- Stigmata back on stage with ‘Arise’
By Venessa Anthony
Last Saturday (25), we headed to the Gloriance Ballroom in Bellanwila to catch the event of the weekend. Celebrating their 22nd anniversary, Stigmata hosted a killer gig titled “Arise” just to give their fans and followers a little pick-me-up from all the doom and gloom that has taken over our country fuelled by the ongoing economic crisis.
Opening the night was the talented Sanjeev Niles, who soothed the audience with his classical baritone. His vocals took everyone’s breath away and had them holding on to every note he sang. His soft, gentle style of playing was a stark contrast to what one would expect from a metal gig, but proved to be exactly what was needed in line with Stigmata’s theme for the night.
Upcoming local metal band Thrishira also took the stage that evening, with lead vocalist Nipuna Fernando cracking a few jokes to lighten the mood. Once they began playing, we were struck by how similar they sounded to Stigmata – from the vocalist’s tone to the instrumental sounds. After a stellar performance of about three to four songs – with the audience screaming for more – we have no doubt that this band is going to make waves in the metal industry, perhaps following in the enduring path taken by the night’s headliners.
Unlike Stigmata’s last gig amidst pandemic-related restrictions, this one saw a massive surge in the number of attendees. The atmosphere was electric, with hundreds of fans eagerly waiting to watch their favourite metal band finally take the stage, buzzing with excitement, especially after Stigmata frontman and vocalist Suresh de Silva announced the launch of a new song at the gig, which is to be featured on their upcoming album as well. With the music industry on the verge of collapse, after being hit with crisis after crisis, this gig was much anticipated amongst local metalheads, and the cheers for Stigmata, when they finally got on stage, were deafening.
Despite a few setbacks with the sound system, once they got into the groove of things, the band with over 22 years of experience under their belt held the audience captive all night, with a few breaks for a back-and-forth between the band and audience. Stigmata’s gigs have always been an almost intimate affair, with many fans present who have followed them for decades, and Suresh working his charm to make the newer fans feel welcome.
This gig was also special, as it was the first time that the band played onstage with new drummer Harshan Gallage. The talented drummer, also having many years of experience to his name, fit right in with Stigmata, with little to no change to their original sound. Suresh even told us that Harshan pushed them to venture into unfamiliar territory and really see what they could do as a band. Their fans seem to have felt the same way, with their applause for the new drummer ensuring he was embraced into their already established banter.
Catching up with a few people at the gig, one lady told us that she danced so much, she could barely feel her legs the next day. “This is the most fun I’ve had in a while; I feel paralyzed right now, but the night was well worth it!”
Another long-time fan of the band told us that he had saved fuel for three weeks and even missed out on an important family milestone just to attend this gig, and was not disappointed. “This is how important a Stigmata gig is to me; they never let us down – I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Another metalhead, who had not been to a metal gig in over six years, enthusiastically told us that he enjoyed every second of it. He had also dragged his brother along, who had never been to a metal gig before, and told us that he too had been blown away by it all. “I stayed away from headbanging because I unfortunately had classes the next day, but the show was great, and I’m glad Suresh asked me to come.”
There was also much praise for Harshan Gallage’s debut as Stigmata’s new drummer, with everyone exclaiming how he brings a fresh and unique sound to an already flawless take on metal music.
Suresh, too, shared his thoughts on a gig well performed, telling us that the reception the next morning was streaming in, with lots of praise for the band, the new song, and the new drummer. Their newest song had such great reception, with the audience demanding for it to be the title track of their next album, that Suresh told us the band will begin recording the song officially as soon as next week.
“It was a great night! Everything went smoothly with no setbacks and the audience had a killer time as well,” he shared. He also told us that this is the first of many more gigs to come in a series of concerts that they are organising, and to keep our eyes and ears peeled for more gigs and fresh, new music.