Sunday, 17 December 2017

Verbal Delirium - 't Blok Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel 17 December 2017

This show was announced over a year ago already. So when Andre said he could not have thought by then that the trains would not stop in Nieuwerkerk today he was probably right. Result of it all was that people came by car and the bar turnover lost. Now I have been a year ago twice before to 't Blok for Neoprog shows of Martigan and The Gift. I noticed a pattern with sympathetic volunteers and a group of what seemed to be regulars. Well this afternoon the regulars reduced in numbers, but in came a good delegation from Progpower including representants from Norway and Romania. Verbal Delirium did play Progpower once a few years ago. It was one of those years I missed out due to work travelling obligations. So I did not know Verbal Delirium really, but read Andre being very positive about them for a while (album of the year 2016) so I decided to check them out.

After the opening song the vocalist explained the band recently lost their keyboardist and he took care of all keys tonight. In order to stay balanced they also brought along their ex guitarist who played their first two albums. So more guitars is always good and we got indeed many long melodic solo's thrown at us. The set was broken down in two parts of one hour, with halfway a break of 20-25 minutes. Well that might look like an extended football match, the set itself compared with one as well. While the first half was calm and the home team looked to be losing 0-1, the second half matters got more energetic and they turned around the game into a deserved victory. As they more or less followed their three CD chronologically I decided to get the last album "The Imprisoned Words of Fear". Now let me describe slightly better the first hour was not bad, far from that. But it was in my ears missing some spice to it. The songs were all good and we got listening music to watch. That the band could play was clear to hear and see. Well to see for four of them as the bassist was living the cliche hiding at the back behind a guitarist in front of the amps. Roughly the first hour was progrock and after the break we got Progmetal. It seemed to me that I was not the only one appreciating half two better. So we liked the set, many pictures with the audience were taken and we got an encore. Well that started with a surprise to me. As the music world lost in Warrel Dane this week, we were treated on a Nevermore cover: The Sorrowed Man. This was a nice gesture of the band, who could not rehearse this song until earlier that afternoon, so it sounded pretty good I'd say.
Then we got one fnal own song and it was over.  Another nice afternoon at 't Blok. In July they have Anubis, which is to me one of the best progrock bands around at the moment. So if not away for work, holidays or UK Tech Fest I shall be back again as well.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Lee Abraham - Reuben Archer's Personal Sin - The Erkonauts - Vice - Cloak

For those looking for christmas presents or just some music to play while watching the darts (Cullen - Wattimena on now, best match of the tournament so far) herewith five tips. As usual building up in volume.

Lee Abraham - Colours
Lee Abraham is one of the progrockers in the UK, which I can buy in the blind. He falls herewith in the same category to me as several people working with him on this CD (Dec Burke, Simon Godfrey and Robin Armstrong) On this album he moves somewhat his proggy style towards even more AOR melodic hard rock. Actually this album would be better released in May as it has to me a spring summer feel over it. Reminding most of American bands from the eighties, there is still a mark by all his British friends. We even get Steve Overland from FM singing along. Feel good music which can be nice in winter as well.

Reuben Archer's Personal Sin - Petrolhead
Last 8 December was not only the debut of Stampede in Holland, it was also the official release date for Petrolhead.  As Reuben mentioned in his interview this project gives him the chance to blend in some more blues or even jazz and funk. Well with the two guitars and drums of Stampede also in this band I can hear the bluesier side, but in the end it sounds comfortably close to that other band. As Reuben has a history with cars, this album is all about them. Tomorrow I go by car to 't Blok, so I will test the CD in the car. Pretty sure that will the best place to hear this album. Watch out for speeding tickets, great album.

The Erkonauts - I Shall Forgive
Some years ago I discovered this band from Switzerland with their album Do Something Bad. I remember ordering directly from the band and receive a crazy low order number. Seems to me their name is growing as I ran into many reviews this time. All speak about Progpunk to decsribe their style. This makes sense as they have something proggy and something Motorhead alike in their music. the songs are diverse enough and I would like to see them live one day. I can imagine this to be a party on and off the stage. Hard to pinpoint so recommended to try for many.

