MFVF 2016 – Saturday

An early start means it’s always a struggle to get up and out for the first full day of MFVF, but it’s one of those festivals where you don’t want to miss a band even if you haven’t heard many of the bands before as I’ve never left disappointed.

Evig Natt are a slightly odd choice for the first band of the day – no matter how good it is, Doom metal isn’t really the best way to get the crowd going at the start of the day. Despite that, they were very good – so good that some people were still raving about them days after the festival ended.

Mourning sun gave us more Doom metal.  The band had travelled from Chile to be here, which shows how keen they were to play.  It’s very good doom metal with great vocals, but it just feels a bit too much coming straight after another doom band.  Fans of doom metal should certainly check out Mourning Sun and Evig Natt.

Ancient myth were the first oriental band of the day, having come all the way from Tokyo.  They are pretty good, but with the strength of the rest of the lineup, are sadly the weakest band on the bill.

Taiwanese band Crescent lament followed them and were far more impressive. The use of traditional Chinese/Taiwanese instruments added an extra element to the sound that helps set them apart from other bands.  Definitely a good addition to the lineup.

Spoil engine came next.  Some call it “modern metal”, others call them “melodic thrash” – I prefer the second description as it gives a good idea of what to expect.  Signed to Nuclear Blast (and Roadrunner before that), they’re a band who have plenty of experience, and that shows as they put in a great performance.

Savn are a sumphonic/folk metal band.  Singer Carmen Elise Espanaes was last at MFVF with her band Midnattsol but this time she’s here with Savn.  As well as the usual Savn members, she’s got a special guest – her sister, former Leaves Eyes singer, Liv Kristine.  I’ve got Savn’s album and really like it, so their addition to the MFVF lineup was good news for me.  It’s a great set, but the best was when Liv came out to duet with Carmen – it certainly went down well with the crowd.

Polish band Artrosis came next.  While most bands sing in English even when they come from other countries, Artrosis sang in Polish.  That did mean you couldnt listen to the lyrics, but the music was strong enough that you could still it without knowing what they were singing about.

Kontrust are a band I haven’t really paid all that much attention to in the past, but watching them this time I really regret not paying more attention last time they played.  After the doomy sounds earlier in the day, Kontrust were a much needed breath of fresh air.  There’s so much fun in their show which combines with music that reminds me of Gogol Bordello for it’s catchy danceable feel.  Take some rock/metal and blend in a healthy dose of pop and folk and you get Kontrust – a real highlight of the day for me.

Battlelore came next.  The band took a break after they played MFVF in 2011 and it was only earlier this year that they announced that they were active again and would play their first show at MFVF.  Needless to say fans were excited by their return and they got a great reception from the crowd.  The mix of clean female vocals and growling male vocals suits their folky metal style, and a singer waving a sword around certainly fits the battle part of their name.  It’s great music – nice and heavy and perfect to enjoy while drinking a few beers.

MaYaN were next – the side project of Epica guitarist Mark Jansen.  In MaYaN he just sings (and shares the vocal duties with several other singers).  It’s a heavier sound than Epica – more death metal than symphonic but there’s certainly plenty in common with some of the heavier bits of Epica songs.  With three male vocalists and two female vocalists there’s always something different as they use different singers (usually several per song) to fit each song.  It’s fantastic stuff, and it was good to see Mark Jansen fully involved this time as at Epic Metal fest he’d been largely absent during the performance due to having lots of organisational stuff to do.

Finallly it was time for Leave’s Eyes.  The show had been billed as the return of the viking longship, and when the stage was revealed, there it was – a large viking longship across the back of the stage, with steps leading down from it to the stage.  The show started with a horde of vikings disembarking from the ship and lining the side and back of the stage before the band came on.  This was my first time seeing Leaves Eyes since they split with their singer Liv Kristine and drafted a replacement, Finnish singer Elina Siirala, so I was looking forward to seeing how things might have changed.  The first and most obvious change is the vocals – Elina has a great voice which I think is stronger than Liv’s, and she does a great job on the songs – I suspect the real difference will show when the next album comes out as Elina’s wider range gives the band more scope to do new things musically.  The second big change was the rest of the band – they seemed far more energetic and lively than they did last time I saw them.  I think the change in singer has revitalised the band, and while some fans will prefer Liv’s vocals I think Leave’s eyes have a bright future.

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About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.