FemME Battles: Semi Finals!

Metal On Loud is proud media partner of the FemME festival in EIndhoven, The Netherlands. In the months before the festival, female fronted metal acts from all over, battle for a spot on the bill for the festival. Our very own Emily van Velzen reported to us from the semi finals of the FemME Battles!

FemMe semi final 1
20 may 2017

Now that all prelimarys have passed and all the winners have become known, it’s time to set trough the battle in the two semi-final rounds which will be held at the roots of the festival: Eindhoven. The rounds are organized at two different venues, which are gathered in the same building. The first round will take place in PopEI, which was the original venue where all the battles of last year.. Conspiria, Snow White Blood, Escalane and Blackbriar will be the participants who will fight this war with only two winners. In this or the other battle, a third winner might get the remaining fifth final spot, because there will also be a wildcard winner.

Conspiria has the honor to open the evening. A symphonic mental band from Friedberg, Germany, with a very big fanbase. The band organized a bus trip from there fans, which give them a very big chance to win the public price. Because of this, the venue if pretty much full during their show, and they get a lot of feedback from the audience while they play. Even though the people seem to cheer for them without any doubts, the interaction between the band members and with them and the fans seems to be pretty little and a bit forced. Vocalist Nadine Mittmann needs some time to warm up her voice during the set, which makes especially in the beginning the vocals not always as clear as they should be. Their guitar work was incredibly strong, and they preformed with a lot of energy head banging almost the whole set. A less great thing is that they have a lot of keys in their music, while there is no key player to be found, making that the backing track is a very big part of the music. This could be something that they might want to change in the future to make the act even more complete and impressive. It’s a good band that reminds a lot of people of Epica in looks and feel, but they still have some small things that could be perfectionated.

Next in line is another german participant: the fairytale metalband Snow White Blood enters the stage. Unfortunately there where a lot of problems with the backing track, which made the beginning a bit uncomfortable. Bassplayer Thomas Schmitt filled in the gab pretty well by making some funny comments and talking to the audience. They dropped some mistakes in their guitar playing during this set, which might be a small thing to work on. That whole the sining was incredibly stable and clean, and  showing us very well how impressively big vocalist Ulli Perhonen’s voice range is. The songs they play are catchy and easy to sing along, which makes the audience participate very easily. Also in their preforming the band is very interesting, with a lot of funny expressions and interactions which makes clear the bandmembers enjoy preforming very much. The point of critic we just gave by Conspiria considering the keys in the backing track is one we might want to repeat here: perhaps getting a live key player would bring the band to another level. But after all, a very good band with a very energetic preformance.

Then, all the way from the beautiful Finland, something completely different is offered to the audience. The rockband Escalane seemed to have left their backdrop at home, and replaced it with a small A4 paper with their name written on it, which looks pretty odd. But once they start to play that’s completely forgiven, because these young musicians send a boost of energy into the audience that is really remarkable. Fast and strong guitar work with high bpm, combined with the enthusiasm of the constantly moving and jumping band members definitely leaves an impression. They are definitely the (positive) outsiders of the evening, because their music and show is very different from the acts we have already seen today. The vibe is comparable with the emo punkrock that used to be really populair among the teens and young adults a few years ago, but still has a pretty strong fanbase.

Last but not least, Blackbriar gets the chance to show us what they’ve got. There seem to be some complications with the monitors in the beginning, which gives vocalist Zora Cock a pretty hard challenge to sing perfectly clean all the time. The girl doesn’t seem to have her best preforming day, which makes her voice seem to be pretty small in range and power. Especially when taking high notes, her voice seems to lose almost all power. There are long breaks in between the songs which are not that great for the vibe. In performance there is also a big contrast between the more natural movements of the band and the very controlled feeling movements of Zora herself, which makes it a bit of a “the singer with the band” image. Not their best preformance, and their is for certain a few spots they could work on to bring their live preforming to a higher level.

