Friday, September 20, 2019

P60, Amstelveen (NL)

The yearly Heavy Metal Maniacs festival is always a real treat, because you know that you will get to see some interesting names, that aren't playing on every corner of the street. This year there's a good mix of the leading Dutch metal and some international heavyweights of heavy metal. There are two minor remarks regarding the location of the festival though. The festival is two days (Friday evening and Saturday) and the fees for the parking garage are extremely high in Amstelveen. Also, I'm still not too fond about the location, the P60, to be honest. The previous venue in Hoorn was a lot more pleasant, but that's a personal opinion of yours truly, which may not be shared by everyone, who is reading these lines. I know about the situation and why the Maniacs chose for Amstelveen, instead of Hoorn and of course I respect their decision. Although I'm not a member of the Heavy Metal Maniacs anymore, I feel that there is still a strong bond with the other maniacs. These guys and gals have their heart at the right place and they are devoted fans of the heavy metal genre, so I always feel like coming home in a warm bath with people that just want to have a good time. And of course the great names on the bill take care of the rest. So, welcome to my review of the Heavy Metal Maniacs Festival, edition 2019.....

The Friday evening starts off with a very promising band from Belgium, named SCAVENGER. That's ultra-cool, because our Belgian friends Eddy and Christine are travelling with us again this year. The bill is filled with four bands, that will surely please every metal head out there. There's true metal from Belgium, thrash metal from Holland, true metal from the US and some classic metal from the UK. It's always good to see some familiar faces and you have come to the right place in Amstelveen. When the lights go down, it's time for the first ear attack of the night.

On the debut album of SCAVENGER from 1985, called "Battlefields", you will hear a male singer on vocals. Unfortunately, vocalist Jan Boeken passed away and he is now replaced by the young blonde vixen Tine 'Lucifera' Callebaut, who brought new life into this band that was founded already back in 1982. Their thirty plus years of hiatus didn't actually make them one the most fruitful bands ever, but "Battlefields" can be marked as a real classic in its own genre. Obviously, the band will play the whole album tonight in random order. The intro tape brings us to CD opener "No Return". For the die-hard fans of the band, it might be a bit odd to hear the songs from the CD sung by a female vocalist now. On the other hand, if you are a die-hard fan of the band, you've probably seen them many times before, because SCAVENGER's name can be found on the bill of many metal festivals throughout Europe. "Vengeance", "Free" and "Ready" are next and the band sounds fresh and exciting. Influences of BITCH, CHASTAIN, TAIST OF IRON, ACID and good old WARLOCK might be obvious, but SCAVENGER also reaches the same high level of these bands. They are very good in what they are doing and Tine knows to involve the public very well in their show. The devil laughs on his throne, when "Devil's Answer" starts off. The band is full of energy and I guess it's always a difficult task to be the opener on a festival like this. Still, they stand proud and give the full hundred percent and more, which deserves a lot of respect. "Heartbreaker" (not the LED ZEPPELIN tune!) and "Into The Fire" (not the DEEP PURPLE song) are next up. Nope, SCAVENGER didn't come to play covers and their set consists of only self-penned material here. All of the sudden there's a warning coming from the nuclear alarm system and the sound of air raids resounds through the venue. We are at the "Battlefield" and there's no escape or turning back. SCAVENGER closes their fantastic metal show with "Rock Fever" and "My Ears Are Ringing". I must say, that I'm positively surprised, although I knew upfront that they wouldn't disappoint me. Tine is a great singer and with songs like on the "Battlefields" album, you can't go wrong. What a great start of this evening.

The second band is our Dutch pride OVERRULED, a band that stands for the highest possible level of thrash metal in our country. Their album "Hybris" has just been released and received some rave reviews. They are playing the whole album here tonight, except for "She-Devil", which is left out and this will be completed with their best song ever, in my opinion. The boys are ready to kick some ass and they kickstart their show with "Pawns Of War" and "Burning Bridges", just like on the album. These two teeth kickers are followed by my personal favorite OVERRULED song, "Faster, Harder, Louder", directly followed by "Lust For Power". The old school thrash metal of the band sounds flashing and very fast and they leave almost no time to breath in between the songs. It's full speed ahead or nothing at all and that's the way we like it. "Hybris", the title track of the new album, is next and it shows that OVERRULED has got full control now and they kill with power. After a short take on instrumental, called "Purgatory", "Follow His Order" continues after that. The next song "Run For Your Life" is a golden oldie, which also appeared on the EP. It's another highlight in my book. OVERRULED really knows to impress with their fast riffs and I'm sure that fans of the old school thrash metal scene, like MEGADETH, SLAYER, ANTHRAX and old school METALLICA did have a great time here tonight. They finish their set with "Losing Sanity". I guess, that the next step of these guys might be touring abroad somewhere. Hopefully that will happen soon, because they sure know how to entertain a live audience. I hope that "Faster, Harder, Louder" will be on the next album, but for now I have to run to the nearest hospital, because I think that I just broke my neck. I guess, that banging your head like a mad man is not for me anymore and maybe I'm getting old? Thanks guys for another great show.

