* April 28-29, 2017 *

As usual, I am rather late with my report about Keep It True. My daytime job forces me to write during the weekends or late in the evening. However, it’s always so much fun to bring back those great memories from the best metal festival of the year. We’re already looking forward to Keep It True XXI in 2018, which already has some very interesting names on the bill.
Well, let’s focus now on the anniversary edition in this extensive read and look back at the amazing weekend in the southern part of Germany. Of course, your opinion might be different than ours, but this is our personal view on the twentieth anniversary edition of Keep It True. Happy anniversary and hopefully, there will be many more editions after this one.
It’s the eighteenth time, that we attend the festival. We missed the very first edition and somewhere down the line, we also didn’t attend the seventh edition in 2006. However, every time we are as excited as the first time, that we came to Lauda-Konigshofen. Which bands are we going to see this time? Who is on the bill for the next edition and how are all our friends doing? Yes, you can almost talk about one big family, because some people I see more often than my own family. The Keep It True fans are a true family, they act like one and they enjoy their music loud and proud, every year. Some things have become a tradition, like getting up early on Thursday to travel to Germany and joining our good friends Eddy and Christine at our b&b and have a short break, before going out to dinner. We always drive via Aachen. This may not be the obvious choice, but just along the German border, our other good friend Gerrie is already waiting to join us on our travel to Lauda. When the fivesome is complete, we go for a nice meal in the neighborhood. To be honest, this part of the weekend is always the first highlight. Many stories are being told, some great memories are shared and we look forward to the two day festival at the Tauberfrankenhalle. This year we decided to go to the pre-party as well to be able to have a short chat with some ‘family-members’ and band members, that would probably show up there. When we arrived in Dittigheim, the party had just started. The music is always good and after a few hours we decided to go back to our b&b for a good rest. And another tradition is a short stop at the Tauberfrankenhalle to take a look at the bill for 2018. At the end of this review, you’ll see some names of bands, that have been announced these past few months. If that isn’t a cliff hanger, then I’ll eat my hat.

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Tauberfrankenhalle, Lauda-Königshofen, Germany

The first day is always a meet and greet with our metal family, after enjoying a good breakfast at our b&b in Lauda. You’ll need it, because the next two days will be very busy. Last year, there were some issues with the ticket sales, which created a very long queue outside. This time there wasn’t a queue, because we were re-directed through the separate tent of the metal market. Was this any better? Probably not, because the queue had moved to the metal market now and blocked all the salesmen there. Once the row was moving, it went quite smoothly, but this was not a good solution, according to many people. Maybe it would be a good idea to receive your wristband at the pre-party or a place outside the hall during the day until eight in the evening or something. But hey, this is only a small suggestion and I’m not in charge or whatever. However, I would like to state here, that I’m not bothered at all, but these topics are keeping a lot of fans busy. After another very warm welcome by Manuela, we arrive at the venue and we immediately go to the official merchandise stall to buy a copy of the DVD from the previous festival. It’s very crowded, because the tickets for the next edition are being sold here, too. At the right side of the line, there’s a bit of space and very soon I am holding the DVD in my hands. My next stop is to go upstairs and say ‘hi’ to Bart Gabriel and buy some CD’s from his stall. After a short look at the clock, we realize that we even have spare time to pay a (too) short visit to the metal market. Not to stand in line again, but to spend some money. More handshakes are given there and I see some real great stuff, which will make every hardrocker or metalhead happy. This is the Valhalla for everybody with a good filled wallet. Some records are quite valuable, but hey they’re worth every penny. When arriving back at the venue, I am quite flabbergasted when I see the enormous crowd of people trying to get themselves a ticket for next year. Later that day, they even put some fences there to get the queue better organized. Another hot topic on the list of Oliver and Tarek, I guess. I think, that the only solution would be to sell one ticket per person, but hey little do I know. The topic about the ticket sales is hot on the internet though and that’s why I’d like to spend more on this matter. On Ebay, a regular ticket for the 2018 edition has been sold for almost four hundred Euros. I really don’t think that Oliver and Tarek get a good feeling by this and it’s certainly not what they aimed for, but what can you do about it? Anyway, enough said and it’s time to have a look at the nineteen bands, that have been playing on the twentieth edition of the festival of all festivals. Keep It True kicks off and we are ready to rock. Enjoy your read of the musical part of the festival, which starts here.

The festival starts off with a very nice surprise. Actually, we’ve been looking forward to seeing this band live from the moment that they were included on the bill. SATAN’S HALLOW hails from Chicago, Illinois and they’re fronted by Mandy Martillo on vocals. The first time we were being introduced to this band was by means of their two track demo tape. It was released on cassette earlier this year and will take you back to the golden days of the 80’s, when buying and trading tapes was common sense. What a gorgeous idea to release this! I think, that many people will agree with me, because the cassette (tape) is making a giant comeback in Holland and Europe. Maybe we can even call them one of the trendsetters of this comeback and if not, it’s still worth mentioning here. Anyway, their self-titled debut album was released on the same weekend as K.I.T. and I think that the first copies were sold out real quickly afterwards. The band is the perfect opener to kick it off at Keep It True, in my opinion. And what other place would be more suitable doing your CD presentation, other than here? A piece of cake for these American metal heads you would say, but there’s still one thing, the band has to deal with. They will not be playing here today with their original guitarist and they have a stand-in guitar player instead. SATAN’S HALLOW look very confident on stage and they have a good sound. After an instrumental intro, we can enjoy the great vocals of Mandy, who is a very skilled singer and front lady. She interacts with the crowd really well and besides that she is a good performer. “Reaching For The Night” and “Hot Passion” are on next and slowly the venue is getting more crowded with people that have obtained their ticket for next year. “Satan’s Hallow” continues, which is also the album title and I think that the horror type of lyrics and the firm metal riffs are an excellent combination here. It’s hard to compare them to CHASTAIN, especially since LEATHER and her band are also playing here this year, but CHASTAIN could very well be a giant influence to them, next to more traditional metal bands, like IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST. “Black Angel” and “Movin’ On” are giving the show a real boost and the reaction of the crowd is very positive. I am really glad, that this show worked out so well, as we had some high expectations about this band. We even did an interview for Metal Maidens at, so check it out, if you like to know more about SATAN’S HOLLOW. “Still Alive” and “Beyond The Bells” are next on list and the band closes their forty-five minutes performance with a song called “The Horror”, which has that dark horror ingredient to it, which makes this band just a little more special. In closing I must say, that the stand-in guitar player Briant did an excellent job here today. SATAN’S HALLOW impressed me a lot and we will definitely hear more from this great American metal outfit.

