Friday, 24 June 2016

Raven & Martyr - DB's Utrecht 23 June 2016

Thursday night and I had to pick up Josy at Schiphol at 23:30 hours. I could wait at home and watch the grass grow after crazy amounts of rain falling the last days. Or I could make a small detour and see two bands who always guarantee a great show. That choice did not take too long, so first time DB's in Utrecht for me it was. The place is easy to find and has lots of parking space around. As I was driving anyway this suited fine. Normally Raven and Martyr go down even better with a (Martyr?) beer in hand, but I do not know if the nearby small train station allows late returns by public transport. The main question in advance was be who would play Don't Need your Money. Last year in Musicon Raven did not include it in the set and Martyr did cover the same song on their last album.

On the shows themselves I can be relatively short. Martyr is a party band, but as support somewhat milder on the inviting crowds on stage and running through the audience. The only problem for me with Martyr is that they can never beat the setting from last year's Schollenpop when they played at a beach before a fairly large crowd. Still their mix of new and older songs went down well. Raven was also not disappointing again. Yesterday I wondered why Mark Gallagher never headed guitar hero lists in the past. The ease with which he passed through their classics and filling up the set with solo's remains amazing. Raven know how to present a party and the atmosphere is good throughout. This show was within the week between Graspop and Dokkum Open Air, which they filled up with several Dutch clubshows. As I did have to keep an eye on the clock I stayed from Destroy All Monsters until Faster than the Speed of Light. After that I deceided to drive faster than the speed of light to Schiphol, where Josy just landed. Great Thursday evening by all means and Raven didn't need no rich fat daddy trying to change their lives.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Frost - Punky Meadows - In Mourning

Today some albums of bands that went relatively short or very long off my radar. As usual starting with the calmer album ending very heavy again.

Frost - Falling Satellites
Frost is a child of Jem Godfrey. During daytime he produces pop artist and helps them score world hits I never heard of. Ten years ago he gave us a wonderful debut Milliontown which was I saw live in de Boerderij. Two years later Experiments in Mass Appeal followed with the multi talented Dec Burke on vocals. From the beginning Prog's omni-present John Mitchell played guitar and Frost stood for high quality Prog rock with some pop leanings. The band went to sleep for a long while and now we have in Falling Satellites a return to old form. I did need a few listening sessions as the pop and electronic influences need an open mind. Best example was Towerblock with rather distracting Key sounds. Now I see that as the sound of the knocking down of the towerblock. While the album contains an epic song in parts (Prog rock) my favorites are uptempo songs Numbers and Signs. The band is completed by Nathan King on Bass and Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson, Lonely Robot) on drums. This shall be one of my favorite Progrock albums of this year. Hope that agendas allow them to extend the 2016 Uk tour next year to Holland as well.

Punky Meadows - Fallen Angel
Speaking of disappearing for a while, Punky Meadows sets the benchmark. Punky was the founder of legendary AOR band Angel and disappeared from music that I know when they dismantled in 1981 (!). He did not play on their return album In the Beginning from 1999 (which was contrary to general belief a very good album as well). Those unaware of Angel should listen to Live Without a Net which opens with probably the best AOR song ever written Tower. Last year there was a surprise comeback of former vocalist Frank DiMino which made it to number three in my yearlist. Now we have a similar comeback of Punky Meadows. Going to the album, it contans melodic Hard Rock as made in the eighties with good melodies, a good vocalist and a ballad between rockers. Not as impressive as Frank DiMino's return last year in my ears, but still a very pleasant album. Recently Angel got together in Las Vegas for a premium. This being the first time in 35 years, hope is the last one dying for my chances to see them live one day in original line-up.

