Sunday, 28 October 2012

Leprous, Loch Vostok, Persefone and Orkenkjott Boerderij 26 October 2012

Thank you ALL, shouted the vocalist of Orkenkjott after the first song, with a cynical undertone looking at the about 30 people who actually witnessed the band opening this evening. Later on it got slightly better, but what is going on here?? 4 bands all exploring their own boundaries, loads of beards on stage and hardly anyone bothered to pay less than 20 Euros to check them out? Well Orkenkjott turned out to be not impressed by any lack of audience and were just as lively as three weeks earlier on Progpower. Problem for me was that than I was already not overly impressed and now the element of surprise also left. So I saw pretty much a shortened set from 3 weeks ago and still the songs did not stick in my head. While being in doubt before, now realized that I do not need to check out their CD. By saying that their shows probably shall always remain entertaining and closer "all the way from Texas" was again a nice change in act, so pictured here above.

Andorra is a place most people know little about I guess. Apart from the occassional pointless football match or Tour de France stage they never appear in the news. Now we know they have at least one sympathetic metal band. Pretty much liked their show and music with enough energy and variation to entertain for the time they had. What made me not run and buy their CD afterwards was their vocalist. A tiny man with long beard and a powerfull metalcore scream. I would have preferred a grunt/clear vocals mix for their music. The clear voice now came sporadic from the keyboardist who spend the show with a smile on his face looking into the audience. When after a few songs our small vocalist decided to take of his shirt to show us his branded underpants, his angry expresssions became somewhat laughable. Or quoting Prog magazine: this was not a very prog thing to do. The music itself sounded good enough and headbanging was definitely an option.

Loch Vostok came next on. I actually have two of their CD's and saw them once before at the Headway festival. What I remembered from that show was the vocalist asking for audience participation on the differences between a Death Metal grunt, a Heavy Metal shout and a Black Metal Scream.  After two songs it became clear to me why I only remembered that. While the instruments, vocals and grunts all sound very well the songs just failed to make an impression. They passed by and moved on to the next one, without any effect on me. As the pygmee (his words) vocalist announced the last two songs to be much better than the crap they played before he was partially right. Defintely suddenly some recognition during the songs happened. So yet another nice enough to see band, but no need for closely following their future steps.

And then came Leprous a band not yet big enough to head such a tour, given the around 80 people I guessed being present during their show. This is pretty strange looking at their very good Bilateral CD released last year and their succesfull performance during Progpower 2010. Leprous are a lively bunch on stage who like to add show to their very groovy progmetal. Given their lively performance I did not see the need for the arty-farty movies shown on the two television screens. But going to their performance we could see a band in top form. Alll instruments were coming out nicely and even while the vocalist seemed to be suffering from a cold his vocals were great from loud an aggressive to subtle and beautifull. Leprous play intense music, that makes you want to move along just the neck or full body dance along. This is a band that should become big in our scene, since songs, performance and attitude are in place. Just wondering if 4 albums down the road they still stick to the red and black suits and ties.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Riversea - Out of an Ancient World

Progstreaming, the best invention on the internet over the past year. The website where you can listen to streams of new progressive albums As they say Hear it, Like it , Buy it.and it works. Several times I ran into CD's I've read about before and listen to it on Progstreaming resulting in a purchase, a not necessary to buy decision or even plain disappointment. The site has proven to be very interesting for me and with currently including the last releases from Marillion, Pendragon, Magnum and Threshold you can hardly say they only cover the more obscure and unknown bands. My last Progstreaming discovery which resulted in an immediate order from the band's website is Riversea.

Riversea is a duo helped out by a long list of somewhat famous artists from UK prog bands. The CD is one of those typical Sunday morning ones, when you don't want to wake the house with your last tech-metal band, but make everyone get up easily on the sometimes Floydish tunes from Out of an Ancient World. Very easy listening, pretty british, average vocals, but saved by some classy guitar playing a very enjoyable CD indeed. Great songs included for me are The Song, Halo ( Bryan Josh helping out) and the catchy The Fallen. So anyone liking his prog rock overdosed on ballads, nicely performed and storytelling this might be to your liking.

