Monday, 20 March 2017

Blood Incantation, Thanatos, Cruciamentum & Neoceasar - Baroeg Rotterdam 19 March 2017

Originally I was planning to go this Sunday to some retro Hardrock of Horisont and 77, but a late start on a Sunday evening some two hours driving from home made me change my mind. Baroeg was having a Death Metal afternoon/early evening session. Apart from the timing, Blood Incantation on bandcamp already triggered my interest as well. Turned out that my choice was a good one, although I shall never know what I missed in Helmond. As Baroeg is a stone throw away from de Kuip and this Sunday Feyenoord guaranteed their first title  in 18 years, with two local bands on the line-up Football was never far away. Although in spite of the bands references the audience did not seem to bother all that much.

Graceless was the opening band of the afternoon, but they already finished before I arrived. As I am hardly a specialist in Death Metal I keep my comments short on the four bands who all had something different to offer. Neocaesar contains ex members of Sinister and played straight Death Metal with a good groove. Cruciamentum from England got my interest with the constant flow of guitar melodies over some very heavy death metal. Song announcements were grunted at us in similar vein of the vocals during the songs and this resulted for me some fast flying 40 minutes. Thanatos is an institute of extreme metal in Holland. Exisiting 33 years by now shows on stage. This was a very professional Death/Thrash metal show that hit us. Turned out that this was also drummer Yuri's last show. They will continue, but when and how is to be defined. Closer of the now evening were Blood Incantation. I knew this name from the announcement as their logo is hilarious (hallo Mikado). Last year they released well received Starspawn, which was now base for their set. This band was something different from the other bands today as well as all bands I ever saw. They somehow mix brutal death metal with the technical ambient side. Never coming close to clean singing, they include breaks by instrumental slowing down. All this very short as the main body is just extremely heavy. Best gig of the day to me, although all four bands justified the trip. 

Saturday, 18 March 2017

DieselBurner, G.O.D. & Dad's Amaryllo - Musicon The Hague, 17 March 2017

This year has everything in it to become the year where I watched most shows. Strangely enough I managed to miss Musicon so far. This evening  could correct that and April and May will increase the number of Musicon gigs to decent levels. Yesterday D&ESR put three (almost) local bands in Musicon so no reason not to check them out. Opener were Dad's Amaryllo from het Westland. Their shirts and hair looked grunge and their soundcheck was Pearl Jam. Now Grunge was never really my thing, but this young band could play their instruments and has a good vocalist. They played a Stone Temple Pilots cover in their set, which means little to me as I only know the classic hits from that genre. They brought support who mysteriously all stayed far from the stage. Nice band and I shall tip EMF, if they are ever looking for a grungy (cover?) band, to check them out.

After a break we got the headliner of the evening DieselBurner. This is a duo with guitar and drums only, but somehow they manage to create a thundering wall of sound hitting us. Not stopping for small talk their fairly long set did get over well. You would think a line-up like this results in limitations, but I stayed interested throughout the set. At times they got the audience on the wrong foot with their stop-hit breaks, but clearly a live band with experience at work. Their best song came in the encore, but as they did not announce songs no idea what it was called. Closing the evening would be G.O.D. from The Hague (God is Hagenees, thanks Rene) This trio would be the loudest and most energetic band of the night. I heard on the evening that they are among the rising stars of our local scene and seeing them live I got the point. Heavy speedrock, with Motorhead not that far away is what we got. A good no-nonsense Rock and Roll show. To my surprise their set was pretty short and when asked for more it seems there was no more. My only question would be related to this as well. How are they going to build in variation if they are to play over an hour. Now we got about 30 minutes of high energy. Sure they will be on more local stages in the near future, so go see this. Thanks to D&ESR for another succesful evening in Musicon.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Stampede, Lautrec & Stormtrooper - The Exchange Bristol, 11 March 2017

Stampede holding a family tree event under the banner of The Bristol Heavy Rock Explosion. When reading about this show I knew I should be there. Magchiel liked the idea as well, so we went for the full Bristol trip. Starting with the music history I never realized so many great names came from Bristol in the past. Amongst the better known names are Jaguar, Onslaught and Shiva. I did get the CD on the evening in order to  get to know them all. But Bristol has more on offer with a city walk in the morning followed by football in the afternoon. Bristol Rovers FC played Southend in Division One. A full Memorial Stadium presented us a very loud and atmospheric afternoon. With a 2-0 win and in Goodnight Irene one of the biggest football hymns ever to go around a stadium. I shall follow the Gas from now on remotely with more than a bit of interest. Of course a pub with the inclusive greasy burger was on the menu, but in the end it was all about The Exchange in the evening.

