Saturday, 21 March 2020

Waiting For Monday - Parthian Shot - God Dethroned

Some tips for the Lockdown Days.

Waiting For Monday - Waiting For Monday
Some people might categorize WFM as guilty pleasure as not being metal enough. I have no feel of guilt whatsoever, as I also openly admit that 40 years ago I did like bands like Kansas, REO Speedwagon, Styx, Suvivor and mostly Journey as well. Now this Frontiers release just fits that category. A melodic hard rock - AOR album with a great vocals and strong hooks and solo's on guitar. This new band definitely touched a nostalgic factor within me and ever since receiving this album I played it a lot. At times it brings back Journey at their peak rocking maybe a notch harder. Music that makes me happy in dark days so what's not to like.I did add a clip on my FB page for you all to get a feeling. Maybe not musically album of the year, but definitelty among those I shall play most.

Parthian Slot - Promises
Sometimes music finds me and when Panos of this Greek progmetal outfit contacted me I was interested in hearing their album. He offered to send me the album by dropbox, but I thought bandcamp would do. So I had a listen and recall liking the blend were progrock met with the heavier end of progmetal at times. Some long epic songs bookending the album and the rough edge of the voice giving it something own and not overly smooth. So now trying bandcamp again it seems I passed the limit of free listening sessions. As digital releases disappear into nothingness with me, I know from experience and no CD is available I guess I wait for Youtube to hear all again. So some hectic days have passed since I last heard the album, but I do remember I would recommend a listen really.

God Dethroned - Illuminati
I am not deeply rooted in the Dutch extreme metal scene. I knew of God Dethroned, but don't recall ever seeing them live. When even people like Matt the man of much metal started hyping this release I wanted to give it a try for sure, both live and on album. Then that February weekend came, when they had release parties and Baroeg was included. In those days we still thought heavy storms and rains were our main problem of the start of the year and I was afraid trains would not bring me home. So I skipped the trip to Baroeg, but did order the album. Well after many spins I can safely say it might well be my favorite Dutch extreme metal album of the year, although I have yet to hear the new Graceless album. What a party of welll crafted blackened death metal with melody always playing a main role. Their April Musicon appearance was postponed in the meantime, but one day I will make up for 20 lost years. Highly recommended   

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Diamond Head & Savage - Ragnarok Bree, 6 March 2020

Diamond Head coming to Holland and Belgium, so I knew I needed to catch them on tour. Their last year's album The Coffin Train made it amongst my favorites of the year and their self titled predecessor of 2016 was also that strong. It seems Diamond Head is one of those NWOBHM bands that manages to release a series of albums the last years, that are as strong as their past diamonds. I guess maybe Satan is the only other NWOBHM band managing to do the same. So going to see Diamond Head was not the issue, the question was where. They do support some Saxon these days and I saw Willem opted for Nijmegen and Ron & Astrid travel to Düsseldorf today. Yet I wanted a headline set so the choice became between Bree and Helmond, Belgium and  Holland. Tiago staying away the Friday night was one point for Bree and when I learned that Bree would bring Savage as support the choice fell for Bree.

I never was in Ragnarok before, so a new club to visit which often appears in metal gig calenders. With google maps on the computer and navigation in my car not much could go wrong. Well it turned out Friday evening roads are busy. Then arriving in Bree 1 km from the venue the road was blocked. It took many turns including unpaved roads ending in gates Before I followed advice to go against traffic a bit, before I arrived at Ragnarok. A nice little venue which holds a fairly large stage. It was nice catching up with Gerrie as well. We both agreed the new Psychotic Waltz is sensational and the last Diamond Head albums are as well.

Now we would be warmed up. Savage managed (just) to arrive at Ragnarok. Later on they told us it took them 12 hours to drive down today, so suddenly my 3.5 hours did not look all that bad. Somehow when I see Savage live lately things go wrong. On R-Mine festival a few years ago in Belgium Chris Bradley tore out of his pants halfway. When they closed Westland Metal Meeting I knew all few fans who stayed till the end watching them by name. But the show tonight was fine. The only album I have by them is their classic album Loose 'n' Lethal.Ther setlist is build around this one, but actually newer songs did fit well into the set as they were in the same style. Almost the full album came by and we were working towards the end with that song. Metallica also once coverd Savage, so Letting Loose became their hit in hindsight. Well I pretty much enjoyed Ain't No Fit Place and On The Rocks as much. Good set by this band of fathers, sons and ex-uncles.

