Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Trial, Portrait & RAM - Merleyn Nijmegen 13 February 2018

Roadkill is the name of this package touring Europe. Anyone into good old Heavy Metal as it was meant to be should be there. So when this tour hit Holland (just) I knew I should be there. I wrote just as this tour is somewhat German based on the logistics. If you are in the centre of Nijmegen and you get somewhat upset, you can throw a German Sausage straight back to where it came from. Further 11 out of 16 dates in Germany and none in Belgium (full house guarantee with these bands) looked onesided planning. So crossing the country it was and not willing to risk failing trains I drove. Upon my arrival in Nijmegen I discovered to my surprise that Nijmegen also does carnaval. Not that it was busy, but loads of empty cups, confetti, a beer tent and most positive several people wearing outfits in the colours of The Hague. So I got worried on the evening. Closing night of carnaval I thought we could rule headbangers from nearby Brabant and Limburg out. Further a Tuesday does not appeal to many (I couldn't find anyone interested in joining me even by car) and how worried did we need to be on a very empty Merleyn (not Merelyn as teh RAM-tee said). Well no worries here as it turned out that sympathetic Merleyn filled up OK taken it was a Tuesday evening. Turned out I am not the only one who can always be called for Metal music with the Crushin' and the Screams. Being warmed up by the likes of Priest, Maiden, Accept, Manowar we were ready to go. This evening gave us Heavy Metal as we like it: so we got three steady drummers, three stable bassists, Six great guitars and three vocalist extraordinair. 

Trial made me drive down to Nijmegen really. Three years ago they released Vessel and after reading about them in Iron Fist and getting that album I was hooked. I mean my yearlist of 2015 albums had Vessel on One. Trial play Heavy Metal, but with some very own  flavours blended in. In the past I used terms like US Metal, doomy and a certain dose of Psychotic Waltz. Listening to a song like Ecstasy Waltz it could have blended in on any of the first PW albums, without anyone noticing. There are two things in music that are hard to beat. First discovering a new favorite and second seeing that band on stage for the first time. So when they opened with Motherless it was this moment of checking the basics.  Band tight -check, solo's loud and fluent-check, vocals clear and impressive major check. Apart from Trial being a great band their vocalist Linus Johansson deserves a special mention. In reviews the name Bruce Dickinson is being dropped at times to name just one. His high screams seemed to come out easily while his faster lyrics were brought powerfull. The best of all was that I was right with my Psychotic Waltz reference, even as I learned from some members they did not even know that band. Linus' presentation looked more than a bit like a young Devon Graves, like when he still was called Buddy Lackey. Seemingly in trance, with hooked moves and gestures, open shirt barechested the comparison, also in vocal abilities was there. But the band played on and Vessel was visited with Through Bewilderment. Next on came two more songs from Motherless (which by the way is as good as Vessel) in Aligerous Architect and Cold Comes the Night. And then it was already over with The Primordial Temple title track from their debut. Since discovering Vessel I looked for this album on CD, but can't find it really. Later on I learned only 500 were pressed, so chances really slim on finding it. So recovering from the set I found that Trial are live as good as I hoped for. Unfortunately due to curfew of Merleyn they had to shorten their set and dropped To New Ends. Now they are signed with Metal Blade we might see more of them in the future. This is one band I wil travel for, so if I ever see an announcement of a 90 minute anniversary set I might book flight. hotel and tickets. A long set would give them the chance to play more calmer and doomier stuf as well. Actually I think they would please a fair amount of people at Progpower, but I've been wrong there before. As souvenirs they brought a bronze single of Where Man Becomes All and nice T-shirts. Reoccuring tip to Scandinavian bands: While touring Holland (and Germany I guess) bring XXL.

So after Trial made an impact the evening was far from over for me. Portrait gave the world last year with Burn the World one of the best Heavy Metal albums of the year. Their influences might come fron Denmark mid eighties, but they have a typical Portrait sound with lots of aggression. Again I never saw them before, so opener Burn the World would give first impressions. Well also not to worry here. The sound seemed a bit messy at first, but when Per's voice came through and the guitars were duelling freely we got some of the best possible metal tunes. The fact that made this even more impressive was that Portrait toured with two standins on drums and guitar. Well nothing I noticed going wrong on the songs I knew. Songs I knew as I do not have all their albums. Some years ago I got the CD with the complicated latin title, I missed Crossroads and had Burn the World again. From the last album I heard strong versions of Mine to Reap and Martyrs passing by. Possible highlight of the set was however coming from Crossroads in Epic long song Lily. So I got that CD afterwards. The energetic set closed with the opener of the latin album Beast of Fire. Not much latin in that and we got something you expect a neckbreaking banger with flying guitar solo's all over the place. So Portrait was the second hit an evening that was already epic to me.

Headlineres are RAM also from Sweden. They exist longest, have released most albums and to be frank got the most reactions from the crowd. Now don't get me wrong I do like RAM and believe I saw them before at a festival. Yet where Trial sound to me totally original, Portrait have something own to them, RAM play Heavy Metal. Nothing wrong with wearing your influences on your sleeve, but it means I would not recognize any music as fast being RAM as I would with the others. I only have one of their CD's  (Svbversvm) and therefore did not know as much music as the rest of the obviously loving this audience. Many people banging and shouting along the lyrics. I did recognize the openers and they were brought powerfull indeed. To go further I could see RAM have lots of touring under their belts and were completely at ease on stage.  I on the other hand started feeling less at ease when their gloved vocalist promised a punch in the face on exit to everyone not buying their new album. So I did like this show, but it did not blew me from my socks. Yet RAM might become one of the flag barrers of Good old Heavy Metal, when the originals all retired.

Given the fact that Nijmegen is bloody far away on a Tuesday for such a small country I left before the set closed. Roadkill turned out to be a package not to miss indeed. For me it gave with Trial a band I would consider seeing in Sweden one day if they promise 75-90 minutes, Portrait I would go and see anywhere in Holland anytime soon again and RAM one to watch when passing the west of Holland. Yes it is not all about geographics, it is just plain Heavy Metal and I loved it.


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