SEPTICFLESH / MOONSPELL / DEATHSTARS
MariaV: Oh my! The moment I heard the news about this billing visiting this side of the Atlantic, the word ‘ecstatic’ wasn’t really enough to describe how I felt, so entering Reggies early enough to enjoy this solid tour package by securing a spot as close to the stage as possible was a no-brainer. Sure, being European and living in Europe most years of my existence, I have already watched live SEPTICFLESH and MOONSPELL more times than the fingers on one hand can count, but the fact that Swedish Gothic metallers DEATHSTARS were actually the appetizer of the night made the whole deal even more enticing. Twenty minutes after 8pm, one by one the DEATHSTARS members took their place onstage under minimal lighting (which made photographers’ life a nightmare) and honestly, I couldn’t believe the cheering coming from the crowd at that time, since I didn’t know that Chicago had that many gothsters. Anyway, the up-lifting-mood groover “Night Electric Night” hit the speakers first, witnessing lots of pushing-and-grabbing from the most hot-head fans inside the venue (I really didn’t expect that), giving the perfect baton to Skinny Disco to ask “are you ready for some Metal?” And sure everyone was! Even though DEATHSTARS’ onstage presence was pretty solid, I have to admit that the pre-recorded keyboard parts took away some of the live magic, since they have the lion’s share on the Swedes’ sound, so watching Nightmare Industries on guitar while the keys were tearing the speakers in half wasn’t as exciting as I had imagined.
“It seems Chicago dies hard tonight” were the first words coming out of Whiplasher Bernadotte’s mouth as a preamble to “Death Dies Hard” that greeted us with a more melodic touch of DEATHSTARS’ aggressive sound, and I even witnessed a couple of dance moves from the crowd which was a really funny thing, since I’m used to think of Reggies as a Metal venue. “I want all the boyfriends to tell their girlfriends to give me their tongues” continued provocatively Bernadotte, and of course he was referring to “Tongues” which proved to be one of the DEATHSTARS set highlight – again, the lack of live-keyboards was a bit of a downer. “The Perfect Cult” hit us without pausing and unnecessary talking, since the time the Swedish gothsters had in their disposal was just half an hour, so they had to make the most of it. With Bernadotte using the cord of his mic as a BDSM whiplash, ready to discipline the unrestrained fans, “Semi-Automatic” from the DEATHSTARS’ debut came next to trigger more waves of enthusiasm - a track which was a real surprise to me, since I didn’t expect the band to use any of its first days’ songs. “The next one is dedicated to MOONSPELL and SEPTICFLESH” Bernadotte said after trying to fix his sweaty hair (with that type of Goth attitude), and the super-electro tunes of “Cyanide” came, again, from the speakers, witnessing more moshing and pushing in the front lines. The Punk-based chords of “Blitzkrieg” filled up Reggies back-to-back, while many fans came to the rescue Bernadotte during the “blitzkrieg, blitzkrieg, boom” refrain lyrics, paving accordingly the way for the Portuguese wolves’ invasion...
01. “Night Electric Night”
03. “Death Dies Hard”
05. “The Perfect Cult”
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MariaV: Let’s start this write-up (revisiting magical memories out of this world, for me) of the MOONSPELL set by tackling a simple fact: I have never been disappointed by the Portuguese band all these years inside and outside of the US borders and the 1-hour MOONSPELL set in Chicago that night didn’t change this. This time it was kind of special since the band had released the brand new album, titled “Extinct”, which is its own tribute album to the ‘80s Gothic / UK Post Punk atmosphere and a way to pay homage to everything that’s withdrawn from this world leaving a huge void behind which is impossible to be filled by anything else (and in case your mind just went to Pete Steele or Ronnie James Dio, you’re in the right path).
Ten minutes after 9pm, the lights were dimmed and the intro of “La Baphomette” accompanied the musicians onstage who took their places, seconds before the Eastern-laden tunes of “Breathe (Until We Are No More)” had started blasting the speakers. Sure, the fact that we were as close to the stage as possible is one of the reasons why the band sounded so loud and clear, but the truth is that MOONSPELL that night looked like they were truly ‘under the spell’, getting all the energy from the crowd’s passion and excitement and bouncing back twice as much. I understand that if you’re not a MOONSPELL fan, the aforementioned sentence may sound ridiculous, but the truth is that once you enter this special band’s circle (meaning mentality and way of thinking), there is no turning back. And I am not giving credit only to the band’s mastermind Fernando Ribeiro who gives bones and flesh to this unique music with his lyrics but also to the rest of the guys who have a key-role in keeping things in place (or in total chaos, if you prefer).
The US audience was up for the challenge and joined the onstage most energetic festivities by clapping following the addictive groove of “Extinct”. Yes, this is a helluva song which Ricardo’s solo makes it even more delicious, and it was really a nice surprise watching all those Chicagoans welcoming MOONSPELL’s new tunes in such enthusiasm. “Night Eternal” followed next without pause, showcasing a extremely comfortable band onstage playing both new and older tracks with the same fiery attitude. “Thank you for coming here on a Monday and make it look like a Saturday, Chicago” were the first words from Fernando, and damn, how right he was! “This year we celebrate 22 years, so let’s go back in “Irreligious””, and really we didn’t want anything more than hearing (and feeling) live once more “Opium” which to me is one of my teenage years’ favorite song and a must-have in any MOONSPELL setlist. Aires looked really cool on bass walking up and down the stage and communicating with the front rows, as Pedro was taking care of the keys in the back, enhancing even more the mysterious and spooky MOONSPELL live sound. And then, “Awake!” hit the speakers and saw a couple of waves of enthusiasm, even though there were not many faces who recognized this lil’ gem. As usual, Fernando’s reading was absolutely hair-rising and really reminded me some of his wolf-y onstage performances, more than 10 years ago.
