Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Complexity Fest - Patronaat Haarlem, 25 February 2017


Last year I was not at home to visit Complexity Fest 1, but the general comments were very positive. We can consider it the younger and louder cousin of Progpower or a succesor of Headway Festival. In the end how we call it does not matter, it gives us the chance to enjoy old favorites and new discoveries on the more technical end of Metal. Being able to go this year was tight again, as in the morning we put a visitor on the train and the next morning an early flight to Portugal was waiting. Therefore I slightly lacked time to prepare and increase my knowledge of the bands, nor could I stay untill my last train home. What I did see was a guarantee for retun visits and as I could see the Dutch Progpower family part not afraid of grunts showed up in fairly large numbers. Hoping this shall turn into a long running festival herewith some fast comments on the bands I saw.

Entering Patronaat an overfull bar made me decide to skip Transient State's debut album presentation. Extremeties kicked off the festival for me and again I liked their groovy tech metal. A full show shall follow at Metalcon, so I left before the end to move to the big hall where one of my favorite bands of the day would open the main stage. Disillusion released over 10 years ago with Back to Times of Splendour  one of the best albums that year. The show opened with a long song, which I think might have been their new 2016 release which I do not know. The band grooves and rocks without being all too loud for the day. Higlights were the old songs from the debut plus the single from their second album Dont Go Any Further. While the set had all in it to be a remarkable gig, the sound was not up to the same level yet. While not being their own fault Disillusion, did not blow the festival away. I still liked what I saw. From then on the choices started between stage 2 and 3. Both Virvum and Pelgrim were Ok to me, but did not convince me to pay attention to their full show.  Humanity's Breath still suffered with sound and presentation issues when Uneven Structure became the first real highlight of the day to me. A tight band, good presentation and moody technical metal. Reasons enough to keep an eye on their new release coming at us soon. Meeting friends made me enter the main hall slightly late for Gorod. But what I saw was the show with the loudest response over the day. This is a great live band and they return with a Thrash metal package in 013 in April, shall try to be there. While we were on a roll now I managed to stay on a high with Bossk. This post metal band looked like an instrumental piece until after some 20 miutes a vocalist appeared. His screams increased the heaviness of their show, while I also enjoyed the grooving instrumental songs.

Problem with a festival like this is that you need to break as well, so after the first high of the day with a triple surprise I again (after PPE 201?) managed to not give Agent Fresco the proper chance to impress me. What I saw was a professional band with a good show. The voice needs an acquired taste at times, but maybe one day I see them without needing a break and really like them. And then for something different I walked into the small hall to watch Napoleon. This progressive metalcore jumping music was just refreshing to me. The emptiest gig of the day I saw, but those who were present liked the show for sure. Obscura played the main hall and seeing them some times before I must admit I liked them most when they were still a support act for Atheist. Their show is good and their musicianship beholds nothing to complain, yet something keeps missing for me. Good time for having some food to join the drinks and go to the bar stage where a Progmetal band from the UK would play. Was I glad that I decided to wait here as Exist Immortal turned out to be the favorite gig of the night to me. Djent might be lurkin around the corner, but good old progmetal was definitely in as well. Great band and a good vocalist who mixed the clean and the extreme very well. The sympathetic presnetation of the band made me go see them after the show to say a word of thanks and get their CD. Competing with the festival headliner is never easy, but until the end many remained overwhelmed by this young band. And then it was off to the main hall to see Ihsahn. I only saw the first songs as the train was caling me and old age demands some sleep. What I saw definitely made me wishing for more in the future. So leaving Patronaat pleased with the day, thanks go out to the organizers of this great festival and I will be back next year.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Tytan & Fingernails - Little Devil Tilburg 16 February 2017

Last year I saw Mr. Kevin Riddles on stage. Not with his band, but helping out friends Brian and Claire Mear during the legendary Mearfest in the Borderline. I then already decided I would make an effort to see Tytan when playing the low countries. This week they are touring Europe with Italian support Fingernails commemorating 35 years in Rock. The Dutch gig went to Little Devil, so I went there as well. Tytan are a NWOBHM band that never made it to household name. 35 years ago I also did not buy their LP, as still at school my limited budget went mostly to the big names. I did get the re-release on CD years ago and Rough Justice sits well next so many hard yet melodic NWOBHM bands of the time. Those who think they never heard anything off Kevin are probably wrong. He played bass on one of the best NWOBHM albums ever made in Angel Witch's debut. Next to that he played with several other bands of the era during the years. This tour came at an interesting time as this week I learned they shall release their second album this May 26. Maybe this might result in a fast return, we shall see.

Opening the evening were Fingernails. This Italian band formed in 1981 already, but I must admit never hearing their name before. They turned out to be a trio, with the singer spotting a Motorhead patch on his jeans shirt and the bassist showing a huge Bomber tattoo. It came therefore as little surprise to hear them kicking away with Dirty Wheels, pretty much sounding like Motorhead. Both men sang and their voices also were more than a bit in the style of Lemmy. I liked their fast Rock and Roll, but not to an extend that I should get their albums in a rush. Nice openers though.

