Words & Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
When attending a gig, not only should you get there early for a chat with like minded fans in the queue before doors open, there is also no excuse for not arriving early enough to see the opening acts. This is even more important when a) you get to spend the evening chatting to your new physics teacher friend, reminiscing about force, mass and energy calculations over a pint of IPA but more importantly, b) you get to watch and listen to Cyhra open the show!
It serves me right for accidentally turning my head and looking the other way when Cyhra’s latest album landed at MGM Towers. Reviewed by one of my colleagues, I never even considered picking it up to give it a spin. Check out Markus Wiedenmann’s review below:
Given the calibre of the show, I’m still kicking myself for letting this band pass me by until now. It does however further prove the point around ‘get in early, watch the support!’
Featuring former Amaranthe vocalist Jake E Lundberg as well as Euge Valovirta (Shining), Jesper Stromblad (In Flames), Alex Landenburg (Annihilator/Rhapsody) and Marcus Sunesson (Engel), it’s fair to call Cyhra something of a supergroup. There’s more than enough history about each of the members to [now] know that what they can bring to the table is, quite simply ‘a lot’.
Although Jesper is missing, unable to make the current tour to the UK, the [now] four-piece tore ULU apart much to the mixture of surprise and enjoyment expressed by the already packed venue. For those that knew what to expect however, the knowing smiles were wide and constant. The set consisted of tracks from the new ‘No Halos in Hell’ album, one I’m now (following a frantic search of release promos) listening to with the same smile across my face as I type. Fantastic live, every bit as good on the studio album, it’s easy to see why this made so many albums of the year lists.
The next band on stage, Battle Beast, emerged to a heaving crowd and raucous cheers. They’ve developed over the course of their career and sit firmly in the ‘likely to be huge across the world really soon’ category. Latest album ‘No More Hollywood Endings’ has seen them expand their style and embrace a little more [dare I say it] pop, AOR and hard rock. The end result is a band that can write an anthemic tune in almost any format whilst still sounding like the Battle Beast we’ve come to love.
Drummer Pyry Vikki climbed behind his drum kit, stood up and simply soaked up the cheers. Joona Björkroth and Juuso Soinio (guitars), Eero Sipilä (bass) and Janne Björkroth (keys) then rapidly followed, assuming their positions and playing ‘Unbroken’ before the warrior maiden that is Noora Louhimo, strode on, her stunning and powerful vocals hammering into the crowd and almost forcing them to take a step back.
With an outfit resembling the classic imagery of a Celtic warrior Queen, the horns and battle wear made for an imposing sight and left us a little in awe. Her look matches her voice and as the band tore through a set focusing on both the latest album and ‘Bringer of Pain’, the mesmerised looks from most of the blokes in the audience and more than a handful of the ladies simply proved the impact this we also get to hear what she is capable of when she’s not stripping the skin off the faces of the front few rows. The newer material like ‘I Wish’ showed a side to Noora’s voice that we never knew existed. Sure, we know that her special power is to lay waste to armies with her voice but when you take away the screams and roars, the most heavenly voice is uncovered and when that was presented at ULU, the crowd almost bowed in awe. Fiery, stunning and one of the best rock vocalists out there, she makes the band so unique and guarantees their success.
The rest of the set contains some of the classics the band has to play live like ‘Out of Control’ and high jinx also ensued when the electronic drum kit, nicknamed the ‘Disco Invader’ is wheeled around Juuso as Janne chases it. Eventually he caught up, playing the neon lit drum kit during ‘The Hero. It also became a bar serving up Blue Sapphire gin, much to the ‘delight’ of the crowd making them feel like part of the Battle Beast family.
Closing with anthem ‘King for a Day’ and ‘Beyond The Burning Skies’, the Finns exited the stage totally triumphant. A glorious victory for our Queen Noora.
Straight to the Heart
Raise Your Fists
The Golden Horde
Out of Control
Bastard Son of Odin
No More Hollywood Endings
King for a Day
Beyond the Burning Skies