Saturday 18th November 2006
The Bivouac in Lincoln, UK
I first saw The Prophecy live back in 2004 with a very impressive set on the second stage at the indoor Bloodstock festival in Derby. Having not had the chance to see them again before tonight, I was intrigued to find out how they'd progressed as a band. Since that awesome Bloodstock performance, The Prophecy now have one guitarist less plus a new bassist and keyboard player. Musically, comparisons to My Dying Bride are axiomatic. However, I'm probably not alone in thinking MDB's output over the last few years has been rather bland and uninspiring - in fact, for me, their last genuinely good album was 1999's 'The Light At The End Of The World'. Although it would be easy to describe The Prophecy as another doom metal band, this is too simple a description. Their music fits the 'doom' label generically, but it also transcends a lot of so-called doom bands stylistically. There are implicit progressive undertones in their compositions with particular passages reminiscent of a heavied-up Pink Floyd.
Tonight, The Prophecy play a fairly short set which includes a couple of songs from their recently released second album, 'Revelations', and some even newer material. It is slightly disappointing not to hear any tracks from their stunning debut, 'Ashes', although I guess they had to be selective with their short time on stage. It is evident from this evening's show that The Prophecy have developed significantly as a band with both their music and live performance. The new songs are even better than material from 'Ashes' as they have further refined their distinct style of epic, mainly slow-paced, dark progressive metal and play some of the freshest sounding doom I've heard in a long time - well, since I last saw The Prophecy actually! However, tonight's performance is slightly marred by a bad sound with only keyboards (barely audible in the 'mix') and vocals routed through the incredibly battered and cheap looking PA system. I later discovered that the band decided during soundcheck to play guitar and bass raw through their amps as the PA was clearly insufficient. It's disappointing that the promoter books a band of the calibre and quality of The Prophecy and then hires an abysmal PA system. Fortunately, though, the strength of the material shines through the bad sound with every song oozing provocative melodies through their sublime and epic soundscapes. Never has doom sounded so beautiful and enchanting. Greg O'Shea, guitarist and main songwriter, is a masterful composer of dark, epic music and seems genuinely lost in his playing. Vocalist Matt Lawson is a skilled singer with convincing death growls and a captivating clean voice, rich in tone, which further intensifies the melancholic appeal of the songs. Sticksman John Bennett, also currently standing in for injured My Dying Bride drummer Shaun Steels, keeps perfect time with his generally slow-paced, though intricate, and occasionally progressive beats. Newest members Katie Colbrook on keyboards and bassist Gavin Parkinson also impress with their solid performances. Collectively, The Prophecy convey an appealing band dynamic as their facial expressions imply they're genuinely feeling the emotions of the music.
Overall, and despite an unfortunate, though inescapable, muddy sound, The Prophecy are stunning tonight. Whether or not they should be classified as doom metal is irrelevant. The Prophecy are something special and deserve greater success. I'm sure that's imminent. If, like me, you've grown tired of My Dying Bride, then go check out The Prophecy. You won't be disappointed.
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