Saturday 25 May 2024

Caligula's Horse, The Hirsch Effekt & Four Stroke Baron - Boerderij Zoetermeer, 24 May 2024

In a year when de Boerderij puts on more and more cover and tribute bands it seemed right to return when they program three bands playing different kinds of progmetal of their own. Caligula's Horse came all the way from Australia for a European tour and Four Stroke Baron I saw before too. So when my neighbour Rob asked a few weeks ago if I would attend too, I realized the only answer could be yes. Rain forced me to skip a bicycle ride and take a direct randstadrail to de Boerderij hopeful of a good evening. Given the line-up I knew many ProgPower regulars would be walking around too. I must admit that given their three shows in The Netherlands I was kind of worried about turn-out this evening. Well I worried for nothing as after a calm beginning in the end de Boerderij almost filled up completely.

First band on were Four Stroke Baron. I saw them at Complexity Fest before and liked their mix of heavy music and eighties new wave on vocals. What I remembered was a bassist with long hair and an even longer beard, well he had a haircut orr jumped ship. The vocalist to me seemed much older too, than from what I remembered. The music itself did not change all that much really. The vocals now sounded like The Cure and the basis was heavy bass and drums. Drummer was to me the highight of the set, as he was tight and with drums positioned sideways you had a good look at his feets working fast. Overall tonight the set missed variation for me. So while after seeing them last time I did pick up their album I now was not tempted to do so really. Nice enough opener still.

The Hirsch Effekt are from Germany and by what I saw going around on FB they did impress some friends before. I never saw them, nor heard any music by them so stepping in in the blind it was. Well they were an energetic trio to start with. While guitarist and bassist both ran around and sang, the drummer turned out to be another beast. Initially I liked their songs, but it sounded a bit samy to me. That changed over time and they became the surprise of the evening to me. Their songs are sung in German, so they thought we had no clue what they were singing about. This was true, but not because of the language I guess. I got their latest album and shall check it out with care today. After  a slow start I did understand the hype after all.

And then we waited for Caligula's Horse. They headlined Progpower 2018, which was when I saw them before. At the time I had only one CD by them and entering, they overwhelmed that evening.  Fast forward six years and I still have only one CD by them and wondering if they could convince live again. The answer was yes they could. Caligula's Horse are to me a great live band, while on CD I find them a bit lightweight especially on the vocal front. Live vocals do not turn harsh, but Jim Grey is a great frontman and brings the songs to live. Star of the evening was without a doubt Sam Vallen on guitar. Whether it was melodic soloing, or  boosting up the songs riffing away he was among the very best on six strings (or was it seven to be prog?). So basically the experience was pretty similar to me as in 2018. Caligula's Horse are a great live band. One final comment was on their set build up. They kept on talking about time travelling and took us all the way back to 2015 (?). That is not time-travelling in my musical world. in 2015 I was old and bold and in 2024 I still am. But this minor point should not stop anyone going to see them in Amsterdam or Masstricht this weekend.

Monday 20 May 2024

Disgrace and Terror & Rages of Sin - Lazarus Leiden, 19 May 2024

Talking about last minute shows, this is among them way up there. Only confirmed on Wednesday I passed by this show when Rages of Sin posted on ther page. For me a very welcome gig with three reasons to go. First Rages of Sin who are The Hague's finest in metal released a new album with a hometown show early December. That evening I spent in hospital with Josie being pretty bad and their next show I missed too. So finally saw them promoting Saligia 2.1, Further Disgrace and Terror are from Brazil and so are Josie and Tiago 50%. Over the past years I saw several Brazilian bands playing Musicon and I like their raw underground sound most of the times.  Finally the show was in Leiden Tiago's current hometown. So our Pentacosta family dinner was in Leiden, after which Josie took a train home and Tiago joined me to Lazarus for a while.

