Sunday, 21 October 2018

Amenra, Toner Low & Hemelbestormer - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden, 20 October




This Saturday night I decided to leave my comfort zone and step into a world heavier, darker and slower than most shows I attend. Actually this was more of a Roadburn event and a crowd to match it. Yet after reading several rave reviews on Amenra live I was looking forward to this evening. Actually it was a double event with the day before an acoustic set in a theater in Leiden. I skipped that and also did not spend all that much time at the Amenra art exposition next door. I was in for heavy music and earplugs would ever come in so handy. Upon arrival I entered the longest queue I ever saw at de Nobel, so that was a good start.


First band of the evening were Hemelbestormer from Belgium. Their last album is called A Ring of Blue Light. A Dutch band name and an English album title. Well if you play instrumental post metal, you can do whatever you want on that front. This show was in the small hall, but as I entered early enough I found a good spot to feel their music for 45 minutes. This is indeed all about feeling the music, as Heavy was used in the capital letter form. A band on stage in the dark, with on the background black and white nature movies playing. Maybe not the first time we see something like that, but this was a good band and their continued set without one word was impressive. A few times the guitarist started applauding to us as a sign that we were allowed to clap. First band down and I already felt my chest and stomach pulsing on the basses.


Fast hereafter to the main hall for Toner Low. Main reason I wanted to see this band is the fact that for a few years now I keep running into their drummer Jack at shows in the area. So far I always managed to be away or at other gigs when he was playing live, so that would be sorted tonight. Toner Low play Stoner Doom and when I entered the hall they were already giving us their slow and heavy tunes. Again this could go really slow and heavy and it was good to feel them live. When moving from the back to the bar at the right of the hall I noticed that in spite of the full house the bar was not that busy. I guess this music is more for smoking than drinking. Their music was slightly less metallic than Hemelbestormer, but as a plus the guitarist did sing at times and actually spoke to us in between songs, even if only a Thank you Leiden. For me music like this is good to see live, but won't work at home on CD all that well I'm afraid.


Now moving back to the small hall after seeing Toner Low until the end and getting a beer, turned out a mission impossible.  So instead of  Soul Grip I moved back to the main hall and got myself a good spot at the balconies. While Amenra exist for some 20 years now, they are a new band to me. Last year I read about them in Portugal, where Loud made them album of the month and I believe even album of the year. So that was the reason for me checking them out on the internet and I could see this might be interesting live. A few minutes before 21:45 the band came on and the vocalist sits on a cloth with symbol and his back towards us. He hits some steel pipes together and later the drummer joins him and the band starts playing. After some time we move back to the theme of the night Heavy and we get a full blow of heaviness upon us. The band were announced as Doom Post Metal Sludge, so I guess that is what it was. I must say the movies were good and the band impressive. The vocalists sung main part of the show towards the drummer showing us his back. Yet as this was a dark stage experience that did not disturb. Actually I had the feeling that Amenra is full of symbolism and their T-shirts and exposition made you believe the same. Now I don't know them really, so could not get the deeper meaning. The vocals were mainly desperate, haunting screaming, but at times fragile and vulnerable. The band was very good in building heaviness and the overall picture was beautiful. One nice view from the balconies was the crowd banging very synchronized along the heavier and faster parts. Yet I must admit I was not as overwhelmed as I was earlier this year at Bell Witch. Maybe that was also caused by the guy standing in front of smelling like a French Union sales rep after running a marathon, who  distracted the people behind him a bit. Yet in the end I was pleased with the spectacle Amenra gave us and the two nice opening shows by Toner Low and Hemelbestormer. Maybe I should keep an eye on Roadburn's program next year.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Saxon, FM & Raven - Ronda Tivoli Utrecht, 16 October 2018


Saxon in Utrecht on a Tuesday night? Why not. Thunderbolt was a good new album and nothing beats an evening of songs from your youth to shout along with. The supports were also far from bad and given their status it was even a bit strange they played in front of a Saxon banner and pretty short too. So on a surprisingly summer day mid October I was off to Utrecht to re-live parts of my younger years.


