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.