GLACIER was one of the biggest surprises on the bill. The band could be classified as a cult name in the US metal scene, because of that amazing five track LP, which saw the light of day in 1985. It's just a couple of years ago, since we saw the band perform live at Keep It True with vocalist Michael Podrybau. They were being announced as DEVIL IN DISGUISE, named after one of the songs on the EP, but they played as GLACIER a full GLACIER set in the end. And the same was about to happen again here tonight. When they take the stage with "Ready For Battle", I feel the shivers running down my spine for the second time. This is GLACIER in full glory and this song brings back some great memories. "Devil In Disguise" follows directly thereafter. Needless to say, that the full EP will be played here this evening, expanded with some songs from demos and later work. They even surprised everybody tonight with some recent work as well, like "Eldest & Truest", which will possible be on the new album or EP, followed by the opener of the first EP, called "When Heaven's At Hand". Michael's voice is very powerful and the band still sounds very tight. It's a great pleasure to see them perform in our country. I feel very proud about that. We already heard "Live For The Whip" at Keep It True and it was good to know that the song maintained in the set for tonight’s show. "Eastern Guns" is a lesser known song and "Sands Of Time" is also rather obscure. I know it from an instrumental version, that I found on You Tube and this song was released in 1985, by the way. The only song I didn't know was referred to as "Night" on their playlist. The show closes with "Speak No Evil" and "Vendetta" and both are from the well-known EP. GLACIER left me behind in a flabbergasted state of mind. Did this really happen right in front of my eyes? I guess so. GLACIER destroyed the P60 and I'm glad that I was part of it. After this glorious ride, there's one more band to play here tonight, which is OLIVER DAWSON SAXON. Michael will show up every now and then in the P60 after tonight, but then armed with his camera to take pictures. Thank you, Michael and GLACIER for a fantastic show.

I guess, it's very difficult and perhaps even impossible to get SAXON on the bill of the Heavy Metal Maniacs and to put OLIVER DAWSON SAXON there was a very wise decision. These rockers play the old stuff of SAXON and the band consists of two original members, just like SAXON, so in my opinion this is the closest you can get from the original line-up. Steve 'Dobby' Dawson on bass guitar and Graham 'Oli' Oliver on lead guitar have been members of SAXON in their most successful years. When they left, SAXON just isn't the same anymore. I guess, many people will not agree with me here, but this is my own personal opinion. The set of tonight is filled with fourteen tracks or actually fifteen, because one song floats into the other. They start off with "Rock 'N' Roll Gypsy" and Gavin Coulson and Graham Oliver share equal solos through the night. It's a real treat to hear all the classic songs. Vocalist Bri is a very enthusiastic singer, who also handles the mike for SEVENTH SON. "Strong Arm Of The Law" is next and I think that it is very cool to hear those songs, that you seldom hear in the other SAXON outfit. One of these songs happens to be one of my personal favorites, "Frozen Rainbow", that is next up. The song structure is so great and it is awesome, that they play it tonight in the P60. Of course the songs are really perfect to sing along to and we all know them by heart, like the amazing "Denim And Leather", which deals about the unity in the heavy metal fan base and community. Walking around at the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival, I feel that the unity is still there. During these two days, I simply couldn't get away because before I reached the stairs, another someone that I haven't seen for a while pulled my shirt or my jacket and another talk or music related discussion followed. "Hungry Years" is another long forgotten gem, that you seldom hear these days and it's unbelievable but true that you still remember all the lyrics to this song almost forty years later. And what about "The Eagle Has Landed"? Cleary, this was some kind of progressive sidestep of SAXON back in those days. Besides that, it actually is an anthem with an amazing mid piece, in which the eagle came crushing down with white lights on it. Today, there's nothing of any show effects at all here, because it's the music that counts. It's a victorious show because the fans love what they see and hear. As a good front man, Bri knows to play the audience very well and they shout even harder than before. And the band gives the full two hundred percent. "Dallas 1 PM" could be marked as a public's favorite for sure. It's good to see Graham and Oliver doing this together so well. They really give it all and the next song "Crusader" is another crowd pleaser. It's a song about warriors and all the maniacs are warriors who like to throw their fist in the air and shout along to the lyrics of this classic. "747, Strangers In The Night" receives some vocal assistance from the crowd. Almost forty years after these songs were released, they still stand tall and SAXON easily belonged to the cream of the crop of the NWOBHM scene. If you still can categorize the band as NWOBHM is open for discussion. However, one thing is for sure, every devoted metal head has got a little bit of SAXON in their DNA. "Princess Of The Night" continues and the guitar solos still sound as sharp as a dagger. I always liked Oliver's guitar sound more than that of Paul Quinn. This was the golden tandem once, unbeatable together with Murray and Smith of IRON MAIDEN and Downing and Tipton of JUDAS PRIEST. One of the highlights from those days is "Motorcycle Man", a fast basher with some flashing solos. Then it's time to sing along to "Wheels Of Steel", which is another classic asking for audience participation. It's combined here tonight with "Devil Rides Out". The band remains a very nice walk down memory lane in my book. After all, the first five albums of SAXON are timeless and essential for every true metal collector, plus there's that brilliant live album of course. Most of the songs tonight are taken from these albums and I'm glad that I've seen this split off from the more well-known version of SAXON. Graham Oliver is still a hero in my book and he proves that he still can play the solos like in the old days. "Power And The Glory' continues and I raise my (empty) glass high for OLIVE DAWSON SAXON. What a wonderful gig, guys. A gig that is closed with the song about the SAXON show at Castle Donington in England, "And The Bands Played On". Two big heroes from the past have been playing on stage in Amstelveen tonight and I think that they were a very worthy headliner indeed of the first day of the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival. Day two will be much longer and we're ready for it. It will be another blast. Oh, before I forget. It seems to become a tradition for the Heavy Metal Maniacs to climb on stage during one of the performances and the stage of OLIVER DAWSON SAXON was invaded by the Maniacs near the end and they loved it. The band and their friends were united on stage and this can only happen with the Heavy Metal Maniacs. Don't you forget it. What a blast to see all these fans go wild to their favorite music!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

