Sunday, 10 November 2019

Brainstorm festival Saturday - Gigant Apeldoorn, 9 November 2019


Brainstorm is an annual festival which originally was build around white or christian metal bands. Not sure how far religion plays a role in the life of bands and fans nowadays, but at least the merch is strongly pushed into that corner. Now I can't be bothered by that all too much as long as the music is good. Actually some very good bands are from this corner (Extol, Fleshkiller) and bands like Lillian Axe never hid their beliefs either. So it can happen that not that religious me is going to a mass of metal on a part of Holland's bible belt (or is Apeldoorn not part of that?) As I went to see In Mourning and Darkwater and Ron & Astrid were as interested in both the three of us took a train to Apeldoorn and did run into several PPE regulars, who must have been there for same reasons. At least Willem did as he joined us for the day in Apeldoorn.


Entering de Gigant we were just in time before Kalidia kicked of. So sorry Askara and Monograf, but a fairly long trip and an early start made us miss both. Kalidia are Italian and play power metal. Reading this most people know what to expect and the book of cliches is within Power Metal the thickest of all metal genres. Still as it was performed nice, with religious or not an angel in black on vocals there was enough to like. Not that this band would make me run to the merch stand afterwards, but a warm welcoming band they were.


Brainstorm is not just some bands on the mainstage, so hereafter there was a photo presentation by Polish band Metus in the Theater. Now I am not one for running around fast, so we skipped, tried a local nice bokbeer and were back in the mainhall for Drottnar. This band is heavy and play bunker metal as they call it. Now I am firmly rooted in progressive metal and we have a bible as well. That bible is called Mean Deviation and written by Jeff Wagner. In that book Drottnar appear and are mentioned to play un-black metal. Well whatever the name, they seem to be Christian and play loud. Originally it did not do a lot to me really. No real solos's just a wall of sound and an average voice screaming over it. Than when Ron & Astrid just decided another bokbeer at the bar was the better option a military dressed communist walked on the stage and grabbed the mic. Suddenly things were happening on stage and his eclactic performance made him fall over and jump around wildly. Also his screams were more expressive, so suddenly the music was OK, but the show was great. We March  (repeat 217 times) closed the set strong, after which they left the stage in order to come back for an encore without the commie. Pity as they did not end with a high now.


The next hour had a pianist in the theater, but we used it to up our food and beverage levels a bit before the highlight of the day would come on stage. In Mourning only three weeks earlier blew Omnium Gatherum off the stage in Baroeg (in my view that is) So I definitely wanted to be back and see them again. This time they had ten minutes more, so one extra song was added as well and I can be brief. This was a trancelike trip through heavy progressive death doom landscapes wirh the frequent calmer breaks. I wrote it three weeks ago and can repeat it now. This band has three guitars and makes good use of the possibilities this gives them. At the same time they have four mics for massive grunts and two clear breaking alternatives as well. The setlist was in line with last tour, but without me taking notes I do not recall what the extra song was really. Does not matter as this time after one hour we again were left with this feeling of wanting more of this. The current line-up is so alive on stage that several friends told me liking them this time even better than theri last PPE performance. In order to fit the religious festival the main vocalist wore a fitting Morbid Angel Tee for the occassion. For me they reached the levels of way up there live bands and I should see them again next year. This time they did bring CD's along, so I could correct that miss in my collection of Garden of Storms. After the show I tried to get as appreciation another colour of the one I bought in Baroeg, but sizes were to small for tall me.


Now I usually have some issues in liking a band that plays just after an absolute highlight of a festival. For Darkwater the task to draw me into their show.  And to even my own surprise they managed to do so. Darkwater play Progmetal of the accesible kind. Ron mentioned Enchant as a link and they have similarities indeed being slightly louder though. This year they released a new album Human, which was visited for several songs. The most interesting fact was they had not played live for eight years, so how did they manage to play that tight? Surprising, even more so if the drummer was a hired hand from Vola. Turns out that the drum riser showed him, unlike Patronaat's small hall in September so I did not notice that before. This hour or so flew by really and I did enjoy their set so much that afterwards I picked up my copy of Human. Darkwater are one of those bands that play in typical traditonal progressive metal. So all is there, the good voice (close to Ted Leonard indeed), the melodic guitar solo's the tight playing, keyboards live played not from tape and songs that tend to be long. As one should not spit on its origins, I did love them and would say why not return to that other Dutch festival one day again as well?


After this second highlight of the day we considered it time to hit home as the trip would be long. So we walked to the train station, where we said goodbye to Wllem going north and us returning to the west, where all is best. This was one fine day in Apeldoorn and this festival definitely has its charm. Beer tasting, coverart expositions (Witherfalls Vintage included!), good beer options at the bar and a calm atmosphere made this one enjoyable day. Let's see if next year they again put two interesting bands on one day and I might be back. Thank you Brainstorm, Amen.