DJ Andy Fox warmed us up by playing many hits from our youth. First band to appear on stage was Stormtrooper. They are not a band from my youth as I did not know them. This is not that strange as their first full album was only released last year. Pride Before a Fall turned out to be a highclass NWOBHM affair with Colin Bond on bass and pedals. Live I was also much impressed by the fast guitars. Almost the full album would be played and the mix of fast rocking In the State of the City,  Still Comin'Home and their ultimate epic Battle of the Eve came over impressive. This was to me a great start of the evening, with a highlight in Drunken Women. In the crowd a lot of women as well. Not drunken,  it seemed to me they were related to the bands. The audience looked like a mix of Old metal fans and friends and family which together packed the Exchange nicely. Patrick from Belgium was there as always, when I go to NWOBHM in the UK. However with pride I can state Holland was the largest overseas crowd represented by three fans. I also had the chance to meet up with legendary NWOBHM author John Tucker, writer of several must read books and many liner notes.

Following band was Lautrec. This forerunner of Stampede has in its line up both Reuben and Laurence Archer. When Stampede's Hurricane town was released on CD four Lautrec songs were added. Tonight would be a short show as only four tracks were played. From that album Red Light Ruby was not played, but the Ballad of Johnny Cool (?) was. It seems that this song was recorded in the past, but never released. As during the evening a possible release of the Bristol Heavy Rock Explosion #2 was mentioned, adding this song alone would make it a collectors item. The performances then. Well Lautrec convinced and seeing Laurence Archer for the first time live, it was good to see a guitar hero of my past riffing and soloing with such ease.  Reuben Archer is one of the great voices in rock to start with and live he proved to be still in very good shape. I also learned that Lautrec around 1980 toured supporting Saxon on their Wheels of Steel tour. This made them decide to go slightly faster and heavier with Mean Gasoline as the result. Resuming Lautrec played short but sweet.

Before writing some words on the Stampede gig, let me give some ballpark justifying my slightly biased views. I do not believe in one favorite band, as there is just too much great music around. Yet if  a shortlist of my favorites would be asked, for sure I'd mention Stampede as well. UFO's Strangers in the Night is in my ears the best live album ever made. Stampede's debut album The Official Bootleg  is  the logical follow up to that Classic. Great songs, a strong band and Reuben and Laurence Archer in the roles of Mogg and Schenker as one of the best voices in rock and a guitar hero respectively. Hurricane Town the album is as good. Both albums are high on my most played ever list. As Stampede is not only about the Archer family it was third original member Colin Bond who got the show running with his bass opening Shadows of the Night. What followed was a mix of old songs and more recent work from 2011's A Sudden Impulse. Highlights to me: all songs. Well mentioning a few specific one can't go around the three guitar line-up When Laurence joined at the end three guitars meant lots of solo's switching over the stage. Chris Clowsley is this stable guitar who together with the rhythm section sets the base for Rob Wolverson and Laurence to fly. Another highlight for me personally was the mic appearing in front of me as invitation to back up vocals on Moving On. While most of my friends consider my singing, well not singing I now got my three seconds of fame in The Exchange. All in all this was one remarkable night where Stampede supported by their predecessors showed us why I loved this music in the early eighties so much. The impact their first show for me had in the Rock Den a few years ago can never be repeated. Still Stampede reconfirmed that apart from their albums their shows are also among my favorite ones. Thanks to The Bristol Heavy Rock Explosion looking out to album#2 and who knows a new show.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Tim Bowness - Horisont - Need - Stormtrooper - Attacker

Due to the many good shows already attended in 2017 I have been dropping the CD reviews somewhat. So herewith some tips from the last months building up the decibels.

