Monday, 24 April 2017

Tokyo Blade & Sad Iron - Musicon The Hague 23 April 2017


Tokyo Blade back in The Hague after 33 years. I read about their show in OLS in 1984 before this one and wondered why I did not go. We did go to OLS in 1984 and we liked Tokyo Blade. Must have been school exams or another reason of my youth that stopped me from going. Anyway we could make up now in Musicon. First we had openers Sad Iron. They are also an old band, but they still play fast. Actually they play to kill according to their statement and while I did not see any corpses after their show, soem necks should burn. Good fast speed metal with a special high for the fast guitar solo's that were all over the set.


Tokyo Blade came on and what can I say that I did not write after last year's gig in Baroeg? Again they were great, hits from the past passed by and one high followed the other. The band in great shape and in original line-up. It is these shows that I totally love and although the crowd was small, many loved it as much as I did and the atmosphere was great.I keep it short and just sum up some of the songs played to describe this brilliant early night of the blade. Death on Mainstreet, Sunrise in Tokyo, Warrior of the Rising Sun, Lovestruck, If Heaven is Hell. Yes Magchiel that should make you plan your holidays better next time. Just another great late afternoon in Musicon, pity they did not bring any merch. They just released a box with all their old albums, a tip for anyone not knowing them. 

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Very 'Eavy - Fox Nightlife Stadskanaal, 22 April 2017


Very 'Eavy has been the past years the best Old School Metal festival Holland had on offer. I say has been as this year was the final edition. So this Saturday was the very last day of Very 'Eavy and for me the very first time I took the trip to Stadskanaal. Every year had more than a few bands of interest, but Stadskanaal is far and when I travelled a lot for work weekends away were to be picked carefully. The main reason for finally making it to VE was twofold. In my view the NWOBHM holds many classic songs. Talking about epic-shout-along-headbanging-beer-drinking-face-smashing-neck-breaking-anthems three songs stand out. Those songs are Am I Evil (way before Metallica covered it already), Angel Witch and Heavy Metal Mania. The closing of this short run but legendary festival managed to get two out of three on the Saturday. Further I should go and see once, what has been an important part of Dutch Live history over the past years. Still I already decided I would not make it to Angel Witch as time is short with Monday morning flight to Portugal, Tiago home alone and taxes to close. Missing the Friday was made a lot easier as Tokyo Blade is playing my home venue in a few hours now.  Driving north this time I realized that our small country is not that tiny after all. But hey with Vardis in the line-up I could drive up 100 Mph and back home with Red eyes even 200 Mph. Arriving in Stadskanaal at de Fox it turned out to be a Discotheek. The space was used brilliant, so you had several areas where the bars were used for serving drinks or sounds and it could happen that dark metal lyrics were enlightened by pink/purple disco lightning. Another area of the complex was used for merch and bar only with food and smoking outside. Actually it was on those experiences asking yourself, why did I never go before? Well that is too late now and this Saturday had lots of good on offer so let the music do the talking.


Openers Blackslash just started when I enterd de Fox. These germans play old school metal and seemed to me an answer to British bands like Kaine, Toledo Steel or Monuments. Bands all born after the highlight of metal, but inspired by it and playing very good. Interesting that they played a cover as well, but opted for such an obscure song that I even never heard of the band (or was there a pronounciation issue on either side). As being close to Germany there obviously were Germans in the house as well, it seemed they got a decent response and we were running. Next one were one of the bands I was most looking forward to: Warrior. Over the past years I saw many brilliant shows by bands I missed in the eighties. Usually this because at the time they only released a single or EP. So Warrior fits for me in the line with bands like Stormtrooper, Deep Machine/The Deep, Elixir or Soldier. All bands that blew me away live and released something new or old over the years. I had already the Resurrected compilation, turned out they have just this week released a new album. So far only as download, but Dave Dawson told me afterwards they are looking where and how to get this released on CD. Well I can be short, that shall be a must buy album. The new songs unknown to all sounded maybe even better than their hits from the past. I recall Visions, Oblivion, title track Invasion Imminent and Rise of the Warriors. All classic stuff with so many twin and individual solo's flying over the stage that it felt at times like watching a tennis match. Strangely enough I got the impression that even at an event like this many people opted for watching from afar or even hit the other bar. Well this gave me enough space up front to enjoy Kansas City, Flying High, Stab You in the Back or Dead When it Comes to Love. Totally enjoyed this gig, will see them again and for me musically best band of the day.


