Sunday, 17 September 2017

Komatsu & An Evening With Knives - Musicon Den Haag 16 September 2017

While anyone with Prog in his alias hangs at Ayreon in 013 this weekend, that is just not my favorite band or project. As a good substitute Musicon put on two bands from Eindhoven who play something like stoner, sludge, post metal. Niels and Robert advised they would go as well and Zoe and Rene were at the bar upon entrance so it turned into a good Saturday night. Local band Durango had to cancel due to a broken little finger. Pity as there was space for more people inside.

Not that An Evening With Knives seemed to care much. They rocked all over us with slow building songs that reminded me of Neurosis or Isis. Rene mentioned Solstafir and that was a good indication as well. This was perfect music to see and feel live. Probably the band I liked best of the two and strongly recommended when playing in your area. Komatsu holds an extra guitar and sings more lyrics. Further the music was a bit in the same vein. Actually one of Holland's biggest stoner bands and they have some shows under their belts it seemed. Good band as well although we agreed the sound was a bit too massive to get all the parts played individually. And yes Ben, I shall return to more D&ESR shows in The Hague. Always a pleasure stoner in Musicon and with Vircator releasing a new album who knows they return one day as well.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Toxik - Lazarus Leiden 14 September 2017

Seeing Toxik for the third time in two months I thought there would not be much to write about. Dynamo was the festival and Little Devil the metal bar. So I thought I saw it all and just went to hear some great music again. Well I was wrong. I was in Lazarus before, but that was only for some beers after a show in de Nobel. Now there was a small (as in tiny) stage. The bar is awfully close to the stage and to my pleasure and surprise Lazarus was packed. This surprise mainly as de Nobel is literally hundred meters away and Vallenfyre plus two supports were on the same evening.

And then Toxik started and the place got wild. It took Charlie half a song to find out he did not fit on the stage as well. So he sung biggest part from a barstool in the corner and parts behind the merch table even. The sound was complicating to the band, but pretty good in my ears after the first song. When also some fans decided the place deserved a pit during almost the whole gig things got messy indeed. Result of it all was that band and audience got an evening to remember. This was just different and pretty much insane. Latter in the sense of such a great band in such a small place.  The setlist was similar to Little Devil although we got two extra covers just for fun.

Three years ago Toxik toured Europe and they also played Lazarus. It was on a Sunday and I returned from holidays the night before. Only problem was I only read about the show the next Monday morning. Now I could correct that and this atmosphere of the evening made it turn into a highlight of the year. I wanted to proper thank the band for a change, but the train was calling at twelve as today I passed in Eindhoven with Tiago. So the thanking and the smalltalk shall remain for next tour, when I will be back. What a great evening of technical thrash metal we got. Count your blessings, Won't You!

Monday, 11 September 2017

Toxik & Tyranex - Little Devil Tilburg, 10 September 2017

Toxik, Tyranex Thrash = Train To Tilburg. Toxik played Dynamo Metal Fest in July and the reactions were mixed. I could listen through any sound issues and loved it. Yet having the chance to see them again but now in Little Devil simply could not be passed.  Being in Tilburg I quite liked the timing today, following Baroeg Sunday style two bands between 17:00-20:00 hrs. Openers were Tyranex from Sweden, a band unknown to me. They played Tilburg some times before and turned out to be a good band. Thrash metal with female vocals/guitars plus bass and male guitars and drums. This young band had the presentation and playing to keep me interested for an hour. Forgot the song titles by now (apart from Tormentor), but good warm up. Passing the merch table at the break I ran into a surprise anouncement: Toxik this Thursday in Lazarus- Leiden. Now I could think I might have stayed at home after a busy weekend or even gone to see Dead Lord promote their new album this same Sunday. In reality I'd rather leave from the half full glass theory and now can see Toxik twice within one week. The Leiden show shall be for free, so anyone missing out tonight  can come to Leiden on Thursday.