Monday, 4 November 2019

Dutch Doom Sunday Evening - Baroeg Rotterdam, 3 November 2019


Yes I know the festival is called Dutch Doom Days and a two day event. Yet I had a family weekend with Josie and Tiago, so only after bringing them to the airport and Leiden student room re-decorating I could head to Baroeg. In spite of some competition on the concert front (Myrath 013, Leporus/The Ocean Nobel) I opted for Baroeg as I wanted to see Swallow the Sun again and was curious about the others I could still see.


Entering Baroeg Polish Monasterium were on stage. First obvious standout was the strong voice of the vocalist. Frank told me that on Saturday he was on the same stage with his other band Evangelist. This band played doom heavy metal in the style of Scandinavians like Sorcerer, Candlemass or Krux. Not quite at that level yet, still sounding welcoming and a good belated start of the festival to me.


Oceanwake from Finland were next. This band went for the epic and long building approach. A nice mix of grunt and clean voices over layers and layers of doom. This was soon to be the first winner of the day to me as they managed to get my full attention in spite this being all new long songs to me. At times including some post metal atmospheres this mix worked very well and went down good with the audience.


Swedish October Tide play Doom Death and were the heaviest band of the day that I saw. This style brings other levels of energy coming off the stage and I thought that contagious. Two guitars bringing at times melodic intermezzo's we mainly doomed on heavy. When the whole country starts complaining about the weather (it's that time of year again) asking if we want 12 days of rain is a dubious question. Luckily the killer song with that title made us forgive them. I did not remember that ex Katatonia members founded October Tide until Alex told me. Nowadays obvious a heavier version of melancholy in this band I liked the full set and got their latest album :In Splendor Below after the gig. Definite highlight.


The reason I took a train to Rotterdam was Swallow the Sun. Their last album "When a Shadow Is Forced Into the Light" is one of my favorites of the year. When earlier this year they toured the album with none other than Oceans of Slumber they skipped Holland. So I drove down to Bochum to catch this bill. Now in Baroeg I did not want to miss out and what a beautiful set we got. Opening with the title track of the last album the sound was perfect. The mix of sad pieces and heavy outbursts came over strong and all individual instuments were clear in the mix. Lost & Catatonic followed from their incredible triple piece of art Songs from the North. A setlist build around their last album went in the end back to early years. I loved this show from start to finish and saw a band that should be able to reach so many varied genre fans Alex already suggestd PPE to look into them and I guess he is right there. If there were complaints it must have been the lack of XXL size of the neat baseball shirt. And one tip to the man behind the keys with the strong clean voice. If you wear a beanie under a wide hanging black hoody, the thought of a headbanging nun never really  left my mind. Swallow the Sun were righteous headliners to me and I hope to see them returing to Holland next year. So Dutch Doom Days was a success again. Since I am not a specialist in this genre I always discover nice bands that are new to me and the atmosphere in the most metal  venue of Holland was as good as always. Thanks to the organizers and see you at DDD2020.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Destroyer 666, Dead Congregation, Nocturnal Graves & Inconsessus Lux Lucis - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden, 30 October 2019


This package is called Sons of Rebellion Tour and are tonight together with the Mayhem & Gaahl's Wyrd tour also playing in Nijmegen. The latter half being back in de Nobel on Friday. Complicated? not really just go and let yourself be surprised. Yesterday I posted that with Tiago living in Leiden I might be tempted to see any show that might be of interest in town, so I can have dinner with hime before. Well this evening I stepped in the dark as I did not know any of the bands other than by name. Playing in the small hall I was afraid for an empty house upon arrival, but that hall filled up in the evening. Also by the obligatory demolition of the smoking area inside, the small hall gained on capacity. Yes in Holland we are no longer allowed to think for ourselves, so we should be protected from anything that might harm. I am afraid I will still live the day when alcohol is banned from venues as well.


But this evening with first frost at night hitting the country was meant for some dark music. Upon the stage from Manchester England were Inconsessus Lux Lucis. They turned out to play some Black metal mostly linked to the very old school. At first I needed to get into this with nothing polished in their sound. Then the penny dropped I started liking them better and better. There was a certain NWOBHM vibe in their songs as well, with lots of long solo's over the bass and drum parts and galloping riffs at times.. This trio did win me over and I did get their CD, which sounds as dirty. Nice start.

Next band came along all the way from Australia Nocturnal Graves. Mixing up some extreme genres you heard black, thrash and Death metal. Their total sound was a bit cleaner than the openers. Interesting enough I had the same feeling again after the first song, not sure if this was for me. Than by sticking around I started liking them more and more and here the two guitars especially with very clean solo's over the brutal metal were winning the evening. They travelled from far, but made it worthwhile and went down very well with the audience.


Dead Congregation are from Greece, so I wondered why Ronald and Lia were not in.They play Death Metal at times of the ridiculously fast kind. This band knows how to blow you out of your socks. For the 45 minutes or so the speed could not be all the time at 200%, so at times Doom bridges were build in. This made up the necessary rest and variation, before they would crush on again. One interesting experience, but maybe not on CD for me.


