Lapis Lazuli

Dark Mental Festival - 2012

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Lapis Lazuli was the second Swedish band at Dark Mental Festival, and after the well-played concert by their countrymen in Perception Of Darkness, the visitors for the festival were more than happy to welcome yet another one of their neighbours to the stage.

With Lapis Lazuli (actually the name of a semi-precious stone with an intense blue colour) we were in a completely different ballpark when it came to music though; this band is probably big fans of Nightwish and the like, and they weren’t afraid to show it!
Playing as a sextet with keyboard/vocalist Timo Hautamäki (who started the band), Johan ‘Joey’ Karlsson on guitar, Henrik Nyman on bass, Joakim Ivarsson on drums and of course the mandatory female lead vocalist Frida Eurenius, the band was set to conquer new ground here in Denmark with what I can sadly only describe as pretty run of the mill type symphonic metal. If you’re really, really into that sort of thing, you may very well find some enjoyment here, but if not (like me) then there wasn’t necessarily something to get all worked up about in the music.

Still, one doesn’t have to reinvent the spoon to be able to pull a decent gig off, Perception Of Darkness had proven that only moments earlier.
So what did Lapis Lazuli have to offer here? Well, one of the first things you notice is of course the visuals, and by this I mean appearance in outfits and such. Here it was obvious that Eurenius was the one who should carry the show in the tight, black leathery outfit of hers, where the rest of the band could just as easily have just walked in off the street. Especially Hautamäki took a very anonymous approach to it all as he stood nearly in complete shadow out to one side and didn’t really move much at all.
Moving about was something Karlsson proved quite capable at though, as (to a little lesser degree) Nyman and he played around with each other or just threw about themselves with various metal poses – their playing may not have hit me as anything out of the ordinary, but they did make an effort on the performance part though, which was sorely needed at this gig!
When mentioning the playing however, I feel I must return once more to Hautamäki; he may not have done much for people to take notice of him, but instead he brought the music in a big way! It was impressive to see his fingers fly over the keys of his instrument when there was the possibility to shine, and when he suddenly began growling in the third song, instead of just using clean backing vocals as he had done up to this point, the power of him nearly blew me away! It was lucky for Eurenius that she was backed up by a pre-recorded choir section at this point, or else she too would have been completely blown out of the water.
And there we touch on the sorest subject of the whole matter, the voice of Frida Eurenius.
This type of music really needs, nay depends, on a strong voice to carry it and be its ambassador to the crowd. I’m not saying it needs to be in a specific key even though it seems to be preferred by the practitioners of this genre that it be soprano, no what I mean is that it has to be grounded well in the body to come out full and strong above the musical landscape. Eurenius did not have such a voice.
For the most time it was very thin, and when the music began to unfold she nearly drowned in it. Problem was, when she did try to put some power in it she sounded shrill and unpleasing, so there really wasn’t anywhere to go with it...

Not surprisingly, Lapis Lazuli did not quite hit home with the Danish audience.
If I were to give my two cents on the matter, the band first needs to strip everything down to a molecular level, and then start building on the unmistakable musicality of Hautamäki and the joy of performing in Karlsson, because it’s these two things this band has going for it.

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