Monday, 18 June 2018

Amulet & Scavenger - Little Devil Tilburg 17 June 2018

The World Cup is on and for those who like football this might impact the number of shows attended. For me so far no direct loss of gigs, but writing shall be reduced. So last Friday there was a great CD release party for Rages of Sin and Acrid with strong support of PPTA and Saturday Icarius was way too heavy for the average visitor of Vlaggetjesdag in Scheveningen and the new hering tastes good. Yet with a marathon of matches on Saturday no reviews or impressions from me in writing. Comes Sunday 17 June and Amulet would make their Dutch debut in Little Devil. At the same time Germany was losing and Brazil, a country where family and work play more than a small role for me would play in the evening. Still music over football is the rule that holds firm for now (let's see what happens when Exodus-Savage Messiah play on the evening of a semi-final). Arriving at Little Devil a big screen was on, which gave me the chance to see some 15 minutes of first and 30 minutes of second half. Enough to see that Neymar is a provoking-spaghetti headed- cry baby-twat representing all I hate in modern football. And then there was metal.

First band were from Belgum Scavenger. I must admit that in the eighties I missed them and their album Battlefields.  This band rejuvenated and now played their third show together as their female vocalist told me afterwards. This vocalist was a small girl with lots of hair. While being Belgian and speaking Dutch her inbetween song English reminded strongly of a certain Doro. It seems that Drums and one guitar are back from the original line-up and the rest is younger blood. Scavenger brought us Heavy Metal in eighties style and while old school it sounded nice to me. Songs like Battlefield, Heartbreaker or Ready were reason enough to pick up their original 1985 CD  afterwards. What a great eighties cover it holds. Nice band warming us up for Amulet and me for some 30 minutes of football as well.

I did read of Amulet in Iron Fist Magazine first, where a review of their US west coast tour was published some issues ago. After reading the article I checked the band on the internet and found the Cut The Crap EP on Bandcamp. No physical copies on sale I could not order, but liked what I heard. Then de Nobel organized a metal CD & Vinyl fair and I did run into their debut full album The First. This album is filled with short NWOBHM style metal songs and very nice indeed. So when Mario got Amulet to play Little Devil on their way back from Der Detze Rockt festival in Germany I knew I was going to see this. After all it was father's day so I could do what I bloody well wanted. Kicking of with one guitar due to a broken string the question amongst the band was if they woud wait for second guitars kicking in. Yes was the answer and he joined on Evil Cathedral (a killer song) Hereafter the question was if he could take some time for tuning. Another yes to that and we finally went off for some 45 minutes of good old British Heavy Metal. Some new songs were included, but the bulk was build around Cut the Crap and The First. This evening was also being the last gig for vocalist Jamie Elton with the band. So the story ended with The Hangmen who would send him off. Now as a gimmick a hangman walked the stage with a noose. Suddenly I thought of their US tour review and did understand why this would get some raised eyebrows in the States. Well at the end of the song the Hangmen disappeared and Jamie was burried under a guitar and actually kicked to death by the remaining band members. A fitting end to a very nice show. As Tilburg means long train rides I decided to rush out catching an earlier train gaining on arriving home without time to thank the band. Amulet a name to watch, hope they get a good vocalist for following up the corpse of Mr. Elton.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Seven Sisters - Toxik - Black Cyclone

Seven Sisters - The Cauldron and the Cross
Ever heard of the Now Wave of British Heavy Metal? When living in Holland chances are big you'll answer no, as these young and promising bands are blatantly ignored in Dutch metal press. There is something cooking in the UK and many young bands play the music of the greatest musical movement ever to come out of Britain, but with a modern edge. Over the past years I saw great shows by bands like Kaine, Toledo Steel, Vice, Monument or Neverworld. Ususally building around twin guitars they give us Heavy Metal in good old fashioned style. Now The Cauldron and the Cross is the second album by Seven Sisters, but the first one I ran into. And yes it is all there again. Solid rhythm section, twin guitars the screams and clean vocals and lots of melodies. Opener The Premonition can never open a show like this as it sounds as if the fall in halfway during some blasting solo's. Adapting the start it would be a great live opener though. Basically all songs shall please any fan of Heavy Metal and this album can therefore be purchased in the blind. Highlight must be the title tracks (as there is a Pt 1 and Pt 2. In total 16 minutes of classic heavy metal packed in a song which goes from loud to soft and filled with different moods is a must hear I'd say. Good band hope to see them soon. Tip for Andrew: 16 June they play the Portland Arms with Toledo Steel.

Toxik - III Works
Toxik the band that shook the world with World Circus in the eighties and then surprisingly never reached the status many much less talented bands reached. This album is a collection and at first I was in doubt. When I could see which songs would be on it after release date, I could see that purchasing was obvious. This box holds three CD's with three different vocalists. So first we get the 2014 EP In Humanity with Mark Sanders (World Circus) on vocals. I did not know that EP, so this meant 6 new songs. Then CD 2 holds the Breaking Clas$ EP. Now I bought that last year as well, but then it had three songs on it, which now turned into six. Charlie Sabin (Think This) sings on this one and memories go back to the legendary evening in Lazarus last year, where he sung for us from anywhere in the audience he could sit/stand.The box closes with CD 3 holding the voice of new vocalist Ron Iglesias. Not only does this CD contain 8 re-recorded versions of their biggest live hits, it also holds two completely new songs. So for me this CD priced box did deliver 11 new songs to start with. What can I say on the music? Toxik always played technical Thrash metal which does require some effort to get into. The breaks and wildly flying solo's are not always stuck in your head after first listen, but try again and one shall be rewarded. The eleven new songs do confirm Toxik still has it, Ron Iglesias controls the high and low and we can only hope for a return to Holland anytime soon. Finally the artwork is as always beautiful and the box holds a poster of band and fans at last year's Dynamo Metal Fest. Now I was there that day and Toxik drew me closest to the stage. Wearing a Tour de  France mountain stage cap to protect a bold head against the sun, now meant I can see myself on the poster. The Circus continues.

Black Cyclone - Death is King
If this album would have been released in the eighties, I would have bought it in the blind based upon the name of the vocalist alone. Now being the 21st century one goes to bandcamp or Youtube first and orders the album thereafter. The vocalist I am talkin about is Linus Johansson from one of my recent absolute favorites Trial. I saw them live earlier this year and both band and voice impressed. Now from the Heavy metal with doom and prog influences of Trial, Black Cyclone does up the speed. This album is pure speed metal as it was released some 30+ years ago. When the opening line of first song Death is Crowned as King mentions the term unstoppable force it is clear which influence is big. And indeed it is at times hard not to start shouting Masters of Metal, Agents of Steel!! Linus being one of the best Heavy Metal voices around nowadays, also dominates speed metal, with an overdose of high screams. But this band is not only about the vocals. The very fast songs all go down like an ice-cold beer on a Mayday in Holland 2018. This is total eargasm for the fans of good and old. I always thought they don't write them like these any more, but Black Cyclone jump straight to the top of the genre. Actually one recent band they remind of is Ranger, who destroyed de Nobel last year. As even the lyrics have the famous battle and conquer themes all around this band should tour. I'd say typically a band Mario puts on in Little Devil, so one can hope. If they come over, for sure they shall rule and Black Cyclone shall gain many new members for their Chaos Brigade. If you love your Heavy Metal fast with the high pitced screams, this one is obligatory.


