Friday, April 21, 2017
VERY 'EAVY FESTIVAL
Fox Stadskanaal, Stadskanaal, The Netherlands
It’s with deep regret and pain in our heart, that we have to announce here that this was the last edition of Very ‘Eavy in Stadskanaal. We would have attended many more editions to come, but Hugo and Ellen Koch decided to pull the plug out the festival, so the final edition is a fact now. Before I will start reviewing the bands here, I would like to speak out our sincere thanks for their hospitality and all the great bands, they’ve presented throughout these years. It has been a blast and there aren’t many people around, that can say that they’ve had bands on their bill, like DAMIEN THORNE, THE RODS, ANGEL WITCH, ULI JON ROTH or VARDIS, to name but a few. We sometimes referred to the festival as the Dutch version of Keep It True and I guess that people who’ve been to this German cult festival can confirm this. So, thank you very much Hugo and Ellen and all of your crew members and volunteers for organizing such a wonderful event in the northern part of our country. We will miss this festival a lot.
Well, enough said here, as we came to have a great time and enjoy the bands, didn’t we? I must make clear again, that this report is a reflection of my personal opinion. Other people may think differently, but here’s my view on Very Eavy Festival 2017 and two days of great rock and metal. As our former bed and breakfast closed the doors, we changed location to a little village called Sellingen, a few miles away from Fox Nightlife in Stadskanaal, where all the stuff is going on. We nearly missed the first show, because we had to wait forever for our diner to be served in Sellingen. I guess, they never serve meals for a large crowd of four (!!) people. The drive to Stadskanaal is short and smoothly, because our good friend ‘fast Eddy (Vermeiren)’ is behind the steering wheel. Yes, we teamed up again with our Belgian friends Eddy and Christine for a solid dose of heavy metal. There are a bit more record dealers at the small metal market this year and just like every year, Hugo’s wife, Ellen is welcoming us very warmly.
A few minutes later, the festival kicks off with the first band of tonight, called OVERRULED. I must admit that I like their music a lot. After seeing them once in Almere, I know that they have their metal heart in the right place and they prove that again today. The seven songs are much too short in my opinion, however this is definitely a good band to pump up the audience. After the “Intro”, they go on with “Evil Minds” and “Vieze Greet”. A title like that would definitely be labelled as ‘Nederthrash’ and I hope it will be on the next album. The thrash riffs are flashing and as fast as lightning. If a mix of thrash and speed metal is your thing, then don’t look any further and just start banging your head. This band delivers the goods and they do it “Faster, Harder, Louder” than any other band in this scene. Next song is another personal fave of mine from the six track EP “Overruled”, called “Run For Your Life”. The band plays solid and fast and in my opinion they are a great opener The band continues with “She-Devil”. The crowd is growing and growing and it’s good to see that they’re having a great time. “Excited” is a good expression of telling the crowd how you feel, so this well-chosen song is cranked out here at the right moment. After half an hour their playing time is over, but not before OVERRULED calls out the “Mechanix”, which is the earlier version of the “Four Horsemen”. In the meantime, my adrenaline level has been going up and I’m ready for the other bands of tonight after this great boost of speed metal with a thrashy edge. These guys are amazing and I’m glad that they could open the festival here. They are doing some club shows with the next outfit that will hit the stage, the Spanish band HITTEN.
HITTEN is playing a mix of fast heavy metal with a touch of melody. The guitar player adds a touch of MALMSTEEN type of riffs and solos to the songs and tonight they start their marvelous show with “State Of Shock”. The guys sound powerful and they know how to deal with a hungry metal audience. “Don’t Be Late” and “Victim Of The Night” are on next. The game is on now and the most impressive moments are when the guitarists are sharing the guitar solos. The instrumental parts are quite mind-blowing in my opinion. “Can’t Bring Me Down” and “Lady Killer / Endless Race” are next and there’s no doubt about it why HITTEN are on the bill today. The audience praises them and apparently, they’re having a good time. These youngsters prove that they have the future. In fact, they are the future and I’m really confident that because of bands like HITTEN, the heavy metal can go on for a very long time. “Rites Of The Priest” and “Liar” are next and once again the guitarists are the absolute eye-catchers of the band. They like to show out and easily switch solos with one another. A point of recognition, for those who don’t know the band very well, is the RIOT cover “Warrior”, which leads us to the end of their performance. Playing a RIOT cover is always good and I think that every devoted metal head sings along to this one. HITTEN says farewell to the crowd with “Running Over Fire”. What a nice show of this young and energetic Spanish band.
