KEEP IT TRUE XI - 2008

* November 15, 2008 *

INTRODUCTION

For this time only, the KIT festival took place at the Posthalle in Würzburg. At first, it was scheduled at the Soundpark Ost (formerly Rockpalast location), which fell through for unknown reasons. That's why we decided to stay at an hotel in Würzburg for once. We were quite lucky to arrive at the Posthalle very early. Later on that day, people wouldn't be able to find a suitable parking space, while we could park the car only a three minute walk away from the hall, next to the station. Well, enough travel information for now, because the main reason we came to Würzburg was to attend the eleventh edition of the Keep It True festival....

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

KEEP IT TRUE XI: METAL SHOCK
Posthalle, Wuerzburg, Germany

One final change on the bill: FORTE cancelled their show and they were being replaced by CAST IRON. More about that later on in this report. But before the festival really took off, we first had a good look around on the metal market. And we immediately reported to the merchandise tables to buy some of the latest Keep It True goodies. There’s a limited double LP on sale, which contains the live recordings of the tenth edition of the festival. And for the real connoisseurs, there’s a very limited amount printed on red vinyl as well. Furthermore, you could buy the DVD of the previous festival, which is a ‘must’ to every true metal fan.
It's still early in the afternoon, when HELLHOUND from Japan kicks off. I think, it's the first time, that Keep It True has a Japanese band on the bill. It would be nice to see LOUDNESS or BOW WOW here one day as well, but who knows what the future might bring? HELLHOUND originally started their career as an EXCITER cover band. However, their music has got nothing at all to do with those metal gods from Canada, except that it's also true to the bone for that matter. The band is dressed up in denim jackets with patches, they constantly take sturdy poses and their lyrics deal with metal, warriors and more of the well-known topics, that a lot of legendary metal bands like to sing about. In case you're searching for a good reference, I would go for METALUCIFER. Not only do they come from the same country, they definitely go for the same poses and almost the same type of lyrics. Songs like "Metal Zone", "Samurai Warrior", "Rock Like Hell" and "Metal Warrior" are very easy on the ear. With "Metal Psycho" and "Warriors Of Rising Sun", they also give a small preview of what to expect from their new album, which is scheduled for a release in March 2009.The album will be called "Metal Fire From Hell" and judging by the reaction of the audience, this was a nice opener of the eleventh edition of Keep It True.
CAST IRON from Finland is next on the bill. According to their MS page, this is their first ever German gig. They replace FORTE, who had to cancel their gig unfortunately. Apparently, bassist Rev Jones had joined MOUNTAIN and will be on tour with them at that date. I’ve never heard of CAST IRON, but one thing’s for sure. The band seems to be heavily influenced by German pirate rockers RUNNING WILD. They look like their heroes and somehow they also sound like their heroes. However, songs like "Out From Hell", "Sudden Danger", Like A Hammerhead","Hearts Of Ice" and "Preacher Of Evil" are quite okay and sound less cliche, than you might expect. At the end of the gig, we are in for a nice surprise as well. Former RUNNING WILD guitarist Preacher joins the band on stage to play two songs, namely "Genghis Kahn" and "Victim Of States Power". This stirs up a joyful reaction by a lot of fans in the front rows. For the average non-German metalhead, it was just nice to see this German metal icon live on stage again.
TIMELORD is also a new name to me. They come from North Virginia and the band was founded back in 2005. Their music contains some elements of progressive metal here and there. It's difficult to compare them to other bands in that same genre, because their music has got a face of its own and it’s not easy to describe. But the first impression wasn’t bad at all. Songs like "Sirens", "Cult Of The Dead", "Dawn Of Dissent" and "Sparks Of Rebellion" are all taken from their debut album. A second album is also in the making, but none were played here tonight. It would have been nice though to get a pre-taste of some of the new material here, but it wasn’t meant to be. Anyway, TIMELORD really did convince me this afternoon.

