Tristania @ Underworld Camden, London
17th September 2012
Review by Victoria Fenbane
Photography by Jo Blackened
Tristania have taken a break from writing the follow up album to ‘Rubicon’ to go on a Norwegian Arts Council sponsored whistle-stop 14 date, 7 country European tour and we caught up with them on their only UK date, at Camden’s Underworld.
Italians Soundstorm open proceedings with a vocalist clad in a black theatrical mask, trying to make an impact in their opening slot. Unfortunately on stage tonight, they are comparable to Dragonforce in rehearsal. It’s a shame because on record they sound epic.
Possibly have been let down by the sound/venue (rare for the Underworld) or perhaps they just don’t cut it live.
Next up are French band; Kells.
Fronted by the small, cute, tattooed and very French Virginie, Kells are best described as symphonic nu metal, and throughout the set they come across similar to Lacuna Coil, yet with the odd death growl, accompanied by a heavy stoner bass sound (which is the main nu metal element).
They play a tight set but a couple of things let them down….
Firstly all of their songs are in French, which is not my favourite language for music.
Personally it is too lilting and soft a language, especially for metal but, for others it would create an interesting contrast with the music. Virginine’s soft French voice cannot quite make her death growls strong enough but the contrast to her pretty French vocals is a good idea overall.
Initially the crowd doesn’t seem too enthused by Kells and do not respond to attempts to get them to jump around. However the band persists and continues to play as if they have a stadium audience; the front-woman very animated and an appealing mover.
It pays off because eventually, towards the end of the set a few are won over and respond with clapping and a bit of movement. Maybe have won a few new fans tonight.
Next up in this international line-up is local girl Sarah Jezebel Deva (and her band).
After a longish setup they get down to business and please the numerous fans in the audience.
Personally not a favourite of mine, due to their sound being a tad cacophonous at times, however they went down well and a were a good choice of support.
Sarah claimed she didn’t feel too well tonight but still managed to pull off a good set with a large support of fans here tonight.
Tristania took a long while to set up, especially the drums which contributed to the gig running late. It ruined the pace of the gig a little but they more than made up for it (a room full of dedicated fans helps too). Once everything was perfect, they finally took the slightly cramped stage (just as well keyboardist Einar Moen doesn’t tour with the band).
The room was looking slightly too sparse for the only UK date of a well-established band, but it was a Monday and the new album is still in progress (scheduled for release May 2013).
They open with ‘Angina’, which is effective in demonstrating Mariangela’s ease at performing songs from Tristania’s catalogue before she joined in 2007.
Admittedly the sound is very good, making the lengthy faffing worthwhile. At the end of this song other key vocalist Kjetil takes the stage to a cheer from the crowd. They have a great rapport with the fans and most here are already dedicated fans and familiar with the band members and performance. It makes for a warm and relaxing atmosphere.
Fourth song tonight is the first of tonight’s two songs previewed from the upcoming album. Entitled ‘Requiem’, this song possesses strong male/female vocal melodies and hints at a richer, heavier sound for the new album.
‘Exile’ is the fifth song in the set list for this tour, while it closed their sets at previous London gigs in 2010 and 2011. Despite being a popular song the crowd could be more responsive – the atmosphere is a little ‘Monday’ at times.
They continue their near perfect performance, apart from Mariangela’s mike going a little quite for a few brief moments, with ‘The Wretched’ and next ‘The Shadowman’ from the same album. It’s nice to see they do not stick to the most catchy or upbeat songs in their repertoire.
Next up is new song ‘Cathedral’. Another excellent song which alongside ‘Requiem’ promises much for the long awaited new album. It is nicely followed by ‘Tender Trip on Earth’. By this point time is getting tight, before the venue curfew at 11pm. They hurry into penultimate song ‘Beyond the Veil’, another older song, which showcases Mariangela’s ease with the older material. They end with the obvious choice from last album ‘Rubicon’: ‘Year Of The Rat’, a song which is very much Mariangela’s own.
It is now 11:10pm but an encore is robustly called for and Tristania return to the stage willingly to play ‘Libre’ to the now slightly thinned crowd (it’s a school night and people have trains to catch). As throughout the gig the band looks to be really enjoying themselves, as are the crowd.
Once the music is over, security rush everyone out of the venue but the band hang around near their tourbus, happily chatting to fans for ages. A great gig, from a friendly band. Let’s hope they get a weekend gig in London when they return with the new album next year!