Opener Raven played Musicon only a month ago. So I knew what we would get, only not which songs remained in the set. That being only six songs was a bit weird given it was Raven, but an evening only has so many hours to fill. Starting at 19:00 hrs the hall was still filling up and the sound was not all that clear. Yet Destroy All Monsters was a good start and Raven always runs around the stage. With more meters to do so this night they must only have gotten more tired. Highlights for me in the middle Hung, Drawn & Quartered following All for One. Yet I must say that shouting along with On and On felt better in Musicon after an evening of metal, than tonight while only warming up. Still sympathy votes always go out to Raven as they just give us a good time.


Next band FM were the lightweight of the evening. Originally Y&T would be here, but they had to pull out. Looking around the audience it seemed that many people picked up their Y&T-tee as support. On the other hand I did not see one FM T-shirt. FM do not play metal, but AOR/hard rock. For a man with an open mind and wide range of musical taste like me this was no issue, but I had the idea that many did not join me. I do have their classic album Indiscreet on LP, so seeing for me for the first time songs like I Belong to the Night or  Other Side of Midnight being played live was a treat. Actually the band seemed to be in good shape and Steve Overland remains one of the best voices in AOR. In order to get some metal credibility they mentioned themselves that a certain band called Iron Maiden covered their biggest hit That Girl. For me their second point of metal credibility was bassist Merv Goldsworthy, whom I last saw on stage 35 years ago with Diamond Head. Interesting enough they did not end their set with their biggest hit, but with a new song Killed By Love. I highly enjoyed their (also too short) set of 40 minutes and in the end several people seemed to like their set as well.


Saxon live is not all that rare nowadays, as I think they return every year to Holland. However, I can stay that for me this was their best show of the last years. The band is in great form and at the same time the audience was in good old eighties fashion. Thunderbolt is their latest album and we got I believe no less than six songs of that album. Luckily that album is rather strong and slowly in the set we moved to more and more old Classics we all know so well. Funnily enough through the set Biff joked it was too early for Wheels of Steel. Now that is a great song, but not my favorite Saxon song really. To me the highlights came in Dallas 1 PM, 747, Crusader and Princess of the Night. In reality there were no lows in the set as the new and more recent songs blended in fine. In total we got over two hours of Saxon, which might explain the short time the openers were given. Well it was right like this and I enjoyed every minute of it. Now next year Saxon exists 40 years and that shall be celebrated. Biff announced that even the Eagle shall be back, so watch your tour announcements as I shall be there again. Saxon still holds the Power and the Glory.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Solitary, PPTA & Remain Untamed - Musicon The Hague 13 October 2018


16 months after their first tour of Holland Solitary returned for a long weekend with 4 shows in the country. I was glad being able to help out and receive them at home after the Musicon gig and curious at the same time how this visit of The Hague would go down. Due to a Threshold DVD filming gig in nearby Zoetermeer I could not pull a small crowd for one, but Magchiel joined me as he liked them last year as well. Still the evening promised to be Ok as the two supports sounded interesting. Openers of the evening were Remain Untamed, who played a thrash metal crossover style according to the FB event, I quite liked their set and especially instrumentally they appeared a strong unit. The voice for me could have been more thrashy and less core, but that is personal taste. Their covers of DRI and SOD sort of hinted to their direction in metal.
Next band PPTA opened this summer for two local bands on their CD release party. At the time I quite liked their show, but you can't comment on them without mentioning the wrestling ring. I still not figured out how much that adds, although it gives them something own. Further I believe that their decision to give the referee a smaller role paid off. Musically they play thrash metal and are one of the many newer Dutch bands doing so at a rather high level. Good songs and catchy melodies. My favorite is the Sumo Wrestler where the heaviness just pours out. This band definitely did warm us all up and got me ready for Solitary.