With these one or two persons projects you never know if they manage to get a tour together and show on stage if live these songs come even more alive. The good news was that on Beyond Rock's mailing I could read that the first pressing is sold out, so at least a few people recognized that we have yet another great band from the UK.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

DMJGH 16: po90 - JitTers

DMJGH is an excuse for me to wander through very old to fairly recent albums and put them to a general attention again. DMJGH, means This One You Should Have Heard, but then in Dutch. This week I was struck by the news that Andy Tillison had to dismantle yet another version of The Tangent. For those not knowing him, A.T is a highly talented musician, who gave us many epic songs with the Tangent, but keeps on struggling to live on his beautiful music in these times of downloading, copying and no sales. If you then also operate in our beloved small circle of progressive music, things only get that bit harder to get by.

This is not about The Tangent, but his other (dismantled?) band po90, or Paralel or 90 degrees.I missed this bands output in the 90's, but got their can of worms collection, which is highly recommendable. This album is from some years ago and should be heard indeed. Here we have a collection of songs going from uptempo instrumental Interlude, through more epical material, partially french lyrics (who in English are showing his usual social engagement). What I like most is that po90 shows an aggressiveness sometimes dearly missed by prog bands.

Highlight for me is the semi-cover The Dock of the Abyss. (Sittin' on the dock of the Bay) Here you shout along with the protest lyrics, and working in the raw material mining world (non european of course) I could explain the why's of replanning the reopening of Coal mines that were closed under Tatcher regime. Today this is overruled by new realities anyway. But what a song, and how I hope that Mr. Tillison can find a band and continues playing live.I did see him only once (and listened very carefully) and could see performers that need to be seen live after hearing the CD.

So here I sit in yet another airport lounge looking outside at the leaves turned yellow and brown, while bands continue to dismantle. Almost getting an autumn blues I shall head for a Bock bier and count on talent to survive, and talent on display here is plenty.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Marillion - Sounds that can't be Made

Today Marillion play in Rio. On more than one occassion they made it clear in interviews and during Marillion weekends, that Rio is probably their favorite place to play. And while the last week re-elected mayor of Rio called Seedorf the most Carioca of all the Dutch I dare to put that statement into question. While maybe not the most Carioca, being a head taller I am at least the more Carioca. In 1998 I came close, but after just meeting Josy we travelled to the North East for a long weekend when they conquered Rio. A great bonus of Rio shows is that due to history they can and shall not ignore the Fish past completely, so at least Kayleigh plus some surprises can be expected. Now that 2012 goes missing as well, I know where, how, why and with whom I shall be next time they play the fantastic place.

But that is Marillion live, never disappointing. Here I am writing about their last album. Weeks after appearing in the shops by a joined effort of British and Dutch mail also their special edition arrived at my home. I still buy their special editions in the blind and all because of past performances and never disappointing live shows. The last two albums "Somewher Else" and "Happiness is the Road" did not impress me much and because of their large back-catalogue shall have a hard time being played again soon. The band turns too much into a H solo project for my taste and Rock and Roll is no part of Marillion anymore. The late arrival of my copy gave me the chance to read several reviews in advance and expectations went up, since the general view is positive.

Gaza starts of in a different way indeed. The guitars from Steve R. (God to fans) is heavier than normal and almost agreessive at places. Since the Papers Lie, I have no opinion on Gaza. I believe the statement that there is no intention to take sides or insult anyone unnecessary. Marillion's intentions are to make the world a better place in general and if people get insulted I tend to think it is their problem. But drifting off the music, a great song and probably live an opener to get everybody ready to rock.

Problem for being ready to rock is that if they follow the CD. Sounds that Can't be Made, Pour my Love and Power put you back in your chair fighting against the sleep , well almost. Of course the solo's from Mr. Rothary are above average and the music is Quality, but I can not stop thinking that it could have been better and mainly louder.

And then comes Montreal. For me the best song although not really structured or built up. Many bits and pieces telling about their weekend experience in Montreal we go through the motions. The lyrics are just telling the trip, flight, receipt, day program, fans, but when H sings about jet-lagged people a piece of beautifull music brings us back to Brave atmospheres. Next year shall be the first Marillion -weekend since 2002 that I shall not attend, but listening to this song puts the Montreal weekend on the maybe list (although competing with Y-prog. HRH prog, Celebr8 in the UK unlikely to happen)

Invisible Ink follows somewhat under the radar for me (H-solo song), but Lucky man is much to my liking, with the very catchy chorus which makes you sing along (if agreeing to the lyrics) "I truly am, A lucky man, I have Everything that I want". Pleased to hear also that there is somewhat power in a song appearing, And ending with yet another ballad, but this time spot on for me. The Sky Above the Rain has beautifull lyrics on a relationship that is over but not ended, the build up brings us an emotional ending of the CD, helped of course by some magical guitar work.

