Saturday, 11 August 2018

Armored Saint & Act of Defiance - Dynamo Eindhoven, 10 August 2018


It's a vital mistake, to try to brawl with the brave! It's the March of the Saint. Or in other words, Armored Saint was back in Holland and we did not want to miss that. Hans and Mary plus Ron and Astrid, meant Hans booked a hotel for five and we would make 10 August a city break in Eindhoven. This hotel was needed as when taking the last train home, we did run the risk to miss Last Train Home. If you don't get the last line, you can stop reading here as you do not know your metal classics. Being early August we knew that competition would be fierce as both Alcatrazz Metal Festival in Belgium and Into The Grave in northern Holland started already. So Dynamo was not packed, but during the Saint nicely filled up. Finally without many knowing maybe, this was also the 30th wedding anniversary party of the sympathetic couple that most travels for metal in Holland: Esther and Michel. Well Joey Vera knew as he congratulated them during the set.


Openers of the evening were Act of Defiance. This band is mainly known for the previous bands of the members, being Megadeth, Shadows Fall and Scar the Martyr. I heard of this band, but never took the time to check them out. Before the show I looked for some clips on Youtube and realized I would like this show. Heavy Metal of the heavy kind, with raw vocals and some lower lines from the bassist. As both bands play Alcatrazz today (and way too early for their status), This band had to leave fast after their show. I decided therefore to get their last CD Old Scars, New Wounds before their set. Good move as I indeed liked their show. Playing a short set with songs of both their albums Dynamo slowly filled and got into their metal. Interesting to see how main man Chris Broderick is known from his days with thrashers Megadeth, while he reminded tanned and pumped more a member of Los Angeles colleague bands from the hair metal era. His soloing was great though and that is what matters. So when we were beginning to get warmed up we deserved another drink during the break. Well that sounds a lot easier than it was. The draughts in the hall stopped serving and at the entrance only one still worked. Sad result was that the queue for that one functioning beer pump, dwarfed the queue for the Act of Defiance Merch stand before they left the building for Belgium,


Bringing a support act of certain name and fame or not it was clear that most people came to see Armored Saint. This tour they celebrate their fourth album Symbol of Salvation, playing it in full. This might well be my favorite Saint album altogether. Yet I decided not to play it before the show, giving me the chance to have the O-yeah-that-one-as-well-effect. Before we got to SoS we were treated on March of the Saint, Long Before I Die and Chemical Euphoria. One song of each of their first three albums. Sound great, playing tight and John Bush still one of the best voices in metal. In the end this evening turned into one big celebration of Heavy Metal as it was always intended to be. And yes passing through SoS was one party indeed from Reign of Fire until Spineless these thirteen songs showed what a classic album this truly is. My favorite song Last Train Home turned out to be an audience favorite as the reactions got that bit louder after they finished it. So the Saint did conquer and everybody in tonight seemed to totally love this show, Madhouse! Pity that youth was hardly present, which makes you worried for the next decades. Well as long as  our heroes still jump down a few meters like John Bush did, our metal will survive as well. This is one show you just should not miss. And then it was over with first  a search for the lockers (yes Dynamo moved the lockers during the show out of the entrance hall and hid them in the smokers room!?!) and later a recap over some beers in Metal bar The Jack. Great evening, superb band.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Redemption - Zeal & Ardor - Satan's Empire - Khemmis - The Night Flight Orchestra

Been quiet on the blog and CD front, so herewith some short summer tips:

Redemption - Long Night's Journey Into Day
A new album by Redemption for me is a blind purchase (being the best new Progmetal band of this century), so I got this one upon return from holidays. Not heard enough of it yet. so some quick comments. The Redemption style is still very clearly present. Power prog with long instrumental parts and heavy riffs. Ray Alder left and we knew Tom Englund is just not as good a voice, but he does OK. Old bonus song Noonday Devil actually shows we do not need to worry if they ever come playing live again. Maybe not a Classic in their discography, but too early to judge. Only downer New Year's Day which does not work for me.

Zeal & Ardor - Stranger Fruit
This is not for everyone! When a band mixes Black Metal with something like slave music/negro spirituals it sounds original to start with. Last year I heard their album Devil is Fine, but with the short running time and fillers did not get it. Now we have a full album which blends whatever they feel like and ends up in a beautiful mix. Heard from friends they were great at Graspop, so I will check them out when touring Europe in autumn.




