I recently had a chance to check out Gone In April, a female-fronted, symphonic thrash/goth metal band that, while they call their hometown Knoxville, TN, are actually from several different parts of the world including Germany, Canada and Italy. Having heard their music before, but never seeing them live, I expected a treat when they showed up at The Valarium accompanied by Nuclear Symphony and were joined by local acts Johnny Newman, Divided We Stand and Shallowpoint. I had a feeling I would not be disappointed on this evening.
A quick history on Gone In April tells us they were formed in 2009 by guitarist Felix Schumacher and drummer Yanic Bercier when the two collaborated on a project that would feature a female vocalist. Canadian vocalist Julie Bélanger Roy, who also plays the violin and viola, was a perfect fit for the direction the musicians were looking for. They also brought in highly-talented Italian bassist Chicco Parisi Lalonde. The band wasted no time in quickly getting started on an album and things have been a whirlwind for them since the release of their debut album, We Are But Human, in 2011. The album was recorded at WaveTransform Recording Studios in Knoxville, TN.
Roy has an incredible range of vocals which she shows off frequently. Originally from Ontario, Canada, she has been studying “Voice Performance” at the University of Tennessee. She proudly announced to the crowd that the band will be headlining at The Great Indian Octoberfest in Bangalore October 12-14, 2012, an event that draws over 60,000 metal-hungry fans to the Jai Mahal Palace.
It’s always interesting to see how bands perform when they mix two or more genres together and the results are not always satisfactory. Gone In April brought a playlist to The Valarium that was full of crushing thrash metal mixed with the symphonic play of dual violinists. When the band hit the stage, I wasn’t sure how I, or the crowd, would perceive them. The heavy thrash with dark overtones accelerated my decision as a positive aspect in that regard and the musicians’ energy and crowd-engaging tactics intensified the effect for everyone there.
At times the crowd seemed electrified, jumping up and down, screaming and throwing horns in the air. Other songs brought smaller reactions, although with the change from brutal, destructive metal to the soft sounds of classical, this would have to be expected.
I think one of the high points of the entire show was enjoying the ferocious drum work by Yanic Bercier. The man is an absolute beast on the skins with incredible skills and lightning-fast foot work on the double-bass drums. His frenetic play and seemingly endless energy kept me pumped to the max.
Felix Schumacher produced many incredible solos which really hit a high point with me. As an old school metalhead, I believe guitar leads to be an integral part of metal. Any metal band can come up with heavy rhythm guitar and riffs but a decent 30-60 second (or longer, as Schumacher did several times) solo just adds to the overall completeness of a metal song. Schumaker also occasionally throws in growling vocals for even more added contrast to the already overflowing musical elements of the band. The violin play contrasts with the electrifying guitar work and stupendous hypersonic drumming to create a unique sound. I know symphonic metal has been undertaken in a variety of ways but there was no one band I could point out as having the same sound as Gone In April although during certain songs, Roy would hit the high soprano notes and I could hear a little Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) influence
Occasionally, during the show, the rhythm overrode the sound of the violins and they could not be heard. Since I also noticed that Roy frequently had to adjust her mic to be heard, I blame it on the audio; although as badass as Schumacher’s guitar work is, it’s possible it just wanted to be heard more.
It was quite refreshing to hear pure, clean female vocals mixed with brutal thrash and accented with violin play. The band was active on stage and played to the crowd. Often, during Schumacher’s prodigious solos, Roy would run from one side of the stage to the other throwing her arms up which energized the crowd.
Overall, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the show. Gone In April put on an invigorating performance, filled with energetic performances and intoxicating musical talent. I feel the blend of thrash brutality, combined with Roy’s sirenic voice and violin play, makes for a stimulating sound that should appeal to many metalheads, as well as fans of classical music. I expect we will be seeing many more positive reviews of this band in the upcoming future.