WYTCH HAZEL is next on the bill and this band also had to deal with some line-up troubles. They had to play without a bass player. He lost his passport and had to return back home. I like their album “Prelude” very much and I’m glad that they got a place on the Keep It True bill. Their music is a bit hard to describe. It’s a mix of rock, NWOBHM, folk and epic and medieval influences. The guys are also dressed up in some kind of medieval outfit. They look like white knights to me. It’s the music that counts though and the band starts their show with “Freedom Battle” and “Fight”. Most of today’s songs are taken from that debut album. The song after “Proclaim” is unknown to me. The skills of the band are undeniable of a very high standard and the audience is rewarding it with loud yells. Their music may not be easy on the ears for everybody and this is probably strictly for connaisseurs. “He Shall Reign” is another heraldic epos, that the crowd absorbs pretty easily. “Surrender” and “More Than Conquers” are next, after which the band introduces themselves neatly by means of “Wytch Hazel”. By then, the band has the public firmly in their grasp. The triumph is theirs and all they have to do is to close their victory ride with “We Will Be Strong” and set closer “The Truth”. If you are open-minded, this has really been a fantastic gig, especially when you take into account that the drummer of WYTCH HAZEL, Jack Spencer, is almost blind. Even more respect for someone, who does something that I couldn’t even do without his handicap. I raise my sword for this cool hero, that has made their victory ride even more glorious because of that. Both thumbs up for WYTCH HAZEL!

In the early days, MAJESTY was a regular visitor on the bill of Keep It True. After a few years this tradition was gone, but on this twentieth anniversary edition it’s good to have them back on stage. Their stardom has risen over the years and Tarek’s metal outfit can be seen as a German equivalent to MANOWAR. Their lyrics and song titles point in that direction. And even the stage outfits and stage poses point in that direction. Let me be clear with you, I am fine with that, because I love MANOWAR (especially their first albums are amazing!!), so I was quite anxious to see MAJESTY on stage again. And there would be a special guest appearance as well. They have a new album out, called “Rebels”, of which they would play one song this afternoon. They entered the arena like true heroes, including corpse paint and a full warrior outfit, ready to conquer the enemy and go into the war fields. It’s an uneven match, because they know upfront that they will win this race pretty easily. Otherwise they would “Die Like Kings”, which is a good opener, in my opinion. “Hail To Majesty” is next and in “Metal Law” the crowd gets a chance to sing along. The interaction with the public is good, showing that MAJESTY is used to playing in front of a huge crowd. They do many shows and of course this is a special one, but on the other hand it’s just one out of many gigs that they are playing. MAJESTY is an experienced band, which shows in their songs and they sound like a well-oiled machine to me. “Thunder Rider” is on next and the crowd is loving every minute of it. Oh, and did I mention already, that there’s a special guest as well? The two organizers of the Keep It True Festival, Tarek “MS” Maghary and Oliver Weinsheimer, team up together to play a song of the German metal band SHADOWS OF IGA. Oliver does the vocals in “Fight For Honour” and I must say that he does a good job. The first few seconds he must find the right flow, but once he has got it, he’s indeed the star of the show. Good performance, Oliver! Although the man isn’t too fond of being in the spotlight, this song was definitely his moment of fame here in Lauda-Konigshofen, on stage then. Behind the curtains of those twenty editions of Keep It True are definitely one giant moment of fame for him and Tarek. After his performance, he slips away to the backstage area and Tarek will take over for the last song. And what song would be more suitable other than “Keep It True / Metal To The Metalheads”? A great tribute to what this whole event is all about. I must admit, that I loved this show of MAJESTY a lot. They proved, that heavy metal is still very much alive and after all these years, it’s nice to see Tarek on stage again with his majestic outfit.

ATROPHY is really not my cup of tea. Many of you will probably disagree with me, because this is one of the bands that kept the heavy metal going back in those difficult years of the nineties, when grunge and alternative metal ruled the scene. The band didn’t release any new material after 1990, but they still have a large fan base all over the world. Twenty-five years later, they have been asked to play at Keep It True. No new album in their pocket, but a nice back catalogue of classic metal songs is enough to get the pit going in front of the stage. In the meantime, the band actually never split up, but they’ve been simmering, so to speak. I don’t really know if they ever played together during that period of time, but it sounds like they’ve been touching their instruments a few times, before climbing on stage here. Their performance sounds pretty tight, which is very important for a thrash metal band. “Urban Decay” is a great opener and the audience is focused right away, including yours truly. The band consists of good musicians and they play some pretty good music. “In Their Eyes” and “Socialized Hate” are on next and it’s good to see a hard working band making a good impression. It has been quite a while, since they toured Europe but their comeback has been worth waiting for. “Preacher, Preacher” and “Product Of The Past” are next up. All old school thrash songs are fulfilling the needs of the hungry metal crowd. “Chemical Dependency” and “Puppies And Friends” are next and I even know the lyrics. Obviously, they have been anchored in my memory, one way or another. The last two songs are called “Violent By Nature” and “Beer Bong” and I still remember those songs from the Dutch metal radio show “Vara’s Vuurwerk”, which sadly disappeared a long time ago. I must have played these recordings to death! All in all, ATROPHY played a killer show and their dynamic thrash metal songs impressed many thrash devotees at K.I.T. Hopefully, it won’t be that long, until they’ll get back and play more shows!