Satan's Empire - Rising
This is for everyone! When you love metal, you do understand that the movement kicking things of big time in the mainstream and underground was the NWOBHM. One of the lesser known bands of that era Satan's Empire now releases with Rising one of the best NWOBHM albums of 2018. I was lucky enough to see them playing live at the wonderful Mearfest. There and then I knew I was going to get this later released album. Filled with good old Heavy Metal. Collectors might recognize Soldiers of War from the Lead Weight Compilation. Tip


Khemmis - Desolation
Doom metal with a strong tendency to Heavy Metal. Another band I missed until now. Six long songs giving accessible doom, where Maw of Time introduces grunts the base is clean vocals and good playing. The cover is nice, the music even better.







The Night Flight Orchestra - Sometimes the World Ain't Enough
When you get some guys who play melo-death in their day job to do something different thsi is what you get. A collection of eighties pop hard rock with strong keys. Reminds me of thos soundtracks by Night Ranger and the lot. To go short a perfect summer album matching the heatwaves we passed through. turns out this is their fourth album, but a debut to me. 25 November they play de Boerderij, but weather might be more suitable for Dutch Doom Days that same date.




Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Hate, Nordjevel & Shade Empire - Musicon Den Haag, 16 July 2018



Monday night and an extreme metal package hits Musicon. Not any bands I know really, but with the sun shining for weeks, one can afford an evening in Musicon. Timing was twofold. Dynamo Metal Fest was Saturday and many were still eating dust, school holidays started meanwhile and Monday was never a good night. Yet World cup is over, Tour de France had a day of rest and this show was the only Dutch gig on tour. So Musicon filled up decently and I just let it all come over me.


Opening band Shade Empire were announced as Epic Symphonic Metal. It did not take long before I realized these Fins were the bastard sons of Stratovarius and Dimmu Borgir. Yes there were obvious Nordic Power metal traces with the occasional good clean vocals.The Black Metal-ish part was very symphonic indeed. And with keyboards on stage we still could hear a fair amount of tapes playing as did spoken word parts and even main vocals. Yet I did love this mix of styles and had a great time watching the "lightweights" of the evening ramblin' on. Pity their CD's sold out and their T-shirts were not available in XXL. Nice band and winners of the night for me.


Hereafter matters would turn more black. Nordjevel looked the part with their painted faces in the heat and huge spikes sticking out of their arms. Yet their start was not that evil, with technical issues between guitar and amp, a long intro not tightly followed up and a mic not working at the beginning. When they did get going though I could understand why they had several fans seemingly coming for them only.  This was Black Metal from Norway just as one expects it to be. Their guitarist seems to be ex Abbath and the band knew what it takes to burn the place. A Norwegian flag was coming from the audience and hit the stage and all seemed pleased. A surprising end came when they covered Raining Blood, adapted to their style. For me this music works better on stage than on CD though. Same goes for headliners of the evening Hate. When they came on I started to feel my back from old age, standing too long at Dynamo and sitting too long watching football the last month. When I considered leaving fast I managed to stay somewhat longer due to good performance of this band. Painted yet more death metallic I must say this looked the tightest band of the evening and experience showed. Still not making it to the end I was pleased to spend my Monday evening at Musicon. Today this package hits Paris. So any frog sobered up after the party, go check them out.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Dynamo Metal Fest - Eindhoven, 14 July 2018


Dynamo Metal Fest seems to be back on our annual calendar, holidays allowing that is. This being the fourth version after the return the program seems to focus at least partially on the older generation of fans. No wonder that several bands spoke about songs for the old school fans. At the same time it becomes a yearly reunion where you can catch up with freinds you didn't see at any venue around you recently. This year the sun was out and in the afternoon the thermometer showed us 31 degrees, which meant a good old steaming day in Eindhoven. We travelled with nine this year and we almost all had to swallow a deception up front, when Sons of Apollo had to pull out unfortunately. It always is hard to replace an international act last minute, but we were somewhat disappointed with the return of Vuur. Well that is 8 of us, as Lida is a fangirl of  any band where an Ayreon vocalist turns up.


