UPDATE September 2017:

STEEL SHOCK-For Metal To Battle (Alone Records)
After listening to the STEEL SHOCK demo, I was very much looking forward to the debut album by this amazing new true heavy metal band. Well, the waiting is finally over and ten tracks are drilled with a jackhammer into my brains for fifty long minutes. Lord have mercy, because these ten stampedes are loud, wild and made of the purest metal that I’ve heard in ages. When you take a look at the titles of the songs alone, your heart will skip a beat. This is not for pussies, wimps or posers! This is stuff for leather studded metal demons, decorated with chains and a coat covered with patches and with the heart on the right place. We bid you welcome to “For Metal To Battle”. The CD comes in a very colorful sleeve, designed by Eric van der Heiden. It will immediately urge you to select it from the huge pile of new releases at your local record store. This is the album that you will bring home with you. The sleeve design, the song titles and the sound will make you a happy person and one who is proud to be a metal head for sure. Well, fasten your seatbelts and push the ‘play’ button and go for it. Already in opener “Shockwaves Of Steel”, you’ll hear the sound that you like so much and where influences of MANOWAR, WIZARD, ACCEPT, JUDAS PRIEST and many other metal bands meet together. Thundering drums, flashing guitars and a singer that cries it out so high, that I was wondering who was hired to pinch him in the Ghoulies. He (or she) did a good job, that’s for sure. “Under The Sign” breathes MANOWAR and I even discovered the album title of these heroes of thunderous metal back in the lyrics of this anthem. Let’s see if you can trace it, too. I really hope, that the four musketeers of heavy metal from New York will get to hear this song as well and they might start to sound like this again, like back in the old days. If you dig the early sound of MANOWAR then this one is definitely not to be missed. You will either grab your sword and sway it in the air in no time or you will grab your air guitar and as far as both options are concurning, I hope that everybody stays at least an arm width away from you. Otherwise things might end up in a bloody mess. The first riffs of this song however reminded me of IRON MAIDEN’s “Transylvania”. “Metal Fire” on the contrary has more JUDAS PRIEST influences. Just listen to the flashing riffs. However, it has the power of a band like MOTÖRHEAD, because of the loud pounding drums. It’s in this song, where you will hear back the title of the album. “Eyes Of Fire” is a song about warriors, which starts with a nice riff. It sounds a little bit dark, like BLACK SABBATH, but the marching beat will remind you of a long row of warriors, ready to start the fight. This is what you would call epic warrior metal and what more do you wish for? Obviously, there’s a lot of variation on this album, going from fast and furious songs to epic and slower tunes with a heavy beat. All metal styles are present here. “Night Of Steel” starts off with some mighty riffs and a satanic laugh, before the singer cranks out the lyrics. It’s in the best JUDAS PRIEST tradition and a great tribute to heavy metal by these true defenders of faith. It also includes some great axe work. Surely, you will shout your balls off, when the song title comes along. Goodbye balls, glad to have known you! “Stand Tall” is another moment to be proud of and one where everybody will raise their fists in the air. The metal riffs and strong pounding beat will definitely take care of that. There is a little horror type of atmosphere in the way, that Nima sings the lyrics, which reminds me of HALLOWEEN (the American band, not the German one). Everybody who knows me well, will know that this is meant as a compliment. The first riffs of “Break Down The Walls” will definitely remind you of “The Mob Rules” of the mighty BLACK SABBATH and it also invites you to sing along. It’s a warrior song that will bring victory to the battle field. “Ready To Rock” is a tribute to heavy metal: raise your fist, sweat it out, bang your head and feel the adrenaline running through your veins, you know the feeling. There’s only one warning to that: these guitar solos can split your skull. ‘All Hail Metal, F*ck The Rest’, yes, that’s the kind of lyrics, I love to hear! While the riffs of “Axe Of Hatred” could very well be a rare and forgotten song from the “Freewheel Burning” album of PRIEST. And before you can blink your eyes and you feel absorbed by the enormous tsunami of heavy metal riffs and the glorious, victorious sound of this magnificent true heavy metal album, you’ve arrived at the very last song on this amazing full-length player. This song sums it all up. “All Hail To Metal” is ready to sing, scream and shout along with your fist held high in the air. No matter what, you will sing along to every song after hearing it once. And I think that many devoted metal fans will agree with me, that there is nothing better than sharing the harmony with people, who dig the same music. And this starts by singing together to songs like that. This is the ultimate celebration of heavy metal stuffed in one song of a bit more than three minutes. I feel goosebumps all over, gentlemen! I don’t wear a hat, otherwise I would raise it for all of you five. STEEL SHOCK is everything that true metal warriors want to hear. There is no compromise or even a nanosecond that you will get the feeling that you are not listening to a true heavy metal CD. It’s pure as hell and true heavy metal, until the last notes fade away. Why waste more words to a review, when you just want to push the ‘repeat’ button again and again to get that real heavy metal feeling? After listening to the three track demo, I was hoping that the CD would be a really good heavy metal album. But it went much further than that. It has become an album that will make you proud that you are a metal head. STEEL SHOCK contains of true metal warriors Nima Metalheart (ACT OF STATE/GLORIA VICTIS) on heavy metal warrior vocals, Sasch Machyne (HIGHWAY KILLER/SAINTSBLEED) on bulldozer bass, E. Klipse (KING FOR A DAY) on all destroying drums, Luon Knight (CROMNIC INSOMNIA) on flashing guitars and Martjo Whirlewolf (Martjooooooooooooooooo \m/) (VORTEX/WILDROSE) on flashing guitars. Now turn up the sound, you metal heads and read all the news that you need to know about STEEL SHOCK on http://www.steelshock.com or http://www.facebook.com/shockwaveofsteel.
(9,6/10- Toine van Poorten)

UPDATE June 2017:

EMERGENCY-Martial Law (Divebomb Records)
I’m going to turn back time twenty-eight years ago to the year 1989. I’m still single and living in Breda. Times were so much different back then, but I was already a devoted metal fan for almost fifteen years. The local scene contained some very well-talented bands, like SAVAGE, HORIZON, RANCID, HIGHWAY, SCARLET ANGEL and maybe EMERGENCY could be added to that list as well. I’m not saying that EMERGENCY hails from Breda, but two members came from local heroes RANCID and I’d like to refer to Jos Antonissen (bass) and Frans Limonard (guitar). They teamed up with former PICTURE singer Pete Lovell, who turned his back to this well-known metal band to make room for new singer Bert Heerink (ex-VANDENBERG). If my memory serves me right, former HIGHWAY and RANCID singer Jan van Dun was the original singer of EMERGENCY, when they started their career, before Pete came in sight. The sound of the band would be fresh and I remember seeing them for the very first time and thinking that they sounded not as heavy, that I was hoping they would be. When buying the album and I started to have a closer listen to it, I had to adjust my thoughts about the sound on “Martial Law”. You can hear some of the best melodic rock albums from Holland, comparable to Dutch leaders, like ZINATRA, NO EXQZE, FIRST AVENUE, VANDENBERG and PERFECT STRANGERS. If you implement these names to the worldwide scene, you can add bands like EUROPE and TREAT as well for that matter. The music of EMERGRNCY contains that certain kind of freshness, because of the use of keyboards and the powerful and very clean vocals of Pete, who is truly an excellent singer. The ten songs and forty minutes of melodic rock sound timeless and there are indeed some rough diamonds on this album. Many years later in 2016, the album has been re-released on Divebomb records. Unfortunately, there are no bonus tracks and it’s just a plain copy of the original album, of which I still have the vinyl version in my record collection. My best memory of EMERGENCY is when they supported PICTURE during their farewell gig at De Bonkelaar in Sliedrecht. I remember like it was only yesterday. Well, let’s go through all the songs to make clear that we’re dealing with an outstanding record here. Now, I just don’t care about the polished sound of the songs every now and then, simply because this simply belongs to melodic metal and AOR. Just listen to opener “Hiding In The Shadow” and the chorus, which is made to sing along to. It’s as perfect as it can be with the very recognizable voice of Pete, who cranks it out and you have to start tapping your feet immediately. The guitar solo is the cream on top of the cake. The keyboard sound is irreplaceable in a melodic rock song like that. Hedwig Spijkers starts with a drum solo on “All Running Wild”, which is followed by a strong guitar riff. My thoughts go out to VANDENBERG here (who else?). It rocks, but still has enough melody to appeal to fans of AOR as well. The stomping beat has been translated to tapping feet. This is suitable for a long trip on the American highway that last for hundreds of miles. “Reaching Out” has some strong guitars and I believe that Pete’s vocals can compete with the likes of Bert Heerink on a more national level. And that’s a compliment. With the flashing guitar solo, it surely is one of the heaviest moments on this album. It also has got a catchy chorus that makes it ready to sing along quite easy. “Please, Say Please Me” is a ballad type of song. Usually, ballads are often the most successful songs of a band. Just feel the emotion in Pete’s voice. It’s there, that you can hear the quality all the band members have. The song has got an international allure and I ask myself why this never became a hit single. It was released as a single, but it never received any airplay. Why? I really don’t know and I keep asking myself this question over and over again. I guess, it was released at the wrong time at the wrong place by the wrong band. If this would have been released by EUROPE, it sure would have been a huge hit single. There are tears dripping down my spine and my heart is crying, when hearing the beauty of a track like that. “Maybe It’s Love” sounds lighter and easier on the ear maybe. In “Across The Desert Sands” you’ll hear the well-known Pete Lovell vocal sound in the best possible way I guess and together with the VANDENBERG-like harmony vocals, it always has been a very pleasant song to listen to for me. And throughout the years, it definitely became one of the highlights as well. “Running Out Of Miracles” has also been among my faves, because it rocks so fast and loud and again it has that catchy drift and some great guitar work. The guitar work is breathtaking and is always in service of the song of course. No ego tripping here, but craftsmanship of the highest level. “Upside Down” shows how important a good keyboard player can be. “Upside Down” is a groovy rocker with a very nice guitar solo, that seems to come from out of nowhere. Then we’ve arrived at the second ballad on this album, called “Just One Precious Moment”. Well, listening to this album is one of them. In my thoughts, I can see the cigarette lighters flicker in the dark, when this song is being played in a live situation. The CD closes with a ballsy rocker, called “Dangerous”. One more time you’ll be able to rock and sing along to the song title. And after forty minutes, it’s over and done and you’ve enjoyed another record by a Dutch melodic rock band. I never would have guessed that this journey would end so abruptly. There has never been a follow up to “Martial Law” and obviously there are no leftovers or unreleased tracks. Ten tracks and that’s final. The story goes that the band was running out of fresh ideas and therefore drummer Hedwig Spijkers decided to step out of the band. That still isn’t enough reason to call it quits though. Ernst van Ee stepped in, a well-respected drummer in the heavy metal scene in Holland and well-known for his work with HIGHWAY CHILE, VENGEANCE and HELLOISE. But he also couldn’t deliver any inspiration for new songs. That’s a shame, but life goes on, as they say. I could trace down Frans Limonard, who plays in a cover band, called THE BUZZ, but I lost track of Hedwig, Coen and Jos. I don’t think I need to mention what Pete Lovell has been doing after EMERGENCY. He toured all over the world with PICTURE and right now he is about to do the same with his brandnew outfit LOVELL’S BLADE. EMERGENCY consisted of Pete Lovell on vocals, Frans Limonard on guitar and vocals, Jos Antonissen on bass, Coen van Hoof on keyboards and Hedwig Spijkers on drums. What would have happened, when EMERGENCY would have recorded a second album? I really don’t know, but I’m ever so glad that this album is finally re-released on CD by Divebomb Records. Holland can be very proud on the legacy of EMERGENCY.
(8,2/10- Toine van Poorten)

JURASSIC PARK-Rock 'n Roll Machine (independent)
I’m not going to review the movies of that well-known park with dinosaurs here. No, the band is called JURASSIC PARK and if you don’t know them, you should be ashamed of yourself. This bad ass, straight forward, no nonsense rock band will split your skull. Their live EP was simply magnificent, even when it only contains five tracks. This time they’ll go for the real deal with a fourteen track studio album, called “Rock ‘N’ Roll Machine”, which is a good description for each band member. Derived from bands like FRANKENSTEIN, STAAL, STRANGER and DEAD HEAD, they bring a lot of rock experience on stage and they spread it out over this studio release as well. Did you ever witness that they light a stick of dynamite and stick it up your ass? It’s that feeling that you get, when you have a listen to this rock eargasm, that will definitely blow your mind. The band has got a big stack of Marshall amps plugged in and they will blow them up one by one to describe the volume created here with their music. It’s a crime to put these things to eleven, but someone has to try it, I guess. Berthus was the only volunteer. It will blow the curls out of your hair, so I’m glad being bald. Let’s go through these fourteen hot and spicy tracks here and make sure, that you’ll end up running to your local record store to get yourself a copy of this blueprint of Dutch rock music. Fasten your seat belts, put on your helmets and let’s get rocked. The album starts off with “Rock ‘N’ Roll Machine” - a song that was already on the live EP. It’s really great to hear the studio version of it and for sure you’ll be poised on the edge of your seat, when you’ll hear the enormous power of this song. The voice of John Scholing is very entertaining and it sounds a bit similar to his brother in arms Leon Goewie back in his youth. Give the man a microphone in his hands and he will entertain you. The dynamic rhythm section and the great guitar work of Berthus Westerhuis will do the rest. You only want to start to boogie woogie all night long. And if this doesn’t do the trick, “Solid As A Rock” sure will, unless you’re just a sack of concrete, that doesn’t move his body to anything at all. It’s another straight forward rock song, that also got on that aforementioned live EP. The sound of it is as solid as a rock, sometimes things can be so simple. People, who don’t know the band that well and I can think of people from abroad, their sound could be best described as early VENGEANCE, AC/DC, early MONTROSE, ROSE TATTOO or MOLLY HATCHET. There’s a prominent place for guitar and vocals, but the bass player and drummer are never too far away and without them you wouldn’t feel the music pounding in your stomach and that’s what I am searching for in rock music. This one will also invite you to sing along to the chorus, I guess. “Ready” was called “Ready To Rock” on the live EP and it also marks the last track, that got on this ‘must have’ disc. It starts with a great guitar salvo by Berthus and continues with Hans beating the shit out of his drum set. Listen to him pounding the bass drum here, what a power!! “Stay Clean” will be recognized by people that are as old as I am, because it’s taken from the FRANKENSTEIN vaults and it has been waiting for years to be officially released. Now it’s been adopted by JURASSIC PARK and shown to mankind, so we’ll never forget the great sound of it. I’m glad this is finally recorded in this form. “Welcome” is an instrumental, that has been used in their live shows and therefore it’s of big value for diehard fans of the band, I guess and also it’s a point of recognition. “Back On The Street” has got the groove and filthiness of a band like for example ROSE TATTOO. You’d better get out of the way, because it’s ripping and killing. It really has got the force of a six pounder and it’s ready to explode!! Check out the raunchy guitar solo here and the wild singing parts of John. It also has got a sort of Southern Rock feeling, that you can’t deny. Then it’s time for Hans to knock the shit out of his kit again in the beginning of “Higher Grounds”. If you know the lyrics, you must be a fan of STEVIE WONDER, because he originally wrote this song. His version is not as L – O – U – D as this one, but it’s definitely a good example of his influence in rock music, since this is not the first rock band doing a cover of Mr. Wonder. Keep knocking ‘em hard, Hans! This classic tune sounds so much better than the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS version of it. After that, you will be astonished one more time. “Frankenstein” is not only a classic by the EDGAR WINTER band, but it’s also a track of JURASSIC PARK under the subtitle of “Keep On Rocking”, because many people may know it under that title. When listening to JURASSIC PARK, you will always have the idea that good old FRANKENSTEIN is still rocking, so much is for sure. “Kick Ass” has got that well-known ROSE TATTOO attitude. This is open-minded, straight forward, slam in the face with a crowbar rock and roll. NASHVILLE PUSSY could be another reference, but Berthus doesn’t have the tits of Ruyter Suys. Then it’s time for a long time favorite of yours truly and that’s “Storm Over Holland”, which is another song from the lost but definitely not forgotten FRANKENSTEIN years. I am getting goosebumps, every time I hear this song. The riffs of Berthus, the solid drum rolls and the lyrics…. Hell yeah, this is a massive party and I like it that way. This is awesome beyond belief. Same goes for “Tiger”, which is also from the good old days. Berthus lets his guitar sound like the great RONNIE MONTROSE, another hero who died much too soon. “Road Fever” is on next, which is once again some real high octane fueled rock and roll. Back in Holland, they would call this ‘nie lulle, maor poetse’ rock. Silly joke, which is only funny for the Dutch people among us. Don’t try your Google translator for that phrase. And before you’ll know it, we’re almost at the end of the album, but not before Berthus has cranked out another genius guitar solo on that one. He can’t be beaten and they’ll have to pull the plug, otherwise he just won’t stop. He’s like the Duracell rabbit from the commercial. Some Southern styled rock is on next in “Good Man Down” from the very swamps of Zwolle area. You’d better believe it. Just listen to the rawking sound of the guitar and the fast beating of the bass drum. The last short song is another instrumental tune, called “Dejavu (Revisited)”. Hans and Berthus are joining forces one more time with Roelof and John joining in what sounds like a spontaneous jam. The booklet of the album contains so many great pictures and even more firework than in an average big city on New Year’s Eve. If you still didn’t run to your local record store or ordered a copy of this album online, you will never get the real taste of rock and roll. This is the real deal, ladies and gents and it is brought to you by Berthus Westerhuis on lead guitar, John Scholing on vocals, Roelof Kloeze on bass guitar and Hans Spijker on drums. They are the rock and roll machine. For more information, just tune in at http:// www.facebook.com/jurassicparkrocks or http://www.jurassic-park.nl and let these dinosaurs rock your world.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)

LOVELL'S BLADE-Stone Cold Steel (Limelight Records)
The second dose of Pete Lovell continues with the debut album of LOVELL’S BLADE, the new outfit by this singer, who also contributed on the EMERGENCY and PICTURE albums, released on Divebomb. The album contains ten tracks, worthy of about forty-five minutes of melodic rock. The rich career of the Jersey based metal singer came to a point, where he formed his own band, which carries out his name. With LOVELL’S BLADE Pete is about to conquer the world, starting in Holland and South America. Do we also hear back some influences from his former band PICTURE and EMERGENCY? We’ll soon find out. Of course his very recognizable voice will easily point you into that direction, however opener “Legend In A Day” doesn’t really sound like PICTURE or EMERGENCY at all. Instead, you’ll hear a ballsy rock song with a very nice guitar solo in the middle. Well, I can tell you that much, that Pete really is a legendary singer in my book, which definitely didn’t happen in one day. He came a long way and never gave up on music. He’s a dedicated singer, who loves his fans and follows his dreams and heart. I hear influences of AC/DC in the opening riffs of “Dynamite”. Heavy rock is the best description, I can give you. “Rollin’ On” is also their first video clip and the twin guitars by Andre Wullems and Mike Ferguson rock like hell. This is ‘feeling good’ rock music to the max and an excellent choice for a video clip. Arena rock, rock for the masses, easy on the ear with a catchy twist and shortly, everything a rocker wants to hear. Who’s got demons in her eyes? She must be the “Devil’s Daughter”. This song rocks a bit slower and darker, but still with a catchy touch and some massive guitar licks. The first choir vocals announce itself in “Nothing To Lose”, which is very easy to sing along to, if you like. What have you got to lose? The guitars really sound superb again here. It reminds me of the ultimate marriage between EMERGENCY and PICTURE, which would be VENGEANCE in my opinion. Heavy rock with a lot of balls, but still catchy enough to sing along to it. “Out For Blood” rocks a bit louder and it will definitely please the old school metal heads, I guess. I think, it’s the loudest track off the album. Then it’s time for the obligatory ballad and the acoustic guitars. You’d better dim the lights and stare “Into The Sun”. The song starts off with some acoustics but soon the speed goes up a bit and it becomes more powerful than I’d expected at first. It’s the perfect song to play on a lazy Sunday morning. “Rise And Fall” starts off with the sound of air raid and I hear marching soldiers. Without getting too militaristic here, this song has got a strong beat and some awesome guitar work. After the first listening session, “Inside Out” has easily become one of the highlights for me. At first, AC/DC would be a reference and the very catchy drive works just excellent. “Stone Cold Steel” sounds less metal than PICTURE, but it rocks more than EMERGENCY. It’s got the best of both worlds, as far as I’m concerned. The album closes with “As Much As I Can”, which is the second video clip of the band, and another great rock tune with a catchy touch. The songs are easy on the ear and even after a first listen, they ask for more, which is good. Pete Lovell has reached his destination with LOVELL’S BLADE. The band pounds “Stone Cold Steel” and the music is hot and catchy. His partners in crime are Patrick Velis on bass, Noel van Eersel on drums and former PICTURE guitar tandem Mike Ferguson and Andre Wullems (ex-GERMANE). Unfortunately, we missed the CD presentation in de Baroeg, but we will catch up with the band at the Very “Eavy festival in Stadskanaal or on one of their many other live shows in Holland. I’m sure, it will be dynamite! Go to http:// www.lovellsblade.info or http://www.facebook.com/officiallovellsblade for all the information that you need of this rocker from The Channel Islands.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)

MYSTO DYSTO-The Rules Have Been Disturbed (+ No Aids In Hell) (Dark Symphonies)
I still remember that this band was among the many newcomers in world of metal, when I was young. I was devoted to the old and established bands like VANDENBERG, VENGEANCE, BODINE and PICTURE and this movement was totally new to me. Later on, I started to gain interest in all those new and more extreme bands and all the more I listened to them, the more I got into their speedy kind of metal. I’d like to refer to MYSTO DYSTO, MANDATOR, MESSINA, PESTILENCE, THANTOS, L.W.S, to name but a few. Most recently, MYSTO DYSTO released their one and only album from 1986 plus the four track demo from 1987 on one CD. The twelve songs are worthy of 66,6 minutes (well, actually a bit more) of speed/thrash metal, that stays in your head, once you’ve heard it. If you listen to their great stuff, you will never guess, that MYSTO DYSTO originally started out as a blues rock band. However, when Marcel Verdurmen joined forces, things changed rapidly and nothing reminded anymore of their blues rock history. Marcel came from VAULT, that also played heavy metal and their music got more aggressive from there on and could be linked to US metal. Think about AGENT STEEL and SAVAGE GRACE for that matter. Find out why the rules of music have been disturbed forever on the fast and furious opener “Power Of The Law”. I’m sure, you’ll be devoted to the band forever. Fast drum beats, icy high screams and furious guitar licks will make you wish for more. The powerful drum beat is pounding like a battering ram. If I listen to it now, it sounds just like the many great US metal bands back in those days. Just check out a song like “Confused” that shows a lot of variation in styles. The slow intro, a nice instrumental mid piece and the fast headbanging rhythm by the four-legged drummer will make you aware that this is the real deal. It’s 1984 and heavy metal broadened its horizon. Speed metal, doom metal and thrash metal were introduced and there was a certain revolution going on, in which melody was kept a secret and rawness and fastness were more and more being introduced. Guitarists were riffing more than playing a lead guitar solo and sometimes the lyrics were quite difficult to understand. However, not by this band as a matter of fact, because the songs are being sung with a natural voice and there’s no grunting at all (luckily). “Tarantula” has some mind-blowing guitar work with a very poisonous bite. Spiders are not my favorite animals, but I must admit that I like this one a lot. What an immense power is being spread out here. “Attila The Destructor” is a small and short tribute to the ancient warrior. Then it’s time for one of my favorites on the album. The band really explodes in a speed metal monster with lots of speed changes and instrumental violence in a song called “Full Speed To Hell”. There is a leading role for magnificent drummer Claus, who does a terrific job here. This is really like a spontaneous jam with a big load of speed violence. Make sure your neck screws are tightened, because your head might fall off when banging on this one. This is by far one of my highlights. Same goes for “Indenter”, which also has got some slower parts. The guitar solos easily fly through the speed limit, there’s no doubt about it. “One Night Stand” however sounds a bit more melodic and the riffs remind me of the good old days of JUDAS PRIEST. I think, this was meant to be a hit single, because it’s also the most commercial song here. Not in the EUROPE or BON JOVI kind of style though, but you must admit that it is very melodic and catchy. “Visit Of The Vikings” is the final song from the album and it’s a lengthy heraldic warrior tune, that starts with the sound of the sea. In the distance, you’ll almost hear the Vikings approaching. The song starts with a nice acoustic intro, but soon the epic warriors will put some power into this track. There are many speed changes, which is very exciting. The last four songs on this CD have been taken from the demo “No Aids In Hell”. It starts with the lengthy track “Aids”, which has a lot of nice mood and speed changes. The speed train continues with more variation in the “Marche Funebre” (“March Of The Dead”) theme, but this quick march is totally in the MYSTO DYSTO style. The beastly voice of Peter Meijering dominates and sounds more extreme than on the full-length album. “Fury’s Child” is up next, which sounds ultra-extreme and more than one can handle. I remember this from the Dutch radio show ‘Vara’s Vuurwerk’, where it was played over and over. Low flying guitar solos, insane drum beats and high vocal screams are the main ingredients here. “Demiurg” is tearing away in fourth gear and the lengthy instrumental part sounds really breathtaking with all those guitar salvos. You bet, there’s no aids in hell and I am in musical heaven right now! The demo closes with “Evil Dead” and I think, that this horror movie was the starting point for it. MYSTO DYSTO sure changed the Dutch metal scene completely and they introduced us to some real extreme forms of heavy metal. As you’ll probably know, this was only the beginning and someone just had to lead the way. I am not saying, that it all started out with releases like this demo from 1987, but it sure was part of that whole movement in this particular scene. Note: The “No Aids In Hell” is also released on cassette, so how cult is that?? MYSTO DYSTO signed a record deal, but because of that they had to change their name into MANDATOR. And another cult name was added to the Dutch metal scene. MYSTO DYSTO consisted of Claus van den Berg on drums, Marcel Verdurmen (MANDATOR, ORPHANAGE, now in ALTAR) on lead guitar and bass guitar, Luit de Jong on lead guitar and bass guitar and Peter Meijering on vocals. The CD booklet contains a lot of nice picture, newspaper cuttings and a good biography. The biography shows that these guys really lived for their music. If you sell your Honda Goldwing to pay for the costs of your debut album, then you are a true metal hero in my book. Check this fantastic release out, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)

