Saturday, 29 December 2018

Metal Experience Fest - Nobel Leiden, 28 December 2018

Metal Experience Fest was a metal festival, but actually also a triple birthday party. So thanks Koen, Erik and Eus, but no review. First because  when I tried to see Thoughtless the small hall was overcrowded (but I liked what I saw) Then I recognized a short bit of The Heritance from a Musicon show earlier this year. But together with Alex I did watch two full shows and Graceless proved again to be among the top bands in  Dutch Death Metal and Martyr gave us their usual party. Job well done Robert, as from where I was standing the artwork slideshow looked good. This was a first MEF, but they already announced a follow up for next year 28 September. I shall be there. Cheers

Thursday, 27 December 2018

The Top 18 of 2018 - Live shows

2018 was another year, where basically every show was a hit. Never did I feel close to thinking:  I might as well have stayed at home. In total I attended less gigs than in 2017, but quality was as good and ranking became this complicated task again. This taking into account the many great shows I could not attend.When I did a first shortlist I already arrived well over 25, so I included one harsh rule. Bands I saw in 2017 as well in similar setup were leaving the list. This meant no place for top class gigs by Michael Schenker, Saxon, Solitary, Absolva, Beyond Creation, Night Demon and Raven. Next I critically went through the festivals attended and noticed I did not have one outstanding set at PPE or DMF. Well I did, but skipped them from the list as well. This enabled me to finally reduce the number to 18. This lists included nostalgia as always, new discoveries and total surprises in genres that are not my absolute favorites. Starting at 18 let the countdown begin.

18: Hypnos - Musicon 13 May
Attending a Sunday matinee show of a band I never heard of before and then get blown away by this Czech Death Metal combo. Good show, good shirt, and a nice surprise.

17: Savage Master / Steel Shock - Nobel 18 March
An evening of pure Heavy Metal in de Nobel. Maybe Dutch support Steel Shock were even better, but two sets to bang on brought us a great evening.

16: Transport League - Musicon 8 May
This was an a-typical Tuesday night in Musicon. Packed as if it was a weekend, these Swedes did give a remarkable show of heavy stoner rock. Killers on stage this band.

15: Anvil - Nobel 1 February
Anvil kicking off their European tour in Leiden. I was not expecting such a full house, nor was the band, obviously pleased with the warm welcome. Good movies do matter it seemed.Metal on Metal.

14: Sorcerer - Dynamo 15 November
On the night Slayer said goodbye to Holland, Sorcerer gave the lovers of Heavy doom metal a night to remember in Dynamo.

13: Horisont - 't Beest 12 May
Retro rock is in fashion nowadays, with the seventies returning on all fronts. Forget Greta van Vliet as these guys are so much better and original. Mixing Heep and Purple with this Scandinavian touch to complete the show.

12: The Contortionist - Patronaat 26 June
My favorite Djent band. On CD they mellowed down and left the screams behind. On stage these numbers gained a lot of impact to me. I was expecting them to play the main hall, but in the cafe stage they obviously still need to be discovered by many.

11: Amulet / Scavenger - Little Devil 17 June
Similar to nr 17 two bands playing old school Heavy Metal. Amulet saying goodbye to their vocalist on his last show, while Scavenger welcomed their new female vocalist. The Hangman scene shall be remembered by all those present.

10: Fish - The Queen's Hall 22 September
Seeing Fish in his hometown, was a very welcome surprise to me when visiting Edinburgh with the family. Voice good, band more or less OK. Still hearing the Clutching at straws in full was a highlight this year.

9: Bell Witch - Patronaat 1 April 
I did see this band twice this year. This was the first time which took me by surprise. A duo on bass and drums bringing all this. The full album version later on in Leeuwarden  with B/W movie was in fact a bit too much with one 84 minute song. The first half only was just brilliant.

8: Ozzy - Altice Arena 2 July
My annual trip abroad to an old-school show with Magchiel became a tradition and a success. Warming up by Priest helped, but Ozzy won the night for me. I believe for the first time since MOR 1986 I saw Ozzy live and he was in good form and so was the band. With all songs you can sing along, so a party it was.

7: While Heaven Wept - Baroeg 25 November
While Heaven Wept saying goodbye and we can be sad indeed. What a complete killer of a show and how often do you see Baroeg singing along with the band this loud? never. This band playing Heavy Metal doom shall be missed indeed, but what a farewell they presented.

6: Mearfest - Farnham Royal Village Hall 2 June
Now I know Mearfest is not a band, but this was a special day in total. The afternoon in the pub, made me even like the cover bands with good British sense of humor. Than the evening had Trespass, Bandolier (with original Budgie drummer as well) and Satan's Empire. An evening of celebrating NWOBHM and impossible to choose one favorite moment. Brian and Claire pulled of a special day again.

5: Anubis - 't Blok 8 July
Anubis proudly waving the flag of Prog Rock for me. The night before holding their own amongst three heavier progmetal bands this afternoon was one they remember as well (with CD release) How often do you get underground bands playing a three hour !! set for you. With the amount of epics, not even that many songs, but so good played this band showed and shared their love of music.

4: Vice - Lottenhutte 7 April
A Tribute to Wizz was the festival and after Twisted Illusion had to cancel I drove down to see this lot. Well that was very worthy as hardly will you get so many guitar solo's thrown at you in a 45 minute set. Their album was good, their live show excellent. After three Belgian tours, it's about time to drive on north to Holland.

3: Q5 - Little Devil 31 August
Q5 the band behind Steel the Light came down to Holland for the first time. The eighties were the best we ever saw in metal and Steel The Light was one of the many Classic must know albums of that era. So how were they live, well sensational. Bringing the songs alive on stage and Hans and I knew we were witnessing a highlight. Turning darkness into light!!

2: Trial - Merleyn 13 February
Trial are on CD probably my favorite discovery of this decade. This was the first time I saw them playing live and man did they live up to expectations. In a far too short set opening for Portrait and RAM they managed to convince me. Linus reminding me of Devon Graves in his gestures and the band playing their heavy metal full of prog and doom references with class. Now I wait for a headliner set.

1: Armored Saint - Dynamo 10 August
Some nights everything falls perfectly into place and this was one of those evenings. Armored Saint playing their best album Symbol of Salvation fully and in top form. Book-ended by some Classic other songs this evening was sensational, As we stayed in Eindhoven for the night, no rush to last trains home, just enjoy what we just saw. Saints will conquer. DMF this band should be headlining in 2019.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

The Top 18 of 2018 - CD's

2018 was a good year in music and the task to limit my favorites to 18 CD's only was a hard one. So sometimes I decided to pick one CD representing a style of music. At the same time I am aware that I have not heard all CD's I potentially like, For example by missing shows of Tokyo Blade, Revocation, Arena, Madder Mortem I also missed picking up their CD's, which probably would be rated high.  Some other bands I like on CD, but might have liked even better if going to see them live. Examples here The Night Flight Orchestra and Zeal and Ardor.
Also remarkable that this year not one female fronted band made it to my list, but there are reasons for that. Bands like Oceans of Slumber and Sinistro released strong albums, but not as good as I hoped for after their previous albums. Azusa almost was in, but is too recent and I actually ordered the new Into Eternity, which was later cancelled by the company I ordered them with. Bands like Epica, Nightwish and the lot with annoying sopranos will never make my list as being not a genre that interests me.
The trend that I am getting heavier with age is valid for both musical taste and bodyweight. Finally I noticed many of my favorites are relatively short albums. I guess this is a good trend avoiding fillers.

