Thursday, 23 May 2019

Jag Panzer & Idle Hands - Musicon Den Haag, 22 May 2019

Jag Panzer are among those bands who put US Power Metal on the map. Their Classic album is Ample Destruction, one of those examples that aged very well still sounding relevant. So when they were announced to play my home venue it was sure we would be there. A Wednesday is not ideal for all, but Hans, Magchiel and Pieter joined me for some classic metal.

Opening band were also from the USA Idle Hands. This band was announced as blending the Cure with Heavy Metal and that is just what they did. For me this set went a bit with mixed emotions. At times strong songs passed by (Bring me the Night) while at other moments my attention dropped a bit. Most of these downs came I guess by the somewhat too cool presentation of their vocalist. Dressed in black wearing sunglasses he looked not all too happy on stage. It does fit their music, but at the same time does not pass much of a vibe to an audience. Overall Idle Hands sounded pretty OK, but did not make me rush to their merch stand.

With Musicon's setup their was a short sound check which made me for a moment think they opened the evening with Symphony of Terror. That was cut of halfway, but it made clear we would be in for a treat this evening. This was for me the first time I would see Jag Panzer and let's face it nothing really beats good old Heavy Metal. Opening with a new song Magchiel detected some voice issues with Henry the Tyrant Conklin. Interesting enough he later informed us he was having a cold after delivering a simply amazing performance during Licensed to Kill. While Joey Tafolla does play again with the band he did not join them on this tour. Well with all respect to the man he was not missed as the two guitars were awesome tonight. The set passed the full history with a bit more songs from AD. Technical problems were overcome easily and we got for me the best show in Musicon this year. If there were highlights it must have been during the encore when we got the chance to shout along with Warfare and No Mercy!. A perfect evening by a great band. I would have loved to hear more of their touring stories over breakfast, but unfortunately their tour manager last minute decided differently making it necessary that Tiago will have to eat many eggs and drink lots of fresh orange juice before going on holidays next Sunday.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Black Sites - Fen - Contrarian

 I have been a bit lazy on tipping new CD's this year, so herewith some catching up. OK I also bought good albums by Dream Theater, Queensryche and Candlemass, but guess no one needs to be introduced to those bands by me. Three strong albums to check out.

Black Sites - Exile
A new band to me, receiving various good reviews on web zines. Listening to their bandcamp page gave me the final push. Good US metal with some hints of other influences. The bonus track on the CD is Enforcer by Queensryche, which is a bit of a reference. At teh same time Dream Long Dead has Gothic influences and other songs go from fast to calmer metal. At times I am reminded of the band The Black Symphony. Very good Heavy Metal which should be brought to Europe. Just check the opening track The Night They Came For You out and you might be hooked as well.

Fen - Stone and Sea
I got into Fen only with their last full album Winter. That album contained six long songs in 75 minutes. On this EP Fen are more to the point staying under 20 minutes. Actually I thought this was a new release, but found on CD only a split with Sleepwalker which just adds three instrumental songs. Fen opens with Tides of Glass sounding like early 70's Floyd in order to move to their atmospheric Black Metal later on. The title track is the short bridge and closer The Last Gravestone is the highlight coming closets to the masterpieces presented on Winter. They are working on a full album, so keeping an eye open for that. Until then this EP will do just fine.

Contrarian - Their Worm Never Dies
This album probably will stay my favorite Tech Death album of 2019. This mainly because they do not follow the current new leaders in teh genre, but sound like a modern version of some bands starting to blend death metal and technical mastery. I am thinking of bands like Cynic and Atheist. Drummer/ vocalist George Kollias is known from Nile, but not by me as I don't have their CD's. The vocals do not go clean throughout the album, but instrumental parts bring all the needed variation and the songs seem all strong. Turns out this is their fourth album already, so I keep an eye on touring agenda's as this must blast live as well.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Little Devil Doom Day, Little Devil Tilburg, 11 May 2019

11 May was again one of those days where options were plenty. Doom was over Tilburg while Graveland in the East of Holland had some big names in extreme metal and Hardrock was taking over Baroeg  with Blokhut live. Now Frank is getting bands to play at LDDD and last week we traveled together to Mark Boals where he explained that the Dutch bands at Blokhut play everywhere in Holland this year anyway. Finally Iron Void was on the bill and their 2018 album Excalibur blew me away. So doom it was for me. Actually with the week I had with very disappointing office closing affairs and football deceptions doom would fit best with my mood. So I wanted some doom soundtrack guiding my state of mind and misery I got, but more on that later.

Upon arrival in sunny Tilburg all still looked pretty good. Thronehammer were halfway their set when I entered Little Devil. This band was musically somewhat one-sided, but the voice made the difference. Closing song Thronehammer actually turned in some sort of doom party with fists in the air and a pretty strong vocal addition from the audience. Nice opener they were and hereafter Finnish Cardinal's Folly came on. For me they were the opposite of Thronehammer in a way that their music was more working with changing tempos, but the voice seemed a bit flat. Again the best was saved for last when the guitarist and bassist jumped of the stage and played in the already tiny space between bar and venue. Actually throughout the day it was good that half the fans stayed outside or in the bar area making the venue accessible at all times. Hereafter the volume, speed and show would up a few notches when Death Doom combo the Drowning from the UK hit the stage.  This was a great live band and the fast guitar solo's were not very doom to me, but very welcome indeed. Actually I told Frank already last week that it was a good thing that even within doom he programmed a wide range of styles. The Drowning were the winners so far for me so time for some food.