Trains were early after a summer evening in the city the night before. Upon arrival the connecting busses were functioning much better than the year before and alse the entrance was swift this year. Early train or not we managed to miss opening band Elephant from Belgium. Well if they tour the Benelux often I undoubtly shall run into them soon. For us openers were Iron Reagan with their punky thrash metal. That sounded refreshing and very nice for an opener and the pit was big from a distance. The only mistake we made was that while the ladies went shopping we started with a beer. Following an unwritten rule 4-5 songs means a next beer was kind of tricky as Iron Reagan plays fast and furious songs, which can last some seconds only. Good band and if we were in the mood already it wa up to Vuur to reduce energy levels to another day in the office. Sorry, but Anneke might be one of Hollands most famous vocalists for me that voice does not work. Well on the background or in duet with Devin Townsend it does, but Vuur is just not my thing.


I Am Morbid was the right band to wake us all up again. This band around David Vincent gives you Morbid Angel songs. Last year I saw them in het Paard and that worked better for me than on the meanwhile steaming hot grass or what was left of it. Still a nod with the head banging along fast drums and heavy music was fine indeed. Next on where the band Iwas most curious about how they would go down. Leprous is for us a revisit after two Progpower shows in the last decade and a few indoor gigs. Now I loved them the first time I saw them at PPE when they had released their best album Bilateral. Later on I saw them either disappoint a bit or fully impress again. So not sure what to expect I did lose them a bit not getting their last album Malina after somewhat disappointing albums before. In order to judge fairly I moved more upfront, where I ran into a firm PPE delegation. Technical problems with no keys delayed the start a bit and then they were brave. I was hoping they would metal up their show a bit, being at DMF. Well they did none so and gave us only newer songs. Still the performance was tight as we are used by them and at times it was very good. Up front the reaction of the audience was pretty OK and Hans next to sound tower told me at the back they were partially appreciated as well. Hope they gained some new interest as fish out of prog water on Dynamo.


With the Sons of Apollo cancelation for me the band to look out for most was Annihilator. Never seeing them giving us a bad show ( I was not at Alcatraz 2016) I was looking forward to see some classics passing by again. I missed the Alice in Europe tour in the late eightes, but the Never, Neverland tour stopped in The Hague as well and from there occasionally I saw them play again. Different line-ups, differnt vocals, but always good. Nowadays Mr. Waters is taking care of vocal duties himself again, which went rather well. So again moving forward to have  acloser look, Mary and Astrid joined and we were just behind the pit eating dust for 50 minutes. This was no problem whatsoever as their set was glorious again. I do not have that many albums by them but seeing King of the Kill, Phantasmagoria or Set the World on Fire works for me any day. 50 minutes is short, but Annihilatr managed to give us a fairly good overview from old to new. When the show was coming to an end we knew Alice was till going to be put in Hell. What a great song that still is! With Jeff Waters being smart we were invited to sing the twelve times very high Alice into the deep in hell. I did so loudly and hope they appreciated. I definitely enjoyed Annihilator again and a pity they were the only band without any merch at the market, my sympathy vote would mean a T-shirt or CD I do not have yet.


After this high another one followed. Overkill on stage means a party. This band leaves no prisoners either and thrashes hard and tight. One added factor of fun during their show is the Dutch mr Bobby Blitz speaks. Lines as Ik hoor je niet and Tjongejongejonge came out well and brough many a smile to the ice-rink. Similar to Annihilator they understand we need to hear old and new songs. So Rotten to the Core, In Union we Stand and the inevitable Fuck You made Eindhoven one happy moshing place. What a great band and for us brilliant closer of the party. Closer indeed as the last two bands Ministry and especially Ghost could not interest us all. With all of us being 50+ we already had our bags full (zakken vol) and appreciated an early train home. Ghost is a generation thing indeed as when we walked out there were still people arriving freshly at the stadium. Sad for them as to could get such could histry lessons in metal this day. During the day it seemed at first way emptier than last year, although the move of merch stands to inside opened additional space. When we left it seemed suddenly very busy. One fine day in Eindhoven it was with decent food options (The Asian was good this year) and faster beers than last year which were also filled up to avoid last year's half empty computerized glassses. Next year we shall be back and I would like to see some returns from the 91 version I attended (Psychotic Waltz, Armored Saint, Extreme and Obituary would mix genres nicely) Thanks Dynamo and until 2019.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Anubis weekend - De Duycker / 't Blok, 7/8 July 2018



