With three solid bands on the bill, 2016 started off strong with heavy metal. Venturing out of Kansas City, we made the four-hour trip to St. Louis for what promised to be an incredible show; certainly one that promised to pack the 750-capacity Ready Room, and easily did. With metal being represented from several countries, and two continents, there was certainly something for everybody on the bill.
Opening the show were Starkill; the only Americans on the bill, these metal-heads from Chicago did what they do best. Good old fashion melodic death metal. They opened their set with Be Dead or Die, off of 2014’s Virus of the Mind. Parker Jameson takes on double duty in the band, playing lead guitar, and singing lead vocals. He manages to carry both expertly, providing sick guitar riffs, with grunted lyrics that underscore the beat laid down. Second guitarist, Tony Keathley, manages to squeeze in ,and fill the small gaps that are left by Parker. Together, the duo provides very nice underlying melody, . Drummer Spencer Weidner, and bassist Shaun Andruchuk kept a very heavy rhythm going that they, and much of the crowd, were banging their heads to.
I’m not typically a fan of this sort of doom metal, found myself enjoying the energy that these guys had on stage. This isn’t the sort of metal you listen to quietly in your room. This is to be played at the fullest volume, while breaking shit (preferably in a video game, or otherwise socially, acceptable manner. We at Photos from the Pit do not condone vandalism of other people’s property).
Setlist: Be Dead or Die/Burn Your World/Cloudless/Fires of Life/Virus of the Mind/Before Hope Fades
Next, making a quick skip across the pond, were Moonspell. Moonspell is a band that I was only vaguely familiar with, previously. Having only heard one or two songs, I thought that they just weren’t my thing, and I missed them when they played in Kansas City recently. After seeing them live, I regret my decision.
With new album, Extinct, out last year, Moonspell wasted no time in presenting new material. The show opened with Breathe (Until We are No More). Fronted by the very tall Fernando Ribeiro, the stage was commanded robust baritone. The song, as with much of Moonspell’s material, would be filled with a mixture of traditional singing, and metal screaming. Sometimes the singing was underscored by screaming, and sometimes the reverse was true. This would certainly serve as a good bridge for people who might not otherwise like metal.
Their set continued with a nice mix of songs from Extinct, Irreligious, Wolfheart, and Night Eternal. The audience continued to grow, as did the enthusiasm, as Moonspell made their way through their set. This was not lost on Fernando, who commented that the crowd at “Ready Room, St. Louis Missouri, United States” (saying venue, city, state, and country multiple times during the evening) was the best on the tour, an honor that Simone from Epica would later bestow on us.
Moonspell is: Fernando Ribeiro, Ricardo Amorim, Pedro Paixao, Aries Pereira, and Mike Gaspar
Setlist: La Baphomette/Breathe (Until We Are No More)/Extinct/Night Eternal/Opium/Awake/The Last of Us/Malignia/Vampria/Alma Mater/Full Moon Madness
Following Moonspell were symphonic metal band, Epica. With members from Germany, Netherlands, and Belgium, international relations played out well on the stage, and in the room.
Epica confidently took to the stage to Originem playing on a pre-recorded; everyone there had come to see them, and the band knew it. No time was wasted, opening with The Second Stone from The Quantum Enigma, and all senses of our senses were assaulted (ok, ok, not smell or taste), with the vibrant light show, and heavy sound coming from the monitors. Simone Simon’s clean, powerful vocals effortlessly moved between high and low notes, while lead guitarist Isaac Delahayne plowed through his rapid fire riffs, standing over the crowd like a viking warrior might stand over the fallen.
This was followed up with The Essence of Silence, from the same album, giving rhythm guitarist Mark Jansen, a chance to show St. Louis his grunting and screaming. Sitting on his throne, Arien van Weesenbek would drive the percussion expertly, while Rob van der Loo would help bring things home on his thundering bass licks.
The enthusiasm from the band was clear, and it was being fed directly back to them from the crowd, forming a continual loop. It was around Martyr of the Free World that Simone presented us with the award for best audience on the tour. But, hey, we already knew that Midwest audiences were the best, right! (Sorry, St. Louis. This Kansas City guy is going to share credit).
While most recent symphonic metal tours have had like pairings of bands (eg. symphonic metal and power metal), it was nice to see things get shaken up a bit on Epica’s tour, and really nice to see an up-and-coming band from the United States sharing the stage with such luminaries as Moonspell and Epica.
There’s a certain camaraderie that exists at metal shows not seen in other genre’s of music, someone I was speaking with before the show had noted. It’s true, in spite of the doom and gloom that may be present in the shouted lyrics, through the rumbling bass. But that love was present in the room, as Epica took us all on a journey, inviting us to design our own universe, as we would continue to consign ourselves to oblivion.
Set list: The Second Stone/The Essence of Silence/Sensorium/Unleashed/Martyr of the Free World/Cry for the Moon/Storm the Sorrow/The Obsessive Devotion/Victims of Contingency/Design Your Universe/Sancta Terra/Unchain Utopia/Consign to Oblivion