Monday, 25 May 2015

Hell - Gebr. De Nobel Leiden 24 September, 2015

Doomsday Celebration was the actual name of yesterday's show, where ten bands would play from 19:00-02:00 over the two halls in beautifull Gebr. de Nobel. I basically came to see Hell, who were announced first and made me hope on some more NWOBHM or Dutch Metal (the 80's compilation) bands to join them. The festival was however looking at the more extreme spectrum so Black and Death metal came by in several forms. Most bands were Dutch and unknown to me, so I decided to see the ones playing before headliner Hell would hit the stage between 22:00 and 23:30 and then try to catch a train home. So I was introduced to Countess (Black metal vocals, over some slow NWOBHM ish metal) Soulburn (Fast and furious, good live show) Heretic (Sleaze, Venom, Punky I would have loved the US Heretic of Mike Howe/Metal Church vocalist fame much better).

As mentioned I came to see Hell. Two years ago they headlined NWOBHM day at the one-time-only R-Mine festival in Belgium and I was blown away by the great live show for such a relative small band. Memories of Maiden or Dio in the eighties came back. This time it would be not much different as they hit the stage in style and gave us so much more of a show than you used to see nowadays. Apart from the show, the music is top-notch as well. Heavy Metal as it was originally meant to be with double guitars, heavy bass, spooky key intro's and solid drums. While musically he might not be the man behind the band on stage the attention is all the time drawn to vocalist David Bower. His outfits, his expression and very dramatic presentation make Hell Live a must see spectacle.

The show it self gave a great overview of both CD's opening with The Age of Nefarious, before being welcomed to Hell in Let Battle Commence. As this was Doomsday problems were bound to appear and some technical hickups came by. During Plague and Fyre the tape with No,no,no did not roll and the audience was not loud enough as a substitute. When playing "Something Wicked This Way Comes' the fire alarm went off and the hall lights automatically went on. While the band played on only the bass good be heard. Later I learned this happened before in this hall and was caused by smoke effects. As the band at first did not notice they continued playing and after a minute or so the sound came back and off went the lights. These minor interruptions did not make an impact on the band and they just kept going. With Priests, goatlegs and horns, bloodwhipping, lots of smoke and the 666 flag on stage there never was a dull moment as time flew by. For me Hell proved again to be one of the better live bands around nowadays, who take care of presenting their audience a show in great eighties style. I wonder if on CD they can still surprise, but seeing them every now and then live shall definitely never become boring. For now their anthem "Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us" shall be in my head some time.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Anubis - Boerderij Zoetermeer, 15 May 2015

So there is a band flying over from not just around the corner: Australia to play three shows in Europe. Then they learn that in Holland the so called prog loving community gives a massive not at home call by not showing up which made them move the show from main stage to the bar stage. Then given their lyrics they all have a pretty miserable lovelife as well and they open the evening with the not so uplifting "And I wait for my World to End". Well did I get prepared for a grim depressive evening of prog rock in intimate atmosphere.

Anubis are not the complaining kind  really and they made the best of the evening and then some more. After a two hour show they begged programmers if they could give us one more song, which would be another epic in six parts. Extremely thankful for the receipt they received in Heidelberg first and now at de Boerderij they really gave it all they got and showed to be the next big thing, if only more people would know of them. So let me start with a short introduction on this great band. In 2009 they launched their first CD 230503, which made a small impact in progland. Mainly epic songs with some eighties touch and beautiful guitars  it became clear to me that it is a pity they hail from the other end of the world which would make live shows a slim possibility over here. Their next two albums 2011 A Tower of Silence and 2014 Hitchhiking to Byzantium only reinforced their status as one of the new powers in prog rock. Looking at new bands they remind me of Big Big Train and Cosmograf in the way they play epic progressive rock with a major role for soloing guitars. Basically all the so called Pink Floyd fans who bought their rather average last album or go and see en masse PF cover bands should check out Anubis and find out there is a future in prog rock as long as it is supported by fans. As I seemed to be more upset by the lack of audience than the band themselves some words on the show as well.