PICTURE-Traitor (Divebomb Records)
Just keep those memories coming. This time, it’s the 1985 release of PICTURE called “Traitor” that sees the light of day on CD. I kept devoted to this band and I’m still playing the album every now and then. There’s only one original member in this line-up, but the music was still hot and their single “Fantasies” even received some radio airplay at the radio show of Carola Hamer. I bought the twelve inch and played it until it turned grey. The line-up of PICTURE back in those days consisted of some pretty well-known people from the Dutch heavy metal scene. Although the sound is quite different than on the original PICTURE albums, it’s still very firmly rooted in the heavy metal. Perhaps it sounds a bit more melodic and catching, but this fifth masterpiece by PICTURE is definitely worth checking out, as prove is given you in this next review. Let’s go through all twelve songs here, worthy of a full hour of catchy heavy metal. Title track “Traitor” is the opener on this fabulous album with the first maniacal guitar licks by Chris van Jaarsveld. It rocks big time, no doubt about it, but unfortunately it never received the airplay that the earlier albums got. Just have a tasty bite of the great rocker “Right Now” and you’ll catch my drift. It sounds melodic and catching at the same time, yet with that heavy touch that PICTURE has been familiar for. The single “Fantasies” is included here in two different versions. There’s the album version and one lengthy version, which has also been on that twelve inch. I love that song and if you don’t know it, I strongly suggest to check this out. However, this was of course not the only strong track on this album. “Dyin’ To Live” is among my favorites as well. A fast catchy rock tune in an up tempo speed. And what do you think about the crazy sounding “Lost In The Night” with that awesome drum beat by Jacques ‘Shake’ van Oevelen. The awesome guitar parts sound amazing, dirty and flashing as ever. “State Of Shock” has got that very recognizable guitar sound of Chris and Henny, although the beat is a bit slower and more pounding. The song title is very suitable to sing along to in a live situation. Just shout it out loud and you can’t go wrong. The deafening drum beats of Jacques start the mighty “Loud ‘N’ Proud”. Obviously, PICTURE still sounded loud and they can be proud of being successful in the metal scene after all these years. “Out Of Control” is another good example of the steady heavy sound of the band at that very moment. It’s definitely more melodic but the vibe is still good and PICTURE sounds as hot as hell. Every album needs a good ballad and on this album “We Don’t Need To Hide” is a good choice, which also received a little airplay on national radio, but it never received the attention that it needs to become a hit single. I mean, a hit single like “Fantasies” was. The long version from the twelve inch is on next and then the 1985 version of “Bombers” follows thereafter. This may sound like blasphemy, because nothing can top this great original song, but I must admit that I really liked this version, when I heard it for the first time. It sounds new and fresh and more commercial (to use a dirty word here) than the original tune, which just cranked and yanked like nothing else has ever done before. Let’s say it’s more or less a tribute song by the 1985 line-up. “Rock On Tonight” is the only message I can give you after hearing this amazing album again. The last three bonus tracks have been taken from the aforementioned twelve inch version of “Fantasies”. During this time PICTURE consisted of Rien Vreugdenhill on bass (who else?), Pete Lovell on vocals, Henry van Manen on lead guitar, Chris van Jaarsveld on lead guitar and Jacques ‘Shake’ van Oevelen (RIP) on drums. Rien is still a member of PICTURE and Pete went on to form LOVELL’S BLADE. Chris is a long term member of SLEEZE BEEZ, who reformed for a short while in 2010. In 2011 they supported AEROSMITH in Holland. Before that he also teamed up with Jan Koster in the Dutch punk rock scene with the band JETLAND. Henry van Manen went of our radar. The saddest story however is from Jacques, who recently passed away. This legendary drummer is no more among us. He has been recording new material with Leerdam based GILGAMESJ, but due to complications after a surgery, he died at a hospital in 2016. I am still heartbroken about it. Therefore I’d like to dedicate this review of “Traitor” to PICTURE and Jacques “Shake’ van Oevelen. R.I.P. Jacques, we’ll never forget you!
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)

STEEL SHOCK-First Strike (Demo) (independent)
This is the limited edition three track demo CD of the new true metal band STEEL SHOCK from the area of Groningen. It’s hand numbered and was handed out at the twentieth edition of the Keep It True festival. If true metal is your favorite thing and you couldn’t be in Germany or any other reason, then you’ll definitely have to look forward to the full length CD release later on this year. You will be stunned. The three songs are worthy of fifteen minutes of steel shock attack, which you will feel throughout your entire body. When listening to “Metal Fire”, the names of many metal bands from the eighties will probably pass by in your head. RAVEN, MANOWAR, JUDAS PRIEST, WARLORD, RUNNING WILD, ACCEPT and thousand others. Those first are JUDAS PRIEST in “Steeler”, an untouchable song for me. It’s the purest of the purest that you can taste. The guitars cry and the wild rhythm will make you bang your head up and down for sure. It sounds amazing, like it was written in 1981. And the lyrics are about what the average metal head is thinking about: leather, metal, fire, chains, warriors, swords and so on. It’s what a true metal song needs and more. But there is more. Just have a taste of the flashing guitar solo or wait for the second track and listen to the first guitar riffs of “Under The Sign…”. This song is very easy on the ears. I hear some MANOWAR influences, which makes me wish for the good old days of “Battle Hymns”. STEEL SHOCK stands proud with their sword held high and fists in the air. Don’t change anything about it, I would say. If MANOWAR would still sound like that, they would probably double their fan base in no time. The last song is called “Shockwave Of Steel”. I don’t think, that I need to say more after reading this title, do I? It’s all there with the icy screams and thundering riffs. All ingredients for another true metal bang your head party. I think, this song contains the most power of them all and it’s the fastest track on this disc. So fasten your seat belts and your neck bolts, if you want to survive this pure steel mother*cker. Just push the ‘repeat’ button after this song to stay in this good vibe. STEEL SHOCK consists of people, who have have earned a lot of respect in the world of hard rock and heavy metal. The band line-up is Nima Metal Heart on vocals, Lijon Knight on guitar, Sasch Machine on bass guitar, Abigail on drums and Martjo Whirlwolf (of VORTEX) on guitar. After the release of this three tracker however, Abigail has left the band and is being replaced by E. Klipse. We are very excited about these three tracks and can’t wait to lay our hands on the band’s debut album “For Metal To Battle” via the Greek label Alone Records (http://www.alone.gr) . A tour with legendary German metal band WIZARD will follow soon. Website: http://www.steelshock.com or http://www.facebook.com/shockwavesofsteel.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)

VAULT-Burning Eyes - The Anthology (Eat Metal Records)
Where is the passion for old school Dutch heavy metal in Holland? I simply don’t get it, that a Greek label released this gem and not any obscure underground Dutch record label. It’s absurd and pretty annoying, that we always jump around the no hopers and new one day flies. But damn it, we are so glad to be able to review a CD from Dutch heavy metal band VAULT, simply because they deserve all the attention. The album is called “Burning Eyes” and the subtitle is ‘The Anthology”. It contains seventeen tracks and about the full eighty minutes of music, that fits on a CD. Now that’s what I call value for money. That sure is what an anthology album is all about. The lyrics are inside the CD booklet and there are a few live shots in there as well, but I will give you more information while reading on, don’t worry. The CD starts off with the album “No More Escape” from 1983 and you’ll hear some fiery riffs and the icy high screams of singer Henri Draaijer in “Suicide”. That is what heavy metal is all about. Just listen to the IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST influences here. This fast rocker really leaves a great first impression. But dedicated rockers always look for more, so just check out the beauty of “On Forever”, which delivers some true seventies styled heavy rock, like PINK FLOYD and URIAH HEEP and some brilliant guitar work. After the intro, the guitar riff follows, which obviously has some influences from URIAH HEEP’s “Gypsy”. The variation in speed will certainly keep you focused in this song. “Desire” is a raunchy and crusty rocker, which is pretty fast forward and uncompromising. The variation in styles couldn’t be more diverse, when the ballad type of song “Leader Of The Pack” is next. The sensitive guitar solo will definitely touch your heart and soul. Henri’s vocals remind me a bit of Frank van Stijn of GILGAMESJ in the slower parts. There is a lot of emotion in his voice. “No More Escape” is the title track and surely there is no escape after that. The guitar solos keep coming. This is what every devoted heavy metal fan wanted to hear back then. “The Gambler” is a song, you won’t hear that often in 2017. Playing a drum solo on a studio album is probably not done in this millennium, but I really wish that some bands would still do it. It’s controversial, rebellious and it proves that you have a great drummer, like Norbert Sulmann. He sounds like a mix between Sandy Slavin, Carl Canedy and Robb Reiner. Both thumbs up for this absurd fast drummer and to do something that not many bands would dare to do, even not in the eighties. That’s exactly why you had to tune in to VAULT back in those days. “Too Young To Fight” continues with some exciting mood changes. It’s the last song off the album “No More Escape” and it has some more nice axe work of Arno. It’s not a problem that the band only had one guitar player, because he got enough space to show his great skills. Heavy metal was running through their veins on this album for sure, so just listen to the great guitar solos here. The next two songs are taken from the rare, expensive and hard to find seven inch single, that only exists in the deepest vaults of the diehard metal fan, called “Hell Of A Bock” with the title track of this anthology album “Burning Eyes” on the B-side. The A-side is loud and heavy and it has a riff, that comes straight from the book of heavy metal guitar players. Once you’ve hear it, you’ll start banging your head for sure. The B-side of the seven inch starts off slowly, but then they step on the gas and go for the full speed or nothing. In this great track are many mood changes and there is some awesome guitar work as well. It was the first introduction to VAULT, when they released the single in 1982. Why nobody picked it up and made sure that VAULT was in the highest regions of the Dutch metal scene, next to HIGHWAY CHILE, PICTURE, VENGEANCE and BODINE is still a big mystery to me. “Run Or Die” is taken from their “Sword Of Steel” demo, recorded in 1985 and it starts the way that RIOT’s “Loanshark” opened, but in this case with the fast drum work by Norbert Sulmann. The demo was also released on vinyl in 2014. “Afraid Of The Dark” starts with a fiery riff and then a steady beat follows next. “His Will Shall Be Done” contains some awesome guitar work and it has a lot of power. This is really the complete picture of VAULT: some great vocals, a steady rhythm and one hell of a guitarist. Why did their career stop so suddenly? The climate for a true metal band was still fine in 1985, but somehow it just didn’t work anymore after the release of this demo. Just check out a song like “Terror” with a biting sound and the great vocal pull outs. This sounds like magic to me. It has got a very catchy twist and again the mind-blowing axe work of Arno de Roo. Arno is one of the two brothers in the band with Koos on bass. They must have had a strong bond together, but that unity just didn’t last after a few years. In the meantime, I start banging my head up and down to the sound of the fast rocker “Behind The Walls Of Death”. The region of Drente can be proud of a band like VAULT, so much is for sure after enjoying one of the highlights on this anthology. But that’s not all yet, because “Blackmail” sounds even faster and this time the neighbors start complaining about the noise, while reviewing this amazing CD. It really blew me off my feet. “Revenge For Rape” is more serious and comes straight from the heart, which is a power ballad that needs to be heard. The last song on this eighty minute anthology is called “Sword Of Steel”. If you’re talking about true metal, well this might be the ultimate example. The VAULT is empty now and this CD delivers a good and complete overview of what this band has been about. VAULT consisted of Arno de Roo on guitars, Norbert Sulmann on drums, Koos de Roo on bass and Henri Draaijer on vocals. I raise my sword of steel to these four members and thank them for the great music that they performed throughout the years. Another must have item can be added to your wants list with this CD
(8,8/10- Toine van Poorten)

UPDATE October 2016:

MESSINA-Terrortory (Divebomb Records)
Divebomb Records did an awesome job with this compilation. They give you a great overview of the career of MESSINA, but they also dig into the rich past of the band with the three demos of ASSASSIN on disc two of this two silver disc set. The twenty-eight tracks here are worthy of almost two full hours of Dutch Steel!! CD one takes you back to the “Terrortory” album for seventy minutes, compiling the album with a bonus track and a live demo. The thrash scene is at their peak and grunge is knocking at the backdoor. MESSINA released their album in 1990, and it is hard to find now. The nine songs show aggression and brutal force and a band that is destined to rule the scene. Let’s first introduce the band to you, so you know who’s responsible for these wild and exciting tunes. MESSINA consisted of Erik Derijks on guitar, Julian van den Berg on guitar, Richard Zopfi on drums (ex-ARMAGEDDON), replacing drummer Marc van der Vorst, who is to be heard on the ASSASSIN demos, Chris Ploegmakers on vocals and Carlo van Nistelrooy on bass. Just listen to the mighty opener “Messina”, that mixes thrash and speed metal with a touch of hardcore, as long as it’s brutal. Fast rhythms, loud beats and a vocalist, that shouts his lungs out. The wild bashing sound of MESSINA is presented here and you’d better beware. “Attempted Suicide” sounds brutal too and again the crossover hardcore vibes are in the background. But I think, that we can say that a band like SLAYER was one of the main influences of the band. “Nothing Will Change” sums up the aforementioned influences, but it has got some very innovative twists as well. Just listen to the very last segments here. They really know their skills and sometimes give it a surprising change. ‘Something Will Change’ would have been a better title for that reason. Title track “Terrortory” proves, that playing solid thrash metal is in the blood of these five wild bashers from Heesch and surrounding areas. The shredding guitar solos are best compared to the world famous double lead attacks from the SLAYER tandem. Fun was also part of thrash metal at times. Check out some ANTHRAX tunes for example. I must admit, that “Who’s For Dinner” is a funny title, but the brutal riffs easily make up for that. Once again, the exciting mood swings are highly enjoyable here, which turn it into one of the highlights on the album for me. The music is a bit more TESTAMENT-like with the wild drum beats, but the guitar solos show a more aggressive power metal style with high pull outs at times. “Drop Dead” has got that mighty SLAYER feeling for me. A lengthy intro, after which the guitars put in the speed and the vocals do their thing. And these masterly riffs keep shredding. They’re made to give it a good headshake here. Just like in “Deathrow”, that evolves from an acoustic ballad type of intro to a full force thrasher of the first kind. What an awesome stuff! If you still like it faster and more energetic, then it’s time to tune in to “Ritual Killings” a lengthy wild thrash monster with more wild speed changes. Better start banging your head, if you want to keep up with those rhythms. Some innovating mood changes in the end of the song will make you shake from excitement. The album closes with the instrumental basher “The Commencement”. The best-known MESSINA song is up next, which is a bonus track. I always thought, that “Murder In The First Degree” was their most awesome song. This is Dutch thrash metal at a very high level. The song has also been captured on the “Metal In Rocks Volume 1” compilation, next to “Death Row”. At that time, MESSINA was one of the promising acts in Holland, next to ARMAGEDDON, GERMANE, GARLAND, PANDEMONIUM and GILGAMESJ. The CD has got a few other surprises after that, because we’re also treated to the “Live Demo” from 1989 with five tracks. The good quality live recordings are from shows in de Melkweg and Meulepop in hometown Heesch. They’re kicking off with “Die In ‘Nam”, which deals about the Vietnam War. It’s time to mosh. The bonus track we just heard comes by for the second time, because “Murder In The First Degree” is on here, too. It’s been played even faster in a live situation. “The Quest” follows and it shows that the band knows to capture their dynamic sound live as well. Just check out the powerful “Eye Of The Tornado”, if you’re not quite convinced yet. The wild bashing is endless and in my thoughts I can see many heads banging around. “Death Row” is on next and it’s time to light those cigarette lighters during the intro. The best is saved for last though and that’s the furious “Wings Of War”, in which the band is also being introduced. The slam pit is not far away now. What a fine compilation of a band, that never really got the respect they deserved. Like I mentioned already, there is more for all the true metal fans of these thrash monsters. MESSINA officially started out as ASSASSIN. Since there already was a metal band called ASSASSIN in Germany, the Dutch combo changed their name to MESSINA, after an Italian island in the area of Sicily. It’s time for some history lessons with the three demos released in 1986, 1987 and 1988, recorded in reversed order here though. The most recent stuff is first up, taken from a demo called “Murder In The First Degree”, although that song is not recorded here. It starts with “Gonna Leave Her”. If you listen very closely, you must admit that the sound on these demos is freaking awesome, but it’s more heavy metal than thrash metal. Which is fine with me, don’t get me wrong. The energetic sound was perfect for me in those days. “Eye Of The Tornado” is already well-known from the MESSINA live part on disc one. On this early work, you’ll hear influences of the more heavy metal oriented bands, like JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN, instead of the thrash heroes, that were the blueprint for their MESSINA sound. “Die In ‘Nam” is on next. It’s the fascinating studio version of this song, you heard earlier on the MESSINA live demo. The opener on the demo “Cease Fire” from 1987 is funny. Someone bothers the music, that he hears and gives you a full blast of opener “Utopia” to chew on. Now that’s something different. The fast riffs on “Roaming ‘N’ Roving” makes my flesh crawl. It sounds vicious and mean and I can’ help to reach out for the volume button. “Shattered Dreams” continues with a steady beat and growling guitars and above all, some stunning bass parts. Obviously, the metal sound of ASSASSIN would appeal to the more brutal heavy metal fans. “Lay Down” opens with a fiery guitar intro and contains some nice mood and speed changes. Hold your horses, here comes another speedy part. “T.N.S. (Part1)” is the last song on this second demo. There never was a part two, if someone asks them. It’s a short instrumental. The “Mission Completed” demo ends this second CD and starts off with a firing gun part in “Thoughts Of Vengeance”. It’s the first army attack of ASSASSIN and it sounds very fruitful and promising. It’s the mid-eighties, when this demo is released and the heydays of heavy metal music are over. It’s getting more difficult to owe a place in the crowded metal scene, but ASSASSIN is destined to stay. Their career spans from 1983 to 1989, before they change their name to MESSINA. “One Night Romance” is not a love song, although the title may suggest otherwise. This is pure heavy metal, like many Dutch bands cranked out back in those days, like MANDATOR, DEAFEN, ARMAGEDDON and the awesome PANDEMONIUM. “Becapsus” is next and the riffs that have been used here could even please the very early VENGEANCE fans, I assume. The demo closes with “Kill (Or Be Killed)”, which has more killer riffs. No wonder with a title like that. And just in case you wondered,….it even contains a killer guitar solo. No, even better, some killer guitar solos. The ASSASSIN demos were only one step up to an even better musical overview, but I’m glad that they’re compiled here to get the story of MESSINA complete. At the end of their career, Patrick Smits of PANDEMONIUM replaces Chris as the singer of the band. It’s 1992 then and the band is changing their style, but in 1993 the plug was pulled out and MESSINA died. The band members remained good friends of one another, so we can read in the CD booklet. Who knows, what might happen in the future. The band played many gigs, but I think that the absolute highlight in their career was to support MOTÖRHEAD at the Noorderligt in Tilburg. They received a crate of Carlsberg beer from Lemmy himself. I bet, you don’t get rewarded any better than that in life? The booklet contains a great biography of both bands and loads of photos. Buy yourself a copy, before it’s too late. What an awesome release of Divebomb Records. Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/messina-terrortory.
(8,6/10- Toine van Poorten)

IAN PARRY'S ROCK EMPORIUM-Society Of Friends (NSMP)
Do I still have to introduce IAN PARRY to you? I don’t think so. HAMMERHEAD, RENEGADES, ELEGY and VENGEANCE fans will already know the man with the golden voice, who originates from England. As Ian was very much part of the hard rock and heavy metal scene in Holland from 1980-1990, I simply have to pay attention to his recent solo album. After all, he is a great singer with an excellent voice and he still rocks it out really loud. His new album “Society Of Friends” contains eleven tracks and a bit over forty minutes of pure rock with a heavy twist. Fans of VENGEANCE can buy this with their eyes closed and if you like your rock hard but it must have a bit of melody, then you don’t need to look any further, too. This is the deal: just push the ‘play’ button for opener “Stone Cold Fever” and you’ll get what you’ve been waiting for. A rocker, that could very well be from EUROPE, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN or VENGEANCE. Melodic, easy on the ears, yet with a heavy twist. “Shame” goes in that same direction and this heavenly melodic rock music is topped by the awesome voice of Ian Parry. “Shame” grabbed me by the balls and didn’t let go, until the last notes faded away. “Ministry Of Rock” has got a slightly Southern touch in the beginning of the track, but it’s another great pounder in the best WHITESNAKE tradition, which invites you to sing along after only hearing it once. The title is not to be confused with “The Ministry Of Silly Walks” by the way, which is something completely different. Well, “Circles” sounds completely different. It sounds darker and contains some nice keyboard parts, which gives it a more symphonic twist. The guitar solo at the end is very tasteful. The song may sound a bit modern, but it sure sounds like a great rocker to me. “Most Unforgivable Thing” reminds me of QUEENSRYCHE’s “Silent Lucidity” and has got the same effect on me and I get goosebumps all over. “Silhouettes & Dreams” is another nice rocker with a furious rhythm, while “Crazy Fools & Madmen” pokes up the fire even more with some crazy guitar work. Responsible for the guitar licks is nobody else but Timo Somers of DELAIN, son of Jan Somers, the former VENGEANCE guitarist. “Skin Deep” is another ballad type of song. You can leave that up to Ian, no worries. Because of the choir vocals being used, a comparison with FOREIGNER’s best work is not far away here. “Start All Over Again” invites you to rock and after title track “Society Of Friends”, we can conclude, that Ian Parry didn’t let us down with this great album. He simply creates a rock emporium of his own, where he can do his own thing and I can tell you that his voice is still in perfect shape. The bonus track of this album is called “Finish What You Started”, a great rocker that will certainly please many fans of this well-talented frontman. On this CD Ian is backed by a fantastic band, that consists of Timo Somers on guitars, Dimitris Goutziamanis (ex CRYSTAL TEARS) on guitars, Barend Courbois on bass, Imre Daun on drums and Jeroen van der Wiel on piano and organ. Guest appearances are from Peter Jan Reekers on keyboards, Garry King on drums, Kalin Jechev on strings and organ, Peter van Heijningen on guitars, Christian Muenzner on guitars, Thiago Silverda on guitar and An Lozanova on choir vocals. Website: http://www.facebook.com/Rockemporium or http://www.ianparry.com for all the information you need about this singer with the golden voice.
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)

TEMPTER-Lamentations From The Past (Metal Command)
TEMPTER was one of the darkest and doomiest bands of the metal scene in Holland. Too much went wrong in their career of and so they died too young. However, faith heals all wounds and because of the hard work of some true metal believers we are now able to have a listen to an album with eleven tracks and almost seventy dark minutes of this amazing metal band, which never saw the light of day. The CD consists of two demos, a few live songs and one bonus track. Opener “The Denial” of the first demo from 1988 is called “Lamentation”. It’s a short intro with the keyboards taking the lead, followed by a spoken word part. While listening to “Prayer For A Battered Child”, I get the shivers all over. TEMPTER was the Dutch equivalent of CANDLEMASS, the band they were about to go on tour with. It never ever happened unfortunately. The voice, the slow pace, the guitar eruptions, the dark, doomy sound and ditto lyrics, it all breathes the sound of CANDLEMASS in their golden years. Mind you, TEMPTER is no copycat and they give it their own twist, but if you like the sound of these doom Vikings, then you can’t go wrong here. Maybe they were the first real doom metal band that we had in Holland and they paved the path for many other bands to come. The high pull outs of the singer makes black blood dripping out of your bedroom walls. It hits you very deep inside, at least it did with me. Just have a listen to the great intro of “One People, Two Nations (A Hymn To Democracy)”, which is a lengthy track with different speed moves and unexpected twists. Why did this band call it a day? They could have conquered the world with their innovative sound. Perhaps not realistic to realize their perfect sound in a live situation, but these gifted musicians could have been a very important branch in the doom metal tree of today. The attractive closure makes up this great hymn. Next is the three track demo from 1991, “Questions”. It starts off with a short intro, called “Inside The Dream”, which is also the perfect intro for a live situation. The most important instrument is the guitar, which is very different from the first demo. This change will also carry on in the other songs. “Landmark” is on next and obviously the band will prove that doom metal was evolving in Holland as well. The pace got faster, the music sounds more powerful and dynamic and yet the doomy background is still there. Just listen to the fierce riffs in between the ‘Messiah Marcolin’ type of vocals. “Fingers In The Sand” is the ultimate description of the CD sleeve. What was first? I guess, the song was. Anyway, it’s another firm rocker with an energetic feeling. I have always loved live recordings. It shows the real face of the band. In a studio you can polish things or add stuff to a song, but when you’re on stage you’re on your own, unless you are Justin Bieber or whatever other clown, that is hitting the national charts right now. The live recordings here are from 1990 and have been recorded in Asten (near Eindhoven). Four tracks, all non-demo songs and all in good quality, will give you a good example of what TEMPTER was all about, when they climbed on stage. They start with “Wrapping Of Misery”, which already shows a move to the more fast and dynamic sound of the second demo. “Nocturne (Nights Of Death)” takes you back to the sound of the first demo. A slower pace and a dark doomy force is getting over you and takes you by surprise. Hear the crying guitar, it all sounds amazing to me. And once again you can hear some innovative mood and speed swings. Another band, TEMPTER has got something in common with and probably inspired them to pick a band name, is TROUBLE. “The Tempter” is a great tribute to them, which includes some evil sounding vocals in the beginning of the song. What follows is a stunning version of this classic doom hymn. “Walkin’ The Wheel” starts off slow, but suddenly there is this speed switch, that gets the wheel going. This is definitely one of the highlights for me, next to that amazing cover version. In the live section, you can hear that the band was able to get a good live sound as well and even more astonishing was that this band had to pull the plug so suddenly. It simply wasn’t meant to be, I guess. What remains is a bonus track from 1989, recorded with less professional equipment maybe, but despite that it shows the high quality of this band. The song is called “Vulture / Valkyrie Medley” and it rocks the hell out of your dark, blackened soul. A bankrupt record label was the reason that TEMPTER had to pull the plug. It wasn’t the lengthy complicated songs, because they still sound great nowadays and prove is given on this CD. And it also wasn’t the fact that they couldn’t tour with CANDLEMASS. Another opportunity would have crossed their path, maybe sometime later. This band was their time far ahead and Holland just wasn’t used to the sound of doom metal, I guess. It’s the case of the wrong band at the wrong place. Now I am glad, that we are still able to enjoy the legacy of these doom masters from the low lands. Holland would be ready for them now, twenty some years later. What about a reunion for a couple of live shows? You should do this guy a favor and I guess plenty of other metal heads for that matter. In case this doesn’t happen, I’m afraid I have to push the ‘repeat’ button again for my legal portion of Dutch doom metal. TEMPTER, make sure you remember that name. TEMPTER consists of E. Smits (CIRRHA NIVA) on vocals, R. Willebrand on guitar, J. Zwager on guitar, M. Verschoor on bass (yep, the one, who also plunders the bass in EAR DANGER!!) and R. van Leeuwen (didn’t we see him at the IMPACT gig in Rotterdam recently with REBELSTAR?!, but also with VULTURE, THRENODY and FROZEN SUN) on drums. As you can see, some musicians are still active, the band TEMPTER may be gone and forgotten, but the memory still remains. In closing, I’d like to thank Headbangers Marco van Empel for supplying this precious silver disc! You rule, next to TEMPTER.
(9,0/10- Toine van Poorten)

UPDATE June 2016:

CODEX-The Peace Paradox (independent)
I know, this is not really coming in the range of bands, that have been active between 1980 and 1990, but the music appeals to me so much, that I wanted to spend a few words about this promising band, called CODEX. Nine songs and forty-five minutes of music are on this debut album, that opens with the mighty “Heat Of War”. Many speed changes and technical high quality riffs and song structures remind me of WATCHTOWER for example and now you know why I definitely wanted to write about CODEX. The harmony vocals show a more progressive side of the band as well. Title track “The Peace Paradox” continues in that direction without getting too technical though. It shows though, that this is not your straight forward heavy metal. The vocals sound alright too here. They will not make a man dizzy by constantly showing their musical muscles, but they impress me somehow with their technical input. “Special Pressure” has got a more technical background with the rather eccentric start and fabulous mood change, which cuts the song in half. The second half sounds dark and doomy. It’s like listening to another song. I seriously liked that twist a lot. The sudden ending is also very surprising. To me, this is one of the highlights on the album. “Hollow Meat” gains speed and the band sounds like a furious bull, that is left out of his cage. Just listen to the fast galloping beats and riffs. Watch out for red pieces of clothing, while listening to this song. “Legacy” is on next and comes as a real surprise. Nothing sounds the same and GHOST would be a good reference here. It sounds darker and that horror like kind of atmosphere, that has been created. The guitar part at the end sounds great. I like the clear sound of the notes. “Beginning (Made For It)” has got a more WATCHTOWER kind of approach. Not that CODEX are copycats, because it is almost impossible to copy these Texas based whizkids, but they have that same, indescribable ‘do it yourself’ approach, when listening to the masters of mathematic metal. FATES WARNING also comes to mind here, when listening to this song. Responsible for it all are Rhodan Ten Kleij on vocals, Ingmar Otter (SKELETOR, WARCHITECT) on guitar, Arjen De Boer on bass and Niek Ten Cate (SKELETOR) on drums. We continue with “Perfect Dancer”, where prog rock meets metal. SHADOW GALLERY might be a good reference here. The vocals however sound more like Harry ‘The Tyrant’ Conklin of JAG PANZER, TITAN FORCE and SATAN’S HOST. It’s on the thin line, where prog rock meets metal. “The Arithmetic Mean” is an instrumental song, where the musicians show their muscles. Sometimes, my mind goes out to RUSH, but in the heavier parts I also hear some DREAM THEATER influences. There are worse bands to be compared with, I think. To me, this is definitely another highlight on the album. One final explosion follows, which is called “Alienated”. The speed and mood changes are numerous and I guess, if you’re not into difficult song structures, then you’d better leave this for what it is. It’s one of the heavier tracks on the album. In the higher vocal range, Rhodan sounds like James LaBrie again. In the guitar work, you might hear some VAI or SATRIANI influences. Definitely, a great closure on this very exciting CD. But the show isn’t over yet. There is an enhanced CD with three bonus tracks, worthy of another twelve minutes of technical minded prog rock and metal. Opener “Prelude” is instrumental and once again the WATCHTOWER ghost flies around somewhere. This feeling continues in “One Day”, but I think it is great in the first place that there is a good Dutch band, that even dares to walk outside the paved paths, no matter what. There is enough talent in this band to make this go worldwide and become heroes in other countries as well. There is a huge market for great music like that out there. The last track is called “21st Century Witch Hunt”. If you liked what you’ve heard so far, then this is another diamond in the rough for you. When you have to compare this band to Dutch bands from the 1980-1990 scene, you must think of bands like DONOR, PARALYSIS or OSIRIS to come close to what CODEX is all about. Go to http://www.codexofficial.bandcamp.com or http://www.facebook.com/codexbandofficial for all the info you need about this band.
(8,0/10- Toine van Poorten)

