Monday, 24 June 2019

Diamond Head - Traveler - Spirit Adrift

Heavy metal it is!

Diamond Head - The Coffin Train
Am I Evil?, Metallica, Brian Tatler's brilliant book. So, now that hitory is out of the way I can go to the present. The Coffin Train is possibly the best album released by a NWOBHM band in 2019. Through the years Diamond Head has not released poor albums and previous self titled album with new vocalist Rasmus was a classic already. Well The Coffin Train kept the momentum rolling and is another high in their career.  I was lucky enough to see them live at Baroeg, to know that Diamond Head are live also a top class act at the moment and with new songs like these I am already looking out to their opening slot of Saxon in London in October. Anyone stating to like Heavy Metal should hear this album. In the begin of their career comparisons with a certain Led Zeppelin put expectations too high maybe. Listen to the Coffin Train and you can hear what could have been of Led Zep without the folky side going more metal Brilliant album, must buy etc.

Traveler - Traveler
No this is not a new release, but I missed this band. When reading some positive reviews on Keep it True and seeing they are going to play Up the Hammers in Athens next year I decided to give it a go. And then I gt hooked. Heavy Metal from the traditional kind. Well performed and catchy as a red skin on a Dutch beach today. two halfs, broken by an instrumental in fast eighties style thsi album brings all that makes Heavy Metal so great. Another nice surprise from Canada.

Spirit Adrift - Divided By Darkness
When Mr. Verhuysen from Aardschok is positive on an album one gets interested. I already heard of the band, but dug somewhat deeper and found this to be a pearl indeed. Take a healthy dose of Sabbath and add some Scandinavian heavy metal doom in the blend and we have a metal album that sounds very well. Ozzy is remembered on vocals at times, especially with the faster parts of beautiful long song Angels & Abyss. And then they come to Holland. Baroeg Open Air did get some increase with Dark Tranquility and Agent Fresco. Ayreon is filling 013 nights, but those in the know shall attend Mario's Birthday Party 14 September and see Spirit Adrift in Little Devil (with Leather and Syren!!)

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Richie Kotzen - Paard The Hague. 18 June 2019

Richie Kotzen in het Paard, Known from Poison, Mr. Big and the Winery Dogs. Tonight would be an evening of bluesy hardrock for music lovers. No support, one trio of top musicians and lots of guitar solo's. Hans was interested in joining, but decided to save voice, money, liver and energy for Graspop coming weekend. Upon arrival I did run into Micha with his son. Now I used to see Micha in the Oldtimer pub some 30-25 years ago where he used to play Richie Samboro's solo album stranger in this town quite often. Tonight was not that far from that album I thought. add some Paul Rodgers, some Gary Moore and a funky bass. I do not have any of Richie Kotzen's albums, so recognizing songs was not for me. This was just a Tuesday evening of good music joined by a few hundred people in het Paard. Impressive voice he has as well.

Arch Matheos - Seax - Pervy Perkin - De Lirium's Order

Time to highlight some CD's again. I did run into three of them by tips, so I guess more of us might have missed them. All of them need soem time investment in them, but yo will be rewarded.

Arch Matheos - Winter Ethereal
Where other albums were tipped to me no-one needs to advice me on a new release of Arch Matheos ever since a friend of Hans during a local metal gig in Delft 1984 told us we should check out Night on Bröcken. So this one was pre-ordered including the cool Tee and hopes were high. The good thing about high hopes is that if all works out fine you still might get surprised. That is what happened here as I believe we have a candidate for album of the year here (but the year is not halfway yet, so be patient) Opener Vermilion Moons has already anything you love about this duo. The strong high voice of John Arch and the great guitars of Jim Matheos, with a haunting break towards the end. Albums with John Arch always have a lot of lyrics and a voice that never goes down. So repeat listening is required. This album mixes various styles without losing their typical sound. So we have a ballad in Tethered, followed by shortest and fastest song Straight and Narrow. With the current success of HBO series Chernobyl, it would be nice if Pitch Black Prism about the same accident would become a hit, but that won't happen as it is musically too good for the masses. Final song Kindred Spirits is the 13 minute epic and after that one is finished you can only push repeat really. Winter Ethereal, my summer album of 2019.

Seax - Fallout Rituals
This one I read about and saw passing by on the Shadow Kingdom mailing. Yet it took Theo to highlight it before I went to their bandcamp page.  Listening is ordering. That is if you like your metal being eighties speed metal this one is obligatory. Fast, fast and fast songs. So some time is needed to recognized songs as such, but damn this sounds great really. It seems to be their fourth album, but a new band to me. They might fit in well on an old school festival and I hope to see this live one day. Sore necks guaranteed and sore throats if you like to scream along as well.

