Monday, 26 November 2018

Dutch Doom Sunday - Baroeg Rotterdam 25 November 2018

The festival is of course called Dutch Doom Days, but Saturday night I opted for Tech Death in Oss, so it only became the Sunday for me. Actually I was still in doubt in the morning as The Night Flight Orchestra looked tempting to me as well. But as they play summer music and you should see it with a large group of friends over several beers I opted by lack of friends joining and grim weather for the Doom. Well if ever I was rewarded for that choice it must have been today. Through the day bands got better and better, ending with something rather special. I entered late so sorry for Fvneral Fvkk and River of Souls, but Suffer Yourself already started when I came in. These guys from Ukraine/Sweden played their Funeral doom to start my afternoon slow and heavy. Moody enough, but not overly exciting to me. That would change when Dutch band The Spirit Cabinet came on. Their music mixed doom with Heavy Metal. The guitarist at times starting galloping away like he was in Maiden and the vocalist had a pretty wide range staying strong in the clean sung parts. It is only at a doom festival that a band can announce their last song, stating it is a slow one and pleasing the crowd with that. But a strong set they played and one band to keep an eye on.

Climbing the ladder further we arrived at Marche Funebre from Belgium. The best of them to me was the fact that they do not stick to one style. They go from very slow to pretty fast doom and that worked wonderfully well I thought. When they almost apologized for playing a fast song they came at the highlight of their show to me. So afterwards I asked them on which CD that song appeared and got that one. Next week they organize their own doom party in St. Niklaas with a.o.Bell Witch and Green Carnation. I am still in doubt, but those like me not sure yet can decide on the day they told me as the venue is big.

Hereafter Witchsorrow from the UK hit the stage. I read about them in last issue of Iron Fist, but did not know any music of them. Turned out that this trio blends their doom with a healthy dose of NWOBHM of the rougher end. At times I was reminded of Holocaust by the pounding bass and punky attitude on vocals. This set was very good and they managed to keep the curve in performances up for me. Unfortunately when I passed the merch table later on their last CD was not available. I might check it out elsewhere later on as this tasted like more for sure.

And then it was time for While Heaven Wept to close the festival. Actually this would be there last show ever in Holland and the gods should be crying indeed when seeing what I saw. Rarely before have I seen in Baroeg such a union between band and audience. Now I got into While Heaven Wept when they released in 2002 their Doom Metal Classic album Of Empires Forlorn. This album was well presented in the set still and hearing the full crowd singing along "I Drank Them All Away" was an emotional high for all present I guess. Someone once told me that in the past they blew a gig in Baroeg by being not all that fit. Tonight they reminded us of that and stated hoping they made up for that this time. Well I was not there at the time, but tonight should make up for anything. Than there is Rain Irving on vocals and I guess it is safe to say the best clean vocalist in doom. Supported by a great band his melodies came over so emotional it was close to goosebumps all the time. So when it was over the audience wanted more. The band said being afraid of breaking curfew laws and  not being able to decide if they could play one more. Then the magical phrase came in: "I am Pim, I organize this shit and yes they will play another song". The international crowd went wild and we were treated on a last farewell before I rushed of to just catch my train. While Heaven Wept proved again that it is not always the best bands that get most attention and success. Thanks to DDD organization for putting them on stage in Baroeg.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Beyond Creation, Gorod, Entheos & Brought By Pain - Groene Engel Oss, 24 November 2018

Beyond Creation are probably my favorite Tech-Death Metal band. I saw them twice live before have their albums and new release Algorythm only confirmed this status to me. To increase the fun they are bringing Gorod along probably France's finest. Now Beyond Creation and Gorod have to me something in common. Both bands I saw for the first time live when they were supporting Obscura in Patronaat on different tours. The result however was the same, they both blew Obscura off the stage and got me running to their side of the merch stand. So in spite of fierce competition this evening in nearby Baroeg, Musicon and the Boerderij I decided not to stay near home and drive for the first time ever to de Groene Engel in Oss. This turned out to be a nice venue. Contrary to all these new build places this is an old building. where the hall floor is similar to any corridor or toilet in old dutch houses and the stage is large and high. What I did not like was the time schedule starting at 20:30 with four bands and a long drive back home ahead. They partially made this up with the fastest stage swaps I ever saw and gaining in the end 20 minutes on the announced schedule. Finally the entrance had a nice bar, with upon my arrival the usual suspects from PPE in there. So socially it became a nice evening as well.