DARK WIZARD-Early Spells (Eat Metal Records)
Now this is an interesting release for those, who want to find out what DARK WIZARD was all about in the past. Three demos from 1983, a whole lot of pix and three songs from Radio Oost, worthy of fifteen tracks and seventy minutes of nostalgic old school true metal. Step with me into the world of DARK WIZARD for the upcoming seventy minutes, starting with the “Only A Coffin” demo from 1983. It’s in these days, that DARK WIZARD put on a great horror show. It’s a crying shame, that no video footage exists from that time, as it looked really awesome. Glad to see that there are some pictures from that time. Some of them look very familiar, because they appeared in Heavy Metal Demons, a fanzine managed by Ferry Bovet and Peter ‘Bulldozer’ Loch (R.I.P., good friend). The five track demo opens with “Trip To Doom”, which shows that the band is able to play ballsy straight forward metal with exciting guitar work and above all a good singer, which wasn’t always the case back then. This song proves, that DARK WIZARD were far above average in quality. “Paradise” speeds it up and contains some fast, hard hitting drum parts. An excellent headbanger, in my opinion. “Big Typhoon” is slower and has got lyrics that are being articulated a bit over the top, which makes it sound a bit funny at times. The serious content of the lyrics give it a good balance though. High pull outs of the singer and fast drum beats are the main ingredients in “Poisoned Whiskey”. I urge you not to drink too much of this stuff, you’ll get seriously sick. Better listen to the great guitar solo instead. Better beware of the icy high screams, too. After that, another one announces himself and you’d better watch out for him, because he’s “Mr. Nice”. He’s the one, who feeds you the poisoned whiskey. It’s filled with boogie and roll and a nice instrumental part. This is another killer track from this band from the Eastern part of our country. The intro of the “Zombie Demo” from 1983 opens with an “Intro” that is half “5150” of BLACK SABBATH and half mixed with spoken word, which sounds freaking fabulous. Besides that, this is the perfect opener for the live shows of the band. Raw riffs and high screams start the next song, because after that we meet the “Dark Master Of Thunder”. “Bloodlust” (no, not VENOM) contains some awesome guitar work again. Watch out for some innovative drum fills as well. They roll like thunder. The riff of “Symptom Of The Universe” is in the background somewhere of “Scared”, which opens with a German countdown and has some mind-blowing guitar work. You can see that BLACK SABBATH must have been one of the main influences of this band and not only for the horror kind of atmosphere. You can certainly add NWOBHM bands like SAXON or TYGERS OF PAN TANG to that list as well. One of the highlights here is the horror minded “Zombie”, which is a lengthy, kind of sludgy and dirty song with some great horror laughs by the singer and above all some awesome guitar work. The “1st Demo” is last here, when DARK WIZARD introduce themselves in “Dark Wizard”. The earliest stuff sounds very impressive to me. Just listen to the guitar solo to catch my drift. “Atomic” is the second track on this two tracker, which shows the very first musical experiences by this amazing Dutch metal band. They already ask themselves why we use (or want to use) the atomic bomb, a topic that is still active in 2016, I guess. The band is at their very best in a live situation and prove is given in three nice and raw tracks from “Radio Oost”, that starts with the fast “Spark To The Tinder”. It sounds like they have been recorded live without an audience. And what do you think of the doomy “Priestcraft”? It sounds a bit rawer than on the demos to me. The CD closes with “Do Swidania”, which means something like ‘goodbye’. But I won’t say goodbye, until I’ve introduced the band to you. The people responsible for this nice compilation of old material by DARK WIZARD. The band consists of Henk Kamermans on bass, Marcel de Groot on guitar, Berto van Veen on vocals and George Gomies on guitar. The early spells of the dark wizard still haven’t lost its power. DARK WIZARD exists again with Kees Reinders on drums, Tony Wuite on drums, Hans Pol on guitar and Egbert Berenst on vocals. The legend still continues after all these years. Website: http://www.fecebook.com/darkwizard.holland.
(8,7/10- Toine van Poorten)

H.A.T.-Paranoid Ramblings (independent)
I can’t recall a band named H.A.T. being active in the Dutch metal scene between 1980 and 1990 would be your first reaction, when reading this review. Well, you’re ever so right and neither did I. But instead of the name H.A.T. you can also read ATTILA and they fit in this section very well. Herbie Vanderloo’s new outfit is called H.A.T. and if you say Herbie Vanderloo, then I’d say ATTILA right away. To me, this is a strong reason to give this album our full attention. It contains eight songs and it’s worthy of forty-five minutes of excitement. The CD starts off in a rock and roll kind of way with “Sue Me, Sue You”. Distorted vocals and a rocking rhythm make this a pleasant opener for me. The guitar solo makes this song complete. It might sound a bit different than expected after seeing the CD cover, but they’ll make up for that later on. Just check out the fiery intro of “Hattrick”, which is on next. This instrumental track rocks and contains a nice speed change in the middle. Herbie steals the show with his fabulous guitar work. But he is not playing the game alone and he’s accompanied by Arjan Michels (WELLS FARGO, ATTILA) on bass and Ton Holtewes (ATTILA) on drums on this album. “Black Void” takes back some speed and starts with a nice guitar riff, that returns every now and then. It all sounds quite laid back, while the CD artwork would suggest a little more extreme sounding band. A lady screaming out loud in a straightjacket with a cross on the wall looks pretty insane, if you’d ask my opinion. Although the rock music with a metal atmosphere like this really stays between the outer limits here. When Herbie accelerates the guitar solos, he simply can’t be stopped, that’s how we know the man. “Mescaline” is again stuffed with some awesome guitar work of the man himself. His raw voice matches very well with the music. “Paranoid Ramblings” is the title track of the album and again an instrumental with a leading role for Herbie. The only text in this one comes from a small spoken word part. The rough voice in “Wasteland” reminded me of Jurjen Tichelaar of VORTEX and that feeling gets even stronger during “Cowboys And Indians”, the latter being a bit faster. However, the best is saved for last, when we hear the lengthy “Success Is A Wore”, which contains many speed changes and more excellent guitar work by Herbie. This new project sounds less metal than ATTILA in a way, but it sure rocks my world. It comes in a gatefold cardboard sleeve with the lyrics printed inside. Besides that, there is not too much information about H.A.T. yet. But this is only a matter of time, I guess.
(7,7/10- Toine van Poorten)

MARTYR-You Are Next (Into The Limelight Records)
Another album we’ve all been waiting for, for a long time is the new MARTYR album. Well, the wait is over and the CD contains ten brand new tracks and forty-five minutes of MARTYR metal. MARTYR has gone through an evolution throughout the years. People, who expect the same sound as on their debut album, will be very surprised. Those, who followed the band all this time and are expecting a dynamic sound and a whole lot of energy and power will turn up the volume and go mentally crazy. Just check out the fast beat on opener “Into The Darkest Of All Realms” and become flabbergasted. Influences of METALLICA, MEGADETH and NEVERMORE and a whole lot of flashing guitar riffs are the main ingredients in this song, that also has some children’s vocals at the end as a nice detail, sung by Johana Kindt. There is another guest singer here though and that’s old school metal fan and gig booker Mario van Dooren. He’s well-known for the many Mario’s Metal Meetings he organized over the years. His input has lifted this song to a higher level for sure. What a nice surprise to witness the new career start of Mario. I think, he wants to join the band on a world tour. Just kidding of course, but it’s a very nice thing to do to give a huge fan a special place in the background choir on the new album. “Infinity” is on next and it has that same powerful drive. It has got that beat, that can keep you going for hours. It gives you energy and drummer Wilfried must have muscles of steel to keep the beat going. In the meantime Rick and Marcel have got their riff-guns loaded for the dynamic guitar rhythms. Don’t shoot your riffle empty yet though, because you still have got a long way to go from here. Therefore, they take back some speed in “Inch By Inch”, perfectly performed by my favorite dirty and funny face making singer Rop, who also proves, he is gifted with an excellent pair of lungs. The guitar solo is short but sharp as a dagger and finger licking good. My manager at work always asked me how I was supposed to eat an elephant, when I was facing a big order or a big problem. The answer is here, “Inch By Inch”. As you can see, there are also some learning moments on this album. “Souls Breathe” is heavy as f*ck with special guest Marloes Voskuilen of IZEGRIM as partner in crime of Rop on vocals. What else would you expect from this cooperation, a love duet? Just think again, brothers and sisters. VICIOUS RUMORS frontman Nick Holleman also added his strong vocal cords to this song. That’s why it’s so incredibly heavy. Don’t try to bang your head to the rhythm, because it’ll probably fall off then. The first guitar licks of “Unborn Evil” sound definitely old school again, while the doomy parts thereafter give me the shivers. I already liked that monstrous heavy sound of “All Warriors Blood”. It’s a little less heavy maybe, but it reminded me of that song immediately and you know that I love that slow and heavy kind of sludgy sound. The title fits perfectly well to the song. John Cuypers of PRAYING MANTIS is doing a guest role on that one. And just pay some special attention to the bulldozer bass sound of Jeffrey Bryan Rijnsburger, who put my viscera back in place again with his thundering bass sound. Hey, holy cow, they also wrote a song about me. “Monster” is on next and it has some acoustic guitar parts by Rop and a guest guitar solo by Gert Nijboer of HIGHWAY CHILE. The moody intro sounds like it’s taken from a black and white movie and it pushes you back in time. When the beat starts, the band drives me totally out of my mind. “Crawl” starts with TV fragments, but soon the song takes shape and has a leading role for singer Rop van Haren. He does magic with his voice here in my opinion and touches of Geoff Tate (his better days) are definitely there, especially the first part of the song. I think, I will have to listen to it several times to fully comprehend the strength and the power of it. What an amazing track and one of the highlights on the album for me. “Mothers Tear” is next, which is another heavy metal tune and it represents the sound of MARTYR in 2016. It might be different, but still very pleasant. “In The End” contains some brutal screams. Rop actually screams his lungs out, like he doesn’t need them anymore after this recording session. The wild rockers of MARTYR did it again. The energy and dynamics are still there and I am very happy with the result. There is not much anymore that reminds me of the eighties, when MARTYR was seen as a cult band. Rop already warned me about that, as honest as he is. But I’m an open-minded reviewer and I know that I like what I hear on this silver disc. But the show ain’t over yet, until the fat lady sings and they saved the best for last. The RAVEN cover “Don’t Need Your Money”, which is on here as a bonus, is the killer track that I needed to reward this CD with an extra point. What’s the deal with the distorted voice part?? Oh, what the heck, they just nailed it and we all know that they are a little bit insane. These guys still have it and face it, aren’t they just the nicest blokes in the metal scene?? I think, they are and they surprised me very pleasantly with a killer version of this RAVEN classic. Ouch, my neck hurts so much after this. Thank you, guys for thinking about old farts like me, who are still digging your music and have followed you since day one. Or maybe day two then?! The CD artwork looks stunning. It’s very recognizable. The dartboard like background with the six armed sexy looking lady girl in the middle, looking like six armed goddess SHIVA, including a bullet belt and skulls around her. It catches your eye rapidly. The booklet comes with the lyrics printed inside and responsible for this violent attack, which you are voted to be next are Wilfried Broekman on drums, Jeffrey Bryan Rijnsburger on bass, Marcel Heesakkers on guitar, Rop van Haren on insane vocals and Rick Bouwman on guitar. The CD is recorded, mixed and mastered by the maestro himself, nobody else but the legendary (snare drums start to roll)……..Jack Nobelen, who else? There is more though because just like BURNING, I would also like to spend a few words about the mighty video clip they made for album opener “Into The Darkest Of All Realms”. They invited over a few dozen fans to sing and move to the beat of this song, which shows the friendship the band has with their fans. Many familiar faces showed up and therefore the video of this track is not only for the fans of the band but also with the fans of the band. You can almost feel the dynamic power, as it’s being captured here very well. The second video, they made is of “Souls Breathe”, where Rop shows up with white corpse paint, next to IZEGRIM shouter Marloes, who seems to be not afraid of the white-faced madman at all. The video may not be suitable for ADHD people, because the short fragments constantly change and you might end up using tranquilizers after seeing it. It has too much power for the faint hearted, but I L-O-V-E-D it. Check these two video clips out, because they really add something to the sound of these great songs. The rating the album is not too difficult. I think, that this band deserve the high score, that they received. Website: http://www.martyronline.nl or http://www.facebook.com/martyronline.
(8,7/10- Toine van Poorten)

PROUD EXISTENCE-The Trial (Virginkiller Entertainment)
Before I start this review, I’d like to give a well-deserved compliment to Koen Bakker of Virginkiller Entertainment for the way this album is presented. The gatefold cover is completed with all the lyrics to the songs, so you can shout your balls off. The many pictures are truly breathtaking, a few of them I’ve never even seen before. The biography is so detailed, that you can hardly come up with any interview questions, I’d promised to do. All the information you need is in there. And above all, the album “The Trial” is now expanded with the 1983 three track demo and one song, this band released on the well-known “Metal Power V” split single from 1985. So respect to all the work that has been put into this masterpiece by The Hague based heavy metal outfit PROUD EXISTENCE. The band was established back in 1980, when they were still called PRE EXISTENCE. The rest of their story is history and you can read it in their biography. So, let’s focus on the music instead. Who doesn’t remember their mini LP, on which five young guys were send to the judge to await their trial. They were found guilty as charged. Unfortunately, this album didn’t change the world, but it will get a second chance now and I’m glad for that. Eleven killer tracks that are worthy of sixty-five minutes of true metal are being hammered down in your brain, so you’d better be prepared for it. Fasten your seat belt and while doing that, you can listen to the spoken word intro, which gives you some time to calm down and get ready for a storm of wild riffs, thundering drum beats and great vocals. If you’re going to die, you better do it with your boots on, because this is the “Right Time To Die”. Feel the power it has got. Just check out the guitar solo here and you know that you are dealing with a high class heavy metal band that knows to deliver the goods. And above all, the band had a sound that wasn’t easy to compare to other metal bands in the Netherlands. Have a listen to the classy opening of “Deliver Or Kill” to catch my drift. The beautiful guitar intro is followed by another stunning headbanger. The mood change in this song is impressive and obviously, we’re dealing here with more than just a straight forward heavy metal band. The different sections in the song have all got their own strength and this has made “The Trail” such an outstanding release. I always thought it was a shame, that it lasted much too short. But all of the songs had this kind of magic that made them outstanding from all the other bands, I heard. After another speed change, the guitar solo is being cranked out. Wow, what a power!! The ballad is on next. Not. Just kidding. I am falling off my chair, because of this speed monster, called “Fast Ride”. Old school ACCEPT-like riffs, exciting guitar solos and drums that have been played by a four legged drummer, otherwise things wouldn’t have been possible. Man, what a pleasant ride that has been. When considering that this mini album was a cake, “The Trial” must have been the cherry on it. Another seven minute plus metal extravaganza tune is on with a handful (or even more) mood and speed changes that turns it into the classic metal song it has become over the years. Any MERCYFUL FATE fans here? Check it out, you will be stunned. This is a song that The King wished he had written in his heydays, and I bet that Denner and Sherman would have loved to play these amazing duel guitar riffs. And another speed change awaits for you. The cum-shot comes from the double leads - AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!! What a monstrous solo part and I just feel the shivers running down my spine. “Castles In Black” is next. Haven’t you heard enough guitar solos yet? Better beware, because this hot rocking album is full of it. The LP part closes with “Thou Will Be Avenged”, which starts with a spoken word part. When the drums open this song, the power explodes right in your face. The speed change is mind-blowing. Only big names, such as METAL CHURCH or LAAZ ROCKIT could nail it like that. This marks the closure of an album, that has always been underrated, in my opinion. The self-titled demo contains original vocalist Jan Horjus, who was gone, when the band released the album. This was caused by the record company, that went bankrupt. Well, shit happens. For the album, new vocal recordings were done with Alex Roest, who did an outstanding job here. The original versions of “Right Time To Die”, “Deliver Or Kill” and “Thou Will Be Avenged” are there and it shows a less polished and a rawer band. “Right Time To Die” is getting close to the version that appeared on the album, but beware of a long, stretched out version of “Deliver Or Kill” that almost touches the amazing ten minutes limit here. That intro alone is awesome enough to love this song. It reminds me very much of one of my all-time faves in Dutch metal history, “Angels Of Beware” of LADY/FRANK WOODHOUSE, another classic in my book. I just can’t stop banging my head up and down. “Thou Will Be Avenged” sounds darker and more evil in this original version. What a relief to go completely out of your freaking mind for six minutes and enjoying the icy high screams of Jan. The one remaining song on this excellent release is “Blind Folded”, that was on the same demo as the previous three tracks. It was taken from the “Metal Power V” release, on which they were compiled together with AXEL from Belgium, SCARLET ANGEL from my hometown Breda and VILLAIN. You might complain about the sound quality, but I’d rather be thankful for having the possibility to listen to these hard to find recordings. I love those high screams here! One more PRIEST type of twin solo and then the album is over. Questions will always remain, why this amazing album never received a decent follow-up. It could have been the start of an international career. The band really had the potential and a successor would do a great job for PROUD EXISTENCE. However, none of that happened and the band disappeared from the radar of many diehard metal fans out there. Not from my radar though and I’m glad that there are more people, who have the same thoughts about good music. There you have it, the fullest version of “The Trial” imaginable. Better enjoy this to the max and turn up the volume for old time’s sake. It will do you good. PROUD EXISTENCE consists of Alex Roest on vocals, Ben Bijl on guitars, Coen Petri on guitars, Ron van Dijk on bass and René Vletter on drums. On the early demo recording you can hear Jan Horjus on vocals and Rieko Tuin on bass. Go to: http://www.facebook.com/proudexistence or http://www.virginkillerentertainment.com or http://www.facebook.com/virginkillerentertainment for all the info you need to know about PROUD EXISTENCE. Our thanks go out to Koen Bakker for leading the way.
(9,0/10- Toine van Poorten)

UPDATE April 2016:

BURNING-Nightmares (Crazy Diamond/Tonefloat Records)
I’m still having nightmares of that very first video of BURNING. Now the band is presenting a whole album full of “Nightmares”. What’s in front of me is the debut album of BURNING from the area of Stadskanaal. Fronting the band is Hugo Koch, who you may know as the organiser of the Dutch Very ‘Eavy festival. He is also the frontman of the RAMONES tribute band RUMBONES, but we’re strictly focusing on BURNING here. First, let me introduce the band to you. BURNING consists of Hugo Koch on vocals, Jan Engelkens (CHAINZ) on drums, Andy Haandrikman on bass guitar, Johnny Karst on guitar and Rene Knegt on guitar. The album contains seven tracks and forty minutes of old school heavy metal. In opener “Razors & Reasons”, you’ll hear the raw sound of the band, influenced by the NWOBHM sound, that ruled the scene in the late seventies and early eighties in Great Britain and far beyond their borders. It could very well be on any of these fantastic albums made back in those days. It has got that same magical feeling and from the first notes on, my flesh starts to crawl. “Trials Of 1613” is on next (which is the fantastic video, that the band recently put out, but more about that later on). The doomy sound refers to names, like BLACK SABBATH (the Ozzy era) and WITCHFINDER GENERAL, whereas Hugo even sounds like a young Ozzy Osbourne at times. The song is also very suitable of creating an ancient black and white horror movie atmosphere. Title track “Nightmares” follows and the speed goes up again, but the well-known NWOBHM sound remains. Just check out the mighty guitar riffs to get my point. “No Remorse” has got a dark taste. The same goes for “Stuck”. This matches very well to the overall theme though. It’s not a party album and the stories being told here are about death and destruction and people burning at the stake. The guitar solo in “Stuck” sounds magnificent and they make all my nightmares disappear. In some songs the vocals of Hugo even remind me of Brian Ross of BLITZKRIEG and SATAN, which he can take a big compliment. If you’re waiting for a masterpiece, a real highlight between the straight forward stuff, then look no further, because what comes next will hit you right in your very soul. It’s a thirteen minute epos, called “Anthem For The Lost Souls”, which is divided in three parts, starting with the fast and raunchy “And On The Sixth Day God Created Man”. The slower, darker part, that comes next is called “New Vision”. The switch reminded me of classic cult songs in my book, like “Tyrant Of The Airways” of RAVEN, who were definitely influenced by “2112” of RUSH at that time, so I was told by John Gallagher himself. The context and subject of the lyrics might be different, but the basis sounds very much alike. “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” of IRON MAIDEN may come to mind here also. The third part is called “Domination”, I think, that this is the part that rolls out after the second spoken word part. It’s fast and rocking again. A true masterpiece, guys and you can be proud of that one. The CD closes with a bonus track, which is in fact their first single “Something Is Lurking In The Dark” with that well-known IRON MAIDEN meets TYGERS OF PAN TANG feeling. It’s by far the catchiest track on the album and Hugo’s voice sounds a lot clearer than the rest of the album. I’m glad, that the TYGERS OF PAN TANG cover “Killers” remains exclusively for the seven inch, that was released in 2014. Before I can gasp for a little bit of air, the forty minutes are over and I feel the urge of pushing the ‘repeat’ button, which I actually did. There aren’t too many bands, who are able to capture a decent old school sound and BURNING really surprised me here. At the end of this review, I take the liberty of reviewing the video for “Trials Of 1613”, just like I did with the video for “Something Is Lurking In The Dark”. It’s a perfect compilation of old horror fragments and thriller movie parts, where people are burning at the stake, hung at the gallows, because they had sinned or because the community thought that they were witches. You see monks self-flagellating themselves with wooden boards, black mass rituals with half naked women lying in pentagrams on the dark, dusty ground. Ancient paintings of hell, a sunrise in a black and white movie and more people suffering and being burned or hung. It fits perfectly to the music and the parts are so well chosen, that you want to see them over and over again. At least, when you like this kind of horror stuff, like I do. It’s 1613 and being one of the victims in this video clip could be your worst nightmare. Summing it all up, BURNING did the trick again. The video clip didn’t contain any live footage or appearances from band members, which made it even more authentic for me. BURNING will make you check carefully under your bed, before you go to sleep. “Nightmares” is an honest NWOBHM / metal album made by a Dutch band. Can you beat that? The official release of this marvelous CD and LP was in Stadskanaal, where the band supported TYGERS OF PAN TANG (who else?). It will be available in your local record store from the first week of April and it will be distributed by Crazy Diamond / Tonefloat Records. Get it while it’s still burning hot. Pleasant dreams, everybody! Website: http://www.facebook.com/burningmetalband.
(8,8/10- Toine van Poorten)

UPDATE March 2016:

ABYSS-Flashback (independent)
Sometimes you bump into something really interesting. What would the world be without internet and Facebook? I need to thank Peter van Loo for sending me this eleven track compilation CD of ABYSS with the well-fitting title “Flashback”. I step back in the world of ABYSS for a full hour and drown myself in the nostalgic sound of this band, that was based in Rotterdam and surroundings. The band started their career in 1983 and stopped for a while in 1986. In 1989 however, they picked up the pieces and restarted to rock the world until 1995, where they pulled the plug permanently. The songs were originally released in 1999 on the “Flashback” album. The CD contains stuff, that was already released on demo tapes from 1991 and 1993, compiled with some bonus material. Well, so far for the facts, now let’s get wet and dirty with the music on this silver disc, that starts off with “The Praises You Sing”. The fiery riffs are mixed with melodic vocals, that sometimes dare to try a high pull out. Holland was never well-known for their great singers, but I must admit that Jeff van Dongen really did a good job here. The guitar sounds a little bit pushed in the back, but you can still recognize the nice double leads here. “Toxic” is on next and I already know, that my neck is willing to go up and down, after Dirk Bruinenberg has been introduced to the song with his loud drum beats. Yes, I feel toxic too, when the band is ready to strike with a lethal dose. The dark spoken word parts give the song a slightly mystical feeling, but the guitars make up for that. The melodic guitar solo stays nicely within the given borders. Dirk’s drum skills are far above average on this one and the nice mood swings turn this song into a personal favorite of mine. “Free Desire” is the title of one of the ABYSS demos and it opens with a guitar rain and evolves into a more melodic rock song with some nice hooks. After the spoken word part, the guitars get a free hand to knock you off your feet. They never get too wild maybe, but they sure know to impress and that is what it’s all about. The fading out drum part with the sound of the sea in the back ground gives this song just that little bit more, showing that these guys sure how to make something special out of their music. “Down And Out” continues with choir vocals and a mid-tempo rhythm. Because of the melodic sound of ABYSS, it’s quite difficult to compare them with a similar band in this scene, but a band like VANDENBERG comes pretty close. There is a bit more variation in the sound of ABYSS and the raw guitars definitely show a more metal face than the band of the flying Dutchman. “Chain Of Thoughts” starts with more marvelous guitar work. Acoustic guitars work really well in this song, but when the guitar solo comes rushing in, I am totally flabbergasted, because it sounds so much heavier and all aspects of a good guitarist are highlighted here. The high pull outs of Jeff are also mind-blowing again. Especially at the end of the song, where the guitars keep doing their thing next to the singer, is really fantastic! Raunchy guitars open “The Lady Of The Night”, which has some nice swings and speed changes and this time more raw guitar work. The band pulls out all the stops and I would categorize it as a real highlight, as far as I’m concerned. Once again, my thoughts go out to VANDENBERG during “In Present Times”. The kick start they give to this song and the guitar sound is one aspect, but also the way of singing shows some resemblance to these hardrockers from Twente and they can take that as a huge compliment. “In Present Times” is also the title track of one of their demos. The obligatory ballad is called “But You’re Gone”. Well, it starts out as a ballad, but it also has some rawer parts, where the band lets off some steam. They do exactly that in the guitar solo, which always asks for some special attention. Many bands became famous because of their ballad (like) songs, maybe that’s why. When the emotional part is over, it’s time to go for the throat with “Speedbreaker”. It’s an instrumental song with PRIEST-like rawness, played at the same high volume. Great stuff!! Before you know it, you are already at the final song on this CD with “The Man With The Gun”. Listen to the instrumental part. In my thoughts, the man is emptying his riffle before the guitar solo explodes. You can create your own ideas with the different songs. The ideas I have are quite violent, I must admit. In closing, as the cherry on the cake, you’ll get a live version of “Lady Of The Night”, recorded at Trailerpop in Rotterdam. The band sounds heavier in a live situation than on the album. For sure, this live recording is in awesome quality, by the way. The CD cover is the same of the official “Flashback” release, only this time it received the subscription ‘compilation’. I found it reason enough to spend some words to this great Dutch metal band, that consisted of Jeff van Dongen on vocals, Peter van Loo on guitar and backing vocals (Thanks for sending me this CD and I hope you like the review!!), Erik Bos on guitar and backing vocals, Wim den Boer (ex-AGGRESSOR) on bass and super drummer Dirk Bruinenberg who also worked with the likes of WICKED SENSATION, PATRICK RONDAT, THE ELEVENTH HOUR, ELEGY, ADAGIO, PLACE VENDOME, VULTURE, IAN PARRY, BOB CATLEY and many others. ABYSS has put a nice “Flashback” in my mind and after hearing this, I will never forget them. I wonder, if someone can help me to obtain their live album and some of their earlier material? I’m dying to hear more.
(8,1/10- Toine van Poorten)

