Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Queensryche, Archer Nation and Methodica - Boerderij Zoetermeer 29 August 2016

Now that the battle is over Queensryche found their rhythm again and returns to Europe each year for a tour reliving the past. As big a surprise as when we saw them first with Todd La Torre on vocals (Effenaar) won't happen again. Yet the question now remains if Queensryche would change their set for renewed old favorites. Before we would get the answer to that question we first had two openers warming us up.

Methodica from Italy opened the evening. They reminded most of the lighter progpower bands, playing a heavy prog rock. They sounded OK, but the songs did not stuck in my head at first listen. The rather reduced stage also did not allow them to walk around too much. Still they got enough reactions from the audience and were appreciated by many. Next on were Archer Nation from the US who defintely looked more metal to start with. Looks did not deceive, as when they started we got a pure Heavy Metal show upon us. Vocals reminded Hans of Dave Mustaine, which was true at times. Listening to their CD now I also recognize sounds of more recent British metal bands like Savage Messiah or Absolva. The better warmer up to me and a band to keep an eye on. Sad and strange to see that both support acts sold T-shirts for a stunning Eur 30. I guess Queensryche policies do not allow them to charge a price more fitting their status and fame. I passed now and I guess I was not the only one.

A sold out Boerderij then waited for Queensryche. This selling out caught several of us by surprise as last year in Amsterdam together with Armored Saint Melkweg was only half full. Last year also Todd suffered a cold and had to reduce the set, fighting through it the best he could. Maybe referring to that evening Best I Can was one of the surprising songs in the set. So Yes Queensryche did go through their past and made us happy with Damaged, The Mission and Screaming in Digital. It is the songs you do not expect that make you happy, next to fastest rocker Queen of the Reich. It all sounded very much like back to 1988. The band seems to be happy on stage again and in nothing reminds of the strange atmosphere hanging in the air one hot evening in Sao Paulo 2012. Still I have two tips for making this show legendary. First play longer: 75 minutes really is not a long set with so many classics to share. Further swap some songs that are the biggest hits, but far from my favorites. So I say out go Jet City Woman, Silent Lucidity and Empire. Strong substitues shall be I Am I, London, Anybody Listening?, Blinded and Before the Storm. As overwhelming as their shows were in the eighties it can never turn again. Still Queensryche delivers an evening of top level Heavy Metal looking as if they can go on for years. Hope they do so.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Solidity - Gojira - Tiles - Poem

A Progmetal special today, with some CD's I bought the last months. While all can be considered Progmetal in some way, they differ quite a bit amongst themselves and are all not from main progmetal areas like Scandinavia or the USA.

Solidity - An Abnormal Collection
Starting of in Hungary with Solidity a band I discovered through Prog Metal Zone and then Bandcamp. This band blends all from pop to electronical sounds but also metal in extreme and djenty forms. Masters of blending styles are Voyager from Australia and Solidity do not yet reach that level. At times they give the impression not fully knowing which way they are heading, but also at times it sounds very nice and they surprise you with a total blast. They sell this CD for 4 EUR or more, which is almost giving it away really. Like more Bandcamp releases sorry to see the lyrics on internet, but not in a booklet. Advice here listen to bandcamp and if feeling the same sympathy for them I felt: order your copy.

Gojira - Magma
This CD has been all over the internet, as Gojira were promoted to the premier league with their previous album L'Enfent Sauvage already. Yes they are French but  I shall say this only once. As I missed all big summer festivals this year I did not see them playing live yet. In Aardschok the question was raised if they could headline major festivals in the future. Personally I think not, as their music needs some digging in to, before appreciating fully. It is all about the riffs and the groove. No great guitar solo's filling this album, but a constant pulsing heavy beat. It seems they walk away from their more extreme past and who knows one day we see them breaking even bigger than I see possible now. Recommended for music lovers.

Tiles - Pretending 2 Run
Arriving at the softer side of Progmetal we find Tiles. They fall for me in the same category as Enchant and Shadow Gallery. Great bands who played Europe not enough, but also who I do not need to follow buying every CD. You know what you get and it is high class, but lacks some surpise. Afer a long hiatus of eight years they are back recording even a double album. Mainly due to the list of guest appearances I got interested and bought this one, Starting with a disappointment, when Mike Portnoy plays together with his son Max on one song I expected fireworks and not a lame poppy song Fait Accompli. I have this album quite a long time already, but needed time to get an idea. My final verdict is that the double album again resulted in too much music to swallow. Especially CD2 has too many fillers I think and moves very close to Yes. Still some very good songs on this album and a return of their signature sound. Final thumbs up for the artwork, with some pictures in the booklet, showing the finger to any MP3 file collectors, being as beautiful as best Rush, Floyd or Dream Theater artwork.

