Monday, 8 August 2022

Comendatio Music Fest - Paço da Comenda - 6 August 2023

Comendatio Music Fest was on. After the Covid hiatus Comendatio came back If the postponements were bad for all festivals, Comendatio was just forming and growing in it's second year of existence. The line-up I bought a ticket for was mouth watering to any progmetal fan with Haken, Vola, Godsticks and Poem on day 1 and Monuments, Voyager plus Rendezvous Point on day two. Now I might love those bands, but discovering Portuguese and Spanish bands to me at least is as interesting. So before the festival did happen this weekend I read people complaining that it is not the same line-up as when they bought the ticket. Now watching with Portuguese eyes this might be true as many of the above mentioned bands never played Portugal before. My stance on this is simple, we can not complain in 2022 with any festival line-up. It is not just the fact that they happen, but festivals need a long lead time for organizing same and half a year ago, many of us were convinced that the summer of festivals was again lost due to Covid. Things improved, but if you see the huge number of last minute cancellations of mainly bands from the USA do understand this is far from back to normal yet. So heads up to the organization in securing with Haken and Plini, two top class headliners. For me the nice side effect was that I now could discover more regional bands, completely unknown to me. Now there is me, but there is also the family. So it turned out that me picking my one favorite day, would suit best to all and Saturday 6 August it was.

The Festival
 Comendatio Music Fest is being held in the tiny aldeia of Paço da Comenda. While the whole township can enjoy the festival during two days, the places to stay are either the camping at the festival, or a bed somewhere in nearby Tomar. 35 years ago I would have perferred the campsite, nowadays I tend to prefer less dust and better sleep, so Tomar it was. Now that is a beautiful town, which holds their Templar history proudly alive.So after catching your Medieval Terrorist squad souvenirs you can head for the festival. Upon arrival first thumbs up must go to the organization. Entering Paço da Comenda you can't miss the free parking field. The entrance went smooth, the food options vary from Bifana's on bread to vegan quiche or plates, and drinks are offered against very fair pricing (1.50 a beer or coke sounds good enough?). As I was by car and needed to drive home through dark curvy hillroads, my intake was under regime and controlled. On the small square next to the foodcourt a central merch stand was put up, where you could find merch of bands plus a cool festival Tee for 12.50. I mention prices, as recently I heard a lot of complaints on Graspop food, beverage and festival merch prices. A big plus for Comendatio so to say. Most important of all, was that organization was great, having all bands starting at scheduled times and mostly the sound was fine to very good indeed. So how about the bands? These were the ones impressing me a lot (or not so much)

Phase Transition
When the time-schedule was announced a week before the festival I did check out the first band and knew I wanted to arrive on time. Phase Transition are a young band from Porto, who play progmetal with female vocals. Now apart from accepting her voice, she also plays violin, which does bring an extra to their show. Unfortunately she did run off the stage at times, when the intrumental bits were dominating (not unlike Ross Jennings would do hours later). I think some more mileage on live shows can work here, since she has the violin to hide behind anyway. Musically with female voice at times I was reminded of District 97. So I picked my spot central and close to the stage, seeing they brought friends and fans along, as any young band should. Still burning hot at 16:30 they were a great opener, playing their EP Relatively Speaking in full, which I did pick up later on. A good local opener check.

Dream Pawn Shop
The next band were from Leiria and played an angrier version of prog. The vocals were mostly of the shouting/screaming kind. The outstanding fact was that they had a saxophone player in the band, who when out of a job, just moved wildly, spreading energy from the stage. While both guitarist and bassist were stuck to their amps by a 5 meter cord, this turned out to be the most energetic show of the day to me. Musically I have some of these bands who can combine the angry shouts with jazzy interludes on CD. By experience I now this is music to be better heard live on stage and even more felt live from the stage. Interesting detail, how often did you watch a show hiding under an olive tree against the steaming hot burning sun? Unfortunately they forgot to bring any merch to the festival, but a highly enjoyable set it was.

