Friday, April 03, 2015
VERY 'EAVY FESTIVAL
De Spont, Stadskanaal, The Netherlands
A year goes by pretty fast and when the bill slowly took shape of this year’s edition of the Very ‘Eavy festival, we knew that we would be in for another real treat. Where else, besides Keep It True in Germany, will you find bands like TOKYO BLADE, RAVEN and SATAN on one bill in 2015? I guess only in your wildest dreams. Every devoted metal head with a big space for heavy metal in his heart won’t hesitate to go there and we saw a lot of good friends enjoying this type of music in Stadskanaal. Our thanks especially go out to Hugo and Ellen Koch for organizing this amazing metal festival. Just in case you’ve missed it, here’s a small reflection of all the bands, that played there and some thoughts about the atmosphere and a few memories from the past, captured in a extensive review about the fifth edition of Very ‘Eavy. Enjoy reading and please keep in mind, that this is just the personal opinion of yours truly, which might be different from your own thoughts and memories about this wonderful festival, that made an old school hard rock and heavy metal fan feel very happy.
Our hotel is located in Jipsinghuizen, a few miles away from Stadskanaal, which is a very nice place in the lovely natural area of Groningen. When you’re quiet, you can almost hear the weed grow there. You will never guess, that a few miles away from here, a festival would take place that will remind you of (for example) the year 1984. A lot of people saw the time stand still in 1989. Old school heavy metal is what they prefer to listen to and personally I feel very comfortable among these people, because most of the new school metal is not my cup of tea either. The line-up of the festival pushed us back in the comfort zone, where we live in and only outside De Spont the world stresses, while inside the festival hall everything breathes pure metal. Four bands are on the bill for the opening night and we are ready for them. Before we enter the hall, we have to find a good place to eat. There is a pizza joint in the shopping center right in front of the hall. Many other headbangers will probably have the same idea, but we take our chance and try to get a seat. The waiter tells us, that we have to hurry, because a lot of seats have been pre-booked at a certain time. Not a problem for us, because we only want to have a quick bite and then we’re heading straight towards De Spont. A good choice, because after a fast and good meal, we are now ready for some HEAVY METAL!!
ENCHANTRESS from Belgium is a young band with the heart at the right place. They are faithful to the old metal sound and this is being captured in their forty-five minutes set of this evening. “This Is The Night” is the opener and I couldn’t have said things better. It’s always difficult to open a festival, but with an open-minded audience and a good spirit, you will never go wrong. “Lucid Woman” is on next and you can sense that the band is a bit nervous. When they continue with the DEF LEPPARD cover “Wasted”, the public sees that the intensions of the band are good and they continue this flow with “Mistress Of Fire” and “A Place In The Night”. The announcement of the songs goes in English, Belgian and Dutch and a sort of mix-up of these languages together. Who cares? Just let the music do the talking and that’s what they do. “Bend Over Backwards” (Don’t try this at home!) continues and after that we are “Paralyzed”. The old school metal feeling is really there. Nice guitar solos, good vocals and a female drummer that hits ‘em hard, so who needs more? Perhaps they should play a cover here and there. RIOT’s “Swords And Tequila” is a good choice on a festival like this. At the end of the show the band congratulates their roadie, who is celebrating his birthday today. The end of the show is marked with “Beware The Enchantress”. The band is a good opener on this first night. The youth is standing proud and they are ready to take over. ENCHANTRESS could be a big player here. If they try to stay professional and don’t forget to enjoy their music loud, then the future will look very bright for these Belgian metal heads.