FAITH FACTOR on the other hand is one of the bands, that I’d really been looking forward to see at this edition of K.I.T. And they seem to be having a real blast from the very first notes on! Their mini album 07/07/07 was already a good fore taste of things to come. Their debut full-length album "Against A Darkened Sky" had just been released as well, but I hadn't heard it yet, when the band started their show this afternoon. Vocalist Ski is the Christian equivalent of Rob Halford and FAITH FACTOR brings a positive message. Not that I have any problems with that. It's the music, that counts. People will probably know Ski as the former singer of DEADLY BLESSING, who played here once before, but this show would definitely mark the release of "Against A Darkened Sky". The band opens with "Prayer Warrior". Their set is a mix of the new album and the mini CD. Absolute highlight for me is a ballad, called "The Angel And The Butterfly". Another interesting fact is, that FAITH FACTOR wrote a song exclusively for this festival, called "Keep It True". It's a tribute song to the true heroes in the heavy metal scene. I think, it’s dedicated to the first time, that he played in Germany with DEADLY BLESSING. What a great way to thank the organisers of this festival! FAITH FACTOR was in killer shape from the beginning until the very ending and Ski regularly tranformed into another costume. The last song was supposed to be a big surprise. On the other hand, the man just could not leave without playing one DEADLY BLESSING song! The only question is, which song would he pick tonight? Then “Deliver Us From Evil” starts and the crowd goes beserk one more time. Of course, they want more, but when the lights go on, everybody knows that it’s really over. At least, we’ve seen the light this afternoon. I reckon, a lot of Christian bands play some high quality music and FAITH FACTOR is no exception to this rule. They can be considered of a very successful part of this (sometimes) underrated metal style.
Another band, that I have been waiting to see again is the Danish metalband EVIL. I have seen the band at club Dynamo in Eindhoven (NL) already in the roaring 80s. We really didn't have a clue about the current line up of the band, nor what to expect from the set that they were about to play. Kim X (Mas) - the guitarplayer of 1984 - is still part of the band, that's how far my knowledge goes. And it seems, that the original drummer Freddie Wolf is part of the reunion as well. Plans for a full-length album are there, but let's just focus on the show of today. And to be quite honest, I have mixed feelings about EVIL. I still think, that Kim X (Mas) is a very good guitarist. But the band looks more like four individuals, who are on stage by coincidence and playing the same songs at the same time. There was no unity whatsoever and I didn't see a real band. Despite this minor detail, they play all songs from their mini album "Evil's Message" and some songs are taken from their demos, like "Son Of The Bitch" and "The Devil Wants Me". In "Take Good Care Of Your Balls" (in the a 80's, it was still a serious matter to give a song such title!), the band added a small part of "Balls To The Wall" (ACCEPT), just to get the audience fully involved, I think. Not a stunning performance, but on the other hand not a disappointing one either. EVIL was just a nice band to see again. Before we went to Germany, we already looked at the running order to plan a small diner break. And the best part of the day to do this was during the second Danish band on the bill; ARTILLERY. So we missed a very big part of ARTILLERY. One must eat, it's as simple as that. When we return to the hall, we only see the last two songs from their set, next to the first three songs that we did see, when Rita was still in the photopit. Not really enough though to form an honest opinion about ARTILLERY. Better luck next time.
TOKYO BLADE is on next. I have seen the band many times before in Holland, and in Belgium at the Heavy Sound Festival. Those were the days. To be honest with you, I didn't even know, that TOKYO BLADE had reformed and that they are back together again. Until I saw their name on the bill of the festival. It came as a big surprise to me. As long as they play the old stuff, I'm in. Andy Boulton is the only survivor from the old days. And that's a good start, because the man plays some very fast and mean guitar, I can recall. The rest of the band members don’t ring a bell to me. The songs they performed however were great. "Night Of The Blade", "Midnight Rendez Vous", "Attack Attack", "Death On Main Street", "Monkey's Blood", "Lovestruck", "Lightning Strikes" and "Dead Of The Night" are a few points of recognition. Highlight however is "If Heaven Is Hell" from their debut album. And to my big surprise, they also play the RAINBOW cover "Long Live Rock & Roll". Good choice, but I would rather go for a song like "Powergame" for example, which is my personal fave. The fact, that it’s like a dream come true to see a complete old school show was already calculated before the band took the stage, and so I wasn't disappointed at all. Drop the cover song and stretch out your set with another fifteen minutes, and you'll get a good impression of what TOKYO BLADE is all about in 2008. A solid rock band, that still delivers the goods! Better not compare them to the early days, because the ‘new’ bandmembers don't have the flair yet, that the old line up did have. But this could change fast, when they gain some experience on stage throughout the next months/years. The NWOBHM part wasn't over yet though. TOKYO BLADE was only just the beginning...
