Monday, 23 January 2023

Jag Panzer, Killer & Martyr - Baroeg Rotterdam, 22 January 2023

Rotterdam Rocks presents usually means some good old heavy metal. This afternoon the package was especially interesting as all three bands originating from the eighties representing three countries. There was a fourth band opening: Impact, but as my mother needed some emergency attention in the late morning and our national rail decided to repair lines on my route a detour brought me to Baroeg just before Martyr kicked off. It would have been nice if Ajax would have scored the 1-2 in the dying seconds when I enetered Baroeg, just to observe reactions. But football was over when Martyr kicked off and we could concentrate on our daily dose of metal.

Martyr opened the party for me and finally I got to see them on tour in support of Planet Metalhead. This album recently was voted best 2022 metal album in the Benelux at Metalfan and also reached the number one spot at a slighlty biased list by Alex and Theo. Lists mean little, but Martyr showed they are the best surviving heavy metal band from the eighties in Holland indeed. Church of Metal, La Diabla, Raise Your Horns Unite all sounded fast and furious. With their ballad No Time For Goodbyes they even treat Queensryche peak years territory. The live presentation of Martyr is known by now, unless you lived under a hard rock the last decade. Some personal comments to friends in the audience, jägermeister and I am pretty sure that the kid on stage loved to be invited. As the supporting bands had 45 minutes only, time flew by and I can already look forward to a next Martyr show, which won't be in Musicon later this year, as Progpower weekend rules (doesn't it Vinnie?)

It turned out that many known faces and people were walking this Sunday matinee, so breaks were good and then Killer came on. This Belgian metal institute from the eighties was never among my favorites, but they have some fast party metal songs. A few years ago I saw them also in Baroeg (with Helstar?) and they surprised me positively. This time I was slightly less impressed. Songs like Shock Waves, Wall of Sound or Kleptomania all metal on fine, but Killer sounded a bit old fashioned. Their playing and presentation are enthusiastically, but I guess timing was not best for me as I came to see Jag Panzer and just really enjoyed Martyr. Reactions they got plenty from the audience, so probably I was wrong.

After a slightly long break Jag Panzer came on and started their old skool set very old skool indeed with Metal Melts the Ice form their debut EP. Now I got into Jag Panzer really late, when I one day bought Ample Destruction. That album was released in 1984 when I loved bands like Maiden, Dio, Manowar and Virgin Steele, which all at times come back in their heavy power metal. So I now checked my De Nieuwe Aardschok archive to check what happend. In those scholar years on a tight budget, we followed Aardschok for tips probably a bit too much. So in Nr. 16 August 1984 Jag Panzer received an aweful review. In that same issue there are albums I did get/know from Dio, Fastway, Y&T, Cirith Ungol, Mama's Boys, VowWow and Quiet Riot. So my excuse for not getting into them from the start lies in one poor review. In hindsight I don't agree at all, even among the two best songs Generally Hostile is not mentioned and live that one definitely blew us away. Great to shout No Mercy!No Mercy! along there. Further the band went through their catalogue until 20 years ago. The playing was good, the presentation as well and at times we were back in the eighties indeed with the still impressive screams by The Tyrant. Near the end the solo guitar disappeared mysteriously from the mix during two songs, but a great show was had and I rushed satisfied out to make it to my train in time. Having to connect at Rotterdam CS to a metro homebound had the advantage that a warm sate kroket became dinner after a well spend afternoon/early evening at Rotterdam Rocks. Baroeg will be rebuild, but for shows this size, the atmosphere over there is always best, so curious already for the 2.0 version. Thanks for one fine evening where metal did melt the ice indeed as no more slippery walks were needed.

Sunday, 22 January 2023

Sneeuwpop - Hofpark Wateringen, 21 January 2023

Sneeuwpop the great found name if you speak Dutch (the summer edition and bigger brother is called Waterpop). In The Netherlands Paaspop (Easter pop) usually brag that they open the outdoor festival season. They also sometimes state it can be cold. Well, in Wateingen people are build different  and the festival season opens in January. Yes it was around 0 degrees, but who cares. There is snow for the children to catch a cold in and there is beer plus music. A great reason for many of us to gather around a table and feel the cold finding it's way upwards starting from your feet. After two corona years  I forgot from three years ago it is wise to wear thick football socks, but we managed as Robert predicted until the bar closes. Well that was pretty fast after the last band finished the party around 20:30.

