Sunday, November 20, 2011

Orphaned Land + Arkan + Myrath + Artweg @ Rennes (Ubu) – Nov 15th 2011

I’m not going to tell you again how much I enjoyed Myrath’s latest record "Tales Of The Sands". Therefore I immediately seized the opportunity to see them live when I heard they were coming to town. It’s their first real tour, and it was interesting to see how these very gifted young guys from Tunisia were handling a long tour with an important band such as Orphaned Land.
The whole caravan is going by the name “Oriental Tour 2011”. Myrath comes from Tunisia, Arkan is an oriental-Death metal band and Orphaned Land, as you all probably know, hail from Israel and are now famous for playing oriental prog’ metal.

First thing I noticed: the venue is actually a bar, with a very small stage and a limited audience. Perhaps about 200 hundred people only. Another reminder for those who might have forgotten how much times are tough for Metal bands. Orphaned Land seem so respected, so admired and yet they have to play in ridiculously small venues… Also, for those who complain about bands touring the whole world and not coming to France, this is a very clear explanation.

So just imagine the audience attending Artweg, the totally unknown opening act. But that didn’t affect the guy’s motivation as they hit the stage with passion and professionalism and their performance was full of energy. To be honest, their groovy HXC is no special or revolutionary. From what I understood, the lyrics are about anti-racism, freedom, and brotherhood…You’re thinking “completely cliché”, right? Wait ‘till you hear about the rest of the show. Besides, when singer “Mugen” says “headbang”, regarding the man’s actual size, you better obey.

Artweg's show was very energetic, despite the tiny crowd

The band I was most looking forward to seeing is without a doubt Myrath. And they sure didn’t disappoint me. The 5 guys hit the stage with radiant smiles, and you could feel the tension in the beginning of the show. It’s so refreshing to see a band so eager to play live and to transmit their passion and energy. The songs are solid and Myrath sure know how to compose progressive Metal with oriental hooks. On record, Myrath sounds like a blend of Symphony X and Dream Theater but on stage, they specifically made me think of Symphony X as they clearly chose to focus on the “heaviness” of their music. The guitars are so powerful and sharp and the crowd headbanged all along the show. The Arabic choruses and the very cool keyboards of Elyes are the things I’ll remember the most though. The closer “Beyond The Stars” was one fantastic moment enjoyed by everyone in the audience. The performance was short, intense and full of passion. WOW. I think that after some more touring, this band is going to kick some serious ass.

 Great Performance by singer Zaher, not the kind of singer that will let you down on stage

Their music reminds my Of Symphony X, and guitarist Malek kinda looks like Michael Romeo...
Setlist Myrath
Sour Sigh
Braving The Seas
Merciless Times
Under Siege
Wide Shut
Tales of the Sands
Beyond the Stars

I really had no idea what Arkan sounded like. I’d heard of the band, and I also knew that their drummer, Foued is very talented. He used to play in The Old Dead Tree. One thing I knew for sure: Arkan really needed to be awesome to step up to Myrath’s performance. The crowd got thicker and the guys hit the stage with their very heavy Death Metal. All of a sudden, some chick dressed up in a white traditional dress pops out of nowhere and starts dancing on stage. Talking about clichés! The “chick” is in fact Sarah, the lead singer of the band. And she’s also very good at adding that oriental/mystical touch to Arkan’s Death Metal. Again, nothing totally original here, as there are a bunch of bands that play that kind of Metal with gothic elements and a female singer. But the energy and the professionalism of the band struck me again, and the crowd went fully insane during the entire show. Their position right before Orphaned Land is well deserved regarding their awesome performance. I might give their pretty cool oriental/death metal a chance as well. Cool Show.

Sarah: the lead vocalist and bellydancer of Arkan

James from Metallica? Michael from Volbeat? No, Florent from Arkan

Bassist Samir really had a connection with the crowd. He still looks like the bad guy in Aladin

Setlist Arkan
Blind Devotion
Tied Fates
Inner Slaves
Groans of the Abyss
Lords Decline
Deux Vult
Chaos Cypher

Now I didn’t really know what to expect from Orphaned Land. On one hand, everybody keeps telling how much this band is awesome, both on stage and on record. On the other hand, I was very disappointed by their performance at Hellfest earlier this year. They’d focused on the “catchy” elements; and they had a Lebanese belly dancer on stage (almost caused a diplomatic incident, remember?)…That show was just a failure.
But tonight, the environment is completely different. The stage and the audience are small, the atmosphere is intimate, and the crowd is already satisfied. Orphaned Land walked into won ahead territory.
They still kicked ass. Ok, I must admit I didn’t watch their entire show (I had school the next day, had to go to bed early) but what I saw was already tremendous. These guys play some pretty complex tunes, but they manage to make it sound catchy on stage and they display this positive energy all along. Although their whole concept and imagery seem naïve, they still make you believe in it and you can’t blame them for trying to transmit a positive message after all…

Why so sad Uri?

Kobi, headbangin' with attitude

Maybe progressive, maybe oriental, but this was still a METAL show!

Setlist Orphaned Land
A'salk [intro tape]
Halo Dies (The Wrath of God)
Birth of the Three (The Unification)
Olat Ha'tamid
The Kiss of Babylon (The Sins)
From Broken Vessels
A Neverending Way
The Path, Part 1: Treading Through Darkness
Ocean Land (The Revelation)
Vayehi Or
The Warrior
El Meod Na'Ala
In Thy Never Ending Way (Epilogue)
The Beloved's Cry / The Storm Still Rages Inside
Norra el Norra (Entering the Ark)
Ornaments of Gold

All in all, this was a fabulous evening, with 4 very passionate and professional bands at their best. I also enjoyed the intimate atmosphere linked to the size of the venue. The bands communicated very easily and the crowd’s response was awesome. It’s pretty sad to see these guys playing on such a small stage, but you cannot blame them for that. In fact, we should be thanking them for coming up, and for being both talented AND humble.

It’s really time that French Metal fans, that love to criticize and to praise their favorite bands online, start showing up to concerts. There are less and less bands touring this country, and the few brave ones who take that chance have to deal with pretty shitty conditions. If you still want to see other bands than AC/DC in France (not only Paris) move your ass and attend the damn gigs!

Thanks to Anita & Fred for inviting me to that cool evening.

Note: Apologies for the lousy quality of my pictures. I only had a small digital camera that night, and unlike other disciplines, size does matter when it comes to shooting a live show. 

No comments:

Post a Comment