VERGIF is the Dutch translation for ‘poison’, but where POISON is a glam rock band, we are now dealing with a VENOM tribute band. I am quite excited about this, because I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for VENOM. But before I can take a taste of my sweet poison I have to socialize with MAAAAARTTTTJOOOOOOOOO!!!!! It was so good to see the Whirlwolf again. One wolf leaves Groningen, the other one is back on his feet again, looking better than ever. We are metal brothers for life and it really did me good to see him recover so quickly. In the meantime, the band gets ready for the show and the adrenaline starts to flow. The show starts with “Leave Me In Hell”. The band will focus on the most successful period of ‘the keeper of the seven keys of the seven gates of hell’. “Countess Bathory” is a great song to shout your lungs out. The band has got the same groove as VENOM and the atmosphere is great. “In League With Satan” is another oldie, that invites you to sing along to it. VOI VOD also took this song under their wings regularly in their live set. Another track, that you want to sing along to. “Welcome To Hell” invites you to the dark underground scenery, where evil dwells. I must admit, that the band tries hard to give it their best shot, but they don’t always convince me. Problems with their instruments and microphones doesn’t make things better also and songs like “Buried Alive”, “Raise The Dead” and “Warhead” seem to drown in the instrumental difficulties of the band. The atmosphere is slowly sinking to a point where things get nasty and cruel. Difficulties with the bass guitar cause, that the whole situation is really getting out of hand. The low musical abilities of VENOM were always a point of discussion. Either you loved the band or you hated them. I liked them a lot and I also knew that a good part of VENOM was based on the image of the band. But with VERGIF, things are getting over the top. This is not an image anymore. This band is not evil, they’re just out to impress the audience with some bad taste. Then a terrible thing happens, when their singer / bass player throws his bass guitar towards Martjo and hits him full in the back. What kind of bastards are they? They’re jokers, not musicians. When the band tries to start with “Black Metal”, they get the sign that they have to stop their show. This is no fun anymore. They are disconnected from the P.A. system and they have to leave the stage. Why guys, why? Why ruin a perfect atmosphere with childish behavior? I just don’t get it. Hugo is furious and I think that everybody will know that this wasn’t his idea of having a good time either. His decision to pull out the plug was the only right thing to do here. This could have been so nice, but it turned into a disaster. Martjo feels shitty after this. He is hurt and angry. Nobody touches my good friend Martjo. These guys could have earned respect today, but now everybody wants to puke over them and even that is too good. VERGIF, it all started so nice, but it was better that they had left them in hell. Let them be evil there. I guess, they will never perform in the area of Groningen anymore. Okay, I think I’ve spend enough words to these poisoned souls, so let’s go on with the music because that’s what we came for. What a shame for this disgusting ending and luckily it didn’t affect the good atmosphere musically though.
One of the most interesting bands on the bill of this opening night would be NIGHT DEMON. Hailing from Ventura (where do I know this place from?), they have become one of the most spectacular live acts from the US metal scene of today. We saw the band in 2014 at Keep It True in Germany, but since then they had released a new album, called “Curse Of The Damned”. If you want to see an energetic band on stage, don’t look any further, because they press the pedal to the metal from the first moment on. They kick off with “Screams In The Night” and easily win the audience for them almost right away. “Full Speed Ahead” is a title that must be autobiographical. The first drops of sweat appear with the second track already. Man, what an energy these guys give off! Title track “Curse Of The Damned” is on next and the band leaves no second untouched and it’s all or nothing. You won’t attract any new fans by standing still. These guys work very hard for recognition and their enthusiasm pays back in a very positive response from all their fans. With “Ritual”, they go back to their debut album. Back to where it all began. I can still remember that Oli of Keep it True posted a You Tube file with one song of the band on his Facebook site. It sounded amazing and it was really a ‘wow’ moment for me. One of the rituals of the band is to play covers from bands, that paved the way for them, like JAGUAR’s “Axe Crazy”. Close your eyes and you will say that it comes very close to the original version. “The Howling Man” is next and with “The Chalice” the band takes another peak back at their debut album. The hall explodes, when they start the RIOT cover “Road Racin’”. A sublime and fiery version follows and leaves the crowd behind really astonished. What a dynamic band!! “Ancient Evil” is next and because of a wild move by guitar player Brent, he falls down at the drum stage, but he plays on like nothing has happened. That’s what I call being a pro. Things could have been much worse, when he had hit the stage with his head for example. With a few bruises he continues the set with “Satan”. Everything must come to an end and we are slowly getting to a closure here. For a split second the band surprises me with the intro of GOLDEN EARRING’s “Radar Love”, but a few moments later, they burst into a raw version of “Night Demon”, which is the last song of tonight. What a killer show! Obviously, ‘the demon’ made a lot of new fans tonight and easily became one of the highlights for me. And the night wasn’t even over yet, because ELISE will be next on the bill. Oh, and for those who wondered about Ventura in the US. Of course it’s the hometown of US metal legends CIRITH UNGOL, a band that also reached a cult status pretty quickly. NIGHT DEMON is heading into that same direction and I think a lot of people will keep talking about this amazing live show.