And then there is music. This year had a newby for me. Normally I go for the social and thirst aspect only, this time The Hague's finest OSDM band Melting Eyes were invited. Always good to see a general music festival reacting to some brutal death grunts. Their 2021 release My Final Resting Place makes part of The Hague's obligatory metal canon. Melting Eyes (recently called Melting Ice in an interview) did melt some speakers at Sneeuwpop as halfway through the second song we could only hear their sound from the stage monitors. Luckily all was fixed fast and it turned out that every time you see Melting Eyes they tend to be a bit tighter (if still possible) than the previous time. A good set of Death Metal, which was not for all at Sneeuwpop. Looking forward to see them again soon at warmer conditions.

Further musically there was not a lot going on. I recall an Alanis Morriset cover band and a band formed at the most sympathetic local football club closed the day. Outdoor Festival Season 2023 has been opened.

Saturday, 21 January 2023

Her Fault, Morvigor & Hvalross - Musicon The Hague, 20 January 2023

Third Friday of the month and finally I am back in Musicon as I could not make it the first two metal Fridays. Not knowing what I missed 6 and 13 Jnauary, I picked a good night to return to Musicon. Whiteroomreviews Ralf (or is it Ralph, next time I ask) put together a triple package of bands I did not know. Turned out they all had their charm. Luckily I was not the only one deciding to check this package out as Musicon filled up reasonably with all three bands bringing some friends it seemed as many new faces to me were walking around and  drinking beer.

Opening band were Hvalross from Roosendaal. This band stayed musically closest to my comfort zone, with progressive elements through their metal. The event name-dropped Mastodon as comparison and especially on the guitar sound I heard what they meant here. Nice variation throuhout the set, with some calmer intro's before bursting out again. So when I later thought of picking up their CD, it turned out they only had vinyl. One to keep an eye on, for when they return to the area. I asked also what that hard to read name was all about, but my Norwegian friends could have told me.

Second band were Morvigor. from Alkmaar. I rarely saw a band putting me so on the wrong foot before starting. Sound issues made them delay kicking off, with everyone waiting and they slightly less comfortable on the stage by the minute it seemed. Their looks are as non metallic as mine, so I even jokingly asked Marko if the bassist would serve us a Latte Macchiato Decaf halfway the set with his barista looks. And then they started and blew everyone in Musicon away. Their music mainly Black metallish was all about dynamics and atmosphere. This music is for hearing not describing, but they were the biggest surprise of the night. I did get their last CD Tyrant from 2017, but understood new work is in progress. A wonderful bleak set of extreme metal they gave us and I guess they won over many new fans with only three (?) songs in around 45 minutes. This band woudl fit rather well at Complexity Fest I guess as there was something post and progressive blended in their sound too.

Closing the evening  were Her Fault from Belgium. Again we went on a trip along more extreme metal zones. The man making the show was the angry looking frontman. A real frontman he was with his expressiev presentation including walks of the stage and lots of metal poses. The band sounded good behind him, but for me musically least interesting as they were the most straight forward band of the day as well. This is a matter of personal taste as Rick seemd most impressed by Her Fault, which is a nice bandname and often so true. So one final beer before headig home, made my first gig of the year a surprising good one.

Thursday, 22 December 2022

CD Top 22 of 2022

2022 was a good year for almost all genres I love. Making a top 22 turned out to be pretty hard therefore. Still not making a list was no option as by reading other people's lists I always discover some gems that I simply missed, due to a huge number of releases each month. A quick thanks to Matt Manofmuchmetal, Andy DPRP, Aardschok, iOPages and Angry Metal Guy is needed as some of the new bands on my list I might have missed alltogether, So thank you very much indeed. Main target of this list is that one person checks out one album he or she missed. As I found a good blend of known names and deep underground bands I guess that should be possible. Here's my favorite 22 of 2022 (well 23 as I did a Pardo at one point)

22. Black Swan - Generation Mind
Robin McAuley once again shows he aged best after Glenn Hughes of all vocal heroes from my past. If the band than is made up by Reb Beach, Jeff Pilson and Matt Starr quality is guaranteed. Great songs I can hear anytime, anywhere to speak with mr McAuley.