Toxik on stage in the same version as two months ago in Eindhoven. The girl on stage during the soundcheck confused me somewhat. Halfway the show it turned out that she was guest for one song, a nice initiative from the band. Toxik live was again fast, heavy and thrashing. While they did not play their ballad "There Stood The Fence" I believe a free version of that song described the evening best: "There stood the band that banged my head when I was younger".  When others tuned their instruments Josh commented how he is now 52 and most of the audience not far from that (guilty) and we all never grew out of metal. We keep on doing this (they play, we watch) until we can no longer do so physically. The evening was one among friends according to the band and with songs like Spontaneous, Heart Attack and Think This they made their friends happy. One week ago I received their new EP in the mail (it took the US Mail pigeon five weeks since release). All three new songs were in the set and knowing them now they blended fine with the old songs. Breaking Clas$ is a fast monster live. Charlie did a John Corabi (read my review on Dead Daisies in Zoetermeer not Rotterdam) and thanked Leiden for their reaction. After one hour and a bit it was over. The band shot a picture with the audience and gave us one more song. I knew that seeing them in a small club would be better, but they topped expectations. Great performance, great songs. So Thursday Leiden it is.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Baroeg Open Air - Zuiderpark Rotterdam, 9 September 2017

The sun always shines on Baroeg Open Air. The picture above might make you think that is true and it is, but this year it took many by surprise. The day before we saw awfull amounts of rain fall over us which in The Hague even resulted in trams stopping or detouring through the city. So arriving at the other Zuiderpark it was a huge surprise to see the sun out and a field that was much better than expected. Later I learned the main field has a drainage system. The sides do not, so entrance and toilets were a muddy and slippery affair. Still thanks and respect to those who put together the area over the last tow lousy weather days (especially the crippled lady with the huge hammer). So the weather was nice and the area fine, so what about the music.

I came to BOA to see Tokyo Blade again. With the rain still falling at home in the morning I was in no rush to get to Rotterdam. Checking on the bands in advance one other band I would have loved to see was French band Year Of No Light. Unfortunately they were on stage at 14:15 which meant I was to ignore Tiago the whole day and with several additional drinking hours chances of being too hung over to make it to Little Devil today. So the wise man in me made me arrive close to five when Dool hit the main stage. This band played almost every festival around this year and finally I got to hear them. With the dark stage and the sun outside to stand in seeing was not an option. They surprised me positively as being heavier than I thought and their doom crept around nice with a highlight in Love Like Blood even slower than the original. Next to the toilets there was the a tent where the interesting Pleesessions took place during breaks at the main stage. As this turned out to be a low and muddy affair I managed to miss those bands even headlining G.O.D. In Large stage the banner of Asphyx meanwhile came up and they would probably be the silent headliner of the day. Now I am no Death Metal expert, but love a good live show and Asphyx might be the best Holland has on offer. This was one blast from the stage and the atmosphere was impressive in the tent. A rather great pit up front and raised horns untill the end. Vocalist Martin van Drunen talked us through the set with his eastern accent and dry sense of humor.  Funny how he thanked the large crowd and complained how at times in clubs they only get 200 people in (an average clubshow I attend should be happy with 50 paying visitors). Yet I did have a great time watching Asphyx and wondered how Tokyo Blade would follow this up. While talking to Toner Low in a now empty tent suddenly Magchiel walked in. Injured ears or not he decided he did not want to miss Tokyo Blade again, as was the case earlier this year in Musicon.

So the next steps were muddy toilets, bar for refill and getting a good spot up front to undergo Tokyo Blade. Over the last year I saw Tokyo Blade in Baroeg and Musicon. This time they would have a large stage and a large crowd. Well that served them right as we were in for a treat and so was the band. Somehow I do not think they get often circle pits or crowd servers during their shows these days. Let's face it people who love this music tend to be around my age and less crowdserving in general. So the atmosphere in front was great and the band seemed to enjoy themselves as well. We got a fast set with many highlights. Magchiel got his Night of the Blade and we could shout along with Lightning Strikes, Love Struck, Someone to Love, Sunrise in Tokyo and the closing If Heaven is Hell. Totally loved this set and I wish all my heroes from the past would have such a stage and audience to undergo the power of NWOBHM in a fitting setting. I did see a main reviewer from Rockmuzine shouting his lungs out as well, so count on a positive review there. Only comment I have is that again Tokyo Blade did not bring any merchandise (or hit it really well) This year they released a box set Knights of the Blade. Ordering from internet music you mostly own is one thing, running into it after being on a post gig high means for me an immediate purchase.

