Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Top 16 of 2016 - Live Shows

Tonight we close the year and I am in Piratininga (Niteroi), with Copacabana on the background. As the biggest fireworks of Brazil take place over there we shall watch it from the back, which probably results in watching a smoke screen from far again. Musically I have to put earplugs in avoiding all the worst Brasil has on offer here with Pagode, Funk, Samba and other non rocking styles.
This year we lost our oracle Johan Cruyff who said every disadvantage has its advantage. I used the fact that Josie is working in Portugal and work trips are at a low due to the ongoing FM situation for seeing shows. Ending with an average slighty above one a week and including international shows in Spain, Portugal and the UK I can not complain. As a result it becomes harder to choose favorites, but I managed to make some decisions. Honorable mentions should go to the following bands that did not make the cut: The Contortionist, Dirkschneider/Anvil, Evergrey, Ne Obliviscaris, Iamthemorning and Headspace. I let at times emotional ties speak as well, which created some preferences. Herewith the ones that made it to my favorite shows starting at 16.

16. Warrior Soul - Musicon 26 March
Not much of a voice left, this was one long ride through songs I knew for years. The Losers remains one of the best ballads ever and the band was good.

15. Loudness - Gebr de Nobel 16 June
It must have been some 31/32 years since I last saw Loudness at Arena Rotterdam. Akira remains a hero on guitar and we are the Loudness guys!!

14. Tokyo Blade - Baroeg 8 October
Part of Rotterdam Rocks, the highlight to me was the Tokyo Blade show. They stuck with their first albums and this made the recognizing effect only better.

13. Borknagar - Baroeg 24 April
I already loved their album Winter Thrice and then alive it even got better. Warmed up by impressive Kampfar a great performance form the allstar band who all sung parts of the show.

12. Queensryche - de Boerderij 29 August
While Geoff Tate gave in December a nice acustic show, the real metal versions always prevail. Focus on the 80's. Next time they can choose the songs they did not play this time so for years we should be OK with Queensryche.

11. O.R.k - de Boerderij 17 February
Probably the most surprisingly underrated show of the year in a near empty Boerderij. Drums from King Crimson, Bassist ex Procupine Tree showed that names do not always attract an audience. Yet their show was beautiful.

10. Satan - Gebr. de Nobel 14 May
While we were warmed up by bands that had nothing to do with Satan, they came on strong and convincing. Satan is this NWOBHM band who can fill their show with new songs as their last two albums are as good as the classic debut album Caught in the Act

9. UFO - de Boerderij 6 November
 Building there show around the best live LP ever made this is a guaranteed winner. Phil Mogg still good by voice and Vinnie Moore brilliant in the solo's we know note by note.

8. Sodomizer - Musicon 2 December
Sodomizer representing here many underground bands I saw in the area. As they stayed at my place this one became more special. These small shows are many times much nicer than the larger events and when the band turn out being nice people it was one great evening.

7. Vektor - Little Devil 19 August
My favorite album of the year performed in full. Well almost as the power went off and there was no way to get that back in steaming hot Little Devil. What we saw was impressive enough to make me look forward to many Vektorian returns.

6. Mearfest - the Borderline 13 August
 Charity combined with NWOBHM organized by very sympathetic Brian and Clair Mear. As time was short the shows would not ente my list, but the overall atmosphere and mood at the venue definitely made this one memorable evening. Best bands to me: The Deep, Sacrilege and Kaine.

5. Tribulation - Gebr. de Nobel 28 January / Beyond Creation - Patronaat 23 October
A double nomination for my favorite extreme shows of the year. Tribulation giving us a different performance based on good music and Beyond Creation probably the best Technical Death Metal show I saw in years.

4. Wolverine - Sjiwa 2 October
Wolverine representing Progpower here. While at the festival I was also much impressed by In Mourning and Sadist this band proved once again how to make top class moody progmetal. Best voice of the festival and this was such a show that made me appreciate their last albums even better.

3. Oceans of Slumber - 013 7 April
Having a short slot they did overwhelm completely. Live the swap between voices and impressive instrumental mastering came over even better than on CD. I saw them return later in the year at the same venue with much better acts next to them in Enslaved and Ne Obliviscaris, but missed half their set due to traffic. Hope to see them perform a full set in 2017.

2. Trespass - Musicon 31 July
Having breakfast at home with the band that gave me One of these Days and Stormchild over 30 years before was very special indeed.The set was showing similarities with the one I saw the year before in Sudbury, but only good songs. Looking out for their new album in 2017 and they are more than welcome at home if they return to Holland.

1. Iron Maiden - Sevilla Olympic 14 July
Not a very original choice maybe, but I do not see all their tours any longer. This time going with Tiago in sunny Sevilla was one of their best gigs ever. Standing hands on shoulder with Tiago and shouting along the OOh-who-hooos during the Red and the Black was a moment I shall never forget.

Wishing everyone a great 2017, hoping it brings as many great shows to us as 2016 did. So keep on Rockin' in the New Year.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Headspace - de Boerderij Zoetermeer, 21 December 2016

The last evening in Holland for me this year and I could close the year in style with Headspace playing at de Boerderij. While Headspace is a band of many talented musicians to most it is just another excuse for Damian Wilson to come back to de Boerderij. So as gurantees we have, his walking through the audience before and during the show. His great voice and his entertaining stories inbetween songs. As those introductions can drag on we saw several times this evening either the drummer or the keyboards just starting and keep things going. Of course the rest of the band are no slouches either and especially guitarist Pete Rinaldi got some well deserved spotlights on him. Before Headspace played we were warmed up by Dutch band Beyond God. As this female fronted metal is not my thing we waited in the bar for the main act.

Headspace opened with a song from the first album and I quickly noticed that I did recognize songs, but not all the titles. They released their second album begin of this year and I must say it sounded to me less than their debut album. Going to see them live was therefore good to fully appreciate All That You Fear is Gone as well. This worked to great effect as especially The Science Within Us and Kill You With Kindness came out very strong. The set did not contain too many songs, but I believe we only got epic songs plus one short ballad in Soldier. Damian Wilson is the best performing vocalist in prog rock and metal and this show proved Headspace to have the potential to be amongst the big names in the genre. The audience was not huge, but many of the Progpower northern half of Holland came to see them. Tonight the southern half can see them in Weert. I would say do so as they are great. They announced being back in Holland April next year. Shall be funny if they choose 2 April a date already filled with I believe 5 shows I would normally go and see. The live show year ended for me and now I can go struggle to decide which were the 16 best ones of 2016. More on that later.