ELISE is getting stronger and stronger each show they are performing. I remember the first reunion gig and the way they looked and sounded nervous. This is all gone now and the band looks and sounds like a well-oiled machine and performs at full speed. They start their show with “Play With Edges” and almost right after that, they continue with one of my personal faves, called “Cry For Mankind”. There are a lot of people, who especially came to see this band and it’s so awesome to see a lot of old ELISE t-shirts in the crowd. I settle myself on the left side of the stage to be able to see guitar wizard Robbie ‘Dead Head’ Woning. Another highlight comes directly hereafter with “Witchfinder”. The songs of ELISE easily stood the test of time and it’s so good to see, that the whole crowd really digs their set. They react delighted towards songs like “Hell Of A Fight” and “Careless Rat”. Singer Gerd Hento constantly runs over the stage and still knows to hit all the notes right. He must have an iron set of lungs. “Seven Witches” gets on the list of highlights for me and the heavy rock, that ELISE spreads is pleasing the crowd, that eats out of their hands. “Nightmare” continues the show and after that, the band raises the roof with the JUDAS PRIEST cover “Electric Eye”. Yes, this band knows what the average metal head would like to hear. It’s being played with all the twin solos and you can hear, that PRIEST are one of the big influences of the band, together with IRON MAIDEN. The recognizable sound of the eighties metal continues in “Hiding” and it all stops with “Breaking Rules”. Well, they can easily rename that title into ‘ELISE rules’ because the fans keep screaming for an encore and that’s what they will get after a short while. The song is dedicated to the former frontman of the DIZZY MAN’S BAND, Jacques Kloes, who died the night before at the age of 67. The song is called “Over”, and with this thought in mind, it gets a worthy tribute to the old singer. ELISE closes the evening in a way, that you can only dream about. Tomorrow will be ruled by mainly NWOBHM bands. For now, we’ll have to find our way back to Jipsinghuizen. Today has been a glorious start for Very 'Eavy and I’d say so far so good.
Saturday, April 04, 2015
VERY 'EAVY FESTIVAL
De Spont, Stadskanaal, The Netherlands
On this second day we are getting the full monty and on the eight day God created rock and roll (in case you wondered). The full monty here means, that many more people will attend the show and there is a metal market, where you can spend your hard earned money. Better here than on taxes, I should say. But before we go to the festival site we decide to spend some time exploring the cultural heritage of heavy metal. Anybody remember the video clip for “Open The Gate” of VORTEX? It was recorded in a small place, called Bourtange and that’s why we visit this beautiful spot on the Groninger map and find out that the gates are wide open for us. I think, they were afraid that we would storm at their bastille right away. Nope, we came in peace to visit the beautiful village with the canons of destruction pointing at the enemy. Also, the sun started to shine, while we were there, although it still felt a bit cold in the shadow.
After Bourtange, it’s time to check out EAR DANGER, who would open the gates of De Spont today. Here’s just a small example of the fact, that the whole festival was really organized perfectly. I’d asked Hugo for a poster of the Dutch Steel Festival in Zwolle a week before the festival. When we arrived today I asked Ellen if he had thought about me. I could imagine that her answer would be ‘no’, because there were other things on his mind in the past few weeks organizing this festival. But behind her was a large stack of plastic bags arranged by name with stuff, that Hugo promised to bring along for people. Respect for that! The poster is hanging on my study wall right now. Many thanks to Hugo and Ellen for this! Back to EAR DANGER, who gets half an hour to impress the audience. That must be enough for Matt and his guys. They know the drill after so many years of existence. “Warrior Soul” is a good introduction for those, who didn’t buy the new album yet. They are still standing in a corner of the hall being ashamed of themselves, I guess. The band is focused on playing as many songs as they can in half an hour with “I Am Your Enemy” being next. With “Star Illusion”, I always get the urge to sing KILLER’s “Wall Of Sound”. This track is at least as energetic and catchy as this Belgian metal anthem. “Bound By The Law (Of Heavy Metal)” could be categorized as one of the highlights of this set. Easy on the ears and just perfect to sing along to. After the incredible “Burn At The Stake”, we are treated to the EAR DANGER anthem pur sang, “Beelezebub’s Friend”. This track is the ultimate EAR DANGER song and gave the band the cult status, that they still have today. For me, “Assassin” is the ultimate EAR DANGER track, but unfortunately it’s not on the setlist today. You can’t have it all and I’m glad with everything that these guys crank out this afternoon. “City On Fire” is the final piece of music, that the band has in mind for us. After that, it’s time to plunder the metal market. EAR DANGER is a great opener and a marvellous band, that proves to be still in charge with their solid metal sound.