So decisions are hard and the ranking reflects my mood of today. While saying that I can change positions between number 18-4 at any day, but my top three was rather clear. So here we go, enjoy and feel free to comment or criticize.

18: August Life - New Eternity
How nice is it when you discover a new Dutch band playing Heavy Metal in line with the greats from the late seventies to mid eighties. New band, not so new musicians this mix of great vocals and good songs made them my favorite national album of the year.

17: Beyond Creation - Algorythm
I prefer my technical death metal live on stage over listening to a CD. Still this band is the benchmark and both their remarkable show and strong new album deserve to be mentioned here. Three instrumentals to please the non grunt fans and so many notes I won't even start counting.

16: Satan's Empire - Rising
NWOBHM is still going strong and some bands that were never that famous over here turn out to be strong names to count with nowadays. So I could have named my friends of Trespass, Satan or Saxon here, but this was a new discovery to me. Seeing them live first at Mearfest convinced me to pick up the album upon release a few weeks later. Book-ended by fast short bangers we get mainly mid tempo heavy metal and even a Eruption like guitar solo kicking of Dragonslayer.

15: Seven Sisters - The Cauldron and the Cross
While the oldies are still going strong in the UK, there are many young bands coming to the fore as well. This year's favorite was Seven Sisters (just over Midnight Prophecy) The speed with which this album kicks of is amazing and the closing epic is the icing on the cake. Metal is here to stay.

14: Tribulation - Down Below
My first impressions were not all that positive as they are lighter than previous classic Children of the Night. Yet when listening more the penny dropped. Many bands went from extreme to more accessible. Tribulation take a different approach. While the vocals stay extreme, the music calmed down to dark hard rock. Some catchy songs make up for a great album indeed.

13: We Sell the Dead - Heaven Doesn't Want You and Hell is Full
Talking about growers this poppy doom hard rock project slowly but surely kept on making it back into my CD player more and more. Just easy listening doom. I was in doubt if Khemnis is not a bit better on the heavy metal doom side, but today's decision fell in favor of WSTD. Nice artwork and clips as well in red, black and white.

12: Galahad - Seas of Change
Progrock is losing my attention a bit, but some of the older bands never disappoint. Galahad released in January this epic one song album on Brexit. I don't think that they expected the album to become only more relevant during the year. It is the music that counts and this 40 minute plus epic holds everything I like in prog with the return of Lee Abraham now on guitars as highlight.

11: Barren Earth - A Complex of Cages.
The Melodic Death Metal scene also had strong releases by In Vain and Omnium Gatherum. Yet Barren Earth combine this with a healthy dose of Prog and Doom. The clean voice of Jón Aldará (also strong with Hamfered) comes close to over dramatic, but this combination works so fine. Typical PPE band around dinner break, where half the audience should love this.

10: Future Corpse - Culture Ruins Everything Around Me
This Australian trio state they play Heavy Prog. Wonderful discomforting songs, where they blend hectic guitars, with shouted vocals and a punky attitude. They keep on reminding me of At the Drive In, but then better. Nothing to put on as background music, but very good for easing the mind in hysterical fashion.

9: Twisted Illusion - Excite the Light part 1
This English band doesn't stop throwing new releases at us. After the 2016 debut and the 2017 double album, this is the first of a trilogy. They call it prog, I call it great music. Many acoustic work entering into epic choruses with such strong vocals and guitar solo's. Will Shaw of Heir Apparent even sings along on the title track. I missed them live 3 times this year. New Year new chances for that, when the band is complete again that is.

8: Sacral Rage - Beyond Celestial Echoes
Back to the Eighties with Sacral Rage. Somewhere in between Agent Steel and Watchtower we get many screams and shrieking guitars. A Sci-fy theme is all around, with Cynic like made up words at time. This band fills a gap of a genre that was big at the turning of the eighties into the nineties. Highlight closing epic The Glass.

7: Redemption - Long Night Journey Into Day
With the musical surprise gone for a while on album number 7 and the loss of Ray Alder on vocals I was worried. And then Nick van Dijk shows he is still the driving force behind Redemption. Tom Englund singing better than expected and that typical Redemption Heavy Prog Metal sound is all over us. Pity of the U2 cover, further a winner of an album.

6: Fifth Angel - The Third Secret
In a year of comebacks this is among the better ones. How can you lose a vocalist, have a guitarist stepping in and actually sounding better? Fifth Angel is still about the melodies, but in a very Heavy Metal way. This album should attract many, but might stay under the radar outside underground circles. Well those who know them found another favorite to look our for touring Europe next year,

5: Ursa - Abyss Between the Stars
My favorite album last year was by Cormorant. Now three members from that band formed a doom metal band and guess what: it kicks ass again. Their dirty sounding doom is packed in slow songs on wizards dragons, fires and the lot. Vocals are cleanish, playing is flawless and music varied. Next autumn I hope to see them on one of the many doom festivals held that time of year.

4: Black Cyclone - Death is King
Listening to this album I always get this grin on my face. This is a celebration of eighties speed metal, led by one of the best voices in metal nowadays: Linus Johansson. When the opening line speaks of Unstoppable Force you know where to look for inspiration. The speed throughout the album is fast and therefore we get a short album. That is just enough as we get exhausted with so much speed upon us. Proud member of the Chaos Brigade.

3: Witherfall - A Prelude to Sorrow
Last year's debut album already made it to my number 6. This one is even better in my view. Witherfall fill the gap that has been left in between bands like Savatage and Nevermore. Good old Heavy Metal that is with great vocals and guitars. Pity their first European tour is acoustic next March supporting Sonata Arctica. Yet I shall be there as this is Heavy Metal as it is meant to be.

2: Howling Sycamore - Howling Sycamore
This band is the one blowing me away most at the beginning of the year. When you mix the guitars of Ephel Duath with the original voice of Watchtower you can count on the more adventurous side of Prog Metal. Eight songs passing a wide range of styles with haunting saxes mixing the extremer side of progmetal at times. And how great is it to hear the voice of Jason McMaster on a new album. The follow up is already in mixing phase. Now all we need is a tour.

