Friday, 21 July 2017

Bent Knee - Tuesday the Sky - Riverdogs - Vintersorg - Exist - Unhuman

As I am leaving for holidays tonight and won't be able to review no doubt very interesting shows of Blind Illusion, Nordfest, Fates Warning, Sanctuary, Death Angel, Warbringer just to name a few I decided on sharing some CD tips. As my range goes from soft to heavy there must be something for everyone here really. NWOBHM had to pass as Warrior is still on its way to me. Building up the decibels again.

Bent Knee - Land Animals
I looked for some clips on YouTube after a raving review on Lords of Metal. That sounded very interesting. Poppy alternative, prog songs where female vocals make me think of Paatos. They go from calm and dreamy to rather urgent. Next March they play Progdreams and I am sure that might be an interesting show. Minor point the minutes of silence ending Boxes (that is soo nineties)

Tuesday The Sky - Drift
Any project by Jim Matheos can count on my support, just because he gave the world Fates Warning. This one is not a blind purchase for any FW fan though. Calm instrumental music which hangs somewhere between his instrumental solo albums and Chroma Key. Kevin Moore helps out a bit again plus Lloyd Hanney on drums and Anne Lynne Williams on vocals without lyrics. Perfect music for waking up slowly. One song standing out is longer Dyatlov Pass, which goes from dark calm to pure progmetal.  

Riverdogs - California
Riverdogs with Vivian Campbell releasing a new album should make many people happy. Their debut album is a classic in Melodic Hard Rock. This time they give us the usual components for great Riverdogs music. Good songs, great playing and the warm soulful voice of Rob Lamothe. The first 5 seconds might scare some people off, but hereafter it is one trip back to Riverdogs at its peak. Now we hope for a European tour again.

Vintersorg - Till Fjälls del II
I have no earlier music from Vintersorg, but gave this one a try because of Borknagar's brilliant Winter Thrice album. I also have Cronian from Mr V. in my collection. Now it is Vintersorg and it is one moody affai, Black Folk metal with swedish lyrics. This all brought in such a way that having no clue on the lyrics does not matter at all. Reading in reviews this album is less progressive I might have to look into a back catalogue here.

Exist - So True, So Bound
This album is my strong recommendation for the summer as it just should not stay under the radar. This is progmetal for the adventurous soul. It might be called technical death metal at some sites, but with the clean voice all over it should attract progmetal fans as well. Max Phelps on guitars and vocals is known from Cynic and Death to All. He picked up on songwriting at both bands as there are some traces (in air?) from Cynic at times. The eight tracks presented here gave me one surprising overwhelming ride through metal landscapes. Perfect band to get to PPE next year.

Unhuman - Unhuman
I picked this album up during the Beyond Creation show a few weeks ago. Turns out it is a 2013 release. Holding members of Beyond Creation and ex Cryptosy this is one heavy tech death blast with the usual quality guarantee from Canada. Never heard of them before and also not found too many reviews on this album. If you like the beautiful cover, the music is just as great. Would be nice to see them once perform and see if they can come close to Beyond Creation live.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Diamond Head, Martyr, Killer & Burning - Baroeg Rotterdam 16 July 2017

Diamond Head in Baroeg the day after Dynamo meant I took it easy at Dynamo and left early to be OK the next day. While having missed them on stage for 34 years I am part of Diamond Head history. July 1983 and Parkpop still put on bands I loved. Openers that day were Marillion on their first Script tour of Europe, followed by Diamond Head touring Borrowed Time and for the first time ever playing outside the UK. That day I bought the fan package and big part of the eighties I walked around in my jeans jacket with only the blue Borrowed Time patch on the back. Then it became a known story: never breaking big as they should, Metallica covering 4 songs, still releasing good albums. This resulted in last year a very strong selftitled album, which I described as the comeback album of 2016. The new vocalist Rasmus  comes awfully close to old Sean Harris, so my expectations for today were way up there.

When entering Baroeg Burning was already on stage. This band runs the risk of being "that band from Hugo Very 'Eavy", but they played good old fashioned hard rock. Nothing modern about their sound, but played well and some good songs I heard. A first warm-up for things to come. With Killer following them I got the first surprise of the day. Chezy asked me if I knew them on forehand and I only know I had no LP's from them at the time. I did remember references as Belgium Motorhead and Shorty on guitars and vocals. This was still true, but the main man on stage was the extremely enthusiastic bassist/vocalist Spooky. What a show this trio gave us and what great bang along songs. Highlight to me was Kleptomania, but this was 45 minutes well banged alltogether. For warming us up even more Martyr came on next. Anyone with a mild interest in metal in Holland should have seen them play several times over the past years as they do play a lot. The good thing is that they guarantee a party as their presentation and songs go down so well (with a Martyr beer I finally found out after Rick's hint). They are the best metal band for a party in Holland and I don't think you can get tired of seeing them over and over. The small girl opening came along again and how nice and arrogant she looks through blackened eyes. So the party was over, now let the party begin.

Diamond Head made me decide to move to the front rows. I needed to get this blown over me at full force. Surprisingly they opened with Wild on the Streets from their only album I do not have Death & Progress. Hereafter Borrowed Time in a shorter faster version, brought me back to my teens and the set was about old and new from there on. The last album was represented by Bones, Diamonds and Shout at the Devil, proving this one is also live as strong as their old work. Of course the four Metallica covered songs were included and the set closed with their all time classic Am I Evil? I was proudly wearing my tee with the opening line of that one, realizing it is probably not official merch. As there was no curfew with the early start today we got an encore dedicated to all the ladies in the audience Sucking My Love. A great end to an even better set. Only complaint I might have had was their new shirts did not look that great to me (still hoping for some Rodney Matthews cover shirts). Liking to buy a souvenir as support I passed this time. Backwarding fast into 1983 I do remember that they had the nerve to not play Am I Evil? that day. Also were they warming us up for soon to be released Canterbury an album skipped this evening. Personally I also loved the Canterbury album and would have liked to see Night of the Swords  or To the Devil is Due coming by. Well with too many songs to choose from one can't have it all. Still with songs like Lightning to the Nations and In the Heat of the Night not much can go wrong. Not commenting on the band so far I can say this is a very tight unit who decided luckily on a fast set for us. Rasmus has a great voice live, the second guitar (not in 1983) helps the sound during the many solo's Brian Tatler gave us and without any attitude issues this was one fine show of top class NWOBHM. Turns out I managed to traditionally loose my voice when shouting to Tiago (not the Devil) this morning. Still wondering why it took me 34 years to see Diamond Head again I know I will be there when they return to Holland. Unfortunately Blast From The Past in Belgium in December won't work for me. What a great Sunday show in Baroeg it was and even Mollema got motivated giving Holland it's first stage win in the Tour de France.


