Sunday, 29 November 2015

Operation:Mindcrime - 013 Tilburg 27 November, 2015

So I had my doubts about Geoff Tate and his new band. Are his vocals still up to performing one of the best (if not the best ever) concept albums? Is the band good enough? Will there be anyone bothered to go and see them? Can we relive 1988? So while still in doubt things were made very easy for me by DPRP. By answering 3 fairly easy questions I got two free tickets and Hans & Mary joined for an evening of Operation:Mindcrime. First we had to be warmed up, which was not an easy thing in the huge new hall of 013. Apart from that the supports did not get anyone in the mood really. Fire & Water were good musicians, but an Irish due going on acoustic guitar and sax through some covers and own work was quality wise good enough, but had nothing to do with the main act. Young local band Wildfire only showed that they had nothing to justify their presence on this stage. Why not bring for example one of the three great bands I saw at Progcity two weeks ago? Luckily Mario from MMM made up a lot by playing the best inbetween music ever heard at a progmetal show. Only songs matching the audience's collective pasts.

And then came OM. Starting of with I Remember Now, we knew the full album would open the set. Just like us many people took a kind of wait and see attitude. In the past the spoken Hello-oh and You Bastard woudl be warmly shouted along, but now it remained silent. When Geoff Tate came on the first approving smiles appeared as he surprised us with a rather good voice. He was dressed Chicago mob style and the tie, hat and sunglasses did not come off during the whole evening. The band might not be the original Queensryche, but were good enough. Earlier this month I saw another favorite 80's album of mine being partially ruined by a band that was not up to the job (Fish : Misplaced Childhood). This evening the solo's might have been slightly less aggressive at times, but nothing disturbing the flow of the album. So we got a very good first hour guaranteed with so many highlights we love from that album. During Sister Mary the girl from Fire & Water appeared on backing vocals. explaining their presence and giving an added value to the show. When Eyes of a Stranger closed the first part, the evening was already a success to many. Hereafter we got the new album represented by new songs. Sounding Okísh I decided to get the abum and a Tee as and effort for the band.

Then we still got some work from the Queensryche past and some surprises appeared. Damaged I did not hear in some time and was very nice. Closing the first official set with traditional closer Take Hold of the Flame did raise the atmosphere even more. After a short break we were treated on 4 more Queensryche songs. Their ballad hit Silent Lucidity opened. Then came in The Thin Line another surprise song. helped by the F&W girl on sax this was a highlight in the evening mainly due to the unexpected factor. Closers were Yet City Women, possibly the worst song from Empire, plus the title song from that same album. After the show there seemed to be a consensus in the hall. Most people entered with doubts and this evening was much better than we hoped for. Geoff Tate appeared to be in great voice, the band was good enough and the setlist was great with next to Queensryche's best album, some surprises and known songs from the past. Maybe the sad fight within he band did result in two great alternatives after all. Interesting enough both versions avoided the dip 1996-2013 resulting in great shows. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Our Oceans - The Room - Teramaze - Swallow the Sun

As it has been silent on the CD review front lately, herewith a return to the format used earlier this year. Four short pointers to great new albums going from soft to heavy.

Starting with the hardest one to describe: Our Oceans. I pre-ordered their album based upon the presence of Tymon Kruidenier and Robin Zielhorst formerly known from Cynic and Exivious. The grunts Tymon used in Cynic are nowhere near to be found here. Their facebook page describes them as Dreamy, Otherworldly, melancholic, post-rock, singer/songwriter. This explains I am stuggling to put my finger on their style, but that shall not stop me from recommending this release. A Beautiful album for the quiet moments.

The Room released their second album Beyond the Gates of Bedlam this month. I knew their voaclist from Grey Lady Down, but this band is moving slightly more to melodic rock, AOR corners. Ther debut was stunning and it seems that this one gets better every time I hear it again. I believe I wrote for their debut that potentially they could please a huge market covering the styles mentioned above. So far this does not seem to be the case, but now with two great releases who knows where they might end up. Otherwise they remain one of many unknown secrets. Great band, how about de Boerderij for once?