The next band came from Spain, so Obrigado turned into Gracias. Bolu2Death play, well what do they play? A mix of many things, with for me a bit too much electonics blended in to love the sound. Hardcore, metal and again lots of energy. I started watching pretty close to the stage, but when the vocalist shouted Wall of Death, Wall of Death I though Cloud of Dust, Cloud of Dust. I was right and watched in time the remainder from a distance. I understand they can appeal to many live, caused by the energy, but musically not fully my thing. They did bring the nicest T-shirts to Comandatio, but for me not justified getting one.

Needle were the second Portuguese band with a femalevocalist of the day. Actually they had the same drummer as Phase Transition as he stepped in for the absent original drummer. Musically this might have been the best band so far of the day. Yet somehow something did not click with me. Not sure why or what, but probably the voice did not work all that well for me. At a certain moment I thought what if this band would have a male vocalist in the power/prog metal range. I think I would like it better. But then again, they had quite some success by watching the crowd's reaction to them. Just not so much for me, but these things do happen. Time to queue up and eat.

The first British band of the day were Godsticks from Wales. They played an away game, as they could not bring friends along and I think some 5 people knew of them before they started. I know little of them myself, apart from the fact that I will see them again later this year at ProgPower. At the start I went pretty much upfront and stayed there throughout their set. I found that their rolling train was thundering on and more and more I got drawn into their set, which culminated in two brilliant closing songs, where even the drums could not stand all the constant hammering. Starting with a fairly empty field, they did win over the crowd during their set as towards the end, many hands went up upon command and clapped along the heavy pulsing rhythm they played over us. A good thing they started at daylight and ended at niht, since the 35 degrees of the earlier afternoon, would not go down well on British skin. For me the winners of the day and I got their last CD afterwards, as I need to get to know them better. Looking out to their set at PPE already.

The third and final Portuguese female fronted band of the day. I do have their last CD Quaternay and liked that Frontiers release. The soundcheck showed that we were in for the best female voice of the day. It also showed that there was no bassist around. I don't know if they lost him in the meantime. Result that the band now was made up of guitars, drums and keyboards. At times the sound was very full, so I don't know what was coming of tape and samples and if the missing bassist had anything to do with it. Recognizing several of their songs did help, only the ballad could have been skipped for me. I don't know if Kandia are anything relatively big in Portugal, but it seemed to me to be their hit. Luckily we closed off with a much better song of their latest album, but don't ask me for song titles. Another good break, was when a male vocalist came to do some grunts for us and lightenen up the show. Aardschok compared them with Lacuna Coild based upon that, but overall more proggy to me. Good band.

And then it was time for the band most people were eager to see: Haken. Their first ever show in Portugal, so worthy of a break in new album recordings. Well for me it was not really their first show as I follow them since Aquarius. Meanwhile it was from the afternoon 35 degrees down to below twenty and I did miss bringing my Haken Aquarius hoodie indeed Perfectly poor prepared I did not see the end of Haken. Well I checked the setlist before and knew they would ignore their first two albums, which are my favorites (Drowning in the Flood belongs in every Haken show). We did get treated on new song Nightingale live, which makes me curious and worried at the same time. It is not as heavy (and thus good) as most on the Vektor/Virus double. So while I walked away I did see Haken are Progmetal Champions League and so at ease on stage, playing the toughest acrobatics. Pity Charles Griffitsh solo album was not on sale here, but I still went home satisfied with an interesting line-up helping me through the afternoon/night.

Well first I hope to be back and if possible both days. Most people I know will not be overly enthusiastic by the campsite idea, but I know several people would love to be here. This festival can be combined  with a Portuguese holiday, where my tips are hiking in Geres natural park or discovering our beloved Alentejo. If you want to keep it metal the last weeks we had in Portugal Manowar at Familicao, Iron Maiden in Lisbon VOA in Vagos (which I missed as Testament, Exodus and Death Angel will play DMF as well) so some weeks of metal are an option. If making it back I hope to be with some friends sharing the driving duties and drinks. I count on Comendatio to stay strong as apart from the bands origginally scheduled for 2020, the line up of 2019 held with Tesseract, NoSound, Leprous, Uneven Structure and Sinsistro also quite some names of prog fame. Thanks to the organization and hopefully back for more in 2023. 

