Friday, 28 September 2018

Danish Demolition Tour - Patronaat Haarlem, 27 September 2018

Metal and Denmark. My generation would first think of Mercyful Fate, King Diamond and Pretty Maids. Nowadays Volbeat seems big, but I know nothing of them. For progmetal fans like me, Mercenary, Anubis Gate and Vola come to mind, but this package was fully unknown to me. Four bands playing all a different style of metal touring for a week through England, Holland and Germany. With four bands and an advanced start I needed an early dinner in order to arrive just before kick-off at the venue. First sign that looked rather bad was that when buying my ticket the cash-desk was still locked, meaning I was the first paying visitor on the day. So few late deciders expected and unfortunately not that many early deciders either as the gig got moved to the bar stage. The only thing that can't be blamed is promotion as I saw various interviews with the bands on national metal sites. How many times can we repeat that those who do not support the underground slowly kill both bands and venues. This package was varied enough to have something for many. When entering the cafe I did run into Alex, so we could share some thoughts through the evening. Hardly having my first beer at hand Aphyxion opened the evening

Aphyxion play Melodic Death Metal and in the interviews it was mentioned several times that someone from Metal Hammer UK called them the future of Melo-Death. Well that is quite something to live up to and to be honest the man was wrong. Their set was OK and brought with lots of enthusiasm  with the vocalist stepping of the stage screaming to us from really close. My main concern was that while there were two guitarists they seemed to limit their playing to hitting chords. The loudest instrument seemed to be keys, but they were not on stage. For me the result was that they turned into a band playing along with tapes which were too loud in the mix. Still it was not a bad show as such, but the above killed the fun a bit for me. Next on were Defecto, the band I was looking most forward to based upon internet listening. This band opened earlier this year for Persefone, but I could not make it that evening. Actually in Denmark they also opened for Metallica and Rammstein, so they have been in front of larger audiences than this evening. Well that could be seen on their professional presentation and playing. At several sites their style is called progressive metal. I would not necessarily call their music progmetal, as it mainly had an old school stoner-ish base with very good guitar solo's in it. No matter the name of the style, this indeed turned out to be my favorite band of the evening. Now playing their last album Nemesis, I can confirm they are as good on CD. Only remark would be the in between song banter Never sure if it is smart to insult a small audience of people who obviously never heard of you. As it was done with enough sense of humor I think they got away with it, just.

Hellhorse was next and four shirtless guys hit the stage, followed by a vocalist in leather coat. These guys play stoner/speed rock and were the most organic band of the evening. What you heard you could see and it was mostly fast rocking and rolling. Again a vocalist who made many meters through the cafe and a very lively presentation.  If Defecto were to me musically winners of the night, show-wise Hellhorse was best. Again the vocalist came close to provoking reactions, so that must be something Danish Demolitionars do. Good live band and the evening was already  a success to me. Last band Siamese still had to come and Alex mentioned that some friends were nicely impressed with them as heavy pop band at UK Tech Fest. I listened to some clips as well and pop was there mix with something heavy. When they came on and played their set I was the full 40  minutes on two thoughts. At the one end this was an uplifting show, with catchy melodies and hooks. On the other hand there was the question what is played live and what comes from tape. When you hear so obviously instruments and vocals coming at you that are not played it becomes somewhat strange. The younger part of the audience seemed to know and love them and that was my final conclusion. I should introduce Tiago to this band. I can see them crushing high-school and university parties. When discussing before their show if a bad like this could play Progpower, my vote would be a big no, for overdose on tape. Yet if you are down this music will lift you up. Teenage metal it was. When they asked for a pit in the end, the karate couple jumped in again and we got the weirdest pit of sorts. A strange end to an amusing evening. I hope more people find their way to Muziekcafe in Helmond tonight. How often do you get 4 Danish bands to choose from?

