Saturday, October 19th, 2013
HEAVY METAL MANIACS FESTIVAL
P60, Amstelveen, The Netherlands
Today will be the first time, that the Heavy Metal Maniacs put up camp in Amstelveen for their annual festival, instead of invading the Manifesto in Hoorn. Was this a wise decision? There are some pros and cons, but as long as the atmosphere is right, the location won’t make the difference, I think. Our main focus are the bands, but I’d like to reflect some of the arguments that I heard on the festival. The cons would be the rather expensive parking lot and the many stairs you have to climb up and down at the P60. Especially late in the evening, when the alcohol has flown richly, this could lead to some severe accidents. The pros are that the club is so much bigger and Amstelveen is situated much more central than Hoorn. Anyway, it’s the music that counts here and once again they’ve managed to compile a really awesome festival bill. Although Bozzy has probably had some sleepless nights to get all settled. DEALER was one of the very first names to be announced and the euphoria to see this NWOBHM band at last was really huge. A few weeks before the event took place, the worst nightmare, that you could ever imagine, happened. Bass player Pete Gentil dies in a motor accident and a beautiful dream goes up in smoke. Our hearts are with the family and relatives of Pete. As there’s not much time left anymore, Stefan has to find a replacement for DEALER. RULER, one of the bands at the warming up party on Friday, is put on the bill on Saturday, so this problem has been solved pretty easily. It’s two minutes to midnight, when a second cancellation has been announced on the message board. One of the members of RAM is ill and the band is unable to play Amstelveen. We thought, that these Swedish metal heads would take an aspirin and go for it. But sometimes things are a bit more complicated and RAM is forced to cancel their gig. Where do you find a replacement, when the clock is about to strike twelve and the doors of the hall are about to open with a couple of hundred metal fans in front of it to see their heroes? VANDERBUYST is the perfect solution. The main idea behind the Heavy Metal Maniacs is to promote the Dutch heavy metal scene. By putting VANDERBUYST on the bill, they add a second Dutch metal (or hard rock, if you like) band on the bill and this band is always ready to rock. Not a bad option and this band could also attract some people, that have no match with the other bands. After all, VANDERBUYST could easily sell out P60 on its own. Now they have the fine task to complete this bill. So boys and girls, it’s time to comb your hair, put on your best outfit and head out to the highway into the direction of Amstelveen. It’s party time and tonight we were ready to be rocked by EVIL INVADERS, RULER, BLACK KNIGHT, WILD, VANDERBUYST, HOLOCAUST, MORE 2012 and THE RODS. The next report is a reflection of how I look at these magical moments. They may not be the same as yours, because it’s based on my own personal taste. So you’d better be warned upfront!
We still have the long journey to Hoorn in mind, when we leave to the P60 with our good friends Eddy and Christine from Belgium. When we arrive in Amstelveen, the doors have just opened and Henry already tells us, that THE RODS are doing an autograph session at the bar. The action is there, THE RODS are in the house and nobody can stop this from becoming a beautiful day to rock it out loud. On the first floor there is a small metal market, and one floor higher is the hall, where the bands will play. The last and first time, we’ve been at the P60 was to see WATCHTOWER at the Headway festival in 2004, where they played RUSH’s “2112” in its entirety as an encore. One of the best gigs I’ve ever seen!
This time it’s EVIL INVADERS from Belgium, who has to open the show. These Belgian metal heads already impressed me at this year’s Keep It True festival. After the show, I bought their debut CD right away. Their power, energy and speed is just the way I like to hear it, nothing more and nothing less. Today they would impress me the same way. With an undying passion for killing their audience with speed metal riffs, they attack the crowd and they won’t let loose, until you like it. These guys are still young and eager to bite and they know what their audience wants. They want no long introductions, but just one song following the other. And that’s what you will get here tonight. Once the bullet train has started with “Stairway To Insanity”, there ain’t nothing going to stop these guys. “Driving Fast” and “Speed Invasion” are on next and even the song title tells us that we’re not dealing with a sludgy doom metal band here. After “Alcoholic Maniac”, a raunchy version of EXCITER’s “Violence & Force” follows next. These guys really did their homework. The public eats out of their hands and this is just the opening band. After this surprise, it’s time for a short bass solo. Nobody else tried this before. All bands fear to have a bass player do a short solo spot. Not EVIL INVADERS. They are afraid of nobody and with “Victim Of Sacrifice” and “Evil Invaders”, they have arrived at the end of their victory set here at P60. The standard is set at a very high level and this has been another kick ass show from these Belgian speed devils. Both thumbs up for me!