The weather was nice, so people were drinking outside until at 20:30 Rages of Sin would kick of the evening. Being a 4 piece band the stage is rather small in Lazarus, so they walked often off stage too. Their set was fine and sound was OK in spite of old skool setup over guitar amps. They visited their EP The Gospel of.. and both full lenghts Divergence and Saligia 2.1. Rages of Sin do play a sort of melodic death metal, but they move away too. So we did get a hardrock song halfway. Closer tonight was the opener last time I saw them J'accuse. A song with a French title and Dutch lyrics. One last chance for the younger generation in to bang their heads somewhere between the entrance door and the stage.  Tiago liked the atmosphere and to see this and told me he would join again (timing allowing) if I head for Nobel or Lazarus and while at it bring some friends. He felt not top fit and left before his fellow countrymen would enter Lazarus.

Disgrace and Terror are on a long trip through Europe and nearing the end. This last minute inclusion was welcome to them, but originally they had to drive back to Brussles after the show as Aldyr told me. They had met a Brazilian lady who invited them to stay at her place and when he introduced us, it turned out she knew Josie. Something about a small world and Brazilian hospitality I guess. Anyway after the break Disgrace and Terror hit the stage and the young metalkids took the floor in front of it. This resulted in a fine show with lots of audience participation. Advantages of a small venue. I quite liked the Death/Thrash  that DaT gave us. I did not know of them before this evening, but they formed in 2000 and have 6 full lenghts already. I picked their last The True Will Of Evil after the show and shall follow them from now on. 

So this was one fine evening in Lazarus organized by Metal Experience and the recently formed Stormram Bookings. If they will put on more evenings like this I am pretty sure that frequent returns to Lazarus shall be on the menu.The amateur antropologist in me also studied the students entering and I found three types. First there are the open minded ones like the young couple and the four girls standing next to me. Obviously not attending metal shows on a weekly basis, interested, appreciative and enjoying something completely different. Than there are the (always boys) who enter act popular and piss off after one or two songs. I saw the same during Martyr in de Zwarte Ruiter and now it was Lazarus' turn. Finally there are those who open the door, wait maximum two seconds and decide this is not for them. Well as long as there are open minded ones in the mix there is still hope. The future of metal was already secured by the group of young fans in jeans with patches by the way.

Saturday 18 May 2024

Morvigor, Miasmes, Celesterre & Räum - Musicon The Hague, 17 May 2024

Loud & Heavy presents brought us another night of true underground with four bands somewhere linked to Black Metal, but all completely different. After last week's sold out house it was a pity not that many found there way to Musicon this night. Were the homestayers wrong? I think so. As a bonus I would also reopen my Heavy Metal B&B for part of the openng band. So lots to like on a Friday night where even Happy Birthday Marko entered shortly after the start to celebrate with metal, what better way there is really.

Räum opened the evening early at 18:55. This band from Liege plays Black Metal according to Metal Archives, but I heard a strong Post rock influence too, with their long songs meandering over the stage. A stage that was mainly lit by white spots and lots of smoke. I quite liked their set with a highlight on stage for Olivier on vocals. Two guitars and no bass did bring long repetitive moods, with the highlight saved for lastm when also teh light turned to red halfway. Good opener.

Next on were local band Celesterre. They stepped in last moment as Germans Wesenwille had to cancel. If Celesterre are anything, this must be different. There are notches of Black in some screams, but mostly they play just metal I guess. Introductions to songs are poetic and they are obviously concerned with the state of the earth. If they were different to start with, their cover song also is not a typical metal evening one, when Meat is Murder by the Smiths was played. Hard to pinpoint in style their being differnt is appreciated.

And then all went sonically violent with Miasmes. This French trio mainly bulldozered the room to pulp. A loud and high energy set was presented to us and they went down well. Maybe they were musically the least interesting band of the night to me, but that was compensated by an overdose of energy coming of the stage. While driving all the way up from French I understood them leaving no prisoners. Interesting live band they are.

