Friday, 29 April 2016

The Leicester City story and Fluminense similarities

"The greatest story in team sport history "stated Gary Lineker and probably he is right. Everybody loves the story of Leicester City this year. Their selection in total was put together for less money than an average bench sitter at the big clubs. European and British football is spoiled completely by big money coming from dubious parties like American investing companies, Russian mobsters and Arab inferiority complex sufferers. The neutral supporter hates this division, which reduced European competitions to a handful of potential winners, killing on the way competitions like the Dutch one, due to unbridgeable amounts of money spend each year. And then came Leicester with their heroes Mahrez and Vardy upfront showing everyone their wrong. Creating a team, having the right players at the right time together and grow above themselves. This is a beautiful story indeed and the whole football loving world has become a Leicester supporter over the past months. In Brazil in the years 2009/2010 something similar has happened, to almost the same extend. As this involved my club Fluminense herewith some facts of another beautiful football story that did not get great exposure in Europe.

It is 2009 Brazilian winter. Fluminense is after 22 out of 38 games hanging at the bottom with 16 points 8 points below relegation levels. Maracana is hardly filling parts of the huge stadium as the banner appears "Lutem ate o fim" which means Fight until the end. Brazilians are total fetishists for statistics and chances of Fluzao going down were 98/99% according to the specialists. Fighting they are, but nine games later the story only slightly improved with 27 points stil 5 points behind safety and the program does not look promising, with many title candidates still to come. And then something happens noone believed. Fluminenese starts winning, no matter the status of the opponent. The next six matches are won and before the last round a 4-0 victory over Vitoria brings Fluminense for the first time in months in the safety zone. The final match is away against Coritiba fighting out between the two who goes down. A hard fought 1-1 means Fluminense stays at the highest level and 2010 would offer new chances.

In 2010 the team looks good and is build around Argentinian creater Deco and goalscorer Fred. After a false start with two losses in the first three matches the line of 2009 is recovered and after 10 matches Fluminense is single lider da tabela. Until the end the battle would be with Corinthians. Closing teh season with some help of other Paulistias who hate Corinthians the title is won fo rthe first time in 26 years. Deco, a name fairly unknow in Europe would become one of the best earning players in the world while moving to China and Fred stayed until today at Fluminense, becoming topscorer every now and then.

Pretty similar to the Leicester City story, I do agree with Gary Linkere that that story is even more special. The sponsor income gap between Fluminense and other top teams in Brasil is not that huge and recent history still showed some glories at the time. In 2007 Flu won the Brazilian cup and a year later they reached the finals of the Libertadores cup. This one was lost due to particlular ruling in South American football. During the whole tournament away goals count double in case of similar results, apart from the final !?!. So after loosing 4-2 at 5000 meters above sea level in Equador and winning home in Maracana with 3-1 the match went to penalties and this meant all was lost. Still a Libertadores finalist almost going down a year later is also unbelievable. but that has to do with putting in B-teams in the competition when international games far away wait mid week. Now Sunday the football world watches Leicester again and if they manage to win in Manchetser the football world just became a slightly better place.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Borknagar, Kampfar & Diabolical - Baroeg Rotterdam 24 April 2016

Norwegian Progressive Folk Black Metal, Norwegian Pagan Black Metal and Swedish Death Metal according to Baroeg. Admitted, not my most frequent or typical show. Fact is that Winter Thrice is one of this year's higlights on CD to me, so seeing Borknagar live stood high on my list ever since that release. As mentioned in my Cultus/Blackdeath review earlier this year I am not a Black Metal fanatic. Most bands in that region I start liking when they start exploring other areas. Looking at the members of Borknagar, I do meet people from bands I already had on CD some 15 years ago (Arcturus, Solefald and Cronian). Curious how this would come over live with three main vocalists, I first faced the two opening bands with an open mind as both were unknown to me. As this show was scheduled in Rotterdam against local football club Feyenoord playing the national cup final it was not sold out, but busy enough for a good atmosphere.

