Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Semblant darken the northern skies with a ‘Vermilion Eclipse’

Fresh off the back of their first visit to the UK last year, Semblant went one step further by bringing their extreme gothic metal sound to Manchester.

BulletBelt opened the evening with a potent sound, mixing in elements of thrash, gothic, metalcore and melodic death metal. From the very beginning, they weren’t going to mess about as dynamics had already hit chest-thumping volumes before Rebellion was even a third full. Stepping onstage with a dark cloak and a creepy mask, spooky season announced itself loudly and clearly matched by powerful screams, aggressive riffs and strong double kicks. 

Then, halfway through the set, the villain showed his face. Like Kylo Ren taking his mask off in Star Wars, the true spirit of Diego is exposed. His combination of clean and harsh vocals blend in nicely with each other while the growl and bite of the guitars enhanced his petrifying, tall figure. Steve Francis’ drumming was on point with extremely tidy fills, solid 16th notes on the double kick and some cheeky shredding with tapping from finished off a good performance by the New Zealand group.

Next up were Mesmerized who changed things up a bit style-wise. Their sound was closer to the headliners and they kept up the same intensity as Bulletbelt. The use of electronic backing synth tracks gave it a more cheerful, dance-along, electro/pop metal feel. However, the hype amongst the crowd seemed to dip as their set went on. Perhaps the extreme style contrast might have played a part but it was nevertheless a solid show from them. The singer kept a smile on her face, the solos were technical and complex and the drumming was clean so they remained energetic throughout.

Systemhouse33 were the last of the support acts, hoping to get engagement back into Manchester which they did. Their vicious-sounding, groove metal approach ensured that no one would be bored. Samron showcased his great vocal versatility when switching between semi-clean and unclean vocals, encouraging people to start a pit and get motivated as they aimed to set up a good climax. With shades of Max Cavalera, his authoritative voice boomed through the place like a freight train horn in a tunnel while some nasty riffs by Gilroy and neat blast beats from Mayank kept him company. The turnout may not have been the highest but the rapport was there which suggested that the night would end well.

It was a late start but the moment that we had all been waiting for arrived. It was Semblant’s time to shine and in a blistering 90-minute set, they delivered in style with a handful of tracks mostly from Vermilion Eclipse and Obscura. Brazilian metal doesn’t often come to English shores but when it does, it’s hard to disappoint. The Curitiba sextet have a very interesting sound about them, where they incorporate a whole range of styles and subgenres ranging from symphonic metal, gothic metal and melodic death metal. The end result is this wonderful mix of music that came to life which Manchester could only stare and appreciate in awe of what was coming their way. Formed in 2006 by singer Sergio Mazul and keyboardist João Augusto, Semblant have helped grow the metal scene in Brazil throughout the years and since then have been widely praised for their efforts, so it was only a matter of time before their flair was waiting to be showcased in Manchester. Having only been to London last year, it was now our turn to get a taste of what these guys were made of.

The familiar duo of Sergio Mazul and Mizuho Lin, which has been a spotlight stealer since the pair first joined forces, worked its magic again. The audience immediately stepped closer to the stage as if magnets were pulling them, with eyes glued to the artists like visitors at the Louvre when attracted to the sighting of the Mona Lisa. Their partnership somewhat resembles the story of Beauty and the Beast where we have Mizuho’s seductive character in a long cloak and high-heeled boots with lipstick on, singing the clean and delicate parts while Sergio appears as the beast, consisting of a terrifying stance and monstrous screams with a tank top.

From screams and clean vocals of all ranges, you could call Sergio the Pelé of voices who was just born to fulfil his talent. Using every muscle in his vocal cords, he wasn’t afraid to show his versatility. The deep end is like a baritone opera with a warmth to it and the mid-range when it comes to clean belts is where he starts to show his inner rage like when a snake hisses not to be touched. The harsh parts are the kill stage, where the lethal bite after the last warning has been made as he nails the growls and fry screams to inject the venom. Together, he and Mizuho are the owners of the stage where their dominant presence makes them rise above the crowd.

João Augusto on keys provided the extra spaciousness with some lovely melodies to form a soothing contrast with the already overpowering savage riffs. Occasionally he broke out into a solo and they were wonderful as his wizard-like abilities shone through brighter than a UV light. He had a massive smile throughout while tapping the notes at supersonic speeds as he felt the music rooted in his soul. Juliano Ribeiro meanwhile had lightning bolts in his arm. You just get that sixth sense that something special is going to come out of his locker whenever he picks up his guitar and that’s exactly what we were treated to. With outrageous licks, sweep picking and impressive shredding quicker than F1 tyre changes, he was a man on a mission, determined to effortlessly put any competition to bed. Behind the kit, an energised Welyntom Sikora set the tempo to keep the well-oiled machine running with perfect fills, superb coordination and agile double kick.

With a debut like this, Semblant have nothing to fear when they next return to the UK and who knows, it might even be a nationwide tour because if they can excel outside of London, a talented group like them cannot go unnoticed, as the Brazilian metal scene in the UK at least is unfortunately underrepresented. But, with Semblant’s help and the likes of Sepultura, Krisiun, Nervosa, Ratos do Porão and more, we can help it thrive and get more credit that it deserves.

Pedro Felippe
Pedro Felippe
Metalhead since the stone age. Always bash the crap out of my drum kit and am an avid gig goer. I massively identify myself within the metal community as the sense of belonging is unrivalled.

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