The transition couldn’t be any bigger with the next band. From these five thrash metal kings from Arizona to the more melodic heavy rock and metal outfit of Q5 from Seattle. You can say, that the band survived the grunge hype and I’m glad that somehow they didn’t jump on the bandwagon. They remained true to their sound, although they changed the bandname and the line-up every now and then. TKO became Q5, then became NIGHTSHADE and back to Q5 again and under the name Q5 they came to Keep It True for a smashing performance. It was quite a change, but Q5 is of course a band that made a terrific comeback in 2016 with the album “New World Order” about thirty years after the album “When The Mirror Cracks”. I must admit, that the first name that comes to mind when thinking of Q5 is Floyd Rose. I’m not a technical man, when it comes to guitar details, but if I’m informed right he invented the locking tremolo on guitars. So far the technical details, but Floyd is no longer a member of the band anymore and he quit in 1986, when they released “When The Mirror Cracks” and somehow fell apart. Half of the set today consists of material from the “Steel The Light” album, their debut from 1984. Besides that, they also played two songs from the aforementioned comeback album and three NIGHTSHADE covers, if you can talk about covers, as only guitar player Dennis Turner didn’t play in NIGHTSHADE. “One Night In Hellas” is a good opener, although we are far away from Greece (Hellas) right now. It doesn’t matter though, because I don’t think that the band has got a song that is called “One Night In Germany” to start with. Just kiddin’ here. Q5 came to rock and rock is what they will do. “Lonely Lady”, “Pull The Trigger” and “Missing In Action” follow next. The songs are easy on the ears and you can describe it best as a mix of AC/DC with a lot of melody to it. Obviously, the first songs are taken come from that magnificent album “Steel The Light”, which led to their immortality in the hard rock and heavy metal scene. In “Dead Of The Night”, “Situation Critical” and “Surrender” we also get a triple dose of NIGHTSHADE material, which is good for the fans, as there are a lot of NIGHTSHADE fans out there. And as far as I am concerned, they could have thrown in a TKO song as well for the older fans. After all there are two ex-members of this band here on stage. “Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady” is next and thereafter we hear “New World Order”, which is the title track of the band’s latest album. The reference I made to AC/DC relates to the song “Teenage Runaway” that gets a short sing along part to check out if the audience is still alive and kicking and they are of course. And if that isn’t enough, there is also some room for a solo spot for the guitar player. The show closes with “Steel The Light”, the title track of that world famous debut album. What a nice show, that brought back some melody to the Keep It True festival. For Jeffrey McCormack the show time isn’t over yet, because he will replace Ken Mary during the show of FIFTH ANGEL. The latest news about Ken is that he is about to tour with FLOTSAM & JETSAM. That’s really something different than FIFTH ANGEL, HOUSE OF LORDS or ALICE COOPER. More about that later on, now it’s time to see MEDIEVAL STEEL on stage.

I remember watching the live clip for the song “Medieval Steel” a zillion times, which was shot at Keep It True. That atmosphere and the Keep It True choir really makes the shivers run down my spine. That moment is what Keep It True is all about. Having a good time with friends and enjoying real heavy metal. No wonder, that Oli would have them back at the twentieth anniversary. It’s only four years ago, since the band was here in Lauda and in between they recorded this new album, called “Dark Castle”. From that album they play five songs, which is almost half of their set. Actually, this album is their debut full-length album, if you don’t count the compilations and EP’s that they released so far. It’s that first four track EP with the blood red cover, that has put this band on the map and that thunderous epic metal song called “Medieval Steel”, which is the anthem of the band and many fans in front the stage here. But we still have to wait another hour or so, before this song will be played. They start with “Battle Beyond The Stars”, which already shows the strength of MEDIEVAL STEEL. They know to catch the attention of the audience somehow and their songs are pretty easy on the ears. This song was also on the “From The Megavault” compilation album. “Powersurge” is taken from the “Dark Castle” album, which is the most recent material of the band. “The Killing Fields” and “Lost In The City” are on next. It proves, that Memphis is not only a blues city, but also very suitable for heavy metal bands. “Warlords” and “Echoes” continue and after that we are treated to a new song, called “Gods Of Steel”, which will possibly be the title track of the new album. A pre taster of things to come is always welcome. And what audience would be more suitable to try it out other than the Keep It True crowd? By seeing the reactions, the song was very well received. “Thou Shall Not Kill” is also a rather new song and the same goes for “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow”. I still have to get used to the new material, but I’ll probably adapt soon after hearing more often. One of the highlights today is “To Kill A King”, which is a trip down memory lane. The audience is shaping up their vocal skills, but first it’s time for “American War Machine” to waltz all over us. Then the moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally there. “Medieval Steel” will close the set today, which is a very wise choice, because nothing can top this monster metal anthem. The shouting, screaming, singing and people with their fists in the air, this will make everybody’s skin crawl. It’s one of those magical moments that can only happen here at Keep It True and on these holy grounds. Mission completed!

OMEN has been here many times before, but a band with their reputation could be on the bill almost every year and nobody would complaint. It’s the ‘Hammer Damage’ tour and the band is armed to the teeth to destroy them all. Singer Kevin Goocher has polished his warrior outfit and shows up in full gear to start with “Death Rider”. The first shivers are running down my spine. This is the way you want to see OMEN. They are here with a ‘best of’ set and playing to kill. “Last Rites” and “The Axeman” are next up and being unleashed at the hungry audience. “Up From The Deep” and “Ruby Eyes Of The Serpent” are other golden oldies and so is “Hammer Damage”, Kenny Powel grabs the opportunity to play a guitar solo at the end of the song. “Warning Of Danger” and “Hell’s Gate” are packed with the typical OMEN power. Kevin’s voice is in good shape and when the band starts “Teeth Of The Hydra”, the audience goes insane. There is only one song that will close this glory ride for OMEN and that’s “Battle Cry”. And this time we hear a very special version, because Kevin Goocher’s daughter joins in for some choir vocals. It’s really great seeing Kevin perform this duet with his beautiful daughter, but to be honest, this song doesn’t actually need something extra, to be special. This is one of those anthems, that every metal fan around just loves. Kenny keeps stepping forward doing his flashing guitar solos and with this song the fantastic OMEN show has come to an end. There is only one more slam in the face necessary for the knock-out punch, which is being delivered by “Die By The Blade”. This has really been another amazing show and they can leave the arena, holding their head up high.

