SACRILEGE- The Rocking Bull, Antwerp, Belgium, May 26, 2018

When we heard that SACRILEGE would be playing in Antwerp again, we decided to schedule our annual trip to this fantastic city in that very weekend. For sure, this band is one of the rough diamonds of the post NWOBHM scene and once you’ve seen them live, you want to go back. Their enthusiasm is enormously and every song contains that little bit of extra, lifting it up to high above the average hard rock and heavy metal song. The band announced two evenings in a row with different shows. Now that’s a difficult choice. Which songs will they play on which evening? Since I am quite confident, that whatever they’ll be playing here, will be fine, we picked the Saturday night, because Friday is our travelling day and always very busy. And when looking at the set list of Saturday, I think this was a good decision.
Antwerp is a fantastic place to be and we always take the time to walk around and explore this beautiful city. In the evening we are really exhausted and like any good habit, we draw up a chair at our favorite Japanese restaurant and enjoy a good meal. Life is so beautiful! Saturday evening however approaches very quickly and we’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. SACRILEGE consists of the same band members like last time. There’s Jeff Rolland on bass, Tony Vanner on lead guitar, Bill Beadle on guitar and vocals and Neil Turnbull on drums. These four guys have a heart of gold and a great taste in music. They like to turn some of their sick thoughts into the spooky horror type of lyrics, which is the foundation of their songs. SACRILEGE is definitely worth checking out and if you like a good NWOBHM sound rooted in the 80’s, you won’t be disappointed. We are quite surprised that not too many people showed up to see their gig this evening. However, those, who were there are the lucky ones to see this once in a lifetime experience of masks, bombs and evilness, bathed in a heavy rock sauce.
During the evening we meet up with Bill Beadle and his evil pyro man in the coolest place to be in Antwerp, the Rocking Bull. We have a little chat about last night and then we finally get the opportunity to have a longer talk with drummer Neil Turnbull about SACRILEGE and his time with the cult NWOBHM band DERVISH. Thank you very much, Neil for sharing so many great memories and stories. He also promised to transfer himself tonight into a werewolf and a devil, behind his drum kit. You have to see it to believe. He juggles around with his drum sticks, that sometimes glow in the dark. Also, he wears different spooky masks that really add something to the fantastic show of SACRILEGE, next to the firebombs they’re using for the very first time this weekend.
While the hard rock & rollers of BEUK kicked off on Friday, local hard rock band CIVILIAN from Hasselt is the support act tonight. They play in a rather strange position, but they give it their best shot, including an additional female lead vocalist. The drums are in front of the stage and the bass player is situated in the corner, next to the stage. Their enthusiasm is huge though and the songs are quite varied. All in all, a good warm up band, who presented some songs from their upcoming third album, due out soon.

SACRILEGE front man Bill already told us, that they would start with the song “Lies”, for which they also did a video clip. So after the intro tape, “Lies” kicks off in a solid kind of way. If you’re familiar with the Rocking Bull, you’ll know that the rock/metal bar is not really huge and only a handful of people will fit in there. When the firebombs explode on stage, I get the same feeling when VENOM started ‘World War III’ at the Dynamo Open Air festival in Eindhoven (NL). I just love it, when a band does something special and you can’t go wrong with SACRILEGE. “Running Scared” follows right thereafter and the crowd is very enthusiastic. This song is taken from their 2011 release “The Unknown Soldier”. The people know that the band is willing to give at least a full hundred percent tonight. And a good example is “Lucifer’s Soldiers”, where the first mask-eh-makeover of Neil is a fact. With his devil mask he turns himself into the perfect Lucifer on drums. He is totally in control and constantly watches all sides of the stage. He even takes the time to strike a pose for a picture (or two). “Cry Of The Night” and “The Prophet” are up next. With “In Hell”, the band just struck gold. I see many people enjoying this doomy track. It’s slow yet very catchy and it fits perfectly to their sound. This is definitely one of the highlights here. I may speak for myself as well, but during this one there’s definitely some magic in the air. The title track of their 2012 release “The Wraith” continues the show. The announcements have been done by Bill and bass player Jeff. Lead guitarist Tony takes his job very seriously. He is there to blow everybody away with his great guitar solos. Sometimes, they almost have to pull the plug to stop him. What a shame, that he has announced to leave the band in the near future. Luckily, he’ll still be able to play all the current scheduled shows. It’ll be difficult to replace him. Not only is he a great guitar player, he’s also a very cool guy to hang out with. Life in a band is not only about playing at a club every now and then. There is a lot more to it. We will miss him and we wish him all the very best for the future! "Celestial City” is followed by “Live Another Day”. More firebombs go off and after “Ride Free” there’s another make-over of Neil in “Rock ‘N’ Roll With The Devil”. His famous devil mask and glow in the dark sticks give the show another special touch. I love this! It’s not only about the music sometimes and SACRILEGE knows it very well. The clock keeps on ticking though and at ten o’clock sharp, the stage will turn back into a pumpkin. The band decides to shorten the last two songs a little and therefore we get to hear a rather short version of “My Time To Die” and the oldie “Pandemonium” from the band’s debut album from 1982. It’s one minute past ten, when the last notes fade away. Slowly a pumpkin appears where the stage has been for the last hour or something. As this rock/metal bar is situated right in the middle of a living area of Antwerp, they don’t get a permit to play live music later than ten o’clock. It doesn’t make this night any less special, because we watched an amazing live show of a band that hopefully will be discovered by a bigger audience soon. Thanks so much for another great evening, guys and hopefully we’ll see each other again soon. Newsflash: the band just announced a new guitarist to their ranks, Eddie Webb! Welcome, Eddie!!

*Text by Toine van Poorten & pix by Rita van Poorten // copyright by 2018*

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