Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Gruesome, Nervochaos & Melting Eyes - Musicon The Hague, 16 July 2019

It's Tuesday 16 July and for the second time in one week Musicon is the beating heart of metal in Holland. Let's hope that this becomes the new trend. The evening kicked of even 15 minutes earlier as Gruesome informed they would not play 60 but 75 minutes. So Melting Eyes were on stage already when I walked in. Known faces from the region and a decent death metal band. I just warmed up and met with some friends , so did not fully undergo their already started set. Guess I will see them again soon.

Next band were Nervochaos from Brazil. I did not know them before, but saw they brought 8(!) CD's along for sale. With Brazil being my past home-country I always make sure I can get a good impression of the band moving slightly more forward. Brazilians tend to be kind of musical by nature, so the playing is never an issue. In the case of Nervochaos it is packed in Death Metal. Starting with a slow instrumental arriving at fast banging songs. Arian told me I should write down that they played nice and tight, so here you go. Nice band who sorted themselves a place to stay already, so no B&B hosting for me this time.

Gruesome was the band most really came to hear and I was curious to see if they could pull off their albums live on stage. Well even if hindered by some technical issues they could. Speaking about tight bands, what we got hitting us here was nothing short of impressive. They call themselves a Death coverband, as musically they are just the same. At the same time they play their own songs with one cover only (Born Death). Two full and one half album into their career I own 1.5 of it. So some songs I thought I recognized, although that is always hard in this style if you had not played the album many times recently. Actually that did not matter as listening fresh to their songs also works when played so tight with impressive guitars. The floor got more slippery by the song and the mood was good, so nothing to complain during yet another fine evening in Musicon. Well maybe the T-shirts. The print of the Twisted Prayers cover (Ed Repka) did not come over all too well on the T-shirt, so I passed in the end leaving me now with a feeling of not supporting the band. Well I was there and will be back when they return.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Armored Saint & Metal Church - Iduna Drachten 14 July 2019

Next week it is Dynamo Metal Fest and I can't make it. To my luck two of the best bands of the line up decided to play the north of Holland a week before as well. Now Armored Saint made it to my favorite live show last year and as their last shows in Holland were in the middle of summer school holidays, Magchiel missed them. Doing the math 1+1 is still 2 and off we went all the way to Drachten making our Iduna debut. I say all the way, but Holland is not that big as an average stage in the Tour de France might be as far. Sunday show scheduled at the afternoon, just as we like it. Arriving at Iduna it turned out to be in an industrial area with as bonus a foodtruck outside. Not sure how many fit in, but turnout was good. So let the Saint March in.

Armored Saint plays Heavy Metal as we like it. Good songs and full of double or solo guitars spicing matters up. John Bush remains for me one of the best vocalists around and we were in for a party trip through their albums. Opening with Raising Fear and Can U Deliver and our necks were warmed up. Seeing Armored Saint means you get an overview of all their albums, but with the occasional surprise thrown in. This afternoon Muscle Memory (from the very strong Win Hands Down album) and Seducer were nice inclusions. We tried loosing our voice for good during Reign of Fire already making a start at that during my favorite Saint song Last Train Home. Every time this song is played live I wonder why that song never turned into a global hit. I mean you can even dance on it if you like. Meanwhile John glued all songs together where even a rather far sought speech turned our female football squad into potential seducers. He did his homework as he knew he was in the north of the Netherlands and the phrase "Make some F%$king noise for me Drachten" came out well. Strangely they were announced as support, but luckily they got some 70 minutes time for us. So when the March of the Saint was over we knew it was the end of yet another amazing Saint gig. Armored Saint always deliver.

A short break outside, gave time to catch up with Willem as well. Metal Church headlining today and I wandered back in time. I think the only time I saw them live was at Dynamo Open Air 1991 when they closed the day also after Armored Saint played earlier. Some years ago I was supposed to see them on their XI tour in Dynamo, but when Meshiaak pulled out I decided not to train down. In 91 Mike Howe was vocalist and he is back for two albums now. I must say that Damned If You Do, their last album is very strong indeed so curious what they would bring live. Opening with the title track of the last album and thereafter a song from XI showed the present is pretty OK for them. Mike Howe in red trousers and short haired jumping on the stage reminded me a bit of Graham Bonnett. The band was good and also they presented a trip through time. One comment form my side would be that they put very little focus on their start. I mean their self titled debut album from 1985  was what got us into the band. Only Beyond the Black was played and I could do with some Gods of Wrath or Battalions as well. That there was a certain focus on Mike Howe albums is Ok, but then I would love to see Anthem to the Estranged once live. Here I see that Watch the Children Pray cannot be skipped either and we should not overdose on calmness. Anyway nothing to complain overall as it was great to see Metal Church again on stage after so many years. While more up front during Armored Saint I thought by limited audience participation that most probably came for Metal Church. It turned out that also here we slowly had to walk more forward as the number of people chatting non-stop, catching up and getting pissed seemed to outnumber those who came to see the shows this afternoon. Yet we might be back for Holland Heavy in November as this was one successful Sunday afternoon in Drachten. Car it was so no need to look for Last Trains Home.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Exhorder & Hallowed Fire - Musicon The Hague 13 July 2019