21. WAIT - The End of Noise
Yet another Max Phelps highlight. With Exist comrade Alex Weber and Charlie Eron on guitars. Progressive Death Metal it says, but with the amount of clean vocals definitely accessible to many.

20. An Abstract Illusion - Woe
This was a fastest ever. Reading Matt's review, listening on bandcamp, ordering the album immediately after and the next day confirmed for PPE 2023. Am I looking forward? yes lots a highlight of the festival guaranteed if they can come even close to the album on stage.

19. Kings of Mercia - Kings of Mercia 
A year without Fates Warning never had so many releases with members of the band pleasing me. Here Jim Matheos and Steve Overland found each other and Joey Vera helped out. One of the best melodic rock metal albums in a long time. Probably Jim Matheos can't do average.

18. Saxon - Carpe Diem / Satan - Earth Infernal
Here is my double (Pardo - Sea of Tranquility) pick. NWOBHM can not be absent in any best of list. I missed White Spirit so far but Saxon and Satan both came with very strong albums like they always seem to be releasing. Missed them live, loved their albums

17. Tribe of Names - Evolver
Sometimes I feel like playing something different. Often Simon Godfrey knows what I  mean. First with Tinyfish, than Shineback and solo, followed by Valdez. Now here is Tribe of Names. Progrock without keyboards, lots of great guitars and just happy music.

16. Voivod - Synchro Anarchy
Somehow I never got into Voivod like I should. I lost Angel Rat and Nothing face in my 1995 apartement robbery and loved The Wake. Now they confirm being as solid as ever. Missing their show due to FNAC messup in Lisbon I will be there at Prognosis and not miss a second.

15. Marillion - An Hour Before It's Dark
Yes they did it again. Where I thought of losing them when 15 years ago they released Somewhere Else and Happiness their two worst albums in a row. The last three releases corrected that dip and this is pure poetry again. Noone can sing about Covid like Steve Hogarth can. 

14. Trial  - Feed the Fire
I thought that losing Linus Johanson on vocals would be hard to get over. I was wrong. Vessel my favorite album of 2015 can never be topped, but here Trial show again why they are my favorite Heavy Metal band of the past decade. Come back to Holland please.

13. Parius - The Signal Heard Throughout Space
13-11 are albums I got so recent they are hard to rank, but definitely among my 2022 favorites. Parius bring a form of progressive metal with a Sci-Fy story. Luckily no Ayreon in sight, so really good and far from boring. Surprise tip by iOPages this was. Will be played lots.

12. Threshold - Dividing Lines
Threshold never disappoint. This one sounds a lot like the Mac years and is filled with catchy hooks and songs. Glynn Morgan possibly showing his best vocals ever. Waiting for them in de Boerderij.

11. Disillusion - Maya
Only received this week, but two spins convinced me that this is one of the 2022 highlights. Their best with their debut probably and already curious for their set at Prognosis.

10. Chaos Frame - Entropy
When Aardschok tips bands for ProgPower it usually is Metal Mike and he likes his prog to be metal. This being their third album I missed the first two, but this is just good old progmetal as it maybe always should have stayed. So PPE are you readig along? Some of the older generation would love this band in Baarlo indeed.

9. O.R.K. - Screamnasium
I am so pleased to see that this band got confirmed for Prognosis. First they are awesome, but second they deserve to get exposure to wider audience in Holland. Funny how Colin Edwin was not invited for the Porcupine Tree reunion and than released a much better album. 

8. Ard - Take Up My Bones
Thanks Matt for the tip. The album I played most in spring after purchase. History lessons included. Absolute masterpiece of melancholy and atmosphere. Interesting how my favorite doom album of the year did not come from the Candlemass/Sorcerer school this time.

7 Karcius - Grey White Silver Yellow & Gold.
Thanks Andy, what a wonderful album. According to Prog Archives they belong under the jazz rock/fusion banner. Well I hear progmetal and hard prog in the blend. A wonderful collection of songs which should please fans of progressive rock and metal alike.

6. Obsidious - Iconic
Is there live after Oscura? Well yes there is and what an album Obsidious gave us. One of those that after one spin at bandcamp I bought and my favorite Techdeath release of the year (never heard Persefone). Vocal performance of the year? Prognosis promises to be good in 2023. 
5. Toxik - Dis Morta
Toxik came back with their first proper full album since the two eighties classics World Circus and Think This. Again bordering between thrash metal and tech metal Toxik delivers. Ron Iglesias was good live, on album even better. And now a five-piece, they always convince on stage. See ya on tour.

