Saturday, 25 August 2018

Schollenpop - Duindorp Beach, 25 August 2018

Schollenpop is back to the format we used to know for many years. Two stages and a line-up basically build around guitar orientated bands. Nothing wrong with that it seems, but we metalheads were spoiled in 2015 and 2016. In 2015 Death Angel played the main stage and THHMA put together a very diverse metal line-up with bands from Holland and Belgium bringing us anything, from Death, through melodic up to old fashioned Heavy Metal. In 2015 Textures played the main stage and the organization put together their own metal stage, with a focus more on local bands. Both years had glorious weather and if only we could get the sun and the metal stage back. Well we can not this year so face the reality. This still means that for line-up of all free festivals in the bigger The Hague region Schollenpop remains second best after Kaderock. This year also the date changed from the first weekend of August, to the last weekend of school holidays. I do not know the reasons, although I heard rumours of historically better weather expectations for the end of the month. Well after a beautiful summer peaking early August, we have today the first poor day in months. In proper English I believe it is called Foking shite. Finally I do not know if the festival also suffers from  sponsor cuts for cultural events by our government. I did not know any of the bands playing before apart from Claw Boys Claw, but the metal budget shrunk. With all respect to For I Am King if we had in the recent past Death Angel and Textures on the main stage they are just not (yet?) in that league.

So feeling sorry for all involved within the organization about today's weather, I also picked the short slot that looked most interesting to me. So that was around the metal band. Arriving a band called Afterpartees was on the main stage. They played some sort of britpop and were appreciated by the few watching them play. First impression, was that it would be empty today. Even with the space reduced quite a bit the beach looked empty from every corner you went. As I was on holidays last year I do not know if the second stage being in a tent was new or not. Anyway it was very welcome for sheltering when the rain became really bad. When I did enter the first time, another positive surprise was there as Code 69 was on and they played hard rock. Five songs only, but sounding OK. Next on the main stage was the metal band of the day For I Am King from Amsterdam. I did not know them in advance so convince me.  Well they did so in a way. Their Death Metal Core music was apart from some tapes played tightly by the band. When a band has a female vocalist we know it might be that she grunts.. Schollenpop being a general rock festival also attracts people who do not know that. Always funny to see some surprised looks when the small vocalist started of with some aggressive punches and a low grunt. Her screams were OK as well. Actually her weak point to me was her clean voice, which was a bit light. The songs were good and some calmer breaks took care of the needed variation. So we had a good 45 minutes in the sun, rain, storm and sun again. Pieter meanwhile showed up, but we took one more beer only as the weather was not improving and the band playing in the tent was very poor. So short but sweet it was and cold, yes that too.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Armored Saint & Act of Defiance - Dynamo Eindhoven, 10 August 2018

It's a vital mistake, to try to brawl with the brave! It's the March of the Saint. Or in other words, Armored Saint was back in Holland and we did not want to miss that. Hans and Mary plus Ron and Astrid, meant Hans booked a hotel for five and we would make 10 August a city break in Eindhoven. This hotel was needed as when taking the last train home, we did run the risk to miss Last Train Home. If you don't get the last line, you can stop reading here as you do not know your metal classics. Being early August we knew that competition would be fierce as both Alcatrazz Metal Festival in Belgium and Into The Grave in northern Holland started already. So Dynamo was not packed, but during the Saint nicely filled up. Finally without many knowing maybe, this was also the 30th wedding anniversary party of the sympathetic couple that most travels for metal in Holland: Esther and Michel. Well Joey Vera knew as he congratulated them during the set.