Monday, 24 September 2018

Fish - The Queen's Hall Edinburgh, 22 September 2018

Sometimes the world turns in funny little circles, or in this case warm wet circles. I did not often use to buy tickets well in advance, as unexpected work trips made me loose too many of them later on. Now that this traveling is on hold I restarted guaranteeing my presence  at shows that probably sell out. So I did have my tickets for Diamond Head in Little Devil and Fish in het Paard in the pocket, when I discovered that that very same weekend is the best timing to visit Portugal again this autumn. So in the spirit of making friends of good music happy I gave both away and hope Lida enjoys Fish. Then on a whole other level of family business, Tiago has to decide this year on his future and Edinburgh is one of the two strongest candidate cities for him to start his study next year. Saturday the University had an open day and as this is the weekend of his birthday as well we made it a family trip Edinburgh, where we flew in from Schiphol and Josie took a plane in Faro. First things first Edinburgh is amazing. I was there once before some 25 years ago, but those memories are all fuzzily drowned. After having a motivational day at the Uni, we went for city walks and hit the Royal Mile also for Marillion's sake, when I suddenly found Fish would play the Queen's Hall opening the very same Weltschmerz/ Clutching at Straws Tour I was going to miss now. This show was sold out fast when going on sale, but I was going to try my luck at the venue anyway. Well talking about luck hopes went down when some 20 people were looking for tickets and none seemed to be on sale apart from a German girl asking three times the original price. And then I ran into Peter and Mark from Holland and we spoke about things Fish and Marillion when they informed they were waiting for a ticket and had one already. Long story short when they had two tickets they offered me to buy the expensive one as well (which went down to under two times the price by now) and share the pain, leaving all three of us to pay some 5 pound over the price only. Well at first impressed with their friendly offer I gladly accepted and we could see Fish opening a tour on his home turf. Thanks mates and the warm wet circle closed as it opened: with some random act of kindness.

So now we were in the Queen's Hall, it turned out to be a kind of Paradiso with the balconies going round and a church like setup. Strangely there were benches to sit on at the same level as the floor before them. Hope not too many Scots got pissed off by watching my back. There was a support band as well, but Doris Brendel was there to be back-up vocalist mainly for Fish. Her own band was OK, but not something I would get on CD really. Nine 'o clock sharp and Fish came on welcoming us with Slainte Mhath. I think Fish is the world's main defender of Scottish expressions, as who would know what that meant or Incommunicado for that matter. This tour is called after two albums and that is what you get, music from both. This also meant new music, that will be released only next year. Maybe already available on some format, all were new to me and varied in quality at first hearing. Man with a Stick seemed to repeat the title a lot, well Little Man What Now, came over good. Highlight of the new album so far shall be Waverley Steps which was nice and epic. Than I realized we just passed those steps in the center of town, so it added to the atmosphere. Seeing Fish live on stage always holds two main questions. How good is his voice this time and to what level the band can reach old status. Well regarding the voice no complaints whatsoever, while the band had the usual trouble in following the classics. For me the Marillion albums with Fish were not only my introduction to Progressive Rock as such, but also the best four albums ever released in that genre. This means I know the albums through and through. From the past we know that Robin Bould on guitars is nowhere near as good as Steve Rothery, so he adapts the style of the songs somewhat. This evening however, what most stood out was the keyboard sound. During the trilogy Hotel Hobbies/ Warm Wet Circles/ That Time of the Night  it sounded rather horrible to be honest. This also caused by the rather poor sound at the start (another Paradiso similarity). During Just for the Record the Keys ended fast and in tune and as if the band were relieved as well, they went complimenting the man behind the keys. At the end we got some versions that sounded hundred times better than the start with a highlight of the set for me in The Last Straw where a loud audience shouted their lungs out as they were Still Drowning. This audience was Scottish, but seemed to hold people from places like Boston, California, Syria and Switzerland as well. During one intermezzo the Scots took over and sung to Fish something we foreigners did not get, which resulted in a small improvised song. I guess it had to do with his favorite local football team, as we were in Edinburgh after all. And then after two hours it was over and we knew we witnessed something different, Fish in Scotland. If the sound gets sorted out better from the beginning for the remainder of this tour you get a winner. Playing four or five new songs always holds a risk, but they went down well. Fish announcing his retirement is nothing new, let's hope for at least two more tours hereafter. One when we actually know Weltschmerz and one farewell tour. For now thank you for the music and Slainte Mhath.

