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Sacrificium Tour 2014 @ Backstage, Munich, Germany + XANDRIA Interview

XANDRIA / Stream Of Passion / Lyriel
in Thursday, 22 May 2014 at XANDRIA / Stream Of Passion / Lyriel
by Erika Kuenstler

XANDRIA, a German Symphonic Metal band has recently launched on a tour across Europe to showcase their newly released album “Sacrificium”, with STREAM OF PASSION as support, and I was fortunate enough to witness the Munich show of this beautiful tour.

First up on stage was LYRIEL, a band that had put up with an 8 hour car drive and one puncture just to be there that night, kudos for these guys for making it through that is true dedication for you. Playing the song “Skin and Bones” from their upcoming album due for release at the end of the year, as well as some of their older works, such as “Leverage”, to which LYRIEL has released a music video, this German Symphonic Metal band put on an excellent performance that soon got the audience into the swing of things. Certainly a great opening act for the main touring band, a band to be heard of in the future for sure.

1. Intro
2. Numbers
3. Voices
4. Skin and Bones
5. Leverage
6. Dream
7. Blood
8. Wild Birds

Next up was STREAM OF PASSION, who have just released fourth full-length album, “A War of Our Own”.  With a darker twist than LYRIEL into a more chaotic vale, this Dutch Symphonic Metal band put on an engaging show that absolutely captivated the audience that was swept away right from the get go. Particularly energetic was the bassist, who frequently wildly spun across the stage with such an infectious dynamism that the crowd could not help but get excited along with him. Where LYRIEL got the ball rolling, STREAM OF PASSION had the ball wildly ricocheting, getting the audience well warmed up for the anticipated headliners, XANDRIA.

1. Monster Passion
2. A War of Our Own
3. The Curse
4. In The End
5. Don’t Let Go
6. Sweet Spirit
7. This Endless Night

Finally it was time for the headliners of the night, XANDRIA. Appearing on stage bedecked in a sparkling golden dress that brought to life the gilded phoenix displayed on the album artwork, new front-woman Dianne Van Giersbergen won the hearts of fans instantly due to her amazing voice and stage posture. This was also the first time many fans had seen XANDRIA’s new bassist, Steven Wussow. However, both new members seemed to fit right into the family, and were accordingly unconditionally accepted by the audience. Given this, the level of cohesion between the band members was exceptional, and the level of interplays going on bespoke to this sense of camaraderie. This attitude was clearly infectious, which helped further inflame the audience’s enjoyment. Between the excellent performance, very good sound, amazing lighting, and soaring and searing melodies, this was definitely a night that Munich’s Symphonic Metal fans will not soon forget!

1. Nightfall
2. Blood on my Hands
3. Until the End
4. Forevermore
5. Euphoria
6. Sacrificium
7. Come with me
8. Stardust
9. Cursed
10. Undiscovered Land
11. Soul Crusher
12. Ravenheart
13. Dreamkeeper
14. Nomads Crown
15. Valentine
Interview - Dianne Van Giersbergen, Marco Heubaum (Xandria)

With XANDRIA currently on tour with their new 6th full-length album, I luckily got the opportunity to have a chat with Dianne Van Giersbergen, the new vocalist of XANDRIA, as well as with Marco Heubaum, the founding member of the band before the show at Backstage, Munich. So I used this chance to find out how Van Giersbergen’s experiences in XANDRIA have been so far, details about the new album, as well as how the recording of the recently released music video “Nightfall” went.

You’re now halfway through your European tour. How has it been so far?

Dianne: Great! We had big crowds; a little bit more than we expected I guess. The reactions to the album have been overwhelming! Everything has been very positive.

I read recently that you’re very excited about doing this show?

Dianne: Well for me in particular, but maybe less for the older guys, you’ve played the old songs so often. And of course you’re very anxious to see how the people will react to the new material, and what they will do when the songs come to life.
Marco: It’s much more of a challenge for you as a musician to play songs you did not play before on stage instead of songs you played 100 times. That’s not really a challenge any more. I don’t think we, with the exception of the new bassist and vocalist, can really put anything new into songs like “Ravenheart”.  There’s not much to grab out of these songs for us anymore.

In comparison to your older music, your newer work sounds more complex. Is that more challenging to play live?

Marco: Yeah, we had to practice a little more! I have never been an Yngwie Malmsteen kind of guitar player, but I am a quite solid rhythm guitarist. That’s why Philip plays almost all the solos. But I am the main songwriter, so in the first few years of the band, I wrote quite simple songs so that I could play them on the guitar. But since the last album, it was also a challenge for me to have songs in my head on guitar work before I played them on guitar. I don’t write songs on the guitar: I write them in my head and then try play them on the guitar. Sometimes I realise “Oh, that’s pretty difficult”. But instead of what I have done in the past where I decided “Ok, let’s just do something else”, I try to learn how to play it. It’s fun to have a challenge.

And are you doing anything special for the tenth anniversary of “Ravenheart”?