Solitary back in Musicon so the first thing one does is comparing. This year we had two supports so a shorter set. This mainly meant that the big four covers were dropped. To get more on their big four background read the book "I promise to thrash forever". This year there was the release of the 20th anniversary of their record Nothing Changes on Dutch label Doc Records. So we got some songs from that album, but also Requiem and The Diseased Heart of Society were visited. The cover that stayed in the set was Into The Pit, but that is no surprise as they recorded it on Requiem. Last year I mentioned to them missing Anthem of Regret in their set. This slower and heavier banger for me does wonders in an overall fast set. They did remember my comment and decided to include it tonight and even better dedicate the song to me. Thanks for that guys and yes it worked wonderfully well live I thought. Their one hour set flew by and before we knew it we were bringing  amps back to the black box. For me Solitary proved again to be one of the more exciting current thrash metal bands. Still there must be people around who prefer to pay EUR 2200 for a VIP package Metallica over an evening of excellent music in Musicon. Still the crowd more or less doubled from last year, so if we keep that pace one day they get what they deserve. For us it was a cooling down over some Hertog Jan and peanuts/knakworstjes. Finally it is great to see how the 3-0 smashing of Germany this same evening also can make English football fans happy.


Monday, 8 October 2018

ProgPowerEurope - Sjiwa Baarlo, 5-7 October 2018




Coming Home! Not only the title of one of the better songs by this year's main headliner, also the feeling most regulars have when making their annual pilgrimage to Baarlo. Unbeatable in atmosphere this festival is an even split of music and people that makes it so special to many. Now even a book was released where visitors appear: Strange Kind of Epic Most people pictured for that book are staying at the Castle de Berckt. For us coming home is across the road at the Camping de Berckt. This year we were 10 for the weekend plus Yvon and Rene on the Saturday, so two packed trailers it was. Upon arrival during the Friday afternoon, the sun warmly welcomed us and the Bockbier was cold. Were we ready for a 20th anniversary party? yes we were! This weekend the competition of alternative shows was a bit crazy really. On Thursday either Sons of Apollo or Enslaved would be an option. Friday had Crippled Black Phoenix near home while Saturday had not only Haags Metaal, but also Toxik at Loud Noise festival. To top things of in Holland Baroeg decided to put a Progmetal package on with Soen and two good Dutch supports. Finally we shall never understand why Euroblast stubbornly blocks the same weekend as PPE, fishing in a very similar pond. Now this was only this weekend. In general also organizing a Prog festival in Holland seems to become the thing to do. Now as a fan I do think the more the better, but common sense should make you worried. I mean how many bands can carry a festival in our scene? And the feeling of embarrassement when a band you love plays for a handful of people comes lurking around the corner. No matter the competition PPE 2018 was sold out on the Friday and almost so on the other two days, so hurrah to that.


Friday
The last few years I skipped the Friday due to family preferences. This year the preferences did not change, but the musical program did. For me from all the bands I knew in advance the two I wanted to see most opened the festival on the Friday. So catching up quickly with some friends I was in time at Sjiwa to see my first long set by Need. As this was the 20th anniversary of the festival, some people who attended every year were allowed to suggest a band. In come: Ronald, Lia, Esther and Michel Holland's Need fanclub and the choice was obvious. Now last year Need toured Europe supporting Evergrey and on the day they played close to home it was Tiago's birthday so a no for me. A week later they played Diest in Belgium and a picture of a certain anniversary present made me drive to Diest to join the stalkers. Well Need were as good as I hoped for that night, so I was looking forward to a full set. At first I thought the sound was a bit unclear, but after some two songs that got solved and we had a great set passing their three albums. For me the set was building up to the two highlights ending their set Mother Madness and Hegaiamas. It was also very nice to see that I joined the majority, as for an opening band the response was rather overwhelming. How much that was due to the facial expressions by Ravaya throughout the set we shall never know.