Morvigor woudl close the evening and they played a Loud & Heavy evening before. At the time I was pretty impressed and tonight would not be different. Talking about hard to pinpoint if you see them you would not expect a metal band on stage. Looks deceive as they brought us long melodic black metallish songs with progressive hints blended in. Last time I saw them I tipped the Progpower organizers that they could be a good Dutch day opener as is tradition at that festival. Than again we all know what happened when PPE went Blackish before with Voices resulting in the emptiest hall ever at the end of their set. Still Morvigor would do well in my ears as they are a very fine band entertaining and diverse enough for a prog festival. Their last EP is sung in Dutch, but you can't tell really. I guess the best band closed the evening down and again thanks to Ralf and Loud & Heavy for putting this together. I was supposed to host Räum, but than they started receiving news and images about bad weather hitting their hometown Liege resulting in floodings. So they preferred returning to their families and help out if stuff neede to be moved up or out. Good luck to them and maybe a next time.

Saturday 11 May 2024

Crypta & Nakkeknaeker & Plaguemace - Musicon The Hague, 10 May 2024

Returning home from a week holiday in the afternoon, just in time to head for a sold out Musicon in the evening to see some death metal from Brasil and Denmark. I did not know any of the three bands in advance, but some Youtube checking got me interested.I was somewhat surprised that this package sold out. comparing with other packages passing Musicon over time, but good to see metal being alive.

Plaguemace opened the evening and did so very energetic. Their vocalist had the scandinavian understated sense of humor and got smiles on most faces. At times I was afraid he crossed the line and we would go eurovision gimmick alike, but he knew just where to stop. When two guitarists are wearing shirts of Archspire and LefttoDie hopes for techdeath rise, but we stayed more in pure death metal with good guitars though. This band knew how to open the evening well and jumping around in bermuda's they seemed to be enjoying themselves too. Talking about shirts in the end after every song another member took of his shirt resulting in lots of beer bellies on display. Nice live band they were.

Nekkeknaeker (what's in a name?) are also from Denmark. They are young as in secondary school age young, but they were very tight too. The only thing I knew about them was that they are also playing Dynamo Metal Fest this year. Seeing them metalling away I can see why they got invited. Nakkeknaeker are definitely among the furture of metal. A very solid band and in spite of their age a very comfortable performance too. The vocalist looked (not sounded) to me like a very young John Bush. He asked for circle pits and a wal lof death and got same. Interesting to see how the guys from Plaguemace led the party here. This band will go the distance I guess since they only just started and already impressed massively.

Then it was up to Crypta to wrap up the evening. These four ladies are from Sao Paulo, so I did not need to ask them about favourite football teams. In 2024 I can't imagine that the fact that they are women resulted in a sold out show. The music spoke loud enough for itself. Crypta was born when Nervosa fell apart. Fernanda and Luana started Crypta and now they seem to have found a solid line-up. It did not need much to get the party started and now both support bands were active in the pit. I Liked the grim faces Fernanda showed throughout the set and the band was enjoying their full house it seemed. In the end the two supports were invited on stage to close their last evening of the tour in style. A great closure of one fine evening in my favourite venue. Hope that among the many to me unknown faces walking around some will find their way to Musicon more often. 1 June The Hague Death Fest has a line-up that should please most walking around last night as well. 

Tuesday 30 April 2024

Keep of Kalessin & Hate - Musicon The Hague, 29 April 2024

Musicon Metal Mondays gotta love them. This evening two bands I knew of name and not of music. Still both rather big in the underground I was going to check them out for sure. This Monday fell afer a double closing party at Baroeg and Kingsday weekend. Still many people found their way to Musicon and it was pleasantly filled up.

Keep of Kalessin were the first band on and in metal archives they are said to be playing melodic black/death metal. That might be true, but I mainly was impressed with the epicness of it all. Heavy choirs over double guitars and keyboards of tape. These Norwegians brought a German drummer along who was pretty damn fast and tight. As I did not know any songs no point of recognition for me, but when they played a song of Armada I did understand why that album got great reviews at the time. I would have liked to correct that blank in my CD collection, but their offer of the CD collection (7 albums) for 30 euros only was sold out unfortunately. 

Than something happened I never saw before at Musicon, Hate put on a Metalish curtain to change the stage for their blackened death metal set. Admitted the stage looked great when the curtain came down with lots of skulls and horns. The band played impressive too.This was more purish Black metal which also means less interaction with the public. Again unaware of their albums I was easily drawn into their show and performances were top. So even if not knowing much in advance I did get two bands of headliner status in a busy Musicon. What better way to spend your Monday nights? you tell me.