Sunday, 3 June 2018

Mearfest - The Dukes Head /Village Centre Slough 2 June 2018


Mearfest 2018 was on. This might sound simple, but what a fight and effort Brian and Clair put in this year. After losing the Frday night first, later on the original venue was double booked and Mearfest last minute had to find an alternative. Staying in Slough the Dukes Head and the Village Centre came to the rescue, but unfortunately the program needed some serious cutting in the line-up. So we had an afternoon in the Pub, immediately followed by three headliners some 100 meters down the road. For those of you not knowing the story behnd Mearfest please read the beautiful written story on www. and feel free to donate fo rone of the two charities supported by the festival. For those not knowing my emotional link to the festival, please ask when meeting me again at a venue near you. Her name was Taina and she would have been 14 by now. Two years ago I first attended Mearfest at the Borderline in London and after missing the Southern and Northern edition last year I was glad being able to make it to Slough this time. Even with the loss of several bands I would love to see once or again, the program was stil more than a bit tempting and in the end the Pub factor did add on atmosphere for the day. Now Slough is an English city, which to me makes it holidays to start with during my walk. From the HIE hotel (where water is unavalable in showers or taps and people complain at the front desk 24/7) to The Dukes Head it was all just not like home. The city symbol I bumped into many times was either cynical or absolutely great. It made my 50 minute walk interesting and the sun made me thirsty so Dukes Head bring it on.

Arriving in the Dukes Head the PFJ were on already. Now PFJ stands for The Peoples Front of Judea (Life of Brian anyone). So answering Frank Zappa's question does humor belong in music a big Yes was their answer. We saw a Horse Head, a Devil, beards, long beards, masks and the whole band running outside playing from the parking lot. They played covers from Classic Rock, to Britpop and Metal. Actually during Marillion Weekends in Holland an afterparty has hold the same DJ over past 5 editions, playing exactly the same songs every night. I shall drop Lucy an e-mail that it is much better to have these same songs brought with a smile by a live band.  Next band were playing originals and came from the North East of England. Culloden played metal and did so heavy with a bite. Vocals being fitting the music well aggressive while staying away from grunts. These young guys did convince and more than a few people loved their performance on this hot afternoon.  Inbetween bands we could enjoy the heat meeting new people, including a real Lord, being Lord Dowson. The heat plus drinks also made you explore the pub and its facilities which made me realize that my 6'66" was a bit much for the average height in England some centuries ago. This resulted in being unable to stand up in the toilets, unless I was willing to dug a hole in the ceiling with my bold head. O yes we were in England, so there was a raffle. Given the charity the event supports this made all sense. so I joined in. Not knowing I would win the main price in the afternoon draw, which I could not accept as being unable to make it to Stonedeaf end August with a friend. Now I could accept and sell on internet, but that is just missing the point in my view, so I opted for the second price which was a bag of surprises. Tiago shall wear the Damaj T-shirt with pride and the handfull of signed Diamond Head plectrums shall make me pick up my guitar again and finally get Am I Evil in my fingers.

After a somewhat longer break with new drums in, we got another cover band Bawls -Out from Essex. This was their first show and I think I can state if interested in a covers band, why not get Bawls-Out to make your party. They play all these songs from the eightes we love to hear. So you get your Riot, Scorpions, MSG, Maiden, Whitesnake, Priest and many more. Afterwards I did compliment the vocalist, which is a bit neglecting the band. What I actiually meant is that when someone does a Dio, a Coverdale, a Dickinson and never goes painfully woring half the work is done. At the same time the band were tight and solid to bring this. One critic on the vocals might have been that the vocalist was a bit sloppy on his Kraut accent while doing Scorpions, that sounded far too British to me. Highlight must have been the many gimmicks/dress-ups they brought along seemingly forgetting half at home. Highlight came when during The Ripper, first the Female vocalist was half raped on stage, after which at the end she got her revenge with a slitted throat of the attacker, followed by a dry "Are you OK?" from the audience. Friendly violent fun as Exodus would say. Good band and highly recommended for any party with a metal edge. While ordering food and getting ready for the evening two more acustic sets followed, which unfortunately I only heard from a distance. Locals who were just visiting their home pub meanwhile blended in and seemed to like the whole purpose of the day and the great atmosphere around.

And then we moved, when the Lord guided me to the village hall. First band of the evning were one of the main reasons fo rme to get to Slough anyway: Trespass. Two years ago they had their Dutch debut and I could open my occassional HM B&B for the first time. Now they released Footprints in the Rock and I was curious how some of those songs would blend in with their regular set. Well Trespass came, played and conquered. To me it seemed that the duals (!) between and Mark and Joe got more tight and the change in soloing increased. The set was the blend we hoped for giving us something new, but don't forget the past. Be Brave was dedicated to Brian and Clair and I loved the version of The Visionary. When the intro announced One of Those Days we knew it was over, but first their hit would be coming at us. What a true classic in NWOBHM that song remains. Several people I spoke with afterwards were very nicely surprised with this performance and my Sudbury city tour guide Paul had some work after the gig.  Great seeing them again and what an opener of the evening. The next band were a coverband and not just any cover band.but a Budgie cover band. Now Budgie were pre-NWOBHM really and I believe they were never that big in Holland nor in Belgium according to Patrick. To be honest unlike the Diamond Head, Savage, Blitzkrieg or whomever Metallica covered, this band I only knew because of Metallica. When I knew I would attend Mearfest some months ago and I ran into a crazy cheap box of MCA albums at Amazon I decided to give it a try. Now I got why this band is considered to be underestimated and misunderstood. Live we had two sets. First Bandolier playing powerful and showing what a diverse band Budgie were. Them original drummer Ray Phillips came on with two friends and we got some more classics with In For the Kill especially strong. In the end the drums stayed and the Bandolier bass/vocals and guitars returned for one hell of a version of Breadfan.  After seeing this show I must admit I missed out all these years.