THE DEEP is next on the bill, but first I take some time to explore the metal market. A big hooray for the man, who sells me a vinyl copy of HALLOWEEN’s “Horror Fire”. I didn’t even know, that they’d released it on vinyl. A great find, if I may say so myself. THE DEEP is already waiting for their turn on stage and three out of five members were in the DEEP MACHINE line-up, that rocked the Dynamo club in the eighties, which already promises a lot. When the band opens with “Premonition”, it is quite clear to me. That Tony Coldham is one helluva singer and their songs are pretty brilliant as well. The guitarists divide their solos equally and everyone gets their share. The sound is good and with “The Rider” we get to hear a nice preview of the new album, that came out very recently. I hear touches of good old SAMMY HAGAR’s “Space Station Nr. 5”, which is really awesome! The band is in good shape and has close contact with their fans. Fans, that will be amazed by the great sound they are displaying. Just have a taste of “Night Stalker” and you’ll be in rock and roll heaven. Last year NWOBHM icons SALEM were the big surprise here, but I think that everybody will agree with me, that THE DEEP took over this place for this year. “Out Of Touch” is on next and it feels like being pushed back to the Dynamo days again. The guys only got a few years older, but their music is still sounding fascinating and exciting. It’s a shame though, that not too many fans know the band and they only get half an hour to show their skills. The long tracks contain lots of space for instrumental parts and the guitarists stand in the spotlight every time they get the opportunity. “When The Rains Came” is next in line and it all looks so magic, that I get goosebumps all over, when I see this band play. With “You Take My Breath Away” (well, they’ve got that right!!) they close their set. Wow, what an impressive moment. I think, that many people will agree that this amazing performance was really breath taking. And this is only just the beginning. Right after the show, we buy their album at the merch boot and this is also the perfect moment for Rita to have her photo taken with killer guitarist Mick Feleppa of THE DEEP.
AIR RAID is a newcomer and we’ve seen them before at Keep It True in 2013. They played a good show there and it would be fun to see these Swedish metal heads deliver the goods again. Think about bands like ENFORCER, EVIL INVADERS, SKULL FIST and STALLION to get an idea of the enthusiasm of AIR RAID. They have the sound of old school IRON MAIDEN mixed with touches of the aforementioned bands. Old school metal with some high pitched vocals at times. “Wildfire” gets tonight’s show going. These Swedes sound fast and have the strong urge to take over this place in forty-five minutes. After “When The Sky Turns Red”, it’s time for the amazing “Bound To Destroy”. It’s good to see, that their substitute guitar player Patrik Essen has learned the songs well, the band can give it their very best. Prove is given during the strong instrumental “Flying Fortress”, which is on next. The band goes wild and you can almost “Smell The Madness”. The guitar work is mind-blowing, which is good, because this is the “Night Of The Axe”. This is the spot, where the guitar players can impress the audience and they really did a good job. The tour with ABSOLVA and NIGHT DEMON did them good, I guess. With “A Blade In The Dark”, we have come to the seclusion of tonight’s set. AIR RAID came out as winners and they deserve to play an encore, which they will do of course. One more time, they will blast at full speed with “Midnight Burner”. Hearing the reactions of the audience, this will not be the last time, that AIR RAID set foot on Dutch solid ground, I guess.
TYSONDOG have got a long way coming, too. I saw them, when they were still young, hungry puppies in 1985 in a joint, called De Kegelaar in Kaatsheuvel together with SWORD, KILLER, HORIZON, M-80 (who remembers Nikki Buzz’s band?), PRETTY MAIDS and MAMA’S BOYS. And festivals like this make me think back to these days, thirty freaking years ago. Anyway, that was then, this is now. The guys of TYSONDOG look like bikers and they start very hopeful with an oldie, called “Hammerhead”, which is a nice point of recognition. In their set they will take the time to introduce their new CD “Cry Havoc” to us, but first we run through some golden oldies with “Don’t Let The Bastards (Grind Ya Down)” and “The Inquisitor”. Then we get a taste of the new material with title track “Cry Havoc”, which sounds quite similar to the rest of the material. Meaning, that you are in for a firm chunk of ballsy, heavy rock. (Tyson) “Dog Soldiers” is on next and these wild animals still know how to rock, that’s for sure. After “The Machine” and “Painted Heroes”, it’s time for another new song, called “Shadow Of The Beast”, which fits perfectly to the other TYSONDOG material. The band has got one final song for us after this, called “Taste The Hate”. Well, these guys may look rough, but the audience loves their music and it’s a shame, that they have to leave without an encore today. “Dead Meat” and “Demon” were still on the setlist, but the Dutch speed metal kings of SAD IRON can’t wait to go on stage here.
