Sunday, 27 May 2018

Westland Metal Meeting - de Noviteit Monster 26 May 2018

Het Westland is the region immediately south of The Hague. It is known for holding the largest glasshouse area of the world growing our vegetables and plants high tech. Being a farmer region and conservative/religious any amateur antropologist knows that youth needs to rebel. In the eighties this was often in the form of Heavy Metal. Many times we cycled to the region watching dutch bands on tour. This day the fourth edition already of Westland Metal Meeting was organized, but for me the first time. With Monster (what's in a name?) not being that far and the weather being beautiful I decided for a bicycle ride through the dunes to reach de noviteit.  It turned out that this was a party centre and outside they created a nice area with standing tables, chairs, shade and food. Inside the place also seemed well prepared for a festival and the only thing that stood out was that nowadays the youth in het Westland is not into metal. Where were they?

The formula of WMM has been through the years cover bands alternating with originals and blending styles from hardrock to extreme. As I decided to watch at home first the finish of 2018's biggest sport event (Giro d'Italia that is what an edition, world cup without Holland shall be lame and Max Verstappen is just a shitty driver) I missed the first band Melting Eyes. Theo told me upon arrival that they were rather good. My first band of the day would be Deep White, a coverband. Now Whitesnake was huge to me when getting into hardrock and yes I prefer the Moody/Marsden days. This band played songs of both Deep Purple and Whitesnake, not always the most obvious ones and did so rather well. The vocalist was good although his screams were better with Deep than with White. It looked to me like he was saving his voice knowing Child in Time was still to come. That was the best performed song of their set. Next band were substitutes Rages of Sin. Unfortunately Anatomy of I couldn't make it. Also playing Death Metal Rages of Sin played a nice tight set, where the presence of the drummer's 3 year old daughter before and on the stage was one of the highights. 15 June they have a release-gig for their album in HPC. Based upon their today's performance highly recommended.

Standing at the earlier mentioned high tables and trying the sate with bread for dinner I managed to miss Rise of the Woods. Knowing them from earlier  shows maybe not that smart as they play a nice blend of stoner and hard rock. Being local they attracted most reactions from the audience as well.
Hereafter came the band that made me cycle down to Monster: Savage. One of the many bands that were part of the NWOBHM, but to younger people got known due to Metallica covering a song of them. Loose 'N Lethal, was a classic in the genre and the set would contain many of those songs. Unfortunately het Westland  seemingly had other things to do. While this band would have attracted full houses in the eighties, now only a few older fans were present and enjoyed this set. Mixing old and new, for me the highlights were those from our collective pasts. Songs like Berlin and White Hot were brought for us real good and closing their set with the usual double Ain't no Fit Place and Letting Loose made me a happy man in spite of the empty party center. As I did not stay for the last coverband bringing us Ozzy/Sabbath songs I decided for a slightly more dangerous ride home through the dark dunes with a few beers in, but managed to stay on the path. Thanks to the organization  for this party. My recommendations for such a diverse bill would be next time shorter sets and inbetween breaks. Not that this was an issue with the beautiful weather of this day, but it might keep the speed in the day.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Awooga & Amplifier - de Boerderij Zoetermeer, 17 May 2018

An evening of bands that are getting exposure in Prog magazines and sites, but are in my ears no real prog. Still I was curious so off to de Boerderij. Awooga opened the evening, three bearded blokes from Britain. Looking like a stoner band, I was pleased to hear that te base was stoner indeed. Rather nicely they went through songs from their last album Conduit, which I heard through bandcamp on forehand. Many pedals on the stage helped them getting the sound very wide and multilayered. Turned out to be a nice band, playing mainly heavy. Being their first time touring Europe and Holland we can appreciate the comments on great venues we have and forgive the cliches on coffeeshops. I liked their set and a highlight came in Witness mixing calmer and heavier moments. Good live band and fitting well to open for the headliners tonight.

Amplifier falls for me in a typical category of bands. Those bands are not playing any of my favorite genres like hard rock, any type of metal or progrock. Yet they released somewhere down their career and (often double) album that is generally receiving rave critics. Listening to it I also dig it and that is where I stop often as well. Examples: The Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie, Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile, GY!BE - Raise your skinny fists.... All these bands border my favorite music and Amplifier does so as well and their Epic album is called The Octopus. That is one beautifull album starting like Pink Floyd 1970 going through alternative rock, hard rock, grunge , psychadelic and you name it they include it. Now in 2014 they played Graspop and I remember friends skipping them and reviews being not that positive. Also I noticed that my Prog or PPE friends on FB were not interested. Yet open minded me decided to go alone anyway. In de Boerderij noone else was supporting Czech Death Metallers Hypnos, looking at the dresscode of the audience. So when Amplifier came on in black, with black shirts and ties it all fell together. The audience danced to this guitar rock band. They went heavy at times, but never got metal. They played very well, but were not bothered to interact with the audience all that much. Even the Wayne Rooney lookalike on guitars did not change much to that effect. And suddenly I got why this band were and would be misplaced on a metal festival. Further I saw by chance over the last week such great performers and atmosphere bringers, that to me this stood out as rather dead. Conclusion: They played well, the variation of styles was also live present, but they could not draw me into any song or mood. Most fans liked it pretty much, but for me one hour was enoug of this and I went home knowing that I can always play the Octopus and hear they are a good band indeed. Next time I decide to go to a band bordering on prog and alternative rock it shall be Dream the Electric Sleep again, who do rock and metal you into their show. 

