Our Metal Family’s yearly meeting leaves us always tired but damn happy.
MFVF12 – DAY 1:
The busiest weekend of this year has begun!! And after setting up “quickly” in the backstage, we started enjoying the music of DIARY OF DESTRUCTION. Now, there’s a picture you don’t see enough in the metal scene: an Afro-Dutch female singer with a powerful grunt and a nice melodic voice to what I call emocore riffs. It is an impressive opener of the biggest festival in the female fronted metal scene. Some good two hundred people are in the venue when the head-banging starts; which means the band is either more or less famous and/or so good that they fire us all up – probably both. Funnily enough, the young front woman is wearing the same outfit as Pia and Kiki: shorts with tights underneath and a black top.
AYIN ALEPH shocks her audience a bit with her outfit and music but delivers a good show and SAEKO’s performance is just too short to judge. But the evening’s highlight is the festival’s very own project METAL FEMALE VOICES UNITED, which presents our beloved front-women performing their favorite cover songs – starting with Twisted Sister’s ‘We’re not Gonna Take It’. All is fine and well until ENEMY OF REALITY’s Iliana Tsakiraki attempts EVANESCENCE’s ‘Whisper’ and NIGHTWISH’s ‘Bless the child’, forgetting lyrics and not performing very well. Cassandra Novell and Mariangela Demurtas make better renditions of their favorites, especially Cassandra with her version of TARJA’s ‘I walk alone’. For the big finale, all of the girls come on stage together and the audience can’t stop clapping and shouting for more. But METAL FEMALE VOICES UNITED cannot replace Eve’s Apple completely. It’s a pity that they don’t continue, but at least Metal Female Voices Fest found a fun cover act.
MFVF12 – DAY 2:
It’s way too early for a Saturday, but the guys and girl form LA-VENTURA energize us with their powerful music and even bring the still gathering crowd to shout along. The two huge Chinese drums make for a nice change on stage and also complement the music. In between songs, singer Carla van Huizen greets some fans she remembers from Facebook kindly and thanks them for coming so early to see their show – she knows how to keep their supporters happy.
Metal Female Voices Fest wouldn’t be Metal Female Voices Fest without special shows. SEASON OF GHOSTS play their first show ever in Wieze. Sophia is well known from her former band BLOOD STAIN CHILD and now she has her own project running. The audience was still looking sleepy when SEASON OF GHOSTS start playing, but Sophia wakes everyone up telling them to do some morning aerobics. The energy she radiates motivates the audience and they start jumping and clapping. SoG’s debut album will be released in December, so songs like the opener ‘Genesis’ are still unknown. But the whole band does a good job to keep the great atmosphere. Their lyrics are a little spooky but also life-loving like ‘Beautiful Eternal Things’, a song about how good life is, while being together with your loved ones. After ‘Time Travellers’, SEASON OF GHOSTS play a song from BLOOD STAIN CHILD, ‘Stargazer’, which makes Sophia’s longtime fans very happy. Especially the country-like guitar parts are really cool.
But the whole energy we got from the Greeks fades away sadly, for DARK SARAH’s music starts as a lovely but slow lullaby and band leader Heidi Parviainen doesn’t really move much on stage. DIABULUS IN MUSICA’s Zuberoa enters the stage for two duets: she “replaces” Manuela Kraller for the performance of ‘Memories Fall’ followed by a more energetic ‘Evil Roots’. From that moment on the performed pieces get faster and heavier, but there’s still only little action. That said, Heidi’s vocals are as always impeccable.
Ex-VISIONS OF ATLANTIS singer Maxi Nil makes her yearly appearance on the MFVF-stage with her new band JADED STAR. New band, new hair color but it remains Maxi’s distinctive voice and presence. And as expected, the Greek band delivers a strong performance motivating everybody to shout and jump along.
Wow! That’s energy. HEAD PHONES PRESIDENT just smashed the stage to the ground with their singer’s performance. Anzu jumps, bangs her head, runs from one part of the stage to the other and entertains the audience. Of course, she also manages to sing somehow. Her vocals go from clean voice to harsh growls – which are kind of scary, because she’s a Japanese girl. HEAD PHONES PRESIDENT is one of the heavier bands of the festival and you can see some people banging their heads from time to time. This is a good one to stay awake after having lunch.
The afternoon gets interesting when DIABULUS IN MUSICA hit the stage with their powerful riffs and choir. The venue gets hot and hotter – and not only because it’s about 25°C outside. The Spanish group delivers perfect performances of their hits but also songs from their latest release, including the single ‘Inner Force’, followed by a guest appearance from SIRENIA’s Ailyn for the Spanish duet ‘Furia De Libertad’. They leave DRACONIAN some big shoes to fill.
Think about stereotypes. What is Gothic Metal? Guitars. Drums. Bass. Growls. Vocals from an elfish-looking woman in a corset. That’s exactly what DRACONIAN do. So can you say something bad about it? No! They do a good job playing a style that might be called “back to the roots”, because no band wants to play the standard stuff. But that’s exactly what a festival like Metal Female Voices Fest needs and why we come here from all over the world. DRACONIAN remind us of the roots of that kind of music – when Death Metal was pimped with female vocals – and it is good. There is not much more to say about the gig, but DRACONIAN did well and the audience went crazy. Period.