Teramaze- Her Halo. Well this one is easily among the best progmetal releases this year. They do tick all the boxes for making a great progmetal album. An epic, an instrumetal, a ballad and five uptempo metal songs. This brought by great players and a remarkable voice of new vocalist Nathan Peachey. For anyone into melodic power prog metal this album is a must have. Hard to mention any preferred song, but maybe the extremely catchy chorus of the title song lifts that one just above the rest. Another proof of the fact that Australia is releasing a never stopping stream of top progmetal releases.

Swallow the Sun - Songs from the North I, II & III. This is a work of Art. Any band releasing a triple CD in today's downloading times already deserves full support. When this triple album contains so many beautiful songs one has to buy the album. Of course grunting is a hurdle to many, but still Part II can please those. pt.I Gloom sounds most like their only other album I own New Moon. Great doom metal with changes in heavyness throughout. pt. II Beauty is for the melancholic rockers. pt.III Despair is desparate and HEAVY. Swallow the Sun created the soundtrack for autumn 2015 when the world is at it's lowest since many years. "From Happiness to Dust", "Before the Summer Dies", "Empires of Loneliness"are just some of the titles showing this is not a happy metal album. But so beautifull in all it's misery.  

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Dead Lord, 77 & Danko Jones - Paard Den Haag 20 November 2015

The story of Dead Lord is very similar to the one of Absolva to me. I did not now them, saw them earlier this year and bought their two CD's, after which they came back to Den Haag to see them playing again while knowing their songs. So yesterday for me was all about Dead Lord, with high hopes for 77 and som doubts on Danko Jones. Het Paard is the renewed venue in Den Haag with the worst programmer in the region. Reason why I hardly ever go there. Without knowing Danko Jones really, I was surprised by the subscription Alternative on the posters and the audience also looked alternative to match. Rarely seen so few black T-shrts at a Hard rock concert, nor often so many women but later all would be explained.

Dead Lord opened at 20:00 hrs. and a half full floor saw them going through their set covering both albums. I missed both great opening songs "Farewell" and "Hank", but was not in the least disappointed with them. Dead Lord bring back the guitar battles in great style. All songs are full of twin and swapping solo's and the feel is just great. From the posed guitar lifting during "Because of Spite" to the soking amp in "When History Repeats Itself" the show was entertaining and lively. Being the opening band gave them less space than last time in Leiden, but what good 45 minutes we had. After closer "Hammer to the Heart"I silently hoped for "Farewell" as an encore but it was not to be. Definitely one of the better new life bands who tour their socks off all year around. As they are touring that much I count on may returns to the area.

After a short break 77 from Barcelona came on. They are being critizised for being too much an AC/DC clone. After seeing them life I would say who gives a shit 'bout that. What an energetic show, great songs and a band having fun and knowing how to pass this on to the audience. Two brothers at the front on guitars and vocals a jumpy bass player and a Spanish Animal on drums make them a joy to see. One round through the hall for the guitarist and after a short break ? three more songs to keep the spirits high. It seems that Barcelona is becoming fast one of the new hotspots in Metal. 77 playing Classic Hard Rock and Obsidian Kingdom plus Exxasens highlights of Progpower and last year extreme releases from Vortice and Foscor make the city able to pull of a very interesting festival of homegrown bands only. Before leaving during Danko Jones I tried to pick up their last CD as support, but unfortunately they had left the building.

And then came Danko Jones. So yes there was energy on stage and in the audience, There were fast rocking songs and easy to move on rhythms (hence the many dancing girls). But it just passed me by in a boring blaze. I guess just not my thing as the majority of the audience seemed to love them. Turning 50 next month I also might be that bit old to shout along 'Do you kiss on a first date?". Mostly this reminded me on The Offspring with their adolescent Punk/Pop Rock & Roll. They can built a party, but just not mine.
Next Monday Dead Lord and 77 shall play Holland's best Metal Bar Little Devil in Tilburg. I hope many people show up, as these two bands on that small stage should be brilliant. 