P60, Amstelveen (NL)

Day two starts with a band, called SPACE VACATION. To be quite honest, it didn't ring a bell to me, but that changed, once the band climbed on stage. On guitar I see a rather familiar face, Kiyoshi Morgan, who once played with VICIOUS RUMORS. I must have missed them along the way. I have to admit, that after hearing a few songs, I was quite surprised in a positive way. The first three songs are taken from their most recent album, "Lost In The Black Divide", which is two years old now. They start off with "Live By The Sword", followed by "Roll The Dice" and "Save Your Breath". Their catchy rock sounds very well and you can tell that the band has got a lot of experience. After all, they have released four albums in their eleven years of existence. "On The Road" is one from their album "Heart Attack", released in 2012, a rather old song, so to speak. It sounds a bit rougher, too. They continue with "Reign In Hell" and "The Black Divide". The guitar work of Kiyoshi is very cool and their metal sound is easy on the ear. Obviously, SPACE VACATION really made a good impression on me. "More Is More" is next and the eldest song of the band is saved for last with "Keith's Sister" from their debut album "Space Vacation", released ten years ago. A good opener on the second day.

It's still very early, when LOVELL'S BLADE has to climb on stage. The organization has shaken and stirred up the time table and pushed HIGHWAY CHILE a bit higher on the bill. The open space that was left behind, when FIST cancelled their show was filled up by Pete Lovell and his men and a well-deserved move. LOVELL'S BLADE has got two great hard rock albums to promote and his band is in good shape as always. The only minor detail is the early hour, on which they have to play. But Pete is a pro that won't take no for an answer. He will always give the full hundred percent and sometimes a little bit more. Like today, when the band starts their show with "Dynamite", and five sticks of dynamite explode on stage. These guys simply don't go for second best. "Legend In A Day" is one of my personal favorites and to my surprise it's very early in the set today. The song is hammered into your brain from the very first notes on and it may stay there until the rest of the evening. "Devil's Daughter" continues and the first three punches come from that fantastic debut album. However, the band has also got a second album to promote here as well. And from that album "The Nightmare Begins", they will play "Take The Long Way Home". "Gonna Get Rough" is also taken from that album and it has that nice old school metal feeling. It's one of my favorites from this second album. "Slipping Away" is on next and it's nice to see that both guitarists are getting equal shares in the lead parts. After "Against The Grain", another highlight and sing along tune is next with "Rollin On". The crowd knows exactly what to do, no instructions needed. "Nothing But The Truth" follows next and I think that the Heavy Metal Maniacs can be glad that LOVELL'S BLADE were able to fill the gap on such short notice. The opener of the new CD "Make My Mark" will continue the solid live show of this well-oiled machine. They're "Out For Blood" and that's their last ear attack this afternoon. It's a shame that FIST cancelled their show, but LOVELL'S BLADE sure made up for it big time!