Thursday 25 April 2024

Bruce Dickinson - The Moor - Out of Darkness

Some more CD's I bought over the past weeks/months  which you might have to check out too.

Bruce Dickinson: The Mandrake Project
Are either Iron Maiden or Bruce Dickinson going to surprise us completely ever again? probably not. Still after seeing clips of Afterglow of Ragnarok and Rain on the Graves I knew I would pick up this CD. Respect for Bruce after recovering from cancer delivering such strong vocal performances first with Maiden and now also solo. Solo this is as the album was written and recorded with his mate Roy Z alone. Comparing Bruce solo with Maiden might go in favour of his solo work at the moment. I believe a bit more variation in both the songs and his vocal performance. All that is to be said on this album and the comic book that I don't have has been written when I come so late to the party. Still I bought this album as I am considering going to see him live in 013. In the nineties I saw Bruce touring Balls to Picasso in a not sold out Paradiso (the nineties were shite for metal) and Accident of Birth in Rio. That is 27 years ago, so about time for a new show I'd say.

The Moor: Ombra
A band called The Moor immediately brings Opeth to mind. And yes in a way they are treading Opeth territories. But if I should go for name dropping at times they remind me more of Disillusion and Green Carnation. They go for progressive metal with an occassional grunt and haunting melodies of darkish rock. The second tip of this abum comes from the title: Ombra. Yes, The Moor are Italians and come from Venice, the city that introduced today access passes for tourists. I do own their 2012 debut Year of the Hunger, but missed the 2018 Jupiter's Immigrants. So they work in 6 year cycles apparently. Well taking the time does result in a beautiful album which is very worthwhile checking out. Not an overly active band on the live front so to see, but I believe a perfect PPE band.

Out of Darkness: Out of Darkness
Ton tipped me on this band as he knows I do like my Progressive Power metal bands from the USA. At times from Europe too, but Americans do it less cheesy. When checking them out on Youtube my first thougt was WTF is that beard? Taste shall never be discussed, but uncomfortable this must be. That is Eric Barrios who takes care of vocals and guitars. Most famous band member is Brent Smedley who also drummed with Iced Earth and Sons of Anarchy. On my CD Bill Staley completes the band, but on metal archives a bass player Dan Callahan is announced to be with them since 2023. This is their debut full lenght after an EP in 2020. For the music think US metal mixed with progpower bands from across the ocean. I was hooked after first hearing and shall keep on playing it through the year I'm sure. Hope these few words help them getting out of the darkness a bit, as I did not see much about them online nor on paper.


Saturday 20 April 2024

Martyr - De Zwarte Ruiter The Hague , 19 April 2024

The middle week of April 2024 shall be remembered by me as the week of great free metal gigs. Last Wednesday Riot City presented their speedmetal masterclass and two days later it was Martyr's turn to show us why they remain among the best Heavy Metal bands in Holland. The location to show this was at least surprising with de Zwarte Ruiter. This bar does also play rock music when no bands are around, but I would not expect a Heavy Metal band down there as their usual crowd is a tat too fashionable for old school metal. In advance people were warning about a busy bar, but with the hipsters looking for alternatives this evening it was all very easy regarding standing place and bar access. What we did get was many known faces. So the evening was already a success before it even started. 

Martyr opened their set with Raise Your Horns, Unite and thereafter they did what they usually do. Metal on, apart from their Queensryche alike ballad. The known faces in the room all have seen Martyr plenty of times over the past years, so this turned out to be an evening of likeminded souls and no surprises. Death walked around the room during their closing song and I don't know what fake blood I got over my head, but still traces of red are upon me. This was one fine evening of metal again and maybe a few Zwarte Ruiter regulars have been introduced to the joy of live metal shows and find their way to more gigs one day. Finally the afterparty was by a DJ. With a name like Motorkontje I expected a biker chic in bikini. Well we did not get that, but a guy with a metal wig on and sunglasses. To his credit the evening did not die in horrible sounds and the atmosphere continued lively and pleasant.