Thursday, 25 May 2017

Warbringer - Prayers of Sanity - Solitary

Thrash Metal is all around this year and new discoveries never seem to stop (see Overruled last weekend only). Therefore herewith some international tips of 2017 favorites of mine. I shall not concentrate on the CD's as such, but give some background why I like these albums so much. Of course I should include Dutch glory Distillator - Summoning the Malicious, but I did not get my copy yet. I shall do so when they tour that album. In order to bring some order in discussion I rank in order of bandmembers descending.

  Warbringer - Woe to the Vanquished
Warbringer probably played the best thrash live show I saw this year (considering Flotsam & Jetsam Heavy Metal here) This quintet were awesome in Tilburg and opened with the first four tracks of this album, which I therefore bought after the show. Being the only album of the three surpassing 40 minutes there is a reason for that. The last song is an epical track of 11:11 minutes, When the Guns Fell Silent. That song alone for me would be a reason to check out this album.Running for quite some years it was the first time I saw them live. Having been away from Holland for four years they promised to be back soon and so they do. Announcing shows in Little Devil Headlining and in Baroeg supporting Death Angel, both more than a bit interesting I would say. Unfortunately I shall be on summer holidays, which always means missing some shows. Still for those being in Holland early August this weekend  also has Sanctuary, Fates Warning and Schollenpop, still suggesting to include at least one of the above mentioned gigs.

Solitary - The Diseased Heart of Society
Solitary are around since 1994 and I never heard of this quartet before. This is not only my fault as I donot recall any interviews or reviews in Aardschok and checked major dutch webzines without any reviews. In the buildup to their Dutch tour in June I checked internet and decided to order this last and recent release. What I did very right was ordering the bundle together with the book of founder/guitarist/vocalist Rich Sherrington I Promise to Thrash Forever. Well this book explains why they were never that visible abroad. It reminded me strongly of an underground version of the Stroy of Anvil. It is all there the friendhsip, the struggles, the bandmembers caroussel, the highs and many lows. But most important the way to never give up, which makes this book holding the right title. 8-10 June they make a short tour through Holland Geleen, Nijmegen and The Hague. I am proud and pleased to inform that I shall reopen my HM B&B for that and can only tip everyone not to miss this tour. For a taster check out their video of Unidentified.

Prayers of Sanity - Face of the Unknown
This band was possibly the best discovery at Evora Metal Fest early March. Starting to follow the Portuguese trio since I noticed this album would be released 29 April. As coincidence runs I would be in their home town that very day, so I asked them if there was to be an album release show. There was, but not in Lagos, nor that same weekend. Lagos holds no venues for metal and 29 April was the weekend of SWR Barosselas, where both Tiao and Artur would play with other bands. So I missed the release party the week before, but I did meet bassist Carlos in Lagos and can proudly state being the first foreigner holding their CD and T-shirt of Face of the Unknown. This album continues where they left me at Evora, namely good old Bay Area thrash. Setup of this album is as traditional. Four fast bangers, an instrumental short song, where in the past you would flip the LP and then 4 other fast songs to close. I do hope they make it to tour Europe and me being able to help when they reach the low countries.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Them & Cauldron - Little Devil Tilburg, 22 May 2017

Them released last year the very strong album Sweet Hollow. Touring Europe now their dutch gig was in Little Devil. During the build-up of this gig something different was announced as they would bring actors to play the full story and not just the songs. Support would come from Canadian traditional metallers Cauldron, so Hallo Little Devil yet again. The choice between car and train is always a difficult one as both made me miss parts or full shows in the past. This evening I choose train and someone was taking a walk on the rails so I had to detour via Utrecht (It's a sign, it's an omen!?). Result I arrived somewhat late in Tilburg and missed the opening of Cauldron. In the warm Little Devil it turned out that Cauldron could not attract much response from the audience. I never saw them before and like their style of metal. At the same time hearing their songs for the first time I was not blown away really. All passed seemingly calmly and the energy was not there between band and public. Many people opted for an outside beer in the warm evening and I followed after some songs.

