Sunday, 17 September 2017

Komatsu & An Evening With Knives - Musicon Den Haag 16 September 2017

While anyone with Prog in his alias hangs at Ayreon in 013 this weekend, that is just not my favorite band or project. As a good substitute Musicon put on two bands from Eindhoven who play something like stoner, sludge, post metal. Niels and Robert advised they would go as well and Zoe and Rene were at the bar upon entrance so it turned into a good Saturday night. Local band Durango had to cancel due to a broken little finger. Pity as there was space for more people inside.

Not that An Evening With Knives seemed to care much. They rocked all over us with slow building songs that reminded me of Neurosis or Isis. Rene mentioned Solstafir and that was a good indication as well. This was perfect music to see and feel live. Probably the band I liked best of the two and strongly recommended when playing in your area. Komatsu holds an extra guitar and sings more lyrics. Further the music was a bit in the same vein. Actually one of Holland's biggest stoner bands and they have some shows under their belts it seemed. Good band as well although we agreed the sound was a bit too massive to get all the parts played individually. And yes Ben, I shall return to more D&ESR shows in The Hague. Always a pleasure stoner in Musicon and with Vircator releasing a new album who knows they return one day as well.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Toxik - Lazarus Leiden 14 September 2017

Seeing Toxik for the third time in two months I thought there would not be much to write about. Dynamo was the festival and Little Devil the metal bar. So I thought I saw it all and just went to hear some great music again. Well I was wrong. I was in Lazarus before, but that was only for some beers after a show in de Nobel. Now there was a small (as in tiny) stage. The bar is awfully close to the stage and to my pleasure and surprise Lazarus was packed. This surprise mainly as de Nobel is literally hundred meters away and Vallenfyre plus two supports were on the same evening.

And then Toxik started and the place got wild. It took Charlie half a song to find out he did not fit on the stage as well. So he sung biggest part from a barstool in the corner and parts behind the merch table even. The sound was complicating to the band, but pretty good in my ears after the first song. When also some fans decided the place deserved a pit during almost the whole gig things got messy indeed. Result of it all was that band and audience got an evening to remember. This was just different and pretty much insane. Latter in the sense of such a great band in such a small place.  The setlist was similar to Little Devil although we got two extra covers just for fun.

Three years ago Toxik toured Europe and they also played Lazarus. It was on a Sunday and I returned from holidays the night before. Only problem was I only read about the show the next Monday morning. Now I could correct that and this atmosphere of the evening made it turn into a highlight of the year. I wanted to proper thank the band for a change, but the train was calling at twelve as today I passed in Eindhoven with Tiago. So the thanking and the smalltalk shall remain for next tour, when I will be back. What a great evening of technical thrash metal we got. Count your blessings, Won't You!

Monday, 11 September 2017

Toxik & Tyranex - Little Devil Tilburg, 10 September 2017

Toxik, Tyranex Thrash = Train To Tilburg. Toxik played Dynamo Metal Fest in July and the reactions were mixed. I could listen through any sound issues and loved it. Yet having the chance to see them again but now in Little Devil simply could not be passed.  Being in Tilburg I quite liked the timing today, following Baroeg Sunday style two bands between 17:00-20:00 hrs. Openers were Tyranex from Sweden, a band unknown to me. They played Tilburg some times before and turned out to be a good band. Thrash metal with female vocals/guitars plus bass and male guitars and drums. This young band had the presentation and playing to keep me interested for an hour. Forgot the song titles by now (apart from Tormentor), but good warm up. Passing the merch table at the break I ran into a surprise anouncement: Toxik this Thursday in Lazarus- Leiden. Now I could think I might have stayed at home after a busy weekend or even gone to see Dead Lord promote their new album this same Sunday. In reality I'd rather leave from the half full glass theory and now can see Toxik twice within one week. The Leiden show shall be for free, so anyone missing out tonight  can come to Leiden on Thursday.

Toxik on stage in the same version as two months ago in Eindhoven. The girl on stage during the soundcheck confused me somewhat. Halfway the show it turned out that she was guest for one song, a nice initiative from the band. Toxik live was again fast, heavy and thrashing. While they did not play their ballad "There Stood The Fence" I believe a free version of that song described the evening best: "There stood the band that banged my head when I was younger".  When others tuned their instruments Josh commented how he is now 52 and most of the audience not far from that (guilty) and we all never grew out of metal. We keep on doing this (they play, we watch) until we can no longer do so physically. The evening was one among friends according to the band and with songs like Spontaneous, Heart Attack and Think This they made their friends happy. One week ago I received their new EP in the mail (it took the US Mail pigeon five weeks since release). All three new songs were in the set and knowing them now they blended fine with the old songs. Breaking Clas$ is a fast monster live. Charlie did a John Corabi (read my review on Dead Daisies in Zoetermeer not Rotterdam) and thanked Leiden for their reaction. After one hour and a bit it was over. The band shot a picture with the audience and gave us one more song. I knew that seeing them in a small club would be better, but they topped expectations. Great performance, great songs. So Thursday Leiden it is.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Baroeg Open Air - Zuiderpark Rotterdam, 9 September 2017

