Friday, 14 September 2018

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

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

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 If there is one comment from my side, it might be that one calmer song could have been replaced by a fast rocker for a better balance.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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Night Demon & Screamer - Musicon The Hague, 11 September 2018

A Tuesday night turned out a good night for Heavy Metal in Musicon. For me this was going to be a bit different again as support band Screamer from Sweden would stay at my place after the show. Now I must admit that I only knew their name on forehand, never seeing them play live before. So in comes the internet for discovering and I was expecting a good show. And no Rene, this was not the first band staying over I did not know in advance. Starting at a for a Tuesday fairly late nine it quickly became clear where Screamer is taking us with their music. 80's Heavy Metal is the base, not too dissimilar from several of their countrymen bands. Most important in these bands to me is an enthusiastic presentation and no complaints on that front here. All five seemed to be enjoying themselves and movement on the stage was constant.  The songs themselves were fine as well and the set build-up seemed to work for me as they ended with three of their strongest songs: Warrior, Monte Carlo Nights and Rock Bottom. After their set I did what I do in such occasions and got their last album Hell Machine. Nice band and as I understood today you can the coming months still catch them in varied places like Holland, Germany, California or Japan. Don't miss it.

After an alcoholic little break we got Night Demon on stage. Now this band seems to be going from big to bigger especially in Germany as I understood. First time I saw them in The Hague, was in de Vinger. Well that place closed down twice in the meantime, but Night Demon are still going strong. Opening with Welcome to the Night and Full Speed Ahead they set the pace and the pace was fast. Night Demon is not a band wasting time on long introductions for songs, they just rock on. This is all brought with such energy that it seems to me impossible not to appreciate their show. In between their own fast songs they also included one or two covers during the shows I saw by them. While a few years ago Diamond Head and Jaguar were celebrated we now got a to me surprising version of  In Trance. Made me wonder how long ago it was I last played Tokyo Tapes. The second cover in the encore came less as a surprise as they brought us Radar Love again. The Hague gave the world two all time classic rock songs, being Radar Love and Venus. The Night Demon version is nicely metalled up a notch and rocks like crazy. All in all this was one roller-coaster set, with a fourth figure hitting the stage during The Chalice. Night Demon obviously toured a lot and it shows, great band for a celebration of live Heavy Metal. And then today breakfast was fine with the sympathetic guys from Sreamer SWE at the table. Skol.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Raven, Hatchet & Defazer - Musicon The Hague, 7 September 2018

Raven stands for a speed metal party, so who doesn't want that. We did and Friday night Musicon was the place. As support they had two thrash metal bands, which only makes sense as Raven is one of the  founding fathers of the genre. The start of the month is packed with good shows, so I feared an empty house, but it was not that bad in the end. Enough people willing to go back in time apparently.

Openers of the day were local thrashers Defazer. They started half an hour before the usual 21:00 kick off, so only half the audience was in. I did warn friends on the app group, but the late arrivers missed out. Defazer seem to get tighter by the month and the new drummer proved to have blended in fine, One of The Hague's finest and for those unable to see them playing live check out their EP Order out of Chaos.

The touring support came all the way from the USA: Hatchet. I did not know them in advance, but they impressed many with their strong set. They had to get used to the fact that Musicon is not the most moshing place in the country, but were appreciated in traditional style by risen glasses and horns. Near the end of the show one guitarists went for a walk in the park, or venue, which only put more focus on how strong instrumentally this band is.  I got their album Dying to Exist after the set and it sounds good as well. Nice band.

And when Raven came on we got Raven. Touring pretty often through Holland over the past years, we get enough chances to see them play. Fact is that Raven is always good for an energetic party. From Take Control unto Crash Bang Wallop the set is filled with classic NWOBHM songs and introduced in humorous style by Mr. Gallagher. We even got a new song in Top Of The Mountain, which sounded as if we are going to get the new album upon release. Talking about frequent tours, they will be back next month. Than as a support to Saxon, where unfortunately Y&T had to drop out the tour. I probably go see them again as we should do All For One with our Mind Over Metal on a Hell Patrol.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Abbath & Baest - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden, 5 September 2018

An evening of more extreme metal in de Nobel and while travelling down I realized de Nobel is good busy (goed bezig). Not that old yet, they managed to become the best reference for all genres of metal in western Holland really (not taking metal clubs like Baroeg as reference) Let's face it:  Paradiso is dead for good music for ages, Melkweg only books more modern metal or trends, Patronaat is OK, Paard is shit en Boerderij avoids anything too extreme. Nobel brought us a wide range of metal bands and is not shying away from any style. Next to that the hall is close to the station and nicely laid out, with garderobe inclusive on any ticket. So heads up Nobel, but why was I going here? Well last year I saw Abbath from a long distance recovering at Alcatrazz and that sounded pretty fine to me. As for me indoors always beats festival gigs I was curious to see how this would work in Leiden. Wednesday evening but the place was pretty full although balconies were not opened.

