Out of the Dark, Sunday 9 October – Islington Academy, London

Out of the Dark, Sunday 9 October – Islington Academy, London.  Review by Rowena Lamb, photos and some additional reviewing by Ant May.

As the days get shorter, the appropriately named Out of the Dark festival arrived in London bringing with it five great bands – Tristania, Van Canto, Serenity, Xandria and Amberian Dawn.  There was a good turn out for the early start  with each of the bands being well received.

First up was Amberian Dawn, here in London for the second time.  Hailing from Finland they play metal with operatic style vocals.   They go down very well with the crowd, and unusually for the first band on a bill they actually play to a fairly full venue.  Heidi’s operatic vocals are particularly impressive with songs such as “River of Tuoni”, and the applause they get shows that the crowd enjoy their set.

Amberian Dawn setlist:

Shallow waters
City of corruption
River of Tuoni

As the second band up, Serenity started strong, and took it up another notch with “Fairytales”, welcoming Clémentine Delauney from Whyzdom as guest vocalist, and performed a great duet, even adding some A Capella singing at the end.   If you didn’t know who this band was before, you’d definitely want to after this song.  The notch was cranked up again for some “more fast shit”, and Clémentine later joined the band again for “Serenade of flames”.  The crowd would probably have preferred more songs with Clémentine but still enjoyed the bands set

Serenity setlist:

Intro/New Horizons
Far from home
Coldness kills
Reduced to nothingness
Serenade of flames

Next up was Xandria who were obviously a firm favourite of the audience with the cheers from the crowd getting louder as the songs went on, and it was not difficult to see why.  The balance between the music and the vocals was perfect.  After playing Save my life from the album Salomé – The Seventh Veil,  they went on to play Valentine and Euphoria from their upcoming new album, which are both destined to be a festival favourites.  (Euphoria practically begs for a mosh pit.)

Xandria setlist:

Now & Forever
End of every story
Save my life


After the huge reception received by Xandria it would be easy to feel sorry for the next band that followed, but Van Canto deserved no such pity and more than met the challenge laid down to them by receiving the loudest cheers of the night throughout their act.  (You wouldn’t know that this was their first time in the UK.)  One band member was particularly happy to be playing the UK – Ross is Scottish and announced it was the first time his family had been able to come and see him perform.

If you haven’t heard of them you may think that a band with just drums and vocalists taking the part of guitars wouldn’t quite work and perhaps isn’t really metal, but you’d be wrong.  Listening to them you don’t even notice there’s anything missing as all the elements are still that and I defy anyone to
not appreciate their cover of Nightwish’s  “Wishmaster”.  With a mixture of cover versions of well known songs such as Rebellion and The Mission as well as their own material such as The Seller of Souls from their recently released album, Break the Silence, Van Canto played an impressive set and were definitely the unofficial headliner of the night.

Van Canto setlist:

Lost forever
Seller of souls
Neur wind
One to ten
The Bards song
Black wings of hate
The Mission (included a few verses of Master of Puppets)
Fear of the dark


The actual headliners were Tristania who, as if to prove this, came out playing even louder than the previous bands, and with the standard rising as the bands went on I was expecting even greater things from them.  In opposition to Van Canto, Tristania seem to put more focus on guitars, and it works, though at the cost of the vocals.  Their songs are nice and heavy, as are the drums and the death metal vocals are as they should be.  Overall there was a good mix of songs all of which were well received by the crowd.  However, after the previous two bands there was something lacking, and that was not just a chunk of the crowd who had left after Van Canto’s set.  Having never seen any of these bands before I was left confused, and not just by the female singer continuously walking on and off the stage, but by the play list.  In my opinion, and I would say the opinion of a good many there that night, Van Canto should have been the headliners, followed by Xandria and then Tristania.  Maybe next time.

Tristania setlist:

Year of the rat
Beyond the veil
The wretched
The shining path
Tender trip on earth


Amberian Dawn: 7/10
Serenity: 7/10
Xandria: 9/10
Van Canto: 10/10
Tristania: 6/10

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.