The Unalive Tour 2020, 17th February 2020, Helios 37, Cologne, Germany
Another storm warning could not keep us away from this concert. The headliner band Mister Misery has caught my eye already a few weeks back somewhere online. Despite my otherwise indifferent existence in modern cyberspace, I do follow goth-related hashtags and what a find! Put a handsome Scandinavian ghost with eyeliner and a guitar on stage and I’ll be there to write about it. The truth is, my tormented gothic romantic soul feels that there are not enough bands with such an outstanding cinematic concept anymore, those who are not only great on record but also are a spectacle to witness live. This Mister’s visuals looked already very promising on their social media logs, whilst what I heard from their Spotify playlist sounded also very solid musically, especially for a young newcomer.
But why am I discovering such treasures most accidentally online in between pictures of people’s food and makeup tutorials?! Promoters around here have to step up their game! Even in the area around the venue there were no posters, nothing to tell us what awesomeness was playing there tonight. And along with the main band, there’s the supporting act Aeranea – a very good local band I found on Instagram earlier – were accompanying Mister Misery on the German leg of their Unalive tour. So amidst the stormy February in Cologne it felt like I stroke a pot of heavy metal luck that Monday evening.
This band features Stefan Herkenhoff, whom you might know from the successful symphonic metal act Beyond the Black: Aeranea is a very powerful so far lesser known, female fronted heavy metal quartet. Aeranea has a couple of releases, with intriguing new material in the works. Even though Helios 37 venue has a cozier more private atmosphere, their live sound and quality was seriously impressive. If you were at the bar in line for cheap beer, you’d turn around and pay attention at the first riff. There’s enough power and energy to fill an arena! Judging by the crowd close to the stage, Aeranea is already well known and much loved. Melodic but consistently heavy and definitely very headbangable. High-end musicianship meets quality content and dedication to their craft. Excellent work on the drums too, that could be heard clearly throughout the concert.
Compliments to the front lady Lilly Seth, who very confidently took the stage and with her passionate and expressive performance fired up her audience and band mates. Aeranea, to me, stands out for excellent audio arrangements and a powerful performance, a uniqueness to their style that still resonates in warm nostalgia with Evanescence and Lacuna Coil from early 2000s. Watch out Wacken and HellFest and make some room. The only one critique from me personally is that for a band of this potential I’d wish for more visual unity in styling, a stronger cohesive band image. Everything else the guys have clearly under their firm control. I certainly hope we will have a lot more reasons to report about Aeranea in the future!
After a short intermission – in came the headliner Mister Misery, a name not without an echo of original emo days, and an album and tour title suggesting lack of vitality. Yet the instant their pointy boots and New Rocks landed on stage, you felt what a professional, vibrant and insane act this is! Their show presentation is like a ghostly asylum and poetic gothness for the twisted, but heavy and metal and with awesome guitars. Candles all over the stage, flickering lanterns on the microphone and drum stands, disturbed mimes’ masks on each band member’s spot and spooky lighting of the whole stage. So far, so excellent!
This Swedish ghostly formation is young and fresh off the graveyard, making its first steps and firmly solidifying its reputation as a strong concept act. I secretly hope their merch line will soon include a doll set of all four ghoulish cuties. Formed in early 2018, they have one full-length album named Unalive, motto of their current tour, playing in the most haunted of dusty corners around European towns. Meanwhile, they are confirmed for Wacken and Full Metal Holiday Mallorca festivals this year, too. These guys are seriously on the rise – I recommend to catch them at the smaller club gigs before they hit it big.
The music is excellent, heavy but playful and most importantly in the scene today, it is flamboyantly memorable yet keeping it faithful to the metal genre. You’ll headbang like crazy but will recognize their tunes anywhere. With enough theatricality and attention to their audience, they are very dedicated to their characters and concept every second of their appearance. The frontman Harley is very interactive and knows how to engage the enthusiastic audience. And those sing-alongs and encore show that this act – a discovery to me – is much beloved to the rest of Cologne’s ghouls. This warms my gothic broken heart – we need more bands like this and especially more of this specific Mister Misery. So don’t wait too long before jumping on this Scandinavian horror metal insanity bus – it’ll be going fast and far!
Journalist – Marina Minkler
Photos – Kira Hagen www.kirahagen.com