Diabolical prensented their death metal enthusiastically. They moved from fast songs to slow and heavy ones and demanded some audience reaction. For me in Death Metal I turn most to the technical bands, which makes sense given my progmetal likings. A band like Diabolical is for me fine on stage, but offers too little to start following with more interest. Kampfar on the other end was a whole different story. What an energy and stage presence we got here. This show was built up nicely and cumulated in two fantastic final songs. As they sing in both English and Norwegian I did not get any of the song titles. The vocalist playing with a broken rib asked all to move around as he as old man could do that as well. Since I believe I am older I stuck to a headbang originally, but these last two songs really made it impossible to stand still. Curious how this band sounds on CD, I got the last one and shall have a close listen. Kampfar thanked Baroeg for their ongoing support and when he stated that these shows are better than playing a Wacken festival I did agree. These shows are what keeps the music scene alive.

After a small break Borknagar was on. With six big Norwegians on a rather small stage it was busy. With bass player/vocalist ICSVortex sitting on a barstool it was not as hectic or alive as the previous two bands. What might have lacked on running around was made up more than a bit by the music. Opening with The Rhymes of the Mountain and closing with Winter Thrice the tour was supporting their last album. Apart from Cold Runs the River no other songs were played though, which makes sense given their large discography. To me the set flowed and the atmosphere of their music just kept at a high. Lots of heavy parts were mixed with atmospheric guitar rhythms and all vocalists leaning more to clean vocals. Apart from some microphone issues at the start the sound was good throughout. To me Borknagar proved to have it in them to win whole new markets. Upon entering (and seeing me?) I heard someone commenting how the crowd turned more mainstream with Borknagar. No doubt some purists might disconsider them, but I do not see why they cannot do an Opeth and slowly conquer prog audiences. The quality of the music is there although maybe their logo alone scares of some people. I think that Borknagar could be a great band to mix with either a Heavy Metal band or a prog metal band and gain new areas fast. Closing off I share one of the thoughts I have on an alcohol free (as by car) early evening watching the headliner. For anyone organizing a Pub-metal-quiz this question should be a tough one to many and one needs to know one word in dutch. What is the similarity between ZZ Top and Borknagar? ...It is in the drummers: Frank Beard the only member of ZZ Top without a beard. Baard (dutch for Beard) Kolstad, the only member of Borknagar without a beard. BTW I did recognize the guy from three weeks ago when he played with Leprous, great drummer he is. 

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Praying Mantis & King's Call - Bibelot Dordrecht 22 April 2016

Praying Mantis turned 40% Dutch a few years ago. When I saw singer Jaycee and drummer Hans at Blokhut live performing Dio songs with their other band Deo, I knew Praying Mantis should be followed more closely again by me. Last year they released the strong album Legacy and all my expectations were met. Although Praying Mantis fall under the NWOBHM due to their debut Time Tells no Lies being released in 1981, they play melodic hard rock. If you look at their back catalogue it is pretty huge with Legacy being their 10th studio album. I own the last album, the re-release of their debut and two albums released some 25 years ago. This meant I would not know all the songs, but they are pretty accessible by first hearing. On the timing of this show, they might have been somewhat unfortunate programming two shows in the weekend of Very 'Eavy Festival. Even being a three hour drive from Dordrecht it surely took away some fans of eighties metal. Also Praying Mantis were representing the melodic calmer side of NWOBHM. Some 35 years ago especially the faster and louder bands (Raven, Satan, Jaguar) broke big in Holland. This resulted in a fairly empty Bibelot, especially considering that the dutch members brought some friends and family as well. Before Praying Mantis would be upon us King's Call had the honours of warming us up. This turned out to be not that easy. The audience did not really react to them and the presentation of the band was very off the wall. The band is German but runs around Greek vocalist/guitarist Alex. While I was expecting some melodic hard rock, the songs got a bluesy base. If one thing became clear during all songs, it was that Alex is an above average guitarist displaying great solo's at ease. Highlight to me was the bluesy version of Don't Believe a Word. Still overall they could not convince me to get their CD. Let's face it I even stopped buying Gary Moore albums, when he turned all Blues.