OSIRIS-Futurity And Human Depressions (Divebomb Records)
ARCANE, SIEGES EVEN, SPIRAL ARCHITECT, MEKONG DELTA, WATCHTOWER. Do I have your attention now? Stop this review right now!! No, I will continue this, because we’re not about to review another prog thrash experience from abroad. This review is about the Dutch cult formation OSIRIS, whose work is now compiled on two silver discs and released through Divebomb Records. Sixteen tracks, an awesome booklet with lyrics, flyers and an interview and almost two hours of Dutch cult metal from Kampen and surroundings. Please remain seated, because this may be a bumpy ride, if you’re not used to the constant changing atmosphere of sound and speed, but you’ll get used to that after a good listen. You will undergo the virtuosity of all the band members and at the end of this review, you will pull out all of your hair for not discovering this band much earlier. Let’s start to focus on this mega adventure and launch the album, that was originally released in 1991. Out of the scope for Holland Heavy Metal officially, but the band started their career in 1985, which is right in the bulls eye and in the middle of the 1980’s, that we like to focus on. So follow the goddess of the Egyptian underworld, when they start their mission with “Futurity / Something To Think About”. A nine minute survival of the fittest ride with some high-pitched vocals, Neal Peart like drum beats and song structures, that may remind you of the bigger names in the scene, like FATES WARNING, QUEENSRYCHE, RUSH or CRIMSON GLORY. Very soon you’ll find out, that this goes so much further and crawls under your skin to multiply and explode, before it leaves your body right in your face. It’s supernatural what this band has in mind and it all takes shape in their songs. All the songs are stuffed with tonz of brilliant ideas and not yet discovered areas, where nobody has even dared to think about so far. This song alone will give you something to think about, which simply explains the title it was given in those days. The explosion at the end might be a little bit over the top, but I think it’s the sound of someone’s mind, that explodes. The first victims of those who didn’t survive the bumpy ride are there. This may also explain why the second song is called “Mass Termination”. Many more victims will follow. The song itself is only suitable for those who followed math and passed their exam with a full A-score. WATCHTOWER fans will already walk around with stiff body parts, if you catch my drift. It’s a warm bath for them and it definitely has got the same high level as these masters from Texas. “Inextricable” slows things down a bit in the beginning. The high pull outs of Bram are eardrum piercing and again the song is filled with innovating and exciting speed changes. For the next song, they were a bit out of inspiration, I guess. Luckily enough, that was only the title. “Out Of Inspiration” is another explosion of heavy riffs, innovative speed changes and an exciting mix of progressive parts and thrash metal beats. Maurice and Geert are playing their machine gun riffs and give the progressive side a powerful twist. While singer Bram pushes out another high scream, another mood swing is coming up. It’s like making a journey through a big country like China. You never see the same landscape over and over again, it’s constantly changing and it’s always beautiful. But there is also more meeting the eye and that’s why you have to listen several times to discover all these beautiful parts. The riffs at the end of the song made my skin crawl. It takes something more than an average song to make this happen, I can tell you that much. So, thank god, that these guys were not out of inspiration here. “Inner Recession” is a true speed monster, where these instrumentalists have plenty of room to give it their best shot and they do an impressive job here. “Fallacy (The Asylum)” slows things down a bit, but at the end, your mind will dazzle again after absorbing so much and such an intense music experience. “Frozen Memory” closes the original album “Futurity And Human Depressions” with another lengthy expression of different mood swings and sound scapes, that nobody even dared to explore before. OSIRIS did and became immortal for it to me. Their name will always be in my mind, because of this album. What makes this release so essential though is, that there is more on the horizon with a second CD, which captures the two demos of the band on one silver disc. There’s the “Equivocal Quiscence” demo (what’s in a name?) of 1991 and the “Inextricable Reversal” demo of 1989. If you don’t have them in your collection and you like the bands mentioned before in this review, now’s the time to make your collection complete and go wild from excitement. But first I want you to stand in the right corner of your living room for at least five minutes and feel ashamed for the essential things you’re missing in your life. Nine tracks and a full hour of beauty will unfold itself to you. The sound is less direct and a little rawer maybe, but it works just fine for me. Some of the songs here also appeared on the album, but do you mind hearing them in an earlier stage of their existence?? I don’t, so bring in the bags of goosebumps and enjoy the demo version of “Inner Recension” first on this second disc. Again you can enjoy the Jason McMaster-like vocals and screams and the Neil Peart-like drum fills here. The ballad type of beginning of “Inextricable” blew my mind, when I heard it for the first time. It will get you focused on things to come and it will build up a certain tension, at least it does for me. The song that actually didn’t make it on the album is certainly not less exciting. Find out for yourself how title track “Equivocal Quiescence” will make you sit on the edge of your chair. Beware, that you don’t fall off. It sounds like a true masterpiece to me. The thrashy drum beats at the end are the wildest so far. “Something To Think About” is a labyrinth of riffs, innovative drum beats, screaming high vocals and acoustic guitars in one song, that covers so many different styles, you might get lost pretty soon, when you’re not a trained listener. At night you will find yourself still wandering around in the labyrinth, not knowing what to do to get out of it. The last song on this first demo is called “Frozen Memory” which is also the final track here. All these exciting drum fills are very nice. When the acoustic guitars slowly fade away, the first demo has come to an end. Better get prepared for some more musical madness on the next demo. Bird sounds start this early bird work of OSIRIS in “False Insinuation”. The screams are sometimes a bit more brutal, but in this early stage you can tell that this band is not a dime a dozen, you are dealing with. The musical madness starts with a more doomy beginning, but once the thrashy rhythm starts, no one is holding them back anymore. From the oldest stuff here, only “Mass Termination” made it to the album. The band already showed that they were not afraid to change speed every once in a while. If you’re not used to that and many people weren’t, you might get dizzy after a while. It’s back in those days that the first ADHD patients were reported. “Agony & Hate” starts off with the sound of a battlefield. It contains lengthy, instrumental parts this time and the musicians are showing their virtuosity. It will become their power. These musicians were far above average and touched the level of the greats on this earth, whether you like their music or not. On the last track “Christopher”, they step on the gas one more time. Once again, they constantly try to change the atmosphere, the mood, the speed and they succeed in that without a doubt. Why did nobody see the incredible talents of this wonderful and amazing band? It’s twenty-five (or something) years later, when Divebomb Records puts it all together. Has someone got the clear vinyl release of this album for me? It would fit very nicely amongst the releases of WATCHTOWER in my collection. The Dutch equivalent of these Texan cult prog / thrash metal heroes are showing the world that they were there, when nobody watched. Reunion time, lads! Just like in the old days and the tour you did with LAAZ ROCKIT. This would sound really awesome to me! Until that time, I’ll give this one another spin or two or three. OSIRIS consisted of Rene Bronwasser on bass (later in CIRCLE OF EMOTIONS, a sort of continuation of OSIRIS), Marc Fien on drums (later in CIRCLE OF EMOTION), Marcel Oudhof on guitar (later in CIRCLE OF EMOTIONS), Geert Kerssies on guitar (later in CIRCLE OF EMOTIONS) and Bram van den Oever on vocals (later in CIRCLE OF EMOTIONS). CIRCLE OF EMOTIONS was a sort of restart for the band. It was a short lived project, that only released one demo, called “Plan B”, where the band OSIRIS must have been ‘Plan A’, I guess. This is a must have compilation CD, so much is for sure now, I think.
(9,6/10- Toine van Poorten)

PESTILENCE-The Dysentery Penance (Vic Records)
I must admit, that I’m not too much of a death metal fan. And I started to enjoy thrash metal, when everybody else already ran after the next hype. Don’t remember, if it was grunge or nu- metal. PESTILENCE was born in 1985 and from the very depths of hell comes this overview of old material of the band. Demos from the eighties. Now that’s food for Holland Heavy Metal, because no matter how hard we try, it’s no use saying that PESTILENCE didn’t mean anything to the musical legacy of Dutch metal in the period of 1980-1990. What we have here are ten tracks, that play for about forty-five minutes and starts off with the fast “Against The Innocent” The two demos are from 1987 and as the die-hard fans already know we start with the “Dysentry” demo here. We simply can’t deny, that PESTILENCE was one of the first band that jumped on the bandwagon, that rode along the rough unpolished road. The bandwagon was driven by bands like CELTIC FROST and POSSESSED and you can hear some of their influences back here. The band sounded brutal as hell. Just check out “Delirical Life” with its unpolished VENOM-like sound. The band consisted then of Patrick Mameli, the Godfather of PESTILENCE on guitar, bass and vocals, Randy Meinhard on guitar and Marco Foddis on drums. “Traitor Gate” added some dirty doom sounds to the bone hard death metal, that the band provided. The solos however could very well come from any speed metal outfit out there. They sounded evil as hell, that’s for sure. People, who thought that bands like PICTURE were too soft (is that possible?) had to find other, more extreme sources. That’s where PESTILENCE comes to mind, next to bands like MANDATOR or MYSTO DYSTO (in the early days then) for example. It’s in “Throne Of Death” that you’ll hear, that PESTILENCE is more than just some brutal death metal riffs. They were already creating a style of their own, where mood swings come to mind and the technical details in the songs received a more prominent place. The band slowly went more away from their original bone hard style and became legends in the world of the underground. You can already hear that in the beginning of their second demo “The Penance”. The beautiful intro “Into Hades” is a good example of a band, that is working hard to show that they are different than the rest. Changes come slowly though and “Before The Penance” is still a fast death metal monster. In the meantime the band has added vocalist Martin van Drunen to their line-up, one of the Dutch masters of brutal vocals, who later on shows his skills in bands like ASPHYX, HAIL OF BULLETS and BOLT THROWER. Check out the great sound they have in “Affection”. This band evolved in less than a year more than many bands do in ten years or so. “Fight The Plague” is some of the purest thrash metal available. I’m sorry that your room will look like a bloody mess after this song, but this is just perfect to let off some steam. Evolution goes on and later on the band would even combine jazz with metal. There were no borders anymore after this. The last two tracks we can enjoy here are from the Metal Attack festival in Eibergen, that took place on the ninth of July 1988, where PESTILENCE played with KREATOR, DISABUSE, THANATOS, MANDATOR, DEATH ANGEL and HOLY MOSES. The songs captured here are “Before The Penance” and “Fight The Plague”. The live recordings show us a band, that could reproduce their brutal sound on stage, too. Not every band is capable of that, because many things can be changed within the four walls of a recording studio. Not with PESTILENCE, what you see is what you get. Sink your teeth into this worthy document of long lost times, it’ll be worth it. I really liked what I heard and the cover art looks excellent as well. The liner notes are in-depth, but there is one thing I want to mention here. Obviously, the album title is a put-together of the titles of the two demo tapes “Dysentery” and “The Penance”. How the hell is it possible that the title on the cover art of this overview says “The Dysentery Penace”? Didn’t they have a spell checker or an editor, who could do justice to a band, that definitely put their mark on the heavy metal sound of today? Well, at least in Holland, they did. I can’t distract anything from the final score they receive from me, because it’s out of the band’s control and it doesn’t do any harm to the musical qualities of the Godfathers of brutal metal in Holland of course. But it’s a mistake, that could have been avoided and a very sloppy one. As long as the fans spend their hard earned money on this compilation, the company won’t mind too much, I guess. It’s the music that counts here though and this receives both thumbs up for me.
(8,1/10- Toine van Poorten)

SAD IRON-The Antichrist (LP) (Tonefloat Records)
It’s good to hear, that Bernard Rive had to do some cleaning up lately. His wife told him to go to the attic and clean it up so many times and Bernard decided to do as he was told. It’s then when a miracle happened. They didn’t make a movie out of it, just like the Monty Python guys did, but believe me that it would have made a million selling movie to see the face of Bernard when he found ‘The Holy Grail’ for die hard SAD IRON fans. It was right there in the attic of his own house. What to do? Cherish it and put an altar in your living room and put it on there, ask people to donate money to see it or even touch it or keep this one in a million chance, that you find such a relic between the borders of your own house and let nobody know about the existence of it. Neither of both options have been used. Rive polished his bold head and decided to share the good news to Aardschok contributor Robert Haagsma and now the whole world knows about this relic and before Hoorn would become one of the world’s most famous pilgrimage, next to Lourdes, he decided to do the best he could do. Of course with the help of master guitarist Rive, they both decided that “The Antichrist”, the second album of SAD IRON, because that’s the official name of this holy grail, would become the second release of Dutch Steel on the Tonefloat label. After they had already put a tsunami over Holland with a triple LP set with many hard to find heavy metal classics from the Dutch heavy metal scene, they now did it again. Holland will be struck by lightning with the release of “The Antichrist”, the much searched after second album of the band, that brought us “Total Damnation”. The winged devil like figure lifts a tombstone under which SAD IRON was buried once they had released the “Total Damnation” album. It was time to raise the dead. Good to know is, that SAD IRON never was really dead, they just had a long hiatus between their debut album and this release. Yes, Bernard is always in for a good joke. Tape traders and die hard metal fans already had a copy of this album, but somehow nobody ever dared to speak about it. One could be put to jail when in possession of a tape or a copy of this album, with such a blasphemous title. Who would call an album “The Antichrist”? Bernard did, just because he was rebellious enough to don’t give a f*ck anyway. The eight songs on here have a playing time of less than forty minutes. But these forty minutes will change your life completely, you’d better believe me. The speed metal played here goes beyond all human comprehension. Think of early EXCITER, early ANVIL or all other speed metal gods from the mid-eighties. Is it that good? ‘Yes’ would be the simple answer to this question, because SAD IRON played to kill and they explained why in the opener of this relic. “We Play To Kill” and nobody could stop them. They were the masters of the fast riffs and their music went far beyond that what happened so far in the history of Dutch heavy metal. PICTURE only came close to what they did, but this was more sick and extreme than the Rozenburg based formation. “You’re Obsessed” already brings the foam to my mouth. The guitar work of Bernard is amazing, the vocals of Herke van der Poel (R.I.P.) was perfect for the sound of the band. I don’t know who did the “You’re Obsesssed” spoken word parts, but he is possessed too, believe me. Speed limitations in guitar solos? Bernard has never heard of them, it’s full speed or nothing at all. No time to breath between the various songs. “Day Of Doom” spits out of the speakers with an all destroying power. Doom has got a different meaning here than playing slow, that’s for sure. Another secret is being revealed next. What do people enjoy the most, when they have some time off in their bedroom? I think, the answer would be sex and then in particular “S.M.” of course. Obey your master. Devilish looking, black leather wearing ladies with leather whips torturing you until you can’t stand the pain anymore. One more hit and you’re unconscious, can you believe it? As you can see, everything had to be extreme. No more time for romance between the sheets. Instead it’s time for bondage and nipple clips, that is what this is all about. But I’m slowly changing the subject and that’s not the deal when writing a review about an album like that. They started it though, be honest! The B-side starts off with the filthy “Powerthrash”. A cracking door opens and an opera singer starts to warm up her throat. The door closes suddenly and “Powerthrash” leaves the speakers. Nobody has ever seen a trace of the opera singer after this. Who the hell came up with this idea of tan opera singer in the first place? They must have hired a lunatic for that. Now they have to get rid of a corpse without soul, after they finished the album. Well, stranger things have happened here besides this though and the band played on. Bernard must have burned his fingers while playing the guitar licks here. The rivalry between posers and metal heads was perhaps a touchy subject in the eighties. Now they all come together under the moniker of heavy metal fans and they are being put on one big heap. That was definitely not the case back then. When you liked POISON or CINDERELLA, you couldn’t admire the sound of EXCITER and ANVIL as well. “Posers” were fake, metal heads liked the real deal. That was the mindset of the eighties. Little did we know, this would eventually change. Now the two live next to each other in perfect harmony and I even dare to say, that I listen to POISON as well sometimes. Please don’t shoot me for this confession, Bernard. “Where Warwinds Blow” continues. It’s there, where nobody wants to be found, except these warheads. It’s the story of why they devoted the Antichrist instead of Jesus Christ. The latter had too much blood on his hands. The last song starts off with a mind-blowing guitar solo. The song deals about how people think of you, when you’re wearing leather and chains and black t-shirts. They are short sighted and they like to think you’re mad. This foolishness and weird thoughts are still in people’s minds sometimes. “Living Like A Rat” is a speed metal classic, that has even some blues in it. If you don’t believe it, better check it out quickly, because now is your chance to do so. It’s the world of good taste, that is being spread out here. Eight songs that will change your world forever are on this album. It did with the four members of the band here. Peter van der Wouden on drums, Charles Heijnen on bass, Herke van der Poel on vocals (R.I.P.) and Bernard Rive on guitar never received the credits that they earned so much for this album, simply because it was never officially released. Now’s the time to change that. Thanks to Bernard’s wife for letting her husband clean up the attic. SAD IRON brings “The Antichrist” to your house. Could you ever think, that this would happen, thirty years after it was originally recorded? Become an “Antichrist” addict, too. Play to kill, be obsessed, enjoy your day of doom, a bit of SM must be possible, listen to powerthrash, avoid the real posers in life, dare to go where war winds blow and live like a rat. It works. You don’t have to tattoo three sixes in the back of your neck, but hey you could do that, if you want to. There are no borders anymore after the release of this masterpiece. You can also download this on CD, because the code that is being delivered with the album gives you access to MP3 files of all the songs. This comes in handy for those of you, who don’t have a record player in their car, like me. I want to enjoy this album everywhere and not only in my living room, where the record player is. What a great gesture, guys for thinking about this, although real die hard fans will prefer the vinyl version of course. Our thanks go out to Bernard Rive and SAD IRON in general, Robert Haagsma, Tonefloat Records, Berthus Westerhuis (machtig mooi werk weer man) and Dutch Steel for sharing this holy grail. The gatefold sleeve contains the lyrics, nice old pix and liner notes by Robert Haagsma. The pix on the inside of this gatefold sleeve are partly taken from a gig, that must have been legendary and hilarious at the same time, when hearing all the stories. We want more ladies with huge boobies on stage during your live gigs next time, guys! That Bernard….. always in for a good laugh! “The Antichrist” has entered our house. Long may he live there!
It’s about two weeks after writing this review, when we received the sad news, that vocalist Herke van der Poel is no longer among us. He died after being ill for quite a while. We have had the real pleasure of meeting Herke on several occasions and we always had a good time with him sharing some great memories. The last time we saw him was at the Dutch Steel festival and I will never forget the time we spend with him on that faithful day. Rest in peace, dear Herke. We will never forget you and we will miss you so much!
(9,9/10- Toine van Poorten)

UPDATE October 2015:

EXISES-Exises (Divebomb Records)
What a nice surprise this melodic heavy rock masterpiece has finally been released on CD. The eight songs are worthy of thirty-five minutes of solid melodic heavy metal from the lowlands with Frank Leurs on vocals and keyboards, Adri Sleyster on bass and backing vocals, Berend Houter on drums and Michael Siethof on guitars. It’s such a shame, that a band with so much talent never got any further than two brilliant albums. Let’s first have a short look at the sleeve of this killer album. The artwork is a drawing completely made out of little dots. It shows, that you don’t have to expect any evil satanic heavy metal with inverted crosses. These guys were delivering high class melodic heavy metal with very powerful riffs and sometimes catchy lyrics. They let the music do the talking, instead of an evil image. Their debut album has been pressed on this silver disc and kicks off with the mighty opener “Fear For The Night”, which sounds catchy and is therefore the perfect opener on this CD. It’s the first impression of something new and the band knows to impress with a good up tempo track with great guitar work and crystal clear vocals. Fans of melodic based heavy metal will know that this is top notch material. And after hearing this song once or twice, you will be able to sing along to the chorus. The next track is called “Misunderstood”, which continues at the same speed. The drum salvos are fast and the guitar cries like you would expect it to be. You won’t find a drum sound like that anywhere else. It’s recognizable, although a bit static at times. I think, that fans of HAMMERHEAD, ZINATRA, AVALON, HORIZON, PERFECT STRANGERS, FIRST AVENUE and maybe the latter VANDENBERG will get the picture here. The guitar work shows some influences of MICHAEL SCHENKER in a way. While “Some Sort Of Freedom” contains vocal parts, which made me think of Bert Heerink in his heydays. It’s not a real surprise to read in the liner notes, that Bert did some choir vocals on earlier demo stuff of the band. The flashy guitar solo turns this song into one of the highlights on the album. But the instrumental piece in the middle of this song is also really breathtaking. It shows the RUSH influences, that this band carried along and gives it a slightly progressive touch. “Behind The Wall” is a song to raise your fists upon. It has got the power and shows the musical qualities of the band members once again. Just listen to the powerful pounding drum beats here. They’ll make you bang your head to the rhythm of it. “Burn The Lights” has got a more catching atmosphere, but the guitars are still up front and working their way to your ears. Especially the great solo is very worth mentioning here. “Stay With Me” is the moment, where the band asks for a short piece of rest with a sensitive ballad. It became a small hit in Holland. At least, I still remember the song exactly after so many years. It even received some airplay on the local hard rock radio shows. The guitar solo is really outstanding again, in my opinion. Then a completely switch comes next with the heaviest track on this album, namely the instrumental “Brainstorm”. It contains some instrumental violence, which could very well be from MR. BIG or the early HOUSE OF LORDS. What an incredible massive sound played at high speed! Last track “Carry On” continues in the same vein and adds a stunning closing theme to this amazing debut album, which was originally released in 1986. Listening to the album brings back some good memories about that time, but unfortunately it would take the band ten years to come up with a successor for this debut album. In a different line-up however, because vocalist Frank was being replaced by Co Timmer and Rene Schaap handled the keyboards from then on. The second album was released in a time, that heavy metal was at its deepest point of popularity and therefore it may not have reached the status, that it deserved. Same goes for this debut album. It was in some aspects way ahead of its time and of a very high quality, but the scene was popular and big names like BODINE, VANDENBERG, HIGHWAY CHILE and VENGEANCE ruled. People, who digged a bit deeper and listened to the more obscure stuff, ended up at the unpolished diamonds, like this EXISES album. I’m glad, that it received a second life on CD here, hopefully the “Reternity” album will follow soon. The booklet contains an extensive interview with the guitar player and some nice pics as well. A must have for every fan of Dutch heavy metal, who also has a heart for good melody lines.
(8,6/10- Toine van Poorten)

UPDATE June/July 2015:

ANGUS-Track Of Doom (Cult Metal Classics)
ANGUS is still a well-respected band worldwide. Both their albums have been re-released on CD by the Greek label Cult Metal Classics and some cool bonus material is being added to this. You may say, that you already own the vinyl versions of the original albums, but the liner notes, lyrics to the songs and nice pics will certainly make up for that. Prepare yourself for a full hour of ANGUS part one, which is worthy of twelve brilliant tracks. Unlike the title suggests “Track Of Doom”, this is not doom metal and it is the purest Dutch heavy metal that you can possibly get. Grab yourself a bottle of ‘William Lawson’ and turn up the sound! It’s rather strange to start an album with an instrumental track. I’d call this an almost revolutionary move, but ANGUS did it and it feels good. Just have a taste of “The Centaur” to get the idea. I feel really flabbergasted by it and it’s like receiving a knock-out punch in the first round of the fight already. “When Giants Collide” has been well-known from Vara’s Vuurwerk radio show over here in Holland. If you didn’t know the band, then a) you had been living under a rock and b) this was the ultimate way to find out that ANGUS could rock like hell! “Track Of Doom” is another classic for me. Just listen to the fabulous guitar work here and the amazing pounding drums by William Lawson. The band, at that point, consisted of William ‘Mr. Angus’ Lawson on drums, Ed Lois on vocals, Gerard Carol on bass and Bert Foxx on guitar. “Heavyweight Warrior” opens with a skull splitting guitar intro, which leads into this up-tempo rocker, which contains some flashing guitar work. It sounds wild, bashing and genius at the same time. “Finally Out” opens with some nice acoustic guitars and in a dark and a bit slower pace. This doesn’t last long though and soon the guitar solos will go whizzing past your ears. ANGUS doesn’t go for sensitivity, they want it loud and no exceptions have been taken to this rule. “The Gates” contains many breaks and shows the band at their very best. These magic riffs, that could come from any early SAXON album turn this into a real Dutch metal anthem. “Dragon Chase” is another instrumental, in which the band members will let off some steam. This is a nice opportunity to have a good look at the sleeve of this masterpiece. Two centaurs at full speed with the head of a warrior on a piece of wood, that is held up high, like it was a trophy which they brought from a bloody war. The bloody axe, the metal chains and the fat muscles on the bodies of the two warriors make this into something special, that you want to add to your collection, no matter what the music will sound like. Am I right or what? “Lost Control” is the last track on the original “Track Of Doom” vinyl record, including some thundering drums by William and the high screams of Ed. It’s 1986, when this album is being released and the fans have another killer album to add to their collection. It contains high quality heavy metal from a Dutch band, that directly settles themselves in the premier league of the Dutch heavy metal scene. But how did this band start out musically in the beginning? Well, listen to the rest of this re-release and you’ll get the answer to that question with four tracks from their 1983 demo. It opens with “Night Fight” with heavy high screams of Ed in the beginning of this track. It builds up the intro of this fast and massive heavy pounder. What a great power!! The speed break at the end of the song comes unexpectedly and that is the force of a band like ANGUS. You can always expect the unexpected. “Keep On Shouting” is a feel good rock song with GILLAN-like high vocal parts and once again some nice breaks and speed changes. “Virgin Girl” sounds very powerful and these four songs sound much more rough than the songs, that eventually got on the album, which sounds more hard rock than heavy metal in a way. The thundering drum sound for which ANGUS is so well-known opens the last song of these demo tracks. “Leading You Back” sounds most like ANGUS was about to sound on their first full length album. It’s 1983, when this demo sees the light of day and three years later, the album was being released. It brings back some real great memories. But there is more where this came from, because “Warrior Of The World” underwent the same treatment as “Track Of Doom”. Read on in this next review about the continuation of the musical legacy of ANGUS.
(9,1/10- Toine van Poorten)

