Friday, 29 January 2016

Tribulation, Grave Pleasures and Vampire - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden 28 January 2016

During PPE 2014 Andrew already tipped me on Tribulation with their weird image and great show. When they released their Children of the Night album last year it first passed me by. When some months ago they were announced for Gebr. de Nobel I checked them out on internet and decided I should see this band. Any decision on buying their album could be made after seeing them. Then last week Aardschok had them on number 2 on the best of 2015 poll of their writers. Animated I even bought a ticket in advance, but was unlucky in findng anyone joining me. So after going with a group of 15 to hear one of the best voices in metal (Damian Wilson) I now went alone to see a grunt. Probably more people went alone as the big hall was not really packed. Well homestayers missed out yet again.

First we had two opening acts. The first one confused me in the beginning and at the end. The opening tune had some spoken word with a Brazilian asking me if I knew who he was. The band didn't look that Brazilian though and after two songs the vocalist cleared my doubts "We are Vampire from Sweden". They played Death Metal, but with the occasssional galloping double guitar and some heavy metal in the instrumental bits. I quite liked their show and thought it well entertaining. At the end they disappeared, but left a small light on and a drummer ascertaining the kit made it look as if they would come back, which they didn't.
Next on were Grave Pleasures. At the first tones of the vocalist I was hearing Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads. Gothic Rock it was and the voice took it down for me really. Sometimes he moved to a different tone and sounded Greenday/Offspring like. In the song Future Shock this worked best for me and we had a highlight of the show. Obviously not all could appreciate this slightly different style and also for me the hour took somewhat long.

Then we waited for Tribualtion and apart from the music I was curious about their looks after warnings from Andrew and recently Jeffrey at Opening instrumental the band came on looking different indeed. But the Goth/feminine looks of the guitarists were not noticed when they started running over the place, giving us a great show. First song with vocals was Melancholia their current single. What a great song that is and for me the mix of instruments and voice came over very well. Coming to the music I did not hear extreme metal really. This was a blend, but especially due to the great guitar work I heard Heavy Metal. I don't care about which boxes they fit in, Tribulation showed why they received so many great reviews on their last album. With an energetic live show to match this could well be a band that grows out to become a big name on summer festivals. Sweden did it again and is leading the way in both old school heavy metal as progressive extreme metal. No doubt this band will return many times and I shall keep follwoing them closely and of course the CD is playing now. 

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Threshold de Boerderij Zoetermeer 23 January 2016

Opening the 2016 concert year for me was Threshold back in de Boerderij. Bringing along two opening bands this was a full evening of Progmetal. First on were Damnation Angles and they came over as a sympathetic lot. Always interesting to see when bands that hardly anyone knows ask for clapping/shouting along every three minutes. Somehow for me they got away with it, as they looked sincere and seemed to be having fun performing for us. Musically edging towars the more dramatic melodic prog metal not overly exciting but good performers. Next were Speric Universe Experience. This French band might have been musically slightly more interesting, but lacked stage personalities. A Vocalist trying to hard and little metal looks on stage did not help. I know we saw them before supporting in de Boerderij (also Threshold?) but again nothing stuck in my memory of their show.

This evening was once again being filmed. I believe one of the last times I saw Threshold in de Boerderij the show was also filmed but a DVD never followed. It was a good night for filming indeed. The place was full but not overly so and the balcony was open as well which facilitated wandering around in search of drinks or getting rid of them again. Threshold is among the frequent visitors to Holland, so no big surprises for their shows. Actually we already know that we shall see them again in Baarlo at Progpower later this year. From our side the 9  PPE goers of 2015 all were there plus 6, doing our part of filling the Boerderij. Regarding the show, the only surprise came in the fact that they played their last album The Journey in full. As always when a band plays a full album opinions were divided. As I did nominate the Journey my favorite CD of 2014 I had no problems with it, as I think all the songs are pretty good. In reality Threshold does not do bad songs. Yesterday the standouts might have been Pilot and Slipstream as these seem to be a nod above the rest. My favorite album of them shall remain Psychedelicatessen, but the earlier years were skipped all together. Still an entertaining evening and with two tours after the Journey passing de Boerderij I do hope for a best off career overview during PPE.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Neat & Tidy The Story of Neat Records - John Tucker / Lead Weight CD