Opening the evening were Brought By Pain from Canada. Now I sometimes don't read anything on support bands, just make sure I arrive on time to see them. So it was a nice surprise when entering the hall I thought hey I recognize these guys on bass and guitar as they are from Beyond Creation. This meant some sort of quality stamp as I immediately liked the band. Most attention however was drawn by the other guitarist who was enjoying himself with apart from instrumental also some facial acrobatics. The EP I got afterwards tells me his name is Olivier Bourbonnais Allaire, which sounds as drink they had on their way in. Further the vocalist was very pleased his fucking father was in. The set was short, but I felt that for an opening band they went down very well with the audience and they deserved that. So we opened with a winner

Next band were Entheos from California and Texas. A female vocalist that grunts is nothing new, but always a nice surprise. Somehow she needed two microphones. One to grunt around the stage and one for special effects. Opinions were divided on that second one, as the effects were to me somewhere between black metal and cartoons. On an evening like this playing by all on stage is not an issue and for Entheos the same high standards were reached. Outstanding man in the band though was the bassist. The way he slammed his bass like there was no tomorrow was interesting to observe and this was probably total bassturbation to some. So again a good band, although the songs did not impress everyone completely. I just liked watching what was going on.

Gorod are French, but they can do nothing about that. Now I watched the news before leaving home and saw the in fashion thing in France these days is wearing a yellow vest and break things. Luckily Gorod would  have none of that as I guess that when filling up the tank in Holland they found prices in France are not that bad after all. Since seeing them on their A Perfect Absolution Tour I follow them, but do not get all their albums. I think they come over better live as on stage the vocalist Nutz is definitely a strong force, while on CD I find his more screaming side harder to appreciate. The set they played was of headliner status and performance though. Last time I saw them was last year when they joined a Thrash Metal package and were a bit lost before that crowd. Now they were fully at ease and we got performance wise possibly the best show of the evening. This again was helped by Nutz with his occasional dutch lines in between songs. Gorod proved to me they are among the Tech Death elite as well and the hall appreciated their show big time. Horns up mes amis.

Beyond Creation released recently Algorythm and on this tour they decided to play that album in full kicking off their set. As I played the album many times I was pleased with this decision and it was time to get amazed again. I just love it how they go from the very heavy Death metal to a mass fingerpicking over 8 string guitars and 6 string bass. The trick is they make it look all so easy. The song that describes best what I mean is probably the title track. This song is a heavy monster, moves to a great solo and bangs on. Then we suddenly drop to a clam part where Simon's solo makes me think of the instrumental ballads Marty Friedman or Jason Becker brought us in the eighties, just to break and move on fast again. Now I mentioned Gorod as possible best show and this has only to do with what happens in between songs. Beyond Creation are not a band for talking, they literally let the music do the talking. Yet I was in constant awe as this is exactly how I like my technical extreme music. After the album finished we had some time to visit the past with Earthborn Evolution and Omnipresent Perception. For that last song a circle pit was demanded and a small one was presented to them. And then it was over, but Beyond Creation would come back for one more neck breaker in Fundamental Process.  Now really at the end we could go on the picture with the band and drive home. Thanks to all bands, but especially Beyond Creation for giving us another highlight of the year.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Future Corpse - Shineback - Ursa

Time for some CD tips with three bands playing just slightly outside the genre they are defined by.

Future Corpse - Culture Ruins Everything Around Me
Future Corpse play Heavy Prog according to their own sites. Well if you then expect something in the vein of Rush or Porcupine Tree you might be disappointed. Yet I see what they mean although they come from a whole different Australian angle. Heavy they definitely are and prog can be justified as well. Now CREAM is not the first album I bought from them and Another World To Consume from 2015 ended very high on my end of year list. At the time I tried to describe them as At the Drive In playing progmetal. Well luckily they did not change their style that much. We still get a punky attitude with screamed vocals at times almost going towards football chants. One constant through the album is the guitar being in a hurry and the rest of the band trying to catch up. So this leaves very little to get a picture, but again Future Corpse managed to blow me away. Yes, you need to hear the album at least 10 times before judging, but now that I got there it's beauty keeps on unrolling before my ears. Highlights to me Ideophobic and the closing title track, where even a trumpet and saxophone blow us through the almost twelve minutes. Only point for improvement would be their sizing of T-shirts. Why stop at Large with such interesting designs. Another 2018 highlight indeed.

