The O2 venues: a staple in the diet of any regular London gig goer, on any given night playing host to numerous gigs across any given genre. On this particular Friday at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire German symphonic metal machine Beyond The Black was playing alongside the preachers of the metal mass, Powerwolf and orchestral powerhouse, Epica.
Shepherds Bush Empire is noticeably near it’s capacity by the time the lights dim for Beyond the Black to take the stage. Singer, Jennifer Haben, enters the fray once the rest of the band have played her in with the opening to the new album’s title track “Lost in Forever.” The parts of the crowd who know Beyond the Black immediately begin singing along, and the rest join in as they pick up the catchy chorus. An already high energy is tapped into and heightened skilfully by the band as they play together with a confidence and level of enjoyment that would surprise any who are aware of the recent line-up changes. Haben moves between playful interaction with the other band members and immersion in her own performance in a way that feels totally natural, her enjoyment of the moment unmistakeable as she headbangs, jumps and struts her way across the stage with the grace and confidence of someone who is at home in front of a crowd.
The band perform with a never ending force that leaves you with no choice but to join in the head banging that the rest of the crowd have long given themselves up to. Featuring both an impressive musical skill and charisma on stage, Beyond the Black played through a short but sweet set of only 5 songs, divided well between their album released earlier this year (Lost in Forever) and their first release (Songs of Love and Death), leaving the crowd itching for more.
This wasn’t an itch that would go long before being satisfied though, as Powerwolf took to the stage and played with unmatched spectacle. Led by Attila Dorn - who addressed the crowd with the fire of an impassioned preacher, many moments of the set feeling much like a sermon with it’s combined cheers and chants of a crowd who were completely in the hands of their evangelical leader. Highlights of the set included being conducted by Dorn as the crowd was taught to sing the main melody of Armata Strigoi, which came to fruition in the breakdown of the track, where the crowd chanted together in what could be a true religious experience.
Photo Credit: Jay Jay's Art
If there was any thought that the crowd needed more, then it was then crushed underneath the wall of sound that is Epica. The room is filled by Simone Simons’ powerful voice with an almost disturbing look of ease, serenity in the middle of the musical firestorm provided by the rest the band a spectacular contrast. Epica take the crowd on a tour of their album history, even stopping off at their first album The Phantom Agony with the song 'Sensorium' early on in the set. Experience and skill are without a doubt on full display as the band fill the stage and venue with a set that even leaves the listener with new concepts to philosophise about following the complex and deep lyrics throughout.
Photo Credit: mcsharw.nl
Beyond The Black more than stood up among the barrage of symphonic metal from the powerful European line-up. With 'Lost in Forever' hitting number 4 in the charts in Germany Beyond The Black are more than worth keeping tabs on as they gather a greater following, cement new ideas and possibilities that may have arrived with the new line up, and develop the strengths that they already have in the combination of catchy pop melodies and powerful symphonic metal instrumental composition.