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A Review of Femme Metal Fest 2009 at the Asylum, Birmingham

The Femme Metal Fest 2009, the first of what is set to be an annual event, was a huge success, with a great turnout and amazing performances. Before the Femme Metal Festival had even started, anticipation was running high outside the Asylum in Birmingham, where I took the opportunity to ask my fellow festival-ers who they were looking forward to watching. Unsurprisingly, symphonic metal band Delain came out on top, with everyone I asked excited at the prospect of witnessing their first ever UK gig.

After going wild for Winter Storm, who set a brilliant atmosphere with their dark, emotional sound, and OxZide, with a typical Betty-style powerhouse performance, I proceeded to the surreal realms of ‘Backstage,’ where I spent a few minutes talking to Dave from Apparition telling him how great it was to meet him, and then it was back into the crowd pushing my way to the front to watch the excellent Winter In Eden, who did not fail to deliver their characteristic symphonic gothic metal with full force, and certainly got the crowd moving. The fourth band was Markize, fronted by the stunningly beautiful Alina and her equally mesmerising voice. Franck Chentrier’s guitar work in particular wowed the crowd with ferocity yet expressive energy.

Going outside for a quick break from the noise and hysteria surrounding the stage, I stumbled upon Winter In Eden and ended up having a drink with them - yet another surreal moment in the evening. Besides being extremely talented and awesome live performers, they also turned out to be pretty nice guys who, instead of living it up in the cosy dominions of their backstage retreat, were quite happy to sit and chat with fans. It was only after I had told singer Vicky for the tenth time that I was thrilled to have shaken her hand on stage that I remembered I had a job to do. I made my way back into the unruly crowd to watch Apparition, who gave a spectacularly rambunctious performance to a delighted audience.

Sixth on the line-up, hAND took to the stage with all the confidence of a band that had been playing the festival circuit for years. Their gothic progressive metal style made them an exciting, interesting watch. The three individual members were united in their performance, a complimentary array of vocals, bass, guitar and drums brought together with rigour, the harmony punctuated by remarkable solos from guitarist Kieren. Young trio hAND are definitely one to watch.

I caught up with hAND outside after their set where we discussed the experience of playing the Femme Metal Fest and their plans for next year. “We generally find we get put on a lot of gigs with similar bands and everyone expects us to sound the same” vocalist and bassist Kat tells me when I ask her for her opinion on the female metal stereotype. She’s got a point- anyone at the festival today would have been greatly surprised at their take on gothic/prog rock with its mellow trance sound.

I thanked hAND for talking to me and headed back inside, going backstage briefly to see if Lahannya was around, but unfortunately she was in a rush to prepare to play. With a bigger crowd now clustered around the stage, the room buzzed more than it had done for the entire day, and I soon saw why. From their entry onto the stage to the last note they play, Lahannya exude an intense amount of charisma, especially front woman Lahannya herself, a quality that makes their live performance not just about the music, but about the very soul of female metal. Lahannya owns the stage with her powerful vocals and distinctive confidence.

Coming down from the hype of being blown away by Lahannya, it was time for my interview with Delain’s charming front woman Charlotte. Not that I had expected any less, but she was surprisingly lovely, laidback and eager to talk to me. I gushed over how much I had loved Delain’s latest album "April Rain" and thoroughly enjoyed talking to her about the festival, Delain’s music, and why Charlotte has loved her first time playing in the UK (the full English breakfasts, apparently!) Feeling considerably overwhelmed, I shook her hand and took my place at the front of the audience to watch the much-anticipated headline act. Playing tracks from "April Rain," the crowd were drawn into Delain’s stunning performance by beautiful vocals and the careful precision of every song, with the tender emotion underlying each song being felt around the room. I was truly in awe of Delain’s performance- they are a perfect headline act.

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1 Comment on "Femme Metal Fest 2009 at the Asylum, Birmingham"

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1. Peter Robinson writes:

Although I'd been on Winter In Eden's websites it was the first time i've seen them live and I they were even better than their CD. Wish I'd plucked up enough courage to speak to them after reading your review.

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