LIVE: Motionless In White/Lacuna Coil @ London Forum 1/11/14 ★★★★★

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For the rest of the country, Halloween was on the 31st October, the night when restless souls wander the earth and the goths and dark rockers worship their heavy metal gods. Not so in London this year, when all hallows eve came late to the capital. On 1st November at the Forum in Kentish town, hundreds of goths, young and old waited patiently for what ended up being one of the finest nights of darkly inclined music the capital had seen in years.

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First up are Devilment, the project of Cradle of Filth’s front man, Dani Filth. The band are a marked step away from the grandiose and often heavily stylised black metal offerings of Dani’s day job, their sound is a combination of thrash and gothic metal, with a healthy theatrical sheen over the whole thing. Live, they’re a genuinely impressive band who provide some great tongue-in-cheek fun, and Dani Filth is always an engaging stage presence who hits high notes other singers could only dream of.

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Next up are Motionless In White, who enter the stage to an utterly hysterical reaction from the expectant crowd, who react as if they’ve just collectively spotted the messiah. It seems like nothing could possibly drown out such crowd fervour, until the thunderous synth opening of ‘Reincarnate’ kicks in and shakes the packed Forum to its foundations.  What follows is an incendiary set by a band that are evidently at the top of their game. The musicianship on show here is top notch as guitars and synths intertwine faultlessly to create songs that strike just the right balance between sexy and sinister. ‘Sick From the Melt’ and ‘Synthetic Love’ are particularly good examples of this, there can be no finer pair of shout-along anthems for the horny and deranged. Of course no band this polished would be right without a ringmaster for their controlled chaos, and they have one in Chris Motionless, who is as charming and charismatic a frontman as a band could hope for, and a pretty kick-ass singer to boot.

The band play a set that spans their entire career, but is heavy with songs from their latest two albums, ‘Infamous’ and ‘Reincarnate’. This isn’t a choice that will please all their fans, but it’s the right one, as those are the albums where Motionless in White threw off their metalcore chains to become the genre-spanning modern metal monster they are today. That’s not to say that the older cuts don’t sound suitably impressive live, both ‘Abigail’ and ‘Immaculate Misconception’ sound menacing and wonderful as a packed and sweaty Forum screams the lyrics along with Chris Motionless.  By the time the set draws to a close with the explosive banger that is ‘Devil’s Night’ there can be no doubt that Motionless in White are one of the best live bands on today’s metal scene and the true heirs to Marilyn Manson’s gothic throne.

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The final band of the night is Lacuna Coil, a significantly different proposition to the bands that have gone before. They might still fall under the umbrella of ‘goth’ but they’re a far less frenetic band, their sound a classy hybrid of hard rock and melodic metal, with symphonic influences woven throughout, residing somewhere between Within Temptation and In This Moment on the heaviness scale.  They don’t have quite the immediate mosh-pit inducing punch of Motionless In White, but they’ve a captivating live act nonetheless. They begin with ‘Trip The Darkness’, one of their best known songs and an undeniably strong opening to the show. It’s also perfect for showing off one of Lacuna Coil’s greatest strengths, namely the male-female vocal interplay between Andrea Ferro and Cristina Scabbia. There are many bands that have tried to use this trick, but Lacuna Coil definitely pull it off best, especially live. The dual harmonies sound flawless, and they particularly stand out on old fan favourite ‘Heaven’s a Lie’.  The band work well together and even the fact that they’re using a stand in bassist, to cover for Marco Coti Zelati, who was ill, can’t dent the professionalism they show. They don’t display as much raw anger and explosive energy as Motionless In White, but that’s okay, their performance is more about carefully controlled passion than chaotic pit inducing madness. Even the single cover they perform is carefully chosen, an almost unrecognisable and vastly improved version of Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy The Silence’.

Lacuna Coil are a visually striking band as well, with Cristina Scabbia floating around in front of her band attired in a creamy gown, she looks positively angelic and a perfect foil to the dark gothic garb of the rest of the band. Her haunting voice lends a captivating eeriness to encore closer ‘Our Truth’ and ensures that what has been an evening of fantastic music ends on a high.  As the dark clad masses disgorge on to the London streets, the talk is of the fact that this was very good night indeed.