1: Heir Apparent - The View From Below
While maybe ranking my favorites of the year was hard, the choice of album of the year was easy to me. Comeback of the year, of the century. So they did not release any albums for 29 years. And then they come back this glorious. Will Shaw settling himself among best current voices in metal and their mid tempo Heavy Metal packed in eight songs really shows me what is so beautiful in Heavy Metal. Melodic to proggy with space for a ballad and a fast banger, it is all there. No words to describe this, just a strong wish to finally see them live on stage. Dynamo Metal Fest would be good, but an indoor show even preferred. Welcome back my friends.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Level Fields - Azusa - Shattered Skies - Fifth Angel - Jason Becker - Witherfall

Some CD's you might want to get still within the year.

Level Fields - 1104
Level Fields is a new band combining members of Autumn Hour and Poverty's No Crime. Now Autumn Hour was a rock project with Alan Tecchio on vocals and he is a vocalist that has been dividing opinions. I am in the total fan camp, as I loved his work with Watchtower, Hades, Non Fiction and Autumn Hour. Liking his voice is also to the trick to highly enjoy this album. Mostly mid tempo metal songs are carried by his strong voice. At the same time it would be rude to completely ignore the band as I believe Marco Ahrens wrote most of the music and played a lot of instruments. This to me is just a nice mid tempo metal album to enjoy. Highlight probably the semi title track Extra 1104 which tells the story of train crash in 1925. Tecchio fans like me can buy in the blind.

Azusa - Heavy Yoke
Azusa another new band with the guitars of Extol and the bass of The Dillinger Escape Plan. So don't expect an easy ride. Now interesting enough the vocalist is a female from Greek band Sea+Air. Now I saw her last year at Brainstorm acoustically singing angelic to us, So where is this hysterical scream suddenly coming from? No matter the answer I love it. This is one of those albums you should play many times before starting to get an idea what is going on really. At times it calms down, but maniac moves are always around the corner. Suddenly female fronted metal gained another very acceptable band to me. I expect them to play Brainstorm next year, while PPE might be a good stage for them as well.

Shattered Skies - Muted Neon
Shattered Skies I discovered on PPE some years ago with a very energetic show. Later we saw them at HRH and they again impressed. Their vocalist meanwhile left the band and he was a big factor during their live shows I thought. Well they found a new man in Gerry Brown and he sounds not all that different. The music is still djenty heavy metal and the playing flawless. So what is left are the songs and they are for djenty fairly accessible. So resuming it is about time to see them live on stage again. Best song possibly Fall From Disgrace going from the melodic to the extreme.

Fifth Angel - The Third Secret
Anyone thinking that the best thing coming out of Seattle is grunge, really does not get good music. Seattle is probably the capitol of US metal giving the world bands like Queensryche, Metal Church, Nevermore, Culprit, Sanctuary, Heir Apparent and Fifth Angel. Similar to Heir Apparent, Fifth Angel give us this year a very welcome return after a few decades. So they lost their vocalist with the strong voice. No problem whatsoever as guitarist Kendall Bechtel steps in and replaces him stronger than expected. Fifth Angel play heavy metal with a very melodic side to it. This new album is one ride of highlights from opener Stars are Falling until Closer Hearts of Stone. In Germany a few good taste festivals already booked them for next year. Would be nice if they can combine this with a visit to Holland, imagine seeing this band in a venue like Little Devil. If anyone hoped for a strong return, this is even better.

Jason Becker - Triumphant Hearts
We all know the story of Jason Becker who was a guitar god in the eighties and then got diagnosed with ALS in 1990 to hear he had few years to live. The beautiful documentary Not Dead Yet tells us how he got on and communicates through his eyes now. If that is not amazing enough he also still is involved in releasing new music. So I saw a few weeks back a clip Valley of Fire. This song over 9 minutes should appeal to all who were into any guitar heroes of the eighties. The vast majority is guest soloing here and what a great song that is. So I decided to pre-order this album in the blind only to read in later reviews it is not really metal. Well no worries here as the fast majority is still interesting and only the few songs with vocals do less to me. There is even material written when he was in David Lee Roth's band. The long list of guests also might convince anyone into guitar music. Finally only supporting the cause of Jason Becker  justifies a purchase.

Witherfall - A Prelude to Sorrow
This inlay of the CD mentions R.I.P. Adam Paul Sagan. Adam was the drummer with the band who passed away before they last year released their strong debut Nocturnes and Requiems.  This album deals with the loss of him for the band. The format this is done, is epic Heavy Metal. I guess those of us missing a new Savatage release shall be happy with this album. Very strong vocals surrounded by heavy guitar riffs and great solo's. Basically this what Hans and I use to call Heavy Metal as it is meant to be. Mixing short and long songs throughout probably the long ones We Are Nothing and Vintage draw most attention. Next year they come to support Sonata Arctica on an acoustic tour.   Even without the full power I hope to be there seeing them blow the headliner off the stage. 

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Into Darkness V - Neushoorn Leeuwarden, 1 December 2018

Into Darkness is holding it's fifth version and I made my debut their, The reason for that is Bell Witch. Last year they released the one song 83 minute album Mirror Reaper and this time they would play it in full accompanied by a film that was made for this song. Now Into Darkness had 11 bands on, so was there anything more to my liking? Turned out a yes. Yet with Leeuwarden being crazy far away for such a small country I was not going to stay until the end. Fitness would decide how long I would last, after all I was in recovering mode still from the Absolva gig in Leiden. In order to relax I decided for the train and the 5.5 hour drive up and down gave me the opportunity to read Chris Lammiman's book "A View from Ground Zero". This book is a fan's (and a bit more) report on Twisted Illusion's first UK tour last winter. Interesting enough he also writes about long train journeys to gigs so I could relate and can recommend the book. But I came for Darkness and found it in de Neushoorn.

I arrived at de Neushoorn when Zhrine had just started. This was no coincidence as with limited train flexibility I internet researched to find which band I would like to see first. Zhrine sounded interesting and without me knowing yet, they became the surprise of the day. Kind of hard to describe their music I liked the instrumental parts where at times guitars and electric contrabass were played by a bow at calm intermezzos. This only to erupt into wild outbursts of heaviness. These guys seem to come from Iceland and like their football team you wonder how such a small population can give us so much talent. Looking like an extreme metal version of Leprous in their shirts and fashionable haircuts this band surprised me very positively and I did get their CD later on. Next band in the smaller Arena hall were Au-Dessus from Lithuania. A few years ago we made a holiday road-trip to all Nordic Capitals. Pity that after leaving Lithuania only in Latvia I got the brilliant idea of looking for local metal bands in CD shops. In Lithuania I might have ran into these guys. Starting with four black hooded guys on stage playing rather straight forward black metal their second song showed some variation and actually from there the playing stayed at high level and songs would bring some interesting twists. Decent show.