In Mourning - Afterglow
Any Progpower festival needs variation and one welcome break is always the heavier melodic or technical Death Metal around the dinner break. Some 4 or 5 years ago In Mourning was one of the highlights and the wall of three guitars impressed. I had the album Monolith at the time and soon thereafer The Weight of Oceans was released. Then it got a bit silent and now new album Afterglow is released. In Mourning play Melodic Death Metal with occassional acustic guitars and clean singing.  In Mourning are not in a rush and build up their songs with patience and heavyness. The album contains seven songs and lasts 54 minutes. My first impression is that it is a bit heavier then predecessor TWOO as a ballad is this time not included. Basically the only hurdle for new markets lays in the grunt acceptance. Anyone open to that and liking epic Heavy Metal songs just should give this album definitely a try: In Mourning from Sweden.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Anima Mundi - Musicon Den Haag, 18 June 2016

Anima Mundi were supposed to play London yesterday, but work permit issues made them cancel that show. Without getting overly political it makes you wonder if European bands playing Great Britain might face similar issues if Brexit shall be the case. If so the other way around might be applied as well and we shall loose interesting gigs. Basically this just proves my point that a referendum on something noone fully understands nor knows the consequences of is just irresponsible. Referenda are made for local decisions like building a new city hall versus investing more in hospitals and schools. International decisions should be left to voted politicians, who often have no clue either. But I drift away from Anima Mundi. As coincidence, which does not exist, had a late cancelation in Musicon as well, two hours of Cuban Progressive Rock came close to home. This is the weekend that Hans keeps me updated on progress on a muddy Graspop and Raven played Scum a place I have not been for many years which was once the second most famous metal club in Holland (after Dynamo). Pieter joining me to Musicon, the distance and thus beers made me choose for Anima Mundi and yet again I was not disappointed.

Anima Mundi are from Cuba, but played Holland already several times and this tour commemorates their 20 years of existence. To me they were unknown, but I did read several positive reviews on them in the past. In my Brazilian years I saw enough Latin American Progressive Rock bands to remember that they in general prefer the symphonic version with strong references to seventies Prog. Anima Mundi turned out to be not that different. All five showed to be masters on their instruments and the drummer occassionally played sax as well, while the vocalist had many shakeable instruments at his disposal. The songs were epic and mainly instrumental. In the beginning I feared for an overly serious evening as band and audience were all so focussed, that any noise might distract the spell. When during the second epic song someone applauded at what turned out to be not the end of that song, fans laughed and we were allowed to speak and breath again. Anima Mundi played two sets of each over an hour, with not so many songs in it. I do not recall any titles as all was new to me, but during the second set more uptempo parts passed by and the first one ended with a very long and impressive instrumental song. During the show I started liking the band more and more, but in the end I decided no to get their album. I think that on CD the power gets lost a bit and this band really comes alive on stage. While the world is complicating itself more and more today, The opening of Cuba is one of the positive recent developments. Now Anima Mundi  also put Cuba on the musical map of the world, looking forward to more of their visits.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Loudness - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden 16 June 2016

Loudness in Leiden in a not so full Gebr. de Nobel shows that I need to start with some Metal History. Recently Fortarock had Bbabymatel on the bill. People under 30 years might think that this is Japans best and biggest metal export product ever, but they are wrong. Admitted I never saw Babymetal playing live, but I saw a clip and think the cartoonlike schoolgirl vocals over modern metal are a joke and a gimmick that can never last. Also admitted I have been wrong many times before (Grunge, Nu-metal, Marilyn Manson). But coming back to Loudness they were one of the rising stars in the early eighties. The NWOBHM already fully exploded in our ears and Holland had many upcoming bands (Get the collection Dutch Steel for some Dutch Metal lessons). In Japan several bands also broke through with Bow Wow, Lazy, Earthshaker and leader of the pack Loudness. The band played melodic Heavy Metal sung in English with a very strong Japanese accent. Main man was and still is guitarist Akira Takasaki. Just to give an idea early 84 he was voted best guitarist in the 1983 poll in Aardschok. the world's leading metal magazine. This meant before heroes of that time Michael Schenker, Gary Moore, Ritchie Blackmore, YngwieMalmsteen and many others. Loudness would tour Europe several times and I believe the last time I saw them was in 1985 in Arena Rotterdam. Magchiel joined at the time and was very interested to see them play again. So Gebr. de Nobel it was.