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Hypnos, Neoceasar & Signs of Algorithm - Musicon The Hague 13 May 2018

After a week full of gigs, why not close it with an afternoon session of Death Metal in Musicon. Being short the Signs of Algorithm are from Belgium and young. Their music is metalcorish, while the vocalist does some voice acrobatics like slam death. good seeing them jumping up and down the stage  while bringing us their songs. Next band were Neoceasar and while watching them bulldozering through their tight set again I realized this probably might be the band I saw playing live most times over the past twelve months. Regular good show it was.
Headliners were Hypnos from Czech Republic invited by Neoceasar as they told during the encore. This European tour consisted of four shows in Holland as well. This resulted in some Czech bangers as support. Rebuilding the stage completely on a tight scheduled afternoon, it was all worthwhile when they started. Older members resulted in one tight band and very good playing. If we add some decent songs a well spent Sunday afternoon was guaranteed. Supporting bands that surpised me and impressed I am now playing their last album The Whitecrow, with as bonus feature a free course of Czech with the translated lyrics, but that only makes my national champion Tiago happy. Bílá vrána.


Dead Lord & Horisont - 't Beest Goes 12 May 2018

Sweden is delivering bands at the top of any musical genre I love. These two bands play hardrock with a strong seventies vibe. So when their Time and Ignorance tour hit Holland I knew I wanted to see one of the three shows. Now Zaandam was closest to home, but on a Sunday less tempting. Also due to late start trains woud not run home any longer. So it became 't Beest in Goes. an almost two hour drive, but on a Saturdy night less of a problem. Actually it brought me for the first time ever to the city of Goes, which turned out to hold a small port of yachts, a church square full of terraces and a nice venue in 't Beest. I know this all as we arrived somewhat after eight when the venue turned out to be still closed until 20:30. Now originally there was a local support band and the event mentioned 20:30-23:55. Goes is situated in the provence of Zeeland in Holland. Now Zeeland is in Holland famous for people being tight on their money and the bible belt starts here. Based upon that I did not expect the show to continue till after midnight. Not knowing the support got cancelled Hans and I turned a bit nervous therefore when close to nine noone hit the stage yet.

Comes nine ó clock and Dead Lord starts their intro tape. During the Heads Held High tour I did see them twice, but both occassions as support getting some 40 minutes only. So this time I was looking forward to a shared headline set. Now Dead Lord are the ultimate tribute to the twin guitar, so it was not long until opener Don't Give a Damn that guitars would come to the fore. Actually all songs by Dead Lord are not overly long and have great instrumental parts in them. Tonight they passed through all three albums and you have to get enthusiastic seeing this energetic band on stage. Unfortunately it turned out that in Zeeland enthusiasm is showed by hanging at the back of the hall (tight on money and feelings?). Reactions or not Dead Lord stormed on and occasionally Hakim would explain to us that the beautiful power coming at us was The Electric Guitar!!! Well no need not to mention the rhythm section as especially the drums were very tight and full of fills. Higlights? basically the full set as songs are in a similar vein, but if forced to choose it would be When History Repeats Itself, as this is just such a great song. Dead Lord rocked us with their rock again.

Horisont were to close the evening and I was very curious how they would sound live. Last year they released the splendid album About Time.  Although being their fifth record for me it was their introduction. When a supporting tour hit Holland I missed them due to shows being far away on a Sunday and Monday evening. As about Time made it to my Top 17 of 2017 I definitely did not want to miss out again. With the stage ready the difference were the added  keyboards of vocalist Axel. Further we got the classic two guitars, bass and drums. Opening with Odyssey it did not take me long to realize that this band is awesoem live and we would be in for a Masterclass of Classic Rock. The ease with which Horisont passed moods was remarkable and all your heroes from the seventies left their traces (Heep, Led Zep, UFO, Purple). To Hans and mine disappointment Zeeland did not seem to bother all that much. While reactions during Dead Lord were already far from Saturday night live, during Horisont half the people seemd to have disappeared altogether. What a miss as this turned out to be an absolute high of a show. Knowing only one of their CD's was no handicap at all.  Horisont are a class act and they would deserve more noise coming back at them. Well I loved this show and definitely shall follow their career closely on and travel for new visits. After the show as souvenir I intended to get the Odyseey album, which was not available so I got Time Warriors. Further again a scandinavian band toured Holland/Germany not bringing anything larger than XL. During the Trial show I learned that after washing a Swedish XL, you might end with a Dutch L and that does not work. Pity as they had some nice Tees. Finally we only wished this same evening and number of people in would have been held in Little Devil. I am pretty sure that it would have been a night to remembre not only by the bands, but also by the atmosphere. Tonight they play Zaandam, hope people are louder in de Flux. Anyway another Swedish winner we had, so my list of best gigs 2018 in December might end very blue and yellow indeed.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Gama Bomb, Distillator & Defazer - Baroeg Rotterdam 9 May 2018

Thrash metal in Baroeg on the eve of a national holiday so off to Rotterdam. Now in The Hague our week of summer ended in the afternoon already so jeans and hoodie were in place. Arriving 25 km further im Rotterdam it was 5 degrees warmer and most people came in Anthrax outfit, being bermuda's and Tees. It was during opening band Defazer that most people arrived, so when they were finishing the Baroeg filled up well enough. Defazer is The Hague's pride of thrash metal and seeing their full set was the usual quality we came to expect from them. Opening with their EP Order out of Chaos I even start recognizing some of the further songs in their set. Well played, Baroeg warmed up and William wearing the coolest Tee in metalland (THHMA).

