An evening at KK’s Steel Mill, which saw Tarja well and truly set the bar, saw Temperance deliver an unforgettable performance, and Beneath The Embers complete a very successful visit to Wolverhampton.
Temperance – Beneath The Embers
KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton – 2 February 2023
Photograph: John Inglis
Words: Sophie James
The venue had filled steadily during Beneath The Embers set, and one sensed a palpable air of expectation as we awaited the arrival of Temperance.
For those unfamiliar, they are an Italian Symphonic Metal outfit with a Lacuna Coil-style Male/Female vocal duo of Michele Guaitoli and tour deputy Lina Victoria. But that only tells part of the story. You can also throw guitarist Marco Pastorino’s voice into the mix, one I might add that is worthy of fronting its own band.
Then add influences of many Masters of the sub-genre such as Battle Beast, Powerwolf, and, rather ironically, post-Tarja Nightwish, then you have a fusion of exceptional vocals, complex but addictive melodies, driving rhythms, an unbridled belief in their own abilities and the confidence to project it unapologetically in front of a new audience.
Taking to the stage with an intro signature tune of a particularly lethal ‘civil servant’, the atmosphere started to crackle. Overture chords herald opener Pure Life Unfolds, and it was immediately apparent I was witnessing one of the most consummate vocal displays I have ever seen.
Is there a more glorious song title than Breaking The Rules of Heavy Metal this side of Manowar? And when it includes the sentiment “Metal is for all, we are a Union”, I, for one, will wholeheartedly testify to that.
How can a number with a title such as My Demons Can’t Sleep be so enchanting and make you want to punch the air in an almost celebratory fashion? The staccato opening lines of The Last Hope In A World of Hopes wouldn’t be out of place in an operatic choral piece before the trademark bass drum kicked in and drove it along together with a beautifully bubbly bass line.
Those few seconds of the intro to album title track Diamanti were most uplifting. Occasionally you experienced somewhat of a MUSEical flashback but one that didn’t detract from their own compositional style and a song more addictive than popping bubble wrap. As for co-vocalist Michele’s sustain on this number, the audience was in a state of disbelief as the note continued and voiced their incredulity appropriately. The progtastically titled Of Jupiter And Moons concluded the main set. Annette era Nightwish was never more evident than in these verses.
One may have thought that was it, but there was still one final hand to play. Before they departed the stage, they led the audience in a pure acapella sing and clap-a-long of Catch The Dream, the nearest thing I have experienced at a rock gig, to a Gospel Choir.
“With your hands and with your voice. Join this song and shout it out to make it start. Yes, I know, it’s only us…But every single voice is vital for this choir.”
What an utterly fabulous way to underline a jubilant and unforgettable performance.
Beneath The Embers
First up were Colchester five Piece, Beneath The Embers, who describe their sound as “sat firmly in between Thrash and Metalcore.” Their short set was culled entirely from November’s debut release, Condemned. A sizeable crowd had already gathered as the doomy dystopian intro of Contact segued into its live conclusion before launching into the rhythmic Breaking Down The Walls with its frenetic mid-section.
The first thing that struck me about the band was the combined use of harmonious melodic vocals with the harsher death growls. The latter can be a source of contention among rock fans, but I would go so far as to say that Beneath The Embers got this balance exactly right. This vocal interplay between frontman Lewis and bassist Liam, often supplemented by lead guitarist Clint, was a feature throughout.
The catchy Drag You To The Grave picked up the pace before the multi-segmented title track Condemned, during which there was a brief loss of sound. Unphased, the band pushed on through before normal service was swiftly resumed.
Recent single Set Me Free preceded What You’ve Become. With its Maidenesque intro, lick and anthemic chorus, this has huge crossover potential given the right exposure. The set concluded somewhat aptly with Fade Away.
With an assurance that belies their experience, fantastic presence, crunching riffs, anthemic choruses and three great singers, this was indeed a most successful visit to Wolverhampton.
Their varied contemporary sound should appeal to a broad spectrum of rock fans, and one hopes that a good proportion of friends made this evening will attend their headlining show at the Giffard Arms at the end of March.
Temperance – Setlist
Pure Life Unfolds
Breaking the Rules of Heavy Metal
My Demons Can’t Sleep
The Last Hope in a World of Hopes
Of Jupiter and Moons
Catch the Dream (Acapella Singalong with the crowd)
Beneath The Embers – Setlist
Breaking Down The Walls
Drag You To The Grave
Set Me Free
What You Become