It's always great fun to be at the annual Heavy Metal Maniacs festival. Many different music styles pass by and everything is very well organized. Unfortunately, HELL FREEZES OVER from Japan and the Belgian female fronted NIGHTQUEEN cancelled their show. Their replacements are even better, I think. JURASSIC PARK from Holland is a real crowd pleaser and NWOBHM legends SACRILEGE have never disappointed us in any way. We sadly missed the first day of this two days event. Dutch hard rockers HARBOUR OF SOULS kicked off this warm up night. German promising newcomers HAMMER KING were on next and BULLET from Sweden closed on Friday and they did a splendid job, so I'm told. .

The second day of our very first festival after one and a half year of lockdown in Holland felt pretty naturally though. When we arrived at the P60 on Saturday, it was already pretty crowded outside. The three floor building has got a restaurant on the bottom floor, a bar and toilets on the second floor and the actual stage is on the third floor. Not long after our arrival, the festival starts with one of the longest lasting Dutch heavy metal bands, BLACK KNIGHT. The band was founded back in 1982 and they are still going strong. Original drummer Rudo Plooy is one of the organizers of the festival and the band recently published a new album, called "Road To Victory". The show of today contains a nice surprise at the end and they kick off with "Story Of The Day", which is directly followed by the title track of their new album. For those, who came to hear the new songs, are served really well, because five out of nine tracks are taken from the new album. They match very well with the old material of the band. The JUDAS PRIEST / PRIMAL FEAR type of songs contain double leads and high- pitched vocals and above all, it has a fast, firm and steady beat. In "Warrior", Rudo's drum skills are highlighted with a short drum intro. Just before the band announces "Primal Power", singer David Marcelis makes a special announcement. He will be leaving BLACK KNIGHT and for this special show he shares the mike with new frontman Patrick van Maurik, who will take over his duties from now on. Patrick was once the singer of MONTANY and REVIVER and he has got a great voice as well. I think, the fans of BLACK KNIGHT will be relieved that the band has found a very suitable replacement for David, who has been fronting the band for about four years. It's great to hear "Primal Power" with two singers tonight, a unique happening. Another unique moment is when the band plays their last song "The One To Blame" with the help of two female background singers, which is a real fine addition, in my opinion. What a great opener of tonight's festival. BLACK KNIGHT never really disappointed their fans with their powerful sound and dynamic shows.

I must admit, that I was not familiar with the next band, ROADWOLF from Austria. They were already formed in 2011 and now the hungry wolf is ready to attack the Dutch crowd. This blood thirsty band takes the public by surprise. The wolf is back in our country and I'm glad to see that ROADWOLF has found its way in the Netherlands, too. Their true metal power is being presented here tonight with eight songs. Starting from opener "All Hell Is Breaking Loose" until set closer "Roadwolf", I hear only winners and no fillers. Bass player Aigy takes care of the higher vocal parts, while in "Curse Of The Gypsy", he stands in the spotlight with some stunning bass licks. Not only the hell is breaking loose right from the start, but the audience is facing some exciting moments, when vocalist Franz Bauer brings a real wolf on stage. It's time to "Unleash The Beast" and it won't take long before this vicious predator breaks the chains and disappears from the stage to wander around the venue appear and scaring the shit out of the people sometimes. Fortunately, nobody got hurt, but there were some frightening moments for sure. What a great gimmick! ROADWOLF surely is a name to remember and I think that after tonight they gained a lot of fans in Holland. They won my vote for sure as very surprising newcomer.

I don't have to introduce JURASSIC PARK to the Dutch metal fans, because this band has almost reached the cult status for their amazing live shows over here. The band contains members of DEAD HEAD and STRANGER, but also two former members of FRANKENSTEIN. Dutch metal adepts will surely know enough by now, as FRANKENSTEIN is not only the name of the vicious monster from the black and white horror movies, but it's also a cult name in Dutch metal history, believe me. JURASSIC PARK mixes rock covers with own penned material, but in a way that once you've heard their version, you don't want to hear the original version anymore. Opener "Ready To Rock" is the perfect way to start off the show, because these guys are always ready to rock. With "Storm Over Holland", they play one of my personal favorite songs from the FRANKENSTEIN days. Vocalist John doesn't just attack the public with his countless jokes, however he also handles a carbon dioxide gun to brush this misty gas over the crowd. It's the first time this actually doesn't work very well, but later on in the show the whole crowd is being sprayed with gaseous carbon dioxide, which is a real trademark of these guys, besides their amazing songs. Today the audience is also treated to some new material, like "Sixpack" and "Hard Drivin' Man". For this last song guitar player Berthus uses a see through BC Rich guitar with green neon lights on the side. The song introductions are sometimes rather hilarious, yet the high quality hard rock songs make this show to another unforgettable moment. Berthus regularly swings his arms along the strings, like only Pete Townsend (THE WHO) could do this. All men play on ten tonight, however JURASSIC PARK cranks it up to eleven. "Kick Ass" has become a true crowd pleaser and it's time for the audience to shout along. The carbon dioxide gun works properly now and John even lies down on stage, when he needs this to hit his target right between the eyes. Their exciting show closes with a personal blessing of the public with a toilet brush and a rocking version of STEVIE WONDER's "Higher Ground", which many true rockers will know from the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS. JURASSIC PARK may possibly never reach world fame, but to me this was another master class in hard rock: one which is soaked in beer and sweat, like a true rock show should.