Openers of the evening were Danish Death Metallers Baest. Well that was one enthusiastic performance appreciated by many. The vocalist looked according to Koen like any player of FC Den Haag in the mid seventies and yes Rob Ouwehand comes to mind. The music though was nothing seventies, but more nineties Sweden really. I hope they make a name for themselves on this tour as there presentation made them deserve this. Up to Abath to follow this up and that turned out to be no problem. What I liked most about the whole show is Mr. Abbath himself. He obviously does not take himself or anything too serious and is a top class entertainer. His moves and inter-song banter was very funny. At times announcing a new song he sounded as calling his dog home, while later on he suddenly would scream high. The music of the evening was as good and he obviously mixed his solo work with Immortal songs. Are we Immortal? Yes, so we got The Rise of Darkness. This was one fine evening of Abbath, which is not that far from an evening of Heavy Metal really. Most interesting at the end was watching the merch stand if anyone would buy the balaclava (thanks Zoe and Google translate) Funny as it might look one tends to get arrested wearing this in public in Holland.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Entrails, Graceless and Bloodmoon - Musicon The Hague 2 September 2018

This weekend really meant the end of holidays in Holland ans now schools all over the country restarted. Also the concert year unofficially opened for me. Friday we had the brilliant Q5 in Little Devil and this Sunday afternoon Musicon put on a dead metal matinee for the thirsty ones. So after bringing Josie to Schiphol I returned just in time for some blasts around the corner. It was good to see that I was not the only one feeling like banging a bit, as Musicon packed up decently. Even the Dutch Kim Young Un fanclub was present.

Openers were Dutch band Bloodmoon playing their third gig ever. Not a young band though they sounded pretty good although what I remind most after their show is that Diarrhea can cause Death. Graceless from Leiden came on next. They headlined Rene's birthday party last December and won over quite some fans that night. One of the many good Death metal combo's we have in the region.
Headliners of the afternoon/early evening were Swedish Death Metallers Entrails. The youngest band of the day by age, but a nice headliner. Admitted to me Death Metal is more live music than CD collecting obligation. Still when everyone mentions they sound like Entombed, it is probably true (and I do have Left Hand Path as well). Good show by this band, who came to a rather sudden end. I do like these afternoon shows as it gives time to have a drink, catch up with some people you haven't seen for a while and go home in time to have dinner just after Tiago. No need to mention traumatic Toilet Torturing details. Next show this Wednesday in Leiden. Busy season started indeed.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Q5 & Thorium - Little Devil Tilburg, 31 August 2018

Q5 are touring Europe and would hit Holland for the first time ever. This did somewhat surprising not make major waves in national press. Apparently dividend tax, gas blockades and Pakistani protesting against a Dutch cartoon competition were more important. Whatever, when Hans and I heard of this news it was reason for a loud cheer. Who doesn't remember the impact Steel the Light made on us in 1984. At the time we still shared bands due to scholar/student budget. So Hans had the LP and later When the Mirror Cracked. The second LP I  bought as well when Hans already moved out and Steel the Light I once met cheap on internet and hold on CD. These two albums are absolute classics for those loving their metal blending the Melodic, US Power Metal and Hard rock in wonderful songs. When also my friend Andy takes a plane from France to Scotland to see them and sends me an enthusiastic message on the great show they gave in Edinburgh hopes for something special increased even more. So in order to prepare ourselves well we decided to take an early train and have some beers over nice music in Little Devil. Well nothing better than NS our national rail to frustrate your plans, so the warm up beers became one only. Finally I had a certain deadline as Josie was flying in from Portugal, so I wanted to arrive home not too late nor legless (which I managed both).

So when we just settled Thorium came on. This band from Belgium with Dutch vocals made their debut in Holland as well. Yet I saw them earlier this year at Tribute to Wizz and liked what I saw at the time. Thorium is a metal with the element called after the god of Thunder Thor. So what do we expect, indeed power metal. The Helloween T-shirt of one of their guitarists gave away one influence as the opener sounded pretty much Helloween during Keeper times. Next to that also some Iron Maiden second half eighties influences are very present. This became even clearer when they covered Caught Somewhere in Time. If you cover Maiden why not take one of the more original ones like this. I think I never saw this song live since the Somewhere in Time tour of Maiden. That tour had WASP supporting, which brings us to Thorium's bassist who is Belgium's answer to Blackie Lawless in looks at least. Well Thorium shall release their debut album 5 October and after this show I definitely recommend checking the album out. Good band with great vocals and some nice songs especially if you like your metal of 1986.

