The general consensus in the metal world is that Germany is the walhalla for old school metal fans. In reality I think that this region of Flanders offers as much with always a good atmosphere. Also the number of bands who play old school Heavy Metal seems fairly large. Ironbound was the first Belgium band I saw today and that was no disappointment. Reading about them in advance I expected a band that played covers by Iron Maiden and Metallica, with some own songs. In reality we got a full set of own material ending with a cover by Saxon. The own songs sounded rather well and the highlight of the band were the solo's by their lead guitarist. We could shout along with Never Again, before Princess of the Night closed the set in style.
After a sunny break outside on the first warm day in western Europe Thorium were on next. Now Thorium might be an unknown name in metal, Ostrogoth is not. This band seems to hold some old members of that band. Vocalist is from Holland and also known from Lord Vulture. This band was a really good surprise as they played eighties metal in the style and at the level of the greats. So when one song reminded me strongly of Helloween, the next one on the Battle of Britain was as if Maiden 1986 was back on stage. So the songs were fine, the playing was good and the vocals top. So this was a new band to me to follow. Final fun fact I learned from Theo. The bassist played in a WASP coverband and looks like a smaller version of Blackie Lawless indeed, before the current Michelin sponsoring of the original that is.
Next on Vice were the band I most looked forward to really. Last year they released their excellent debut album The First Chapter. So I decided to enter the hall before kickoff and get a center position to see what would be coming. Well I might have hoped for a good show, but this was with no doubt on of the highlights of the year. Live the great album even added on the energy front and we were blown away. I say we as I had the impression I was not the only one heavily impressed. During a 45 set I think Tom stood some 25 minutes central stage soloing at us. If we add the sympathetic presentation coming from both drums and bass, this young bands should have a bright future if this kind of metal stays in fashion that is. Their music is heavy metal, but at the heavier thrashier end really. It is so good seeing a young band blowing you offf yer socks, just as the event page warned us in the morning already. Taking no notes as usual, not sure what songs passed, but for sure, Sloth, Creed and Envy did. After the show I tried to catch up and thank them for making my trip so worthwhile. I could not find them inside or outside the hall. As they stated coming from Manchester, they might have been on the lookout for a TV in order to watch the Manchester derby. A game I am seeing now at MOTD, while writing this. Seeing them soon again at Mearfest I hope.
Well up to Evyltyde the ungratefull task to follow this up. For me this would be the cooling down before driving back home. Now with the sun out burning for the first time this year, the trend of the day became that bands would start for a handfull of people and slowly the crowd would walk in. In the case of Evyltyde it seemed to me taking very long before some reaction came back to them. It was definitely not them lacking hard work. With a bassist on hire and a girl drumming with the band for a week only they actually played well together. From some clips I was hoping for more of an eighties metal female voice (Dore, Leather Leone, Lee Aaron and the lot). In reality this went more towards what is called Female Fronted Metal with higher vocals. Now this is not the genre I am most at home in, I did like the song where heavy male and female vocals mixed up nicely. Towards their end I decided to call it a day and start the long drive home. What a good decision it was to go in the end. Very smoothly organized, easy atmosphere and this Belgium flavour of a day of metal. Hans already mentioned an interest in Headbangers Ball in May. I might consider if timing works out, but won't be the only person in a white Tshirt again.