Although I'm hardly the resident Prog Doctor of RockUnited.Com, last saturday I found myself on a gig with three more or less progressive metal bands. How did this happen?! Well, the keyboard player of Simulacrum is a co-worker of mine in the "real world", and I was interested to check out his band. I also heard a song by Adamantra recently, and quite liked it, so their presence in the line-up made it more worthwhile. The only band I was totally unfamiliar were the headliners, but having checked out their MySpace they didn't sound too bad either.
The venue S-Osis is a bit like a "living room" for the students of the Turku University with a capacity of around 200 to 300 people I guess. Surprisingly, knowing that some of the recent metal gigs in town have been disasters when it comes to attendance, this gig pulled in a nice crowd. It being a Saturday did help probably.
First band on stage was ADAMANTRA, who are about to release their debut album "Revival" on SoundOfFinland label in May 2009. After being behind the closed doors of the studio for a long time, the band seemed to be really enjoying playing live. Especially vocalist Tuomas Nieminen seemed to be having a blast, getting carried away by the music. The band sounded very professional, although the sound wasn't the best, especially the guitar and the keys were a bit low in the mix every now and then.
Adamantra's song material isn't too easy to digest at first listen, although they can write more accessible material too, as the new single "In Triumph" proves. There were a couple of other more "easier" tracks in the set too, and the Yngwie cover "I'll See The Light Tonight" was a good breather between the more "proggy" numbers. Admittedly, some of them were a bit too tricky for my simple taste, but to each their own... They seemed to be appreciated by the prog fans in the audience. I'm looking forward to hearing the album anyway.
Local guys SIMULACRUM were up next. The band is an unsigned one, but they've been working on their first album as well, quite a long time actually. As the band's singer Niklas quipped about one of the songs; "this one will be on our first album, to be released in 2030"... Let's hope we don't have to wait that long.
The band opened with an instrumental track, showcasing their skills as musicians. They may be in their early twenties, but they played like they've been doing this for years and years... very impressive. A cover of Dream Theater's "Caught In A Web" followed, with a few members of the audience proving that one CAN dance to prog metal... it looks a bit like shoegazing and having an epileptic seizure at the same time. Rock on!
The band's own song material is complex prog metal, taking influences from the modern heroes of the genre (DT and the likes), but also from the seventies' bands. Especially the band's mega-epic opus "The Master And The Simulacrum" reminded me of 70'ies Kansas for some reason. In my humble opinion, the band could use a few songs that were a bit more straightforward and memorable. I don't think that I'm in their target audience though, and they probably won't care much for "commercial appeal". But hey, even the ever-so-influental Dream Theater have written songs with big hooks... hell, they even worked with Desmond Child!
The headliner of the gig was MACHINAE SUPREMACY from Sweden. They're less progressive than the other two bands, more like modern metal but with samples and sounds from the eighties' C64 computer games. An interesting concept, and one that seems to work, as they were clearly the most popular band of the evening. Not to mention the fact that their latest album "Overworld" almost made it to the Finnish Top20, peaking at 21.
The crowd was very much into the band's set, and they packed themselves to the front of the stage. Despite some technical problems, the band were tight and LOUD, and while their music wasn't my cup of tea totally, I could appreciate their straightforward power and shout-along hooks, especially after the two "slightly less straightforward" previous bands. And credit where credit's due, they had managed to turn the horrible Britney song "Gimme More" into something tolerable!
Unfortunately I had to leave after just a few songs, so I don't know how the night ended. I assume the party just got better and better...
Report and photos by Kimmo Toivonen, kimmo [at] rockunited.com