Alongside the headliners Dynazty, there’s Sirenia, a mostly Norwegian band, with a French singer, a well-known quantity in female fronted metal circles and a band that never managed to make the likes of Epica or Nightwish feel any serious contest, were to provide support, with Finnish/Czech newcomers Surma, further down the lineup and New York veterans, Holy Mother, who are active after almost two decades off the grid (although they never officially disbanded) kick starting it all, in support of their comeback effort “Face This Burn”, which they released last year.
In truth, I didn’t book my flights until a couple of days prior to the show, just to make sure the tour was “happening” and hoping I wouldn’t pay a lot extra. As fate would have it, I even got the flights cheaper!
At any rate – a two hour flight and a bus ride later, I was setup in my accommodation for the night, and so I started walking in a bid to find Barba Nergra (is that the “Black Uncle?) a venue, only a few meters off the Danube that boasts both an indoor tent for the winter, capable of holding around 800 people, as well as a large outdoor area, with a permanent stage for open air type shows, when the weather’s more kind.
Having to walk some miles to get from the Astoria Metro to the 4th bridge down the river where the venue’s at, meant that I missed a chance to photograph Holy Mother and I only got to experience a handful of the songs that made up their concise set, which included a healthy dose of newer tracks (“Face This Burn”, “Wake Up America”, “Today” etc.) along with some oldies and a cover of Dio’s “Holydiver”, which really got the crowd going. By and large they managed to get the 300 strong audience members engaged and were pretty enjoyable to watch. Allegedly, they’ll be back later this year.
I try to figure out, why Surma’s frontwoman, looked really familiar, until I realized (a long time later) that I had met her as a guest, to one of Timo Tolkki’s solo shows, a few years earlier, prior to the formation of Surma. The guitarist in the band also cut a familiar figure, but I could not really put my finger on it. A quick internet query revealed him to be the dude from Tyr, a band I’m not particularly a big fan of, but since they’re label mates with Surma, it sort of “figures”. The whole sound and style is not a million miles away from early Nightwish or Epica, before Simone’s voice matured, with a slight interjection of parts that bring Tyr to mind, which is to be expected.
Not terribly bad, or overtly exciting, their songs or cool, but not out of the world catchy. Still for a band that has just debuted, it’s more than ok. They went through most of their material [ie “Rendition”, “Reveal the Light Within”, “Cages of Rage”, “Like the River Flows”, “The Selkie (Kópakonan)”,”Emptiness (Is No More)”, “Fire and Wind”, “Downfall” (where missez Surmova asked for the audience’s participation), “Until It Rains Again”, “Lost to Time” and exited with Deconstruction….] with aplomb and the occasional gyration by the mermaid like dressed, frontwoman. Overall they were not bad, but not great either.
A while later, after a setup and a quick sound check, Sirenia hit the stage, with their more mature version of symphonic/goth metal, which seemed to connect with many people in the ever increasing audience that was by now around 400 strong, if not slightly more. They did have a ton of pre-recorded stuff, like backing vocals, keys and I guess bass, which was a little bizarre, to be honest and they seemed a little disconnected from the proceedings, a little too chill while performing, at least during the first few songs, but their experience carried them through. “Addiction No. 1” got things going and from then on they did a set that seemed to be centered around the trio of their latest album, the ones on which Emanuelle Zoldan is actually singing on, but also “Nine Destinies…” a rather early album in their career, but a pivotal one at that. We got “Styx Embrace” complete with growls, as well as “Into The Night” and “The Other Side” among others, only for the band to close with a cover of the 80s standard, by Desireless – “Voyage Voyage”, a song that Zoldan got to sing in her native tongue and was thus really able to “sell”.
With the final set changes, the time was nigh to witness the main reason for which I had traveled such a long way. By now the club was rather full with 600+ people.
Dynazty came out, all guns blazing and taking no prisoners, storming the place with “In the Arms of a Devil”. They sounded cool and effortless, commanding and domineering on stage. The celebratory “Firesign” lit up the audience, which responded with adoration. Then things got all the more colorful as the band performed a one two combo of “The Grey” and “The Black” to great effect and a warm reception by the crowd. During the solo Mike and Rob also seemed to sync in one-offing a beer each, while still playing. Poseurs! (I mean it in a good way 😀 They’re multi taskers). “Paradise of the Architect” seemed like a perfect follow up, describing the wondrous garden somewhere in Spain, that really fills your soul with a sense of grandeur. The dramatic “Threading the Needle” followed, with the yet unreleased (at least properly) “Advent”, from their forthcoming album, actually sounding a lot more convincing live – than in its recorded form.
Some bass and a drum solo occurred that the band turned into a quick rendition of Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher”, upon re-entering the stage. Fun!
“Power of Will” another “new” track got aired and this one is much more like the band’s usual fare, and also got a great reaction from the fans, but not as great as the powerful ballad, “Yours” the third and final new track the band choose to air, which really got a huge thumbs up. Next up Nils disappeared momentarily and the band went into an instrumental rendition of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star”, which had me and everyone else tapping our feet and probably shouting the lyrics out, all along.
“Waterfall” cascaded down on us all, with its cathartic chorus and it gave way for “Presence of Mind” to manifest itself as another hard hitting mid-tempo number, that solidified the band’s popularity with the crowd. Nils beckoned the crowd to follow him through various vocal acrobatics, which they did in a bit of fun… before the band teased us with one of their bigger hits… the shanty like, “Heartless Madness” that had the entire club singing and dancing along. Coolio. The “normal” set then came to a close, with the rather plain and straightforward rocker “Raise Your Hands” that I’m not as fond of as I am, with most of the band’s discography. Once the band departed the stage for a breather, the crowd demanded more – and the Stockholm rockerboys came out for an encore, with a final one-two of “The Human Paradox” and the “Titanic Mass”…
Dynazty is hands down one of the best 10 live bands right now, with an intense, insanely energetic and complex enough take on traditional power metal, complete with beautiful twin guitars, a thundering rhythm section and a charismatic vocalist, a real golden god, in Nils Molin. Friendly as fuck – they band also came out to interact with their fans after the show.
I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw, even if they seemed to completely shun “Renatus”, out of the setlist, imho one of their best albums, but luckily enough I had witnessed them airing a lot of its songs live a few years ago in Sweden, so… it wasn’t such a deal breaker.
Dynazty even if they are a relatively new band, (if a band with seven releases could be considered that), have easily cemented their place as a GOAT band in rock/metal, in my mind. I’m glad that bands like them exist, because they keep my faith in rock, alive… Some really preem Melodic Metal!