Sunday, 18 December 2016

Martigan - 't Blok Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel 18 December 2017

Progfrog managed to stay under my radar until very recently. Before that I knew of their existence and home venue 't Blok, but never really looked for going there. Some weeks ago when I discovered The Gift I noticed they shall be here in February and while at their page I found out that Martigan would play an afternoon show today. With Tiago filling up the living room with sweaty teenagers and my past knowledge of Martigan the choice was easy. I saw Martigan at Night of the Prog once and liked them and their CD of the time Vision. In spite of liking them I stopped following them actively. Playing Vision again I remembered what I liked about them Neo prog with clear inspiration by the British big names. Arriving at 't Blok they  were about to start. The venue is not that big, but perfect for these shows. The about 40-50 people made it busy enough and staff passed every 25-30 minutes with cheese, sausage and bitterballen. Obviously this would make us thirsty, but after Sportmindz Christmas drinks on Friday and Geoff Tate last night I was not after any beers really. Before the band started we were asked to have any loud discussions outside, which was followed through the show giving us the chance to fully appreciate the loud/soft changes.

Martigan started with a song of Vision, but without taking notes I do not recall which one. They did play Boatsman's Vision and the Contract as well from that album. Actually it did not matter that much if I knew the songs or not. This was one afternoon of musical excellence, with highlights for mainly guitars and keyboards. At the same time the drums were impressive and the bass was allowed to lead us through Red & Green. This resulted in some different dancing/orchestrating by one fan at the front. In general all songs tend to be either long or very long, This gives a lot of space for solo's and what a delight they were. This band is inspired by bands from the eighties and the quality of the players allows them to come close to the greats. for almost 2.5 hours we were treated on great music. The whole atmosphere therefore reminded me of recent Aisles or Anubis in de Boerderij or Iamthemorning in Patronaat. A small crowd in a small place, but all enjoying big time. This was a very good show and I got their latest album Distant Monsters afterwards, which is playing now. Still I have to end with some constructive feedback to the band. On the presentation front there is quiet some space for improvement. At times it was like watching a CD play at full volume. Especially guitar and vocals did not bring anything. I know it is all about the music in progrock (at progfrog). Yet a sunglassed vocalist that hardly speaks to us inbetween songs and a guitarist looking like any civil servant distracts from the show. A few phrases and a black shirt can solve this. Further  only good news, looking forward to returning here in February.

Geoff Tate - de Boerderij Zoetermeer, 17 December 2016

Geoff Tate the whole story acoustic tour stopped at de Boerderij. Last year he played with Operation Mindcrime in Tilburg and that was one of the bigger surprises on the live front. Avoiding what he cannot reach any longer his voice did well, so did the band. Now we were promised acoustic versions of his career with some story telling around the background of songs. Reason enough to go and see him again. Coming onto stage Geoff Tate showed to be into fashion again. Last year he looked with hat and suit like a Chicago mobster, this year the tweed vest and cap made him go Boston Irish. At the end of the evening it was explained by the fact that his guidig band were Irish next to Operation Mindcrime guitaris Scott Moughton. No support band only Geoff Tate so bring it on Pieter and Lida thought with me.

Opening with Walk in the Shadows it seemed we were in for a good evening. The band consisted of two acoustic guitars, a drum board, a cello, one violin and a mandolin. This was the perfect background on the softer side as I have not heard Geoff Tate singing so at ease and thus good for years. Some screams and powerfull outbursts were swapped, but we heard bits of that voice again, That voice made Queensryche one of the best bands in the eighties. During the set one point became interesting. This set-up made some average songs come out really great, while some of my Queensryche favorites did not come out all that great. Starting with the latter, Take Hold of the Flame was played in such a way that the backshouting of Take Hold was saved only for the end. The Lady wore Black is a great ballad due to the emotional high screamed chorus. Now tuned down some octaves it lost power. Highlights on the other were plenty as well, with to me surprising highlights in Some People Fly and Out of Mind. Eyes of a Stranger is good in whatever version played and also sounded great tonight. There also was as announced some storytelling inbetween. While at some points it gave some interesting background on what a song really is about, at other moments it drifted along pointlessly as in Nashville stories. When the regular set was over I was curious for the encore, as many obligatory classics passed already in Eyes, I don't Believe in Love and Jet City Woman (boring as always). Then came the only disappointment in closing down with an unknow song to me about all around the world all you need is love. Christmas time or not I could have tipped many better ways to end such a nice evening.

Looking back on the evening I thought this to be a great solution. Backed up acoustically we could hear why Geoff Tate is such a great vocalist. Some highs are avoided, but that is known on forehand. Bringing an Irish band along helps as well, since the Irish must be one of the most sympathetic people on the globe so no arrogance on stage. Actually I would like to see him repeating this formula next time on tour. For the old metal versions we have Queensryche touring and this is really something different. With a back-catalogue of 17 albums I have enough suggestion for him. So if this reaches the band please include next time: Someone Else?, London, ,Anybody Listening? and why not Roads to Madness.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

The Top 16 of 2016 - CD's

It's that time of the year again where you put yourself to the impossible task of ranking this year's albums. Making a shortlist was already impossible, so I started applying some rules to help me decide. Several bands released good albums, but not their best ever. So out went: Haken, In Mourning, Big Big Train, Wolverine, Dec Burke, Headspace, Cosmograf, Frost*, Tiles, Gojira amongst others. Some just did not make it as there are only 16 places. If I would make the list on another day they might very well have entered the list, so sorry to Witherscape, Salem, John Wesley, Graham Bonnet Band, Perihelion Ship and Them. One album is still on the way to me and definitely a candidate from what I heared on bandcamp, but a Sense of Gravity is not shortlisted by late arrival. Cutting the introduction short herewith my favorites of the year starting as one should at 16 building the tension.

16: Redemption - The Art of Loss
Redemption is a guarantee for quality and this one fits in well in their discography. Only point is that it became just another great Redemption album, without a song to match Sapphire. Very solid progmetal release.

15: Sinistro - Semente
The only representative from my future home land Portugal.This band makes a rather unique mix of doom metal with poetic female vocals over that. I missed them both times they played Holland this year, but loved this discovery.

14: Future Corpse - Another World to Consume
I played this album many times and still cannot hum along with the songs. Crazy complex stuff sounding as if At the Drive-In are playing progmetal.

13: Lee Abraham - The Seasons Turn
Lee Abraham is the one in the British Prog Rock scene that keeps on improving himself. Helped by a range of great vocalists this is the best prog rock album of the lesser known bands to me this year.

12: Mistur - In Memoriam
The older I get the heavier my taste is developing it turns out. This Epic Viking Black metal from Norway ticked all the right boxes for me Great story, moodswings, performance and songs.

11: Poem - Skein Syndrome
Greece has a reputation of high class Progmetal bands and Poem is another hit. Slightly grungy flavored this is a very catchy album. Coming at us with Persefone this spring is one to look out for.

10: Montra - The Machine
One of my discoveries through Prog Metal Zone this year. An american Progmetal release mixing the melodic and the heavy nicely. Ending in style with an epic.

9: Borknagar - Winter Thrice
This band arrived to me from Black Folk at atmospheric Heavy Metal. Beautiful songs from this Norwegian all star combo. Their logo might scare of potential fans as this is highly accessible metal which justifies headliner status at several medium sized festivals.