The sun always shines on Baroeg Open Air. The picture above might make you think that is true and it is, but this year it took many by surprise. The day before we saw awfull amounts of rain fall over us which in The Hague even resulted in trams stopping or detouring through the city. So arriving at the other Zuiderpark it was a huge surprise to see the sun out and a field that was much better than expected. Later I learned the main field has a drainage system. The sides do not, so entrance and toilets were a muddy and slippery affair. Still thanks and respect to those who put together the area over the last tow lousy weather days (especially the crippled lady with the huge hammer). So the weather was nice and the area fine, so what about the music.

I came to BOA to see Tokyo Blade again. With the rain still falling at home in the morning I was in no rush to get to Rotterdam. Checking on the bands in advance one other band I would have loved to see was French band Year Of No Light. Unfortunately they were on stage at 14:15 which meant I was to ignore Tiago the whole day and with several additional drinking hours chances of being too hung over to make it to Little Devil today. So the wise man in me made me arrive close to five when Dool hit the main stage. This band played almost every festival around this year and finally I got to hear them. With the dark stage and the sun outside to stand in seeing was not an option. They surprised me positively as being heavier than I thought and their doom crept around nice with a highlight in Love Like Blood even slower than the original. Next to the toilets there was the a tent where the interesting Pleesessions took place during breaks at the main stage. As this turned out to be a low and muddy affair I managed to miss those bands even headlining G.O.D. In Large stage the banner of Asphyx meanwhile came up and they would probably be the silent headliner of the day. Now I am no Death Metal expert, but love a good live show and Asphyx might be the best Holland has on offer. This was one blast from the stage and the atmosphere was impressive in the tent. A rather great pit up front and raised horns untill the end. Vocalist Martin van Drunen talked us through the set with his eastern accent and dry sense of humor.  Funny how he thanked the large crowd and complained how at times in clubs they only get 200 people in (an average clubshow I attend should be happy with 50 paying visitors). Yet I did have a great time watching Asphyx and wondered how Tokyo Blade would follow this up. While talking to Toner Low in a now empty tent suddenly Magchiel walked in. Injured ears or not he decided he did not want to miss Tokyo Blade again, as was the case earlier this year in Musicon.

So the next steps were muddy toilets, bar for refill and getting a good spot up front to undergo Tokyo Blade. Over the last year I saw Tokyo Blade in Baroeg and Musicon. This time they would have a large stage and a large crowd. Well that served them right as we were in for a treat and so was the band. Somehow I do not think they get often circle pits or crowd servers during their shows these days. Let's face it people who love this music tend to be around my age and less crowdserving in general. So the atmosphere in front was great and the band seemed to enjoy themselves as well. We got a fast set with many highlights. Magchiel got his Night of the Blade and we could shout along with Lightning Strikes, Love Struck, Someone to Love, Sunrise in Tokyo and the closing If Heaven is Hell. Totally loved this set and I wish all my heroes from the past would have such a stage and audience to undergo the power of NWOBHM in a fitting setting. I did see a main reviewer from Rockmuzine shouting his lungs out as well, so count on a positive review there. Only comment I have is that again Tokyo Blade did not bring any merchandise (or hit it really well) This year they released a box set Knights of the Blade. Ordering from internet music you mostly own is one thing, running into it after being on a post gig high means for me an immediate purchase.

For us this meant the end of Baroeg Open Air. Magchiel came by car and I enjoyed the ride back. Destruction I saw not that long ago and shall see again. We met with Magchiel's metal cousins, but as they arrived at 14:00 hours we might as well speak greek to them. The talent stage was far too early for me and the Electronic stage did not manage to get my attention with the computer sounds coming out of it. Baroeg Open Air opened a season which hopefully brings me back to Baroeg several times. Pity that both Submit Fest and Angra/Tate seem to fall at dates when I am in Portugal, but enough on offer I guess. And I survived fit enough to enjoy Toxik today.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Razorblade Messiah & Thoughtless - Musicon The Hague 8 September 2017

Three weeks without live music and I started shaking all over. Partially my own fault as I let a work call make me miss Uli Jon Roth and decided on watching France-Holland over Ritchie Kotzen in de Boerderij (wrong music over football always, even more wrong a sfootball turned shite). Suddenly this weekend I can correct a lot and even choices needed to be made. For the Friday the choice was staying close to home as it was pissing down all day. So sorry to UFO/Europe in far away Eindhoven, or The Tangent in de Boerderij. Musicon had in Razorblade Messiah and Thoughtless two unknown bands to me from Rotterdam and Alkmaar. Checking out some Youtube clips it turned out we would be in for an evening of Heavy Metal. Pieter thought(more) and also considered this a good plan, so forget about the rain and have some beers in Musicon.

