Festival: Dames Of Darkness 

Bands: Sirenia, Wyzdom, Weeping Silence, Bad Pollyanna, Apparition & Rainover

Venue: The Robin 2, Bilston, Wolverhampton

Date: 9 May 2015 (Day One)

 

Dames of Darkness festival is in its 5th year and with a stellar line-up, notably headliners Sirenia and Leaves Eyes, this years festival was well worth the three and a half hour drive down to the Black Country for two days of the finest female fronted under one roof.

The Robin 2 is the perfect venue for this type of festival the 700 capacity must have been close each day as we arrived just in time to catch one of the highlights of not just day one but the two days.

I’m talking about Spanish Gothic Metallers Rainover, led by the slight figure of Andrea Casanova who wowed the audience with her sparkling stage presence and powerful vocals.  

As the band brought songs from their ‘Transcending The Blue And Drifting Into Rebirth' album, kicking off the set with ‘Oh My Crosses’ and ‘H2SO4’ with Casanova encouraging the crowd to jump along with her at every opportunity. She reminded me a lot of another female fronted Spanish band Nexx, whose lead singer Patricia Tapia used to bounce up and down when she sang and always had the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand.  

Casanova knew how to work the crowd and simply oozed endless energy throughout their set, making the most of every opportunity to inter-act with the crowd and get them in the mood for the great music the band were putting on for everyone.

But she really showed what a great vocalist she is on the stirring melodies of ‘Despair’, a real classy slice of Gothic Metal from the Spaniards.  

Their impressive set continued with superb ‘Rain Over My Tears’, again another bouncy little number, the modern synth fuelled ‘In Free Fall’, the excellent ‘Rebirth’, before rounding off an impressive showing with ‘Dust And Dawn’, with Casanova once again getting the crowd to jump along.  Definitely one band that is a must see.  Let's hope that they will apart of next years D.O.D. fest, this time higher up the bill.

Next up it was Apparition, a band no strangers to the Dames of Darkness fest as they have performed at it at least twice that I know of in addition to today.

This time round we saw the return of Fiona Creaby to the vocals, after a five year hiatus, which incidentally is about the last time we saw the band, only back then it was the Dames of Darkness at the Asylum, Birmingham and it was just a one day festival

The band carried on where Rainover left off, with a set of pure Symphonic Gothic Metal.

Creaby dressed in red was a striking picture centre stage, as the band opened up proceedings with ‘The World of Our Creation’ and instantly the band hit the ground running as they carried on the set with ‘Beyond the Wrath of Ra' and the wonderfully haunting ‘Betrayed’.

Their impressive set continued by rolling back the years with ‘Elysium’, another round of haunting gothic infused metal before the set was rounded off in fine style with the impressive ‘Frozen Roses’.  I must say the return of Creaby to the band was a no brainer, her voice is more suited to the Gothic Metal sound I knew as Apparition.

Next up were Bad Pollyanna, a band who you would definitely not class as Gothic Metal, more Punk Metal led by the angsty vocals of Olivia Hyde, who was aided by Nikki Kontinen on bass, Stephen Kilpatrick on guitars and Valerian Adore on drums, and together they set about blowing the roof off the Robin 2.

They opened their set to the raucous vibe of ‘Awake Now’ and that was their philosophy for the rest of the set, as they blew away any cobwebs the crowd had.

The band kept the angsty vibe going with the excellent ‘Monstrous Child’, with Hyde parading the stage like a woman on a mission, as they continued rock the stage with new track ‘Create Me’, as the Hyde continued the vamp vibe, coming across between Wendy James and Looby Loo well into ‘Define Me’.

The band really brought their a-game today as they showed their mellower side with the wonderfully dark ‘Hollow’, before rounding one of the sets of the weekend off in style with the majestic futuristic tones of ‘My Incubi'.  My friend John had told me earlier in the day to watch out for these guys and he wasn't wrong.  Definitely a band to watch out for. 

It was back to the Gothic Metal with Malta’s Weeping Silence, this time the mix of Dark Gothic and Doom Metal filled the venue as the band got things underway with ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ from their 'For The Unsung' album, with Diane Camenzuli traditional symphonic tones mixed with the gruff cookie monster tones of Dario Pace Taliana.