Now we warmed up very well already the Friday headliner was from a level of band members not seen often on stage at Sjiwa. I mean all the guys in Sons of Apollo at one stage of their career would consider a crowd of 20.000 a poor turnout. Now they were at a sold out Sjiwa and they looked just as happy to play for us. This was one professional set by an impressive band. As I was not at Be Prog and they were not at Dynamo Metal Fest it was a debut to me and I loved it. With one album only the set had to be filled with some covers and I was pleased they picked the DT Falling Into Infinity album to give us some songs. Another highlight for me was when Jeff Scott Soto gave us some Queen songs to sing along to. Funnily enough he thereafter announced a long instrumental with the words, the moment you all have been waiting for. Well not all of us were, as I for one prefer their songs above too many instrumental masterclasses. Even that they kept under control and when they ended the set with Coming Home we knew we saw a band that can become a headliner of major summer festivals in the future, although they might be a bit too proggy for the masses. Very pleased with the Opening night we returned home for some knakworstjes and beer.


Saturday
When I swapped on Friday my ticket for a wristband Christian asked me "which bands are you coming for this year?" Well I had not really given it much thought to be honest, but my not so deep research in advance made me very curious about the bands around the dinner break on Saturday. First band of the day was Golden Caves from Rotterdam. I saw them earlier this year at Progdreams and my feelings at that time were reconfirmed for me. This band can play and the girl can sing, yet the songs do not do much for me. So enjoyable enough and I will go see them if playing near home, but not overwhelmed. Next band of the day were The Thirteenth Sun from Romania. I knew nothing by them in advance and started blank. Well to be honest not fully my band either. They lacked some spice and decibels for my taste. Yet their set also did not annoy and I watched a fair deal of it. Hope they won over some fans as they drove up all the way from Romania. Next band was Adimiron from Italy and now we were talking. I was supposed to see them a few years ago, when they supported Swallow the Sun, but I had to cancel that gig at the last moment. At the time I already listened to some of their work, so when they were announced for PPE I was a happy man. This was not the first year things became louder and more interesting around the dinner break, so my hopes were high and well deserved so. It did not take long before the double guitars and their long looking shortly dressed female bassist got me into their set. Metal Archives describes their current music as progressive thrash/death metal and that seems right. What I liked most was the continuing stream of guitar riffs coming at us, even bringing Zero Hour to mind. The voice was harsher than ZH, but this was for me the first band I did not know in advance that got me to the Merch stand after their set. Pity the T-shirt were only made for Italian sized audiences, so it was their last CD for me.


Dinner Break and it became clear to me how much I would miss the Pois Chic food truck this year. Not only for the delicious food they have which is both fast available and healthy. Also Andy and Debbie are among the most sympathetic people I meet up with every year in Baarlo. So now it was a fast broodje kaas as the next band was also one not to miss: Ramage Inc. They played PPE a few years back as well, but that was one of the editions I had to miss due to work obligations abroad. So for me a new band really. Friends who saw them at the time already said they were good and so it was. They obviously must like Devin Townsend as well, but how Epic do you want to get it really. Great performance and a nice presentation as well, made this again one of the weekend highlights for me. Ramage Inc are from Edinburgh and I happened to be there two weeks ago as that is one of the two cities Tiago might start his study next year. I already informed him that with bands like this we have another big plus for Edinburgh. Next band of the evening was one that we all knew would divide opinions. Mattias as all-PPE-attender picked this band and their style is hard to describe. Now I love it when PPE sometimes goes out of the box and tries something different. Half of the times it works for me and the other half it does not. Unfortunately this time it became the latter category and I watched some 15 minutes before saying farewell to the band.The thought that at that very same moment I could have been watching Toxik on stage did cross my mind. By the reactions I saw I guess for several the best band of the festival, while others did not get it really. Headlining the Saturday were Evergrey. First time I saw them was also at PPE in 2000, when they were new to me. I remember being kind of blown away by their refreshing own style. Since then I don't think they really improved and the formula of Evergrey continued. In general we get a good metal show by them with some spoken word tapes and a dark mood. This year would be not any different and I say a good headliner. Surprises zero, show tight and volume too loud.


