Saturday, 30 November 2019

Hourswill - Attick Demons

During my stay in Portugal this month we passed a weekend in Lisbon. That included an obligatory stop at my favorite CD store Glam-O-Rama for an update of could Portuguese metal releases. So herewith two recommendations.

 Hourswill - Dawn of the Same Flesh
Hourswill are probably of all Portuguese metal bands my favorite one. They play heavy metal with progressive power traces and were on their last album often compared with Nevermore. I can hear where that is coming from although a slightly less aggressive version they are. If we are name-dropping the new album made me think at times next to Nevermore on Evergrey and Tomorrow's Eve. Dawn of the Same Flesh is a concept album (very prog indeed) about the state of the human race. Humanity get a new chance and messes things up again is a short recapp of the story. In the end it is about the music and I believe this album after a few listening sessions even better than predecessor Harm Full Embrace. Bookended by the two calmer songs we get some very catchy progressive power metal songs. Outstanding upon first hearing is the very strong voice of Leonel Silva. Then when the story opens you get overwhelmed by the catchy songs with the hooks and melodies working so well. If there is a highlight on the album to mention it must be epic Benightenedness followed by I Vow to Hate. This aggresive bridge occurs not coincidentally when at the story things start going seriously wrong again. This album deserves international exposure. I so far never saw Hourswill playing live and missed them by a week this month. I will correct that in 2020 and if PPE ever needs a Portuguese band to join their large country of origin list Hourswill might be just the band they are looking for.

Attick Demons - Atlantis
Is it possible not to mention an influence when each and every song strong reminds you strongly of them? I guess not, so resuming Attick Demons we can say Iron Maiden, but then without Steve Harris calm intor's and outro's. Does this obvious inspiration matter? No not at all since Attick Demons just gives you good and fast metal songs. Mostly around 5 minutes these songs ooze Maiden so much that the band even hold three guitars. I should see them live to judge if this adds something, or two would be enough, so that is Maiden again. I should mention vocalist Artur Almeida as his voice is great and makes them stay close to their examples. So is this Portugal's most original band? definitely not. Would I love to see them live one day? definitely yes. The album contains on the title track two special guest musicians in none other than Paul Di'Ánno and Ross the Boss. Only downer the female soprano killing nice song Meeting the Queen, but that might be my personal problem with female sopranos in metal. Good band and live they should present a party. 

Monday, 25 November 2019

Toxik & Thorium - Lazarus Leiden, 24 November 2019

Toxik and Lazarus the ever strange match that works soo well. Toxik should be and is far too big to play metal bar Lazarus, yet on their last visits to Europe they managed to squeeze one show in and it tends to become legendary when that happens. So on a Sunday night I was back in Lazarus to see a topband sweating on a tiny stage while having a few beers. Peter this time joined me, as last time he thought I was joking when I stated Toxik played Lazarus and did not turn up. With Marco joining by train, Pieter arriving late we were well positioned at the side of the stage. Now in Lazarus and the tiny setup one can not expect a perfect sound really. This is more than made up for by the overdose of atmosphere.

Openers on this tour are Begian/Dutch Thorium. I saw them at their first show ever at Wizzfest and also open for Q5 in Little Devil. I liked both shows and was rather pleased they would open the evening. Where Toxik play technical thrash metal, Thorium are grounded firmly in the eighties and play traditional metal. I like both styles, but to some maybe not fast or loud enough. Well slowly but surely they won over Lazarus and when close to the end Savatage was covered all seemed to like them. With the great voice of David Marcellis coming out of te speaker right next to us. Their very Maiden inclined metal this time even made me buy their debut album and I keep an eye on the follow up to be recorded soon. So warmed up we were.

Then after a short break, where the merch stand was to be visited, with a killer new T-shirt brought along, Toxik joined the tiny stage. This time they were 5 as they have an extra guitarist in Dutchman Erik (what's in a name). First very comforting fact was that to me new live vocalist Ron Iglesias (what's in a name part 2) did convince. He has the power and the screams to accompany the mostly fast songs. I say mostly as we got this evening the 5th ever performance of There Stood the Fence as well. This being part of Think This the album that made 30 years this October and was now played in full. This was done in original LP version with after some  songs Side A and then an old song break before Side B would be played in full. Toxik released two classic albums in the eighties with a slightly different sound. I like both and do not really have a preference for either World Circus or Think This. Well in the end World Circus also almost got played in full. So when this was all going on we did get stage divers in small Lazarus, inlcuding vocalist Ron going back and forth through the place. The band seemed very good, even though Josh told me they were not expecting this after a heavy drive down from True Thrash Fest in Hamburg. To up the party atmosphere of this special evening it was the 50th birthday of Tour Manager Dennis. So when all was done, he joined on stage this time not to sing but drum along War Pigs, which got a surprising good voice from the crowd to sing for us. Closing in style this evening was a party and one we shall remember long time again. This week you can still see this package in Germany and Belgium, plus a return to Holland. I won't make it Thursday in Zwolle, as I support the local scene that evening, but hope I find some ongoers to Dynamo on Saturday. The only risk I agreed with Ton on afterwards, was that a normal gig on a proper stage can never beat this atmosphere. Yet with such a perfromance some effort from my side is deserved for both bands. Killer evening it was.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Adriana Calcanhotto - Teatro Pax Julia Beja, 20 November 2019