Next is DEMOLITION HAMMER from New York. Sometimes I don’t really see the hype around bands. That they are on the bill is fine with me, why not?! But that they would be so high on the bill feels like one big question mark wandering around in my brains. I can’t recall that the band was that huge in the nineties and after an absence of twenty years, it has come as a big surprise to see them on stage here. There are plenty of bands though, that knocked me off my feet, when I expected it the least, like RIGOR MORTIS for example. So let’s get started with “Skull Fracturing Nightmare”. The sound of a loud ear attack made me step back a few inches. Their first two full-length albums will be starting point of their show and songs like “Neanderthal”, “Epidemic Of Violence” (the title track of their second full-length album) and “Infectious Hospital Waste” are next up. These guys don’t sing about parties and girls and making fun, as you can see. These guys are sick and they love it LOUD, brutal and gore at times. I guess, this band is far too loud for these poor ears and a little get together with our Belgian friends is the main reason to leave this band for what it is. The rest of the songs that they played are “Carnivorous Obsession”, “Crippling Velocity”, “Hydrophobia”, “Aborticide”, “Cataclysm”, “Human Dissection” and set closer “.44 Caliber Brain Surgery”, which is one of the very few songs, that I know. Nothing has been played from their third full-length album “Time Bomb”. When the last notes have been fading away and DEMOLITION HAMMER clears the stage, it’s the sign to get back in the venue to see the final band of the first day.

Another familiar band that showed their faces many times here in Lauda is MANILLA ROAD. They are about to play a special show, featuring their old drummer Randy ‘Thrasher’ Foxe. I’m ready for it. The show will be split in half, the first part is with old drum basher Randy ‘Thrasher’ Foxe and the second part is with Andreas ‘Neudi’ Neuderth on drums. Meaning that the first part contains a lot of old songs, while the second part is more like a ‘best of the rest’ show. That first part is something really special for me. I’ve never seen the band playing before with Randy Foxe. What is so special about him? Well, the man is not only a good drummer, but he also plays keyboards, sometimes at the same time. I don’t know of any other drummer doing that. In the eight songs that they are playing here tonight, you’ll see this happen several times. It’s amazing and it actually adds something to the show, in my opinion. The old and epic type of songs are also very special, because some of them are being played very seldom by the band. They start off with “Astronomica” and “Weavers Of The Web”. This is the way the band sounded like, when they started their career in 1977. Say what?! Yes, the band consists for forty years now this year. Being pulled from the very underground scene of Wichita, Kansas, they now kick ass as the headliners of day one here and they deserve every single second of this success. “Mystification” is on next, which is the title track of one of their releases that came out when the band celebrated their tenth anniversary. The driving force behind the band is, and will always be, Mark ‘The Shark’ Shelton, who wrote all these timeless songs that easily stood the test of time. Some people don’t get what he is doing, but I see him as a real genius. The show continues with “Dragon Star” and “The Ninth Wave”. During “Into The Courts Of Chaos”, we see Randy’s trick on drums and keyboards. It’s truly incredible how he does these remarkable tricks. I’m glad, that we’ll get to hear “The Prophecy” next, because this song was banned in South Korea. The last song of the first part is called “Haunted Place”, which is another fine example of the epic sound by MANILLA ROAD. A short break gives the crew the chance to change drum kits and settle in Neudi for part two. What follows next are the more up tempo tracks, which I’d like to refer as the ‘best-off’ part. The powerful bashes by Neudi sound different and a bit more up front in the sound than Randy’s drum parts. He plays very much in service of the songs. "Flaming Metal Systems” is a perfect starter and has a lot of power. “The Ram” and “The Empire” follow quickly afterwards and MANILLA ROAD are definitely ruling here tonight. In “The Riddle Master”, the well-known ‘lalalala’ part comes with some mind-blowing choir vocals of the crowd. It easily becomes one of the highlights of this set tonight. After “Queen Of The Black Coast”, we’re treated to another highlight that can’t be missed, namely “Necropolis”. The first day has come to an end with a stunning version of “Crystal Logic”. But as you would guess already, there’s no way that MANILLA ROAD will leave the stage without an encore. “Open The Gates” blasts at full speed with absolutely no compromises, but it’s not enough to satisfy the hungry metal audience. A second encore will be closing this party as “Masque Of The Red Death”, from the “Mystification” album, which celebrates its thirtieth birthday in 2017. Wow, what a way to end the first day of this twentieth anniversary event. The second day will be another jam-packed day with ten great heavy metal bands. Our batteries need recharging for tomorrow, but if you read on , you’ll see what happened on Saturday.

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

Tauberfrankenhalle, Lauda-Königshofen, Germany

It’s a good tradition to have breakfast together and go through the previous day. Who did we see, who did we skip and what to expect from the second day. You never know, because some acts never played here before. They just came out of their shelter for this special occasion to return into obscurity for the rest of their life. That’s the strength of Keep It True. You’ll get that one chance to see a band that probably will never show their face again or they just played a very special show for K.I.T. Sunday is also an opportunity to take a much longer break at the metal market. And today is a very special day, because the second edition of the Keep It True festival history book will see the light with a rendition of my wife Rita, who opened her personal archives and is very proud of that. I see a lot of obscure and rare albums and some outrageous prices. The original GRAVEN IMAGE EP “People In Hell Still Want Ice Water” has become a major runner up, next to the well-known MILITIA EP “The Sybling”. If I could pick one of these, I’d opt for MILITIA. Next to seeing loads of amazing stuff at the metal market, the day is also very special because of some special guests. Steve Grimmett of GRIM REAPER, who lost one of his legs in South America will show up for a meet and great. And also the two Wahlquist brothers, who were the founding members of HEAVY LOAD, will do a signing session.

The bill is jam-packed, which starts off with the Texas based band ETERNAL CHAMPION, that plays a rather solid rock show. They start with the intro “Ride For Revenge”, after which “Retaliator” follows. Armed with a real sword, the audience is being attacked by these Texan metal heads. More epic warrior stories are being told and the crowd’s response is huge for this band that proves they are here to stay. “The Armor Of Ire” is on next and by judging the crowd’s response, this is already a classic tune in the underground scene. “The Last King Of Pictom” continues, while “The Invoker” slows things down a bit. A dark, somewhat doomy atmosphere is being created. The crowd loves it and they are ready for some good stories about wars, battles, warriors, swords, knights and gladiators. “Sing A Last Song Of Valdese” continues, is another epic story. The final chords are from “I Am The Hammer”. Singer Jason Tarpey takes out his horn and starts to blow it and is calling out to the crowd, that ‘he is the hammer’. This was quite an impressive show and the day has just begun. It’s time to meet up with some people after this and hear what they’ve enjoyed yesterday. Then we also hear what some nitwits have done to several toilets at the camping space, next to the venue. It should be forbidden for little kids with an IQ of below fifty to get near such a cult event like this. Why destroy other people’s belongings? They don’t come to see the bands. They don’t come to enjoy the music. They just come to get drunk and destroy the goddamn place. Take my good advice and stay away the next time. We don’t need you around. Go and destroy your father’s place. Let’s see, if he likes this. The real Keep It True fans won’t miss you and in my opinion you are a disgrace to mankind and a huge pain in the ass for the organization of this marvelous festival. Some people will never grow up. Snot-nose kids!!

