Quite oddly the first band of the evening Triosphere (8/10) came on ten minutes after the doors of the Manchester Academy 2 opened, meaning that there were only 100 or so people there to gape in amazement at their thrash/power metal antics. The band’s singer Ida introduces the show by shouting “Hello Manchester, we are Triosphere from Norway” which gets the crowd cheering and fist pumping ready for when their first song entitled ‘Driven’. The song ignites the frost 2 rows of the crowd into a sea of head banging and moshing unfortunately no Circle Pits kicked off to further glorify this kick ass song. Next was ‘Onwards Part II’, which was defiantly one of the best parts of the set. Ida can really wail and her fingers are like fire on that bass fret board. A mix of double kick drums and 2 insane shredding guitar parts top this song off, making the hairs on people backs stand on end. We fly quickly into the next track which is ‘Human Condition’ of Triosphere’s new album The Road Less Travelled. With a melodic opening and a steady 4/4 beat it has to be the slowest song of the set but never the less it gets the crowd swaying in time. I don’t know if it was the drink or the music. But who cares it looked Fucking Insane! Unfortunately the next two tracks ‘Trinity’ and ‘Watcher’ were a bit muffled and Ida’s beautiful, but never the less powerful voice was drowned out by the Bass and Drums hammering through a medley over heavy riffs and pounding drum beats. The music sounds on top form, but when you are minus guitars and vocals you’re a bit screwed. Thankfully final song of the evening ‘Sunriser’ saves the day, bringing back the thrash metal thunder present in the earlier half of the set. The crowd only got six songs from these Norwegian rockers. But their fan base has definitely increased and many will be looking forward to Triosphere’s next visit.
Next on was Italian power metal heads Labyrinth (7/10). As well as having a singer that looked like Lemmy and a drummer who looked like a smaller version of Zakk Wylde. This band delivered a truly heavy performance. Although these guys sound like mice on album, they act like freaking tigers when playing live. ‘The Shooting Star’ came out of nowhere catching the audience’s attention as the band emerged on stage. It had to be by far one of the best opening tracks in a live set ever. Starting off with a slow and light ambient phase then moving to a heavy as fuck sounding song are on two opposite ends of the spectrum but are killer when you are moshing and throwing the horns to them. ‘In the Shade’ was track two and it sounded a bit too....... Gay to be honest. The singer stood there trying to act like bloody Bruce Dickinson
from Iron Maiden
screaming his lungs out in the opening but not quite being able to reach the notes. ‘A Chance’ is the first main song we hear from Labyrinth’s new album Return to Heaven Denied, and unlike the rest of the set it is not as paced and aggressive. Instead it shows a lot of melody, song writing ability and musicianship especially in the whirling Keytar and guitar solo in the middle. It’s moments like this which you remember forever. Like Triosphere’s set the latter half of Labyrinth’s set is struck with sound problems meaning that we can no longer hear the singer, guitar and this time keyboard player over the drums and bass. This happens till the end of the 30 minute set, unfortunately meaning we don’t get to appreciate Labyrinth’s potential in ‘New Horizons’, ‘Sailors of Time’ and ‘Moonlight’ apart from the odd Guitar and Keytar solo which keeps the band alive and flowing.
Apart from my Sodding camera running out of battery 3 songs in, my experience of the power metal gods Sonata Arctica
(8.5) was enjoyable. With a backdrop of a huge howling wolf and a drum kit which fills up half the stage we can tell that these hooligans are here to set Manchester off with a bang! Unfortunately their first track in ‘Flag in the Ground’ was below expectation. Tony’s singing sounded very brittle and tinny making it sound like he was singing through his nose. Next is ‘The Last Amazing Grays’ and ‘Juliet’ which are quite oddly causing bedlam in the academy as people jump about, mosh pit and punch the air in tune to the catchy tunes. Replica and Blank files are 2 extremes in themselves and by putting them side by side in the set list we go from the mellow and meaningful to the heavy and fast. The two songs ‘Paid in Full’ and ‘Victoria’s Secret’ have two of the most pointless banter stricken moments before the song were Tony takes the time to tell everyone how he paid for his car and how he sliced his Crotch on some glass. The songs are by far two of the best in the set engaging crowd participation as well as flying hair and people being tossed like paper bags while the songs smash through the PA system. Included in the set is a soaring guitar and keytar battle which is not only heavy, but shows off just how talented Elias and Henrik are at playing their very sexual instruments. Next is ‘Full Moon’ which takes some time to get started as singer Tony kicks into Tim Minchin/Gangster mode singing the tune from ‘Canvas Bags’ before actually getting into the sweet and luscious sound of Full Moon. Unfortunately I did not stay for the full encore but ‘Caleb’, ‘Don’t Say a word’ and ‘Vodka’ were brilliant ways to conclude the set engaging the crowd in sing a longs as well as swaying and moshing. The band were on top form and left the hungry Sonata Arctica
fans scream for more as they left the halls of the Academy.