Tim Bowness - Lost in the Ghost Light
Tim Bowness has one melancholic voice. Mostly known from his work with Steven Wilson in No-Man he released some solo albums before and joined many projects of which OSI is the one I have on CD. This album is a calm progressive rock concept album about a rockstar looking back on his life. Helped by various big names of the scene a welcome addition to my Sunday morning collection.

Horisont - About Time
Retro hardrock with a strong seventies vibe. Being their 4th album I wonder why I never heard of them before. Hailing from Sweden and singing one song in their own language this is an extremely well constructed album with ten great songs on it. They tour Europe this month and I still am in doubt if I go see one of their Dutch shows, both far from home and on a Sunday or Monday night. I guess they could interest hardrock and classic rock audiences with this music, Dead Lord light maybe?

Need - Hegaiamas
Great prog metal from Greece, well we heard that before. This band is being hyped or spammed a bit on the PPE page and I do agree with that. Very good Progmetal album going in the direction of Fates Warning at times. So not much can go wrong. Well the prog prententious story could have been left in Greece and the spoken word "song" kills the flow. Imagine live that is not present and this might well be one of the biggest life surprises in years. Now we only need to get them to Holland.

Stormtrooper - Pride Before a Fall
Definitely one of the best NWOBHM releases in a long time. Released late 2016, but recorded 1981 and 1982. The title was a single as well in 1980. I did not know them from the past, but learned of them through Colin Bond bassist at Stampede. This album is a very good mix of fast rockers and even two epics of ten minutes. Reminding me of White Spirit at times. recorded over 35 years ago, yet dated? not a bit. This Saturday I am going to see them live with Stampede and Lautrec, which might well become the show of the year.

Attacker - Sins of the World
Anyone of my age should think when hearing Attacker : Battle at Helm's Deep. A Classic LP in US metal stuck in a hilarious simple cover. This century they came back and previous album Giants of Canaan was already a hit. This album goes on where the last one left us, strong US Metal with all the ingredients we love: fast riffs, great guitar solo's, heavy drums, high pitched vocals and some true heavy metal. For catching some breath we have ballad opener By the Will of Crom which turns into epical closer Where the Serpet Lies. This metal makes you feel young again if only I still had hair on my head.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Évora Metal Fest - Piscinas Municipais de Évora 3 March 2017

This year's EMF was my first introduction to the Portuguese Metal underground. Last year's Steve Vai was good, but not metal  while the  timing of our trip now coincided with Évora Metal Fest. As it was within our limited holidays, where Josie moved apartment in Beja, we visited several castles and ate many Black Porks I could go for one night only. In order to get to know the local scene and stay updated I do read Portuguese Metal mag Loud!. Going through several issues it is easy to see that Portuguese underground leads heavily to the extreme and alternative side of metal. The Full line-up for EMF confirmed this and to be honest I only heard of Crisix before the festival. When the split of days was announced shortly before the festival I was therefore pleased to see that the Friday would be mainly Thrash Metal headlined by Crisix. Arriving at the swimming pools a large tent was waiting for the festival to kick off. In it not too many visitors yet and some heaters to fight the cold. A quick glance at the audience and the last issue of Loud! made me remember a quote in Kerrang in the early eighties. At the time Holland was among the leading countries for underground metal and Aardschokdag was one of the first large underground festivas around. When Kerrang reviewed the edition where Venom would appear on stage, but not play a famous quote I always remembered was: "Anyone wearing a Journey T-shirt would probably have been lynched by the crowd". Well the feeling I had tonight was not that different. So let the madness begin I thought.

Opening band was Thrashwall from Évora itself. This quintet played not surprisingly Thrash Metal Due to home game they managed to get some people pitting in circles. I liked the fast guitar solo's, but as a band I was not that impressed. It looked and sounded like all could play their instrument, but not necessarily together very well. The breaks sounded messy and at times a hickup in songs appeared. What made up for that was their enthusiasm and obvious pride to be on the EMF stage. Next on were Ghold from England who gave us something completely different. Drums, bass and guitar plus three mics, giving us building walls of sound,with three man shouting at times. I could not really describe what was going on, but it did impress and this was a show on stage. As they had the nicest T-shirts on sale and temperatures kept on dropping I got one as a souvenir, plus the CD when I left. Later talking with the guitarist I mentioned I thought Dutch crowds could be hard to win over. Tonight the Évora crowd showed to be even tougher to anyone not playing Thrash metal. Ghold shall be back in Holland this autumn. Their CD should be played really loud I found out, but the live show was great.