As from here things started to go pear-shaped for me. The Turkish pizza with shoarma tasted Ok but had a devastating effect on me. As my private doctor and wife Josie would explain today with a tiny bit of pancreas I have left this fat overdose caused a shock probably. So I stumbled back to LD finding that My Silent Wake was keeping the curve going up and performed Death Doom with a bit more variation than the Drowning did. This definitely raised my energy levels, but a new beer was out of the question. Now I was waiting for the band that got me there in the first place Iron Void. Some issues with an amp head resulted in a longer wait, which did not help me getting fitter. Luckily when Iron Void started all was good very fast. Their blend of NWOBHM and doom was live as great as on CD. two vocals dividing the job, a very lively presentation and such good songs. Actually they played most from the first two albums Iron Void and Doomsday that I don't know yet. This did not matter as songs like Doomsday, the Mad Monk and Path to Self Destruction went down very well at first hearing. Unfortunately my path to self destruction eating a greasy Turkish pizza started taking it's toll and I really needed some fresh air. So in spite of loving their set I walked out before the end and called it a day. This was especially a pity as I did not stop at the merch tables, which I would do near to end, not to carry stuff around all day. So if Iron Void return to Holland I promise to be there again and buy some CD's. Probably the same can be said about My Silent Wake and The Drowning. So a shitty end of the day fitting a shitty week. Things now can only get better. Next year there should be another LDDD, hope to be back.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Mark Boals & Harbour of Souls - Cafe Bel Air Breda, 4 May 2019

Mark Boals is a man of a thousand projects, so anyone into hard rock probably has some albums where he is singing on at home. I for instance played the Frontiers project The Codex in the afternoon to get in the mood.  For this tour the announcement was that he would play Yngwie Malmsteen's album Trilogy in full. Now that is probably my favorite album of YM and as he told us the first album he ever sung on. Cafe Bel Air on Breda was for me a new venue and that was a first success. Walking distance from the train station and great plans to grow their hard rock agenda, might make this one to return to. Next shows of interest announced: 22 May DGM /Tomorrow's Eve (but I shall be at Jag Panzer in Musicon) 16 June Vinnie Appice 30 June Praying Mantis. Breda is a 15 minute shorter train ride than often visited Tilburg so pretty easy. When Frank did text me on the train that he had free upgrades for first class we drove down in comfort respecting the two minutes silence when the train stopped for national commemoration of the dead.

The opening band of the day were Harbour of Souls from Zeeland. I believe I was supposed to see them last year in their hometown when they were opening for Dead Lord and Horisont, but they were off the bill suddenly. Now I could see them and they play hard rock of the late seventies. Two guitars decent vocals and solid rhythm section made this a pleasant warm-up. Their covers were by Riot and Saxon to hint a bit of a direction. I was originally planning to get their two EP's in support, but never made it past the bar in the break.

During the break we noticed that most travelers for the evening came from the greater The Hague region so I could promote Heir Apparent 10 June in Musicon a bit. Now Mark Boals was going to cover Yngwie Malmsteen tonight so that puts some stress on the guitarist. Like Dio cover bands need an amazing vocalist Yngwie is not for everyone to cover. In comes Emiliano something from Italy who was dressed in a black suit, but nevertheless shredded like a madman. Amazing playing and seemingly much less of a star than the original Malmsteen. So before the show starts let me explain my link with Malmsteen. I loved the LP's by Steeler (with Ron Keel) and Alcatrazz he played on, so when he released his debut solo album I was a fan already. His first four albums are classics to me and probably Trilogy is my favorite of them. Hereafter his albums became less urgent purchases. This phenomenon was normal in the eighties see Manowar or Metallica, no one needs to hear anything after the first four albums. Even for my huge heroes Dio, Queensryche and Schenker this is the truth to a certain extend. Malmsteen live than. We saw him in Zwolle (the infamous IJsselhallen for still angry Slayer fans) when Joe Lynn Turner was vocalist and that was awesome. Later on we saw him in Arena Rotterdam (when Arena was still a venue in Rotterdam and not a stadium in Amsterdam) Matters turned a bit weird that evening, when Yngwie introduced his wife to the audience halfway who waved at us?? So tonight we would go back to the good times and I can say this was the best Yngwie setlist I ever saw. I think it s disrespectful to the original to say that also the playing was better but we were in Heaven Tonight ( a song that did not make the setlist) Warming us up with Rising Force, I Am a Viking and Black Star showed this was a killer band of Italians and Mark Boals lost nothing of power in his voice over the last 30 years. When thereafter Trilogy followed and we could shout along with hits like You Don't Remember, Liar or The Queen is in Love it was happy faces all around. Interesting how you can sing along with those songs from the eighties when LP's made you read and consume the lyrics as well. The evening ended with I See the Lights Tonight and a bit of Led Zep. So thanks to Ron for putting this evening together and I hope to be back often in Cafe Bel Air.