Friday nights at MFVF are a warm up for the main event - two full days of music at the weekend. There are only three bands tonight, but with fans arriving from all over the world then it's a chance to meet up with friends, buy some merchandise and enjoy some great music after a long day of travelling.
Held at the Oktoberhallen in Wieze, just outside Aalst in Belgium, MFVF is the premier event of the year for fans of female fronted metal, so its no surprise to find fans here from all over Eurpoe as well as places as far away as Canada.
First up are Bare infinity from Greece who put in a great performance to get the crowd warmed up.
Next up are Xandria, who have just finished their tour of Europe as part of the "Out of the dark" festival. Xandria are really impressive tonight and go down very well with the crowd. The guys were taking full advantage of the space offered by the large stage and ran around a lot.
Finally we have Battlelore who put in one of the best performances I've seen from them, but their performance came with a sad note as the band announced they would be taking an extended break and would not be touring for some time. Hopefully this just means a year off while they write and record a new album, but we'll have to wait and see.
Bare infinity setlist: The Crying Shore, Always Forever Pt. II, Everfade, Lost Again, The Passage, Always Forever Pt. I, Father of Wrath, Awakening Moonlight
Xandria setlist: India, Now and Forever, The End of Every Story, Save My Life, On My Way, The Lioness, Valentine, Salomé, Euphoria, Ravenheart
Saturday started at the early time of 10.30am with British band Hanging Doll taking to the stage. Singer Sally Holliday has a great voice and put in a great performance. Guitarist Daniel Leddy seemed to be going through a Slash phase with his top hat and sunglasses, and his playing was definitely on form, as were the best of the band. Never the best time slot at any festival, Hanging Doll still had a fairly large crowd and went down well.
Next up was another British band, Nemhain. Having been impressed by them at Bloodstock earlier this year I was looking forward to seeing them again, although I wasnt sure how they'd go down at MFVF - they have a dirty punk influenced sound which is very different to the usual sort of band that plays MFVF. In the end my doubts were proved unfounded - the crowd loved them. Singer Amber Erlandsson ended their show with something that's probably a first for MFVF - fire breathing. Other bands have used fire in their shows in the past, but I believe this was the first time a band member has done fire breathing during a show at MFVF. Nemhain definitely looked to have made some new fans today.
Austrian band, Coma Divine were next up. Having listened to their debut album and been totally blown away by it, this was one of the bands I was most excited about seeing after they replaced Theatres Des Vampires on the bill. Opening with their first single, "Burn Sister", Sonja Kraushofer (who also sings in ‘L’ame Immortelle’ and ‘Persephone’) shows off her impressive voice and with great guitar work as well from the band, Coma Divine really impressed me - an excellent band I look forward to seeing again.
Finnish folk metallers Kivimetsan Druidi were next up and put in a high energy performance with tracks including "Blacksmith" going at breakneck speed and really waking the crowd up. Lots of headbanging - both on stage and in the crowd give an impression of the energy in these songs. This was the bands second time at MFVF, and judging by how well they went down I'm sure it won't be their last visit.
Next up was Amaranthe. These Swedes are probably unique in having three lead vocalists - a female singer, a male doing clean vocals and another male doing growling vocals. This works amazingly well giving quite a rich full sound that makes a change from most of the female fronted bands who follow the standard formula - female clean vocals plus male growls. Their music combines metal with pop elements to produce some great radio-friendly music that certainly entertains the crowd tonight. This is a band that could go a long way.
After Amaranthe we had a definite change of pace with Deadlock's far heavier, more brutal brand of metal. They put in another great show (in fact there wasnt a single weak band on the bill), and the variety of bands at MFVF this year can be seen by comparing the various bands on the bill for Saturday - lots of different genres or styles of music and yet all get a great reaction from the audience
Benedictum were next up - a band I've been wanting to see for a few years now, and they sure as hell didnt disappoint. Veronica Freeman is a superb singer with so much power in her voice that I'm amazed she didnt blow the roof off the venue.
Dylath-leen are a slightly unusual band and one that's quite hard to get into, but they are clearly very talented and go down well with the fans. Definitely a band that grows on you rather than being an instant hit.
Trail of tears failed to impress me last time I saw them, but tonight there is no such disappointment as they put in a great performance and really get a great reaction from the crowd.
Diabulus in musica made a very theatrical entrance with masked cloaked figures carrying glowing orbs before the band came on stage, and this helped set the mood right from the start. Diabulus are a very impressive band and after tonights performance I'm certain it won't be very long before they are signed to a big record label.
Leaves eyes were appearing for the third year in a row, and as you'd expect went down very well. Their set included songs from the current album, Meredead, as well as older material.
If there's a better way to end the night at a festival than with a great set from Doro, then I havent found it - she's always consistently excellent and tonight is no exception. With a setlist spanning her career of over 25 years, we get songs from the Warlock days (I rule the ruins, Burning the witches, Metal racer, and more) plus new songs - Night of the warlock, and the encore, Celebrate - both from her last album. As is usual, "All we are" ended her set, but we were then treated to something special - for the encore she brought out two special guests - Liv Kristine (Leaves Eyes) and Veronica Freeman (Benedictum) for a superb version of "Celebrate". A great end to the first full day at the festival.