Friday, 14 September 2018

A Dying Planet - Manes - Dead Season - We Sell the Dead - Twisted Illusion

Some great new CD's and actually some slightly older ones as well.

A Dying Planet - Facing the Incurable
It was a sad day for technical metal when we learned that Troy Tipton would no longer be able to play the bass. Together with his brother Jasun he gave us great music through the bands Zero Hour, Cynthesis, Death Machine and Abnormal Thought Patterns. The bigger and better the surprise to me, when I read about this new band. Troy now moved to vocals and he does so well. At the same time some help from friends was asked to give us a diverse album. The opening two songs are the epics and Resist with former Sun Caged vocalist Paul Villareal is a highlight. ZH and C vocalist Erik Rosveld also joins in on one song and that is my favorite: Poisoning the Well. The album as a whole reminds me most of the two Cynthesis albums, where the frantic guitar parts by Jasun always are easy to recognize as being his. If there is one comment from my side, it might be that one calmer song could have been replaced by a fast rocker for a better balance. Yet as a total this is again one great progmetal album at the standard we came to know by the twins. I'd say PPEU 2019 book them.

Manes - Slow Motion Death Sequence
Manes is a band in you can not pinpoint. So like 9 out of 10 bands you can hardly describe they are from Norway. For me this is the first album I bought and I don't even know their Black Metal early days. I was tipped by Andrew's rave review and the fact that some Atrox members are part of this band. Well trying to say something there is trip-hop ad build up to heavier parts, always staying far from full out metal. For me the album as a whole works perfectly, while at the same time I never shall be able to mention individual stand-out songs.  If I have to search for references maybe early Antimatter sounded a bit the same. When you are in for something calm and different this album might do wonders for you.

Dead Season - Prophecies
Nowadays there is far too much music released in order to follow all by yourself. One of my sources for discovering bands is still Aardschok. When they also miss a classic and review it a year late I also end up very late. Yet when they name drop Nevermore and Opeth Still Life (their best) I get interested. Hearing it first through bandcamp this indeed is an instant Classic which would have ended very high on my 2017 year list if only I knew them last year. What a powerful album and yes Blood Links Alienation sounds like a new Nevermore song indeed. Due to the mix of strong clean and some extreme vocals also Scar Symmetry or Mercenary at 11 Dreams times pop up for me. This album really has it all. Great songs, strong lyrics and what a power. Need to go back in time for discovering their previous albums.

We Sell The Dead - Heaven Doesn't Want You and Hell is Full
Another album that is not very recent. I got this CD early in the year and thought it OK. Over the past months however, it grew on me and now it reached an upgrade from OK to very good indeed for me. The members come from bands I don't really follow like In Flames or Him. Vocals however come from Apollo from Greece and known from Spiritual Beggars or Firewind. Well he is one strong point of the band, whose music to me comes closest to Black Sabbath second half of the eighties. The album tells a story and I read about Jack the Ripper playing Heavy Metal. Well that is all just fine to me, but the artwork is interesting this time. Most of the songs have a clip released in black and white and red.So if you want to start listening to them, YouTube is a good point of entry. Give it time and maybe it grows on you like it did to me.