Coming back at the venue the stage was set and there was a coffin and a corpse. Several actors at the side of the stage and interesting enough many boxes from the stage show at the side. So I ended up hanging on stuff that was packed at the side, finding a good view to see what was coming. Then I noticed my phone touchscreen died and I would not be able to take any pictures (another sign?). If ever I saw a show that would be much better of by a review of 10 pictures instead of a 1000 words it would be tonight. The fact that Little Devil is small made it even better as we all were straight in front of the stage and got what turned out to be a metallic horror play in the story of Sweet Hollow. Starting with the music as that is what we came for in the end this band is great. Them started as a King Diamond tribute band and you can still hear this. Vocalist Troy throws in the occasional high scratching scream, the guitar duo (Lanfear/Viking) throws solo's all over the songs, keyboards (Ivanhoe) give the atmosphere and the rhythm section is solid and heavy. The bassist even has a name and can say hi, hallo. Sorry but forgot which thrash band he came from. The music played followed the story of the CD of course in running order and with some acted intermezzo's. As you would wish for, live these songs came over even better and louder. After the album was finished and a loud cheer came from the crowd a new song was played as an encore. This was one from their forthcoming album to be released next year, whose title I forgot. This was not only a rock concert, but a spectacle to watch, so a special thanks to the three actors who played Mary, Henrietta and Ransom. This was definitly one show to remember, so any friends in Lisboa reading along go and see them on Wednesday. One bewitching experience which I can not proof with some of my traditional poor pictures. Well Troy looked like the design above and the stage before kickoff I knicked from Them's own page. Yet I can not finish without making a comparison. How is it possible that in same Tilburg Ayreon sells out three nights 013 (some 9/10.000) in a few hours and Them does not sell out Little Devil? I am biased as I can't listen to four Ayreon songs in a row without female choirs getting on my nerves, but Them is as dramatic and way more metal. I am sure that next time they have to move to a bigger venue. Everyone present yesterday shall be interested in their next album/tour and spread the news on how good this was. Ending with some references imagine Iron Maiden Tilburg 88 Seventh Son being performed in Little Devil, or Dio's Sacred Heart tour around that time. Nowadays only Hell of similar size puts on such shows. Them came, bewitched and exorcized (although Troy probably did not get the dutch swearing at him for killing the lovely girl). Thanks to Mario and Little Devil for bringing this remarkable show to Holland. Those who were present can one day say: I was there!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Metalcon V - Musicon The Hague, 19/20 May

Metalcon is the next in line of smaller metal festivals calling it quits after several editions. I guess it requires a lot of time and energy to organize such an event. So where I visited last month the final chapter of Very 'Eavy, this weekend Metalcon had it's final edition. Metalcon is strongly leaning on the heavier death metal end, but since last year the Pre-party on Friday is somewhat lighter. I got my weekend-ticket and therefore kicked of on the Friday.

Dinner with Tiago made me miss the early start, but I am sure Rages of Sin shall play at a venue near home soon again. So for me The Dutch Duke opened Metalcon. This was an opening with some technical issues, as the guitar was not coming through during the first two songs. Being a power-trio this is a handicap indeed, but when all was sorted they quickly ran through the time that was left for them. Heavy Rock and Roll, covering Ace of Spades and last gig of their drummer. Next band were Extremities from Eindhoven. I saw them play Baroeg Open Air and Complexity during the last year and like their djenty metal. This performane was a good one and they are turning into a machine of riffs. Maybe a Progpower pre/post dinner break band one day. Hereafter Overruled were the surprise of the evening. Yet another great thrash metal band from Holland. Their presentation was the most energetic of the day and their playing and songs matched it nicely. Ending with a cover of The Mechanix, these guys can play and brought the atmosphere up. Later this year they shall release a debut album and I wil get it. Headliner of the evening were Order of the Emperor. They play hard-rock and at times I heard even some Skintrade influence in their grooves. As the Saturday promised to be a long day and I will see them with Dead Daisies next month I left early and saved on sleep and liver.

Saturday I wanted to be back early for two reasons. First I wanted to see opening band Icarius again and second I was planning to leave for the annual football tournament of my old team. Explaining for foreign readers here, in Holland we don't play in parks and open fields, but at football clubs in organized competitions. I stopped playing a the high of my career this month 25 years ago, when I also withdrew my availability for the national team. Now my old team has an annual friendly tournament in May, with 24 teams and ending in food and a cover band. Unfortunately before the band starts there is a DJ and musical taste at football clubs can best be described as total shite. Yet it was good to meet many friends again. In order to stay in line with the sad news of this week I created during Metalcon a Black Hole in the Sun.