ANGUS-Warrior Of The World (Cult Metal Classics)
The legend continues on the second album in this series, that completes the work of ANGUS so far. This second CD contains fourteen tracks and another full hour of Dutch heavy metal. Of course it includes the album “Warrior Of The World” with nine tracks, starting with ACCEPT-like riffs in title track “Warrior Of The World”. Their sound remained typically ANGUS, thank God. The only difference in this line-up is the disappearance of bass player Gerard Carol, who had to leave because of health problems. He was being replaced by Andre Versluys, while Mike Shults stepped in Gerard’s shoes, when the band played live at the different clubs. “Moving Fast” is of course a fast song, that will make your head shake up and down pretty easily. While “Leather And Lace” are no strange words in the ANGUS vocabulary. Just listen to the thundering drums by William and you will hear that ANGUS is still born to bash it out loud. “Money Satisfies” is on next and everybody knows that statement is right. “Black Despair” is fast and contains the wild high screams of Ed. A peak into a crystal ball leads us to “2086”. It contains predictions of things to come. It’s still another seventy plus years before we will know, if these predictions are right or not. The guitar is playing to kill here and the solo part gets a nice instrumental introduction. “Freedom Fighter” is a song for real warriors, in which the guitar parts explode in a nice solo. “I’m A Fool With Love” is the obligatory ballad. Something you probably won’t expect on an ANGUS album, but they show a more sensitive side here as well. It sounds like this song is recorded a bit softer than the rest to create an even more tender moment on this album. After that it gets wild, hard and heavy again. There is definitely a difference in loudness, which makes this song sounds so much louder and stronger than the ballad. The last track from the original album “If God’s In Heaven (Why Is There Hell On Earth?)” is coming up. Just try to give an answer on that question, while we check out two additions to the “Heavy Touch Compilation”, originally released in 1985. ANGUS contributed “Lonesome Fighter” and “Aliens” to that compilation album of Dutch metal bands. The band sounds raw and mean and once again they show, that ANGUS stood tall against their colleagues worldwide. “Aliens” is for me definitely one of the better ANGUS songs, including the exciting speed breaks and great guitar solos. “Ruthless Men” and “Men Of Hades” are the cream on this ANGUS cake. These are two previously unreleased tracks in the best ANGUS tradition. While “Men Of Hades” is even being recorded live. This is the stuff that real fans would die for. “Ruthless Men” has got some nice breaks and the well-known ANGUS sound is there because of the recognizable vocal sound by Ed. “Men Of Hades” is a good live recording and contains some nice guitar work. Last but definitely not least we hear the very last ANGUS release so far with “Papa Don’t Freak”, which is an ANGUS make-over of the MADONNA song “Papa Don’t Preach”. I like this version so much better! The stomping disco beat may not appeal to every metal head out there, but I think that this is the ‘tongue-in-cheek’ thought behind this whole song. The EP cover art of this release was simply hilarious and it’s printed in the booklet on this re-release. The artwork of “Warrior Of The World” contains another bloody drawing of a warrior, that has just killed his attacker. After the release of the MADONNA tribute, ANGUS pulled the plug and returned in 1999 with Bert Foxx on guitar and William Lawson (who else?) on drums. The line-up was completed by Ro Bo on bass and Jay Cee on vocals. In 2012 William Lawson was the only remaining warrior in ANGUS and he played a few live shows with fellow Randy Rhoads freak Pat ‘The Axe’ Kruijer, Rene ‘Basbeer’ Bouwer on bass and Nico (Nicooooooooo!) Perreijn on vocals. The band did some very succesful gigs in this line-up, but then all of the sudden pulled the plug. ANGUS now rests in peace, long live ANGUS!!
(9,1/10- Toine van Poorten)

FINAL HEIRESS-Promo CD (independent)
Wow, are you kidding me?!! This ten track promo was released in 2013 and contains ten killer songs of FINAL HEIRESS. Jan Palenstijn slowly has become a cult hero in the Dutch metal scene. Since his performance with FINAL HEIRESS at the Heavy Metal Maniacs Festival in 2012 everybody is talking about this energetic frontman, who once fronted SAD IRON (another band that have just released a CD, that is being reviewed out here somewhere). The single, they released, has become a collector’s item. But during the Dutch Steel Festival I bumped into this ten track promo CD of the band with much previously unreleased material. Although this is not an official release, while it was being used for promotion purposes, it sure is an interesting item to review here. Just to get to know FINAL HEIRESS a bit better. We start with “Cry From The Undertow”, which is also to be found on You Tube in the original eighties live version. Because of the voice of Jan, the song gets an epic feeling. The guitar solo is nice and creates a melancholic atmosphere. “Look Around” is based upon a heavy guitar riff and a steady beat. The crunchy guitar sound could have come from ANVIL, but the voice of Jan makes the song sound so much more melodic. It surely rocks and the speed change in the middle is quite exciting and surprising. And I haven’t even mentioned the high pull outs of Jan here. He could make a glass burst with its intensity. “Mystery” contains another genius guitar riff. The fast pace stops for a more epic and melodic part at the end of the song. The very first guitar part sounds like if it was being played by a Spanish flamenco guitarist, but that is only for a short moment. The high vocal pull outs of Jan at the end of the song are really breathtaking. “The Omen” has always been one of my favorite FINAL HEIRESS tracks. It’s a firm rocker with flashing guitar licks by Paul van Rijswijk (EMERALD, HAMMERHAWK). The excitement grows, when the speed goes up. What power, what a crazy beat! Just check out the riffs after the speed change. It’s like Paul is haunted by Damian himself. CULT! “Twisted By Rules” is taken from the single. The song starts out as a ballad, but slowly builds up a certain tension, which finally results in a wild guitar solo. This is a great song, which is very very underrated. A classical metal anthem in my book for sure.It’s followed by “Watchful Parasites” which also brings out the best of the band. Speed changes and marvelous guitar work turn this song into another classic you must hear. “You’re In My Heart” is a fast rocker dedicated to all your loved ones. And the high screams of Jan make this song to just another killer FINAL HEIRESS track. Then there’s an alternative take out of “The Omen”. Don’t you think, that the opening riff sounds a lot like BODINE?? I mean this as a huge compliment. The guitar licks in “Flags Of Convenience” simply can’t be topped. There is a short interlude for bass player Patrick Ter Wee. In this instrumental track Paul is completely going out of his mind. He shows his skills and proves us again that he belongs to the cream of the crop in the Dutch metal scene. After Paul has freaked out completely on his guitar, it’s time for the final song on this promo. You’ll hear a powerful taste of “Burning Brains”, in which the band cranks it out one more time with more nice speed and mood changes. Your brain will hurt, when you don’t get your hands on this one. It shows, that FINAL HEIRESS is a great Dutch metal band, that performs far above average. Especially if you dig a more epic and melodic sound. FINAL HEIRESS consists of Jan Palenstijn on vocals, Paul van Rijswijk on guitar, Patrick ter Wee on bass, Arjen Halewijn on guitar and Sicco Swen on drums.
(8,1/10- Toine van Poorten)

SAD IRON-Total Damnation (Skol Records)
WARNING: This review may contain evil backward messages and devilish spells. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!!!! Is it a dream or am I really holding the CD of “Total Damnation” in my hands? After being kicked in the nuts a few times, I know for sure that a) it hurts like hell and b) it’s really true I am holding a copy of “Total Damnation” in my hands. Thank God, huh I mean Satan for this magic moment. And the album contains bonus material as well. Jummy, I really like that! SAD IRON is pure speed metal like METALLICA used to play on their first two albums. In the good old days, if you know what I mean. “Total Damnation” is hard to top, when it comes to Dutch heavy metal. With the unreleased successor “The Antichrist”, they could have cleared the job maybe, but the album unfortunately stayed on dusty shelves, but now we will enjoy some of the material that was meant for this release. Let’s go through this great release for a second. The CD booklet contains tonz of old pictures and some flyers of gigs the band played, when we were young. The lyrics are printed here as well, so there’s no reason anymore that you can’t sing along to the songs, when the band plays live in a joint nearby. The twelve songs are worthy of a bit over a full hour of speed metal mayhem, which will lead to total damnation, that is the final destination, no doubt about it. “Demon’s Night” opens with all destroying guitar exorcism by the bald man himself. Well, he is bald now, back then he was bold, which is written differently, if you look closely. The outro contains some filthy guitar work just to show the people that you don’t mess around with SAD IRON. “Prisoners” is on next and the raw guitar sound may remind you of the raw axe work, that bands like EXCITER played on their “Heavy Metal Maniac” album. It’s unpolished and it rawks like hell! Just have a good listen to the solos here. It will make your hemorrhoids burst. “We All Praise The Devil” is a lengthy tribute to the horned hoof. Satan will be overjoyed by so much attention. If you think, that the track is a bit too sweet and it’s more a sing-along song, then you’re ever so wrong. Just wait until the mid-section, where the speed change comes. Guitar solos all over the place and a sick laugh by singer Herke van der Poel will make you change your mind at once. After this, you will join the Church Of Satan, so don’t say I didn’t warn you! “Rock ‘N’ Roll Rendez Vous” is being introduced by drummer Gerrit Soering. Don’t think it’s a rock and roll song, because of the title. This is some of the pure metal. “Hellfighter” is not only a great title, but it’s also a classy rocker with some rough riffs. Consider me a ‘hellfighter’ too, guys. I am with the gang! The title track comes on next. It’s a slower track with an exciting mid piece, that will make you long for more. The band shows, that they are capable of doing so much more than just playing straight forward heavy metal. “Three Crown Saws” sounds NWOBHM-ish. It has got that remarkable sound of the underground, that you’ll hear while listening to your old NWOBHM demo tapes. It also contains some great speed changes and another flashing guitar solo. So far, so good for the original “Total Damnation” album, I’d say. There is more to come, I already wrote that here. There is some bad weather on the radar, because “Thunder And Lightning” is coming your way in a live version. Together with “School Girls”, which is next. These live tracks were taken from the “Holland Heavy Metal Volume I” album. It’s recorded in Brouwershoeck in Leeuwarden in 1982. It’s the earliest stage in the career of this Hoorn based band. The band didn’t really have the speed metal attitude at that time and sounded a bit more heavy rock instead. The term speed metal simply wasn’t invented yet. The term guitar solo was already existing. Just hear Bernard Rive crank it out here and in a very subtle way he makes his guitar cry. Then we hear the three best songs from the “The Antichrist” album, in my opinion. The freaky opener of “Powertrash” is maniacal and not of this earth. What the hell is this? Freaking opera? Not with SAD IRON, aaaaarrrggghhghghh!!!!! There goes my eardrums! Is the guitar player possessed or is he being chased by his mother-in-law, that is hunting on him with an axe? This is sick shit!! Mind you, this is awesome stuff, which goes way beyond that Bay Area quartet, that released “Kill ‘Em All” and “Ride The Lightning”. Skull splitting guitar solos, a haunting rhythm, brutal screams result in wet pants by yours truly. Who needs viagra with a sound like that? And it gets even better. Check out what they have in mind for you with “Living Like A Rat”. No shit, this is a crime against humanity. This is freaking insanity. Bernard’s guitar sounds like it is being possessed and this is only the intro, what I am talking about. The drummer molests his set like a good drummer should. Somebody get me a doctor! I’m totally freaking out on stuff like that. For a moment, the band decides to turn it over into a blues song, but only for a few seconds though. However, this doesn’t sound like a good idea and the song blasts on at full speed. At the end of this phenomenal killer speed metal song, an unknown violin player tries to steal the show from the band. His grave can be visited at the Hoorn cemetery. The last track is a warning for us all. “We Play To Kill” is a speed metal monster with a real warning. It will make you want to push the ‘play’ button again after it stops. SAD IRON and “Total Damnation”!!! Remember these two names, when you call at the seven gates of hell. When you tell Lucifer, that you had a good taste of this album, he will let you in for sure. It’s one of his favorites, too and he plays it on a regular basis down there, if my information is correct. No need to feel sorry, if this was too much for you. Just inhale it with small quantities and if swallowed, do not induce vomiting. Although it may not be the most important part of this review, which looks more like a SAD IRON book now, but responsible for all the beauty that is pressed onto this silver disc are Bernard Rive on guitar exorcism, Herke van der Poel on vocals, Leo Ockeloen on bass and Gerrit Soering on drums. On the bonus tracks we hear the heavenly sounds of Mr. Rive of course (who else?) and Jacques van Oevelen on drums, Ron Mooijman on vocals, Dirk Ooms on bass, Charles Heijnen on bass and Peter van der Wouden on drums. SAD IRON today? Oh yes, they exist again, in case you wondered. The 2015 line-up consists of Bernard Rive (who??) on guitar masturbations, Charles Heijnen (him again!!) on bass, Marc van den Bos on rhythm guitar and vocals and Robert Bakker on drums. Get your kicks on http://www.sadironmetal.com. Thanks go out to Bernard Rive for the exciting music, the wetted pants and the promotional CD copy and to Bart Gabriel for finally making it happen!!!!
(9,9/10- Toine van Poorten)

STASH-A Matter Of Time (No Remorse Records)
STASH, their name may not directly ring a bell for everyone. When I mention the name of Bert Kivits (WARRIOR / EMERALD), a few people will start to pay attention though, I guess. This was the band, in which Bert sang between the time he spend in WARRIOR and before moving along with EMARALD. Both EMERALD and STASH are active in these days and with this compilation album you have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in your hands. Nineteen (how much???) tracks and a playing time of about 66,6 minutes! Ain’t that a coincidence? “A Matter Of Time” could also have been called “It’s About Time”, but better late than never, dear friends. The short acoustic “Intro” gets the fire burning. It’s followed by “By The Light Of Fire”, that will remind you of old MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP anthems. “The Mountain” shows, that the music of STASH easily stood the test of time. No mountain too high to climb for these guys. Good melodies has been an important part in the music of STASH and they combined it with a good portion of power, that has been taken care of by Bert and guitar player Roel. There is also a good space for the keyboard playing of Edwin Woltering though. Just check out the intro of “Waiting For The Night”, which has a very catchy feel. I think, that old QUEENSRYCHE fans or people who dig a good taste of HEIR APPARENT would enjoy this. “Hold On The Line” is next and the recognizable voice of Bert is asking for all the attention here. With his high pull outs, he is the cream of the crop in this genre. The guitar work, which comes from only one guitar player (Roel Nottrot) is breathtaking, too and the sound is spiced up with the keyboard parts of Edwin here. Title track “A Matter Of Time” turns the pace down a bit. A power ballad in the best VANDENBERG tradition unfolds itself, including a guitar solo that sounds like the solo that Adrian Vandenberg cranks out in “Burning Heart”. They may take that comment as a huge compliment! “Prelude” is a short acoustic piece of art. A lot of Dutch bands tended to do that on their album. “Born To Run” has got an intro, that would fit very well on the latest VANDENBERG album as well. Don’t think, that we’re dealing with a copycat here, because the style of STASH sounds a lot more powerful. Obviously, there are some influences here that can’t be denied, but they are definitely not annoying. “Blackout” is another good example of the melodic rock invasion of these STASH-ers. It’s catchy enough to sing along to it, in my opinion. “There’s Another World” doses up the power, but keeps hold of the strong melody lines. “Don’t Let It End” has got a major role for the stunning voice of Bert. Then it’s time for a fast foot stomper in “Piece Of The Action” and action is what we will get with this rocker, which contains some nice MALMSTEEN-like guitar snippets. The instrumental part in the second half of this song will make your mind go out to this Swedish guitar masturbator again, which has a nice duel between guitar and keyboards. With the short “Outro” we have come to the end of the album. The six demo tracks, that are added, are a pretty desert for the fans of the band, although they don’t differ that much from those we heard just a while ago. “By The Light Of Fire” is on first with its touches of “Into The Arena”. “Hold On The Line” will let you sense the power of Bert’s vocals and the interaction between guitar and keyboards gives it just the melodic touch, that it needs. “A Matter Of Time” will make you fade away away in a melancholic mood again. Still that guitar solo will turn you on somehow. “Born To Run” will now take you by surprise, if it didn’t already. There’s no escape for the great heavy beat and excellent guitar work. The horror laugh of Bert at the end of the song makes it complete. Great stuff indeed! The CD closes with some more demo recordings, like “There’s Another World” with its fast pace. Last but not least, the demo adventures of “Don’t Let It End” with its riffs and a stunning beat, that could have been on the early DIO material. I would say, don’t let it end, but after sixty-six minutes the cake is eaten. Only the cherries have remained. These are the pictures and lyrics in the booklet of this Dutch pride and glory STASH, who finally get a good musical overview of their very impressive career so far. The album only leaves me with one big question. Why is this album never released in the eighties and why did they never get out off their shelves back in those days? This could have made the band so much more popular than they are now in the Dutch underground scene. STASH is a name to remember, if you didn’t know them by now. Fans of EMERALD and the bands mentioned in this review, can dig in blindfolded. STASH consists of Bert Kivits on vocals, Roel Nottrot on guitars, Alfred kers on bass, Edwin Woltering on keyboards, Gosse Nieuwenhuis on drums, you can find more information on their Facebook site at: http://www.facebook.com/stash.Netherlands.
(8,4/10- Toine van Poorten)

VAULT-Burning Eyes - The Anthology (Eat Metal Records)
How come, that we need a Polish label to release the SAD IRON album and some Greek labels to release the ANGUS CD’s and this VAULT CD? VAULT is one of Holland’s best kept secrets from Emmen area. This seventeen (!!!) track CD runs for eighty minutes and there isn’t a second left unplayed on this silver disc. What you hear is what you get! It’s value for your money on this compilation disc, that opens with the raw “Suicide”, which is a fast rocker with rough guitar riffs. I just wouldn’t commit suicide, when I hear music like that. The first seven tracks were taken from the album “No More Escape” released in 1983. “On Forever” is a mix of JUDAS PRIEST’s “Rock Forever” and URIAH HEEP’s “Gypsy”. Heavy rock with a dark sound lurking in the dark. “Desire” is heavier and especially the guitar sound in this song is breathtaking. Especially when you take into account, that VAULT only had one guitar player, who created such a heavy wall of sound. “Leader Of The Pack” has got nothing to do with the TWISTED SISTER song with the same title. This is more the ballad of the album with some nice, moody guitar work and some sensitive vocal lines. Title track “No More Escape” has got a typical SAXON hook, which must have been one of the influences of the band back in those days. The guitar solo is of an outstanding quality. In the louder screams, vocalist Henri sounds a bit similar to Jurjen ‘Thundervox’ Tichelaar of VORTEX. “The Gambler” contains a short drum solo, which is a very revolutionary move, that not too many bands would even dare to think of. I just LOVE drum solos and this one is fast and cool and I hope that the money-inlay was high, because this time the one who gambled won the race. The last track from the original album is called “Too Young To Fight”. The exciting speed change in the middle of this song will take you by surprise and turns it into a naughty heavy head banger. Your mind will be blown away by the guitar solo though. It’s the cherry on the cake. In the year 1983 this was definitely the music I would go for. Hard rock with a heavy twist. One year before that, VAULT already released a single, a much sought after item by record collectors. It’s called “Hell Of A Block” and the two songs, that were on this seven incher will be next. First there’s “Hell of A Block”, which has a haunting rhythm, a slower mid piece and a storming ending, including a very fast guitar solo. It has got everything, that a good metal song needs. When hearing it again, it feels strange, that this band never reached a higher status. After a dark start, the song “Burning Eyes” explodes with full force. The instrumental closing part is definitely the highlight in this song. If you would believe, that’s all for now, then you’re wrong because the 1985 demo “Sword Of Steel” is added to this compilation here as well. It starts off with the pure metal track “Run Or Die”. Just listen to the rattling drum intro of this song and the biting vocal lines. Clearly, the band shows a more coherent sound on this demo. It’s like they had found their destination and the exact sound, that they wanted to play. The solid sound of steel makes you long for more. The intro of “Afraid Of The Dark” comes from the book and VAULT definitely stands tall. It’s a shame, that this material never was released on any official album back in these days. Have a taste of early SAXON riffs in “His Will Shall Be Done”, which is another up-tempo rocker, that will make your head go up and down! You simply can’t avoid it from happening. “Terror” will make you throw your fists in the air, while the guitar rips the flesh from your bones. I just love the riff of “Behind The Walls Of Death”, which is a very powerful up-tempo rocker, that belongs to one of my personal favorites here. Then it’s time to go nutz and lose some sweat in the fast and furious “Blackmail”. Another highlight announces itself. With “Revenge For Rape” we have arrived at the second ballad on this eighty minute joyride through the past. A strong beat makes it powerful, but still it remains a ballad, that will make the cigarette lighters create the right atmosphere in a live setting. The CD closes with another fast rocker, called “Sword Of Steel”. It’s the title track of the demo, that was later released on vinyl for the true collectors. Here you have it all and the eighty minutes of music are very much worth to listen to every single second of it. VAULT opens their vaults and what you get is seventeen tracks of solid steel from the Eastern part of our country. VAULT consists of Anno de Roo on guitars, Norbert Sulmann on drums, Koos de Roo on bass and Henri Draaijer on vocals. Don’t let your eyes get burned and search for this ‘must have’ compilation, that will make your Dutch Steel collection a lot richer.
(8,8/10- Toine van Poorten)

UPDATE January/February 2015:

DIAMOND NEEDLE/BABY’S BREATH- Diamond Needle/Baby’s Breath (Cult Metal Classics)
The sub title to this compilation album is very promising indeed. It reads ‘Dutch 80’s Hard Rock And Heavy Metal Series Volume 1’. What’s more to come out in this series in the future? I could think of some stuff, that never saw the light of day, but let’s keep ourselves focused on this particular release first. SAD IRON! Now I have your attention for sure. This CULT metal band from Hoorn once had a vocalist, called Herke van der Poel. He left the band, because their style was a bit too heavy for him. It won’t be a big surprise to observe a more melodic sound in this new outfit he started together with drummer Paul Gerhardt, which was completed by Michael Schultze on bass and Wilfred van der Ham on solo guitar. Vic Beck (STORM) became the band’s new singer and BABY’S BREATH was born. A couple of years later they would change their name to DIAMOND NEEDLE and music of these two bands can be found on this magnificent release. The booklet contains nice pics, lyrics and a short biography. The seven tracks run for a bit over forty-five minutes and the CD starts with two tracks of DIAMOND NEEDLE. “Waste Of Time” opens and it’s definitely not a waste of time to have a good listen to it. High-pitched vocals and a powerful, energetic drum beat get this song going. On vocals you will hear Steve Favarato, who replaced Vic two years after BABY’S BREATH was born. At that time Harry Waalkes also stepped in on guitar. The music sounds very energetic and has got a slightly progressive feeling over it. The power, that they spread is overwhelming And the last scream on this song seems to come from out of Steve’s toes. Harry takes the opportunity to close the track with some raw guitar lines. “Rudy” is a lengthy track, that keeps the same vibe, but soon changes with a moody keyboard sound. It reminds me of early MAGNUM material. When the speed change comes, this feeling gets even stronger. They can take this as a compliment, because the very early MAGNUM stuff is untouchable in my book. It’s an absolute breathtaking progressive metal experience, that belongs to the top of the Dutch scene. It shows the craftsmanship of the band members and it has got the drive, which can take you back to early years of EUROPE and TNT. What a shame, that DIAMOND NEEDLE disbanded a year later. In the meantime, they tried to continue with Henk Mulder on drums, but this couldn’t stop them from disbanding somewhere in 1989. Listening to the ending of the track, the sound of FRANKIE WOODHOUSE comes to mind as well. The music on “Something In The Air” has got the same power and leaves room for longer instrumental parts, just like we hear here. This sounds like pure excitement to me. The song slowly builds itself up to this steaming climax with loads of screaming lead guitar parts. BABY’S BREATH is on next with five tracks, starting with “Maybe Tomorrow”, that might show some resemblance to “Daybreak” of GILGAMESJ for example. It’s very emotional and contains (baby’s)breathtaking guitar licks. Also the vocals are really amazing. What a great sound! This is the earlier stuff that they put together and definitely very different than what SAD IRON was doing. It has got the same high quality but in a different way. The song has got a long intro, but when it explodes it really gets exciting and it will give you the chills running down your spine. “The Prosecution Of The Man Who Called Himself Innocent” opens with an “Into The Arena” like sound. The title alone is something that you won’t expect from an average metal band. This must be something adventurous and special. Listening to the many speed changes and exciting guitar riffs, you are right. When the solo starts, my mind goes out again to MAGNUM for reasons, I can’t explain. “48 Hours” is on next and if you like fast guitars, you’ve really come to the right place. Meaning that you’ll have a front seat, next to me. What a blast we will have. The computerized vocals may not be quite the techniques of today, but the effect is the same to me. This song was played on ‘Vara’s Vuurwerk’ on the Dutch national radio many years ago. I still have the cassettes lying around somewhere. Ah, those were the days. Heavy metal on the Dutch radio for one hour a week. The lengthy instrumental break sounds absolutely mind-blowing people and the high screams are not computerized, that’s for sure. “I’m On Fire” describes the state I’m in right now. The killing sound is making me grab my air guitar. No need to plug in, just go with the flow. “Hold On To Love” closes the album with the keyboards more up front in the sound now. This song ended up on the “Full Force” compilation album from 1988, released on Reaction Records. The catchy feeling is there, but it’s too loud for the radio to pick it up in those days, I guess. Too much guitar, which makes me very happy though. After thirty-five minutes this exciting ride is over, but I’m really dying to hear more. How come that this band has been hidden all those years and comes from out of nowhere twenty-five years after its existence? The talent was there, the demo was there, the people just didn’t pick it up, I guess. Of course they were known in the Dutch scene, but these two bands never got rewarded for their music. It’s been twenty-five years later now and what happened in the Dutch metal scene is very hot at the moment and obviously it’s the perfect timing for this great release. I’m glad, that Cult Metal Classics has taken the opportunity to give these songs the respect and attention, that they deserve, after all those years. Both horns up for BABY’S BREATH and DIAMOND NEEDLE, for they deserve all our support. Paul Gerhardt is no longer among us unfortunately. I'd like to dedicate this review to him. Gone but not forgotten. Rest in peace, brother.
(8,8/10- Toine van Poorten)

