February 2011 - The Live Show Retrospective Part XVIII


5. Feb. 2011, 16:43

Hi everyone and welcome to a new year of concert reviews. 2011 looks promising so far, not only because there is already a bunch of concert highlights in my calendar, but also because splendid Orange Distortion finally reformed and set their resurrection show for 02/11/2011.

This year, I thought about trying a different writing style as I was told that my reviews are too subjective with unnecessary information on merch and crowd and feature only insufficient background information on bands and their musical background. I always thought to write stuff like this would be redundant since you're reading these reviews at last.fm and could gather all the information you wanted by clicking on the linked artist page. Also, I'm not writing for some fancy music mag or e-zine but for me and maybe a handful of people who’re actually reading this, so I never really felt to write very professionally. Still, criticism is welcome and so I'll try my best to strike a balance.

02/01/2011 - Darkest Hour w/ Protest the Hero, Born of Osiris and Purified in Blood - Magnet

So here it was, the first show of two oh double-one and by taking a look at the names printed on the ticket, you knew that this was some heavy stuff for a Tuesday night. Maybe the organizers knew that too, since the show’s start was scheduled for 7 pm. And at the Magnet you better be on time if you don't want to miss even a single song.
I arrived at the venue around 8 pm because I didn't feel the urge to watch half of the bands, especially not alone. I hoped that my assumptions were correct and the running order was opposite to the order the bands were shown on the ticket and website and luckily I was correct. After a quick scan of the available merch, I entered the showroom to see the show in full swing. As it turned out, Purified in Blood had already finished their set and so it was now up to Born of Osiris to entertain the crowd of roughly 450 headbangers and circle-pit kids. Their electronically enhanced MetalCore didn’t really appeal to me and obviously the majority of attendees felt the same way. I can't say if they played a good show as I only watched two and a half songs (not men) but I got the feeling I didn't miss much.

Only five minutes later, Canadian Progressive Metal act Protest the Hero showed up on stage, but at first only to set up their equipment. I like bands who handle the setup of instruments themselves as it helps to speed up the process a lot. Sadly, the quintet from Whitby, Ontario seemed to be satisfied oddly quick with the sound check which led to the notorious Magnet sound you've probably read about before, not only in my blog. In combination with their intricate musical style , this was the worst case scenario. Vocalist Rody was too quiet during the whole set, the drums were pretty muffled and both guitars vanished from time to time in the hodgepodge of sounds, only the bass was nicely tuned I thought. In addition to the bad sound came a mediocre setlist. With two full-lengths in the orbit and another ready for lift-off on the launching platform, you would think they alternate their setlist from more often, but all three shows I've been to basically featured the same songs. A nice touch that they added Bone Marrow to the set, but again the same Kezia tracks and again two of my least favorite Fortress tunes had only very little kick. Furthermore they played three new songs from their upcoming record Scurrilous, which are too much for a ten song set, but Protest The Hero seemed to enjoy the fact that they annoyed the audience a little with that. They were aware that nobody is looking forward to new songs at a concert but they played them anyway, which probably wasn't due to promotional reasons as I believe that they aren't really that big in Germany. The audience replied to the pick of songs with only very little action during two or three songs though the general mood was good and I like to believe the effort of the whole band was taken kindly, still I expected more from both the audience and the band. Only ray of hope that night was Rody’s one-man show. Everyone who has been to a PTH show knows how great an entertainer he is. Same that night, when we kept making jokes and telling weird stories while the rest of the band kept quiet it the background. You’d think for such talented guys they weren't so shy. Still a solid show, but not their best performance, I guess.