GIRLSCHOOL’s on next and man, they really blew me away! Even after thirty years of existence, they still sound very fresh. This is probably because the songs were very well chosen. A good mix of the hits, mixed with a few new songs from their brilliant new album "Legacy". And with this new album, they show the world, that they are still alive and kicking. And it's definitely one of their better albums, which you can easily compare to best selling albums like "Hit & Run" and "Demolition Boys". The show of today was far better than their gig in Uden, a couple of weeks before. Everybody looked quite healthy and the voice problems were history. The band kicks off with "C'Mon Let's Go", "Not For Sale" and "Hit & Run". Just to heat up the audience a bit. "I Spy" is taken from the new album and where Ronnie James Dio sings some guest vocals. This time though, Enid Williams is on her own now, but she knows the drill and turns this song into a huge succes tonight. Enid developped herself more as a singer, and I think this a good point because she really has a singing voice that fits perfectly well to the sound of the band. Time for some old school stuff again with "Screaming Blue Murder" and "Future Flash". "Everything's The Same" is a newcomer in the set of 2008, but the audience is ready to go wild with every song that GIRLSCHOOL plays today. The remaining songs are all classic material, starting with "Yeah Right". It brings me back to the good ol’ days and this feeling is only getting stronger, when they continue with "Race With The Devil", originally written by THE GUN. "Demolition Boys" and "Emergency" really are the very last ones for tonight. And GIRLSCHOOL receive a standing ovation. To me, they have become the true heroes of this whole festival in a way. Yes I know, FAITH FACTOR was perfect as well. But will Ski still be able to do this after thirty years? Anyway, the crowd goes wild and GIRLSCHOOL has to return for one more encore. The ZZ TOP classic "Tush" is the very, very very last song of tonight. Maybe "Tonight" would have been a nice choice, but this doesn't change my point of view. GIRLSCHOOL played a killer show tonight and I think, that everyone agrees that it was one of their best shows ever maybe.
The band clears the stage for Nasty Ronnie Savage now and for the people, who don't like the Florida thrash sound, there is a TV set on stage to watch the sitcom of tonight…. The show of NASTY SAVAGE isn't as well-oiled as the show of GIRLSCHOOL. It isn't even fluid, it's more like Ronnie makes up the setlist by himself during the whole show and all the band has to do is to follow his example. And today it’s like Ronnie is testing his memory, because a lot of the songs come from the band’s debut album. Including great songs like "Gladiator", "The Morgue" and "Metal Knights". But we also get to hear songs like "Witches Sabbath" and "Stabbed In The Back". And slowly Ronnie is getting mad at the TV set. And I think, that this is what a lot of fans are waiting for. I really don't know, what this guy has against television sets, but boy, he sure lets off steam when he sees them. Starting with the fantastic song "You Snooze, You Lose" off the "Abstract Reality" EP. You can guess, what's about to happen. Ronnie, who already performed a striptease for the ladies, is now showing us some Sumo wrestling with a TV set. People, who can't stand blood, need to look away in the last two songs, because…ouch!!!! These TV sets do hurt a lot, when they end up on your face. Ronnie is pissed and he won't stop the show, until the TV set is completely damaged. With his bare hands of course. In the meantime, the band is still cranking out the most evil riffs and most of the fans know, that Ronnie Galetti will need another song to complete the demolition of his TV set. And this song is "XXX" (or like we all know it "Tripple X") from "Metal Massacre VI". What a great seclusion of tonights performance. But next time you don't like what you see on TV, just push the 'off' button instead of destroying my brandnew set. When Ronnie leaves the stage, he leaves behind a bloodmark on the backdrop of the stage. He didn't have enough blood to sign it with 'Nasty Ronnie was here', but result is exactly the same. Maybe it's a shame, that Ronnie doesn't wear all his armor anymore, including a face mask. This would have made the whole old school show complete. But besides that, there was nothing else to wish for and we did have a great time!
Now we only have to wait for the headliners, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, who would close the festival. And again the organisation has promised us an old school show, so I really look forward to seeing this Arizona based band on stage again. I must admit, that I am not really a huge fan anymore, but I still have very fond memories about their debut album "Doomsday For The Deceiver". And with the title track of this album, they start off their show. Maybe it wasn't a complete old school show after all, but still the level of old material was much higher than you'll hear at an average FLOTSAM AND JETSAM concert. Even "N.E. Terror" was on the setlist tonight - a song that, according to the band, was not played in fifteen years. It’s followed by "Fork Boy", an odd cover song by MINISTRY. "Escape From Within" and "Hammerhead" are very much old school again, and in fact so is "Saturday Night's Allright For Fighting". This last one is a nice rock and roll song, originally recorded by ELTON JOHN, which can also be found on the band’s debut album. So it's very much part of an old school set indeed, but it may be categorised as an odd choice to play in a way. Where's "Flotzilla"? Where's "She Took An Axe"? The set closes with "Iron Tears", YES, a real classic in my book. However, the time is ticking away and at midnight, the hall should be silent. There is a catholic holiday on Sunday and so the party has to be over by then. Okay, one more song then for old time sake, but with "I Live, You Die", there comes an end to this eleventh edition of Keep It True.
It’s over before you know it and from tomorrow on, we'll be counting the days before the twelfth edition will take place. One thing will change though… Starting with K.I.T. 12, the festival will become a one year event only, held in April and lasting for two days. Bands, that I see on the new flyer however show us, that we're in for another great event! DEJA VU, IN SOLITUDE, ASKA, MELTDOWN, ATLANTEAN KODEX, MILITIA, EXUMER, RUTHLESS, TYRANT and ABATTOIR. For people, who support the underground scene, it is a dream bill. A lot of bands on this list, we have never seen live before and many bands will see the European continent for the very first time in their life. Winners of today were FAITH FACTOR with their overwhelming performance and GIRLSCHOOL, who sounded like they were reborn today. Keep It True is by far the most interesting festival in Europe (or in the world). I hope, they can continue this formula for many more years to come, because there are still a lot of bands on my list, that would be usuitablr on their bill in the future. The next edition is on April 24th and 25th in the good old Tauberfrankenhalle in Lauda. Be there!!

*Written by: Toine van Poorten/March 2009
*Photos by: Rita van Poorten

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