Neat & Tidy the story of Neat records, is yet again a must read by John Tucker for anyone with even a mild interest in NWOBHM. John was not only a fan as from the beginning he was also author of the labels promotional magazine Lead Weight. This book is a complete trip through the history of Neat Records and Impulse studios. The book begins and ends in March 2011 when the Borough Theater was demolished and the physical place where once Neat Records was no longer can be visited by people in their fifies going on a pilgrimage of their past. The book has a nice personal touch which adds to the fan feeling. Many bands are being discussed and lots of new facts to me came by.

I was never much of a cassette or single buyer and used to get my LP's from local record stores. When discovering de Nieuwe Aardschok in the early eighties we could read about many Neat label releases. Obviously their two big bands releasing LP's were Raven and Venom. Most of the bands written about here did ring a bell though. The biggest surprise was maybe the not very professional running of Neat Records (the lists of typos quoted never ends), while as an Aardschok reader we had the impression Neat was the biggest and most professional supplier of Heavy Metal records (no pun intended). I just love reading these old stories, when music was developing into many interesting metal subgenres.While looking further into these bands I recently googled Stampij Radio (the best show ever made on National Dutch Radio during decent hours) To my surprise and luck I found under Archives 9 episodes for streaming and many bands of this book did pass.

In the book one cassette compilation is discussed being Lead Weight. The only NWOBHM compilation receiving a 5 star review in Sounds at the time. With the ease of internet nowadays, it did not take me long to find this release on CD for a mere 5 GBP and a bit. What a good buy this was, as I now realize that Raven were always good, White Spririt must have been owned by either Hans or Magchiel as I know all their songs, Venom was not as extreme as we thought at the time, Axe Blitzkrieg, Fist and Bitches Sine were names and possibly music I knew, while Aragorn, Axis, Warrior and Satan's Empire being good new bands to me. Toady has lots of great music on offer, but a wave as impacting to anything Metal music as the NWOBHM can never be repeated.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Iron Maiden - Flight 666

When it is dark winter days, but not really. What better to do than to play loads of music and watch a great Banger Films documentary on the biggest Heavy Metal band in the World Iron Maiden. While seeing this documentary I thought I just needed to comment on the question who are the greatest Heavy Metal band in the world? Nowadays it seems to be the norm to consider Metallica to be that. Great as they may be, let me give you some facts and numbers to set this right.

Metallica released three Classic albums (KtA, RtL MoP) and those were followed by two still very good albums, although not complete top level releaes (JfA and Black) Since 1991 (!) Metallica has not released any album that is even good, nor anything worth revisiting.

Iron Maiden released 7! Classic albums from ther debut until Seventh Son. Hereafter several good albums were released. I did not put the Book of Souls in my 2015 year list, but yes it is again a very good album. Similar to all post 88 albums, they might not be instant Classics but contain very good music.

This documentary shows Iron Maiden flying Ed Force One all over the world in a crazy tour with huge crowds on various continents. The joy they bring to the people is unmatched and after seeing this film I am looking forward to seeing Maiden again this summer (probably Graspop) With many great new songs to blend into the setlist a highlight of Live 2016 guaranteed. And then there is Sam Dunn from Banger films, who already brought us so many good movies (Global Metal, Rush). Staying off camera mostly it is all about the band and what comes together with a tour this size. For those unknown to his work, check out the Heavy Metal tree with some 15 (?) documentaries on all subgenres of our beloved music.