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Stuckfish - Kandia - Black Swan - Sacred Son

Several CD tips for the summer, ranging from fairly quiet to pretty brutal.

Stuckfish - Days of Innocence
Progrock comes in several forms, but the storytelling version usually is British. Bands like Big Big Train and Cosmograf tell long stories over calm(ish) music, with guitars talking along in melodic fashion. Stuckfish fall is in that range and their new album does not disappoint. Maybe not for every moment as you better look for calm and quiet and really take all in. Eight songs all ranging from 5:35 to eight minutes and a bit. It took me a few spins to fully appreciate the album, but now it can stand proudly next to their previous album The Watcher from 2019. If I have one comment it is that only the lyrics of the title track are published with the CD, while vocalist Phil Stuckey is also a writer of short stories. He therefore has a way with words. Musically waking up on Sunday morning seldom was this relaxed.

Kandia - Quaternary
Kandia are from Portugal and I picked this CD up when visiting Piranha CD store in Porto. I knew of them on forehand as I was going to see them at Comendatio Music Fest in 2020. Well that got postponed and on 6 August I will have a new chance. Looking forward to this one, as their catchy metal varies from a heavier Alanis Morissette to grunting heaviness. One of the female voices I have no issues with as Operatic screaming stays where it should and that is far from my CD player. Not overly proggy, yet pretty accessible, so bring them on I'd say.

Black Swan - Generation Mind
Frontiers and their supergroups. Reason enough too piss off many it seems in magazines and online. I can fully enjoy several of these projects. This band is another one filled with big names. Robin McAuley on vocals proves again that he would be the best voice from the past still around if only Glenn Hughes would retire. Another perfect performance by him. Reb Beach on guitars, Jeff Pilson on bass and Matt Star on drums make this a supergroup indeed. If the final result is twelve great songs ranging from uptempo to the obligatory eighties ballad you won't hear me complain. Highly recommended this Generation Mind

Sacred Son - The Foul Deth Of Engelond
My Black Metal collection is modest. I don't own most of the classics and occassionally pick up a CD. For some reason especially the UK version seems to speak to me as I thoroughly enjoyed the live shows and thereafter albums by Fen and Inconsenssus Lux Lucis. Ard earlier this year was a highlight, but more folky. Now Sacred Son came to me, based upon their awesome cover. The previous albums all look like holiday pics and this one holds a surprise as well. The concept album tells us the history lesson of the Peasants Revolt in 1381. Musically it is mainly blasting BM, even though the last song Vengeance goes folky. Highlight live must be The Boy King as Five Heads on Pikes! lends itself for loud shouting along. I can never describe why some Black Metal albums do speak to me, but this one has definitely more on offer tan only the best cover of 2022.  

Sunday, 3 July 2022

Zeeheldenfestival The Hague, 30 June & 2 July 2022

Summertime and The Hague has many free festivals on offer. The best ones are Kaderock, Schollenpop and Zeeheldenfestival. The latter has the best atmosphere of them all, even though a sunny day at the beach during Schollenpop is not too bad either. This year the festival turned 40 years old and in the late eighties/early nineties I lived around the corner for some 4-5 years, remembering attending already. Normally if not on holidays I do attend at least one day. Looking at the program this year two nights had a band drawing me to het Prins Hendrikplein, so a double Sea heroes for me it was. At the moment I am writing this there even is a breakfast closing of the festival, followed by some classical music, so really something for everyone is on offer.