I did arrive at 13:30 sharp though and Icarius kicked off. Coby was not around to see Nick play this time, so I can tell her he did well. Their modern metal is not fully my style, but they play tight and I believe they are becoming even better with time. Next band 3rd Machine was the most Progmetal band of the weekend and like before I liked their show. Leaning towards the heavier end at Progmetal today they were amongst the lightweights in heaviness. Last time they played Musicon was during Rob Rockstoel's memorial and they dedicated a song to him today, which was a good thing. Then quickly things became mortal when Contorted Mind hit the stage. Not sure how deep this guy is going to get his grunt out, but that was one impressive low gutteral feast. This music goes a step beyond my CD collection, but it is hard not to appreciate this performance on stage. The next band Illusionless, was one I was looking out for after  my pre-metalcon internet search  Turned out they were as good as I hoped for. Solid Progressive Death Metal that went down very well at Musicon. They also managed the return of the rowing boat in the audience. Last year at BOA I saw that first and while only small in size I like this sit down and row effect, must bring it to other festivals one day. As I left immediately after their show and returned only after a few hours I missed the chance to get their album. Will keep an eye on their upcoming shows and correct that later. There is really no better medicine to get bad music out of your system than go and see The Modern Age Slavery. These Italians gave us the perfect Tech-Death show, with the breaks, the solos and the presentation. For me probably best band of the weekend  I now am playing their last album Requim For Us All, which I got afterwards. It is these bands you discover on small festivals that make it so great to go there. And then came Ingested from the UK. If ever the term going out with a blast could be used, Metalcon hit it on the nail. I guess Ingested might have been the most brutal band ever to play Musicon. It was fast, it was heavy and then it was a bit faster again. When they asked for the place to bounce from the foking floor to the foking ceiling one might guess this exagerated. Well the room came close. This was a party in brutalness and a packed Musicon seemed to appreciate it to the full. This was the perfect closer of Metalcon history. Thanks to Dennis and the full crew for organizing this and giving me the chance to make some great discoveries. Hopefully someone will fill the gap in the region with a new initiative.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Lelahell, Meadows & Defazer - CAB03 Leiden, 16 May 2017

Lelahell are from Algeria, so a double reason for me to go and see them. First I love documentaries on metal in unusual places like Heavy Metal in Baghdad on Iraqi band Acrassicauda, or Global Metal by Sam Dunn. Lelahell made their own in Highway to Lelahell. Second I often travelled the MENA area for work and I can imagine live as a metal band just can't be simple over there. So when on a Tuesday night Lelahell play CAB03 in leiden I decided to have a look. They even brought Algerian weather to Holland so we suddenly face a two day summer in spring and CAB03 turned into a dark hot venue.To beat the heat there is a bar, but that is two stairs up. Before we go exotic, two more or less local bands warmed us up.

Defazer is the best thrash band in the The Hague area and I saw them a few times over the last year. Again they played a good set and now we wait for the announced EP and better merch. Hereafter local band Meadows promoted their debut album, which shall be released next week. Their music is a bit out of my usual range as their grind hardcore mix was described by themselves as some more teringherrie. They were right, although enthusiastic and energetic they were.

Lelahell played for a half filled CAB03. This half filled only because the place is tiny. Being Algerian or not the first thing that stood out and remained so during the whole gig was their drummer. What an animal, he seemed much  stronger than he realized, as I have seen hard hitters before, but his blasting hammering was too much for the poor kit. Cymbals flew of the drum stage, first on our right and a little later the left cymbal gave up as well. He sweated like an animal and lost several sticks in the process. During the encore he lost his one but last and Arian had to return his souvenir to keep the show going. But while the drummer took our attention, the Algerian duo up front played impressive as well. A not so extreme, rather technical form of death metal sounded fine. I did not get the song titles as the announcements were in grunting style. From their neighbouring country Tunesia I saw Myrath a few times. While that band choose to play the arab card, bringing a belly dancer, Lelahell did not need to do any such thing. Convince us with their music and performances. I am already looking forward to talking to AlgerianIron Ore purchasers in the future and as an ice brekaer ask them about the latest album of Lelahell.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Sacral Rage, Xternity & Epic Mind - Little Devil Tiblurg, 14 May 2017