It's a nice surprise to see RUTHLESS on the bill of the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival. It was ten years ago, when the band blew me away at Keep It True. Some line-up changes occurred since then, but their music remains to be one the purest US metal, that you can think of. They released a new album not long ago and it's this album, "Evil Within", that they are about to promote here. Seven, out of the nine songs, will be played here tonight. It's a great way to make the audience familiar with your new material. On the other hand, the crowd also wants to hear the old songs and I'm afraid that they have to wait for that a bit longer. First there are three songs from the new album, starting with "Cryptic Ruins", "In Blood" and "Atrocities", before the golden oldie "Gates Of Hell" comes along, which was not only on the "Metal Without Mercy" EP, but also appeared on the "L.A. Steel" sampler, released in 1986. Title song "Evil Within" follows after this classic track. "Defender" is the next song the band cranks out and it's the opener of their previous album "They Rise" from 2015. All the albums of RUTHLESS have such beautiful artwork, which already urges you to buy it without having heard one single track. The fans of true US metal already have a good idea of what the new album is all about now and they get more with "Death March", "Storm Of Souls" and "Skulls". However, the best is saved for last, when RUTHLESS returns to the early days with stunning versions of “"etal Without Mercy" and the public's favorite "Discipline Of Steel". A great show, where Michael Podrybau showed up again, only this time as photographer. "Discipline Of Steel" is the perfect show stopper and it was truly amazing to see RUTHLESS on stage here in Amstelveen.

We will start with our final conclusion for a change and that is, that HIGHWAY CHILE is the big winner on Saturday for sure. 'Rock 'n' roll is better than music' has been their slogan for many years and can't argue about that. When they start their show with"HIGHWAY CHILE Is Coming To Get Ya", they received a very warm welcome from the excited crowd. I think, this is just what the public needed. They want to have a good time with music that they know and HIGHWAY CHILE delivers that for many, many years already. "Carol" is definitely one of the crowd's favorites, because they can sing along to it and that's exactly what happened here. HIGHWAY CHILE is taking a barrel of whiskey on the road to every show and they are beaming it up with heavy metal rays. It will sure make the booze more tasteful. Their booze is fueled with metal, as they sing in one of the new songs, that has been written for the occasion, but tonight they're not playing it. The eleven songs for tonight however is a real treat to all maniacs out there. "Keeper Of The Earth" is another great song, in which the band shows their high quality. "Fever" invites you to sing along and don’t we all get the fever, when HIGHWAY CHILE is on stage?? As a matter of fact, you will get two bands for the price of one on stage, because HIGHWAY CHILE doesn’t only play their own material but they also play some HELLOÏSE songs in the fifty minutes time that they have on stage. "Gates Of Heaven" is the first one, and it isn’t even a quarter past eleven. "Going Blind" is a golden oldie again, before the band will treat us to yet another HELLOÏSE song, called "Hard Life". The enthusiasm of the band reflects back to the public and for sure everybody is having a great time. The next song is a real surprise. It's "Poison", taken from the "Keeper Of The Earth" album. Then another classic from the early days goes by (well, at least in my book, as I've always considered myself a real headbanger!). "Headbangers" is one of those true classic metal songs and a tribute to every die-hard heavy metal fan from all over the world. Oh, my poor neck. I guess, I'm getting too old for this, but I will never let the band down. The final track for tonight is "Dreaming Of Heaven", from the album "Keeper Of The Earth". HIGHWAY CHILE proved to be the right band, at the right place, on the right stage. And I'm sure that their barrel of booze is metal infused after this amazing gig. I got myself some chickenskin, gansenhaut or kippevel all the way from front to back. Just call it whatever you want. I just want to call it a damn good performance. I love this band!!