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Progcity - Musicon Den Haag, 14 November 2015

Progcity Den Haag. Funny, I never considered my hometown to be a progcity. Our Satellite city Zoetermeer might be a strong candidate, due to presence of de Boerderij. The Hague has as biggest venue het Paard and I do not recall any shows there that come close to anything Prog rock or metal. Recently I saw local band ReSolve release their debut album in Musicon and now a Progcity festival with some public. So staying in prog phrases, maybe the tide is turning.

First on were Infinite Mind. While drying up from a bicycle ride through a rainy and storming city I did quite like what I heard. Infinite Mind were the unknown band to me and did surprise positively. The vocals are a matter of taste. While closing your eyes you could at times not tell if you heard a male or female, but opening them the beard gave it away. A new band to follow and yet another Dutch hopeful, so maybe prog is not dead anytime soon yet. Only tip for them: while facing retracting audiences, demand them to move forward. Worked very well with Absolva and Anihilated earlier this year.

Next came Armed Cloud and I recently saw them at Progpower. At the time I missed the first half and I already wrote that I would catch up later. I did find them OK in Baarlo, but this time on the small stage of Musicon I liked them much better. A very smooth run through their debut album and interaction with the audience. Last month I was not sure if the buzz after their debut album was deserved. This time I got convinced as well, one of the better new progmetal bands from Holland.

Cartographer had the honour to close the evening. They play instrumental prog, but given the three guitars on stage there is a lot of dynamics going on. Also this band I had only seen before at Progpower, again they proved to be a very tight band. Being instrumental there is always this risk of loosing attention, and to a certain extent I faced this. Overall they showed enough variation to keep all focussed and boring never came close. Tonight was also the last show of their drummer, so some commemorations for that.

 Concluding three good dutch bands, that showed there is a future in prog. As the organizer said after the show he was not sure if same concept would be repeated we can definitely hope so. With ReSolve, Codex and a Liquid Landscape any potential lineup issues should be solved herewith.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Fish - Boerderij Zoetermeer 3 November 2015

Fish saying Farewell to Childhood, means two quickly sold out shows in de Boerderij. While most people seemed to come to hear Misplaced Childhood indeed, Fish started with what seemed 5 random songs from his solo back catalogue. While all songs would not be me favorites from their respective albums it showed the huge base Fish can dive in to bring us music. Highlights on this section were "The Perception of Johnny Punter" which remains linked to actualities and the for me under the radar song "Long Cold Day". Especially the aggressivenes in the line "it'll be a long cold day in Hell before I take you back" was impressive. Coming to Fish, his voice seemed better than it had been for a long time. Very convincing performance and his inbetween songs bantering about women, old age, football and a horrible South African rugby referee were amusing. Family Business has been a small hit in Holland so got most response.

After five songs the show turned to what brought most people here: a full visit to Misplaced Childhood. For me this was also the point where the show took a slightly dramatic turn. Misplaced Childhood is one of the most played albums by me, so I do recognize every line and every note. And then there was the band. While doing fine during the Fish songs they just did not seem up to the job of copying perfectly the original. As such this is not a problem, since Fish's voice changed and he walks different through the album as well. The problem was that the keys on Pseudo Silk Kimono did hurt your ears and the whole album the guitar seemed to be playing with a brake on, never giving us these eruptions that Rothery gave and brought the album alive. So while I was looking forward to seeing one of my all time favorite albums being performed live, it turned out the low of the show.

Never give up before the encores though and Fish did gain most points back. However, this time the audience did not response as they should. With many people there who want to relive their past the atmosphere was dead all out. So if Fish plays Market Square Heroes one of Marillion's hardest rocking songs ever, there should be some kind of reaction. For those who believe they should stand in front of the stage some responsibilities come with that. One of them is that when Fish sings "Are you following me?"you go apeshit crazy and do not do your best impression of a bag of potatoes. During MC, the half muted Childhood chants were already embarrassing for de Boerderij, but now they took it to the next level. Actually the spark never went from stage to audience and it was the most boring audience I ever saw in de Boerderij. Mind you I've seen shows there with only 50 people around, but humor and participation were always there in one form or another. But the band played free again (seemingly relieved they passed through another MC performance) and the Market Square Hero rocked. A final goodbye was dedicated to missing Euro Chamionships for Scotland and Holland which leaves drinking as an alternative. The Company is the singalong song and a perfect closer.

