12th March, 2015, review by Ann Sulaiman
“Gothic metal”, that somewhat bizarre of names (romantic, gothic metal? Metal with goth fans – wouldn’t that include Slayer?) was on the menu tonight at the esteemed Black Heart venue in Camden……
While the bands on board were fitting representatives of how it could sound, it’s interesting to note that the gathering of music lovers for the show were mainly from London’s heavy metal scene, rather than its goth counterpart. Given each band’s roots in heavy metal, this wasn’t altogether unexpected, and actually demonstrated that contrary to popular conception, the genre has its own, introspective side which can be as personal and poetic as the likes of Edgar Allan Poe.
First up were local band Eye of Solitude, who chose fittingly to play by candlelight while dressed in black, formal shirts and trousers. With their low trilled riffs, measured beats and pensive guitar strings, they delivered a haunting tune to the venue. Add the effects of singer Daniel Neagoe’s lovely, soft yet clear voice (a stronger asset than his harsh growls), and it is justified to say that the audience in the room were put into a nodding trance.
Towards the end, Eye of Solitude were gracious enough to debut a new song ‘Lost’ for the crowd, as a taste of fresh music to come.
By contrast, Belgians Marche Funébre had a set which demanded you to sit up and listen: modern rock drums fell behind heavy bass lines and grunge-tinged notes, raising the tempo higher than the previous band. In a sense, this group showed the other side to “modern day” goth rock and metal: while lead man Arne’s pensive, introspective lyrics nailed down the goth rock part, the entire quintet’s attitude were heavy metal, in that they played with a hardened intensity that came right from the metal scene itself.
‘These Fevered Days’, ‘As In Autumn’ and ‘The Dark Corner’ showcased this, yet it was finishing track ‘Crown of Hope’ that was the more interesting of Marche Funébre’s set (was Arne channeling Robert Smith, there?).
It was soon after the jazz interlude – and much needed glasses of tap water, courtesy of Arne and the promoters – that Saturnus took the stage.
Brooding guitars, gentle piano and rough, gutteral growls blended together in dark yet romantic harmony, as songs ‘Litany of Rain’, ‘I Love Thee’ and ‘Wind Torn’ fixed the audience’s attentions firmly to the band. More appropriately – and this isn’t an exaggeration – the crowd were captivated, by both the musicianship that night and their own love for a band who don’t come to the UK too often.
While their sound and lyrics do fall into the vein of romantic, goth metal (or “romantic death/doom metal”, if you wish to be more specific), Saturnus avoided being too self-indulgent in what they do: frontman Thomas may not wallow onstage in musical grief for the audience, but he instead banters back and forth with good humour throughout the show. He and his cohorts keep their feet on the ground, and the atmosphere in The Black Heart was more personable for it. Even when fans called out more than once for the song ‘Christ Agony’, Thomas didn’t break his promise as the band played it to close the show.