Closing the party would be NWOBHM band Satan's Empire. This band is gaining some good feedback by British NWOBHM friends and I was glad I finally got to see them. Their new album is called Rising and shall be released 15 June. Unfortunately no advance copies on sale yet, so this gig would be the decider to order or not. Well that was decided after one song, I am going to get that album.  This band plays the more metallic side of NWOBHM with the classic line up of drums, bass , two guitars and vocals. Very convincingly they rocked through their shortened set with the 11 O clock curfew. One song before the end they arrived at their hit. Well hit  might be a bit much, but the Lead Weight compilation from Neat Records ended with Soldiers of War by Satan's Empire. This is one fine song and if you ever wonder where Iron Maiden got their opening riff motivation from for Wasted Years just have a listen. The final song had a guest appearance from Bilk Gang from France who brought his band last year to Hastings. This turned out to be one fine closer of a wonderful day. When it was all over it basically came down to thanking Brian and Clair for giving us this great day, which I hope was as good to them. The mood at this festival is something different indeed and for me this is what celebrating good old Heavy Metal is all about. Togeteher with Power & Glory these are parties I might come back to again if timing works out. After a firm walk through Slough, partially with a huge Budgie fan I arrived at the hotel with no water. So I hope to be back, but shall be staying somewhere else. Molly smiled and Taina laughed along.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Westland Metal Meeting - de Noviteit Monster 26 May 2018

Het Westland is the region immediately south of The Hague. It is known for holding the largest glasshouse area of the world growing our vegetables and plants high tech. Being a farmer region and conservative/religious any amateur antropologist knows that youth needs to rebel. In the eighties this was often in the form of Heavy Metal. Many times we cycled to the region watching dutch bands on tour. This day the fourth edition already of Westland Metal Meeting was organized, but for me the first time. With Monster (what's in a name?) not being that far and the weather being beautiful I decided for a bicycle ride through the dunes to reach de noviteit.  It turned out that this was a party centre and outside they created a nice area with standing tables, chairs, shade and food. Inside the place also seemed well prepared for a festival and the only thing that stood out was that nowadays the youth in het Westland is not into metal. Where were they?

The formula of WMM has been through the years cover bands alternating with originals and blending styles from hardrock to extreme. As I decided to watch at home first the finish of 2018's biggest sport event (Giro d'Italia that is what an edition, world cup without Holland shall be lame and Max Verstappen is just a shitty driver) I missed the first band Melting Eyes. Theo told me upon arrival that they were rather good. My first band of the day would be Deep White, a coverband. Now Whitesnake was huge to me when getting into hardrock and yes I prefer the Moody/Marsden days. This band played songs of both Deep Purple and Whitesnake, not always the most obvious ones and did so rather well. The vocalist was good although his screams were better with Deep than with White. It looked to me like he was saving his voice knowing Child in Time was still to come. That was the best performed song of their set. Next band were substitutes Rages of Sin. Unfortunately Anatomy of I couldn't make it. Also playing Death Metal Rages of Sin played a nice tight set, where the presence of the drummer's 3 year old daughter before and on the stage was one of the highights. 15 June they have a release-gig for their album in HPC. Based upon their today's performance highly recommended.

Standing at the earlier mentioned high tables and trying the sate with bread for dinner I managed to miss Rise of the Woods. Knowing them from earlier  shows maybe not that smart as they play a nice blend of stoner and hard rock. Being local they attracted most reactions from the audience as well.
Hereafter came the band that made me cycle down to Monster: Savage. One of the many bands that were part of the NWOBHM, but to younger people got known due to Metallica covering a song of them. Loose 'N Lethal, was a classic in the genre and the set would contain many of those songs. Unfortunately het Westland  seemingly had other things to do. While this band would have attracted full houses in the eighties, now only a few older fans were present and enjoyed this set. Mixing old and new, for me the highlights were those from our collective pasts. Songs like Berlin and White Hot were brought for us real good and closing their set with the usual double Ain't no Fit Place and Letting Loose made me a happy man in spite of the empty party center. As I did not stay for the last coverband bringing us Ozzy/Sabbath songs I decided for a slightly more dangerous ride home through the dark dunes with a few beers in, but managed to stay on the path. Thanks to the organization  for this party. My recommendations for such a diverse bill would be next time shorter sets and inbetween breaks. Not that this was an issue with the beautiful weather of this day, but it might keep the speed in the day.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Awooga & Amplifier - de Boerderij Zoetermeer, 17 May 2018

An evening of bands that are getting exposure in Prog magazines and sites, but are in my ears no real prog. Still I was curious so off to de Boerderij. Awooga opened the evening, three bearded blokes from Britain. Looking like a stoner band, I was pleased to hear that te base was stoner indeed. Rather nicely they went through songs from their last album Conduit, which I heard through bandcamp on forehand. Many pedals on the stage helped them getting the sound very wide and multilayered. Turned out to be a nice band, playing mainly heavy. Being their first time touring Europe and Holland we can appreciate the comments on great venues we have and forgive the cliches on coffeeshops. I liked their set and a highlight came in Witness mixing calmer and heavier moments. Good live band and fitting well to open for the headliners tonight.

Amplifier falls for me in a typical category of bands. Those bands are not playing any of my favorite genres like hard rock, any type of metal or progrock. Yet they released somewhere down their career and (often double) album that is generally receiving rave critics. Listening to it I also dig it and that is where I stop often as well. Examples: The Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie, Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile, GY!BE - Raise your skinny fists.... All these bands border my favorite music and Amplifier does so as well and their Epic album is called The Octopus. That is one beautifull album starting like Pink Floyd 1970 going through alternative rock, hard rock, grunge , psychadelic and you name it they include it. Now in 2014 they played Graspop and I remember friends skipping them and reviews being not that positive. Also I noticed that my Prog or PPE friends on FB were not interested. Yet open minded me decided to go alone anyway. In de Boerderij noone else was supporting Czech Death Metallers Hypnos, looking at the dresscode of the audience. So when Amplifier came on in black, with black shirts and ties it all fell together. The audience danced to this guitar rock band. They went heavy at times, but never got metal. They played very well, but were not bothered to interact with the audience all that much. Even the Wayne Rooney lookalike on guitars did not change much to that effect. And suddenly I got why this band were and would be misplaced on a metal festival. Further I saw by chance over the last week such great performers and atmosphere bringers, that to me this stood out as rather dead. Conclusion: They played well, the variation of styles was also live present, but they could not draw me into any song or mood. Most fans liked it pretty much, but for me one hour was enoug of this and I went home knowing that I can always play the Octopus and hear they are a good band indeed. Next time I decide to go to a band bordering on prog and alternative rock it shall be Dream the Electric Sleep again, who do rock and metal you into their show. 

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Hypnos, Neoceasar & Signs of Algorithm - Musicon The Hague 13 May 2018

After a week full of gigs, why not close it with an afternoon session of Death Metal in Musicon. Being short the Signs of Algorithm are from Belgium and young. Their music is metalcorish, while the vocalist does some voice acrobatics like slam death. good seeing them jumping up and down the stage  while bringing us their songs. Next band were Neoceasar and while watching them bulldozering through their tight set again I realized this probably might be the band I saw playing live most times over the past twelve months. Regular good show it was.
Headliners were Hypnos from Czech Republic invited by Neoceasar as they told during the encore. This European tour consisted of four shows in Holland as well. This resulted in some Czech bangers as support. Rebuilding the stage completely on a tight scheduled afternoon, it was all worthwhile when they started. Older members resulted in one tight band and very good playing. If we add some decent songs a well spent Sunday afternoon was guaranteed. Supporting bands that surpised me and impressed I am now playing their last album The Whitecrow, with as bonus feature a free course of Czech with the translated lyrics, but that only makes my national champion Tiago happy. Bílá vrána.