Tytan came on stage as a five man band. While they were comemorating 35 years in Rock it looked to me that some band members' parents had not even met at the time of releasing Blind Men and Fools. Yet I do not have much problems with it if with al respect "smaller" bands hold only one or two original members in the current line-up. It is all about the playing and the show and that turned out to be just fine this evening. Kicking of with Cold Bitch and Money for Love showed we had a tight band on stage . As there is a new album coming we also got two new songs  and one oldie Forever Gone that has been re-recorded for the new album. Especially the up-tempo instrumental was much to my liking. During the show we got almost the full Rough Justice album, so we could shout along with Liar! Blind Men and Fools. Dedicated to the ladies in the house we got Women on the Frontline and their best song might be closer Ballad of Edward Case, which is a fast monster indeed. Playing a bit over an hour we got a great show of a band who just made clear I shall get the new album Justice:Served! in May. Bands like Tytan deserve all our support. Let's face it without NWOBHM there would not be any Thrash, Black, Death or Tech metal either. This is how it all started to me over 35 years ago as well  and it is good to see the oldies still going strong. Thanks to Metal Mario for bringing this package to Holland and good luck for Tytan on their final shows this weekend. 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

The Gift & The Far Meadow - 't Blok Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel 12 February 2017

Two progressive rock bands in 't Blok whom I both discovered last year only when they released good albums. Once again organized by Progfrog. I knew of their existence since years, but only last December I first attended one of their shows with Martigan. Now I understood they put once a month a show on, organized by volunteers with the help of some sponsors. The atmosphere is really something different in here. When a barman did not recognize my face he asked if it was my first time in 't Blok and welcomed me. During the show I saw again the cheese-sausage-bitterballen platter passing by and the mood is very easy going. Later this year amongst others they already confirmed Hekz and Verbal Delirium, plus a festival in October. They also have some coverbands and when announcing today that Yesshows is selling fast I can inform readers who fear to miss out that next Saturday 18 February that band plays in my favorite venue Musicon. But I came to hear some music: Great solo's on keyborads and guitars preferably hidden in long epics. Well I got what I wanted.

First on were The Far Meadow promoting their last album Given the Impossible. From the start most of my attention was drawn towards guitarist Denis Warren. The first songs he asked for minor changes in the sound and he moved his monitor one inch. When he felt comfortable he started treating us in many occassions on beautiful long solo's and proved himself the star of the band. For me his guitar could have been louder in the mix as I heard bass and keys over his solo's at times. The chance for him to shine came from the many long songs played. While I started with the star, it was not all glory. The vocalist disappointed somewhat. Not that her voice is bad, she can actually sing, but her presentation did not come out well on stage. Not long ago I saw Iamthemorning and that vocalist had a similar style. While that was a natural, I now had the impression that she was not all that comfortable being on a stage with some fifty old men watching her every move. It might have been just my impression, but it brought down the show a bit to me. We still had the musical parts to enjoy and Himalaya Flashmob and The Seamless Shirt were very strong finishers.

When after the break The Gift came on the difference was huge. Here was a band of five members who all looked at ease on stage and dressed up in black and white for the occassion. Especially the rhythm section, but actually the whole band looked so cool that they could also apply for playing mobster money collectors in a Guy Ritchie movie. But looks apart  I mentioned five members, as unfortunately David Lloyd could not join due to family circumstances. Losing a guitarist meant probably some adaptations in the set and show, but as I saw them for the first time I could not compare. During opener Quickening Pulse the keyboards moved portable (Nena, Voyager) and the band immediately made a nice and lively impact. Following this up by Sweeper of Dreams they set the tone for what would be an overwhelming prog show. Going through their three albums I did not know several songs. I liked the "pop"song Too Many Hands for being upbeat, The anti-war song from Awake and Dreaming was impressive. From the last album Why The Sea Is Salt, At Sea was dedicated to David Lloyd. The ballad The Tallest Tree was presented by keys and voclas only. As this song is about losing people vocalist Mike Morton looked touched at the the end relating the text to his own experiences. Coming at Mike Morton he had everything I just commented above as failing with The Far Meadow. He introduced the songs with a story about the contents or how it was written. When an unexpected tuning break came on he filled it without any issue talking or even telling a joke. I don't know if he is technically the best vocalist around, but he has stage presence and those are always the best. Actually the whole band deserves a big thumbs up, as this was a band performance that made it such a good show. Impression wise I was remembered about the first time I saw Credo live. Not leaving the stage for the encore we saw a pleased band ending their set. As the audience wanted more, they came back and gave us Sweeper Of Dreams again. This was introduced as their hardest rocking song which it is. Still I left any requested headbang attempts for last Friday at Dordeduh, now just enjoying this very good live band. Thanks to The Gift and all those who made this possible. In September they shall be back in Holland, surely trying to make that.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Dordeduh, Transceatla, Murw & Witches of Dune - de Vinger The Hague 10 February 2017