Poem - Skein Syndrome
Greece did it again! With several underground festivals, many bands talking positive about the fans and some huge Progmetal releases in the past (Wastefall, Need!) we now have Poem. The band is not new and even played Holland supporting Amorphis earlier this year. I needed an interview in Legacy and then the internet to get to know them. Poem play progmetal ticking all the right boxes. Good songs to start with, great vocalist, heavy enough and good instrumental base to build on. For reference or name dropping they remind me of a faster version of Soen. Best introduction to this band is YouTube. Go and search for their clip of Passive Observer. Chances are you get impressed and order this album as fast as I did after discovering them.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Obese, Rise of the Wood, Dead Wizards, Pendejo! -Musicon The Hague 26 August 2016

D&ESR putting four to me unknown bands in Musicon, With the internet as my guide I listened to some sound clips and found all four potentially could be interesting, so Hello again Musicon it was. Originally this were to be three bands, but Pendejo!'s gig at another venue in The Hague was cancelled, giving them the chance to be added to the bill. Especially this band got my attention as they have something very own to them. Being a dutch band, due to some latino roots of members they sing in Spanish and also use the not so common trumpet to spice up their heavy rock. As they would open the evening all reasons not to arrive late and I can be short, they blew me away with their live show. This was very energetic rock, with a latino vibe to which the latino in me strongly related. I might look very dutch to many, but I am a Carioca by heart and Spanish is just one step away from Portuguese so I could get their comments on mulheres con muchas curvas. This show strongly reminded me of Tarantino movies as well. Picture a psychopath lost in the desert walking into a small steaming hot town entering the saloon. There Pendejo! is playing, with the mad vocalist getting his gun out to shoot some punters who got into a fight. The good thing is, that if Tarantino ever wants to use this story line, the band is perfectly cast for the role. The music was good, the atmosphere from the stage great and the trumpet gave the evil haunting background for what would be a show impossible to top by the other three bands. Got their two fair priced CD's (as Rene put, for listening once and then archiving) and know I shall keep an eye on their future touring schedule.

To Dead Wizards the impossible task to follow this one up. As they are from the area they brought some local support along and actually did quite well. If there was to be a probem, to me it was the lack of a singer. Although good instrumentalists, the show did not offer the variation Vircator for example offered some months ago. I guess a second guitarist or a vocalist can help. Now the band played well, but did not once say something like a song title or introducing the band. Decent show though. Next on stage were Rise of the Wood, who brought a huge banner and some home fans as well. This band plays stoner metal, while I heard also much of Soundgarden mixed in. This mainly due to vocals who were not very far from a poor man's Chris Cornell. This band brought energy back on stage and is basically a very nice band to add to this bill. Enough metal in their music and their anthem "Hell Yeah" has an invitation to shout along in it. They covered a Red Fang song, but as I do not know music from that band nothing changed which might say something of the level of their own songs. Headliner of the evening were Obese from Utrecht. Their music was described as fat/stoner/sludge/doom. In theory this might have been the best band, but for reasons I can not put the finger on their songs did very little to me. They were heavy (fat) stonering and doomish, but I did not get the spark and even decided shortly before they finished to call it quits as our summer has finally arrived and summer evenings started taking their toll. Thanks to Paul and Benjamin for getting this evening together, I can look back at one brilliant show and some good followers thereafter.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Vektor & Villainy - Little Devil Tilburg 19 August 2016

Vektor in a sold out Little Devil, was one of those shows I knew I should not miss. This year they released in Terminal Redux a strong candidate for album of the year to me. When they announced that during this tour on non festival dates the album would be played in full, I only became more curious how they would pull this off live. Before they were on Villainy from Holland would open the evening. I can say they did so very well. They looked thrashy at start, but also had doom and long instrumental spacy bits included. As they had some 45 minutes, no time was wasted on introducing songs or band, just playing as many songs as would fit in. Actually if not for the packed Little Devil and the surprising end of the evening I might have checked out a CD. Shall leave this for next time I see them now.