Vice - The First Chapter
When the guitarist/vocalist of an English Prog rock band tips you on Vice, one does not expect such a heavy album. Metal Archives boxes them under Melodic Death Metal / Metalcore. I personally would add Heavy Metal / Thrash Metal. Meaning what they play is not the point, how they do this is astonishing. An album about the seven deadly sins, containing seven songs around six minutes, plus in Lust an instrumental monster of over ten minutes. Highlight of the album the guitars really. Heavy, catchy songs, good vocals, but the constant flow of good guitars really sets the bar that high. Now I just read they lost one guitarist. I hope they find good replacement as they come to Belgium in April together with the band that gave the tip. So I shall be there it seems.

Cloak - To Venoumous Depths
While I mentioned all Erkonauts reviews spoke of Progpunk, all Cloak reviews mention Tribulation. Now I was very impressed with Tribulation both on album as live, so why not try them out. Turns out To Venomous Depths indeed has many similarities, but as long as it is as well executed as this I have no issues with that really. This Blackened rock is packed in nice long and moody songs. One final comparison with Tribulation then. While the swedes look different with their tiny guitarists in tight pantys, this lot looks on the picture in the CD booklet like a southern rock band to me. Looks can deceive  as they are both heavier than that.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Stampede & Winterfell - Musicon The Hague, 8 December 2017

This was always going to be a special evening to me for several reasons. First Stampede, one of my favorite bands in the early eighties making their debut on stage in Holland. At the same time I was making my debut as promoter, getting this show together. So how did it come this far? In March I visited Bristol with Magchiel to see Stampede play live with as supports their predecessors Lautrec and Stormtrooper. During the after gig drinks we spoke and I asked if we could think of something for Holland when they would be travelling. In comes the Blast From the Past Festival, today in Belgium (with a brilliant line-up) and one plus one makes three. As I also needed some co-operation from Musicon enabling their venue. Pity I don't do bucket lists, as this would have been two to scratch of the list really: Being a promoter and getting Stampede to play Holland. In order to make the deal feasible we reopened our HM B&B and Stampede stayed with us the nights before and after the show. Many interesting anecdotes on heroes from my past, but in order to get those: buy the book being released one day.

Now every show needs a good support band and that brought me to Winterfell, as they hold old Huppel the Pub regulars Ron and Simon. They reacted enthusiast after contacting them and when I went to see their rehearsal I knew they would fit the bill nicely. Of similar interest they informed that they would pull a crowd of friends. Now the gambling would start for the day as NWOBHM in Musicon can fall either way. Lords of Metal agenda mentioned 27 metal gigs in Holland/Belgium for the evening, but the direct competition from Raven was too far in Nijmegen to interfere. So my expectations were 30 people for a bad attendance, 60 as expected and 90 being very good. Unloading the van in hail, storm and rain did not raise hopes all that much, but remaining positive was the motto. Well what can I say, this turned out to become one of Musicon's biggest nights I attended. Crossing through the 100 attendants barrier was really above anything I hoped for. So thanks to Winterfell for keeping their promise and to all who were present on this evening for making Stampede feel very welcome in Holland.

Comes 21:00 hours and Winterfell kick off. Their set consists of covers and own songs divided more or less equal. Their style eighties heavy metal. Their warming the crowd up factor: steaming hot. Loved their set with good own songs as well and favorite covers to me in Mr. Crowley and Killed by Death. Lead guitarist Simon some 30+ years ago actually learned Stampede's Missing You as well and this came back in his skills. Very nice soloing throughout the set. So they did not only bring fans, they also warmed up those not knowing them in advance. Job done so to say.