Next week it is Night Of The Prog at the Loreley and Anubis are on that bill. Before that major prog festival they are making a small European tour, starting with the world famous quadrangle, Hoofddorp, Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel, Paris London. So this meant two opening shows in Holland and as they both had a very different character in advance I went for the double. For those not knowing the band a short introduction. I discovered Anubis in 2009, when they released their debut album 230503. This was one beautiful concept album holding all the characteristics the band kept until today.  Their main style is Neo prog maybe, but there is some eighties pop blended in and at the same time they can go more metal than most prog rock bands. For me this blend works wonderfully and I can state they are my favorite new prog rock band of the last decade. Their succesive albums A Tower of Silence, Hitchhiking to Byzantium and last year's The Second Hand all confirmed that status. A few years ago they had their first 3 gig European tour, which brought them to de Boerderij's small stage. All present that day, for sure would try to see one of the two dutch shows now, as they played very well and very long that memorable evening. So to say that I was looking forward to this weekend can be called an understatement. Warm sunny temperatures or not it was de Duycker for me on Saturday evening. Do I need to link to the worldcup somehow? No I don't need to, but it was funny to see England qualifying for the semi-finals before leaving home,  where especially Belgian but also Dutch TV spoke about a poor team and the BBC starts believing football is coming home indeed. But back to the music.


The line-up in Hoofddorp was surprising to say the least. Where Anubis plays mainly progrock, the other three bands seemed to be put on stage especially for those dutch fans, not willing to travel all the way to UK Tech Fest. This meant screams, grunts, polyrythmics, many strings on guitars and basses, plus the obligatory beards. The performance of the three bands was for me widely spread and I could enjoy them together with some ProgPower regulars in the hall. Opening band Transient State played varied and loud, but did not play any melodies that stayed in my head. After their gig the discussions were mostly about the HEAVY bass drones in one song sounding and feeling pretty uncomfortable to me and most around me. Those without earplugs. might need to see a doctor after the weekend. With Hillsphere matters changed dramatically for the better. I saw them once in the past and remembered and instrumental band. Now they have added a vocalist and at once promoted for me to the absoute top of Dutch progmetal bands. As if this voice was what they needed to feel fully comfortable. Great songs and good performance, so I was getting their CD. Untill I waited too long and noone was behind the table, making me sort my Anubis merch first. I will see them again hopefully soon and shall get their CD anyway. Closer of the night were also Australian Copia. These guys also play progmetal of the extremer form, but my first impressions were positive. For starters their vocalist had a good voice on the clearer bits and power when heavy. Adding the hectic playing I quite liked what I shortly saw. I say shortly as I needed to get the last train home (Note to self Armored Saint in August car might be the better option) When you put on 4 bands and start at 20:30 only it is bound to happen that people need to leave during the last band catching last public transport.Copia is touring Europe for the fifth time now, so maybe they return soonish.


And what did Anubis do as lightweight on this heavy bill? Well I thought them concentrating a bit more on their metallic side. Later on they told me I heard wrong as this is their usual style of live shows. Whatever the style, how great it was to see them reaching same heights as their Boerderij gig from the past. Of course this would be a shorter setlist with four bands, but it did hold epics, calm bits, heavy guitars and those beautifull melodic solo's. One characteristic I did not mention yet, is they are also fond of darker lyrics covering some rather depressing love-lifes. One of my favorite songs on that respect is Dead Trees. Haven't we all at times slowly but surely been driven to the bottle, so how nice to hear that sung to us in a wonderful song. A telephone ringing brought us back to the 230503 album with The Deepest Wound. Further focussing on the last two albums, we did also get a teaser for 't Blok in All That Is.. from ATOS. With a solid performance I only started looking forward to the full show of today and went home pleased with my Byzantium Tee and the acustic CD.

