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ProgPower USA X


Venue: Center Stage, Atlanta, GA
Date: 9/11 – 9/12/09
Reviewed By: Connie Payton
 

Friday

Friday night’s lineup started out with California’s Cage playing their pounding, crushing Judas-Priest-style metal and dressed in black leather. All fists were in the air during ‘Hell Destroyer’ as vocalist/mainman Sean Peck sang strong and hit those high-pitched screams spot-on. Even those not familiar found this style of music a good starter for the long night ahead and joined in with some headbanging or horn-throwing.

Taking things down a notch, the next artist to play was the Brazilian 4-piece band Mindflow. This talented group put on a good performance of their progressive music with lots of soft then heavy dynamics. Danilo Herbert sung with emotion and they certainly put on a solid show. Mindflow have their fans, but I’m not sure they made many new ones directly from the performance; prog metal doesn’t always captivate you immediately like power metal can.

Only the fans and the curious remained for the next set by "oddball" band of the festival, Diablo Swing Orchestra, hailing from Sweden. The 6-piece avant-garde metal band dressed in red and black and had an elegant-punk look. DSO’s music is heavy and catchy and they had tons of energy onstage. Their music is very diverse from songs that sound like something off Broadway, to an occasional growl, to odd-sounding harmonies to playing kazoo’s, this band obeys no boundaries.

The lead vocals of Annlouice Loegdlund are performed in both "regular" voice and operatic voice, and I did prefer the "regular" vocals over the high operatic ones. Many attendees were surprised at how much fun they had during this set, evidenced by the "DSO" chants and standing ovations at the finish. DSO even got this very "metal" crowd to exchange throwing horns for snapping fingers to the beat. One word sums up this performance – fun!

Fans chanted with impatience as they awaited Swedish war metallers Sabaton to come out and destroy. Frontman Joakim Brodén was humorous and humbled as he interacted with the crowd infecting them with the super high energy that electrified the stage. ‘Attero Dominatus’, ‘Primo Victoria’ and ‘Art of War’ were a crowd favorite, along with many of their other songs that have strong, singable melodies. The floor was packed for Sabaton’s set and they received one of the strongest crowd responses. They are promised to be back at the fest again as a headliner.

Royal Hunt were next on the bill, accompanied by two female backup singers. Mark Boals has a great voice, but isn’t the best frontman as far as interaction with the audience. ‘Tears of the Sun’ was performed with the live female vocal parts which were well done, but overall the show seemed a little flat with the crown not too excited. A song titled ‘Back To Square One’ that will be on the next album was performed with ‘The Mission’, ‘River of Pain’ and ‘Last Goodbye’.

The last set of the night was a real treat. Even if you were familiar with Crimson Glory’s music, the participation of the numerous guest vocalists and the dedication of the night to the band’s late singer Midnight was enough to keep most listeners interested. With 8 musicians up on stage, the sound was full. Wade Black sang the first few songs, followed by guest vocalists performing one or two songs each. Some of the vocalists were Kelly Sundown (Beyond Twilight), Clay Barton (Suspyre), Mark Boals (Royal Hunt), Urban Breed (Bloodbound, ex-Tad Morose), Michael Eriksen (Circus Maximus), Andy Franck (Brainstorm), Lance King (Avian, Krucible), Sean Peck (Cage), Danilo Herbert (Mindflow), Rob Rock (Rob Rock), Nils K. Rue (Pagan's Mind) and Chris Salinas (Zero Hour).

Switchovers between vocalists was fairly seemless and their performances were very well done, especially for having rehearsed the songs with the band only once earlier that day. This was really a remarkable and unforgettable performance. Just a few of the songs performed were ‘Astronomica’, ‘Queen of the Masquerade’, ‘Dragon Lady’, ‘Lady of Winter’ and ‘Lonely’.

A video of Midnight was shown, followed by a few more songs before the evening came to an end.

 

Saturday

Saturday night featured bands who have previously played the festival. Circus Maximus started things off right with a good number of fans singing along to ‘Wither’, ‘Mouth of Madness’, ‘Sin’, ‘Alive’ and others. They did a couple of epic tracks and seemed very comfortable on stage as they put on a great show for many fans seeing them again. Circus Maximus previously performed at both ProgPower VI and VII.

Having performed last at ProgPower VI, Orphaned Land’s set was again enjoyed by attendees. About half of the set was new material (‘Baraka’, ‘From Broken Vessels’) that will be on their forthcoming album, which sounded excellent. The familiar songs were enjoyed as well, such as ‘Ocean Land’ and ‘Norra El Norra’. Orphaned Land’s combination of clean/rough vocals, great melodies and Middle Eastern influences make their music both interesting and heavy.

Returning after two years, Pagan’s Mind brought in the most people of the night. The floor was packed and people were standing along the corridors to hear this popular returner. Favorites like ‘God's Equation’ and ‘Through Osiris’ Eyes’ were performed, as well as ‘Hallo Spaceboy’. Nils is an excellent singer and the crowd loved it. Pagan’s Mind departed from the fest to play several East coast dates (with Stratovarius) on their U.S. tour.

Brainstorm, who played the fest last at ProgPower V, brought a good energy to the stage lead by frontman Andy Franck. Good solid melodic harder edged power metal energize songs like ‘Worlds Are Comin’ Through’, ‘Falling Spiral Down’, ‘Fire Walk With Me’, ‘Painside’ and ‘How Do You Feel’. A couple tracks from their forthcoming album, "Memorial Roots", due out next month were sprinkled in the set list. Just like Pagan’s Mind, the festival performance was the kick-off show for their tour, where they play next in Mexico.

Headliner Fates Warning was the most anticipated band for me this year, and they did not disappoint – in fact, it was one of the most memorable shows I have ever seen. Ray Alder’s voice is simply inspiring, and with his hair grown back out again, this could almost have been the Fates show I never got to attend years ago. The sound was perfect and the musicians played flawlessly, joined by Nick van Dyk on keyboards for a couple of songs. The songs were performed not as if this was the millionth time they’ve played them, but as if it was the first time – performed with all the emotion that the songs deserve and humbled by the audience response. I was thrilled just hearing ‘Point of View’ and ‘The Eleventh Hour’, but when ‘The Ivory Gate of Dreams’ started, I just had to close my eyes for a moment and take a mental snapshot. It was an incredible show lasting nearly 2 hours. Fates is working on a new album; I’ll be anxious to hear it.

ProgPower USA XI will be held September 8th-11th, 2010 in Atlanta, GA. Headliners will be Kamelot and Hammerfall, along with Illusion Suite, Stormwarrior, Seventh Wonder, TYR, Nocturnal Rites, Paradox, Oceans Of Sadness, DGM, Delain and Tarot. See http://www.progpowerusa.com for more information. Don't miss it!

 
 
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