Then the wait was for Diamond Head. Somehow the name Metallica always drops when I write about them. Sorry for that, especially if you consider the strenght of all Diamond Head's albums through the years. This when Metallica only released two half-decent albums after Master of Puppets their last real classic. Yet the royalties on Am I Evil?, The Prince, Helpless and It's Electric are probably helping Diamond Head going on in a good way. Brian Tatler released an interesting book co-written by John Tucker where you can find all the facts about this and their full history. In that book I did read that the copy I own of Lightning to the Nations is a rare one as well as German label Woolfe Records never paid any royalties either and probably max 2000 were pressed at the time. Mentioning that album it is for years the core of their live shows. Luckiliy tonight we also get several more recent songs with 3 of the Coffin Train and two from their self titled album. All five great, but especially Bones and the Messenger sounded really fine. Bones was the second song after Borrowed time in two attempts kicked of proceedings. I did not know in advance that my space at the side of the hall would mean that Brian Tatler would solo away literally 1 meter away from me. He is one of metal's unsung guitar heroes, who has an own style and makes you recognize the Diamond Head sound instantly. With next to him a young bold and bearded vocalist showing there are great new voices in metal last year's show of Heir Apparent came to mind, when another unsung guitar hero stood right in front of me next to a similar looking vocal hope for metal. The set moved through the times initially when towards the end the focus came on Lightning to the Nations Only, One song that represented the evening for me best and was maybe less obvious was To Heaven From Hell. This song starts mid-tempo and straight forward, when halfway a typical Diamond Head increase in speed turns this song into a fast headbanger. When the songs covered by those Americans passed by it always is a party when Am I Evil arrives. What a killer song and what a wonderful solo close to the end. I never witnessed this from that close and Diamond Head ruled the evening for good, I should mention the whole band actually, as this definitely is not about Brian and Rasmus only, Karl Wilcox hits hard and heavy, while Dean Ashton was new to me on bass and solid. That other guitarist is Abbz and he gets his solo spots as well, which at times on and off with Brian culminating in some double solo work. This evening was so far the musical highlight of 2020 to me and the realization that the music business shalll never be fair. Why such a class act on such small venues. And when we thought it was all over after their biggest hit, they did come back. Interesting enough with the only song I do not have on LP or CD by them. Play It Loud appeared on singles, which I never bought and on the CD version of LttN. Good end of an entertaining night and the drive back home was so much smoother. Those living in Brabant and not staying home this weekend due to Coronavirus go to Helmond on Sunday. You simply can't afford to miss this.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Winterfest - Popradar The Hague, 29 February 2020

Winterfest holds an interesting setup. The building of Popradar is full of smaller and bigger venues,where many genres can be heard. The program did also hold some metal and hardrock bands, so after a reminder by Frank I decided to check this festival out. In the afternoon workshops started and as from 17:00 first bands would hit the stage.I wanted to have early dinner with Tiago first so I missed first interesting band to me Rise of the Wood. Saw them before and will no doubt see them again, so this did not hurt. Upon entering I walked a bit lost through the building until spotting a group of black T-shirts outside room 6 with several known wearers among them. So Ditch playing stoner would be the first songs of the evening for me. Unfortunately the sound was not very clear with vocals somewhat soft in the mix. Sound issues would be a reoccuring theme through the evening. After finding in the Popradar Labyrinth the Radar Zaal I found a bar and could wait for some old skool metal as the program indicated. Black Silence were announced as blending Melodic metal with Slayer, well I could not hear either. The female voclaist luckily enough did not go operatic, but sung rather raw over a fast playing metal band. A poor man's Leather was what came to mind. Pretty OK 45 minutes of metal to me.

At general music gatherings I always like to let out the amateur antropologist in me. So during Black Silence many people walked in who usually don't hear any metal music. It did not take long before I could see two main reactions. First cover your ears and look horrified. The second reaction came back even more, strike a macho pose headbang and laugh looking back at your friends. My point is if you don't get it, don't bother. There was somewhere in the building an Urban & hip-hop stage. I am pretty sure I would not appreciate the artistic level of bands and any comment for sure would insult some of nowadays easily insulted youth. So I stay away from the dump. Whatever, the Radar zaal turned out to be the place to stay for me.

Next band were Drunktank who play some sort of skatepunk mixed with at times pretty metallic guitars. Now this is not music I need to hear at home, but this band did bring an atmosphere to the stage and can create a party. Nice surprise and they even had a crowdsurfing french fan. My last band of the evening would be Rosie. I think it must have been over 35 years ago when I saw Rosie first playing. At the time they were a pure AC/DC coverband. Nowadays they have some own music released which sounds exactly like AC/DC. This resulted in a party set which towards the end even confetti and passing through the hall of drop-shots we used to drink in the nineties in places like de Paap or de Bieb. I already stopped drinking as recent health drop made me smart and limit the alcohol tonight in order not to fall back. One interesting fact about the bar was that they would reuse our glasses if you did not ask for clean ones. This at times when TV is even teaching us how to wash hands to prevent Coronavirus from spreading. But back to Rosie who ended their set with 4 AC/DC covers anyway and Whole Lotta Rosie was a nice ending for me of an interesting festival. It even stopped raining in the evening for cyclist to get home dry.