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Eleine with Winter's Edge and Forlorn Hope @ Aatma, Manchester - Oct 1st 2018

12/10/18 01:04PM

Manchester's Aatma was an odd place to find, located in the back end of Steveson Square, not far from the Manchester Piccadilly train station. Opposite some kind of funky police museum and through a creepy alleyway was a heavy metal black door with Aatma scrawled on it - if one wasn't looking, you certainly wouldn't find it!

Forlorn Hope opened with a smashing number, Rifles – a small-scale disaster struck not a minute into their set, but the band powered on despite the untimely breakage of Chris Simpson’s guitar string. Running in to save the day was Winter’s Edge guitarist Jeremy Lawler, who fixed the string with Chris Simpson as he continued to sing the rest of the opening number without pause! After a few moments spent joking and fixing the snapped string, Forlorn Hope launched back into things with an easy stride with the song Die Hard. Jokes aside the Liverpudlian five piece soldiered on, sadly having to cut two songs from their set due to the earlier string incident. That didn’t stop the band leaving a solid impression on us and their battle anthems ringing round in our heads. Closing with their almost anthemic self-titled track, Forlorn Hope have showed that they’re not only excellent musicians and performers, but that they are certainly one to watch. (7.5/10)

Next up were Winter’s Edge, a band we have had the pleasure to see on stage supporting a variety of different bands across the metal scene. Despite the five piece being cramped on Aatma’s small stage, they put on a great show, with new bassist Stephen Einarsson settling in his stride already. Giving us several flavours from the latest album The Guardians Of Our Time Pt. 1, a solid stand out track for me was the very progressive, sweetly melodic Dying Star. Unfortunately, the live sound was not up to the standard of their previous performances, but through no fault of the band’s on – the live mixing was simply off and rendered it hard to hear Charlotte Jones’s powerful dual vocal approach at various points throughout the band’s set. I felt that I could hear Charlotte’s voice more as it was, than what the mic was picking up – showing what a truly big set of lungs she has, but also with some of the lower register being sadly lost within the rest of the music. Still I tried not to let this dampen my enjoyment as the band soared through epic solos in Game Of Insanity and watched as the crowd sang along a little as the band belted out catchy number Unleash The Dragon. (7/10)

Finally, it was time for Swedish symphonic metallers Eleine to take to the stage. Again, the live mix sadly put a slight dampener on the performance. While it was easier to hear the vocals this time round, the vocals were just not high enough on the live mix and again the lower register got somewhat lost within the rest of the music. Nevertheless, Eleine put out a stunning performance – one dripping in a majestic air, bringing the band’s stylish and seductive flair to life. The crowd even got a tantalising treat as vocalist Madeleine danced across the stage, displaying the roll of her slender frame as she belly-danced along to the more oriental and string elements of songs, and later in the show even spread her iconic golden wings for the crowd.

Eleine’s set was packed with new material from their latest released Until The End. Stunning songs poured out in powerful enigmatic form, with stellar stand out performances of Whisper My Child, Echoes, From The Grave, Sanity and my personal favourite Hell Moon. Their set ended with a bang as Eleine played through some more of their hard-hitting singles Death Incarnate and finishing with Break Take Live. They may have only had a tiny stage, but Eleine put out a huge performance that truly enchanted me. Eleine may have only just finished their UK tour, but I, for one, am eager for their return! (8.5/10)

Author: Tayla Dickinson

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Epica with Powerwolf and Beyond The Black @ Shepherds Bush Empire, London – February 3rd 2017

20/02/17 12:33PM

Us with Epica

This concert began for me with my first ever VIP experience. I’d actually bought VIP tickets for Epica before, a few years ago, but we got delayed by hordes of Santas in the middle of London (don’t ask) and missed the meet and greet. This time the price was much higher, as it included a stack of merch including a t-shirt, tote bag and exclusive single. It was a hard choice to decide whether to get the VIP tickets, because let’s face it, I don’t need any more tote bags. But I felt so bad about us missing out last time, that I decided to give it a go.

In the end, I’m glad I did. I’ve never met Epica before, and we were able to line up and get things signed before getting a photo with the band. They were all happy and friendly, and overall it was a great experience. The staff at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire were also great, and accommodating of our needs with regards to seating, bringing special foods and so on.

Jennifer from Beyond the Black


On to the main event, and Beyond The Black were up first. This German symphonic metal band have been getting a lot of attention lately – both for their albums and for the fact that every member except the singer left the band last year. They seemed to have recovered from this well, and put on a cohesive front. They open with their hit Lost In Forever which quickly gets the audience’s attention. They don’t have the time or the stage space to do much with their set, especially when compared to the two musical giants they’re up against, but they do the best they can. Definitely one to watch on the symphonic metal scene. (7/10)


Powerwolf on stage




The joint headliners for the tour are another act from Germany, the mighty Powerwolf. Having not experienced much of this band before, I was in for a surprise. The band use a heavy amount of gothic and religious imagery, not dissimilar to Ghost, combined with some completely over the top power metal. We were unsure at first how serious they were, but with song titles like Dead Boys Don’t Cry and Resurrection by Erection it soon became clear. The stage show was energetic and fun, with the band encouraging tons of crowd participation. And the crowd clearly loved it, with many of them having appropriately painted faces and constantly chanting of the band and lead singers’ names. Despite there not being much crossover with Epica fans, their 13 songs still went down a storm. (9/10)


Simone and Mark from Epica

Epica are always a pleasure to see live, and they have been going from strength to strength. Compared to when I first saw them, they are tighter as a band, Simone’s live vocals have improved drastically, and their stage show is on another level. It’s a less personal experience now that the venues are that much bigger, but it’s very impressive, with great lighting and staging (witnessing keyboard player Coen zoom around with his stand on wheels is a particular highlight).

