Female Metal Voices Tour was a promising name for a series of events for a concept that has already proven what it’s been capable of in the last few years, especially since many of these woman-fronted metal bands provided the most interesting records – at least for me – in the scene lately. Most people tend to simply associate it with symphonic metal, but that’s not even close to defining how diverse these formations can be.
When I heard that LEAVES’ EYES – now with the addition of Finnish lead singer Elina Siirala – was planning to return to Dürer Kert, Hungary for the second time promoting their latest album “Sign of the Dragonhead”, with SIRENIA, FOREVER STILL, LOST IN GREY and ASPHODELIA joining them on tour, I immediately knew this show would be a must-attend event for me. Especially because of the special tour line-up featuring such young and interesting bands. The already pretty much-populated tour consisting of five bands turned into a mini-festival of woman-fronted metal bands on two stages by Hammer Concerts, as the main acts were joined by 7 (!) local bands. Despite a large number of performers for a relatively affordable price, the event didn’t turn out to be as big as it could have been with approximately 150 attendees. I could blame the holiday season, the overwhelming supply of similar concerts of the month or the fact that the show was scheduled on a Sunday, but it doesn’t really matter those who were there made up a very passionate audience.
Right before the event, the running order of bands had to be reorganized a little bit as sadly the Danish modern metal band FOREVER STILL couldn’t make it to Budapest. Headliners LEAVES’ EYES requested to perform earlier, which made LOST IN GREY the last band to hit the stage that night.
I belonged to the minority whose heroes of the night were the Finnish theatrical metal band – as they call themselves – LOST IN GREY. Formed in 2013, the group released two albums so far, “The Grey Realms” (NoiseArt Records) in 2017 and most recently “The Waste Land” in 2019 via Reaper Entertainment. Two stunning singers stood in the front of the stage handling most of the vocals. Anne Lill’s powerful, dynamic and sometimes raspy voice naturally completes Emily Leone’s (who also plays the violin) more operatic notes. Main composer/keyboardist/vocalist Harri Koskela’s voice flavors the sound in a quite diverse way ranging from spoken words, whispers, backing vocals, choirs, growls, screams, and occasionally clean vocals. There are several moments where his voice reminds me of Snowy Shaw – a very unique tone that I rarely notice in any kind of music, which certainly gives a nice touch to the overall atmosphere.
The late start turned out to be very unfortunate for LOST IN GREY and left them with the 30-40 most persistent people who stayed after the headliners ended their show but hearing the first notes of the intro, some others started heading back to the front of the stage. The musicians were obviously tired and admittedly feeling a little bit under the weather, but it was absolutely not noticeable when the furious melodies of “Revelation” began thundering on the main stage of Dürer Kert. The powerful start doubled the already diminished audience, and the few who stayed were surprisingly active, at least half of them obviously knew the band. At the start of the first song only Emily was present on the stage, Anne appeared during the second half of the song, after the slower middle part, and took the lead in the fast and thrashing second song, “The Waste Land”, a track that slightly stands out from the rest of their catalogue with a more standard song structure and refrain. The song was a good choice for live performance nonetheless. The 8-minute long “Wolves Among Men” came as a big surprise to me; this lengthy one is among the more progressive compositions with a varied song structure, and the band was visibly enjoying playing it. “Dark Skies” of the debut album was the next one, one of my personal favorites by the band with its catchy and touching chorus. The set of five songs was finished with “Far Beyond And Further”, ending the evening in with almost touchable elation of the gathered.
Theatrical elements were present not only in their music but as pieces of acting entwined in the lead singers’ performance, constantly interacting with each other and actively enhancing the storytelling of their songs. Even for someone who has never seen them live, it must have been quite obvious that something else was going on behind the music, but it takes an insider to know the story, the roles and what they might mean. It’s definitely an element that makes the viewer think and look up the band and what’s behind their lyrics and it surely makes the songs and the overall performance more interesting.
The only negative aspect regarding their performance was the sound. Sometimes I could barely even hear the vocals and had to focus to recognize certain parts of the songs. It wasn’t the band’s fault but still left me unsatisfied, although the overall performance made up for it.
I hope this band has a long way to go in their current form because they absolutely deserve more attention. Maybe they won’t find their place in the overpopulated so-called “female metal voice” scene since people sometimes simply put bands like that in the likes of “just another NIGHTWISH” – well, they couldn’t be farther from the truth. Now, all I can tell the band is “I hope you’ll be back soon with a longer setlist and the bigger crowd that you truly deserve.”
3. The Waste Land
4. Wolves Among Men
5. Dark Skies
6. Far Beyond And Further