A slightly later departure from the bus pick up point on the Sunday…9.30am! Which considering we hadn’t gone to bed until gone 2am was a bit of a struggle, although as it’s the one and only bus to the festival, we sure as hell weren’t going to miss it. After listening to a ranting punter chastise the organisers for not making the bus wait for him and him alone for an hour after its departure time the night before (get real mate) off we trundled.
The final day of the festival kicks off with the Gothic tinged Metal of Valkyre (7/10), who having taken a few years out are now back on form, and deliver a really solid performance with Claudia’s vocals proving quite captivating, especially on the excellent ‘Call Of The Valkyrie’.
Next up ,a band new to me were November 7 (9/10), and what a revelation they are. A sound not to dissimilar to early Lacuna Coil in many ways but delivered full of energy and enthusiasm. Annamaria Cozza vocally is quite possibly my ’find’ of the festival, full of stage presence, ably backed by some really strong guitar work, this band deserve to climb the ranks.
Following a set like that would be a hard task for some performers but Meden Agan (9/10) really take it on and come up with a performance that draws one of the loudest and most heartfelt rounds of applause of the day. To witness a band on stage that so obviously are having the time of their lives was nothing short of inspiring to all who stood and watched. Hearing Iliana, Maxi Nil and Karolina Pacan perform Within Temptation’s ’Somewhere’ was nothing short of superb, what a voice, what a performance.
Time for a rest? Not a chance, as 69 Chambers (10/10) give the crowd a faultless show of pure undiluted Metal that for me personally represented the set of the weekend. Nina has to be one of Metal’s best front women, and now that she’s back on bass duties as well as vocals only serves to further enhance her reputation. ’Cause And Effect’, ’The Day Of The Locust’, ‘Anhedonia‘, the list goes on , how this three piece are not huger than huge is beyond me, all superbly talented musicians who create some of the finest Rock/Metal you are ever likely to hear.
Trillium (8/10) featuring Amanda Somerville and Sander Gommans, deliver a truly professional performance, Amanda has one of the most emotionally charged and soulful voices you are likely to hear, just listen to tracks like ’Coward’ to get a feel of what this band are about.
Sarah Jezebel Deva (7/10) continues to develop her solo career, and performances at such events as this can do her no harm at all, I hadn’t seen her play live for around two years, and I can state that her vocal technique has grown immensely. ’The World Won’t Hold Your Hand’, for me, the highlight of the set.
Trail Of Tears (8/10) are again a band who I hadn’t seen play for some time now, and I was really looking forward to catching some of their set , the dual vocal assault of unrelenting Metal is as powerful as it is technically superb. The band have played MFVF on a number of occasions now but this must surely rank as their finest performance by far.
And so to the ’top 3’, on the bill, kicking off with one of my favourite bands Diabulus In Musica (9/10), who perform a stunning set of the highest order. If you like variety, this has it all, Metal, duets, ballads, acoustic, all driven by the angelic Zuberoa who just has that certain presence that lifts this band to a higher level. A beautiful duet with Melissa Ferlaak is just one of many highlights. Title track of the latest album ’The Wanderer’ is another classic, ’Nocturnal Flowers’, I could go on. A performance that cements their ever growing reputation as one of Female Fronted Metal’s elite.
Now I knew Xandria (9/10) were good but even I was taken a back by the quality of this set. From the moment ’A Prophecy Of Worlds To Fall’ hit the crowds ears, everyone assembled knew they were listening to one of the festivals highlights, ’Blood On My Hands’, ’Euphoria’, this was Heavy Metal heaven, a sumptuous collection of songs performed to the highest possible standard. To be in the V.I.P./Press area afterwards and see a spontaneous standing ovation for the band as they came out for a meet and greet was a fitting tribute to their efforts, a tribute that genuinely seemed to take the breath out of the band but was richly deserved.
To many Epica (10/10) are MFVF, no other band has played and supported it more, and so it was only fitting that they should headline the festivals tenth anniversary show as they had headlined the very first edition back in 2003. Riding high on the critical acclaim given to latest album ’Requiem ..’, the band are really fired up for this show, with a set list that covers the entire Epica timeline and with a stageshow to do it justice, everyone is in for a pure treat. I never get tired of seeing this band play, they really are some of the most talented musicians, not just in Metal but in any genre, always completely as one in their performances and with Simone’s voice boasting one of the finest vocalists on the planet. With pyros a plenty, the band power through 90 minutes of magic that is a joy to behold. ’Monopoly On Truth’, ‘The Obsessive Devotion’, ’Sancta Terra’, ’The Phantom Agony’, there honestly is not a weak link in the set. With a three song encore culminating in ’Consign To Oblivion’, complete with confetti, the band leave the stage triumphant, and me breathless.
So that’s it for another year, how the organisers can topthis edition I have no idea but I do know they will give it everything they’ve got. MFVF represents not just Female Fronted Metal, after all, many bands have played here that boast both male and female singers. No, to me the festival represents a community spirit which in today’s world of racial hatred and bigotry is sorely needed, a festival that brings people from all over the world to gather in a small Belgian town to celebrate a love of music and to renew and make new friendships. Oh and it’s a town that just so happens to have the best cake shop in the world.
Until next year.
Photographs – Anthony May.