A short break setting the stage and Q5 kicked of their show. Jonathan Scott K. asked if we were in for a party. Well we were and so was Q5. Kicking of with Let Go from the Mirror album it is that feeling of checking how a band you loved and never saw live sound on stage. Well no issues there although throughout the set some adaptations were requested, it all sounded pretty flawless to me. After Let Go the Mirror album only came back with the title track. Steel the Light on the other hand was played completely although not in running order. What a party indeed to hear songs like Pull the Trigger or Missing in Action live. I never realized that there is also a certain AC/DC edge to these songs, but the screams reminded me at times. Apart from the classics we also got a few songs from their 2016 album New World Order. As they were big in the eighties there was a ballad, but not a love-ballad, as Come and Gone  describes the very end of it. During the set we also learned again what Ain't no Way to Treat a Lady, when slowly we came to an end. And what better song to close the night than the title track from their debut. Steel the Light was already a great song and seeing it live now, meant it promoted to this list of all time Classics you love to sing along to. How wonderful a full Little Devil was shouting along with Steel the Light and even louder Turning Darkness Into Light. So I thought it was over, but the band came together for a reunion on stage. As if they decided there and then, that this special night deserved an extra, we got a bonus. This was new song Tear Up the Night. Well what to say about this excellent set and evening. One to remember for sure and how good to see a band surpassing your expectations. Hans looked for Steel the Light on CD afterwards, but it was sold out already. Guess he picks up an LP at home this week. I rushed of to catch a train and meet Josie at home, so I missed the fact that after his wedding anniversary at Armored Saint three weeks ago, Michel now celebrated his birthday. Might explain why he thought it a good plan me arriving home late and not sober. Sorry but no. Finally thanks to Mario for getting Q5 to play Holland and he announced today they want to come back. So shall I, as how great is it to see a room full of people in their forties, fifties and maybe sixties singing along they are Teenage Runaways!!

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Schollenpop - Duindorp Beach, 25 August 2018

Schollenpop is back to the format we used to know for many years. Two stages and a line-up basically build around guitar orientated bands. Nothing wrong with that it seems, but we metalheads were spoiled in 2015 and 2016. In 2015 Death Angel played the main stage and THHMA put together a very diverse metal line-up with bands from Holland and Belgium bringing us anything, from Death, through melodic up to old fashioned Heavy Metal. In 2015 Textures played the main stage and the organization put together their own metal stage, with a focus more on local bands. Both years had glorious weather and if only we could get the sun and the metal stage back. Well we can not this year so face the reality. This still means that for line-up of all free festivals in the bigger The Hague region Schollenpop remains second best after Kaderock. This year also the date changed from the first weekend of August, to the last weekend of school holidays. I do not know the reasons, although I heard rumours of historically better weather expectations for the end of the month. Well after a beautiful summer peaking early August, we have today the first poor day in months. In proper English I believe it is called Foking shite. Finally I do not know if the festival also suffers from  sponsor cuts for cultural events by our government. I did not know any of the bands playing before apart from Claw Boys Claw, but the metal budget shrunk. With all respect to For I Am King if we had in the recent past Death Angel and Textures on the main stage they are just not (yet?) in that league.

So feeling sorry for all involved within the organization about today's weather, I also picked the short slot that looked most interesting to me. So that was around the metal band. Arriving a band called Afterpartees was on the main stage. They played some sort of britpop and were appreciated by the few watching them play. First impression, was that it would be empty today. Even with the space reduced quite a bit the beach looked empty from every corner you went. As I was on holidays last year I do not know if the second stage being in a tent was new or not. Anyway it was very welcome for sheltering when the rain became really bad. When I did enter the first time, another positive surprise was there as Code 69 was on and they played hard rock. Five songs only, but sounding OK. Next on the main stage was the metal band of the day For I Am King from Amsterdam. I did not know them in advance so convince me.  Well they did so in a way. Their Death Metal Core music was apart from some tapes played tightly by the band. When a band has a female vocalist we know it might be that she grunts.. Schollenpop being a general rock festival also attracts people who do not know that. Always funny to see some surprised looks when the small vocalist started of with some aggressive punches and a low grunt. Her screams were OK as well. Actually her weak point to me was her clean voice, which was a bit light. The songs were good and some calmer breaks took care of the needed variation. So we had a good 45 minutes in the sun, rain, storm and sun again. Pieter meanwhile showed up, but we took one more beer only as the weather was not improving and the band playing in the tent was very poor. So short but sweet it was and cold, yes that too.

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 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.

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.