One of the bands that I’m really looking forward to seeing here tonight is STRANGER. I’ve seen them a few times in the eighties and nineties and this reunion gig has been on my ‘not to be missed’ list, ever since I heard about it. Obviously, there’s only a limited amount of time of browsing through the items at the metal market and to be on time in front of the stage to see STRANGER, fronted by John Scholing of JURASSIC PARK. If you’ve never seen the man entertaining a crowd, you simply will be amazed, I can tell you that much. This is such a great chance to see this band live on stage after a hiatus of so many years. The band will of course start their show with the autobiographical rock song “Stranger”, performed by a fresh band, who is going bonkers. These mad rockers will shake-up the crowd and they won’t stop until everybody eats out of their hands. Right after the opener, they continue with “Ice Age Hunter” and John surely knows to get every retarded golden oldie music lover back on their feet again. “Screaming Metal” and “Girls” are fast rockers and we clearly see that the other band members are hungry for rock as well. “Cashflow” is on next and the stories of John are pretty entertaining. Although the music comes first, it’s always nice to see a band with a good presentation and some nice interaction with the crowd. Front man John could easily fill the evening on his own, as a standup comedian. He deserves an award for being the best front man on the festival. The next song “Higher Ground” is a cover, which is on the full-length album “Rock And Roll Machine” of JURASSIC PARK. The original song however is from STEVIE WONDER, but a lot of rockers will probably know the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS version. It’s a very powerful and catchy song and the first dance moves are a fact. Then it’s time for a guest appearance by one of their friends. Peter is a mouth harp player and a damn good one, too. They invite him on stage for a solo during “She Won’t Get Me Down”, which is a real success. Also Jean ‘Almelo’ Hofman asks for some special attention. The guitarist with the looks of an Indian plays a nice guitar solo, which brings us to the final songs of this sparkling gig. “Prisoner Of Life” is next, but the best song is saved for last. The band says goodbye after a very successful gig with their heaviest track to date, “Blow Your Brains Out”. It has some heavy drum beats, a wild rhythm, great guitar riffs and everybody sings along to this classic. They might be strangers, but they definitely blow your brains out! The good news is that this gig has been so successful, that these strangers will probably play more live shows every now and then. I’m actually writing strange things here or is this just my normal strange behavior? Please, help me. I think, I’m infected with a STRANGER virus. It’s so good to have you back again on stage, guys! I think, that some people have finally realized how good this band really is and hopefully there will be another opportunity to do this reunion one more time for old time’s sake. Other news is that the band will finally release their music on CD in the very near future. Thanks to Marco van Empel of Headbangers ‘Zine. I’m already looking forward for that to happen. What’s next?