Dead Lord & Horisont - 't Beest Goes 12 May 2018

Sweden is delivering bands at the top of any musical genre I love. These two bands play hardrock with a strong seventies vibe. So when their Time and Ignorance tour hit Holland I knew I wanted to see one of the three shows. Now Zaandam was closest to home, but on a Sunday less tempting. Also due to late start trains woud not run home any longer. So it became 't Beest in Goes. an almost two hour drive, but on a Saturdy night less of a problem. Actually it brought me for the first time ever to the city of Goes, which turned out to hold a small port of yachts, a church square full of terraces and a nice venue in 't Beest. I know this all as we arrived somewhat after eight when the venue turned out to be still closed until 20:30. Now originally there was a local support band and the event mentioned 20:30-23:55. Goes is situated in the provence of Zeeland in Holland. Now Zeeland is in Holland famous for people being tight on their money and the bible belt starts here. Based upon that I did not expect the show to continue till after midnight. Not knowing the support got cancelled Hans and I turned a bit nervous therefore when close to nine noone hit the stage yet.

Comes nine ó clock and Dead Lord starts their intro tape. During the Heads Held High tour I did see them twice, but both occassions as support getting some 40 minutes only. So this time I was looking forward to a shared headline set. Now Dead Lord are the ultimate tribute to the twin guitar, so it was not long until opener Don't Give a Damn that guitars would come to the fore. Actually all songs by Dead Lord are not overly long and have great instrumental parts in them. Tonight they passed through all three albums and you have to get enthusiastic seeing this energetic band on stage. Unfortunately it turned out that in Zeeland enthusiasm is showed by hanging at the back of the hall (tight on money and feelings?). Reactions or not Dead Lord stormed on and occasionally Hakim would explain to us that the beautiful power coming at us was The Electric Guitar!!! Well no need not to mention the rhythm section as especially the drums were very tight and full of fills. Higlights? basically the full set as songs are in a similar vein, but if forced to choose it would be When History Repeats Itself, as this is just such a great song. Dead Lord rocked us with their rock again.

Horisont were to close the evening and I was very curious how they would sound live. Last year they released the splendid album About Time.  Although being their fifth record for me it was their introduction. When a supporting tour hit Holland I missed them due to shows being far away on a Sunday and Monday evening. As about Time made it to my Top 17 of 2017 I definitely did not want to miss out again. With the stage ready the difference were the added  keyboards of vocalist Axel. Further we got the classic two guitars, bass and drums. Opening with Odyssey it did not take me long to realize that this band is awesoem live and we would be in for a Masterclass of Classic Rock. The ease with which Horisont passed moods was remarkable and all your heroes from the seventies left their traces (Heep, Led Zep, UFO, Purple). To Hans and mine disappointment Zeeland did not seem to bother all that much. While reactions during Dead Lord were already far from Saturday night live, during Horisont half the people seemd to have disappeared altogether. What a miss as this turned out to be an absolute high of a show. Knowing only one of their CD's was no handicap at all.  Horisont are a class act and they would deserve more noise coming back at them. Well I loved this show and definitely shall follow their career closely on and travel for new visits. After the show as souvenir I intended to get the Odyseey album, which was not available so I got Time Warriors. Further again a scandinavian band toured Holland/Germany not bringing anything larger than XL. During the Trial show I learned that after washing a Swedish XL, you might end with a Dutch L and that does not work. Pity as they had some nice Tees. Finally we only wished this same evening and number of people in would have been held in Little Devil. I am pretty sure that it would have been a night to remembre not only by the bands, but also by the atmosphere. Tonight they play Zaandam, hope people are louder in de Flux. Anyway another Swedish winner we had, so my list of best gigs 2018 in December might end very blue and yellow indeed.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Gama Bomb, Distillator & Defazer - Baroeg Rotterdam 9 May 2018

Thrash metal in Baroeg on the eve of a national holiday so off to Rotterdam. Now in The Hague our week of summer ended in the afternoon already so jeans and hoodie were in place. Arriving 25 km further im Rotterdam it was 5 degrees warmer and most people came in Anthrax outfit, being bermuda's and Tees. It was during opening band Defazer that most people arrived, so when they were finishing the Baroeg filled up well enough. Defazer is The Hague's pride of thrash metal and seeing their full set was the usual quality we came to expect from them. Opening with their EP Order out of Chaos I even start recognizing some of the further songs in their set. Well played, Baroeg warmed up and William wearing the coolest Tee in metalland (THHMA).

An outside break where beers were allowed on this warmish evening and Distallator prepared. This powerfull trio must be one of the best thrash bands in Holland nowadays. Their metal is fast and guitaris Laurens mixed his raw voice with lots of high screamed lines, which works rather well. Talking about working rather well, their smoke machine was no slouch either filling up Baroeg with dampened layers killing beers and eyes. This show only confirmed their status and they are one of the best options in Holland for sharing the stage with big foreign names.

The big foreign name of tonight was Gama Bomb from Ireland. Well actually I do not know how big they are, but I saw them appearing often in Portugal's Loud magazine. Tonight they would start a small European tour playing their older album Citizen Bain completely commemorating 10 years since release. Now I do not own that CD, but have their last album. This meant I did not recognize a lot of their songs and many they played. Most of their songs are not very long. Not that short as an Hang the Pope , or the Ballad of Jimmy Hendrix, but not passing three minutes either. Citizen Bain also already gives away that humor is important to Gama Bomb. So what was the result of this all? A very tight band, a funny vocalist with a great Irish accent and an interesting yellow suit. Plus many songs with sometimes a bit long breaks inbetween. Vocals would not only be typical Thrash harshness, but also lots of eighties screams inbetween. And yes some people in the audience can do that too. All in all I quite liked the performance as this was entertaining. At the same time there was the risk of the gimmick taking over, but I guess they just managed to avoid that. Whatever you feel about them, no need to get bored.  Taking matters not all that serious is in a way also refreshing within the Thrash metal scene so who knows 9 July Lisboa for a repeat.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Transport League & Onegodless - Musicon The Hague, 8 May 2018

We have this week a summer upon us, so the beaches are full. To my surprise Musicon was also pretty well filled up this Tuesday night, with a turnout many a Friday or Saturday night I attended would not meet. This all for Transport League a band I hardly knew. As openers we did get Onegodless grooving at us for some 50 minutes. This band hit the Musicon stage several times before from when they were called Mourn until the days of Onegodless. I therefore saw them a few times before and this show gave me similar feelings as their earlier appearances. This is a good band where some of the former bands of band members might mislead you (Cynic, Textures, Exivious). The music they play has a very long name on their page, but groove is the base for me. Bringing the songs fast after each other, I missed some connection with the audience. Songs were hardly announced and we rambled on basically. For me the vocals could vary a bit more as when screaming less and singing more there weresome added mood swings. Still a good live band, who probably shall return more often.