Shineback - Dial
This album is the latest release by Simon Godfrey. Now he is together with Dec Burke, Lee Abraham and John Mitchell among those Brits that keep prog rock interesting to me. His previous band Tinyfish stood out  by playing prog without keyboards, which was refreshing indeed. Now this is Shineback's second album after 2013's Rise Up Forgotten, Return Destroyed. With this almost solo project Simon let the electronic side enter his music. Now I consider myself open-minded but too much electronics in your music is just a very bad thing. So it's good that there is no abundance here. Actually when it tends to get an overtone in Let Her Sleep, it is that heavy that you think you are listening to NIN. But the best is hidden in these pretty British songs Consider Her Ways and Kill Devil Hills, both not coincidentally spiced up with guest guitar solo's from friends. So I did grow out of Prog rock a bit over he last years, with their representation in live shows and CD purchases diminishing. Albums with any of the names mentioned above though never disappoint and keep me hooked. Recommended.

Ursa - Abyss Between the Stars
Last year I discovered Cormorant through Diaspora, made that album my pick of the year and bought the full back catalog. So I am kind of a late fan on their respect. Following them I read about this band Ursa containing three band members of Cormorant and playing doom metal. As soon as one song got posted online I knew I was going to get this. Ursa play doom in slow and heavy fashion. I'd say a bit slower than the heavy metal doom from Scandinavia (read my Sorcerer Dynamo review) and a bit faster than your funeral doom. Vocals also stay in between these two styles and instrumentally nothing can go wrong giving their origin. Over 46 minutes we get 6 songs with titles mentioning words as Wizard, Dragon, Yeti, Witches, King and Mountain. So we get some slowly told fantasy stories in Heavy style. Maybe closer the Mountain stands out as different a bit as it is a Steve Earle cover and has an Irish (Lizzy) flavour over it. So to me Cormorant can stay their day-job, but if they find an occasional tour over autumn to bring some doom to Europe this would be very welcome. Best starter to get into them: Cave of the Spider King.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Deranged, Procreation & Putrified Corpse - Musicon The Hague, 18 November 2018

After being sensible and taking my rest made me miss Tokyo Blade in Little Devil on Friday  and Omnium Gatherum in Baroeg yesterday,  I did go to Musicon today for a step into the dark. Not knowing any of the bands in advance my visit paid of as yes we were entertained, So a matinee session in Musicon did look interesting and extreme Death metal would be my Sunday afternoon

The afternoon opened with Putrefied Corpse from Enschede and they were low, slow, heavy and death. Now the vocalist thought it necessary to ask if those already present were awake. Now bands might ask more of a feedback from Musicon at any time, but waking us all up with guitar solos being all fucked up in the mix is a bit extreme. Yet I liked the energy as usual with Death metal bands, but was not overly impressed with the songs. Hereafter we got Procreation from Zwolle and things would go to another level indeed. This band played tight, but also had good songs and the necessary variation to keep me hanging in there. Instrumentally they were great and when in between songs a nonchalant Annihilator riff was played I realized this band can play indeed. The almost hour they got was filled with good songs and musically Procreation were to me the winner of the day.