Next on the bill is RULER from Italy. RULER made a nice leap forward from the warming up party to the actual festival bill and they really did their best to make as much friends as possible. With “Ships Of Trafalgar”, they kick off tonight’s show. What strikes me most is, that the band tries to mix old school heavy metal with hard rock and a touch of bluesy licks as well. They say it all with “Back To The Glory Days”, which contains a very high IRON MAIDEN level. The Italian rockers continue with “Another Fight” and “We Rule The Night”. It becomes quite clear, that we are dealing with a very talented band here and they fit perfectly well on a festival like this. The only minor detail would probably be the fact, that Mattia ‘Heavy Matt’ Baldoni is their only guitarist. No matter how talented you are (and I can tell you, that this guy is an excellent guitarist!), you’d still miss a second guitar player to fill in the gaps. Second minor detail is, that his power chord isn’t long enough to reach the end of the stage. When help is given right away, he simply refuses it and continues to play with the short chord. “Temple Of Doom” belongs to one of the highlights of their set tonight, which is followed by “Rise To Power”. By the way, my compliments to vocalist Daniele ‘DFV’ Valentini. I heard many people say, that they liked his voice a lot. All in all, a great act. RULER continues with “Moonlight Wanderer”, “Mayday” and “Sutjeska”. The interaction with the fans is good, which is a very important thing, when you want to profile yourself to a bigger audience. Their setlist is a nice mix between both their albums. And they brought their own enthusiastic fan base, which reflected to the rest of the audience. “Highway Blues” and “Evil Nightmares” close their show of tonight. RULER stands tall among the other bands and they can surely call themselves a worthy replacement of DEALER.
BLACK KNIGHT is the first representative of the Dutch heavy metal scene and of course it’s a safe choice to have them on the festival. This band has been influenced by some of the greatest names in the metal scene, namely JUDAS PRIEST and PRIMAL FEAR. And with true metal maniac ®udo Plooy behind the drums, you almost can’t go wrong, I guess. BLACK KNIGHT knows the drill. These guys have a long history and with two gifted guitarists in their line-up, they can make the Dutch heavy metal fans proud of their legacy. “Story of The Day” and “Pay For Black Knight” gets the set going and the first thing that strikes me is, that the sound is so much fuller with two guitar players. After oldie “Excavated”, the band throws in a brand new track, called “Next Time You’ll Die”. I can’t wait to hear the new album after this fine pre-taster. Yes, you’ve read that right! The band is working on a new album and this really tastes for more. “Beware Of The Blind” and “Profound” are next on the list and after a few songs, I can say that the band has got a very strong performer in front man Pieter Bas Borger. He doesn’t only hit the high notes right on the head, but he’s also a very good frontman. While drummer ®udo keeps everything under control and is a real hard hitter in the powerful songs. After “Tale From The Darkside”, there’s a point of recognition for those of us, who don’t know BLACK KNIGHT that well. These people are send off to the left corner and should be ashamed of themselves. Don’t mess with BLACK KNIGHT. Anyway, “Let The Hammer Fall” is a cover of HAMMERFALL and a lot of fans are really getting out of their mind right now. After “The One To Blame” and one of the highlights of the set for me “Rival”, we have slowly come to the end of this BLACK KNIGHT show tonight. However, not before they place the knock-out punch with the well-known JUDAS PRIEST tandem “The Hellion / Electric Eye”. One more time you’ll see the fists rising in the air and people sing along to the lyrics of this true heavy metal classic. The definite closing off and BLACK KNIGHT can be proud of what they have achieved here this afternoon.
After their performance I ran into Patrick Kruijer, former guitarist of ANGUS, for a nice chat. Hopefully he will return to the scene with a new project soon. I’ll keep my eyes open for a big talent like that. Between every band we tried to sneak out to the little market below, but I must admit that I never succeeded. Mostly because I always ran into somebody that I hadn’t seen for a long time and before you know it, the next band is already introduced by Eggo and Paul, the golden twosome. Some things will never change. The Spanish inquisition comes, when you least expect it. Right now it’s time for WILD, which I only saw half because of the fact that you have eat as well. Two years ago I’ve seen the band at the Very ‘Eavy festival and back then, it was not one of my favorite bands. WILD is a good choice on this bill however, because there are always a lot of Spanish metal heads coming over for the festival. It’s good to please them with a band from their own country. WILD is what they are and a wild bunch of Spanish wildebeests is what you get tonight. The fact that most of the songs are in their native tongue doesn’t really contribute to get my fire burning. But there were many people, who seemed to like the band, although I’m afraid that I can’t join their legion. Halfway their set, we decided to get a bite before the bigger names would start their show. Still horns up for WILD for pleasing the many fans in front of the stage. Larga Vida Al Rock And Roll!