Thoughtless were first on. Their heavy metal went down well and had light progmetal touches. Turned out that their drummer whom I did not know is also a ProgPower regular. A female vocalist on paper always raises concernc with me, a sI am allergic to operatic nonsense in metal. No such shrieks here as we got real singing. Nice band which deserves some more attention, as the young regulars in Musicon decided to stay away en masse. Is true heavy metal really music for my generation only? This can't be true as timeless metal we got on stage last night should please many ears.
Next on were Razorblade Messiah whom I liked even more. Their mainly fast metal made me remember the mighty Attacker at times. Fast I mentioned, but also Epical and at times Maiden like. Their single Metal Messiah is a killer headbanger and can be seen on YouTube. Live as usual they came over even better. Later on we learned that they have some music on Spotify, but no CD's yet. So I am now playing Attacker's latest Sins of the World to stay in similar moods. A very nice evening in Musicon kicking of a metal weekend.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Steven Wilson - Cormorant

Two very different albums today. One pop and one hard to pinpoint extreme metal. Yet both are beautiful in their own right so herewith some of my thoughts.

Steven Wilson - To The Bone
Steven Wilson announced his next album to be pop, so I got scared. Following the man fo rmany years in different bands, I knew he mixed pop in before. My favorite albums of him are probably Stupid Dream by Porcupine Tree and The Raven solo. Actually many of his projects are great and some things are always guaranteed. Steven Wilson writes great songs, the sound is benchmark level and his lyrics tend towards the dark and morbid at times. For this album I heard some music in advance tracks and I must say that did not make me more comfortable. Permanating did not make my metal heart tick any faster while refuge was nice, but very calm. Yet after several positive indications from friends and raving reviews all around I got over my fears and bought what I found turns out to be a good album. For me The Raven and Hand.Cannot.Erase were from another level, but here we get another collection of Steven Wilson quality songs. OK there are a few misses to me in Song of I, The Same Asylum as Before (what voice is that?) and the before mentioned Permanting. Leaves us with eight very strong popsongs, making an interesting album. The great side-effect of this album is that Steven Wilson now became a household name. Performing live on BBC and ZDF should open a whole new audience to this man of class. So far the results are album chart positions 2 in Germany, 3 in the UK and 4 in Holland. Not bad for a king of Prog. I might have to decide fast now if I would like to see him live next March, cause venues shall grow with him. An album much better than feared and a promotion of Prog in many English newspapers. So we have to thank the man again. Maybe not his best album, but definitely a boost for our music in general.

Cormorant - Diaspora
And now for something completely different; Cormorant. Why have I missed this band before?!? Every now and then you get an album at hand which completely blows you off your socks. Well Diaspora is such an album. Thanks to the Angry Metal Guy I read about them and decided to listen the two available bandcamp songs. Well that resulted in a quick purchase and since the album arrived begin this week it hardly has left my CD player. Cormorant are from the Bay Area,.yet the only heavy style they do not play is Thrash Metal. On their FB page they decsribe their music as Progressive Black/Death Metal. And yes these styles are there, but there is more. During the tracks Preserved in Ash ,Sentinel and The Devourer I hear Black, Death, but also signs of heavy Doom and Heavy Metal. Closer Migration is their Prog metal Epic song lasting 26 minutes. With four songs in 60 minutes Cormorant have plenty of time to swap around the extreme styles, with an ear for calmer intermezzo's when asked for. So the vocals move accordingly from brutal and harsh to clean. Those who believe the instumental atmosphere building part in Migration too long, probably also complained about the guitars at sea during Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner some thirty years ago.  While searching for more information on this band I learned this is their fourth release. Maybe the fact that they are independent did not grant them the exposure they deserve. Yet at Lords of Metal all three previous albums are reviewed and highly appreciated. Ranked smartly under different metal as labelling is hard to impossible. Further while independent they might be, the cover is amongst the most beautiful this year with a Jheronimus Bosch alike painting. Resuming this is one album that should be heard by anyone into any of the musical styles mentioned above. This could have been the technical extreme band around the dinner break at PPE, which blows half the audience away (and is too heavy for the other half). For me there was little time to waste and I ordered album 2 and 3 now as well. How nice to discover new favorites with a back catalogue to dive into as a bonus. One of the candidates for album of the year to me, let's see how the next months work on this one.    

