Another exciting episode of the Wacken Battle graced the Hard Luck bar with an extremely varied, if somewhat unenthusiastic, crowd. At Dawn’s Edge had the hard task of opening up the night, but they took on this duty enthusiastically calling forward the crowd and handing out business cards. I really wish they had coordinated their image a bit better (dude in the jeans and wife beater, I’m looking at you). The idea behind the band is interesting enough, though it’s very Tristania-ish. They moved away from the Beauty and the Beast type vocals and opted for clean male and female vocals which I liked. However you could really discern their inexperience on the stage, as the female vocals lacked power and precision. Their tunes themselves were well thought out and they threw in some good headbanging sessions.
Santuarium was up next, enticing listeners during their set up with the sounds of a violin. My interest was definitely peaked. Santuarium kicked up the heaviness a couple of notches and within a few minutes of their first song they seemed like an instant win to me. They gave off a more pro vibe with a great image, their vocalist had a pretty decent voice with good control and great expression, not to mention their violinist topping off the tunes with some simple melodies in the background. Santuarium’s tracks were really catchy but got quite repetitious when it came to choruses. I particularly enjoyed their older track that had a groovy edge to it.
Shattered Remains took the stage with stone cold serious faces and a no nonsense demeanour. Even before they started playing I totally knew what the vocals would sounds like. And man, was I ever pleased when Shattered Remains vocalist ripped into some pretty awesome piggy squeals. They take the trophy home for heaviest band of the night, though this particular crowd didn’t seem much impressed. Some people ...
... just don’t know how to appreciate pig squeals. Shattered Remains also had the sickest bassist, I was dead impressed. I loved their “I don’t give a fuck” performance with a few random energetic breakdowns in unison. Even after their set, they didn’t break character.
Tsargrad had the most impressive set up with banners, coordinated Viking-esque costumes and warpaint. I loved their set but my one issue with them is that they sound too much like Manowar. Don’t get me wrong, I am one of the biggest Manowar fans and will passionately sing “Valhalla” after a few drinks, but they sound like Manowar a little too much. Tsargrad’s vocalist even has the pronunciation that Manowar uses down to the T. Even popular Manowar phrases like “Warriors of the World” are used. All of that aside, Tsargrad gave a great performance with fans chanting along to some choruses (something we had yet to see this night) which had the powerful impact of three onstage voices to get you pumped and the addition of some pretty sick solos.
Beg for Mercy closed up the night, opening up their set with the entire band yelling “Get the Fuck Up,” boom. Loved it. Sadly this crowd was not too crazy about starting a pit. They opted for the Beauty and the Beast theme for their earlier songs with female vocals contrasting to growls by their male vocalist. Their female vocalist irked me a bit, her singing was decent at best but she simply looked so awkward on stage, swinging her arm around and standing by the side when not singing. I wished their male vocalist would ditch the guitar to focus on his growls and I got my wish a few songs into their set. If they would have started that way, I believe their response would have been much better. They played pretty clean tunes but stuck to simple riffs with the occasional solo with really tight drums. The Beg for Mercy boys can definitely break down and I loved their vocalist’s energy and professionalism as he recovered from a slight mic mishap.
SANTUARIUM * (10:00pm)
Alex Proenca - songwriter/vocalist
Marina Andrade - violinist/string instruments
Fred Calmon - guitar
Hugo Andrade - keyboards/instrumentals
Gusttavo Boquimpani - guitar
Rick Mier - bassRafael Miner - drums
BEG FOR MERCY (12:15am)
Mack Smith - Vocals & Rhythm Guitar
Ben Kolli - Lead Guitar
Ben Hitchcock - Bass
Natalie Smith - Vocals
Julian Psihogios - Drums
* WINNERS: SANTUARIUM and SHATTERED REMAINS