TOKYO BLADE including original singer Alan Marsh will be the last band for tonight. We’ve seen the band a lot of times, however their extensive back catalogue with all their hits is never boring! Looking at the set list, this is going to be a ‘best of’ show, which will surely please all the fans out there. They start with “Death On Main Street” and “Someone To Love”. John Wiggins is on the left side of the stage (for the viewers that is). Well, I can tell you that hell ain’t a bad place to be, but this place is. There is no light at all and he’s standing in the dark. But he is in a very good mood and constantly smiling as always. You have to make the best of it is probably his slogan and he’s right. On the right side of the stage there’s Andy Boulton in the full spotlight. Yes, the light man is doing his job there very well. “Dead Of The Night” and “Forged In Hell’s Fire” are on next. Apparently, there is a bit more unity in the band right now. During the first gigs with Alan, I got the impression that there were five individual musicians playing the same songs in the same room at the same time. Now we’re looking at a tight and very solid band that brings out the best in them with crowd’s favorites, like “Lightning Strikes” and “If Heaven Is Hell”. Especially, the latter being one of their most successful songs, was very well received by the fans. “Highway Passion” is next in line and the band is getting stronger and stronger every minute. “Mean Streak”, “Love Struck” and “Fever” is taking care of even more satisfaction. And after “Unleash The Beast” we have to prepare, that all good things come to an end and this really amazing set is one of them. However, there are a few more songs to sing along to and actually four killer tracks are still on the list that will make this party really complete. “Sunrise In Tokyo” is a true classic with some amazing speed and mood changes, which is followed by “Midnight Rendezvous” and “Killer City”. Need I say more? I guess not. The last song of this first evening is “Night Of The Blade”. One more time here’s an opportunity for everybody to sing your lungs out. What a killer track! These past few months we’ve seen the band several times, but this (fifteen songs) gig was the longest and best one, as far as I’m concerned. It was a shame, that John Wiggins couldn’t be more in the spotlight (well, this problem was being solved later on), but this didn’t have any effect on his playing and the fun he had on stage. The blade is still as sharp as a knife and TOKYO BLADE knows to put down a very solid rock show, in which you sometimes get the urge to sing along to the many well-known hit singles that they’ve had in their rather extensive career. The band still has got that magic touch and for sure they will be successful for many more years to come! A marvelous closer of the first night.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
VERY 'EAVY FESTIVAL
Fox Stadskanaal, Stadskanaal, The Netherlands
On the second day of the festival we have a little more time to spend at the metal market. Especially the WARICIDE EP caught my attention already yesterday, but I also see the FRANKENSTEIN seven inch change from owner for a very good price. Heavy metal is still alive and people are spending their money on CD’s, LP’s t-shirts and other merchandise stuff, like in the old days. The plan to have a BBQ outside is great. Now we don’t have to leave the festival for a long time and still have a decent meal in between the bands. And this is necessary for today, because there are so many interesting bands on the bill that, as a devoted heavy metal fan, I don’t want to miss out on. The festival starts at 13:30 and the first people are waiting already at the gate. I am happy to spend a little bit more time with Martin Brandt. I always spot him during the gigs, but never really get the opportunity to have a nice chat with this German heavy metal guru.
The first band of today is the German BACKSLASH. A great opener, because the band gives a full hundred percent and their music is the best NWOG(erman)HM that you can think of. These young lads kick off with “Wild And Free” and “Lucifer’s Reign”. The double leads ask for a lot of attention and the wild vocalist hits the high notes right on the head. “Empire Rising” and “Edge Of The World” continues their energetic set. Wow, what a great way to start this second day! They get the riot started and everybody is focused right from the start. Just listen to “Skyline Runner” and “Steel Stallions”, and you’ll get the idea that it’s 1981 and you’re looking at a very young English band. It’s not that these German heavy metal bands can’t sound like a NWOBHM band, but this band simply breathes the sound that made Britain immortal in the heavy metal scene. Titles like “Rock ‘N’ Roll” and “Steel Held High” already shows you, that nothing is going to hold these lads back from a glorious victory march. The band continues their set with “It’s Got To be Love”, a cover of the great Danish metal band RANDY. Well, that is a nice choice! You won’t hear this song too much and it’s a nice tribute to these Danish metal heads. BACKSLASH’s most well-known and successful track will close their set today and that’s “Stellar Master”. BACKSLASH is a good opener, because their sound matches very well to the rest of the bands on the bill today.
