Saturday, 17 February 2018

Icarius - HPC The Hague 16 February 2018


There is something good happening on the metal front in The Hague. Various styles of metal are represented by newish bands that over the last years showed to have it in them to become a national force in their genre. To name but a few: the Thrash metal from Defazer The Death metal of Warborn Waste, the Progmetal of Resolve is returning next month with a new vocalist and Power Metal Boreas was unfortunately a scheduled one-day fly. If then THHMA brings international bands to town/region and after Metalcon died The Hague Metal Fest takes over, it is not all doom and gloom behind the dunes really.

Icarius are the local hopes in the modern metal(core). As family is involved for friends, we use to get some people together when they play a local gig. Icarius a young band. so they bring a young audience of friends and fans. As a results the six of us upped the average age at least 5 years. HPC filled up well enough and we could wait to see if they keep on getting better. They had two support bands tonight, but they were not really my thing. Both the deathcore from District of Misery and the Pearl Jam light of Rain Nation did not make much impact on me, as these bands should just keep playing live shows to improve. Icarius we already saw several times and yes they manage to keep their curve of performances going up. Three guitars lay the base and for the first time this evening one of them actually played nice solo's during the songs. Also the vocals are very good, both from Nick as their second voice. If we add a band bouncing around the stage and an audience jumping along every now and then it was a good show yet again. Last month they won the Metal Battle Zuid Holland in Baroeg, so let's see where they can go from here. For us it probably is 6 april Musicon for seeing them again. Now that they also have an EP for sale we might even recognize 5 songs next time. Keep an eye on these guys as they might go furthest of all them local bands. 

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Trial, Portrait & RAM - Merleyn Nijmegen 13 February 2018


Roadkill is the name of this package touring Europe. Anyone into good old Heavy Metal as it was meant to be should be there. So when this tour hit Holland (just) I knew I should be there. I wrote just as this tour is somewhat German based on the logistics. If you are in the centre of Nijmegen and you get somewhat upset, you can throw a German Sausage straight back to where it came from. Further 11 out of 16 dates in Germany and none in Belgium (full house guarantee with these bands) looked onesided planning. So crossing the country it was and not willing to risk failing trains I drove. Upon my arrival in Nijmegen I discovered to my surprise that Nijmegen also does carnaval. Not that it was busy, but loads of empty cups, confetti, a beer tent and most positive several people wearing outfits in the colours of The Hague. So I got worried on the evening. Closing night of carnaval I thought we could rule headbangers from nearby Brabant and Limburg out. Further a Tuesday does not appeal to many (I couldn't find anyone interested in joining me even by car) and how worried did we need to be on a very empty Merleyn (not Merelyn as teh RAM-tee said). Well no worries here as it turned out that sympathetic Merleyn filled up OK taken it was a Tuesday evening. Turned out I am not the only one who can always be called for Metal music with the Crushin' and the Screams. Being warmed up by the likes of Priest, Maiden, Accept, Manowar we were ready to go. This evening gave us Heavy Metal as we like it: so we got three steady drummers, three stable bassists, Six great guitars and three vocalist extraordinair. 


