started it was party time. The quartet offers an interesting mix of catchy pop, rock and metal. Booming bass, great guitar riffs, strong drum beats and with the voice and enthusiasm of Karolina you get almost automatically involved. Charismatic Karolina knows how to get the audience participating. A lot of fun at the stage and in the crowd is the result. Every festival should be happy which such a band. They are hard to position in the scene but they are more than capable to revive a festival, though that was not really needed at DoD. In total a great performance.

 

Skeptical_Minds 

 

Skeptical Minds:  Karolina Pacan (vocals), Michel Stiakakis (guitar), Benjamin Lazzano (drums) and Patrice Brugneaux (bass).

Set List:
Schizophrenia
No Way Out
Skeleton Key
Don't Tell
Alcohol
Ace of Spades (Motörhead cover)
My Love
Broken Dolls
Quod
Living in a Movie

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Now Bilston had premiere time. Jaded Star, the new project of singer Maxi Nil (ex Visions of Atlantis ) had chosen DoD to present themselves to the public. The symphonic metal storm overwhelmed the crowd and the public responded very enthusiastically. The sound was what it should be; pounding drums, heavy bass lines and delightful riffs. Although their strong gig had some challenges because it was the first public performance, overall it showed clearly the potential of this band. It was very clear that the charming Maxi loved to be on stage again.

 

Jaded Star 

 

Jaded Star:  Maxi Nil (vocals), Kosta Vreto (guitar), Babis Nikou (bass) and Raphael Saini (drums).

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The next to last band was a German band. Again the music world doesn’t limit itself by borders. Xandria took the stage with the new singer, the Dutchess Dianne van Giersbergen (also Ex Libris). She looked stunning on stage in a dress designed by Ingeborg Steenhorst who also styles Epica and Cristina Scabbia. The head jewels are designed by herself and combined very well. It was not only her appearance that made this gig interesting. Of course the introduction of the songs of the just released album “Sacrificium” (marked *). That Dianne was “new” was not visible. Her interaction with the excellent other band members was more than just professional. There was clearly synergy between all members. The limited space on stage was used very intensively. The lively performance was excellent even though it was a really new set not yet performed often. It was evident that the band loved to play their new songs. Their new songs have even a more seductive symphonic undertones, great rhythms and the varied vocals fit very well. The set had a good balance of new and old songs. I was curious for the (long) epic and bombastic ‘Sacrificium’. Half way through the set this was scheduled. It was a nonstop collection of massive riffs, pounding drum beats, heavy bass lines and great (operatic) vocals. A real masterpiece. It showed also what Xandria is capable bringing live. The base set closed with the catchy “Dreamkeeper”. The encore was the fan favourite “Valentine”.

 

Xandria 

 

Xandria:  Dianne van Giersbergen (vocals), Marco Heubaum (guitar), Philip Restemeier (guitar), Steven Wussow (bass) and Gerit Lamm (drums).

 

Xandria 

 

Set List:
Nightfall (*)
Blood on My Hands
Until the End (*)
Forevermore
Sacrificum (*)
Cursed
Stardust (*)
The Undiscovered Land (*)
Soulcrusher
Dreamkeeper (*)
Encore:
Valentine

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The final slot was for the Dutch Stream of Passion with Mexican influences. For me it was the fourth time in 3 weeks being at a SoP gig. It’s never boring because of the great music and the enthusiasm of the band. They are so motivated after their successful crowdfunding campaign for their recently released album “A War of Our Own” (marked *). That is also reflected in their performance on stage, more mature and with greater confidence. It was great to see them perform ( for the first time) as headliner on a festival. The set contains mostly songs from the new album but also some older ones; “Passion” the song related to the name of the band and in the encore the Radiohead cover “Street Spirit” with a SoP flavour are as fan favourites in the set. Even with the great bands that came before, the crowd was overwhelmed by the energy on stage. The great passionate vocals of Marcela, the dominant bass lines of Johan, the intense guitar riffs from both Stephan and Eric, the great sometimes fragile keys of Jeffrey and the strong drums of Martijn created a great sound. It’s was more than appreciated by all in the venue. The stage appearance of a charming Marcela and the jumps of Johan and Stephan completed the experience. For most the crowd the material was new (for sure live) but it was received very well. It’s hard not to like their music with songs as “A War of Our Own”, “The Curse”, “Delirio” and my personal favourite “Don’t let Go”.

 

Stream of Passion 

 

Stream of Passion:  Marcela Bovio (vocals), Johan van Stratum (bass), Martijn Peters (drums), Jeffrey Revet (keys), Eric Hazebroek (guitar) and Stephan Schultz (guitar).

 

 Stream of Passion

 

Set List:
Monster (*)
Passion
A War of Our Own (*)
The Curse (*)
Autophobia (*)
In the End (*)
For You (*)
Exile (*)
Delirio (*)
Collide
Don't Let Go (*)
Out of the Darkness (*)
Lost
Encore:
Street Spirit (Radiohead cover)
This Endless Night

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In between the gigs and especially after the gigs the merchandise area was the place to be (after you have taken care of other needs like drinks and food). This was the place to meet the members of bands playing on DoD and also from band that are not playing. The visitors clearly appreciated the music by requesting photos with band members and buying albums and other merchandise. Quite many items were sold out. A was a great event for both musicians and listeners. Looking forward to meet some again at FemME in Eindhoven (Netherlands) and Metal Female Voices Fest in Wieze (Belgium) and of course Dames of Darkness in 2015.

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