Friday night saw fans from around the world gathering at the Oktoberhallen in Wieze just outside the Belgian town of Aalst for a weekend of female fronted metal bands. As always the lineup had plenty of variety, from symphonic metal to Japanese metal, to Thrash, a Doom and more. MFVF has a really good family atmosphere and between the doors opening and the first act taking to the stage, the time was spent catching up with friends from all over the world and enjoying a beer or two. That’s one of the best parts of the Friday for me – that time spent meeting up with friends before we get a few bands to start the weekend off. I’ve made so many good friends at this festival that every year turns into a bigger and bigger social occasion.
The first band of the festival was Diary of destruction, a melodic death metal/metalcore band from France. It’s sad that one of the first things you notice is that the singer is black. It’s something that shouldn’t raise any interest, but sadly metal is overwhelmingly white and at most gigs or festivals, male – of the literally hundreds of bands I’ve seen in the last two or three years at gigs or festivals around Europe, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of bands where the frontman or frontwoman is anything other than white or Japanese. Diary of destruction’s singer Audrey Ebrotié was clearly chosen for her vocal talents rather than anything else as she is a great singer who really does a great job fronting
the band. She rarely stands still but instead prowls around the stage and doing her best to get the crowd going. It’s damn good heavy stuff, and while it’s heavier than most of the bands that play MFVF, they still go down very well with the crowd. A great start to the weekend’s entertainment.
Ayin Aleph was next. She’s probably one of the most unique acts to have played MFVF in the six years I’ve been going. Musically its a mix of classical, baroque, and metal. She plays piano and sings while her band provide the usual metal band instruments. With the fur hat, the Russian ancestry shows, and the rest of her outfit seems more inspired by the Moulin Rouge. I say outfit, but in practice there were a couple of them as partway through the set she changed from her white outfit into a black one with an ornate feathered hat. Ayin Aleph is definitely someone I’d describe as an entertainer rather than a singer. Yes she sings and plays piano, but there’s a real theatrical feel to her performance – she reminded me of Kate Bush and Lady Gaga in that respect, and with her outfits someone did describe her as a Metal Lady Gaga.
Saeko was next with the shortest set of the weekend – a mere ten minutes. The reason for such a short set? She was there to perform a single song that is almost seven minutes long. The song aims to raise money for victims of the devastating earthquake in Japan. Whether it was the emotion or she had a bad throat I don’t know but she was clearly struggling as she sang which is a shame as what she sang did sound good. You can find out more about the song and the project at http://the-light-of-life.com
The final act of the night was MFV united (Metal Female Voices United). Rather than being a band, this was a collection of performers gathered together for a one-off show. The lineup featured seven singers. – Karolina Pacan (Skeptical minds), Maxi Nil (Jaded star), Iliana Tsakiraki (Enemy of reality), Kassandra Novell, Ailyn Gimenez (Sirenia), Mariangela Themurtas (Tristania), and Saeko Kitamae, along with a backing band. As with the Eves Apples performances of previous years, this was to be a covers set, with singers performing either solo or as part of a group. The set kicked off with Skeptical minds singer Karolina Pacan singing “We’re not going to take it”, before she went off and Mariangela Themurtas took over vocal duties for the Deep Purple song “Perfect strangers”. We then had a succession of singers covering songs by artists as diverse as The Scorpions, Porcupine Tree, Alanis Morissette Nightwish, Dio, The Gathering and Tarja. All were great, but apart from those two opening numbers, Iliana Tsakiraki doing “Bless the child”, Mariangela doing “Gypsy” and Ailyn doing “Uninvited” were particular highlights for me.
This evening was definitely a great start to the festival.[flickrapi user=”planet mosh” get=”photoset” id=”72157648602459909″ count=”100″]