As you might expect, the setlist is heavy on the latest album The Holographic Principle, with 7 songs from that record. The other songs played are a selection from the bands earlier albums, though there is surprisingly little from The Quantum Enigma. Given the quality of their material, you almost feel the band could do with a much longer show. It feels all too soon when we hear the familiar opening to Consign to Oblivion, which always signals the end of an Epica show (it would be nice to see them to mix this up occasionally) and they lead the crowd in a “wall of death” which they jokingly refer to as a “wall of Epica”. By the time they take a bow on the stage of the grand venue, it’s clear that Epica are a band at the top of their game. (9/10)


Author and photos: Sophie Cleverly

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Nightwish with Arch Enemy and Amorphis @ Wembley Arena, London - December 19th 2015

10/01/16 10:40AM

The Wembley Arena is a huge deal for many bands: with a capacity of 12,500, it’s an iconic venue that has played host to the likes of Queen, Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden in the past. On this cold night in December, legions of fans are queuing up outside to see the UK’s first arena performance from Nightwish, the final show of their European tour in support of Endless Forms Most Beautiful. Shortly before the show, singer Floor Jansen has revealed that it will be filmed for an upcoming DVD and that there will also be a surprise guest – so excitement levels are high.




Amorphis are the first to take the stage. The Finnish band’s music is a mix of death metal with other genres like progressive and folk. They put on a great performance and get the crowd warmed up well, though they don’t seem to be as excited at the prospect of playing Wembley as the other bands do. With a beautiful backdrop but few other gimmicks, they play a short set of 8 songs, finishing with House of Sleep. A good start to the night. (7/10)



Alissa of Arch Enemy



Following them are Swedish death metal band Arch Enemy, bringing with them their new frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz. Their show kicks off with a bang and it’s immediately clear that Alissa is a real powerhouse, growling both the band’s old and new songs with ease as she bounces around the stage. The setlist consists largely of songs from their most recent albums, War Eternal and Khaos Legions. Unlike Angela Gossow (the band’s previous pioneering vocalist), Alissa doesn’t require any effects to pull off her vocals, and she seems to have endless energy and enthusiasm. Their performance is stellar and by the time they conclude the show with their most famous song (Nemesis) they have won over the crowd, many of whom aren’t even fans of the harsher side of metal. (9/10)



Floor Jansen

And finally it’s the moment everyone’s been waiting for. A curtain in front of the stage drops and Nightwish launch straight into Shudder Before The Beautiful, the opening song of the album. They’ve also brought their full production with them – huge screens with videos that accompany each song, spectacular lighting and even fireworks illuminate the stage. Floor powers her way through Yours Is An Empty Hope, Ever Dream and Storytime. At that point, pipes player Troy Donockley joins them on stage. As a Brit, he’s clearly beside himself with joy at getting to headline the venue.“I’ve been wanting to say this since I was nine years old…” he says. “Hello Wembley!” My Walden follows, a jaunty folk number that gets the entire crowd dancing. 


My Walden

The instrumental section towards the end is accompanied by stunning night-time visuals and lighting. This portion of the show is dominated by softer songs, including a moving rendition of While Your Lips Are Still Red (dedicated to the current difficult times in the world) and the album’s first single, Élan. Then it’s time for something heavier with Weak Fantasy and a surprise appearance from the epic 7 Days to the Wolves, which achieves new heights with Floor joining Marco Hietala on vocals. It’s followed by Alpenglow, a welcome addition to the setlist as one of the most popular and singalong-worthy songs of the new album. And then there’s another big treat: the Dark Passion Play classic The Poet and the Pendulum, again given new life as performed by Floor, and the first of three of the band’s 10 minute+ long tracks to be played. 

AlpenglowKeeping the hits flowing, there are fab performances of NemoWant My Tears Back and even something from deep into the back catalogue: Stargazers. The final portion of the show is pretty much non-stop epic. Fan favourite Ghost Love Score (or Ghost Love Floor as it has been nicknamed) doesn’t disappoint, and neither does a storming rendition of the usual show closer Last Ride of the Day. But it doesn’t end there… There’s a new epic to perform, and it really is a showstopper. The appropriately titled The Greatest Show On Earth is the final track, a spectacular 20 minute journey through the history of our planet complete with amazing visuals, fireworks and yes – that special guest appearance. At the very end of the song, biologist Richard Dawkins appears on stage to reprise his narration from the album, and is met with much applause.

Overall, this Wembley show is an incredible night that neither the band nor fans will ever forget, and one that cannot be recreated. Thankfully, we’ll get to relive it on DVD. (10/10)

Nightwish take a bow

Author and photos: Sophie Cleverly

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