Still I left in time for the main hall with Jeffrey and Ramona as we all came specifically to see what Bell Witch would bring. At any metal event I shall run into PPE friends, which is a comforting thought really when sometimes my friends don't get a genre. Standing close to the stage the sound check did suddenly ,move into Mirror Reaper when the movie started. Now I saw earlier this year Bell Witch play in Patronaat, when only the first CD was played. At the time it was new and I was blown away by the fact that only  a bassist and drummer make all these soundscapes. This late afternoon we had the extra of an added vocalist for part 2 and a black and white movie. Starting with the movie I was hoping for something more really. Lots of repetitions and lots of death and some rebirth or new life. When the guy from Le Grande Boeuf passed by I realized I was starting to feel hungry as well. So the music should do it again and impressive is the word. The music Bell Witch play is doom of the slow kind. Actually so slow that drums and bass had to look at each other many times making sure they hit the same slow notes. This 83 minute song does so go against any trend of today's youth that it deserves respect for that alone. Then again I must admit that for me 83 minutes also was a bit much. At times there were moments that not much happened over five minutes and thoughts started drifting away. Luckily the bass would bring me back in such cases. The bass gave us bits of melodies, while the drums took care of the tempo, which was very slow throughout. When after some 50 minutes the extra vocalist came on we won some interest and the very end where he sung over a relative faster part turned the high of the song.  So I was not as overwhelmed as I was in Haarlem. I did have the feeling at times that if you would present these ideas of 83 minutes to a band like Iron Reagan they would put them all in a thrash song of 4 minutes max. Still the total experience even being an exercise in patience was one to remember. Curious what they bring us next.

Now after the slow song we could do with some speed and Sun of the Sleepless brought this partially. My pre-festival internet search made this band one to look at, especially when singing in German (I mean if the vocalist barks at you, what better language than German to do so) Live they turned a bit less interesting to me. The speed and some banging were nice, but at the clean vocal parts it sounded all a bit too massive for this one guy to produce. So after a few songs I left for the corridors where next to merch stands now also the local Chinese put up some food for decent prices. So enjoying my Spicy chicken and cashew rice dish we missed also the start of Nordjevel. Well we could hear them from the tables and banks that were provided for those eating at the spacey corridors. Now I saw Nordjevel earlier this year opening for Hate in Musicon. Well that was at a small stage. This time they brought the whole lot and what I saw was more about the whole experience than about the songs. Actually they all tried to stay in speed with the continuing double bass drums. I can see why some people totally liked this and also understand why others could not do all that much with it.

Meanwhile I already decided that I would take a train home, getting me there not overly late. Yet before leaving I wanted to see Mournful Congregation, These Australians play Funeral Doom and would be a nice break from the Black Metal we just witnessed. Well this was a second surprising highlight of the day to me, even if not seeing them fully until the end. What made them so good to me was the fact that they hold three guitars. The lead guitarist on his flying V is basically giving us melodic slow solo's for at least 75% of the time. As he was very clear in the mix, this gave the songs a brilliant edge. If you want to get into the genre of Funeral Doom, this might be the best band to get into it, as I thought them very accessible. Well accessible or not I left for my train on time. Today Mournful Congregation play Belgium. This together with Bell With, Marche Funebre (a Highlight at DDD last week) and Green Carnation. I won't drive down, but can recommend. Into Darkness turned into an interesting event, which might see me back next year depending on line-up. De Neushoorn was a first to me and turned out a very well organized venue, with big thumps up for the food and seating arrangements. Thank you for the Darkness.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Absolva & Diggeth - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden, 30 November 2018

Absolva definitely is one of the hardest working bands in metal. Only a few weeks ago I saw them opening for MSG and every year they undertake long tours. This evening they would stop at de Nobel in Leiden for a headliner show and Hans and I decided to be there, with Pieter joining in later on. With their constant touring they slowly are building a fanbase. Yet the competition this evening was fierce. On national level the Kreator / Dimmu Borgir package took some metal out of the region. At the same time nearby Boerderij had Thundermother with regional support Rosie. That last show was even free for those attending the Dead Daisies earlier this week. Anyway we might have not been with many it was no disastrous empty venue either and we were vocal.

Opening band was Diggeth from the east of Holland. I saw these guys a few times before supporting or at HMM. They play straight forward hard rock with some stoner influences. Actually the psychedelic instrumental song was a high of their set. This band fitted well although I got a bit worried during their opening song 3 gringos. I clearly heard them sing today is a good day to die. Well those living by Absolva rules know it's never a good day to die. But we got warmed up and ready for the headliners.

We are Absolva and we live life on the edge! And we were back again at an Absolva show. With a full set contrary to earlier this month we now got a fair part of last album Defiance. Yet their ubersong to me remains Never Back Down. The ballad from the debut Only When It's Over was introduced with a long melodic guitar solo again and I swear the spirit of Gary Moore walked the stage at that very moment. Absolva just did what they do and very good too. So I guess that all those present shall see them on tour again when returning to Holland. The band themselves shall be back in Leiden with Blaze Bailey 1 March already. We ended up with an evening of Heavy Metal as it was meant to be and de Nobel gave us an extra hour cooling down, playing some classics for us. Great evening thank you.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Dutch Doom Sunday - Baroeg Rotterdam 25 November 2018

The festival is of course called Dutch Doom Days, but Saturday night I opted for Tech Death in Oss, so it only became the Sunday for me. Actually I was still in doubt in the morning as The Night Flight Orchestra looked tempting to me as well. But as they play summer music and you should see it with a large group of friends over several beers I opted by lack of friends joining and grim weather for the Doom. Well if ever I was rewarded for that choice it must have been today. Through the day bands got better and better, ending with something rather special. I entered late so sorry for Fvneral Fvkk and River of Souls, but Suffer Yourself already started when I came in. These guys from Ukraine/Sweden played their Funeral doom to start my afternoon slow and heavy. Moody enough, but not overly exciting to me. That would change when Dutch band The Spirit Cabinet came on. Their music mixed doom with Heavy Metal. The guitarist at times starting galloping away like he was in Maiden and the vocalist had a pretty wide range staying strong in the clean sung parts. It is only at a doom festival that a band can announce their last song, stating it is a slow one and pleasing the crowd with that. But a strong set they played and one band to keep an eye on.

Climbing the ladder further we arrived at Marche Funebre from Belgium. The best of them to me was the fact that they do not stick to one style. They go from very slow to pretty fast doom and that worked wonderfully well I thought. When they almost apologized for playing a fast song they came at the highlight of their show to me. So afterwards I asked them on which CD that song appeared and got that one. Next week they organize their own doom party in St. Niklaas with a.o.Bell Witch and Green Carnation. I am still in doubt, but those like me not sure yet can decide on the day they told me as the venue is big.