Destroyer 666 are originally Australian, but based in Europe. As they spend some time in Holland we were welcomed by: goedenavond you lelijke motherfokkers. Being headliner was quickly justified, as Destroyer 666 is a powerhouse. Not as extreme as their supports we got metal. At times I heard Motorhead, than mixing with thrahs and heavy metal. The bassist even gave us metal screams at times. When the second guitarist was taking lead vovcals wet entered death metal areas. It seemed they even had a hit in I Am the Wargod, as this was received very enthusiastically. This metal show fullfilled all I need to see, still I bowed out before the end catching a train. Standing on my feet a full evening and deciding to go calm on beers was not a combination that made me jump. So tired I passed the merch stand one last time picking up an EP. One final comment on Nobel on that. It is all nice to decide going all cashless as a venue, but bands selling merch need cash. So there is no change in the house, which to me seems poor service towards bands. Still I trained home pleasantly surprised by four good shows. Friday I can't make it for part two though. 

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Blood Red Throne, Ceremony, Pictura Poesis & Adversarius - Musicon The Hague, 26 October 2019


An evening of extreme metal in Musicon. That means I did run into Marco as he follows the same principle as I do, if you have no other obligations always support your local scene. I entered Musicon when Adversarius were halfway their set. I saw them before and what stays most in mind is their aggressive Black Metal wall of sound. Next band Pictura Poesis probably was musically most interesting to me of the supports. Unfortunately sound of guitar and keyboards was not a constant plus, so this messed up some songs a bit. Last opener were Ceremony and to my surprise on what I expected to be a death metal evening we got again painted faces on stage. This black/death combo played tight, but lacked for me a bit of variation.


Blood Red Throne are old school death metal and Norwegian. Coming to the stage it was a sort of relief to see a metal band with metal guitars in hand. So suddenly we got flying solo's over fast banging songs. A deep grunt accompanying all and after two songs a wet slam dance floor made several people slip towards the stage. This band was for me the best of the evening and they knew how to make us bang. While during the supports I found at times that remarkably few people of rather full Musicon were bothered to watch or participate this was over during Blood Red Throne. Only comment for this band was the banner. After three class act works of art with the openers, this written name in normal letters and bottom half hidden behind the drums was a bit minimalistic. They made more than up for that with their music, so we could cycle home pleased, if only it was not pissing down by then.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Ray Alder - Angel - Opeth - Disillusion - Borknagar - Insomnium

The clock moves back tonight, so herewith some tips for dark winter nights.

Ray Alder - What the Water Wants
Ray Alder is the voice of Fates Warning and until recently Redemption. Two of my favorite bands, so when he announced a solo album a pre-order was made fast. Two singles that were released before sounded already very promising and this album is what I hoped for. Shorter songs than with Fates Warning, his winning voice gives us a beautiful album, which I shall pick up many times still this year. After hearing the full album my first morbid thought was that it holds a song that will make it to the setlist of my funeral. The Road has the lyrics, the voice and melody to move anyone to tears. Songs co written by Michael Abdow and Tony Hernando are adding up to one of the highlights of the year. Ray Alder confirms his position as one of the best vocalists around, now also on his solo project. Obligatory purchase I'd say.

Angel - Risen
Angel are back. Over the last years on stage with original vocalist Frank Dimino and guitarist Punky Meadows. Now also on CD. In August I had the pleasure of seeing them for the first time playing live, which is interesting if you consider that I like this band for 40 years now. They played no new songs during that show, but the quality of performance made me confident of a good album. Well that is what we get in no less than 17 songs. Start and finish are old songs re-recorded in Angel Theme and their hit Tower. In between the 15 new songs go from fast rockers to ballads. A pretty well balanced album, with Frank Dimino showing a still remarkably strong voice. Angel were the masters of pomprock and we get poppy songs inbetween, but to me the only miss is IOU. On the other side we find in Under the Gun, 1975 and We Were the Wild some highlights. A succesfull and very welcome return therefore.

Opeth - In Cauda Venenum
My favorite Opeth album shall always remain Still Life. The story is known changing their ways Opeth now completely left grunts behind them for the last albums, I had some issues with that as well and even skipped previous album Sorceress. Untill on a long haul flight KLM had it in their CD collection and I could hear it killing flight time, reconvincing me on their class. So they are different, but after only a few plays I can already state that this might be their best album to me since Blackwater Park. Dark Progressive Rock with a voice that in Swedish and English seems to get better by time. I was not expecting such a good Opeth album any more some 5 years ago. Welcome back to my CD player Opeth, pity the Ducth gig sold out too fast for me to react.

Disillusion - The Liberation
Talking about comebacks, this one is not as long awaited as Angel, but therefore not less pleasant. German Disillusion were on their Classic 2004 debut Back to Times of Splendor more than once compared with Opeth. A  Wonderfull album with mainly epic metal songs. Two years later they changed style towrads more industrial electronical metal and Glora was not that well received, although still interesting. Now they are back and they present us a logical follow up to their debut. Back are the melodic death metal, the harking guitar riffs and the epic long songs (three around twelve minutes) Maybe only the voice is not for everyone, but I hope they will be back in Holland soon, great surprise this heavy return.

