Sunday, 7 June 2020

Green Carnation - Katatonia - Havok - Defazer

Some more CD tips.

Green Carnation - Leaves of Yesteryear
Last year at Prognosis Festival I saw Green Carnation for the first time live. To my surprise I recognized all their songs. Later on I checked the band's discography on internet and found I have all their full lenght albums. These things can happen when a band disappears for over ten years. Now they are back and I can state they do not disappoint. Green Carnation always made this progmetal of the dark and moody kind. The opening title track immediately takes you back to their signature sound. Second song Sentinels is my favorite as it is more uptempo. Hereafter long song My Dark Reflections from their debut album gets a new version. I recall they played it live as well and it is a good song indeed. Herafter is Hounds the last new song already, which again meets expectations. The band decided to close the album with a cover Solitude by Black Sabbath. I would have preferred another new song, but I am not the one to decide. So overall we only get three new songs, but those show that Green Carnation are now fully back also as recording artist. If PPE 2021 can be held we shall see them again and no doubt undergo a great set.   

Katatonia - City Burials
Katatonia are very good at what they are doing. Thirty years down in their career that is making atmospheric doomy rocksongs. My first purchased album by them was 99 release Tonight's Decision. They then already passed their heaviest phase and something gothic our way came. Nowadays they mostly remind me of Anathema in the way that after a heavy start they only give us dark and moody rock. As I stated in the first line they do so very well, but..... In my case this but means a cry for loud and heavy outbursts. If you play the album on the background while doing something else you won't hear any difference between the songs and suddenly it is over. When you listen closer you grasp the beauty of it all and at times (Flicker) even hear something upbeat. I am sure that a live show can be interesting if you are in the right mood. On CD this is not for every moment, but when timed well a very nice 48 minutes pass by as performances and singing are above average for sure.

Havok - V
For the necessary uptempo metal there is always thrash metal coming to the rescue. Havok are among the flagbearers of the younger generation. This means they only started this century. For purists almost all of the young bands can be critisized as being not original. This is always the case when you play a genre but are born 20 years too late to join the heyday of same. So I look at the music only and do like Havok. Opener Post-truth Era shows that lyrics shall be socially critcal again and the music harks away in that thrashy mode that makes all live shows so good to watch. Energy is thrown at you and this album holds all the ingredients I look for in a thrash album. Highlight is closing epic Don't Do It. This anti suicide song starts with a few instrumental minutes, then goes to midtempo verses in order to thrash out the last minutes before an instrumental closing gives us time to catch our breath again. Looking forward to one day seeing them back in Holland.

Defazer - Burning Horizon
Closing down today with The Hague's  main thrash metal band Defazer.  Three years after their EP Order Out Of Chaos, they now release their first (almost) full lenght Burning Horizon. The first time I saw Defazer live was at Schollenpop 2016 and I did not expect The Hague to have such a tight thrash metal band. Through the years they suffered some line-up changes, but that never impacted their sound. Also the line-up who recorded this CD is no longer together as bassist Maxime de Koning left to focus on her other band Hallowed Fire. Many times we could see Defazer opening for any band from Death Metal to NWOBHM playing in the region. This resulted even that by first hearing of this new album I recognized bits and pieces here and there (Southern Hell definitely). Defazer plays thrash metal which very much brings you back to the eighties. As they do so very well I can highly recommend Burning Horizon for anyone into metal and a must buy for thrash metal fans. Finally we seem to be lucky in The Hague with such a strong scene developing in Corona times. When live music returns one day I guess it shall be based very local. After Temple Renegade and Rages of Sin before them, now Defazer gives us a local release that should help them growing bigger.     

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Azusa - Project Renegade - Lotus Thief

In my week of female vocalists some CD tips with more of the same.

Azusa - Loop of Yesterdays
Azusa are a band with members having a past in Extol, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Sea+Air. That should give a good idea on what to expect more or less. In 2018 I was impressed by their debut album Heavy Joke. in 2019 they were sensational live on stage in Merleyn and now in 2020 they give us the next album to impress. So next year I shall see them touring again. Well something to look forward to indeed. Azusa is not easy and for me also not for all moments. But when you are in the mood for something that requires total attention Azusa gives a lot. Within all the musical insanity going on I guess vocalist Eleni stands out most. I saw how live she used two mics for both the cleaner and mostly screaming parts. When you hear her angry scream, you wonder how she a second later manages to sound so sweet. This album holds in the title track even a full song where the pressure drops and all becomes softer on the ears. Just to burst out with Rapture Boy hereafter. Azusa managed again to astonish and I am already waiting to see them in 2021.