So it was our wedding day and we decided to celebrate with a live concert. So far so good, but the friend of Josie who called the fact that Adriana Calcanhoto was playing in Beja proof  that coincidence does not exist was exagerating too much really. I strongly believe in coincidence and if it would not exist, we would have had Fates Warning playing Beja that evening. Anyway Adriana Calconhotto it was, a Brazilian singer songwriter with band on tour in Portugal. This kind of MPB music was suitable as it brought us back to our Brazilian years with live music at the legendary Feijoada's do Ruy or the summer live shows on the beach. I am no fan of MPB really, but it brings some good memories back. The band tonight was good (especially the drummer) although they were not allowed to leave their square meter it seemed. Adriana herself can sing, or is it more reciting of her sad lyrics really? This evening seemed to be all about the sea, the ocean our planet and of course lost loves. After the show I called it music for and by women, but that was consiederd macho thinking by Josie. All in all some good performance and an interesting evening of live music. This in spite of the boring all seated venue. Earlier this year I saw in Lisbon the by far worst Marillion weekend ever due to all seated and poor setlist (oh yes and no decent bar). this evening was as bad on interaction between stage and audience. Most atmosphere came when stagehand fisherman in his yellow raincoat ordered the hall to clap along. Well everyone around me seemed to love it, so no judging here. And then we walked home and bumped into Beja Castle. Suddenly Swords & Tequila got stuck in my head and we ended the evening with a musical highlight after all.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Brainstorm festival Saturday - Gigant Apeldoorn, 9 November 2019

Brainstorm is an annual festival which originally was build around white or christian metal bands. Not sure how far religion plays a role in the life of bands and fans nowadays, but at least the merch is strongly pushed into that corner. Now I can't be bothered by that all too much as long as the music is good. Actually some very good bands are from this corner (Extol, Fleshkiller) and bands like Lillian Axe never hid their beliefs either. So it can happen that not that religious me is going to a mass of metal on a part of Holland's bible belt (or is Apeldoorn not part of that?) As I went to see In Mourning and Darkwater and Ron & Astrid were as interested in both the three of us took a train to Apeldoorn and did run into several PPE regulars, who must have been there for same reasons. At least Willem did as he joined us for the day in Apeldoorn.

Entering de Gigant we were just in time before Kalidia kicked of. So sorry Askara and Monograf, but a fairly long trip and an early start made us miss both. Kalidia are Italian and play power metal. Reading this most people know what to expect and the book of cliches is within Power Metal the thickest of all metal genres. Still as it was performed nice, with religious or not an angel in black on vocals there was enough to like. Not that this band would make me run to the merch stand afterwards, but a warm welcoming band they were.

Brainstorm is not just some bands on the mainstage, so hereafter there was a photo presentation by Polish band Metus in the Theater. Now I am not one for running around fast, so we skipped, tried a local nice bokbeer and were back in the mainhall for Drottnar. This band is heavy and play bunker metal as they call it. Now I am firmly rooted in progressive metal and we have a bible as well. That bible is called Mean Deviation and written by Jeff Wagner. In that book Drottnar appear and are mentioned to play un-black metal. Well whatever the name, they seem to be Christian and play loud. Originally it did not do a lot to me really. No real solos's just a wall of sound and an average voice screaming over it. Than when Ron & Astrid just decided another bokbeer at the bar was the better option a military dressed communist walked on the stage and grabbed the mic. Suddenly things were happening on stage and his eclactic performance made him fall over and jump around wildly. Also his screams were more expressive, so suddenly the music was OK, but the show was great. We March  (repeat 217 times) closed the set strong, after which they left the stage in order to come back for an encore without the commie. Pity as they did not end with a high now.

The next hour had a pianist in the theater, but we used it to up our food and beverage levels a bit before the highlight of the day would come on stage. In Mourning only three weeks earlier blew Omnium Gatherum off the stage in Baroeg (in my view that is) So I definitely wanted to be back and see them again. This time they had ten minutes more, so one extra song was added as well and I can be brief. This was a trancelike trip through heavy progressive death doom landscapes wirh the frequent calmer breaks. I wrote it three weeks ago and can repeat it now. This band has three guitars and makes good use of the possibilities this gives them. At the same time they have four mics for massive grunts and two clear breaking alternatives as well. The setlist was in line with last tour, but without me taking notes I do not recall what the extra song was really. Does not matter as this time after one hour we again were left with this feeling of wanting more of this. The current line-up is so alive on stage that several friends told me liking them this time even better than theri last PPE performance. In order to fit the religious festival the main vocalist wore a fitting Morbid Angel Tee for the occassion. For me they reached the levels of way up there live bands and I should see them again next year. This time they did bring CD's along, so I could correct that miss in my collection of Garden of Storms. After the show I tried to get as appreciation another colour of the one I bought in Baroeg, but sizes were to small for tall me.