Borknagar - True North
Borknagar the nrodic allstar combo, also return after some changes in their line-up. Given the big flow of good new albums I only heard it at first on the background and thought, not as good as Winter Thrice. But then I gave the album the proper time and attention and I find this to be a grower, Every next play it gets a bit better and we can conclude Borknagar nailed it again. Closing song Voices dares to be different, after an album that already moves between moods and heaviness. Scandinavians do release these kind of dark albums in autumn, when the soundtrack hardly can't be better. Up North is where the darkness awaits.

Insomnium - Heart Like a Grave
Coming home after PPE one always has this empty feeling of so now it is over again. This year matters were made easier by the mailman who literally rang the doorbell 10 minutes after my arrival to hand over the special edition of Heart Like a Grave. This hardcover book full of beautiful nordic pictures makes the work of art only bigger. As then the songs do match the quality of the package we have another winner by Insomnium. Their question was of course, how to follow up on masterpiece Winter's Gate. Well by just writing 10 great songs. Highlight of the album to me comes with epic Pale Morning Star, followed by doomy And Bells They Toll. This is not to say that the rest is of much lesser quality really. Mixing the melodies and speed we are treated on art for both ears and eyes. So I do recommend getting the special edition which does give you two additional instrumentals as well.

Monday, 21 October 2019

The Quill & Nebula - Musicon The Hague, 20 October 2019


The Quill in Musicon, that is not a first. Actually they tend to pass Musicon on almost every tour. This time they came as support of Nebula. Aparantly a big name in Stoner, but unknown to me. So on a Sunday afternoon we gathered 8 from our app group to visit Musicon and enjoy some Quill on a rainy Sunday. When they started playing I know what I like most about them. They play honest stoner rock. Meaning what you see is what you get. Nowadays with many bands you have to guess how much is coming from tape and at times that is remarkably much. No such thing with the Quill, when a spacy sound is created you see the bassist using his pedal. Together with this real live playing their songs are good, so nothing to complain. Well maybe the jamming with Black Sabbath bits blended in lasted a bit long, but that is looking for issues really. A nice hour of the Quill yet again and the long new song sounded promising.


Nebula might be big in stoner land, in Musicon it seemed to me most people came to see The Quill. I gave them a fair chance and quite liked their show. Opening song reminded me of Warrior Soul a bit with the raw Rock and Roll vibe. Later on I heard some Hendrix like sounds and in general the playing was fast. Drummer was a hero and their presentation was kind of special. Inbetween songs the vocalist might have said some lines, but never in the microphone. So basically we had no clue what he was on about. The encore was interesting as well, when same guy left the stage and the other two decided to stay. All in all a nice show and one song close to the end started extremely like Diamond Head's Am I Evil, so that was their best song I thought. Early Sunday show, but still we stayed late and the mood was good and better. Hello Monday morning for some I guess.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Omnium Gatherum, In Mourning & Heidra - Baroeg Rotterdam, 18 October 2019


In Mourning are among my favorite Progressive Death Metal bands. If they come touring in support of Omnium Gatherum I want to see that double. The evening would be opened by Heidra from Denmark unknown to me. As In Mourning already impressed us twice at ProgPower Peter, Ron & Astrid joined me to Rotterdam. I arrived early and was afraid that huge competition these days would result in a very empty Baroeg. That normalized later on a bit.


First band Heidra came on and I saw five men with lots of hair under their noses and on their chin, but none on their heads. The FB event said they play folk / black / power metal and all three could be heard at times indeed. Not really music I must own on CD, but live pretty nice to watch. Unfortunately at first beers, because somehow this music mixes best with lots of alcohol I think. The playing was ok, but the clean power metal vocals were with a bit too much pathos for my taste. One guitarist would not apologize anyone not clapping along, so they got the place moving. Warmed up we were.


Now it was a short wait for In Mourning. I discovered them at their first PPE visit, when they just released Monolith. Next album The Weight Of Oceans tour did hit Holland at Brainstorm I believe, but I missed out. Hereafter they released Afterglow and blew us away in Baarlo again. Two weeks ago they released their new album Garden of Storms. I thought I would be picking up my copy at the show, but they were sold out on CD. When In Mourning started I could see why CD's sold out. They managed to convince many not knowing them yet, with a very strong set. Having 50 minutes in their case means only six songs. They passed all four albums, so that was good. What I like best about them is the fact they hold three guitarists and they use that smartly. So when one melodic rhythm is played inbetween calmer parts, two other guitars can build up walls of sound. Also on vocals duties are shared and all is brought with a smile an a contagious enthusiasm. This show was for me Champions League of Prog Death and time flew by. Some disappointment when the last song was announced, although added was it's a huge one and the title Colossus confirms that further. This song represents the band completely Starting with slow atmospheric instrumental parts, this song builds up to become one heavy monster at times even doomy. Well In Mourning gave us even more than what I hoped for, so I now have to buy my ticket for Brainstorm festival next month, when they return to Holland. Hopefully with CD's this time as I already bought their Bordeaux Red Death Metal Tee. Earth and Sky did collide in Baroeg last night, so thank you for that.


