Labyrinthic Metal Evening 2010

On the 16th of November Kogaionon and DonisArt have organised a special evening for us, with a line-up consisting mainly of names from the experimental areas of metal, pretty much all of them being underground ones, just like we've grown to expect from Andreea and Doru. The evening seemed very special to me due the fact that I had the chance to see Nightingale, which included Dan Swanö, a living legend in the world’s underground metal. The event was hosted by the elegant The Silver Church Club, a location familiar with such concerts. We were presented two names from Romania, Kistvaen and Indian Fall, one from Norway, Vulture Industries, and two from Sweden –- bands that have no musical or style connection with the others –- Shining and Nightingale. The show started as announced by the organisers: the doors were open at seven PM and the first band came on stage 45 minutes later. The merchandise stand offered a wide range of accessories, CDs, tshirts and all at quite decent prices.

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Photo: Andrei Oprea / StudioRock

Kistvaen – Personally, I was very thrilled by this band ever since I first saw the video of their song, Void, filmed at the same location as the festival. While listening to the album Unbekannte, I believe that they have a huge potential to get really far if the guys will keep up the serious work. Kistvaen have promoted their first album, and the concert we saw was the first from a series of 10 concerts in Romania. They seemed a bit nervous, and you could feel it until Niklas Kvarforth showed up on stage as a guest during the song Canitude. Afterwards, due Kvarforth’s skills in waking up the crowd, things started to “settle” for Kistvaen. They also played two new songs that will be on their forthcoming album, songs that are much more compact, which is a good sign about their future personality. I am looking forward to what they will come up with.

Indian Fall have already released a second album, Seasons in Equilibrium, which was what they mainly tried to promote tonight. Comparing them to Kistvaen, one could feel the increased amount of time spent rehearsing so far, as they seemed more relaxed on stage. The drummer seemed in an excellent shape, and he reminded me of the famous N. Barker (ex-Cradle Of Filth), also because the band’s music would resemble the extreme metal of Dani Filth & Co. Unfortunately, Indian Fall haven’t yet crossed Romanian borders. A shift in their music could do them well, since their style is no longer popular abroad. But altogether it’s obvious that the two Romanian bands didn’t embarrass anyone tonight, both offering decent shows.

The Norwegians from Vulture Industries were a great surprise. I admit I was expecting something else: from what I heard before, and after looking at the cover of their first album, The Dystopia Journals, I thought we’d see something darker. But, again to my surprise, I saw some guys dressed in theatre-like outfits, extremely relaxed and confident. I felt their joy in playing the music, the long hours of rehearsals; I noticed the voice sounding like Garm (Ulver), I enjoyed their interaction with the crowd. I have to emphasize this: the joy of singing. Someone in the audience told me after the concert “See, the fish eaters are the best”. Indeed, but let’s not forget that the Norwegians have a certain level of education, of financial situation compared to what we have here. Due their type of education, the kids are sent very early to study an instrument. That’s how I explain the large number of great underground bands originating in the Nordic countries. Back to their concert, I noticed — once again, with huge surprise — that the members of Dordeduh were part of their technical staff. Everyone in the band showed a high level of professionalism and they were all excited to have performed in front of the Romanian crowd.

The Vision Bleak – I had already seen them at Wacken 2007. They behaved the same at Silver Church as I first saw them, and were totally the opposite of Vulture Industries. The vocalist seemed distant, but maybe because the band members tried to leave the impression of Bram Stoker characters. They didn’t impress me musically either, but let’s not forget that they have chosen a style which seems simple after a first listening, but gets more complex as we consider the concept and message. They have quite a genuine gothic metal style, compared to other bands in the genre. Most of the songs came from their latest album, Set Sail to Mystery, and the dead audience was once again woken by Niklas Kvarforth, who was a guest for the song I Dined With the Swans. I noticed that the drummer was Thelemnar, from Secrets Of The Moon and who had collaborations with Dordeduh or Antaeus.