VANDERBUYST is a real crowd pleaser in the broadest sense of the word. There have been many discussions going on though, that they play hard rock and not heavy metal. Do they belong to the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival? Hello!!! What do you think?!? Think of it as a great move of Bozzy to put this band on the bill. Maybe he didn’t have another choice, but VANDERBUYST appeals to the average rock fan, metal heads and music lovers in general and Willem Verbuyst once was a member of Dutch cult metal legacy POWERVICE. That alone would at least give him the right to play here. It has already taken much too long in my eyes. The Heavy Metal Maniacs support the Dutch metal scene. And you can argue whether VANDERBUYST plays heavy metal or not, but until now they have never shared the stage with the maniacs, although many people have requested them before. And this will change today. The hall is pretty jam-packed, when VANDERBUYST plays their set and I think this is the moment that P60 finds the most fans in front of the stage. The set is what you can expect. Nothing new, no real surprises, just a very relaxed show of a band that has been touring every club in Holland twice or three times and never loses their power and enthusiasm. “To Last Forever” and “KGB” start the gig, followed by “Flying Dutchman”, “Tiger” and “Frivolous Franny”. It’s then, when we arrive, because on our way up to the hall we run into people we know, all the time. Which is a good thing, because that’s what this festival is all about as well. Friendship, brotherhood and a whole lot of good music. “Into The Fire”, “Leaving The Living” and “Stealing Your Thunder” show a well-oiled machine, that goes full speed ahead. Not a sign of the well-known autopilot here. These guys come to rock every visitor in the house no matter what and they’re destined to give the full hundred percent and a little more to achieve their goal. “String Of Beads” is one of my own personal faves and I guess from many other fans as well. At least, that is if I’m judging the reactions right. After “Lecherous”, they pay tribute to the one and only rock and roll junkie, that Holland has ever had: HERMAN BROOD. During his last few years, I felt more like calling him Herman Bored, but in his heydays, I’ve seen some damn nice shows of this rock hero. “Never Be Clever” is the salute to Herman. A lot of music fans seem to love this rock sidestep, but the metal heads are more into the next song on the list, which is called “From Pillar To Post”. No matter what side you are on, the bottom line is that VANDERBUYST really rocks the house tonight. The last ten minutes have been reserved for a lengthy version of the UFO classic “Rock Bottom”. And they perform this song as the “Strangers In The Night” version, which means that they take it from A to freaking Z, including a short drum solo. Just like on their debut album, great! Call this whatever you want, but I can only call this high quality hard rock and I raise my sword for VANDERBUYST!! A killer performance by a killer band and the perfect warming up for a double dose of NWOBHM, that is about to be revealed next.