Before Loudness came on we had two supports. German band Grey Attack opened playing old school hard rock, with not so much going on really. The most remarkable about their show was the huge banner with a very Eddie alike drawing with grey hair and bold spots (Grey attack?). Next came My Own Ghost from Luxemburg. This band with a nice female vocalist played something close to Evanesence or Within Temptation. Not my thing really, but Magchiel liked them, got the Cd and gave them some free tips: Try smiling on stage and the similar leather jackets in summer made no point. I did see Martyr walking around during Loudness. In my view they would have fitted better to the music of Loudness and a party guaranteed.

Crazy Nights meant Loudness was kicking off. Sound was good, Akira still in form and vocalist Minoru reminding us more and more of Klaus Meine. He managed to maintain a very strong accent after 35 years, but presented enthusiastically. Loudness was one of the bands that Hans had on LP, but I did go through their 80 albums on Youtube this week and noticed that I did recognize several songs. Highlight of the show came halfway when Loudness and Esper followed each other. Loudness showed to be still a very capable band with a guitarist extraordinaire. Akira is still one of the better guitarist mixing melody and heavyness. Time flew by and before we knew it Crazy Doctor and S.D.I. closed the show. Not leaving the stage and coming backfor an encore, just straight forward Heavy Metal and giving us a great evening. Hans was already on his way to Graspop, so I did recommend him not to miss this one. Once again the eighties ruled and Loudness is the best metal ever coming out of Japan.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Big Big Train - Perihelion Ship

Today spanning a wide range of Progressive music. From the nostalgic symphonic rock of Big Big Train to the extreme metal side of Perihelion Ship.

Big Big Train - Folklore
Big Big Train are storytellers. Their music is linked to the seventies and their lyrics tell us about life in that time (or around that decade). Reading along with their lyrics you do go back in time when we played football on the streets, marbles at school, a telephone would be a black box hanging on the wall, small shops in the neighbourhood would still be open and Holland qualified for Euro Championships to be one of the title favorites. The symphonic and folkloric music sets the atmosphere and the voice of  David Longdon completes the trip to memory lane. For those who never heard of BBT they are Gabriel Genesis transfered into the 21st century. Yet another truly remarkable album form this band with highlights in Winkie (a song about a pigeon!) and Brooklands. Latter being about a British racer reminding of Marillion's Out of this World. Live they could put some movies along for a similar emotional background. If there is any critic to be found on BBT it would be their lack of live shows. Far from frantic music, these songs deserve to be heard live and de Boerderij would be the obvious location.

Perihelion Ship - A Rare Thunderstorm in Spring 
Recently Tiago forwarded to me a map of Europe with for each country the number of metal bands per 1 million people. Finland stood out far and proud with 630 (Holland at 127, Germany 122 and Great Britain at 68 to give an idea) I did remember our nordic capital roadtrip holidays of two years ago, when I noticed in Helsinki to be very fashionable indeed wearing my black Heavy Metal shirt. Perihelion Ship are one of many Finnish bands therefore, but this one might grow big. This band mixes Progressive Rock with extreme metal. This has beeen done before, but they have something of an own sound. The fact that there are no keyboards, but Hammond Organ and mellotron gives the music an old vibe. The mix between extreme vocals and clean ones is around 50/50. This brings many references at different bits. Main recommendation for me would go to people who liked Green Carnation's Light of Day, Day of Darkness. Sometimes you hear Heep or Purple and then you hear Scandinavian extreme metal. The five songs run over 50 minutes in total and  vary between them also from softer to very heavy. This album was released begin of ths year digitally only. Very pleased it came out on CD now as I don't do downloads since I simply don't play them.