There will be a lot of bands from the NWOBHM movement on stage today and one of them is WARRIOR. Which of the four or five bands called WARRIOR do we know from England? Well, this is the only one (I think) band, that is still active and they come from the district of Newcastle. Where else? Newcastle had a great NWOBHM scene, like RAVEN, VENOM, SATAN and TYGERS OF PAN TANG to name but a few. WARRIOR kicked off with “Trojan Horse” and right after that you’ll get a firm slam in the face with the classics “Stab You In The Back” and “Kansas City” from their first single, released in 1982. “Kansas City” was also on the cult releases “60 Minutes Plus” and “All Hell Let Loose”, both Neat samplers from 1982 and 1983. Yes, this band was that successful and influential. They put their mark on the music, that came from Newcastle and it was great to finally see them in Holland. “Voices” continues and this flashing start makes the band realize that they have to show their ability to hold the attention of the audience. And they do, because they stick to their original sound, even in the more recent songs. “Breakout” and “Oblivion” continue and they prove that this five some is still in good shape today. Some songs are taken from the new album “Invasion Imminent”, which will be out soon. It’s only available as a download on the day of the festival. This is the reason why some songs sound unknown to the public, which may be the reason why they leave the hall every now and then. After oldies “Flying High” and “Dragonslayer”, we get to hear two more songs from the new album. “Rise Of The Warriors” and title track “Invasion Imminent” shows, that the new album will be a safe buy for the fans. The long wait is being rewarded with “Dead When It Comes To Love” as the last song of today. What a nice journey through memory lane and good to see you, guys!
Next up are Pete Lovell and his new band LOVELL’S BLADE. I liked their debut album “Stone Cold Steel” very much, but didn’t have a clue what to expect from their live shows. Knowing Pete for a long time, he will make it very much worth waiting for. Will the balance go towards PICTURE or does he want to leave the past behind and do only LOVELL’S BLADE songs now?!? Of course he can’t cancel his days with PICTURE, especially since the two former PICTURE guitarists Mike Ferguson and Andre Wullems have joined him in LOVELL’S BLADE. The new album rocks a bit more and it sounds less heavy metal in a way. That’s fine by me, because bands usually tend to sound a lot heavier in a live situation. LOVELL’S BLADE is playing eleven tracks this afternoon and seven songs have been taken from this debut album. A very bright future is on the lookout for this sympathetic Brit. And if you start your show with “Dynamite”, nothing will go wrong anymore. This powerful opener sure got me focused right away. I was hoping, that Pete wouldn’t go for the melodic songs or the ballads alone from his back catalogue. You’ll never know of course. However, Pete stays a true rocker in his heart and soul and “Legend In A Day” is truly one of the best songs (as far as I’m concerned) from the debut album. When “Devil’s Daughter” starts off, we’re getting a triple dose from the new album, followed by a great version of “Eternal Dark” and “Griffons Guard The Gold”. Now, that’s what I call a dream start. Next to Pete, another band member caught my attention right away. Drummer Noel van Eersel is a real killer musician. He is constantly juggling with his sticks and yet he still manages to keep the firm pace going. Lots of kudos for this great show, buddy! No bad words about the others, but Noel is the absolute winner of the day. Anyway, back to the show. We have arrived at two other songs from the new album, namely “Rise And Fall” and “Nothing To Lose”. These songs sound much heavier than on the record and obviously, the public loved it. The band is energetic and everything looks very dynamic and powerful. “Traitor” takes the audience back to the early PICTURE days and I’m glad to hear a song from that era again. If it was up to me, Pete could have added an EMERGENCY track to today’s show as well. Why not? I think, without knowing it, he would have pleased a whole lot of fans. The “Traitor” release on CD might be the main reason why these songs have been played here today, but I’m very glad with their presence here this afternoon. The show closes with crowd pleasers “Rollin’ On” and “Out For Blood”, which are both performed in a very energetic way. LOVELL’S BLADE has shown that they rock more than ever and the powerful songs left a very good impression on me. The encore is once again a golden oldie of PICTURE . “Underworld” has been put back in the set of PICTURE these last few months, when Pete, Mike and Andre were still members of the band and now it has been added to the LOVELL’S BLADE set. Things may look and sound new to some of you, but I think that Pete has proved that he and his new band are here to stay. A great show in my opinion. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the band perform again in Deest at Festival Zeeltje in August. See you there!
