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Unfortunately I miss opening act Glamour of the Kill due to interview commitments, so Sylosis are the first band for me this evening. With a half hour allotted stage time, the Reading-based quintet burst forth onto The Engine Shed's stage with their heavy, full-on metal assault which weaves the sounds of mid-90s Gothenburg melo-death with Testament-esque riffs and the prog-thrash of bands such as Darkane. Incredibly tight in their succinctly hard-hitting delivery of the material and with an energetic stage presence to boot, Sylosis seem to win over a small number of the audience as heads start to bang mid-way through their short set. With their Scott Atkins produced debut album, 'Conclusion of an Age', released on Nuclear Blast last year, the British metallers prove themselves the real deal beyond a polished studio band through their live performance tonight and, given the right exposure, could be set to become the next big thing to emerge from this country in quite some time.
Thursday 10th December 2009
The Engine Shed in Lincoln, UK
Main support band on Dragonforce's lengthy 19 date UK tour are Swedish sympho/prog-edged power metal crew Sabaton. Only recently playing on these shores pre-Dragonforce tour at this year's Bloodstock festival, it seems the Swedes have started to amass something of a following over here in the UK. Opening with 'Ghost Division' from last year's rather impressive 'The Art of War', the crowd reaction is somewhat a surprise as the majority of those in attendance move enthusiastically to Sabaton's melodically sonic discharge. At one point during their set, I even notice a small circle pit erupt in the middle of the audience. It is pleasing to see such positive reactions to Sabaton's music in this country as they are still largely an unknown entity compared to some of the bigger players in the genre. Frontman Joakim Brodén delivers a commanding performance, striking all the right poses while singing his way though each and every lyric with his powerful voice. And his vocal abilities are partly what sets Sabaton apart from other bands in the power metal genre (if the band are to be considered as such), eschewing the clichéd falsetto approach for a more resonantly gruff singing style. With all band members smiling their way through the forty five minute long set, combined with their uplifting metal tunes, the Swedes are both a visually and aurally engaging live act as the likes of 'Primo Victoria', 'Nuclear Attack' and 'Cliffs of Gallipoli' go down a storm with Lincoln's audience. Great fun, incredibly good music, awesome live band. 'Nuff said.
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Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
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It seems to be inherent in British culture that celebrities, bands, or whoever are lauded to what's deemed as the peak of their success before an element in society decide to knock them down at any opportunity. It's been Cradle of Filth's sufferance for the past few years (which, rather disturbingly, manifested in a literal act of 'knocking them down' at this year's Bloodstock festival) and, seemingly, a similar affliction placed upon Dragonforce, with wide speculation that they're incapable of reproducing live what they record in the studio, leading to an irrational hatred of the band. Irrational, that is, as many seem to jump on the "Dragonforce are rubbish because they can't play live" bandwagon without ever actually having witnessed one of their performances first-hand (it seems the ghost of Graspop 2006 will linger for a few more years to come). However, for as many metal fans that dislike the London-based extreme power metallers they have as many admirers, as evidenced by the two thirds full venue tonight, a respectable attendance considering their 19 date UK tour has, and will, cover all corners of the country. Opening with 'Heroes of Our Time' from last year's 'Ultra Beatdown' album, one thing is evident and undeniable from the off - Dragonforce most certainly can play live. Not only that, but they sustain a high level of energy in their performance throughout an hour and a half set that sees band members enthusiastically run around the stage like maniacs, occasionally launching themselves into the air from strategically positioned trampettes...and all this while playing tight, note-perfect renditions of their songs. Yes, read it again boys and girls, Dragonforce can play their music live, and put on one hell of a show while doing so. Band members' interactions with the crowd and each other ooze tongue-in-cheek sincerity be it supping from beer cans attached to mic stands, Vadim Pruzhanov's keyboard wielding antics when he approaches the front of the stage (while attired in the style of the Hot Leg incarnation of Justin Hawkins), or Sam Totman pulling back his trousers while looking aghast at his own cock. It's easy to see why some don't, and can't, take Dragonforce too seriously, but that's exactly the point. As serious as the band are about their music, their presentation of it on the live stage is primarily about having as much fun as possible, something that is absent from so many other bands. And their large number of fans in Lincoln's Engine Shed this evening lap it all up en masse with fists ubiquitously pumping the air, banging heads, and sporadic sing-a-longs. Drawing material from each of their four albums, Dragonforce treat those present to 'Reasons to Live', 'Strike of the Ninja', 'Valley of the Damned', 'Starfire', 'Where Dragons Rule', 'My Spirit Will Go On', 'Revolution Deathsquad', 'Operation Ground and Pound', and 'The Last Journey Home'. Final encore number is perhaps predictably 'Through the Fire and Flames' which receives the most animated audience response of the night, although it provides a fitting end to a fine set. Love 'em or hate 'em, Dragonforce are the real deal on the live stage as evidenced in Lincoln this evening. And for those who didn't manage to catch them on tour, you'll now have to wait until 2011, as they claim to be playing no shows next year. However, with the planned release of a live CD next year comprised of recordings from the 19 UK dates (and what I've been told will contain no overdubs), metal fans will still have an opportunity in 2010 to judge the band's live abilities anew.
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