After a reshuffle of the stage, with even drums changed quickly, Praying Mantis came on. They opened the evening with Fight for Your Honour, opening track of Legacy. Sights and sounds were approved, so we could continue into Panic in the Streets from TTNL. What followed was 90 minutes of Melodic Hard Rock, played with attitude and a smile. The band comes alive on stage and it is a pleasure to see the poses Tino makes, inbetween his stage travels. Jaycee is indeed a right singer for this band, as he mastered the old classics next to the obvious new songs. From Legacy we got a debut in first ever played The One plus Believable and The Runner. The song where the audience was invited to sing along was one of the unknowns to me in Rise Up Again. I turned out to be not the only one unaware of the words, but some fans shouted along. The ballad break came in Dream On and the evening was closed with songs from the past Children of the Earth and Captured City. This was a very pleasant evening of top class Melodic Rock. Now they turned partially dutch I hope they keep on coming back frequently.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Fluminense wins first ever Primeira Liga of Brasil

Fluminense won the first edition of the Primeira Liga do Brasil by beating Atletico Paranaense in the final by 1-0. What the value of this title shall be only the future will tell. So let me explain a little bit on Brazilian footbal for my non-Brazilian readers.

Brazil is football and to a certain extent Futebol is Brasil. The unfortunate matter here is that futebol is disorganized in Brazil by federations who only work against the football and surely are incapable of organizing the famous pissup in a brewery. Only thinking about money and television they are doing their utmost to kill football. So far nothing new you would say as is this is all over Fifa the case, but let me give you some examples. Due to a too busy schedule many weekly maches are played. The main one to be shown on national television used to start at 21:40 in order to finish the national soap series first. This means ending 23:30 on a weekday, so any away supporters have to take a day off and home supporters should also not live too far from the stadium. Most annoying I always found matches of the national team. The competition does not stop unless it is the worldcup!! So with this year the Copa America and Olympic Games coming up, you can only hope your club players are not invited to join, as they might be out for competition a long time. In recent years Fluminense's biggest star Fred (yes he is good, but Selecao is just not going to play in order to serve him) missed easily 10 competition games, due to preparations and tournaments, plus the occasional Nike-driven friendly match in and against Vietnam or alike. Finally (well there is lots more wrong with Brazilian football, but I keep it short) the agenda is a joke. Not following the European football calendar can still be understood, as summer holiays fall from mid December to mid February. Having too many matches however, is created on purpose. The national championships run from May till December and before that State Championships are organized. Only the state of Sao Paulo can come up with a strong tournament, while in all other states two to max. four clubs are too strong for the rest, resulting in many matches fans can't care less about. The argument is it supports the small clubs, question is if it really does.

So this year saw the inauguration of the Primeira Liga. Main clubs from the three Southern States, Minas Gerais and Fluminense and Flamengo from Rio would play in three groups of 4  in order to arrive at two semi-finals. This sounds easy, but still on 25 January the National Football Federation (CBF) vetoed this league and any games being played after end January. I do not know how and why this was ignored but the league went on and calendars would be set while going on. So when Fluminense lost their first match my interest disappeared considerably. A rather sensational match resulting in a 3-4 victory at Cruzeiro, made me follow this Liga again and the group was even won by Fluzao. In the semi finals in Brasilia (don't ask, that city is indeed not in one of the participating states) International was beaten after a 2-2 draw and penalties. So yesterday the final was played in Juiz de Fora south of Minas Gerais state. This is a three hour drive from Rio so Fluminense supporters appeared in decent numbers. Supporters from Atletico Paranaense were not so lucky, as they met probems on the way and arrived during the 30th minute of the second half!!! I guess seeing 15 minutes, losing a title and driving back 900 km is well deserved for supporting against Fluminense and wearing Flamengo colours alone.

So should we be happy. Of course we should it is a title and who knows what this tournament can grow into. Still this tournament does not have the prestige for me to put the alarm at 02:00 hrs and watch the match live on a streaming site. Maybe in the future this might happen (similar to Libertadores or Copa Brasil) On the picture above you see Magno Alves. He is one of the heroes from my Rio years 1997-2000 and back at Fluminense. He is not that young any longer obviously, but he still is that player you like. Unlike Neymar (three different colours and haircuts over the last three weeks) he always looks the same, works hard and plays simple. Yesterday he gave the decisive pass for the 1-0 victory, so for me this title can be dedicated to Aahh Magnico Alves!!!!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Mick Pointer Band - Boerderij Zoetermeer, 16 April 2016