And then there was a headliner Deranged from Sweden. Starting their set the psychopath looking vocalist dove offstage and started to headbutt-light people in the audience. Singing he did as well although some might disagree calling this guttural noise singing. The band consisted of a guitarist raging over 8 strings, a bassist hurting 5 strings and a drummer hammering drums looking like sinterklaas on speed. So yes the band could play and the voice was evil. Yet songs I am still doubting about. Entertainment was not the issue, as I would definitely come back to see this set again. Still there was a bit too much going on to get the full picture for me. So until today I thought Ingested was the most brutal band ever to play the Musicon stage when I was there, Deranged might have just taken that title. So to be honest not music I would get on CD to play on a Sunday morning or any other day. Still the performance was to me outstanding and when they would give an encore if the drummer would get a beer, Ed made our day by breaking that record as well and we could one more time just look amazed towards the stage. Different, yes let's call it different by lack of better description.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Sorcerer & Officium Triste - Dynamo Eindhoven 15 November 2018

Sorcerer playing Dynamo and Hans and I knew we wanted to be there. Sorcerer play doom metal. Now Doom is a many faced beast. Sorcerer play the kind most blended with Heavy Metal, always counting on strong vocals, heavy but not extreme slow guitars and bass all filled up with guitar hero soloing (say Black Sabbath in the Ray Gillan/Tony Martin years). Like many of their Scandinavian colleagues as Candlemass, Abstrakt Algebra or Krux, they perfected this style and gave us recently two top-class albums. Now it is autumn the perfect time of year for doom and festivals and tours in that style are all around us. Yet when arriving in Eindhoven at the station things were quite the opposite of doom, where glow in the dark gave many colorful projections on buildings. We crossed as fast as possible through the masses to make it to dark Dynamo. Upon arrival it did not look all that busy and we remembered a certain Slayer was saying goodbye to Holland in Zwolle this evening. Interesting enough that show sold out in minutes/hours, while some years ago you could still decide on the day if you felt like seeing Slayer live. But for us doom it was.

There was an opener as well in Officium Triste from Rotterdam. Now Rene who drove and merched for them in the past told me they exist next year 25 years, yet I never saw them before. There is an explanation for that. It is only the last three years that I have time to spend on shows as much as I like. Before that work trips and family demands made me focus only on favorite bands. So bands playing doom as slow as Officium Triste might be missed by me unless supporting names I knew. Well I can say that now I saw them live I will go and see them again when opportunities arise. This was SLOW and HEAVY and the voice grunting as slow fitted very well. Now I was not the only one in the audience unfamiliar with much of their work, as they decided to play in their short set three new songs from their upcoming album. I will keep an eye on any release party as this was good warming up.  Close to the end vocalist Pim thanked us for not going to Slayer tonight and I realized I saw him last year guesting at Clouds during Dutch Doom Days. A beer a new stage and Sorcerer to come.

The basement hall meanwhile filled up decently and when Sorcerer kicked of it was clear we were going to be in for a treat. Sirens opened the evening and when we were asked to shout along hey hey hey, it was clear this would be more of a Heavy Metal show. No problem to me as I love the style of metal Sorcerer gave us. Now I have to admit that I did not hear of Sorcerer when they founded in the late eighties. They made a very strong return over the past years releasing "In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross" and "The Crowning of the Fire King". Today's set would visit both albums and some songs from the past. As I do not recognize all titles I can only state that the encore was The Sorcerer and probably the highlight of the evening for me was Ship of Doom. Commenting on the band I can only say they were as good as hoped for, including the substitute bass from Canada. Somehow vocalist Anders thought he was an old man using it as an excuse at times. I had the impression half the audience were at least as old as him. Good voice though and even if the mix was not always extremely clear I saw and heard a good band, which presented another highlight of 2018 for me. So now I am in for some more doom and while playing Abstrakt Algebra now checking gig agendas. Due to strong competition next weekend still undecided on Dutch Doom Days. Yet I hope to feel like driving down to Darken the Moon in Belgium 2 December as Bell Witch playing Mirror Reaper in full and Green Carnation headlining sounds very interesting indeed. Give me more Royal Epic Doom, just like the killer tee said.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Progressive Alliance - Effenaar Eindhoven, 4 November 2018

Progressive Alliance: as Holland needed a new Prog festival. This one edged more to the heavy side, but managed to get some big names on the bill.  Now I suffered from some cold this week and a late return the night before from Schenker Fest, so I would decide on the day if going down to Eindhoven would be a good plan. In comes our national cock-up company the NS who decided to work rails, which in my case meant a direct train now would be 3 trains plus a bus. So car it was and I went for the the first (of many?) edition of Progressive Alliance in healthy state as alcohol free.