Somewhat after ten Colin's bass (one of them!) rolled in usual opener Shadows of the Night. All sounding well, from thereon it would be glorious to me. Having Fun followed from their last album A Sudden Impulse. Hereafter we got catapulted back to the early eighties and forward again to 2011. Highlights? well the full set, but Moving On and Hurricane Town are absolute Classics to me. Send Me Down and Angel had the audience participation again in "Shine the Light On Me". I might be wrong, but to me it felt like Musicon outsung Bristol big time. And as time flew by to me, before we knew it Jessie closed the set. Staying on stage for an encore Stampede did a repeat. During the regular set guitar problems handicapped Days of Wine and Roses a bit. Now in full we got a second chance and what a brilliant song that is really. And then it was over, but with so many friends around a nice afterdrink was on the menu, followed at home by Josie's lovely cheese and onion quiche.

A recap of a succesfull night followed at home and as the alarm went of early-ish for their trip down to Belgium a short night until Stampede over the breakfast table. Well to me this whole experience was one to remember, so thanks to Stampede and Winterfell for that. For those who missed the merch table yesterday. Petrolhead by Reuben Archer's Personal Sin came out yesterday and can be bought in the blind. The Hague - Hurricane Town!!!


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Threshold, Damnation Angels & Day Six - Bosuil Weert 28 November 2017


Threshold released this year a great new album in Legends of the Shires. Over Christmas I can worry about the limit of 17 albums for my best of 2017. This month they make a small European tour to support the new album. 9 December this package passes close to home at de Boerderij, but I can not make it that night and Hans will be in London that weekend. So the alternative for us was attending the other show in Holland in de Bosuil Weert. Now Holland is sick as it took 3.5 rush hours to reach Weert (2 hours return), so the Weert dinner went short with us entering de Bosuil just in time. Now the big question of the evening was of course how would the new old line-up perform on stage. Before we could answer that we had two supports.

First band were Day Six from Holland. Actually one of the better progmetal bands around in Holland. Both Hans and Willem pledged their new album, but I never saw them before. The year they played Progpower work sent me abroad and when playing nearby I always found an excuse not to go and see them. So how did I like them? well pretty good actually. What I liked most was the at times aggressive riffing which gave some banging feel to their music. The songs themselves were to unknown to me to stand out by themselves. So I did not get their CD yet, but will one day listen online.

Damnation Angels from the UK followed. On a recent Threshold tour they were also support and I recognized the thoughts I had that night. Positive were the energy and enthusiastic presentation. At the same that enthusiasm resulted in too many requests for clapping or shouting along, which turend out no success all night let alone for the unknown support. Their Progmetal is more Power metal really with traces of Helloween blended in. This brings next to the participation requests some cliches with it, like orchestration and backing vocals coming from a tape. Through the set they gained some more support, still not that many fans won over I guess.

And then we waited for Threshold. This time without Damian Wilson walking through the crowd in advance, nor Pete Morten on guitars for the double guitars. They both were swapped together against one Glynn Morgan singing and at times on guitars. Now he sang in the nineties on Psychedelicatessen, one of my favorite Threshold albums. I found in a drawer my T-shirt of that tour so in support of Glynn I broke the unwritten rule and actually wore a T-shirt of the headliner playing that day. At the same time that T-shirt also reminded me of my worries. During that tour I saw three shows, or better intended to see three. Due to Glynn having throat problems two got cancelled, which we learned at the venue (pre-internet days). Older and wiser now he would take care of his voice and the album Legends of the Shires already sounded very promising. So what did we get in the end with the renewed Threshold live. Well as always opinions divided. Hans thought that Glynn was a bit too uncertain in his presentations and did not manage to work the crowd. Willem thought they did improve as live band from last tours and I agreed a bit with both. Advantage and problem with Damian Wilson was that he was a bit too much an attention seeker. This resulted at one side in a participating crowd always, while at the same time half the audience thought he could tone down a bit. Glynn definitely is no attention seeker, but at the same time the Tuesday night reasonably large crowd also did not make matters easy. What did come out as winner and gave an overall positive feel to the evening to me was the setlist together with the performances. The whole band was in topform including sick Karl Groom. Yeh he looked pale, but he is a brit in November. Actually being sick was hidden well for me. Watching Threshold (or Kyrbgrinder) you have to wonder why the buzz about Johanne James as one of the best drummers around is not bigger. He always makes his own sideshow and his playing is flawless. While passing their whole career the Damian Wilson albums were limited to one song: Ashes. Still I had no complaints, with after the obvious focus on the last album classics Pilot in the Sky and Mission Profile being played. Psychedelicatessen got two songs only, but this included their uberhit Innocent. Interesting to see how Glynn felt somfortable playing his own song. During the set he felt more at ease anyway it seemed and his voice never disappointed. So when the encore was done with two Legends songs and a tape of Swallowed was played we could quickly resume before our return.  I saw a band in topform, with in his own style a sympathetic Glynn Morgan on vocals. And even better I got to sing along "Take my Life Away, or give back the answer you hold"!!