After a short break the long bearded men of Transport League took the stage. Now I did not have any music of them, but used to own a CD by B-Thong, which I lost when an idiot decided to force my door in the mid nineties. Finding nothing of any value in my house he/she took several CD's from my then starting collection. So not even being able to hear that album again I went through some clips on the internet and thought this could be interesting live. Well I can be short, this was a total party. What an awesome live band they are and how well they understand what live music is supposed to be all about. Describing their musical style is easy as I just can quote some album titles. The new CD is called Twist and Shout at the Devil. With earlier album titles  as Boogie From Hell or Superevil you get the ballpark we are talking about. You can also simply call it rock ad roll, but with a swing that makes it hard to stand still. Funny to see that the guy getting them to Musicon turned out to be their biggest fan jumping and banging around for the full show. The raw voice even turned Ozzy alike when we were asked to be silent for some vocal intermezzo. At the same time Motorhead was on the back blended in as well. So when I was wondering and deciding if I should get a souvenir (CD/Tee) from this show they played Zulu Zombie Zodiac for us which was such a delicious rampestamper that even the choice of album was decided. When later Kill Kill Faster was played I first heard Kill Kill Vasco, which would have become an anthem in football stadiums all over Brazil apart from Sao Januario. The show maintained on a high until it was all over. Well was it? Musicon turned on the music and instruments were put aside, but many of us were hungry for more. So we got more in two extra songs, where we could soing along to You've got another thing coming. I was hoping for a nice show on a Tuesday. Never could I expect such a party in such a full House. The band also seemed to like the evening as Hell bent for Tuesday and The Hague rules. Well we don't get that all that often, so thanks to Olax for putting this show together. Sweden ruled once again. Their countrymen of The Quill are not that far in style from them and turn into some sort of Musicon houseband. I would not mind seeing Transport League returning frequently either. And to continue the Swedish cloud we can attend this weekend another nordic show, when the Dead Lord /Horisont tour hits Holland. Skol.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

The Hague Metalfest - Paard, 28 April 2018

The Hague Metal Fest the first edition. Well I had to attend and support, even with Josie over for a long weekend. When this festival was first announced their FB page posted a poll asking which styles of Metal we would like to see. I believe I aksed for Progmetal, Heavy Metal and NWOBHM. Well my vote went up in smoke as in the end we got a pure Death Metal festival, where variation had to be sought between more technical forms or the slamming version. My favorites would play around dinner time, so I arrived when Modus Operandi, Human Vivisection and Astarot had already finished. Openers were for me therefore Apophys, playing my preferred more technical style of death metal. Not by coincidence just before they begun I did run into Alex, Cailyn and Jonathan, three of the Progpower regulars with a liking of the death metal side of prog.

Apophys on stage turned out to be a litle party as they play fast, tight and varied. The vocals would go from grunt to occassionally very fast. Not knowing any of their songs I can't comment much on their setlist, but just saw a band that gave us a good show and  was appreciated by those in the hall. To my surprise not much signs of a pit going on, so maybe they are not yet that big after all, while for me the second best band of the day. My favorites of the day would be The Modern Age Slavery from Italy. Last year they played Metalcon and impressed a lot, so having one of their albums I looked forward to seeing them again now. Well that did not disappoint as the same energy as 2017 was still very much alive and the vocalist singing large parts standing on a flightcase was till hooded and powerfull. At the same time instrumentally there was little to complain either and this show flew by, at least to me it seemed shortish. .As Jonathan shouted along with the title, the only song I can confirm they played was The Silent Death of Cain. Rene told me that some years ago they even played at de Vinger, when still in the centre. I would have no problems with an annual return of them to our beautiful city behind the dunes.

After what for me was the highlight matters would change with next band Human Error playing Slam Death. Well being only three consisting of drums, guitars and vocals the noise coming of stage was nothing less but impressive. Still the songs were a style where I almost have to surrender. For me the words describing this best were different and interesting, which does not need to be positive always. At the same time the pits grew and the crowd became louder. Not musically my thing really I liked their presentation and they gave us a crocodile show. Hereafter Bodyfarm would for me close the festivval. I saw this band from Amersfoort before and liked them at BOA 2016. After the slam experience returning to some more grooves and songs was welcome to my ears. A fine closure of the day showing that Holland has many class bands in the extreme genres. For next year the first band was already announced in Bleeding Gods. This means the festival shall continue which was right based upon decent audience numbers. Let's see if any non-death metal bands shall be included, or otherwise I just pick a favorite part again. For a first time organization seemed very smooth to me and even the Polish hip-hop crowd coming for the other hall seeemed to blend in calmly at the bar.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Koningsnach The Hague 26 April 2018

In Holland we have a king. The only thing he is good for, is giving us a national holiday in April. Since he took over from his mother the holiday moved from 30 to 27 April. This probably shall still result next Monday in some tourist appearing in Orange in Amsterdam, reading their old travel guides (or is internet the only source nowadays?). Anyway the country celebrates his birthday today and in The Hague the bigger party has been the night before since the late eighties. Starting off as a Blues festival with live music in almost all bars and beers on the streets it now turned into a major festival with all kinds of music on stages throughout the centre. The only places to be really were the blues stage which turned out to be a tiny caravan with te drums on the ground before it and the Rock&Louder stage in front off our government buildings. So arriving around 21:00 with Pieter, it was off for some blues first. Running into Niels and Ingrid we mainly were talking, when on the background first a decent bluesband played, followed by a somewhat grungy rock band. Not knowing any bandnames it was of for some Rock & Louder hereafter.

The band I was most looking out for was Death Alley. The former night mayor of The Hague spoke in dutch about an alley, yet still managed to announce them before and after their gig as Death Valley. Death Alley play speed rock with some side steps to psychedelic bits. The start was very promising and they rocked us nicely warm on this cold evening. I was considering getting their album after the show, when they made a change over the set. Suddenly we got long instrumental parts, where not all that much was happening really. This might work within a small venue rather well, but on this cold evening it did not. At least not for me. So in the end I liked their start, but the long jams made me decide to check them out on internet before getting an album I might never play.
After Death Alley from Amsterdam, Brutus from Belgium were to close down the stage. This trio also played powerrock, but with less of a metal edge. Most striking was the girl behind the drums, who also was their vocalist. The drums were placed sideways at the side of the stage therefore. I was not sure what to think of them. At softer parts they sounded to me a bit like their countrymen K's Choice, while at their heaviest they were pretty heavy indeed. Musically to me not as good as Death Alley, they did create some atmosphere with their songs resulting even in some pits before the stage. Now as Roy also noticed these pits were different from the usual metal pit as people seemed to move more up and down then sideways as we normally see. All in all a pretty good band for some live music accompanying your beers. Around 01;00 it was over and out and the stage closed down. For George and me this meant going to de Huppel for a beer to close the night and we could officially celebrate Wimpies birthday, without mentioning him once. 

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Kino - The Aaron Clift Experiment - Perihelion Ship - Barren Earth

Prog is all around and herewith some variations on the style. As usual starting light and ending rather heavy.