Hereafter Witchsorrow from the UK hit the stage. I read about them in last issue of Iron Fist, but did not know any music of them. Turned out that this trio blends their doom with a healthy dose of NWOBHM of the rougher end. At times I was reminded of Holocaust by the pounding bass and punky attitude on vocals. This set was very good and they managed to keep the curve in performances up for me. Unfortunately when I passed the merch table later on their last CD was not available. I might check it out elsewhere later on as this tasted like more for sure.

And then it was time for While Heaven Wept to close the festival. Actually this would be there last show ever in Holland and the gods should be crying indeed when seeing what I saw. Rarely before have I seen in Baroeg such a union between band and audience. Now I got into While Heaven Wept when they released in 2002 their Doom Metal Classic album Of Empires Forlorn. This album was well presented in the set still and hearing the full crowd singing along "I Drank Them All Away" was an emotional high for all present I guess. Someone once told me that in the past they blew a gig in Baroeg by being not all that fit. Tonight they reminded us of that and stated hoping they made up for that this time. Well I was not there at the time, but tonight should make up for anything. Than there is Rain Irving on vocals and I guess it is safe to say the best clean vocalist in doom. Supported by a great band his melodies came over so emotional it was close to goosebumps all the time. So when it was over the audience wanted more. The band said being afraid of breaking curfew laws and  not being able to decide if they could play one more. Then the magical phrase came in: "I am Pim, I organize this shit and yes they will play another song". The international crowd went wild and we were treated on a last farewell before I rushed of to just catch my train. While Heaven Wept proved again that it is not always the best bands that get most attention and success. Thanks to DDD organization for putting them on stage in Baroeg.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Beyond Creation, Gorod, Entheos & Brought By Pain - Groene Engel Oss, 24 November 2018

Beyond Creation are probably my favorite Tech-Death Metal band. I saw them twice live before have their albums and new release Algorythm only confirmed this status to me. To increase the fun they are bringing Gorod along probably France's finest. Now Beyond Creation and Gorod have to me something in common. Both bands I saw for the first time live when they were supporting Obscura in Patronaat on different tours. The result however was the same, they both blew Obscura off the stage and got me running to their side of the merch stand. So in spite of fierce competition this evening in nearby Baroeg, Musicon and the Boerderij I decided not to stay near home and drive for the first time ever to de Groene Engel in Oss. This turned out to be a nice venue. Contrary to all these new build places this is an old building. where the hall floor is similar to any corridor or toilet in old dutch houses and the stage is large and high. What I did not like was the time schedule starting at 20:30 with four bands and a long drive back home ahead. They partially made this up with the fastest stage swaps I ever saw and gaining in the end 20 minutes on the announced schedule. Finally the entrance had a nice bar, with upon my arrival the usual suspects from PPE in there. So socially it became a nice evening as well.

Opening the evening were Brought By Pain from Canada. Now I sometimes don't read anything on support bands, just make sure I arrive on time to see them. So it was a nice surprise when entering the hall I thought hey I recognize these guys on bass and guitar as they are from Beyond Creation. This meant some sort of quality stamp as I immediately liked the band. Most attention however was drawn by the other guitarist who was enjoying himself with apart from instrumental also some facial acrobatics. The EP I got afterwards tells me his name is Olivier Bourbonnais Allaire, which sounds as drink they had on their way in. Further the vocalist was very pleased his fucking father was in. The set was short, but I felt that for an opening band they went down very well with the audience and they deserved that. So we opened with a winner

Next band were Entheos from California and Texas. A female vocalist that grunts is nothing new, but always a nice surprise. Somehow she needed two microphones. One to grunt around the stage and one for special effects. Opinions were divided on that second one, as the effects were to me somewhere between black metal and cartoons. On an evening like this playing by all on stage is not an issue and for Entheos the same high standards were reached. Outstanding man in the band though was the bassist. The way he slammed his bass like there was no tomorrow was interesting to observe and this was probably total bassturbation to some. So again a good band, although the songs did not impress everyone completely. I just liked watching what was going on.

Gorod are French, but they can do nothing about that. Now I watched the news before leaving home and saw the in fashion thing in France these days is wearing a yellow vest and break things. Luckily Gorod would  have none of that as I guess that when filling up the tank in Holland they found prices in France are not that bad after all. Since seeing them on their A Perfect Absolution Tour I follow them, but do not get all their albums. I think they come over better live as on stage the vocalist Nutz is definitely a strong force, while on CD I find his more screaming side harder to appreciate. The set they played was of headliner status and performance though. Last time I saw them was last year when they joined a Thrash Metal package and were a bit lost before that crowd. Now they were fully at ease and we got performance wise possibly the best show of the evening. This again was helped by Nutz with his occasional dutch lines in between songs. Gorod proved to me they are among the Tech Death elite as well and the hall appreciated their show big time. Horns up mes amis.

Beyond Creation released recently Algorythm and on this tour they decided to play that album in full kicking off their set. As I played the album many times I was pleased with this decision and it was time to get amazed again. I just love it how they go from the very heavy Death metal to a mass fingerpicking over 8 string guitars and 6 string bass. The trick is they make it look all so easy. The song that describes best what I mean is probably the title track. This song is a heavy monster, moves to a great solo and bangs on. Then we suddenly drop to a clam part where Simon's solo makes me think of the instrumental ballads Marty Friedman or Jason Becker brought us in the eighties, just to break and move on fast again. Now I mentioned Gorod as possible best show and this has only to do with what happens in between songs. Beyond Creation are not a band for talking, they literally let the music do the talking. Yet I was in constant awe as this is exactly how I like my technical extreme music. After the album finished we had some time to visit the past with Earthborn Evolution and Omnipresent Perception. For that last song a circle pit was demanded and a small one was presented to them. And then it was over, but Beyond Creation would come back for one more neck breaker in Fundamental Process.  Now really at the end we could go on the picture with the band and drive home. Thanks to all bands, but especially Beyond Creation for giving us another highlight of the year.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Future Corpse - Shineback - Ursa

Time for some CD tips with three bands playing just slightly outside the genre they are defined by.

Future Corpse - Culture Ruins Everything Around Me
Future Corpse play Heavy Prog according to their own sites. Well if you then expect something in the vein of Rush or Porcupine Tree you might be disappointed. Yet I see what they mean although they come from a whole different Australian angle. Heavy they definitely are and prog can be justified as well. Now CREAM is not the first album I bought from them and Another World To Consume from 2015 ended very high on my end of year list. At the time I tried to describe them as At the Drive In playing progmetal. Well luckily they did not change their style that much. We still get a punky attitude with screamed vocals at times almost going towards football chants. One constant through the album is the guitar being in a hurry and the rest of the band trying to catch up. So this leaves very little to get a picture, but again Future Corpse managed to blow me away. Yes, you need to hear the album at least 10 times before judging, but now that I got there it's beauty keeps on unrolling before my ears. Highlights to me Ideophobic and the closing title track, where even a trumpet and saxophone blow us through the almost twelve minutes. Only point for improvement would be their sizing of T-shirts. Why stop at Large with such interesting designs. Another 2018 highlight indeed.