Twisted Illusion - Excite the Light part 1
Twisted Illusion are this band that just won't make it to any dutch fanzine or internet site. Yet somewhere in Northwest England they are slowly building a fan base by playing a lot and releasing even more music. This album is part 1 of a trilogy, being released one year after last year's double album Insight to the Mind of a Million Faces. Well maybe staying under the radar here, their pledge campaign again meant they reached target within one day and ended over 200% of target. We Illusionists are a loyal bunch apparently and the Thank you letter was humorous and insulting as we got used to. "You are wonderful. Even if you are a shit and a bit of a prick, you have good taste in music at least". So what is the music all about? Kind of hard to describe again. Classic Rock mentioned Rush, Queen and Dio in a blend as reference. I see what they mean, although this is not a metal album as such. Opener Excite the Light kicks of fast and heavy, but from there we get calmer parts dominating, with catchy choruses all around. A strong version of the Mearfest anthem Molly's Smile is definitely a highlight. Lyrically Matt does not hold back in sharing his sufferings and complaints with many references to pills on medical description. Well with this release they definitely set my target for 2019 in seeing them live headlining. This year I tried 3 times and failed, so that will be corrected. And if by 2020 we are 4 new albums further down the road I will get them to play in The Hague. Check them out and pledge along for Part two this autumn.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Night Demon & Screamer - Musicon The Hague, 11 September 2018

A Tuesday night turned out a good night for Heavy Metal in Musicon. For me this was going to be a bit different again as support band Screamer from Sweden would stay at my place after the show. Now I must admit that I only knew their name on forehand, never seeing them play live before. So in comes the internet for discovering and I was expecting a good show. And no Rene, this was not the first band staying over I did not know in advance. Starting at a for a Tuesday fairly late nine it quickly became clear where Screamer is taking us with their music. 80's Heavy Metal is the base, not too dissimilar from several of their countrymen bands. Most important in these bands to me is an enthusiastic presentation and no complaints on that front here. All five seemed to be enjoying themselves and movement on the stage was constant.  The songs themselves were fine as well and the set build-up seemed to work for me as they ended with three of their strongest songs: Warrior, Monte Carlo Nights and Rock Bottom. After their set I did what I do in such occasions and got their last album Hell Machine. Nice band and as I understood today you can the coming months still catch them in varied places like Holland, Germany, California or Japan. Don't miss it.

After an alcoholic little break we got Night Demon on stage. Now this band seems to be going from big to bigger especially in Germany as I understood. First time I saw them in The Hague, was in de Vinger. Well that place closed down twice in the meantime, but Night Demon are still going strong. Opening with Welcome to the Night and Full Speed Ahead they set the pace and the pace was fast. Night Demon is not a band wasting time on long introductions for songs, they just rock on. This is all brought with such energy that it seems to me impossible not to appreciate their show. In between their own fast songs they also included one or two covers during the shows I saw by them. While a few years ago Diamond Head and Jaguar were celebrated we now got a to me surprising version of  In Trance. Made me wonder how long ago it was I last played Tokyo Tapes. The second cover in the encore came less as a surprise as they brought us Radar Love again. The Hague gave the world two all time classic rock songs, being Radar Love and Venus. The Night Demon version is nicely metalled up a notch and rocks like crazy. All in all this was one roller-coaster set, with a fourth figure hitting the stage during The Chalice. Night Demon obviously toured a lot and it shows, great band for a celebration of live Heavy Metal. And then today breakfast was fine with the sympathetic guys from Sreamer SWE at the table. Skol.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Raven, Hatchet & Defazer - Musicon The Hague, 7 September 2018

Raven stands for a speed metal party, so who doesn't want that. We did and Friday night Musicon was the place. As support they had two thrash metal bands, which only makes sense as Raven is one of the  founding fathers of the genre. The start of the month is packed with good shows, so I feared an empty house, but it was not that bad in the end. Enough people willing to go back in time apparently.

Openers of the day were local thrashers Defazer. They started half an hour before the usual 21:00 kick off, so only half the audience was in. I did warn friends on the app group, but the late arrivers missed out. Defazer seem to get tighter by the month and the new drummer proved to have blended in fine, One of The Hague's finest and for those unable to see them playing live check out their EP Order out of Chaos.

The touring support came all the way from the USA: Hatchet. I did not know them in advance, but they impressed many with their strong set. They had to get used to the fact that Musicon is not the most moshing place in the country, but were appreciated in traditional style by risen glasses and horns. Near the end of the show one guitarists went for a walk in the park, or venue, which only put more focus on how strong instrumentally this band is.  I got their album Dying to Exist after the set and it sounds good as well. Nice band.