DUTCH STEEL–80’s Metal From The Netherlands (Tonefloat Music)
It has been a long journey. Not without any danger. Especially in the nineties, when the words Heavy and Metal were forbidden in Holland. But we survived and in the dark underground scene we kept talking about the golden years, that were just behind us. The fight took us another fourteen long years. Many bands didn’t make it, the true survivors are still proud to be among us. Some heroes had to leave their original band, but made a comeback in other bands and are still active in the music scene. There were hard fights against The Black Knight and The Knights Who Say Ni, but after giving them their shrubbery, we finally arrived in the year 2014. A new millennium is there and a new audience with fresh adoration for bands that played in that roaring period of time. It’s over thirty years ago and since the first e-mail contact with Robert Haagsma, who is the man behind this prestigious project, we were sure that we were approaching the final episode in the quest for the Holy Grail. And guess what?! It’s finally there, pressed on two silver discs. And in 2015, it will even be pressed and released on three (yes, you heard that right!) red, white and blue colored vinyl LP’s. The search for the Holy Grail will be over and all that leaves us is to celebrate these releases with a live show at the Hedon in Zwolle on February 22nd, organized by Very ‘Eavy initiator Hugo Koch. If you didn’t catch my drift yet, then take a seat and let me tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me god. The Holy Grail, that I was talking about is this double CD, that contains thirty-four heavy metal songs from the eighties performed by Dutch metal bands, that we all know. All the information about the songs is printed in the CD booklet, that contains twenty-four pages and is completed with the track lists and sources where the songs came from and pics of the bands, that bring us these heavenly songs. A throwback in time to the days, that you still fitted in your tiger print spandex and your hair still had the length that it waved in the air, when you banged your head to the sound of the heavy metal and rock. Oh and the time that your belly wasn’t there yet. Okay, we may have become a couple of years older, but the love of good music is still there and heavy metal is still part of my DNA. Bad memories have been washed away and I erased them carefully from my hard disc (read: memories in my brains), but I still remember these days very well, that I went from club to club to see all those bands. And I still do, because like I mentioned earlier, it’s part of my DNA and you can’t change that. The songs here are carefully chosen by Robert and I think they give you an almost perfect overview of the bands, that ruled the scene in those days. You can argue about some choices of course, but this may depend on where you are living. I originate from the southern part of our country and in Breda and surroundings the heavy metal and hard rock scene was moving and very active. Many bands were to be seen in small towns like Galder and Ulicoten and the world famous Dynamo club in Eindhoven and Noorderligt in Tilburg. These were the places to be for the bigger events. I wouldn’t mind if bands like RANCID, HIGHWAY or maybe even SCARLET ANGEL would have been added here. But if you’re living in the northern part of our beautiful country, you can see that LEADER or STEEL AGAINST STEEL is missing here, while the fans in Limburg would say that HANGOVER and AVALON not being on here is a shame. All true maybe, but this was truly the cream of the crop and I can only agree with Robert. It only leaves room for suggestions for a second edition of this compilation. I can imagine what a hard work it must have been to get in touch with all the bands. To find good recordings of all the different songs must have been difficult as well. And to get the biographies right in the booklet is one helluva job as well, but an amazing job has been done here. But what about the big names like BODINE, JEWEL, SLEEZE BEEZ, HELLOISE, VANDALE, VANDENBERG, HORIZON and VENGEANCE? Robert explains why he left them out on this compilation. It’s the underground scene what this is all about. I have read all the comments on the internet about this release and I was so freaking happy, that over ninety-nine point nine percent was very positive. If you still want to know what I have to say about the thirty-four rough diamonds here, then read on. The cardboard box is something that you want to hold in your hands from the moment you see it. All the logos of the bands are on the front sleeve and before you know it, you’re already at the cash-point of your local record store to make sure that these two CD’s will be in your stereo set, when you get home. If you then take the time to browse through the song titles, then you know exactly what you’ve found. You’ve found the Holy Grail of Dutch heavy metal and you’re holding it in your hands right now. The first seventeen track on disc one play for eighty minutes (well about eighty that is). No space is left unused. Soon you’ll realize, that this is a wet dream that is about to come true. Just push the ‘play’ button and you will re-live your musical youth.
PICTURE, who else I would almost say, opens this ritual with the timeless riffs of “Eternal Dark”. Yeah, I know, that HAMMERFALL covered this song, but I don’t want the HAMMERFALL thing, I want the real deal. It’s playing already. The rollercoaster-ride has started. The title track of their heydays with the recognizable drum sound by Bakkie and thundering bass of Rien and of course the vocals of Pete Lovell, who are all three still part of this band. But let’s not forget to mention the lost warrior of PICTURE, Jan Bechtum, who was the king of riffs like this. Fans don’t call him ‘The Dutch Ritchie Blackmore’ for nothing. He really deserves this title.
“Excalibur”, the sword of King Arthur, is one of the ‘must have’ singles from those days. The guitar sound of Henky Backer was respected worldwide. Many of the tape traders in the eighties were only asking for SWORD, because of Henky’s guitar sound. He was lonely at the top next to Jack Nobelen and MARTYR, who were also very much liked by the metal fans all over the world. You can now hear why, because the flashing guitar work of Henky is the main focus on this fast head banger. It was also the guitar sound, that would later on shake the world on its foundations with JEWEL. They even invaded Russia. It doesn’t get any crazier than that, I guess. You can hear, that the maestro has been influenced by a classical guitar sound. Henky is still one of my all-time guitar heroes and “Excalibur” is a golden salute to the little metal version of Paganini. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to see the man play live again in Zwolle.
From one monstrous heavy track, we move on to another. Talking about heavy metal monsters here? Then you can’t miss the band FRANKENSTEIN. I only have to mention the cult video clip of the live performance they did at Lochem Pop, where they played together with JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS and MOTÖRHEAD. Things are happening to me, where Viagra has become famous for. They sold their soul for rock and roll and if you only see the wall of Marshall towers they used there, then it won’t be a surprise that “Jesus” will destroy your living room right away from the first notes on. Raw guitars and a fast beat will enter your sick mind. Berthus Westerhuis, remember that name, because he is the one who is responsible for mastering these recordings in Franky’s Recording Kitchen. Hallelujah, what a great job he did! The flipside of this amazing single is called “Don’t Cry (When I Die)”, but I can tell you that I shed a tear in my study, when I heard that FRANKENSTEIN had disbanded. I was also one of the first to buy a ticket, when I heard the monster was coming back to live again one more time. It was one of the most amazing events, that shook the world somewhere in the Jurassic Parks of Loonbedrijf Gorten in Veeningen of all freaking places on earth. It’s sacred ground from that moment on. Berthus still belongs to one of the big Dutch guitar players in my book today, that’s for sure.
Of all the EXCITER’s in the world, there was only one, who made a cult seven incher like this. The three Admiraal guys crank out “All Night In Red Light” and I think that every devoted hard rocker has a copy of this piece of vinyl in his collection. They were working on a full-length album, but it was never released. Now EXCITER is far gone, but definitely not forgotten. Hearing the song again will urge you to sing along to the chorus and maybe even raise your fist. Marvelous four minutes of excitement. Can someone get this band together please??
There’s no opera on this double CD set. Well, there is a little, but the opera singer is brutally disturbed, maybe even murdered, I can’t get the facts right. Fans know that I’m talking about “Powertrash” by SAD IRON with its weird intro, after which a true speed metal attack explodes right in your face. Bernard Rive is the race monster on guitar. If you’ve never heard this track, it would make sense because it was taken from the never released “The Antichrist” album. Exclusively handed out to mr.666 himself for this compilation album. And in case you wondered, Bernard is still playing as fast and as loud as you can hear on this song. Master drummer Jacques van Oevelen has now joined GILGAMESJ, but more about that later. HIGHWAY CHILE is on next and I think, that this is the band with the most hours on stage. Every big name that came to Holland had HIGHWAY CHILE as their support act. The song “Fever” is taken from their twelve inch. The band is caught in action three times here, because the live recordings, they found of HIGHWAY CHILE, sounded so amazing, that it was a shame to leave them out. Have you got the fever yet? If not, we’ll be back with some more HIGHWAY CHILE soon.
But first ‘the hammer of the north’ are demanding you to “Open The Gate”. VORTEX is another name, that may not be missed. They are ‘cult metal heroes’. Can you name any other band from Holland, that wore corpse paint when black metal didn’t even exist? Can you mention more bands, that were on British television on “Never Mind The Buzzcocks” with their video clip? Can you mention a band, that have a roadie that is even more insane than all five members of the band together? VORTEX has it all and they also have the sound that makes you proud to be a Dutch rocker. They are still going strong after all these years with original members Martjo ‘Whirlwolf’ Brongers and Jurjen ‘Thundervox’ Tichelaar. Deep respect for guys like that, who still rock like it’s the last thing on earth you want to do. And if you think you’ve reached the bottom of the barrel by now, you are ever so wrong.
GILGAMESJ is another band, that I have the deepest respect for. Just have a listen to “Revolution” here. The guitar work and the great vocals just can’t be topped. The remarks in reviews always claim, that Dutch singers really suck. Well, they’ve never listened to Frank van Stijn, I guess. These guys are also still going strong after all these years. And when the guitar part starts halfway the song, I still get the shivers running down my spine. That’s what this music is doing to me. Part of that guitar tandem from the old days is Gerrie den Hartog, who is still a member of the band. Glass and cheese are very well-known in Leerdam, but for me the best point of recognition for this city will always be GILGAMESJ. I think, they deserve the title of the most underrated band from Holland.
The high-pitched guitar sound, loud laughing and fast rhythm are the ultimate opener of yet another Dutch metal classic of another band, that is still existing after all these years. MARTYR was, together with FUTURE TENSE, one of the few Dutch bands that got on the well-known “Metal Massacre” compilations from Metal Blade. If you were on those compilation albums, then you were one of the great promises for the future of the heavy metal scene. “Speed Of Samurai” of MARTYR still belongs to one of my favorites. It mixes early IRON MAIDEN stuff with KING DIAMOND-like screams. I’m glad, that they still play this song live, but I’m also curious what the new stuff will sound like. This song definitely made their star rise very fast abroad as well. It really has become their anthem, which easily stood the test of time.
If I mention the name William Lawson, how many people will be thinking of whiskey here? Go and read another review, my mind goes out to the drummer of ANGUS of course. They weren’t afraid of anybody, not even MADONNA. They even gained a bit of success with a cover from that million dollar selling pop lady with “Papa Don’t Preach”. The more metal minded “Warriors Of The World” is being captured here, but you will never forget the picture of the guys dressed up in their finest lingerie, once you’ve seen it. Those were the days, my friend!
The first riffs of “Behind The Walls Of Death” are so recognizable. If I hear riffs like that, I immediately grab my air guitar. VAULT is responsible for that and I recently found a copy of their single “Hell Of A Block” by surprise. It’s a shame, bands like that never got the recognition, that they earned so well. Until now and it’s good to see that Robert knows to appreciate the charm of a band like VAULT.
ELISE is well-known for their strong demos and they got along very well with their mates of FRANKENSTEIN. Their music mostly went just a little bit further than straight forward rock or metal. Their guitar work however is ball wrecking and the sound of vocalist Gerd Hento is really amazing. It took “Seven Witches” to write this song and this explains the extraordinary job they did here. A couple of years ago they got back together again and it sure is a treat to visit one of their shows. In case you wonder what more to expect, you can buy their re-released CD of “No Time For Masquerade” ‘cause it contains a live DVD of one of their reunion shows. It will really knock you off your feet.
VOPO’S are the odd one out here for me, I must confess. “Conquer” has got punky edges and that’s not a big surprise when you know that their roots are in the punk scene. But this song definitely sounds like solid heavy metal to me and I think I’ll have to start searching for their “Conquer” album to make my collection a little bit more complete. Obviously, this compilation can even open the eyes of a devoted rocker. Sad news came to us, while writing this review. Michel Drosten, the drummer of VOPO’S, died at the end of 2014. We will miss him.
SEDUCER’s boogie rock will make your body move. Their music has been captured on the “Holland Heavy Metal” sampler in 1982. It was the beginning of successful years of some of the band members, that later continued in bands like HIGHWAY CHILE and SLEEZE BEEZ. “Torcher” sounds catchy and was taken from the “Dutch Steel” compilation release in 1984.
While most tracks are short and rather easy on the ears, PROUD EXISTENCE took things a step further and their addition is a rather long and epic song, called “The Trial”. Starting with some tasty guitar licks, which are followed by fast riffs and high screams, they sound like the Dutch nephew of KING DIAMOND at times. They were guilty as charged for providing some excellent epic metal, but unfortunately they disbanded much too soon. It’s a shame, that some bands just didn’t make it for a longer time. It’s a hard world out there, that’s for sure.
DEFENDER is another big name in the Dutch book of heavy metal. The spoken word intro of “City Ad Mortis” will already make you shiver. I think, that this is one of the most valuable mini LP’s there is in the Dutch metal scene. And the song added on this compilation will make you aware of why that is. DEFENDER was way ahead of its time and again it’s the high screaming vocals, that ask for the most attention. Who said that Dutch singers were bad? Maybe they were not the size of a Ronnie James Dio or a Rob Halford, but there were some real good sirens around worth to be heard. The good news is, that the band is preparing new material right now, which will see the light of day soon. The only question that remains is why they don’t play live in Zwolle? The big reunion at Keep It True really asked for more, guys!
At the very end of the first CD we hear one of the live recordings of HIGHWAY CHILE, that I spoke of earlier in this review. “Midnight Delight” comes from the Popkrant live sessions, recorded in 1981. Six minutes of pure delight give me the time to have a good look at the booklet, before the second disc will take a spin in my player. There is only one minor detail here. The pictures in the booklet are a bit small. Besides that, everything looks perfect. Good biographies of each band, including updates from how the situation is now. Hats off for Robert Haagsma for this excellent job. In the meantime, the next lot of seventeen tracks is ready to be reviewed. Hang in there with me, because there still a lot to enjoy here.
The seventeen songs are worthy of about seventy-five loud minutes and CD 2 opens with “Bombers” of PICTURE making this another great flashback in time. The original PICTURE had a massive sound and the timeless riffs of Jan Bechtum were mainly responsible for the great success of this band in their early days. They were huge in Brazil and in Holland they opened for TED NUGENT, APRIL WINE and SAXON. “Bombers” is their trademark and the explosions will make your eardrums melt.
Wild bashing follows by the pride of Den Bosch and surroundings ALLIED FORCES with “Attack (On The City)”. And attack they did many times on the Dutch stages. The double leads sound exciting and these guys were also well-known for the many support-act deals they did with big names in the metal scene. Remember LOUDNESS for example. They poked up the fire for these Japanese metal heroes. The Gershwin brothers later formed GERSHWIN and followed a more melodic path. The reunion gig was very nice, but it’s a shame they didn’t move on as a band from that point. Now they attack us again on this sampler and I’m glad they did.
Oh, my goodness, did Ray escape again from his cage?? Don’t worry, nothing happened, but I noticed the name of HAMMERHAWK next. The only Dutch band, that had to cage their drummer, just like SAMSON with Thunderstick. HAMMERHAWK was called the Dutch MOTÖRHEAD and it’s not strange, that Thijs ‘Maniac’ Bruijns also played in a MOTÖRHEAD tribute band for a while, called NO CLASS after HAMMERHAWK. “Discovery” shows the raspy voice of Thijs, who sadly passed away in 2010. But the memories will always remain of course. ‘Heavy Metal Forever’ was their slogan and I couldn’t agree more. We still miss you, Thijs!
DARK WIZARD was a cult name in the scene. They started their career under the moniker of BLIAND, but soon renamed the band DARK WIZARD, which sounds so much better. It’s a bloody shame that there is no video footage of the exciting horror show they performed in the beginning of their career. There are only a few pictures around of that time. Zombies walking around on stage, blood, fire and smoke and some amazing good music on top of it. I always liked their demos most and “Trip Of Doom” is one of these exciting songs, that sounds like MANILLA ROAD in their heydays, which they may take as a compliment. Hopefully, they will make a comeback soon with new singer Egbert Berenst (ex-JAGGANATH, ex-UNDER SIEGE, ex-MYSTIC CHARM).
FUTURE TENSE operates in a more heavy genre and they were perhaps one of the first Dutch black metal bands. Maybe they were not as extreme as their Norwegian colleagues, but at least as heavy and brutal. I hear influences of VENOM in their sound and “Condemned To The Gallows” urges you to destroy your lungs and sing it out very loud. The album with the same title is still a much sought-after item at record fairs. Their song “Nightmares” ended up on the “Metal Massacre V” compilation, which proves that FUTURE TENSE was more than just another band in the scene. Their promo pics in Aardschok were quite shocking. Band members were laying on graves. How sick can you be? It’s nothing, when comparing this to burning churches maybe, but for the 1980’s, it was rather extreme. Rob Weber joined VALKYRIE afterwards, together with Ed Warby, but we’ll come to that soon.
First we hear another band, that is still alive and kicking, called EAR DANGER. Matt Verschoor (bass and backing vocals) and Dick Vijgen (drums) are still active in the band and I think that “Beelzebub’s Friend” is their anthem after all these years. It’s a fast rocker with guitar solos, that never seem to end. This version comes from their 1983 demo and shows a band, that is very hungry for rock.
Back to the Popkrant live recordings of HIGHWAY CHILE. This time it’s a live rendition of “Bite In Anger”. Need I say more?!? I guess not. Just take a good bite of this! Why is it, that the band never did something with these recordings? I bite in anger here.
The next band makes my skin crawl. EMERALD is on now with “Suicide” and the lyrics will hit you right deep inside. And if it doesn’t touch you, then the high emotional vocal screams by Bert Kivits will do the trick. A touchy subject brought in a very classy style. I can’t wait to hear the new material of this band, that is also still kicking ass after many years. With the addition of second guitar player Paul van Rijswijk, they are moving around on the highest level of the heavy metal scene and with songs like that, they touch a soft spot in my very heart.
The Vredegoor brothers are the heart of TOGETHER, that presented “Playing Games” to us in 1985. Just listen to the riffs at the beginning of this song and you’ll already have an idea why they are on this compilation. This is what metal is all about, short but tasteful. It’s a shame, they didn’t continue their resurrection after their one night stand at the Very ‘Eavy festival. The fact, that they were just recently added to the bill of the festival in Zwolle makes my head go up and down from excitement. My wife said it looked like that famous scene from “The Exorcist”, so this is not suitable for the faint-hearted people.
Can I have absolute silence now, please? Drumroll…. Make room for my favorite addition of them all. I thought, that the FRANKIE WOODHOUSE version on the “Something In The Air” double LP was even better, but “Angels Of Beware” by LADY is a true killer in my book. Acoustic guitars, angelic choirs, a quite melancholic sounding intro and then BANG! Guitars, keyboards, high vocal screams, wild drums, it’s all there and more. The wild explosion of instrumental parts rule in this song and it’s the exciting sound of the seventies with influences by DEEP PURPLE, URIAH HEEP and LED ZEPPELIN that are coming alive in this splendid song, that lasts over six awesome minutes. If this band would return to do any live shows, it would be like a dream come true for yours truly. LADY is definitely music for connoisseurs, but if you’ve bought this album, then you’re entitled to give yourself that title, as far as I’m concerned. LADY and FRANKIE WOODHOUSE, where are you now?? For crying out loud! Where are the tissues?!?
After this highlight, there are still a few more songs to enjoy. VALKYRIE is the act, I wrote about earlier with Rob Weber teaming up with Ed Warby in a Dutch version of MANOWAR. Or am I overdoing the introduction a bit? I think not, because “Ancient Steel” sounds like these muscles of metal in their most successful days. Stout, proud and loud and above all DUTCH. Who said, that Dutchies don’t rock?! There’s the exit, my friend. This is brutal, this is mean and it rocks like freaking HELL!!!
The gap between the steaming hot brutal sound of VALKYRIE and the melodic rock of FINAL HEIRESS couldn’t be bigger, but the excitement is still the same. “You’re In My Heart” shows Jan Palenstijn and his mates in perfect shape. Raunchy guitar parts, high vocals and a nice mood swing are the main ingredients of “You’re In My Heart”, which was the only single of the band. As a proud owner of this piece of vinyl, I am really glad that they have made it on this compilation. FINAL HEIRESS is a great band and they are still very much alive. With the addition of Paul van Rijswijk on guitar, there’s hopefully a long future ahead of them. Vocalist Jan Palenstijn has already bought some fire sparkles for the live show, I heard. Don’t miss their show in Zwolle! I know, that I am looking forward to it very much.
IMPACT was on “Metal Clogs” with “Misantrope” and man, am I glad, that they’re on this sampler with this song. The version on “Metal Clogs” turned grey already after too many turns on my record player. You can almost see through the vinyl, because of the many times I have played this song. The mid-piece, in which the speed changes appear are only just the beginning of things to come. When the speed goes up, I’m losing my senses after the powerful riff and the icy scream of Thierry. YES, that’s the real deal for christ sake! What an enormous power. Excellent choice!
Same goes for the next rendition. “I’m The One To Blame” is BLACK KNIGHT at their very best. And once again we can state that the band is still active with the beast ®udo Plooy as sole survivor from the early days. The musical violence they spread around is high class stuff and now we know who’s to blame for it all. This may be demo material, but it’s the music that makes the difference, not the sound quality. It’s the exclusivity that makes the real fans happy. WARWICK is a different story. Singles would be released by this band from the upper north of our country, but sadly they never saw the light of day. “I Want To Live” would have been the start of a very fruitful career for these guys, if …… Sadly enough, the singles were never pressed. Pulling the plug was the best decision in those days, but it’s good that we’re able now to check out their ballsy rock sound. It’s thirty plus years later, but I think that time heals all wounds for the fanatic Dutch metal heads out there.
Aaaaarrrgghghghghgh! Some good old fellows, that helped my through my youth are on next. SAVAGE from the surroundings of my hometown Breda were indeed one of the most talented bands around, in my opinion. No matter how hard they tried, they never tasted the big success. Jack Nobelen is one of the very few very gifted guitar players around, that made his guitar sound like good old MICHAEL SCHENKER himself. Not convinced yet? Check out the piece of art, that they crank out here. “Starbreaker”, contains fast bass drums and the raw, raspy voice of former MUSTANG singer, Walter Lavent. Bass player John van Gestel is still sadly missed, but the legend lives on at the two demos, that this band released.
AGGRESSOR closes the long row of great Dutch metal band with “Profession Of Violence”. Raw, energetic, powerful and uncompromising are the definitions of this amazing song, that has got a nice complex structure with different speed and mood changes. Again the name of Ed Warby appears, a master drummer in the heavy metal scene. Rene Debets, who we recently saw at the Blokhut Live festival and Jan Zwager will later on appear in VULTURE, which could be a nice name on the second compilation. A great addition to a wonderful compilation, that is a dream come true for all the fans of Dutch heavy metal in its purest form.
The game is over after this. No more after this, unless you re-start CD one again, which is what I am doing right now. My conclusion: If you want to know what happened in the hard rock and heavy metal scene and the ball started to roll, this is your chance now. I will not call it the ultimate compilation, but it comes really close. I’m glad, that Holland Heavy Metal was involved on the sideline of this amazing project of Robert Haagsma, who is the guru of gurus here. The red, white and blue colored vinyl version of this compilation is the next step and a lot of vinyl freaks and Dutch metal adepts are very much looking forward to this release. I also think, that the ultimate Dutch Steel experience will be the live show on February 22nd at de Hedon in Zwolle. The Dutch metal scene was very rich in those days and all the bands experienced the same issues that English, American or bands from any other country had to deal with. The NWOBHM scene was strong and the Bay Area scene was melting places across the pond, but over here in Holland they played some timeless and successful heavy metal music as well. It wasn’t exotic enough maybe for many people, who thought that the grass was greener abroad. The bands made the same high class music however and proof is given here on two silver discs. If you play them very loud, even your neighbors will have to agree that this is top notch material, so who can ask for more? I can! I want a Dutch Steel part 2. Raise your hands, if you agree with me. I am thinking out loud for a moment here. Robert could take the big names as biggest eye-catcher (or ear catcher, if you like). Who doesn’t want a second part of this great overview, but now with sparkling big names like VANDENBERG, VENGEANCE, BODINE, AVALON, SLEEZE BEEZ, VANDALE, HORIZON and JEWEL? To balance these successful names, he could opt for underground killers like HANGOVER, LEADER, STEEL AGAINST STEEL, JACKAL, HIGHWAY, VULTURE, AFTERDARK and ASGARD. These names could turn a second edition into a killer album, I think. I want to rate this album with almost the full score. I could write a review with a book length about this amazing release, but the euphoria is so huge, that I’m putting CD one back into my player. In the meantime, I’ll have a good search for my tigerprint spandex. Will it still fit me? Don’t miss the vinyl release of “Dutch Steel” and we’ll see each other in Zwolle.
(9,9/10- Toine van Poorten)

UPDATES before 2015:

EAR DANGER-Full Blast At Last (independent)
When Matt Verschoor announced, that he would be releasing an EAR DANGER album on LP, I knew that this would be a very special item. EAR DANGER plays old school heavy metal and this release is as old school as it can be, meaning on vinyl. The title of the album is beautifully shown on the front cover of the album. A mushroom shaped cloud, coming from an explosion and destroying an old house with ‘full blast’. You can almost sense the power that it has been involved. In case you wondered who or what this big explosion would have caused, without thinking about Matt starting the gear of his thunderous bass, you must turn around the album cover. Then you will face the big bomb that is falling down from the sky. On the front of this bomb, you can read in small letters “All Hail The VINYL Gods”, which is a quote used by old school ‘heavy metal maniacs’ a lot to express their love for vinyl instead of downloads and CDs. But how about the music, I hear you say. If you’re serious about this question, then you are reading the wrong article. Like I mentioned before, EAR DANGER plays old school heavy metal to the max, and this album contains nine raw pearls, starting with one of my personal favorites “Beelzebub’s Friend”, a fast rocker with fiery guitar work. “Assassin” is on next, which has some high screams and a pounding JUDAS PRIEST type of sound. Just listen to the part, where the guitars are crying. In your thoughts, you will see Rob Halford crack his whip to the sound of “Assassin” - at least I could!! “The Battle” is played at breakneck speed, especially the guitar solos are faster than the speed of light. This is really awesome stuff for old school metal heads, I can tell you that much! Then it’s time to do some slow head banging on “Thousand Days In Sodom”. Nope, this is definitely not a cover of the old VENOM classic, but EAR DANGER also lived a thousand days in Sodom, as you can hear here. “Hellish Wings” closes the A-side of this great album. Once again you’ll hear that EAR DANGER was made to rock and now they fly on the plane, that possibly dropped the bomb printed on the rear side of the album. Let’s go to the B-side to hear “Children Of The Sun”, which has a more IRON MAIDEN type of approach. This is another great up tempo metal track! The speed goes up in the fantastic “Burn At The Stake”. This is not a cover of the EXCITER tune. EAR DANGER burned at the f*cking stake, long before EXCITER decided to burn there as well. Trust me, this is a real cool track despite the flames that will burn your feet first and then slowly burn down your whole body. Just listen to the nice guitar solo, that pokes up the heat a little. In case you wondered who put you on the stake, then you’ll have to keep listening to “Full Blast At Last”, because the answer comes right after this song. It was the “King Of The Midnight Fire”, whose story is told next. The album closes with “Shock & Awe”, which has some pounding drums and screaming guitars, as you can hear in the lyrics of the song. All the lyrics are printed on the insert of this great release, by the way. If Dutch traditional hard rock is your thing, then I’d suggest to buy yourself a copy of this album, before Matt gets on his plane and drops a six pounder on your house. I bet he needs more pictures for a new album with this band. Besides Matt Verschoor on bass and vocals, EAR DANGER consists of Ivo Metz on guitar, Dick Vijgen on drums and Leon Lohmann on vocals and guitar. Website: http://www.eardanger.com.
(8,6/10- Toine van Poorten)

EAR DANGER-Warrior Soul (Emanes Metal)
This album may contain some violent ear attacks, that can damage your hearing forever. Let this be a warning to you! EAR DANGER (what’s in a name) has released a new album and it contains ten brutal metal tracks with a total playing time of about forty minutes. Title track “Warrior Soul” opens this old school true heavy metal influenced CD. Throw your fist in the air and rock hard with a beer in the other hand. This is warrior metal to the max, which will take your soul away. Listen to the great guitar solo, that escape from the vicious guitar of Ivo Metz. That’s what you get when you breathe heavy metal for a long time, like these four guys do. “Star Illusion” sounds like KILLER’s “Wall Of Sound” and I am sure that EAR DANGER can break through this wall of sound with this one. “I Am Your Enemy” rages on at full speed. It’s good to know who the enemy is and it isn’t these four guys, although they say so here. Just lend your ear to the ear splitting guitar solo to catch my drift. “On The Run” is very powerful and it captures the sound of the NWOBHM scene. Short but catchy songs with some good axe work. And if you take a good look at the front cover of this new CD, then you will see that the bloody axe that they used here is quite okay. It’s skull splitting, just like the solo on this track, by the way. “Bound By The Law” is a tribute to our favorite music style. It’s a real pleasure to hear how big the love for reggae is by these guys. Hum, I mean heavy metal of course, silly me! Just scream along to the words “Bound By The Law” and everything is gonna be alright. Oh, and by doing so, don’t forget to throw your fists in the air and bang your head. Oh well, just listen to the lyrics and do what you’re told, dear metal heads. Oops, Dick Vijgen on drums, escaped from his cage and discovered a firm double bass beat at the end of this track. Please cover your ears or they’ll bleed, until you’ll die! And you won’t be able to hear the gorgeous riffs that start “Spread Like Wildfire”. The song has got a melodic touch in the vocal parts, but don’t be afraid because the guitars roar like hell again. “Crusader” (not the SAXON tune) is on next and it’s another metal pounder pur sang. A firm explosion opens the speed metal rocker “City On Fire”, that will let out the last drop of sweat from your body. The band is at full steam on this one and I think it will cause a nice pit in front of the stage. A final explosion and “To Live Is To Fight” opens right there with more SAXON-like riffs. Need I say more? It’s another true metal anthem with a slower pace, but with the heart on the right place. The magical piece of resistance comes with a bombastic opening. It’s a war chant, that might remind you of MANOWAR. “Raise Your Sword” is pure metal beyond belief. It will shred the wall paper from your bedroom walls. Don’t forget this title, when the band is about to perform this live. It doesn’t get any better than this, because before you know it, the CD is over and done and the forty minutes are gone. I reckon, that I’m standing with a sword in my hand, that reaches the sky and in the other hand I have an empty glass. Was this all true or is it just a silly dream? When I push the ‘repeat’button of my CD player, I know it is true. I hope, that the neighbors didn’t see me like that. I guess I can only tell them, that I’m a “Warrior Soul”. Go to: http://www.facebook.com/eardanger or http://www.eardanger.com for all the latest news on this killer metal band. Oh, and just a reminder: EAR DANGER will be playing at next year’s edition of the Very ‘Eavy festival. Don’t forget to bring your earplugs. EAR DANGER consists of Ivo Metz on guitar, Dick Vijgen on drums, Leon Lohmann on vocals and guitar and the vicious beast Matt Verschoor on bulldozer bass guitar (congratulations with another marvelous release Matt).
(8,8/10- Toine van Poorten)

