HOLLAND HEAVY FESTIVAL 2019

Evenement: Very 'Eavy Festival Presents: Holland Heavy Festival
Plaats: Iduna, Drachten (NL)
Datum: 2 november 2019

Last year, we attended the first edition of the Holland Heavy Festival at the Iduna in Drachten. This second edition would also feature two bands from abroad. It's quite a long drive to the northern part of our country, but it's surely worth it. The festival is dedicated to the Dutch heavy metal scene and as Hugo already put together a splendid bill last year, it would be very difficult to top it. However for this second edition, Hugo pulled out some more interesting Dutch bands from their rehearsal space and we can only compliment him for another wonderful bill. And of course all thumbs up for supporting the Dutch metal scene. You can leave that up to Hugo. His festivals are always very well organized and also this year, there's an amazing variety of heavy metal bands to be witnessed in the beautiful town of Drachten. The Iduna is ready for the invasion of all the heavy metal freaks. Let's get this party going....

The festival started quite early. We were one of the very first people to arrive at the Iduna, which was still closed. Pretty soon the doors went open and half an hour later the first band would go on stage. It's three o'clock in the afternoon. Hey, is there something wrong with my watch? Because according to the time schedule, it's seven thirty. Confusion all over (lol). The first band is called SEVEN THIRTY and I must admit, that I've never heard of this band before. Shame on me, because they live around the corner from where we live. One of the band members is even one of the organizers of festival 't Zeeltje in Deest. Not that this has any effect on my impression of the band, on the contrary, but they are a big surprise to me. Their music is a mix of bands like MOTÖRHEAD and ROSE TATTOO or everything that has got to do with honest heavy rock. No nonsense rock and roll with a high quality level. Music, that comes straight from the heart. These are all descriptions that fit this band very well. "Rock & Roll Band" is the opener of this short but very intense performance. This song is perfect for the band, because that's what SEVEN THIRTY is all about. The band only has got one mini album in their pocket of which they play two songs out of the eight that they play tonight. "Fire" is next and the crowd's interest in the band is improving each song. "Some Day" follows next and "Bastard" is one of my own personal favorites, which also got on the mini album. It's nice to see a band that plays pure rock music. No gimmicks, no show elements, no dressing up, just three musicians and their instruments and a good feeling for heavy rock. This alone really gave me one helluva time. "The Night Is Falling Down" is the second song, taken from their mini album. They close their set with "Rolling", "Watch Out" and "Help / Game". I don't really know, if these last titles are the right ones, but what I do know is that SEVEN THIRTY somehow blew me away. And this was only just the beginning. What a great opener and a very nice surprise. SEVEN THIRTY is indeed a name to remember.

We have already seen LOVELL'S BLADE at the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival a couple of weeks ago. They never let you down and it was nice to see that they are on the bill of the Holland Heavy Festival as well. Again, the band had to get on stage early, but that's no problem because these guys rock on every hour of the day. And from the first moment on, the band sounds "Dynamite" all the way, you can leave that up to Pete and his gang. "Legend In A Day" is the perfect song to shout your balls off. One hard shout and they're gone. What a shame. It's good to see that the crowd gives the band a warm welcome and they definitely are singing along on this one. "Gonna Get Rough" is up next. Unfortunately, two songs have to be skipped this afternoon, because of the short playing time, but the best of both albums will be played and that's what makes the band extra amazing. There's for example "Against The Grain" and "Rollin' On", which are definitely some of the hottest songs this afternoon. "Rollin' On" is a song that you definitely can get addicted to, so take it in small quantity please, but then many, many times. Once you've heard it, you want to listen to it the whole day. What a great composition. Noel van Eersel beats the shit out of his kit and the two guitar players Mike Ferguson and Andre Wullems constantly fire their guitar guns and get equal shares in their solo parts. It's still early in the afternoon, when LOVELL'S BLADE finish their set with "Make My Mark" and "Out For Blood". The band improves every time and it's so cool to see how this band has grown over the years. Their first shows were so much different and now the enthusiasm really explodes from the stage and they take all the fans with them on their powerful yet very explosive ride. It's a shame that the band had to skip "Devil's Daughter" and "Slippin' Away" this time, because of time reasons, but better luck next time. Their enormous enthusiasm and very powerful show is as solid as a rock and if SEVEN THIRTY isn't your thing, then Pete and LOVELL'S BLADE definitely kicked off your day with a big bang. Both thumbs up for Pete and his fellow band mates.