Thursday 30 June
For me on Thursday Dreamwalkers Inc. were on offer. Somehow someone forgot to tell the rain gods to stay the fok away as it started pouring down in the afternoon and did not really stop. So arriving at 18:30 it did not look promising nor very crowded. I was there early as over Social Media Tom from Dreamwalkers Inc had asked for help of volunteering cameramen, amateurs welcome. Well very amateurish me felt like, why not helping out when asked for, so before their gig started I got a camera in my hands with a battery easly lasting throughout their one hour set. So for the first time in my life iIwatched a show through a small screen with both hands occupied. Let's file the experience under different. Turned out that I became teh main positioned cameraman, so my conclusion don't hold your breath for a DVD release anytime soon. This is also the reason I nicked the band picture from FB, I think this one was from Alex, so credits herewith covered. The set itself was rather impressive. During the week the band learned their bassist could not join and going ahead without bass and a set filled with newly written songs it all sounded pretty tight. On album their music might for me at times visit too many places, live it all sounded good and the presentation was fine as well. The shitty weather also worked as a binding factor here. The people who did attend obviously are of the loyal and live-music -eager kind. A highlight of the evening was the moveable partytent-line. This meant three connected partytents walking between sets from the small stage to the large stage. Not every show can be opened with the line, "Let's hear it for the Party-tent". Musically the band was fine and I had not realized that apart from Lennert also the voice of Resolve now makes part of Dreamwlakers Inc. 
So that was a nice evening , where some PPE friends of the band walked around and I now know who Jan is one of DPRP's reviewers. Nicest was to catch up with Franka after a few years since René's Bday bash and The Ocean. So rain and thunder did not stop the die-hards and the evening was a success. Musically I did not hear another band that lured my attention, but the exotical music of Sindicato Sonico especially deserved a sunny evening.

Saturday 2 July
Saturday would bring us more metal, but further everything would be different. Upon arrival the Prins Hendrik straat already was crowded, with the square being packed starting at the outside. the first result while entering was that now long queues appeared at bar, food an toilets. Well I arrived strategically late, as I know an early start holds an alcoholic risk. Being busy also meant in quickly bumping into many more known people. So on the smalltalk front the evening was good how about the music? First band I wanted to see from a distance were The Mocks. They played and looked like 60's Rockers. Some Kinks, Beatles and whatever mixed sounded pretty good. For me 45 minutes was a bit long, but some songs were surely going down well. Hereafter the small stage held Downcast Collision the band I was coming for. They were very good. Even if vocalist/bassist Monica had a cold, here voice still sounded fine to me and scared of some who did not expect a grunt looking at her. The music was not all that extreme and also had traces of NWOBHM to me. I liked their set pretty much and definitely will see them again soon in Musicon/Baroeg or whereever. Highlight of the evening and for me the festival was their encore. Not leaving the stage they asked if we wanted one more song and asked us to sing along if recognizing it. The metalhead in me (and not just me) got initially challenged thinking Do I know this? well I did and so did everyone who watched the early days of MTV as they gave us a metallized version of Boys, Boys, Boys by Sabrina. Hilarious and catchy it came over as a true metalsong. The mix of grunted and Sabrina like sung chorusses was a laugh and what a great way to end their set.
Hereafter De Kik closed the festival on the main stage, but being famous or not in Holland I found them rather boring. Also did they play many cover songs, which for a bigger name never impresses me all that much. 

So Zeeheldenfestival meant two nights this year and both were a succes even if completely different. I will be back next year, as even if the music does not attract at least one evening at the square is a  must.
Thanks to organizers and volunteers, for another succesfull one.



Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Exciter, Bütcher & Vulture - Musicon, The Hague 20 June 2022

Last December I was planning a trip to Scum in Katwijk as I wanted to see Bütcher and Vulture headlining a festival. Well that got covid-cancelled, but now they came to home venue Musicon with none other than Canadian legends Exciter headlining. Exciter coming to Musicon on a Monday night. With the weekend before having 4 days of Graspop and maybe for some Metallica at Pinkpop. On the evening itself Five Figer Death Punch (who?) had Megadeth supporting them in nearby Rotterdam.  So I did not know what to expect, but saw a risk. Well I worried for nothing as obviously this speedmetal package attracted many and even on a Monday Musicon can fill up nicely for metal. When entering around 19:15 it did not look like Vulture were starting at 19:30, which with the curfew at 23:00 was needed. Unfortunately the Bütcher stage swap also took too long, which meant they had to shorten their set. So far the downside of a further rather perfect evening, where inbetween bands I also could catch up with several people I had not seen since Covid.