Monday, 27 November 2017

Overkill, Insomnium & Deserted Fear - Tivoli Ronda Utrecht, 26 November 2017

This tour went under the MTV Headbangers banner and was headlined by the Cavalera brothers, playing Roots. In the past MTV actually played music clips and had a metal show, before they turned into this shitty-16-pregnant-wanna-shag-get-a-tattoo-supposedly-reality-channel. I do not recall seeing Headbangers Ball too often as I believe they put it on hours when you would not watch television really. Still it existed and some sort of promotion for bands was there. The last years they put on a tour through Europe by the end of the year mixing metal styles. Now I probably was amongst the people with most Brazilian Roots in the audience, but detoured trains and a Sunday night made me leave the Bloody Roots for what they are and concentrate on the bands I really wanted to see Insomnium and Overkill. I did not go to TivoliVredenburg apart form the old main hall untill a few weeks ago when I went to see Sinistro and Pallbearer, supporting Paradise Lost. Tonight I again did not come to see the headliner and in two weeks brilliant Scar Symmetry are supporting overrated Vuur. I see a pattern in the programming in Tivoli, where the cheapest beer still goes at Eur 3,70 and doors tell you to push or pull only in English.

Entering Ronda it turned out to be a beautiful hall with a wide arena and a balcony and sort of football stands at the side. It was not too busy when German Deserted Fear started their Death Metal gig. They actually did so very nice and their playing and presentation came over well with those who arrived early. Interesting that even the opening act was allowed a huge banner and a slot of 40 minutes still. Unknown to me on forehand, but I will go and see them again when playing in the area. As the merch was before the entrance, you were not tempted to pass it between shows, so I do not even know if they brought CD's.

Next band Insomnium were the reason I went to Utrecht in the first place. They played the first show I attended this year in Biebob and that was one night to remember. At the time they played their album Winter's Gate in full and it was just astonishing. Touring some festivals this summer they still put the focus on that album. So for this tour they had a change of plans and played a best of set. Well that did not change matters dramatically to me, as they are just a very good band, mixing the death and the melody perfectly. Even the alleenstaande vandaal (sorry English readers look that up on Youtube one of Holland's best ever comedy clips on TV) next to me, could not take me down to earth during this show. Not hard with songs like Shadows of a Dying Sun coming over you. While I watched this show from up front I had no clue how busy it was. During the next break I heard from some friends they were not overwhelmed by them. I guess that is the point of Insomnium, they mix death and melody to the max. This means that they might not be brutal enough for Death Metal purists, nor clean enough for melodic metallers. I personally love this mix and saw another great gig by them.

When Overkill started it was easy to see why this band should attract everyone into whatever style of metal. The sheer energy coming of the stage is contagious. You get swamped into their show and stay with a grin on your face watching a very tight band bulldozering over you. For added pleasure Bobby Blitz speaks Dutch which gives the show some humorous intermezzos. "Ik hoor je niet", "Hebben jullie je schoentje gezet?" or "Mijn Brabants is beter" went down well with the crowd. If you then take into consideration that some classics like Rotten to the Core or Hello from the Gutter pass by, it is clear that we had a winner,. Not seeing anything from the Cavalera brothers I doubt they could top this. When early in the set I spotted Michel and Esther at the stands on the other side, I joined them. Turned out you have a very plesant sight at the stage from the side of the hall. We also could see how the alleenstaande vandaal kept on breaking all the rules of the moshpit until security sent him off under applause. Looking down on the arena it seemed to me that the evening belonged to Overkill and all agreed when they closed with their hit Fuck You, tonight changed into Flikker Op. Great band who proved once again that focussing on the so called big four, only makes sense to those not getting the point. I had a good Headbangers Ball and even made it home with some detours due to scheduled maintenance work. As this was the first show of this tour I can recommend to go and see them when in your area. Come early as Deserted Fear made clear they deserve that.


