Last April Persefone played The Underworld in London and blew me away with the combination of polish and energy in their live show – all whilst delivering their complexly-layered progressive metal to a standard that did justice to their nuanced recording. Aathma was my album of the year in 2017 by a considerable distance, so getting another chance to see those songs played live was one I jumped at enthusiastically. Tonight they were supported by two bands I was previously unfamiliar with.
Openers Defecto play music that could be described as symphonic power metal, and the vocals of Nicklas Sonne fit the genre perfectly as they soar over the orchestration of the band and backing track beneath. Already having a considerable reputation in their native Denmark, opening for Metallica and Rammstein in their gigs in country and winning multiple local press awards, their performance tonight is bigger than the cramped stage in The Garage. As the “softest” of the evening’s bands, the initial response to them is somewhat muted, however their infectious energy and riffs get some head movement from the crowd as their set progresses. I would imagine they would stand out on a bill more aligned to their genre, but tonight they are a bit mismatched.
Watch Persefone’s official video for the single “Living Waves” (feat. Paul Masvidal) below.
In contrast, Oddland’s music has a far more progressive edge and serves as a closer stepping stone to tonight’s headliners. Not having released any music since 2016’s Origin, their set is well constructed and rehearsed, with the band flowing through it effectively and with the encouragement of the increasingly filled room. Dipping into 2012’s The Treachery of Senses as well within their set, they give off strong Devin Townsend vibes with unsettling clean passages and interesting experimentation with rhythmic patterns. A small but appreciative audience enjoy what they have to offer, and I will be keeping a keen eye on any new music from them to come in the future.
Tonight’s show is billed as part 2 of their tour for Aathma, and as Persefone take to the stage there is a strong sense of anticipation from an audience who have now had a year with that album and are excited for their set. They barrel through a selection of songs at the heavier end of their range including the neck snapping headbanger “Mind as Universe” from Spiritual Migration (2013), the anthemic “Living Waves” (from Aathma) and new standalone track “In Lak’Ech” which slots straight into their strong back catalogue.
A particular treat for me is the set finishing with album title track “Aathma” – from part 2 through until the conclusion of part 4. I caught up with several of the band prior to the show and mentioned it was the track I was most hoping to hear – Carlos Lozano (guitars) was coy about its inclusion due to the track’s 10 minute plus running time, and so then shot me a beaming smile from on stage when kicking into its performance. It is the perfect closer, both for the album of its name and for their performance.
The above gives just one example of Persefone’s ability to draw you in and make you feel as one with the artists on stage – another embodiment being vocalist Marc Martin’s alternating prowling the stage, joining the crowd at the barrier, and leaping over it to join the audience directly. Their sound is aggressive at points; yet they speak of oneness and love through their music and lyrics, and this is reflected in the audience’s experience of their live performance.
I’ve been to hundreds of shows in my life, and can count on one hand those that have left me with the impression that Persefone’s did – through the quality of music and musicianship on display combined with the engagement with the audience. I would strongly urge any fan of progressive music, no matter what part of the genre, to see them live with an open mind as you may very well be as convinced by them as I am.
Check out the video for most recent track “In Lak’Ech” below featuring Tim Charles from Ne Obliviscaris.