Edit this setlist | More Protest the Hero setlists

It's a little bit weird when the headliner of a Metal show starts its set at 9:30 pm but this is when Darkest Hour entered the stage to the acoustic guitar intro of Doomsayer, only to start their show with that song and immediately letting a giant bomb of anticipation and excitement burst blow up in the audience. Admittedly I’m not an expert when it comes to Metal and since I only listen to the last three albums of Darkest Hour with increasing regularity, I wouldn't say I'm an expert on them, either. Still, I was anxious about seeing them for the third time, even though my knowledge of songs and lyrics is basically reduced to a bunch of tracks from Deliver Us and The Eternal Return. So it was fascinating to see that during their 15 years of existence as a band, they managed to write diverse songs which still all bear the same hallmarks that they could be on either one or (like in this case) six records. As the band played their way through 15 years of musical productive period, the atmosphere in the audience always seemed to adapt to the tone of the show. Hard and angry mosh and circle pits for the fast and heavy songs, modest headbanging for the slow and solemn songs. The setlist was well mixed, my personal highlights made their appearances, but the most memorable thing was the live-version of Aquetis Vertunis. You just need to have the stones to play a 13-minutes instrumental epic with features acoustic guitars, even if you're one of the best plain Metal bands these days. Along with the great pick of songs came a drastically changed sound for the better. All instruments were crystal clear (maybe the acoustic guitars were a little too soft, but that comes with the instrument) and especially the vocals were easy to make out. All that with a great performance of all musicians, like back to back guitar soli, demands for clapping and mosh pits and other show elements, made this show a real highlight and the best performance of Darkest Hour that I witnessed so far. After 70 minutes including the encore, the audience was released into the cold Berlin winter night. And even if that's the only drop of bitterness, I was pleased to be home at 11 pm. Not the worst thing if you have to work the next day.
Setlist (what I remembered)

Edit this setlist | More Darkest Hour setlists

02/11/2011 - Orange Distortion w/ BLACK BORN PHOENIX, Raw Stuff and Nitro Shot - Eastend

Orange Distortion are dead! Long live Orange Distortion! Or something in that matter, since this band was never really dead but on a personnel induced hiatus. After parting with drummer and vocalist, it’s not easy playing live shows with stringed instruments dominant instrumentals only. So the search for reinforcements on microphone and heads began and it took almost 16 months for them to play a show again. So when we entered the Eastend, an insanely good equipped club with an awesome sound, neat light effects and a great showroom, unfortunately located at the edge of Berlin, the anticipation was almost tangible, with rumors discussed even on the toilets. Expectations were high and everyone was excited to see the reformatted quintet.
But prior to that, BLACK BORN PHOENIX inaugurated the night with a sixty minute set of pure energy and heavy metal. It was nice to see these guys again, too, as they are great musicians and have an aptitude for kick-ass songs. They also went through some line-up changes as they have a new bassist, although it was hard to tell if that was so, since he oddly resembled the old bassist, only that he was blond and didn’t wear make-up. The set however did not resemble to ones I’ve seen before as they played plenty of new songs. The singer claimed that he was suffering from quinsy, but I thought the vocals were as hard and good as usual. Yet, I once more got the feeling that this band is not using their full potential. They are awesome musicians, but still I’m having trouble seeing resp. hearing the central theme of the songs. Most tracks are very different, they sound inspired by various bands such as KORN or Metallica, but they are lacking of unique hallmarks apart from the vocals. I’m missing something individual that recurs in the majority of the songs. If they’re ever able to put in such a recognition value, they could become big. My opinion.
Next up after a short break were Orange Distortion. Most guests had now gathered inside the venue to see what the creative break yielded. The band started the set with an instrumental intro and after approx. 2 minutes the new singer entered the stage. Apparently the band has been working on its sex appeal since it now features some eye’s delight for both sexes. I’m not going into detail on the singer’s appearance, although this led to controversial discussions among the fans. Even I felt it was not a favorable way to introduce oneself but there couldn’t be a more profane thing when you’re focusing on the music. So back from the visual to the acoustical matters. The setlist mainly featured new songs so I guess I need to listen to them a few more times before I give my final statement. Generally I thought the music has become harder but a little bit slower at the same time, unlike songs like “Not to be Heard”, “My Life,…” or “Nothing in Return” for instance. Fits their genre description of “Heavy Rock” but I have my doubts if I can really join a Pogo to those songs. Time will tell. Regarding the new band members, I’m torn as well. The new drummer(ette) is brilliant I think. She played a straight set, very professional without the “episodes” the last drummer liked to incorporate in his play. Plus her ambition to get better is a good sign. Granted, I’m not an expert when it comes to drumming, but I thought that was a fairly good set of her. She couldn’t agree and told me she thought she sucked. Well, it that was a bad set, I’d like to see a great one. With the singer, I have some more annotations. I was expecting something completely different after such a long and minute search, but I thought the distinction between their former singer and this one wasn’t that big. Sure, he’s a good vocalist and managed to hit some lower tones, but their basic singing style was very akin. If that’s good or bad, we need to see. I’m not going to judge too hard on him as it was his first gig with this band and I know that the focus is mainly on the singer. Maybe he shouldn’t sing towards the band that much and focus his attention more on the audience, but I give him the beginners bonus. Overall I think he did a good job like the whole band. If you don’t believe me just ask the 10 to 15 people in the pit, who managed to keep up the exuberance for the entire fifty minutes set.