Trial made me drive down to Nijmegen really. Three years ago they released Vessel and after reading about them in Iron Fist and getting that album I was hooked. I mean my yearlist of 2015 albums had Vessel on One. Trial play Heavy Metal, but with some very own  flavours blended in. In the past I used terms like US Metal, doomy and a certain dose of Psychotic Waltz. Listening to a song like Ecstasy Waltz it could have blended in on any of the first PW albums, without anyone noticing. There are two things in music that are hard to beat. First discovering a new favorite and second seeing that band on stage for the first time. So when they opened with Motherless it was this moment of checking the basics.  Band tight -check, solo's loud and fluent-check, vocals clear and impressive major check. Apart from Trial being a great band their vocalist Linus Johansson deserves a special mention. In reviews the name Bruce Dickinson is being dropped at times to name just one. His high screams seemed to come out easily while his faster lyrics were brought powerfull. The best of all was that I was right with my Psychotic Waltz reference, even as I learned from some members they did not even know that band. Linus' presentation looked more than a bit like a young Devon Graves, like when he still was called Buddy Lackey. Seemingly in trance, with hooked moves and gestures, open shirt barechested the comparison, also in vocal abilities was there. But the band played on and Vessel was visited with Through Bewilderment. Next on came two more songs from Motherless (which by the way is as good as Vessel) in Aligerous Architect and Cold Comes the Night. And then it was already over with The Primordial Temple title track from their debut. Since discovering Vessel I looked for this album on CD, but can't find it really. Later on I learned only 500 were pressed, so chances really slim on finding it. So recovering from the set I found that Trial are live as good as I hoped for. Unfortunately due to curfew of Merleyn they had to shorten their set and dropped To New Ends. Now they are signed with Metal Blade we might see more of them in the future. This is one band I wil travel for, so if I ever see an announcement of a 90 minute anniversary set I might book flight. hotel and tickets. A long set would give them the chance to play more calmer and doomier stuf as well. Actually I think they would please a fair amount of people at Progpower, but I've been wrong there before. As souvenirs they brought a bronze single of Where Man Becomes All and nice T-shirts. Reoccuring tip to Scandinavian bands: While touring Holland (and Germany I guess) bring XXL.


So after Trial made an impact the evening was far from over for me. Portrait gave the world last year with Burn the World one of the best Heavy Metal albums of the year. Their influences might come fron Denmark mid eighties, but they have a typical Portrait sound with lots of aggression. Again I never saw them before, so opener Burn the World would give first impressions. Well also not to worry here. The sound seemed a bit messy at first, but when Per's voice came through and the guitars were duelling freely we got some of the best possible metal tunes. The fact that made this even more impressive was that Portrait toured with two standins on drums and guitar. Well nothing I noticed going wrong on the songs I knew. Songs I knew as I do not have all their albums. Some years ago I got the CD with the complicated latin title, I missed Crossroads and had Burn the World again. From the last album I heard strong versions of Mine to Reap and Martyrs passing by. Possible highlight of the set was however coming from Crossroads in Epic long song Lily. So I got that CD afterwards. The energetic set closed with the opener of the latin album Beast of Fire. Not much latin in that and we got something you expect a neckbreaking banger with flying guitar solo's all over the place. So Portrait was the second hit an evening that was already epic to me.


Headlineres are RAM also from Sweden. They exist longest, have released most albums and to be frank got the most reactions from the crowd. Now don't get me wrong I do like RAM and believe I saw them before at a festival. Yet where Trial sound to me totally original, Portrait have something own to them, RAM play Heavy Metal. Nothing wrong with wearing your influences on your sleeve, but it means I would not recognize any music as fast being RAM as I would with the others. I only have one of their CD's  (Svbversvm) and therefore did not know as much music as the rest of the obviously loving this audience. Many people banging and shouting along the lyrics. I did recognize the openers and they were brought powerfull indeed. To go further I could see RAM have lots of touring under their belts and were completely at ease on stage.  I on the other hand started feeling less at ease when their gloved vocalist promised a punch in the face on exit to everyone not buying their new album. So I did like this show, but it did not blew me from my socks. Yet RAM might become one of the flag barrers of Good old Heavy Metal, when the originals all retired.

Given the fact that Nijmegen is bloody far away on a Tuesday for such a small country I left before the set closed. Roadkill turned out to be a package not to miss indeed. For me it gave with Trial a band I would consider seeing in Sweden one day if they promise 75-90 minutes, Portrait I would go and see anywhere in Holland anytime soon again and RAM one to watch when passing the west of Holland. Yes it is not all about geographics, it is just plain Heavy Metal and I loved it.

 

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Howling Sycamore - Hamferd - In Vain

I thought I was going to spend this evening in Nobel in Leiden for some thrash and death metal, but a very nice evening at the Huppel last night. putting last dots on I's for our Lisbon football trip in April, made me change my mind. So why not share some CD tips on the heavier edge of my taste.