Arriving when opening band AstroSaur just started I saw a band giving us an instrumental set with the necessary energy. Yet nothing extremely different or original. Actually one of the main reasons I drove down was next band Arabrot. Now I never heard of these guys before, but what I heard on bandcamp strange enough got me completely hooked. I say strange as they do not play metal. They blend whatever they feel like, kind of impossible to describe. As that does not help let me throw in some names.  Take some The Damned, or Sex Pistols for that matter , blended with Talking Heads and especially on bass some Queens of the Stone Age. Yet when Pygmalion started some This Mortal Coil comes in. And this all brought with the typical weirdness Norwegians seem to get by birth. Paying over 10 Euro a pint does raise creative and strange musicians. When they walked the stage the weirdness did not diminish as the guitarist/vocalist looked like a beardless Amish preacher and started singing about the Gospel. He was not the only one drawing attention by looks as the tall lady in her kimono and curled hair behind mellotron would make a good DDR spy in any seventies Bond movie if being slightly bigger. Than on the right there was a small bassist who was sonically very present throughout the set. A small man with lots of hair on and under his head. They had a drummer too, but I could not see him really. Finally I did not google translate their band name, but logically it might well mean Parrot sandwich. So we got one weird set of songs being shouted and sung to us. I recognized several tunes from Who Do You Love, which I got after the set. This is dance music not for the masses, as I did not have the impression they were the biggest success of the day (quite the contrary) but for me they were a winner. Towards the end they played one song building up to a climax that made all other post metal bands that day look boring. Curious how they pick their tours and gigs being so different, but one to follow.

As if the Arabrot party was not enough for a good start the main hall would open hereafter as well and possibly the best band of the day would open the stage: Ne Obliviscaris. Now I saw them before and knew what would be coming, but they impressed me again in a live setting. Their mix of harsh and clean vocals over some serious tech metal works very fine. Another outstanding feature is the violin the clean vocalists picks up at times. Now he does not play that humpa stuff many folk metal bands throw at us. Neither does he solo like Mama's boys used to do in the eighties. He plays some tunes when the band go finger tipping fast over many strings on guitar and bass. I do own the last two albums of this band, yet I can not recognize song titles as I did not spend enough time reading along the lyrics with CD. Yet I recognized bits and pieces (or full songs) and heard it was all fine. This band brings nice energy on stage and plays very well. This together with the large stage just gave us a very good show of a band that would go down well at PPE I guess.

So I could return home now, but was not going to. This paid off as walking into the small hall American band Rosetta were doing their thing. Never heard of them before and neither checked them out on internet before, this was a positive surprise. A screaming vocalist was joined by a good band and brought us good tunes. I guess it was post something core given the vocals. Turned out that when a style might not attract me all that much, good playing and nice presentation make a good show anyway. Yet I did not see the last song as we previously agreed next band Vuur would be our dinner break. One fast and nice pizza later we returned to see two minutes of Vuur, which to me is enough. Now the small hall hereafter would pack as The Ocean were on next. They are growing bigger and it turned out that many people sang along with their songs. Now these people had an advantage as they knew the band already. I came in in the blind and started from zero. Than suddenly the songs were not all that different between themselves. There would be mellow pieces and heavy outbursts and this in every song almost. The band played tight and good, but I missed something or was it my back aching starting to kick in. Anyway somewhere after halfway their set I called it the Ocean and went outside.

So I did have enough time to get a good place in the main hall for the last band I was coming over for Ihsahn. Last time I saw them I had to leave early getting a last train at Complexity. This time unfortunately matters would be not that different. I felt I was not top fit and two nights in a row standing on your feet started taking its toll. Also the fact that no alcohol would anesthetize the pain I decided to be smart and leave early. This meant  only saw some 30 minutes of Ihsahn and I realized Ne Obliviscaris were not the best band of the day, While Ne Obliviscaris gave the best performance jumping around the stage,  the songs I saw by Ihsahn were pure class delivery. I have a few of his solo albums and they always mix his black metal past with a family Leprous link. Pressure showed this all too well and I felt sorry that smarter me decided it was about time to drive home. So I got an abrupt end to Progressive Alliance. It seemed to me that the audience was of a decent size and of course one makes comparisons with ProgPower Europe, the mother of all Progressive Metal festivals. To me it looked that with more screams and grunts we also got a younger audience on average. The setup of one day worked OK as a start and with Vuur who played all over the country already we had a decent dinner break. Curious to see if this one gets a follow-up next year and if so, fair chance I'll be there again.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Michael Schenker Fest & Absolva - Melkweg Amsterdam 3 November 2018