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Dynamo Metal Fest - Eindhoven, 15 July 2017

Dynamo Metal Fest is back at the Skating Rink in Eindhoven. Well they have been back for three years now, but as they plan in the middle of school holidays I was abroad the last two years. Last time I was at the Skating Rink in Eindhoven was at Dynamo 1991 when Psychotic Waltz, Armored Saint and Metal Church ruled the day for me. This year the line-up was impressive and with tickets at only 20 Euros no wonder it sold out. I had some limitations as I need to be fit today, for some of the heroes from my youth. This meant I thought it smart to say no when Ron and Astrid offered a ride, as I was intending to leave early. Slow learner I am I counted on NS to train me to Eindhoven, which meant a detour and smaller thus overfull trains. Pleased to see Arian and Eddie at the station in Eindhoven as the waiting started first 25 minutes for the bus then 30 minutes to get in. Thanks for the beers, which made the waiting easy. This resulted in Vuur already starting when we were still in a long queue and an echo came out of the rink. Now I was not so much bothered as I did not come to see Vuur. What I heard when inside was Ok, but sound and distance blew a fair impression away really.

Next one where the band that made me go most to Eindhoven: Toxik!! World Circus and Think This are two albums anyone into technical thrash metal should own. They have been returning over the past years and shall release new music next month. Before they started I decided I needed to be closer to the stage and Peter agreed. With Charles Sabin on vocals (from the Think This album) they opened with Spontaneous. What a killer song that is and even the poor sound at the beginning did not spoil my trip to headbangers heaven. What followed were Heart Attack and Social Overload and a trip through both albums spiced up with some new songs (of which Breaking Glass stood out positively). When they arrived at their uberhit World Circus I did something I do not do that often anymore the past decades. Gave my beer to Peter and jumped into the pit. As this was an all age affair I was pleased to see I still have it in me. For three minutes that is and than dying of exhaustion moving forward to the stage.  After two more songs it was over and I knew I saw the highlight of the day. While sound was not impressive I wondered how great it would be to see them in a smaller venue. Well on the train home my thoughts were met with an announcement from Mario in two months already. I shall be there if surviving Baroeg Open Air the day before. Now Metalfan mentioned there would be signing session of some bands. Normally I can't be arsed about that, but I now had my Tour de France mountain stage cap with me (bold man sunny festival tip) and this would be nice to have signed. Well it turned out the Metalfan stand was hard to find. When I gave up searching and asked the official merch stand the stunning reply was: Everyone asks us that, but we have no clue. Only later on I realized I should have asked Jeffrey their main live reviewer, who I met up with along many PPE regulars. Well Little Devil is a venue where all are accesible, so I shall thank them for this show in September.

Following this at a festival is always hard. I needed a break for food and more drinks. At the same time Prong were on and they are the last band from this day I do not have any music on CD. They actually sounded rather good, but did not get my attention. During following Entombed A.D. I was still at the back at the food and beverage part of the rink. Returning at our spot near the soundman for their final songs, they were good again. Closing with Left Hand Path got a rather loud response overall and they were a good representative for Death Metal this day. The day itself was build around thrash metal and next one were my second favorite of the day Exodus. This time I kept my distance from the stage as with Exodus their is murder in the front row and blood upon the stage. Well even from a distance this was one overwhelming agressive attack to the neck and the ears. What a show and they truly seemed to love being back at Dynamo. Their Tees were nice as well with the logo in Dutch colours and the text Make Dynamo Great Again on the back (but I got the Toxik one). With Steve "Zetro" Souza on vocals they presented an overview from Bonded by Blood to Blood In, Blood Out. Well anyone who can end their set with killers like Toxic Waltz and Strike of the Beast, shall blow away the audience. Another highlight that showed to me that both bands and many older fans love it that Dynamo is back as a festival.

I was very curious what Devin Townsend would bring today. I have many albums of him in several editions of his solo band, or with Strapping Young Lad. While he can go all over the range ambient to full out metal some returning items are his over the top epic presentations and more than full sound. On the other hand he can talk a bit too much inbetween songs with his nerd-pride-self depicting dry sense of humor. Further we knew Anneke was around as she played with her new band Vuur before. Well the outcome was well above my expectations. This panned out in one bombastic fest and Anneke returned a few times to up the atmosphere. While I think I recognized some parts I donot know any of his songs played by title, which doesn't matter really. Fact was that he played tight, spoke short and impressed. With the risk of being lightweight on today's line-up I noticed none of that with the rather heavy set. I was not the only one as reactions over the field were loud and clear, another winner. And then I became smart and left. Yes Ron I created a backbone since my Oldtimer days and actually left as planned. I knew that if staying another three hours, times x beers I would suffer today. I also agreed with Tiago to meet at home before twelve, in order to find out he slept elsewhere. This meant I skipped Testament, whom I shall see maybe at Alcatrazz and surely in Patronaat later this year. I further do like Gojira, but not as much as my three highlights of the day. With their star rising and rising I am sure they will be back for more.