And now Omnium Gatherum had to follow that up. I am not sure if they could do so. Well obviously to many no issues as they were the headliner. I was still a bit overwhelmed by In Mourning, but the strong openers of their last album did help me getting in the mood. Omnium Gatherum with their melo-death is a different animal and the main difference was found in the more screaming vocals. To me the weaker part in the band. Instrumentally not much to complain really and the songs were fine as well. Most solo's come from Markus Vanhala. Now I listened a lot to him over the last week as he is also in my favorite melo-death band Insomnium who just released beautiful Heart Like a Grave. Within Omnium Gatherum that beauty is not to be found, but energy and speed are all  the more present. So for me In Mourning were the high of the evening, but Omnium Gatherum definitely had it's peaks as well. One fine night of banging, just as it is meant to be in October. Already anxiously waiting for 9 November.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Kee Marcello & Febby Tasiran Band - Musicon The Hague, 16 October 2019


A rainy Wednesdaynight and a city occupied by angry farmers. Not ideal to attract a full Musicon and so it was spacious. An evening of Classic hard rock in The Hague seems to attract much less people than an evening of Death Metal. Those who came would have a trip down memory lane as support band FTB woudl give us covers. This band is formed around guitarist Febby Tasiran, who gave us several impressive solo's. Holding a female voclaist singing male originals you get a different edge at times. For me at some songs this worked, while others were not that suited for the band. Highlight absolutely Mistreated, while Slow an' Easy sounded good as well. Songs not so nice to my ears were Crazy Train and Still of the Night which did not flow. Nice band to have on a party presenting classic hits though.


Kee Marcello is ex guitarist of Europe and no he did not play on The Final Countdown. Let me first share my history of Europe. In 1983  De Nieuwe Aardschok wrote positive about a young Swedish band Europe, calling them Swedish Rainbow. I bought their debut LP and a year later Wings of Tomorrow. Both albums still stand strong until today. Then came The Final Countdown in 1986 and the title track became a hit and spoiled it all. I was not going to see them in Jaap Edenhall with a room full of teenage girls waiting for one song. For Magchiel this remained in the eighties the only show he went without me. Meanwhile John Norum on guitars left the band and released very strong solo album Total Control. I lost track of the band, but refound them with strong albums Bag of Bones and War of Kings. So basically I missed the Kee Marcello era completely. That did not stop him playing TFC though. Coming on stage I had not realized that Kee would be taking care of vocals as well. Three Italians being his band, reminded me of a Mark Boals show I saw earlier this year. Apparently Italy has touring musicians on offer. What about the quality of the show? well very nice. Even not owing the albums most Europe songs came from I did know them. Kee Marcello sung pretty decent and the band was good. Keeping it eighties all band members had the chance to shine during a solo spot. Nice songs and throuh Carrie and Superstitious working towards that finale. When it came it was played in a heavy version and we had a good end of an evening of history. Next time let's hope PSV - de Graafschap is played at de Vijverberg and not on het Malieveld and it is sunny. Much better fitting this kind of music.


Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Zonder / Wehrkamp - Tim Bowness - Dreaming Madmen - The Room - Twisted Illusion

Some of the calmer CD's I liked over the past months. Recommended for rainy autumn weekends.

Zonder / Wehrkamp - If It's Real
Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery) and Mark Zonder (Warlord and Fates Warning) are icons in the progmetal world. I saw reviews on this album stating warnings. So this is no progmetal, but plain old AOR in good old eighties fashion. Turns out I play this a lot as a light album on the background. If you liked your eighties Survivor and Night Ranger, you'll love this. A lot of broken hearted songs, to the extent you want to scream to them, get over that b%tch, she doesn't want you. Yet all packed in very decent songs. So if you like high quality light rock you might be as pleasantly surprised as I was.



Tim Bowness - Flowers at the Scene
Tim Bowness is of course the master of melancholy. Famous after his work with Steven Wilson in NoMan his solo efforts are as sad. This album is produced and mixed by NoMan and Steven Wilson and has some interesting guests in among many others: Jim Matheos (Fates Warning), Peter Hammill and Colin Edwin. Actually you hardly notice guests, as this is albout the depressing atmospheres, Tim Bowness knows to put down on music so well. Maybe not for the instable at mind, yet beautiful in all it's sadness.




Dreaming Madmen - Ashes of a Diary
Dreaming Madmen is the band around brothers Mathew & Christopher Aboujaoude. They are Libanese, but based in Austin Texas. Yet their album to me sounds like British progrock. Opener Page One is an instrumental with a heavy nod to their PF cover band Brick Floyd. Hereafter the conceptalbum knows lyrics and the style reminds me of the storytelling that British bands can do so well. Maybe a lighter version of Cosmograf hints at a direction that I mean. A pleasant ride through the life of an elderly man, discovering an old paper with writings of his. Recorded in Deir El Harf, Lebanon it is good to see how progressive music is all over the world.