Michael Schenker Fest came to Holland so I wanted to be there and no delaying trains would stop me from going to the Melkweg. Michael Schenker is returning probably annually to Holland over the past years. Yet there is a difference from Saxon, Y&T, Raven to name just a few of his generation friends. I saw him over recent years with MSG playing mostly songs from his name band, with Temple Of Rock using the Scorpions rhythm session and focusing a bit on his Scorpions days. Last year for the first time Michael Schenker Fest played de Boerderij when he brought his three main vocalists from the eighties on tour. This year there was the return, but again another format as Doogie White now joined the band and they released earlier this year a new album Resurrection.So as I said enough reasons to travel to Amsterdam tonight. Magchiel thought exactly the same as it is this month 35 years ago we traveled together to Leiden to see MSG.

First there was an opener and not just any. Absolva is easily the best opener MSG brought along on tour over the years. Now Absolva are not unknown to me as they  played Musicon three times over the past years and I was there three times. This band plays Heavy Metal and although they always are announced as members of Iced Earth and Blaze Bailey I think their own name by now should be enough to attract people. Now my first thought was how would they go down in front of an MAG crowd. Tonight again it was clear that MSG pulls Classic Rock crowd, meaning you see basically any kind of fan apart from young kids with friends. Saxon for instance would pull a Heavy Metal crowd and bring more people who would appreciate them. Yet to me it gave the chance to move close to the stage and see Absolva play for a decent 40 minutes. So they have 4 albums and visited them all. The set included my favorite Never Back Down and I guess the ballad Only When It's Over from their debut went down best with the beautiful guitar solo at the start. This was the last of their support slots  on this tour and they continue headlining. 30 November they return to de Nobel and I hope to be there. If there shall be many remains to be seen as I did see some  fierce competition in metal gigs that night.

Michael Schenker back on stage and it did not take long before we got a first surprise. Michael walking on stage and starting a happy chat with the audience. Also he gained some kilos and now starts looking healthy. Finally you bring four vocalists and the first song he sang himself and asked the audience to join in on Holiday (Scorpions) Now I remember the chorus, but singing the verses was not at the top of anyone's head. Immediately hereafter we got Doctor Doctor the usual encore, where all vocalists would join in and the hall was warmed up. Hereafter the set followed a formula I remembered from last year. One vocalists singing songs from his era at times joined by others on backing vocals. So first on Doogie White to give us some recent songs.Not a problem as they sounded good and Doogie has a great voice still. New song Take Me to the Church turned into a favorite of mine and the Dio tribute in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead was already one of the best recent songs. Captain Nemo remains the second best instrumental Michael Schenker ever wrote. and Graham Bonnet came on next. Probably my favorite block of the evening as Assault Attack might be the best MSG album and these songs were all not that often in the set over the years. Graham Bonnet has to get some screams out of his toes, but often he just managed. Desert Song, well classic stuff. The next instrumental break was introduced with a nice speech on Rudolf Schenker and Gary Barden would sing the old MSG songs for us. Now all four would also sing a song from Resurrection, where they had the lead. Mr Barden seemed to be most at ease with new song Messin' around. The screams on Are You Ready to Rock for instance long left his vocal capacity. Yet he brings his songs sympathetic and gets away with this. After uber instrumental Into the Arena it was down to Robin McAuley. Now the McAuley Schenker years were reduced to one song Bad Boys only and he could focus on the UFO songs. With Strangers in the Night being the best live album ever, not much can go wrong there. And no matter the surprises or changes a Michael Schenker set always works towards that one guitar solo. In comes Rock Bottom and I should time the solo next year, but my god we are in guitar heaven and Michael Schenker is our God. Pity for the people on the right balcony, that he spend a few minutes of his solo so much right of the stage, that they could not see him. I did not mention yet that the guitar sound was perfect and Michael was probably in the best form in years. Seeing him soloing away makes anyone humble and all the new songs gained so much power now that I saw the solos live. So this is called a Fest and a party we got. After the orgasmic closure with Rock Bottom we did get one more encore in Lights Out and almost 2.5 hours after they came on stage the band waved farewell. I totally love this formula and the interaction between the vocalists looked genuinely positive with no ego crushes as long as the Black eye on stage from Chris Glen was not the result of some internal fights. Michael Schenker gives you one evening of Hard Rock at its best, with the Mad Axeman in top form. Amen.