Well Dynamo Metal Fest is back and if not on holidays next year so shall I be again. Last year I read complaints on toilet capacity, this year that was not the issue. There were capacity problems at the entrance plus food and drinks, but  I do not know if that can be expanded. The mood all over the day was great and it is clear that many people my age love to see bands from our younger days on stage with likeminded souls. Being sold out now, I hope they keep this format of one day old school. First band for next year was announced during the day being Annihilator.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Mike Portnoy's Shattered Fortress & Next to None - 013 Tilburg, 6 July 2017

Mike Portnoy gathering Haken and Eric Gilette (Neal Morse) to play his Dream Theater AA Suite fully. Well that sounded to more than an obligatory attendence for any progmetal lover. So I went and saw one evening of amazing music. Before I get glorious, let me set the ballpark and share some complaints. I am a Dream Theater fan, but tend to go against the stream of some bigger fans. I love their first three albums When day... I still bought on LP, Images and Words is a Classic Must Own in Progmetal and Awake is their best album period. So when Mike asked who was there in Utrecht in 93 surprisingly few arms went up. Well let me tell you younger fans and later inflows. The Images and Words Tour beats anything Dream Theater did thereafter on stage. It was the first time that we saw such a band and they only had good songs. I think they played Bospop when Seasons was released and than I went off to Brazil. Guess what: they decided to warm up for Falling Into Infinity in Brazil, So I saw them together with Josie in not the best area of Rio playing Under Peruvian Skies (about nearby Peru as they called it being over 4000 km away). I am drifting off, but my point is that for me Scenes From a Memory is not a favorite DT album at all. Actually it won't make my top ten of DT albums and here comes 013 in the picture. When looking for times of show turned out they put the setlist on the page, so gone were the surprises and to my dismay Mike Portnoy loves Scenes as it was almost all about that album. This can be overcome, but why the hell did 013 decide to limit the hall and call it sold out? I knew people who wanted to join and could not. Further it was too busy in the crowd, meaning you could not walk freely around.  I know that the AA suite is about Mike quitting demon alcohol. This however should not mean that ordering a drink becomes a pain to get back to where you were. I moved to large beers to avoid the hassle. Being busy meant I did not run into the people I knew would be there. Well I saw Alex, but he was on stage holding a camera. So it seems there will be another Mike Portnoy DVD filmed in 013. Before moving the mood and go to the music one final complaint. The T-shirt was just horrendous. A picture montage of a man does not work for me. The back was good with the logos on bands he recorded or played with. But where was Fates Warning? I saw him drumming with them at Headway and opening for Queensryche, so he left the best band out for reasons unknown (rights maybe?).

After the dutch complaining it might look that I did not enjoy myself, well how wrong can one be. I already looked very much forward to Next to None after Andrew sent me his rave review on their new album (see Ave Noctum). Well I can be short, what a surprise they were. I was expecting a young band djenty and hyper, on came four very good musicians showing us the future of Progmetal. After the second song I knew I was going to get their album at the break until they told us it was sold out. we got some 5/6 songs with a huge epic to close. The turning keys for the vocalist were interesting and even more interesting was hearing that the guitarist has a voice as good, if not better. The main voice at times sounded not far from a certain mr LaBrie and also the band Three came to mind. When he got louder and gruntier he was less impressive (Swaffelgrunt anyone?) but the variation of same worked fine. I am definitely going to check out their new album and follow them closely. One final tip for the drummer whose name I won't mention. Playing like animal was impressive, but leaving the stage all the time? I never before saw a drummer leaving the stage three times in a 45 minute set. Coming back laying on the stage seemed a bit over the top, so I hope there are no ego issues developing here. Definitely a great band who deserved to be here on their own merits.

And then we wait for things to come. For  those not knowing Haken, they were introduced as the best band in prog at the moment and Mike might be right there. I prefer their first two albums, but as a band they play wonderful. Biggest surprise of the evening was Eric Gilette. He played the majority of the solos and also had a great voice being allowed to lead at times. I stopped following Neal Morse due to releasing similar albums all the time and the praying factor. Turned out I might have to check out recent work with such guitars on it. The opening songs were by title very well choosen. Strange Deja-Vu it was indeed in this setting. The Mirror is one of my favorites on their best album and linked here nicely as hello mirror returns several times in the suite. This was also the chance for Diego to show his keytar skills. And then the moment came I was really waiting for hearing the suite in full. In five songs Mike described the twelve steps of his AA healing process and all clocking around ten minutes or a bit more this was one of the best progmetal hours I saw in a long time. The songs themselves are all winners and hearing the full story for the first time in one go, was beyond amazing. What a band, what a performance and what good fun. The Glass Prison, This Dying Soul, The Root of All Evil, Repentance and The Shattered Fortress all guided by interesting images on a big screen and again what a band. Anyone still having the chance to see this don't miss out. And if you did miss them, there still is a DVD coming. Mike Portnoy was always the creativity behind DT and thank him for bringing this show. I believe everyone was staring in awe to the stage when it was over and it took some time before chants for more came. Now I knew two things. He would only revisit Scenes and the trains were again a problem tonight. So I did see Home (which is great) but left during the Dance of Eternity (boring) in order to find that only trains to The Hague were still on time. So I got lucky if you don't count the hail, rain and storm on the bicylce. I wonder how many people are today making a playlist with the full suite on their computers, Ipods or whatever. One historic night it was.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Beyond Creation, Virvum, Creative Waste & Tragacanth - DB's Utrecht 2 July 2017

Beyond Creation showed last year that they are the new benchmark in Technical Death Metal on stage. That was only a half hour slot, so when they announced to be back in Holland headlining this time, I knew I would be there. Good to see that I was not the only one recognizing their power as DB's posted sold out during the evening. I did leave home alone, but was pleased to see several dutch-progpower- I am not afraid of grunts- nor am I in Barcelona this weekend -regulars already having their first beers on the terrace. This meant that inbetween bands we could enjoy a beer in the sun until staff warned us the next band was on stage. DB's hall is a black box within a larger box. This means it can get warm and it is a dark walk inside, hoping you do not hit any beers or people until your eyes get used to the dark. First band was from nearby Amersfoort. Their death grunt was supported by rather epic metal. What I remember are the half painted faces and the hoodies for members with short hair. Musically rather good, so let's see if they shall tour Holland and play in the area one day.