It is 1983 and my Heavy Metal Universe keeps on expanding Next to the classic hardrock from the seventies the NWOBHM is bringing us new bands all the time. Since Stampij, the best show ever to hit Dutch radio, had finished the year before, we depended on magazines to point us to new discoveries apart from some Friday Night Rock shows we might hear. Den Haag still had several Hardrock LP stores at the time with two in the centre and Kees at the border of town. The Aardschok would appear irregular in those days, so we also picked up Kerrang in those days still a magazine worth reading. Going through the issues there was more than once a band called Marllion covered. So when their debut LP Script for a Jester's Tear was released I went to the Nieuwstraat and asked for a spin on the headphones. It took me one side to realize that I had something special here and a few weeks later I also bought their Market Square Heroes EP. These albums opened a whole new world to me as until then I had been unaware of anything Progrock really, apart from some hit singles by Pink Floyd, Yes or Genesis. This album pointed me to eighties bands following a similar style (Pendragon) as well as back to the early seventies. A few months later Marillion would be opening band at Parkpop Festival during their first tour outside the UK (followed by Diamond Head debuting outside the UK that same day). I was sold for life and until today I keep following the band and Fish solo, not missing a release from either. Still as good as it was back in 1983 it would never be again, as this is one of my all time favorite albums. So I went to de Boerderij for seeing this album being performed live. As our concerts app again resulted in zero friends joining me, I went alone. However, in de Boerderij I met Onno and Mario who completed the eighties feel, as in those days we would gather at Marcel's house for a jog on the beach and a game of cards.

So for those who do not know Mick Pointer, he is founder and original drummer of Marillion playing on this album and the EP.  Some years ago he fstarted the Mick Pointer Band commemorating an anniversary of the album. As band he took some famous members of Pendragon, Arena, Credo, Shadowland plus that scouser from Carpet Crawlers on vocals. Amongst the five of them I think they played de Boerderij over a hundred times, but together they shine. If you close your eyes you hear something very close to the original and when you open them up again you see Brian Cummins jumping up and down in very similar Fish style with the make-up and mullet to complete the memories. On the music there is little to add really. From the most beautiful broken hearted ballad, through drug songs, class societies and anti war lyrics we know the album. It is interesting to notice how well you know these albums from the eighties as both lyrics and music know no surprises. After the album we got several B-sides and the song many have been waiting for as well Grendel. While H used to get upset when the audience is shouting for the epic, we were now invited to ask for it and probably the loudest roar of the evening followed. The set was closed with Market Square Heroes the party song. It was very interesting to see how both band and audience reacted much better to this classic than during last year's Fish farewell to Childhood tour. This was caused by the band being much better than the group supporting Fish and the audience getting the required reaction (jumping and shouting at the right times that is). I am not critisizing Fish himself here, as no matter how good Brian sung, the stage presence of Fish is unmatched until today. Closing the evening was encore Margaret with solo spots for all band members. This was a brilliant evening and it seemed that the band were enjoying themselves as well enough to return again in a few years time. Last time they played de Boerderij a live CD was recorded and this time all was taped for DVD release. A bit pointless in my view as I stick to Recital of the Script for that one. This band does not play a lot, as this was their first and only show in three years time. I guess I shall be back if they return in 2019, since I shall never get enough of this Script.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Portugal part 2: DarkWaters - Sinistro - Forgotten Suns

Digging further into Josy's current homecountry I ran into two new interesting bands to me. For trio completion I added one album from my collection.

DarkWaters - Odds and Lies
DarkWaters play Heavy Metal with some melodic and progressive edges to it. Catchy songs around strong melodies make them stick in your head. The vocalist seems to be coming from Idols and has a quite typical sound. At times both music and voice remind me of Black Symphony and Hittman, two bands that also should have been much bigger than they grew out to be. Finding information on this band at internet requires some patience as more bands have the same or a very similar name. They seem to play the occassional gig in portugal, so maybe I can attend one some day. For me DarkWaters is a proving that all over the world unknown bands make very good albums, but lack the exposure to go anywhere really.