Kino - Radio Voltaire
Well that was a surprise return to me. Kino the band currently exists of John Mitchell, Pete Trewavas, Craig Blundell and John Beck. In 2005 they released their beautiful debut album Picture, toured a bit and then it went quiet. So now they return for me out of the blue with Radio Voltaire. Some changes in the line up, but if you change one Steven Wilson/PT drummer for the other there is no serious drop in quality really. Looking at the credits 8 songs are written by John Mitchell and 3 by Pete Trewavas. This means that the overall sound is rather impacted by Mr. Mitchell. This as such is not a problem as I love his other bands/projects It Bites, Lonely Robot, The Urbane and Arena. Point is that there is a certain equalness between his bands now, especially the ones where he can be heard on his rather raw and raspy vocals. The album opens good with the title track and The Dead Club. Songs inbetween Stadium rock and prog. Hereafter follows in Idlewind the first of four ballads, which is a bit too much for my ears. While saying that closing song The Silent Fighter Pilot is a highlight of the album. For the rest it all sounds good, performed at the level you would expect and pleasant to the ears and all. Yet I could not find any songs as good as Losers Day Parade or Swimming in Women from their debut. Still as I missed them touring in 2005 it would be nice to see them at de Boerderij one day.

The Aaron Clift Experiment - If All Goes Wrong
Next week The Aaron Clift Experiment shalll release If All Goes Wrong and I am curious how far this album shall reach. This is American prog, edging on Classic Rock. So for the style they could appeal to many, or by lack of exposure remain this underground tip only. This is their third album and I do not know how big they got in the USA by now. As far as I know they never played Europe, so over here they have space for increasing their fanbase I guess. This album might be the right tool for that. The band is currently a trio with Aaron on Vocals/Keyboards, Devin North on bass and Tim Smith on drums. For the guitar parts they have called in several friends without this resulting in style breaks on the album. In progrock regions tend to have a typical sound like British or Scandinavian. This band definitely sounds American to me. Bands that sprung to mind for me as references were Styx and Salem Hill. Somewhere in that range you can find most of the songs, unless they visit the Beatles during Better off Before. Overall this album is very accesible and makes for a small hour well spent. The range can go from a bit of a bite in Last Crash, through more epical in Dream Within a Dream to a fast rocker like Wild Hunters. As it should be my favorite song is the titletrack with a nice guitar solo ending, which I recommend as intoduction for discovering them. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Perihelion Ship - To Paint a Bird of Fire
Pledge, Kickstarter and the likes give you this idea of helping out bands who deserve this. So when Perihelion Ship started their campaign I jumped in fast as I thought their debut album A Rare Thunderstorm in Spring both extremly good and highly underrated. Now last October this new album was released and I read some reviews on the internet. And then my bundle arrived by the mail a mere six months later. finding out that the Tee included does not look all that great. So where I might sound pissed off with the band I am not, as this is easily one of the best albums released over the past twelve months!! In the begin of this century two progmetal bands released Classic Concept albums which I both loved and set the bar for others to follow. These albums were Back to Times of Splendour by Disillusion and Light of Day, Day of Darkness by Green Carnation. Well anyone into either album should get Perihelion Ship immediately. To Paint a Bird of Fire is the perfect bastard son of both and mixes the same Seventies hardrock with some extreme metal and great songs. This album has two epical bookends in New Sun and New Sun?, both over ten minutes. In between those we have four shorter songs, which all have an own flavor to them. While the album should be heard in full my potential favorite so far is Wind of No Echoes. This song starts instrumentally for some minutes in the vein of Morte Macabre (meaning mellotrons and a dark atmosphere)  than switches through spoken samples to a Black Metallic song, in order to end more hard rocking. This song was cowritten by the keyboards/mellotron man Jaro Konttinen. The bonus track Maven is fully written by him and probably the loudest bit, so I'd say give that man a voice. Not to say that mainman Andreas Hammer did no great job, as only the 2017 release 2018 arrival make it hard for this album to reach my top five of either year. Go listen to this CD by Hammer, Jani, Jari and Jouko and ProgPower Europe pay attention these guys should rule around any dinner break in the weekend.

Barren Earth - A Complex of Cages
Is it a band, or is it a project. Now at their fourth album I tend to hope it is a band. At the same time all members have other obligations as well. Last year I saw them opening impressively for Insomnium and their metal fits that Melodic Death Metal band fine. At the same time we have here a healthy dose of Doom and Prog resulting in one fine mix. Vocalist of the band is Jón Aldará. I believe I saw him with Clouds at Dutch Doom Days, while I definitely heard him with Hamferd on one of the best Doom albums released this year. That is why I was somewhat surprised hearing him on opening track The Living Fortress. His singing here sounds more like reciting and definitely needs an open minded listener. Later on this reciting becomes much less and the mix between his clear voice and the heavy grunt often singing together is one of the highlights of this album. I say one of the highlights as the real focus should go out to the songs. This is a heavy album, but does not stop offering us variation all around. The Ruby is most accesible, with in the chorus a very fine working mix of vocal styles. Zeal and Solitude Path are epics with time and space for calmer moments.  Four albums in their career and I hope this time they reach such a response that touring becomes obligatory.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Tribute to Wizz (middle part) - Feestzaal Lottenhulle, 7 April 2018

A tribute to Wizz festival, so I have to start with a confession. I did not know Wizz apart from his name, the bandname Wizzard and that he lost the battle againts cancer late 2016. Yet at a tribute I also believe that people appreciating their heavy metal are in a way helping to keep the spirirt alive and his friends with a good party. Now driving down to Belgium was a last minute decsion really. Like most of the country (Holland not Belgium that is) I suffered the last month from returning traces of an annoying fever, which made me skip several shows. Only last night I was at Musicon supporting young bands, not feeling all that well  and leaving after 25 minutes of Mad Baron. Further one of the two bands  that made me decide to go to Lottenhulle, had to pull out some weeks ago already. That was Twisted Illusion and as they helped me going there I decided to put on their T-shirt. Two interesting side effects were the result. First as it is a white T-shirt I was literally the only fully white T-shirt in (Thorium had cool white shirts, but with blue sleeves). Further when standing outside during a break, a guy came to me asking if he could take a picture with me. Well I recognized in him the guitarist/ vocalist of Vice the band that now made me attend the Tribute. If bands start asking you to take a picture with them, it tends to become hard to stay modest, although I guess it was the Tee and not me. Finally Theo already informed me that he and Wendy would be there, so following up my Patronaat report of last week, even in a place I never heard of before I would run into people I know.

The general consensus in the metal world is that Germany is the walhalla for old school metal fans. In reality I think that this region of Flanders offers as much with always a good atmosphere. Also the number of bands who play old school Heavy Metal seems fairly large. Ironbound was the first Belgium band I saw today and that was no disappointment. Reading about them in advance I expected a band that played covers by Iron Maiden and Metallica, with some own songs. In reality we got a full set of own material ending with a cover by Saxon. The own songs sounded rather well and the highlight of the band were the solo's by their lead guitarist. We could shout along with Never Again, before Princess of the Night closed the set in style.