Shineback - Dial
This album is the latest release by Simon Godfrey. Now he is together with Dec Burke, Lee Abraham and John Mitchell among those Brits that keep prog rock interesting to me. His previous band Tinyfish stood out  by playing prog without keyboards, which was refreshing indeed. Now this is Shineback's second album after 2013's Rise Up Forgotten, Return Destroyed. With this almost solo project Simon let the electronic side enter his music. Now I consider myself open-minded but too much electronics in your music is just a very bad thing. So it's good that there is no abundance here. Actually when it tends to get an overtone in Let Her Sleep, it is that heavy that you think you are listening to NIN. But the best is hidden in these pretty British songs Consider Her Ways and Kill Devil Hills, both not coincidentally spiced up with guest guitar solo's from friends. So I did grow out of Prog rock a bit over he last years, with their representation in live shows and CD purchases diminishing. Albums with any of the names mentioned above though never disappoint and keep me hooked. Recommended.

Ursa - Abyss Between the Stars
Last year I discovered Cormorant through Diaspora, made that album my pick of the year and bought the full back catalog. So I am kind of a late fan on their respect. Following them I read about this band Ursa containing three band members of Cormorant and playing doom metal. As soon as one song got posted online I knew I was going to get this. Ursa play doom in slow and heavy fashion. I'd say a bit slower than the heavy metal doom from Scandinavia (read my Sorcerer Dynamo review) and a bit faster than your funeral doom. Vocals also stay in between these two styles and instrumentally nothing can go wrong giving their origin. Over 46 minutes we get 6 songs with titles mentioning words as Wizard, Dragon, Yeti, Witches, King and Mountain. So we get some slowly told fantasy stories in Heavy style. Maybe closer the Mountain stands out as different a bit as it is a Steve Earle cover and has an Irish (Lizzy) flavour over it. So to me Cormorant can stay their day-job, but if they find an occasional tour over autumn to bring some doom to Europe this would be very welcome. Best starter to get into them: Cave of the Spider King.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Deranged, Procreation & Putrified Corpse - Musicon The Hague, 18 November 2018

After being sensible and taking my rest made me miss Tokyo Blade in Little Devil on Friday  and Omnium Gatherum in Baroeg yesterday,  I did go to Musicon today for a step into the dark. Not knowing any of the bands in advance my visit paid of as yes we were entertained, So a matinee session in Musicon did look interesting and extreme Death metal would be my Sunday afternoon

The afternoon opened with Putrefied Corpse from Enschede and they were low, slow, heavy and death. Now the vocalist thought it necessary to ask if those already present were awake. Now bands might ask more of a feedback from Musicon at any time, but waking us all up with guitar solos being all fucked up in the mix is a bit extreme. Yet I liked the energy as usual with Death metal bands, but was not overly impressed with the songs. Hereafter we got Procreation from Zwolle and things would go to another level indeed. This band played tight, but also had good songs and the necessary variation to keep me hanging in there. Instrumentally they were great and when in between songs a nonchalant Annihilator riff was played I realized this band can play indeed. The almost hour they got was filled with good songs and musically Procreation were to me the winner of the day.

And then there was a headliner Deranged from Sweden. Starting their set the psychopath looking vocalist dove offstage and started to headbutt-light people in the audience. Singing he did as well although some might disagree calling this guttural noise singing. The band consisted of a guitarist raging over 8 strings, a bassist hurting 5 strings and a drummer hammering drums looking like sinterklaas on speed. So yes the band could play and the voice was evil. Yet songs I am still doubting about. Entertainment was not the issue, as I would definitely come back to see this set again. Still there was a bit too much going on to get the full picture for me. So until today I thought Ingested was the most brutal band ever to play the Musicon stage when I was there, Deranged might have just taken that title. So to be honest not music I would get on CD to play on a Sunday morning or any other day. Still the performance was to me outstanding and when they would give an encore if the drummer would get a beer, Ed made our day by breaking that record as well and we could one more time just look amazed towards the stage. Different, yes let's call it different by lack of better description.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Sorcerer & Officium Triste - Dynamo Eindhoven 15 November 2018

Sorcerer playing Dynamo and Hans and I knew we wanted to be there. Sorcerer play doom metal. Now Doom is a many faced beast. Sorcerer play the kind most blended with Heavy Metal, always counting on strong vocals, heavy but not extreme slow guitars and bass all filled up with guitar hero soloing (say Black Sabbath in the Ray Gillan/Tony Martin years). Like many of their Scandinavian colleagues as Candlemass, Abstrakt Algebra or Krux, they perfected this style and gave us recently two top-class albums. Now it is autumn the perfect time of year for doom and festivals and tours in that style are all around us. Yet when arriving in Eindhoven at the station things were quite the opposite of doom, where glow in the dark gave many colorful projections on buildings. We crossed as fast as possible through the masses to make it to dark Dynamo. Upon arrival it did not look all that busy and we remembered a certain Slayer was saying goodbye to Holland in Zwolle this evening. Interesting enough that show sold out in minutes/hours, while some years ago you could still decide on the day if you felt like seeing Slayer live. But for us doom it was.

There was an opener as well in Officium Triste from Rotterdam. Now Rene who drove and merched for them in the past told me they exist next year 25 years, yet I never saw them before. There is an explanation for that. It is only the last three years that I have time to spend on shows as much as I like. Before that work trips and family demands made me focus only on favorite bands. So bands playing doom as slow as Officium Triste might be missed by me unless supporting names I knew. Well I can say that now I saw them live I will go and see them again when opportunities arise. This was SLOW and HEAVY and the voice grunting as slow fitted very well. Now I was not the only one in the audience unfamiliar with much of their work, as they decided to play in their short set three new songs from their upcoming album. I will keep an eye on any release party as this was good warming up.  Close to the end vocalist Pim thanked us for not going to Slayer tonight and I realized I saw him last year guesting at Clouds during Dutch Doom Days. A beer a new stage and Sorcerer to come.