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Marillion - Misplaced Childhood

Misplaced Childhood the special edition and I bought it again. This might seem somewhat unnecessary as I bought the LP in 1985, the CD in the nineties, the videoclips on DVD and a few live versions by either Fish or Marillion on DVD thereafter. Disk 1 contains a remastered version, but I must admit that to my installation and ears this is not a huge extra. But then came disk 2 and 3 and I was convinced I wanted to get this. An integral version of their Vredenburg show in 1985. So let me go back in time and explain.

It is the early eighties and metal is booming on the radio and at home with Hans and me laying the foundations of fast metal collections. In The Hague those days you had some metal shops in the centre, but the most complete LP store would be Kees at the border of the city. Bicycle rides to Kees turned into pilgrimages, where apart from new discoveries, new albums from the big names also erratic appearing Aardschok and Kerrang could be purchased. Kerrang in those days was still a good magazine, putting us on track of many new bands. Turned out that Marillion would appear rather often in interviews or live reviews from the Marquee. Now they were compared with Genesis and I knew nothing of the Gabriel years, so wondering why a band compared with Abacab, Mama and the likes would get so much attention in Kerrang. Yet when Script for a Jester's Tear was released I decided to give it a try. I did not go to Kees, but to the store whose name I forgot across the street from Headphones (Super something I believe). In those days you would get a headphone on and listen on a bench in the store. I remember still very well when he firts put on Side 2 and Garden Party hit me. Studying the beautiful Mark Wilkinson cover, Chelsea Monday and Forgotten Sons followed and my life changed forever. I did not know that I had discoverd Neo-Prog there and then, but I loved this album. Soon hereafter I got the Market Square heroes EP as well.

That summer of 83 Marillion would open Parkpop in my hometown on their first tour outside the UK. Amongst maximum a hundred fans I stood up front with Magchiel and was amazed. Until the day of today he still remembers how the sign above the stage misspelled Marrilion and I recal the power of the band on stage being much heavier than on LP. Fugazi was the next album and Marillion returned to Holland for a show at Pinkpop. With Dio and Marillion that day it would be the only Pinkpop I ever attended ( a festival selling out big time soon hereafter). Highlight of the day was Incubus and amongst our friends the fanbase was growing quickly. That autumn they made a clubtour and hit Paradiso supporting the Real to Reel album. During that show there was a calm intermezzo, which we did not know nor fully get. Later on we understood they played Side 1 from Misplaced Childhood.

Comes 1985 and Misplaced Childhood is released. Kayleigh became a modest single (later on much bigger in polls due to heavy voting fanclubs) and Holland was graced with their first ever appearance in Vredenburg. They still return every now and then to Vredenburg, but I am sure it would never get as good as that very day in 1985. Support came from then unknown Pendragon, soon to become other Neo-Prog heroes of mine. Well what happened during that show can now be heard on disk 2 and 3. One of the best shows I ever attended. As we were all around twenty at the time, we still went upfront during shows. That day I believe we were with ten and the next day we could see our faces on the picture in national newspaper NRC. The article was the usual slagging of Marillion, talking about Dinosaurs and the shit by someone who just does not love good music. Yet the picture of Fish standing over the crowd showed our happy smiling faces. As I studied in Rotterdam those days I passed the NRC that week, asking if I could buy an original of the picture. I could, but against the cost of I believe 30 guilders. Well given beer prices at the time and my student budget, this just would not fly. A pity as today I would have proudly hanged it on the wall of my home office next to the artwork of Mark Wilkinson. Only later we learn what we appereciate in time, so I hope the beers tasted well. But at least I now have top quality recordings of one of the more amazing shows I ever witnessed.

Then there are still two diks to come. Disk 4 gives us Singles, B-sides and alternative versions. Nice but owned already. Further we get demo takes of the Misplaced Childhood album. If you know an album so through and through these demos funnily sound wrong at times. The endresult of the album turned out to be the perfect version, or did I hear it just too often? Disk 5 gives us a DVD. I still have to hear sound surround mixed by Steven Wilson, but I saw the interview. This is only for real fans as six man speak about the album, the recording and the period in time. I quite liked it, but my god one has  to pay attention when Fish is speaking without subtitles. The DVD closes with some Video Clips which I already have on DVD. Finally all is packed in a beautifull artwork package, including half a book with background information I still need to read. Maybe only for fans, but at least those who attended that tour, have something to look out for in a release from Utrecht. Definitely the band at their best period ever. The Childhood just never ends it seems, and I love it.