So the evening overall was nice, but this won't be going down as one the Classic Fish shows I attended. Strangely his voice and form were very good, but I guess you need a better band and audience to have a party. I will keep on supporting Fish though until his farewell tour in 2017 ordering a table for one for the word drunk poet.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Absolva - Musicon Den Haag 1 November 2015

"We are Absolva and it's Never a Good Day to Die". Unfortunately too many people also thought it was not a good day to go to Musicon. Sharing some of the excuses: Sunday night or the day after Halloween (yes this seems to be an excuse in Europe as well nowadays). I believe the main reason can be found in the huge amount of shows we can see nowadays. The Friday before I sent a mailing to friends asking who wanted to join me on any of the 21! potential shows during the coming 5 weeks.  The huge offer is great for fans, but results in choices and some empty places on less favorite evenings. But hey I went to see Absolva one of the hardest working bands around. As their roady told me, even on quiet shows they always pick up some new fans and slowly they shall grow. For me this is fact as seven months ago I saw them for the first time live also in Musicon and here I was back to see them promote their Bond movie titled new album.

As there was no support band we got an extended show of 1.5 hours and a nice overview of their three studio albums. Absolva play heavy metal and do this very well. I got the new album only on the evening, but especially "All Alone"and "No Tomorrow" sounded very promising at first hearing. From their previous two albums the highlights came for me in the form of "From Beyond the Light"from their debut, with some crazy fast twin guitar soloing over and under guitar necks. Highlight of the Anthems to the Dead album came for me in the form of epic "Silent Sacrifice". Their songs are just plain heavy metal and the covers from Iced Earth and Maiden blended well with their own songs. If Absolva were disappointed with the size of the crowd, they did not show this and played an very entertaining evening of metal for us. Also during the set those present from cautiously waiting changed into a full shouting out loud ending on film. Next time they are in the area I shall be back again as well. Actually their first return is already booked when they play Gebr. de Nobel in Leiden next March backing up Blaze Bailey during his tour. Great band, great show, great CD.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Watchtower - Mathematics

Mathematics might still be coming our way!!! The album the tech metal loving world has been waiting Pi semi decades for seems to be underway and as dates are always an uncertainty in the Watchtower Universe they have now released three new songs. Going completely against my beliefs I did order these songs through iTunes. Struggling to remember the password and to find the songs after purchasing them I am now displaying a large smile as these new songs bring me back to the times of Classic album Control & Resistance. This mainly because vocalist Alan Tecchio is back at the mic.

Watchtower are for me the start of everything tech metal. When the big three of Progmetal already set the tone on a genre that would fit my personal taste to the max, Watchtower added some crazy rhythms, surpising breaks and total wizzardry on all instruments. First time I could see them live was  around 1990 when they played het Paard in my hometown (when they still frequently had good metal bands coming our way) During some apartment moves I lost the Classic Control & Resistance Tee, but the LP still frequently turns when I go back in time and play some old LP's to remember the eightes in style. At least 20 years ago Mathematics was announced as follow up, but not much happened really. Some ten years ago Watchtower came back to Holland and headlined the Headway festival.  With Jason McMaster on vocals this  was again one showcase of energy mixed with amazing play. Their encore a Watchtower hyped version of 2112 is still a highlight of everything I ever saw live on stage. In 2010 they released one song Seize of the Matter when returning to Europe to play Keep it True (the festival that always reunites the best of the eighties and sells out before I can decide on going or not)

And now they are back working on the album. M-Theory Overture is an instrumental with the Ron Jarzombek signature all over it. Together with the pulsing bass of Doug Keyser it does not need long to recognise which band is playing here. The next two songs include the vocals of Alan Tecchio and make me look very much forward to the complete album. Arguments Against Design and Technology Inaction show me why I have missed Watchtower for so long. Hectic metal for the unquiet souls is just what you need on a dull autumn day. For years I  have been asking for Watchtower as headliner for Progpower Europe on their questionnaire. Lately I gave up, but now I am hopefull again and count on them coming back to Europe soon. Mathematics is coming our way!! for now I go and play Demonstrations in Chaos