The first tunes of “The Last Of Us” put again the night on fire inside Reggies with Fernando screaming “go” right after the guitar intro, and it was really nice watching MOONSPELL performing the new songs like a new-born band, thirsty for success and for winning the fans’ love. Fortunately, there is still a couple of bands who play music from the heart, giving a single piece of their soul night after night, and obviously MOONSPELL is among them. The 1000+1 nights-laden “Medusalem” and the electro-tensional “Malignia” came back to back to support what I just said (and thought at that time), passing the baton to Fernando adding; “Chicago, you are the one” as a prologue for the all-time classic “Vampiria”. It brought chills down my spine hearing the MOONSPELL fans that night giving their best wolf-screams like it happens in the band’s European shows in this occasion (or used to happen, I really dunno how it works nowadays), setting the perfect scenery for merciless headbanging. Yes, this was one of the night’s highlights and I’m gonna remember it for really long time.
“Let’s go back in time and listen to a song that symbolizes MOONSPELL”, said the band’s main sinner (ok, you can replace it with the word ‘singer’ as well) and I bet that everybody knew it was time for “Alma Mater” (and Aires’ dominant bass-riff). I can’t think of a single MOONSPELL show I have attended without this one on the setlist and each time it absolutely works just fine as a last song for the regular MOONSPELL setlist, followed by the fans’ chanting “alma mater, alma mater” as a way to call the band back onstage. This time, since MOONSPELL was not the final act of the evening and had just 60 minutes in their disposal, there wasn’t time to spare, so the Lusitanian wolves tried to squeeze as many songs as possible, leaving for last “Full Moon Madness” that got us howling into the night. However, besides the really tight schedule, Fernando did the whole nine yards and I’m talking about the double drumming with Mike Gaspar who really proved to be the band’s Titan-esque force on the back during the entire show. I’m really lost of words for this outsider band which keeps releasing such great and refreshing music and rewards its fans in every f’n show, no matter snow, rain, heat, big arenas or intimate clubs. Obrigada, MOONSPELL!
01. “Breathe (Until We Are No More)”
03. “Night Eternal”
06. “The Last Of Us”
10. “Alma Matter”
11. “Full Moon Madness”
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DimK: After the killer set from Portugal’s finest MOONSPELL, it was Greece’s SEPTICFLESH’s turn to continue this trip upon darker territories full of mysticism. As it happened the last time I saw this band upon US soil, there was a high level of excitement despite the fact that it was getting late for a working day. As it seems SEPTICFLESH have built quite a strong following here in Chicago and I think the general attitude and the band’s onstage presence deserve some credit for this. And even the band maintains a level of mysticism without talking much during the set, there is a level of intimacy that gets enhanced in smaller venues like Reggies. So, without bells and whistles, SEPTICFLESH entered the stage with “War In Heaven” and skipped the warming period because there was headbanging right from the start. I am one of those who don’t feel quite good having all these samples during a live show but in the case of SEPTICFLESH, it works great as it serves the movie-soundtrack song structures. Yeah, there is a certain aura covering the band, and combined with the minimum lighting, creates the illusion of being part of an incantation.
“My friends, are you ready for “Communion”?” said the band’s frontman Seth as a short introduction for this massive piece of Symphonic Death Metal. By the way, the band’s lineup featured a new member, Kerim "Krimh" Lechner who was stormed the drumkit with the fast double bass drumming and the occasional blast-beats. “Thank you very much, Chicago! We are SEPTICFLESH from Athens, Greece. We’re going to play a song from our latest album “Titan”” was for the proper introduction of the band to the already engaged audience and it was followed by “Order Of Dracul” which was welcome with pretty much the same level of enthusiasm. SEPTICFLESH has been a consistent band when it comes to songwriting but considering the last two Chicago shows, I have to extent this characterization to the band’s live performances delivering this type of music with the kind of power required. And damn, “Pyramid God” was delivered exactly like this, setting the write groove for non-stop headbanging and the occasional pushing around which kind of looks like moshing. “Titan” sounded awesome and kept the metalheads charged for the older tracks, “Prototype” and the spine-chilling “The Vampire From Nazareth”. Both of these songs were greeted with lots of moshing and I think the reactions were a little more violent than in the last SEPTICFLESH show in Reggies.
Based on the response “Persepolis” received the moment Seth announced it as the next song, I’d say that the album “Communion” had quite an impact here in the States, so I guess having three tracks in the setlist from this one was not a surprise. Following this train of thought, you understand the response to these words: “The last one is dedicated to all of you. Do you remember a song called “Anubis”?” Yeah, more moshing and headbanging spread chaos inside Reggies and I think this was totally deserved by this hardworking Greek band. SEPTICFLESH left the stage but soon enough returned to end this night on a high note with “Prometheus” from “Titan”. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see this band perform with a live orchestra? But considering the current economics in Metal market, I’d say this is me daydreaming.
In any case, SEPTICFLESH are one of the two still going strong ambassadors from the Greek extreme Metal scene, and as Seth stated while the curtain dropped new music is in order, so we have to expect a new SEPTICFLESH album in two years! Thank you, guys - until next time!
01. “War In Heaven”
03. “Order Of Dracul”
04. “Pyramid God”
07. “The Vampire From Nazareth”
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