Pervy Perkin - Comedia: Inferno
This week Andy's blog Something For the Weekend released issue number 200. During the years I picked up on several new bands, but this is definitely one of the heavier ones on that blog. These Spaniards play anything Death Metal with lots of forward thinking music blended in. Hard to describe really, especially due to the variation in between songs and even within some. There are grunts, but also Leprous like moments with strong clean vocals. Only comment by an old man would be that the colourful font-changing letters in the booklet make it impossible for me to read along with the lyrics. They could be interesting as this adventure is based upon Dante's Divine Comedy. The most complicated album of recent purchases, but an interesting ride it is.

De Lirium's Order - Singularity
To close with a Tech Death album tipped by Jonathan. He was taken by the use of Harmonica on a Tech-Death album. Agreed that is unusual, but my main attraction is the occasional change to very strong power metal. While the instrumental opener and first song Ayatollah still sound like straight Technical Death Metal the following title track introduces very strong clean vocals and a style break to Power Metal that works very well for me. The whole album even on its death metal parts sounds accessible and the harmonica does add flavor indeed. Was it a part of La Vie en Rose I heard during Piazzola? Anyway where  I thought that Contrarian released the best Technical Death Metal album of 2019 De Lirium's Order from Finland might run for the same title. Bring this live to Holland please.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

UFO - Boerderij Zoetermeer, 12 June 2019

Last Orders a proper name for the last tour of UFO, celebrating 50 years of existence as well. Several weeks ago the music world was shocked by the passing away of Paul Raymond. Their was a short silence after that by the band, but a few weeks later Neil Carter was announced as replacement in order to have the tour continuing. This Tuesday evening a farewell to Holland would take place in de Boerderij. The venue seemed full and we were ready for one last time classic hits from the best live album ever: Strangers in the Night. Before UFO came on we got Nine Eyes Nation opening the evening. A nice enthusiastic presentation, but as unknown support asking the audience every song to clap, stump or sing along seemed overdoing it all a bit to me. Decent play but no songs that stayed in my head. Yet part of the typical Classic Rock audience seemed to like them enough.

A break and the bell ringing announced last orders. Opening with Mother Mary and all probably were amazed how good Phil Mogg's voice still is. We Belong to the Night followed and we were in for one evening of classic UFO. The set would more or less alternate between songs from the SitN era and later ones, And yes than we get songs like Lights Out, Only You can Rock Me or Love to Love. Phill Mogg reacting to the audience with a dry sense of humor and Vinnie Moore is not only a very good guitarist he seems happy and friendly on stage all the time. The never ending guitar solo in Rock Bottom he adapted to his own style, which makes sense as a pure copy of Schenker's solo you can see at Michael Schenker Fest. And ten it was over, but an encore was obvious. Doctor, Doctor still was to come and after that even Shoot Shoot closed the evening. I do hope that UFO does not start an everlasting farewell tour now (Scorpions style) and calls it quits. Not that the quality is going down, but it has been nice and I do not think another farewell would add more to the rich history of this band, that should have been even bigger. 

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Heir Apparent & Sad Iron - Musicon The Hague, 10 June 2019

Let me start with a spoiler alert. This will be a very biased review. Heir Apparent are one of the top bands from my early twenties. When FB asked people last year to mention ten favorite albums of all time I did not do so, yet used the current to post a world cup selection of 16 favorites (which is still too low a number). Graceful Inheritance did make it to my team. Actually One Small Voice could have as well, but I limited to one LP per band. Then suddenly there was last year the release of The View From Below and that became to be my favorite album of the year. By posting my list I got in contact with Terry (Guitarist) and one thing led to another and before I knew it Heir Apparent would come back to Holland after 33 years, playing my home venue and staying at my place. Things could not really get any better and my hopes for this show were as high as a very high thing.Picking the band up at the central station where they arrived directly from Rock Hard Festival. A short stop at home to drop luggage and have a pastel de Belem and off to Musicon. The sound-check alone showed me that we would be in for a treat indeed.

Opening band this Monday afternoon were Sad Iron. They contacted Musicon to see if they could open and I could see the match. Sad Iron are also from the eighties and play a slightly faster speed metal. They released a new album Chapter II The Deal (now playing) only this April and a new formation would be shown in Musicon. Sad Iron did play The Hague several times before and the most legendary show was at the beach during Schollenpop. Result is that several people know the band and how they play to kill. Considering this was the second show only in current formation I must say to my untrained ears no flaws in their songs. A tight set, speeding up mostly doing exactly what they came for, warming us up for the headliner.