The second band was already one that got my interest in advance. The band is Creative Waste and my interest came from the fact that they are from Saudi Arabia. Now I visited the Kingdom several times for work and never came close to imagining that such a different country could give the world such a brutal band. They were announced as grind/crust, but I heard more death metal packed in short songs. Turned out they were a good band and their vocalist was one energetic little man. On one side he reminded of the stage runner from Persefone, while he mixed some dramatic moves and jumps ala Devon Graves in his presentation. I also was reminded of a certain iron ore purchaser in the region, but can't go into detail there. Most of us thought the show very entertaining and the band surprisingly good. during a break I wanted to talk to them and ask about metal live in Saudi, but did not see them around any longer. So now I can only imagine live shows of this kind should be rather impossible to them and they were showing their happines to be on stage. Wish them well on tour and who knows one day in nearby Dubai I can see them again.

Virvum from Switzerland were next on and this time brought a bassist. I did see them earlier this year at Complexity, but I did not really see them there. Suffering a festival syndrome I went for a bite after seeing bits from the stairs in small Patronaat. The difference therefore was huge as tonight they came over so much better to me. With all technical bands you don't need to worry about their level of playing. Here also the guitar and now present bass were brilliant at times. With fast drums settting the pace we got 50 minutes of top class death metal. Only point for improvement to me would be the vocals showing more variation. Far from being a swaffelgrunt I did not hear the deep gut or brutalness that at times would fit the music nicely.  While saying that they made such an impression this time, that I probably shall be back when they are playing Holland.

And then it was time to get blown away again. I did read my review of last year just now and benchmark, setting the standard, followers as leaders like Cynic and Atheist for me, Awesomeness and totally unbelievable instrumental mastering it was all still there. As these shows can be very intense it was also great to see that now playing over an hour my attention did not float away one second. Giving us an overview of their two albums The Aura and Earthborn Evolution time flew by. This is not a band to describe and not even one to hear on CD only. Beyond Creation should be seen and felt live. What we got resulted in many banging necks plus smiling faces around me and more upfront some pits as well. My only attempt to describe what we saw is going through the song Coexistence. Kicking of brutally the band asks for and gets a pit. Vocals go from brutal to harsh and the song develops into extreme glory when suddenly the fingerpicking starts. That is two guitars and one bass with lots of strings in total giving us a mellow break and the band smiles friendly at us. All this to suddenly burst out again and solo's and riffing bring us back in Tech Death heaven. It is good that I gave up on playing guitar almost 30 years ago already, since for aspiring musicians watching this can only be frustrating. Last time I saw them I mentioned on the Progpower forum that this band would be the one if they want to bring a technical death metal band to Baarlo. Now I am divided on that. While all PPE goers highly appreciated them yesterday, I think the problem shall be in following them up. The grunts shall never make them headliner, but a much lighter band shall face the impossibility to follow this up. For me they are the benchmark in their genre and I guess I might have to see them again on the "wrong tour to F&ck with" later this year, even if only for half an hour again.  When blown away this much I tend to get some merch. Having the hoodie already I went in the blind into two side projects from band members. Holding the Canadian stamp of quality guarantee both Death metalling Unhuman and Black metalling Incandescence mix the technality to very interesting albums that need another ten sessions before getting an idea what is all going on. I do not know where Beyond Creation shall end up, but for me they set the standard in extreme metal. Looking around me yesterday I think that was an Omnipresent Perception.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Hetroertzen, Infinity & Kosmokrator - Gebr. de Nobel Leiden 1 July 2017

Doomsday Celebration presenting an evening of Black Metal from Chili/Sweden, Holland and Belgium. Reasons enough to let Zeeheldenfestival for what it is and go to Leiden. As I am no Black Metal specialist whatsoever, I go in white and see what the bands bring. Well that was different today. Openers Kosmokrator are Belgum and made their Dutch live debut. A moody opening sound and on stage came five man hooded and a black veil in front of their face. The opening songs were shortish, but what I liked most was their epic closing song, which even included a horn for darkening atmospheres (although not as huge as the ones Dordeduh blew earlier this year).

Next on stage were Infinity promoting their new album Hybris. This band is live a trio consisting of two guitars and drums. The drummer also sings, which might have resulted in an empty stage, but some burning flames filled the gap. As soon as they started playing this band got me by the throat and kept me hanging until they finished an hour later. I do not know why exactly, but from the three bands they made by far the biggest impact on me. The double guitar work with many solo's made me forget about a lack of bass altogether. Apart from a few silences inbetween songs this was one fest of harsh sounds packed in great melodies. Good live band and listening to Hybris now also not bad on CD. Headliners were Hetroertzen a band formed in Chili moved to Sweden. As in Black Metal their is no space for small talk or introductions inbetween songs I do not know whom were which nationality. By the looks of it the tall vocalist guitarist might have been swedish and the smaller sidekicks on bass and guitar to be Chilean. At the same time the bassist looked like a member of Tribulation. Anyway as it is about the music, what I liked most about them, was the presentation. They brought their songs with conviction and moved around the stage. The songs themselves did not make the impact Infinity just did on me, but their show was good to watch. A nice evening in de Nobel again, which I cut short as an early rise was waiting, bringing tents to the camping Tiago is invading today.


Saturday, 1 July 2017

Zeeheldenfestival Friday 30 June 2017

Amongst the free summer festivals in The Hague area the Zeeheldenfestival is certainly one of the more sympathetic ones. Held in the neighbourhood of the same name it is on a small square holding two stages, some foodstands and a bar. Enough to create  a good atmosphere and a busy Friday evening it turned out. In doubt between Musicon stoner night and this one I opted for the outdoors. The festival lasts five days, but on paper the Friday offered a nice mix of bands and so I met with Pieter for some live music in our old area as in the early nineties he lived on the square and I did around the corner.

