Say what you will about power metal, or symphonic metal for that matter, but the way I see it, if it’s done well, it’s done well. This past Tuesday night, Buffalo got a heavy dose of symphonic power metal, courtesy of DragonForce from London, England and Kamelot from Tampa, Florida (Actually, Kamelot is from at least 4 different countries). As a longtime fan of Kamelot, I wasn’t nearly as excited to see DragonForce, but at the same time, I’ve always had a thing for DF’s first few albums, so I was feeling a bit nostalgic when they took to the stage.
“Guys, I’m so excited to see that band from Guitar Hero!,” Vick jokingly quoted while we stood in line outside. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of all the kids who only knew DF from their claim to fame on Guitar Hero, “Through the Fire and the Flames”. But then again, there’s no denying that Herman Li, Sam Totman, and fellow instrumentalists of DF can shred the hell out of an 8 minute interlude, so if one song in a video game got some people to catch an hour of stellar playing, then that’s fine by me.
However, as a fan of DF’s albums Valley of the Damned, Sonic Firestorm, Inhuman Rampage and Ultra Beatdown!, I can’t help but be incredibly disappointed with the performance of certain songs off of those records from original vocalist ZP Theart’s replacement, Marc Hudson. It’s just not the same and I feel there’s something childish about Hudson’s voice that really pushes the power metal cheese factor beyond my personal limit. I was just glad to see that the band still had its usual chops and that they were entertaining to watch. A lot of people give DragonForce grief about being a “studio magic” band, or having the same formula present in every song, but I think for all the notes they might miss live, they’ve got some serious overall talent flowing to write some of the stuff they write. A few of the guys also hung out with fans at the bar after their set and I really appreciate stuff like that. For old school DF fans, they actually opened with “Fury of the Storm” and at one point played the title track off Valley of the Damned. I think it’s great that they’re still playing songs from their first record.
Now, on to Kamelot, a band I’ve already seen live a few times, but never quite this way. They’ve got a new presence I’m noticing on their current tour for their latest effort, Haven. It’s more honest and approachable, I feel. In retrospect, I think Kamelot’s live show used to feel like a faraway thing, reserved for massive crowds, tons of guest spots and epic production. But the more I see them in their live element, the more I realize that aside from their orchestral, cinematic feel, they really are just a fun, down to earth band. Vocally, I really don’t think there will ever be another Roy Kahn, but main songwriter Thomas Youngblood certainly knows how to pick adequate replacements. New vocalist, Tommy Karevik, is a pleasure to watch on stage and even more of a pleasure to listen to. Whether they’re performing older or newer material, the experience doesn’t lose any flavor, despite the absence of Kahn.
Their set featured a lot of material from the last two albums, Silverthorn and Haven (Karevik’s only releases with the band so far), but they also played some classics off of The Fourth Legacy, Karma and The Black Halo, like “The Fourth Legacy”, “Center of the Universe”, and “March of Mephisto” respectively. Joining Karevik for the female vocals was Kobra Paige from Kobra and the Lotus, who was filling in for Arch Enemy’s Alyssa White- Gluz and Amaranthe’s Elize Ryd. Gluz and Ryd lended Kamelot their voices on their last two albums in the studio and have also joined the band on past tours to perform those parts live.
On a sidenote, one thing in particular that bothered me about this show was how many people didn’t know about it until after the fact. I have to admit I was a little disappointed by the relatively small crowd at the Ballroom that night. Granted, there isn’t a huge symphonic/power metal scene in Buffalo, but I was really surprised by the number of posts I saw on social media after I shared some thoughts and videos from the show, from people who had no idea it had happened and would’ve went. I’m sure it was promoted via the usual avenues, but from my perspective, it did seem like another one of those shows that pops up in a Facebook event page and a ticket link on a venue site, then is quietly left to simmer without much further mention. Don’t get “internet lazy” my promoter friends! That’s a no no!
Anyway, given DragonForce’s new live sound with Marc Hudson, I could take or leave another chance to see them, but I sincerely hope Kamelot returns in the near future to help mix things up around here. With all the deathcore, metalcore, whatevercore gigs that frequent this area, I find the occasional injection of power/symphonic metal to be quite refreshing.
Several bigger shows will be passing through this area in the very near future, so keep your eyes out. Andrew WK will be at Broadway Joe’s on December 8th, The Black Dahlia Murder will be at Waiting Room on December 18th, and ETID Christmas is December 20th- 22nd this year at Ballroom or Waiting Room (depending on the night), just to name a few. Not to mention, our friends in Rochester have Battlecross at Montage Music Hall on December 14th with Black Fast and others, and Nile also at Montage Music Hall on January 17th, again just to name a few.
We will see you at these gigs and more! And as always, thanks for reading, Metallers!