Howling Sycamore - Howling Sycamore
Now I wrote about this band before. When I first read about them and listened to the two songs they put on bandcamp I was hooked fast. With Davide Tiso (Ephel Duath), Jason McMaster (Watchtower) and Hannes Grossmann (Alkaloid) one can not expect pop music. To my astonishment I just saw only 791 people follow this band on FB. So while I stumble from one raving review into another for some reason the band is not coming through in big numbers yet. Now is their adventurous progressive metal not for the masses, but people into original and beautiful music should love this. Yes at times there is a saxophone, but only for increasing the haunting atmospheres. Jason McMasters never sung simple melodies, so he won't start now. There is a lot going on this album and the 37 minutes fly by. The opening songs are having a dark spell over them. After short instrumental Intermezzo Midway almost sounds accessible. Chant of Stillness a sort of ballad reminds me of the album by Midnight (The ex vocalist of Crimson Glory RIP, not the BM band). Descent to Light is an epic closer before the second short instrumental Dysphoria ends the album. Only 37 minutes, but more going on than on many extended discographies by your average band. The year just started, but I doubt many albums will make a bigger impact than this one on me in 2018. Listen to it!

Hamferd - Támsins Likam
The Faroer Islands, a place the vast majority of people can not point on the map of the world. Yet they bring us now a second metal band of certain fame (after Tyr). Now Tyr became famous due to a whale hunting voclaist and banned shows. Hamferd can let the music do the talking. In this case I really mean the music as they sing in their own language so that can be just about anything (Actually it is the end of a trilogy about mortality and loss) Somehow this singing fits their death doom metal very well. The sticker on the CD said Death Doom, but they are fairly mild and the death part is not huge. This music is all about creating atmospheres and Hamferd manage to do so in an impressive manner. Six songs of an average 7 minutes with all an own identity really. Vocalist of Hamferd is Jón Aldará, whom I saw on stage during Dutch Doom Days in Baroeg with the band Clouds. I was already impressed by Clouds, but could not get their sold out CD. Now I have Hamferd on album and they come to Holland next Wednesday. As this is only a support slot in not so nearby Tilburg and the evening before I have to be in even further Nijmegen I shall pass. Yet this CD is definitely good for dark days around us and comforting us on long winter evenings.

In Vain - Currents
In Vain play Death Metal, but not the most brutal kind. Actually they are very accesible and their technical version of same with many clean vocals in, might even make them suitable for Progpower. A band like In Mourning springs to mind as reference. Currents is the fourth album by In Vain, but a start for me. Well this tasted like more. Playing this album a few times in order to know the songs works best, as this type of Death Metal can even be hummed along to while slowly banging your head up and down. While the vocals can be understood easily, it is a pity that no lyrics are included with the CD. Well one sentence we cannot miss, being the gutteral low Blood We Shed when the music stops and the voice continues some seconds. Now In Vain are also coming to Holland this month. Well I shall be in Lisbon that day and big part of their target audience should be at Complexity Fest I guess. Hope they come back headlining soon, as this accessible Death Metal sounds like it deserves a stage for us.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Dr. Living Dead, Comaniac, Rezet & Razend - Baroeg Rotterdam 4 February 2018


Thrash metal on a Sunday afternoon seemed a good plan. For me it closed a diverse 10 days which gave me Progrock, Death Metal, Classic Rock and Heavy metal before. Dr. Living Death on tour through Europe supported by some younger bands. I did not know any of them in advance, so just a few clips on Baroeg's event page made me go to Rotterdam again. Entering slightly late Dutch openers Razend were already halfway through their set. This was a pity as it turned out that Razend is a good band. They have a female vocalist who stays far from opera and reminded me at times of Agnete from Madder Mortem. The band played something between trash and US metal, with the latter influence especially during the semi ballad. As they are dutch I hope to see them soon again with a full set. Next on were the German band of the day Rezet. Musically they played a thrash metal style I possibly liked best of the day, as I heard several US references. Their mainly fast to very fast songs went down well and the clip of Minority Erazer is a good reference for further exploring. Koen told me THHMA had them play de Vinger in The Hague already several years ago. I must have missed that by not being around, as this was one solid thrash metal gig.


