Thursday, 28 September 2017

Winterfylleth, Fen & Necroanautical - Dynamo Eindhoven, 27 September 2017


An evening of British Black Metal in Dynamo and setting the ballpark I came to see Fen. Some time ago my friend Andrew from Ave Noctum fame, tipped me on Fen. So when earlier this year their last album Winter was released I followed the usual steps, bandcamped - purchased - hooked. Now I quote their bandcamp page to describe the music. Inspired by the windswept, desolate... landscape of England’s Fen region, the band set out to fuse the cold rage of Black Metal with more reflective influences, creating a deeply intense and atmospheric sound which speaks of loss and melancholic yearning. For the haters this might be prententious bollocks, but to a sensitive and poetic guy like me it makes all sense when you hear their music. The world is in a dark place at the moment and our Dutch office is starting to be dismantled in steps. So I could use nothing better than this desolate music with huge walls of sound interrupted by melodic guitar parts in brilliant variation.

But as I said before this was an evening of UKBM. So there were others at play. Opener of the evening were Necronautical, the only band with painted faces. Their music was more epical and warrior alike. I listened to Black Sea Misanthropy in advance on BC and quite liked their style. Live they turned out steady, but maybe not as furious as I hoped. Their music was mainly mid-tempo and the vocals seemed to come from all around the basement. A good warm-up band, but just not exciting enough for me to rush to their merch table. During their show some more people walked into Dynamo basement, but it never got packed. Maybe Satyricon the night before in nearby Tilburg took too much money and energy for several.

Next on were my target of the trip Fen. Guitarist vocalist The Watcher not only looks like Geddy Lee, he also opened a square meter of effects in front of us. Later when he started singing, the high pitched Rush vocals were not to be found though. The band opened  with Winter I (Pathway) followed by the next song from Winter. Being two songs down, this meant we were at thirty minutes in the gig. Being a support band I feared a short set, but we got three more older songs, which meant they almost played an hour. Well what can I say about this hour. The atmospheres created on stage where the calm breaks worked live so well were just amazing. I am not the biggest Black Metal fan, but these epic songs should appeal to many outside BM world only. So to my PPE friends who enjoyed this year bands like Beyond Creation, Fallujah or Revocation I'd say give Fen a try next time as well. While the show is all about the atmospheres created during the long songs, the individual playing was flawlesse as well. But then again what would you expect with names like Grungyn, Havenless and the Watcher. If I was hooked after hearing Winter I now definiteley am a Fen fan after seeing them live. Turned out to be a sympathetic band as well, at least Havenlees when talking to him after the show. So I got the Tee and previous album Carrion Skies. They return to Holland in December, but I can't make it that day. Hoping for many more returns and I will be there.

There was a headliner as well in Winterfylleth. They tour celebrating their tenth anniversary and they play a style not that dissimilar to Fen. Yet I made the decison of trying to be home around 00:30 with a long train ride ahead. Well that decison was the wrong one for two reasons. First the NS (our national rail amateurs) decided to cancel my train, which made me detour and arrive two minutes before the alternative train half an hour later.  Second the two opening songs I did see were very interesting. A bit shorter and to the point than Fen, they also created good atmospheres. In their presentation and demands for shouting along in the audience I thought I saw some british football hooliganism chants as well. Definitely a band to explore and delve into deeper in the future. I thought being wise and go for some sleep before the seven o clock alarm on Thursday morning. That was punished, so after setting the rule music over football always, I now should add music over sleep as well it seems. After all: All will fall, all will sink, all will drown, all will fade!!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

My Soliloquy - Atrox - The Contortionist - Threshold

With begin October ProgPower on the agenda it looks like many progmetal bands willing to release a great album just in time to sell many at the cellar in Baarlo. I picked four here, but have not heard Anubis Gate yet, already Pledged Twisted Illusion and Iris Divine is mailing out in the next weeks. Various forms of progmetal it is then.

 My Soliloquy - Engines of Gravity
My Soliloquy is almost a solo album by Pete Morten. Apart from Damon Roots on drums he plays all instruments and sings. With Engines of Gravity this results in a very strong and varied progmetal album. Pete Morten is of course that other guy who left Threshold this year. Releasing an album in the same month as his previous band is brave, but worked out very fine. His vocals at times even remind me of John Arch and one person taking care of lead, acoustic, rhythm guitars, bass and keyboards is impressive. During recent Threshold live reviews I always mentioned the idea of one evening of side projects closed by Threshold. Hoping they split on friendly terms I'd say My Soliloquy, Headspace, Kyrbgrinder and Threshold would give a fantastic bill. Give this album a try and if you like to hear Pete's roll in recent Threshold albums start with closing song The Emptying Of Meaning.

Atrox - Monocle
I discovered Atrox 15 years ago when they released Terrestrials. At the time they had a female vocalist and like many Norwegian bands of that era edged on the bizarre and weird (does Ram-Zet still exist?) With previous album Binocular (2008) they  moved to a male vocalist and slightly shorter songs. Electronics and industral are now in the blend and at PPE 2008 they were easily one of the best surpises of the weekend. In two weeks time they are back in Baarlo and on of the shows I am most looking forward to. Monocle after a few listenings: basically they picked up where they left us nine years ago with Binocular. I did not hear an uber earwurm like Tight Tie yet, but that can change after seeing them live. Atrox always were amongst the more adventurous progmetal bands and they did not change. Wish it was 7 October 18:30 already. No delays at dinner break accepted.

The Contortionist - Clairvoyant
Many bands walked the path from extreme or very heavy to way softer over the years. In some cases old and new are good, while others were much better either heavy or in their less so format. Examples Anathema, Opeth, Enslaved or Leprous to name just a few aligned with Progmetal. Which version you like best is up to yourself. My most extreme example is Cave In, who I discovered when releasing their progmetal classic Jupiter. Later I bought and found out that they came from hardcorish metal and left with alternative rock, just giving the world one not to miss album. But this is about The Contortionist. On their latest Clairvoyant they moved down one degree to even softer sounds. Yet it seems to work well with them. I stepped in with Intrinsic, which had still a fair lot of harsh vocals and metal.Previous album Language ended very high on my end of year list and now we have Clairvoyant. Gone are the wild screams, in comes the djent light / rock music. But it kept this stamp of quality The Contortionist seems to guarantee always. Last year I saw them opening for Tesseract and winning. Hoping for a return as headliner now.

Threshold - Legends of the Shires
It's 1993 Kees LP sits in the center of town and one day walking in I received the comment "As you like bands like Dream Theater, Queensryche, Fates Warning, Lethal, Watchtower and the likes, you should try this". This was Wounded Land and I was sold. Brilliant vocalist Damian Wilson left the band and they released my favorite Threshold album Psychedelicatessen with new vocalist Glynn Morgan. That album also contained their best song ever in Innocent. Fast forwarding to 2017 and brilliant vocalist Damian Wilson left again to be replaced by Glynn Morgan. And to my astonishment they managed to release their best album in years. They did not only lost the voice of Damian, but also the metallic riffs of Pete Morten. Yet since the first time I heard this album I totally love it. The beautifull melodies that stay in your head at once, the very typical Threshold heavy riffs and the strong voice of Glynn. This double concept album holds too many highlights to mention them all. So I just say, try this at home. Now we only have to wait and see them live. As I might not be able to see them 9 December around the corner  in de Boerderij, I am thinking about Weert on a Tuesday in November. And then we wait for Glynn live. In 1995 Threshold toured and from the three shows that tour two got cancelled due to Glynn losing his voice. Well we all got older and wiser over the past 22 years, so confident of a great live show.

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.