For us this meant the end of Baroeg Open Air. Magchiel came by car and I enjoyed the ride back. Destruction I saw not that long ago and shall see again. We met with Magchiel's metal cousins, but as they arrived at 14:00 hours we might as well speak greek to them. The talent stage was far too early for me and the Electronic stage did not manage to get my attention with the computer sounds coming out of it. Baroeg Open Air opened a season which hopefully brings me back to Baroeg several times. Pity that both Submit Fest and Angra/Tate seem to fall at dates when I am in Portugal, but enough on offer I guess. And I survived fit enough to enjoy Toxik today.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Razorblade Messiah & Thoughtless - Musicon The Hague 8 September 2017

Three weeks without live music and I started shaking all over. Partially my own fault as I let a work call make me miss Uli Jon Roth and decided on watching France-Holland over Ritchie Kotzen in de Boerderij (wrong music over football always, even more wrong a sfootball turned shite). Suddenly this weekend I can correct a lot and even choices needed to be made. For the Friday the choice was staying close to home as it was pissing down all day. So sorry to UFO/Europe in far away Eindhoven, or The Tangent in de Boerderij. Musicon had in Razorblade Messiah and Thoughtless two unknown bands to me from Rotterdam and Alkmaar. Checking out some Youtube clips it turned out we would be in for an evening of Heavy Metal. Pieter thought(more) and also considered this a good plan, so forget about the rain and have some beers in Musicon.

Thoughtless were first on. Their heavy metal went down well and had light progmetal touches. Turned out that their drummer whom I did not know is also a ProgPower regular. A female vocalist on paper always raises concernc with me, a sI am allergic to operatic nonsense in metal. No such shrieks here as we got real singing. Nice band which deserves some more attention, as the young regulars in Musicon decided to stay away en masse. Is true heavy metal really music for my generation only? This can't be true as timeless metal we got on stage last night should please many ears.
Next on were Razorblade Messiah whom I liked even more. Their mainly fast metal made me remember the mighty Attacker at times. Fast I mentioned, but also Epical and at times Maiden like. Their single Metal Messiah is a killer headbanger and can be seen on YouTube. Live as usual they came over even better. Later on we learned that they have some music on Spotify, but no CD's yet. So I am now playing Attacker's latest Sins of the World to stay in similar moods. A very nice evening in Musicon kicking of a metal weekend.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Steven Wilson - Cormorant

Two very different albums today. One pop and one hard to pinpoint extreme metal. Yet both are beautiful in their own right so herewith some of my thoughts.

Steven Wilson - To The Bone
Steven Wilson announced his next album to be pop, so I got scared. Following the man fo rmany years in different bands, I knew he mixed pop in before. My favorite albums of him are probably Stupid Dream by Porcupine Tree and The Raven solo. Actually many of his projects are great and some things are always guaranteed. Steven Wilson writes great songs, the sound is benchmark level and his lyrics tend towards the dark and morbid at times. For this album I heard some music in advance tracks and I must say that did not make me more comfortable. Permanating did not make my metal heart tick any faster while refuge was nice, but very calm. Yet after several positive indications from friends and raving reviews all around I got over my fears and bought what I found turns out to be a good album. For me The Raven and Hand.Cannot.Erase were from another level, but here we get another collection of Steven Wilson quality songs. OK there are a few misses to me in Song of I, The Same Asylum as Before (what voice is that?) and the before mentioned Permanting. Leaves us with eight very strong popsongs, making an interesting album. The great side-effect of this album is that Steven Wilson now became a household name. Performing live on BBC and ZDF should open a whole new audience to this man of class. So far the results are album chart positions 2 in Germany, 3 in the UK and 4 in Holland. Not bad for a king of Prog. I might have to decide fast now if I would like to see him live next March, cause venues shall grow with him. An album much better than feared and a promotion of Prog in many English newspapers. So we have to thank the man again. Maybe not his best album, but definitely a boost for our music in general.

