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.:Concert Reviews:.

12/06/2011 – MARCHE FUNÈBRE (Mechelen, Belgium)

The Belgian Death/Doom Metal band MARCHE FUNÈBRE (website, MySpace, Facebook) released its debut full-length early this month under the title "To Drown". You can read the review here. This release deserved a proper release show, which took place around that time, but the press also got its own show. Or better, that was the idea. And that event took place yesterday, 12th June. Luckily the 13th was a holiday, else I would have needed some very strong coffee. ;-) In any case, Mechelen, Belgium, was the place to be. I've never been there (or it must have been a very long time ago), so having a gps would be convenient. That didn't go smooth all the way - I missed an exit and the gps said nothing, neither did my fine companion (V.L., you know who you are ;-)). So I took the next one (exit, that is) and went back to the track I had in mind, of course with lots of traffic lights, which I was unaware of. I tried to avoid the busy roads of Brussels, hence being underway a little longer.

We arrived at about 19h30, had a drink and then got set for the show, which began at 20h00. It was in a small venue. Not really a theater, but much much smaller, more cosy and very close to the stage. It was almost like having the band play in your living room, by manner of speech. The idea of this event was to play the entire album, "To Drown", with of course a break, as the album is a good 60 minutes long. The chairs didn't allow for much leg room and due to the compactness of it all, it was best to wear something light. As one can expect for a Metal gig and mainlya Doom gig, the lights would not be bright. Hence the choice for blue and red. The sound was also very pure, natural and of course real(istic). One a sidenote, there was a ceremonial master to introduce the band and give some guidelines regarding the break and stuff. An original aspect of the show and well-thought of. ;-)

During the first few seconds, vocalist Arne needed to adjust his volume (and not that he needed to look up lyrics, as I first thought). The album is barely two weeks out, and there haven't been that many gigs yet to try the songs. Anyway, the rest of the setlist was flawless, each played his parts with great ease and confidence. About those vocals: clean, screams or growls, Arne can handle it all and switch from one style to the other in the blink of an eye without wrecking his vocal chords. Kudos for that. Guitarist Peter Egberghs assisted with additional vocals.

After the break and having reinforced the mind with liquid substances, MARCHE FUNÈBRE played the last song, "Lethe". For obvious reasons, as this song is 18 minutes long. Afterwards three more songs were played: "Hurt", "On Wings Of Azrael" and "Benighted". "Hurt" is originally by NINE INCH NAILS, but was covered later by a.o. JOHNNY CASH. And now MARCHE FUNÈBRE, with three members only: Arne (vocals), Peter (guitar) and Zoran (bass). "On Wings Of Azrael" comes off the band's EP "Norizon" and "Benighted" is, as Arne and Peter explained, the band's first song ever and can also be found on the EP.

All in all, I must say I like this concept of presenting an album. The only thing that would really make it complete: dinner. ;-) But since we're not dealing with a band that is signed to a major label, this detail is of no importance. The lads gave a very good performance, chose a nice and cosy venue and made it an entertaining evening. For me definitely one of the better gigs this year. As far as I'm concerned, same procedure with the next release? ;-)


Into Deadly Marshes
Valley Of Tears
The Well That Drowns Me
Regiment Of The Hopeless
Of Dreams and Vanity
The Dark Corner
- break -
On Wings Of Azrael


See all pictures of MARCHE FUNÈBRE at this location.

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21/05/2011 – ANGELI DI PIETRA (Antwerp, Belgium)

Like two years ago, also in May 2009, the Belgian providers of Powerfolk for the masses, aka ANGELI DI PIETRA (website, Facebook), organized a listening session for their official debut full-length "Storm Over Scaldis" in the shop Metalzone in Antwerp, the band's hometown. I wrote a report on that at the time. See here. The review of the album can be found here. Somehow however this didn't lead to that many concerts as was hoped for. Or I didn't keep enough an eye on the band's happenings. In any case, hard work was delivered to write the follow-up, which would also come out via the Austrian label CCP Records. The title? "Anthems Of Conquest".

As I said, again the band set up a listening session with food and drinks at the Metalzone shop in Antwerp. Since then a new guy has taken over: the sympathetic Bas Verdin, also known as Ice King. While in 2009 there were several representants of the press, including ATV (local television), the number of invited was higher than the number actually present. In fact, it was as if this was a secret meeting among die-hard fans of the band. But that had no effect on the overall atmosphere. Lots of laughs, chatter about bands, about the new album, etc... it was quite casual. While many people were enjoying the hot weather by means of a drink or even dinner, we were inside listening to Folky Power Metal tunes, strengthening our bodies with chips, nuts, beer and coke. Coke as Coca-Cola, not the drugs, even if this beverage started as a drug/medecin.

