On Sunday we went to see three lustrous female fronted rock acts: Serpentyne plus guests Orpheum and Incarnadine Coven at the Robin 2, Bilston.
First on stage was the marvellous INCARNADINE COVEN, the Reading based soprano-fronted melodic/symphonic metal band [file alongside Epica] that impressed us, so much, in the Face Bar earlier this year… on their way to Bloodstock. Rebecca Cooch is the voice, but kilt-wearing Dan Bignell (guitar) can also be trusted to sing exuberantly with the best of them.
Our favourite number is: “All Men Are Dangerous.” This has the most sticky and earworming chorus you’ve heard in a long while and a twangled bass that seems to have come direct from a cold tomb, along with strong & intense drummery and firesword power in every well-nuanced note. Femme metal is a controlling entity and you cannot escape from it … however, it’s best to be aware: “All men are dangerous ...”
The band’s fab Alanis Morissette cover “Uninvited” has the kind of uncanny sway and hint of foreshadowing that seems extraordinarily suitable for this much-accomplished ensemble .
There was more exemplary vocal performance when the London-based gothic/progressive metal band ORPHEUM came to stage… whose recent track “Treason” was a smoky escapade with black foreboding in every ornately illustrated corner.
The vocal, from Erin Johnson, is the sensual side of strident (think of Kate Bush in her early years) and Fin Thomson’s guitar is soft and often disturbing in its nightmarish exuberance.
The band seems to have misplaced their bassist Phillipe Dutra along their way, somehow … but the remarkable and aesthetic Becks (on the left-hand bass held “upside down”) was masterful at the Robin 2.
We have enjoyed the strangely addictive music of SERPENTYNE for some years. They bring a profusion of world rhythms, medieval and Renaissance atmospheres and lightly operatic hymns, all skillfully mixed with contemporary ideals.
The band, which focuses on the opera singer Maggie-Beth Sand, sings mainly about exotic and brave divas through the ages, heroines such as Freya, Boudicca and a lot of nameless Valkyries. Thus “Helen Of Troy” a song taken from the third album [titled “The Serpent’s Kiss”] is a powerful ballad with an ethnic rhythm and a lot of rebound.
And although there are ample melodramatic battle-cries at Bilston, this set was slightly lighter on the whole epic power battle-metal front and, instead the band focused on creating their medieval and renaissance sounds… so don’t think Corvus Corax (Serpentyne songs are too euro-beat and “Blackmore’s Night” for that comparison anyway) but their work is innovative, minstrel-lead and replete with bagpipes.
Mark Powell plays a magical hurdy-gurdy as well as keys (at one point we were urged to “air hurdy-gurdy”) and the show ends magnificently with the ‘Game of Thrones’ theme [Ramin Djawadi] that demonstrates the instrumental ability of this uniquely talented band.
Approaching the end of the evening, Maggie-Beth announced a totally unrehearsed “improvisation” with the other two opera singers: Rebecca and Erin. It was a truly spellbinding and fascinating conclusion to such a glorious and magical night.
Words & Pictures: @neilmach 2018 ©