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.

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.