Sunday
This day was supposed to be the day that rain would spoil the in between bands outside breaks. Well our gods must be progmetalheads as the sun was out again and slightly fresher we had another winner on the climate front. Musically four to me unknown bands would open the day and I was actually looking forward to a few of them. Temples on Mars was one of those bands I knew nothing about in advance and they were a pleasant surprise to me. Their metal was somewhat djenty and the voice high-ish, yet the total caught me. Not as much as Hans who run out to get their CD during the set already, but definitely one to travel for when back in Holland. DVNE were on next and they play a sort of post-rock. Luckily enough they tend to go to the heavier end in that spectrum. This resulted in a rather energetic set in spite of the long songs. Heads would bang on the slow haunting heaviness and Sunday kicked of with two pleasant surprises. Hereafter the stage was for Voices from London. This was the band I looked out to most on the Sunday, as I listened to some of their work in advance and the mix of Dark Rock with slight Black Metal hints from their past (Akercoke)  made this an interesting mix to me. Well it seemed that maybe even unintentional this would be an out of the box band for the festival as well. Unfortunately many people did not regard Voices'bleak dark music as entertaining, while I thought them absolutely brilliant. Somehow I was also not surprised to see Andrew, Alex and Rune highly enjoying this set. which was partially watched over by a young Bryan Ferry. While definitely not for everyone I did run into Anko whom I met at a Fen gig in Eindhoven last year, who came down to Baarlo just for them. Also interesting enough within our group Dark Rock is not depressing as they were the band that sold most merch to us 10 and if they would have brought XXL shirts even more. I already played Frightened today and it only confirmed what I liked when seeing them: Great band.


Dinner at the snackbar meant we were almost in time back for Circles. This band is from Australia and play Djent Metal. Positives: very alive on stage, good guitars and catchy. Negatives to me: It remains djent and than it is hard to stand out. If next year a djent metal band should return, please let it be The Contortionist. But the set was good and the band seemed to enjoy walking around the venue and at the Afterparty, gaining over quite some fans I guess. They went down well though and when they asked people to jump along I recognized some Cork Hats from a distance jumping up and down Then the festival would end with bands I knew on CD or in the case of Subsignal also from some previous live shows. In advance I was somewhat worried that these two rather calm bands would end the festival like the candle burning down at night. Well I did not need to worry. First Subsignal played as I expected. To be honest I loved Sieges Even, liked Subsignal at first a lot, but slowly lost interest in their CD's. Live I saw them in the past very good at PPE and not so good in de Boerderij. So when I entered the hall a bit into their set I was not all that open minded and we old people tend to get tired on day three. So I watched a bit, but never gave it a fair chance. Sound and voice were good again, but I cannot give an opinion really. Hereafter Caligula's Horse would close the festival. Now I have their last CD, but never attended Be Prog or Midsummer prog. Well what a nice surprise to end the weekend I got. A very lively set of band and audience. It is not given to many at PPE to get the floor jumping up and down like that. The vocalist had good humor as well and I did not expect such a party from this band. Shall replay their album one of these days and see if that now also becomes more alive. So if I might have had any doubts of their headliner status, they proved me wrong. And then it was over, but some of us wanted more. So we went downstairs and joined the afterparty. What I was doing there on the picture below says it all really and is easy to understand by PPE attenders. For those in the unknown it is about a collision of certain bodily parts with structures that hold buildings or confine rooms, celebrated in a classic eighties metal song. A perfect way to end a weekend that is so uplifting many look forward to the next edition already. No matter how big the competition might become, I am pretty sure that PPE holds that special feeling, that none shall be able to copy. Thanks to all involved in the organization of this annual party and see you again next year.





Friday, 28 September 2018

Danish Demolition Tour - Patronaat Haarlem, 27 September 2018



Metal and Denmark. My generation would first think of Mercyful Fate, King Diamond and Pretty Maids. Nowadays Volbeat seems big, but I know nothing of them. For progmetal fans like me, Mercenary, Anubis Gate and Vola come to mind, but this package was fully unknown to me. Four bands playing all a different style of metal touring for a week through England, Holland and Germany. With four bands and an advanced start I needed an early dinner in order to arrive just before kick-off at the venue. First sign that looked rather bad was that when buying my ticket the cash-desk was still locked, meaning I was the first paying visitor on the day. So few late deciders expected and unfortunately not that many early deciders either as the gig got moved to the bar stage. The only thing that can't be blamed is promotion as I saw various interviews with the bands on national metal sites. How many times can we repeat that those who do not support the underground slowly kill both bands and venues. This package was varied enough to have something for many. When entering the cafe I did run into Alex, so we could share some thoughts through the evening. Hardly having my first beer at hand Aphyxion opened the evening