The Room - Caught by the Machine
I missed the release of this album originally. Strange as their first two albums I hold and like pretty much. Then my friend Brian Mear posted about them as they shall play Mearfest 2020. So I corrected my miss and what a great album it is again. The Room have something own as they are inbetween melodic hardrock and prog with some AOR blended in. Their strenght lays in the quality of the songs and that collection grew again. From uptempo opener Bodies on the Road to closer Bloodstream we have ten melodic gems. Hope to see them in June at Mearfest South.



Twisted Illusion - Excite the Light part II
The second album of a trilogy by the band that spits out albums like there is no tomorrow. Taken the high production it becomes even more amazing how every album is a winner. Apathy Killed the Artist opens fast as we are used to. The epic is called Empathy is Earned and holds Daniel Moran on guest vocals. Matt Jones is a very talented musician, who one day I will see on stage. Meanwhile part III has been announced and crowdfunding target was met very fast again. All this band needs is more exposure, as I believe they might attract many.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Haags Metaal - Musicon Den Haag, 12 October 2019


Metal in The Hague. Some say it is hardly alive, but then they did not attend Haags Metaal in Musicon. Last year the first edition took place in HPC during Progpower, so no option. This year I had family plans, but as Josie and Tiago had another idea for the afternoon I could get a bit of the atmosphere and beers in the afternoon. Eight bands playing so it was a long day and I decided to see the first three. Pity as in the evening several of my favorite local bands in different genres would play. This being Rages of Sin (Death), Defazer (thrash) and Icarius (Modern). Further Anatomy of I would play. A band I hardly saw before and who released their first album Substratum in 2011 with none other than Steve DiGiorgio on bass. I did opt in teh evening for family as I love my metal.but love Josie and Tiago more, although they might at times doubt that.


So what I did see was short and heavy. Acrid opened the day. Existing 25 years, their Death/Thrash was tight. Mancuerda came next. I never saw this doom/death band before. I was not the only one, as this was their first show. Playing all their available songs it sounded slow and heavy as it is supposed to be, more to come I hope. Last band for me were instrumental trio Nihiverse. Two guitars and drums got me interested as they had good solo's over nice riffs. So with a short Musicon visit I did support my local scene, like anyone should do and luckily many did yesterday. The Hague city of Peace, justice and metal.


Monday, 7 October 2019

ProgPower Europe, Sjiwa - Baarlo 4-6 October 2019


PPE 2019, the rainy edition. In my memory we always have decent up to very nice weather. This year especially the Sunday was wet. As if organizers knew this in advance, they put together the best line-up in years. Unfortunately Redemption had to cancel, as they are one of my absolute favorites. Still the last minute substitutes found made me happy. This time I knew most bands in advance, before they were booked, but luckily several of them I never saw playing live before. So we were more than a bit keen to head down to Baarlo again. We this year was 11 of us, as Lida had to cancel due to a fever. I was struggling with cold and chills  myself over the past two weeks, so somehow I did need to seek time for rest and go light on the drinks. Not sure how far I succeeded, but in order to arrive fitter I did cancel the pre-party in my hometown by Emma Ruth Rundle and Gold, pity but wisdom comes with age. So arriving around 15:00 at camping de Berckt we could start our own traditions. In our case that means have a few bock beers who arrive in October as well and eat the delicious Roti prepared by Ron and Astrid. Renting a bicycle and down to Sjiwa hereafter meeting friends we see either once a year, or pretty often at gigs in the country.


Friday
While the program was for the weekend very strong, the start was in my case not overly exciting. Unfortunately Tweve Foot Ninja cancelled their European tour and a substitue was needed. This was found in Voyager, known to frequent visitors. To me Voyager falls in the category that I follow, but not closely. The first time I saw them live I was fully blown away by their show and style. Later on I saw them a few more times and without the surprise, they became just a nice band to watch. I have a few of their albums, but not their last and I go see them play only if close to home. Luckily this evening they were inspired and gave us a nice show. They were Hyperventilating at the start, which I did recognize and The Meaning of I was also still in the set. They were announced as a headliner opening, which was true as it is not every festival that gives the opening band 90 minutes. Then again PPE is not your average festival by all means. Conclusion I liked re-seeing Voyager on stage and appreciated their set. I even almost managed to forget that I could have been in Bochum the same evening.
Next on would be that band. Almost every year PPE puts one band on the line-up, that divides opinions. Usually they go down really well, but those not getting the point walk around outside and in the downstairs bar asking WTF this is all about. This year that band would be Diablo Swng Orchestra and unfortunately I fell in the second category. I consider myself fairly open minded see just who I intended to see on Thursday and one of my favorite concerts this year was by Azusa, but DSO was too complicated for simple me. Or was it the huge amount of wind instruments on stage? We shall never know, so I can only say that the majority seemed to appreciate them and I expect such combo's to play at world chamionships speedskating.