Cormorant - Diaspora
And now for something completely different; Cormorant. Why have I missed this band before?!? Every now and then you get an album at hand which completely blows you off your socks. Well Diaspora is such an album. Thanks to the Angry Metal Guy I read about them and decided to listen the two available bandcamp songs. Well that resulted in a quick purchase and since the album arrived begin this week it hardly has left my CD player. Cormorant are from the Bay Area,.yet the only heavy style they do not play is Thrash Metal. On their FB page they decsribe their music as Progressive Black/Death Metal. And yes these styles are there, but there is more. During the tracks Preserved in Ash ,Sentinel and The Devourer I hear Black, Death, but also signs of heavy Doom and Heavy Metal. Closer Migration is their Prog metal Epic song lasting 26 minutes. With four songs in 60 minutes Cormorant have plenty of time to swap around the extreme styles, with an ear for calmer intermezzo's when asked for. So the vocals move accordingly from brutal and harsh to clean. Those who believe the instumental atmosphere building part in Migration too long, probably also complained about the guitars at sea during Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner some thirty years ago.  While searching for more information on this band I learned this is their fourth release. Maybe the fact that they are independent did not grant them the exposure they deserve. Yet at Lords of Metal all three previous albums are reviewed and highly appreciated. Ranked smartly under different metal as labelling is hard to impossible. Further while independent they might be, the cover is amongst the most beautiful this year with a Jheronimus Bosch alike painting. Resuming this is one album that should be heard by anyone into any of the musical styles mentioned above. This could have been the technical extreme band around the dinner break at PPE, which blows half the audience away (and is too heavy for the other half). For me there was little time to waste and I ordered album 2 and 3 now as well. How nice to discover new favorites with a back catalogue to dive into as a bonus. One of the candidates for album of the year to me, let's see how the next months work on this one.    

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Marillion - Misplaced Childhood

Misplaced Childhood the special edition and I bought it again. This might seem somewhat unnecessary as I bought the LP in 1985, the CD in the nineties, the videoclips on DVD and a few live versions by either Fish or Marillion on DVD thereafter. Disk 1 contains a remastered version, but I must admit that to my installation and ears this is not a huge extra. But then came disk 2 and 3 and I was convinced I wanted to get this. An integral version of their Vredenburg show in 1985. So let me go back in time and explain.

It is the early eighties and metal is booming on the radio and at home with Hans and me laying the foundations of fast metal collections. In The Hague those days you had some metal shops in the centre, but the most complete LP store would be Kees at the border of the city. Bicycle rides to Kees turned into pilgrimages, where apart from new discoveries, new albums from the big names also erratic appearing Aardschok and Kerrang could be purchased. Kerrang in those days was still a good magazine, putting us on track of many new bands. Turned out that Marillion would appear rather often in interviews or live reviews from the Marquee. Now they were compared with Genesis and I knew nothing of the Gabriel years, so wondering why a band compared with Abacab, Mama and the likes would get so much attention in Kerrang. Yet when Script for a Jester's Tear was released I decided to give it a try. I did not go to Kees, but to the store whose name I forgot across the street from Headphones (Super something I believe). In those days you would get a headphone on and listen on a bench in the store. I remember still very well when he firts put on Side 2 and Garden Party hit me. Studying the beautiful Mark Wilkinson cover, Chelsea Monday and Forgotten Sons followed and my life changed forever. I did not know that I had discoverd Neo-Prog there and then, but I loved this album. Soon hereafter I got the Market Square heroes EP as well.

That summer of 83 Marillion would open Parkpop in my hometown on their first tour outside the UK. Amongst maximum a hundred fans I stood up front with Magchiel and was amazed. Until the day of today he still remembers how the sign above the stage misspelled Marrilion and I recal the power of the band on stage being much heavier than on LP. Fugazi was the next album and Marillion returned to Holland for a show at Pinkpop. With Dio and Marillion that day it would be the only Pinkpop I ever attended ( a festival selling out big time soon hereafter). Highlight of the day was Incubus and amongst our friends the fanbase was growing quickly. That autumn they made a clubtour and hit Paradiso supporting the Real to Reel album. During that show there was a calm intermezzo, which we did not know nor fully get. Later on we understood they played Side 1 from Misplaced Childhood.