TOGETHER has been one of the bands that made the decision to come over to Drachten pretty easy for us. The band seldom plays live and their reputation is good, mainly because of that fabulous fantastic orgasmic amazing EP "Playing Games", which is a very much wanted item from 1985. The demos however were already released in 1982 and 1983 and most of the songs of tonight came from these three items. The band starts off with "Playing Games", the title track of the four track EP. This EP is really becoming a cult item and record collectors from all over the world are starting to realize how important this band has been in the history of the Dutch hard rock and heavy metal scene. The band is having a lot of fun on stage and their announcements are quite amusing, too. "I've Got Your Number" is a rather unknown song to me, but it rocks just the same. It's really great seeing this band live on stage again, after their show in Zwolle at the Dutch Steel Festival, which was also organized by Hugo (of course, I'd say). The set, that they play here tonight, is almost the same as in Zwolle nearly five years ago now. "Grab Your Mind" from the EP and "No Matter" continues and TOGETHER proves that they still rock and it's good that Hugo put their name on the bill again. The demos have been represented by "Long Trail", that was on their first demo in 1982 and "Heavy Metal Lady", which was on their second demo one year later. It's a trip down memory lane for the die-hard fans of this band from the area of Apeldoorn. "Traveler" is on next and "Fading Out Of Sight" is a song that they didn't play in Zwolle. The best is saved for last though, however this already sounded really amazing, according to yours truly. TOGETHER has been a very nice surprise to many fans and the last songs could be classified as some real classics of their own kind. "Search" and "Burn In Hell" are the last songs of TOGETHER tonight. Two knock out punches of this surprising and very nice outfit. I'm very glad to be able to witness them again over here in Drachten.

ELISE never ever let me down or played a bad show. The band has got a lot of experience, they released an album in 1990 with some amazing songs and three great demo tapes. Next to that, they are some fine musicians, so you hardly can go wrong with these guys. As far as I'm concerned, they are the absolute winners on this day of all the Dutch bands. ELISE nailed it from the beginning until the end. "Nightmare" is the opener of tonight. I don't envy the photographers, that are trying to make a decent picture of frontman Gerd Hento. He's here, there and everywhere and his vocal skills never let him down. He's really a superb frontman. "Cry Of Mankind" is probably the band's most well-known song, which is a true killer indeed. Guitar player Robbie Woning always knows to impress with his venomous guitar playing. He's very focused on what he's doing and his skills are very divers, because he also plays in DEAD HEAD, which is really something different than the powerful heavy metal of ELISE. Next to being a great singer, Gerd also is a great performer. He is constantly challenging the public to sing or clap along and he does the same with his band mates. He's in the spotlight all the time and with one pose after another, he easily sings all the songs. Don't try to follow him around his adventures on stage, because once you've spotted him, he's gone already again. "Witchfinder" is next, which is another public's favorite. The songs of tonight are all taken from the album "No Time For Masquerade", which are the real classics of the band. Like for example "Hell Of A Fight", which is on next. ELISE played with a replacement for Henk van Mierlo, who wasn't able to be here tonight, but this didn't affect the enthusiasm and the professionalism of the band. The band is a steady unity and their enthusiasm of tonight reflects itself on the public. "Careless Rat" and "Seven Witches" are next and ELISE gives us a lesson in heavy metal today. Gerd strikes another heavy pose, Robbie cranks out another fabulous solo and I guess I also have to mention Rieks Vogelzang behind the drums here. After all he is not only well-known for his drum skills in ELISE, but he's also one of the early members of FRANKENSTEIN. To me, no matter how far away he's hiding behind his drum kit, he is a real cult hero because of that. He left FRANKENSTEIN forty-one years ago, but he is still one of the founding members of this legendary band. I think, then you are very high on my list of cult heroes in Holland, I can tell you that much! With "Seven Witches", we go way back in time to the second demo of the band, released in 1986. The last two songs of tonight are "Hiding" and "Over", but already by then it's quite clear to me. that ELISE is definitely one of the big winners of the festival today. After the show I was able to have a short talk with singer Gerd and he was pretty pleased with the show as well. There's never a dull moment with ELISE, a band that actually never let me down with their very energetic live shows. Today, they were the match winner of all the Dutch metal bands performing here today.