Hereafter to Lovell's Blade the impossible task to follow this up. This band with ex-members of Picture in it was the Dutch representative on the day. As described above I was recovering from Warrior so never gave this a fair chance. This was only their second gig ever, but that could not be heard. Old school hard rock sounded Ok, but one day I shall start open minded and see what I really think of them. Now a spicy pork sandwich sounded more attractive, especially as I should be fit for next band Night Demon. This trio is making a name for themselves slowly. First time I saw them was a few years ago in de Vinger in Den Haag. They had little own material so included Lightning to the Nations and Axe Crazy in their set (both also on EP) I remember asking them that night why they skipped Radar Love from their EP while playing in the city of Radar Love. Next tour in Musicon that was corrected I learned and now it was in the set at VE specially for us Dutch. Well in reality one EP and two CD's down Night Demon do not need covers any longer. Covering all three we got a very loud set with highlights to me in Full Speed Ahead, Ritual and Darkness Remains. Well actually the full set was a blast and even monitor problems and classes (400 down) could not kill the bulldozing experience this was again. They are American and young, yet I file their CD's under NWOBHM and live they kill. Most energetic one of the day.


Witch Cross from Denmark were back at VE. They stepped in when Blitzkrieg and Bliksem stepped out. Well to be honest I would prefer to have seen Blitzkrieg for the first time. Not that they were bad, but it all sounded rather similar to me. I also did not get the uninspired Paranoid cover. Their own songs had the solo's the riffs and a voice reminding me of Biff at times, still I guess it suffered again from following up on a high a typical festival problem for me. Then it was Holocaust preparing the stage. They were announced as that band from Heavy Metal mania, which is true but does not serve them right. The Nightcomers must be one of the LP's I played most in the eighties and luckily today was filled with songs from that album as well. They opened after a siren wailing intro with that other classic Death or Glory. Well that got me in the mood and not just me. The audience today was a nice run through the ages. With a band like Holocaust it can happen that the younger generation is waiting for that song, while I saw before me a couple my age banging and dancing completely in awe throughout the set. Holocaust always have this punky edge to their metal and live they are raw.  It seems clear where Dave Mustaine got his spitting voice from. I think their no bollocks attitude works great on stage. Their banner a Scottish flag, bassist in a kilt and a drummer called Scot!! After Smokin'Valves, It Don't Matter to Me, Only as Young as You Feel and newer songs it all came to an end with a very strong closing trio. Going back to 1981 with opener No Nonsense from the Hot Curry & Wine live album. Then a heavy version of the Nightcomers we of course finished when the guitar solo announced Heavy Metal Mania. This song is a party, my religion and history of metal. Holocaust played the most nostalgic set of the day, doing so very sympathetic and loud and that made it three absolute killer shows on one day. I looked them up in the merch area to get their latest album Predator, but did not see them around. Later on they were watching Vardis, so guess no merch brought.


While I already knew I was skipping Angel Witch I wanted to see the start of Vardis still. Angel Witch play often in the area and I saw them a few times recently. Still I realize that no better song to close the Very 'Eavy history than Angel Witch. That must have been great, but you can't win them all. Vardis were announced as a blend of Status Quo and Motorhead and this time I agreed more. They boogie, but they metal as well. Point is that I did not drink as driver and got tired of a day hanging around. This music goes down best closer to the stage and under the influence of some liters of beer in your gut. What I could see was that the solo's were long and impressive, yet after some six songs I decided to head for the long way home. Thanks to Hugo and all at Very 'Eavy for putting up this line-up and organizing the whole event seemingly so smoothly. I do hope that these bands keep on coming down to Holland and Warrior release their album on CD soon. Now off to Musicon for Tokyo Blade, see what I missed last Friday.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Persefone & Poem - De Duycker Hoofddorp 18 April 2017


