Tristania - Camden Underworld, London

Opening act tonight Soundstorm are, to put it politely, utterly rubbish. Bland, derivative continental power metal of the worst kind, they belong back in the dustbin of copycat nobodies and have no place being on this most infamous of stages. Kill me now. Please.

French quartet Kells are a much more enjoyable experience for both eyes and ears. Pretty and petite front-woman Virginie Goncalves is a furious bundle of rather sexy energy, getting the most of the disappointingly small crowd as she shifts from pleasing female tones to somewhat scary growls that really shouldn't emanate from someone of her stature. The boys unleash some pretty nifty riffs to keep everyone's heads banging, even if the veer a little too close to nu-metal from their standard metalcore base at times.

After assisting a certain infamous Suffolk band for some fourteen years, Sarah Jezebel Deva is at last embarking on a solo career to showcase her impressive vocals. Hindered tonight by a cold picked up on the tour bus, the set is lacking a bit of sparkle, but even so there is no denying the beauty and power of the voice; it's just a shame the music behind is such a mediocre blend of dull power metal and clichéd goth.

Whether it's because it is a Monday evening, or due to it being early in the tour, but Tristania aren't in top gear either tonight. A few feedback issues aside there is nothing wrong per se, but that real buzz of a great gig is lacking. The two new songs tonight do show yet another musical diversion with a heavy dollop of poppy melodiousness, whilst the band are still very much holding onto their gothic metal anchor.

Mariangela Demurtas is settling into her role comfortably, doing a decent job on reinterpreting the older material, whilst her chemistry with Kjetil Nordhus is beginning to work well. With Anders Hidle making a third vocalist, adding heavy growls to the mix, this is an unusual but adventurous dynamic. Here's hoping that next time around we get a good sprinkle of that magic.

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