It's Saturday night 13 July and Musicon is the beating heart of metal in Holland. At the doors  Rob already looked a busy man and what a delight it was to enter and find Musicon fully packed. Interesting enough this was for Exhorder a band that hasn't played Holland for 27 years and last time attracted 6 paying visitors in Baroeg. Nice introduction on the support band that evening by the way. This evening Hallowed Fire was a last minute substitute support band and another good reason to make people smile. Seems to me that Holland is starting to get flooded with good thrash metal bands nowadays. Great set, good playing and a lively presentation. Covering Damage Inc. in order to give us something we know as well and I guess they won over quite some new fans this evening.

After a short break Exhorder hit the stage. Opening with their song Anal Lust we knew we would be in for an evening of sheer poetry. While support Hallowed Fire  brought us enthusiasm and power Exhorder upped the level even more. Their mostly fast and short songs were thrown at us with a fire that was contagious. As a result there was almost through the whole set a circle pit going around. Now I must admit having missed Exhorder completely 30 years ago, but they won me over on the night. With their classic album being called Slaughter in the Vatican there was also a welcome dose of religion bashing. Closer of the evening was obligatory (as they told us) song Desecrator and nothing holy was saved indeed. What a surprising good party this evening turned out to be. Even the Airco died above us and started  spitting out drops of exhaustion. Let's hope that all who found their way to Musicon tonight will return. Next chance Gruesome this Tuesday.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Teramaze - Howling Sycamore - Nocturnus A.D.

Some Progressive Metal recommendations.

Teramaze - Are We Soldiers
Australian band Teramaze are back and convince yet again. Return of an old vocalist, same old style of accessible progressive metal with good melodies. The main strength of this album to me lies in the fact that you can go all directions. Put on headphones read along with the lyrics, or just play it on the background while reading the papers. This album is pleasant to the ears under all circumstances. In Aardschok they even made it to album of the month. I do understand that it might appeal to many, but there is a but to me. Their previous album Her Halo was even better. Maybe a bit of time makes this one grow and for sure seeing them live at PPE shall help. Good old progmetal packed in catchy songs is always welcome really. So check this one out.

Howling Sycamore - Seven Pathways to Annihilation
Howling Sycamore are back fast after releasing their self titled debut album last year. Now that album made it to number two of my favorites of the year list, so hopes were high. Well Howling Sycamore does not disappoint as again they released a killer album. Contrary to Teramaze here above, this definitely is no easy listening progmetal. You need all your senses on alert to get these seven pathways (or songs) to annihilation fully. Jason McMaster on vocals is in top form, just listen to the first minute of opener Mastering Fire and the emotion in his screams does get under your skin. Davide Tiso is all over the place again and Hannes Grossmann is filling up the basis with his marvelous drumming. This music is hard to describe, and hard to get into (explaining the low position on Aardschok reviewers panel probably). Yet if you take the time, like me you might find an album among your favorites of the year to treasure. And when you read the booklet you find that the beautiful guitar closing almost ballad Second Sight is played by none other than Marty Friedman. They did it again!!

Nocturnus AD - Paradox. 
This is an old band who made a come back. Now I missed them completely thirty years ago as I was not ready for grunting vocals yet at the time. In comes Rune with his online Progfiles show. I only found out recently and can not listen every last Monday of the month, yet I do discover many new bands each show. So this is on the heavier end he likes and plays on the show and technically it is way more Tech Death than progmetal. Anyway I loved the song The Return of the Lost Key and decided to find out more about them. Well that resulted in a quick order of this album. Mixing the Death Metal with futuristic themes a band like Atheist comes to mind for me. Their also is a certain story telling in both songs and lyrics, and the total just works for me. Thanks Rune for the tip and I might be digging into their past anytime soon.