Persefone and Poem, well that is a package I was looking forward to. more than a bit. Persefone just released with Aathma one of the potential best albums of 2017. Poem made it to my top 16 of 2016 last year with Skein Syndrome. So if this show could meet the standard of their albums we would be in for a treat,  Before answering those questions, first some random observations on the night. Entering de Duycker, there was a sense of panic hanging in the air. The computer system was down, resulting in no beers on tap. Seems we can blame all on computersystems nowadays. Not willing to give any potential terrorist any ideas, but if I was to create havoc and total chaos in Holland I know which computersystems to hack. Further tonight we saw 10 people on stage. All dressed fully in black with no prints (or was Stavros wearing blue shorts?) Out of 10 people 8 had short or no hair on their head, but a beard for compensation. The only two Persefone members with long metal haircuts did not need a beard. Last time I saw Persefone I was bitching a bit about vocalist Marcs underpants on display the full show. This time he had money for a belt and when the tanktop came of at the end only a small strip underpants was shown to us. Finally it was interesting that de Duycker decided to warm us up for some progressive death metal by playing Prog rock superband Kino. Anyway after some 20 minutes the beer started flowing and we could concentrate on the music.


Poem opened the night and I think they did so with Passive Observer (sorry not taking any notes still). It turned out quickly that Poem is a great live band. Their music is catchy, heavy and groovy. On my earlier reviews I mentioned grungy, which I did not hear live. I think my reference came from the voice of George Prokopiu. Especially when he ups the volume at times he sounds like the third brother of Chris (Soundgarden) and Peter (Somnambulist) Cornell. The music itself is much more progmetal, without the need to show off any skills focussed on the mood of songs. I believe we got the full Skein Syndrome album, although in alternative order. The level stayed firmly high throughout the show and I did not have one specific highlight. Although it was nice being able to hum along with some choruses like "Is this like falling to the river" in closer Weakness. After the show I did get their first album and playing it now I see why they played the second album only. Apart from George it is a whole new band now. Nice guys they are and I got to pass Andrew's hallo to Stratos.


After the short break talking with Poem, Persefone were back in de Duycker. Some guys told me before the show that last time there were 12 visitors in the small hall. Later I remembered that they got included last minute with Loch Vostok indeed and I read about that the following day only. This evening was timing wise always hard to attract many, but still some 100 people were present I guess. This might sound disappointing for a band that just released album of the month in Aardschok. Still we have to take into account that the long Easter weekend had for the Progmetal fans Haken and Pain of Salvation already touring Holland and for the melo-death lovers Dark Tranquility played the night before nearby, I skipped that last one, fighting an upcoming fever, just to be fit for this double. Well it did not take long that my health saving paid off, as we got a great show by a band in top form with a sound that made all come through very clear. Before the show started Hans and I wondered why the show was not moved to the small hall, which would be nicely packed for the night. Well the answer came in vocalist Marc again. He has a lot of energy to kill and during the show he franctically walked up and down the stage creating an energetic atmosphere coming of the stage. It seems at times that someone shot him from a catapult at the side of the stage which kept him running and turning until the elasticity had gone. Great performing by him highlighted in the encore when he asked for a circle pit. Playing basically to a Prog power audience, this wa snot happening after which he jumped in himself, started a pit and got some circling going. Horns up to that \m/. Back to the music I must say I recognize songs, but do not always know title or album they come from. I was curious how Living Waves would be played as this is their current single. Guest vocals from Paul Masvidal came from tape and this killer song would have fitted very well at Cynic's Traced in air in my ears. The balance throughout the show was kept very well, with even a ballad, where the clean vocals of Miguel took centre stage. Throughout the set these vocals blended in nicely with the mainly screamo voice of Marc. After some 80 minutes it was over when the opening two songs of Spiritual Migration were transcended upon us. Persefone gave a perfect show and proved to me being fully able to headline across Europe giving us a great show. Did not get their Tee as I have the Pledge collectors item one. Maybe one day they break really big and the world is surprised that Andorra gave us such a good band.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Pain of Salvation & Port Noir - Gebr.de Nobel Leiden 15 April 2017


Pain of Salvation released their best album in 15 years In the Passing Light of Day. All reasons for a European tour and Holland was included with three shows. Closest to home Gebr. de Nobel in Leiden and suddenly almost our complete gigs app group appeared and getting beers for all became a mess. Openers were Port Noir from Sweden, a decent band. Nothing shocking to me, they reminded most of us on a lighter version of Leprous. Most interesting was that when they finished the hall almost fully packed with even the two balconies crowded. Nice to see that good music can attract many nowadays.