Next on another young band from another European country: Comaniac from Switzerland. Another good show as well. Their thrash metal sounded more European to me, but the delivery was as enthusiastic. No songs titles stuck with me, but also a band one can go and see for some moshing songs any day. So for Dr. Living Death the task to close this early evening off in style. Last year they played Alcatraz Metal Fest, but on the day I left Belgium. Dr. Living Death on stage meant masks, bandanas, bermuda's and loads of energy. This was by far the most energetic presentation of the day, with the guys bouncing around the stage all the time. While jumping around all the time, the playing was extremly tight. At the same time the reference with Suicidal Tendencies which I read before, was there for sure. Now ST are not my favorite band, but I could enjoy the show. So four interesting bands on a late afternoon/early evening show made for another Sunday well spent.

 

Friday, 2 February 2018

Anvil - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden 1 February 2018


Anvil started their European tour in Leiden. The story of Anvil is known, as that is also the title of the best Music documentary ever made. In my office I made the DVD obligatory cultural education some seven years ago. Everyone loved the band after seeing the movie and those into metal should have a soft spot for Anvil. Now the film is already almost ten years old and Anvil did pass Holland several times since then. Knowing that the tour started with no less than four shows in Holland I thought Gebr. de Nobel were far too optimistic, putting Anvil in the big hall which can hold around 800. With an early start at 19:00 and the usual train problems I arrived when Rampart were closing their set announcing the last song in an accent stronger than Doro. The few people in made it look even worse than feared. After a short break GreyAttack started and I recognized the guys with sunglasses from a previous show on the same stage. Their mid-tempo rock was Ok, but the bar at the entrace with many friends turned to be more tempting. The evening was passing fast as we even seemed to gain on the time-schedule. So when we came close to nine I returned into the main hall.


Wow, that was a nice surprise. The big hall filled completely. Well maybe not sold out, but even the two rings of balcony looked busy. so I was wrong and maybe the interview in the university magazine and showing the movie the previous evening gained some people. While saying that the majority was well beyond student age. Anyway it was Anvil time and Lips played March of the Crabs from within the audience to kick things off. A strong version of 666 followed and the atmosphere was set. Anvil know how to build a set so when they played an unknown new song from their last album  it was followed by another highlight Winged Assasins. Talking about highlights the I-did-something-wrong-grin of Lips when he pulled out his vibrator for the famous guitar solo remains funny. Mothra is also as a song one of their classics by the way. Like they should Anvil also remembered the recently passed away producer Chris Tsangaridis with Free as the Wind.When towards the end new song Eagle was played there even was a growing circle pit. Not sure if this was something new to some documentary fans, but it all was in friendly violent fun style. Metal on Metal announced the end of their set and yes, it is a classic singalong that everybody knows. An encore could have been Forged in Fire for me, but it wasn't. A succesfull evening came to an end, with a great show and for a change a much larger crowd than I expected and hoped for. Anvil also seemed pleased with the start of their tour. Now everybody shall say that, but if Anvil are one thing it must be genuine. Unfortunately I could not stay all that long in Leiden as today I had an 08:30 appointment at the dentist for some Pounding the Pavement in my mouth. This was too bad as I just saw some nice pictures passing by of friends with the band in the after show drinking party. Let's hope their tour stays such a success with Little Devil already being long sold out.

 

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Thunder & Lovell's Blade - Boerderij Zoetermeer 30 January 2018


Thunder back in de Boerderij is a matter of why not go and see an evening of feel good music. Actually Thunder's melodic hard rock would fit better on the beach at Schollenpop than on a dark winter night. Still de Boerderij filled nicely with an open balcony and just space enough for easy walks around without fighting through the crowds. I follow Thunder as such, but not extremely close. I have several CD's, but not all and seeing them every two years suits just fine. Their last album Rip it Up I only heard once, flying KLM for work. It seems that my years as frequent flyer suggesting more hard rock on their entertainment system resulted in some advance, as I was surprised to find Thunder as an option,


First band of the evening was Lovell's Blade. This band contains several ex-Picture members and plays actually a style slightly more melodic than expected. I saw them before at Very 'Eavy and again they sounded fine, but their songs lacked a bit of urgency. It all passed by smoothly without too many attention seekers. When they played their last song Out For Blood I thought they were at their peak of the set and we could have had more of those ballsy songs. Good not shocking was my ordeal therefore.