In between the performances, I already spoke to my good friend Martjo Brongers of VORTEX and his band would be on next. He was in a lot of pain and hardly got any sleep last night, but with a few Jacks he would possibly feel better and give it all he's got. It's always great fun meeting Martjo. We have known each other for a lifetime and he's a legendary musician in our country. VORTEX is one of the longest existing Dutch heavy metal bands. Their shows are peppered with props and lots of humor and everywhere they show up, it's a full house. Henk 'the Tank' Bosma also drops by to have a chat, every time he sees us. He's a photographer as well and you see him on a regular basis armed with his camera taking some action shots of the bands on stage. Obviously, we have a special bond with these guys from Groningen and they're just some very fine people to hang out with. Also guitarist Orion Roos and singer Yuryen Thunderfoxy belong to our buddies over the years. This band will never disappoint their fans with an average show and they always give a lot more than hundred percent. Tonight they will promote their new album "Them Witches", which has been released just a few weeks ago. Something to look forward to, I guess. A quick bite is possible, before their show starts off, so right after ELISE, we run to the food truck outside for some fast food. These people will help you fast and good. I'd say, thumbs up for Hugo, who arranged it. For some people this may not be a big deal and you can always go to the nearest McDonalds and miss out on one or two bands, but if you are here to see every band, then it's a real treat.
After the "Intro" song, the metal machine from Grun warms up with "Mercenary". Although the new album will be fully promoted here tonight, the old songs will always get the best response from the crowd. "Death At Dawn" and "Spiritua Alien" are both new and no matter which songs these guys are playing, they always know to entertain the audience. These are the first two songs from the new album "Them Witches", only this time played in a reversed order than on the CD. There is some axe swaying, humorous song introductions, corpse paint, yet great pure metal songs and the constant factor to give the crowd the best that they have got. These guys don't go for less and they are steaming hot for a full hour. They are breathing metal from every inch of their body."The Beauty & The Teeth" is one of my own personal favorite songs with singer Thundervoxy in a leading role. Sure, I know his name is Jurjen, but that's not good enough for the metal beast that he is. Before he goes on stage, he is humorous and friendly, but once he is being transformed in his stage outfit, he becomes Thundervoxy and even his bandmates must stay away from him, because he becomes axe crazy and story goes that he rips off the raw flesh from your bones, when he's hungry for rock. "Gonna Hit You" is on next, which is also from the new album, so the fans will get a good impression of the new songs. This is followed by title track "Them Witches", another classic to be. The last part of the show is being reserved for some classic tunes and golden oldies, like "Rollin' To The War". Their most well-known track sure is "Open The Gate". The band usually welcomes everybody on stage to shout along or bang their heads or just celebrate their moment or fame and get crazy for five minutes. This time the band has invited the band members of KILLER to join them on stage. What a nice surprise and the song is still as catchy as hell after so many years. With "Land Of The Late", the band leaves the stage. It's has been really great seeing VORTEX again and it's also nice that the people liked and appreciated all the new songs. Them VORTEX witches did it again!

KILLER always puts down a killer show, I think, that's where they get their name from. They never let their fans down and also today they are about to blow the roof off and play another fantastic show. Guitar player Paul van Camp, also known as Shorty, is the biggest eye-catcher maybe but you wouldn't do justice to drummer Vanne and bass player Jakke, who are really dedicated and great musicians as well and one hundred percent heavy metal. I always like to refer to the early days, when they played in little villages just over the border, such as Galder and Ulicoten. Spooky played the bass then and Double Bear (or Fat Leo) was behind the drum kit. Those were the days. I always loved to go to their shows and also in 2019, they still have got a lot of class and know to touch me. In the eighties, they were being referred to as the Belgian MOTORHEAD, but nowadays they are so much more than that. Of course they still have influences of MOTORHEAD in their sound, but to be honest sometimes Paul van Camp sounds more like Yngwie J. Malmsteen or Gary Moore in his hard rock days or maybe even Michael Schenker. And to stick to MOTORHEAD, I would like to compare his playing to Fast Eddie Clarke, rather than Phil Campbell for that matter. Songs like "No Future" and "Kleptomania" sound fast, raw and very heavy. These classy songs stand proud for forty years now and even new songs like "Monsters Of Rock" still have that typical KILLER sound. They are an example for heavy metal in the old days, when KILLER was already around. They are true survivors and prove is given why they are so high on the bill tonight. Once again they break through the "Wall Of Sound", although Jakke and Shorty are taking things further than the stage. They step into the audience with their instruments. This has been done before, I can almost hear you say. Yep, I know, Rinus Vreugdenhil of PICTURE does it all the time during "Bombers" and it's his special moment of bass guitar fame to celebrates with the fans. However, the guys of KILLER take it so much further than Rinus. They take a walk through the audience and arrive at the opposite side of the stage, where the bar is situated. I think, that they must have been thirsty and needed a beer. But that's not it... yet. Jakke even climbs on the bar and looks down to the audience, while dancing, swinging and torturing his bass guitar. This is far beyond belief and it's KILLER. The guys of VORTEX also join them on stage to do some background singing and taking turns. Finally, the band is "Ready For Hell" and a standing ovation is the only thing that the audience can do to thank these Belgian metal heads. KILLER showed us what heavy metal is all about. They were the right band at the right place and they didn't disappoint me in any way. Of course, festivals like this are a very good example of brotherhood and to show respect for one another. KILLER showed everybody a real lesson in metal. Thanks so much for a wonderful gig, guys and please come back soon!!