8: Insomnium - Winter's Gate
The Epic album of the year title goes to Insomnium. Produced by Dan Swäno this one does recall the Crimson concept albums. Beautiful album and they shall officially open my 2017 live show year in Biebob 13 January.

7: Marillion - F.E.A.R.
Marillion making me very happy with one of their best releases ever with Hogarth on vocals. Intelligent lyrics, great long epics and plenty of guitar solo's. I love surprises like these.

6: Diamond Head - Diamond Head
This selftitled album can stand proudly next to their best work from the eighties. A great new vocalist and those signature sound guitar riffs. Comeback album of the year.

5: Oceans of Slumber - Winter
My favorite album from the first half of the year. Changing to a female vocalist who stays far from operatic annoyings still these great songwriting skills that made their debut my album of the year in 2013. This band should be the surprise of Progpower to many I am sure, so let's get them to Baarlo.

4: Watchtower - Concepts of Math: Book One
If this would be a full album and I did not have four from the five songs digitally already this for sure would be my album of the year. Watchtower the founding fathers of Tech Metal are back!!! I rest my case.

3: Fates Warning - Theories of Flight
Fates Warning never disappoints, but this one is even above very high expectations. Only not album of the year as it is impossible for Fates Warning to surprise me. Where Dream Theater might be disappointment of the year, Fates Warning still sets the bar for Progmetal .

2: The Reticent - On the Eve of a Goodbye
Seldom before such an emotional concept album has been released. Realising this is a solo effort by Chris Hathcock makes it only the more impressive. He has a touring band so bring this to Europe. Hearing this one often the impact is still there. Invest time in this CD and you will be rewarded.

1: Vektor - Terminal Redux
I missed this band in the past (corrected that by getting their first two albums as well). So this high tech speedy thrash metal with progressive traces completely blew me away. Mostly fast and furious there is space for instrumental madness, a ballad, and Pink Floyd as well. I did see them perform this album almost full in Little Devil confirming my thoughts. The future is Vektor.

Friday, 9 December 2016

The Gift - Graham Bonnet Band - Them

With the flood of great shows coming over us this autumn I kept somewhat quiet on the CD tips recently. Here some still fairly recent albums. Following the usual increasing volume pattern.

The Gift - Why the Sea is Salt
The always handy Something For The Weekend / DPRP pointed me towards The Gift. When I liked this album and learned that they come play Holland in February this was a quick purchase. This is very calm symphonic rock at a high standard. The epic All These Things even has some Christmas atmosphere over it to me. This mainly due to the pastoral mood in that song. This CD also serves multiple purposes. It works fine on a morning when you want to wake up slowly, but it also comes alive over headphones reading along to the lyrics. The fact that Steve Hackett joins on one song might result in a nice solo, but does not increase the overall level of this album, which is high enough to start with. Actually discovering this band I did the same with February tour partners The Far Meadow, bandcamped and purchased  That shall be one nice Sunday afternoon.

Graham Bonnet Band - The Book
Here is a total surprise to me. A few years back we saw Graham Bonnet at HRH and it all was somewhat uninspired making us move to the other stage where Fish was playing. With a good band he comes back with a vengeance. I totally love this album as it sounds most like any Alcatrazz album from the eighties. Graham Bonnet is the vocalist in rock with the most interesting CV of guitarists he played with. Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai and Chris Impelliterri is a list any vocalist should be jealous of. Interesting that for this album he went to the for me unknown Conrado Pesinato. On Keyboards we have Jimmy Waldo ex Alcatrazz and on drums none less then Mark Zonder (Fates Warning, Warlord). Opening song Into The Night made me very happy and in Dead Man Walking or California Air we have some others that would do nice in a set of his career overview. Actually Frontiers label decided to re-record many of his classic songs. As Mr.Bonnet stated himself, this adds nothing to the originals. Even so I quite like a collection which includes Eyes of the World, Assault Attack and God Blessed Video. Highly recommended!!

Them - Sweet Hollow
This CD is creating some diverse reactions on the internet. Being a former King Diamond coverband they are accused of being a cheap copy. Well I'd say bollocks to that. This band plays old school Heavy Metal we all loved to start with. In come the double guitars and high flying solo's. When you hear Forever Burns racing away I can not see people not getting enthusiastic. Vocals are at times high King Diamondish, but mainly plain Heavy Metal. The music is just great and for those liking favorite musicians doing something different we have Mike Lepond from Symphony X on bass. In order to stay close to their inspiration we are presented a scary story as well  Story or not I would just recommend this album to anyone into old school Heavy Metal. There is for me one miss on the album though in FestEvil, which has too much a pirate/folk metal flavour for my liking. Further all good and soar necks guaranteed. They are already booked in Little Devil next year. Closing the weekend we get Metalcon in Musicon, one might start saving energy any day soon.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Marillion & John Wesley - TivoliVredenburg Utrecht, 7 December 2016

Marillion and John Wesley both released among the best progrock albums of 2016, so I was more than a bit pleased when I learned last week I could go see them live in Vredenburg. I never was in Tivoli/Vredenburg after their huge and far too expensive renovation. Entering the enormous building turning left we ended up in the old hall I have been several times before and nothing changed, Even Marillion I saw there before in 1985 with the Misplaced Childhood tour and in the early 2000's I believe at their Marbles tour.

Warming us up was John Wesley. Unfortunately instead of a live band he brought some boxes along. So we got the solo version assisted by technology. I must say a missed chance, since those not familiar with his work showed little interested. A Marillion crowd can be narrowminded and tough to win over anyway and doing it on your own is even harder. I saw the vocalist of Jadis trying this as well in the past and not coming over. Damian Wilson has the stage personality to pull this off and Rob Lamothe also convinced solo in the past. John Wesley was half succesfull. From his last album a way you'll never be he did play the best songs in By the light of  a sun, Epic and the Title track. Still I believe with a full band he might have won more fans over. Now at least Michel got it and bought the last album.

Marillion in current times of doom would be interesting to start with. Their last album touching many topics what is wrong in the world nowadays, shows us that the world would be a nicer place if we had all a Marillion mindset. Yet that is not to be, so we can go into our bubble of hippieness and happiness and see them live. Opening the show was rather obvious looking back, as The Invisible Man starts with the line "The World's Gone Mad". This definitely is one of their best epics ever so a better start seemed impossible. To my surprise they then decided to kill the atmosphere by playing some of their worst material. You're Gone and Sounds That can't be Made are both easily the worst songs of the albums they come from. Following this by Fantastic Place, a ballad made me F.E.A.R. the worst. Well not to worry as in Living in FEAR we got the first new song and both guiding pictures and performance made this a second highlight.The peace-man in me considers the line "We decided to start melting our guns as a show of strenght" one of the most beautiful poetic ones released this year. A medley of Brave songs plus Afraid of Sunlight kept the atmosphere at a high. The New Kings was the second long song from F.E.A.R. This song is all about the rulers of the world being banks too big too fall/fail, Qatar bribing into the worldcup football and cycling, Russian oligarchs and all those things making you uncomfortable if thinking too long about them. Next to a great song the images to this one were very strong. I am sure that watching the money dropping king would have made any PSV fan in the audience (do they even exist above the rivers?) very embarrassed. Easter followed and while being a nice song this one we heard most of all I guess, so a welcome bar break. Ending the regular set we got probably my two favorite songs from the Hogarth era in The Great Escape and King. What a way to end this set. Of course a Marillion show is not over after 100 minutes, so we got some epics to come in the encore. First new song El Dorado again with powerful lyrics and good artwork. Ocean Cloud was a surprise,.Even if not among my favorite very long songs by them, the crowd loved it. And then closing the evening was keeping the best for last. Market Square Heroes.!!! The roof came off and the enthusiasm in the crowd was so much higher than before.