Saturday
Saturday had legendary written all over the programmed bands. This could be one of those days where I would really like all six bands. This resulted in a sold out house, but also in some worries, how recovering me would handle this. It turned out that  I did well by staying inside half the set only a few times. The first band that happened were opener Scarlet Stories. They are from Holland, so I will see them again probably soonish. I liked their playing and style, although I woudl have appreciated a fast banger somewhere halfway for needed variation in pace. Still a band that opened for a full and enthusiastic hall went down very well I saw. For me only half an hour before getting some fresh air.


Now I obviously did not read the program carefully enough, so I walked back in when teh next band started playing. I thought this would be VotF, but it was Anima Tempo, the first Mexican band ever at PPE and one I definitely wanted to see. Entering the hall I was halted by Christian complaining I missed his Spanish introduction of the band. Now I don't speak Spanish, but my Portuguese is fluent (ish), so I probably could have been a judge on his lines. Not important as meanwhile Anima Tempo started ruling the hall. Their energetic played set with double guitar attacks, comes very close to the style I like most, so we had for me the first winner of the festival. I picked up their CD afterwards and shall play it with care, seeing if I can recall some of the high that went on for an hour to me. This is what is the best about PPE to me, bands you did not know yet, that become new favorites to follow. Gracias senhores. Voices from the Fuselage came next and I must again admit I did neither prepare, nor give them a fair chance as a delicious Falaf Hell was served by Pois Chic. So I saw only some 20 minutes, enough to get an idea on their music, with the recognizable high voice of Ashe O'Hara. It sounded ok I thought.


After the break things could not go wrong really as I know and like to totally love all three bands. Kingcrow being the first was the one I like. I knew them since their album with the easy name Phlegethon. I saw them a few times hereafter and always liked them, yet not buying their last album any longer. When they hit the stage I recalled what I like so much about them. It is their sympathetic appearance on stage, a band that is enjoying themselves playing for us and doing so rather well. I did not go for the full 75 minutes due to two reasons. First the rest for what was to come and second the similarity inbetween songs to me. So start and finish together I got some 45 minutes and that was enough. Kingcrow are a band I will see when playing the west of Holland, but as with many bands to me, when the surprise is gone the efforts from my side diminish a bit. They did have huge response though and might have been a silent headliner to many.


Next another band I was really looking forward to: Ghost Ship Octavius. On tour with Psychotic Waltz I was even considering seeing them on Thursday in Hamburg or Friday in Bochum. When due to cancellations they were included to PPE as well I decided to skip those, save some money and health and see them here. Well that did not disappoint. During PPE I usually tend to love it when a band just comes and blows us away with Heavy or even Death metal for the needed variation throughout the day. And that is just what they did. Heavy from begin to end giving us an overview of their two albums, with personal favorite Turned to Ice, what a killer song that is. For the occasion they came on stage with painted faces and I loved this set from start to finish. Very welcome last minute addition to the line-up indeed.


Psychotic Waltz
Yes I know Psychotic Waltz is not a day, but this band deserves a full chapter. On the FB page of PPE, people were asked to introduce themselves and tell among other things which three bands they were looking out for. To my shock and awe, hardly anyone mentioned Psychotic Waltz. This must be an age thing and also explained why I did not manage to get many regulars to come to The Hague, when I had Heir Apparent playing in June. So as I am old and older people have to teach herewith a small history lesson of Progressive metal. Without Psychotic Waltz, there would not have been a PPE festival. Let me explain this a bit. As from the eighties all good Progmetal came from over the ocean to us. The so called big three never played clubs. Queensryche supported Dio and Bon Jovi in main halls and then headlined Aardschokdag when Mindcrime was released. Fates Warning hardly came and first time was as opener for Manowar in Paradiso (their first ever European gig) Dream Theater released WDADU, but that one was overlooked by the mainstream and with Images and Words they sold out Vredenburg at once. Then there were other bands who just managed to come over once (or even never) due to lack of finacial support. Here you can think of Watchtower, Heir Apparent, Crimson Glory and Lethal for instance. In comes Psychotic Waltz who with their debut A Social Grace amazed all that understood great music. Opening Dynamo Open Air 1991, they would from there on tour every year at lest once through Europe, playing all clubs sized around Sjiwa size. They became my absolute favorite band of the nineties and I can't count how often we went to see them. I even travelled abroad seeing them at a metalbar off Heidelberg in Germany and once in Vienna, when Ajax picked up the Champions league that same weeek. That last tour they brought along Threshold as support. The years before they gave a stage to many Dutch (Donor anyone?) and German progmetal bands, helping to grow the scene. So when PPE started a firm base was placed by their intensive touring. Since 1997 they more or less disappeared with only a 2011 support on a Nevermore tour and two years ago a very strong appearance at Amersfoort and Graspop. Now there is a new album coming and they finally made it to PPE. Since my first visit to Baarlo in 2000 I always put Psychotic Waltz on the evaluation form after PPE. So fanboy me was happy as can be and I hoped that Psychotic Waltz would show us all how proper Progressive metal is supposed to be played.