HIGHWAY CHILE just needed another moment to give their whiskey (which is still in the jar) some extra strength. And after seeing the band several times in the past few months, it's a real pleasure seeing them onstage, because they always stand proud with their classy hard rock and metal songs. HIGHWAY CHILE has got a reputation to live up to and I think they are famous for never letting their fans down. After all, they are headbangers, even for such a long time when they once started their career. Where do you find a singer, that hits the right notes, just like in the old days? Did you ever see any other Dutch band with a four legged drummer? Or twin guitar players that are half human, half beast. Or a bass player that can play the bass, like he's driving an all destroying bulldozer? You better get out of his way, when this man starts to roar?! Nope, you haven't witnessed all of this anywhere else, because it only happens during a HIGHWAY CHILE gig and they're coming to get you, there is no escape. "Highway Chile Is Coming To Get Ya" is the opener of tonight, while "Carol" comes right after that. And I guess, that's exactly what this audience wants to hear. The good old HIGHWAY CHILE classic songs, that they can sing along to, as loud as they possibly can. The guys always have great fun in what they're doing and they are always enthusiastic. "Keeper Of The Earth", "Runaway" and "Fever" are on next and the vocal chords of the crowd are being tortured again. The whiskey barrel is infused with metal again. And after this force of HIGHWAY CHILE, the people are in for a special treat. After all, when you have HIGHWAY CHILE on stage, you are also getting some HELLOISE songs for free. I know, that there are a lot of old school head bangers that like the music of HELLOISE quite as much, so in that case you are the lucky bastards of the evening. The holy HELLOISE trinity of tonight consists of "For A Moment", "Gates Of Heaven" and "Hard Life". I guess, with songs like that you've already won the race before actually starting it. After the HELLOISE interlude, there's more material from the "Keeper Of The Earth" album with "Poison". Then the ritual of infusing the whiskey jar with heavy metal follows after that. The band has even written a new song, called "Metal Infused" for that special occasion. It's catchy, yet heavy and after hearing the chorus, you are already singing it along with the band. And this will probably do a lot of good to the whiskey for sure. The regular set will close with "Dreaming Of Heaven", but the band is not getting away that easily. The crowd begs for more and they are going get it with another crowd pleaser, namely "(We Are) Headbangers", which is the knock-out punch of yet another amazing HIGHWAY CHILE gig. It doesn't get any better or more old school than that. The whiskey barrel is being carried away from the stage, which has to be cleared for the last band of today. Big Al was right again, rock and roll is better than music.