VISIGOTH is next and I think that they are one of the big surprises on day two. It couldn’t get any more true metal than this, I guess. The band of singer Jake Rogers is simply perfect. He looks mean and vicious and ready to attack the crowd and take them by surprise. Opener “Dungeon Master” is a killer tune, that is very well received by every headbanger in front of the stage. The main part of their set is taken from their only full-length release so far, which is called “The Revenant King”. The great CD artwork will make you reach out for it right away. “Mammoth Rider” is on next and “Vatt’ghern (By Steel And Silver)” is an unknown song, at least by me. Their heavy metal sounds so good, that it doesn’t matter if you don’t know all the songs or not. They have a few surprises for us today. “Blood Sacrifice” is another killer track, which made my thoughts go out to the DEEP PURPLE classic “Soldier Of Fortune”. With “The Beast” they crank out a RANDY cover. RANDY is a rather well-known heavy metal band from Denmark. And I remember that the band BACKSLASH also covered RANDY on the very last edition of Very Eavy in Holland, about a week ago, which is quite a coincidence, since RANDY never actually reached the status of bands like IRON MAIDEN, SAXON, JUDAS PRIEST or KISS, to name but a few. Anyway, their musical legacy remains, as you can see. For the last song, the vocalist of ETERNAL CHAMPION, Jason Tarpey, is called on stage to do a duet in “The Revenant King”. What a nice surprise and the two biggest eye catchers show us that they are having a blast on stage. Texas and Utah based metal blend together and prove that there is a unity between them. Together they stand strong and the same vibe is passed on to the people in the audience. We’re all here to enjoy the same music, no matter which country you’re from, we all stand together to support the bands here. Next is a standing ovation for these lads, because this was really an awesome gig.

The bill is telling me, that DEVIL IN DISGUISE is on next, but I don’t think that this name will ring a bell to many people out there. However, when I mention the name of GLACIER to you, I think that a lot of people will be pleasantly surprised. Former bandleader Sam Easley would have loved to be on stage here. Unfortunately, he died last year and we thought that GLACIER would never be on the KIT stage ever. Wonders will never cease at K.I.T. and not long after the dead of Sam, it was all over the media. The organization announced the news that original GLACIER vocalist Mike Podrybau was actually willing to play at Keep It True under the name of DEVIL IN DISGUISE and doing GLACIER songs. I think, this is as close as you can get to a band reunion. Many people would donate their left testicle to hear songs from that cult EP “Glacier” in a live content. No legs have been pulled out here and this is the real deal and exclusively at Keep It True only. Just visualize the name of GLACIER to upgrade the cult level of this band, that starts off with “Ready For Battle”, which is the perfect opener, in my opinion. “Devil In Disguise” is on next and it also explains where the name of the band came from. It’s named after one of the five songs that were on the EP. The band is in great shape and so is Mike’s voice. It’s really amazing to hear songs like “When Heaven’s At Hand” live on stage. But it’s getting even better, because as a matter of fact “Live For The Whip” is an unreleased song. “Vendetta” is next up and for me this is the highlight of the show. “Eastern” Guns” is next and I must admit that performances like that make Keep It True the cult festival that is today. For sure, you’ve been witnessing something special today that will be called a once in a lifetime experience in the future. The show closes with a stunning version of the only remaining song off the GLACIER EP, being ‘celebrated’ here with an amazing live show, which is “Speak No Evil”. To me, this felt like being at a GLACIER show and in my mind, it really was. I think that for some reason the moniker of DEVIL IN DISGUISE had to be used. To me, it was great seeing those guys rock the Tauberfrankenhalle in down!

And yet there’s another once in a lifetime experience on its way. Many NWOBHM bands have been on the Keep It True stages and many names are still on my wants list I guess, but nobody would have guessed that TRAITORS GATE would appear here one day. The band released one EP (just like GLACIER) and disappeared into obscurity afterwards. After a silence of thirty years, the band reformed in 2016 and play their first German show at Keep It True with new singer Sy Davies (ex-MAYHEM MESSIAH), who replaced Dave McLean early 2017. TRAITORS GATE will start their show with “Nothing To Lose”. The focus will be on EP of course and obviously, all three songs will be passing by. The EP “Devil Takes The High Road” was released in 1985, which is still a must have for the true believers. And the black and white painting on the cover pictures the devil on his horse. How awesome is that! During “Back Down” the band has to face some technical issues. After these problems have been fixed, these Welsh guys go for the throat in “Shoot To Kill”, which is also from the aforementioned EP. The feeling is different, when the band plays a couple of unknown songs after that, but I guess the new material just has to grow on you. “The Devil Rides Again” has to be the successor of “Devil Takes The High Road”. It’s strange, that the band didn’t play any songs from their current five track EP “Only The Strong”, that was released a few months after the gig. It would have been a nice try-out for them, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. “New Gods” is next in line and then another song from the EP, called “Love After Midnight” comes right after. These musicians prove that they can really play and as I’ve always had a soft spot for British guitar players, axeman Andy D’Urso of TRAITOR’S GATE is no exception to this rule. “Soul Destroyer” and “Here Comes The Night” are next and they finish off with “Devil Takes The High Road”. What a fine gig of yet another band, that I never expected to see live.