Another stroll on the metal market, but like always you don’t get that far. You’re always bumping into people that you know, end up in a chat and before you know it, the lights are dimmed again for the next band that is approaching. No worries, it is always nice to catch up with old buddies like Jacques Louwes, Kees de Leeuw (who always surprises us to show up at these festivals without notice, because he doesn’t have a Facebook account) and Piet from Tiel (So good to see you there, mate!! \m/ \m/).
SAD IRON is what I would like to call 'my cup of tea'. Not only because they’re part of the Dutch heavy metal scene, just like ELISE and EAR DANGER, but because they play some bloody good speed metal. Their album “Total Damnation” is just being released on Skol Records and Bernard Rive has polished his billiard ball shining bald head just for the occasion. What do you want me to say about SAD IRON, that you haven’t read yet in my reviews of their show in Almere and their appearance at the Dutch Steel Festival in Zwolle? Well, they have changed their set a little bit and have a very nice surprise for us at the end of the gig. No, not the lady with the big utters, you psycho!! “Demon’s Night” is a bloody good opener, in which Bernard can warm up his fingers for this fast and furious forty-five minutes. Fasten your safety belt, because we don’t want anybody to get hurt! Bernard is focused on his guitar exorcism the moment he plugs in. He is destined to give a good show with his band. “Prisoners” gets the speed metal mayhem going and when “We Play To Kill” takes off, the first singers in the crowd announce themselves and fists are being raised in the air. I count myself in. After “Where Warwinds Blow”, there is already a small surprise in “We All Praise The Devil”. Can you imagine the crowd singing this? Well yes, they did. If they all worship the horned hoof remains to be seen. I love that song! “Powerthrash” is very fast and I am always curious how Bernard’s fingers don’t get tied up in a knot after blasting out a super duper fast killer exciting solo, as only he can do it. “You’re Obsessed” is dedicated this time to the people, who came over from Colombia to taste the true metal atmosphere in Stadskanaal. Are they nutz? Are they obsessed? No, they are some true metal fans!! The ultimate set closer is “Living Like A Rat” from the unreleased “The Antichrist” album. The crowd goes insane after this and SAD IRON simply can’t escape to play an encore. And there is that magical moment, where the surprise is peaking around the corner. For many fans, it comes as a total surprise that the band chooses “Hellfighter” as their encore. What a treat for all the fans here in Stadskanaal tonight. Two days after this show, SAD IRON will support PRAYING MANTIS in Tilburg and I really feel sorry for the melodic rockers of the Mantis. They will need ear protection and a good anchor, otherwise they will be blown away by these speed metal muthas. What an exciting gig!! In the hall we spend some time with the guys of NIGHT DEMON, who were relaxing there a bit and were selling some of their merchandise. They had a good time in Europe and will soon be flying back to the US. We complement them with their awesome show yesterday and you can see, that they really liked our interest in the band.
Diner time, it’s always a difficult question. When will we be able to have diner during a festival like this? Both our votes went to having a quick bite during SACRED STEEL. Not that we have something against Gerrit Mutz and his band. No, on the contrary! They play a good mix of brutal true metal with a crusty bite. But looking at the rest of the line-up, this was the perfect time. We were lucky to have a seat opposite the bar, so we could still have a listen. We decided to shoot some pics and listen to the band for about four songs and then go for the chips and meat ball. In the first songs Gerrit sounded clear and heavy, but later on his voice starts to get rawer and more brutal with loud growls and to be quite honest with you, that is not really my taste. Songs I have recognized were “Open Wide The Gate”, “Metal Is War”, “Metal Reigns Supreme”, “Slaughter Prophecy”, “Blood On My Steel”, “Wargods Of Metal”, “Metal Is War” and “Heavy Metal To The End”. That’s a true best-off set for the devoted fans of the band, I guess.
