It’ only January and I’m afraid Europe has already had the best tour of the year. It was an amazing progressive metal package made up of Protest The Hero, TesseracT, The Safety Fire, and Intervals. They invaded the continent and did a stop in Milan, Italy for a sold out show! So naturally, there were a lot of people there – actually a bit too many people. The venue’s pretty small and it was really overcrowded. So even if I got there before the gates opened, there were so many people I could hardly see any drummers during the night.

Anyways, I did get in just as Intervals were playing the first song of their set, “Alchemy” . The sound settings weren’t really that satisfying but you could hear the band was giving a flawless performance. Intervals made sure to perform their two new singles taken from the forthcoming album “A Voice Within”: “Ephemeral” and “The Escape” – obviously performed with their new vocalist Mike Semesky (former vocalist of The HAARP Machine and now in Raunchy as well). Mike gave a clean and intense performance leaving the new fans really satisfied. Even so, a lot of people in the audience would have preferred to hear Intervals performing their songs in their original instrumental version, especially the older ones. The band decided to play “Mata Hari” and “Tapestry” with Mike singing on them as well. There was one particular individual who seemed especially upset (read through the TesseracT section for some irony). All in all, it was a great performance though.

Mata Hari
The Escape

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The Safety Fire took the stage shortly after, providing a heavy performance with a more lengthy setlist and superior sound. Even though the volumes were higher during their set, I must say they brought a very enjoyable and precise performance. In fact, their live performance sounded almost identical to the original versions. I honestly didn’t expect that, considering the complex and chaotic structure and insane riffs found in their songs. They also revealed to be a band truly capable of making the crowd move. The audience got really into it, especially during the third song performed, “Huge Hammers”, and on “Yellowism”. The Safety Fire ended their animated performance with the song “Old Souls” which included the vocalist stage diving onto the crowd during the last moments. This is a sick live band. Period. If you like them, you should not miss them when they come around for any reason.

Red Hatchet
Mouth Of Swords
Huge Hammers
Glass Crush
The Ghosts That Wait For Spring
Old Souls

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Unfortunately, I have to tell you about TesseracT’s performance as well. What follows is an isolated case and does not reflect on the actual level of TesseracT performances (believe me!). The band’s vocalist, Ashe, was very ill and couldn’t give his effort to the band’s performance. Of course I don’t blame him for that, but there’s more. The band stopped on stage performing “Of Matter” without him and explained it was about to be instrumental show. A large part of the audience was, of course, disappointed, while some among them were actually happy to hear them instrumentally (yeah, this includes same guy who wasn’t happy about hearing Intervals with vocals). But this was actually not a full on instrumental performance. In fact, for personal reasons the band’s guitarist James Montheith wasn’t able to play this show as well. So TesseracT performed an instrumental show with only 3 out of 5 members. The audience was disappointed especially because a lot of them were there mainly to see TesseracT, and probably for the first time.

Fortunately, after the first moment of confusion the audience turned its disappointment into enthusiasm and started to sing along very loudly to all the TesseracT songs, replacing Ashe on vocals and giving some intense and memorable moments. This was especially true with songs like “Deception”, “Nocturne”, “Singularity”, and of course the final song “Acceptance”. I’m not blaming TesseracT for this show, especially because I’ve already seen them live and I’ve already told you how incredibly epic, touching, and intense their performance at Tech-Fest was. But it’s really a shame that all these people couldn’t enjoy this incredible show at its finest. Even more so because, for once, Italy had a great crowd at a semi-undergound metal concert (which, believe me, is really rare). Anyways, it should be known they’re a godly and extremely delighting live band. Go see them if they’re near you. 100% recommended.

Of Matter – Proxy
Of Matter – Retrospect
Of Matter – Resist
Concealing Fate, Part 2: Deception
Concealing Fate, Part 3: The Impossible
Of Energy – Singularity
Of Mind – Nocturne
Concealing Fate, Part 1: Acceptance

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Then it was time for the headliners, Protest The Hero, to end this night in the most unforgettable way. And damn they did! They got on the stage with the new song “Underbite”, dragging the audience into insane moshing (even though there was actually no space to do so). They packed an intense and irresistible performance from the very first song, brought on with a hilarious and energetic stage attitude. The opener “Underbite” was followed by two classics, “Hair-Trigger” and “Sequoia Throne”, literally driving the audience crazy. And even more so with the following track, which was the big ‘un of a new song “Clarity”. Only two more songs were be played off the new album “Volition”: “Mist” and the last song before the encore “Tilting Against Windmills”.

It has to be remarked that vocalist Rody Walker, and the rest of the band too, are those type of men that always find something hilarious to say during the interludes and don’t simply fill those minutes with the usual scene things. For example, they invited a couple of fans on stage to take pictures facing the audience with them, told hilarious and weird stories about themselves, introduced the band’s new Italian drummer, and many more crazy moments.

The band’ performance was just perfect. The whole set was surprisingly clean, energetic, and technically almost flawless. Besides the song quoted before, the band played a balanced set list with a couple of songs from each of their releases. They played “Heretics And Killers” and “Bury The Hatchet” (from “Kezia”), “Bloodmeat” and “The Dissentience” (from “Fortress”), “C’est La Vie”, one of the most intense moments of the night, and “Sex-Tapes” (from “Scurrilous”), and ended the set with “Blindfolds Aside”. Counting exactly 3 songs off of each album and 4 off their latest, “Volition”.

Protest The Hero definitely made this a night to remember. Or at least for all of those that had already seen TesseracT or weren’t too disappointed by their lack of members, even if that was turned into a memorable moment too. Great night. There are still a few shows left here in Europe. If your city’s up next, grab your ticket now! And don’t forget that most of these bands are heading to North America very soon!

Sequoia Throne
The Dissentience
Heretics & Killers
Bury the Hatchet
C’est la Vie
Sex Tapes
Tilting Against Windmills
Encore: Blindfolds Aside

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