Moonspell / Eleine / Oceans of Slumber / Somnent – May 3, 2023 – Conduit, Orlando, FLSaturday, 13th May 2023
Photos by: Brittany Barkasi
Being forced to cancel their summer 2022 North American run with Swallow the Sun and Witherfall due to a variety of unfortunate issues, it was unclear when the mighty Portuguese gothic metal standard bearers would return. The complicated and insane state of touring – especially for foreign bands and the gigantic expenses to tour the US – has made financing and pulling off these endeavors more arduous than ever. The bands who do make it over, it’s important to come out if you can, as who knows when or if they can make it back.
Thankfully in the case of Moonspell, the wait wasn’t long, announcing a diverse lineup for a spring tour with progressive stalwarts Oceans of Slumber and exciting symphonic metallers Eleine as main support, who have been gaining gobs of momentum throughout the globe. Excited to have a date slated for one of our favorite venues in Orlando in the recently renovated Conduit, and we had the makings of a fine evening. A special thanks to the fine folks at Conduit – first class all the way.
A big and delightful addition to this particular show was Orlando’s Somnent, a death/doom band helmed by the creative force that is Giovanni A. Vigliotti, who have made quite a bit of waves with their eloquent and melancholic offerings.
Many in the crowd were quite familiar with the band, singing along to their emotive and impactful setlist. Vigliotti’s combination of smooth clean vocals and crushing growls provided a variety of moods to mix in with his dazzling clean guitar along with the heavier pieces. There’s a definite Katatonia level of disparity in Somnent’s music, as well as an attention to detail that helps their glum offerings stand out.
A major highlight of their set was the title track from their most recent full-length Gardens from Graves, showcasing Somnent’s versatility and ability to take one on an emotional journey not dissimilar to Draconian. This was our first time seeing the band, and it absolutely will not be the last if we have anything to say about it. We hope to catch Somnent again as soon as possible.
Oceans of Slumber
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Wholly unique and progressive to the core, Oceans of Slumber always put on a heartfelt and moving performance, and this instance was no exception. The Texans know how to draw in a crowd, and they took this audience on a fulfilling story-laden journey.
Beginning with introspective cuts from their acclaimed latest Starlight and Ash such as “The Waters Rising,” “Hearts of Stone” and “Red Forest Roads,” vocalist Cammie Gilbert expressively drove each song with the crowd at her whim. Hearing these more melancholic and rock oriented tracks live was a treat, as they really worked well in this setting, with an emotiveness that captivated.
Not to eschew their previous releases, Oceans of Slumber played crowd pleasers like the infectious and biting “Pray for Fire” and “I Mourn These Yellowed Leaves” from their self-titled LP, sticking out as particularly strong moments. Their entire set was reflectively hopeful as it was cloudy, giving those familiar a well rounded mix of their strongest offerings, and the uninitiated an eclectic sampling of what they’re all about. They left the crowd wanting more, and we’ll always sign up to see them again.
Seeing the overwhelming amount of shirts and various other pieces of merch on display from many in the crowd, it was obvious that Eleine was a big draw on this night. This tour being their North American live debut, and having been steadily gaining steam since their debut in 2014, it’s certainly been a long time coming for the band to play on this continent. Those in attendance were not disappointed.
Kicking off their set was “Enemies,” which also is the opening track off of Dancing in Hell, and an energetic riff-heavy offering at that. Two brand new songs from their upcoming fourth album We Shall Remain in “We Are Legion” (a tribute to the band’s most dedicated fans) and “Never Forget” were well received by a now fervent audience; definitely a good omen for the upcoming July 14th release of said full-length.
The band’s lively stage presence is notable, as guitarist Rikard Ekberg and bassist Filip Stålberg energetically enticed the crowd to match their level of enthusiasm. Vocalist Madeleine Liljestam fronts the band with conviction and poise, utilizing her strong voice and stage presence to achieve a commanding grip on the audience. Drummer Jesper Sunnhagen is the rhythmic glue, giving Eleine’s live show the required low end kick to balance everything out. Also, the band’s synchronized headbanging game is mightily strong, making this writer’s aging neck feel a bit envious of their impressive whirlwind of hair follicles.
Nearing the end of Eleine’s set were a few personal favorites in “Ava of Death” and “Where Your Rotting Corpse Lie,” satisfyingly showcasing some of their more hard-edged material to the delight of the gathered mass. The melodic and catchy “Death Incarnate” rounded out proceedings nicely, with the band leaving the raucous crowd wanting more. Those who weren’t part of the ‘Eleine Legion’ before this night most assuredly are joining up now. If this reaction and show quality is any indication, these talented Swede’s first North American foray has indeed been a fruitful one.
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Headlining were Portuguese gothic metal legends Moonspell, whom yours truly have been following for about 25 years. Talk about dating oneself, but we digress. Having first seen them on the life-affirming tour with In Flames (my gateway band into the extreme realm of metal music) in November of 1999, this writer has been a staunch supporter and has seen them well over 15 times. Always glad to add another performance to the list, Moonspell were in fine form, bringing an undeniable darkened aura to elevate their massive and impressive discography.
Starting with the opening track on their latest Hermitage, “The Greater Good” began their set on an ominous and powerful note, quickly followed by “Extinct,” of which the crowd sang the soaring chorus along with frontman Fernando Ribeiro. Speaking of, Ribeiro sounded pristine, with his signature deep clean delivery as intense as it was over two decades ago, while his growls rumbled as massively as can be imagined. Long-time keyboardist/guitarist Pedro Paixão and lead guitarist Ricardo Amorim brought profound instrumentation and electricity to Moonspell’s performance, proving yet again to be just as vital on stage as they are to the band’s immense creative output. The rhythm section of bassist Aires Pereira and drummer Hugo Ribeiro brought the thunderous low end, proving to be a binding element of their eclectic elixir.
Perhaps the band’s most recognizable song, the addictive “Opium” from the band’s breakout 1997 release Irreligious, sounded pitch perfect, bringing back many memories of discovering gothic metal in my formative teenage years. Straightforward menacing entries “In and Above Men” and “From Lowering Skies” kept the crowd in constant motion, while the groovy and poignant “Nocturna” – from the band’s best album for my money, Darkness and Hope – enveloped the crowd with shrouds of foreboding.
To complete the evening, live staples “Alma Matter” and “Full Moon Madness” obliterated the crowd with gusto, delighting this old soul. Moonspell doubtlessly have never forgotten where they’ve come from, embracing all eras of their illustrious career with this epic performance.
This was a show that ultimately was a showcase of acts across the metal spectrum; a celebration of the wide variety of music making an impact. Eleine continues to reach new heights and venture out on paths previously untraveled, with the sky being the limit to what they can collectively achieve. Somnent and Oceans of Slumber continue to refine their unique individual sounds, making a name for themselves in their respective styles wherever they go.
We’ve used the term ‘legends’ as it pertains to Moonspell, and it’s a label much earned. The gothic metal entrepreneurs put forth an ageless longevity and verve that has and will continue to serve them well as they continue their illustrious career journey.
This was a show that all in attendance were happy to have partaken in, and one we won’t be forgetting for some time.