After some 4-5 listens Marillion CD's tend to be hard to judge, but as a first impression has been made. Probably somewhat better than the two previous albums I do not think it reaches the level of my favorite H era albums, Brave, This Strange Engine and Anoraknophobia. (I managed almost not to mention my favorite Marillion albums that is 4 times Fish on vocals)

Still I wish I was in Rio this weekend seeing Marillion in the Vivo Hall on Saturday and Fluminense  (lider isolado) on Sunday in Enghenhao. Maybe next time and I shall be a lucky man...  

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Progpower Europe 5 -6 October 2012

Are there any Dutchies in the Hall? Any non Dutch?. This question from A Liquid Landscape and the subsequent raising of arms made the penny finally drop for me. As repeatedly told by Josy: You should write in English. After all the very few followers probably get it still and the hits from search machines out of Russia, Australia or Argentina might now be able to read what you write.So herewith my official first move into English blogging and what better to start it off than with the annual highlight on the music front: The ProgPower Europe Festival.

Baarlo is the place to be for every first weekend in October and not only for Progmetal lovers from Holland, but very much so from all over Europe, with even the odd visitor from far overseas. After last year's very unfortunate accident this year even started with an extra Thursday evening commemoration and pub show. I did not manage to join this, neither to stay for the full weekend, so my 2012 Progpower was reduced to an early 2000's edition of the Friday night and a full Saturday. Still 9 bands, a return to Camping de Berckt and meeting many friends from abroad made it yet another memorable weekend.

Friday night started of with the somewhat strange Orkenkjott from Norway. As entertaining as they were, there was the constant need for changing musical directions and styles, which made them confusing to follow. Also glitter and painted faces for the guitarists, Sjimmie on bass and a vocalist that looked like Biker-Jesus-later-turning-redneck-yank, made things not like your average Progmetal outfit. Very positive I found their performance and what they played in bits and pieces sounded actually very nice, but why not stay with the Doom metal, or the heavy metal, or the ..... End of the month they get a second chance while supporting Leprous. Still trying to figure out if I am looking forward to that or not really.

Anubis Gate from Denmark, brought us back to more conservative and predictable Melodic Progressive metal. While saying that I must add, that being less extravagant is not always a bad thing. I liked their performance with solid songs and playing. Their bass player/vocalist reminded me somewhat of Glenn Hughes in his poses and that was the only point to comment on their performance. Good band.

You look over 40, so you should like our Friday Night headliner Heaven's Cry. As Christiaan (sorry if I am mixing up names) told me earlier this year during an Obscura, Gorod, Exivious show. And right he was (about both my age and my liking of Heaven's Cry) Never seen them before I was pleasantly surprised when after three songs the sound problems were solved and the Bass player turned out to have a live voice as good as on CD. Their music is complex and with a new CD being released the very day I noticed sometimes an attention span lapse over the new work. But the show was great and especially their Food for Though Substitute songs made a strong impression (probably since I know that CD best) Definitely a worthy Friday night Headliner and listening to their new CD at home, glad I got the last copy.

Saturday morning waking by rain noises on the trailer the possibilities were limited. With no chance to run along on Sunday morning run, decided to go for a round along Maas, Castle, village and back. Always good to run the beer out and get a clean conscious for starting all over again. Saturday gave me some expectations with an interesting program, although several bands I only heard songs from through the net mainly thanks to Andy's great radio show, which can be heard through DPRP.

A Liquid Landscape got some great reviews. Entering the room, when they just opened, I was impressed with their build up and sound. On stage a very sympathetic looking band played their progressive rock songs very well and the good result was that by the end of their set the audience had doubled. Somehow the band seemed impressed that the audience got their music, but this is not your average festival crowd. I for one was convinced enough to get their CD after the show and realizing that this turned into one of my favorite national bands after just one show. They tour with Paatos this autumn, so maybe a second impression in November.

