On Sunday the excitement is palpable as everyone queues up for a final day of epic female-fronted music. The day begins with Eleanor, a gothic metal act from Japan (the festival has strong links with Japan, even having its own Japanese fansite). The band’s melancholy sound is doomy and melodic and singer Shiori’s voice is strong and haunting – they could be the Japanese answer to bands like Lacuna Coil and The Gathering. Up next is L’Endeví, bringing a Spanish flavour to the proceedings. They combine heavy guitars and bassy tones with Mamen’s rock vocals that occasionally break into screams, a little like Maria Brink. Then things get even more gothic with Cadaveria, the self-proclaimed “horror metal” band who blend many different genres. As one of the only more extreme bands at the festival, they go down well and the headbangers are out in force.
Then it’s time for one of Belgium’s own in the form of Hell City. They’re a relatively new act with only one studio album under their belt, and a bit of a Metallica sound. In good company with other powerful female-led bands like Halestorm or the previous day’s Kobra and the Lotus, they seem to be set for success. Afterwards sees the formation of the biggest signing queue of the festival – it’s ReVamp and Ms Jansen’s newfound Nightwish singer status is definitely a factor as the line has many Nightwish shirts in amongst the ReVamp and After Forever ones. Stream of Passion take to the stage – a big name in symphonic metal circles, they were originally formed with help of Arjen Anthony Lucassen of Ayreon fame. The lovely Marcela Bovio doubles as both their front woman and violinist and, as you might guess from the band name, she gives a truly passionate performance. They serenade the crowd with a relatively short setlist that includes some of their most popular songs like Collide and The Scarlet Mark, and they even throw in a Radiohead cover from their most recent album. Hungarian folk metallers Dalriada seem a slightly unusual choice to follow, but festival organiser Helcanen noted that there was a big demand for bands of this genre this year. The band are a little like Eluveitie but a little happier and more upbeat. Unlike Eluveitie, singer Laura often provides both clean and harsh vocals. There’s plenty of folky instruments providing lilting undertones to the guitars. This is the sort of music you could party to, but the kind of party with drinking horns and roast beast. The crowd certainly seems to be having a good time.
Crimfall from Finland are another folk metal offering. Their brand of music is epic and symphonic and conjures the frozen Northern winds to mind. Helena Haaparanta shares vocalist duties with Mikko Häkkinen and both bring an impressive show, encouraging the crowd to join in at every opportunity. By the time they end their set with Silver and Bones, Crimfall have surely gained many new fans. (Sadly, since the festival Helena has left the band, and they are now searching for a new singer.) And now for something completely different as Monty Python would say: Anneke Van Giersbergen’s solo show. Like Liv Kristine, Anneke’s material falls into the alternative rock genre but she is welcomed as part of the metal community due to her involvement in genre-defining band The Gathering as well as guest spots with Devin Townsend, Ayreon and Within Temptation. Her performance is truly energetic as she bounces her way through fan favourites from her self-titled band (formerly known as Agua de Annique) and rounds things off with four Gathering songs, much to the happiness of everyone in the hall.
After managing to escape from their enormous signing queue, ReVamp hit the stage. The band play some hits from their self-titled debut, but the majority of set is from their noticeably heavier and angrier new album Wild Card, which tells the story of Floor Jansen’s burnout (nervous breakdown) where she had to take a break from music. But now Floor is on top form, effortlessly changing from a note-perfect lyrical style to a hard-hitting rock style, and if that wasn’t enough she has also learnt how to do harsh vocals, all while headbanging her way through the set. Floor is surely one of the best and most versatile vocalists in metal today, which is one reason why her joining Nightwish has been so well received. The reception for her band here at MFVF is brilliant too and it’s clear there will be much support for ReVamp to continue. Then, finally, it’s time for the main event of the festival, from one Nightwish vocalist to another. Everyone is cheering for Tarja long before her and her band arrive in front of them. She has come a long way since her Nightwish days, now with three solo albums, a live DVD and a classical project under her belt. Today is all about the rockier side of things and she pulls out all the stops to give a fun and lively performance.
There’s a couple of lengthy but mostly entertaining instrumentals as Tarja goes for a costume change and drummer Mike Terrana gets a chance to show off his awesome skills. After performing new album closer Medusa (originally a duet but she sings it on her own here), the band leave the stage, but they soon return for a brilliant encore of Victim of Ritual, an unexpected rendition of Nightwish’s Wish I Had An Angel and the single Until My Last Breath. Everyone becomes a little worried that there’s so far been no sign of the promised duet with Floor but then Tarja says, with a cheeky grin, “I believe I promised something…” The resulting performance of Over The Hills and Far Away is a truly magical moment that gains the biggest screams and cheers of the whole festival. “We have to keep the love going,” says Tarja, holding up Floor’s hand. It really sums up the Metal Female Voices Fest in general- one big community where the ladies of metal can come together without judgement or competition. Long may it continue!
Author: Sophie Cleverly-EdwardsRead the full story