We had been waiting for a night as spectacular as this for a long time. The Distortion Tour 2023 had arrived in Madrid past March 19 and Madness Live brought us four top-level bands that promised to offer us an unforgettable show. Igorrr, Amenra, Der Weg Einer Freiheit and Hangman's Chair.
It is true that the Spanish circuit, and more specifically the one in Madrid, is scarce in terms of venues with larger stages. Scenarios that bands of the level of Igorrr or Amenra need to execute their show at their 100%. You just have to take a look at the posts and stories on social networks of the bands and at the events that have taken place in other countries and cities of this same tour. This means that to a greater or lesser extent, the shows here in Madrid will suffer in terms of staging.
Event recap video just showing Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Amenra & Igorrr.
It was just after 6:15 p.m., when the French band from Paris, Hangman's Chair, opened the night for an audience that had not yet fully accessed the venue. The melancholic parts of this quartet roared powerfully, heating up the atmosphere in the La Paqui venue (formerly called Sala But). Cédric Toufouti, singer and guitar player of the band, thrilled with his clean and melodic voices and slowly introduced the audience to passages in which Doom gave way to parts more oriented towards Atmospheric Post Rock, making his sound more solid and forceful, the show did not decay at any time.
They opened the concert with An Ode to Breakdown, where they already foreshadowed what the band's show would be. The slow and elaborate passages of this song led to the second contribution of the night, Cold & Distant, a song somewhat faster than the previous one and with which they managed to engage the public even more. They followed with Who Wants to Die Old and continued with the song Loner. All four first songs from their latest full length album A Loner, released in February 2022.
At that point, they were at the peak of their concert and decided to go one step further and play their last two songs. The choice of these last two was to return to their penultimate album Banlieue Triste, released back in 2018, playing Sleep Juice and what may be the most famous song of these French ones, Naive.
A great start to a night that promised to be magnificent but revealed the lack of space on the stage, since Mehdi Birouk Thépegnier's drums looked too far forward so as not to hinder the assembly of the subsequent bands.
DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT
One of the main reasons why the Obnubil Studio team was at this concert was because of working with the musicians of Der Weg Einer Freiheit, doing an indoor and outdoor photo shooting for them before the show. They are incredible musicians and even better people. We hope the pictures will be released very soon! But let's get to what concerns us since this German quartet was the next to step on the stage tables.
The band from Würzburg has been with its consolidated line-up since 2017. They began their musical journey back in 2009 with a self titled demo. It was just a year later in 2010 when they released their first self titled LP, with more classic overtones within Black Metal.
After some following EPs, full length albums and one live album from a show in Berlin, in 2021, they released their latest work under French independent record label Season of Mist, Noktvrn, evolving into a Post Black / Post Metal sound.
They began the concert with the mentioned album, more specifically with the fifth tune of the album, Morgen, one of the best songs of the band without a doubt. The fast, technical and refined style of this band totally changed the color of the manner we saw and listened before with Hangman's Chair. The flashes of lighting from the show were a nightmare for photographers trying to take pictures of them. They gave no respite.
Tobias Schuler's drums, together with Nico Ziska's bass, were a real gale and the riffs of Nikita Kamprad and Nicolas Rausch were authentic locomotives. Worthy of admiration these Germans who gave us everything they had.
The second song, Repulsion, the first song from their album Stellar, gave a bit of a truce since it begins with a slower introduction. But the calm did not last long since halfway through the song, reaching the climax, the show exploded again with a blast beat and overwhelming tremolos.
Carrying on with that infernal rhythm came Am Rande der Dunkelheit, the third song from their latest album and one that most evokes the roots of Black Metal.
They continued with Einkehr, from their album Stellar, that did also not give much respite either to move on to what would be the last tremendous song of the night; Aufbruch, which (by chance?) means "departure" in German, quite a farewell. A song with a totally immersive intro, which gives way to a merciless barrage of Black Metal, just astonishing.
Songs focused on feelings of despair, memories and the darker aspects of human society. The band's performance was impeccable and not even the bad acoustics that night in the venue marred the performance of the Germans.
A few minutes before 8:15 p.m., began for many the highlight of the night and for us the second reason for being at this event. Amenra is a band that the OBNUBIL team has a very special affection for and we have had the opportunity to work and collaborate with some of the members in the past, singer Colin H. Van Eeckhout and guitar player Mathieu Vandekerckhove.
As soon as the first notes sound at an Amenra concert, you know that it is a band that offers something different from the rest, something special. Normally, the Belgian band impresses us not only for its sound, but also for its scenic commitment, lighting and even placement and interpretation on stage. It's a pity that, given the qualities of the venue in Madrid and the stage, this was very limited and they couldn't display the full magnitude of their show.
They had to shorten the columns of lights and did not have the space for lights that we are used to. The small space on the stage made that the drum was very wedged between all the amplifiers and the screen that we are used to having at the back of the stage, could not be placed decently, there were flaws in the placement. We attest that the technical team and the band members themselves tried to place it as well as possible, but it was impossible to do better. All this meant that the performance did not shine as it should and you could feel discomfort among some members of the band. That said, we give way to tell how the concert was.
They started the show with one of their best known songs, Razorreater from their album Mass IIII. Colin's voice, as well as the power of the string instruments and percussion, submerged us in a trip to the past of their discography that reminds us of the old Neurosis or even Isis but with more modern and current touches.