So the evening passed with ups and downs. John Wesley showed his talent, but forgot to bring a band.
Marillion started great and then dropped deep. I did look at setlists from this tour so far and in general we were lucky I guess. The new songs tend to be the same each evening and impressed. My favorites of the evening were The Great Escape, King and Market Square Heroes, all songs rarely played on this tour. The band was in the usual great shape. H remains this mood risk. Tonight he first provoked waiting for someone to shout Grendel and then showed still not being comfortable that Marillion with Fish was just a more popular live band. Their music of the last decades is still beautifull but you can also sit and enjoy. Actually we decided to stand in the arena and it must have been 25 years since I was so close to the stage at a Marillion show (and so far from the bar as Eggie added correctly). Marillion is always top class and even with Hogarth on vocals still among my all time favorite bands. Glad I saw this tour with convincing new material. Even if they did not play my favorite from F.E.A.R. in The Leavers. Did I tell Rothery is God yet?

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Sodomizer, SplinterBomb & Defazer - Musicon The Hague, 2 December 2016

Sodomizer closed a month of many Latin American Metal bands in the area. While I missed Nervochaos, Nervosa and the Cavalera brothers, I much liked Apocalyptic Raids and Whipstriker, Krisiun and still am confused by what Lluvia presented some weeks ago.  As good Carioca I always try to see Brazilian bands when near to home, but due to work trips I managed to miss Sodoimizer the previous times they played The Hague. This time all was to be different as recently I learned that a place to sleep after the show was looked for to receive them. Being more than pleased to help out this show started at Central Station, where I picked them up end of afternoon. While I expected to practice my Portuguese we got the Berlin international band so I also could train my Italian, German and Polish. Having a band over is always great, as you get an insight on the other side of the coin and what brings a show together. With Sodoimizer and crew turned out to be very nice people this was for me a memorable show once again.

When returning to Musicon we first had two support bands, and this sounds much more negative then intended. Defazer opening means seeing the best Thrash Metal band from the The Hague area on stage again. For me it is time to get an album out enabling me to recognize the songs and for them to grow bigger. The songs and presentation definitely are ready for this and as previous times I again highly liked their show. Hereafter we got SplinterBomb from Den Bosch. They are being announced somehwat direspectful as that other band from Legion of the Damned's guitarist Hein. What we noticed fast is that their groove thrash is slow and heavy and the vocals don't go clean. While I thought them a good band, I must say that I felt a lack of tempo to grab the audience. Even a Sepultura cover did not change much to that.

Sodomizer were setting the stage and I looked forward to my by now friends on stage. As I did not see or know them before I can state they outdid my expectations. For their style I read Speed Devil Metal and Speed Horror Metal, which both does not mean a lot at first reading. Seeing them on stage as well as hearing their albums I did get it now. The horror sound is around in both lyrics, but also effects. While I always prefer the technical site of Death or Thrash metal I was pleased to see the instrumental work was impressive and very fast. Long instrumental parts gave Max enough time to excel on guitars. The hour or so on stage passed fast and all seemed to love the show. For me it was great to see them before, after the show and at breakfast to get a small idea what touring means. They won a fan and I shall be there when they return. When dropping them off the next day I tried to surprise with a mellotron horror rock album by Morte Macabre, turned out Fabiano already knew the album. Music lovers in general and a great live band, so go and see them when they pass near your home.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

British Lion & Voodoo Six - de Boerderij Zoetermeer, 29 November 2016

British Lion and Voodo Six might not be that known to many, but Steve Harris is. This was one evening of his band British Lion in de Boerderij. This meant that in spite of unknown bands this was not an underground affair, but a gathering of fans of Iron Maiden wishing to see their hero on a small stage for a change. Support act were Voodoo Six. I knew their name, not their music and did not recognize them on stage. Entering with an open mind it turned out that Voodoo Six are a very nice live band. Playing old fashioned hard rock I also sometimes heard similarities with The Quill in their music. The vocalist had a good voice and the band presented us mainly mid tempo hard rock songs. Nothing earthshaking here, but one of the better support bands I saw recently. Harmless hopefull heavy rock.

Of course most people came to see Steve Harris That he plays in a band called British Lion is secondary. I do not have their debut album, but recall critics mainly writing about the vocalist. Some internet searching made me understand these doubts, but Youtube can never be the judge of a band and seeing them live is the only way. So when the band came on I focussed on his singing and actually at the start it was not that bad. A Classic Rock voice, not among the greatest but suiting the mainly old fashioned hard rock. The band themselves were good and both guitars came alive at times. The tall guitarist reminded me very much of Arjan Lucassen in his Vengeance days, but then 30 years older. He was the animator on stage. Turns out he was touring guitarist with The Outfield, known from their eighties hit "Your Love". (Josie's on a vacation far away, you know I like my girls  a little bit older).  And Steve Harris? well he seemed to enjoy this small venue. Being used to arenas he was now right in front of us. Downside is that to me he looked some 10 years older then when I saw him in Sevilla this summer. He also did use the opportunity to go very West Ham in outfit, which stood out more with less special effects around him. His Whale Oil Beef Hooked shirt does become funny when speaking out fast. The songs finally did convince me. This is just the kind of hard rock that made me start liking the music some 35-40 years ago. The Maiden references mainly came from the several whoo-hoo-hooaas we were asked to shout along. Musically UFO commercial Rainbow and such were a reference as well. Naming UFO it was Let it Roll which was the famous cover played in the encore. So those who came to see some Maiden songs went home unhappy. For me the UFO song also was a tipping point. I actually liked the show and songs. The vocalist did get weaker through the set though and when he arrived at Let it Roll I remembered Phil Mogg only a few weeks ago on the same stage.  No comparison really, so I did not get the album afterwards.

I might seem disappointed with the vocalist, but this was never annoying. The music played tonight is very much aligned to my youth and enthusiasm was all around. I shall go see them again if either band is in the area. Still on possibilities it would have been nice to me if Steve Harris would have blended his love of Prog Rock in his project. Often citing his preferences it could be a nice option. As an example he can listen to Biff Byford who not long ago released a fine progmetal album with The Scintilla Project. From Maiden I now saw Bruce Dickinson solo some times and Steve Harris with British Lion. Number one on my wish list still would be a reunion gig of White Spirit futuring Janick Gers. Maybe the least respected Maiden band member, but to me the best alternative album by any of them (even if released way before he joined Maiden).