A sold out Little Devil, means a full house indeed. I decided to stay at the break tugged in my corner at the bar, hearing from Christian the latest news and ideas on Progpower. When Vektor hit the stage we noticed that the guy walking around in a Watchtower T-shirt was actually the bass player, so nothing wrong with their historical awareness. The band kicked off with Charging the Void and indeed the full album was to follow. After the first song one discussion was ended to me. Nowadays many people get worried on the future of festivals and what shall happen when all the headliners from the eighties stop touring. Any festival in the future looking for a thrash metal band to close, Vektor is your band. They attract both a younger crowd and my generation who might be reminded of the bands like Toxik at times.To me everything sounded right and the speed at which Vektor go through their riffs, solo's and songs is just amazing. The band seemed to be at ease with this astonishing display of power and Little Devil reacted accordingly. There was a remarkable positive vibe in the air and circle pits and crowd servers were handled as well humoured as the beers were ordered with assistance of the people sitting on the bar for better sight. It felt like everyone realized we were seeing something special in the future of metal. The CD was played in order of the album so in spite of a cry for Black Future no surprises were included. Close to the end Vektor also showed that ballad Collapse could be delivered with class and then the grand finale was announced in Recharging the Void. After a blastering first five minutes I was curiously waiting for the break to the Pink Floyd bit, when all went dark. Little Devil could not have so much display of power and all went black. We got a drum solo, some Vektor shouts, request for acapella finish and another drum solo, but the power did not come back. This band deserved a better ending, but as the vibe was good all understood this was beyond the band and under loud applause they left the stage. I am already looking forward to a next show. Afer this selling out they should move to bigger venues and we might get an overview of their three albums then. Vektor rulezzz !!!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Mearfest 4 - The Borderline London 13 August 2016

When I first heard of Mearfest 4 I knew this was going to be special. A NWOBHM Charity event in aid of the Willow Support Group for still born babies. People react different to disasters in their personal life's, but the way Brain and Claire Mear turned their loss of Molly into legacy inspires and asks for respect. I suggest reading of Molly's story on the Mearfest.com site for understanding a bit of the emotions behind such loss. Our Molly was called Taina and she would be a beautiful (if pushing her mom) 12 year old now. We experienced also the unprepared hospital, to deal with such a loss on a department where other babies are born. Combining this story with the fact that 6 NWOBHM bands would play I had to either go and see or just donate. Choosing the better option I arrived just after five at The Borderline a dark cellar with a bar and a stage, the perfect setting for this event.

Starting of matters were Not Fit For Humans. This was not a Metal band really, but they covered Priest. Kaine got things really going musically. Being announced as Britains hope for Heavy Metal I can agree to that as being one of Britain's hopes. Their metal was mostly fast with two guitars in traditional style adding the spices. They are playing a lot in The Rock Den, while I hope they can follow  similar young bands like Toledo Steel or Monument and make it over to the low countries one day. Next on were Troyen and looking at the band they might be still in original Line-up. I did not know them 35 years ago and they turned out to play a NWOBHR as their metal was a heavy rock. Some songs sounding rather good but fairly mild after Kaine's thunderstorm we just reovered from. Sacrilege followed and the music turned heavy. Mixing their faster songs with the more Sabbath like heavy rockers I very much enjoyed their show. I did see them at Power & Glory two years ago, but was then recovering in between shows. Now they were more to my liking with the drumming devil. As the vocalist already mentioned their songtitles were highly inappropiate for the event, but I guess Journey was not within charity budgets .Sacrilege still do have the most striking basic Tees of the day as well.

Then came The Deep, whom I say in The Hague just two weeks before. Expecting the same set, they opened upon request of Brian and Claire with The Sound of Silence. If there was a most emotional moment of the day, this was to be it and the great voice of Tony Coldham did so much justice to the occassion. Hereafter the set was completed with songs from Premonition. Seeing them twice in a row now, I do realize how good that album is and what a great live band. For me the best band of the day and pleased to see them in a full house now. Ater the raffle where I came awfully close, but did not win anything that would have caused me handluggage problems at Easyjet, Desolation Angles were closing the evening. I have their EP Sweeter the Meat, but recognized to my surprise on stage the vocalist of Midnight Messiah. They were a worthy closer of the day, with a good set of old songs. Only missed the title song of the EP, which might have been caused by tight time schedules.