So when it rains outside and the weather is appalling, try to watch this. It made my day. I even went back in my photograph files from work to find Ed Force One, So here it is on a cloudy London morning just before the 2008 tour.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Top15 of 2015 - CD's

2015 was a great year for music. By making up my shortlists I noticed that I could easily nominate some 50 albums which is always a good signal. With so many choices this list good change well over time. First I decided that while live I prefer to see old bands that I did not see a long time (or ever before) On CD I tend to downgrade old names, comparing their last work with their best albums ever. So the following favorites from the eighties all did not make the cut while releasing great albums: Armored Saint, Queensryche, Thunder, FM, Iron Maiden (although they have the best artwork this year) Def Leppard (what a surprising good album), Whitesnake, Praying Mantis, Trespass (old songs on a brilliant album), Satan or Tysondog. further excelent Heavy Metal releases of RAM or Born of Fire are out, similar to progmetal giants Leprous and Kingcrow. I also noticed that I move away from progrock a bit, but still pretty much liked releases from Lonely Robot, The Room, Anekdoten, This Oceanic Feeling and Northlands. Getting to the point herewith in running order my 15 favorites of 2015:

15. Soldier - Defiant
Possibly even stronger than their last Dogs of War. Great war tunes from thsi sympathetic NWOBHM band. They play Very √Čavy maybe I manage to see them again.

14. Alkaloid - The Malkuth Grimoire
Based upon the names I sponsored their Indiegoo campaign. A blend of technical death Metal names relasing ths instant Classic in the genre. Even acceptable for those who scare of Death in Metal.

13. Our Oceans- Our Oceans
Only Dutch band on my list. Much lighter than their past in Cynic or Exivious might indicate this is a beautiful album of well played songs. Sunday morning music at it's best.

12. Native Construct - Quiet World
Not for every moment, nor every day. This album requires attention to the max, as there is simply too much going on. All styles you can imagine put together in a blender. Think Haken on extacy.

11. Solution 45 - Nightmares in the Waking State pt. I
My favorite Melodic Death Metal album of the year. For me a welcome return of the great voice of Christian Alvestom (Scar Symmetry) this means heavy and clear swaps in a very natural way.

10. Audioplastik - In the Head of a Maniac
Dec Burke means quality. Here together with Simon Anderson (ex PoS) and Richard West (Threshold) presenting 13 Rock songs of the highest level. Now for 5 GBP on their site, so get it.

9. Dead Lord - Heads Held High
Live the discovery of 2015 and also on CD highly recommended. Anyone into seventies metal with twin guitar solo's and good songs should try this at home. They Rock you with their Rock.

8. Shattered Skies - The World We Used o Know
Higlights at previous editions of PPE and HRHProg now on full CD. Mixing Heavy Metal and Djent into accesable songs. Pity their great vocalist left, Hope theymanage to  maintain this level.

7. Raven - Extermnation
2015 was a great year for NWOBHM bands releasing new work. My favorite album is this one, helped by their great live set. Powerfull and very athletic they keep on rockin' hard.

6. Steven Wilson - Hand.Cannnot.Erase.
I Like Steven Wilson best when he goes prog or even poppy (his metallic side others do better). This sad story turned into a beautiful album. Guthrie Govan and clip of Routine out of this world.

5. Swallow the Sun - Songs From the North I, II & III.
A Triple CD in 2015 with several styles divded over Gloom, Beauty and Despair. Still finding out new details with so much music. Missed them live, must see soon.

4. Teramaze - Her Halo
The catchiest Progmetal release of 2015. This Australian band should play PPE soon. What a release with only killers. Just everything is right about this album.

3. Dimino - Old Habits Die Hard
The surprise comeback of 2015 in superb style. Frank Dimino the voice of Angel, showing us how to rock fast and slow and even the level of Angel is reached. Never expected this release or it to be so good.

2. Iris Divine - Karma Sown
If there is any type of music that I shall never get tired of Iris Divine sets the boundaries. Progmetal, leaning to the heavier end of the melodic version. Opening song the Everlasting Sea tells it all.

1. Trial - Vessel
Released in january discovered by me only months later through Iron Fist. Swedish Heavy Metal, remembering me of US Metal, Doomish bands and even the mighty Psychotic Waltz. This band has so much on offer, Hope they start touring more as they just should not remain a little secret, but headline festivals.