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Ray Wilson - Boerderij Zoetermeer, 26 November 2016

Ray Wilson playing in de boerderij a set advertised as Genesis Classic. I knew that his version of Genesis Classic puts more focus on the Phil Collins pop years. The album he sung with Genesis (Calling all Stations) is unknow to me and I also do not know anything from Stiltskin his other hit band. So why did I go? to see him perform his solo work. Although having only one of  his solo albums it meant enough for going see him play live. Ray has a good voice and I expected that he would be able to bring a good band along. One of the probems for Ray Wilson is, that in my CD collection he is crammed inbetween Damian Wilson (one of the best voices in prog) and Steven Wilson (one of the best artists in Prog). So picking up his album with such talented neighbours is rare. There was no support act and we would be treated on a full night with a halftime break.

As I did not know many of the songs I also cannot tell whether they were from Ray Wilson, Genesis or Stiltskin. So herewith just some impressions. Genesis covers were present from very good (as Carpet Crawlers and Mama) through neutral to me (Land of Confusion), to songs I never liked and did not change my opinion now (Follow you Follow me and Jesus He knows me). Surprisingly Solsbury Hill was climbed as well and sounded great as expected. Stiltskin's hit Inside sounded good and the songs played from Calling all Stations, might make me pick up that CD, when crossing it cheap one day. Highlight for me were the songs from his solo albums. Introduced by a variety of stories I considered Makes Me Think of Home and Song for a Friend the highlights in the set. There was one disappointmet as well. Closing the evening with Knockin'on Heaven's Door. I did not like the song when we played it with Two Minutes Warning, nor the Guns and Roses cover. Also now it was a boring end of such a nice evening. Then I was considering picking up his last album, but the queue was long after the show and we ended up in the bar until I needed to rush to catch the last train home (Armored Saint anyone?). Ray Wilson showed me that an evening of mostly unknown pop-rock-proggish songs can be very entertaining as well. 

Friday, 25 November 2016

Doro - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden, 24 November 2016

Tiago having a cultural evening at school watching Jana sing, meant for me a cultural evening in Leiden watching Doro sing. Those who did not go might focus on her old fashioned Heavy Metal, her accent after 32 years, German Cheese, or make been-there-did-that-comments. Well those people just don't get it. Going to a Doro show means good old heavy metal with an icon on vocals and a solid band behind her. The formula is simple and entertainment is guaranteed. Yesterday was the first show of the Love's Gone To Hell tour. Two days before the show I learned that there would be a support act as well in Spitfire from Norway. As they did not impress me through songs or presentation I keep it short. Funniest moment was after the show when the shirtless vocalist wanted to see us all outside. First it was fricking cold outside and in Holland (as in many other places) asking someone to come outside is an invitation to fight. A confused laugh went through the hall.

Preparing the stage we could see a gorgeous Doro appearing on a huge banner ( I also look younger and fitter on the cartoon then in real life). The lights went off and the international band came on. Doro followed as last one and started banging and greeting all in the crowd very enthusiastically. During the first song we got already the left side confirming they were alright, as did the right side and the people in the middle. This set the tone, but everything was overruled by the enthusiasm of Doro that continued non-stop. Doro was good by voice and good by mood. I do not own any Warlock or Doro albums, but still recognized many songs. It is not for nothing that she is called the Metal Queen as she did produce several songs everyone knows. Highlights for me were Burning the Witches and Für Immer. Shouting along with All We Are is another milestone in her set securing a party. The show was very good, which was helped by the fact that the band is tight. I guess playing in a band like Doro means accepting you are not alwaysin the spotlights, still all four convinced in their presentation. I thought I recognized the drummer and just read that he played in Waysted and Britney Fox, so maybe I saw those once (failing memory here). Only during the evening I heard that one of the guitarists is Dutch, Bas Maas ex Afer Forever. So I might have seen him at ProgPower 2000. With Bas and the bassist both being tall, Doro somewhat disappeared inbetween them on the front row. This is only physically as her stage presence is huge. The fact that she constantly shows that she loves being on stage made this a sincere evening of True Metal.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Iamthemorning - Patronaat Haarlem, 18 November 2016

Iamthemorning are a duo from Russia, Mariana on vocals and Gleb on grand piano and keyboards. . Not dissimilar to Aisles recently  a band coming from far receiveing positive critics but not really a known name outside underground connaisseurs. Touring Europe meaning Holland (plus London) and ending up on the small stage at the bar in Patronaat. This turned out to be a very good choice as the around 50 visitors were straight in front of the stage and the atmosphere of intimacy was suiting the set.I did go and see them for several reasons. Some friends who put me on track of new bands before spoke well of them. The few comments I ran into on their IOpages festival performance seemed all positive. And finally their claim to fame is winning the PROG magazine award for best album. Prog magazine is a funny poll anyway. They follow football/school years, so you get halfway the year a best of award. The nominees are usually extremely biased towards British bands and KScope label. This year Limelight (new band) nominations included Teramaze, who formed in 1993 and released their first full album 21 years ago. Still winning as a Russian band means that many people appreciate their music even if being on KScope surely made it possible to make it on the shortlist.

After playing a chamber gig and a duo gig earlier this week, this evening was the full band gig. I looked at the four members and could not figure them out really. They did not look not Russian, nor Dutch. In order to enter the band one must have a bit hair still, brown coloured and a matching beard, while wearing a black shirt. At the end of the gig Mariana introduced them and we had many nationalities with members of two other bands helping out (whose names I forgot). The band held as instruments Cello, Violin, Drums and Bass. So this was to be a guitar-less show. With this band being substitutes, first compliments can go out to them playing all songs as intended and showing an ease at following up small signs from Gleb. Iamthemorning itself turned out to be two very talented musicians. Mariana stole the show with her clear voice, funny introductions and strong stage presence. Iamthemorning do not play heavy music as stated, but there is a constant dark atmosphere around either in the lyrics or in the music. Their last album Lighthouse is about mental illness and tells all the lost souls out there that they are not alone. During the show I could feel this atmosphere indeed and the sarcastical grin from Mariana when she sung Matches said it all "Your house is on fire, 'cause you were annoying and I dropped the match in". The silent and seemingly much more introvert star of the evening was Gleb. Highlight was his piano solo, which started alone at classical master level and had the band falling in halfway to great effect. Some of the songs were performed as duo as well. After the show I bought their last and my first album, so I cannot refer to many songs they played. In total we got some 80 minutes of music, which I considered perfect for this style,

Iamthemorning turned out to be a great live experience. Musically they could not be farther away from the Whipstriker/Apocalyptic Raids metal I saw two days before, but quality is quality. The talent of both was obvious from the beginning and the band were just fine. While being very calm music, there is this darkness in their topics that made me love this show. Definitely a band that should appeal to all music lovers and maybe the award might result in them breaking big. I will be back when they return for a tour of Holland, whatever the format might be.