As from the opening world ending song it became clear that Anubis can do justice to their CD's on stage. We got two hours of highlights from all three albums, which made a big impact on those who were present. As I do not remember the full setlist I know that they did play my probable favorite dark ballad from them "Dead Trees". The most beautiful guitar solo of the evening came at the end of "Silent Wondering Ghosts" which just went on and on and on ending in a deserved big cheer from the audience. Building up to some heavier songs an epic highlight was "Disinfected and Abused" from their debut, including some very heavy headbanging parts from Douglas on guitars. Some ProgPower veterans told me they came to see him especially as last year he spend part of his honeymoon in Castle de Berckt visiting Progpower. Talking about heart in the right place. Over the evening it became clear that this is a very good, sympathetic and success deserving band. The organizers of Prog the Castle made their trip to Europe possible and were present this evening as well. I do hope they can make it again and as all agreed next time they play the main stage.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Anihilated, The Outside and Infantry - Musicon Den Haag, 10 May 2015

Some bands just passed my blind corner and so it can be that Anihilated formed in 1981 was unknown to me until recently. In this case until last year when they also played Musicon and I unfortunately could not make it. This time even being a Sunday Night I knew I should not miss out again. After all Anihilated is one of Britain's greatest Thrash Metal bands still around. To start the evening we had two support acts. Dutch band Infantry played a thrashy death metal and sounded OK. Main points they gained by later showing they were amongst the most loyal Anihilated fans, moshing and shouting in front of the stage. I have seen many support bands with less respect and admiration towards their headliner. Hereafter we got German/Chilean band The Outside from Berlin. Announced as more prog influenced I was pretty curious about their live performance. With some great instrumental parts I was in general not blown away by the songs, that did not stick in the head. Good band, but not making me go after recorded music.

And then came Anihilated themselves who took about 15 seconds to show us what difference stage presence can make. They sucked you into their show and basically bulldozered all on their way flat out leaving you grasping for air. What a great live band this is, and how strange I never read about them some 25-30 years ago. Having a career in the eighties and already three albums released after their come back they had plenty of material to choose from. Apart from some clips I saw through internet all was new to me, but songs did stuck immediately. In the good Thrash tradition of old, they played fast and short. This is not a show for two and a half hours, but one hour giving it all gained them in me at least one new fan. Originally coming from the punk scene, they have some well thought lyrics as well, which I now can grasp better reading along their last CD which I got yesterday. While at the beginning of the evening Musicon seemed pretty empty I had the impression it filled up lots more when Anihilated hit the stage and the atmosphere was great. Seeing a no-nonsense band giving their best and enjoying themselves is just contagious and easily gained them appreciation. For those who have a small interest in Thrash metal the below cover should be in your view as many of the Big 4 don't make them that thrashy any longer. Anti Social Engineering!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Europe - FM - Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock - Trespass

Earlier this week I shortly reviewed 4 new Progmetal bands worth a try. Now I go somewhat further back in time with 4 bands I liked in the eighties and had on either LP or even cassette. As they all four proved recently their total relevance until today, herewith some pointing into the right direction:

Europe - War of Kings.
I turned a great fan of Europe as from their debut LP. Being Swedish, but very much aligned to the British Classic Hard Rock bands I loved their first two albums. And then came The Final Countdown, which made it less cool to like Europe. It took them some time, but they came back stronger than ever some ten years ago and new album War of Kings is a total Classic Rock album. With Joey, John and John from the original line up still there they play this  Bluesy hardrock that goes down easy, while displaying the class act they are. Europe touring all over Europe this summer and I might catch them first time ever.

FM - Heroes & Villains
FM was Britain's answer to the hundreds of AOR bands coming out of the USA in the eighties. I have their LP Indiscreet and opener That Girl still stands strong as a must have AOR song. They also returned years ago, or never fully disappeared, but I lost track of them. Now they released Heroes & Villains and basically nothing changed from 30 years ago. Top level AOR that is what we get. Opener Digging up the Dirt still reminds me strongly of Def Leppard, but than we get FM as we know it with mid tempo rocksongs and some ballads all thriving on Steve Overland's remarkable voice. Of course Frontiers is behind this release as this label is keeping the eighties alive.

Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock - Spirit on a Mission
Michael Schenker is god on guitar. His UFO and early MSG years even made me pick up a guitar (to very little succes I must admit) and lately his live shows are better than they have been the past 30 years. Now with a stable Temple of Rock line up he even manages to release an album as good as their recent live work. Doogie White is the perfect vocalist for the current band and with a Scorpions rhythm section and Wayne Findlay on Guitars and keyboards we get 12 hard rock songs at highest level. Not really found a favorite yet, I feel the end is even better than the begining with some more uptempo Findlay cowritten work. Schenker has a long and bright future ahead it seems, who would have thought that not so very long ago.