After a sunny break outside on the first warm day in western Europe Thorium  were on next. Now Thorium might be an unknown name in metal, Ostrogoth is not. This band seems to hold some old members of that band. Vocalist is from Holland and also known from Lord Vulture. This band was a really good surprise as they played eighties metal in the style and at the level of the greats. So when one song reminded me strongly of Helloween, the next one on the Battle of Britain was as if Maiden 1986 was back on stage. So the songs were fine, the playing was good and the vocals top. So this was a new band to me to follow.  Final fun fact I learned from Theo. The bassist played in a WASP coverband and looks like a smaller version of Blackie Lawless indeed, before the current Michelin sponsoring of the original that is.

Next on Vice were the band I most looked forward to really. Last year they released their excellent debut album The First Chapter. So I decided to enter the hall before kickoff and get a center position to see what would be coming. Well I might have hoped for a good show, but this was with no doubt on of the highlights of the year. Live the great album even added on the energy front and we were blown away. I say we as I had the impression I was not the only one heavily impressed. During a 45 set I think Tom stood some 25 minutes central stage soloing at us. If we add the sympathetic presentation coming from both drums and bass, this young bands should have a bright future if this kind of metal stays in fashion that is. Their music is heavy metal, but at the heavier thrashier end really. It is so good seeing a young band blowing you offf yer socks, just as the event page warned us in the morning already. Taking no notes as usual, not sure what songs passed, but for sure, Sloth, Creed and Envy did. After the show I tried to catch up and thank them for making my trip so worthwhile. I could not find them inside or outside the hall. As they stated coming from Manchester, they might have been on the lookout for a TV in order to watch the Manchester derby. A game I  am seeing now at MOTD, while writing this. Seeing them soon again at Mearfest I hope.

Well up to Evyltyde the ungratefull task to follow this up. For me this would be the cooling down before driving back home. Now with the sun out burning for the first time this year, the trend of the day became  that bands would start for a handfull of people and slowly the crowd would walk in. In the case of Evyltyde it seemed to me taking very long before some reaction came back to them. It was definitely not them lacking hard work. With a bassist on hire and a girl drumming with the band for a week only they actually played well together. From some clips I was hoping for more of an eighties metal female voice (Dore, Leather Leone, Lee Aaron and the lot). In reality this went more towards what is called Female Fronted Metal with higher vocals. Now this is not the genre I am most at home in, I did like the song where heavy male and female vocals mixed up nicely. Towards their end I decided to call it a day and start the long drive home. What a good decision it was to go in the end. Very smoothly organized, easy atmosphere and this Belgium flavour of a day of metal. Hans already mentioned an interest in Headbangers Ball in May. I might consider if timing works out, but  won't be the only person in a white Tshirt again.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Vader, Neoceasr & Seita - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden, 5 April 2018

As it was about time to leave my recent pattern of attending only Sunday night shows I had two options to choose from. I decided for Death Metal over Progmetal. Not that I musically completely changed over, but I went for the energy coming off the stage. So Resolve and Armed Cloud shall be visited later on again. I was not the only one attending, although the crowd was considerably smaller than with Dark Tranquility only two weeks earlier in Leiden.

When I entered de Nobel main hall Seita just kicked off their set. This band is from Amsterdam, but actually from Brazil. So the songs were introduced in English and sung so as well. Although one song was titled Portuguese Ditadura. The band decided to stay away from politics unfortunately, as I would have been interested in their views on the fact that former president  and only candidate for this year's elections Lula was ordered to sentence in prison that very afternoon. They played music as well and that is death metal. At times nearing the technical variation, due to the guitars, so I quite liked what I heard. Good band for warming us up and if you are into Baseball interesting merch as well. Question to Nobel, why is it that first bands in the main hall suffer from a heavy hum coming from the speakers inbetween the songs?

Second band were Neoceasar from Rotterdam. Last year I saw them a few times and their last gig I saw was instrumental as the vocalist could not join on Rene's birthday party. Glad he was back today, although during the first song you would not tell. Actually everything sounded dimmed and low during the first song. The band also noticed this on stage, as we had a small correction break after the opener. From then on it all became this Death Metal machine we saw before. Straight Forward in your face and no nonsense spring to mind. On CD I might prefer the more technical or progressive styles, live this is one fine band. Not sure if they won over new fans, as they play a lot. For sure they convinced us though that they are one of the forces in extreme metal in Holland nowadays.

Vader already played Death Metal in Poland when the wall was still dividing Berlin. This tour they celebrate the 25 years (and a bit) of their debut album The Ultimate Incantation. Now that album was released in 1992 before Cynic's Focus, Amorphis' Elegy or Opeth's Still Life, so I was still not into grunting vocals. Now way past that, I could recognize the class of that album as well as the band. Interesting how you think you saw two good openers and when the headliner comes on, matters are brought to the next level anyway. Some 35 minutes into the set Rene asked if anything sounded outdated, as we were only listening to 1992 songs so far. No not at all was the answer. After so many years bands tend to become tight as a really tight thing. So did Vader and the guitar solo's that were thrown upon us randomly sounded very nice as well. So after the full album another five or six songs followed and we were left tired running for the bars or trains. Final headsup for the merch. I did not see too many green Death Metal shirts really (more a Djent thing) so I got one. Also the training jacket was rather awesome, but I passed on that which I shall regret later on. Tomorrow they end their tour in Portugal. Shows that my future home country should not be all that bad on gigs with after Vader next week Insomnium/Tribulation passing by on Tuesday and Dark Tranquility to follow on Friday.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Bell Witch, Monarch! & Feast - Patronaat Haarlem 1 Apri 2018

Bell Witch is not for everyone. at the same time it is easy to understand to all that Mirror Reaper has been one of the most interesting releases in 2017. A duo, playing bass and drums, releasing a one-song album of 83 minutes in slowly building doom. Grieving over the loss of former band member Adrian Guerra, who can be heard on pre-recorded vocals in The Words of the Dead. This album does get under your skin in its total sadness, so yes I was more than a bit curious how this would be brought to us on stage. This was also the week where internet told us that going to a show every two weeks might extend your live with ten years. Somehow I donot think that article was relating to this evening of total heavyness. When handing over my coat, the guy at the garderobe pointed at the free earplugs, as this was going to be HEAVY. Well I brought my own thanks. Also the life extending article mentioned the sense of belonging as a reason. Now I do agree that I like the company of many people I met during the years at gigs, but somehow I felt like not belonging in Patronaat last night. This must have been one the first shows in a long time where I knew noone, nor did I recognize a face in the crowd. Apart from knowing noone I also have no beard. Haarlem is this hipster city just off Amsterdam. Yesterday when I arrived before Feast started and entered the small hall there were some fifteen man alll having some sort of beard. The range was wide from I did not feel like foking shaving the past ten days, via goaty all the way down to Jihadi John. Now beards are common nowadays, but these all looked fashionably conscious and approved. So resuming I wonder how many extra days I gained last night. Hopefully enough to see Bell Witch once more, as they were sensational but more on that later.

