Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Sound of Thunder / Benedictum / Leather Leone / Dark Sermon / Metanium / Darker Half @Empire 6/26/2014

I went to see Benedictum and more at Empire ($13), including 2 of my favourite local bands!  There were a number of people I knew there- Renae, Gloomy William, Brian B, DAVE, RUBY, Gori y Omar, Ariel y Ilem, Yave, Mr. Nina, Bobbie, Sean, Henry, Martin, Alex T and Johnny, Sako and Greg, and METAL CHRIS (seemed like a bit of an odd show since he likes the heavier stuff!).

Unfortunately, the turnout was not great at all. There were about 70 people there, including band members. This was a bit off putting to me, because at the Septicflesh show last Sunday, they were handing out free tickets to this show as people were leaving (I know that crowd is a bit... different than the class metal crowd, so perhaps a mismatch).  I think I knew literally half the crowd, now that I think about it.  That's probably or par with the percentage at Blackguard headline show.  There was also a guy with no shoes on, not sure what was going on with that.

Merchandise wise, ASOT had their set up (CDs, shirts), Benedictum had a few CDs (2 were $10, 2 were $5) (don't know why I didn't grab one wtf), several shirts, picks, and um glossy posters of Veronica Freeman ($4-$8).  Dark Sermon was the odd one out with a SKULL and Candle at their merch area (shirts, I didn't think I saw any CDs). Darker Half, from AUSTRALIA (!!!) had a shirt ($15 I think) and a CD ($10).  I didn't see Leather Leone or Metanium set anything up (tho there seemed to be Metanium shirts popping up all over!).

Darker Half from Australia!

I was trying to get to Empire early to catch Darker Half, who came all the way from down under, after hearing a track posted in the event bookface page. They played classic heavy metal with a bit of a technical flair.  I have to say that despite the 15 people or so there when they started... They really kicked ass!  Also fun to note was that there were several members with the surname... "Simpson"... in west SPRINGFIELD tonight!  The crowd volume was disappointing (like 6 people on the floor?), and it was a shame that not more people were exposed to them! They sounded amazing, they were incredibly tight- certainly one of the best sounding openers I've ever seen!  Tight, true metal with vocals a little reminiscent of Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween, Unisonic !)!!  I picked up a CD afterwards and the singer was rather gracious and if I recall correctly I think they said this was their first US tour.  Definitely recommended that lovers of traditional metal check these guys out.


One of my favourite local bands, Hispanic Heavy Metal Metanium, was on next! They had a similar set list the last time I saw them in February, but I think it'd been too long, cause I was amped.  They payed the instrumental "Allegory..." to start, which was a nice buildup to a set chock full of true metal (despite it being mostly covers).  I think Metanium is trying to branch out to the English speaking market more, which may explain the numerous covers and the English- version of "Alma de Guerrero" ("Soul of a Warrior").   Everything sounded pretty great, although still a little raw (not necessarily a bad thing).  I think they are continually improving, as they were definitely tighter than ever.  I think they were over decently well with the classic metal crowd- a few people who had not seen them before mentioned to me that they dug Metanium's set, but I really was busy headbanging a bit to fully report on the crowd.  And the soaring vocals certainly helped too- so good!  It was certainly a better crowd reaction than the Suffocation show.

Dark Sermon, Black metal, Out of place

Dark Sermon, the odd man out was some black metal from Tampa, Florida. The floor emptied out and there were literally 3 people close to the band. I thought they sounded similar to the bombast that Behemoth brings, but a bit faster. I wondered what the deal was with them on the bill, because it was like 1349 playing before Hammerfall.  So the dark energy that Dark Sermon was bringing was a bit... not appreciated by most of those in attendance. I thought they were pretty good, but not really what I wanted to hear this evening.  It's a shame part II because I think most people dismissed them without hearing more than 30 seconds of the black metal drone.  I couldn't tell any of the songs apart, but they were alright.  They also had the weakest vocalist of all, in this night of powerful pipes (PP).