Trespass - Trespass
I never owned a Trespass LP, since as far as I know they never released one in the eighties. When some years ago I got a collection (The Works) I did recognize some songs and found I had these on cassette form Metal for Muthas II. One being their "hit" One of These Days, while Stormchild also sounded familiar. Bright Lights I knew from taping Stampij a hard rock show from the radio, when Hard rock still got some exposure in Holland. Learning their other work I found that all to be among the best released in the NWOBHM days. Now they reformed, played Brofest and received a review from John Tucker pretty similar to my last year's Stampede experience. Releasing this CD with new versions of old songs shows how good and timeless their songs are. As they are going to commemorate their return in a small theater in their hometown Sudbury early July, I decided I want to see history happening and booked ticket and flight already. Very good Melodic Heavy Metal, tragically ignored by the labels and thus masses.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Codex - Vola - Native Construct - Iris Divine

In another attempt to rush through 4 CD's that I believe people should check out, I this time stay within Progmetal territories. Still spanning a range of tastes though, I do recommend the following albums that all show progmetal has new bands breaking through at very high level all the time:

Codex - The Peace Paradox
Great to find a Dutch band playing metal without female vocalists destroying the fun. Codex even play one of my favorite types of Progmetal being technical and heavy. Stylewise Spiral Architect or Scariot come to mind and even at times the mighty Psychotic Waltz. While not yet as good as the above mentioned bands I would love to see them live and see them perform these songs on stage.

Vola - Inmazes
Danish band Vola released ths album originally as a download only. Liking it on bandcamp I was pleased to learn that they sold enough downloads to publish a CD as well. Great band playing djenty progmetal, with also very accesible melodies combined. Therefore I think of Voyager at times. Great variation and another example that djent and progmetal are basically drinking from the same source.

Native Construct - Quiet World
This is by far the most difficult CD to get into of this list. Three Berklee School musicians (the one that gave the world Dream Theater) showing (off?) that there are no boundaries in music. Mostly alike Queen they pass the nervous bits of Haken, some Beardfish and extreme metal with occasional grunting into a really different mix. Getting better every time I hear this, uncertain how it stands over time. Not for the traditionalists, very uncomfortable and attention required.

Iris Divine - Karma Sown
Saving the best for last. This album is a strong contender for album of the year in my view. For positive and detailed descriptions I can recommend DPRP or John Tucker online both getting and appreciating this album like me. Strangely Aardschok was not on board the new fanclub of this American trio. For me Iris Divine walk the perfect line between Heavy Metal and progressive breaks and solo's. All songs stand firm and both instruments and vocals are very strong. I noticed that on bandcamp they have another album out of 2011. Convergence only available as a free download. Guess I have to break my rule of not downloading and get that as well, since a new favorite might have arrived.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

GY!BE - Paard Den Haag, 1 May 2015

Weird, Strange, slightly abnormal. An evening with Godspeed You! Black Emperor and nothing was as I expected it to be. Some 15 years ago I bought their double album Lift your skinny fists like antennas to heaven. This showed an interesting build up of many instruments from slow to very heavy and than some rollercoasters along the way. Never seeing them playing live I was pleasantly surprised to see some weeks ago a poster in town for Rewire Festival (?) announcing them playing het Paard on 1 May. An evening of Post rock also sounded attracting to Roberto who had the same album and was curious as well.

And then it was yesterday. First we got treated on a support act which was easily the worst show I have ever seen. A box on a stage with some arms sticking out behind it and an ever louder getting zoom buzz or whatever. Looking to Robert in total amazement noting that some people actually watched the stage as if this was a normal show. Well way above our heads we decided like many others to hide in the bar downstars and get a beer. The soundman first walked the hall checking the sound and when I complimented him that he nailed it just fine a blank stare came back as seriousness ruled over humor this first of May.

Then came the band and to state a storming entrance would be exagerated. Actually one by one the 8 GY!BE members came to the stage and started tuning their instruments which continued into the first song. A song takes normally some 20 minutes or more so we had a lot of time to get into the mood. Some blurred screen shots passed by later turning into construction sites and fast moving numbers. This all participated in getting you into a state of floating around. I was at times floating in space indeed, while at other times I got bored and thoughts drifted away. The next five songs would basically continue the same, which meant a full two hours of show. With two drums, two basses three guitars and one violin there was space to create a lot of noise and so they did. When the  groove took over it actually was pretty great and people started sort of dancing. Mentioning the people, I got nothing of the evening as such and also failed to understand the crowd. All ages and types were present, but reacting to an act like this seemed kind of hard. A Band who manages to have no microphone on stage and not say one word to their audience creates some distance which for me was too hard to bridge. Maybe the fact that the band was mainly sitting on chairs and two guitarists were showing their backs to the audience did help little either. Also the pictures on the background got me confused. There must be so much they want to tell us with the images, but most of the time I had no clue what it was that I should pick up. The scrap yard reminded me of the beautiful Brazilian documentary Wasteland while at other moments the trainride bored me as daily train commuter.

So I have seen Godspeed You! Black Emperor now. Was it impressive? Definitely, was it entertaining? not really, would I go and see them again? probably not. Most striking to me was that suddenly halfway I though about The Dirt, the famous Motley Crue Biography. Being probably 100% their opposites I felt that straight forward Metal is more me than this too hard to grap outfits. Strange!