ELISE-No Time For Masquerade (Metal AOR Records)
We already own a copy of this ‘rare’ CD by ELISE. It contains a good deal of heavy metal with a touch of melody from a band, that unfortunately never reached the status, they were aiming for. The album has now been re-released and if you ever were interested in getting one, now would be the right time. Not only can you listen to two special bonus tracks on this CD, but it also contains the long awaited DVD of their show at De Gorter in Veeningen, where they were supported by JURASSIC PARK. The band is still active and they sometimes play a gig, when they have the time for it. The release of this package and the fact that we were at this very gig makes it even more interesting for us. And in case you missed it, read our review here: http://www.truemetalfan.org/eliseNL2011.htm. Unfortunately, it is written in Dutch only, but I think you will get a pretty good idea of what happened there that faithful night. Okay, let’s focus on the music by this Dutch heavy metal band now. The CD was originally released in 1990, but ELISE was long active before that year and released several demos back in those days. The thirteen tracks are worthy of almost seventy minutes of heavenly metal. It starts off with “Cry For Mankind”, a song that I remember quite well from the gigs I went to in the early days (I think, I saw them three or four times back then). This fast track has got a touch of NWOBHM and it shows exactly what ELISE is capable of. Their high speed sound results in a flashing guitar solo and you can’t do anything more rather than moving your head up and down. What a nice high energy opener! Heavy riffs are starting another favorite song of mine (in fact, they’re all faves!) with “Hell Of A Fight”. The twin axe work is also a trademark of the band. You can do that with two guitar players, who are willing to share the solos on an equally basis. It’s a treat to every devoted fan of Dutch heavy metal. The vocals by Gerd Hento are sometimes high and piercing, but they are very easy on the ear. “Play With Edges” is on next and again, it’s the twin solos that are catching the most attention. They also riff really wild after the solo and we can speak of a very high energy level with a short spotlight spot for the rhythm section somewhere at the end of this song. Title track “No Place For Masquerade” is a very powerful ballad, which reminded me of the old school metal band GILGAMESJ in a way. Another band, that had their heydays back in the eighties. “Lights” sounds lighter and faster and it contains some heavenly guitar work. It’s a compact rocker with a catchy drift. “Witchfinder” is a slow head banger with a much darker topic. The SAXON-like riffs match very well with the NWOBHM feeling, that the band always had in my opinion. Of course the exciting twin guitar attack is not missing in action here as well. Once again it’s the highlight of this slower track. I also remember “Nightmare” very well from their early days. If the name of IRON MAIDEN doesn’t come to mind here, then you’re reading the wrong website. The rhythm, the riffs, the solo, it simply breathes the sound of this British band, without being a cheap rip off though. While “Breaking Rules” is a more straight forward tune with an ACCEPT-like beat. The way they use the choir vocal lines could possibly remind you of VENGEANCE in their early days. “Hiding” is a fast head banger with some biting guitar riffs and a haunting drum rhythm. The guitar chords sound like ACCEPT, except that they don’t make them like this anymore nowadays. A wild wind blows inside your room, when the “Seven Witches” enter. Another personal fave song of yours truly. It has got a slightly horror feeling over it. “Over” closes the regular CD and it’s another high octane fueled rocker with a fast pace. The CD isn’t over yet though and the two bonus tracks are on now. “Come Back” is a catchy track, which you can sing along to pretty easily and “Careless Rat” is a wild banger played at full speed. It may be their wildest track on this album and I actually wonder why they never put it on the original version in the first place. Anyway, no time to argue here and “No Time For Masquerade” as well. True ELISE fans can’t miss out on this essential release. Go to: http://www.elisemetal.nl or http://www.facebook.com/Elisemetal for all the latest information about this band, that consists of Gerd Hento on vocals, Jannes Bloemert on guitar, Henk van Mierlo on bass, Thomas Duiveman on guitar and Rieks Vogelzang on drums. On the DVD, you will be able to enjoy the great guitar skills of Robbie Woning, who replaced Thomas on that occasion.
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)

EXPLODER-Call From The Past (Quaestore)
Sometimes you run into something interesting, that is very suitable for reviewing here. At the same time, we also got in touch with one of the former band members, who was so kind to send me their EP for a review on this website. So my thanks goes out to Dolf Blomhert of www.quaestore.com for making this review possible. “Call From The Past” is a five track release from Dutch pride EXPLODER. This EP has already been released in 2009, but it’s essential enough to be reviewed, even three years after its release, because nowadays there isn’t too much new stuff coming out of bands, that ruled the Dutch metal scene in the eighties. EXPLODER consisted of Ton van Hal on bass, Frank Nipples on vocals, Dolf Blomhert on guitar, vocals and keyboards and Damian van de Erve on drums. They operated from the central part of Holland, from which they could easily overview the situation. This five tracker contains twenty-five minutes of rough, exploding metal mayhem and opens with “Labyrinth Of Emotion”. Fast beats, speedy riffs and a waterfall of words are the reflection of the emotion, that is spread out here. Listening to the fast guitar sound, your mind could easily go out to Henkie Bakker of JEWEL, a comparison they can be really proud of in my opinion. The keyboard takes care of a slightly neo-classical sound here as well. A good opener, that is followed by “Free Tomorrow”. They slow things down a bit here and in the beginning of the song, the keyboards take a rather prominent place. Damian shows his skills in some fast double bass drumming. The song has got some kind of ‘feel good’ atmosphere to it. I think, it is in this song, that Frankie reveals his history in punk band THE ZERO’S a bit, because of the way he sings it. “Goliath” also comes from the fourth demo of the band, that is called “Blessing In Disguise”. The beautiful keyboard intro shows a slightly progressive touch maybe, but when the song actually starts up, you can’t deny anymore that you’re listening to a true heavy metal band. Although the keyboards have a rather prominent place in the overall sound of the band, this gives them a face of its own. You can’t think of too much other bands sounding like that. Besides that, Dolf shows his skills as well. In the biography on the Holland Heavy Metal website, the name of Bill Tsamis (WARLORD) was mentioned and when listening to this song in particular, I can only fully agree with Stefan van Zijl, who also wrote the biography for this EP. The booklet also contains some great live pictures and the lyrics to all the songs, by the way. In the meantime, we have arrived to the fourth track, which is called “Half The Truth”. It is your chance to sing along to the chorus this time. We also hear Dolf play an impressive guitar solo here. The last song, that is made available here, is the lengthy track “The Man From Iran”, which opens as a ballad, including a piano intro. The vocals are not their strongest part here, but that was the main problem with ninety percent of all the Dutch heavy metal bands. So far I didn’t find the vocals really disturbing, but there are parts in this song, in which they prove that this rumor was right (sorry to say so). Despite that, the instrumental part is spot on and it turns this song into another highlight on this mini album. If you don’t know the band yet, this EP might be a good help to explore the world of EXPLODER. It may be a call from the past, but it also represents the legacy of a band, that sounds like they were ahead of their time. This EP shows five songs of a band, that didn’t maybe get the success that they’d wished for, but it also shows that they indeed had the talent one could wish for. Frank Nipples has got a career as an actor right now.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)

FITZKIN-No Gutz (independent)
FITZKIN is back and they have just released a great new album that will make you feel good, if you’re in for traditional old school heavy rock and metal. The band originally started their career in 1979 and they were heavily influenced by bands like SAXON and BUDGIE. No wonder, that your mind will go out to the heydays of SAXON. When listening to album opener “Walk On”, it gives you the feeling that this song could very well have been on an album like “Wheels Of Steel” or “Strong Arm Of The Law”. Responsible for the sound of this Dutch band are Will Haak (ex-TREASON), Roy Regterschot on drums, Ed Grotenhuis on guitar and vocals and bass animal Barend Courbois (ex-TREASON, WHISTLER/COURBOIS/WHISTLER, VENGEANCE). “Glimpse Of Your Eyes” is a bit harder and faster and the vocals may remind you of the dark growls by Jurjen Tichelaar of VORTEX in a way. The rocky pace is tremendous and the guitar sound may draw some resemblance to a band like BUDGIE, I guess. They were also famous for their heavy sound with great guitar solos. While “Save Me” is another nice example of these BUDGIE influences. The song is built upon the stunning rhythm machines in the band and the guitar solos sound flashing and form the cream on the cake. “Headbang Boogie” already explains it all in the title. It’s got a rock and roll feeling with a sort of MOTORHEAD groove and intensity. The band supported the handsome threesome at one of their gigs in Holland in the good old days. So let your hair hang down and forget about all the trouble in the world for a couple of minutes and give it a good swing for about four minutes. This will lighten up your world for a short moment, I am sure. “Exit Nr. 8” is a longer track than the average three or four minutes and there are two of that on this ten tracker. It gives the guys a chance to show their skills and especially Barend is ready for that in some heavy minded bass guitar attacks. “Flew By Night” is a firm rock and roll song and the past tense of the RUSH classic “Fly By Night”. Besides that, the song has got nothing at all to do with the RUSH song. “Down And Out” is no-nonsense rock and roll tune from the beginning until the end and the same goes for “Past Tense”, where Barend gets the chance to torture his bass again. The swing is there and this kind of music can make a crowd go nutz from minute one until the very last note has faded away into the dark night. “City Of Us” is a foot stomper, that slowly leads us to the piece of resistance on this album, the lengthy CD closer “No Gutz”. Well, in fact it’s not a real long song, but at the very end of this four minute track there is a short ballad-like instrumental piece of music, which is the only slow pace on this album. I think this is some kind of tribute to late band member Ben Jansse (bass). A good search through the CD booklet, which contains some nice stories, tells me that the hidden track is a song called “Pieces From Heaven” and it is dedicated to Jan Somers (late VENGEANCE guitarist). What a way to honor your buddy like this! It’s a shame, that there are only ten songs here, because I could do with some more, but no matter how hard I try I simply can’t find no fillers on this great new album. Arnhem can be proud of the return of FITZKIN and if this pure rock album won’t get them any further, I’ll eat my hat. FITZKIN has the ‘gutz’ to return to the scene after a long absence and their high octane fueled rock album is exactly what I need to feel good again. It’s pure and simple and that’s all a man needs sometimes. Fans of all the bands mentioned in this review can buy this album with their eyes closed, but keep your ears open to enjoy this powerful heavy rock music to the max. I think, this is only just the beginning of a long and hopefully fruitful beginning of this FITZKIN reunion. Welcome back to the scene, my friends!
(8,7/10- Toine van Poorten)

FUTURE TENSE-The Final Cut (Austral Holocaust)
If you like Dutch heavy metal, than this might be for you. FUTURE TENSE blasts at full speed on this great compilation CD. This is food for every cult heavy metal freak among us. It’s for those, who think that bands such as PICTURE and MARTYR are too ordinary. We dig deep into the underground of heavy metal with an overview of the career of FUTURE TENSE. The band opens this fifteen track and fifty minute CD with their “Battle Of Metal” demo from 1983, that starts off with title track “Battle Of Metal” and proves that we’re in for a real treat here. “Nightmare” has got a very appropriate title, which could be screamed out really loud, when played in a live setting. FUTURE TENSE was one of the very first bands, who included some black metal influences in their image. Not musically, but they always could be found at cemeteries, just take a look at the pictures in the booklet and in the CD package itself. The picture on the rear side of this compilation album is one of the most well-known ones, I can remember. They also burned crosses during their live shows and their lyrics dealt about hell and other black metal like topics. “Marquis De Sade” is an instrumental track from that demo and browsing through the songs on this fifteen tracker, you will find back at least three instrumental tunes, which is rather much in my opinion. That Marquis De Sade wasn’t exactly a nice bloke, but the band turned this track into a rather joyful moment. The music of FUTURE TENSE is a mix of the old school metal bands that ruled the scene back in the eighties, like IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST. “Damned Forever” is a very exciting track with a great speed change in the middle. While “Mephisto” is the second instrumental track on this six track demo. This time we’ll enjoy a rather short track, that is more or less an intro to the fast “Go To Hell”. From this track, the second part of this compilation starts as well, meaning that you will hear this great old school metal attack twice right after one another. The second version was taken from the band’s only four track vinyl EP, called “Condemned To The Gallows” from 984. If you have this masterpiece, you’ll hear the songs in a digitalized version now and if you don’t own this outstanding piece of art, now’s your chance to add it to your collection. The EP version sounds a bit more brutal than the demo version, in my opinion. After that, they cross the “Swords Of Vengeance”, which is one of my all-time favorite tunes from the band. It sounds so heavy and brutal, especially after the mid-piece and the spoken word part. If this isn’t related to what all the black metal bands did in those early days, then I’ll eat my hat. The ‘Hail Satan’ screams could very well be from a band like VENOM, just like the part where the bell chimes. The war chants remind me of early MANOWAR, whereas the music sounds a bit like the very early PICTURE. An absolute highlight in my book! The last instrumental track is called “La Guillotine”, where the musicians show their skills. With “Condemned To The Gallows”, we have arrived at the title track of this cult EP, that belongs to the ‘10 best releases of the Dutch metal scene from 1980-1990’. This ‘easy to sing along to’ tune is played at a mid tempo speed, but with a certain rawness, that makes it a perfect fit to the self-titled EP. “Evil Attack” is the last song on this independent release, that easily stood the test of time. This fast track will take care of a very sore neck, if you want to keep up with their speed, while banging your head to the rhythm of the music. It’s indeed a vicious attack for your neck muscles. The “Sword Of Vengeance” EP proves the great skills of FUTURE TENSE on some kind of mini reunion three track EP. These three tracks are available again on this compilation album, especially for those of you, who don’t own this precious thing yet. The version of “Sword Of Vengeance” still sounds very evil and remains one of the highlights of FUTURE TENSE to me, mainly because of the evil sounding second part in this song. It’s the sound of VENOM going Dutch in a way. “Nightmare” is on next and when you listen to this song, you might get the idea that they are about to play a JUDAS PRIEST cover, which isn’t the case of course. The vocals might sound typically Dutch, but this doesn’t really bother me, because it’s all done really phenomenal. “Go To Hell” is the last track on the “Sword Of Vengeance” EP, that was released in 2003. The very last track here is the 2002 version of “Evil Attack”, which was recorded exclusively for the Heavy Metal Maniacs compilation album, released that same year. The booklet shows many nice pictures and a biography of the band. The only question that remains is why this compilation was released on a small Peruvian label, instead of a Dutch underground label. It would have been nice to see the “Protect Your Ears” demo from 1982 on a compilation like this, which would finally have songs like “Ready To Rock”, “Strangest Demon”, Chasing The Dragon” and “Break The Chains” on a silver disc for the very first time. This does not yield to the fact, that this has been an amazing initiative to release a compilation album of this magnificent Dutch band with all available means and so many miles away from the original source. The amazing internet did its work again. You can of course have your doubts whether this is a bootleg release or not, but it is surely done with a lot of love for the band and their music. The artwork of this release is more than beautiful - at least that’s my opinion. Anyway, fans of the band should surely check out this release. Responsible for the amazing music of FUTURE TENSE over the years are Peter Ockhuyzen on vocals, Rico Hoek on drums, Michiel van Loef on guitar, Ruud Beunder on drums, Tjerk Kessel on bass, Reinier Schenk on guitar, Ruud Weber on guitar and Cock van Drunen on vocals. Ruud Weber played in a band called VALKYRIE, after he left FUTURE TENSE and they will release their demo “Deeds Of Prowess” - also from the early eighties - in the very weekend that I write this review, namely mid-January 2012. People, who are searching for stuff like this, must certainly try to get their hands on that release as well, because then they’ll have two of the better releases of the Dutch underground heavy metal scene of the eighties in their hands. And for what this release of FUTURE TENSE is concerned, I do hope that this isn’t their final cut. Just like ANGUS and GILGAMESJ, they must really start to think about a reunion again. The time is right for it, guys!
(9,6/10- Toine van Poorten)

FUTURE TENSE-Condemned To The Gallow (Buried By Times And Dust Records)
FUTURE TENSE could be categorized as a Dutch cult metal band from the eighties. Far before black metal has been invented, these guys were dancing around on graves and tombstones for their promo pix. Sick MF’s. Their album “Condemned To The Gallow” sounds amazing and all the stuff that has been re-released on this double LP on vinyl was already released on CD by a vague Peruvian label in 2012. I like this vinyl release. The songs however are all the same. Nonetheless, it’s time to review this amazing material one more time. “Go To Hell” is a big middle finger up to the modest and average other metal bands in this scene. FUTURE TENSE was not just that anymore, they were the more evil kind. Just listen to the VENOM-like intro of “Swords Of Vengeance”. It’s 1984 and I’ve never witnessed anything, that comes near the evil underground sound of FUTURE TENSE. The front sleeve of their original album may be a bit amateurish, but it fitted well to the underground status of the band. Just listen to the loud screams on this track, that mourn ‘Hail Satan’. You were not expecting that from any other Dutch metal band at that time. The guitars take over after that and the back rite continues with the master piece “La Guillotine”. It’s a short instrumental, in which the band shows their skills, before title track “Condemned To The Gallow” is bombed at you right away. What a phenomenal power this has got, including the old school MANOWAR-like war chants. Raise your fist in the air and yell to the power of the refrain. It’s doomy and it’s dark. It sounds like your last breath before hanging on the gallows on that hidden place, where this sacred rite takes place. “Evil Attack”, as the title already suggests, is a fast head banger. There’s no mercy for the weak-hearted! The B-side of this vinyl release is reserved for the “Sword Of Vengeance” EP, originally released in 2003. “Swords Of Vengeance” opens with a spoken word part on devilish music in the best VENOM tradition. It’s been twenty long years after the release of this previous mini LP and the band still sounds like they mean it. “Nightmare” is on next and not as it’s mentioned on the album sleeve, because it’s printed in the wrong order here, which is a painful mistake in my opinion. “Nightmare” has got a very nice chorus, that invites you to sing along and after that, you can “Go To Hell”. The B-side closes with an “Evil Attack”. The thunderous drums sound like they are being played by a centipede, ultra-fast and destructing everything. The C-side contains their six track demo “Battle Of Metal”, released in 1983. The labels of the releases are printed on the LP, so you can always see which part you are playing. “Battle Of Metal” is made for real steel warriors and contains raw power to the max with an amazing fast drum outro part. In this version of “Nightmare”, I hear some PRIEST influences in the intro of the song. When you realize that these were only demo recordings, you will also draw the conclusion, that this band must have had a very bright future ahead of them. However, this was never realized though and the band stayed in the Dutch underground scene. “Marquis De Sade” is another instrumental track from the vaults of this legendary band. “Damned Forever” contains some great guitar work and shows that the band is not only able to create a sound, that is solely made for underground devotees only. This is killer material from an awesome band. “Mephisto” for example is a short instrumental intermezzo with acoustic guitars lurking in the back. You won’t hear sophisticated details like that on demos by brutal underground bands nowadays anymore. It proves that this band had more on their sleeve than brutal bashing alone. “Go To Hell” closes the 1983 demo side. Where the “Battle Of Metal” side still has a regular black cross printed on the LP, the black cross is still turned upside down on the 1982 “Protect Your Ears” demo, which can be found on the D-side of this double vinyl release. “Ready To Rock” contains raw guitars and a much rawer sound than on the demo, which follows a year hereafter. The gatefold sleeve contains a big picture of the band lying on a grave. The booklet contains more pictures and lyrics, which makes the overview complete. In the meantime “Nightmare” is being played here for the third time. If these unholy sounds would enter your room during your dreams, they would surely turn it into a nightmare. Three songs that didn’t see the light of day on vinyl are next. “Strangest Demon” starts with a dark sound, which could be described as a mix between THE DOORS and BLACK SABBATH. The beginning is more like THE DOORS, dark and depressing, while it later on rocks like BLACK SABBATH. “Chasing The Dragon” is a fast pure heavy metal banger with even a bass solo in it. While “Break The Chains” once again proves that FUTURE TENSE was just not any other ordinary metal band and they were just so much more than that. With the last version of “Go To Hell” we return to reality again after a great flashback to the past tense. Will there ever be a future tense for FUTURE TENSE? You can only hope there will be. Until then you can enjoy the band’s music on this two LP compilation release. Cock van Drunen on vocals, Ruud Beunder on drums, Rob Weber on guitar, Tjerk Kessel on bass and Reinier Schenk on lead guitar were the makers of this blasphemous release, that will lift the roof off your house. Buy a copy or you’ll be “Condemned To The Gallow” for sure!!
(9,6/10- Toine van Poorten)

GLORIA VICTIS-Gloria Victis (independent)
I will not only dedicate this website to the old school heavy metal bands from 1980 to 1990. Sometimes it’s also necessary to include bands, that keep the flame burning in 2012. GLORIA VICTIS is such a true metal band, that can count on my friendship and it was a nice surprise to see that they released this new five tracker. It runs a bit over twenty-five minutes and contains five exciting musical stories, starting with a war track, called “Dresden”. The ‘bomber’ on the sleeve shows some resemblance to this song, which deals about World War II. GLORIA VICTIS consists of Stefan Bosland (Bozzy) on vocals, Govert Middelberg on guitar, Bart Braat on guitar, Marcel Verheij on bass and Patrick Dudart on drums. “Dresden” is an up-tempo foot stomper with all the ingredients of a good rock song, especially the guitar solo is mindblowing here. The letter R in some of the words are being pronounced in a way that a good ol’ Scotsman would do it, so with a rolling sound. The song is divided into several segments and therefore it has a lot of variation. A great opener, so to speak. “Saviour” is heavier and faster and once again I noticed some kind of a Scottish accent in Bozzy’s vocal lines. The firm beats and steady riffs are easy on the ears. “Mary Bell” was one of my favorite songs, when the band played live at Very ‘Eavy in Stadskanaal, 2012. The way, that Bozzy performed this song was quite impressive and also here, it sounds like a great metal tune to me and it stands proud among the others. Just listen to the wall of guitars riffs in the instrumental break. “Confusion” is on next, which contains a great pounding rhythm and some excellent guitar work. However, the best is saved for last. CD closer “Blood &Sand” starts with the well-known old school SAXON-like rhythm part on bass. This is a NWOBHM influenced track with some nice speed and mood changes, great twin guitar work and a spoken word part, that fits very nicely. The guitar solo shows some resemblance to the old school SAXON sound, that I already mentioned earlier, but there’s also an instrumental part at the end of this magnificent track, that will bring you back to the good ol’ IRON MAIDEN days. Old school metal to the max from this more recent Dutch heavy metal band. GLORIA VICTIS is a name to remember and this five tracker makes it clear why. Buy or die is my device. For more information, you can go to gloriavictisheavymetal.nl.
(8,1/10- Toine van Poorten)

HELLOISE-Live4Life-One More Time (CD) (independent)
What good memories I have about HELLOISE. I’ve seen them play numerous times in Holland and their huge, final show at Ahoy in Rotterdam with Patricia Paay and some of the STRYPER guys was freaking fabulous. When they announced that they would do a one-time reunion show, I knew I had to be there. This show has now been released on CD and DVD and you can relive those magical moments on two silver discs. Their music is timeless and on the CD, you can enjoy fourteen songs with a total playing time of seventy-five minutes. You can read the review of this event here: http://www.truemetalfan.org/hhmlive.htm . After a short intro, they kick off with “Polarity”, the title track of the second album. The sound of HELLOISE could very well be described as the melodic version of HIGHWAY CHILE in a way. I can’t do much harm with this description, because nearly half of the line-up of the band contains members or ex-members of this great heavy metal band from Holland. To start with “Polarity” is such a wise choice and the audience has been warmed up for things to come. “After The War” has got a stunning rhythm and it still caries that remarkable HELLOISE sound, that is recognizable all over. “Ready For The Night” always was and still is a nice crowd pleaser with its fast beats. I don’t hear any difference at all with the vocal sound of Stan from the CD version of this song. His voice is still in great shape, mainly because of the many practicing he does with bands like 5150, STORMBRINGER and HIGHWAY CHILE, I guess. “Broken Hearts” continues with another catchy chorus and you can’t stand the urge to sing along to it. Just do, it will make you feel good. “Die Hard” is from the first album, which was possibly the most successful HELLOISE album, although “Polarity” also contained some awesome material. The double leads and speed change makes this to one of the outstanding tracks. “See Tomorrow” is also made to shout along to. “Run A Mile” is the ballad. Not too soft or too sweet, but just enough tenderness to call it a ballad. It sounds a bit like FOREIGNER maybe. The double leads are top notch material, by the way. A good ballad needs a good guitar solo and HELLOISE knows about this golden, unwritten rule. “Take It Or Leave It” is from a later time in the band’s career, but it still has that catching sound, that made this band so popular. “In The Line Of Fire” has always been one of my favorite tracks. It’s a shame, they left out the guitar solo “En La Linea De Fuego”, which was the CD intro and in the live show as well. But you can watch it on the DVD of course. The modest, melodic beginning, followed by the heavy pounding riffs that sound like shots coming from a machine gun, sound like pure magic to me. Just listen to the thundering drums of Ernst van Ee on this one. As a matter of fact, they could have named this album ‘best of HELLOISE live’, because all songs are so well-known and perfectly performed, it’s a real treat to your ears. “Destination” is another classic tune, ready to be shouted along to. Ernst’ powerful drum beats open “Hard Life” after this. It’s probably the loudest track of them all. At the end of this song, the band is being introduced to us, but I will leave that to the last part of this review. Who doesn’t know the guys anyway? “For A Moment” is another crowd pleaser of the biggest class. While “Gates Of Heaven” doesn’t need any introduction as well, I guess. History has been repeated here and it’s a shame that this has been a once in a lifetime experience only. Anyway, we’re very glad, that we were there that night. The last song is the title track of that famous first album “Cosmogony”. One more time a chance to sing along to this jukebox of HELLOISE classics. On the DVD are seven more tracks, which will make the whole picture complete. A wonderful throwback in time with this live album and a must have for every HELLOISE fan out there. HELLOISE consists of special guest star Anton Arema on backing vocals, keyboards and guitar, Thundercracker Ernst (Ernie for president) van Ee on drums, Marchell Remeeus on bass and backing vocals, Arjan Boogerds on guitars, Ben Blaauw on guitar and Stan Verbraak on vocals. Celebrate life itself and enjoy the music of this great rock band. Do it now. Website: http://www.helloise.nl.
(8,6/10- Toine van Poorten)