't Blok holds prog shows organized by Prog Frog. Those few times I have been there I always have to start with a compliment for the organization. Never will you find anything more relaxed, where the volunteers welcome you and serve snacks during the gigs. But how nice everyone might be over there, the biggest compliment must go out to Anubis. How often does it happen that you see an underground band with six great musicians dressed  in black giving you a show of almost three hours!!! This is a show without any films on the background, pyrotechnics, or amazing lightshow. How great is that? well go catch Anubis on tour and find out for yourself. Today  A Tower of Silence was going to be played in full. That was after the short break. The start of the show had some overlap with the night before, but was not following fully the same order. Even more surprisingly with the very long playing time they left some songs out that they played in Hoofddorp. Seems to me they rehearsed their full catalogue, so another thumbs up to that. During ATOS the order became predictable, and my highlight was And I Wait For My World To End (did I tell yet they like to write darker lyrics?). So when ATOS ended we did get two more songs without the leaving stage routine. These Changing Seasons from the last album and that song from HTB with the endless closing guitar solo Silent Wandering Ghosts. Well no words to describe this show really. This band gives so much to the audience that you feel humble just watching them. As if it all was not enough we got the question if we liked another song, long or short. So Disinfected and Abused really closed the afternoon with another hihlight in the heavy banging part of  Knives and Forks. So I am still speechless, which is not the reason that I did not wait for the band to come out. That reason was dinner with Tiago after such a long set. I did have a word with them in Hoofddorp and these sympathetic guys deserve in my eyes a breakthrough. I hope that the NOTP festival with a large audience can bring them many new fans. If you have the chance to see them, don't miss out. Thanks Anubis for two great gigs within 20 hours and that all jetlagged. If football is coming home or not to the UK. Anubis is passing by thsi Friday. Seems an easy choice for me. Today all those  going to the beach or organizing a summer BBQ proved to be wrong again.

 

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Ozzy & Priest - Altice Arena Lisboa 2 July 2018


Ozzy and Priest playing together. Me not going to large metalfestivals for years, Magchiel and I decided last year after Stampede in Bristol to have one old school party abroad together per year. And most of all Lisbon being a home match of sorts, as I was visiting Josie anyway this weekend. All in all a show not to miss for us. And then I started digging in my memory, trying to avoid the gaps over the years. I believe I only saw Ozzy at Monsters of Rock Germany in 84 and 86. For Priest I believe the Arnhem show with Annihilator and Pantera in 91 or 92 came after the Zwolle show with Bonfire. So while both Priest and Ozzy make part of the basics of my musical formation I had not seen either in ages. Before the Monday show we got to spend the weekend in beautiful Lisbon. Magchiel being there first time loved the city as well and did support Portugal in the Portugal Arena against Uruguay, but that ended not as we liked. Two days Lisbon also means climbing and descending for hours, so when finally arriving at the Altice Arena we were close to exhausted to start with. So up to Priest and Ozzy to get us in the mood again. Spoiler alert: they did.


Judas Priest as support act. I did not know how that would work in Lisbon. Following the metal gig agenda on undergroundmetal.pt I thought they might be way more popular. But then again this was no underground event. Apart from the bands playing most shirts spotted were either Maiden or Metallica, with hardly any underground names (Budgie was named). This hall hosted the Eurovision songfestival in May and it seemed that Priest needed two songs to clear the hall from this camp party against good music.So Firepower did not blow as impressive as on CD, but as soon as we heard It's Monday night and the Priest is back and arrived at Sinner/The Ripper all was good. Well not just good, what a party we got. While Rob Halford walked the stage very slowly his voice with effects or not still reached some high screams when needed. Highlights to me were Turbo Lover, Freewheel Burning and Painkiller. Last song closed the set as announced, which after one hour could be. Than we got an encore, which made sense given the number of Classics not played. To my surprise  Mr. Glenn Tipton joined the band and we got treated on Metal Gods and Breaking the what?. 75 minutes of Priest was well worth the trip already and to Magchiel winners of the evening.


