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Monday, 9 January 2017

A View From Another Country: Scars Of Tears

Scars Of Tears, Prague Draft Live Stage, Kastoria, Greece

So I once again spent New Years in Greece with my other half and this time I ventured as North as I have ever been to the beautiful municipality of Kastoria, this mountainous part of the country has a devastatingly gorgeous inland lake, with plunging temperatures and the build up to the Ragoutsaria carnival that takes place on the first weekend of January in full swing there was a party atmosphere in the air with plenty of feasting, drinking and traditional Greek music filling the snow covered streets (not that the temperatures put off the hardy inhabitants of the Macedonian region, they were all out partying with aplomb). 

Still myself and my girlfriend did manage to get away from the sound of drums and clarinet with a trip to one of the few little bars/clubs the city has the Prague Draft Bar/Live Stage. The band in question were Kastoria natives Scars Of Tears who have recently signed to an American record label so I was excited to see what they could do in the live arena.

However first we had to see the support and local boys R For Renegade (5) were unfortunately more of hindrance than an enjoyment, prompting me to order more the of the clubs fine Belgian draft ale (they also a great selection of bottled ales too). With most Greek bands playing local gigs the set was a mixture of covers and their own songs and they ranged from the abysmal Last Christmas, through to the misguided Californication which was rendered limp by the guitar solo, despite Nick being a competent guitarist. 

The band did play some of their own songs though which are actually where the band shine, they do a good job of the alternative rock they have written themselves and really if they stuck to that it would have been a much more entertaining start to the night. Still those in attendance seemed to be cheer the band maybe it's just me anyway best of luck to them but they need to fill their set with more of their own songs.   

Scars Of Tears (8) are a powerful, atmospheric, female fronted metal band, with symphonic touches and crunching guitars the band had an air of  Delain, Within Temptation and some Lacuna Coil when they ramped up the heaviness. As the set kicked off the solos were a little masked due to muddy sound but by song 2 the sound was clear meaning that everything could be heard. As I've mentioned Greek club shows are a little odd as they tend to be a mix of the band's own songs and lots of covers, Scars Of Tears had some very good selections in their setlist, near the beginning of the set was Smalltown Boy originally by Bronski Beat which displayed the female/male vocal switching between the deep vocals of guitarist/vocalist Babis Stefanidis  and the soaring melodic pipes of frontwoman Anastasiadou Charitini.

Her vocals are not operatic but she sings with a distinct power and drama, the interplay between them great as the male vocals are gruff and deep giving a perfect juxtaposition with Anastasiadou's vocals. Even more impressive was that she was singing with a fever in the morning. Other covers in the set were a Lacuna Coil sounding Summertime Sadness (Lana Del Rey), a crushing rendition of The Bleeding by FFDP and a bouncy run through of Stratovarius' Hunting High And Low which made me grin from ear to ear even if the rest of the crowd didn't seem to recognise it.

With so many covers in the set it's sometimes hard to pick out the artists own songs but with slick modern, heavy metal and symphonic elements songs such as Broken Glass and Tear My Scar really stood out and showed why the band have been picked up by an American label. The band are all excellent live Babis Stefanidis and Petros Nikolaou's guitars move between thrash, speed and classic metal riffage while the grooves are brought by Thanasis Salagiannis (bass) and Christos Polyzos (drums), as the set wound up they played a rocked up cover of Diamonds by Rhianna which worked well in the heavy rock style. 

They finished up with a cover that seemed to be totally in keeping with their style, as the keys kicked in they blasted through What Have You Done Now by Within Temptation and had me for one singing along. The crowd had noticeably thinned by the end of the set (possibly due to Greek indifference or many finishing early to get home before the cold set in) but from what I saw Scars Of Tears deserve a bigger audience, hopefully bigger things lay ahead.   

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