Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Thunder & Lovell's Blade - Boerderij Zoetermeer 30 January 2018

Thunder back in de Boerderij is a matter of why not go and see an evening of feel good music. Actually Thunder's melodic hard rock would fit better on the beach at Schollenpop than on a dark winter night. Still de Boerderij filled nicely with an open balcony and just space enough for easy walks around without fighting through the crowds. I follow Thunder as such, but not extremely close. I have several CD's, but not all and seeing them every two years suits just fine. Their last album Rip it Up I only heard once, flying KLM for work. It seems that my years as frequent flyer suggesting more hard rock on their entertainment system resulted in some advance, as I was surprised to find Thunder as an option,

First band of the evening was Lovell's Blade. This band contains several ex-Picture members and plays actually a style slightly more melodic than expected. I saw them before at Very 'Eavy and again they sounded fine, but their songs lacked a bit of urgency. It all passed by smoothly without too many attention seekers. When they played their last song Out For Blood I thought they were at their peak of the set and we could have had more of those ballsy songs. Good not shocking was my ordeal therefore.

Thunder on stage is always a guarantee of good playing. It also amazes how the voice of Daniel Bowes does not show signs of aging whatsoever. He definitely is one of the best voices in melodic hard rock, while every tour he starts looking more and more like Bert van Marwijk (Australian not Saudi coach at World Cup). The rest of the band is also tight and the solo spots for Luke Morley are to me the highlights of the show. This evening it seemed to me that Thunder overdosed a bit on the ballads. Only occasionally they went for uptempo rockers and most songs had calm guitars with the beautiful voice of Daniel over it. Astrid was right calling it Ladies'night this evening. If I see that Ron and Hans were not bothered joining Astrid and Mary, plus the large number of women in the audience, she was probably right. A Thunder set for me always had three good guarantees, of which one was skipped tonight. So we had Backstreet Symphony and their ballad hit Love Walked In. To my surprise no Low Life in High Places tonight. Yet a mix of old and new songs. In advance I was hoping for one of my favorite Thunder songs of all time to return in their set tonight after a long time, as the topic became relevant again. On their album Behind Closed Doors from 1995 they had a powerfull song on a very sad occasion in "It Happened in This Town". The song told the true story of two 10-11 year old boys killing a small child. Now recently I heard on the BBC that one of them was recently arrested again for sexual assault. That song expresses the anger and frustration and is an alltime classic. I do understand that this dark story does not fit in an evening of positivism that is a Thunder show. So in the end the playing was flawless. The request for clapping and oooh-oooh or naa-naaa-nananaaaah a bit too much and the songs good. Thunder plays to make people feel good and they managed to do so again.

Monday, 29 January 2018

In the Grip of Winter Fest - Baroeg Rotterdam 28 January 2018

In the Grip of Winter is a new festival added to the Baroeg calendar. As any new metal festival deserves support this mainly Death Metal gathering was to be visited. Now I arrived late as I first was invited for a football  match a few km away from Baroeg. Dutch football and me basically stopped in 1992 when I left VVP 5, informed the KNVB of my unavailability for the national team and stopped goig to see Eredivisie matches. In those days playing in het Zuiderpark we used to go after our own match to FC Den Haag with a team of Martin Jol, Cor Lems, Karel Bouwens, Joop Lankhaar, or so to say an easy national champion nowadays. Football in Holland is in a freefall, but I enjoyed the afternoon. Even if we had the louder support, the better chances but lost 3-1. This meant I entered Baroeg after the first three bands had played already. Rene told me that Reptilian were very strong and Arian said Craven Idol to be a good band.

So I started with Execration from Norway. Their Death Metal was tight and grooving, but a bit too monotonous for me. We did not get sudden changes in pace or riffs. Next on were Brazilians and I have to support my semi countrymen. Luckily Rebealliun made it easy to support, as their set did have the variation needed to keep an intense Death Metal set interesting. Maybe the breaks inbetween songs could be shorter for devastating effects, but what a solid show they gave us. Now playing their last album, it is fast and brutal on CD as well.