Hereafter tension rose, well for me it did. Would Heir Apparent be able to meet my high hopes. Well that was sorted when opener The Servant was finished. What a great live band they are. All instruments clearly heard and mastered by the best, with Will Shaw showing us he is definitely one of the best voices around in Metal today.  Before the show kicked of a clearly impressed Will dedicated this show to one of his inspirations André Matos who sadly passed away the day before. In advance of their trip to Holland the band promised a long set and that is exactly what we got. The View From Below was played in full throughout the set. As this are only 8 songs we did get lots from both old albums as well. Mentioning highlights became impossible to me, as both old and new songs were performed so good that we never had a drop in the mood. How great is it being able to shout along We the People or Hands of Destiny. Or if preferred Crossing the Border or Another Candle. This was one great high and I had the idea that everybody in Musicon this late afternoon highly enjoyed themselves.

Should I make a comment on the number of people not being there? not really. Only point is that while watching this show I had this recurring thought that so many people would have loved it as well, but missed out. Terry was right when promoting this gig as the best band you never saw. Well their bad, as I can only thank Heir Apparent for making the long train rides only to play for us.  As I told them after the show I can only not yet confirm best gig of the year, as I have high hopes for Psychotic Waltz at ProgPower this year. For those missing out, the good news is they will return to Holland soon. 28 July they play Little Devil. Now I am trying to find a strategy of convincing Josie we should cancel our booked holidays and I will go there. As that is not a good plan I have my eyes set on Up the Hammers Festival in Greece next year. Probably deciding soon I should be there. For now I am happy and realize I watched a show I won't forget quickly. Tonight I will proudly wear my new HA-Tee (Thanks Jennifer) during UFO's last orders tour. Tear Down the Walls!!!

Monday, 3 June 2019

Marillion Weekend - Aula Magna Lisboa, 31 May-2 June 2019

Marillion celebrated 5 weekends this year and we opted to join the last one in my new semi hometown of Lisboa. In the past we attended the two Minehead conventions and I believe I was at four of the Port Zeelande events. Now Marillion weekends  are something special and completely different. That is where I have to explain first. For me this was not a proper Marillion weekend as changes in work and housing situation made me not prepare anything and so it came to be that we found out Sunday at 18:00 that we missed two afternoons with live music and drinks specially organized by The Web Portugal. We in this case means Yvon, Rene and I as Jeroen jumped ship later on and Josie was not too keen to step in with her head at moving. Now Marillion weekends are probably the most positive experiences you can find on earth, so let me start being a grumpy old man. Aula Magna what the fuck? One bar for 1500 thirsty visitors just ain't enough. If than the tap breaks down and wine runs out, people need to be won over again by the whole atmosphere. Talking about atmosphere the seats only is for me also not preferred, but you can't win them all. On Saturday some extra's were provided and Sunday we finally had beer whenever wanted, so that needed to be put on a picture as well. Talking about pictures we did join the group picture behind the building, but I did not find any posting of it yet. So in some ways Marillion started an uphill battle, but they turned out to have no problems with that.

The first night would give us an overview of the first four Hogarth singing albums. As all four of them are strong albums not much could go wrong really. Of course anyone might have his own favorites, but this evening was sheer brilliance. OK Brave went on soft and moody and skipped the best song the Great Escape, but so what. Afraid of Sunlight on the other hand focused on the uptempo and rocking songs. Overall this turned out to be the best night for me. In the end not drinking is not so bad and we had a few in the garden at home to evaluate a good start.

On this evening the next series of albums would be presented and I was curious. Highlight of the weekend was presented this evening when Pete's bass solo opened the last encore This Strange Engine. Yes I am also in the team of fans who come mainly to Marillion shows to see Rothery on guitars, so this spontaneous opener was very welcome. Makes you remember that all five are excellent musicians really. The set contained for me some nice surprises (21st century, Separated Out) and some songs that are not my favorites really (Enlightened, Fruit of the Wild Rose). Overall a very nice Saturday with even my first beer at the start.Talking about starts this evening was warmed up by Tiago Barbosa and his band, which turned out to be a nice surprise for an empty hall. Don't think I recognized any Forgotten Suns songs though.

By now everybody was sunburned and we would get a full album evening. This needs explaining again. Marillion does not do bad albums. Still they are not at a constant peak either and if I have to name albums I never play anymore it would be: Happiness is the Road, Somewhere Else and dot Com. Now the Sunday would have the first in full and a heavy section of the second one. As I had several friends attending port Zeelande I knew this and decided to not play both albums and see what the "o yes that one" factor would add to the show. Well I am afraid I made the wrong choice as at times I really had no clue what soft song was being played. So the evening passed by calmly, when suddenly The Sky Above the Rain did sent me back to heavenly skies again. Hooks in You rocked the Hall and when a Fish era song is played the audience always gets that bit louder. As far as my Scottish goes Slainthe Math is about drinking so a comment on the bars or lack thereof was expected. And then the Leavers were One Tonight and it was all over. A huge thanks to the Web Portugal and the Marillion organization is in place and I will think on 2021 weekends with a return to PZ seeming most likely.