After a short break with lots of catching up Pain of Salvation came and played three songs from ItPLoD. I actualy hoped for lots of this album and we were treated in total on six songs including the three epic long ones. The band turned out to be in good shape and the sound was fine as well. After Linoleum the atmosphere moved some notches up, when they decided to play three songs from Remedy Lane including Beyond the Pale one of their best songs ever. On a roll now they followed this by their ubersong of one chord Ashes. This high could not be kept with a return to the last album and Road Salt, but you hardly can call it a big drop. During the mainly rocking show Daniel was short of speech, but the political intermezzo was unnecessary. Pain of Salvation have always been a political conscious band, remember the orange No War shirts at Headway years ago. Still to me their upset seems onesided and asking the hall to shout fuck Trump is pointless. An unprepared idiot he might be, in my view Assad, Erdogan, Sisi, Poetin, KimJong Un and Duterte to name just a few are much bigger criminals, idiots or to stay metal devils. Still many people shouted along and I was pleased they got on quickly and played again. Next to this miss there was a high in the absence of Disco Queen, a song that is a joke turned very old. The ultimate high of the show to me came in the encore when The Passing Light of Day was played. This must be the most emotional song that shall be released in 2017. As there is a very direct link with many of my personal lows and Pain of Salvation songs, this one describes very well the feelings I also had while in hospital. Watching it slowly slip away alive and kicking is a moment to cherish and remember, so thanks for that. This evening we saw old glories from Pain of Salvation coming back mainly based upon their strong last album. Those who feared Pain of Salvation developed away from us should be very pleased, just like me.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Haunting Skies - Fall

The search for new music is always there. Going to shows, reading magazines and webzines. Yearly this results in many great discoveries. Sometimes however, the music finds me when bands send me links to their last albums. This can be of different qualities and tastes really. Last weeks two bands approached me with albums really up my alley, so I am more than pleased to spread the news.


Haunting Skies - Into the Ether
A progmetal band from Kansas who released their debut album last week. When receiving music I first search for information on the band. Turned out this album was released through an Indiegogo campaign. Unfortunately only US inhabitants could participate. Probably this has to do with crazy current US mail tariffs, which is killing their underground exterior exposure. I said unfortunately, since after hearing the album I know I should get this on CD. The album opens with Manifestation also released on Youtube as a single. While not being my favorite track it gives an idea of what we can expect. Reminding me at first of a heavier Enchant they later on include some modern metal with harsher vocals. Coming at the vocals they are not as smooth as with similar progressive metal bands who tend to edge near power metal. I quite like that as it gives them something own in their sound. The whole album has a good flow with several songs linked directly to each other. My favorite songs probably are Redeemer and I Foresee Catastrophe, where we have only clean vocals but the fast tech metal part I love is very present. So now it is waiting for ways to get this on CD, see the complete artwork, read the lyrics along and enjoy this album fully. I shall probably include them on my wishlist at the ProgPower Europe feedback form. Then again they never take any of my tips serious. My recommendation check this out, you might be as pleasantly surprised as I am.