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Apokalyptic Raids, Whipstriker & Antagonist - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden, 16 November 2016

Brazilian underground metal bands playing in the area, makes me usually more than a bit interested. Having two on one evening in Leiden made me therefore return to de Nobel. Both bands were before unknown to me. Whipstriker play Mayhemic Speed Metal and Apocalyptic Raids call their style Metal, but are named after a Hellhammer song. As support they had a German band Antagonist. When I entered they almost started and the first outstanding point on stage was the banner with their logo. Handpainted on a white sheet we really were up for an evening of old school. The Antagonist turned out to be a trio in a rush. In the more or less half hour they got we got ten songs presented. All being fast and furious, but musically the band did impress. Vocals were mainly harsh coming from the drummer, but at times the bass player and even the guitarist took over. This is live music, no nonsense and no tapes. Good warm up for the Brazilian wave to follow.

While the Poster and website made us believe Whipstriker were headliner, they played as second band. Actually I only found out after their set, when the banner came down. Mayhemic Speed Metal turned out to be eighties proto-extreme metal with also a healthy does of Motorhead blended in. Admitted I was in the eighties not the biggest fan of Venom, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Bathory and the likes. Nowadays this music is way less extreme than thirty years ago and seeing Whipstriker live on stage was sheer brilliance. This was filthy, dirty, kick-ass metal. Similar to the opener, they bulldozered on and most of their songs were around the three minutes as well. Energy coming from the stage, leather studs with pins on the stage and a few beers down made this a very good live experience. I got their last album Only Filth Will Prevail and glad to know one more real Brazilian underground band.

Apocalyptic Raids were on last and turned out to share the drummer with Whipstriker. The trio uses aliases on their CD and while Necromaniac is definitely still the guitarist/vocalist I believe Slaughterer and Hellpreacher might not have been present on stage. Well I got my information from last full album Vol. 4 Phonocopia, which I bought and dates from 2010. Stylewise they were following up nicely after Whipstriker. Less Motorhead though and by playing the song they are called after more Hellhammer I guess. The bass player also asked enthusiastically for reactions and they got most of them from the audience. What was already a great night back in time turned slightly legendary when they were finished. The set was over, they thanked us and the drummer started taking his kit apart having his cymbals off already. The crowd  might have been small, but obviously we all enjoyed the evening and chants for more would not stop that fast. So the cymbals were screwed back on and the band played another song. when this one was finished the bass player took off his guitar and showed signs of leaving which was overruled by the other two just starting a final song. Great spirit and that is exactly why we love these underground shows, where there is place for spontaneity. A great and early evening in de Nobel ended on a high. Thanks to THHMA, Slowrunner Records and Headbangerzineandgigs for bringing this tour to Holland which made the Carioca in me proud.  

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Korpiklaani, Moonsorrow & Kjalmold - de Boerderij Zoetermeer, 11 November 2016

Three bands from the north playing Viking or Pagan Metal. Not a word in English tonight and I was curious how this would be live. Opener were Kjalmold from Iceland. First observation was that they received reactions from almost all in an already nicely filled Boerderij. This in a week, where everyone had plenty of options already was a good sign. The music Kjalmold played is basically feel-good party metal. There are some harsh vocals, but also mics for all six band members to do some harmony work. The galloping was inbetween Folk and Maiden and very accesible at first listen. Their strenght to me lays in the presentation. They enjoy themselves on stage and the big bass player shouted wildly in the air. Inbetween two songs he just raised his beer and roared loudly, which was answered by the audience raising glasses and roaring back. Even when they took their instruments of the stage he kept on walking around roaring. Very nice band live, on CD maybe not my thing.

Moonsorrow followed and they were the band that got me going to de Boerderij. I have one of their Finnish titled CD's where they play only two songs, but take more then 50 minutes. I like their building up of atmospheres and heavy undertones. They came up with painted faces and  made the evening turn more metal. Pagan Metal it is called and heavy it was. Musically by far the best band of the evening to me, they focussed more on the songs and less on the party. Still the audience much appreciated them and their long set flew by. Problem with their Finnish song titles, is that you don't recall any names as it all sounds Greek to me. At one point the vocalist asked if we wanted some Heavy Metal. What followed was the best song of the evening, but I have no clue what it was called. A very good show by an interesting band.

Korpiklaani were the second headliner and they managed to remain unknown to me. I know they played many festivals as well, but I usually go smaller gigs and miss those. So I waited with an open mind. When they came on the first surprise were the accordeon and violin. The folky part turned out to play a fairly big role with them. Actually it did not take long to realize they were here to make a party. This with basically pretty simple songs, where the humpa is omnipresent. Looking at them like this it was a good show. Musically I thought Kjalmold in a similar style much better. As Dennis put correctly Andre Hazes was never far away and even polonaises passed through de Boerderij. Was everybody enjoying themselves? yes definitely so. Was this music that made me run to the merch stand, no not really. After an hour and a bit I called it quits and took the randstadrail back to Den Haag. Very nice evening of party metal, which went down well with several beers. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Oceans of Slumber, Ne Obliviscaris & Enslaved - 013 Tilburg 8 November 2016

I put the above three bands in order of appearance. There is a reason for that as I discovered Oceans of Slumber after they released their debut album, Ne Obliviscaris when they released their second album and Enslaved only years on in their career when they blended more progressive influences into their Black Metal. Still I was looking very much forward to all three bands and thought I left home in time. With the idea of not drinking on a Tuesday, not cycling through the cold and gaining time getting home I took the car. Big mistake as it turned out that 8 November broke this year's evening traffic jams record. So there I was standing still slowly seeing on the navigation ETA that I would not see the start of the evening. In the end it took me 150 minutes (back home 75) and I missed half of the Oceans of Slumber set. Not a good way to start the evening. I can't comment much apart from that they sounded absolutely brilliant again in my ears. In Suffer the Last Bridge we got a song they did not play in April. Cammie bought shoes, Sean and Dobber still change instruments, three drum kits makes a small stage. And then after ... This Road it was suddenly over, almost ten minutes before the announced time-schedule. With this short set, there was not even a point in shouting for Coffins Like Kites. Last time I did the fan thing of speaking with the band and taking a picture. This time I wanted to see the other two bands as well and only saw Keegan in the break. Hope to see them back on Progpower stage, where again I got convinced they would go down so well.

Ne Obliviscaris were the second band and some two years ago they impressed me a lot with their album Citadel. These six men from Australia turned out to be a great live band as well. Striking point was the very different style of the two vocalists. Xenoyr looked and sung extreme metal, while Tim looked very extrovert, played violin and was in constant contact with the audience. Last year it seems they already played Tilburg and reactions were pretty much of the whole crowd. The band only got to play four songs as well, but with each of them being around 15 minutes, they still got decent time to show their skills. And skills they had with a main role for the bass player on his many instrumental interventions. Citadel was represented by the the two epics and they sounded fine. This band follows a new way of touring, where you can pay a monthly fee to support them. I do not know the details, but hope they manage to stay around and record. Very fine band mixing the extreme, the technical and the sensitive.