Sinistro - Cidade
Sinistro play Holland today at the sold out Roadburn festival and I won't be there. A review in Aardschok of their last album Semente introduced me to Sinistro. Some research on internet brought me to this EP, where vocalist Patricia Andrade was still mentioned as guest on the cover. This is their ode to home-town Lisbon and what a beautiful piece of music it is. From the poetic lyrics in Portuguese to the melancholic quiet instrumental parts all the way to heavy riffs this EP is a journey you go on. Absolutely stunning piece of music that sounds even better with headphone on, reading along the lyrics. Coincidentally (or not) Progpower friend Andrew from Ave Noctum tipped me after I received this EP on an recent album he liked a lot. Sinistro - Semente it was, so that one is already on it's way to me.That makes it two major discoveries for me in the female fronted area after Oceans of Slumber releasing Winter, who would have though that.

Forgotten Suns - Innergy
This album was released in 2009. I had their debut Fiction Edge 1 (Ascent) already, but this third release is better to me. They moved from mainly instrumental progressive rock, to a melodic progmetal band. The songs on this CD come more alive and the album hits you much harder in the face. Yes again a band was found guilty of Dream Theater Copycat, but I believe they had something of their own to them. Searching for them now I see they are still active and released a new album last year. Something to keep an open eye for and picking up if they play Portalegre when I am around.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Dirkschneider & Anvil - Dudok Tilburg 12 April 2016

Dudok in Tilburg is a beautiful church of metal and yesterday they offered us a return to our youth or roots with two eighties heavy highlights stopping over during their European tour. Dirkschneider is Udo playing for the last time his old Accept songs and Anvil is Anvil(!). Before these two bands hit the stage Italians Burning Rome had the uphill battle of warming up people looking for glories of their past with completely unknown songs to all. I am afraid that most people were either not yet in at this early hour, or did not care that much. I must admit lasting only a few songs as well, until I got a drink waiting for my sympathy of Anvil and nostalgy of Accept.

Than at a quarter past seven Anvil kicked of and very surprisingly Lipps was suddenly standing next to me when he got us all started with his March of the Crabs. Followed by 666 the mood was set and we were in for some old skool Heavy Metal as it used to be presented in the eighties.  The story of Anvil is nowadays widely known due to the best music documentary ever made (anyone who does not know that film go and look for it now, a beautiful story of persistence, friendship and bad luck). I must admit that in the eighties I only had the yellow flexi single of Forged in Fire that came with Aardschok at the time and when buying a collection some years back after the movie I did know the songs from Metal on Metal so someone should have had that near me at the time. Anvil is just genuine and they seem to be having a great time indeed. From the new album we got Daggers and Rum (a song Magchiel did not get and I quite like) and Die for a Lie (lyrically not a party song). Other highlights were to me Mothra and Swing Thing, showing that all three musician are mastering their instrument. And then it was over with according to Lipps the Epic we had been waiting for Metal on Metal. This was indeed the perfect closer as everybody knows this song and it invites for some very loud participation. I had a very entertaining show and am pleased that the movie created a turn of events in Anvil's career. Perfect festival set as well.

Udo decided to say farewell to his Accept heritage under the Dirkschneider monniker. This name stopped Magchiel from buying the grey Tee, which would be picked up if showing Accept, but it did not. Udo made no small work of his goodbye to Accept and we were treated on more than 20 songs in more than two hours. Last time I saw Udo was at Alcatraz some years ago and I remember liking the known Accept songs best, so I wonder how Udo without Accept continues. It might have been wise if I would have played their LP's once more before the show, as now I many times wondered which song I was hearing again until the choruse kicked in. To me the two hours was a bit long ad we could divide the show into two parts. On one side my absolute favorites Fast as a Shark, Princess of the Dawn, SoaB and Burning plus their hits Metal Heart, Balls to the Wall and Restless and Wild. On the other hand there were especially at the end of the regular set some songs that did not age that well really. For me these included Monsterman, Midnight Highway and TV Wars. I guess that for me a show of 90 minutes might have been better, but that was not the purpose of this tour. Udo's voice is not losing any power still and the band played tight. With the poses and the smiles of a German Power Metal bands Cheese is always lurking around the corner, but ths evening they got away with it.
So I was pleased to have this opportunity to  go back to my eighties with Magchiel. After all Accept was our favorite German band at the first half of the eighties and with Udo this good it sounded at times just like 35 years ago. Heidi Heido Heida one more time!!!