It’s about a week ago, that NIGHT DEMON invaded Stadskanaal, but I know for sure that this gig will be very different. Not in general, because the band always delivers the goods, every time and everywhere, but I bet, that they won’t play “Radar Love” this time, which was an exclusive song for the Dutch fans at Very ‘Eavy. These three US musketeers of true heavy metal are gaining immense popularity lately and they earn that like any other hard working band. Really every metal head is talking about them and it’s not strange that they appear here for the second time in a very short period of time. That’s what happens, when you do the things the right way. Frontman Jarvis Leatherby is a musical centipede, who is also the vocalist of JAGUAR and at the end of the day, we will also see him as the bass player of CIRITH UNGOL. The man has got heavy metal blood running through his veins. When he gets the sign to start the show, he puts the machine in fourth gear and starts pounding, pushing, bashing, banging, bumping and grinding, until the last notes are fading away. “Welcome To The Night” is a great opener. The first punch is worth a dollar and this is a smash with a crowbar, worth a hundred dollar. The audience is focused right away, the band is in control and you can’t escape from their grip. The band doesn’t give you time to breath in between the songs, and right after the opener it’s time to “Full Speed Ahead”, which is the right title at the right place and “Maiden Hell”. The compact songs just ask for a quick follow up and it’s the only way to push so many songs along in such a relatively short amount of time. Thirteen songs in forty-five minutes sounds truly insane and only THE RAMONES could break this amount. “Ritual” is taken from that first EP, that got so many people addicted to the band. And bands like that will have the future. These four songs (plus bonus tracks on the expanded version) have got the potential to turn this band into the next IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, BLACK SABBATH or any other huge band to headline the big festivals, if they keep their line-up together of course. Jarvis has only forty-five minutes and he has got so many miles to cover. From left to right and back and forth, from the drummer’s corner to the microphone, he’s here, there and everywhere and a living nightmare for some photographers (lol). After four or five songs, he has seen all corners on stage for seven times and still he cries out loud the lyrics to songs, like “Hallowed Ground” and “On Your Own”. The band is like a well-oiled machine and the reaction of the crowd makes them grow with every song. “Screams In The Night” is on next and during “The Chalice”, the band got a visitor on stage, their mascot. The skeleton with the dark hollow eyes stares into the audience, holding the chalice in his hand. Once you drink from it, the band will own your soul, so you’d better beware. “Dawn Rider” is next and then it’s time for the band’s anthem, “Night Demon”. This song has got the power and the vibe of (for example) the old school NWOBHM band JAGUAR. It’s truly amazing and certainly can compete with the many heavy metal anthems from the early days. “Darkness Remains” is the last song of tonight. The crowd however is so frantic, that the band throws in another encore after a short break, namely the IRON MAIDEN classic “Wasted Years” and rock the house down. What a great way to end your show and nobody can escape from the claws of this amazing Ventura based metal band!

ATLANTEAN KODEX are hailing from the northern forests of Germany and they slow things down a bit with their epic doom based metal. Will I be able to watch their whole show this time? Well, actually I did. Although I’m not really acquainted with their songs, I must admit, that I really liked it. The audience looks very familiar with their songs and many fans are going into a trance for the next fifty minutes or something. However, there’s a special event scheduled outside the venue at the same time: a signing session with Steve Grimmett (GRIM REAPER, LIONSHEART and CHATEAUX) and the Wahlquist brothers of HEAVY LOAD. In January 2017, an aggressive infection hospitalized Steve in South America and he lost his right leg below the knee, because of that. The expenses for medical care got running out of hand and in collaboration with the family of Steve and Keep It True, they’re raising some money here today. The fact, that he was here in a wheelchair, means the world to a lot of fans and many people go outside to shake hands with Steve and have their picture taken. Same goes for the Wahlquist brothers, who are visiting the festival for some kind of ‘mysterious’ reason. Isn’t HEAVY LOAD high on the list of every devoted metal head to play on this prestigious festival? They are on mine for sure, next to a lot of other bands, but seeing and meeting those Viking heroes here today is a very good start. Didn’t two members of CIRITH UNGOL also visit the previous edition of K.I.T. in 2016??!!?? Well, let’s go back to this anniversary edition. In the meantime, ATLANTEAN KODEX has started their show with “Enthroned In Clouds And Fire”, “The Atlantean Kodex (part 1)” and “Pilgrim”. These Bavarian metal heads have a large fan base and it must be really overwhelming for the band to see such an enthusiastic crowd at Keep It True. “Sol Invictus” continues and it’s quite clear to me, that ATLANTEAN KODEX has put down a wonderful show. “Heresiarch” and “Twelve Stars And An Azure Gown” are from the 2013 album “The White Goddess” and by judging the crowd’s reaction, it was a very good move to call them back after their show in 2014, which is in fact not that long ago. “The Atlantean Kodex (Part 2)” closes today’s show. This might be only their seventh song, but these lengthy doom tunes take up so much time but I like the way they do it. All in all, this was a good show by a great band.

LEATHER is another great chapter in the book of heavy metal. She would come and do a lot of CHASTAIN songs today. She already did a few CHASTAIN songs, when she was here with SLEDGE LEATHER back in 2011. Many people have gathered here to hear the old classic tunes and a few songs from her solo album as well. The only thing I don’t understand is why Mr. David T. Chastain wasn’t there. Why, oh why, doesn’t the man want to come over and play live? Well, I guess, we’ll never know. Fact is that Leather Leone is here with her own band and already during the signing session, she had a great time with her fans. Every now and then she jumps up, puts her fist in the air and supports the band on stage, which is NIGHT DEMON at that moment. When she gets on stage, there is a lot of power coming from the crowd. She starts her show with “Ruler Of The Wasteland” and the cauldron in front of the stage starts to boil immensely. You wanted CHASTAIN classics and that’s what you’re going to get. “Paradise” and “Chains Of Love” are followed up by “Black Knight”. LEATHER is full of energy and with “Shockwaves” she fires the title track of her solo album at the audience. This album is a real classic in my book, just like every CHASTAIN album. It’s a shame, that there never was a follow up, but you never know what the future might bring though. I think, it’s pretty cool to have her back on stage, because she is one of the very few metal queens in the scene. “All Your Neon” is next, which is also from her solo album. From there on, the CHASTAIN songs are the order of the day and the band does a great job. I will still keep a CHASTAIN show with guitarist David Chastain on my wish list, but this is as far as it can get, I guess. The fact that we hear “For Those Who Dare” and “Voice Of The Cult” live is pretty amazing of course. LEATHER’s voice is still very powerful and strong and although she moves around a lot on stage, she can still hit the notes right. Respect for this lady, who showed how a good, solid heavy metal show should sound. This is not only about a good song, but also a good presentation and dynamic show and that was just perfect. “Angel Of Mercy” is one of the final songs but the absolute show stopper is “The 7th Of Never”. There is not that much to wish for in the end. These timeless songs would have sounded very cool with SLEDGE LEATHER, but performing them under her own name is probably even better. I raise my fist and sword for this metal lady, who proved that she really is the ‘voice of the cult’, which is not strange because Ronnie James Dio is her biggest inspiration. You simply can’t go wrong there. Long live DIO, long live LEATHER.