And when Raven came on we got Raven. Touring pretty often through Holland over the past years, we get enough chances to see them play. Fact is that Raven is always good for an energetic party. From Take Control unto Crash Bang Wallop the set is filled with classic NWOBHM songs and introduced in humorous style by Mr. Gallagher. We even got a new song in Top Of The Mountain, which sounded as if we are going to get the new album upon release. Talking about frequent tours, they will be back next month. Than as a support to Saxon, where unfortunately Y&T had to drop out the tour. I probably go see them again as we should do All For One with our Mind Over Metal on a Hell Patrol.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Abbath & Baest - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden, 5 September 2018

An evening of more extreme metal in de Nobel and while travelling down I realized de Nobel is good busy (goed bezig). Not that old yet, they managed to become the best reference for all genres of metal in western Holland really (not taking metal clubs like Baroeg as reference) Let's face it:  Paradiso is dead for good music for ages, Melkweg only books more modern metal or trends, Patronaat is OK, Paard is shit en Boerderij avoids anything too extreme. Nobel brought us a wide range of metal bands and is not shying away from any style. Next to that the hall is close to the station and nicely laid out, with garderobe inclusive on any ticket. So heads up Nobel, but why was I going here? Well last year I saw Abbath from a long distance recovering at Alcatrazz and that sounded pretty fine to me. As for me indoors always beats festival gigs I was curious to see how this would work in Leiden. Wednesday evening but the place was pretty full although balconies were not opened.

Openers of the evening were Danish Death Metallers Baest. Well that was one enthusiastic performance appreciated by many. The vocalist looked according to Koen like any player of FC Den Haag in the mid seventies and yes Rob Ouwehand comes to mind. The music though was nothing seventies, but more nineties Sweden really. I hope they make a name for themselves on this tour as there presentation made them deserve this. Up to Abath to follow this up and that turned out to be no problem. What I liked most about the whole show is Mr. Abbath himself. He obviously does not take himself or anything too serious and is a top class entertainer. His moves and inter-song banter was very funny. At times announcing a new song he sounded as calling his dog home, while later on he suddenly would scream high. The music of the evening was as good and he obviously mixed his solo work with Immortal songs. Are we Immortal? Yes, so we got The Rise of Darkness. This was one fine evening of Abbath, which is not that far from an evening of Heavy Metal really. Most interesting at the end was watching the merch stand if anyone would buy the balaclava (thanks Zoe and Google translate) Funny as it might look one tends to get arrested wearing this in public in Holland.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Entrails, Graceless and Bloodmoon - Musicon The Hague 2 September 2018

This weekend really meant the end of holidays in Holland ans now schools all over the country restarted. Also the concert year unofficially opened for me. Friday we had the brilliant Q5 in Little Devil and this Sunday afternoon Musicon put on a dead metal matinee for the thirsty ones. So after bringing Josie to Schiphol I returned just in time for some blasts around the corner. It was good to see that I was not the only one feeling like banging a bit, as Musicon packed up decently. Even the Dutch Kim Young Un fanclub was present.

Openers were Dutch band Bloodmoon playing their third gig ever. Not a young band though they sounded pretty good although what I remind most after their show is that Diarrhea can cause Death. Graceless from Leiden came on next. They headlined Rene's birthday party last December and won over quite some fans that night. One of the many good Death metal combo's we have in the region.
Headliners of the afternoon/early evening were Swedish Death Metallers Entrails. The youngest band of the day by age, but a nice headliner. Admitted to me Death Metal is more live music than CD collecting obligation. Still when everyone mentions they sound like Entombed, it is probably true (and I do have Left Hand Path as well). Good show by this band, who came to a rather sudden end. I do like these afternoon shows as it gives time to have a drink, catch up with some people you haven't seen for a while and go home in time to have dinner just after Tiago. No need to mention traumatic Toilet Torturing details. Next show this Wednesday in Leiden. Busy season started indeed.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Q5 & Thorium - Little Devil Tilburg, 31 August 2018

