Deathstars + Marionette + The Defiled @ Birmingham Academy 2 – 14th April 2009


Opening the show were The Defiled, with a thrash pace and sound that was not really in keeping with tonight’s gothic/industrial theme. They had a dark look and some big hair that made them quite interesting, however technical difficulties early on and too much reverberation on the guitars marred their performance. I felt that there was a lack of imagination with this band as each song sounded similar, but varying paces and combining melodic vocals with screaming made it a little less mundane. The vocals themselves were very strong and the drums provided some really good head-banging beats. For a drummer who had apparently broken both ankles 2 days prior to the gig, this was a very impressive performance. However there were no real distinct riffs and although they got a really big mosh pit going towards the end and some positive reactions from the crowd, I did get the impression that most were relieved when there set finished.


On the dark stage a solitary keyboard player stood and electro beats began, building up the suspense before the other 5 members of Marionette took the stage. As the red light glared out I expected a big sound to follow, instead it built up gradually before Axel screamed his way through each song. I wasn’t sure about them to begin with, but as the set progressed the more I liked them. The guitar picking was intricate and precise, the drums were hard and industrial; the vocals were raw. The keyboards created an eerie gothic atmosphere that was much appreciated by this crowd.


The energy from this Swedish band was just amazing, all moved to the beat, head banging and hair swinging their way through each song. Front man Axel spent a lot of the time climbed up on the barrier and shoving his face into the front row. Image was a major thing for this band too; big hair and dark make up had truly taken over the Academy. Songs such as ‘Release’ had good changes in pace and combined thrash and electro/industrial. However when playing ‘Burn Me’ feedback and squeaky mics spoiled the sound. This continued for the remainder of the set and by the time they got to their last song ‘In Spite’ I had drifted off a little. Even though their energy remained throughout the gig, and their great talent was obvious, I felt that their songs just weren’t varied enough. Again each song rolled into each other and began to sound the same. Marionette received a great reaction from the crowd and I could see why, however I do feel that they failed to keep my interest.


As Deathstars took their place on stage marching drums built up an excited anticipation in the crowd. Strong rhythms and thumping beats got heads bobbing straight away, and Whiplasher Bernadotte’s deep voice boomed. The melodies created by this death glam Swedish 5-piece are catchy and easy to sing-a-long- and chant to, which many in the crowd did. The whispers and chilling shrieks from bassist Skinny Disco were distinct and shrill. The electro element was eerie and the industrial rhythm throbbed; however I felt that this beat was not quite infectious enough. The whole performance lacked a bit in power and passion. I expected a bit more energy than what they presented with. Each member actually had minimal stage presence. Whiplasher simply drifted across the stage and engaged very little with the crowd and as the set went on, it became more tedious. His voice continued in a monotonous fashion that did not grip me and the layers of live and electronic music often drowned him out.


It became clear that there were two running themes for tonight’s performances. Again Deathstars’ set lacked variety as each song rolled into each other. Secondly image was prominent, this time long hair; gothic make up and black army suits took over. At one point Whiplasher donned his peaked army hat, took off his shirt and paraded around the stage with a feather bower. However in general, much like my expectation of their music and performance, I imagined a more powerful and striking look.


The prominent song for tonight and a crowd favourite was ‘Tongues’. It really got the crowd moving and chanting along. The crowd punched the air in time and on command and my attention was captured briefly. After machine gun fire blared out and blue lights flashed, the onslaught of ‘Blitzkrieg’ commenced, followed by ‘Cyanide’, with these they did give a little more energy before they left the stage. The encore comprised of 3 more songs that sounded similar to the rest of the set. New song ‘Death Dies Hard’ and older song ‘The Revolution Exodus’ brought their set to an end, and demonstrated that they had made little progression over the last few years, with them sticking to the same formula. Many wouldn’t want them to do anything different, their performance was solid and enjoyable. However I was a little disappointed and left feeling that there was just that bit of edge and passion missing.

Review – Karen Trenbirth
Photos – Andy Whitehouse

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