The name of ASHBURY is on everybody’s lips, after playing here in 2015. Two years later they are on the bill again, but I was very glad about that, because their show was more than amazing. Before the first show happened, only a handful of fans knew about this band. Now they are playing here, there and everywhere. I wouldn’t even describe their music heavy metal. It’s more like hard rock and firmly rooted in the seventies. Just think of those days, when musicians could really play an instrument and they would not be fooling around with computer files to sound good. Their influences range from bands like BLACK SABBATH, JETHRO TULL, WISHBONE ASH and YES. There is a progressive touch to some of their songs and the instrumental parts are stretched out as long as possible. Let’s see, if they are able to impress me again, so much as they did two years ago. The line-up has slightly changed since that time, but as long as the Davis brothers are in, it will sound fine to me. The show starts right away with “The Warning”, which is one of my favorite tunes. And this is only just the beginning. The vocals sound warm and tender in the beautiful love tunes. The acoustic guitars give you the right feeling, but when the electric guitars start crying, the picture is complete. The band continues with “Take Your Love Away” and “Hard Fight”. The audience makes a choir and sometimes they sing along to the songs from the beginning until the very end. The shivers are running down my spine and I think that the atmosphere might be better than two years ago, mainly because they know all the songs and are more familiar with the band than two years ago. Songs like “No Mourning” are highly enjoyable and “Mystery Man” is definitely another highlight to me. The crowd knows all the words by heart and I feel like I’m in a musical heaven. I think, it’s one of their best songs. “Madman” and “Endless Skies” are next. My conclusion is, that this time the band has astonished me even more than the first time. It’s amazing to see how easily the band seems to play these songs and the fact that they’re having so much joy doing it, is even more fantastic in my eyes. “The Cold Light Of Day” continues and after that, the spirit of THE ALLMAN BROTHERS wanders around in the Southern rock type of song “Good Guitar”, where the guitar solos keep coming and going. “Faceless Waters” is being played for the very first time. The people love it and it matches very well with the rest of their material. The ultimate highlight of today is “Vengeance”, which is slowly becoming the highlight of every ASHBURY show. What an awesome song is that and the fans get the opportunity to sing along one more time. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that the Davis brothers realize how popular they are around here and don’t seem to understand the euphoria around them. Anyway, they’re just a bunch of fantastic musicians, that finally get the recognition that they earn so much for many, many years already. This has been another wonderful show by this band from Tucson, Arizona, that still needs to be discovered by many people out there. Website:

FIFTH ANGEL is a story itself. They recorded two magnificent albums and played just one show in their entire history. Tonight they will play their second show ever and guess what? both shows were actually played on the holy ground of Keep It True. How cool is that? And add to this, that sixty percent of the band is the original line-up from the “Time Will Tell” album. One of the missing links here tonight though is Ken Mary, who is touring around with FLOTSAM AND JETSAM. The drum stool now is taken over by Jeffrey McCormack of Q5, who played here yesterday. Ken Mary announced that he felt very bad about not being able to show up here tonight. When the band starts their show with “The Night”, I see a few people going insane. Although the band never played many live shows and only recorded two albums, the people are still into them a lot. “In The Fallout” and “Shout It Out” are next and the first choir vocals are coming from the audience. Singer Peter Orullian is from HEIR APPARENT and he does a good job here. One of the highlights of their show back in 2010, “The Cathedral”, comes very early, but the magical singing of the crowd is there again and I get goosebumps all over! “Seven Hours” is next, which is followed by another sing-along tune, called “Call Out The Warning”. Jeffrey is a good replacement for Ken Mary and what a lucky guy to be playing here two evenings in a row, instead of one. “Fifth Angel” is another classic from their debut album. The melody is never far away and the music of FIFTH ANGEL is in this context comparable to their mates of Q5. “Midnight Love” is followed by title track of the second album “Time Will Tell”. The guitars fight their duel and the magic is in the air is tangible. Here’s a band at work that must feel very sorry for not playing so much. They’re good in what they’re doing and some people in the audience say, that they should have been headliners. I won’t go that far, but I’m (again) very impressed. “Wings Of Destiny” is next and then it’s time to sing along with “Wait For Me”. After about thirty years, you still remember the words, as this music is timeless. “Cry Out The Fools” is from the same caliber, which is awesome beyond believe. “Only The Strong Survive” and “We Rule” close the show. I wouldn’t put it any other way and they made a true statement here. But it isn’t over yet. What has worked for NIGHT DEMON, works for FIFTH ANGEL as well. They’re playing the cover “Lights Out” by UFO as the encore of tonight. It’s on their “Time Will Tell” album. And once again they are making a statement. People, who were there, might know what I’m referring to. FIFTH ANGEL leaves the arena and the stage is being cleared one more time to make room for the ultimate headliners. The band, that everybody has been waiting for, for twenty editions long.