Pestilence were the main act and the ones who attracted most people. Now when Pestilence broke through in Holland I still was afraid of grunts, so they never were my band. As with age one becomes harder, I now could see they are Holland's pride on the technical death metal front. Maybe not as brutal as Rebealliun their playing brought the day to the next level really. This set was build around their first albums, with for me no nostalgic flavor therefore. To many others there was old glory and one succesfull show they presented us. As trains would not ride home and a swap to bus or metro halfway was needed I left when they were closing their set and pleased to see half this new festival. Let us see if this will be repeated next year.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Red Bazar & Tiger Moth Tales - de Boerderij Zoetermeer 26 January 2018

This year started for me on the live front with three evenings of only Dutch metal bands, but the coming week I go international and kicking off that week was an evening of very British Prog rock. To me Very British is a compliment as ever since I discovered this musical style my favorites have been British bands. Until today Brits are a class on their own, unless you are Australian Anubis who meets that class. Over the years I have seen live and bought on CD so many new British Prog bands, that stepping in for an evening of two unknown bands to me is hardly a risk. Now the announement on this event was not vey clear to me, so I was unsure if we would get one band playing songs of both, or if we would get two seperate bands. Turned out the latter, while I knew in advance that Peter Jones would be the core of both bands. Now Peter Jones is quite a remarkable character. First he is blind, so joing the ranks of Jeff Healey here. Tonight his instruments were keyboards and on a standard over that a horizontal guitar. Henriette and Harry told me that last time he also played several brass instruments on stage. Finally he is more than a bit of an average player as even Camel asked him to join them, so we can see him again in June. De Boerderij looked upon arrival empty and there were tables with chairs at the front and higher tables further back. In the end it stayed empty-ish, but not as desastrous as Ork two years ago when tables also made up for empty spaces.

Red Bazar was the opning band. Now last year (or 2016) I tried to order their CD Tales from the Bookcase, but the postmen between Wales and Holland did not work. The seller very friendly returned my money and I promised to go and check them out and get the album if ever they would play Holland. So that was corrected and it did not take long to see this would be one of those bands  that impress you fast. Very british indeed the music holds all the parts good British prog needs for me. Long songs with story telling. A solid band with good musicians and at times heavy bits, mainly through great guitar solo's. And then there was Peter Jones. I read that people compared his voice with Peter Gabriel and yes that could be heard. Also traces from bands like Big Big Train, Cosmograf or Frost were around. To make the evening even more British the line This Green and Pleasant Land passed by. Now I  had to google it as too many progbands mentioned that line. Turns out it is from a William Blake poem, so got that sorted. The set of well over an hour focuseed on the last album, with also an older song in, when Red Bazar were still an instrumetal band. So when Peter Jones joined they got a voice in. At the same time an instrumental past shows that the band must be good enough to keep matters interesting during an instrumental set. Conclusion another great Prog band from the UK, which I shall return to often, when I look for quiet soundtracks during dark or sunny days.

A break with no stage change and Tiger Moth Tales would be on. Well to my surprise not only Peter Jones returned, but the whole band was the same. OK the band put on different shirts, but   I recognized those faces. So hallo again to drummer Paul Comerie and on bass and guitar Mick and Andy Wilson (now that's a name you don't get often in British Prog). The question to me was if this would be very different musically. Well maybe not extremely different, I felt that TMT go a bit weirder on their sound at times, mixing in whatever they feel like. Luckily the high standards of performing remained and we got another impressive show. Another plus on British prog I did not mention yet, is that their inbetween song banter in general is filled with an undercooled dry sense of humor (unlike many continental bands I saw). Peter was not different and when he while buggering about during an opening gave us the tune of Blackadder, all was good. As I knew no songs in advance I can not name any highlights by songtitle really although something with a Tiger in the title was very good. The guitar over Peter's keys was used more this set and it turns out that he can shred away on this horizontal setup. So this turned out to be an evening of almost 2.5 hours top prog rock. Bands like these never reach large crowds I am afraid, but if you have the chance to see either don't miss out. You always wonder why all these thousands of people who go to some Genesis cover band do not support originals like this. How can anyone prefer Firth of Fifth again, but not as good as the original, over refreshing new bands playing own songs in a style pretty similar. I must be too simple to get that point.


Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Galahad - Trespass - Sinistro - Synaptik

As I already mentioned before, 2018 looks to become a good year for music based on January releases alone. About time I share some recommendations.

Galahad - Seas of Change
Galahad are one of my favorite progrock bands, although I only discovered them much later then the favorite ones that put me on track of this musical style (Marillion, Pendragon and Pallas). Galahad were never shy of mixing other styles and even electronical music in their prog, which to me always resulted in interesting albums. Last time I saw them live there was a big role for punky guitarist Roy Keyworth and bassist Neil Pepper. They have been replaced by old member Lee Abraham and Tim Ashton, but that does not seem to harm quality. With Seas of Change they released an epic of almost 43 minutes divided in 12 parts and describing the Brexit process. The result an epical album indeed with a Toastmaster and a Newsreader next to Flute, Clarinet and Sax to add some spice. When hearing the album first I was somewhat disappointed, but getting to know the songs after a while it turns out to be a grower. How I would love to see this album played in full. Stuart's vocals always sound somewhat thin, but fitting this very British progrock album all too well. Once again Galahad have proven to be unafraid to go sideways at times and these Seas of Change shall turn into a classic among their  discography for sure.

Trespass - Footprints in the Rock
Trespass are one of my favorite NWOBHM bands, although they never released an LP in the eighties. I knew them from the two songs I taped from Metal for Muthas and Bright Lights I had on a Stampij tape I believe (Stampij being the best radio show ever on Dutch national radio). Later on collections would appear with 16 songs on The Works and another 15 on The Works II. So why no LP? I guess labels were asleep, as Trespass were amongst the best with a very recognizable sound and One of These Days was a hit, that surprisingly never made them big. So next to their grungy album head in 1993, this actually is their first NWOBHM album on record. And the good news is, that while only Mark is original member the sound is still very similar to their songs of the eighties. Some songs sounded familiar as they played them in Musicon (Title track and Be Brave) and the overall sound is still very much melodic guitar intro and than rumbling on. Momentum has a clip on Youtube and pretty much represents the band. Good playing by Mark, Danny, Joe and Jason and yes I am allowed to call them by their first names, as they opened my HM B&B summer 2016 after all. In June they play the most sympathetic charity NWOBHM gig around at Mearfest and I am looking for logistics and a hotel already.

Sinsitro - Sangue Cássia
Ever since Portugal became more on our radar with Josie working there and future plans heading for Portuguese porco preto on the weekly menu, I also entered the local music scene. Turns out that Portugal has a lot to offer.mainly in the darker and heavier side of metal. After Moonspell Sinsitro might be the biggest metal exporter from the country with their Fado/Doom metal. The Fado comes from the voice of Patrícia Andrade, while the band is mainly slow and heavy. I became a fan with previous album Semente and went back in time to discover their hymn on Lisboa: Cidade. And now we have at the very begin of 2018 Sangue Cássia. Where Galahad were a fast grower, I must admit I still can not grasp this album fully. Maybe some headphones and reading along the lyrics might help.  With the lyrics being Portuguese (one of the languages multi-talented me masters) I do not feel that this adds to the experience as the music is all about the atmosphere. (Unlike Moonspell's 1755). Now I am still undecided about the album I hope to see Sinistro live again, as their show in Tivoli last year was very impressive. If so, than preferably together with Andrew who also loved their Semente album and mentioned me in his Ave Noctum review on this album. So returning the favors here. Maybe I can see them in their current and my future hometown Lisbon one day soon, sure that will be overwhelming.