The highlight of this festival would be NWOBHM band SACRILEGE, as far as I'm concerned. Ever since the moment I heard that they would replace NIGHTQUEEN, I was delighted to see the band live again, after a couple of times in Antwerp a few years ago. This band shows up well in a live situation and perhaps even better than on CD. Unfortunately, there was a slight chance that they wouldn't be able to make it on time tonight, because there was a huge delay at the channel tunnel. However, about half an hour before they hit the stage, they entered the hall and got ready for action. And action is what we will get tonight. The set consists of the best of horror oriented, blasphemous NWOBHM material starting with the intro "Death March 666" / "Dragons Den". From there on, you won't be able to escape the claws of front man Bill Beadle and his guys anymore. Newcomer Paul Macnamara (ex-SALEM) easily found his place in the band and in the ranks of this marvelous band. Prove is given when he shows some mind-blowing guitar parts tonight. Their show is a sequence of highlights for me. Bass player Jeff Rolland is not only well known for his stunning bass parts, but he's also responsible for the maniacal laughs at the end of one of my personal favorite songs, "The Court Of The Insane". I think, we also have to pay some attention to the man in the back, drummer Neil Turnbull (formerly in the NWOBHM cult outfit DERVISH). He sometimes wears a rubber mask to disguise him as the devil or even a wolf. Must have been extremely hot on stage, but he's keeping the rhythm straight despite all these amazing disguises. "Bring Out Your Dead" and "In Hell" are both receiving a good response from the crowd and another public favorite is being played with "Rock 'N' Roll With The Devil" / "We Gotta Get Outta This Place" / "Pandemonium", that's three songs in one! The knock-out punch comes from "I Can Hear The Silence". I'm down, the counting starts, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, and I'm totally knocked-out by SACRILEGE. What the hell happened here in the past hour? What an absolutely fabulous show!

One more to go before the headliner will hit the stage. BUTCHER is hailing from Belgium. They turned the letter T in their logo upside down and so it's a reversed cross now. Not a band for the faint-hearted, which you can tell right from the start. R Hellshrieker's face is marked with blood, when he enters the stage with a microphone in the shape of a diverted cross. "45 RPM Metal" is the perfect opener for a speed metal band, that plays on double speed and double loudness or so it seems. AH Wratchylde (bass) and Max Mayhem were both in EVIL INVADERS, another important speed metal band from Belgium. It's almost impossible to move to the front of the stage, because early in the set of these speed monsters, it has already turned into a huge mosh pit. "Ïron Bitch" and the song with the incredible title "666 Goats Carry My Chariot" turn this place into a sweaty metal chaos. The biggest surprise is, when the band cranks out a cover of MANOWAR's "The Oath", which receives a massive BUTCHER make-over. This show has been the welcome piece of XXXL-energy that this festival really needed. The young fans creating a mosh pit and the older metal heads like yours truly watching them from a distance with a big smile. I'm definitely getting too old for that. I loved the music though, which is perfect to be butchered by and I can really recommend it to you all. Great to see all the young fans go for a drink, soaked in sweat after this show.

In between the bands, there is never a dull moment and we met a lot of old friends, that we didn't speak for a long time. Among them are band members of Dutch heavy metal giants, like MARTYR, HAMMERHAWK, SAD IRON, BRUTAL OBSCENITY, ABYSS and ANGUS to name a few. Deejays Frank (or should I just say Knarf) and his lovely assistant Diana took care of the music during the breaks and they both did an excellent job. I've seen SORTILEGE twice until now and the last time was only two years ago, when they played at the Keep It True festival in Germany. They performed there with an extra singer (Lynda Basstarde of FURIES), who helped out original singer Christian 'Zouille' Augustin. And to be honest with you, that show didn't have that magic touch of tonight or when they played in Holland (Kaatsheuvel) in 1984. Today however they take revenge with a mind-blowing gig. Recently, the band released a brand new album , called "Phoenix", on which they play old songs in the new line-up, compiled with two new songs. And these new songs are being played in tonight's show as well. They start this French metal attack with "Marchand D'Hommes". The French language is no limitation to the enormous joy and satisfaction that this band provides you with their live performance. After "Civilisations' Perdues", it's time for the first new song, which is in fact the title track of the new album "Phoenix". Clearly, nothing has changed musically and I cannot tell the difference with the older material. After that, there's a salvo of three of my personal favorites, namely "Chase Le Dragon", the amazing ballad "Délire D'Un Fou" and the fast "D'Ailleurs", that will shout your balls off for sure. Which I actually did and what will explain my higher voice now. After stunning versions of "Majesté" and "Cyclope De L'étang", there's another new song, called "Toujours Plus Haut", which is also on the new album with reworked classics. And all these classics are being played tonight, like "Amazone" and "Gladiateur". After "Mourir", the show is over and SORTILEGE will leave the arena with its head held up high. Of course there is room for one encore with the one song we've all been waiting for, "Sortilège". It's played in an absolutely mind-blowing version. Chapeaux, gentlemen! This really was an amazing show. One small detail here though. I really missed "Metamorphose", which is the title track of the second album. Anyway, the festival has come to an end. What a splendid night it was. I hope to be able to join the party again next year.

In closing, we would like to thank the organizers of the Heavy Metal Maniacs Festival and everyone at the P60 for another great night with true metal mayhem. It's been a great party, which ended much too soon. See you all next year.

*Text: Toine van Poorten, December 2021
*Photos: Rita van Poorten/www.metalmaidens.com

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