Saturday, 25 November 2017

The Quill & 3Speed Automatic - Musicon The Hague 24 November 2017

The Quill came back to Musicon. On their small three show tour the only gig in Holland was in Musicon. This is not a surprise as some 5-6 years ago they temporarely turned into some kind of Musicon House band doing two shows inside and one outside during Kaderock within 18 months or so. This resulted in most people having seen them before. I arrived early and was even afraid we would face another evening of far too empty venue for a great band. Well that corrected later into a good audience and very nice atmosphere. We showed up ourselves with a decent group, so eight beers please and ready to roll.

Support this evening came from power trio 3Speed Automatic. They play some old school rock music, with many times a main roll for the guitarist. Ron heard old Fleetwood Mac, Robert old Floyd and I just heard rock. Nice band on stage though and they did get reactions from the floor. Not necessarily a band I would listen to at home, but on stage nothing wrong with them apart from some inside jokes only they got.

But we came to see the Quill now with Magnus Ekwall back on vocals. It did not take long for them to remember us how good they sound on stage. So we got very fast into the show and basically were released only after they finished  Stone Believer with some nice shouting along. Given the Musicon setup they stayed on stage and gave us as an encore American Powder. Hans was convinced they would still play his favorite Voodoo Caravan, but they did not. Still no disappointed faces as we all got to see again why we liked them returning frequently to Musicon at the begin of this decade. I cannot recommend anyone to go out and see them, as they are playing only one more gig in Germany today and go home thereafter. What we did hope for is their return to Musicon or Kaderock anytime soon. Won't be surprised if that happens.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Icelandic Metal Assault - Musicon Den Haag 17 November 2017

Iceland a country with a population of today only 336.082 inhabitants (Worldometer). Yet they manage to qualify for the World Cup and release a large number of heavy bands. I like their most famous musical exports Solstafir and Sigur Ros, but tonight's bands were unknown to me. The evening was opened by Dutch Black Metal band Adversarius. Unfortunately they started before announced kick off and when I just arrived Rene tipped me on the shoulder. This to introduce me to the NWOBHM legend who was in the audience with his wife. Well I knew that in advance and was looking forward to meeting them, but did not realize they had to leave early. Well more on them next year I hope.

So the first band I fully saw were Devine Defilement. That was a nice surprise as they played a mix of very fast music, with  a good vocalist introding the songs with a dry sense of humor (scandinavian). Not sure how to describe their style, I leave that to people who understand more of music, I did see a good band. At one stage the guitarist was riffing so fast, that you could not see his hand any longer, just a bandwith of hand amazingly fast racing the strings. The vocalist did jump into the audience twice and walked through the nicely filled Musicon, actually scaring Patrick at one stage. Good band to kick of the Iceland experience.

Next on Exile where a whole different lot. They turned out to play heavy metal in traditional setup with two guitars. Some good songs as well, although the vocals and solos not always came over loud enough in the mix. While they were described as thrash metal, I was more reminded of some Heavy metal bands, than typical thrash giants. A nice change in styles over the evening thus. Final band this Friday were Rán. According to their FB page they play heljarmetal, mixing black and thrash. They do exist for ten years now and you could see that back on stage with their solid show. Painted black metallish they did mix other styles in. When they dedicated one song to Rob Slors this was met with a large roar from the crowd. I believe their vocalist lived in The Hague so he knows his local metal history. The song that followed was Black and Roll style and went down nice. You could see why this band closed and it turned out to be very worthwhile again diving an evening into the unknown. This weekend the Icelandic Metal Assault is hitting two more dutch cities, strongly recommended I'd say.