When diner is done, we are about to see TOKYO BLADE, who are next on the list. These guys always know how to impress and it’s also good to see, that Chris Gillen has returned behind the mike. I must admit though, that the band is having a hard time to poke up the heat of the metal fire. Old and new songs blend together really well and the guitar tandem of John Wiggins and Andy Boulton are playing a heavenly set, but of course the waiting will be for the classic tunes, which are on the list, but they come a bit later than expected. They open with “Someone To Love” and the not to be missed “Death On Main Street”. “Break The Chains” is a killer song with a good vibe. “Lunch-Case” is a nice surprise from the “Thousand Men Strong” album. The guitar solos are equally shared between the two guitarists and they seem to enjoy themselves a lot. “Dead Of The Night” is followed by the newer “Forged In Hells Fire”. After “Always”, the hit machine gets rolling. The band is at full steam now and they continue with “Lightning Strikes”, “Meanstreak” and “Lovestruck”. I guess, I didn’t save my voice for nothing and decide to give it my best shot during “Night Of The Blade”. The game is over now and we have arrived at the encores, because after a great gig like this, you need to shout for more and that’s exactly what the people are doing. “Sunrise In Tokyo” and “If Heaven Is Hell” are the mighty encores of today and they get an special rough treatment with the guitars very much upfront. This must be rock and roll heaven and a real good shot from the first of three NWOBHM bands, that will close this amazing festival. The athletic animals of RAVEN will be on next and I’m really looking forward to their gig.
It’s always a real pleasure seeing these athletic loonies playing live, because they always give 200 percent, where this is possible and there is never a dull moment with the Gallagher boys and ‘the Baron’ around. Even in the sound check and stage make-over, you will reckon some ultra-funny Monty Python quotes from John, if you listen very carefully. So I’d already pissed my pants, before the band had even played one single note. The train rolls at full speed from the beginning with “Hard Ride” and “Live At The (Spont) Inferno”. John still uses a headset to be able to jump around while singing, because he simply needs to lose his energy somehow. The three musketeers continue their old school set with “All For One”. It’s great to see the crowd sing along to the chorus of this RAVEN anthem. “Destroy All Monsters” was already a title of one of the live albums of the athletic threesome, but it’s also the title of one of the opening track from the new album “Exterminator”. If the album sounds anywhere like this pre taster, then it will be another killer album!! “Rock Until You Drop” is taken from the very early RAVEN days, when they were still three young birds. This debut album really changed the world for me. The energy, that these guys spread on stage is still the same though. Mark Gallagher still cranks the guitar and shows you his most ugly faces. How can you not love this band? The energy and dynamic performance of the band is breathtaking and the audience eats out of their hands. “Don’t Need Your Money” brings us back to the days where it all started. They still don’t want no rich fat daddy trying to change their life, they just want to relax. Don’t you get it after thirty-some years? Time flies, when you’re having fun and fun they have on stage, that’s for sure. “Speed Of The Reflex” continues, the Gallagher brothers chasing each other on stage. Will they ever grow up? I guess not and that’s what makes them so damn good. After “Mind Over Metal” we hear another new track, which is referred to as “The Way You Do It”, which received the title “It’s Not What You’ve Got” on the album, but due to unforeseen circumstances I’m not really able to check this on my copy of “Extermination”. With “Faster Than The Speed Of Light” and “On And On” they return to the old days and get the explosion of mad riffs and pumping beats coming, the adrenaline is rushing through my veins now. RAVEN takes control and they turn De Spont into one big party hall. The excitement is huge and they close the evening with a lengthy version of “Break The Chains”, which is filled with snippets of covers again. You can see it as a tribute to the bands, that they liked when they were young. I recognized “Rock Bottom” (UFO), “Dog Eat Dog” (AC/DC), “I Don’t Need No Doctor” (HUMBLE PIE), “In For The Kill” (BUDGIE), “Symptom Of The Universe” (BLACK SABBATH), “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (THE WHO) and “Genocide” (JUDAS PRIEST). One more time they run from one side of the stage to the other and then it’s time to thank the audience and go insane in the backstage area. It remains wild in the city for a long time, when the Gallagher brothers are around. This place is getting ready for SATAN, the one remaining band on the bill of Very Eavy 2015.