An outside break where beers were allowed on this warmish evening and Distallator prepared. This powerfull trio must be one of the best thrash bands in Holland nowadays. Their metal is fast and guitaris Laurens mixed his raw voice with lots of high screamed lines, which works rather well. Talking about working rather well, their smoke machine was no slouch either filling up Baroeg with dampened layers killing beers and eyes. This show only confirmed their status and they are one of the best options in Holland for sharing the stage with big foreign names.

The big foreign name of tonight was Gama Bomb from Ireland. Well actually I do not know how big they are, but I saw them appearing often in Portugal's Loud magazine. Tonight they would start a small European tour playing their older album Citizen Bain completely commemorating 10 years since release. Now I do not own that CD, but have their last album. This meant I did not recognize a lot of their songs and many they played. Most of their songs are not very long. Not that short as an Hang the Pope , or the Ballad of Jimmy Hendrix, but not passing three minutes either. Citizen Bain also already gives away that humor is important to Gama Bomb. So what was the result of this all? A very tight band, a funny vocalist with a great Irish accent and an interesting yellow suit. Plus many songs with sometimes a bit long breaks inbetween. Vocals would not only be typical Thrash harshness, but also lots of eighties screams inbetween. And yes some people in the audience can do that too. All in all I quite liked the performance as this was entertaining. At the same time there was the risk of the gimmick taking over, but I guess they just managed to avoid that. Whatever you feel about them, no need to get bored.  Taking matters not all that serious is in a way also refreshing within the Thrash metal scene so who knows 9 July Lisboa for a repeat.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Transport League & Onegodless - Musicon The Hague, 8 May 2018

We have this week a summer upon us, so the beaches are full. To my surprise Musicon was also pretty well filled up this Tuesday night, with a turnout many a Friday or Saturday night I attended would not meet. This all for Transport League a band I hardly knew. As openers we did get Onegodless grooving at us for some 50 minutes. This band hit the Musicon stage several times before from when they were called Mourn until the days of Onegodless. I therefore saw them a few times before and this show gave me similar feelings as their earlier appearances. This is a good band where some of the former bands of band members might mislead you (Cynic, Textures, Exivious). The music they play has a very long name on their page, but groove is the base for me. Bringing the songs fast after each other, I missed some connection with the audience. Songs were hardly announced and we rambled on basically. For me the vocals could vary a bit more as when screaming less and singing more there weresome added mood swings. Still a good live band, who probably shall return more often.

After a short break the long bearded men of Transport League took the stage. Now I did not have any music of them, but used to own a CD by B-Thong, which I lost when an idiot decided to force my door in the mid nineties. Finding nothing of any value in my house he/she took several CD's from my then starting collection. So not even being able to hear that album again I went through some clips on the internet and thought this could be interesting live. Well I can be short, this was a total party. What an awesome live band they are and how well they understand what live music is supposed to be all about. Describing their musical style is easy as I just can quote some album titles. The new CD is called Twist and Shout at the Devil. With earlier album titles  as Boogie From Hell or Superevil you get the ballpark we are talking about. You can also simply call it rock ad roll, but with a swing that makes it hard to stand still. Funny to see that the guy getting them to Musicon turned out to be their biggest fan jumping and banging around for the full show. The raw voice even turned Ozzy alike when we were asked to be silent for some vocal intermezzo. At the same time Motorhead was on the back blended in as well. So when I was wondering and deciding if I should get a souvenir (CD/Tee) from this show they played Zulu Zombie Zodiac for us which was such a delicious rampestamper that even the choice of album was decided. When later Kill Kill Faster was played I first heard Kill Kill Vasco, which would have become an anthem in football stadiums all over Brazil apart from Sao Januario. The show maintained on a high until it was all over. Well was it? Musicon turned on the music and instruments were put aside, but many of us were hungry for more. So we got more in two extra songs, where we could soing along to You've got another thing coming. I was hoping for a nice show on a Tuesday. Never could I expect such a party in such a full House. The band also seemed to like the evening as Hell bent for Tuesday and The Hague rules. Well we don't get that all that often, so thanks to Olax for putting this show together. Sweden ruled once again. Their countrymen of The Quill are not that far in style from them and turn into some sort of Musicon houseband. I would not mind seeing Transport League returning frequently either. And to continue the Swedish cloud we can attend this weekend another nordic show, when the Dead Lord /Horisont tour hits Holland. Skol.