Vulture are from Germany (not Rotterdam) and last year I bought their latest album Dealin' Death. That was an uptempo affair and sounded like a band that would come over even better live. Indeed their speedmetal went down well with me, especially when in Count Your Blessings I started recognizing a song. Looking like an eighties speedmetal band, their songs are not overly complex, but just good old metal. They managed to  get the first pits running and ended their set with a cover song Metal Militia. Good warming up it was.

Next on were Bütcher from Belgium. I heard of the buzz around their shows, but with my half  the time in Portugal life-style managed to miss all their nearby shows so far. So I was standing more to the back when they started and found that even at the back I was immediately drawn into their show. This also helped by the fact that they have in R. Hellshrieker a great frontman. Blood drenched with an iron cross as mike standard and lots of spikes his early black/speed influences can be seen. What Bütcher gave us as a band was nothing short from very impressive. A true speedmetal party, where they also found place for an epic long song. When a band transmits so much energy from the stage to the audience, a reaction will come and I believe everyone loved Bütcher. I did get their latest CD 666 Goats Carry My Chariot and play it now with a grin on my face.

Exciter came as headliner and would bring nostalgia to many old headbangers in today. Now I must admit that I never owned any of their LP's. I knew their title tracks from somewhere, but only recently bought Violene & Force when bumpig into a cheap copy. So I have no long history with this band, but at the same time their songs are easy to get into when hearing for the first time. The Canadian trio came to us with two original members Dan Beehler on drums and vocals and bassist Allan Johnson. Since 2018 guitarist Daniel Dekay completes the band. Exciter opened with Violence & Force the title track of the second album with the famous blue arms pushed between a door cover. They stayed in the eighties throughout and I liked especially the Black Witch, Iron Dogs and Long Live the Loud. Of course their anthem Heavy Metal Maniac was a party as well. Than even some fans jumped the stage to bang their heads.This is all well and makes part of such a show, but someone should tell the small kid who joined that it is not very old skool 1983 to start taking foking selfies while on stage. The set flew by and to surprise of many they ended with a cover song in Iron Fist. A bit differnt if you have so many own classic songs under your belt. But the evening was over at 23:00 and I believe everyone enjoyed it big time. Old school metal always guarantees a party and seeing several people under 30 appearing as well, there maybe is some hope for the future of speedmetal still. A great evening so thanks to Musicon presenting us with this Monday bonus party.  

Friday, 17 June 2022

Pedal to the Metal 2 - Flotsam and Jetsam, Toxik and Heathen Noord Brabant 14-17 June 2022

Pedal to the Metal. I started this tradition in 2019, when my bicycle brouht me to Little Devil, Effenaar and Merleyn. That felt good, so a new plan was made for PttM 2, flying to Toulouse and cycle via the southern Pyrenees, attend Pyrenean Warriors Open Air. That line up was brilliant with Liege Lord, Fifth Angel, Saracen and Atlantean Kodex among more fine bands. Well we all know what killed all good plans in 2020. So this year when the opportunity arose I made new plans. First tricker was the Toxik Heathen double package in Uden. Looking for options the night before all were either not my taste or to far from Uden. Until suddenly Flotsam and Jetsam was announced for the night before in nearby Helmond. Now originally I was planning to start by train as fairly untrained, but when friends reported long distance by bicycle the weeks before, I decided to split my drive to Helmond in two and leave from home. And yes I know the term Pedal to the Metal has to do with hitting full gas by putting your pedal to te metal. I use the freely translated Flemish, which would mean Pedaleren naar de metalen. Or cycling to metal.