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Photo: Andrei Oprea / StudioRock

Nightingale – After a short break during which I had the chance to watch Dan Swanö fixing and testing his instruments, the scene was invaded by Nightingale members. It is a rare chance to see them live since they have seldom concerts, and this event was possible due Doru’s insistence, a big lover of Swanö’s music. Along the night I noticed that Nightingale members stayed a bit further away than other bands and mainly in the backstage. Would it have been the beginning of a great family that night? This impression of “great family” was given to me after I saw Niklas Kvarforth coming on stage with three different bands and gaining the “celebrity of the night” status.

Back to Nightingale, I was both sad and happy. Sad because of the small amount of crowd in the venue. Only few hands up in the air after I went a bit further back at the middle of the show. I consider they deserve much more attention from the crowd. Their albums like The Breathing Shadow or The Closing Chronicles are reference names for today’s progressive metal. Another thing that saddened me was Dan Swanö’s weak voice, plus the fact that you could notice the lack of consistence between band members when it came to the live show.

Both Dan and Dag having the guitar neck on the right side and the chords displayed in opposite order, reminded me that time doesn’t stand still and the age is easier and easier to tell. I was glad, because I heard both new and old songs, songs that have been played by people’s stereos ever since the beginning of the 90s. We got the chance to hear small bits from Edge of Sanity songs, but played in a softer manner. Songs like Until Eternity Ends, Twilight or Black Tears were played with a Nightingale feel, a tad more aggressive.

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Photo: Andrei Oprea / StudioRock

After 90 minutes of progressive Nightingale sound, the scene hosted the Swedes from Shining, led by the controversial Niklas Kvarforth. A lot of stories can be told about him, but it’s certain he is a complete artist, as he proved me he has an increased musical knowledge, an exciting voice and is able to perform sounds from a wide variety of musical ranges. During the late night — it was over 3.30 AM — I had the chance to hear songs from their upcoming album, which is still unedited. I noticed a slight change in the style, and Niklas’ vocals are much softer. Other than that, a regular Shining brand show. The novelty, compared to their show in Brasov, was his chance to self mutilate as part of his own ritual.

We, in the crowd, were dead tired by that time, yet I wonder how was it possible for this man who already had drunk two bottles of whiskey and two of red wine (as much as I could account for) to sing, to have energy on stage and for his voice not to fail him? The setlist didn’t lack older songs such as Submit To Self-Destruction, Ytterligare Ett Steg Närmare Total Jävla Utfrysning or Låt Oss Ta Allt Från Varandra.

We also witnessed some funny moments: intense kisses between the bass player and the vocalist, bad jokes about the present bands or the announcement that Niklas Kvarforth will marry shortly with the future wife being part of the audience. Other details I have noticed: very skilled musicians with their insertion of blues rhythms that made me think they are able to play any kind of music. Niklas Kvarforth came up with different looks during the whole evening, making me conclude that most of his activity is based on the looks. Which might be totally insignificant for some.

To draw a conclusion, it was a great successful night, with some bad parts that I’d like to justify here:

  • Too many bands in one day. Many people were exhausted after Nightingale, at about 2.30AM, and Shining hadn’t even started yet. Hence, when the festival ended at about 4.30 only about 100 people were still standing. That is why I consider that the Shining show in Brasov was way over this one, since tonight’s crowd was really incapable of any manifestation at that late (or early) hour.
  • The price of the ticket could have been quite high for some people, considering the financial possibilities of the young crowd. But, if you look at the lineup, it was a decent one. However, probably combined with some people’s laziness, the ticket price led to a presence of about 250 attendees. I personally say it would be preferable to put together a smaller size event and lower the ticket price. I am saying this with the hope that DonisArt&Kogaionon will no longer have the masochistic pleasure of losing money at each event they are organising.

Other than that, as a frequent attendee of the events organised by Doru and Andreea, I declare myself a happy person and glad to be part of such a show. They have always disconnected me from the gloomy day by day reality. I might seem like over reacting, but I consider that DonisArt&Kogaionon are offering a good life lesson in today’s Romanian musical scene as they manage to organise very good quality events. If one puts a lot of soul and passion in things he is doing, then you build up a long lasting brand.

Until next time… the underground doesn’t die, it just transforms…

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Nightingale crowd
Photo: Andrei Oprea / StudioRock

By Lebovsky
Translation by Andrea Chirulescu