Friday, 18 May 2018

Awooga & Amplifier - de Boerderij Zoetermeer, 17 May 2018

An evening of bands that are getting exposure in Prog magazines and sites, but are in my ears no real prog. Still I was curious so off to de Boerderij. Awooga opened the evening, three bearded blokes from Britain. Looking like a stoner band, I was pleased to hear that te base was stoner indeed. Rather nicely they went through songs from their last album Conduit, which I heard through bandcamp on forehand. Many pedals on the stage helped them getting the sound very wide and multilayered. Turned out to be a nice band, playing mainly heavy. Being their first time touring Europe and Holland we can appreciate the comments on great venues we have and forgive the cliches on coffeeshops. I liked their set and a highlight came in Witness mixing calmer and heavier moments. Good live band and fitting well to open for the headliners tonight.

Amplifier falls for me in a typical category of bands. Those bands are not playing any of my favorite genres like hard rock, any type of metal or progrock. Yet they released somewhere down their career and (often double) album that is generally receiving rave critics. Listening to it I also dig it and that is where I stop often as well. Examples: The Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie, Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile, GY!BE - Raise your skinny fists.... All these bands border my favorite music and Amplifier does so as well and their Epic album is called The Octopus. That is one beautifull album starting like Pink Floyd 1970 going through alternative rock, hard rock, grunge , psychadelic and you name it they include it. Now in 2014 they played Graspop and I remember friends skipping them and reviews being not that positive. Also I noticed that my Prog or PPE friends on FB were not interested. Yet open minded me decided to go alone anyway. In de Boerderij noone else was supporting Czech Death Metallers Hypnos, looking at the dresscode of the audience. So when Amplifier came on in black, with black shirts and ties it all fell together. The audience danced to this guitar rock band. They went heavy at times, but never got metal. They played very well, but were not bothered to interact with the audience all that much. Even the Wayne Rooney lookalike on guitars did not change much to that effect. And suddenly I got why this band were and would be misplaced on a metal festival. Further I saw by chance over the last week such great performers and atmosphere bringers, that to me this stood out as rather dead. Conclusion: They played well, the variation of styles was also live present, but they could not draw me into any song or mood. Most fans liked it pretty much, but for me one hour was enoug of this and I went home knowing that I can always play the Octopus and hear they are a good band indeed. Next time I decide to go to a band bordering on prog and alternative rock it shall be Dream the Electric Sleep again, who do rock and metal you into their show. 

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Hypnos, Neoceasar & Signs of Algorithm - Musicon The Hague 13 May 2018

After a week full of gigs, why not close it with an afternoon session of Death Metal in Musicon. Being short the Signs of Algorithm are from Belgium and young. Their music is metalcorish, while the vocalist does some voice acrobatics like slam death. good seeing them jumping up and down the stage  while bringing us their songs. Next band were Neoceasar and while watching them bulldozering through their tight set again I realized this probably might be the band I saw playing live most times over the past twelve months. Regular good show it was.
Headliners were Hypnos from Czech Republic invited by Neoceasar as they told during the encore. This European tour consisted of four shows in Holland as well. This resulted in some Czech bangers as support. Rebuilding the stage completely on a tight scheduled afternoon, it was all worthwhile when they started. Older members resulted in one tight band and very good playing. If we add some decent songs a well spent Sunday afternoon was guaranteed. Supporting bands that surpised me and impressed I am now playing their last album The Whitecrow, with as bonus feature a free course of Czech with the translated lyrics, but that only makes my national champion Tiago happy. Bílá vrána.


Dead Lord & Horisont - 't Beest Goes 12 May 2018

Sweden is delivering bands at the top of any musical genre I love. These two bands play hardrock with a strong seventies vibe. So when their Time and Ignorance tour hit Holland I knew I wanted to see one of the three shows. Now Zaandam was closest to home, but on a Sunday less tempting. Also due to late start trains woud not run home any longer. So it became 't Beest in Goes. an almost two hour drive, but on a Saturdy night less of a problem. Actually it brought me for the first time ever to the city of Goes, which turned out to hold a small port of yachts, a church square full of terraces and a nice venue in 't Beest. I know this all as we arrived somewhat after eight when the venue turned out to be still closed until 20:30. Now originally there was a local support band and the event mentioned 20:30-23:55. Goes is situated in the provence of Zeeland in Holland. Now Zeeland is in Holland famous for people being tight on their money and the bible belt starts here. Based upon that I did not expect the show to continue till after midnight. Not knowing the support got cancelled Hans and I turned a bit nervous therefore when close to nine noone hit the stage yet.