Leather Leone and myself! I was feeling very AMPED

The crowd returned for Leather Leone (ex-Chastain), and were pretty receptive to her. I saw that she was getting a short set, so I was wondering what the makeup would be. She played all Chastain songs, including one I really recognized cause I heard Hammerfall do a cover- "Angel of Mercy," an that really was killer.  Leather Leone sounded pretty powerful, but it seemed like she was struggling a little and needed frequent breaks (reason for the short set list maybe) and water.  It's good to know one's limitations, an there is nothing wrong with having a short and sweet set. I think the crowd wanted to hear more songs, so her 20 minute set was a shame, part III.  Her backing band was pretty solid, nothing to complain about, they were serviceable, which was odd because they sounded way better for the next set.  Veronica Freeman was in the crowd for a song or 2 as well.

Bendictum w/ Veronica Freeman

 That's right, after the shortest changeover time in history (like 1 minute), Leather Leone tagged in Veronica Freeman and the band transformed into Benedictum. The same band that just a few minutes ago sounded OK now seemed like they took some energy drinks and turned it up to 11!  Veronica's  massive pipes added fuel to that fire, and they all were blazing.  The sound was a little too loud, and it was a bit hard to make out lyrics, but thankfully some people got photos of the setlists.  I didn't know any Benedictum songs, just respect for that voice!  All of the songs sounded pretty good, and Veronica and the band looked like they were having a ball!  Grins, headbanging, and just a lot of positive energy all around! Things seemed like they were running a little late, and the oddity of Benedictum NOT playing last (The first headliner that I've seen I can ever recall... not playing last) made things a little strange.  Veronica's voluptuous figure clad in zebra striped shirt, corset and stiletto heels was dominating the stage, just wailing.  She was certainly the most imposing figure of the evening, but I am pretty sure she was friendly, based on her constant smile and the pictures people took with her. I wonder if the corset helped or limited her voice.    Leather Leone and some close fans (Nick and Bobbie) got on stage to assist with "Bang" as well!  The guitarist had some pretty solid solos, but Veronica was clearly the powerhouse of the band.

A Sound of METAL

After some technical difficulties with the set changeover, A Sound of Thunder came on close to midnight, an I only heard a few ASOT songs.They seemed to be playing more of their newer stuff since last time's retro set. Singer Nina seemed a lil loopy, but that did not affect her singing, just the stage banter.  Bassist Jesse seemed to be emanating smoke at one point (or was really close to the smoke machine?).  They did their signature "Queen of Hell" that has Veronica Freeman guesting  on the album. She didn't get on stage to duet with Nina, unfortunately, but was hanging out in the crowd.  Similar to when Raven played at the same show as ASOT.  Regardless, there still was a decent crowd hanging out late for ASOT. I left around midnight after several songs, so I didn't get to catch the whole set.

Overall, it was a fun show, despite being rather not well attended. It was very nice to see 3 strong female voices, some true metal, and a little black metal. I don't know how more true metal maniacs didn't show up :(  The show reminded me of the Doro show a bit ago, with a similar lineup heavy on the female fronted bands, but a bit less fun.  Still a nice night of mostly classic metal.

next Show: Agalloch at Empire

Darker Half (7:15- 7:45)
  • ?
  • End of the Line
  • Never Surrender
  • Stranger
  • As Darkness Fades

Metanium (8:15- 8:45)

  • Allegory of the Cave (instrumental)
  • La Marcha Vikinga
  • I Want Out (Helloween cover)
  • Warriors of the World (Manowar cover)
  • Soul of a Warrior
  • Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath cover)

Dark Sermon (9:12- 9:43)

  • ?
  • ?
  • ?
  • ?
  • ?
  • ?
  • ?

Leather Leone (10:05- 10:24)

  • For Those who Dare (Chastain cover)
  • Ruler of the Wasteland (Chastain cover)
  • Evil Awaits Us (Chastain cover)
  • Angel of Mercy (Chastain cover)

Benedictum (10:24- 11:15)

  • Fractured
  • Apex Nation
  • Evil That We Do
  • The Shadowlands
  • Benedictum
  • Ashes
  • At The Gates
  • Obey
  • Bang (Bobbie and Nick on stage)
  • Scream
  • Dominon 
  • Retrograde

A Sound of Thunder (11:40 -?)

  • Queen of Hell
  • Time's Arrow
  • I Will Not Break
  • The Day I Die