Synaptik - Justify & Reason
A good thing about the end of each year is that people and magazines publish their end of year favorite releases. Now one of the lists I always eagerly look out to is Andy Read's one on DPRP/Something for the Weekend. We have a rather large overlap in musical taste and there are just too many releases to catch everything good. So when he started listing his first 10 out 30 highlights my ears fell on Synaptik. What a shame I missed this band until now, as they play a style of music I totally love. Somewhere along Tech Metal or Progressive Thrash metal. It only took the opening song The Incredible Machine on Bandcamp (Look for Tribunal records as Synaptik has only the debut album) to make me surf to their homepage shop and order both the debut and this album. This is very powerfull music, with strong melodies, heavy melodic vocals without a grunt and lots of guitars. The album contains after the first five songs another five that appeared on the debut as well. It seems to me that although slightly different only, the quality of the first five songs is even better. This is good news, as they are improving therefore. Than again the last song is a recording of Your Cold Dead Trace with Alan Tecchio! on vocals. Fans of Techmetal around 1990 should hear this. Andy mentioned righteously Watchtower and Sanctuary as references, I would add Toxik and Hans should rush to bandcamp now.


Friday, 19 January 2018

Callous Intent & Razorblade Messiah - Paardcafe The Hague 19 January 2018

On a stormy Thursday Paard had it's first metal cafe of the year. While Hans & Mary plus Peter & Marga  went to Essen to see Fates Warning in great form, I could not travel this day and enjoyed yet another evening of Dutch Metal. Actually Warborn Waste from The Hague closed the evening, but I left early due to old age. The evening was opened by Razorblade Messiah from Rotterdam. I saw them last summer in Musicon and loved their heavy metal. Tonight was not going to be much different as  their mix of speed and battle metal came over very fine. Instrumentally this band is very strong and their Russian vocalist has an impressive range. Therefore we get this typical eighties screams, while he also can get low and aggressive without entering grunts. The songs are mainly uptempo where they sing about Chaos, Fire, Warriors and Metal. Their signature headbanger is called Metal Messiah which is a very nice way to strain your neckmuscles. This band is often in the area and I will go and see them again later this year. Very nice band playing good old heavy metal.

Next on are Callous Intent. Now I was planning to see them last October, but missed out on the day, so pleased to see them now. They moved to the next level in heaviness as they play thrash/death metal. Sounding very nice from the beginning, the highlight were the topics they sung about. If you followed the news in Holland and found any horror stories over the past years Callous Intent have a song about it. So after they described the shopping mall shooter we got in Bird of Prey even a song about the killer Oehoe terrorizing the city of Purmerend two years ago. All was presented full of energy and fast. When their own songs were finished, we got some covers still. I did not know Dismember's Casket Garden, but it came over very well. When we thought it was all over, it was not. As it is common behaviour nowadays to shout for Slayer at any live show, it is not always met with a Slayer cover. Well tonight we got a good version of South of Heaven as an extra. This made it two great bands on one evening and enough for me.

So I skipped the death metal from Warborn Waste, but as I saw them before and probably see them again soon not to worry. As this band is much younger than the previous two, they brought many young friends and fans. I was taken by surprise when Peter & Marga's youngest daughter Lea asked if I was Erik indeed. Nice to see the next generation stepping in, as again this evening would have deserved more attendants. Those surfing their TV channels and couches at home lost out again.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Heritance, Deformus & Defazer - Musicon Den Haag 12 January 2017

The year is starting Dutch for me on the concert front. After last week's surprises by Vexation and Moonstruck I was going to Musicon to be surprised again. Well openers Defazer were not much of a surprise as they played a lot in the area the last years. The FB event only said that if you don't know them and are from The Hague you must have been living under a Rock. True that is as they are the best old school thrash metal band from the region (country?). Last year they released their strong EP Order Out Of Chaos, so by now we can recognize some of the songs. To me it seems they are getting tighter every next show and we really were treated on some top class thrash metal. Only during the last song it started as if all four decided on a different closer of the set at first. When this was corrected  they finished in style. For those not knowing them yet, check them out.

