Having seen Degreed recently at HRH AOR in Prestatyn, (They were Ted Poley’s backing band), I knew they were an excellent choice as support for this tour. The Swedes go back to 2005, but I’ve only recently discovered them, shame on me. With 4 albums already, a tour of Europe in 2017, recent supports to Dare and fellow Swedes H.E.A.T, these guys don’t stand still. Recently the new single ‘Ruins’ topped the Swedish iTunes chart, this is from the album ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’ that is due out in the autumn. Melodic/Heavy rockers that they are, the influences they list are far reaching, Iron Maiden, Audioslave and Michael Jackson.
Degreed introduced themselves with ‘Black Cat’ from the 2013 ‘We don’t Belong’ album, it’s a combination of clear vocals from Robin Ericsson and some quality guitar courtesy of Daniel Johansson. ’Sugar’ is a more recent song from 2017, it makes use of the bass, adding more body, while the guitar screeches. Together with more resonant vocals from Robin, who has a terrific voice, this is a more than above average number. We are now treated to the new single ‘Ruins’ it’s a lively jaunt, the chorus is full of harmonies and it’s truly an awesome creation, so commercial it could win Eurovision for Sweden. There’s a more dramatic song, ‘War’ and then the softer ’Tomorrow’ both from the 2017 self titled ‘Degreed’ release. The latter is a swaying ballad, with an array of charisma. They finish triumphantly with ‘The Scam’ that featured on the 2015 ‘Dead But Not Forgotten’. Brilliant performance, a lovely bunch of guys and I’m hoping they return to the UK soon.
Mob Rules are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, although only frontman Klaus Dirks remains from the original line-up. The power-metal 5 piece are a force to be reckoned with, having supported Overkill, Savatage and The Scorpions and also appearing at the Wacken festival. This has put them in high esteem throughout their German homeland. Surprisingly the 2007 Bloodstock festival has been their only UK appearance prior to this tour. The 9th Studio album ‘Beast Reborn’ has just been released, with amazing artwork by drummer Nikolas Fritz.
‘Ghost of A Chance’ from the new album is the beginner, dynamic singing from Dirks, who is in full control from the off and looks like a Dickens character in his top hat and long coat. Guitar that lashes like a whip and plenty of backing vocals, this is a hell of a start. The next song ‘Somerled’ is just as storming, racing guitars and Fritz keeping the rhythm to perfection, I’ve never seen a drummer look like he’s enjoying himself so much, smiles from behind his kit all the way through. ‘Black Rain’ is menacing, chanting like souls from the underworld, with a pounding hum. From ‘Beast Reborn’ the storming ’Sinister Light’ starts off very mellow, then bursts into life with a collision from Jan Christian Halfbrodt’s keyboards and the twin guitars of new man Florian Dyszbalis and Sven Lüdke. It was said that the last album ’Tales From Beyond’ brought new life into Mob Rules after 20 plus years. Adding keyboards has certainly also helped to give them another dimension. ‘My Kingdom Come’ from that said work, highlights this yet again. Far reaching vocals from Klaus, fronting a band who are melodic, powerful and pushing themselves to the boundaries. With synchronised head-banging and fingers racing along the frets, there is something beholding about this band. Stand in bass player Danji Perl from fellow German metal band Gloryful, ( Markus Brinkmann being on parental leave, as he’s just become a father )moulds into this 6 man pack so smoothly. ’Childrens Crusade’ and ‘On The Edge’ with it’s destroying overlays brings us to the finale ‘Hollowed Be Thy Name’ a classic that also appeared on the 25th Anniversary release ’Timekeeper’. It’s a fitting end and the anthem is well received. Mob Rules were on form tonight, another band I would love to see hit our shores again.
The headliners Edens Curse were put together back in 2006, by Scottish bassist Paul Logue and American singer Michael Eden. In 2007 the self titled debut album won them a mass of acclaim and in the early years success was accomplished further, with the second album ‘The Second Coming’. This featured Pamela Moore, known better as Sister Mary on Queensryche’s ‘Operation Mindcrime’, who accompanied Michael Eden on the ‘Angels & Demons’ track. Tours with Dream Theater, Firewind, Stratovarius and Michael Schenker have followed and The Curse have maintained a strong fanbase.
With the striking chords of ’Symphony of Sin’ from 2013, the band take to the stage one by one. The song gets into full force and immediately guitarist Thorsten Koehne is blinding us with his rapid shredding. ‘Masquerade Ball’ contains equally fast guitar and Serbian, Nikola Mijic smooths out any creases with his eloquent voice. Melodic with intense passion the set continues, ‘Black Widow’ is well known amongst the fans and those down the front are seen to be in agreement, when it’s aired. The hook of a chorus and Koehne providing more awesome guitar, proves what class we have before us. ‘Fly Away’ has a heavy riff and is more deep, ‘Holy Man’ stems from 2011 and has a Queensryche feel, very polished. The riveting ‘Jerusalem Sleeps’ is monumental, frontman Mijic is excellent vision wise and keeps our attention firmly in place. It is with ‘Unconditional’ that we first see the appearance of Helen Hurd, who duets with exceptional talent. It’s a soulful, easy going melody and Helen is a welcome addition. The screaming ‘Jericho’ from the 2016 ‘Cardinal’ is more up tempo with a driving rhythm, founder bass player Logue and John Clelland on sticks holding down the back line. We quieten down for ‘Unbreakable’ although there are some virtuoso moves from Koehne again, he is truly magical to watch. ‘Evil and Divine’ a steady mover, brings us to the encore. After ‘forever’ with its caressing harmonies, the show ends with the return of Helen to collaborate on Angels & Demons’ taking on Pamela Moores original part, bringing it to life in spectacular fashion.
Well, what an evening, three brilliant bands giving us a night to remember. So it was disappointing to learn shortly after this Testament UK tour, as it was called, Edens Curse have decided to disband. It appears the time and cost outweighed that which was required to flourish and they found it ‘no longer desirable to continue operating as a band’. All media sites will be available until the end of May. I’m sure I speak for all those who have enjoyed their work over the years, that we wish them well and good luck in what ever each individual decides to do next.
Edens Curse Mob Rules Degreed