The Cycling
My bicycle turned 30 years old this summer and state of both bike and myself can best be described as rusty. Now I did have some short training trips in Portugal, where I mainly put my climbing tactics back in shape. Turned out that in The Netherlands I used one gear for the whole trip, only going one lower on long bridges. Similar to PttM1 my main destination was Noord Brabant. This because of the good combination of provence with closest density of potential metal venues, near and far enough from home, plus a nice area for cycling around alltogether. So the first day all went a bit harder than expected. I really needed to get used again to that saddle and the curved seating. Also I needed to re-accustome to driving through cities. Rotterdam entering north-west and having to leave sout-east crossing the river was a pain. So only as from Baroeg my real easy going trip started. Turned out that I got stronger through the days and I easily did the trips as from day two. Of course I was like van Gaal would call it, having luck attached to my arse again. The weather was sensational for cycling all the time, no flat tires and what's not unimportant nice food and drinks along the road. I really did see a side of Holland I hardly know again. Amazing how all those small villages have churches of enormous size. Hope the child abusing is no longer in practice, but won't count on that for 100%. Further the good weather brought out many elderly couples on bicycles as well. So I spotted flower dresses for the ladies and sometimes grey socks in sandals for the men. All in all the experience was so good and relaxing that PttM 3 is in early stages of planning for next year. Wait for next year's show announements and  maybe I should ask Robert's help for creatng a commemorative Tee again as well.

Flotsam and Jetsam & Sphinx - De Cacaofabriek Helmond 15 June
The first show of the trip was Flotsam and Jetsam for me. On my way to finding my hotel I spotted the band almost in front of my hotel and broke my rule of leaving people having lunch at peace. Well that was one fine foto memory for the trip. In the evening the weather turned hot and outside de Cacaofabriek I was enjoying a Hefeweizen, when André and Annemiek spotted me. Nice side effect of ths trip was, that I also saw some people I did not see since Covid, as the shows are now more south east of Holland where I had not attended any shows yet this year. Inside the nice venue Sphinx had already started. These Germans play speedmetal with some blackened hints. They reminded me a bit of Sodomizer, but did not convince me to get any merch of them. The only downside of travelling by bicycle I was already fully packed, so space for purchases was very limited. Sphinx did contradict the known fact that Germans have no sense of humor. After announcing and singing in such a way that I had no clue what they were on about, they suddenly stated that the next song would be hard to understand for us as it was in German. Well Lustmord was the frst and only songtitle I got and Scheisse can be picked up even if sung speedmetalish. 

After a short break we got treated on Flotsam and Jetsam. When I say treated I mean treatd as what a great band they are. Even with their last minute substitute Dutch drummer Marco Prij (Cryptosis) they sounded awesome. Now I am going in repeat modus, from my earlier reviews on Flotsam and Jetsam. Their first two albums are absolute classics, but their last albums are all very good as well. So where bigger names might disappoint on CD and only can live on their past, Flotsam can mix old and new and keep the high level throughout. Early in the set they also played their ode to Iron Maiden. If only Maiden would release one album with such great fast sons with all the Maiden treats, duelling solos, galloping riffs and fast whohoowhoahoo the world would be a better and happier place. Throughout the show it turned out that Eric A.K. was suffering from a sore throat. If that was the reason I saw Flotsam, but did not hear Doomsday we shall never know. Now they ended with No Place for Disgrace, nothing shabby either. So Flots till Death it was and what a great band they are. Not sure why Esther and Michel were hiding from us though?

Toxik & Heathen - De Pul Uden, 16 June
While the previous night had one great band plus support, for me tonight was two bands to really look out for. Toxik I followed from their start and saw several times live over the past years. Heathen I came late to the party with the Evolution of Chaos and than walking back in time. Oh those pre-internet days when you still could miss bands that you would have loved from teh start as well. 

Toxik were on first and after bumping into Ron and Eric in the afternoon I knew one new song was going to be played. That turend out to be the title track of Dis Morta. Sounding fine, 5 August has been noted as need to get new Toxik album. Similar to Flotsam, Toxik also released two classic albums at their start. The rest of the set was a mix of both Wolrd Circus and Think This, with the titlle track of the latter closing their set. During the previous tour  Toxik already moved to five-piece with Dutch guitaris Eric van Druten helping out. Together with the very energetic presentation and great voice of Ron Iglesias, made them possibly better than ever before. Even some sound issues at the start did not stop them from giving us a perfect set, filled with highlights for the slightly older audience. Only question I had was, who was playing bass this time? 