Aphyxion play Melodic Death Metal and in the interviews it was mentioned several times that someone from Metal Hammer UK called them the future of Melo-Death. Well that is quite something to live up to and to be honest the man was wrong. Their set was OK and brought with lots of enthusiasm  with the vocalist stepping of the stage screaming to us from really close. My main concern was that while there were two guitarists they seemed to limit their playing to hitting chords. The loudest instrument seemed to be keys, but they were not on stage. For me the result was that they turned into a band playing along with tapes which were too loud in the mix. Still it was not a bad show as such, but the above killed the fun a bit for me. Next on were Defecto, the band I was looking most forward to based upon internet listening. This band opened earlier this year for Persefone, but I could not make it that evening. Actually in Denmark they also opened for Metallica and Rammstein, so they have been in front of larger audiences than this evening. Well that could be seen on their professional presentation and playing. At several sites their style is called progressive metal. I would not necessarily call their music progmetal, as it mainly had an old school stoner-ish base with very good guitar solo's in it. No matter the name of the style, this indeed turned out to be my favorite band of the evening. Now playing their last album Nemesis, I can confirm they are as good on CD. Only remark would be the in between song banter Never sure if it is smart to insult a small audience of people who obviously never heard of you. As it was done with enough sense of humor I think they got away with it, just.


Hellhorse was next and four shirtless guys hit the stage, followed by a vocalist in leather coat. These guys play stoner/speed rock and were the most organic band of the evening. What you heard you could see and it was mostly fast rocking and rolling. Again a vocalist who made many meters through the cafe and a very lively presentation.  If Defecto were to me musically winners of the night, show-wise Hellhorse was best. Again the vocalist came close to provoking reactions, so that must be something Danish Demolitionars do. Good live band and the evening was already  a success to me. Last band Siamese still had to come and Alex mentioned that some friends were nicely impressed with them as heavy pop band at UK Tech Fest. I listened to some clips as well and pop was there mix with something heavy. When they came on and played their set I was the full 40  minutes on two thoughts. At the one end this was an uplifting show, with catchy melodies and hooks. On the other hand there was the question what is played live and what comes from tape. When you hear so obviously instruments and vocals coming at you that are not played it becomes somewhat strange. The younger part of the audience seemed to know and love them and that was my final conclusion. I should introduce Tiago to this band. I can see them crushing high-school and university parties. When discussing before their show if a bad like this could play Progpower, my vote would be a big no, for overdose on tape. Yet if you are down this music will lift you up. Teenage metal it was. When they asked for a pit in the end, the karate couple jumped in again and we got the weirdest pit of sorts. A strange end to an amusing evening. I hope more people find their way to Muziekcafe in Helmond tonight. How often do you get 4 Danish bands to choose from?