Enslaved tour celebrating 25 years of existence. I hardly can be called a diehard fan, but do appreciate what I know from them. PPE Christian advised me, that we would be in for a very good show. Cutting short: he was right. Enslaved are not a Black Metal band any longer. They asked us if we were ready for some Norwegian Heavy Metal and that is just what they play. They have harsh vocals, but also from behind the keys some very good clean vocals. The metal is loud and during  The Crossing really heavy. Instrumentally you could see the 25 years of experience and the show stood indeed as a spectacle to watch. Grutle turned out a Level 42 fan, the encore started with a drum solo, Enslaved likes Tilburg and we were invited to sing happy birthday to them in Dutch. Great closing of the evening that started somewhat disappointing due to time issues, but got me driving home satisfied while listening to predictions of the outcome of US elections on the radio (man were they wrong).

Monday, 7 November 2016

UFO - de Boerderij Zoetermeer, 6 November 2016

UFO in de Boerderij means go and see them again. Strangers in the Night is my all time favorite live album and always is the core of a UFO show. That album is from 1979 and with the necessary hickups on the road UFO have been going strong ever since. I do not immediately buy all their albums upon release and when their tour is a bit too far I skip as well. At the same time I never saw an average UFO show and these songs are part of my hard rock DNA. Before they came one we had to go through Reds'cool from Russia. This band looked, played and behaved pretty eighties hairmetal alike. Their songs did not make a huge impression, but they were enthusiastic on stage. Their singer had a voice as raw as Quireboys' Spike and maybe because he is Russian can get away with the cheesy Sex, Fucks and Rock & Roll T-shirt. With these five Russians obviously willing to be Americans from 30 years ago, maybe all this fear for a returning Cold War is exaggerated.

UFO came on and de Boerderij looked very close to sold out. Surprisingly they started with We Belong To the Night from Mechanix.  Phill Mogg looks like someone of the respectable age he has, but his voice is still convincing. His presentation was also great, with his very British undercooled sense of humor taking the piss on his age and eyesight. Of Course the 70's were revisited most and Ain't No Baby was a first surpise on that front. During the show a few recent songs were blended in as well and the build up always guaranteed an old Classic immediately after a new song. So we got again Lights Out, Love to Love, Only You Can Rock Me, Cherry and Too Hot to Handle. From these songs we do not only know the lyrics still,but also every note from the guitar solo's. Thus I arrive at Vinnie Moore. He just is an amazing guitarist, which we knew from his 80's solo work onwards through to any UFO show during the past many years. He ran easily through all the classic solo's and of course this culminated in the never ending solo during Rock Bottom. To many (me included) that solo alone justifies the ticket for the whole evening. It is sad or funny to realize that as a teenager I picked up my first guitar inspired by a certain Mr. Schenker. I always stayed as far away from the Rock Bottom solo as any American tomorrow is from voting for a decent candidate for presidency. UFO nailed them all old and new songs. They came back for an encore which gave us Doctor Doctor and Shoot Shoot (seems to be a pattern here). Once again UFO gave us a beautiful show of over 100 minutes classic hard rock. The band might be getting older, but shows like these are always welcome.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Rob Rockstoel Memorial Show - Musicon Den Haag, 5 November 2016

Rob Rockstoel was an icon in the The Hague Metal scene. He organized many metal evenings and introduced through this many new bands to me. Recently he passed away and Musicon and THHMA in coordination with his family organized a memorial show, where 11 bands would play half an hour paying tribute to him. During the evening it became clear that many bands were grateful to his initiatives and the possibility to give them a stage. John from 3rd Machine even explained that through him he started to do something similar in Haarlem and now puts metal in Patronaat. So indirectly I might have seen much more gigs through him than his own Rob Rockstoel presents evenings. I did not know him personally, but represent the silent majority who knew who he was and enjoyed the shows he put together. Actually yesterday I think I was part of a silent minority, as most people spoke of personal experiences on stage.

11 bands on stage started with 7 bands playing originals and ending with four metal cover bands. I had another program for the evening, which I moved slightly backwards enabling me to pass some hours in Musicon. When I entered Rages of Sin were on stage. They ended with a Sepultura cover and sounded as good as one week before. Celesterre are from The Hague and turned out to be another good local band. Got their EP and looking forward to a full set in December. Bloodsphere from Rotterdam plays Death/Groove metal and was a good live band. Defazer proved again to me that they are probably the best live band from The Hague at the moment. Their thrash metal did rule over Musicon and got the most enthusiastc reactions from the bands I saw. 3rd Machine from Haarlem were the last band I saw and their metal has some Progmetal mixed in, with mainly aggressive vocals. Good band to close my evening in Musicon.

This was a beautiful initiative and I believe that family and friends of Rob must have enjoyed the positive atmosphere in a full Musicon. A true tribute in style to the man that did much good for Heavy Metal in The Hague.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

The Reticent - On the Eve of a Goodbye

The Reticent was until now a completely unknown band to me. Starting at the beginning it was the Angry Metal Guy  who set me on the what turned out to be very right track. I can recommend this site as he covers a range I pretty much appreciate as well. Looking at his last albums of the month I run into several favorites of mine: Vektor, Insomnium, Whiterscape at the heavier end, but also Our Oceans and Haken on the calmer part of metal. The Reticent turns out to be the work of Chris Hathcock, also drummer at Death Metallers Wehrwolfe (?). In the Reticent he plays all instruments and sings all parts. When you hear the album it turns rather amazing  how one person is capable of playing all these instruments so well, while at the same time touching all vocal ranges  from mostly clean to some screams and grunts to accompany the storyline.

On the Eve of a Goodbye is a concept album.This is in Progressive rock and metal not a unique way to transmit a message. Releasing a concept album can have its traps though. Some work beautifully and become the classic albums of these bands (Operation Mindcrime, A Pleasant Shade of Grey, Scenes From a Memory, Misplaced Childhood, Light of Day..., Crimson and my favorite Opeth album Still Life). Others run the risk of being too pretentious and loose sight of the power of individual songs. Examples a plenty, but I won't mention names. Chris took an extremely personal experience to base this album upon. He describes the last 24 hours of Eve, before she commits suicide and he is left speaking to her ghost. The album is dedicated to Eve M. Tiger who passed away 15 years ago. This tells something on the time it took to put all thoughts together and being able to put this experience into music. Never before did I hear a concept album, where the feelings are so genuine and sincere put alive to music. Final numbers The Decision and Funeral For a Firefly are so emotional, that only the complete insensitive ones or total machos can not hear the despair, pain, anger  and sadness in the voice of Chris. The overall result is a very emotional album which should be heard in one go, preferably over headphones and reading along to the lyrics.