Who didn’t like the new SATAN album “Life Sentence” must get themselves a new set of ears. The magic is there again and the live album, that was being released next, showed that SATAN rules in the USA as well. Finally, they see and hear what we know in Holland for many years already. Holland embraced SATAN from the moment when they picked up their guitars and they’ve always been welcomed very warm on many festivals and live shows. This time they would turn out the lights of De Spont after their show. If this is a wise decision to let SATAN play as last band may be a point of discussion. While RAVEN is wild, dynamic and energetic, SATAN is exciting and powerful, but they look a bit more static. I can imagine, that it must have been a very difficult choice for Hugo to pick the closing band of this fifth edition of Very Eavy. We saw the metal market slowly disappearing, while on stage things were getting ready for a final ear attack. The moment, that Brian Ross walks on stage, is the moment when the magic begins. Especially when you’re kicking off with “Trial By Fire”, you’ve already won the race for me. Right from the start, SATAN simply follows the running order of the live album “Trail Of Fire”, which means that they’re continuing with “Blades Of Steel”, “Time To Die” and “Twenty Twenty Five”. The band is in excellent shape and Brian looks like Rob Halford’s brother, but then with hair. A nice surprise and funny thing occurs when at the upper right side of the stage, a small pipe spits a huge flow of gaseous carbon dioxide, as a sort of special effect. It scares the shit out of the people, who are standing in front of the stage. Before the band continues with “Break Free”, Brian refers to the well-known QUEEN video clip for their song “I Want To Break Free”. Although I don’t see Brian cleaning his living in his pink duster and with curlers in his hair. The guitar tandem Ramsey / Tippins share their solos equally and are in a so much better shape than at Keep It True in 2011. After “Cenotaph” and “Life Sentence”, it’s time for the band to show their skills in the instrumental killer “The Ritual”. Shivers are running down my spine now. The crowd is moving around a little and you will notice, that the hall is getting more empty. “Siege Mentality” is on next and “Oppression” gets very funny, because of the carbon dioxide outlet above the stage. A woman that stood in line of the carbon dioxide outlet sees her coiffure destroyed in three short puffs of CO2. Before she knows where this comes from, it has stopped and people who are standing next to her overcome with laughter. The sight is too hilarious for words. “Incantations” and “Testimony” are next on the list and it shows, that these new songs fit very well with the other SATAN material. The regular playing time is closed with “Alone In The Dock”. When I watch the reactions of the fans, I didn’t know that there were that many Satan worshippers in Stadskanaal. I think, they have to change the name of this town into Satanskanaal for this occasion. The party is over after that?! I guess not, because the encores will turn this into the knock-out punch for many of those, who are still standing. The three songs that are remaining make things clear why SATAN is playing a headlining role here. Who else can top “Heads Will Roll”, “No Turning Back” and “Kiss Of Death”? What an awesome gig!
And when the last notes are fading away, Very Eavy 2015 has come to an end. It was another awesome experience indeed. A wet dream come true for true heavy metal fans, organized by people who still have a heart for good music. There aren’t too many of them around anymore. I am already counting the days until we can come to Stadskanaal again for the sixth edition of this marvelous event. But hey, wait a minute. There is also some bad news on the horizon. In the weeks after the festival, I read some news, that De Spont don’t want Very ‘Eavy on their premises again. A very strange decision, that leads to an awkward situation, in which the future of this great event becomes very unclear. I really can’t believe my eyes, when I read the discussion. Are they out of their mind? I only have one thing to say to Hugo. You had TYSONDOG on your festival this year. And they had the solution to the whole situation in my humble opinion: “Don’t Let The Bastards Grind Ya Down”!!! Very Eavy can’t just disappear into thin air. I really hope, that you can make things happen for 2016, otherwise we have lost another great event, which would be a crying shame. Our thanks go out to Hugo and Ellen (plus all the other volunteers!!) for a great metal weekend. Hope to see you all again next year.
Update: Just a few days before we finished this review, we heard that Hugo and Very ‘Eavy have found a new location in Stadskanaal. Mark the date and place on your calendar: Very Eavy 2016 at the Fox in Stadskanaal on April 22nd & April 23rd, 2016. If you miss it, then there’s no hope for you anymore. This festival MUST be supported!
*Written by: Toine van Poorten/June 2015
*Photos by: Rita van Poorten/www.metalmaidens.com