During the day I did ran into several known people and faces. While I expected the Rock Den crowd, the bigger surprise to them and me was running into Progpower's Mario and Luigi this time in civilian outfit though. Dealer should play The Hague next year and Martyn Turner takes some good pictures. Thanks to Brian and Claire for organizing this day. Next year a follow up is in the plans and I shall make an effort to be there again.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Schollenpop 2016

Schollenpop is one of The Hague's free summer festivals and like Kaderock usually runs around guitar/rock orientated bands. Last year was the best version ever, due to the adding of a metal stage organized by THHMA. To complete the brilliance Death Angel was one of the bands on the main stage. This year Textures was announced pretty fast, which raised the hopes for another great year. Unfortunately we learned that the co-operation between Schollenpop and THHMA had ended and there would not be another metal stage like last year. Then suddenly a few weeks before the festival was held a new metal stage was announced. This year concentrating on local bands, but with a headliner that was amongst the most touring bands in Holland in the eighties. So for those looking for a general Schollenpop review you went to the wrong blog, as I saw only one band on the two main stages. For those not knowing teh festival it is at the beach best location there is and to please the organizers and visitors we had a beautiful sunny afternoon, so I write this burned (not bruised).

On the Metal Stage on the other hand I only missed one band, due to a slightly late arrival, so sorry Mr. Cramer hope to see you later. The Metal Stage was comfortably located at the entrance of the festival again. Actually if there would have been a bar and coins for sale, there was no need to leave the first 50 meters in the afternoon. Upon my arrival Warborn Waste started their set. This very young band played Death Metal and did so rather well. Promising band for the future I guess, let's see what their EP sounds like when released early next year. Next on were Defazer and they turned out to be the best band of the day (in my ears). Defazer plays thrash metal as we came to know it in the eighties. Everything sounding good this band I shall follow closer during future shows in the area. Buzz Rockington had to follow this up and they had some problems keeping the crowd close to the stage. Their music is groove driven and I saw them before opening for Warrior Sould when they fitted better than on the sunny beach. Good voclas though.

Next on were our recent favorites of Icarius. This was basically a shorter version of the HPC gig they did a few weeks ago. Nick proving again he has a great voice and instrumentally a tight band with some great guitar solo's. I borrowed a picture from their page to show what Schollenpop looked like from the stage. I hope they grow further as they are very lively on stage. Old Man's Riot followed and they groove and rock. Sounding nice enough, but I lost some attention during the gig when burned neck and beers started taking their toll. Closer of the Metal Stage were Jewel. This band played everywhere in Holland in the eighties and always started a party. Remembering their shows with the trampoline on stage for the audience to jump off. Musically they play a mix of thrashy metal with an overdose on melodic guitar solo's. In Henky Backer they had Holland's first guitar hero in the band (if we forget Jan Akkerman and some others) I probably have not seen them in 25 years, so a bit curious I was. Vocalist Rick Ambrose (who organized the stage parties) is no longer with the band, but Nico who took over did a good job. When the show started Henky was already on the beach and not on stage, so expectations came through and still Jewel is about giving us a party to watch. Not to many songs I recognized, but Blacque Moon from their EP passed by and Ballroom Blitz was raced through as well. The show had to end with their hit La Morta, still a great song and a worthy closer of Metal Stage.

During the Jewel set one thing started nagging. The main stage kept their time schedule, so halfway you could see Textures starting from the corner of your eye. Supporting underground, old school I decided to stay with Jewel, but wen they finished I fairly fast moved to the main stage to see Textures play their last 25 minutes or so. Textures is a big name in the Djent scene and you can see that from their stage show. "Illuminate the Trail"was played after I found my spot in the sand and sound and show were from a different level from the limited possibilities on the Metal Stage.The small impression I could get was very positive and seeing a pit in the sand is always great fun, as people get tired and struggle to stay on their feet for several reasons. This year Textures are playing many festivals and I will see them again at Progpower. On bass we had a substitue (?) in Robin who I saw playing before with Cynic, Exivious, Mourn and hopefully soon with Our Oceans. After speaking with Danny from Trespass last week I understand it might be a bassplayer thing to collect many bands.

And then it was over for me. Some talks and drinks would follow, but musically nothing attracted me any longer. That did include Danko Jones, who I was not overly impressed with last year. The sun helped making this a remarkable Schollenpop again. Last year probably shall never be topped again, but this Metal Stage could be considered a success as well. Especially Defazer, Icarius and Jewel made me look out for more of them. 

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Cosmograf - Wolverine - Witherscape

Three recommended CD's starting with what I thought would be the calmest one.