Project Renegade - Order of the Minus
Project Renegade are from Greece and found me. This band apparently already played in Holland at the Femme Festival, but I never go there as female fronted metal is no genre. Now unlike Azusa Project Renegade are not wildly original. They play a sort of alternative hard rock with female vocals. Their album sounded instantly accessible to me and pretty nice as well. In order to spice the album up some spoken word samples appear here and there, but in general they just produce decent songs that you can hum along to. I will keep an eye on this band and next time they play Holland I probably might be there. While writing this I was trying to think which band they reminded me a bit of and than I thought of You're Pretty. Yes some Nu-Metal influences blended in as well and simply nice.

Lotus Thief - Oresteia
Lotus Thief are a band whom I strange enough discovered through a review in Prog Rock magazine iO Pages. This is strange as Lotus Thief are pretty far from prog rock with their post black rock doom alternative sort of mix. After checking them out though I did immediately order their CD. This is one that needs time and attention again, but you will be rewarded for your efforts. Assuming here you are open for some landscapes of moody music. Inbetween the long songs are some short instrumentals/noises that do not add all that much for me. During the long songs however they did capture my attention and provide some epical work. I believe that especially those into Madder Mortem might want to check this out as atmospheres match at times. 

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Deadrisen - Riot City - Rages of Sin

With an extended homestaying advice, why not discover more new music. Some tips

Deadrisen - Deadrisen
This might be to most yet another band or project with Mike Lepond on bass. For me this is a new album with Will Shaw on vocals. Last year I was one of the lucky ones seeing him on stage with Heir Apparent where he showed being one of the best voices in metal nowadays. I was unaware of the bands the other members came from, but it does not take long to realize that we have a topclass band together here. This is heavy metal as it is meant to be from the beginning. A majestic intro Risen Death A.D brings you to opening track Prophecy which tells you all you need to know about this album. All five musicians appear loud and clear, perfect production and some instrumental wizardry blended in a heavy monster of a song. I believe the album maintains that level throughout. Halfway there is a ballad for a breathcatching moment. Straight hereafter maybe my favorite of the album Visions, with some easter melody line in the mix reminding me of Stargazer (yes far fetched I know) Going through some other reviews main concerns seem to be that the album does not surprise and the metallica cover does not add a lot. My answer would be if they bring just what I expect in such a way I can't be bothered. Not every album needs to be highly original, or originality would become extinct by itself. And I can't remember last time I picked up a Metallica album, so For Whom The Bell Tolls sounds refreshing after a long time to me. One great album for Heavy Metal  fans who like some Power and Prog blended in at times.

Riot City - Burn the Night
Riot City was definitely one of the bands I was looking out for to see at Up The Hammers. Then Covid-19 hit us and all was cancelled. I passed by the No Remorse shop in Athens on Thursday before flying out the next morning. I intended to get a festival Tee in support, but same had not arrived. So I bought CD's including this one, which I was going to pick up at the festival anyway. Riot City eats, drinks and lives 80's Heavy Metal. This with an overdose of high pitched screams throughout each song. Somehow I knew this would mean a total party in metal loving Greece. During a very eighties 37 minutes Riot City brings their message across in eight songs. Some might call it old fashioned, or true metal from the past. I love it and would expect a total party with this bunch on stage. Somehow visions of the legendary Ranger gig in de Nobel came back, when a full house jumped up and down to their old school speed metal of the new century. I do hope this band survives Corona and can cross te pond in better times again. Gotta love the artwork as well if you dig this metal.

