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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Live review: The Charm The Fury, Spoil Engine, For I Am King at Sugarfactory, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, March 24th, 2017

The signs for this one were all but good. Main attraction The Charm The Fury released their new album, ‘The Sick, Dumb & Happy’, a week earlier, which was received with mixed critics due to the fact they changed courses rather drastically. Especially the fans of the first hour were not amused, because in their eyes TCTF abandoned their core business, metalcore, in favor of more classically schooled metal, and they didn’t hesitate sharing their feelings about it. Initially it seemed they were serious about this and had no intentions to show up on the release party, because when the doors opened there were only about 50 people waiting in line where Sugarfactory roughly can house about ten times that amount of people. Despite this being mildly worrying, it did give yours truly the opportunity to be the first to experience TCTF’s progress outside the stage by paying for merchandise using a new, sophisticated payment system that involved a cell phone rather than a regular payment terminal. If anything their merchandising is ready to conquer the world. Now to find the answer to the question if TCTF itself is equally ready to take the world by storm.

The usually ungrateful task of warming up the audience, that had quadrupled in size by the time they unleashed their first tunes, had fallen to For I Am King, a melodic death metal/metalcore formation from Gouda, Holland. Sugarfactory is not exactly known for being a huge venue, so the stage isn’t spacious to begin with, but with Mathijs Tieken’s drum kit already lined-up space was even more rare, making even moving around quite the challenge. Nevertheless the four guys and the girl made the best of it and put up an energetic and most enjoyable show. TCTF may have a lot of potential, they were definitely not the only ones tonight. Front woman Alma Alizadeh may not look like your typical metalcore vocalist with her rather sweet appearance and glasses, but man, this lady knows how to grunt, even with a self-made moustache. Of course their latest release, ‘Daemons’, provides excellent tunes to build a stage party, but you still have to transfer that energy to your performance, which they did convincingly. I’m not sure if the audience wasn’t awake yet or simply wasn’t prepared for such a solid show this early in the evening, but the response from the audience was not overly enthusiastic. A shame really, because the band was definitely trying to connect with the audience, but was only rewarded mediocrely, save a couple of fans that went pleasantly berserk from minute one. Sadly this is a fate that many support act has to deal with. In my opinion the entire band played a more than decent show, where, without playing down the performance of the other members, drummer Jaap Relou, had a striking role tonight. His drumming was stellar and the thundering double bass made the entire building vibrate. Despite the not evenly tuned sound, which caused Alma’s clean vocals to drown a little, they deserved a bit more response as far as I’m concerned, and the latecomers should really blame themselves for this missed opportunity to see a great performance. I’ll most certainly keep an eye out for this band.

By the time Spoil Engine entered the stage the room was filled to capacity, proving the at times harsh comments about TCTF’s new course were mostly nothing than just that: harsh comments. Spoil Engine, also a melodic death metal/metalcore band hailing from Roeselare, Belgium, picked up where For I Am King left off. Roughly playing the same type of music and with an identical female fronted line-up the slowly defrosting audience didn’t need to get used to what Spoil Engine has to offer. Introducing themselves with their backs turned to the audience and all dressed as the hooded menace one could be forgiven for thinking they had walked into a black metal gig rather than a metalcore performance, but that impression only lasted for half a minute or so. From there on they smashed the pedal to the metal only to release it after some half an hour of devastating metalcore. Their more than solid playing did not go unnoticed, it didn’t take the audience long to be tempted into a circle pit, the first of many to follow, and even a mini wall of death, also the first of many to follow. Front woman Iris let no chance pass to fire up the crowd, all the while unleashing her grunts on the slowly awakening fans in front of her. Amazing to see how she moved around on the stage while doing so, it seems as if it’s all completely effortless for her. Almost all the time she looked as if she was talking to a friend on the phone instead of being in the middle of a massive deathgrunt. Spoil Engine has been around for over a decade, so they had plenty of songs to choose from, but that apparently was not enough, because they had a little surprise for us in the form of a new song, that will appear on their soon to be released new album. It was received with quite some enthusiasm, and to be honest, it did sound truly promising. If this is an accurate reflection of what is on their new album, count me in. Furious and seriously heavy, a more than suitable addition to an already great set list to complete a great gig.

Judging by the noise that filled the room when sounds behind the closed curtains signaled the main attraction was ready, it was obvious the audience was here for one reason and one reason only: The Charm The Fury. Another solid indication the fans did not abandon them after changing course so drastically. Noblesse oblige, so to affirm their headliner status, TCTF had to be on their best to keep up with the excellent performances of both support acts. And so they were. Right from the start the crowd went nuts and happily obeyed vocalist/instigator Caroline’s many pleas for circle pits, walls of death and crowd surfers time and time again. She in turned rewarded them with a crowd surfing session of her own. The quintet from Amsterdam played at full speed and with a violent intensity, adding to the already fantastic atmosphere, fronted by an inspiring Caroline who gladly grabbed every opportunity to stir up the crowd. This combined with a set list that contained a lot of songs that augmented that atmosphere and are perfect for some serious body banging, guaranteed a memorable performance.

So as far as roughhousing goes TCTF was excellent tonight. Playing raging metalcore in various forms is in their blood, there’s no doubt about that. Whether they played songs from their debut ‘A Shade Of My Former Self’ or songs from their new album, the audience devoured them all. However, due to the earlier mentioned change of course in music style the latter has a lot more to offer than that, they even have a power ballad in their arsenal of songs nowadays. Considering the earlier mentioned doubts a substantial part of their fan base had, playing anything else than metalcore tonight posed quite a risk, even more so because that would mean stepping out of their comfort zone. Thankfully TCTF was prepared to take that risk in an effort to try and conquer all doubts and objections. The first proof of this was the on the album already brilliant ‘Echoes’, that turned out to be an instant success live with its more or less sing along chorus. A huge part of the crowd supported Caroline’s clean vocals which only in the first couple of notes sounded a bit frail. A very successful addition to their set list in my opinion. And that was not the end of the risk-taking for tonight. The complicated ‘Blood and Salt’ was also added to the set list, and even though you could sense the audience had to get used to the complexity of it, the performance was nearly flawless and very well-received. Conquest succeeded I’d say.

It’s safe to say that tonight TCTF lived up to the expectations that being a headliner entails and then some. They put up a more than solid, lively show with lots of interaction with the audience, making their fans an integral part of the show rather than a bunch of people merely listening, which, excuse my terminology, is exactly what separates the boys from the men. With this performance the four guys and girl have proven they are well on their way to becoming a force to be reckoned with both on and off the stage, with a song library that covers many of the corners of metal music intended to thoroughly entertain a wide range of metal fans including those that prefer metalcore. Of course one swallow does not a summer make, but if they can keep this up this sole swallow will soon be an entire flock. They definitely have the necessary potential. Keeping in mind that it’s impossible to be certain after one show, I still dare answering the earlier asked question if TCTF is ready to take the world by storm with a resounding ‘yes’.

Written by Henric van Essen

Read another live review of us about the show of The Charm The Fury with Delain here.
Read our interview with The Charm The Fury vocalist Caroline Westendorp here.
Read our review about The Sick, Dumb & Happy by The Charm The Fury here.

The Charm The Fury Official Website
The Charm The Fury Facebook
The Charm The Fury Twitter
Spoil Engine Facebook
For I Am King Official Website
For I Am King Facebook
For I Am King Twitter

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