4. Figure of Speechless - Tunnel At The End Of The Light
Glenn McMaster was unknown to me as well. When he writes one the best progmetal albums of the year and asks for some help of Derek Sherinian, Tony Franklin, Brian Tichy, Ron Bumblefoot Thal and my favorite vocalist Ray Alder we have a winning team. Love it from start to finish.

3. Lillian Axe - From Womb to Tomb
Some bands never disappoint and Lillian Axe is one of them for me. My favorite melodic metal band, who this century managed to match their high level of the eighties/nineties every time again. From Womb to Tomb their first album after ten years is another hit. Anyone with the slightest interest in melodic metal should have this.

2. Imminent Sonic Destruction - The Sun Will Always Set 
Thank you Matt for this new discovery. Progressive metal they play according to Metal Archives, but more of the all over the place kind. Some songs are progrock, some melancholic and grunts appear occassionally as well. I loved this album from the beginning and when you still go back to it frequently that always is a good  sign. Discovery of the year fo rme, as they already had two albums before.

1. A-Z - A-Z
Technically a new band, but with Alder Zonder completed by Philip Bynoe, Vivien Lalu and Joop Wolters no new names. And yes, this is not a progmetal release, but given the musicianship and the song it has been the album I played most this year,  Zonder and Alder proving to be a class on their own, packed in catchy songs always makes this a joy to play. Even the Apple- Zebra artwork is great, now Mark Zonder spoke the magic word: touring. Please bring them to Holland.

Wednesday, 21 December 2022

Albums that (just) did not make it to my Top 22 of 2022

2022 was a great year for music. So when I started looking into my favorites I quickly found I had more than 22 albums I really liked this year. So in the spirit of the losers flight from the Dutch Olympic Comittee  during the Rio Olympics I gathered all losers in a row (not flight). Don''t think you don't need to check these albums out, they made my year better as well. Just...

So before passing some categories with good albums I did buy, first the ones I missed all together. I still don't do spotify as a man of principle. So some albums I never heard. Main reason my hopping between Holland and Portugal. Some albums were released shortly before I would be away for a month. The low this year I had when albums I ordered took so long in the mail, that I was not home to receieve and since you have to pay bloody taxes as high as the CD price at times they were returned to sender. So on first thinking the ones I missed so far are by: Queensryche, Riot City, Arena, MSG, Pattern Seeking Animals, Cosmograf and Martyr. Martyr have this habit of playing nearby when I am not around. For 2023 they already announced a festival at Musicon during PPE. So without me, and no Vinnie at PPE. But you can run, you can not hide as I will see Planet Metalhead in January in Baroeg when they open for Jag Panzer. The albums I did get, enjoyed but not making it to my list are the following.

Bands that released a good album but not their best ever:
Zero Hour, Oceans of Slumber, Giant, Soilwork, Wilderun and Porcupine Tree. All released albums in teh range decent to very good, but their problem is that they set their own stadard ridiculoudsly high in the past. So from change of style (Oceans of Slumber) to surprise comeback (Giant, Zero Hour) and even somewhat disappointing given their past (Wilderun, Porcupine Tree) these all were good enough albums, but not shocking me like my top 22 would.

In the progrock genre Stuckfish was very good again, Big Big Train I did not get due to the sad loss and Galahad was returned to sender. The best news came from Dec Burke, but Darwin's Radio is expected in 2023 now (I hope)

On the progmetal front I liked the Vass/Katsionis album a lot. Kandia made me tick the box of female vocalist (live at Comendatio very good) and Compass the melodic variant. All very nice albums to check out.

On the edge of Melodic and heavy metal I liked Edge of Forever a lot, especially after seeing them live. Ironflame was one of the True metal highlights this year to me and Spirits of Fire is my number 23 of 2022. Until this afternoon I tried to swap them with one of my top 22. The only failure on this masterpiece by Fabio Lione, Chris Caffery, Steve DiGiorgio and Mark Zonder is that it would be even strong if lasting only some 45 minutes with eight songs. Highly recommended still

On the other genres I loved the albums releases by Eight Bells (classy doom with female vocals), Sacred Son (my favorite Black Metal album is again from the UK, cover of the year for me) and instrumental Spaniards Toundra with Hex (pity I missed their show at DB's).