Comes 1985 and Misplaced Childhood is released. Kayleigh became a modest single (later on much bigger in polls due to heavy voting fanclubs) and Holland was graced with their first ever appearance in Vredenburg. They still return every now and then to Vredenburg, but I am sure it would never get as good as that very day in 1985. Support came from then unknown Pendragon, soon to become other Neo-Prog heroes of mine. Well what happened during that show can now be heard on disk 2 and 3. One of the best shows I ever attended. As we were all around twenty at the time, we still went upfront during shows. That day I believe we were with ten and the next day we could see our faces on the picture in national newspaper NRC. The article was the usual slagging of Marillion, talking about Dinosaurs and the shit by someone who just does not love good music. Yet the picture of Fish standing over the crowd showed our happy smiling faces. As I studied in Rotterdam those days I passed the NRC that week, asking if I could buy an original of the picture. I could, but against the cost of I believe 30 guilders. Well given beer prices at the time and my student budget, this just would not fly. A pity as today I would have proudly hanged it on the wall of my home office next to the artwork of Mark Wilkinson. Only later we learn what we appereciate in time, so I hope the beers tasted well. But at least I now have top quality recordings of one of the more amazing shows I ever witnessed.

Then there are still two diks to come. Disk 4 gives us Singles, B-sides and alternative versions. Nice but owned already. Further we get demo takes of the Misplaced Childhood album. If you know an album so through and through these demos funnily sound wrong at times. The endresult of the album turned out to be the perfect version, or did I hear it just too often? Disk 5 gives us a DVD. I still have to hear sound surround mixed by Steven Wilson, but I saw the interview. This is only for real fans as six man speak about the album, the recording and the period in time. I quite liked it, but my god one has  to pay attention when Fish is speaking without subtitles. The DVD closes with some Video Clips which I already have on DVD. Finally all is packed in a beautifull artwork package, including half a book with background information I still need to read. Maybe only for fans, but at least those who attended that tour, have something to look out for in a release from Utrecht. Definitely the band at their best period ever. The Childhood just never ends it seems, and I love it.


Thursday, 17 August 2017

Gorguts, Havok, Fallujah, Revocation & Venom Prison - Baroeg Rotterdam, 16 August 2017

Four headliners touring Europe bringing one support. This being on a Wednesday in the midst of Festival Season, no trains running between The Hague and Rotterdam and Baroeg having their limited opening hours. Yet de Baroeg filled up well as the reputation of these four different bands all attracted their own fans.  I was personally most looking forward to Revocation, while I also own and appreciate last albums by Havok and Fallujah. Gorguts would close the evening tonight, but were unknown to me. Openers were young Welsh band Venom Prison. Starting at 18:00 on a weekday is always a challenge, so slowly people came in throughout their set. They also were the only band not allowed to use the bigger drumkit at the back, reducing the space on stage for the five of them dramatically. This was especially a pity as their wild moving female vocalist would deserve more than the two square meters she had available now. Musically OK, their songs did not really stick in my head at first listen. Still they warmed us up well enough for the four headliners and this was good as tonight Revocation would be the first in line.

Last year I saw Revocation in Patronaat and even following up the mighty Beyond Creation they knew how to impress the audience. Well tonight it was even much better. Being Baroeg one is close to the stage always and their dual assaults came over us with power. Dual assaults refer to the guitar parts and the vocals. It all seemed so easy on stage, while listening closer the riffs, breaks and solo's are just amazing. They played several songs from recent album Great is our Sin and from Headless I remember Scorched Earth Policy. Did not really matter what they played, only problem was that with this full evening their set was limited to 40 minutes only. From what I heard afterwards they won over many new fans. Now let's see if they can come back headlining giving us a one hour set next time. Band of the day to me and by the reactions during the evening I was not the only one. For Fallujah the hard task to follow this up. Well they managed OK doing so. Their musical style is different going to Deathcore territories. This being supported by one amazingly tight band. I thought I recognized some songs or parts of them, but this show held two problems to me. First the sound was not as clean as needed for such a technical band. Second the vocalist was a tat too monotonous in my ears, where again the sound did not help a lot. Still I enjoyed myself big time by just watching guitars and bass dancing around the necks with ease and giving us one impressive base. Definitely going to see them again if back in Holland, but hoping for a better sound.

