@ Trillians Newcastle, July 26 2010

Sarah Jezebel Deva is at the dawn of her solo career. Spending over ten years as a backing singer with Cradle of Filth, and showing her potential with other established acts like Therion and Mortiis, Deva has a lot to live up to if she isn’t going to disappoint as a solo artist.

Fortunately, Deva proved she can go it alone too.

If she hadn’t told the Newcastle crowd herself that this was only her sixth gig with her new line-up, no one would have believed it.  Deva and her band gave a brief but intense dosage of gothic and symphonic metal.

Drafted in just for the Newcastle gig, Convultion provided a heavy opening to the night. Despite flowery shorts and some sound problems, these guys meant business when they got down to it.  From low guttural roars to even some Slipknot, Iowa-esque rapping style, they merged thrash with elements of nu-metal to ferocious effect.

If slow trudging breakdowns are more your thing, Swindon based act The Dead Lay Waiting are worth checking out.  Oozing an unmistakeably metalcore sound, they were (as Lady Jezebel Deva herself put it) tighter than a cat’s arsehole.

Popular hit Anxiety of An Obsession was riddled in charisma and featured some rare clean vocals, although the song itself isn’t exactly lyrical mastery.  Given their professionalism and the energy they have as an entity, I can see them picking up a lot more support from metal and hardcore fans across the country.

In any other situation, after hearing these first two acts I would have suspected that I was about to hear the sounds of Hatebreed or Korn.  But the taste-buds of musical flavour were further challenged with the final act.

Deva opened with title track of her debut solo album, A Sign of Sublime.  The strokes of deep and jagged guitar complimented her voice very well.  The Dead Lay Waiting’s Tom Shrimpton had a task set ahead of him, performing his second set of the night.  This time, playing drums for Deva’s band.  However, the pressure never got to him and he held things together brilliantly.

Sarah Jezebel Deva has an edge when it comes to the whole ‘female fronted metal acts’ debate.  Yes, her operatic voice can in some respects be compared to Tarja Turunen, but at the same time, there’s a difference in her voice compared to the ex-Nightwish star. Deva’s voice is a quivering, menacing, haunting ghost; there’s something slightly unnerving but darkly beautiful about it.

They Called Her Lady Tyranny revealed the old Cradle of Filth influences with a standout heavier sound.  Deva’s capable vocal range, shifting from bellowing low notes to skittering operatic high ones, created an eerie effect amidst the groaning of the bass and lead.

Whilst her music may still have a slight tinge of pop in it, it is a far cry away from the likes of Evanescence and Within Temptation.  And it’s good that she and her band haven’t directed themselves toward that mainstream punji trap.

This maybe just the beginning for Sarah Jezebel Deva, but already she has shown that she isn’t only a backing singer, but also a very capable solo artist.

Calum Robson