Monday, 24 September 2018

Fish - The Queen's Hall Edinburgh, 22 September 2018



Sometimes the world turns in funny little circles, or in this case warm wet circles. I did not often use to buy tickets well in advance, as unexpected work trips made me loose too many of them later on. Now that this traveling is on hold I restarted guaranteeing my presence  at shows that probably sell out. So I did have my tickets for Diamond Head in Little Devil and Fish in het Paard in the pocket, when I discovered that that very same weekend is the best timing to visit Portugal again this autumn. So in the spirit of making friends of good music happy I gave both away and hope Lida enjoys Fish. Then on a whole other level of family business, Tiago has to decide this year on his future and Edinburgh is one of the two strongest candidate cities for him to start his study next year. Saturday the University had an open day and as this is the weekend of his birthday as well we made it a family trip Edinburgh, where we flew in from Schiphol and Josie took a plane in Faro. First things first Edinburgh is amazing. I was there once before some 25 years ago, but those memories are all fuzzily drowned. After having a motivational day at the Uni, we went for city walks and hit the Royal Mile also for Marillion's sake, when I suddenly found Fish would play the Queen's Hall opening the very same Weltschmerz/ Clutching at Straws Tour I was going to miss now. This show was sold out fast when going on sale, but I was going to try my luck at the venue anyway. Well talking about luck hopes went down when some 20 people were looking for tickets and none seemed to be on sale apart from a German girl asking three times the original price. And then I ran into Peter and Mark from Holland and we spoke about things Fish and Marillion when they informed they were waiting for a ticket and had one already. Long story short when they had two tickets they offered me to buy the expensive one as well (which went down to under two times the price by now) and share the pain, leaving all three of us to pay some 5 pound over the price only. Well at first impressed with their friendly offer I gladly accepted and we could see Fish opening a tour on his home turf. Thanks mates and the warm wet circle closed as it opened: with some random act of kindness.


So now we were in the Queen's Hall, it turned out to be a kind of Paradiso with the balconies going round and a church like setup. Strangely there were benches to sit on at the same level as the floor before them. Hope not too many Scots got pissed off by watching my back. There was a support band as well, but Doris Brendel was there to be back-up vocalist mainly for Fish. Her own band was OK, but not something I would get on CD really. Nine 'o clock sharp and Fish came on welcoming us with Slainte Mhath. I think Fish is the world's main defender of Scottish expressions, as who would know what that meant or Incommunicado for that matter. This tour is called after two albums and that is what you get, music from both. This also meant new music, that will be released only next year. Maybe already available on some format, all were new to me and varied in quality at first hearing. Man with a Stick seemed to repeat the title a lot, well Little Man What Now, came over good. Highlight of the new album so far shall be Waverley Steps which was nice and epic. Than I realized we just passed those steps in the center of town, so it added to the atmosphere. Seeing Fish live on stage always holds two main questions. How good is his voice this time and to what level the band can reach old status. Well regarding the voice no complaints whatsoever, while the band had the usual trouble in following the classics. For me the Marillion albums with Fish were not only my introduction to Progressive Rock as such, but also the best four albums ever released in that genre. This means I know the albums through and through. From the past we know that Robin Bould on guitars is nowhere near as good as Steve Rothery, so he adapts the style of the songs somewhat. This evening however, what most stood out was the keyboard sound. During the trilogy Hotel Hobbies/ Warm Wet Circles/ That Time of the Night  it sounded rather horrible to be honest. This also caused by the rather poor sound at the start (another Paradiso similarity). During Just for the Record the Keys ended fast and in tune and as if the band were relieved as well, they went complimenting the man behind the keys. At the end we got some versions that sounded hundred times better than the start with a highlight of the set for me in The Last Straw where a loud audience shouted their lungs out as they were Still Drowning. This audience was Scottish, but seemed to hold people from places like Boston, California, Syria and Switzerland as well. During one intermezzo the Scots took over and sung to Fish something we foreigners did not get, which resulted in a small improvised song. I guess it had to do with his favorite local football team, as we were in Edinburgh after all. And then after two hours it was over and we knew we witnessed something different, Fish in Scotland. If the sound gets sorted out better from the beginning for the remainder of this tour you get a winner. Playing four or five new songs always holds a risk, but they went down well. Fish announcing his retirement is nothing new, let's hope for at least two more tours hereafter. One when we actually know Weltschmerz and one farewell tour. For now thank you for the music and Slainte Mhath.

Friday, 14 September 2018

A Dying Planet - Manes - Dead Season - We Sell the Dead - Twisted Illusion

Some great new CD's and actually some slightly older ones as well.

