NFD, SAINTS OF EDEN AND DARK HORIZON LIVE AT THE BARFLY
BY STUART MOSES
It was Dark Horizon's first gig, but there was the familiar figure of Stephen Carey of This Burning Effigy/NFD on bass. They make a brooding gothic rock, not a million miles away from This Burning Effigy. Highlights of the set were "Last Mile" which had beautiful chiming guitar, reminiscent of recent Artica. Also impressive was "1 More" which had excellent quiet/loud dynamics, with some ominous piano in the former part. Singer Michael makes an engaging frontman. He's my long-haired gothic-male role model, a situation that has been vacant since Jeff from The Last Dance cut his hair. Michael recovers magnificently from an attempted classic rock pose that goes wrong. Placing his foot on the monitor, ready to throw some rock'n'roll shapes, the monitor is having none of it and leaps onto the floor. Michael copes like a pro. The set lacks a climax, though I suspect that Dark Horizon's set was truncated due to the late opening of the doors. A promising beginning.
I had it in my mind that I didn't like Saints of Eden. Where this idea came from I'm not sure. I've never seen them live, nor to my knowledge heard any of their CDs. Perhaps I was suffering Nephilim-withdrawal when I tracked down an MP3 and was disappointed by the results. It's true that I'm not a big fan of singer Cian Houchin's voice judging from this appearance. I wish there was a word that encompassed both 'gravelly' and 'high pitched'. It didn't help that I'm unfamiliar with the material and my attention wandered a little towards the end. The culmination of their set was "Lost Raiders" which had instant appeal and makes me wonder whether I've been missing something important about the rest of the set. It might be the case that the more I get to know Saints of Eden, the more I'll learn to love them. Only time will tell.
I've seen NFD live, but it was hardly in the best circumstances. Tonight was much better. Opening with "Light My Way" and "My Obsession" I briefly worry that we are going to get the new album, song-by-song. Thankfully we don't. Early highlights are "Unleashed" and "Stronger". The former always sends a shiver down my spine when Bob sings: "you'll never find me when there's darkness to be found..." What a true gothic sentiment. Their songs, while not wholly original, are so well crafted they offer a thrilling ride. The small-club atmosphere gives the band instant appeal. "Stronger" is dedicated to Bob's wife, which is sweet. It's a rare thing, a positive goth song. Songs like "Turbine" and "Darkness Falls" which have never been favourites come alive. NFD's albums are very good, but I find the songs really come into their own in the live setting. When Bob straps on his guitar - in addition to Chris Milden and Stephen Carey who are already on plank-spanking duty - for "One Moment Between Us" and the climax "Deadpool" the wall of guitar noise is a powerful force of nature. NFD rock.