HOLOCAUST has never played on any Dutch stages before. I’ve had the opportunity though to see the band play live at the Keep It True festival, a couple of months ago. The only minor detail that I came up with then was that there is only one guitar player. John Mortimer has to work twice as hard and also handles the vocals, which is maybe a bit too much. Today is the day of their revenge though and I am very curious what they have in mind this evening. HOLOCAUST, their name alone makes people shiver, but I get a warm feeling. That one song “Heavy Metal Mania” is a true anthem for many metal connoisseurs out there. The sleeve of this twelve inch master piece alone tells you that the musical content must be something special. Back in the days, that I bought this item, it was on my turntable at least once a day. You can almost see through it and most of the vinyl has disappeared because of the many turns it has made. “Expander” is not a safe choice to start your set. It’s a new song, but John Mortimer likes a challenge, I guess. This is followed by “Death Or Glory”, which takes us back to the heydays of the band immediately after it. This time it sounds rawer than a couple of months ago. “No Nonsense” is on next and it looks like John is having a great time. He takes the time to draw out the tracks as long as possible and gives the set a good mix of old and new material. The oldies are “Only As Young As You Feel” (that’s twenty-one when I entered the hall and seventy-five, when I came out of bed the next day!!) and “Love’s Power”, while “Predator” is another new track. The song will possibly be on the new album that will see the light of day next year and will be entitled “Sweet Liberty”. And this is just the beginning, because “Smokin’ Valves” grabs back to the old days again and many old metal heads in front of the stage are standing there with a big grin on their faces. Yes, this is the shit we want to hear!! The METALLICA cover “The Small Hours” is a real must of course. WRONG!! This is a HOLOCAUST original, which METALLICA was allowed to use. This was the time, that the members of METALLICA were still proud to say, that they were NWOBHM fans and HOLOCAUST was one of their favorite bands. "Iron Will” is on next and after that “The Nightcomers” enter the hall. There’s a smile on my face, that won’t go away, because this gig is so much better than at Keep It True. Is it the interaction with the audience, is it the general atmosphere, or is it just me that sees things differently this time? I don’t know, but I think it’s freaking brilliant what these Scottish rockers are doing. The best is saved for last, I guess. After a short instrumental intro, here’s the song that everybody has been waiting for today: “Heavy Metal Mania”. For the Heavy Metal Maniacs, this is some kind of sign to take over the stage, like they always do at this festival. John looks a bit surprised at first, maybe even pissed for a second, but when he sees the happiness on the faces of these wild head bangers he even enjoys it and lets the maniacs sing along with him to the lyrics. The stage is almost collapsing now and the gig comes to a flashing but sudden finale. When the maniacs leave the stage, HOLOCAUST kindly says farewell and leaves the stage as well.
MORE 2012 is a very nice surprise at this festival. Formerly known as EX MORE and before that going by the name of MORE, the band has been on the ‘wish list’ of many people. I don’t think, that there is still an original band member in MORE 2012, but that won’t do any harm to their performance, will it? It’s the 28th of April 1981, when I see the band support IRON MAIDEN at De Vereeniging in Nijmegen. That very year you could also see them opening at the well-known Monsters Of Rock festival at Castle Donington with BLACKFOOT, SLADE, BLUE OYSTER CULT, WHITESNAKE and headliners AC/DC. Those were the days (a deep sigh!), but this is now. Anyway, “Killer On The Prowl” directly throws us back to those days with a stunning sound and a band, that is more than happy to rock their Dutch fans. My main focus today is the guitar player on the right. It’s ‘The Dark Lord’ himself, producer extraordinaire and BITCHES SIN guitarist Chris Tsangarides. This man has worked with bands like JUDAS PRIEST, THIN LIZZY, GARY MOORE and ANVIL to name but a few. This time he plays the lead solos in MORE 2012 and obviously, he’s doing that with great fun. Just listen to the fantastic axework in “Warhead”. This sounds like pure magic to me and MORE 2012 is really a fantastic live band. They have fun in what they’re doing and they really know how to rock their fans. “Rock And Roll” says it all in a nutshell. The musicianship is breathtaking and with Mike Freeland (ex-PRAYING MANTIS and also in KING’S CALL),they really have a great frontman in their ranks. They continue their set with “My Obsession”, “Road Rocket” and “Soldier”. Good, solid NWBOHM with a whole lot of power. “We Are The Band” has always been one of my favorite songs and today it still stands proud after thirty years. After “Scream”, we are treated to a little surprise. Since Chris has worked together with JUDAS PRIEST in a lot in the past, they crank out their very own version of the PRIEST classic “A Touch Of Evil”. I guess, it’s their loudest song tonight. “Way Of The World” is on next and before you know it, the final song of tonight has been announced, which is called “Atomic Rock”. This surely is another magical moment from the early days. Maybe it would have been nice, when the band had played “The Eye” too, which is one of my favorite tracks. But hey, you can’t have it all. I really liked MORE 2012 a lot and it has been the perfect warming up for the final band of today.