NIGHT DEMON is returning to Stadskanaal and with the new release of “Darkness Remains” in the pocket, it’s the perfect occasion to promote this new album. The intro clears the way for a powerful show that blasts at full speed and leaves no place for ballads or other rubbish. This is first class heavy metal performed at a high speed level. The band starts off with a loud sound of “Welcome To The Night”. The energy of the song reflects itself to the hungry people, who go wild from the beginning. The band tries to put in as many songs as they possibly can and without any intervals they continue with “Ritual”. The sound is still really loud and “Heavy Metal Heat” and “Black Widow” are on next. Jarvis can’t stand still for one second and he uses the whole stage to run, sing and torture his bass guitar strings at the same time. The band is like a well-oiled machine and there is only one selection in their mindset: full speed or nothing at all. They give the full two hundred percent and spit it out to the audience, that is flabbergasted by all the action on stage. “Howling Man” and “Hallowed Ground” are next up. The sound in the venue seems to be better than on stage, but after some adjustments here and there this is also fixed. “Screams In The Night” is a good chance to sing along. The band gives it all and I have deep respect for the guys in this band, who are perfectionists and only want the best for their fans. They are also one of the very few bands with a whole range of merchandise stuff on sale, but that’s not all. They also make something special and different out of their performance this afternoon. Not too much other countries will be able to hear their own live version of the GOLDEN EARRING classic “Radar Love”. Since we are in Holland, we have been the chosen ones to hear their anthem of this classic tune, that sounds timeless and is a very nice surprise for all the crazy fans here at the Very ‘Eavy festival. And if that isn’t enough, we have also been visited by a demon on stage during “The Chalice”. He holds a goblet in his hands. It’s just that special bonus that lifts this performance up to something really special. The last song for today is being reserved for “Night Demon” and after that the band is ready to receive their standing ovation, which they really deserved. The NWOBHM influenced sound of the band fits just perfectly to Very ‘Eavy and it’s no wonder that they’re here on stage for the second time. And guess what? we’re about to see them again next weekend at Keep It True in Germany. Can’t wait for that to happen.
Another band that we see here for the second time around is WITCH CROSS from Denmark. And also this band brings us a sound, which is perfectly suitable for the mad heavy metal lunatics in the audience. The band has a collection of songs, which are very easy on the ears and yet they sound as heavy as hell. Main reason is the incredible guitar tandem, they have in their ranks. Their album “Fit For Fight” can be called legendary, but I must admit that I liked “Axe To Grind” very much as well. It got on the list with best albums of 2013, the year it was released. A lot of songs tonight will be taken from their “Fit For Fight” album of course and they start with “Nightflight To Tokyo”. WITCH CROSS is the last band to play before the NWOBHM invasion will begin on stage, but their music comes pretty close to the sound of the NWOBHM, so it all matches very well. Just have a good listen to songs like “Riding With The Wind” or “Face Of A Clown” and you’ll know what I mean. “Awakening” has been put together with “Pandora’s Box” into a mini medley, followed by the instrumental “Axe Dance”, in which the guitarists can spread their wings and show their skills. They don’t let their chance go by and fire one guitar salvo after the other at the public. We already know that the two guitar players are a great team and this proves that. “Killer Dogs” calls back vocalist Kevin Moore on stage. He is a killer performer instead of a killer dog and shows some resemblance with the likes of Mark Storace (KROKUS) and Biff (SAXON). “No Angel”, the flip side of their very first single and “Bird Of Prey” are on next. The crowd is very enthusiastic about the performance of these Vikings, especially when they have a special surprise for us tonight in the form of a good version of BLACK SABBATH’s “Paranoid”. This classic is sung by everybody and is getting many on their feet again for the last few songs of their stunning performance. The magic, that happens when you throw in a classic metal anthem like that, is really unbelievable. “Metal Nation” continues and it’s time to shout along to the title of “Fight The Fire”. “Demon In The Mirror” is next and I’m glad that they saved “Are You There” for last, which is their first single. After all, this first seven inch single is a real cult release that put WITCH CROSS on my radar. This has been a killer full hour performance, which was the perfect warming up for the three musketeers of the NWOBHM, that will do their tricks next. WITCH CROSS still sounds awesome to me and that’s a fact. These guys rule.