Comes nine ó clock and Dead Lord starts their intro tape. During the Heads Held High tour I did see them twice, but both occassions as support getting some 40 minutes only. So this time I was looking forward to a shared headline set. Now Dead Lord are the ultimate tribute to the twin guitar, so it was not long until opener Don't Give a Damn that guitars would come to the fore. Actually all songs by Dead Lord are not overly long and have great instrumental parts in them. Tonight they passed through all three albums and you have to get enthusiastic seeing this energetic band on stage. Unfortunately it turned out that in Zeeland enthusiasm is showed by hanging at the back of the hall (tight on money and feelings?). Reactions or not Dead Lord stormed on and occasionally Hakim would explain to us that the beautiful power coming at us was The Electric Guitar!!! Well no need not to mention the rhythm section as especially the drums were very tight and full of fills. Higlights? basically the full set as songs are in a similar vein, but if forced to choose it would be When History Repeats Itself, as this is just such a great song. Dead Lord rocked us with their rock again.

Horisont were to close the evening and I was very curious how they would sound live. Last year they released the splendid album About Time.  Although being their fifth record for me it was their introduction. When a supporting tour hit Holland I missed them due to shows being far away on a Sunday and Monday evening. As about Time made it to my Top 17 of 2017 I definitely did not want to miss out again. With the stage ready the difference were the added  keyboards of vocalist Axel. Further we got the classic two guitars, bass and drums. Opening with Odyssey it did not take me long to realize that this band is awesoem live and we would be in for a Masterclass of Classic Rock. The ease with which Horisont passed moods was remarkable and all your heroes from the seventies left their traces (Heep, Led Zep, UFO, Purple). To Hans and mine disappointment Zeeland did not seem to bother all that much. While reactions during Dead Lord were already far from Saturday night live, during Horisont half the people seemd to have disappeared altogether. What a miss as this turned out to be an absolute high of a show. Knowing only one of their CD's was no handicap at all.  Horisont are a class act and they would deserve more noise coming back at them. Well I loved this show and definitely shall follow their career closely on and travel for new visits. After the show as souvenir I intended to get the Odyseey album, which was not available so I got Time Warriors. Further again a scandinavian band toured Holland/Germany not bringing anything larger than XL. During the Trial show I learned that after washing a Swedish XL, you might end with a Dutch L and that does not work. Pity as they had some nice Tees. Finally we only wished this same evening and number of people in would have been held in Little Devil. I am pretty sure that it would have been a night to remembre not only by the bands, but also by the atmosphere. Tonight they play Zaandam, hope people are louder in de Flux. Anyway another Swedish winner we had, so my list of best gigs 2018 in December might end very blue and yellow indeed.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Gama Bomb, Distillator & Defazer - Baroeg Rotterdam 9 May 2018

Thrash metal in Baroeg on the eve of a national holiday so off to Rotterdam. Now in The Hague our week of summer ended in the afternoon already so jeans and hoodie were in place. Arriving 25 km further im Rotterdam it was 5 degrees warmer and most people came in Anthrax outfit, being bermuda's and Tees. It was during opening band Defazer that most people arrived, so when they were finishing the Baroeg filled up well enough. Defazer is The Hague's pride of thrash metal and seeing their full set was the usual quality we came to expect from them. Opening with their EP Order out of Chaos I even start recognizing some of the further songs in their set. Well played, Baroeg warmed up and William wearing the coolest Tee in metalland (THHMA).

An outside break where beers were allowed on this warmish evening and Distallator prepared. This powerfull trio must be one of the best thrash bands in Holland nowadays. Their metal is fast and guitaris Laurens mixed his raw voice with lots of high screamed lines, which works rather well. Talking about working rather well, their smoke machine was no slouch either filling up Baroeg with dampened layers killing beers and eyes. This show only confirmed their status and they are one of the best options in Holland for sharing the stage with big foreign names.