Coming to the music a short description can be Progressive Metal. In reality there is so much more to it, as at parts when the story gets heavy the music does too and I must say his grunts and screams are impressive. On the other end we also get quiet breaks with piano parts as well as small sax, trumpet and trombone support. With the overall flow of the story being an emotional rollercoaster I am convinced that grunt haters should not be scared by the heavy vocals nor should extreme metallers be afraid of the occassional wind instruments. The album touches several genres and at parts I think I recognize a band. Without really being able to pinpoint one reference for such a diverse album I give it a try. Imagine Leprous at their peak (Bilateral)  releasing a concept album blending in some Dan Swanö, Soen and Green Carnation. Yes it has to me definitely a Scandinavian feel to it, even being American. As I fail to describe the beauty of this album in detail, the only solution is pointing people at the right direction. Start searching for the band on their website or Heaven & Hell records bandcamp. (note song 1 is one of 4 short spoken word parts, helping the story but musically not representing the album). For those more into clips, several songs can be found on YouTube, next to some interviews on the making of this album. I bought the CD directly from the website and received it with again a very genuine letter of thanks. My blog always has the target to raise the interest of one person in an album I heard or a show I saw and support the bands by that. This time I strongly recommend all metal lovers listening to this album on the internet and like me purchase it for yourself. I am almost sure that this album will in the years to come be seen as a Classic in its genre. For now I am going to their webstore and purchase their previous album together with a T-shirt of this one. Thereafter I shall go to the PPE group and plug this band. What a sensational release. The Legacy of Eve now includes one of the most beautifull concept albums ever made. I guess this was exactly the point Chris wanted to make and man was he succesfull doing so.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Dark Funeral & Krisiun - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden, 3 November 2016

Swedish Black Metal and Death/Thrash from Brazil, more interesting to me than watching Europa League on Television. Starting with the Brazilians, let me explain why I do not know this band from my past even if they were formed in 1990 already. During my Brazilian years (1997-2000) internet was not as organized as today on concert agenda's. Further I had several specialised CD stores where flyers would be placed. Still these shops mostly were into foreign bands. Until today when returning to them it remains hard to find albums from underground Brazilian bands. Finally I lived in Rio and that is the capitol for Progressive Rock  (the annual Rio Art Rock festival brought me some underground prog bands from Latin America). For Heavy Metal and more extreme Sao Paulo is really the place to be in Brazil. The only time I visited SP those years, was on a bustrip with Hard & Heavy stores to Monsters of Rock. Openers there were Korzus and Dorsal Atlantic next to some openers at gigs in Rio the few Brazilian bands I did see play live. This month I can make up for quite a bit of that loss, as THHMA and Doomsday Celebration bring within weeks 5 Brazilian underground bands to the region. I couldn't make it to Venom last Sunday, so Nervochaos I missed. Krisiun was not going to be the next one missed and it turned out the decision music over football was the right one yet again.

Krisiun are a trio from Sao Paulo and play Death Metal, while vocals are more thrashy. After their first song they explained that they play loud and fast and they were not wrong. The drums were great and main role (as often to me) were the guitars played by Moyses. He filled the songs with fast melodic solo's. The three brothers mainly bulldozered onwards and only a few times became slow and heavy. Funny to hear someone talk about old school and going all the way back to 1998. Makes you realize that your getting bloody old (yet banging still). Before the end there was a tribute to Lemmy in The Ace of Spades. As everybody can hear that song always, it did result in the most enthusiastic response from audience.  A good show from a strong band. One comment on the presentation though. For such an experienced band the inbetween song banter was disappointing. Thanking the audience four times for keeping the underground scene alive might just pass, but after every song asking for more audience noise followed by I can't hear you, is just too much.. A bit more variation here might be a suggestion.

Variation during the evening was guaranteed by the diverse package. Deserted Fear cancelled and I do not know them, but the Black Metal from Dark Funeral was a nice change in style. To start the stage looked awesome. Taking the cover of Where Shadows reign forever, it came close to the  Maiden or Dio stages in the eighties. The band coming on in their uniforms added to the scene and we were watching a show. Musically at times I thought the audience might have just fitted in a sold out Baroeg, adding atmosphere, but the stage in de Nobel justified the show  (or vice-versa). Unfortunately the limited camera on my phone does not do justice to this. I am not overly familiar with Dark Funeral's back catalogue, but to me the build up of the show seemed good, closing with the title track of their last album.  To me bands like Dark Funeral left the underground and should be able to reach mainstream metal audiences both musically and show wise. Then again I might be wrong as the screaming vocals need a refined taste. Nobel meanwhile turned into a concert hall with lots of metal in its various forms and for me Doomsday Celebration and THHMA can go on booking these bands. Shall try to be present as much as I can. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

John Wesley - Meshiaak - Allegaeon

CD tips for this week.

john wesley - a way you'll never be...
John Wesley you might have seen many times on stage, but this is the first solo album I bought from him. He was touring guitarist with Porcupine Tree. I saw him also with Sound of Contact, probably with Fish and possibly solo opening for Marillion once as well. Reason I picked this CD up were the many positive reviews I read on this album. Guess what, they were all right as this is a bonafida hard rock album with great songs and obviously good guitar work. Aardschok mentioned Lenny Wolfe as reference for his voice. I can hear that, but combining the music I even hear more similarities to the great debut album of Katmandu with Fastway's Dave King on vocals. Highlights to me are the catchy choruses on the title track and to outrun the light. During instrumental unsafe space and sun.a.rose we suddenly go slower and heavier, while the song epic ends beautifull. Noticing I mentioned almost all songs, fact is there is no weak spot on this album. While based upon his touring experience a neo-prog album might be expected, this is just very enjoyable melodic hard rock. Surprise of the week.

Meshiaak - Alliance of Thieves
My interest was raised when learning that this was the band of Dean Wells. His other job is with Teramaze a progmetal band that made it to my list of favorites of 2015 with Her Halo. Similar to John Wesley hereabove, this band is heavier than how we got to know Dean. Meshiaak plays Thrash Metal and does so extremely well. While being heavy and fast, they also play very clear metal and pack their music in solid songs. While the band is Australian their drummer John Dette is American and played before in several big bands in the US. The album continues at speed, with only on closer Death of an Anthem some reduced tempos. Positive news I read yesterday is that they work now with booking agency Loud Noise. This means they probably tour Holland next year. How nice would it be if they play near home for a one off show entitled: The Hague Heavy Metal Alliance Of Thieves!!

Allegaeon - Proponent For Sentience
Ending heavy, herewith yet another great Technical Death Metal release of 2016. I did get into them through the prog door, when I saw their stunning cover of Rush's Subdivisions (check YouTube). Clicking on more clips I noticed that this is a very tight Death/Thrash machine. The album starts epic and holds many short breaks into calmer waters. As is the norm with these bands, the level of musicianship is very high. Vocals are mainly grunting with in the last song of the title trilogy a guest role for Bjorn Strid. The TechDeath party in patronaat two weeks ago showed, that this music is even better when undergoing it at full volume live, so bring them on. For those afraid of grunts, the Rush cover is sung fully clean and worth the purchase by itself.