BLIND ILLUSION is next on the bill and I have to admit that I didn't know the band that well, until I saw them live at Keep It True in Germany last year. They impressed me a lot and I'm really glad that they were invited to play at the Maniacs festival. I don't know their songs by heart, but what I do know is that these guys play true metal straight from the heart and they do that for a long time. Founder Mark Biedermann has formed the band in 1978, which is already forty-plus years ago. Obviously, you can expect all kind of music styles here this evening, ranging from pure heavy metal to many different sidesteps. The band's great sense of humor on stage may not be missed, as they operate as friends as well as a band. Their whole gig feels like one spontaneous jam, where Biedermann takes charge and he also knows exactly when and which strings to pull at the right moment. He's an amazing guitar player and he is an absolutely friendly guy, who knows what he is doing. Next to Mark, they have Doug Piercy in the band, who played in bands like HEATHEN, ANVIL CHORUS and ANGEL WITCH, a natural talent by all means. Clearly, this gig is one that you won't forget that easily, because BLIND ILLUSION really nailed it. From opener "Vengeance Is Mine", "Slow Death" and "Metamorphosis Of A Monster" to "Death Noise" and "Kamikazi", their songs are all pure metal and entertainment in one. The band has got power, they spread a lot of energy and there's never a dull moment around. The guitar players are going into battle with one another and trying to surprise the audience with yet another fiery guitar moment and they succeed very well with that. "Lucifer's Awakening", "Race With The Wizard" and "As The Crowbar Flies" are on next, which are aren't two a penny by judging from the song titles. Seven out of twelve songs have been taken from the "Sane Asylum" album from 1988 and of course title track "Sane Asylum" is not left out either, which is combined with "Blood Shower". The LED ZEPPELIN cover "Immigrant Song" sounds truly amazing and the final song is called "Ice Sage", which is from their "2018" EP. Afterwards, the band reserves a lot of time to team up with their fans at the back of the venue and I think that they have gained a lot of new fans for life after tonight. It may have taken a while, but I'm convinced that this band is really amazing and their live shows must be seen to believe it.

It was a crazy festival weekend with some amazing local and international bands. The good interaction with the audience made HIGHWAY CHILE and BLIND ILLUSION the absolute winners of today and it would be a very difficult task for ROCK GODDESS to beat these excellent performances. When you think back of the early days when ROCK GODDESS first played in our country, you will probably remember, their support shows with IRON MAIDEN in 1983. Those were the days. "Satisfied Then Crucified" from their first album is the opener of tonight, so this is already good for two bonus points. Actually, six out of nine songs from the new album will be played here tonight and the first one is called "Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right". I must admit that the old GODDESS songs are more catching, but these new songs are very heavy. "Back Off" is taken from their 2017 EP. Personally, I would have opted for "It's More Than Rock & Roll", which comes closer to the old material. However, they throw in another oldie after that with "To Be Betrayed". The interaction with the audience is left to a minimum and only then they can push in fifteen songs, including one encore. Newcomer Jenny Lane is a good bass player and she seems to have earned her spot among the Turner sisters very well, which is good for her. ROCK GODDESS is going for gold and everywhere they are playing, they receive a high spot on the bill. It was only a natural thing to be the headliners at the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival, I guess. "Are You Ready", which is the opener of their most recent album "This Time" is answered with a big 'yes'. The maniacs are always ready to rock. Old and new tracks take turns and after another oldie, called "Start Running", it's time for "Flying To See You". "It's My Turn" is a new song, before going back to the good old days with "God Be With You". The interaction might be short but the band rather lets the music do the magic. Obviously, a song like "Hell Hath No Fury" simply can't go wrong and "Hold Me Down" is another one from that same album. As far as I'm concerned, they could have played the first two albums back to back, which would have been amazing, but I know that is not going to happen. Unfortunately, the venue slowly becomes empty, which is a shame. The next song is "Calling To Space", which is the single and taken from the new album. I would have opted for "My Angel" or maybe even "I Didn't Know I Loved You 'Till I Saw You Rock 'N' Roll", but they probably want to promote the new album as much as possible. "Drive Me Away" is on next and the final song for tonight is "Heavy Metal Rock 'N' Roll" . One more time, the crowd goes insane on this heavy metal classic. These three heavy metal ladies have matured a lot throughout the years and they still know how to rock a crowd like this. There is still room for one more song, which is the encore "Back To You" from the debut album, released in 1983. After the show, we went to the merchandise table to have our picture taken. It's a shame, that they didn't have a copy of their new album on vinyl. I believe, there was only one available.

The festival was a real blast again, the bands were interesting and we had a great time. Next to some cool music, it's always great fun to hang out with our long lasting metal friends and there's never a dull moment with the maniacs. One minor detail is that I would really like to have a good food truck at the P60 or something like that, because it's very difficult to eat something close by during the evening. Otherwise I can only say thumbs up for the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival. See you next year, but then in (R)october! \m/ Our thanks go out to the Heavy Metal Maniacs for making this review possible and for having a great time at this well-organized festival. It was again a real blast, boyz and galz!

*Text: Toine van Poorten, March 2020
*Photos: Rita van Poorten/www.metalmaidens.com

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