The basement hall meanwhile filled up decently and when Sorcerer kicked of it was clear we were going to be in for a treat. Sirens opened the evening and when we were asked to shout along hey hey hey, it was clear this would be more of a Heavy Metal show. No problem to me as I love the style of metal Sorcerer gave us. Now I have to admit that I did not hear of Sorcerer when they founded in the late eighties. They made a very strong return over the past years releasing "In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross" and "The Crowning of the Fire King". Today's set would visit both albums and some songs from the past. As I do not recognize all titles I can only state that the encore was The Sorcerer and probably the highlight of the evening for me was Ship of Doom. Commenting on the band I can only say they were as good as hoped for, including the substitute bass from Canada. Somehow vocalist Anders thought he was an old man using it as an excuse at times. I had the impression half the audience were at least as old as him. Good voice though and even if the mix was not always extremely clear I saw and heard a good band, which presented another highlight of 2018 for me. So now I am in for some more doom and while playing Abstrakt Algebra now checking gig agendas. Due to strong competition next weekend still undecided on Dutch Doom Days. Yet I hope to feel like driving down to Darken the Moon in Belgium 2 December as Bell Witch playing Mirror Reaper in full and Green Carnation headlining sounds very interesting indeed. Give me more Royal Epic Doom, just like the killer tee said.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Progressive Alliance - Effenaar Eindhoven, 4 November 2018

Progressive Alliance: as Holland needed a new Prog festival. This one edged more to the heavy side, but managed to get some big names on the bill.  Now I suffered from some cold this week and a late return the night before from Schenker Fest, so I would decide on the day if going down to Eindhoven would be a good plan. In comes our national cock-up company the NS who decided to work rails, which in my case meant a direct train now would be 3 trains plus a bus. So car it was and I went for the the first (of many?) edition of Progressive Alliance in healthy state as alcohol free.

Arriving when opening band AstroSaur just started I saw a band giving us an instrumental set with the necessary energy. Yet nothing extremely different or original. Actually one of the main reasons I drove down was next band Arabrot. Now I never heard of these guys before, but what I heard on bandcamp strange enough got me completely hooked. I say strange as they do not play metal. They blend whatever they feel like, kind of impossible to describe. As that does not help let me throw in some names.  Take some The Damned, or Sex Pistols for that matter , blended with Talking Heads and especially on bass some Queens of the Stone Age. Yet when Pygmalion started some This Mortal Coil comes in. And this all brought with the typical weirdness Norwegians seem to get by birth. Paying over 10 Euro a pint does raise creative and strange musicians. When they walked the stage the weirdness did not diminish as the guitarist/vocalist looked like a beardless Amish preacher and started singing about the Gospel. He was not the only one drawing attention by looks as the tall lady in her kimono and curled hair behind mellotron would make a good DDR spy in any seventies Bond movie if being slightly bigger. Than on the right there was a small bassist who was sonically very present throughout the set. A small man with lots of hair on and under his head. They had a drummer too, but I could not see him really. Finally I did not google translate their band name, but logically it might well mean Parrot sandwich. So we got one weird set of songs being shouted and sung to us. I recognized several tunes from Who Do You Love, which I got after the set. This is dance music not for the masses, as I did not have the impression they were the biggest success of the day (quite the contrary) but for me they were a winner. Towards the end they played one song building up to a climax that made all other post metal bands that day look boring. Curious how they pick their tours and gigs being so different, but one to follow.

As if the Arabrot party was not enough for a good start the main hall would open hereafter as well and possibly the best band of the day would open the stage: Ne Obliviscaris. Now I saw them before and knew what would be coming, but they impressed me again in a live setting. Their mix of harsh and clean vocals over some serious tech metal works very fine. Another outstanding feature is the violin the clean vocalists picks up at times. Now he does not play that humpa stuff many folk metal bands throw at us. Neither does he solo like Mama's boys used to do in the eighties. He plays some tunes when the band go finger tipping fast over many strings on guitar and bass. I do own the last two albums of this band, yet I can not recognize song titles as I did not spend enough time reading along the lyrics with CD. Yet I recognized bits and pieces (or full songs) and heard it was all fine. This band brings nice energy on stage and plays very well. This together with the large stage just gave us a very good show of a band that would go down well at PPE I guess.

So I could return home now, but was not going to. This paid off as walking into the small hall American band Rosetta were doing their thing. Never heard of them before and neither checked them out on internet before, this was a positive surprise. A screaming vocalist was joined by a good band and brought us good tunes. I guess it was post something core given the vocals. Turned out that when a style might not attract me all that much, good playing and nice presentation make a good show anyway. Yet I did not see the last song as we previously agreed next band Vuur would be our dinner break. One fast and nice pizza later we returned to see two minutes of Vuur, which to me is enough. Now the small hall hereafter would pack as The Ocean were on next. They are growing bigger and it turned out that many people sang along with their songs. Now these people had an advantage as they knew the band already. I came in in the blind and started from zero. Than suddenly the songs were not all that different between themselves. There would be mellow pieces and heavy outbursts and this in every song almost. The band played tight and good, but I missed something or was it my back aching starting to kick in. Anyway somewhere after halfway their set I called it the Ocean and went outside.

So I did have enough time to get a good place in the main hall for the last band I was coming over for Ihsahn. Last time I saw them I had to leave early getting a last train at Complexity. This time unfortunately matters would be not that different. I felt I was not top fit and two nights in a row standing on your feet started taking its toll. Also the fact that no alcohol would anesthetize the pain I decided to be smart and leave early. This meant  only saw some 30 minutes of Ihsahn and I realized Ne Obliviscaris were not the best band of the day, While Ne Obliviscaris gave the best performance jumping around the stage,  the songs I saw by Ihsahn were pure class delivery. I have a few of his solo albums and they always mix his black metal past with a family Leprous link. Pressure showed this all too well and I felt sorry that smarter me decided it was about time to drive home. So I got an abrupt end to Progressive Alliance. It seemed to me that the audience was of a decent size and of course one makes comparisons with ProgPower Europe, the mother of all Progressive Metal festivals. To me it looked that with more screams and grunts we also got a younger audience on average. The setup of one day worked OK as a start and with Vuur who played all over the country already we had a decent dinner break. Curious to see if this one gets a follow-up next year and if so, fair chance I'll be there again.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Michael Schenker Fest & Absolva - Melkweg Amsterdam 3 November 2018

Michael Schenker Fest came to Holland so I wanted to be there and no delaying trains would stop me from going to the Melkweg. Michael Schenker is returning probably annually to Holland over the past years. Yet there is a difference from Saxon, Y&T, Raven to name just a few of his generation friends. I saw him over recent years with MSG playing mostly songs from his name band, with Temple Of Rock using the Scorpions rhythm session and focusing a bit on his Scorpions days. Last year for the first time Michael Schenker Fest played de Boerderij when he brought his three main vocalists from the eighties on tour. This year there was the return, but again another format as Doogie White now joined the band and they released earlier this year a new album Resurrection.So as I said enough reasons to travel to Amsterdam tonight. Magchiel thought exactly the same as it is this month 35 years ago we traveled together to Leiden to see MSG.