Having dinner at home meant I skipped the rockabily covers from Ignition Rockabily and Forever Saturday was on the small stage. This young band plays poppunk rock and roll songs. They can play and brought all with some enthusiasm. Straight forward and simple their music might be, but it went down well at a festival like this. The main stage gave us hereafter some Ska/reggea/salsa music which was not my thing. Towards the end I was at the small stage waiting for Faith Ablaze to start. They were anounced as Thrash metal/Metalcore so more meeting my taste. Although being a local band I never saw them before and it turned out they were a rather good band. Unfortunately the sound was pretty bad as in the opening I only heard drums and vocals. During the set it improved a bit, but guitars were clearest during intros and as soon as the whole band played they were too soft in the mix. Asking for a moshpit was not met with any reaction. This also as the "pit"was taken by some children well under 10 years old and a man well over 70. During a general music festival grunts are always met with frowns and they might have been a tat too heavy for many. I thought about the funny Metalfan review of Graspop mentioning the poppy Rammstein fans having to go through an Emperor set before they could see their band from near the stage. For me a band to keep an eye on and maybe see one day at Musicon or HPC with a better sound. Closer of the evening were Liptease. Three female vocalists in sailor outfits and later 50's bikini's basically ruined what was a rather good Rock and roll band. Playing all kinds of covers a band that went down well and made me and many stay even when the rain started. A nice evening kicking of a weekend that shall have some Black metal tonight and ending with Tech Death masters Beyond Creation tomorrow. 

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Twisted Illusion - Insight to the Mind of a Million Faces


Twisted Illusion was unknown to me until Brian Mear announced them to play at December's Mearfest in Hastings. Now he usually digs deep into the NWOBHM past, but called Twisted Illusion a Progmetal band. Reasons enough to go to the internet and find last year's debut album Temple of Artifice on Bandcamp. Blown away would be an understatement after first spin. This band blends lots of styles I love and I guess progmetal it can be called for that. My first and easy description of their debut would be imagine Motley Crue playing progmetal. So as they were pledging their new album I went for the CD bundle debut album/new album and an acoustic bones. It's almost three weeks now and all three albums have been played omnimous times in an attempt to grasp what is going on.

Insight the Mind of a Million Faces is a double album totalling a few seconds less than 100 minutes. CD one holds the shorter songs and  goes all back and fourth blending the unmixable. Why I like this album so much is that there is a large dosis of accessible melodic hardrock (may I call it hair metal?) in the mix as well. I mean Same old story, same old story in opening song Reflections made me think more than a bit of Kix. But this is definitely not a smooth, slick hair metal album. There is also some sleazy rock side to it, which puts us also back to the eighties. Then there is a Neoprog side and defintely some Classic british hard rock as well. When I kept on trying to box them and thought of The Black Symphony as reference I finally got the point. This band should not be compared and squared into similar styles or bands. They have a very own sound and make just Twisted Illusion music. Some general references might be their massive choruses at times, their instrumental domination, or their urging rhythms. They are not extreme(ly) metal and just play heavy rock music with an attitude.  Arriving at CD two matters go more progmetal by time alone. Holding 42 minutes and two songs makes any progfan hopeful. The title track lasts over 28 minues and is the highlight of the album. Holding 8 parts all their best characteristics come back. A special mention for the crazy guitar solo's in Empathy, Content and Save Me. Now there is another plus on this album in the lyrics. Looking at the title one might fear pretentious dictionary lines that make any non-native English reader like me lost in the plot. Well no such nonsense here, actually the lyrics facilitate the shouting along (Life's Big Questions Aren't For You to Answer). After the rollercoaster title track the album closes with 14 minute Bluesy Progmetal ballad Discovery, which holds another catchy chorus for the masses. The bonus EP Acoustic Prog Bollocks is another gem. Interesting to see how Hatred is a Virtue a heavy rocker from their debut stands proud stripped acoustically and Tribute is a funny cover song.

So I am impressed indeed and wonder what this band sounds like on stage. As I am not sure if the weekend of Mearfest shall be feasible for me, I will start working on getting them to Holland. Such a great album deserves a great cover and that is also above average, with the hand of Molly showing the band being good people as well. Did I mention it is worth checking this out if you like some accesible progmetal with an own sound? Official release date 22 September, or pick up a copy at a show of them.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Anubis - IT - Roger Waters

After some weeks of shows towarsd the heavier end of my spectrum herewith some tips for a calm, moody or sunny summer day. So a Progrock special it is:

Anubis: The Second Hand
Anubis are an Australian Prog Rock band. The biggest names in Prog Rock date from the seventies. The eighties brought my favorites in the genre (Marillion and Pendragon). Anubis is possibly the best prog band starting in this century. The Second Hand is their fourth album and they manage to keep a constant high level.  This album is a concept one again telling a story about a media mogul. Well that is fine, but what counts is that the music is again creative, different and very easy recognizable as Anubis. Some lyrics and musical themes return through the album, but the highlights are the long songs. While Rome Burns comes close to ten minutes and Pages of Stone reaches almost seventeen minutes. Two years ago Anubis made a short European tour. Their stop at de Boerderij was legendary as they played in the cafe stage and did so for full two hours. During that show it became clear that first the epics are best for having the time to build up and display long guitar solo's and second (hand) they fully deserve our sympathy. I have no favorite amongst their four albums and I also do not know if they attract any new fans here. Yet we hope they come back to de Boerderij and make it to the main hall. Maybe a brilliant band for Progdreams festival. Releasing this album they had some pre-order packages that looked good. Unfortunately US and Australian mail tarrifs make it nowadays very unattractive to buy anything directly from the band.

IT: We're All in this Together
IT is a band I heard of in the past, but disappeared from my radar. They once played a festival I was looking at attending (but did not). Now they release this new album and I think they have a potential breakthrough album. Peter if you are reading along, this is again one of those tips of mine that should attract both Prog Rock fans and fans of more indie/alternative rock or even hard rock in this case. The music is upbeat and rocking. Not showing off their skills it is all aout the songs. Most of them rocking and clocking around five minutes with one epic. Putting some references here they remind me of Dream The Electric Sleap for their crossover of prog rock and alternativeness and their Neo-Prog does bring the last album of Final Conflict to mind. This band should go down well on a summer festival that goes from guitar rock to metal (let's call it Schollenpop to make things easy) I guess that they are not annoying anyone and might win over many fans on such a day amongst general music lovers. This one is a huge surprise for me and definitely recommended to well music lovers.