De Vinger moved some tima ago already from the centre to the old OLS/Bazart. In the eighties this was the metal venue in The Hague for dutch bands on tour. Last decades I have hardly been there, recently missing an interesting Stoner package I believe Textures touring their debut album was my last time here. This evening a package was booked with two Romanian bands and two local supports. All unknown to me on forehand a surf on the internet got my interest in the headliner and a bicycle ride through the snow looked more than justified for this evening with atmospheric metal.
Arriving in de Vinger four witches were tuning their instruments on stage. Their music is dark rock with rather minimalistic instrumental parts and a vocalist with a good voice. At times a Black Metal scream woud come out of a box to upp the heaviness. Some songs worked really well and moody while others passed me by incognito. Nice one to follow by Wurm. This band also were doomish. At the start the tall bassist grunted along the songs, while I preferred the later songs when the guitarist took over most vocals. Having three guitars did not mean a wall of sound, but again atmospheric doomy riffs. Good to see that local bands also got support from other local artists as I saw many faces around who I saw before on stage in Musicon or HPC.

Then the evening turned Romanian with two bands I did not know before tonight. Dordeduh started their European tour in The Hague and Tranceatla is another project of almost the same band members. Transceatla played first and stated noone knows us as we just recorded but not yet released our first album. Well based upon what I saw last night I shall get this album upon it's release and many others present shall too I guess. The poster mentioned Progressive Doom/Death while I heard at times also similarities with bands that merged from Black Metal into a more Progressive style. Instrumentaly this band was great and the variations in the songs made this a very exciting set. The vocals mixed clean and harsh to good effect and I loved the double fingerpicking parts on guitar. Definitely a band to follow.

Dordeduh were headliner and they are holding ex-members of more famous Negura Bunget. Hello me it's me again the vocalist opened. This could also be said for bassist and drummer as only the second guitarist changed. What first stood out were the many different instruments on stage. The wooden guillotine turned out to be a percussion instrument, a horizontal harp (hammered dulcimer I learned from the CD) was played by the second guitarist and the opening contained two huge wooden horns. Containing three members of Tranceatla the band managed to keep the very high standard juts set up. This is one of those bands that due to the instrumenst alone is already a different spectacle to watch. Together with good musicianship this is a show that should be interesting to many music lovers in general. I know extreme vocals scare off many, but they are just a small part in this performance. As was the case the whole evening the music is all about the atmospheres and this band knows how to create some. The fact that they sing in Romanian does not hinder at all for that same reason. The music was black folky metal, but contained many headbanging parts at the same time. Playing the CD Dar da Duh now it can never come over as overwhelming as live on stage, but certainly sounds very interesting.

This tour is coming back to Holland on Monday when they play the Little Devil. I can recommend anyone in the area to go and see this. You get two moody dutch starters, followed by a top class double act of Romanian Atmospheric metal. 

Monday, 6 February 2017

Glenn Hughes - de Boerderij Zoetermeer, 5 February 2017

Glenn Hughes is the ultimate voice of Classic rock. Getting that doubt out of the way I can write about the show he gave us in de Boerderij last night. When I was entering pre-school he was already releasing music. Most people probably know him from Deep Purple, but he released many albums including at the begin of this decade most known Black Country Communion. My favorite work of him is the more melodic hard rock. I still look on the internet for the Phenomena box at a decent price and one of the best melodic hard rock albums of the eighties must be Iommi's Black Sabbath with Seventh Star. Live I saw him performing several times and that voice is the one thing you will always remember from his shows. After releasing the very good Resonate album some months ago we were ready for Glenn Hughes. Before he started we had support band Stone Broken, who played harmless rock which reminded me of Scottish band Logan. Nothing exiting, but decent enough. Some weird choice of music and a few beers guided us through the break for the band to hit the stage in the hall with the new name. The move from Jupiler to Bavaria does not make many beerdrinking visitors happy.

Opening with Flow from the last album gave us the chance to check all the boxes. Good band, good sound, good mood and the voice. What followed was a trip through his long career. I do not know all his work, but unknown songs were appreciated just by the great performances. Inbetween songs Glenn talked us through the set in his love and peace style. We learned he had a severe cold and a broken finger which only made his performance more impressive. Highlights in the regular set to me were "Medusa", "Might Just Take Your Life"and "Black Country". The encore gave us his best new song "Heavy"and his all time classic "Burn". What a way to close this brilliant set of true musicians. While it all was great I silently hoped for one song which I missed. Realizing that Seventh Star was not the best period in Glenn's life I hoped for one song from that album. With the sad passing away of Geoff Nicholls last week  I would have loved to hear and see either "No Stranger to Love"or "Seventh Star" Unfortunately this was not to be, but still lots of respect for the man and his show.