Almanac were up first. They’re slightly unusual in that while having one male vocalist and one female vocalist isn’t that strange these days, the way they work is. Rather than having separate vocal parts, with the male vocals doing one part and female vocals another part, for most of the time, Almanac have both of them singing the same things together. It’s a good performance, but I’m not completely won over by them, although I’d certainly be interested to hear how they sound on their albums.
MaYaN were next up. They’re by far the heaviest band on tonight’s bill but go down extremely well. MaYaN play symphonic death metal and were formed by Epica guitarist Mark Jansen. Their drummer is Ariën van Weesenbeek – also an Epica member, and then they’ve got keyboards, two guitarists and a bassist plus five vocalists – yes that’s right, five. Unlike in Epica, Mark Jansen doesnt play guitar in MaYaN, instead he concentrates on vocals alongside fellow growler George Oosthoek and clean singer Adam Denlinger. There are also two female vocalists, Marcela Bovio (ex Stream of Passion) and opera singer Laura Macri. While they do backing vocals part of the time, they also take over lead vocal duties part of the time. That lineup of five singers means things are constantly changing on stage with clean male vocals, growling male vocals, operatic female vocals or a combination of those styles.
I’ve seen MaYaN quite a few times over the past four years and they’re going from strength to strength. A really noticeable thing about them on stage is that they are all clearly having a lot of fun – George Oosthoek in particular, but all of them – there are lots of little fun bits of interaction between the band members and plenty of smiles. This is a band that loves what they do, and that comes across to the audience.
Tonight we got some new songs from their third album which they’re in the process of recording, and which they tell the crowd will feature an orchestra following their crowd funding campaign. Judging by how good the new songs sound I can’t wait for the album.
It’s an absolutely fantastic performance and they go down extremely well with the crowd.
Leaves’ Eyes were up next. Since Elina Siirala joined following the band’s split with Liv Kristine, the band have seemed re-energised, and at the start of this year released what I think is their best album in years – Sign of the Dragonhead. It’s no surprise that they kick off their set with a song from the new album – the title track, Sign of the dragonhead. That’s the first of six songs from the album to get an airing tonight and they sound great. A big test for Elina though is to be good enough with the old material to win over Liv’s fans, and tonight she does that with ease. She’s really settled in well and seems completely confident and at home on the larger stages. Tonight is her first Leaves Eyes show in the city where she’s lived for the past decade, and she looks to be having a good time on stage.
The only problem with Leaves’ Eyes is probably the reason why they aren’t playing and filling bigger venues – there just isnt enough variation in the music – all the songs are a similar pace, and to be honest it gets a bit boring after a while. A couple of slow songs thrown in would really break up the set a lot better and give the variety that’s needed to keep people’s interest. Their fans enjoyed the show, but it was noticeable that some of the MaYaN fans got bored after half an hour or so of the Leaves’ Eyes set and left early. A very good set, but there’s still room for improvement.