While waiting for Ozzy we noticed the Arena was packing up from decent to very full. This meant that the toilets and bars got queues too long to confront. As the beerselling backpack also disappeared suddenly it was all about the music. Well never would I have expected Ozzy to follow a similar line for this show, as his voice was great and he seemed very fit and well humored. Opning somehwat surprising to me with Bark at the Moon, followed by Mr. Crowley and I Don't Know the party was officially opened and the roof came off. And this was not just Ozzy, the band was on fire with a leading role for Zakk Wylde on guitars. Actually Adam Wakeman of Headspace fame was very good as well.  As Ozzy has no recent album to promote the setlist turned into a greatest hits parade, with some Sabbath blended in. My highlights were No More Tears, Shot in the Dark and Crazy Train. But actually the full show was entertaining with a minor break halfway. As Ozzy needs his rest to regain forces there was a very long guitar solo moving from right to left of the audience offstage. While being impressive it lasted a bit long. Hereafter followed a drumsolo which gave nothing special really and when Ozzy came back the weakest song in the set (I Don't want to Change the World) followed. In the end it was not that bad, just a small drop in the high we experienced. After the full set the encore brought us Mama I'm Coming Home and Paranoid. The latter even bringing a pit in front of us and showing many happy faces around when it was over after 95 minutes.


So this was one great trip to Lisbon and we should think next year what can follow this up. On the bands future there was alos some clarification. The Priest will be back was shown in great letters at their end of the show. Ozzy is touring under the name No More Tours Vol.2. The T-shirt of the Vol 4 Sabbath album, so who knows how long this will drag on. Ozzy seemed in shape to go on for some more time, carrying buckets with water to throw over the front row. So People look to him and say, is the end near? when is the final day? I don't know!!
 

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

The Contortionist & Palm Reader - Patronaat Haarlem 26 June 2018


26 June 2018 was one of those days. Originally I was planning to see Ritchie Kotzen in Leiden. Then the Heavy metal party of Iced Earth and Martyr was announced in Alkmaar. Work would bring me the day to Amsterdam for a Metal Bulletin Conference. My work as my musical taste are both very much rooted in metal indeed. This conference made Alkmaar a bit complicated on trains and timing (as unfortunately proven by Robert, but that's another story). And then there was the announcement of The Contortionist in Patronaat. The Contortionist state they play Progressive metal on their FB page, but with a foot in djent I'd say. Actually in that genre they are probably my favorite band. Watching the site of Patronaat it turned out that Soulfly would play the main hall the same night. And to complete the busy agenda on the train to Haarlem some Leiden students entered on their way to Limp Bizkit. When they started talking about House Festivals it only confirmed to me that Limp Bizkit has nothing to do with Metal.


Arriving at Patronaat it was warm and busy outside. For some reason Patronaat decided to put The Contortionist on the bar stage instead of the small hall. This meant sold out, but also slightly tight to move and the low ceiling there is somewhat annoying. First band of the evening would be Palm Reader from the UK. This band reminded me more of the older The Contortionist as vocals would be mainly screaming and the  band was pretty heavy. I liked their enthusiasm and sympathetic announcements. Musically I thought this to be nice live, but I was not attracted to get their last CD.


During the break I learned that Messi made a rather nice goal. My decision to not watch the possible exit of Argentina was rewarded by today's Riesenentauschung from the Germans. Before The Contortionist kicked of let me share my history with the band. I discovered them when Aardschok wrote about Instrisic as something like only for those who consider Rush too straight forward. Checking that album out I loved Intrinsic. Mostly heavy they had plenty of short calm breaks which made a great balance. Next album Language made it high on my list of albums of the year and the trend was more clean vocals and calmer music. Now they are touring last year's Clairvoyant album, which eliminated harsh vocals altogether on the front. So to say doing an Anathema in their career this last album is filled with beautiful music, interesting enough to keep all technical music lovers on board. So the question was, how would they bring this set together and is there still space for the heavy. My hopes were high, as during their Language supporting tour, they blew Tesseract of the stage. An opening tune started 21:00 sharp and the start was for the Clairvoyant album. This is actually such a beautiful album that many people out of metalworlds should be able to like it. But that is the return to the old exposure story. The second song was a heavy monster and I did not recognize it, so probably from the Exoplanet album. This is just wat I wanted mixing the heavy and the mellower. During the remainder of the set the focus would be on the last two albums, but occassionaly it all blasted. Now I did recognize the songs, but cannot immediately place title and album next to it. So I just state here that The Contortionist surpassed my hopes and expectations and I now also came to love their last album even more. Their presentation is rather introvert, but their playing is from another (Exo?) planet even when they Return to Earth. Happy to see a band confirming their status with me and who knows Complexity or Progpower can get them back to Holland any day soon.