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Andy Jackson - Obsidian Kingdom - Future Corpse

I do not recall many years where we arrived mid April with already so many good shows seen and great albums released. Herewith some short pointers to worthwhile purchases. As usual starting light ending dark and heavy.

Andy Jackson - 73 Days at Sea
Andy is most known for his work as engineer with Pink Floyd. This is his second solo album and guess what: perfectly  blending the later PF albums with the solo works of Waters and Gilmour. Anyone with a mild interest to the calm side of these names, should give this album a try. I did not enter lyrics of concept yet, just finding this a very pleasant album for waking up slowly. Highlight is the epic Drownings with some help from Ann Marie Helder on vocals and David Jackson (relative?) on saxophone. Atmospheric prog rock for the quiet hours.

Obsidian Kingdom  - A Year with no Summer 
This one's a grower as at first I was somewhat underwhelmed. After their thundering show at Progpower 2015 I was expecting lots and it just needed more listenings before I got the album. A bit more dark and moody than their heavy live show this now is becoming more and more a favorite of mine. Only problem with these really progressive bands who stubbornly do whatever they want, is that sometimes you miss the point. In my case unnecessary hidden track and mirrored lyrics in booklet. But maybe I know nothing, as they are from Barcelona.

Fututre Corpse - Another World to Consume
My last discovery through ProgMetalZone (why did that site stop updating?). This trio from Melbourne Australia mix heavy matters and come with a pretty interesting output. On the vocals thnk screams with to me lots of At the Drive-In passing by. Put them over a base of tech metal with some quiet bits, but many tempo changes. Out comes Another World to Consume. During the six songs from almost four to fifteen and a half minutes a lot information comes your way. I took great pleasure in processing this all and now have a new favorite that shall probably not become a household name anytime soon. Two minor regrets: the band did not include the lyrics with the CD, which helps non native speakers enjoying difficult music and me not ordering the T-shirt with the album as the artwork is a final bonus to complete the package.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Oceans of Slumber - 013 Tilburg 7 April 2016

Oceans of Slumber touring Europe was something I just could not miss and from the three shows in Holland I picked the Tilburg one, as timing suited best. Actually they are supporting My Dying Bride, but as I did not have time to see much of that show I stick with openers OoS. Given the number of hits on my album review last month I can repeat myself a bit on an explanation on this great band. Oceans of Slumber transcends genres and I am totally convinced that they should grow huge in the underground scene. Their first album Aetherial made it to the number one spot on my list of favorite albums of 2013. The remarkable part is that vocals were mainly screaming, which is not my favorite kind of vocals. On this album it just fitted perfectly with the songs and anoter plus was the music going all over the place while still coordinated. I heard Death Metal, Faith No More, Progmetal and even Scottish Proggers Pallas. Out went Ronnie Allen and in came Cammie Gilbert. A female vocalist, again not necessary my favorite style of vocals. This lady however, has the power and the pressence to convert all those who believe female fronted metal needs operatic/angelic voices all the time. Their new album Winter is brilliant and very likely ending very high on my list of 2016 releases. Again the album does not limit to any genre and should please any fan of good music really. On a recent poll of the best album of Q1 2016 ( they received a special mention as they did not make the shortlist, but several people commented on their album being best so far. So off to Tilburg I went with high hopes.

Starting early at 19:00 hours suited me fine, but seemed to result in several late arrivals as well. This might have been on purpose  as I found out soon, that not too many people were aware of the songs and material upfront. I guess that after this show some fans were gained, since what we got was beautiful. The band walked on stage one by one plugged in and started off with album opener Winter. First conclusions were: what a great band live and what a voice Cammie has. Barefooted she walked the stage going from timid appearance to full blown stage conquerer. On the vocal department the male division over three ranging from clear, grunt to scream worked very nice as well. The show was build around last album Winter only and moved between soft and delicate to all out brutal metal. Devout followed slowing into Sunlight. The central peace was my favorite of the last album Apologue (got the arty Tee from this one afterwards) The heaviest song of the album made us grow our horns on demand and was an absolute highlight. It was followed up by ballad Lullaby, with some interesting bass melodies, melting into ...This Road. Musicality on display her, when drummer Dobber moved to keys and guitarist Sean took over the drums. This proved to be a very talented bunch indeed. Closer was a song we all knew in Nights in White Satin. Those raising eyebrows now, should see this version live. Great ending to a memorable evening.