Rages of Sin - Divergence
Some people still say The Hague is not for metal. Well I beg to differ. With The Hague Metal Fest, MetalCon, 10 year White Room Reviews and Haags Metaal we would have had 4 great metal only festivals in town. This next to Kaderock and Schollenpop where metal and hardrock are always present as well, plus the ever increasing number of big metal bands playing Musicon. Further the number of local bands that have it in them to break through nationally and who knows what more seems to be getting bigger each year. In the extreme metal corner I guess Rages of Sin are my favorite local band. First time I saw them was on the legendary THHMA stage at Schollenpop. Since then I saw them many times and bought their EP. Now a new album was to be officially released at THMF 25 April. Sadly that event had to be cancelled, but the CD will be released anyway. As members of this band often walk around during metal gigs in Musicon I already heard this album would be hard to pin in one genre and I can tell no lies told there. While fast opener Defeasance holds even some slam death vocal acrobatics, second song Deference is mainly sung clean. Hereafter an Epic of over 10 minutes Defiance brings lots of variation within one song. Further on the album you hear computer bleeps, thrash, death, tech parts and even a sort of ballad to close the album. Variation is key on the album indeed, this while all songttles look exactly the same. One word, starting with a D and many words I had to look up before getting the meaning. This album is so well thought through it deserves to be heard by many. Seldom supporting your local scene was that easy. now bring on that CD release party as soon as venues are opened again.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Anubis - Hypnotic Nausea - Novena

Some more music for quarantaine days

Anubis - Homeless
I follow Anubis since their debut album 230503 from 2009. This australian band plays neo prog with some 80's pop music seemingly blended in mainly due to the vocals. They managed to come to Europe twice and I am pleased to have witnessed two sensational 2.5 hour plus shows first in de Boerderij cafe stage and a few years later in 't Blok. In the past I called them already a hope for the future of progrock So yes I am a fanboy and slightly biased. Now they are back with their fifth studo album Homeless. When you thought that Anubis repeats the same trick, you are wrong. While all albums had something different to them, this definitely is their to the point straight forward album. Gone are the epics over 15 or even ten minutes. We now get 9 songs which apart from opener Reflective all last around four to five minutes. And do I like this compacter style? yes you bet. Because even in shorter songs, Anubis remain challenging and interesting. I can not really mention one favorite song, but suggest you give them a try and I meanwhile hope that 2021 can bring them back to Europe.

Hypnotic Nausea - The Death Of All Religions
It is interesting how I visited Greece, finding a cancelled festival and suddenly interesting Greek Progmetal bands find me. Hypnotic Nausea passed by me without me knowing and it turns out this was my bad. On their bandcamp page someone called them a blend of Queensryche and Tool. Well I can hear the latter mainly in the heavy bass being present. Queensryche not so much, also because that band did not release many long instrumentals. This album contains quite a few and even 11 minute opener Holy City almost hits the 8 minute mark before a voice kicks in. So is this mainly instrumental music interesting enough to keep your attention close? Yes it is, although it might not be for the impatient. When we arrive at The Priest this album shows it might also atract stoner fans. Actually that is also the case for some shorter instrumentals. The title track is where matters calm down, before final long song Inquietum Cor closes the album in style. This is a 2019 release, but the title of the album was predicting 2020. The Death of all Religions, seems to be right now that even in these days of world crisis all churches and mosques appear to be pretty empty.

Novena - Eleventh Hour
I was drawn towards Novena as their vocalist is Ross Jennings of Haken fame. Well that is one of the vocals, as next to his clean voice Gareth Mason (Slice the Cake) gives us some grunts through the album. Apparently this band released an EP four years ago, but I missed that one completely. Further in spite of  members having a past in progmetal or even tech death this album is released on Frontiers Records, known for their melodic hard rock albums and keeping the eighties alive. I saw two clips posted by Frontiers for Disconnected and Sundance and thought lets try this out and I ordered the CD. Now hear comes the shock: Frontiers made some sort of inverse marketing campaign. The two songs  mentioned are by far the least interesting ones on the album. The last five songs are amazing and make this album a candidate for ending very high on my end of year list. Corazon, manages to  mix flamenco handclapping with a Spanish female vocalist next to very strong progmetal. Closing song Prison Walls is an epic, which might even have been stronger as it would have ended after the wild and heavy eruption atround the 11-12 minute mark. This album was a very positive surprise especially after the clips posted. Only comment might be the lyrics are at times impossible to follow with so many paralel singing and tiny letters over pictures, but that might just be old man me. Must hear album of the month.    . 

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.