During a short break I could wait for an empty beer tank and catch up with a now bigger group of PPE veterans. Annemiek and André were present again and so were Esther and Michel. Further I had dinner with Christian before the gig. With so many PPE early day attendants, you would wonder why ProgPower does not include a technical thrash metal band more often at their festival. I guess many would like that and for those who don't, you can't win them all.

After the break it was time for Heathen. My first time to see them live, so looking forward. Not disturbed by an Abba intro song they came with the double start of their last album Empire of the Blind. That sounded damn fine, but I missed Lee Altus on stage. Not to worry as also here the substitute from Canada (forgot his name) fired lots of fast and crazy solos as well. Heathen hereafter went through their four album discography, but the focus remained on their last one. That album holds a song I totally love, which was played. Some times bands have songs so catchy, that it makes you almost dance (the horror of me dancing is not a sight many like) Examples: Armored Saint: Last Train Home. Fates Warning: Another Perfect Day. Well to me Heathen's song is called Sun In My Hand. What a killer song that is. The set moved fast through old and new and halfway David White already commented on the future of metal, pointing to the two children standing front row. A new highlight of the evening came, when he invited the two on stage to shout Death in the microphone during their classic Death by Hanging. At the end matters got better when the girl was given drumsticks to close the song with a bang. her brother meanwhile had a guitar around his neck. While earlier on he was more shy than his metal sister he now felt the need to show his skills, so we got treated on a doomy Smoke on the Water riff. Just great fun to watch this and daddy must have been one happy man. At the same time it did show the spirit of the evening. Two great bands, treating us on a powerful set played for the real metal lovers around. Tonight it seems that Metallica is playing Pinkpop. Well give me more Toxik & Heathen anytime over a mass of followers seeing Metallica only playing songs of their past (plus probably some obligatory newer ones that noone wants to hear). Now my only remaining issue was still at the merch table, having space for max one shirt only. With me owing several Toxik shirts already I ended up with Victims of Deception. Also as the back print "The Virus Never Dies" (from Opiate of the Masses another highight this evening) will look fine on my next flight to Portugal.

Friday, 10 June 2022

Mastodon & Planet Zeus - 013 Tilburg, 9 June 2022

Mastodon back in The Netherlands, so I decided I needed to be there. Now that sounds logical maybe, but I have a sort of strange relation with Mastodon. I saw them only once before which was 15 years ago when they toured Blood Mountain and played Fields of Rock. At the time I was surprised as I was expecting Dublin Death Patrol and organization did not inform the change of stages between bands. So I was pissed off and liked them, but watched from a distance. Herefater they released several great albums, but somehow I always managed to miss them live. Maybe also as I don't know too many other Mastodon fans, which changed now as Ton told me he was going, which made me decide to join him easier. The night before I came home late from Portugal and early waking neighbours rebuilding their house made it a short night. Luckily Ton drove and I could relax. Now I was especially curious to see them properly for the first time with the great Hushed and Grim album released end October 2021.
We timed perfectly as just before support band Planet Zeus opened the evening we stepped into modern 013 (Tiny lockers only opened and paid with a smartphone, hard plastic cups with a 50 cent deposit and drink prices adapted to post-Covid). Not to worry have a drink and we sat down on the still empty steps of the main hall to see Planet Zeus. Well these Greeks played Ok and nice, but none of their stoner sludgy songs made a huge impact on us. The good thing is that still concert hungry people like anything, so they got some response from the slowly filling hall. Decent but not groundbreaking it was.