While we started exactly 30 minutes late, the program was followed tight from there on and stage swaps were ready in 20 minutes as scheduled. The next band Stone Dead was the only other non-Thrash band. Although being Portuguese, they received the same lukewarm reaction from a crowd that decided once again to stay en masse far from the stage. Also again I had no clue why. This band played psychedelic, stoner, heavy Beatles rock and did so very well. They had good songs, good presentation and good vocals switching through the band. This band is going to tour Europe, but not reaching Holland. I hope one day D&ESR can get them to play Musicon. Bringing no Merch so no souvenir from them, but a very good band. Then it was time to bring the thrash metal back. First Prayers of Sanity from Lagos Portugal. They exist 10 years and are soon to release their third CD. I could notice this as Prayers of Sanity gave us a professional gig. The audience liked what they got and suddenly crowd surfing and pits appeared in the still not so warm or crowded tent. Highlight to me came in the closing song Evil May Die. Killer song and reason for me to ask the bassist on which CD that song was for buying. The evening was closed by Crisix from Spain and from the start I could tell this band had more international touring under their belts. Bermuda's and T-shirts reminded most of Anthrax, but the music reminded me of several Bay Area bands as well. It is hard to be original in Thrash Metal as we can't all be Vektor. Crisix did give a good show. Well that is for the part I watched, as the moving that week and planned trip the next morning made me leave early. During the walk to my hotel I heard two more songs and this is a band I will check out whe in the area as well. During that same walk home I could conclude my first introduction into Portuguese Metal shows made me look for many more in the future. And I did not even mention yet, that a beer was served chilling cold for one Euro only.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Complexity Fest - Patronaat Haarlem, 25 February 2017


Last year I was not at home to visit Complexity Fest 1, but the general comments were very positive. We can consider it the younger and louder cousin of Progpower or a succesor of Headway Festival. In the end how we call it does not matter, it gives us the chance to enjoy old favorites and new discoveries on the more technical end of Metal. Being able to go this year was tight again, as in the morning we put a visitor on the train and the next morning an early flight to Portugal was waiting. Therefore I slightly lacked time to prepare and increase my knowledge of the bands, nor could I stay untill my last train home. What I did see was a guarantee for retun visits and as I could see the Dutch Progpower family part not afraid of grunts showed up in fairly large numbers. Hoping this shall turn into a long running festival herewith some fast comments on the bands I saw.

Entering Patronaat an overfull bar made me decide to skip Transient State's debut album presentation. Extremeties kicked off the festival for me and again I liked their groovy tech metal. A full show shall follow at Metalcon, so I left before the end to move to the big hall where one of my favorite bands of the day would open the main stage. Disillusion released over 10 years ago with Back to Times of Splendour  one of the best albums that year. The show opened with a long song, which I think might have been their new 2016 release which I do not know. The band grooves and rocks without being all too loud for the day. Higlights were the old songs from the debut plus the single from their second album Dont Go Any Further. While the set had all in it to be a remarkable gig, the sound was not up to the same level yet. While not being their own fault Disillusion, did not blow the festival away. I still liked what I saw. From then on the choices started between stage 2 and 3. Both Virvum and Pelgrim were Ok to me, but did not convince me to pay attention to their full show.  Humanity's Breath still suffered with sound and presentation issues when Uneven Structure became the first real highlight of the day to me. A tight band, good presentation and moody technical metal. Reasons enough to keep an eye on their new release coming at us soon. Meeting friends made me enter the main hall slightly late for Gorod. But what I saw was the show with the loudest response over the day. This is a great live band and they return with a Thrash metal package in 013 in April, shall try to be there. While we were on a roll now I managed to stay on a high with Bossk. This post metal band looked like an instrumental piece until after some 20 miutes a vocalist appeared. His screams increased the heaviness of their show, while I also enjoyed the grooving instrumental songs.