Marco: We play it! It might not be as funny as it sounds, but it is the only song of that era that we play live on the current tour. We have a certain length of the set, also because of the venues and the schedules of the other bands. It’s so important for us to play songs from the new era. We want to play this song off the new album, and that song off the new album, so we have to kick out another old one, until “Ravenheart” was the only one left.

Having a new bassist and vocalist must have changed the chemistry of the band quite a bit. How has that worked out?

Marco: This is always the biggest change for a band: the chemistry. The fans recognise the sound of a new instrument or a new voice, but inside the band, the chemistry is the most important thing. The chemistry can build or break a band. Maybe not because of the voice or because someone makes mistakes on his instrument, that’s not that problematic. But the chemistry is so important! I think we’ve got the best chemistry now in the band that we’ve ever had.

There’s often some opposition to change when a band gets a new vocalist, with some fans loving the new vocalist and some wanting the old one back. How have fans of XANDRIA responded to you Dianne?

Dianne: I have no reason to complain. It has not been 50/50; I think we have managed to win most of them over with the announcement and the chance to have a look at some of my previous work with my other band EX LIBRIS.  But now we have brought out the new album, we’ve heard only positive things. I don’t want to brag, but I’m proud that it has been received the way it has been. I have been welcomed very warmly by everyone!

How has the experience been for you so far? You’ve kind of been thrown right in the deep end, with a new record straight away, followed by touring.

Dianne: I like that! I face my challenges head-on, and I’m not easily afraid of anything. If you study properly, then you can manage almost anything.

How has it been fronting two bands at the same time?

Dianne: It’s pretty hectic sometimes, but it all stands or falls with good planning. It’s a matter of planning and having both bands respect each other. But if you’re a band, I think you immediately respect another band because you know about the blood, sweat, and tears, and you know about the journey and the goals you want to reach.

Returning to the new album, I read that it’s carrying on in the same musical journey as your previous album, “Neverworld’s End”.

Marco: It’s a continuation. We opened a totally new chapter of the band with “Neverworld’s End” and it was laying the ground for the future of the band, and this is the first step of that new future. Of course, we did not do just another “Neverworld’s End” and I think it does indeed sound a bit different, but that is only natural. It’s not a challenge to just repeat what you did, but of course it is in the same vein. I think people who liked “Neverworld’s End” will also like the new album. But there were a few things we liked to experiment with, but things came naturally without thinking about it. That’s normal when song-writing and arranging a new album together. Some things just happen without planning, but we if we liked it, we’d keep it in.

And what inspirations did you drawn on?

Marco: There were so many inspirations! In a single song I sometimes find five of my favourite bands as inspiration. I think “oh, this riff is a bit like CANDLEMASS, this riff is a bit like PANTERA”, and maybe the arrangement is a bit like NIGHTWISH or JUDAS PRIEST in their more atmospheric phase, like their “Nostradamus” album; that was also very symphonic. I’m a big fan of this album: as opposed to a big part of JUDAS PRIEST fans, I like it very much because it’s very atmospheric and very soundtrack like. That’s a big part of our music: it’s like a Metal film score.

How did it go with shooting the music video for “Nightfall”?

Marco: It was shot in one day, on April first. Outside it was quite warm already, but inside the church was cold.

Dianne: Oh god, it was freezing!

I can imagine that in that dress, it must have been quite unpleasant!

Dianne: The funny thing is that they guys were complaining that it was so cold, wearing sweaters and long trousers, and I was like “Guys, look at me!”

Marco: Haha, I even kept my jacket on!

Dianne: But all for a good result. It really is so beautiful, the clip. The first time I saw it I was like “God, is that me? It looks so cool!”

Marco: It’s really an atmospheric video.

Why shoot it in an abandoned church?

Dianne: Well, it obviously ties in with the album cover of course. And we wanted to continue in the mood that we have already set. Next to that, the music is very important, and if you do a complete story line, you distract from the music. So we more took pictures that go hand in hand with the music already portrayed in the music and the lyrics.

Marco: It was kind of a mixture between playing with pictures from the album artwork, so the church and the phoenix, and some elements of the song’s lyrics that is about mankind’s decay. The development of mankind has torn the resources of this planet and itself therefore. And so this half destroyed and decayed building was a good place to showcase this and to combine it with the other elements.

My final question: a lot of younger bands look up to you. Do you have any advice for them?

Dianne: Ah, that’s a cool question! Never give up!

Marco: There are really some statements you can say that sound a bit cliché, but they are all true. When you are told as a musician to stay true to what you really want and not what others tell you; that is really important. If you have success, you know it’s because of your own vision, and not because of someone else’s. And if you don’t have success, you can at least say “Yeah, but I like it”.

Dianne: Yeah, “I have been true to myself”.

Marco: If you did not at least follow your own vision, then you have lost both creating your own vision and creating something that satisfies you. And you can only convince people when you are doing something from your heart.

That sounds like really good advice! Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!

Dianne: You’re welcome!

Marco: Thank you for your support.

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Edited 30 January 2023

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