I Am I, Arthemis and Fahran
@ Borderline, London
22nd October 2012
Review by Alan Hicks
Photography by Sabrina Dersel
The Borderline, tucked away nicely around the corner from the Crobar always gives the feeling of intimacy.
This may sound blindingly obvious considering the size of the place (under 300 capacity) but this intimacy adds an almost showcase feel to proceedings, as if you are witnessing something special, like a one-off performance from a band usually more accustomed to playing larger venues or an act who after these tentative steps will play somewhere a whole lot bigger.
I Am I are somewhere between the two slightly helped by the presence of ex-Dragonforce singer ZP Theart in the ranks.
On what could be considered a somewhat power metal charged bill FAHRAN (7/10) are a little out of place but quickly make themselves at home by winning over the crowd with apparent ease.
This won’t be the first and last time they are compared to Alter Bridge but they take that template and fuse it with added steel thanks to the heavier riffs from some fine dual guitar parts along with looser, more rock n roll, Treatment-style moments making this 30 minute set a rather impressive statement.
The drummer must be related to Animal from The Muppets, his arms and hair flailing all over the place, adding a lively spectacle to a cramped space where none of the 5 members can really move.
The vocals suffer from being too low in the mix which hinders some fine Myles Kennedy-esque cries from Nick Whitcroft but despite this he still manages to make himself heard and install spades of emotional fervour into each track. Expect Fahran’s quality hard rock to find its way onto a lot more tours and festival line-ups.
If you speak to anyone who saw ARTHEMIS (8/10) at the most recent Hammerfest you get the impression they went down like a night of free drink in your local.
As expected tonight they turn the Borderline into party central, their driving power metal attack proving irresistible to anyone within 300 metres of the stage.
Guitarist Andrea Martongelli lays down the wonderfully melodic leads and solos while front man Fabio Dessi looks like he is having the time of his life, even though like Nick Whitcroft before him, his vocals struggle to rise above the almost deafening sounds emanating from the stage.
Arthemis have always had a special connection with their fans and this is apparent tonight with the continued banter and all round good feeling their music naturally brings.
The Deep Purple cover ‘Burn’ goes down a storm while ‘Vortex’ sounds like it could level walls with its hard edged riffs and soaring chorus. If this band isn’t playing the main stages of UK festivals soon then there is something seriously wrong in the world.
On the power metal scaling register (imagine a huge golden ruler with metal horns in place of numbers) I AM I (8/10) are at the other end to Arthemis, their more considered, harmonious driven approach is somewhat refreshing in a sea mainly full of European speedsters.
With the sound improving significantly the tracks on display stay very close to the originals on debut album ‘Event Horizon’ with the likes of ‘This is my life’ highlighting how the music is structured around front man ZP Theart’s vocal talents with each verse openly bare compared to those of his last band, allowing the melodies to swirl around the venue and grab anyone not yet on the same page.
‘In the air tonight’ drives home the point to a greater degree, its heavier, chugging riffs courtesy of Jacob Ziemba, not forgetting a superb solo, ignites the atmosphere which is commendable so early on in the set.
It will be a while yet before I Am I escape the Dragonforce comparisons but hearing concise efforts like ‘Cross the line’ and ‘Dust 2 dust’ dismisses any such relationships. The songs are delivered as they are constructed, direct and to the point with each band member contributing to a fine sonic display.
The choruses are big and made for crowd participation, ‘Pave the way’ crying out for a slightly reserved London crowd (who would have thought) to belt out the lyrics as loud as humanly possible. As the set flies by the bus sized choruses continue to roll thick and fast, with the menacing ‘Wasted wonders’ in particular adding an extra dose of heaviness that every cold October night needs.
Although as already mentioned most of the songs are trimmed for maximum effect it’s ‘Kiss of Judas’ that really points to the endless possibilities for this talented band, its longer length allowing the band members to flex their musical muscles with ZP’s gleaming voice soaked into the pores.
The encore of John Farnham’s ‘You’re the voice’ is perfectly placed, being one of those songs from the 80’s that everyone over 30 remembers but can never recall the damn artist. Tonight though it is boosted by the heaviness compared to the original and crowd members roar their approval before first single ‘Silent genocide’ brings the night to a tub thumping end.