The big foreign name of tonight was Gama Bomb from Ireland. Well actually I do not know how big they are, but I saw them appearing often in Portugal's Loud magazine. Tonight they would start a small European tour playing their older album Citizen Bain completely commemorating 10 years since release. Now I do not own that CD, but have their last album. This meant I did not recognize a lot of their songs and many they played. Most of their songs are not very long. Not that short as an Hang the Pope , or the Ballad of Jimmy Hendrix, but not passing three minutes either. Citizen Bain also already gives away that humor is important to Gama Bomb. So what was the result of this all? A very tight band, a funny vocalist with a great Irish accent and an interesting yellow suit. Plus many songs with sometimes a bit long breaks inbetween. Vocals would not only be typical Thrash harshness, but also lots of eighties screams inbetween. And yes some people in the audience can do that too. All in all I quite liked the performance as this was entertaining. At the same time there was the risk of the gimmick taking over, but I guess they just managed to avoid that. Whatever you feel about them, no need to get bored.  Taking matters not all that serious is in a way also refreshing within the Thrash metal scene so who knows 9 July Lisboa for a repeat.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Transport League & Onegodless - Musicon The Hague, 8 May 2018

We have this week a summer upon us, so the beaches are full. To my surprise Musicon was also pretty well filled up this Tuesday night, with a turnout many a Friday or Saturday night I attended would not meet. This all for Transport League a band I hardly knew. As openers we did get Onegodless grooving at us for some 50 minutes. This band hit the Musicon stage several times before from when they were called Mourn until the days of Onegodless. I therefore saw them a few times before and this show gave me similar feelings as their earlier appearances. This is a good band where some of the former bands of band members might mislead you (Cynic, Textures, Exivious). The music they play has a very long name on their page, but groove is the base for me. Bringing the songs fast after each other, I missed some connection with the audience. Songs were hardly announced and we rambled on basically. For me the vocals could vary a bit more as when screaming less and singing more there weresome added mood swings. Still a good live band, who probably shall return more often.

After a short break the long bearded men of Transport League took the stage. Now I did not have any music of them, but used to own a CD by B-Thong, which I lost when an idiot decided to force my door in the mid nineties. Finding nothing of any value in my house he/she took several CD's from my then starting collection. So not even being able to hear that album again I went through some clips on the internet and thought this could be interesting live. Well I can be short, this was a total party. What an awesome live band they are and how well they understand what live music is supposed to be all about. Describing their musical style is easy as I just can quote some album titles. The new CD is called Twist and Shout at the Devil. With earlier album titles  as Boogie From Hell or Superevil you get the ballpark we are talking about. You can also simply call it rock ad roll, but with a swing that makes it hard to stand still. Funny to see that the guy getting them to Musicon turned out to be their biggest fan jumping and banging around for the full show. The raw voice even turned Ozzy alike when we were asked to be silent for some vocal intermezzo. At the same time Motorhead was on the back blended in as well. So when I was wondering and deciding if I should get a souvenir (CD/Tee) from this show they played Zulu Zombie Zodiac for us which was such a delicious rampestamper that even the choice of album was decided. When later Kill Kill Faster was played I first heard Kill Kill Vasco, which would have become an anthem in football stadiums all over Brazil apart from Sao Januario. The show maintained on a high until it was all over. Well was it? Musicon turned on the music and instruments were put aside, but many of us were hungry for more. So we got more in two extra songs, where we could soing along to You've got another thing coming. I was hoping for a nice show on a Tuesday. Never could I expect such a party in such a full House. The band also seemed to like the evening as Hell bent for Tuesday and The Hague rules. Well we don't get that all that often, so thanks to Olax for putting this show together. Sweden ruled once again. Their countrymen of The Quill are not that far in style from them and turn into some sort of Musicon houseband. I would not mind seeing Transport League returning frequently either. And to continue the Swedish cloud we can attend this weekend another nordic show, when the Dead Lord /Horisont tour hits Holland. Skol.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

The Hague Metalfest - Paard, 28 April 2018

The Hague Metal Fest the first edition. Well I had to attend and support, even with Josie over for a long weekend. When this festival was first announced their FB page posted a poll asking which styles of Metal we would like to see. I believe I aksed for Progmetal, Heavy Metal and NWOBHM. Well my vote went up in smoke as in the end we got a pure Death Metal festival, where variation had to be sought between more technical forms or the slamming version. My favorites would play around dinner time, so I arrived when Modus Operandi, Human Vivisection and Astarot had already finished. Openers were for me therefore Apophys, playing my preferred more technical style of death metal. Not by coincidence just before they begun I did run into Alex, Cailyn and Jonathan, three of the Progpower regulars with a liking of the death metal side of prog.