Roger Waters: Is This the Life  We Really Want?
The Reason I bought this album is more basic than one might suspect. In The Hague the best CD shops closed down and basically not even a general store with a good metal or prog department is left. So I do not go to the centre buying CD's anymore. Friday 2 July I was meeting a friend in the city for a drink and on my way back home passed the small Velvet store in Paagman. So I could buy an actual CD from an old hero in the city, an offer I could not refuse. Roger Waters is an old hero indeed, but he is still angry and disappointed in the world. This whole album is full of cynical and critical comments and the best of him are his lyrics. Singing is more telling us and the music goes by calmly in general. Result is that if playing on the background no songs stays in your head really. It basically is a repetition of his past. So you hear Radio KAOS, Amused to Death and The Final Cut passing by with new lyrics. While the above reviewed albums can be called essential for prog lovers this one is not. For completists like me it is not a bad album either, so not a risky purchase really. I believe currently he is touring the USA, criticizing Trump during his live shows. I hope he comes to Europe next year and gives Erdogan and Putin a similar treatment here. The world is mad and we are closed in by idiots dictating our neighbours. Somehow I think that blaming Trump only is his easier way out.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Exhumed - Paard Den Haag 18 June 2017

Het Paard is puting on some metal shows again after hardly any over the past years. This means that we have to go even if not knowing the bands. I checked out Exhumed on the net and found them to be at least interesting. So while outside the birds were suffering from the heat het Paard offered good airconditioned metal on a late afternoon. Being sunny meant I missed Warborn Waste, but they play often. Procreation was on stage when I arrived. This turned out to be a band blending calmer parts with their Death metal and by doing so managed to keep our interest throughout. Next on where Rectal Smegma (what's in a name?) If Rene asks me I wonder what you make of that in your review, it is a sign they play out of my comfort zone. So I could make little of it indeed. Brutal, very brutal grindcore. A vocalist in reflecting yellow shorts only, short and furious songs. Not a word to be understood and energy. Yes lots of energy on the stage bouncing back in the hall and mainly the younger visitors seemd to love it. Interesting and different it was, for me not to be played at home though.

Exhumed are American and ended their European tour in The Hague.  Luckily at the begin of the evening some people had arrived as this was a clear headliner again. This Death Metal was improved by great guitar work with lots of solo's. While this band is still pretty heavy their great musicianship made it all the more accesible. Some months ago Blood Incantation blew me away live and this band reminded me of that a bit. And then when halfway the set a masked man with a chainsaw comes on stage and dives into the audience starting a circle pit the term friendly violent fun popped up again. Exhumed proved again that you do not need to know a band at all in order to have a great evening when a good show is presented. As later on even Chezy flew by in the circle pit I guess I was not the only one impressed with this band. So with the alternatives being the beach or a BBQ it turned out that a Dark and cold Horse was the right choice. Coming home early I could even have an outside beer to close the day and a metal weekend.


Sunday, 18 June 2017

Psychotic Waltz & Poverty's No Crime - Fluor Amersfoort 17 June 2017

Psychotic Waltz back in The Netherlands for a full headline  show after almost twenty years. Before giving my review of the evening, let me set the fanboy ballpark here. A Social Grace has been the best progmetal debut album ever released. That LP became album of the month in Aardschok and also gave Psychotic Waltz the opening slot of Dynamo Open Air 1991. I remember (!) very well how they begged to play more after their short set, but this was not going to happen. Hans and I loved A Social Grace and when we saw a few songs live we knew this was metal history in the making. Shortly hereafter they played the old Scum in Katwijk. At the time the most famous metal club in Holland after Dynamo. While having only one album they played very long that night and it was just amazing. Summer holidays that year were my last interrailing one. On my way to Spain I decided to a two-day-detour via a hard rock club near Heidelberg to undergo this once again. In those pre mobile phone days you would just disappear from the map for a month, but Hans was pleased to receive a postcard signed by the band. From that year on we knew they were the best touring live band in the nineties. Every new album made them come back for two tours in Europe and we would be there. Next to that they gave us The Strange Mind of Buddy Lackey and Dan Rock released with Dark Star one of the most interesting instrumental albums ever to grace the earth. In 1996 they released Bleeding their last album. Moving early 97 to Brazil one of the lows was that I missed the Bleeding tour. Then it all imploded and Psychotic Waltz were no more. Coming back from Brazil in 2000 soon Devon Graves started Dead Soul Tribe. I remember calling P60 asking if they still had tickets left on the day of the show. My question was answered by a laugh and some 50 people showed up. It was time to start from scratch. When DST ended we suddenly saw Psychotic Waltz on a Power of Metal tour with Nevermore and Symphony X. This teaser tasted like more, but their 40 minute slot was just too short for old fans. And now they are back for a full headline show. Many ProgPower faces in the crowd and luckily a good turnout of people. My ProgPower companions are this weekend at Graspop and therefore Hans could tell me already they were the best band of the Friday in Belgium. Only more to look out to it was.

Fluor in Amersfoort it was and a new venue and city to me. Arriving some twenty minutes early gave me just enough time to see what a nice centre Amersfoort has. Inside it turned out Fluor is bigger than I expected, with some concrete making it look half finished, but holding a large stage. The by now old fan bloke in me dressed up in style with one nineties Tee of the band. Turned out that at least half the audience were old fan blokes and lasses in Psychotic Waltz outfit. To Poverty's No Crime the ungrateful task to warm us up. Not that they are a bad band, they just could not overcome the atmosphere of nervous anticipation hanging in the hall. Musically well, a little too light and rather anonymous their set flew by. Even Pieter made it to Fluor by now, so pick our place and let loose the Sleeping Dogs.