Opening band were from the area: Feast. They were the loudest band of the night as they did not necessarily reduce to soft intermezzos all that often. This Doom/Sludge was played so heavy, that you felt it hitting you in the stomach. I am afraid my scar wound opened up another two cm. Still as a life band I quite liked their performance. No nonsense just burn the place down and everybody in it. I believe they played four songs with the last one called the Bible if I understood that correct. Which was a nice touch as it was Easter after all.

Monarch!are French and brought us a show. I mean the curtain closed inbetween the bands in the small hall and the stage was reorganized. When opening the drums were on our right end of the stage and could be watched sideways. On the left a table with many candles burning, a black cloth with some upside crosses. Two guitarists at the back of the stage and centre stage the bassist vocalist. Well vocalist he grunted/screamed at times with huge echo on it. From below the table a lady appeared, called Eurogirl I just read. She started whispering to us in French and slowly building up in volume. Than it became clear that the hero of the band was the drummer. He kicked of all the time when it was time for heavyness. Usually by hitting two cymbals and bassdrums. He than would bang wildly (animal) joining his slow and very heavy play. And when they switched to loud mode, they were loud. Mixed with a slowness this was just great. The show was upped by some of the details. The bassist had at the start five bottles of Heineken in front of him. Wen the girl claimed here moments and started drablling in French he had no role. So out came the bottle opener and he picked a bottle in order to throw it down his pipe in two gulps. So in the set of about 45 minutes? all bottles were emptied, which made hime the heaviest drinker in the hall. I know as I stood near the bar and noticed it was never rush hour. At the same time Eurogirl would disappear behind her table at times as well. At one moment I saw a hand with a bottle above the table going down, so she may have finished a same amount, but is still in denial phase of her friend alcohol. This show flew past as there were details like above to watch and the songs seemed to be merging into each other. At a certain moment Eurogirl moved to accented English, when warriors were invited to come out and play. But this was not about the lyrics or songs, but the total experience, which was good. For me no music to buy on CD, as I do not think this works that well at home and who knows it makes you more thirsty than is good for you.

Bell Witch is Dylan Desmonde on bass/vocals and Jesse Shriebman on drums, hammond organ and vocals. I am now some twleve hours later and still questioning myself: How do they do this??? We got the first part of Mirror Reaper (As Above) played for us. Dylan opens with his six string bass and Jesse seems to be asleep on his snare-drum. Even with bass alone the music sounds massive. In order to increase the impact we get black and white movies on the screen behind them. I have no clue on the lyrics of Mirror Reaper, nor do I know what they tried to state with the at times interesting images, but I was sucked completely into this show.  When Jesse joined the heaviness of the evening was restored and at times I was surprised by the vocal parts, which moved ranges up to Black Metallish. Seems that I played Mirror Reaper a lot as I could hum along with large parts of the music. It stayed all the way through just amazing how the two of them could create this all on stage. I saw that Jesse had some effects to his disposal, but still. No songs, no interaction with the audience (like the whole evening) no guitar solo and yet one of the best shows I witnessed in a long time. As this evening was a special one with Easter and April Fool's day combined I did appreciate it that they did not treat us on a hologram of Adrian Guerra to fit Easter and surprise us. The only conclusion can be this was an evening of art and not a metal show at all. Now when As Above was finished the show was over as well. One might say that 50 minutes is not very long, but this show was intense on all the senses so I was pleased as it was. Bell Witch shall return to Holland ths month when they end their European tour with two shows at Roadburn. Now I am in Portugal those days, but they shall play Mirror Reaper in full on one of the days. No need to repeat that I can only recommend all to see this. Also Progpower might raise an eyebrow. Given the success of Nordic Giants two years ago, this might be a heavier/doomier version of that, which should please half the attendants as well. I am now listening to their previous album Four Phantoms. It contains Bell Witch short songs as we get two songs divided each in two parts in 65 minutes. What a great band they are, being two only.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Dark Tranquillity, Equilibrium & Miracle Flair - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden, 25 March 2018

One and a half year ago Dark Tranquillity released their excellent album Atoma. So last year they toured Europe part 1 and this year part 2 follows. Intereseting enough both tours stopped in Leiden at de Nobel. Now last year I did not go, so I checked why and found it was Easter, Josie was over and the next day Persefone played Hoofddorp. This year it is the other way around as Persefone play Hoofddorp on Friday when Josie is here for Easter break and I turned attendance between the two bands around, how fair is that? In order to promote this with some friends I put in our concerts app group for those who like In Mourning. Well that convinced Peter enough so we could have a few beers and raise the average age by a year with the two of us. Before Dark Tranquillity came on, we had two supports and this evening must have been one of the steepest curves of interest I ever witnessed. Starting band Miracle Flair plays this kind of lame female fronted metal with poppy melodies. Nothing against female vocalists (I loved Savage Master last week), but I really had no idea why this band was added to the tour. The people slowly coming in answered their music with some applause, but it was too little my thing to say anything usefull really.

Equilibrium came on next and it took about two seconds to see this would be more interesting. They metalled up the night and their folky extreme metal mix went down surprisingly well to a young and jumping audience. This is also not my favorite style in metal, but since Finntrol at a Dynamo Festival begin this century I do at least appreciate the live party they create. Not too long ago I also saw Korpiklaani and that was as big a party. Tonight it was an evening of steep curves in appreciation, so I had some criticism as well. After a few songs the loud tape playing along started to annoy me.  It became to me as if I was watching some extreme metal idols of sorts. At times you heard more tape than band and every song started with the band showing us their backs and after some seconds of tape they would turn and join the music. While saying this I did appreciate the atmosphere the band created and the strong German accent gave the show an eighties feel as well. When they played their song Wall of Death I was almost tempted to hand over my beer and jump in, but I did not. So Equilibrium gave us a party, but I was dubious on how much was live really. Running into Magchiels cousin after the show he told me they recently lost their keyboard player, so maybe that is part of the excuse.

And then it was Sunday night 21:00 hours. The balconies closed, but the hall packed and the party could begin. A large screen for accompanying pictures and movies and a truly professional band on stage. This set was one great party celebrating Melodic Death Metal. The shirts mentioned founded 1989, while many of the people in were just a blink in the eye of their fathers at the time. I was around of course, but far from interested in Death Metal in 1989. So I do not know this band much longer than most of the people in, but recognized a few songs. This music and the solid presentation by the band, made it easy also for first time listening on many songs. Even more so with at times the strong images on the screen. Not sure if there were any specific highlights, but the images had most impact on Terminus (Where Death is Most Alive) their hymn on Gothenburg and Therein with the words Solid, Everchanging and Different appearing for us. Mikael Stanne did repeat more than once how he likes de Nobel and Leiden. so his promise to be back soon might be based upon reality. So Dark Tranquillity did end the evening just as I hoped for with a top performance. And yes it is nice to see a full house on a Sunday indeed. Due to several reasons this March I miss other weekday shows, but Sundays are going strong. Next Sunday there is more.