First there was an opener and not just any. Absolva is easily the best opener MSG brought along on tour over the years. Now Absolva are not unknown to me as they  played Musicon three times over the past years and I was there three times. This band plays Heavy Metal and although they always are announced as members of Iced Earth and Blaze Bailey I think their own name by now should be enough to attract people. Now my first thought was how would they go down in front of an MAG crowd. Tonight again it was clear that MSG pulls Classic Rock crowd, meaning you see basically any kind of fan apart from young kids with friends. Saxon for instance would pull a Heavy Metal crowd and bring more people who would appreciate them. Yet to me it gave the chance to move close to the stage and see Absolva play for a decent 40 minutes. So they have 4 albums and visited them all. The set included my favorite Never Back Down and I guess the ballad Only When It's Over from their debut went down best with the beautiful guitar solo at the start. This was the last of their support slots  on this tour and they continue headlining. 30 November they return to de Nobel and I hope to be there. If there shall be many remains to be seen as I did see some  fierce competition in metal gigs that night.

Michael Schenker back on stage and it did not take long before we got a first surprise. Michael walking on stage and starting a happy chat with the audience. Also he gained some kilos and now starts looking healthy. Finally you bring four vocalists and the first song he sang himself and asked the audience to join in on Holiday (Scorpions) Now I remember the chorus, but singing the verses was not at the top of anyone's head. Immediately hereafter we got Doctor Doctor the usual encore, where all vocalists would join in and the hall was warmed up. Hereafter the set followed a formula I remembered from last year. One vocalists singing songs from his era at times joined by others on backing vocals. So first on Doogie White to give us some recent songs.Not a problem as they sounded good and Doogie has a great voice still. New song Take Me to the Church turned into a favorite of mine and the Dio tribute in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead was already one of the best recent songs. Captain Nemo remains the second best instrumental Michael Schenker ever wrote. and Graham Bonnet came on next. Probably my favorite block of the evening as Assault Attack might be the best MSG album and these songs were all not that often in the set over the years. Graham Bonnet has to get some screams out of his toes, but often he just managed. Desert Song, well classic stuff. The next instrumental break was introduced with a nice speech on Rudolf Schenker and Gary Barden would sing the old MSG songs for us. Now all four would also sing a song from Resurrection, where they had the lead. Mr Barden seemed to be most at ease with new song Messin' around. The screams on Are You Ready to Rock for instance long left his vocal capacity. Yet he brings his songs sympathetic and gets away with this. After uber instrumental Into the Arena it was down to Robin McAuley. Now the McAuley Schenker years were reduced to one song Bad Boys only and he could focus on the UFO songs. With Strangers in the Night being the best live album ever, not much can go wrong there. And no matter the surprises or changes a Michael Schenker set always works towards that one guitar solo. In comes Rock Bottom and I should time the solo next year, but my god we are in guitar heaven and Michael Schenker is our God. Pity for the people on the right balcony, that he spend a few minutes of his solo so much right of the stage, that they could not see him. I did not mention yet that the guitar sound was perfect and Michael was probably in the best form in years. Seeing him soloing away makes anyone humble and all the new songs gained so much power now that I saw the solos live. So this is called a Fest and a party we got. After the orgasmic closure with Rock Bottom we did get one more encore in Lights Out and almost 2.5 hours after they came on stage the band waved farewell. I totally love this formula and the interaction between the vocalists looked genuinely positive with no ego crushes as long as the Black eye on stage from Chris Glen was not the result of some internal fights. Michael Schenker gives you one evening of Hard Rock at its best, with the Mad Axeman in top form. Amen.

Friday, 2 November 2018

August Life - Midnight Prophecy - Sacral Rage - Heir Apparent

It is 2018 and these four CD's brought me straight back to the eighties. Three times because of the style of music played and one rather late return (29 years waiting) of one of my favorites of the decade.

August Life - New Eternity
August Life are a new Dutch band of not so new Dutch artists and I think it is fair to say they are the best release of traditional Heavy Metal coming out of the low countries this year. So they won't win the originality award, but anyone into Heavy Metal should like this. Opener New Eternity reminds me of Graham Bonnet era Rainbow. Draw the Line has Dio references more than just under the surface. But when it all is played this well, who cares really. So a new band plays music from my youth. Actually I can't wait to see them at Westland Metal Meeting next year and shout along  "A Mission to Kill" during Immortalized. The band so far was a duo, but that must have been sorted for life shows now they confirm same. Classic Heavy Metal ending with Nevermore, which seems to be a tribute to the late Warrel Dane. Holland has a new Class act  in Heavy Metal and this is the first release by new label pt78 records. Promising start I'd say.

Midnight Prophecy - Midnight Prophecy
I tried to see Midnight Prophecy twice this year, but bad luck got in the way and both gigs were cancelled. Still I was keeping an eye open for their autumn released self titled album. So this is again eighties metal and yes they must have heard of Iron Maiden. But again a young British bands shows us that there is a Now Wave Of British Heavy Metal indeed. Ten songs giving us over an hour of good old Heavy Metal justifies at least checking them out. They now even released a Videoclip for Obsidian so YouTube might be a good starting point. .

Sacral Rage - Beyond Celestial Echoes
I originally missed the release of their 2015 album Illusions in Infinite Void. Then Mario put them in Little Devil, I checked them out on the internet and found a new favorite band. These guys are Greek but play US Speed Metal from the eighties. References are Agent Steel or Watchtower at times. The lyrics are high tech sci-fy story telling again, but the music is just brilliant. So yes I love the high pitched vocals with the screams, the fast guitars and the songs. Sacral Rage manage to not just show off how good they are, but pack their music in great songs. I saw them live on stage and they blew me away. Expectations were high for this album and no they do not disappoint. I'd say come back to Holland soon. Finally I bought there mint green EP last year due to lack of CD version of Deadly Bits of Iron Fragments. I now just read that all version on vinyl of this new album are selling out fast. This must mean the army of followers is growing, or they are too modest not pressing enough LP's. End of the year list material at the higher end.

Heir Apparent - The View From Below
So after three bands playing a style of metal I love, I now arrive at one of the albums I have been looking out for a lot after hearing it announced. Heir Apparent released in 1986 Graceful Inheritance and that is definitely (one of) the best US Metal releases ever. Three years later One Small Voice followed one of the best US early progressive metal albums. Now I buy my CD's from bands or websites, so before I received my copy I did read several reviews. Turned out that many Power metal related sites love the new album, while Aardschok and Metalfan in Holland seemed somewhat underwhelmed. I do not follow Dutch opinions here, as I love the album. OK so the tempo is mostly mid or slow. When they actually hit the gas and bang fast in Savior the song is also over before you know it, Yet this mainly mid-tempo album for me gives the band the chance to shine on their strong points. Starting with new vocalist Will Shaw who with this album alone proves he is one of the best voices in metal. At the same time the guitar of Terry Gorle gives us beautiful melodies all over the album. In The Road to Palestine we even get Heir Apparent's answer to Kashmir or Stargazer. So no this is not as fast as the debut, nor as prog as the follow up. Yet for me it is three out of three for Heir Apparent a band that only releases brilliant albums. They will tour Europe next summer, let me not miss them again.