The dark doom continued with the aptly titled ‘Gothic Epitaph’, a real heavy piece that required Taliana to reach down to the dark place inside and deliver one of the darkest vocals of the day.

To be honest Weeping Silence weren’t my usual fodder, but they did have moments where I thought, yes I like this one and 'The Search Within’ was one of those, as was the set closer ‘Innocent Cries’.  But the fans of the band surely went wild for this Dark Doom and they certainly seemed to enjoy it, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

The next band were definitely my bag, French Metallers Whyzdom who hit the stage running from the off with Marie Rouyer bringing her vocal might, as they set about bringing their Symphonic ambiance to the masses with opener ‘While the Witches Burn’ from their new album Symphony for a Hopeless God’.

They continued to impress with the massive ‘Tears of a Hopeless God’, again from the new album.  The towering Cinematic Metal filled the venue, as the sheer wall of sound the band produced enveloped the near capacity crowd.

It was to the band 2009 opus 'From the Brink of Infinity' for the massive ‘Atlantis’, where again a tsunami of sound came out from the stage and washed over the masses, before returning to the new album for the rampaging symphonia of ‘Let’s Play With Fire’.  A real barnstormer of a track.  This was the band at they heaviest of the set and what a metal monster! They rocked out in style as they went to their 2012 album ‘Blind’ for the show stopping set finale ‘On The Road To Babylon’, featuring more of that massive Cinematic Metal, making them another band that really stood out band over the weekend.

Next up it was Day 1 headliners Sirenia, who were not only making their Dames of Darkness debut, but also their UK debut.

The Norwegian based Symphonic Metallers really deserved their headline slot as Ailyn, Morten Veland, Jonathan A Perez and Jan Erik Softvedt brought Day 1 to a close in superb style.

They opened their account with ‘Serpent’ from their excellent new album ‘The Seventh Life Path’ and right from the off, the crowd were well and truly behind them, as metal horns were raised aloft in salute, not only to the stunning musicianship, but also to the towering vocals of Ailyn, who might be small in frame, but boy can this young Spaniard sing.

She continued to impress as they rolled back the years to 'The 13th Floor’ album with wonderful ‘Lost in Life’.  Ailyn’s vocals just filled the air, before the band brought the big guns with the heavier ‘My Destiny Coming To Pass’ from 'Perils Of The Deep Blue'.

It was back to the new album for one of my favourite tracks off 'The Seventh Life Path’, the massive ‘Sons of the North’, a real metal monster so much so that you can almost taste the fiords and hear the oars of the longboats as they slice through the water.

The band continued the epic metal with another massive opus this time returning to 'Perils' for the bass driven ‘Seven Widows Weep’, with Veland and Ailyn dueting on this one.

Keeping with Perils the band kept the emphasis on the epic metal vibe with another great slab of Symphonia ‘Cold Caress’, before bringing down the tempo just a touch with ‘The Seventh Summer’.

The band were in full swing and we were only half way through the set, it was time to pick the pace back up and the band did this in spades with ‘Earendel’ from the band new album with Veland and Ailyn once more sharing vocals duties on this one.

The band showed its darker side with the massive ‘The Funeral March’, before rolling back the years to 2007 for ‘My Minds Eye’, even though Ailyn wasn’t in the band when this was first released, she sure made it her own tonight.

The new album featured heavily in the set and rightly so, it’s a great album and in my opinion the bands best to date, so why not publicize how good it is by playing it live.  So the band continued with the excellent ‘Once My Light’ off ‘The Seventh Life Path’, featuring one of Ailyn’s finest vocals off the album and live she just nailed it.

This impressive set was almost at a close but the band still kept the high class Symphonic tones going with the stunning ‘Fading Star’ and ‘The Other Side’, before rounding off the set with the excellent ‘The Path to Decay’.  This may have been the bands first UK show and on today’s performance I hope it isn’t their last.  Top quality Symphonic Metal doesn’t come any better than this and what a way to closed Day 1.  We couldn’t wait to see what Day 2 had in store.

Review by: Barry McMinn

 

 

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