A lot of good music is being released almost every day. So it can happen that you miss bands that are right up there with some of your all time favorites. Sacral Rage turned out to be such a band to me. When this show was announced I read the name Watchtower as reference and knew I needed to check this band out. With the ease of the internet I listened to their full album on bandcamp and ordered it thereafter. That same page shows covers of Priest and Mercyful Fate to give some references. What I heard as well was a healthy dose of Crimson Glory and Agent Steel. Resuming this is one fine band and I was more than a bit curious how this would come over live. Little Devil it was, but 14 May it was as well. This day Feyenoord was supposed to become champion in Holland after 18 years, which means a lot drunk people around and even a chance to top last week's disaster and fail again (which they did not). I mean to say by this that the train was not an option and car it was. As there were no flagwaving supporters driving drunk on the Rotterdam Ring the road was clear. I even got followed by some police vans who were on standby from southern cities. Result of police vans behind you is that you follow your speed and I missed some signs as the road to Tilburg turned out closed so hello Belgium it was and back up to Breda. So later than wished for I entered Little Devil.

Pull me Under came through the door of the venue and Epic Mind turned out to be a quartet with some courage covering Dream Theater. If there is any genre in metal, where I am fairly thoroughly informed it must be progmetal. Still I never heard of Epic Mind and they seem to be almost ten years running. After this cover they only played one more very long own song, so I can hardly judge their set. My impressions were: good musicians, vocals must be to your liking and they were no stage animals really. I will go check them out again if nearer to home and give a fair opinion. Next on were Germans Xternity. They took some time to tune, but turned out to be very good when playing. If closing my eyes I might have thought I went to de Nobel after all this evening. Their technical extreme metal with Blackish vocals came closer to Belphegor than today's headliner. I did not get an album immediately and after the show they took their long drive home already. So warmed up we were for Sacral Rage. Friends told me they played Keep it True some years ago and were brilliant, so let the madness begin.

Sacral Rage on stage and the knee protectors of the bassist reminded of Watchtower indeed. In seconds we could also hear that this band is of the top-category as musicians. Well that goes for the instruments as Dimitris was during the first songs struggling a bit with mics. When that was sorted his voice was impressive powerfull and high, matching the quality of the band. They opened with the start of last album Illusions in Infinite Void. and Encima del Mal showed they are on stage as strong as on CD. This is eighties metal at it's best and anyone liking any of the bands mentioned above should check them out. You can add Annihilator to that as the set ended with Phantasmagoria. Most songs of the album were played and Waltz in Madness was a highlight to me. After the set the small but very appreciative crowd demanded more and they had none, so repeated a song. As the drive home was long I did not hang around long afterwards, but did get my first mintgreen LP in their debut Deadly Bits of Iron Fragments. My favorite shows are always those of new discoveries who turn out being able to deliver on stage what they presented on CD. Eighties US metal is alive and comes from Greece. Laser fingers included one of the highlights of the year, so thanks Sacral Rage, Mario and Little Devil for this beautiful Sunday night

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Tygers of Pan Tang, Headless & Martyr - Musicon Den Haag,5 May 2017

Tygers of Pan Tang in Musicon. Lovers of NWOBHM can not complain as over the last two years we had already Raven, Trespass, The Deep and Tokyo Blade on stage. They are on a small European tour with Headless as support. In order to party the evening up a bit Musicon had Martyr as openers. Anyone in Holland with a minor interest in heavy Metal should know Martyr. They play a lot and when they are not gigging they come see other bands. So we do not get surprised by their show anymore and let's face it as legendary as the Schollenpop closure of 2015 it never can get again. Yet they never disappoint and tonight we got a tight set of 45 minutes. As vocalist Rop knows at least half the audience he remains busy of stage shaking hands, hugging and taking pictures. Mind you he can sing and the band is backing him very strong. Monster: You Are Next and I might be as well although 90 minutes of Volbeat covers might make me stop cycling all the way down.

Next band Headless were completely unknown to me. Italians they are, but their vocalist is of name and fame Göran Edman. Last time I saw him on stage was with Karmakanic at de Boerderij, while Hans has his LP's with Mastodon and his most famous passing must have been with Yngwie Malmsteen. When the band started and played along I had some problems in getting their style. They started with some bluesy hardrock in my ears, which was the best part of the set actually. Then they covered a ballad of Yngwie and moved to melodic rock areas. A band covering Yngwie must have decent guitarists and actually they all could play. They lacked a bit of drive and enthusiasm and a rather reluctant audience stayed mainly near the bar.

