Ancient Bards have precisely zero profile here in the UK so I was even a bit surprised that I saw they were playing a show here recently, but I quite like the band so I decided to attend and see how they fared in the live setting.
I wasn't expecting to a large attendance by any means and my fears proved true as the crowd would barely number a 100 at its peak. Nevertheless the bands were here to entertain the diehards and first up were Italian dark metal crew Nightland whom I've actually never even heard of. They were not a power based band unlike the other two but got a decentish response for their orchestral epic black metal surprisingly enough with quite a few headbangers. They used backing tape to provide the orchestral sections but they made quite an epic sound indeed although I'm the last person to ever be interested in black metal. They did incorporate a bit of melody here and there in the riffs to make things more interesting plus they looked the part dressed in battle gear. I've seen worse black metal bands at the Underworld.
Next up were local band Pythia and their brand of epic female fronted battle metal. I thought I was really going to like the band's last album when i heard the lead single, but alas the opposite happened. I ended up not liking the album very much at all. Mainly due to singer Miss Ovenden's shrill voice which fails to capture the kind of melodies that uplift the music to the heavens. Musically the band are very tight although the guy playing the keytar looks a bit out of place to me. I always like to see the keyboard guy behind a keyboard stack. Unfortunately the band just does not have the songwriting abilities that will lift them above the pack and indeed they can learn a thing or two from the headliners Ancient Bards when it comes to crafting a hummable tune. They got a decent response and they made a grand sound musically but without decent vocal melodies you'll get nowhere very fast with me.
Finally at 9.30 on the dot the Italians strode on stage and got a huge cheer from the tiny crowd. In fact the crowd was very much into the band and made the noise of a bunch twice or three times their number. The band plays with smiles especially the very expressive bassist, and allow their voluptuous chanteuse to steal the limelight. Her vocals unfortunately where a bit drowned out due to the over loud music at the start of the set. A familiar problem at most metal gigs however the sound soon improved to allow us to hear her properly. She is not blessed with an amazing voice, but she is a very confident singer and can carry a sweet melody indeed. Her band mates all treat her like the princess that she is as they cosy up to her individually on stage.
They played songs from all their albums of course with the recent material sounding the most grand and epic. The older songs are more straightforward Rhapsody worship but perhaps more melodic even and got the better response. The band of course played their catchiest tune The Birth Of Evil which got the biggest sing along of the night before they finally left at just before 11 or so. I'm sure the band will play to bigger audiences in mainland Europe but I don't think the band were too disheartened by the poor attendance and those who did turn up were very animated indeed and made the Italians feel the show was much bigger than it was. Hopefully they'll return one day, maybe as part of a bigger power metal bill.