Hanging Doll setlist: Sweet Retribution, Hope Springs Eternal, A Formidable Mistake, Twist of a Diety, Forlorn
Coma Divine setlist: Burn, Sister!, The Odd One Out, From Time to Time, I Remember, Praise the Fallen, Secret Lover, About a Girl, Dead End
Kivimetsan Druidi setlist: Lament For the Fallen, Aesis Lilim, Seawitch And The Sorcerer, Pedon Loitsu, Desolation: White Wolf, Blacksmith, Jaassa Varttunut
Amaranthe setlist: Leave Everything Behind, Enter the Maze, Million, Automatic, Call Out My Name, It's All About Me (Rain), Serendipity, Transition, Hunger
Deadlock setlist: Intro (Bizarro World), Earthlings, Brave/Agony Applause, Virus Jones, Code of Honour, State of Decay, Paranoia Extravaganza, Brutal Romance, Renegade, Awakened by Sirens, End Begins
Benedictum setlist: Dominion, Benedictum, Two Steps to the Sun, Dark Heart, At The Gates, Bare Bones, (short drum solo), Them, Ashes to Ashes, Shadowlands, Shellshock, Beast in the Field
Trail of tears setlist: Decadence Becomes Me, In The Valley Of Ashes, Deceptive Mirrors, Ecstatic, A Storm At Will, Once Kissed By The Serpent (Twice Biten By Truth), A Fate Sealed In Red, The Feverish Alliance, Crashing Down
Diabulus in musica setlist: The Seventh Gate, Ishtar, Lies in Your Eyes, New Era, The Forest of Ashes, Dueto de las Flores (Lakmé de Delibes), Renaissance, Come to Paradise, Evolution's Whim, Nocturnal Flowers, St. Michael's Nightmare
Leaves Eyes setlist: Spirits' Masquerade, Velvet Heart, Ocean's Way, My Destiny, Etain, Melusine, For Amelie, Take the Devil in Me, Krakevisa, To France, Tell Tale Eyes, Froya's Theme
Doro setlist: Earthshaker Rock, I Rule the Ruins, Fight for Rock, Running From the Devil, Burning the Witches, The Night of the Warlock, Without You, Metal Racer, Für immer, Raise Your Fist, All We Are, Encore: Celebrate (with Liv Kristine & Veronica Freeman)
Diary about my nightmares get the Sunday off to a flying start with some seriously heavy metal. Growling vocals and powerful guitars certainly wake everyone up. While a similar style to Arch Enemy they lack much of the subtlety and complexity of Arch Enemy's music preferring instead to go at full speed all the time. Good but could be better if they learn to change pace a bit more and take some lessons from Arch Enemy.
Operatika are next up. All the way from the USA, they delivered some finger shredding guitar and fine vocal performances. That's another band added to the list of CD's I need to buy!
Hungarians velvetseal are next up. Singer Gabriella is looking fantastic today and sounds even better as they play their gothic metal. This is another great band that we're likely to hear more from in the future.
Triosphere deliver some great power metalin a very impressive set.
System divide are another impressive band. Heavier and more extreme than many of the bands on the bill, they still get a fantastic reception from the crowd.
Midnattsol didnt do too well last time they were here due to Carmen having a bad throat, but thankfully tonight there are no such problems and she puts in a fine performance as do the rest of the band - guitarist Birgit seems in particularly good form tonight.
Stream of passion are fresh from a short tour of the UK supporting Leaves eyes - they stepped in at short notice to replace Visions of Atlantis who needed to rest their singers voice due to illness. As always Marcela Bovio is in fine voice and really impresses the fans tonight
Draconian is a band that seems to play very few shows, and fans in the UK, USA and Canada have been crying out for the chance to see them. Well as they won't come to us, tonight we came to see them. What can I say about their performance except WOW? These guys were fantastic and with the exception of Therion were my highlight of the day.
Visions of Atlantis were quite low down the bill last year, but have been promoted to sub-headliner for this years show. The band were releasing their new EP, Maria Magalena, at the festival and I suspect they sold plenty of copies after tonight's performance. The band were on top form and really impressed me. Singer Maxi Nil in particular was very impressive.
Sunday's headliners Therion are an impressive live act with a well choreographed performance that enhances the music and vocals rather than distracting from it, by ensuring the vocalists all get a turn at being centre stage and having this
coinciding with their vocal parts, so peoples attention is naturally focussed on the person who is taking the lead vocally at any given point. Therion ended the festival with a very impressive cover version - which must be a first for MFVF - the song was "Summer night city" by Abba !
Operatika setlist: Lost City, Tears of the Sun, Life Savings Flame, In Your Eyes, The Calling, We Rock
Triosphere setlist: Ignition, Driven, Human condition, Onwards Pt II (Decadent One), The Road Less Travelled, Worlds Apart, Trinity, Watcher, Sunriser
Draconian setlist: The Drowning Age, The last hour of ancient sunlight, Heaven laid in tears, Deadlight, Seasons apart, Bloodflower, Elysian Night
Visions of Atlantis setlist: At the Back of Beyond, Elegy of existence, Last Shut of Your Eyes, Wing Shaped-Heart, Reflection, Maria Magdelena, Lost, The Poem, New Dawn, Seven Seas, Encore: Passing Dead End, Memento
Therion setlist: The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah, Schwarzalbenheim, The Wild Hunt, Clavicula Nox, Ljusalfheim, Typhon, Kali Yurga, Part 3, Lemuria, The Wand of Abaris, Muspelheim, The Perennial Sophia, Wine of Aluqah, Call of Dagon, Ginnungagap, Son of the Sun, To Mega Therion, Encore: Summer Night City (ABBA cover)