After the show the band showed up at the merch stand and took their time for everyone interested. So I could ask if Aetherial would be still in during longer sets, which they confirmed. The Blue EP was sold out, so that search stays for internet. I guess that during this tour they are gaining new fans. At the same time I am sure that at Progpower they would be one of those blasts that make a huge impact on those who never heard of them before. Sure that they will be coming back, so shall I in front of the stage. Thanking them for one of the 2016 highlights, I am now playing Coffins Like Kites and the smile shall stay for some days. Those with a chance to see them until Sunday, go early and enjoy.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Voyager, Leprous +4 - Duycker Hoofddorp 3 April 2016

When two of the big successes of recent Progpower festivals tour Holland with Earthside the PPE crowd gets excited and many decided to see two or even all three shows over the weekend. I choose for one only and picked the Sunday in Hoofddorp. Reasons are twofold, closest to home and the fact that Duycker had the brillaint idea to schedule 3 Dutch Prog Rock and Metal bands in the afternoon which could be added to your ticket for the price of one beer. In the atmosphere of supporting your local bands I was present at three something and waited for what was coming. First band were Overhaul, a pretty young band. I don't know if they have played many shows, but they seemed to be finding their way on stage still. The vocalist fighting with his beer bottle and guitars too soft in the mix, made it hard to give a fair impression. Maybe after playing more shows I can appreciate them better, as the musicians as such seemed Ok. Hereafter came a much older band The Barstool Philosophers. They played Progpower a few years back and now had a new vocalist with them. Playing a heavy prog rock they sounded very mature. Maybe not for a CD to me, but I could see the quality. The new vocalist also had a strong voice, although his comments on their long trip to play only 40 minutes was somehwat misplaced, with people from abroad in the audience who paid to see them. Closer of the afternoon sessions were 3rd Machine, the most interesting band to me. They play metal and vocals between screaming, shouting and singing put a right dose of aggression to their heavy base completed by melodic guitar solo's. Today they played their upcoming album Qunatified Self in full. Unfortunately they did not have copies available yet with a due date next weekend. I would have picked up a copy as I liked their show and vocalist who thought it necessary to come stand next to me three times singing back to the stage. Typically a band that I would like to see again in Musicon, so hope they start touring the album fanatically.

With the afternoon somewhat delayed there came some pressure on dinner. Upfront you could order food at the restaurant called The Executioner. With a name like that I prefer to check out the place first, but decided to order a burger anyway. With executioners like this I would walk towards the gallow smiling, as no fear would be sensed. Or in other words the Executioner was a somewhat timid, confused but friendly man and while ordering I knew I would miss the first half of Earthside. As they shall be back in Baarlo in October I could accept this So when I entered the big hall after dinner it turned out that most people missed the afternoon sessions due to nice weather and that Earthside are an animated band. The first tracks I saw were still instrumental, but at the closer a vocalist sung to us from the screen and it sounded and looked great. Obviously the band were enjoying themselves more than just a bit as well, so they shall be popular when coming back.
And then the stage was cleared for Voyager, to be honest the reason I came today after all. Going back over the Progpower years some shows stand out in my memory and Voyager headlining the Saturday two years ago is definitely one of them. I was curious if they could overwhelm again now that the surprise would be gone. Well that was easy, they could. With the drummer sitting behind his kit, he is the only one not bouncing all over stage. This combined with an ease with which they swap styles from pop to heavy and smiling all around. Voyager described their style best on their great red T-shirts (sold out far too fast in XL at PP): Epic Electro Progressive Power Pop Metal. And this is just what they play with the Metal weighing in most. So purists might not like their electro tapes, or their poppy melodies at times. Personally I can't care less for their sideways, as this is a band creating a party and enjoying themselves doing so. I was not the only one thinking so as the response from the audience was good and everyone seemed to have a great time. Due to complaints on the short set the previous nights, they mentioned playing one extra song. Most songs I recognized, while not knowing their titles, but some that I remember now are Hyperventilating, The Morning Light and The Meaning of I. We got one moment for regaining forces during the short yet beautiful ballad Summer Always Comes Again. For the rest it was shouting along Hey, Hey, Hey, headbanging  and seeing one of the partiest Progmetal bands at work. I was pleased to see that Voyager managed to live up to high expectations and I will be there again when they return to Holland.