After another nice break on the terrace this pleasant summer evening, one needed to go back in time to see Havok. This band plays thrash metal. Earlier this year they headlined a mainly thash metal package in 013, tonight they were the one waving the thrash flag with pride and how well they did. Vocalist/guitarist David Sanchez decided to play in a dress tonight for visual effetcs, while many attention again did go to bassist Nick Schendzielos. Without ignoring the rest of the band, what an animal on bass this is. At the end the green lights came out of his bass again and he must have lost some four kilo's sweat in 40 minutes. Again a show that could have gone on so much longer for me. And also again much better than last time as I was now closer to the stage feeling the thrash. They also managed to create the largest pit of the night as it was at it's peak of fullnes now. Many highlights this set held, but one special mention for Hang 'Em High. The line "the enemy is not coming from overseas" never looked as apt as these days. Topshow by a great band. I said it before this year, missing the big four (on purpose) live is no issue, with so many great thrash bands touring and releasing better albums than said big four. Closer of the evening were Gorguts. While they exist almost 30 years I managed to know nothing of their work. This gave the opportunity to enter the show in the blank and see what was comming. Well a bulldozer was coming over us. What a heavy band this was. Technical in their grooves, but the word that stuck was heavy. A good band, while I did not get their album as the vocals were a bit onesided to me. Staying with the vocalist he was a remarkable gentleman. No swearing, fucks or whatever, but thanking us for the wonderfull evening of metal we had. I thought his presentation quite refreshing in that sense.

So short after 22:30 it was all over and I could drive home, by lack of trains. This driving meant no beers and a very clear memory of what great bands we had. This package deserves to sell out the remainder of the tour, as there simply is something for everyone into extreme and technical music. Not one disappointment and in Revocation even an out of league performance. Very good way to spend my Wednesday night I now consider if Patronaat becomes an option tomorrow for a similar package.        

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Alcatraz Metal Festival - Kortrijk, 11-12 August 2017

Alcatraz is one of the many European Metal Festivals, filling the line-up mainly with heroes from our past. This is a wise decision as old bands are good for some nostalgic banging for my generation and can teach the younger generations a thing or two on how to put up a great show. Hans and Mary were planning to attend the Friday and Saturday already and with Tiago on camp, me home alone the choice of joining was rather easy. While I am writing this the Sunday is still underway, but we skipped today. This because Mary has to work, the main acts (Korn, Amon Amarth, Trivium) are not my favorites and the ones I woud love to see (Raven, UFO and Enslaved) shall pass or just passed Holland already. Reality also taught me that I should go in advance training next year if I want to survive three days in a row. The weather turned out to be Ok over the two days with only a few light rains, plus a sunburned neck. Traffic was poor around Antwerp, taking us more than twice as much for the way down, as for the return. Only the crew from media partner Rockmuzine drove down early in two hours, while for others four hours plus was the norm. The hotel in the centre was nice and the walking distance to the venue acceptable.

Our late arrival made me miss Dyscordia and Evil Invaders, both bands I would have liked to see. On the main Prison stage Fortuna announced the arrival of Pretty Maids. This was the first band I was curious about as I have their selftitled EP and the album Red, Hot and Heavy. Completely loosing track of them since, I did not know what to expect and I was surprised positively. Although this hard rock is old-school, they brought it well. Especially the songs I knew were fine and in spite of technical problems and a shortened set the festival kicked of in style. Next on were Hell on the Swamp stage. In the former Circus Renz tent this was what I expected to be the highlight of the day. Again Hell gave us the show we came to know from them. The surprise is gone now, but the efects and the show for a band their size remains remarkable. The music is also above average and this was all I hoped from them. Well maybe skipping my personal favorite "Save Us from those who Would Save Us"was missed due to the short set. Yet all was there and I thought I saw the best show of the day. Turned out I was wrong. First we had next band Krokus on the main stage. In the early eighties I actually received a fanpackage from the Dutch Krokus Fanclub after buying some of their LP's. Playing those again last week, they seemed somewhat outdated. Unfortunately live they also seemed no powerhouse either. Not helped by adding several cliche covers (American Woman, Rockin'in the Free World) this was for me the only disappointment of the weekend.