The lyrics on "Storm Over Scaldis" were in most cases based on historical events or characters and on "Anthems Of Conquest" the same recipe was applied: Valhalla and the Valkyrie, the Crusaders, Buccanneers, Spartacus, Camlann, Boadicea, and so on. There are 13 tracks to take you on another wonderful voyage through time and different dimensions. "Anthems Of Conquest" was recorded, produced and mixed at Excess Studios in the Netherlands, like the band did with "Storm Over Scaldis". However, for the mastering the Antwerp Folk/Power Metal band applied to the services of well-known and frequently asked producer Jacob Hansen from Hansen Studios in Denmark. He's known for having worked with ONSLAUGHT, PESTILENCE, PARADOX, TÝR, ANUBIS GATE, VOLBEAT, MERCENARY, COMMUNIC, PYRAMAZE, SERENITY, DESTRUCTION and many many more. This results in a more powerful sound, especially for the guitars and drums. It could also have been the installation in the shop, of course, hehehe. But you could hear a clear difference with the sound on "Storm Over Scaldis", that's for sure.


Last Flight Of The Valkyrie
Gates Of Time
Fate Of The Promised Land - The Desert
Fate Of The Promised Land - Mark Of The Scimitar
Towards New Shores
Anthem Of Conquest
I Am Spartacus
The Battle Of Camlann
Onwards To Asgard

So, what can one expect on "Anthems Of Conquest"? Without disclosing, unveiling or revealing too much - I still have to write a review, of course - there are 5 instrumental tracks spread over the album; Most serve as intro to the song that follows the respective interlude. Obviously it's about atmosphere and instrumentalism then. Furthermore, there are guest appearances by Jacco De Wijs (vocalist) from CORONACHT and Daniel Mÿhr from SABATON. He plays keyboards in the song "Mark Of The Scimitar". The songs themselves then. Of course, like before, Sjoera's clean voice and Guy's evil grunts deliver the vocal input, taking turns where appropriate. "Last Flight Of The Valkyrie" is a track where melody is the dominating factor in a Folk/Power setting. "Gates Of Time" mainly stands out for its fierceness, its powerful guitar riffs. This then brings us to the first instrumental, "Fate Of The Promised Land - The Desert" (an Eastern touch), which is the intro to "Fate Of The Promised Land - Mark Of The Scimitar". And yes, another dose of aggressive guitar- and drumwork. The Eastern touch obviously returns through the guitars. Very important in this song are solos and instrumentalism.

"Towards New Shores" is another interlude, which sounds very Fantasy-like. Or better, your imagination obliges you to think of such a setting. Disney anyone? This track, like the other one, is the intro to "Buccaneers", where you get galopping Folk/Power Metal in vein of FALCONER, ENSIFERUM, TURISAS, TÝR and similar. But it's not the Metal power that demans most of the attention, rather the melodies. "Buccaneers" is in other words a catchy Folk/Power Metal tune. The next interlude - or better, instrumental - is "Anthem Of Conquest". This one begins acoustically, but soon makes way for melodic Power Metal with the emphasis on heavy/aggressive riffing. As was the case on "Storm Over Scaldis" and a trademark of ADP, lots of attention and effort was also put into solos. In "I Am Spartacus" vocalist Sjoera even adds an operatic touch to her singing, which is of course nice and helps to spice the song. Power is again key here, but that's nicely countered by the melodic aspect and mainly in the chorus. "The Battle Of Camlann" is next and is also a catchy Folk/Power Metal tune.

"Avalon" is also a track where Sjoera and Guy are given some time to rest. Calm, acoustic music is provided, which later transcends into an orchestral piece. "Boadicea" starts calm, but tension rises until dark, vicious and aggressive Metal comes bursting out of the speakers. Here the band opted for a more Gothic approach, reminiscent of bands like AFTER FOREVER, SYLVER MYST, and so on. Time for another Folk/Power tune, in vein of e.g. FALCONER (especially the verses): "Onwards To Asgard". The album comes to an end with the instrumental "Remembrance", an acoustic song with a.o. flute leads and in general sounding quite epic and bombastic. Or, as one might say, pure awesomeness!

The listening session was thus another great experience. Since no interviews took place, also because not that many press people showed up, there was time left to fool around a little. Outside a Brit was playing his acoustic guitar (with distortion) and Gaël just couldn't refrain himself from trying it as well. So, the man handed over his guitar and we all looked, listened and laughed as the lad entertained not only us, but also the people sitting outside, enjoying their drinks and meals. However, not much response came from those people or I didn't pay enough attention to notice. I left the premises earlier than foreseen, since I had a train to catch... the before-last one. I like this concept of presenting an album, so as far as I'm concerned: same place next time? About "Anthems Of Conquest" itself: I've only heard it once so far and that was at the Metalzone shop. There it sounded very good. My conclusion based on that is: ANGELI DI PIETRA have improved themselves a lot and deserve more attention and recognition. "Storm Over Scaldis" was a very decent album, but the new one is better. For obvious reasons, i.e. the review itself, I'll have to relisten a couple of time (or more) to get a proper impression.

The release date of the album, after a few postponings, is now set on the 3rd June. So get your wallet ready. ANGELI DI PIETRA will play the release show this Saturday, the 4th. See this Facebook event: click here. Or if you're not on Facebook:

Doors: 17h30
First band: 18h00
Damage: 5 EUR (members), 7 EUR (non-members)
Location: JH Centraal, Lusthovenlaan 10, 2640 Mortsel
Bands (most likely in this order): KRIGAVAR, AKTARUM, CONORACH (NL), ANGELI DI PIETRA

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