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Rhapsody of Fire The Underworld, Camden, London, UK
16th February 2020
Rhapsody Of Fire & Support: Dendera, Serpentyne

On the 1t6th of February I went down into the bowels of the Camden Underworld to see SERPENTYNE support Italy’s RHAPSODY OF FIRE along with Portsmouth based metal outfit DENDERA. RHAPSODY OF FIRE and DENDERA are bands that have not crossed my radar until I was notified by SERPENTYNE that they would be on the bill with them at this show. So, curiosity peaked, ears at the ready and camera batteries charged I made my way to the venue.


DENDERA hail from Portsmouth on the south coast of England, forming in 2008. They released an EP in 2011 called ‘We Must Fight’ on Bored Stiff Records before moving on to release their first album ‘The Killing Floor’ in 2013. Two years later they released their second album called ‘Pillars Of Creation’, both albums being released by Metalbox Recordings. To date the band has shared stages with the likes of SAXON, ALESTORM, SKINDRED, ORANGE GOBLIN and SOULFLY to name but a few and if you want to catch them live they will play The Underworld again on March the 28th.

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Music & Performance
I only got to hear the last two tracks due to arriving late in the venue but there was a good crowd in attendance when I descended the steps down to  the stage area. They seem to be enjoying themselves, a lot more than I did. I wasn’t really able to get enthused to be honest due to it being the tail end of the set. My mind was already preparing itself for SERPENTYNE so nothing at this late juncture caught me by the sleeves and dragged me in. How would I describe DENDERA? Think IRON MAIDEN and you get the picture…

Performance: 5
Light: 5
Sound: 5
Total: 5 / 10


...SERPENTYNE took to the stage next. A London based band that I’m very familiar with, they’ve been around on the Folk / Symphonic Metal scene since 2010 and to date have released five albums, their most recent being the excellent ‘Angels Of The Night’ released on their new label, Hell Fairy Records. The band have toured extensively around the UK and mainland Europe over the years supporting the likes of TARJA TURUNEN, SOULFLY and STRATOVARIUS and this coming March they go back on the road again with an Iberian tour in support of the aforementioned TARJA.

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Music & Performance
They performed without sound checking beforehand. And it showed! SERPENTYNE were the meat in a sandwich and got to do a live soundcheck whilst playing their set opener and I’m sorry to say, that the sound did not get any better for the duration of the set. The set was around 25 minutes long and included tracks from their current album, an album I really like btw but alas the sound did not do the songs justice. It was a sound as thick as weak soup with levels all over the place, vocals that I could barely hear at times and a trebly bass that dominated the whole set! It was not a rich, wholesome sound that I have heard at previous gigs. This was not the fault of the band; they are not at fault here! I blame this solely on other people for not allowing them to soundcheck before. It makes me so angry that not all bands get an allowed sound check time before gigs.

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I’ve been to shows where the headliner gets the privilege but no one else. Or its first and last band or first and second etc. Sorry! All bands should be able to get their sound sorted before going onstage! The stage is a shop window and bands should be able to air their best produce. Sound guy ego / band preference should be binned also. But you may say “Oh the sound was ok from where I was standing.” No, it wasn’t!

Music: 9
Performance: 8
Light: 4
Sound: 2
Total: 5 / 10

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Rhapsody Of Fire

RHAPSODY OF FIRE are an Italian band forming in 1993 as THUNDERCROSS. They changed their name to RHAPSODY in 1995 before moving on to RHAPSODY OF FIRE in 2006 due to copyright issues. The band has gone through numerous line-up changes over the years, currently Keyboardist Alex Staropoli being the longest serving member having joined in 1995. To date 13 albums have been released, the current one called ‘The Eighth Mountain’.

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Music & Performance
RHAPSODY OF FIRE come out of the darkness at the back of the stage after a bout of call and response with the crowd. The sound is full and rich and rounded, and mixed perfectly. There is no clutter, there is space for the sound to breath. The set was energetic and charismatic with the fluidity of an ice dancer finding their way around an ice rink without fear or labour! There aren’t many gigs I have seen down in the bowels of The Underworld where the sound was that good! Too good perhaps? Well to use an analogy, I felt like I’d eaten a large portion of chocolate gateau and then gone back for another large portion only to realise after the first bite I felt sick!

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The drumming was fab, the singing was cacophonous, the guitars and bass had a technical, fascinating, charismatic urgency. There were rip roaring anthems that had the crowd joining in in some symbiotic sharing of energy, but after a while I felt I’d had enough. Their set was around two hours long and I knew I’d not last that long. 45 to 60 minutes was my limit. Also, I don’t know any of the tracks played. What I do know is that RHAPSODY OF FIRE will be marked down for future research.

Music: 6
Performance: 9
Light: 7
Sound: 9
Total: 7.5 / 10

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All Photos by Claudia Black

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