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Wednesday 26th April 2017
The Bodega in Nottingham, UK
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
Oddland describe themselves as "the collision of four twisted minds entwined"... while their music doesn't reach the deranged sonic heights of metal acts, past and present, such as Unexpect, Solefald, Sigh and Diablo Swing Orchestra, it does have enough quirks and surprises to warrant such a self-proclamation. With a lot of heavy grooves in their songs and a generally bass-biased sound, it's an ear shattering experience, as low-end sonics boom forth from the PA speakers and reverberate around the small room. There's some intriguing and inventive guitar interplay between frontman Sakari Ojanen and fellow axe-wielder Jussi Poikonen, while Joni Palmroth pounds his bass with boundless energy to the drumming grooves of sticksman Ville Viitanen. As a unit, Oddland gel perfectly and deliver a mightily tight performance. Sakari initially appears a little subdued during the first song, but seems to settle into the vibe after a few minutes, and excels through both his vocals and fretboard widdlings. However, it's kind of a "blink and you'll miss it" performance as, after just over twenty minutes on stage, Oddland are already concluding their set. I guess it's always good to be left wanting more, though.
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Wolverine at The Bodega in Nottingham, UK, 26th April 2017
Photograph copyright 2017 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
After a quick-ish change-over time, London-based Greek progsters Until Rain are all set up and hitting their own stride on The Bodega's stage. With the night still running way behind schedule, they seem to afford themselves a longer set time than Oddland... which, in a room predominantly populated by Wolverine fans, seems to engender a few worried faces, what with that ever looming 10pm cut-off. Still, undeterred by delays and an imminent curfew, Until Rain plough forward with their own prog discharge, including a couple of cuts from their forthcoming new album, 'Inure'; the opening and closing songs - 'Progressus In Idem' and all thirteen minutes of the title track. Vocalist Cons Marg has as many expressive arm gestures as he does facial contortions... although his singing doesn't quite have the range of emotions one would expect for the music. His voice is good, but doesn't quite elevate itself to great... it feels like he's holding back (or already singing to his strengths)... thus, he doesn't succeed in heightening the music's emotions in any way. Rather, he supplements songs' affections, instead of emphasising them. All that said, Until Rain really are rather good, with an arsenal of tunes that have a good balance between the heavy and mellow.
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Despite the triple headliner status of the tour, tonight always felt like a Wolverine headline show. And an exclusive one at that, such is the nature of their sparse touring activities during their long career and, rarer still, appearances on these shores. It would be a moment to relish and an occasion to cherish. That's what makes it all the more disappointing that it is but a fleeting live performance as, five songs later, and an overrunning schedule and 10pm curfew halts them in their tracks. Literally. No more tracks from these uber talented Swedes, tonight. However, every second of their short time on stage is a joyful and emotionally moving experience. Of the five songs aired, definite highlights are 'Pulse', 'Nemesis' and 'Your Favourite War', all of which sound transcendent in their live renditions.

Listening to Wolverine's music has always been an emotionally rich experience; fuelled by both fervour-induced passages of optimism and stirring melancholy. On the live stage, this is where it all comes to life and as it should be experienced. Such is the profound sense of passion in their performance, it's like mini-explosions of emotions throughout their half an hour set. Invigorating, moving and impassioned, Wolverine re-establish themselves, tonight, as one of the very best live bands I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing. Quite astonishing, really, when you consider their relative lack of live activities over the years. And they're afforded a perfect sound through the PA - all instruments and vocals hit just the right levels in a flawlessly balanced mix.

At the conclusion of 'Your Favourite War', applause and cheers erupt from the small gathering in the The Bodega. Then, as band members start to leave the stage, there are shouts for an encore. Frontman Stefan Zell, however, briefly returns to the mic to say they would love to play more but are not allowed. Disappointed groans fill the room... which soon subside and it's only a few moments before disappointed faces are elevated back to visages of blissful satisfaction, engendered by the wondrous live experience that is Wolverine. Short but most definitely sweet.
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Billed as a triple headliner package, 2017's aptly named Progressive Aspects Tour was, indeed, offering fans of forward thinking art the chance to sample different aspects of progressive music. Featuring a trio of Sensory Records artists - namely, Wolverine, Until Rain and Oddland - who were all set to perform 45 minute sets, the general feeling was that of a label roster showcase. Commencing the nine show jaunt around Europe in Nottingham at The Bodega, technical difficulties during soundcheck severely compromise the opening night's tight schedule, with Finland's Oddland hitting the stage half an hour late, at 7:45pm. With a 10pm curfew drawing ever closer, and the inevitability of cut set times, the evening would prove to be a showcase of just fleeting progressive aspects, albeit thoroughly engaging on a number of different levels...
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