Hereafter things should become better with Denner/Shermann and they did. This band is called after the guitar tandem of Mercyful Fate. The set unsurprisingly was a mix of new work from the band and some Fate covers. This was one comforting show of pure eighties Heavy Metal. The stars of the band seemed somewhat modest, which gave the vocalist and bassist the chance to be very present on stage. Good show and proving the Swamp stage was the place to be on Friday. This preferred stage was even more confirmed when Ghost hit the Prison Stage. Seeing some 80% of the people under twenty years wearing a Ghost T-shirt their presence made commercial sense. Musically I thought them rather simple and sounding like Depeche Mode at times. For us the signal to enter the Presidio bar, where we could even indulge in some of those famous Belgium beers. Being cheered up by Video Clips from the eighties this was one party place. Unfortunately we found the next morning that mixing some Cinay's with the common Maes beers resulted in some fitness issues. For now it was the perfect bridge to what was to be the closing band of the day: Dirkschneider. Now I did see them in Tilburg last year and quite liked their show of old Accept songs. Tonight they had 40 minutes less to play (still leaving 90) and what I did not expect happened, best gig of the weekend. Helped by the perfect timing of the first day after not a full day, everyone was fit, filled up and ready for a party. Seeing a tent full with a few thousand fans jumping and shouting along classic Accept songs was a blast. Highlights to me Princess of the Dawn, Fast as a Shark and yes Balls to the Wall. Before they started we thought maybecalling it a day halfway (as they played until 01:30). Well none of that as we loved to see every minute of it. Great closer of a succesfull first day.

Waking up the next morning the Cinay's of the day before, made us decide to take it easy skipping the first bands. Pity I missed Sweet Savage as a result, but the decision was a good one. Also some rain would occasionally fall this day, the pitch was muddy at spots and the end would be at 01:00 again. Entering we heard some notes of post metal from Monkey3. We needed to move on as Death Angel was next on the Prison stage. I am not their biggest fan, but always love them live and again they were good. Best newer song Thrown to the Wolves and old favorite Seemingly Endless Time were in the set again and just another solid performance. High on Fire got only ten minutes from me, good band, not so good vocals. And then came Last in Line. Now Dio was the band I probably saw playing most in the mid eighties. This band called after the second album holds original Dio members Vivian Campbell and Vinnie Appice. Awkwardly the announcer spoke of famous musicians including Jimmy Bain. The band kicked of and it took me two minutes to see this would be good. Stand up and Shout followed by Straight Through the Heart. Vocalist Andrew Freeman seemed to be very smart. Staying far from trying to clone the best vocalist ever he put his own style in and was singing very good. Helped by a perfect setlist this was one highlight of the day. Last in Line did release an album Heavy Crown last year and The Devil in Me plus Starmaker fitted very welll in this set. In december there shall be a controversial Dio returns tour where we can watch a hologram of Dio sing. I shall pass for that and wait for Last in Line to return to Holland, as this was brilliant.

Skipping Brant Bjork for food, The next highlight was waiting for us at the Prison stage straight hereafter. Iced Earth gave us one of their epic metal blastswhich was as good as expected. I do not own a lot of their albums, but was pleased that my favorite the Dark Saga was well presented with I Died for You, The Hunter and Vengeance is Mine. Closing with Watching Over Me this made me guarantee to go see them again when on tour with a full set. Stu Brock proved to be the most metal vocalist of the day. In advance I would look at the trio Death Angel/Last in Line/Iced Earth as my favorites of the day with Saxon. So the next bands I shall only commnet on shortly. Obituary, very good set, but awful silences inbetween songs downing the atmosphere all the time.Testament solid performance filled with some classics Into the Pit, Over the Wall, Practice What You Preach. Sleep unknown to me, but defintely a good show with slow and heavy doom, sludge, stoner. I was never a big Venom fan in the eighties and today did not convince me otherwise. What was extremely extreme in 83 is now a lot softer on the ears, but vocals still have lots of space for improving. Abbath managed even to convince Hans that Black Metal can sound interesting and understand why I expanded there. What we saw sounded very good.

And then it was up to Saxon to close the festival for us. Just releasing a box with later albums, it came as no surprise that we got several title tracks from not that old LP's. But Saxon knows how to build a set, so soon we would be entering the list of top class NWOBHM classics. And the Bands Played On, Heavy Metal Thunder, Princess of the Night, Crusader and well you name them. Saxon ruled over Alcatraz and was after Dirkschneider the night before another great closer of the evening. For us at the same time the closure of the festival and what great days we had. No idea how many people were at the site (5-10,000?) but it was full at shows but never overly crowded. Bars and toilets were perfect, food not that special (Vega was good) and the bandmerch looked what limited. Strong candidate for returning for us, so let's wait for band announcements next year.

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.