* September 26, 2009 *

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Het Front, Vroomshoop, The Netherlands

It’s still very quiet, when we arrive at the Front for the second edition of the Taken By Force festival. When you take a good look at the bill of this festival though, you would expect a jam-packed house tonight. For those, who like to bash and bang their head, it’s already a night that can’t go wrong.

It’s exactly half past four, when the young band MANIAC FORCES starts doing their thing for an almost empty hall. Not that they really mind. They start off a little unsure, but their self- confidence grows visibly during their set. Their thrash metal has been strongly influenced by the Bay Area scene that dominated during the mid-eighties. We get to hear a few strong covers by several of those well-known trendsetters back in those days, like "Piranha" of EXODUS and "Death & Insanity" of HALLOW'S EVE. Yes, these gentlemen know their classic, that’s for sure. Their enthusiasm is so big, I think that things will turn out just fine for the future of MANIAC FORCES.

EARDANGER certainly knows the drill. It’s a shame, that female guitar player Karina has quit the band, but singer/guitarist Leon Lohman seems to be a very suitable replacement and does a fine job. Songs like "Assassin", "Beelzebubs Friend" and "City On Fire" sound very tight and really convincing. When the band closes their set with "Shock & Awe", the hall gets pretty crowded already. Once again, EARDANGER has proven to be a very experienced band with a lot of potential.

MOTORHEAD fans will truly have a great time, when NO CLASS jumps on stage. Thijs (ex-HAMMERHAWK) fulfils the role of Lemmy in a very convincing way and the old school MOTORHEAD songs are played just a little slower than we would expect from this band nowadays. Think about the way, that Fast Eddie Clarke would play them, when he was still in the band. It gives songs like "The Chase Is Better Than The Catch" and "Metropolis" a special boost, but the band also pushes the pedal to the metal in speed devils, such as "Bite The Bullit", "Iron Fist" and "Overkill". And you call this ‘no class’? I would rather call it high class!

And high class is the same classification, that I would give to VORTEX. This band is always willing to go all the way and as special treat you’ll get a lot of pyrotechnics, next to the musical firework that they spit right at you. From opener "Gotta Get Away" on, they play at full force and the hungry fans get their daily portion of heavy metal in firm doses. Songs like "Hammer Of The North" and "Riptor" are my personal faves, but the average metal fan only wants one thing: to invade the stage during "Open The Gate" and let out some lazy sweat during the honourable art of headbanging. And that is exactly what’s happening during this song. The ultimate highlight for me is "With Witches Help", where they pull open every register in the book. The band from Groningen ends their show today with another full dose of pyrotechnics during "Megalomizer", preparing the audience for an attack of JAGUAR.

This English band is always working hard and their shows are very energetic and powerful, and front man Jamie knows how to pull that car. Garry Pepperd is the man, who has been in JAGUAR from the old days already. He creates a square meter for himself and he only pulls himself loose from that after the last notes have faded away into the dark night. The concentration of this master guitar player is extremely high and nobody can keep him away from it, although Jamie tries very hard some times. The power that comes from these four gentlemen is huge and especially when playing classics like "Out Of Luck", "The Fox" and "Warmachine", they create a huge chaos in front of the stage. That chaos is to be continued on the stage, when they start playing "Axe Crazy". Not only because the stage is being invaded by a whole bunch of have fans, who want to get crazy. Also because Garry Pepperd’s guitar is as dead as a doornail. This problem is fixed pretty quickly and JAGUAR is able to play their fastest songs without any more obstacles. "Backstreet Woman" is the encore of tonight and after a full hour of pure sweat ‘n’ roll, they clear the stage for PICTURE to close this festival.

They release their new album "Old Dogs New Tricks" today, and therefore they are the ultimate headliners on Taken By Force this evening. PICTURE are the grandfathers of the Dutch heavy metal scene. And they prove this by playing a great mix of old material and some songs taken off the new album as well. Of course they treat us on some real classics like "Eternal Dark", "Diamond Dreamer", "Heavy Metal Ears" and "Lady Lightning". PICTURE shows, that they’re still the masters of the game. They even play a new song for us, titled “Just Incredible”, which was also new to me. During "Old Dogs New Tricks", Bakkie manages to destroy his snare drum. But that’s the only minor detail, I can come up with about this magnificent show. During "Bombers", they raise the roof, which I’d expected already.

The organisation thanks all the people, who came to Vroomshoop tonight and the whole crew, who served us the beer we needed and announced that there will be another Taken By Force festival in 2010. If it’s up to us, we will definitely be there again, because this was a great event in our opinion. I suggest you’d better be there too next year, when traditional hard rock and heavy metal is your favourite kind of music. The atmosphere in Vroomshoop was marvellous and so was the show of PICTURE. Obviously, they come back for an encore. What else would you rather wish for than ‘Message From Hell’? Sometimes life can be so wonderful!

*Written by: Toine van Poorten/October 2009
*Photos by: Rita van Poorten [www.metalmaidens.com]

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