Cosmograf - The Unreasonable Silence
I discovered Cosmograf in 2011 with their album "When Age Has Done its Duty". Actually Cosmograf is Robin Armstrong. He writes the music and plays most of it. Interestingly he knows people so he always gets some guests of name and fame. This time Nick D'Virgilio again plays all drums. Further we have smaller participations from Nick Beggs, Dave Meros and even Steven Wilson speaks some words on the final track. In my view this name dropping is not necessary for liking this album. Cosmograf plays music often packed in a concept story and not unlike later Pink Floyd albums on atmosphere. Comparing this album with the previous ones it seems a bit harder to get into really. Spoken parts and a complicated story make it not easy to consume at once. After several plays it grows on you though and yet again Cosmograf releases one of the best Prog albums of the year.

Wolverine - Machina Viva
Wolverine are the Progpower Europe Houseband, as with every release they are back on stage in Baarlo. This year they shall play again and based upon this album I foresee a risk or a problem. The Power is gone out of Wolverine. This process was already going one for some time, but now we can speak of an album that really is not metal any longer. Don't get me wrong it is a beautiful album, full of great moody songs. The fact is that all songs seem quiet at first hearing and there is nothing to bang your head on. So while on one end I really like this album for a Sunday morning I also realize that my favorite heavy days of "The Window Purpose" or "Cold Light of Monday" shall not return So I end recommending this album for the quality of the music, while I might myself drop Wolverine of the list of bands I can buy in the blind.

Witherscape - The Northern Sanctuary 
This album is the one most raved about on metal webzines over the past month. And I can only confirm rightly so. This band is a duo with Dan Swanö on vocals, drums and keys and Ragnar Widerberg on guitars and bass. Dan is known from his Death Metal past (Edge of Sanity and solo) plus his Melodic Hard Rock band Nightingale. Here we basically hae a combination of the two and to great effect. I already loved their debut Inheritance and this CD builds further on the same style. So we have some heavy bits and grunting vocals, but also the dark melodic voice from Dan over some melodic metal songs. For me the song Marionette is a good representation for what this band stands for. The Chorus is very catchy and melodic, yet sung with the recognizable grunt of Dan. This time there also is an epic song in the title track of 13 minutes which is an adventure I would say. I do believe that with this album Witherscape should be able  to bridge the gap from heavy metal fans to Melodic Death Metal. Speaking about Progpower with Wolverine, this band should deserve a place next year. 

Monday, 1 August 2016

Trespass & The Deep - Musicon The Hague 31 July 2016

Loyal followers of my blog (and I know who you four are!) might remember that I voted Trespass in the Quay as my favorite show of 2015. Now I think that you can't compare shows really, but the whole trip, receipt at the venue and pub-tour afterwards made that a very special weekend. When I read some months ago that The Deep would be playing Musicon the day after Headbangers Open Air  I managed to get Trespass in contact with THHMA and they were added to the gig. As with work at a low and travelling reduced I can now also plan in advance and start giving something back to the music that I love for 50 years now. Thus Trespass stayed at my place and earlier ideas of starting a Poussada in Brazil could be put into practice/training. So this always was going to be a special gig and after taking Tiago to see Iron Maiden during our holidays he now joined with Iwan to see what a show in Musicon is all about.

Trespass was the first band to play and they opened with Jealousy. As the new album Footprint in Rock is now to be mixed several songs from that one were played as well. To me they blended in well with the old songs. Last year Trespass was still with five members, now they are four. Loosing one guitar did not stop the switching between the solo's and I still could recognize the typical Trespass sound also in the new songs. As highlights tend to come in songs you know, for me Bright Lights was definitely one of them. We knew that it was over when One of these Days started. Again played in a great version, with the melodic solo at start and finish. This song should have made them a household name, but it did not happen then, nor will it happen now all of a sudden I'm afraid. This was the first time ever they played Holland and I guess more shall follow even if the crowd was somewhat disappointing small.

This review might look a bit biased towards the Trespass gig, but I definitely came to see The Deep as well When starting their set two things were clear. Tony Coldham has a huge vocal range and The Deep adds a nice power to their metal. Most (all?) songs came from the excelent debut album Premonition. Not following the order of the CD though. Amongst the highlights the title track and Spellbound. The Deep were very enthusiastic on stage and this transported back into Musicon nicely. In two weeks time they play the already legendary Mearfest 4 and I am looking forward to see this show again. Got the Tee in appreciation and hope more music is coming from them in the future.

Returning home in the van with Trespass it was nice to hear their views on music and touring. Very nice guys they are, they did not even charge me for having a meet and greet at Breakfast. Looking very much forward to their Footprint in Rock.