Saturday, February 6, 2010
Station 4, St. Paul, MN
Tonight was the debut live performance of Echoterra, the new band featuring members of Avian and Pyramaze and new vocalist Melissa Ferlaak (ex-Visions Of Atlantis). Despite the early start time, Station 4 was already packed to near-capacity when Echoterra took the stage with “Manifest Eternity”. The band made the most of their time and managed to get through most of their album, The Law Of One. “A Tear Of Her Heart” and “In Your Eyes” went over especially well with the crowd. Bassist Brian Hollenbeck took over the vocals for “Say, Try, Lie, Die” and surprised everyone with his great voice. The experience of the band members showed as everyone looked at ease in front of a crowd for the first time and sound-wise things sounded great. Hopefully tonight was just the beginning of Echoterra playing locally on a regular basis.
Click picture for more photos of Echoterra (14).
Click to watch Echoterra play "In Your Eyes".
Locals Gracepoint were up next with a short set of their technical, groove-laden thrash metal. The band’s musicianship is solid but the band’s weak point is the vocalist, whose aggressive approach doesn’t seem to fit the style of the band at times. Nevertheless, Gracepoint puts on a decent show and they remain a decent opening band for big shows like this.
Problems with setting up Blackguard’s keyboards delayed the start of their set, but once they took the stage the club erupted into pandemonium. Blackguard is one of the most energetic live bands and their explosive stage presence whipped the crowd into a frenzy. This was first hearing Blackguard, so without any preconceived expectations I was blown away. The band was tight, and made a huge impressive with songs like “This Round’s On Me” and “In Time”. Not enough bands play new songs live, so it was cool that Blackguard played “Farewell”, a song written for their next album. Blackguard is potent live force, and it’s easy to see why they have so many excellent already booked for 2010.
Click to watch Blackguard play "Farewell".
It would be difficult for most bands to follow performance like that just given by Blackguard, and Threat Signal followed with an impressive show of their own. They didn’t elicit quite the same crowd response, and it was a shame that Threat Signal’s set was limited to 35 minutes. “Afterlife” and “Through My Eyes” from the outstanding Vigilance album opened the show, and three tracks from Under Reprisal (“A New Beginning”, Counterbalance”, and “Rational Eyes”) were interspersed into the set. Another new song, “The Beginning Of The End”, was especially well-received. By the time Threat Signal was done I was left wanting more, so hopefully a headlining tour is in the works.
Click picture for more photos of Threat Signal (10).
Click to watch Threat Signal play "Severed".
Click to watch Threat Signal play "Rational Eyes".
The last time Epica played Station 4 two and a half years ago, singer Simone Simons spent the day at the hospital being treated for a bacterial leg infection and took the stage on crutches and sang while seated on a stool. Back in full health, she and Epica were greeted by a near-sellout crowd that was hungry to hear songs their latest masterpiece, Design Your Universe. The first half of the set primarily featured songs from Design Your Universe, opening with “Resign To Surrender” and continuing with “Unleashed”, “Martyr Of The Free World”. “Sensorium” and “The Imperial March” (featured on The Classical Conspiracy) rounded out the early part of the show. Oliver Palotal from Kamelot took over keyboards for this tour, and a brief piano solo from him led into a stunning version of the ballad “Tides Of Time”. More of the Epica catalog was represented in the second half of the show, with songs from The Divine Conspiracy (“Sancta Terra”, “Menace Of Vanity”, and “The Obsessive Devotion”), Consign To Oblivion (“Quietus” and “Consign To Oblivion”), and The Phantom Agony (“Seif Al Din” and “Cry For The Moon”) all being played. The epic “Design Your Universe” and “Cry For The Moon” were both big highlights of the show, and guitarist Mark Jansen got fired up for the fast, heavy parts of these songs. The whole band sounded amazing tonight, and they clearly were having fun on stage. This was a long night of quality metal, so everyone left exhausted and satisfied. Epica is one of the best symphonic metal bands around, so don’t miss them during their yet-to-be-announced North American tour in November.
Click picture for more photos of Epica (20).
Click to watch Epica play "Tides Of Time".