Then the task was to Leprous to follow this up. I do think that Leprous makes stunning music and interesting T-shirts. yet something is nagging with me and I think I found out what it is. Their best album to me is Bilateral, while they only grew bigger on the back of their last two albums Coal and The Congregation. So seeing them playing live means many new songs. I can still see the class in their performance. the tightness of riffing and timing of their harmonies. Still it seems to me a bit too programmed. The television sets playing on the background also ran in Baarlo and my conclusion was that I loved their two performances in Baarlo, while being somewhat disappointed seeing them twice too short thereafter. Also having five shows in my legs and Tiago home alone, made me quickly decide I would not see the full set (which I learned was close to two hours the nights before). So after some 45 minutes I called it quits and left. Hardly in a position to give any fair comment I could see that they are good at what they do, but also realize they might have grown away from me. Maybe two years from now (after their upcoming Black Metal album) I give it another try and change my mind again.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Portugal part1: Destroyers of All - Ravensire - Framepictures

With Josy now working in Portugal and the Tiago growing older, chances of a not so far future in Portugal increase by the week. Especially now that Brazil is nearing a division in two camps followed by total chaos, the Lusa country might well hold our future. So what does a good rocker do in such case? Prepare yourself and start digging into the Portuguese metal/prog scene. So herewith my first discoveries with a golden oldie from some years ago.

Destroyers of all - Bleak Fragments
As Josy lives in the beautiful town of Portalegre my search started while being there. Since 2014 there is an annual festival in Portalegre Core covering Rock metal and punk. First year headliners were DoA, so I stumbled on a clip of their forthcoming album Hate Through Violence. Liking this I searched for more on them and soon the album was ordered. In the meantime they received two very positive reviews on Dutch sites Ragherrie and Zware Metalen as well, so their distribution works well. For directions think Thrashy metal with screaming vocals and an occassional break musically as well as vocally. They return to Portalegre in June, but I won't be around. Portalegre Core has not yet announced dates nor bands, but hoping on a match in July. Good band on the heavier end.

Ravensire - The Cycle Never Ends
Hear them galloping away on opening track Cromlech Revelations and we know we are in for an Epic Metal treat. This band follows the line of eighties Epic Metal as set by Manowar, Virgin Steele, Exxplorer. Their main standout point is that vocalist/bass player Rick does not follow the high pitched screams, but stays on lower and rawer regions. This works very well with the music. In White Pillars they have an impressive trilogy on an excavation site near Sintra (as Rick is Archeologist) Last time I went to Portugal in February I mailed the band asking for tips on good CD stores. Guitarist Nuno offered to meet in Lisbon and pass me a CD. As I am not owning my agenda while in Portugal I could not set up same and ordered the album through bandcamp. Still I hope to see them live soon, as I am sure that this music goes down exteremely well with some pints of Sagres or Super Bock.

Framepictures - Remember It
This one is from 2010 and much apreciated by me at the time. Being overly critizied for cloning Dream Theater I remember it (!) being a great progmetal album. Seven songs ranging from 5:35 to 25:58 minutes, lots of instrumental mastery and a vocalist that causes discussions, yes I can see the DT references. Well I liked their songs, accepted the somewhat nasal voice and thought they actually had it in them to become one of the big European Progmetal bands. Well I was wrong, as an internet search nowadays makes me believe they died a silent dead. Well to me the memories did not fade away and I fail to understand why nobody cared (another two puns, but you should know the songtitles)  Sometimes bands fade out and disappear, but I still occassionally go back to this album and like what I hear.