Since we’ve been visiting the Keep It True festival, a few bands are still on my wants list to play here one day or another. Many have been scratched away, because they’ve played here after a long wait. Tonight I can finally remove this cult band from my list, that has been there from day one. Having met Robert Garven and Tim Baker at the meet and great session last year, we finally would get to see CIRITH UNGOL live on stage. There are probably some people, who may think that the band is not that special, but if you take a look at the great fantasy artwork or hear their fantastic heavy rock songs, that are soaked in the sound of the roaring seventies, topped with that magnificent and very recognizable vocals by Tim Baker, then your heart will skip a beat (or two), whether you want it or not. CIRITH UNGOL’s name was taken from the Lord Of The Rings stories, long ago before someone had even heard of these Tolkien tales. They were far ahead of their time and once you saw one of their albums at your local record store, you were urged to buy it, just because of that amazing artwork. Even without having heard one single note, you were sold. At least, that is what happened to me. Their adventurous music made sure that this was the right decision to take the record home with you. Seeing the artwork and hearing their music just wasn’t enough and you were hoping that someday the announcement would come that the band would show up in your country to do a live show. But this didn’t happen, unfortunately. Many US metal bands didn’t show up over here, but also many NWOBHM bands didn’t make it across the pond. Now the time is right to make it all up to us. The waiting is over and after all these years CIRITH UNGOL will perform live in Europe. Before the show was on, we watched many You Tube videos to see what we could expect from them. Would Tim Baker be carried on stage in a coffin, like in one of these videos?? Two skeletons were being put on both corners of the stage. Let the madness begin. The “War Eternal” intro brings the five members of the cult outfit on the stage. They start their show in the dark with “I’m Alive”, which underlines the legendary status of the band even more. However, halfway through everybody is wondering if this was really the plan. Then it's evident that this is not a part of the show but a failure of the light show. I’m glad, that the music is still loud and clear, but the magic disappears a little, because everybody is focusing on the bad light and not the music. During “Join The Legion” it’s obvious, that the voice of Tim Baker isn’t any different than what we hear on the albums. It’s like time stood still. The rest of the band consists of Greg Lindstrom on guitar (ex-FALCON), Robert Garven on his mega drum set, Jim Barraza on guitar and Jarvis Leatherby on bass. One of my all-time favorite CIRITH UNGOL songs “Atom Smasher” is on next. I always thought it had some kind of a MERCYFUL FATE flow in it, which I liked a lot. I think that everybody in the audience will have his (or her) favorite CU song. During “Edge Of A Knife” some roadies are trying to fix the light, but the band is playing like there is nothing strange going on. That’s the spirit, the show must go on. A funny moment is when a big ladder is slowly moving from the right side to the back of the stage to the middle again. It looks like a Monty Python sketch and if it’s part of the show. After a few songs, the light is much better but it stays a pain in the butt. Anyway, let’s focus on the music again. The band is in a good shape and although the musicians are doing a great job, it is Tim Baker, who really steals the show. “Blood & Iron” and “Black Machine” are next and I think that Jim is doing most of the solos here. Drummer Robert Garven is surrounded by a big gong among his drum kit, which is a real eye-catcher. The high pitched KING DIAMOND type of voice of Tim shows up well in “Frost And Fire”, which is another killer track from the back catalog of this amazing band. Yes, this is definitely what we have been waiting for, so many years. Jarvis plays his second show today, but he’s still very energetic on stage, while the two guitar players seem to enjoy themselves without flying from one corner of the stage to the other. I think that if it wasn’t for Jarvis, we would have never seen this show over here in Europe. Both horns up for this super cool metal head and night demon. “Finger Of Scorn”, shows that the band has a progressive touch to their music as well. It breathes the sound of the seventies yet it’s still metal as hell. They build bridges between rock and metal. This is essential in heavy metal and right here on stage. A bit of RUSH, a bit of BLUE OYSTER CULT and a whole lot of gooseflesh, turn this show to a killer performance, no matter what other people say or think. “Chaos Descends” shows that Tim is having the time of his life. Every time he has to sing, he comes walking towards the microphone with his arms spread out, like he is flying in his own dream world. It’s simply amazing. “Doomed Planet” is the next song in line. These guys could look into the future, so it seems. The planet is doomed and they just knew it upfront for a long time. The show, we’ve all been waiting for, has slowly come to an end with “Chaos Rising” and “Fallen Idols”. Despite the problems with the light, I have to say that CIRITH UNGOL are the well-deserved winners of the festival and the highlight of this edition of Keep It True. A dream come true for those, who were there. The people, who missed it, will have another chance to see them at the Hammers Of Doom festival and probably many more appearances in 2018. The last song for tonight is the title track of their fourth album “Paradise Lost”, an album that has been re-released this year. A standing ovation and after this song the band leaves the stage. The twentieth anniversary can’t stop now without an encore of the ultimate headliners. There are still a few songs on my list, but I can cross off all of them, after they’ve finished the encores, which starts with “Master Of The Pit” and “King Of The Dead” next. I remember seeing a live video of this song, in which Tim Baker is carried on stage in a coffin, but now he’s standing right in front of me, laughing, singing, enjoying himself and having the time of his life. The album is re-released with a couple of live songs and an enhanced live DVD. It’s all too good to be true. The five lords of the rings kindly introduce themselves at the very end with the self-titled song “Cirith Ungol”. When going through their back catalogue afterwards, I didn’t really miss out on anything. Perhaps “100. M.P.H.” would be a nice one, but after this show I can only say that life can be so beautiful on a Saturday evening in Lauda. And what about the light problems on stage? It must have been Jerry Foggle, who enjoyed the show from high up above. And he said, that it was good.

In closing, I'd like to say welcome to the real world, after being in my own dream world. The show is over, the lights go on and the stage is being cleared. We can start to prepare for the twenty-first edition in 2018. This has been another cool edition of this cult festival. It’s always difficult to say goodbye to Lauda and especially from our Belgian friends, whom we spend most of the weekend. As always, I’d like to thank all the volunteers, the organization, Manuela and her crew and Oliver and Tarek and their crew for another atom smashing edition of Keep It True 2017. We’re glad to be part of this doomed planet and we will always fight frost and fire to be here, because we’re alive and always ready to join the legion of all these legendary masters of the pit. When chaos descends the time is there to honor the fallen idols in the black machine with our blood and iron. With pain in our heart we travel back to Holland on Sunday. No more big trucks on the road, so you can easily step on the gas. But be warned, because we will return next year and that’s a promise. The date is set at April 27th and 28th and the bill already consists of IRON FLAME, STALKER (featuring RAYZORWYRE members), TAIST OF IRON (with their new guitarist, after Steve Gale died in 2017), ALIEN FORCE, BLIND ILLUSION, BLASPHEME, CEREBUS, SARACEN (the return of these heroes, saints and fools after their tremendous show in 2011), SIREN, GRIM REAPER, WINTERHAWK, HITTMAN, RAVEN (exclusive show with songs from the first three cult albums!!), FLOTSAM & JETSAM (“Doomsday For The Deceiver” show) and HEAVY LOAD (get ready, because the Vikings are coming after an absence of 33 freaking years! The Wahlquist brothers already inspected the holy ground and will now put out a plan to attack the Lauda audience the best way possible). Another list with some incredible names for sure. Any wants for now?! RAPID TEARS are still very high on my list. Any Dutch band will of course do. I refer to the original line-up of PICTURE, who are back in business and still sound like in the eighties (and maybe even better), so why not? SAD IRON would also fit in just fine or perhaps GILGAMESJ with an old school only set. Of course, every other band will be fine, because Oliver always knows to pick out the finest bands available. The countdown of fifty-two weeks to the next edition has started here. I can’t wait for it to happen. \m/ \m/

*Written by: Toine van Poorten/December 2017
*Photos copyright by: Rita van Poorten []

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