Fall - The Insatiable Weakness
This band contacted me as I have Oceans of Slumber on my not updated playlist. Listening to their album I could hear some points in common with OoS great debut Aetherial. Yet if they would have said we send our CD as you love Scar Symmetry, I would understand even better. The Insatiable Weakness was released begin 2016 and yes I missed it. It only makes you realize how much great music there must be out there you will simple never hear. Fall play melodic progressive death metal. I mentioned the Scar Symmetry (or Solution 45 for that matter) reference, as also on this album the switch from harsh to clean vocals is rather sensational at times. Live I can appreciate the extreme grunt full blow in your face. On CD I like it a bit more varied at times. Yet the song that varies the most here is Harvester, the one with female vocals blended in. To be honest my least favorite track as her voice lacks power next to the brutal riffs around her. With only one minor miss at parts, this is one great album so off to Bandcamp I went. Stating above that US Mail is killing music, herewith another great example. While the CD is fairly priced at US$10 the mail charge through bandcamp would be $40. This is just plain stupid paying four times more for mail, than for the actal album which had so much energy put in it. So anyone interested contact the band directly, for getting better fares. Finally anyone not interested yet, but collector of anything by Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork, Warrel Dane, Devin Townsend now a.o.Megadeath) he drums on this album, so that quality is guaranteed.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

This Winter Machine - Fen - Pallbearer - Trial - Persefone

Some new CD tips. Five different music styles, all blending some progressive aspects in. This time not following the scale of heaviness, but ending with two albums that might very well end high on my end of year favorites list.

This Winter Machine - The Man Who Never Was
The fact that there is some prog in a Neo-Prog album seems obvious, so that comment was for the other four albums really. This Winter Machine makes for me very British Progressive rock. Four long songs and one shorter instrumental describe English landscapes and overall feel, like many others did before them (references: Credo, Comedy of Errors, Primitive Instinct, The Gift, Cosmograf) The performance is top class and keeping the showing off under control, this is just my favorite prog rock style. Great album for the calm and quiet moments. Recommended blind purchase for fans of any of the above mentioned bands.


Fen - Winter
Going to another extreme, the new album of Fen. I am just going to quote Andrew here who described them as follows: Fen's dark metal of sweeping devastation represents the flat, windy, lonely and horizonless fenlands which surround us here. As he is from the region and likes his Black Metal he should know. Six parts crossing 75 minutes and still keeping a constant interesting flow of long instrumental parts ending in grim eruptions make this a special album. Maybe an autumn/winter release would fit better than today's blueskied spring late afternoon, Blackish. Folkish, Epic I should check out their earlier stuff.


Pallbearer - Heartless
Doom metal is never in a hurry, so yet another album with an average song duration of close to nine minutes. In interviews in both Aardschok and Loud! they speak about their Progressive Rock roots. Still not even close to bands like This Winter Machine I can hear what they mean. Actually this is a very accessible album, with  clear vocals and some scandinavan resemblance. They are touring Europe now supporting this album. Unfortunately their Dutch gig is at Roadburn festival, a festival I always manage to miss. This is a doom album, but has to me various uplifting spirits over it. Maybe that is the prog I am hearing.


Trial - Motherless
Trial representing the Heavy Metal here. Well they have a typical signature sound to it, Everything we know and love in Heavy Metal is there: fast guitars, great solo's, a high pitched voice at times. But then there is so much more, as in general the tempo is not that fast. There is something dark, occult and doomish  over the songs. The progressiveness for me lies in the fact that I am in the slow parts often reminded of  Psychotic Waltz. This band has an own direction and we have here a logical follow up to 2015's Vessel. That album ended number one on my 2015 list, let's see how far this one shall go over time and many more listens. Now they are at Metal Blade I count on the label to send them on the road enabling me to finally see them live. Good artwork as well, but I found a complaint to close off. Even with reading glasses on it is a tough job following the lyrics in the booklet. Still this album confirms Trial's status as one of my favorite bands.

Persefone - Aathma
I joined the pledge campaign for this one as I loved their previous album Spiritual Migration. After several spinnings of this CD I dare risk stating it is even better. Persefone play Melodic Death Metal and this album should transport them to the Champions League of the genre. They have long Epic songs with heaviness breaks, shorter instrumentals, a good mix of extreme and clean vocals and a guest. This guest is none other than Paul Masvidal (Cynic). He speaks on the opening song and  sings/solo's on Living Waves. They made a videoclip of that song. I suggest looking it up to get an idea how good this album is. Lyrically they still remain into spiritism, but even so I guess them too heavy to get Josie joining me to see them playing live with Poem next week. I was hoping for much with Aathma, got a bit more and yes they are from Andorra.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Havok, Warbringer, Gorod & Exmortus - 013 Tilburg 6 April 2017