Well that was not the opener as Dancing in the Ashes was. Faded to follow and we could be at ease. Psychotic Waltz were the best live band in the nineties and when they release their long awaited new album in a few years, they shall probably be the best live band of the twenties as well. The full set was a mix of nostalgia, banging and just plain awesomeness. This band holds all the ingredients needed for a spectacle of progmetal. I would say to all bands who are not at ease on stage to go and see them and watch and learn. Ward is the base on bass and Norm more than once led us into the next song with pounding drums. The twin and solo guitar parts by Dan and Brian do not stop to amaze us and Devon is a frontan in the true sense of the word. Walking the edge of the stage with his mimic, powerfull expressions and great voice. Most of the time we just rocked on no time was wasted on small talk. This as if it was a short festival set, while in reality we returned to a 100 minute plus gig. With all members in top form the songs of course made the show. All four of their albums are Classic progmetal albums, but A Social Grace being the first just a bit more. That album was most present in the set therefore. And yes was it great to see songs like Halo of Thorns, ..And the Devil Cried, Another Prophet Song or I Remember live on stage again. Devon was right stating I would not expect A Psychotic Waltz. I do not recall seeing that dark ballad being played live a lot.  A ballad indeed and this next to fast thrashing parts and uptempo metal makes this band so good. If you than add up the lyrical poetry there is nothing (!) that sets us back. Talking poetry, shouting along How Morbid was a highlight of the evening as well. Actually the whole evening was brilliant and I was catapulted back into the nineties with a smile on my face. And not just me it was. Looking around many were singing, shouting along and old school PW tees were all around. I do hope they find their rhythm back and return yearly for one night not so calm through The Netherlands. The advantage of four classic albums is that they can chnage the set next time maintaining the quality way up. My requests on that respect for next tour are one per album: Spiral Tower, Tiny Streams, Lovestone Blind and My Grave. If this is not possible, than just return and I'll be happy.

And then it was over and soon the band could wonder where are all the people now, where is all the screaming crowd? Because screaming we did also when it was over. The lights went on, the music started playing and some hundred at least just did not want this to be over and for minutes tried to shout over the music asking,begging for more. This did not happen and right so, leave us hungry for more. I can't make it next Saturday to Essen, but those with an option to see them his week, please do go. Closing with a comment from Jonathan: The problem is that it is now mid June and we all know we saw the best gig of the year already. Possibly true I have hopes on many more good coming our way. My second favorite touring band from the nineties The Riverdogs are releasing a new album in two weeks with Vivian Campbell back on guitars. Life is great. 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Dead Daisies & Order of the Emperor - de Boerderij Zoetermeer, 14 June 2017

The Dead Daisies coming to a town nearby is a good reason for a night out. They play Classic hard rock and members been all over the place with great names like Whitesnake, Lizzy, Dio, Crue, Ozzy to name just not the least few. On their way to Graspop in Belgium they stopped at de boerderij. As 12 friends of mine are going to Graspop this long weekend, I ended up going alone to Zoetermeer. Openers were Order of the Emperor. This band plays in the same style and knows how to play. When comparing with the headliner it was clear where the difference was, a certain mr Doug Aldrich. OotE also have solo's in their songs, but never as loud, fast and spicy as The Dead Daisies. The band won some competitions, so let us see where they end up.

The Dead Daisies on stage is a colorful experience, the shirts, hair, guitars and lightshow make this a stage to watch. Bassist Marco Mendoza played the home gig as he has been here many times before and spoke the basic dutch words as a result. I have only their Revolucion album and Mexico came by early in the set. The opening actually was very strong. The experience of the band was clear to see and while some of them might be rockstars the presentation was extremely sympathetic.  Actually they mentioned this as well, we're not stars but just like you fans of this Classic Rock. That was also the reason I had some doubts further on in the set. The number of covers of Classic Rock songs was that big at the end, that it looked like a cover band on stage at times. OK obviously they play above average but for me Rockin' In The Free World, Helter Skelter, We're an American Band could have been switched for own songs. One cover that was a blast was Midnight Moses. It also is on their Revolucion album and I did not even know it was a cover (Alex Harvey). This evening for me was also the first night I saw John Corabi sing live. What a stage animal and while very American in the talks also great in getting the mood going. Highlight was his continuous mistake of thinking he was in Rotterdam. When they first stated spending a few days in the city and loving it eyebrows raised. Zoetermeer is for living or working, but definitely not for tourists. Later he asked if he could tell his friends in the USA that Rotterdam were his frends. This until someone took a box and wrote in big letters This is not Rotterdam!. The box ended on stage and John was happy he was at least right being in Holland. Another humoreus intermezzo for beer drinkers was with Doug. Asked what he liked in Holland it was the beer. So he got from the crew a sponsor beer Bavaria. I saw the WTF look in his eyes when he took a sip. Explaining to foreigneres here. If in Holland you want cheap beer with a hangover guerantee you take supermarket brand beer. If you want a tiny bit better you take Bavaria. Then there is a huge gap to the normal beers. Putting it differently: If a friend asks you over for a beer and he offers you a Bavaria at home he stops being your friend there and then. At least Solitary are enjoying their Hertog Jan now at the Mill. But returning to the show, we got almost two hours of high class Classic Hard Rock with some brilliant performances. Anyone going home without a plectrum (me) was a minority and the first 100 visitors were invited for a meet and greet. Majority of shows I attend don't make 100 people and the band walks around freely, so nothing special there. With Aerosmith, Purple and the likes saying goodbye there might be a gap to fill for The Dead Daisies. Tonight already resulted in a fulll Boerderij, so maybe next time a larger venue is needed. Many covers it might have been, but Highway Star kicked ass in the encore.


Monday, 12 June 2017

Solitary & Infantry - Musicon The Hague, 10 June 2017

Solitary playing Musicon organized by THHMA was announced long ago. As things go, with time other shows were put around this or at the same date. At one point in time I also considered going to the Raven/Hirax package in nearby Baroeg the same evening. Yet my decision where to go was based upon some simple principles being: In case of doubt always support your local show as you want more of those; Bands you never saw go over bands that stop over more often and I saw recently; Internet search proved to me that Solitary sounded very good indeed. So when bumping into Arian and speaking about this gig later on I even learned there was a possiblity to re-open my HM B&B for the night. Knowing all this I even ordered the last album together with their book (!) I Promise to Thrash Forever. So I knew what I was in for.