When we heard, that the headliners of the 2013 edition of the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival would be THE RODS, we knew that this would become something very special. THE RODS are great headliners and have a very rich past, in which they proved to be a very powerful band, in spite of the fact that they are just consisting of three band members. Gary Bordonaro, Carl Canedy and David ‘Rock’ Feinstein, the cousin of Ronnie James Dio. Need I say more? I guess not. This was also the band, that once had Shmoulik Avigal as their singer, covering “Nothing Going On In The City” of Hanneke Kappen’s WHITE HONEY and they were pictured with naked ladies many times. These wild dogs would make the party complete and nothing can stop them! Just look at the titles of some of their songs. These guys want to rock, nothing more and nothing less. It takes a helluva time to get the band on stage. David is still changing shirts, when they have to start their show and the hungry crowd starts shouting out ‘THE RODS’ to make them hurry up a little. Then Eggo decides, that the maniacs need to be entertained and an embarrassing but very funny striptease act follows. Yep ladies, the man goes full monty and some girls in the audience almost faint. Eggo seems to like the attention though and Carl Canedy almost wets his pants overseeing this whole ridiculous situation. Then the time is right and Paul and Eggo (yes, him again!) climb the stage to announce the meanest threesome from the USA, the wildest dogs from the other side of the ocean, the guys, who were born to rock: THE RODS!!!! What a surprise THE RODS kick off with “Evil In Me” from David’s solo album. The three guys are making wild moves to make their show a lot livelier. “Devils Child” and “Let Them Eat Metal” get the party going. Each song is easy to sing along to and in no time an ultimate metal party is created. “Born To Rock” continues, which is made to shout out loud and I also decide to stretch my vocal cords. The next song “Hurricane” is quite well-known too and fans of the band are in for a real treat, because THE RODS jukebox is driving at full force tonight. “Get Ready To Rock” shows that the band loves to make the right moves at the same time. It’s a wonderful sight and it can only be done by the best in the scene. Their sound isn’t affected by the dance moves at all and with “Night Lives To Rock” and “Violation”, they continue their strong performance. Then it’s time for Carl Canedy to show his skills during a drum solo. At some point, things get pretty hectic in front of the stage and for a moment I think that David is ready to pull the pull and disappear backstage to never come back again. That would be a real disappointment and I’m glad that the people in front of the stage finally see, that the band is ready to leave, if they don’t behave. However, THE RODS forget one thing. How can you act normally, when THE RODS are on stage? After all, they also come to party, right?? I think, that some maniacs would like to climb the stage and sing along with the band, but I guess that THE RODS are just not the band to do that. Anyway, after the crazy drum solo, it’s time to be “Burned By Love” and we also hear the title track off their 1983 release “Wild Dogs”. After “Waiting For Tomorrow” there’s another sing along moment in “Too Hot To Stop” and “I Just Wanna Rock”. It’s just plain simple to sing this and it works like hell. The roof is on fire, when their victory ride continues with “Hot City” and “Cold Sweat And Blood”. “Devil Made Me Do It” is on next and after that, it’s time for another magical moment: THE RODS present their new single. I told you before, these guys like big tits and naked women and they even wrote a song about it. That’s what rock and roll is all about. Don’t be ashamed, just say what you feel. You could feel offended, but then I think you’d better join the church choir instead. The artwork of the new single is presented and even the artist, that created this masterpiece gets a short moment of fame, when he’s asked to enter the stage. The Belgian artist Eric Philippe looks a little bit uncomfortable, but the artwork of this new single looks mighty fine. For a moment I’d hoped, that the band would announce Hanneke Kappen for a guest performance during “Nothing Going On In The City”. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen, although she still performs this song live in a more jazzy setting though. After all, this classic comes from her hand. WHITE HONEY recorded the song a few years before THE RODS discovered it and made it their own. This is the moment for me to let off some steam again. What an awesome track this is! On we go, towards the end of the show with “Crank It Up” and the ultimate highlight “Power Lover”. What a great show! A golden opportunity of Bozzy to book THE RODS. One more time they plug in their amps and for the very last encore they crank out “I Live For Rock And Roll”, which is a true statement indeed.
We’ve had a real blast and I guess, that we can be proud of these magical moments we’ve experienced here today. Our thanks go out to the organization for giving us some true metal power and of course all the great bands, that made this festival possible. It was good to see, that Aardschok finally found our festival as well. Robert Haagsma seemed to have a good time in Amstelveen and as far as I’m concerned, he received the virtual trophy for the best shirt of the evening (VARDIS – “100 m.p.h. Live” logo). It is fifty-two weeks, until the next edition of the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival will kick off. We definitely will be there. Don’t miss it, because you will never witness so much true heavy metal craziness in Holland anywhere else.
*Written by: Toine van Poorten/December 2013
*Photos by: Rita van Poorten/www.metalmaidens.com