So if these are the losers, wait for the winners tomorrow. As I said 2022 was a good year for music, if you like it heavy or proggy that is. The rest was as poor as a worldcup in Qatar. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2022

Live concerts Top 11 of 2022

2022 and at times it looked like Covid was never here. Unfortunately also at times it looked different as I caught the bastard late April. Therefore I missed two shows for which I had tickets and both likely to score high. MSG in de Boerderij and Riot City / Seven Sisters in Kavka Antwerp. Still I visited some damn fine shows. Being away half the year, made me miss a fair share as well. In the end I was far too little times in my favorite places for Live Music: Musicon, Baroeg, Nobel and Little Devil. Due to the limited number of shows no top 22 of 2022, but a top 11. Here we go.

11. Scar Symmetry - de Gigant Apeldoorn 4 November
Headliner of the first evening at Brainstorm. A wonderful show where the double vocals worked very nice to me.

10. Edge of Forever - Bel Air Breda 11 March
A proper meodic metal show in Bel Air. One of Alessandro's many bands and I loved his voice live.

9. Porcupine Tree - Ziggo Dome Amsterdam 6 November
The Tree are back, with a half decent album and an impressive live show. Only the setlist could have been so much better to me. Still pure class on stage

8. Bütcher / Wound Collectror / Alcatrazz - Musicon The Hague throughout the year.
I was far too few times in Musicon this year, but these three were my favorite bands hitting the most sympathetic stage in Holland.

7. Flotsam and Jetsam / Death Angel - Cacaofabriek and DMF Helmond and Eindhoven
Two bands you can see almost every year live and they refuse to disappoint. Bring them on in 2023

6. Mastodon - 013 Tilburg 9 June
Mastodon touring their Hushed and Grim album in great style. 

5. Toxik / Heathen - de Pul Uden 16 June
My pedal to the metal brought me to Uden. Toxik again and Heathen frst time for me, both giving us a great show. 

4. Opeth - Sala Tejo Lisbon 26 November 
What a careeer overview was this. Even much better than what I hoped for. 13 albums, 13 songs, one from each album. The perfect set showing that their career is great from the early years till today.

3. Iotunn - Sjiwa Baarlo 1 October
When a new band that released one of my favourite 2021 albums is invited for ProgPower hopes are high. They surpassed my expectations. And yes in Gigant they might have been tighter (drums more at home) but this first experience being blown away I shall long remember.

2. Lillian Axe - Nightrain Bradford 24 August
When my favorite melodic metal band comes to Europe I will be there (well if I can and timing suits). A perfect evening warmed up by very good Kaine and Riot Act. The latest formation of Lillian Axe passed the classics and walked us through their career. New album on sale, which now still needs to be toured in Europe!!

1. Angel - Baroeg Rotterdam 21 August
The perfect mix of nostalgia and a band in topform. Live Without a Net was one of my favourite live albums from the seventies/eighties. I saw them only once before a few years ago in Liege. Then in a bad mood, now completely loving it on stage'also as the audience was (very) loud. Lost my voice for a few days, more than worth it. Shouting along so many classic songs of my youth was a joy. Never would have thought this band at that location being such a perfect match. Pity their awesome white shirt only was available in M size, which I last could wear when Live Without a Net was released February 1980.

So now Friday closing 2022 live music in Musicon with René's Bday party, but coverbands won't surpass the above. Bring on 2023

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Opeth & Voivod - Sala Tejo Attice Arena, Lisboa 26 November 2022

Opeth celebrating 30 Years of existence and touring their whole discography. Online fans had the chance to vote for one song from each album and the most voted songs would be played on this short tour.  Last weekend they played a double in Utrecht but I was in Portugal and opted for Lisboa.