When the last band leaves the stage, it’s time for the audience to vote. After some time, organizer Ton Dekker enters the stage to make the winners know. Not at all surpising is the fact that Conspiria has won the audience price, considering they brought a full buss of fans with them. The jury decided Escalane as the bigger winner of the evening, but also gives some feedback on all the acts seperatly to help them evolve. And that’s where the evening ends. Slowly the audience goes home, the bands start packing in their instruments and travel back to their homes. Some with laughter, some with tears. Meanwhile the crew prepares themselves for the second round, which will take place the next day at the other side of the building.

FemMe semi final 2
21 may 2017

The day after the first semi-final has passed, the party immediately goes in with a round two. Another 4 bands, battling for that spot in the finals on the 10th of June. Participants this round are the dutch band Company of Dreams, the French Veil of Mist, Finnish Evil Drive and the German band Aeranea. Just announced is that, near a spot at FemME, the bands can also win 2 days of studio recording, in which they get the chance to record an 3 song EP. Painted Bass Records will release the two EPs at the next FemME edition.

Company of Dreams starts the evening, and show immediately that they put a lot of effort in their show. It’s their second life show ever, and the difference between the first and this one is immediately visible. Most of the band wear shirts with the bandlogo, a huge backdrop is covering the back of the stage, and they changed the places they stand on stage so the drummer and the bass player are able to have more contact while playing. The first song is very slow and completely instrumental, like a very long intro of the show. The two female singers join the stage at the second song and show that they both have a pretty big vocal range, and very powerful voices. There is not a lot of very expressive interaction going on between the band members and the public, but it’s clear that the band enjoys preforming a lot. The music is divers, with variety in speed and a lot of bilingual singing. It works, but doesn’t leave us catching our breaths. Considering it’s just their second preformance, they do incredibly well. But there is still a lot of room to grow.

Secondly Veil of Mist enters the stage, and seem to have a pretty hard sound check. At the first song it’s still not completely balanced out, and the band is signing that some things need to be adapted. Perhaps this partly explains why the guitar work isn’t that tight at the beginning, and why the vocals seem to be a bit off as well, like they can’t hear themselves properly. The act is still a bit messy, even though compared to the first battle round they did change their appearance a lot which makes them on stage look way more professional.  The further we get in the set, the drums become a bit sloppy and the change-overs aren’t going as smooth as they should be. People lose interest, and some leave the venue. Technically and in appearance this band has a lot to work on, but the amount of enthusiasm they have is something other bands could learn from.

As clearly the loudest act of the evening, Evil Drive immediately leave an impression we will sure not soon forget. Vocalist Viktoria seems to be pissed already at the soundcheck. This aggressive attitude stays present during the whole set, and might fit her stage image of half naked battle woman, but doesn’t give her sympathy points. The band itself is expressive and very energetic, and it’s sure pleasant to look at. They try, in a bit on an agressive way, to get the audience to move along. The lack of responds is something that is clearly not appreciated. In the beginning, the guitar work is a bit sloppy, but it gets better during the set. The music is loud and fast, but technically very good. Overal it’s a very good band with a great performance. But if the aggressive attitude could be changed in an energetic and motivational one, they do might get the responds they so long for.

It’s up to Aeranea to close the evening. A band that is very different from what we are used to see in the Female metal scene. There is no bass player, but it seems the band does really well without. Singer Lilly might not be the doll we are used to seeing in the front of other bands, she is incredibly powerful and expressive. The backing track seems to include a lot of synthwork, and five the industrial vibe to the firm music. They show us both power and sensitivity, with an very impressive ending in which the band let the music end in silence.

Now that all participants got the chance to show us what they’ve got, it’s time for the voting and the jury to decide. Both the jury and the audience seemed to be convinced of what Aeranea is capable of, making them win both the prices. Because of this, the second jury winner gets the second spot in the final, which makes Company of Dreams the lucky winner. The four winners are known, but there is still a wild card which will give one of the remaining bands the chance to still participate in the Final. Blackbriar, which participated in the first round, seems to get the sympathy points. With laughter and tears, both the audience and the bands start to leave the venue. The party is over now, until the final battle at the 10th of June. One that will for sure be a hard one.

Video by Marleo video, photos by Wendy Steenmans

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