Problem with a festival like this is that you need to break as well, so after the first high of the day with a triple surprise I again (after PPE 201?) managed to not give Agent Fresco the proper chance to impress me. What I saw was a professional band with a good show. The voice needs an acquired taste at times, but maybe one day I see them without needing a break and really like them. And then for something different I walked into the small hall to watch Napoleon. This progressive metalcore jumping music was just refreshing to me. The emptiest gig of the day I saw, but those who were present liked the show for sure. Obscura played the main hall and seeing them some times before I must admit I liked them most when they were still a support act for Atheist. Their show is good and their musicianship beholds nothing to complain, yet something keeps missing for me. Good time for having some food to join the drinks and go to the bar stage where a Progmetal band from the UK would play. Was I glad that I decided to wait here as Exist Immortal turned out to be the favorite gig of the night to me. Djent might be lurkin around the corner, but good old progmetal was definitely in as well. Great band and a good vocalist who mixed the clean and the extreme very well. The sympathetic presnetation of the band made me go see them after the show to say a word of thanks and get their CD. Competing with the festival headliner is never easy, but until the end many remained overwhelmed by this young band. And then it was off to the main hall to see Ihsahn. I only saw the first songs as the train was caling me and old age demands some sleep. What I saw definitely made me wishing for more in the future. So leaving Patronaat pleased with the day, thanks go out to the organizers of this great festival and I will be back next year.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Tytan & Fingernails - Little Devil Tilburg 16 February 2017

Last year I saw Mr. Kevin Riddles on stage. Not with his band, but helping out friends Brian and Claire Mear during the legendary Mearfest in the Borderline. I then already decided I would make an effort to see Tytan when playing the low countries. This week they are touring Europe with Italian support Fingernails commemorating 35 years in Rock. The Dutch gig went to Little Devil, so I went there as well. Tytan are a NWOBHM band that never made it to household name. 35 years ago I also did not buy their LP, as still at school my limited budget went mostly to the big names. I did get the re-release on CD years ago and Rough Justice sits well next so many hard yet melodic NWOBHM bands of the time. Those who think they never heard anything off Kevin are probably wrong. He played bass on one of the best NWOBHM albums ever made in Angel Witch's debut. Next to that he played with several other bands of the era during the years. This tour came at an interesting time as this week I learned they shall release their second album this May 26. Maybe this might result in a fast return, we shall see.

Opening the evening were Fingernails. This Italian band formed in 1981 already, but I must admit never hearing their name before. They turned out to be a trio, with the singer spotting a Motorhead patch on his jeans shirt and the bassist showing a huge Bomber tattoo. It came therefore as little surprise to hear them kicking away with Dirty Wheels, pretty much sounding like Motorhead. Both men sang and their voices also were more than a bit in the style of Lemmy. I liked their fast Rock and Roll, but not to an extend that I should get their albums in a rush. Nice openers though.

Tytan came on stage as a five man band. While they were comemorating 35 years in Rock it looked to me that some band members' parents had not even met at the time of releasing Blind Men and Fools. Yet I do not have much problems with it if with al respect "smaller" bands hold only one or two original members in the current line-up. It is all about the playing and the show and that turned out to be just fine this evening. Kicking of with Cold Bitch and Money for Love showed we had a tight band on stage . As there is a new album coming we also got two new songs  and one oldie Forever Gone that has been re-recorded for the new album. Especially the up-tempo instrumental was much to my liking. During the show we got almost the full Rough Justice album, so we could shout along with Liar! Blind Men and Fools. Dedicated to the ladies in the house we got Women on the Frontline and their best song might be closer Ballad of Edward Case, which is a fast monster indeed. Playing a bit over an hour we got a great show of a band who just made clear I shall get the new album Justice:Served! in May. Bands like Tytan deserve all our support. Let's face it without NWOBHM there would not be any Thrash, Black, Death or Tech metal either. This is how it all started to me over 35 years ago as well  and it is good to see the oldies still going strong. Thanks to Metal Mario for bringing this package to Holland and good luck for Tytan on their final shows this weekend.