One could not imagine a better headliner for this festival than THE SIRENS: Anneke van Giersbergen, Liv Kristine Espenaes Krull and Kari Rueslatten playing a set together. Every girl – wait woman – sings songs of her former bands, sometimes supported by one of the others. Anneke performs songs from THE GATHERING; Liv gives us a feeling of old THEATER OF TRAGEDY and Kari from THE 3RD AND THE MORTAL. Great for me (Pia), as an old ToT fan, Liv plays ‘Venus’, ‘Siren’ and ‘Image’ – never believed I would have the possibility to dance to these songs played live. Kiki goes crazy to ‘Strange Machines’, but let her tell you about it herself: A rush of emotion comes over me as soon as the founders of Female Fronted Metal get on the stage and start their siren-like song. The name just fits the music perfectly and everybody starts to sing along to the famous songs of their former bands. We all travel in time and it seems like yesterday, when we heard and loved them for the first time.
After SIRENIA’s gig, which we missed because of interview appointments, LEAVES’ EYES start their 10th anniversary show with ‘Farewell Proud Men’. We don’t have to wait a long time for the first highlight because SIRENIA’s singer Aylin joins LEAVES’ EYES for performing their first single ever ‘Into Your Light’. Before that, the band just played their latest single ‘Hell to the Heavens’, while projecting the video-clip in the background and impressing with some pyro in the front of the stage. And I think, there aren’t many people out there who tried to sing the chorus of ‘Elegy’ and succeeded… The audience didn’t, but enjoyed it anyway. The title “Songs of a decade” perfectly fits the show, because LEAVES’ EYES play songs from every album and EP they released. For ‘Meredead’, Zuberoa (DIABULUS) comes back on stage to perform the song instead of Liv’s sister Carmen Elise Espenaes. After that, they also play their cover ‘To France’ and for ‘For Amelie’, for which Vic Anselmo joins them on the keyboards. And for this very special occasion, LEAVES’ EYES perform a new song that they’ve never played before, but we were unable to understand the title, for Alex growled it. After some other songs LEAVES’ EYES finish their set and the second day of Metal Female Voices Fest is already history. How can time pass by so fast?
MFVF12 – DAY 3:
The wake-up-call on Sunday is the US-American band ARIA FLAME. The band itself could be a typical opener if there weren’t a couple of guest musicians taking part in their gig. Starting with Joop de Rooij (former MAGION) on keyboards, singer Sabrina Cruz from SEVEN KINGDOMS, who joins to sing one song with ARIA FLAME followed by Grace Méridan. Cassandra Novell also comes up on stage later to join the show. And did I mention the guitar player’s long hair?
EVENOIRE bring us heavier music. Their singer can do everything in clean vocals showing so in ‘Tears of Medusa’: she sings opera, just clean poppy vocals and also shouts in the vast sense of the word. After that song, she takes out her cross flute and plays it for the next couple of songs.
The next band makes the stage more colorful: MAGISTINA SAGA from Japan are dressed up in big, colorful clothes and wearing nice make-up, which makes their singer look like a doll. The music is a bit quiet and we can’t understand a word, because the lyrics are in Japanese, but MAGISTINA SAGA are doing a good performance and everybody looks at them enchanted.
This Greek guitarist is freaking crazy! ENEMY OF REALITY’s soli-master doesn’t only play skillfully; he’s also the most active on stage – banging his hairless head to their strong rhythms constantly. Front woman Iliana Tsakiraki delivers surprisingly a very good vocal performance, with her operatic soprano. She does even better than on her last MFVF-show with her old band MEDEN AGAN in 2012 and much better than Friday night with her cover songs. The crowd loves the music and the photographers come out of the pit with big smiles on their faces.
The Norwegian VIPER SOLFA get on stage with lots of contagious energy and even though this is not their first time on the MFVF-stage they surprise with their nice clean vocals and dark riffs. HOLY MOSES manage to start up a mosh pit in front of the stage. How many bands can do that? Front woman Sabina is in a good mood, motivating the audience like hell – great and special gig for the festival.
STREAM OF PASSION is a band we fortunately get to see often here in Wieze. But every time they perform makes for a different story. They start with some songs of their latest album “A War Of Our Own” and take the chance to thank their followers and supporters for having funded the effort through a crowd funding campaign. The audience sings along energetically to ‘The Curse’ and ‘Collide’ and keeps celebrating the talented Dutch-Mexican group through their whole performance. It’s emotional and heartwarming but also exciting, heavy and powerful enough to keep you – head banging – on your toes.
Luckily for us fans, the busy XANDRIA get on time from their North American tour to rock the stage with their newer material. We’re all flabbergasted to see our favorite bands on a weekend and enjoy each of their different styles. For the German-Dutch band it’s the operatic female voice that seduces us to the front rows. Of course they had to play their big hit ‘Ravenheart’, which sounds very different on the voice of (relatively) new singer Dianne van Giersbergen, but still full of feeling. We’re happy to see them rock out again!
And when you least expect it, the festival is already ending. But not before the Russian ARKONA take the stage. Masha “Scream” enters the stage in different clothes than she used to do in the past: very casual. But nevertheless, she is jumping around all the time performing a powerful show. The audience is well prepared for this style of music because of HOLY MOSES and they havea good time listening to harsh growls.
We are dreading the fact that we have to go home soon, but THERION won’t let us be sad for too long. They fill the stage with lots of color and vibrant energy! Touring singer Sandra Laureano reminds us of Princess Peaches with her pink glittery stage dress that seems to be prettier than it is comfortable, for she doesn’t really move much on stage. But that’s ok, because the rest of the Swedish band is on fire! The crowd goes crazy when ARKONA’s Masha joins THERION to play ‘Typhon’, making a perfect ending for these bands’ tour together and of course for this year’s METAL FEMALE VOICES FEST. We’re already looking forward our the next trip to Wieze – it’s a long wait until 2016, but it will definitely be worth it.
Text: Pia & Kiki
Live Pictures: Andreas Noack – Anno von Sachsen Photography