Now I usually have some issues in liking a band that plays just after an absolute highlight of a festival. For Darkwater the task to draw me into their show.  And to even my own surprise they managed to do so. Darkwater play Progmetal of the accesible kind. Ron mentioned Enchant as a link and they have similarities indeed being slightly louder though. This year they released a new album Human, which was visited for several songs. The most interesting fact was they had not played live for eight years, so how did they manage to play that tight? Surprising, even more so if the drummer was a hired hand from Vola. Turns out that the drum riser showed him, unlike Patronaat's small hall in September so I did not notice that before. This hour or so flew by really and I did enjoy their set so much that afterwards I picked up my copy of Human. Darkwater are one of those bands that play in typical traditonal progressive metal. So all is there, the good voice (close to Ted Leonard indeed), the melodic guitar solo's the tight playing, keyboards live played not from tape and songs that tend to be long. As one should not spit on its origins, I did love them and would say why not return to that other Dutch festival one day again as well?

After this second highlight of the day we considered it time to hit home as the trip would be long. So we walked to the train station, where we said goodbye to Wllem going north and us returning to the west, where all is best. This was one fine day in Apeldoorn and this festival definitely has its charm. Beer tasting, coverart expositions (Witherfalls Vintage included!), good beer options at the bar and a calm atmosphere made this one enjoyable day. Let's see if next year they again put two interesting bands on one day and I might be back. Thank you Brainstorm, Amen.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Dutch Doom Sunday Evening - Baroeg Rotterdam, 3 November 2019

Yes I know the festival is called Dutch Doom Days and a two day event. Yet I had a family weekend with Josie and Tiago, so only after bringing them to the airport and Leiden student room re-decorating I could head to Baroeg. In spite of some competition on the concert front (Myrath 013, Leporus/The Ocean Nobel) I opted for Baroeg as I wanted to see Swallow the Sun again and was curious about the others I could still see.

Entering Baroeg Polish Monasterium were on stage. First obvious standout was the strong voice of the vocalist. Frank told me that on Saturday he was on the same stage with his other band Evangelist. This band played doom heavy metal in the style of Scandinavians like Sorcerer, Candlemass or Krux. Not quite at that level yet, still sounding welcoming and a good belated start of the festival to me.

Oceanwake from Finland were next. This band went for the epic and long building approach. A nice mix of grunt and clean voices over layers and layers of doom. This was soon to be the first winner of the day to me as they managed to get my full attention in spite this being all new long songs to me. At times including some post metal atmospheres this mix worked very well and went down good with the audience.

Swedish October Tide play Doom Death and were the heaviest band of the day that I saw. This style brings other levels of energy coming off the stage and I thought that contagious. Two guitars bringing at times melodic intermezzo's we mainly doomed on heavy. When the whole country starts complaining about the weather (it's that time of year again) asking if we want 12 days of rain is a dubious question. Luckily the killer song with that title made us forgive them. I did not remember that ex Katatonia members founded October Tide until Alex told me. Nowadays obvious a heavier version of melancholy in this band I liked the full set and got their latest album :In Splendor Below after the gig. Definite highlight.

The reason I took a train to Rotterdam was Swallow the Sun. Their last album "When a Shadow Is Forced Into the Light" is one of my favorites of the year. When earlier this year they toured the album with none other than Oceans of Slumber they skipped Holland. So I drove down to Bochum to catch this bill. Now in Baroeg I did not want to miss out and what a beautiful set we got. Opening with the title track of the last album the sound was perfect. The mix of sad pieces and heavy outbursts came over strong and all individual instuments were clear in the mix. Lost & Catatonic followed from their incredible triple piece of art Songs from the North. A setlist build around their last album went in the end back to early years. I loved this show from start to finish and saw a band that should be able to reach so many varied genre fans Alex already suggestd PPE to look into them and I guess he is right there. If there were complaints it must have been the lack of XXL size of the neat baseball shirt. And one tip to the man behind the keys with the strong clean voice. If you wear a beanie under a wide hanging black hoody, the thought of a headbanging nun never really  left my mind. Swallow the Sun were righteous headliners to me and I hope to see them returing to Holland next year. So Dutch Doom Days was a success again. Since I am not a specialist in this genre I always discover nice bands that are new to me and the atmosphere in the most metal  venue of Holland was as good as always. Thanks to the organizers and see you at DDD2020.