Almost 3 years have passed since I saw the band live at a goth festival held at the castle in Leiria, Portugal. Back then I had no idea what was in store for the night and I was completely taken aback by the whole experience. This time, even though the dynamic of the performance remained practically untouched (minus one weird body-suit noise-generating gizmo), it made no less of an impression. You know how some actors insist on remaining in character throughout the process of shooting a movie? These guys seem to have been in character for the past 30 years, since the band's inception in 1984. Everything about the show (the word ritual seems more fitting) is meticulously crafted and nothing is neglected or left to chance. I can only imagine the level of dedication it takes to log a full-blown 10-bell carillon around on tour. I know it only took about 8 hours and a crew of people to bring all their gear up to the castle. Luckily, The Garage is not on top of a hill, but still. Think about that next time you get frustrated because the airliner doesn't allow you to bring your guitar onboard.

Don't be fooled by the presence of instruments like the bagpipes or the bells, this is no neo-folk nor neo-classical musing about life in the countryside. It's loud and raw and if you look at it, it's a very standard rock band combo - vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard, drums. I remember it even proved to be too much for the more mellow festival goers that hoped to be entertained with songs about snowflakes sung to the sounds of a lute. As soon as they heard the electric guitar, they quickly evacuated further away from the speakers. The band actually sounds a lot more military than goth, due to the overwhelming presence of dense drum structures by BAM, the band's mechanical, electromagnetically-controlled drummer, the brainchild of frontman Olivier Tarabo. The whole ritualistic bubble wrapped around the performance is not there to take attention away from the music. The songs are the vehicle and no doubt a very powerful one. The candles, the costumes, the flag girls and the Danse de la Terre are merely an elaborate landscape it travels through. One day I hope to pop in their hometown of Rouen to witness what they're really capable of when on their home turf.