HOLOCAUST, VARDIS and ANGEL WITCH is the perfect threesome to close a festival like Very ‘Eavy and an ultimate treat for the many NWOBHM adepts in the audience. A triple whopper as a perfect show stopper is a good slogan here. I always liked to see HOLOCAUST live, mainly because you don’t see them around that often. The second reason is of course that they have such great songs. Seeing them at the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival felt like something special to me and I described the atmosphere as dark and maybe even a bit depressed. Let me tell you the final conclusion right away before getting into details: HOLOCAUST raised the roof tonight. The songs were perfect, there was a joyful party type of atmosphere on stage and the band was in a perfect shape. Everybody, who missed that show, should be ashamed of themselves and will have to pull their hair out one by one. Anyway, the glory ride of HOLOCAUST starts with an “Intro”, which is followed by “Death Or Glory”. The power, they crank out this classic song is enormous and obviously, HOLOCAUST goes for a complete knockout punch. They have a clear sound, they give two hundred percent and they have a pile of great songs to choose from for a killer show. And they use it very well for an evening of iron fist pumping Scottish entertainment. “Loves Power”, “It Don’t Matter To Me” and “Smoking Valves” are all classics and you can see the positive reactions of the audience. There is not a trace of the dark image that we saw the last time when they played in Holland. This is the HOLOCAUST everybody was hoping to see. Also the newer tracks are being performed with so much power and energy, that you just must like them, whether you want it or not. “Iron Will” continues and is followed by a brand new one called “Expander” from the EP, that was released four years ago. In the almost forty years spanning career of HOLOCAUST I would call this brand new, just like “Predator”, which is the title track from the latest album, released in 2015. They all sounded killer to me, but of course I’ve got my preferences too, like “The Small Hours”, that came on next. If you listen very carefully, it’s no wonder that METALLICA were eager to cover this song on their “The $5,98 EP, The Garage Days Revisited”. It was a massive anthem back in those days and it still is today and it’s being performed in a perfect way. You should see the smile on John Mortimer’s face, when seeing the reactions of the crowd. Yes man, you wrote that memorable anthem and thirty-five years later the people are still singing it and loving every second of it. “Only As Young As You Feel” and “No Nonsense” continue and the title of this last song is what this whole evening is all about. It’s about the garage days of bands that get back to their roots to please their fans many years later. Bands with a no nonsense attitude, that play to kill and give a full two hundred percent during their show. No automatic pilot, but blood, sweat and tears. For HOLOCAUST, it’s a glory ride and the fans will remember that show for a long time, I’m sure. “The Nightcomers” is yet another classic and the venue is getting steaming hot. Bass player Mark McGrath is the wisest of them all. He’s dressed in a traditional kilt. He kills with power and the public is euphoric about this marvelous gig. But there is still one song missing here and that’s the one on which the band will leave the stage,“Heavy Metal Mania”. The whole audience forms a choir and I simply don’t have the words to describe my feeling, when listening to this song and watching this triumph of HOLOCAUST. Remember the sleeve of this twelve inch? That one, where the skull of a griffon is pierced by a sword with blood all over the place. The sirens and that one sentence, that you will never forget once you’ve heard it, beginning with ‘Inside the power cage’. The rest is history and the nightcomers will leave the hall with smoking valves. What a great show. And there are still two more bands on the bill. Have mercy!!