Apophys on stage turned out to be a litle party as they play fast, tight and varied. The vocals would go from grunt to occassionally very fast. Not knowing any of their songs I can't comment much on their setlist, but just saw a band that gave us a good show and  was appreciated by those in the hall. To my surprise not much signs of a pit going on, so maybe they are not yet that big after all, while for me the second best band of the day. My favorites of the day would be The Modern Age Slavery from Italy. Last year they played Metalcon and impressed a lot, so having one of their albums I looked forward to seeing them again now. Well that did not disappoint as the same energy as 2017 was still very much alive and the vocalist singing large parts standing on a flightcase was till hooded and powerfull. At the same time instrumentally there was little to complain either and this show flew by, at least to me it seemed shortish. .As Jonathan shouted along with the title, the only song I can confirm they played was The Silent Death of Cain. Rene told me that some years ago they even played at de Vinger, when still in the centre. I would have no problems with an annual return of them to our beautiful city behind the dunes.

After what for me was the highlight matters would change with next band Human Error playing Slam Death. Well being only three consisting of drums, guitars and vocals the noise coming of stage was nothing less but impressive. Still the songs were a style where I almost have to surrender. For me the words describing this best were different and interesting, which does not need to be positive always. At the same time the pits grew and the crowd became louder. Not musically my thing really I liked their presentation and they gave us a crocodile show. Hereafter Bodyfarm would for me close the festivval. I saw this band from Amersfoort before and liked them at BOA 2016. After the slam experience returning to some more grooves and songs was welcome to my ears. A fine closure of the day showing that Holland has many class bands in the extreme genres. For next year the first band was already announced in Bleeding Gods. This means the festival shall continue which was right based upon decent audience numbers. Let's see if any non-death metal bands shall be included, or otherwise I just pick a favorite part again. For a first time organization seemed very smooth to me and even the Polish hip-hop crowd coming for the other hall seeemed to blend in calmly at the bar.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Koningsnach The Hague 26 April 2018

In Holland we have a king. The only thing he is good for, is giving us a national holiday in April. Since he took over from his mother the holiday moved from 30 to 27 April. This probably shall still result next Monday in some tourist appearing in Orange in Amsterdam, reading their old travel guides (or is internet the only source nowadays?). Anyway the country celebrates his birthday today and in The Hague the bigger party has been the night before since the late eighties. Starting off as a Blues festival with live music in almost all bars and beers on the streets it now turned into a major festival with all kinds of music on stages throughout the centre. The only places to be really were the blues stage which turned out to be a tiny caravan with te drums on the ground before it and the Rock&Louder stage in front off our government buildings. So arriving around 21:00 with Pieter, it was off for some blues first. Running into Niels and Ingrid we mainly were talking, when on the background first a decent bluesband played, followed by a somewhat grungy rock band. Not knowing any bandnames it was of for some Rock & Louder hereafter.

The band I was most looking out for was Death Alley. The former night mayor of The Hague spoke in dutch about an alley, yet still managed to announce them before and after their gig as Death Valley. Death Alley play speed rock with some side steps to psychedelic bits. The start was very promising and they rocked us nicely warm on this cold evening. I was considering getting their album after the show, when they made a change over the set. Suddenly we got long instrumental parts, where not all that much was happening really. This might work within a small venue rather well, but on this cold evening it did not. At least not for me. So in the end I liked their start, but the long jams made me decide to check them out on internet before getting an album I might never play.
After Death Alley from Amsterdam, Brutus from Belgium were to close down the stage. This trio also played powerrock, but with less of a metal edge. Most striking was the girl behind the drums, who also was their vocalist. The drums were placed sideways at the side of the stage therefore. I was not sure what to think of them. At softer parts they sounded to me a bit like their countrymen K's Choice, while at their heaviest they were pretty heavy indeed. Musically to me not as good as Death Alley, they did create some atmosphere with their songs resulting even in some pits before the stage. Now as Roy also noticed these pits were different from the usual metal pit as people seemed to move more up and down then sideways as we normally see. All in all a pretty good band for some live music accompanying your beers. Around 01;00 it was over and out and the stage closed down. For George and me this meant going to de Huppel for a beer to close the night and we could officially celebrate Wimpies birthday, without mentioning him once.