Thunder on stage is always a guarantee of good playing. It also amazes how the voice of Daniel Bowes does not show signs of aging whatsoever. He definitely is one of the best voices in melodic hard rock, while every tour he starts looking more and more like Bert van Marwijk (Australian not Saudi coach at World Cup). The rest of the band is also tight and the solo spots for Luke Morley are to me the highlights of the show. This evening it seemed to me that Thunder overdosed a bit on the ballads. Only occasionally they went for uptempo rockers and most songs had calm guitars with the beautiful voice of Daniel over it. Astrid was right calling it Ladies'night this evening. If I see that Ron and Hans were not bothered joining Astrid and Mary, plus the large number of women in the audience, she was probably right. A Thunder set for me always had three good guarantees, of which one was skipped tonight. So we had Backstreet Symphony and their ballad hit Love Walked In. To my surprise no Low Life in High Places tonight. Yet a mix of old and new songs. In advance I was hoping for one of my favorite Thunder songs of all time to return in their set tonight after a long time, as the topic became relevant again. On their album Behind Closed Doors from 1995 they had a powerfull song on a very sad occasion in "It Happened in This Town". The song told the true story of two 10-11 year old boys killing a small child. Now recently I heard on the BBC that one of them was recently arrested again for sexual assault. That song expresses the anger and frustration and is an alltime classic. I do understand that this dark story does not fit in an evening of positivism that is a Thunder show. So in the end the playing was flawless. The request for clapping and oooh-oooh or naa-naaa-nananaaaah a bit too much and the songs good. Thunder plays to make people feel good and they managed to do so again.

Monday, 29 January 2018

In the Grip of Winter Fest - Baroeg Rotterdam 28 January 2018


In the Grip of Winter is a new festival added to the Baroeg calendar. As any new metal festival deserves support this mainly Death Metal gathering was to be visited. Now I arrived late as I first was invited for a football  match a few km away from Baroeg. Dutch football and me basically stopped in 1992 when I left VVP 5, informed the KNVB of my unavailability for the national team and stopped goig to see Eredivisie matches. In those days playing in het Zuiderpark we used to go after our own match to FC Den Haag with a team of Martin Jol, Cor Lems, Karel Bouwens, Joop Lankhaar, or so to say an easy national champion nowadays. Football in Holland is in a freefall, but I enjoyed the afternoon. Even if we had the louder support, the better chances but lost 3-1. This meant I entered Baroeg after the first three bands had played already. Rene told me that Reptilian were very strong and Arian said Craven Idol to be a good band.


So I started with Execration from Norway. Their Death Metal was tight and grooving, but a bit too monotonous for me. We did not get sudden changes in pace or riffs. Next on were Brazilians and I have to support my semi countrymen. Luckily Rebealliun made it easy to support, as their set did have the variation needed to keep an intense Death Metal set interesting. Maybe the breaks inbetween songs could be shorter for devastating effects, but what a solid show they gave us. Now playing their last album, it is fast and brutal on CD as well.


Pestilence were the main act and the ones who attracted most people. Now when Pestilence broke through in Holland I still was afraid of grunts, so they never were my band. As with age one becomes harder, I now could see they are Holland's pride on the technical death metal front. Maybe not as brutal as Rebealliun their playing brought the day to the next level really. This set was build around their first albums, with for me no nostalgic flavor therefore. To many others there was old glory and one succesfull show they presented us. As trains would not ride home and a swap to bus or metro halfway was needed I left when they were closing their set and pleased to see half this new festival. Let us see if this will be repeated next year.