The black and white projections at the background matched perfectly with the slow but forceful bass rhythm of Tim De Gieter, giving way to what would be the second song of the night, De Evenmens from their latest album De Doorn.
At this point, we highlight the difficulty this band encounters when not headlining. All the public that is a follower of Amenra, knows that their shows stand out for their solemnity, to the point that they seem like masses in which silence must prevail to immerse you in the passages of their music. This did not happen as it should, since a part of the audience did not understand, value or simply did not respect the performance of the Belgians. So much so that they did not shut up or even shout during the show in passages where the need for silence was evident and they even confronted people who asked for silence. It's a shame to have to live these kinds of episodes. The only thing that is achieved in this way is to tarnish magnificent events, not only because of the music, but also because of the sensations produced by their staging.
They continued playing Plus Près de Toi, from one of their most popular albums, Mass VI, giving way to one of the most iconic parts of the Belgian band's performances: Terziele / Am Kreuz. In the parts where the undistorted guitars of Mathieu Vandekerckhove and Lennart Bossu gave way to the clean vocals of Colin H. Van Eeckhout, sound problems on stage became noticeable. It gave the impression that the monitors next to the singer were not heard enough and therefore some voices were out of tune and we have been told about a sound that hurt Tim's hearing. We attest that in other concerts, where we have been able to enjoy longer Amenra shows as headliners, we have never ever noticed failures like those. Unfortunately, we have to comment that after having seen them many times, in Madrid their shows have never been 100% representative compared to the times that we have been to see them in their own country, Belgium, in Germany or the United Kingdom; where they always have better venues, outstanding locations, bigger stages and a silent public. So, if you are a true fan of this band, you better go out of town and see them somewhere else so you can really live their whole experience.
With everything that was happening on stage, the precious chords of A Solitary Reign began to sound, undoubtedly the most anticipated song by the vast majority of the public at Amenra concerts.
With the whole band at the peak of the concert, the singer without the shirt revealing the mythical ominous tattoo of the Todesrune located on his back (an old German symbol for death) and Bjorn J. Lebon carrying the rhythmic weight of the song with his drums, it was finally done silence and the concert ended.
Obviously, technical problems caused the concert to finish earlier than expected. The wonderful Diaken was yet to be played to end the show, but much to our regret not on this occasion. A great shame, but understandable seeing the enormous efforts that the vocalist had to be making on stage. However, it is always enjoyable to see artists like these Belgians on stage. The sensations that their shows make you feel are impressive.
And it was time to enjoy the headliner of the Distortion Tour 2023. The project of the French Gautier Serre, was founded in 2005 and has come to have the participation of Teloch (Guitarist of Mayhem), the classical singer Laure Le Prunenec and even a chicken, but we will leave that last story for another occasion. It can be said that Igorrr's style combines a variety of disparate genres, including Black Metal, Trip Hop, Avantgarde and even Baroque or Techno music. As you can see, it is one of the most experimental bands that can be heard today.
Since Igorrr has had several musicians along his way, it is important to mention the musicians that the Frenchman brought for this tour. The Igorrr project became a full band with the addition of vocalists Marthe Alexandre as mezzo soprano, JB Le Bail with his guttural voices, Martyn Clément as the only guitarist and Sylvain Bouvier, the owner and master of the drums.
The show began with Paranoid Bulldozer Italiano, a crazy song that delves between electronic music, metal, baroque music; that delighted a part of the public that resembles the concerts of the French band to a "rave". This is where the atmosphere started to warm up after the different energy that Amenra transmitted.
They continued with their eclectic sound with Spaghetti Forever (let's highlight the facet of Serre to choose the name of the songs), Hollow Tree and Nervous Waltz. Three songs that did not leave anyone indifferent given their technical, compositional and even public understanding complexity (it is not an easy style for all audiences).
The non-traditional style of the previous songs did not change at all in the next songs. Camel Dancefloor with some electronic Arabic rhythms and ieuD where we witnessed the fantastic vocal duo of JB Le Bail and Marthe Alexandre, highlighting the vocal prowess of Marthe Alexandre and also drummer Sylvain Bouvier. In addition, the general sound of the venue was not bad at all on this occasion, taking into account the difficulty of mixing so many musical styles.
Parpaing was the next song, which is well known for having had the participation of George Fisher in its day, better known by his stage name Corpsegrinder, American death metal vocalist who is the lead singer of Cannibal Corpse, Paths of Possession and Serpentine Dominion. After, they went one step further with Polyphonic Rust and Overweight Poesy, where blacker and darker passages stand out and which gave way to the magnificent Viande where the guitar riffs stood out.
Calm returned with Himalaya Massive Ritual where violins, melodic voices and a sitar stand out. About to end the night, Cheval reached our ears and the concert closed with Very Noise.
CONCLUSION OF THE NIGHT
In general, we can say that it was a great concert, full of very different emotions given the diversity of styles that were played throughout the night. This generates a multitude of opinions regarding the fact that there are people who do not like to mix such contrasting bands in the same concert and vice versa, one can never please everyone.
On the other hand, we would like to mention that both Igorrr and Amenra are bands that should be headliners on their own. This would greatly improve the show of both, either by duration, by not having to take time from each other, or by performance, since the Belgians were greatly compromised by the lack of space on stage. That, or simply that these types of concerts should be better adapted to more suitable spaces and settings.