After the homematch of Defazer, with a musical style I am fanboy for 35 years it was time for new bands and less introduced styles to me. First one was Deformus a band hard to describe. Now usually this is a good thing and tonight it was partially true as well. Binding factor to me sounded their groove which was omnipresent in all songs. Further there seemed to be a metal blender in place as we got bits that were thrashy, death metal or whatever I could not put a finger on. As we do not live in an ideal world not all was perfect and for me the tempo could have been a bit faster at times and the vocals were both not overly exciting. Still musically some interesting parts mixed in, curious if they develop into a certain direction from here or stay rather wide in styles.

The Heritance closed the evening and although unknown to me, obviously a band with some experience below their belts. During the change over the small stage looked rather busy, but it turned out that one of the two vocalists would sing along on two songs only. Visually he was the mismatch anyway as he was blond, had no beard and seemed much younger than the rest of the band. When The Heritance started it turned out they played a Death/Thrash kind of metal, with the occasional break for twin guitars or good solo's. Their stage presence was good and their songs were as well. They even have a beer brewed by metalworld famous HappyFace beers: The Devil's Draught. This also turned out to be one of their best songs. As I am nearing a cold or fever, I was not bothered to get their merch package CD/Tee/Beer after the show, but rushed off fast. Next time I correct that I guess. Good closers of another fine evening of Dutch metal. Next evening of three Dutch metal bands Thursday in Paardcafe.  

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Moonstruck, Vexation & Daisy-D - Musicon The Hague 5 January 2018

Friday 5 January already so high time for kicking of 2018 gig year. Musicon put on some dutch bands which seemed to vary in style. As I had not been to any show over Christmas- New Year this looked a good start of the year. First band on were Daisy-D from Woerden. Now if you thnk their bandname is somewhat odd on a metal bill, their music was even less pinpointable. Coming on stage and looking at them I expected some sort of Southern rock (helped by the 3 guitars, beards or cap) During the first song I thought we would get a show of dark wave/rock due to the low voice. Than we got to melodic rock and more poppunk like songs of bands that mix rock and accesible heavyness. When their lead guitarist sung music went more towards melodic hardrock and those were my favorites, Finally re-occuring technical issues with one guitar did not help a lot on the speed front.

Second band were Vexation from Amsterdam. As they stated playing since 1758 they managed to stay under my radar for all these years. This is strange twofold, as first I do follow their style on stage 35 years by now and second I did like their music a lot. In fact they play NWOBHM. So we have two guitars, many uptempo work ,a solid base and decent vocals over that. Probably I did not go to enough old-school metal festivals in Holland to catch them earlier. Fact is that with this kind of faster headbanging metal you always have a winner on atmosphere. The band that got best reactions of the evening and one that made me wonder how many good Dutch bands are out their I've never heard of.

The evening was closed by Moonstruck bringing me back some 25 years in time. Their style of music reminded me strongly of Power-Progmetal as it was played in the early nineties. The late eighties brought us some US metal bands with progressive touches, with Heir Apparent and Lethal as two of my all time favorites. In Europe soon a wave followed with bands playing a style not dissimilar to them. Mainly German bands like Ivanhoe, Soul Cages or Richocher. Now Moonstruck reminded me very strong of latter bands. There is some Powermetal base, some Queensryche and instrumentally there is not much wrong either. If you than add the fact that they suddenly have one of Holland's best voices on stage we had a good band. Good songs, good performance and relaxed enough to convince on stage. My only advice to them would be writing two 3-4 minute all out headbangers to add variation in the setlist. I got ther EP Impact afterwards and shall keep an eye on shows of them in the area.

So for a first evening early in the year all was good again. Next week there is more in Musicon, when we go for heavier metal styles. I'll be back.