A Dying Planet - Facing the Incurable
It was a sad day for technical metal when we learned that Troy Tipton would no longer be able to play the bass. Together with his brother Jasun he gave us great music through the bands Zero Hour, Cynthesis, Death Machine and Abnormal Thought Patterns. The bigger and better the surprise to me, when I read about this new band. Troy now moved to vocals and he does so well. At the same time some help from friends was asked to give us a diverse album. The opening two songs are the epics and Resist with former Sun Caged vocalist Paul Villareal is a highlight. ZH and C vocalist Erik Rosveld also joins in on one song and that is my favorite: Poisoning the Well. The album as a whole reminds me most of the two Cynthesis albums, where the frantic guitar parts by Jasun always are easy to recognize as being his. If there is one comment from my side, it might be that one calmer song could have been replaced by a fast rocker for a better balance. Yet as a total this is again one great progmetal album at the standard we came to know by the twins. I'd say PPEU 2019 book them.

Manes - Slow Motion Death Sequence
Manes is a band in you can not pinpoint. So like 9 out of 10 bands you can hardly describe they are from Norway. For me this is the first album I bought and I don't even know their Black Metal early days. I was tipped by Andrew's rave review and the fact that some Atrox members are part of this band. Well trying to say something there is trip-hop ad build up to heavier parts, always staying far from full out metal. For me the album as a whole works perfectly, while at the same time I never shall be able to mention individual stand-out songs.  If I have to search for references maybe early Antimatter sounded a bit the same. When you are in for something calm and different this album might do wonders for you.

Dead Season - Prophecies
Nowadays there is far too much music released in order to follow all by yourself. One of my sources for discovering bands is still Aardschok. When they also miss a classic and review it a year late I also end up very late. Yet when they name drop Nevermore and Opeth Still Life (their best) I get interested. Hearing it first through bandcamp this indeed is an instant Classic which would have ended very high on my 2017 year list if only I knew them last year. What a powerful album and yes Blood Links Alienation sounds like a new Nevermore song indeed. Due to the mix of strong clean and some extreme vocals also Scar Symmetry or Mercenary at 11 Dreams times pop up for me. This album really has it all. Great songs, strong lyrics and what a power. Need to go back in time for discovering their previous albums.

We Sell The Dead - Heaven Doesn't Want You and Hell is Full
Another album that is not very recent. I got this CD early in the year and thought it OK. Over the past months however, it grew on me and now it reached an upgrade from OK to very good indeed for me. The members come from bands I don't really follow like In Flames or Him. Vocals however come from Apollo from Greece and known from Spiritual Beggars or Firewind. Well he is one strong point of the band, whose music to me comes closest to Black Sabbath second half of the eighties. The album tells a story and I read about Jack the Ripper playing Heavy Metal. Well that is all just fine to me, but the artwork is interesting this time. Most of the songs have a clip released in black and white and red.So if you want to start listening to them, YouTube is a good point of entry. Give it time and maybe it grows on you like it did to me.

Twisted Illusion - Excite the Light part 1
Twisted Illusion are this band that just won't make it to any dutch fanzine or internet site. Yet somewhere in Northwest England they are slowly building a fan base by playing a lot and releasing even more music. This album is part 1 of a trilogy, being released one year after last year's double album Insight to the Mind of a Million Faces. Well maybe staying under the radar here, their pledge campaign again meant they reached target within one day and ended over 200% of target. We Illusionists are a loyal bunch apparently and the Thank you letter was humorous and insulting as we got used to. "You are wonderful. Even if you are a shit and a bit of a prick, you have good taste in music at least". So what is the music all about? Kind of hard to describe again. Classic Rock mentioned Rush, Queen and Dio in a blend as reference. I see what they mean, although this is not a metal album as such. Opener Excite the Light kicks of fast and heavy, but from there we get calmer parts dominating, with catchy choruses all around. A strong version of the Mearfest anthem Molly's Smile is definitely a highlight. Lyrically Matt does not hold back in sharing his sufferings and complaints with many references to pills on medical description. Well with this release they definitely set my target for 2019 in seeing them live headlining. This year I tried 3 times and failed, so that will be corrected. And if by 2020 we are 4 new albums further down the road I will get them to play in The Hague. Check them out and pledge along for Part two this autumn.