Wave Gothic Treffen - 14: 2005
Park Buhne: Leipzig, DE
by Travis Baumannn
"Midnattsol" had just put out thier debut CD, "Where Twilight Dwells" which we found out about due to the lead singer, Carmen Elise Espenaes, being the sister of Liv Kristie Espenaes of "Theater of Tragedy"/"Leaves' Eyes" fame.
While similar in vein to her sister's projects, they do have their own sound. The name means Midnight Sun which forms the basis for the mythology of the lyrics for the most part.
They refer to themselves as Nordic-Folk-Metal which is a good way of describing their elements. I guess the Gothic influences are encaspsulated in the Folk descriptive and while there is definitely a pagan-folk mentality at work, they are quite a bit more.
The band utilizes atmospheric keyboards to set a melodic gothic undertone and then layers powerful guitars and bass, topping it off with awesome female vocals filled with emotion.
There are some fantastically melancholy pieces but also some beautifully romantic songs as well. The two go hand in hand I would say. There are songs about fairies and mythological folk influences but also simple human relationships can form the focus of the best of their songs.
The band hails from Norway, the land of the midnight sun of course but was produced and mixed by Alexander Krull at Mastersound studios in Germany (of "Atrocity" fame, actually all the guys from "Atrocity" helped in some fashion or other).
The band consists of Daniel Droste on guitars, Daniel Fischer on Keyboards, Christian Hector also on guitar (the yellow-bodied guitar), Chris Merzinsky on drums, and Birgit Ollbrunner on bass.
As you can see from the pictures, there was a lot of hair-whipping and movement to the band belying their metal roots.
Carmen explained that this was their third show EVER and they were very excited to be sharing a stage with her sister and brother-in-law ("Atrocity" played later in the day on the same stage - click here for pictures and review of that show).
You could see Liv Kristine and Alexander Krull standing off in the wings of the stage looking on with pride as her sister sang.
They only had one album of material to draw from so they did all my favorites off of it. My very favorite song is "Desolation" which is a melancholy-romantic song that really eminates its emotions. It nearly brought a tear to my callused eyes seeing it live. To just quote the lyrics here will not do the song justice, you need to hear it from Carmen's lips in order to appreciate the real feelings and power of the song.
My second favorite song is "Infinte Fairytale" which was awesome live as well. Musically, they are heavy but melodic at the same time. There is definitely a metal undertone to their music but there is so much beauty and emotion in it that it falls more heavily into the Gothic realm.
One of the best things about the Treffen in general is the juxtapostion of bands and the ability to see so many great bands that normally you would never get to see individually.
This was definitely one of the "must-see" bands for us this year due to us falling in love with the album and it was really satisfying to see them live. They definitely sounded great and it was amazing that they had only done two concerts previously.
Carmen was very sweet introducing the songs and themselves to the audience and the varied crowd was very accepting of them. I do not know how many people knew of them before-hand but the audience was as moved as I was regardless.
As I said before that mixture of melancholy-romanticism is their strength and it is a really hard thing to describe or to succeed in capturing on CD or live for a band so when one comes along that does it so well, it drives itself in your psyche.
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