FemME Battle: Belgium

By Emily van Velzen

"Preliminary Belgium", Maasmechelen 01-04-2017

There is a first time for everything. Also for the new concept that FemME introduced for the FemME battles. From this year on, the battles went international, with a first round in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Finland. Today it was time for the second round, which was an open air edition at the Jan-Hertog, Maasmechelen, Belgium. Sadly the weather was not half as cheerful as the bands. It had been raining the whole day allready. But that didn’t stop the party!

The  double female epic symphonic metalband band Cathubodua from Belgium started the war battle at 8 o clock in the evening. An hour later than scheduled. They started their show with a literal bang, letting a confetti canon fill the stage with black strips of paper. They band overal seemed to have a very dramatic appearance, with a lot of attributes and a very celtic looking feel. The music is mostly carried by the high operatic voice of Sara Vanderheyden, who shows us more diversity in technic in the last few songs. The second lady, Katrien, brings that special touch by adding the melodic violin sounds to the whole. The band brings us some interaction, and a nice show they clearly have thought about by forhand. There are a lot of attributes used in the acts, including candles on a scale, swords and a few Chalices. After all, the concept of this show was actually pretty good. But the band will need some more time to evolve in both show and musical preformances."

The second band preforming this evening is a familiair face.The French band Alwaid  participates at the FemME battles for the second time. Unfortunately they didn’t made it in the second round last year, and this year the outcome seems to be the same. This didn’t really came as a surprise to us, because it seemed that the performance they gave last year was actually stronger than the one they showed us this edition. Marie her high operatic voice which carries the music of this melodic metalband is nice, but not always as clear as it should be. There is also not that much diversity in feel and technic. A new guitarist joined the band on stage for his first preformance. Though the guy was clearly nervous, he did a pretty good job in both his play as his performance. At the moment the band is working on their second album, which will be released in May 2017. Conclusion of this show: not the best preformance ever, not a bad band but one who could evolve a bit more.

We are almost halfway the evening when the rain finally stopped. Meanwhile, the third band is ready to show us what they’ve got. The French dark/progressive metal/rock band Veil of Mist enters the stage in an outfit that seems to be very out of place with their backdrop, and looks slightly unprofessional. Their guitar player Frederick Carcelle seems to be very enthusiastic, unable to stand still for a second. Halfway the set, he and the other guitarist Cedric Vassal jump off the stage to play in the middle of the audience for a minute, in which Fredrick almost crashed face down in his not so smooth landing. The band is technically good and energetic, and deliver in music especially a very good show. If they would invest in some stage outfits, this band would be a pretty good total package.

But by far the most impressive act of the evening is delivered by the German Symphonic Fairytale metalband Snow White Blood. They clearly thought about their appearance, with gothic-like clothing that matches perfectly together. The only thing a bit “off” is the plushy animal muppet that’s attached to the drums, though this gives a personal and funny touch. We get high operatic vocals, but also some nice rougher screaming sounds. There is a lot of interaction going on, which makes the band fun to look at, with a little mirror as an attribute to one of their songs making it balanced and matching to the feel. The fairytale theme is there, but the whole doesn't look like a puppet play which is often the case in this genre. The song lyrics tell us multiple famous stories, and make us feel again like the magic loving children we used to be in our youth. An impressive band with clearly a lot of experience, and for us already the big winner of the evening.

After the fourth band, there is one remaining challenger to compete before the evening ends. This honor goes to the Belgium Metal band Elusion. They bring us melodic guitar rices, and beautiful stories in both clean and grunt brought by front woman Eva. They give away a good preformance, and the band clearly enjoys being on stage. Also adorable is the interacting of Eva with her child, that is singing, dancing and even head banging along in front of the stage.

Now that all bands have shown us what they’ve got, it’s up to the jury and the public to vote. About 10 minutes after Elusion stopped playing, organizer Ton Dekkers takes the stage. Snow White Blood turns out to be the big winner of the evening, winning both the jury and the public vote. Because of that, the second jury winner will go to the next round as well, which turned out to be Veil of Mist. New this year is that the bands and audience immediately get to know  in which edition of the semi-final they have to preform. Snow White Blood will participate at the 20th of May at PopEi, while Veil of mist will play one day later at the 21th of May in Blue Collar Theatre, which are both located in Eindhoven. After this news, the bands and audience leave Maasmechelen. Some with laughter, some with tears.

All photo's with this article were kindly provided by Ragherrie!

Emily van Velzen