I have seen VARDIS at Keep It True in 2016. It was so much different than on Heavy Metal Holocaust. The long, blonde waving hair of guitar player Steve Zodiac, who walked on stage barefooted in 1981, has now turned into a bald person with a three piece suit, fancy shoes and a little beard. These are only looks, dear friends. This man may look like your old uncle, who gives you sweeties when you visit him, but give him a guitar in his hand and he becomes a venomous beast that can’t be stopped from playing his looooooooooong guitar solos. The sad story with VARDIS is about the death of Terry Horbury, who passed away in 2015. The new bass player Martin Connolly looks like an old school rock and roller and is ready to attack the crowd. VARDIS is ready for some action and they kick off with “Out Of The Way” and “Move Along”, which consist for about eighty percent of guitar solos. When you think that a guitar solo is over, Steve knows to make it longer and longer, until he realizes that he has to play more songs than one or two. Just cut off the guitar solo and start a new one. Many songs have been deleted from the original list, but everything sounds like magic to me. The flair they play these songs makes the band untouchable. The relatively newer songs are a bit shorter and I think that they are more or less meant to introduce the fans to this material as well. “Red Eye”, “Jolly Roger” and “Paranoia Strikes” are next. The interaction between the mutual band members is good, but once the guitar solo begins, Steve claims the stage and all eyes are staring into his direction. He’s the captain on the ship and he sets out the course. Blinks of an eye are enough for his fellow mates to know what to do next. In the meantime Berthus Westerhuis of FRANKENSTEIN and JURASSIC PARK has come to the front of the stage. He is enjoying it more than average and apparently, he is watching every move that his colleague is making. “Dirty Money” is for the old school rockers, who dig the old material the most. The introductions of Steve are priceless. The humor is typical British and I see a lot of people that don’t really care, but I’m almost wetting my pants, because of the few words that the man is saying. The jokes are dry, but they sound sweet to me. British people and humor is always a good combination. “Mods & Rockers” continues and still the guitars cry. The man only stops, when the plug is pulled out, but nobody wants him to stop. Is this metal? I should say that the answer is definitely a ‘no’, to be honest. Is it any good? No, it’s simply perfect. It’s boogie, it’s rock and roll, it swings and these lads really know to play good music. Not only Steve Zodiac, who gets most of the attention, but also his rhythm section, that consists of Martin Connoly and Joe Clancy. Even if you would blindfold them, they would astonish you with their power and dedication and the fact that they play so tight together. Because of the hard work that they do so perfectly, the spotlight can be on Steve constantly. "The Loser” is about no one in particular, I guess. By then, I’m in rock and roll heaven for a long time already. This must be the absolute highlight for me today, although we still have an ANGEL WITCH show coming up. “If I Were King” is on next, which is a killer song and probably a real VARDIS classic. Steve honors CHUCK BERRY with a duck walk during the solo part. Another legend has gone, but he is not forgotten and it’s so great to see that VARDIS is paying tribute to one of the founders of rock and roll. Obviously, Chuck is even honored on a heavy metal festival, simply because his influence on rock music was so huge. At the end of the show, I somehow wished that the band would bring back more great memories by playing “100 M.P.H.” or “Living Out Of Touch”, but both of them weren’t on the list. Instead, VARDIS closes with a lengthy and slower version of “Let’s Go”. I think, Steve is dedicating this song to all his fans tonight, the way he sings it and pronounces the words. And I know for sure, that yours truly and Berthus are among them. The band receives a standing ovation and leaves the stage.
It’s time for the last band to build up their gear. ANGEL WITCH has always been one of my favorite NWOBHM bands ever. Bandleader Kevin Heybourne is a genius in my book and I felt very lucky that he got the opportunity to do a headlining show on the last day of the last Very ‘Eavy festival. The two bands before him were absolutely amazing. A marvelous and energetic show of HOLOCAUST and a more than superb guitar orgasm show of VARDIS to heat up the audience and all ANGEL WITCH has to do is to kick the ball in and satisfy each and every one here. The enormous backdrop with the name of the band and the giant Baphomet figure already looks really amazing to me. This is the way things must have looked like when the band played live in a small joint somewhere in London in the late seventies or early eighties. I think, that the demo years and the first album were the best, but the very last album was great, too and people finally gained interest in ANGEL WITCH again. They will always remain a real cult band to me. It’s such a shame though, that ANGEL WITCH never really got the recognition, besides the people who really dig the underground scene. I mean, the people, that listen to the musicians, the lyrics and to the songs. People, that don’t fancy every band that is being pushed forward through the many record companies. Those people will always have a soft spot in their heart for ANGEL WITCH. And if every so-called