HOLOCAUST needs no further introduction and the band will appear tonight in their killer three band member line-up. Of course we are expecting them old classics but I must admit that I liked the most recent album "Elder Gods" a lot, too. The great artwork shows that you are treated to some dark colored NWOBHM on this silver disc. Unfortunately, the band is not playing any stuff from the new CD and they focus on the "Predator" CD from 2015. They start off with title track "Predator" and right after that, the band cranks out "No Nonsense", a golden oldie from that amazing "Live (Hot Curry & Wine)" album from 1983 and it also appeared on the 1981 EP "Live From The Raw Loud 'N' Live Tour". The people, who want to hear the old school HOLOCAUST material are at the right time in the right place here, because with "Smoking Valves" they directly fire another golden HOLOCAUST anthem at the audience, which sounds really amazing. The band is having a great time, so it seems, and the fans jump to shout out a little bit louder. When listening to the songs very carefully, you will realize how good these old classic songs really were. No matter how strong their new material is, it simply can't top the old material, as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure that after listening to the new songs a zillion times, you will say the same thing about the new songs. They will be hammered into your brain right away and stay there forever. "Can't Go Wrong With You" is taken from the "Predator" album and I'm surprised to hear them they play it today. It's a good song and it sure sounds great live. Then it's time for "The Small Hours", a cover of METALLICA.... Correction, I'm just kidding. METALLICA used it on the freaking fabulous "The $5.98 E.P. Garage Days Revisited", where they cover many NWOBHM anthems, that they thought were essential. And the ones they could handle, I guess. Not a bad choice and not strange that the song still stands proud after forty years. "Only As Young As You Feel" continues and the raw version of the song was very well received. After the fabulous "Dance Into The Vortex" (wasn't there a band, called VORTEX playing here tonight??!!??) taken from "The Sound Of Souls" album, we hear "Expander" - the single - from the "Predator" album. They already convinced me, but the finale is absolutely mind-blowing. If you didn't know the band at all (??) or you weren't a real fan, you will definitely get addicted after hearing these songs. "Death Or Glory" and "The Nightcomer" are in the grand finale, that I was hoping they would be there. John Mortimer can be proud of this amazing show at the second Holland Heavy Festival. But hey, aren't we missing one song??!?? Please get back HOLOCAUST, we want more!!! Of course the band won't leave without playing a thunderous version of "Heavy Metal Mania", which is one of the best NWOBHM songs ever written in my opinion. They also get help from the audience, singing along the first few lyrics 'inside the power cage....'. The sirens go off and for a moment I think that we have to find ourselves a safe shelter. The venue is in great danger and HOLOCAUST has taken over the strings and they're pulling them hard. Once more time we hear the sirens go off later on in the song and after the last notes have been fading away, there's dead silence. The crowd has lost this uneven fight with the three Scottish musicians of HOLOCAUST. It also marks the end of the second edition of the Holland Heavy Festival. Will there ever be a third one? Only Hugo will know the answer, I guess. And if it does, it will be a sort of stripped version of Very 'Eavy with bands from all over the world, which would be more likely. Anyway, we had a great time again. Our thanks go out to the Iduna in Drachten and their crew members and of course to all the great bands and last but not least, Hugo and his crew for making this amazing festival possible. You can be very proud of this, mate and we enjoyed every single second. Thanks for your hospitality and we hope to be back again on one of your festivals in the near future.

Note: It's very hard for me to write these final lines, but I will do my outstanding best to express my feelings. This is the main reason why it took me so long to write this review. I needed some time to think, if I should write this review or not. I came to the conclusion to do what my heart told me, so here it is.
A couple of weeks after the festival, we received the sad news that our good friend Martjo Brongers of VORTEX had passed away after being in hospital for some days. Sometimes I still believe that this is a bad dream and that we will meet again at a festival or something. But the hard truth is, that this is all for real and I simply still can't get it. This festival was the last time we met each other. I received a copy of the new CD of VORTEX, because I wrote the liner notes for it. Me and Martjo and my wife Rita were friends for life. We did so many great things together and Martjo always told us that everything would be alright. He was such a friendly, down to earth person. He always believed in us with everything that we did and supported us in any way he could. An unlucky fall at home made an end to it all. And we're still so sad about it. In my articles and reviews, I'm not lost for words most of the time, now I simply don't know how to express myself. No words can explain the sad feeling that we both have inside. I can only say this. Martjo, we loved you with all of our heart and we will never forget the magical moments that we had together. Thank you for being our friend. I dedicate this review of your last show with VORTEX to you. Everything will be alright, my friend, but now you left us it may take a while, before we can smile again. Have fun up there in heaven, the gates are wide open for you. The red carpet is out, they only do this for the real maestros, and you were certainly one of them. We miss you so much Martjo and life will never be the same without you.

Written by: Toine van Poorten // Photos by: Rita van Poorten/www.metalmaidens.com

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