Support Acts: Freedom Call, Orden Ogan & Vexillum.
O2 Islington Academy, Monday 12 November 2012

Photos by John Adams

Yiannis Stefanis reports:

Attending a Monday night gig is becoming a real struggle as the years go by but there were many reasons that made me decide to visit the O2 Islington Academy on the evening of the 12th of November.

Apart from meeting up with two other members of the GRTR team that I hadn’t seen for quite some time, I would be given the opportunity to enjoy another performance from Orden Ogan – the Amsberg-based Progressive/Power Metal quintet whose 2010 release “Easton Hope” and London show in support of that album had both made a massive impression on me.

I am not sure why the organizers thought that it would be a good idea to have a four band bill performing on this tour as I personally feel that, apart from depriving the support act of enough time to build the momentum needed in order to win new fans, such a decision causes many problems and delays with regards sound and stage arrangements. Anticipating this to be the case, my colleagues and I prepared ourselves from the first opening act of the evening.

Vexillum, photo by John Adams

Vexillum is the name for a flag-like object used during the Classical Era of the Roman Empire and, as names go, it is quite fitting for the five Italians who stormed the stage – what was certainly not fitting, however, was their ‘uniform’ choice of attire as I somehow cannot see what prompted a Power Metal band from the south of the continent to sport…kilts.

The stage was certainly too small for such a youthful and active outfit who was constantly inclined to move around or throw well-rehearsed shapes but this did not stop frontman Dario Valessi from trying to get any reaction possible for the thirty or so fans who decide to move towards the front of the stage after the first few notes were performed.

If you grew up on a diet of Helloween and Stratovarius then this band might just be for you. Personally speaking, even though I do like both of the band’s mentioned above, I found nothing original or grabbing about the material on offer and my lack of connection was intensified due to the band sound.

Orden Ogan, photo by John Adams

When Orden Ogan hit the stage a half hour or so later the sound had been dramatically improved which was a much needed result as the music of this young Power Metal quartet may sound straightforward but is based upon layers of different themes & melodies.

The lack of stage space meant that the normally impressive gear used in shows around the continent was dropped and pre-recorded keyboard and choral themes had to be used instead but that did not deter either the band or the crowd from having a good time.

Last time I saw Orden Ogan in London I remember being quite impressed by their frontman’s ability to connect with the audience and tonight Seeb was in a similarly positive mood. From the moment the first few melodies of “The Frozen Few” were performed these lads could not stop smiling or asking the audience to either clap their hands or sing along to their tunes – both undertaken willingly by the gathered crowd.

Orden Ogan, photo by John Adams

Following an incredible rendition of the headbanging anthem “Land Of The Dead” guitarist/vocalist Seeb tried to further connect with the audience using a mixture of humor and swearing which I personally found to be somewhat…unnecessary, but that did not deter both parties from making the (both thematically and musically) Running Wild influenced “We Are Pirates” the absolute highlight of the show!

“The Things We Believe In” and “Masks” prove that Orden Ogan are just as lethal when they opt for slow tunes, while Seeb and Tobi’s competition as to who would produce the most flamboyant solo during “To The End” seems to me to have ended in a tie.

Sadly the time for these fine Germans to leave the stage came sooner than I had expected, but not before Seeb had instructed the audience to record on their mobile phones their performance of “Angels War” for the purpose of using the material for the band’s upcoming video – an unusual but quite clever way of including people in the band’s activities and thus gaining new fans in the process.

Jason Ritchie reports:

Luckily Freedom Call know how to entertain a crowd as frontman Chris Bay works the crowd with ease. Freedom Call are highly enjoyable live and on record, having the knack to pen instant and rousing metal anthems, perfect for the live arena. Tonight we had the sing-a-long ‘Rockstars’, their signature tune ‘Freedom Call’ and ‘Tears Of Babylon’, all going down well with the crowd.

Freedom Call, photo by John Adams

Personally I’d have liked to see the set kept upbeat all the way through given the short time they had, as ‘The Quest’ is a good, slower number but better suited to a headlining set. Freedom Call are a band worth seeing live and the sheer enthusiasm they give off the stage (synchro onstage bouncing on the faster numbers for instance) works its way into the audience. Hopefully they will be back on UK shores soon and do a wider jaunt around the UK

Freedom Call, photo by John Adams

Joe Geesin reports:

A solid evening of melodic power metal, I missed the opening band but did catch a few songs of Orden Ogan who’s sound seemed to be going down very well.

Highlight of the evening were Freedom Call – limited by a short set but came across with passion and power in abundance. Opening track “Freedom Call” (from “Crystal Empire”) was like a huge wake up call, a sledgehammer in the face, announcing a set of some of the best melodic power metal you will ever hear. The band’s forte is huge vocal harmonies (delivered by the band) as well as some damn fine dual work.

Several tracks (the stronger ones, in fact) from the excellent new album “Land Of The Crimson Dawn”, including “Rock Stars” and “Power And Glory”, went down well. “Tears Of Babylon” (operatic and gothic) sat well next to the epic “The Quest”, and “Warriors Of Light” all made for a fantastic set. The band were a clear clean and tight sounding unit, singer / guitarist Chris Bray on top form.

Rhapsody, photo by John Adams

Following his split from Rhapsody Of Fire last year, guitarist Luca Turilli now has his own version of the band, and touring as a 5/6 piece, many tracks were dueted with Sassy Bernert.

From the opening intro of “Quantum X” there were lights and backing tapes aplenty. Then it was straight into “Riding The Winds Of Eternity”. The keyboards and bass complemented each other well, and the guitar work was excellent; the use of backing tapes layered vocals added to the operatic melodic power metal effect.

Rhapsody, photo by John Adams

With Rhapsody usually being a twin guitar project, at least live, having the stage to himself allowed Luca room to perform, pose and shred like the a principal dancer; excellent music (for which it was) aside, this did detract.

From Luca’s new “Ascending to Infinity” to his solo albums and several Rhapsody (Of Fire) albums, there was a wide range of tracks all delivered in energetic and (slightly too) polished fashion.

“Rage Of The Winter” (from the “Holy Thunderforce” single) was a surprise inclusion, and much as the new album is good it was the old tracks that really stood out – both in terms of music and band performance. In particular “Dawn Of Victory”, “The Village Of Dwarves” and “Emerald Sword” – the former a real cracker latter an anthemic epic. Given the scale of the production the drum and bass solos seemed as unnecessary as the shred, but the music was still good.

I found both main bands thoroughly entertaining but I thought Freedom Call had the edge.

Orden Ogan Set List:

The Frozen Few/ Land Of The Dead/ We Are Pirates/The Things We Believe In/Masks/To The End/Angels War”

Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody Set List:

Intro – Quantum X/ Riding The Winds Of Eternity/ Clash of the Titans/      Tormento e passione/ Rage Of The Winter/ The Village Of Dwarves/     Demonheart/ Drum Solo/ Excalibur/ Forest of Unicorn/ Warrior’s Pride/ Flames Of Revenge/Bass Solo/Of Michael The Arcangel And Lucifer’s Fall/
The Ancient Forest Of Elves/ Son of Pain/ Dawn of Victory

Dark Fate of Atlantis (intro)/ Emerald Sword/ Warrior of Ice

Reviews by Yiannis Stefanis, Jason Ritchie and Joe Geesin

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