The next generation of Thrash metal touring Europe with an interesting package. Looking at the line-up I was interested in all four bands with three of them never seen before. Unfortunately lack of timely information on our amateur run national rail made me arrive over one hour later than planned in Tilburg. This resulted in no shoarma before the show and extremely annoying missing almost the full set of Exmortus. I know their last album Ride Forth and their mix is very interesting. One half seems Neoclassical Yngwie style metal and this is blended with some Death/Thrahs heaviness. This all presented in Manowar like true metal lyrics and covers. You might hear more styles in the blend as well, but this is just a rough base. So I entered the hall when they were ending some classical instrumental on speed and would play their last song. What I saw was enough to convince me that this is one great live band. The double guitar switch solo was brilliant and their playing live maybe even a notch faster than in the studio. This band should come back to Europe soon, with hopefully a longer slot than the 30 minutes they have now as opener. I will be there at the front and get a Tee as well for support. Now only seeing a small part could not justify a T-shirt really, but I got previous album Slave to the Sword.


Next on were slight outsiders Gorod. Not only are they the only non-Americans, being French. They also play a more Tech Death kind of metal on this overly Thrash evening. I saw them some times before, when they used to blow Obscura off the stage in Patronaat. With their last show for me being in February only I knew what we were geting more or less. And again it was a top live set. This is one of those bands that I love when seeing on stage, but not that much on CD.  Live their enthusiasm transports into the hall and they gain on sympathy factor. Being an outsider the response today was less than with the other bands. I guess some you win some you loose on that respect. At Complexity they were the most succesfull band of the day audience response wise, on this tour they might pick up some new fans.


Warbringer are amongst the bigger names of the new generation in Thrash metal. Now my age justfies the comparison deal and nothing is as original and creative like the big ones in the eightes used to show us. Well, that is not going to happen here as this was one killer show of Thrash metal. Last week they released their new album Woe to the Vanquished  and they opened with the first four songs from that one. Probably unknown to almost all it took to the second song title track WttV before a fairly large circle pit got running. During the remainder of the set this pit would be there and reach near wall to wall sizes at times. Quoting one old name then,  I saw a lot of "Good friendly violent fun in store for all". During the set vocalist John Kevill promised us nicely to kick our fucking teeth out several times. As he explained after the set if their show does not turn violent it ain't a good one. As all bands had a fairly short set tonight Warbringer bulldozered on. While doing that they skipped their only album I know Empires Collapse alltogether. I highly enjoyed the whole presentation both on and before the stage and got this last album afterwards. I guess they need a longer set next time for including their 11 minute power thrash ballad When the Guns Fell Silent, but that would be an interesting break. This was a matter of came, saw and conquered literally.


Headliners of the tour are Havok another rising star amongst younger Thrash Metal bands. In the last Aardschok they spoke about a new bassist and his role on their last album. Well live it soon turned out that this Nick is an animal on stage as well. Not only his very present bass playing, but his private circle pits on stage and loud screams inbetween songs showed a guy with some energy to kill. Havok released in Conformicide recently the possible best Thrash album of 2017. Several songs from that album were in the set. Halfway the set however, full side A from Time is Up was played.  I only know their last album, but all unknown songs sounding pretty good to me. The crowd got wildish from the start and the big no crowd surfing sign was nicely ignored. The band seemed to have some irritations with monitors on stage throughout the set, but when they played they killed it. This was one professional set of good metal and how sad I was for leaving when Intention to Deceive was started in order to make it home by train. Well I got home in the end, but still all was a mess and in spite of speaker announcements my last direct train did not wait in Dordrecht, making me lose again over an hour to find trams, busses stopped riding and my bicycle shut behind a closed door. Still a lack of trains can not kill this perfect evening. And then the old question pops up: Why would anyone prefer going to see Metallica playing in a hall filled with people wearing H&M metal shirts, while new original bands do it so much better nowadays. Maybe it is better this way and  music lovers meet in smaller venues, leaving the mainstream having their own parties.