Arriving June 10 it's a lovely summer Saturday The Hague was recovering from a rather overwhelming I Am Morbid show and Solitary arrived from a succesful gig at Backstage in Nijmegen. At Musicon the guys from Infantry arrived together and preparations could start. A very good looking merch table, great banners at the stage, A free CD for visitors, so let the crowds come in. I short-cut here a bit and mention only the word disappointing. This did not stop Infantry from giving us a very tight set again. I saw these guys before opening for Anihilated and learned that this was a reason they were asked to open tonight as well. Their Death/Thrash metal fitted well with Solitary and in this genre they must be one of the better bands around in Holland. What gives a nice break is the intersong chat being rather dry humored and calm, followed by the next heavy assault to the body and ears with a grunt to match it. I guess they shalll be back more often, hopefully on a busier day.

A nice moody opening track announced the start of Solitary. I did get a look at the setlist afterwards, but noticed they did not follow that fully, so I have to talk from memories here. I believe they opened with Trigger Point Atrocity. I could not hear anything from the so-called throat issues of Rich and one could see that this band is around for a long time. We got one fast thrasher after the other fired at us. With most songs being fast one song that did not make it in the end to the set was my favorite of the album Anthem of Regret, a heavy grooving monster. With this being their first tour abroad Solitary included some covers in the set as well. Earlier on we got Into The Pit a song also recorded on their Requiem album. In the encore they shortly returned to the time they played some big four sets in the UK. So we got songs from Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica. For those in doubt on their talent, these covers showed what an amazing good band they are. All four nailing it completely and even Rich covering a range from Peace Sells... to Damage Inc seemingly effortless. In the end the conclusion could only be that those who were present got blown away by a great metal band. Solitary proved to me again that nowadays it is much more interesting to follow some underground thrash metal bands, than remaining focussed on the big four. I am sure this was the start of something growing bigger as word of mouth should in the end result in more and bigger. What I could read so far, those in Nijmegen also were more than a bit impressed, so we hope for a return to Holland. Hosting the guys I got to see the other side of touring as well, filling up the trailer after the house is empty, needing a late drink to relax and driving on the right side of the road. The Sunday was calm and relaxed and I could through a small city tour maybe convince them that The Hague is worth returning to. Thanks to THHMA and Musicon for the evening and most of all to Rich, Andy, Roy and Pete for an interesting weekend.


Saturday, 10 June 2017

I Am Morbid, Necrophagia, De Profundis, Helsott, The Heretic Order - Paard Den Haag, 9 June 2017

I Am Morbid plays music from Morbid Angel having two ex members of that band. They are completed by two guitarists with a background in Heavy Metal bands like Metal Church, Lizzy Borden, Circle II Circle. Adding that this was one of the few metal evenings in het Paard and no excuse to stay home really. The line-up was filled with no less than four supports so of for an early start. For that I missed most of openers The Heretic Order and saw one song only. Horror metal it seemed and what struck was the drummer in a bloody apron. Next band was Helsott from Southern California as they kept reminding us.  Their music had lots of folk in it and reminded me of Finntrol. Somewhat disturbing many instruments came from tape and sounded louder than the guitars. For me this took the interest away really and the bar was tempting.

The third band was possibly the best of the evening to me. De Profundis played a more technical version of Death Metal and did so very well. A bassist coming on stage with 6 strings already made me hope for some string wizzardness and there was plenty of that. Also the songs were strong and when they ended  with two from their last album Kingdom of the Blind they managed to convince me to get that album. Funniest comment of the evening came when the vocalist called Paard the best venue in Europe and us a great audience. This at a time when a rather empty hall seemed to stand still for the mannequin competition and all present probably prefer Musicon, Baroeg and Nobel over het Paard. Following this high was up to first headliners Necrophagist. Their horror death metal not only sounded good, it was brought with some good humor as well. The female head with twisting tongue or the leg for a cannibal act were both hilarious. All this over some good music made this the second  great show of the evening. Also some more people had arrived by now.

When I Am Morbid started one could see this is a great band at work. Sheer professionalism coming from the stage and a light show to match it. So I am not only not morbid, neither am I the biggest fan of Morbid Angel. I saw them once at Dynamo 1991 I believe and at that time I still thought that all metal vocalists should sound like Dio or Geoff Tate. Later on I appreciated grunts and now I could see this is a great band. Actually the music was not that brutal as the guitars gave it a clear Heavy Metal touch as well. The show went down well with the audience and now the question is if het Paard shall put more metal on the agenda. Next week there is a new chance with Exhumed. Those who stay home can later on not complain about the lack of metal in Troje.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Kaderock - Musicon The Hague 3 June 2017

Waking up on Saturday it was pissing down and I thought my Kaderock would be reduced to a visit to Musicon in the evening for Neoceasar and The Howl Ensemble. But it turned out that the weather gods like Kaderock as well and the sun broke through in the afternoon for a beautiful day. So I arrived  at the festival when Gerorge Baker hit the stage. I do no recall ever seeing so many people on the square and streets during Kaderock. So in spite of doubts in advance this was a success. Next band on the main stage outside would be Fleddy Melculy. This Belgium band plays hardcore/metal and links dutch lyrics with some heavy short songs. I knew them only from YouTube, but could easily sing along with their songs like Brood, Geen vlees wel vis or their closing hit T-shirt van Metallica. This last one is recommended to search for by those who read dutch. Let's face it we all raise our eyebrows when hollywood stars or people who shop at H&M or Primark suddenly wear T-shirts of bands they do not know. This band was the perfect band for creating an atmosphere and play a general rock festival. Not that I need to get their album for playing at home, but a great live band.

What followed was beers in the sun, some decent Irish music from a Dutch band and at 20:00 hours Neoceasar to metal up the festival. This band of former Sinister members gave us a good banging up wth their Death Metal.  Last year I saw them in Baroeg and again they were tight, fast and heavy. Good band. The Howl Ensemble followed them up, but I thought their instrumental music a bit slow after the Neoceasar blast. Even a brass section joined them at some songs, but I was through. Helped by the weather this was again one great edition of Kaderock, probably the best summer festival in The Hague area (if Schollenpop does not put up a metal stage that is).