The evening closed with Tygers of Pan Tang. For starters they brought along the biggest banner ever to grace the wall of musicon as the cover of their last album went wall to wall behind the stage. I was curious how they would be as last year they could not match Tokyo Blade to me in Baroeg. This was also caused by the fact that they toured just before their new album was released. Now I have this self titled album and it actually is a very strong one. So the songs they played from that album sounded known and good to me. Opener Only the Brave, Aerosmith alike Glad Rags and Devil You Know where amongst the highlights. But as with all NWOBHM bands we of course came to hear the classics and they were there as well. Euthanasia, Gangland and Don't Stop by. The best came at the end of the regular set when we were asked if we wanted a fast song. What followed was their best song ever Hellbound in  a furious version. This immediately followed by Suzie Smiled. Talking about Suzie smiled anyone into NWOBHM who likes reading should get the book of the same title by John Tucker. Next to No Sleep 'till Saltburn must reads on the history of music. After a short leave to the back of the room we were treated on an encore and Love Potion No.9 was played at the end. Again I forgot to tell the band that that song in Holland is related to Lee Towers who represents bad taste in music. Not a party closer in Holland therefore. Still I must say that the Tygers overpassed my expectations as I thought them much better than last year in de Baroeg. I also love it that nowadays all these bands from my youth release new albums of power. It was Friday it was Musicon and we saw it was good!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Manilla Road & Vortex - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden 4 May 2017

Manilla Road and Vortex in Leiden. It can't go much more epic, cult, underground or true really. Manilla Road existing 40 years and playing their first ever show in Holland! While I am really into old school metal I must say I hardly knew both bands before last night. I did not have any LP of either band. some 37 years ago I listened with Hans and Magchiel playing each other's albums and also visiting the music library at de Bilderdijkstraat for picking up on new bands to us. I remember the epic album covers and thought I recognized some songs as well.

Vortex from Groningen opened and what a surprise this was. They did everything right giving us epic songs, with enough shout along choruses and presenting all enthusiastically with some humerous inbetween song banter. Looking back to the eighties I guess Vortex might have become the most cult band of them all. There were bigger bands (Picture) or ones who got more support slots with international acts (Highway Chile) but noone made such an epical videoclip as Vortex did for Open the Gate. This clip created a fuzz at the time not only positive and seeing it back now it is indeed hilarious eighties low budget metal tv at its best. At the same time this song became hollands answer to singalong classics as Heavy Metal Mania or Angel Witch. Shouting out some 148 times Open the Gate was one of the highs of the evening to me. Turned out not just to me as the decently packed Gebr. de Nobel was fully enjoying this support slot. They do not tour all that often, but I hope they come back for more soon. Drink Bat Blood, or Hammer of the North were great. Apart from a great band special mention for vocalist Jurjen. His dramatic presentation reminded me of a metal version of Fish in the eighties, including the make up, the throwing axe and a surprise when close to the end his hair came off!! A truly classic set.

Now that all were warmed up well the set of Manilla Road can only be described as victorious, staying in battle metal terms. Opener was a known one to me in Open the Gates, further we went through 40 years history. Even not knowing their music it went down very well at first hearing.Some of their albums came out on Black Dragon Records, a label I did follow closely with bands like Heir Apparent, Exxplorer, Liege Lord and Chastain to name just a few. Manilla Road might have been the biggest band on the label and I am trying to remember why I missed them and have albums of the others here mentioned. Anyway the set moved on from one highlight to the next and it is a pity I did not get the songtitles as one song ended with a guitar solo of about five minutes, which completely blew all away. This solo came from original member Mark Shelton. Interesting fact about him was that he sung some songs as well and did so with more ease than talking inbetween the songs. That voice sounded like 40 years on the road. Playing some two hours this was an epic set indeed and everyone in the crowd seemed to love it as the atmosphere was more than great throughout the night. Vortex thought about bringing this crowd along on tour, while Manilla Road should wonder why they never played Holland before. This evening was pure promotion of good old fashioned heavy metal and those who passed have no idea what they missed. Thanks to THHMA, Nobel and Doomsday Alliance for giving us this evening.