Than Mastodon came on and kicked of with the opener of their last album Pain Wth An Anchor. Hereafter back to Blood Mountain with some Crystal Skull. Now I must admit I just checked on which songs they played. Mastodon is one of those bands where I recognize the song, but can not immediately name it or the album it is from. The evening would be split between half new songs (8) and half oldies(7). I did love the new songs as good or if not even better as I played them most the last half year. Highlight of the new album live to me was  the closing track Gigantium, which just sounded huge live. from the oldies Bladecatcher made an impact and of course the Czar. Halfway the show I just asked Ton what the hooded guy behind keyboards was doing on stage as I did not hear him. Just than he became main instrument during Skeleton of Splendor and thereafter the opening of ubersong The Czar. The evening closed with an encore their first hit Blood and Thunder (White Whale, Holy Grail). Turned out to be a rather perfect evening which made me wonder if they can ever become the next headliner of major festivals. I don't think they will be liked broad enough. So maybe DMF or Alcatrazz might work, but the 50.000 fans festivals seem unlikely to me. Was there space on improvement? Not really, although mentioning that they know  every band is on tour and it is festival season, so the fullish house was appreciated. This did not match with their spicy priced merch of 40 Euro for a T-shirt and 60 for a hoody. Also my favorite HaG song (Had It All) was not included in the set (my bad). As a band the total package fully worked. The stage performance, the songs blending heavy, doomy and proggy giving some for all to like. The very good switching between vocals, the light show and finally the coolest banner I saw in a long time. Throughout the evening I tried to get it on picture, but never really managed with my old phone. I won't be waiting 15 years to see them again, actually the next tour I probably will be back as well. Those going to Graspop, don't miss out on Mastodon which should be easy given the bands playing at the same time. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Imminent Sonic Destruction - Satan - Zero Hour

 Some more CD's you might want to check out by bands I want to see on stage.

Imminent Sonic Destruction - The Sun Will Always Set
Some bands you simply miss, as this is the third album of a band that plays music I should have liked since their debut ten years ago. Luckily in this case Matt the manofmuchmetal came to the rescue and pointed me to this album with a positive review. A bandcamp checking out was followed by an order and now that I have received the CD I can state it still gets better every time I play it. The short opening track with female vocals might make you think that we are in for some Anathema alike band. Well that changes when they go longer and epic. Actually they touch on many sidepaths so boxing them is hard. References that came to my mind at times are Wilderun and Devin Townsend, but more due to the fact that these bands also mix styles and heaviness. The titlerack is a closing ballad, but gunts and heavy grooves are also present. Hard to name a favorite track for me, but maybe Solitude it is. With the CD I got two stickers with different logos. On Youtube both logos have a page as well. So about time they come touring Europe and we can ask what that is all about.

Satan - Earth Infernal
Satan is probably one of the best examples of NWOBHM bandss who reformed the last decade and put out a string of albums which are as strong as their eighties output. Life Sentence, Atom by Atom and Cruel Magic all could stand proudly next to their classic debut Caught in the Act. For Earth Infernal this is not different and if anything maybe Satan got a notch faster on this one. The voice of Brian Ross might not be for everyone, but together with the guitar tandem Tippins / Ramsey the typical Satan sound is always immediately recognized. Satan are not going to win over new fans here, but if you liked their previous albums you can get this one in the blind. If again like me you loved their live set in Litttle Devil with RAM and Screamer, you also want to see them performing songs like Burning Portrait or Luciferic live on stag esooner rather than later.

Zero Hour - Agenda 21
Zero Hour return with Agenda 21 14 years after Dark Deceiver. Reason to get me excited and slightly surprised shortly after the latest A Dying Planet album. For those not knowing the band the surprise is that Jasun Tipton and his typical guitar sound is the main man in both bands. He is also the only member that played now on all Zero Hour albums as his brother Troy had to stop bassing due to injury. The sound of the Tipton brothers is very typical and no matter which band or project it is. So what does Agenda 21 bring? first the return of original vocalist Erik Rosvold. Somehow this automatically means that classic album The Towers of Averice and the band Cynthesis come to mind. So fans who preferred the last two heavy albums with Chris Salinas will find a return to older from. Opening with a 14 minute song Democide and closing with a ten minute Patient Zero reminds us that Zero Hour never present us an easy walk through the park. Their songs consist of hectic riffing throuhout and need multiple listening before you fully get the songs. I still need a few more spins, like what I heard so far and would say why not return to The Netherlands as former houseband of PPE/Headway.