Before I start about the concert a small rant as the performance of the combi Attice Arena / FNAC was far under par. No worries as when I get to the musical part things did and will improve dramatically. A few weeks ago I decided I would attend this show and tried to get a ticket online directly froom the venue. Well that worked until hitting the payment bottom. Than I realized that FNAC also sells tickets for events and shows in Attice Arena are among them. So I bought my ticket and got my email with two attachments and the explanation I needed to either print the attachment or show it on my phone. On the day itself the time schedule was never shared with us by the venue. So by phone we were informed through a ticket seller that the doors would open at 20:00 and show starting at 21:00. I told Josie I doubted that and asked Attice Arena by email for a time schedule, also looking at last metros home. So I went early and arrived around 19:35 at the veue. A queue was formed and people were already entering the venue. When it was my turn it turned out I printed an invoice. I showed on my phone the email with the two attachements and instructions, but guards were not impressed with me coming over from Holland to see this and told me it was an invoice I had, not a ticket. So I received two invoices. One being called Final Invoice and the other one invoice and ticket holding a QR code. Why would I need two invoices and one with a QR code FFS. So I was told to pass by the FNAC store in the shopping mall next to the venue and sort my ticket. Arriving at FNAC I told my story as friendly as I could, since I knew Voivod would start before 21:00. The girl at the desk however told me that I bought online and the store could not help. I should ask for help by email. I told her she worked for the same foking shop, so they should sort it and fast. Well I spoke over the phone with FNAC helpdesk and found your IQ should be below 80 to get a job there. I was getting slightly pissed off with everything Portugal and asked Josie to call the same guy as she was less emotional on the topic. Nothing sorted I returned to the venue, just giving it another shot after wasting far too much time at shithole FNAC. Suddenly the queue got really long as apparently most people were not bothered with the support band. I never get that attitude and when the support is Voivod I even think people should look for help when snobbing the support. Then again, maybe these people  only followed the official timing and matters were supposed to start at 21:00 hrs. Now being close to nine it was my turn and again I could not get in. Turned out that meanwhile I was not the only one with this problem, so I was direcetd to a guy from the venue who would call FNAC with my order number. End good all good, well not really. In Portugal they still seem to think  that metal fans are violent, so the police were hired to check all at security. Losing some more minutes I finally got into the venue, knowing I missed most of the Voivod show.  

Can I write something of a show that I missed for the bigger part? Well what I saw sounded and looked great. Planet Eaters came first and only Fix My Heart and Astronomy Domine would follow. I felt sorry for myself and downed a few beers to get into the mood. Seeing Voivod end on a high before an enthusiastic participating audience did help me feeling better. Beers at 3.00 Euros were pricy for Portugal and the second one costing  3,50 made me frown. Turns out cups are returnable and cost 50 cents, while the first guy probably did not feel like expalining that to a gringo. Meanwhile Magchiel sent me an app that Messi was playing with a save the planet armband while playing in an airconditioned stadium. The band should read fok Qatar 2022,but I'm drifting off while just getting more positive.

After an intermezzo filled with calm music and no metal Opeth came on at 21:45 in an almost sold out (my guess) Sala Tejo. This hall is part of Attice Arena where the main hall can hold some 12.000, the smaller Sala Tejo holds 4.000 people. Those who came were in the mood tonight as the Opeth chant between songs came back often and also the whole career seemed to be appreciated. Opeth would play one song of all their albums and just the start with Ghost of Perdition made all realize we would be in for a treat. Sound, Light, dry humored intermezzos and the setlist were a joy from start to finish, making this one of the best shows I attended this year. As a highlight you can not pass the epic twenty minute Black Rose Immortal. It almost made me buy the White Morningrise T-shirt, but my size was sold out on the last date of the tour. I was somewhat surprised that from their classic Blackwater Park the song Harest was played, but my favorite Still Life was represented by The Moor in superb style. The mix of Blackish Death starts to progrock current times worked wonderful and it showed how Opeth changed over time., but manages to stay at top levels. Even the disappointing album Hertiga passed the test as The Devil's Orchard was played. This was one fine evening of everything Opeth indeed and I hope Mikale Akerfeldt soon catches up with Steven Wilson again. Tell him how to make a setlist, as where Porcupie Tree were Beautiful but a bit cold, Opeth did touch on emotions for everyone in, no matter your favorite period in their career. They even found time fo rtwo covers on this long night. Napalm Death's You Suffer twice gave us an extra 20 seconds. Opeth even managed to make me forget the amateuristic start of the evening and I will go see them again on the next tour. Voivod I definitely want to see soon again as well, so two out of two make up for one fine evening.