Q5 are touring Europe and would hit Holland for the first time ever. This did somewhat surprising not make major waves in national press. Apparently dividend tax, gas blockades and Pakistani protesting against a Dutch cartoon competition were more important. Whatever, when Hans and I heard of this news it was reason for a loud cheer. Who doesn't remember the impact Steel the Light made on us in 1984. At the time we still shared bands due to scholar/student budget. So Hans had the LP and later When the Mirror Cracked. The second LP I  bought as well when Hans already moved out and Steel the Light I once met cheap on internet and hold on CD. These two albums are absolute classics for those loving their metal blending the Melodic, US Power Metal and Hard rock in wonderful songs. When also my friend Andy takes a plane from France to Scotland to see them and sends me an enthusiastic message on the great show they gave in Edinburgh hopes for something special increased even more. So in order to prepare ourselves well we decided to take an early train and have some beers over nice music in Little Devil. Well nothing better than NS our national rail to frustrate your plans, so the warm up beers became one only. Finally I had a certain deadline as Josie was flying in from Portugal, so I wanted to arrive home not too late nor legless (which I managed both).

So when we just settled Thorium came on. This band from Belgium with Dutch vocals made their debut in Holland as well. Yet I saw them earlier this year at Tribute to Wizz and liked what I saw at the time. Thorium is a metal with the element called after the god of Thunder Thor. So what do we expect, indeed power metal. The Helloween T-shirt of one of their guitarists gave away one influence as the opener sounded pretty much Helloween during Keeper times. Next to that also some Iron Maiden second half eighties influences are very present. This became even clearer when they covered Caught Somewhere in Time. If you cover Maiden why not take one of the more original ones like this. I think I never saw this song live since the Somewhere in Time tour of Maiden. That tour had WASP supporting, which brings us to Thorium's bassist who is Belgium's answer to Blackie Lawless in looks at least. Well Thorium shall release their debut album 5 October and after this show I definitely recommend checking the album out. Good band with great vocals and some nice songs especially if you like your metal of 1986.

A short break setting the stage and Q5 kicked of their show. Jonathan Scott K. asked if we were in for a party. Well we were and so was Q5. Kicking of with Let Go from the Mirror album it is that feeling of checking how a band you loved and never saw live sound on stage. Well no issues there although throughout the set some adaptations were requested, it all sounded pretty flawless to me. After Let Go the Mirror album only came back with the title track. Steel the Light on the other hand was played completely although not in running order. What a party indeed to hear songs like Pull the Trigger or Missing in Action live. I never realized that there is also a certain AC/DC edge to these songs, but the screams reminded me at times. Apart from the classics we also got a few songs from their 2016 album New World Order. As they were big in the eighties there was a ballad, but not a love-ballad, as Come and Gone  describes the very end of it. During the set we also learned again what Ain't no Way to Treat a Lady, when slowly we came to an end. And what better song to close the night than the title track from their debut. Steel the Light was already a great song and seeing it live now, meant it promoted to this list of all time Classics you love to sing along to. How wonderful a full Little Devil was shouting along with Steel the Light and even louder Turning Darkness Into Light. So I thought it was over, but the band came together for a reunion on stage. As if they decided there and then, that this special night deserved an extra, we got a bonus. This was new song Tear Up the Night. Well what to say about this excellent set and evening. One to remember for sure and how good to see a band surpassing your expectations. Hans looked for Steel the Light on CD afterwards, but it was sold out already. Guess he picks up an LP at home this week. I rushed of to catch a train and meet Josie at home, so I missed the fact that after his wedding anniversary at Armored Saint three weeks ago, Michel now celebrated his birthday. Might explain why he thought it a good plan me arriving home late and not sober. Sorry but no. Finally thanks to Mario for getting Q5 to play Holland and he announced today they want to come back. So shall I, as how great is it to see a room full of people in their forties, fifties and maybe sixties singing along they are Teenage Runaways!!