The first ever band from Ireland to play at Progpower; Shattered Skies. With the Irish having a very musical culture and a legacy of Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore and for me also Sandstone some expectations. Just heard some songs on the show from the metal mayor from Stroud and their bandcamp site I quite liked what I heard so far. After the standing still to listen experience with ALL before, this was all about moving along (Anyone for headbanging at 3 'o clock in the afternoon?, you can now).A very dynamic show, with great presentation by their very Irish Vocalist. Their music seemed a blend of Heavy Metal with some overdose on the tech side by their very good guitarist, bass player and drummer. Most interesting stage performance came from the bass player dancing fanatically towards his amplifiers. Young as they are their music can be downloaded. One of the most asked questions to them by the aging audience definitely must have been, where are your CD's?

And then after the progressive rock from A Liquid Landscape, the progressive Heavy Metal from Shattered Skies, ended the perfect build-up with Progressive Thrash metal from Alarum. some years ago I did not yet fully get their show, but earlier this year I heard a song from their new CD Natural Causes, which made me buy the album and what a blast it is. One of the highlights of the year, which includes in For New Creation a song that shall make my top-three of songs of the year, what a killer hook! Live this was a show of taking no prisoners a constant flow of uptempo harsh metal, covered with the really unearthly play of the two best guitarists of the festival. This was a show between gazing amazed at the stage and banging your head until a sudden jazz break would take you to a next flow. The band seemed to enjoy themselves a lot, pleased to get this hard stuff out right live. Even the loosening of a cable turned into an optimistic intermezzo by replugging just in time for a three note jazz break. For me the highlight of PPE 2012. And summing up the afternoon, this might well have been the best afternoon program I ever saw at Progpower. Three very different bands spanning almost my whole taste range from progressive rock to technical death metal, and all performing well above my already high expectations.

After the dinner break Mark from Alarum came back on stage now with Levitation Hex. This was Heavy, very much so actually. But while Alarum had a brilliant break by every blink of an eye this was more of a constant storm hitting you full in the face. The timing was not the best after the perfect afternoon and with hunger kicking in, it was off to Milano for a Shoarma pizza (speaking of traditions) after four songs. Maybe like Alarum I need a second attempt to get it, but now they madelittle impact.

Dan Swano on stage with Nightingale. I have several CD's from them and like their traditional Hard Rock with Dan's deep voice. The show kicked off with just that voice and dressed in a yellow ELO T-shirt huge Dan made a stage impression. When the band joined all sounded good and a great show was to be expected. After some songs all solidly performed some disinterest started hitting in. Maybe there was too little difference inbetween songs and did I miss the powerfull grunt that makes Edge of Sanity such an outstanding band. The ballad Alonely made things happening on stage. Unfortunately not as planned, since the guitar solo went lost by technical problems. Also here it was that Andrew's research on what the Russian hat was all about started, which together with the shirtless remainder of the set could have been hidden in the lyrics, but we never knew. Concluding a good show, but I expected more due to lack of variety.

Closer for my PPE 2012 was Vandenplas. I pretty much liked the Vondenpinkel T-shirts, but there is something about Vandenplas that doesn't work for me. They seem relaxed enough, they have good songs and play very well, but last times I saw them I always felt like something was missing. Maybe it is in the Christ poses from Mr. Kuntz, or the little communication with audience, but with them I tend to get the feeling I might just as well listen to a CD from them at home. The Sjiwa looked pretty full when they were on and reactions were positive, so I might have been one of the few. Also known from experience headliners tend to have a harder time in convincing me, since starting at 13:30 hrs I get somewhat tired and thus critical around 22:30 hrs. Still appreciating the musicianship I did enjoy the show and my beer.

A short festival for me this year, did not stop me from enjoying the usual mix of discovering great new bands (A :Liquid Landscape, Shattered Skies),  see some bands meeting my expectations (Anubis Gate, Heaven's Cry) and being blast away by a surprising good show (Alarum). Thanks go out to the organization, for making this possible and already filled out their questionnaire with my suggestions for next year for Headliners Fates Warning, Watchtower and Psychotic Waltz, plus several great bands that  released brilliant CD's in 2012 like Headspace, Linear Sphere, Gorod and Stealing Axion. If they follow my requests or not: I'll be back.