metalhead would think the same way as we do over here in Stadskanaal, ANGEL WITCH could be bigger than IRON MAIDEN or SAXON, but I am ever so glad to see them headlining at Very ‘Eavy. With a back catalog of only winners and a few newies, it would be easy to do the trick tonight. The people are hungry for rock and warmed up and whatever would happen now, I can easily conclude that we had an excellent festival weekend. This could be the icing on the cake. And we did receive a very thick layer of icing from ANGEL WITCH, because their show was truly amazing. The ice is broken with “Gorgon”, one of my all-time favorites. This is NWOBHM at its very best. ANGEL WITCH and Heybourne in particular are masters in writing songs with a mysterious and dark vibe, but still in a catchy kind of style, which makes it easy on the ears. Short horror stories with a black as night basis. You know that there isn’t a happy ending and somehow it always worked fine for them. “Confused” is another classic from that mighty first album. If you look at the artwork on this masterpiece you will know already that this is not the ideal world to live in and that there is not much hope to any party songs on this album. The original artwork is to be seen in the National Gallery in London at Trafalgar Square, by the way. It’s a very small painting, but you’ll recognize it at once, if you look closely, because the LP sleeve is bigger than the original painting. “Into The Dark” is one of the four songs that the band is playing from their last album “As Above, So Below”, which really knocked me off my feet. From the looks on their faces, they seem to enjoy the reactions of the public a lot and the Fox was really jam-packed. Good for them! “Atlantis” and “Sorcerers” are next and you can see that the older songs get the best response by the public. The songs are perfectly performed and the band takes the time for some longer instrumental parts, where this is possible. They don’t improvise, but the stretch out the instrumental parts, which sounds cool in my opinion. A song like “Atlantis” is the perfect example of an ANGEL WITCH song with a dark lyrical subject and a very catchy feeling. Aren’t you ready to raise your fists in the air and yell ‘Atlantis To Rise, Atlantis To Rise’?! “Dead Sea Scrolls” is one of the best songs on the last album for me. The crowd becomes the choir in “White Witch”. And I think, that the band deserves a great choir like this audience. “The Night Is Calling” is next, but the bad news is that the night is almost over. The last songs are on the list, which means that the final chords will sound in the Fox Club. I must admit, that ANGEL WITCH was in perfect shape today and Hugo couldn’t have given us a better headliner than ANGEL WITCH. Obviously, they are the best band of the day, but more because the feeling is alright and ANGEL WITCH is a cult band in the eyes of every old school metal head around here and they have come from all over the planet to be at the Very ‘Eavy festival. In combination with their great show, their headlining position is very well deserved. “Extermination Day” is from the old days. No wonder, that it was chosen to be on the “New Wave Of British Heavy Metal ‘79 Revisited” compilation, the blueprint of what was hot in the NWOBHM scene and what not, according to Lars Ullrich (METALLICA) and Geoff Barton (Kerrang). “Guillotine” is the price song from the “As Above So Below” album, as far as I’m concerned. It sounds like it was written for the debut album. “Angel Of Death” is an old school classic and after that we are getting ready for a tribute to the mascot of ANGEL WITCH “Baphomet”. The occult goat headed symbol that is on the giant cloth behind the drummer. Sometimes its head is caught in a pentagram and all this blackness shows up well during this evening’s black mass by this NWOBHM band that pleases their fans to the max tonight. The show stopper is saved for “Angel Witch” of course and it’s time to sing your balls off one more time, before the final curtain falls. There’s a quick encore in the form of “Dr. Phibes” and then ANGEL WITCH leaves the stage and it gets very quiet in Stadskanaal. What a great gig! A worthy closing act of tonight and I think that everybody will agree with me here. We drink one more glass together with our friends. One last goodbye to Stadskanaal and then it’s over. We’ve had a blast at this well organized festival, that sounded very ‘eavy again, just like the name predicts already.
I think, that this edition was a very fine one. And especially that last NWOBHM triple axe attack was an awesome experience. Very ‘Eavy has often been referred as the Dutch brother (or sister) of Keep It True in Germany. It sure was an event that always searched for bands that weren’t to be seen on every festival on every corner of the street. You could feel and taste the love for old school heavy metal and the atmosphere was great. It’s a shame that it didn’t last any longer than this seventh edition. We want to thank Hugo, Ellen, all the bands, volunteers and crew and everybody involved for their hard work and effort to give us a good time at the festival. We always felt very welcome. And not only at the Very Eavy festival, but also at the Dutch Steel Festival in Zwolle, that I personally have some very fond memories of. Keep rocking Hugo and Ellen and I think we’ll meet again somewhere, some place, some time. Keep it heavy, or better: Keep It Very Eavy!! \m/ \m/
*Text by: Toine van Poorten/August 2017
*Photos by: Rita van Poorten/www.metalmaidens.com