Openers of the evening were Act of Defiance. This band is mainly known for the previous bands of the members, being Megadeth, Shadows Fall and Scar the Martyr. I heard of this band, but never took the time to check them out. Before the show I looked for some clips on Youtube and realized I would like this show. Heavy Metal of the heavy kind, with raw vocals and some lower lines from the bassist. As both bands play Alcatrazz today (and way too early for their status), This band had to leave fast after their show. I decided therefore to get their last CD Old Scars, New Wounds before their set. Good move as I indeed liked their show. Playing a short set with songs of both their albums Dynamo slowly filled and got into their metal. Interesting to see how main man Chris Broderick is known from his days with thrashers Megadeth, while he reminded tanned and pumped more a member of Los Angeles colleague bands from the hair metal era. His soloing was great though and that is what matters. So when we were beginning to get warmed up we deserved another drink during the break. Well that sounds a lot easier than it was. The draughts in the hall stopped serving and at the entrance only one still worked. Sad result was that the queue for that one functioning beer pump, dwarfed the queue for the Act of Defiance Merch stand before they left the building for Belgium,

Bringing a support act of certain name and fame or not it was clear that most people came to see Armored Saint. This tour they celebrate their fourth album Symbol of Salvation, playing it in full. This might well be my favorite Saint album altogether. Yet I decided not to play it before the show, giving me the chance to have the O-yeah-that-one-as-well-effect. Before we got to SoS we were treated on March of the Saint, Long Before I Die and Chemical Euphoria. One song of each of their first three albums. Sound great, playing tight and John Bush still one of the best voices in metal. In the end this evening turned into one big celebration of Heavy Metal as it was always intended to be. And yes passing through SoS was one party indeed from Reign of Fire until Spineless these thirteen songs showed what a classic album this truly is. My favorite song Last Train Home turned out to be an audience favorite as the reactions got that bit louder after they finished it. So the Saint did conquer and everybody in tonight seemed to totally love this show, Madhouse! Pity that youth was hardly present, which makes you worried for the next decades. Well as long as  our heroes still jump down a few meters like John Bush did, our metal will survive as well. This is one show you just should not miss. And then it was over with first  a search for the lockers (yes Dynamo moved the lockers during the show out of the entrance hall and hid them in the smokers room!?!) and later a recap over some beers in Metal bar The Jack. Great evening, superb band.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Redemption - Zeal & Ardor - Satan's Empire - Khemmis - The Night Flight Orchestra

Been quiet on the blog and CD front, so herewith some short summer tips:

Redemption - Long Night's Journey Into Day
A new album by Redemption for me is a blind purchase (being the best new Progmetal band of this century), so I got this one upon return from holidays. Not heard enough of it yet. so some quick comments. The Redemption style is still very clearly present. Power prog with long instrumental parts and heavy riffs. Ray Alder left and we knew Tom Englund is just not as good a voice, but he does OK. Old bonus song Noonday Devil actually shows we do not need to worry if they ever come playing live again. Maybe not a Classic in their discography, but too early to judge. Only downer New Year's Day which does not work for me.

Zeal & Ardor - Stranger Fruit
This is not for everyone! When a band mixes Black Metal with something like slave music/negro spirituals it sounds original to start with. Last year I heard their album Devil is Fine, but with the short running time and fillers did not get it. Now we have a full album which blends whatever they feel like and ends up in a beautiful mix. Heard from friends they were great at Graspop, so I will check them out when touring Europe in autumn.

Satan's Empire - Rising
This is for everyone! When you love metal, you do understand that the movement kicking things of big time in the mainstream and underground was the NWOBHM. One of the lesser known bands of that era Satan's Empire now releases with Rising one of the best NWOBHM albums of 2018. I was lucky enough to see them playing live at the wonderful Mearfest. There and then I knew I was going to get this later released album. Filled with good old Heavy Metal. Collectors might recognize Soldiers of War from the Lead Weight Compilation. Tip

Khemmis - Desolation
Doom metal with a strong tendency to Heavy Metal. Another band I missed until now. Six long songs giving accessible doom, where Maw of Time introduces grunts the base is clean vocals and good playing. The cover is nice, the music even better.

The Night Flight Orchestra - Sometimes the World Ain't Enough
When you get some guys who play melo-death in their day job to do something different thsi is what you get. A collection of eighties pop hard rock with strong keys. Reminds me of thos soundtracks by Night Ranger and the lot. To go short a perfect summer album matching the heatwaves we passed through. turns out this is their fourth album, but a debut to me. 25 November they play de Boerderij, but weather might be more suitable for Dutch Doom Days that same date.