Gaypain Part I
A Ludicrous Exercise
Head Down

After the show of OD, we just chatted with the members of the band for a few minutes and then headed back home after a long day so you won’t find reviews of the other to bands here (sorry for that). I’m excited for some more OD shows and hopefully there will be some soon, since I want to know how their story continues. So see you there.

Emphasis added: I know that I’m overly critical about the changes in the band and music, but I’ve been sticking with this band for almost six years, attending almost every show from the beginning and becoming an important part of the Orange Distortion support (at least I like to believe so). So there were some things on my mind that needed to be said. I will support this band no matter what as they are good friends of mine, but as a real fan I must articulate my doubts and fears as well as my commendation and approval.

So that's it for February. Hope to see you guys and gals in March for the review on my favorite Greek transportation device, The Chariot.

All the best



  • Fatty3

    okay...bin dann doch ganz froh, dass ich nich da war (krankheit und arbeitsstress sei dank)....laut deinem review waren die anderen PTH shows besser und so der größte Darkest Hour fan bin ich nich...obwohl das mit den akkustik-klampfen nett klingt...

    6. Feb. 2011, 0:09
  • Fatty3

    danke, dass du nich ewig auf diesem offenen hemd rumgeritten bist...ich glaube echt es gibt wichtigeres und das is ja nix, was man nich ändern könnte...lässt er das hemd halt nächstes mal zu ^^ zu den anderen punkten: ich stimm dir zu. am anfang war er sehr nervös und hat viel zur band gesungen und war auf die bandmitglieder fixiert. ich fand das änderte sich (videobeweis sei dank :)) im verlaufe des konzerts...man hat gemerkt, dass er wärmer wurde und mehr mit dem publikum interagierte, als er merkte, dass selbiges auch mitmacht :) gesanglich: ich glaube auch, dass er nicht sooooooo unähnlich von franz ist. es war ja auch ein ziel von uns, jemanden zu finden, der so einen song wie head down ordentlich singen kann (dass die auswahl da schon mal sehr klein wird, ist auch klar). ich glaube er ist ein bisschen vielseitiger als franz, grade was die aggressivität angeht. vll. melodisch und pop-technisch dafür nicht ganz so gut. was die musik angeht, hast du völlig recht. ich finde auch härter, aber größtenteils langsamer (mit ausnahme vll. von didl, der schneller ist als alles andere, was wir je geschrieben haben, und gulli - wobei die strophen da sehr poppig sind). also alles in allem triffst du meine selbstwahrnehmung des konzerts...wir fühlten uns alle zwar spielerisch danach recht schlecht, nachdem wir uns die aufnahmen jedoch 2 mal angeschaut haben, war bis auf einen groben schnitzer nicht viel daran auszusetzen. danke trotzdem wie immer für das sehr konstruktive feedback :) ich leit's weiter.

    13. Feb. 2011, 18:10
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