And then came Saturday 22:05 and I was placed up front next to old school PW fan Gerrie with his camera. Let me first share how I underwent 90 minutes of Psychotic Waltz. For me this trip down memory lane was the high of PPE, for nostalgic reasons. The sound was OK to me, and if Devon's voice was not as dominant as it was in the past I had no complaints. So upon a high after the show I only ran into people telling me they were disappointed in the vocals. Musically very strong, but off key vocals making it hard to them to like the full set. Well that was a cold shower as I did not get this and my wish for PW to win over the full crowd apparently did not come true. Well I have the right to be biased, so I had a brilliant show. Maybe not their best ever, but still PW so hard to match by anyone. The setlist was great with an overview of all four albums, two new songs and a Black Sabbath cover to close with. I remember (!) on their first tour they played obscurer BS song Disturbing the Priest. This time it was Children of the Grave. On the songs I can not mention highlights as all of them are favorites to me. Amazing also to see that A Social Grace until the day of today remains one of the most exciting progmetal albums ever released. So coming out of their set on a high reactions of literally everyone talking to me, gave some disappointment. Not to me, but the missed chance. Well February 2020 the new album is out and Psychotic Waltz already promised a fast return to Europe. Go give them a chance again, as in 2017 they were the best gig of the year, not just to me.


Sunday
After Saturday with so many ups, Sunday promised to be a bit more low key and unknow to me. Well not opening band Lost in Thought. I had their debut album Opus Arise and then they went a bit under the radar. Through the website of the Man of Much Metal I read about a new album, so I joined the crowdfunding. It was nice to meet Matt Spall after the Lost in Thought set and share that he put me on the right track for this band. I said right track as to me Lost in Thought were the first highlight of the day. Good band, nice presentation and songs that flow and differentiate between them. So they skipped their (classic?) debut Opus Arise and played the new album in full. Well either set would have worked as I liked my first encounter with these men from Wales. Finally I am surely not the only Dutch person being surprised how good our ex topjudoka Dennis van der Geest is on guitars in this band.


Prehistoric Animals would be next and they were the only band I heard or read absolutely nothing off and about. The idea was to let them surprise me and what a good surprise this was. Unknown to me, now one to follow and getting their CD after the show. Again it was for me about the quality of the songs, which in their case were helped by videos on the background. It always helped when the  on stage appearance is sympathetic and appreciative. Well no lack of either here and later on they told this was only their fourth show ever. If they return one day to holland I will travel further to see them again. Now knowing the songs it might be even better. So that was two out of two wins on a Sunday afternoon.


Rendezvous Point are from Norway, but are not very weird in music, given their passport. Fairly open and accesible songs to me. A few weeks ago I saw them opening for Vola and now getting a full hour, they managed to keep my attention spanned. What I saw in the hall was this to many probaby also a silent headliner, as it was and remianed full throughout. Well a nice show again, not my top favorite maybe, but definitely a nice live band. Then came a break for dinner and I made a mistake, Staying outside far too long I managed to miss most of Kong's show. What I did get was their last 20-25 minutes, which sounded impressive. While Kong are Dutch I still managed to never  see them before. Defintely one to look out for, as this felt and sounded like more.


My silent headliner and band I looked out for most on the Sunday were Teramaze. Their progmetal is closest to Heavy Metal again and I love their feel for melody. Only holding their last two albums I did recognize most songs. Yet being honest I probably was hoping for too much, as I was not blown away. Turns out you can not be blown away just by expectations only. Don't know what it was exactly, but something did not fully connect with me. So I saw an enjoyable show, by an obviously good band. Still wondering what I missed though.


Persefone headlining ProgPower Sunday is a bold statement. I do like this band, but know that their death metal parts are a bridge too far for some. Yet we saw those present (fairly large in numbers still given the Sunday night) enjoying themselves during their long set. Energy is the only certainty never missing during a Persefone gig and that was present again. Only issue seemed to be with the mic. Talking inbetween songs, we got some cartoon like voices thrown at us, and noone seemd to be bothered to solve this. While Marc Martins is the one jumping around on and off the stage all the time, the clean vocals from behind the keys are as important to me. Maybe a bit long for me as we are old and tired, but another good gig by Persefone, showing us they deserved the headline spot for the weekend.

Afterparty's
Being old and tired is one thing, but skipping all the afterparty's is simply not an option. Down in the basement the mood is brilliant and so many nice people just seem to be happy to be there and then.This year the Saturday held a top 25 of epics as chosen online by the audience. I only stayed a while. The Sunday knew the introduction  of a Hard Rock and Metal Karaoke and let's hope another tradition is born. Maybe swapping both days is even better for enabling more to participate. This was pure fun and highlights where Death Metalizzed Three Little Pigs and the smoothly sung Tequila. People understanding music told me that a certain The Boys Are Back in Town sounded rather awesome as well. Well what a great way to end this wonderfull weekend. An annual high on music and more for many frequent visitors, so we can only thank the organization and many volunteers, for giving us this platform to get together and enjoy some brilliant bands.  2-4 October 2020 has been noted down in the agenda. See you all there again.