Friday, 2 November 2018

August Life - Midnight Prophecy - Sacral Rage - Heir Apparent

It is 2018 and these four CD's brought me straight back to the eighties. Three times because of the style of music played and one rather late return (29 years waiting) of one of my favorites of the decade.

August Life - New Eternity
August Life are a new Dutch band of not so new Dutch artists and I think it is fair to say they are the best release of traditional Heavy Metal coming out of the low countries this year. So they won't win the originality award, but anyone into Heavy Metal should like this. Opener New Eternity reminds me of Graham Bonnet era Rainbow. Draw the Line has Dio references more than just under the surface. But when it all is played this well, who cares really. So a new band plays music from my youth. Actually I can't wait to see them at Westland Metal Meeting next year and shout along  "A Mission to Kill" during Immortalized. The band so far was a duo, but that must have been sorted for life shows now they confirm same. Classic Heavy Metal ending with Nevermore, which seems to be a tribute to the late Warrel Dane. Holland has a new Class act  in Heavy Metal and this is the first release by new label pt78 records. Promising start I'd say.

Midnight Prophecy - Midnight Prophecy
I tried to see Midnight Prophecy twice this year, but bad luck got in the way and both gigs were cancelled. Still I was keeping an eye open for their autumn released self titled album. So this is again eighties metal and yes they must have heard of Iron Maiden. But again a young British bands shows us that there is a Now Wave Of British Heavy Metal indeed. Ten songs giving us over an hour of good old Heavy Metal justifies at least checking them out. They now even released a Videoclip for Obsidian so YouTube might be a good starting point. .

Sacral Rage - Beyond Celestial Echoes
I originally missed the release of their 2015 album Illusions in Infinite Void. Then Mario put them in Little Devil, I checked them out on the internet and found a new favorite band. These guys are Greek but play US Speed Metal from the eighties. References are Agent Steel or Watchtower at times. The lyrics are high tech sci-fy story telling again, but the music is just brilliant. So yes I love the high pitched vocals with the screams, the fast guitars and the songs. Sacral Rage manage to not just show off how good they are, but pack their music in great songs. I saw them live on stage and they blew me away. Expectations were high for this album and no they do not disappoint. I'd say come back to Holland soon. Finally I bought there mint green EP last year due to lack of CD version of Deadly Bits of Iron Fragments. I now just read that all version on vinyl of this new album are selling out fast. This must mean the army of followers is growing, or they are too modest not pressing enough LP's. End of the year list material at the higher end.

Heir Apparent - The View From Below
So after three bands playing a style of metal I love, I now arrive at one of the albums I have been looking out for a lot after hearing it announced. Heir Apparent released in 1986 Graceful Inheritance and that is definitely (one of) the best US Metal releases ever. Three years later One Small Voice followed one of the best US early progressive metal albums. Now I buy my CD's from bands or websites, so before I received my copy I did read several reviews. Turned out that many Power metal related sites love the new album, while Aardschok and Metalfan in Holland seemed somewhat underwhelmed. I do not follow Dutch opinions here, as I love the album. OK so the tempo is mostly mid or slow. When they actually hit the gas and bang fast in Savior the song is also over before you know it, Yet this mainly mid-tempo album for me gives the band the chance to shine on their strong points. Starting with new vocalist Will Shaw who with this album alone proves he is one of the best voices in metal. At the same time the guitar of Terry Gorle gives us beautiful melodies all over the album. In The Road to Palestine we even get Heir Apparent's answer to Kashmir or Stargazer. So no this is not as fast as the debut, nor as prog as the follow up. Yet for me it is three out of three for Heir Apparent a band that only releases brilliant albums. They will tour Europe next summer, let me not miss them again.