JACKAL-Cry Of The Jackal (Pure Underground Records)
It’s 1989, when “Cry Of The Jackal” is being released on mankind and some of the children still have nightmares, when they hear that jackal cry in the night. Almost twenty-five years later, the album is re-released and completed with demo tracks. It has become a must for every devoted metal fan and fans of Dutch heavy metal in particular. JACKAL consisted of Erwin Siereveld on vocals, John Bouman on guitar, Terry Paul on guitar, Stephan Pechler on bass and Rick Waalewijn on drums. The CD sleeve catches your attention right away. The jackal cries out on a blue background, showing his sharp teeth to his opponent. The eleven tracks are worthy of fifty minutes of pure metal, kicking off with “Pain In The Ass”. A steady beat, flashing guitar work and high pitching vocals is what you get, when this jackal bites you and the result is “Pain In The Ass” for sure. The metal beat of “Pharaoh” sounds ultra-heavy. The song gets a creepy horror type of sound, because of the distorted vocals input. The speed change in the middle of the song introduces the steaming hot guitar part in the best JUDAS PRIEST tradition. Don’t try to listen to the morbid distorted laughs before you go to sleep at night or you won’t be able to catch some sleep easily. “The Law” starts off as a ballad, but soon the guitars take over and a speedy tempo make your neck muscles move up and down in no time. “Nightmare (The Distance Between Dream And Reality)” contains a great guitar solo and many speed changes. It also shows a more melodic side of the band in the slower parts. “Cry Of The Jackal” is the instrumental track. You will hear the howl of a wild animal and in your imagination you can see him follow his prey. The twin guitar parts are amazing and now you know why this song was chosen to be the title track of the album. Sometimes, it even reminds me of the MARTYR classic “The Eibon” from their debut album. “Lost And Found” continues and especially the instrumental part here sounds very impressive. The guitars cry and the vocals sound as mean as ever. Then it’s time for the bonus tracks, the demos. Starting with “Dinosaur Invasion” - a lengthy song with a more melodic sound. Once again there’s lots of room for the instrumental outings of the band. You can tell that these are unpolished demo tracks, because the sound is a little bit different than the songs from the original album. “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind” is another instrumental, but it sounds less impressive than “Cry Of The Jackal”. No wonder this remained in the demo phase. The last three songs are with vocalist Arnold Kloek (ex-AFTERDARK, ex-CARTHAGO, ex-CIRRHA NIVA, ex-NEAR DARK). Starting with “Solution”, a ballad type of song, which shows that JACKAL slowly moved on to another direction besides straight forward heavy metal. A touch of CRIMSON GLORY could be recognized in the beginning of the song maybe. “Dream Review” is a very short track with some spoken word parts accompanied by an acoustic guitar. While “Enchantress” is another lengthy track, which fits very well to the rest of the material. Fast guitar riffs and Midnight type of vocal lines by Arnold. The bonus tracks are a nice addition for connoisseurs and people who want to have it all, but the original songs remain the best. Songs like “Worship Of Fire”, “Reflections Of Life” and “The Secret Inside” didn’t make it on this re-release, but I guess they will see the light of day on the next re-release. Today, JACKAL is still very much alive in a slightly different line-up, but I can imagine that they still play these old songs in a live setting. Don’t miss them, when they come to a club near your hometown.
(8,4/10- Toine van Poorten)

MARTYR-Circle Of Eight (Metal Blade Records)
For many years, MARTYR belongs to the top of the Dutch heavy metal. Especially their “For The Universe” album is a blessing to the history of the Dutch heavy metal scene. Many tape traders have traded this album and the demos, that were released before this album (“If It’s Too Loud, You’re Too Old” and “Metal Torture”) with metal fans from all over the world. For the new album (and between times we are about thirty years later now), they have signed a record deal with Metal Blade, the label of the mighty Brian Slagel. No wonder, they got signed there after presenting an album like that. Let’s go through the twelve new tracks here, including a reworked version of “Speed Of Samurai”, the coming shot of yours truly. “D.I.” opens this sixty minutes album with high speed. Their sound has become a little darker and maybe even a bit heavier, but what remains are the breathtaking guitar solos by Rick Bouwman and Marcel Heesakkers. Just listen to the mighty beginning of “Afterlife”, which opens with a salvo, that will make your flesh crawl. Names like LIZZY BORDEN, VICIOUS RUMORS and LEATHERWOLF come to mind, while listening to the sound that leaves the speakers. The repeating riffs and bone hard drum beats in this song however may even come from a band like PANTERA. Especially when played at high volume, your mind will definitely go out to that band for a while. When the guitar solo shows up, a name like VICIOUS RUMORS comes back to mind again, which they can see as a huge compliment. “Art Of Deception” is a good example of the fact, that the band sounds a bit darker than before and the guitar solos and riffs sound truly awesome! Responsible for this darker sound is the way singer Rop van Haren spits his lyrics into the microphone. He growls like a madman at times, whereas he only used his very high voice in the early days. “Circle Of Eight”, the title track of the album, starts with such a short horror growl. Horror and fear seem to be the main topics on this album, in case you wondered. The powerful beats are sensible in your underbelly and the moody atmosphere remains. “All Warriors Blood” has got the groove and the power. It could even be categorized as doom metal in a way. Slowly, this song gets into your mind and settles itself there to possibly never leave again. In the beginning of “The Uninvited”, it’s time for Toine van der Linden to torture his poor bass guitar. This is nothing special for ‘Mr. Rock And Roll’, because he tends to do that regularly. “Insensible Scream” is the highlight on this new album for me. It’s fast, it rawks the hell out of you and it contains the icy high screams of Rop. Especially, the immensely fast and brutal drumming parts by Wilfried Broekman and the tandem guitar playing turn this song into a real master piece. “Scene Of Hell” is on next and it has a slightly more melodic touch to it. While “Fake” sounds like there is something really terrible about to happen. The ominous atmosphere, that is created on this track, fits very well with the ‘fear and horror’ topic in most of the songs. Same goes for “Justified Killing”, which opens with some movie excerpts, creating the right atmosphere to start this song. It reminds me of the early QUEENSRYCHE at times (“Warning” era), especially vocal wise, although the riffs sound a lot more brutal here. “Locked” could very well be the title of the art work of this new album. All that we have left now is the piece the resistance on this album, which is a reworked version of the MARTYR classic “Speed Of Samurai”… Need I say more? I guess not. This is mainly one of the reasons why I like the Dutch metal scene so much. No words to be wasted, just plain head banging to the rhythm of this great anthem. CULT, CULT, CULT!!!! I do not need to recommend this to all the faithful fans, because most of them bought it already at the CD presentation in De Meern last November. And if you don’t own a copy of “Circle Of Eight” yet, you should be ashamed of yourself. Now there’s a corner to stand in and let your head hang down in shame, you silly twat! Website: http://www.martyronline.nl.
(9,1/10- Toine van Poorten)

OPENFIRE-Only Solutions (LFRA Music)
I’m not too keen on reviewing new bands for a section, where I want to focus on metal bands from Holland that existed between 1980 and 1990. Sometimes I find out about a band though, that defends the faith and gives the legacy of that time a face of its own in this new millennium. This also happens to be the case with a band called OPENFIRE, that send me their album “Only Solutions”. It contains ten tracks and runs for almost three quarter of an hour. The opener “Angry Undone” is a slow track with a bluesy undertone, containing the weathered voice of Ard Mak and the groovy guitar sound of Ard Mak and Marc Seton. A name like LED ZEPPELIN comes to mind, but only after the first listening session. While in “Rotten Fluids”, the band takes us back to the past century with their sound, which they can take as a compliment. The vocals of Ard show some resemblance to someone like Paul Rodgers and the riffs could easily be from the good old Paul Kossof in this one. Just listen to the great steady beat of drummer Frank Telleman here to get the real vibe, that belongs to that well-known FREE sound. “Little Man” sounds almost alike the JOHN MELLENCAMP classic “Jack And Diane”, but it also has some BAD COMPANY influences here and there. Ain’t that the music that you all listened to, when you were young? Well I did, that’s for sure. “Halfway A Dream” has that great THIN LIZZY sound from the first beat on. The recognizable bass guitar, performed here by Michael Wijk, made me think about these Irish rockers immediately. And the steady beat of the drums makes the whole picture complete. “Only Solutions” is the title track of the album and a ballad, that seems to come right from the ‘great book of rock ballads’. It’s not too sweet, but it will make your heart cry deep inside. We’re dealing with some real pros here and if you look in your record and CD collection, you might find a CD of a band called MOTHERS OF MERCY from Schagen. Well, you can see OPENFIRE as some kind of continuation of this band with a few line-up changes of course, otherwise they could have released this album under the same monnicker. I was already blown away by their talent then and this album grabs me by the balls once again. “Uncle” has got the same vibe as the mid-tempo songs of a band like ROSE TATTOO and there might be some Southern Rock influences as well here as a sort of special secret ingredient. Just listen to the guitar part, that seems to sound a little bit longer than normal, an ingredient that a lot of Southern Rock bands deal with. They just can’t stop the vibe at that time and so they make the solo guitar part just an inch longer (and if you’re lucky two inches - Yeehaw!!) “Massive Stroke” has got a slow dragging beat and again the smoking voice of the Southern Rock bands from the eighties. Maybe I understand the influence mentioned on the band’s website now, where they mention a band like ZAKK WYLDE’s BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. “Living Loving Maid” is on next. Oops sorry, it’s called “Broken Pride”, but the very first seconds made me think of this ZEP classic right away. The rest of the song sounds so much different that the comparison disappears right away. This is what makes the whole album so damn enjoyable. There are all bits and pieces, that make you think of the original classic metal bands mentioned in this review and still the songs are new and a pleasure to listen to. “Hammered” has got some fantastic guitar work and after that, it’s already time for the last song on this album, which is the power ballad “Run Upon My Soul” where firm rock on the top meets the soft skin underneath. Again, just like in the MOTHERS OF MERCY days, I must admit that OPENFIRE are very talented and great gifted musicians and they’ve made an album that fits perfectly in the scope of this website, although the band didn’t exist (yet) in the time frame mentioned. Their music however strongly relates to this time frame and therefore it’s very much worth mentioning and to write a review of this fantastic new album. The world has got to know, that buying this album is the ‘only solution’, so you’d better start telling your neighbors the good news.
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)

OVERRULED-Overruled (EP) (independent)
When true metal is running through your veins, it will be a wise decision to listen to these six songs for twenty minutes. It might change your life forever. OVERRULED consists for four years now and this is their first six pack. The instrumental intro is only a one minute track simply called “Intro”, but it already shows that these guys really carry on the spirit of the eighties true metal and thrash metal. Just listen to the first riffs of “Graceless”. Even in the lyrics, spit out by Remco Smit, you’ll hear a bit of Dave Mustaine (MEGADETH), which you can see as one of the influences of this band, which is based in the eastern part of our country. The fast riffs and ditto solos are splitting your skull in a blink of an eye. If this is not the case, just play this freaking shit at full power and make a nice breakthrough to your neighbours’ living room. They will be nicely surprised by the dynamic force of this band. Oh, you want it faster? Your wish is their command! Just wait until the hilarious breakneck speed riffs of “Run For Your Life” enter your room. They will do the trick. The chorus, that’s shouting the title of this song, will make you think of the good old ANTHRAX sound. The song first contains a very speedy guitar part, then a more melodic solo and finally they riff along to another speedy beat. We hurry on, because we’ve got no time to waste. The next song is very special. If you write a tribute song to your favorite kind of music, then you must be a lunatic or a real devoted fan. I opted for the last one, especially after listening closely to the lyrics. A great track to shout out loud during one of their live shows. Raise your fist in the air, take some ice cold beer in the other (and for those of you who have to drive, a large glass of soft drink instead). The song is called “Heavy Metal”, and a killer track in my opinion. This is indeed a very worthy tribute to my favorite type of music. “Evil Minds” is on next and this time the thrashers among us are able to get their head propelling and their long hair waving in the air. I won’t succeed, because I’ve lost my hair while listening to loud music like this, but the love for heavy metal is in your DNA and not in the length of your hair. Lucky me! “Evil Minds” contains some more fast riffs and the guitar solo here is really mind-blowing! And before you’ll know it, you’re already listening to the last track on this EP, which is called “The Unknown”. I hear a great intro, the riffs start, the drums pump the first beats into the speakers and off they go! I’m glad, that the vocals don’t sound like a death grunt, otherwise they would have never made this review. The vocals sound a bit brutal, but that’s fine by me. As long if it is not over the top or like a death grunt, because grunting belongs to the nineties for me. I start banging my head to the sound of this maniacal song with ditto laughs halfway through and I ask my wife if she can push the ‘repeat’ button, when the music stops. OVERRULED is definitely on my list of bands that I have to follow from now on. After seeing them play at the Meesterlijk Metaal festival in Almere, I am already looking forward to hearing more material by these woodchoppers from Drenthe, because songs like “She-Devil”, “Faster, Harder, Louder” and their version of “The Mechanix” call for a safe landing on a silver disc as well. OVERRULED is Remco Smit on rhythm guitar and vocals, Marco Prij on drums, Ronald Renders on lead guitar and Martijn Poel on bass. Website: http://www.overruledband.com.
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)

PICTURE-Warhorse (Artist Station Records)
Ever since I heard the very first PICTURE album thirty years ago, I always get excited when a new album is being announced. PICTURE had gold in their hands with the very last reunion. They played at every huge festival, including Sweden Rock, and made a good new studio album. Then the bad news came, that Jan Bechtum, the original guitar player of the band, left PICTURE. Soon afterwards followed by the departure of Rob van Enkhuizen. To be quite honest with you, I didn’t give shit about PICTURE anymore and they would have to prove again, that they were worth my interest. Life can be hard these days and I just couldn’t get over the fact, that they’d sacked their one and only original guitar player. Never change a winning team is my slogan. Replacement came from Peter Bourbon and Mike Ferguson and I could only hope, that they would fight twice as hard to show me that they are back. When I saw the artwork of the new album, which is called “Warhorse”, I hoped that this would give me back the old PICTURE sound. Rumors went, that it would sound very old school again and I simply couldn’t wait to check out the new songs. Well, I can tell you, that PICTURE is back, stronger than ever before. Thirteen tracks fill the fifty minutes on this new album and if you listen to the opener “Battle Plan”, then you know one thing for sure: this is the loudest, meanest, heaviest album, that PICTURE ever made! Oscar Holleman produced the album and he did a great job, because the sound is ultra-heavy and the opener simply blows you away. Besides the newcomers, the band still exists of Pete Lovell on vocals, Rinus Vreugdenhil on bass guitar and Laurens ‘Bakkie’ Bakker on drums. Not only the vibe in this opening war anthem is just perfect, but the guitar solo is the cherry on the cake here. What a great opener! And this is only just the beginning. “Shadow Of The Damned” is on next and starts with another great metal riff from the book of heavy metal. The steady beat of the drums will do the rest. “Rejected” is a strong head banger with a great guitar solo. How do they create such a powerful track? Is all the anger coming out, one way or another? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I like it that way. “Edge Of Hell” also contains a lot of power and is ready to sing along to. The riff, that opens “The King Is Losing His Crown” is simply mind blowing and just sums up why you should buy this f*cking album without listening first. It grooves the hell out of your pants and takes you by surprise. “Think I Lost My Way” is a ballad, but one of the better kind in my opinion. Powerful, yet a little tender and modest, just good as it is. A short interval to load the batteries for another heavy song, called “Killer In My Sights”. Bakkie introduces the next rocker “My Kinda Woman”, which is easy on the ear and a flirt to the rocking sound of DEEP PURPLE in their heydays. A great tribute to those times without being a copycat, because they give their own PICTURE twist to it. “Warhorse” is another heavy track, full speed ahead with a leading role for Bakkie, who destroys his drum kit for this one. This is the way, that we want to hear it. “We’re Not Alone” has got some crazy guitar work again and sounds a bit like early VAN HALEN to me, which they can see as a big compliment. “Stand My Ground” is the perfect way to show, that the band is back stronger than ever. This is the sound, that I missed for such a long time, but it’s all coming back to me now, by means of this new album. Thank you guys for bringing back fond memories of the early PICTURE sound. This is what I wanted to hear all these years. No yearnings, just plain heavy metal, who needs anything else??? The CD closes with a new 2011 version of “Eternal Dark”. Need I say more?? I guess not. PICTURE is back, so let’s be hard for each other, once again!! Website: http://www.pictureofficial.com.
(9,7/10- Toine van Poorten)

SEVENTH SEAL-Baptized By Fire (independent)
Sometimes I rate a very high score to an album, that is above average. Most of the time, it’s a very good album considering the time frame that we live in, but it wouldn’t have been in my collection in the eighties though, because it didn’t meet up to the high standard at that particular time. Times are changing though and so does the music. The high level of hard rock and heavy metal is not easy to reach nowadays. Influences of other metal ingredients like speed metal, death metal, black metal, doom metal, thrash metal or gothic metal are mixed too easy and I really love it, but one way or another it is not ‘pure’, so to speak. I have great respect for bands, that sound very close to the authentic rock or metal sound from the eighties. Recently, I’ve discovered a band, that lives up to these high standards. No wonder, because most of their roots are from those glorious days back then. And although this album hasn’t been written in the period 1980-1990, it breaths that same eighties rock spirit all the way. All the more reason to write about this album, that is eagerly waiting for a follow up, which is actually recorded as we speak in a studio not far away from here. I am talking about SEVENTH SEAL here. Before we’re going talk about the music, I’d like to introduce the band members to you first. You’ll get the idea why they sound so traditional, I guess. On guitar we have John Hookwater, who started his career in bands like SHEBANG, REBEL YELL and RANDOM. That last band was also joined by vocalist Adrian van Score (a.k.a. Bert Verschoor), who was the singer of SPOILER, SHEBANG, the DEEP PURPLE tribute band STORMBRINGER and he even replaced Bert Heerink in VANDENBERG for a short moment. Not a bad reference, if you’d ask my opinion. Walter Beijen beats the skins and he also worked with RENEGADE and GILGAMESJ. Bass player Paul Donkersloot played in PRINCESS, BUTTERFLY PIE and BEHIND THE SMILE and the band is completed by Machiel Kommer. From the first notes on of title track “Baptized By Fire”, you’ll get the feeling that this was written in the good old days. The days of RAINBOW for example. A high speed sound, great vocals, steady drum beats and guitars, that want to crank it up. But the song also contains some nice, surprisingly mood changes somewhere in the middle, that makes it very exciting to keep on listening what’s next. The guitar solo can best be described of a Blackmore kind from his RAINBOW period. You can wake me up in the middle of the night for that. “When The Hammer Falls” is on next and as the title already suggest, we’re in for another strong beat and the mid-tempo foot stomper is exactly that what I had in mind. A great guitar solo in the middle with a slight PICTURE touch in the vocal lines, if you listen very carefully. Slowly I raise my fist in the air. “Sign Of The Times” continues in a faster pace, which has a slightly Y&T kind of sound, topped by some great guitar work. “Rising” opens with an impressive instrumental part and the song has a definite IRON MAIDEN vibe to it. Obviously, the whole traditional metal scene is represented in their sound. There’s no escape than to surrender yourself to this forty-five minute headbanging lecture by SEVENTH SEAL. “On Wings Of An Eagle” is the so-called obligatory ballad, although this surely is one of an immense beauty. “Quest For Eden” is another foot stomper, that could have been from almost every traditional metal band in the eighties. A mid-tempo basher, which invites you to sing along in the chorus part. While “Warriors” sounds again very MAIDEN-ish in the beginning (“Piece Of Mind” era). The best is saved for almost last. The song is called “Live For The King” and it really sounds awesome beyond believe! That guitar sound, the song structure and the power (and the glory, of course), wow! It’s all there and everything together is the rock, that makes me roll through life. What a great track! You can raise your fist in the air on the next song, called “Believer”. Guitar solos keep coming and the catchy refrain makes you want to sing along from the start. It’s another helluva track, that really amazes me. The CD closes with “Liberty” and once again you’re being pulled back to the amazing eighties, musically speaking of course. The IRON MAIDEN spirit wanders around a bit more, but this won’t do any harm to the song. SEVENTH SEAL is definitely a name to remember. Not only because of their great sound, but also for their love of this type of music, that they’re passing on. Paul Donkersloot is a NWOBHM connoisseur in heart and soul and he, and the rest of the band, breathe the air of traditional heavy metal with a heart of steel. So I’m going to raise my sword one more time for these metal warriors from Brabant and reward this album with a very high rating. Both horns up for SEVENTH SEAL, before they baptize me with fire. Website: http://www.seventhseal.com/
(9,1/10- Toine van Poorten)

SEVENTH SEAL-Hellchild (3 track demo CD) (independent)
Dark, mysterious eyes are looking at you on this demo CD by SEVENTH SEAL. While different eyes are watching you from the rear side of this same CD. They must be the hellchildren burning in hell. Those are my very first thoughts, when I take the CD of SEVENTH SEAL from the huge pile of music, that is still waiting for a review. SEVENTH SEAL is a well-talented old school heavy metal band from Holland, that is gaining popularity very quickly these days. After their debut album “Baptized By Fire”, things went pretty upstream for this band from Hardinxveld Giessendam. They played at Roadgrill in Rotterdam this summer and Mario’s Metal Meeting in Tilburg not long ago, supported GREAT WHITE and they will support German metal heroes VICTORY this January. Their second album is in the making and we are very excited to review this three track demo CD, which is called “Hellchild”. The three songs are worthy of fifteen minutes of traditional hard rock and metal - just the way we like to hear it. However, the rough diamond here is title track “Hellchild”. From the first notes on, you know that you’re in for a real treat. A short instrumental part leads you to the first icely scream of Adrian van Score. An IRON MAIDEN-like riff and rhythm accompanies it all and I immediately start to bang my head and I’m screaming my lungs out on the word “Hellchild”. This is exactly what happened in the early eighties, when liking a song and things haven’t changed much in thirty-five years. With the high pull outs of Adrian and the massive sound beat, this sure reminds me of the first two albums by PICTURE, which I have been playing a thousand times or more. The tandem axe-work is provided by Machiel Kommer and John Hookwater, while the rhythm section consists of Paul Donkersloot on bass and Walter Beijen on drums, who lay down a solid foundation of rhythm beats. This is the kind of stuff I want to hear. Timeless heavy metal, nothing more, nothing less. “The Chosen One” could very well be on one of the first albums by SAXON, while the vocal parts might remind you of “The Headless Cross” by BLACK SABBATH at some point. Talk about old school heavy metal here! The stunning rhythm makes your head bang up and down a bit slower, but I automatically reached for my air guitar, when the guitar solo arrived. That’s what old school metal heads do, when they like what they hear. They bang their heads and they play their air guitar or their air drums, if they rather feel like drumming than pulling them strings. Don’t worry, your time will come, when you will understand all of this. The last track is called “Time Will Come”, which leans towards the old QUEENSRYCHE style, while the first scream reminded me of the good old days of PICTURE again. The song contains another mind-blowing guitar solo by Machiel, by the way. Fifteen minutes are over much too soon, but the ‘repeat’ button is within reach, so I can play these heavenly songs all over again. One final warning I’d like to give to you is, that there is also an Italian band, who calls themselves SEVENTH SEAL, so please don’t mix these two bands with eachother. This is pure old school metal made to play out loud! So what are you waiting for? Turn up the volume and please your neighbors or the Hellchild will come and get you and you won’t feel happy then! Website: http://www.seventhseal.nl.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)

VALKYRIE-Deeds Of Prowess (Death Rider Records)
I want to introduce you a bit closer to the Dutch version of MANOWAR. If there was any, this title would definitely go to VALKYRIE, the first band of master drummer Ed Warby, who later joined AYREON and played in bands like AGGRESSOR, IMPACT, ELEGY, ORPHANAGE, GOREFEST, HAIL OF BULLETS, STAR ONE and 11th Hour. Need I say more? I guess not. Listening to the seven tracks and thirty-five minutes of heavenly music on this album, I get the shivers all over again. Opener “Ride Of The Valkyries” really is MANOWAR, if you close your eyes. And not the mighty warriors how they sound today, with keyboards, bombastic tunes and a lot of harmony vocals. No, this sounds like early MANOWAR. Including the ultra-heavy bass playing, epic melodies and thundering drum beats. “The Master Of Death” is another fine example of true heaviness. Just listen to these heavy pounding drums, that makes the glass in our window-frame thrill from excitement, ready to explode into a thousand pieces. Alpha male vocals and warrior outfits and swords. If you thought that only MANOWAR had this image, think again and check out the cover of this masterpiece. These guys don’t want to be your friend, these guys want war, they want to chop off your head and they want it now! These guardians of the flame and defenders of the faith are out for blood and they ain’t gonna stop, until they’ve got a bucket full. Feel the drum beats torture your stomach, until you can’t take no more. This is how heavy metal should sound, ladies and gentlemen!! “Ancient Steel” brings even more metal mayhem and to make it sound even more filthier, they turned down the speed by a notch. A slow funeral march unfolds itself before your very eyes. The guitar solo in this song leaves nothing to wish for anymore. A gruesome force comes over you and gives you the freaking shivers, when listening to this material. Besides Ed Warby on the mighty drums, VALKYRIE consists of Remco Helbers on bass, Eric Smits on drums (DAY SIX, ex-CASUAL SILENCE, ex-TEMPTER, ex-CIRRHA NIVA) and Rob Weber on guitar, who also became the fretmaster of FUTURE TENSE (another cult band from Holland). In between the band introduction, we have arrived at the “Battlefields Of Pelennor”, a fast headbanger with furious drum beats and another violent guitar attack. The original demo of the album was released in 1986, when the first NWODHM wave was already gone. In that aspect they may have missed the boat in a way, but the tape traders and true believers of the underground metal scene knew that this band had released a demo of pure, solid, twenty-four carat gold. The drum outro of this song is completely over the top and that is how it was meant to be, I’m quite sure about that. “The Gods Are Angered” marks the ending of the original demo tape. It’s a fast ear attack, that would leave the listeners of the original work behind bleeding and slowly facing death. Here they pushed the final punch a little bit forward and added two bonus tracks to the album. Otherwise, it would have been a very short album to release. “Shadowfar” is a fast, instrumental track in obvious demo quality. It displays the anger of the band and it also shows the fact that this band was really mean. They all cranked out the last bits of anger in two minutes and it sounds like a tsunami rolling over your house and destroying all and everything in a couple of seconds. The very last track is called “Runesong”. This is a more epical tune, which makes them sound a bit more like JAG PANZER maybe. Hold in your hand a true masterpiece, that comes with a booklet, containing the full story of the band and all the lyrics. Be warned, because this album contains the most heavy outings of a band, that was mightier than the mightiest.
(9,4/10- Toine van Poorten)

VANDENBERG-Vandenberg (Rock Candy)
VANDENBERG is of course the name of the guitarist, that the whole world knows as ‘the flying Dutchman’ or the former axe man of WHITESNAKE, Adrian Vandenberg. And in that respect, it never could be the name of the band of Dick Kemper or Bert Heerink for that matter. Both well respected musicians of course, but if someone has got the right to the name of this band, it would be Adrian Vandenberg himself. Okay, that sets the record straight for the struggle (or even a law suit) between these two camps about the band name. Recently, Rock Candy released the debut album of VANDENBERG, including some extensive liner notes and nice pictures inside the booklet. I still remember seeing VANDENBERG playing live a countless times with this line-up, even with Peter Struyk on vocals and they never ever played a bad gig. The band consisted of Jos Zoomer on drums, Bert Heerink on vocals, Dick Kemper on bass, who had played in TURBO before he joined the band, and of course Adrian Vandenberg, who came from his first band TEASER with whom he released one album. The demos for this album already showed a very promising start and “Back On My Feet Again” being the very first song I ever heard of VANDENBERG, which was somewhere around 1982, when this album was released for the first time. These first steps to success were made, when the band still called themselves TEASER and later on changing their name into VANDENBERG. Adrian turned down an offer of David Coverdale to join WHITESNAKE. He wanted to give VANDENBERG a go and started writing songs. The final result is here in a cleaned up version. The whole album has been remastered and it contains nine tracks, that only run for about thirty-five minutes. But we are talking about thirty-five remarkable minutes, that would change the lives of many hard rock and heavy metal fans out there. Ballads, heavy rock songs, fast tracks and catchy rockers find a good mix on the album and some songs even reached the international charts. VANDENBERG presented themselves in a way, that nobody would forget about them anymore. The talent of the various musicians was huge and as a team VANDENBERG was unbeatable. Let’s run through these nine rough diamonds to refresh your memory a bit. Starting with “Your Love Is In Vain”. What will immediately come to mind is, that the sound has been inspired by bands like the FREE or BAD COMPANY and that the singer actually can sing, which wasn’t always the case with Dutch bands, such as most metal magazines try to prove us. Here it is different and Bert Heerink proves to be a marvellous singer. The song is easy on the ears and really gets the album going. “Back On My Feet” is one of the older songs and in my opinion one of the most important songs on the album. It’s because of this track that the fans embraced the band as hot newcomers. “Burning Heart” made the band accepted by the fans, who kicked on the more commercial sounding songs that eventually reached the national charts. Listen to the fast beating double bass drums of Jos to hear the power, that is actually in this song, together with the high guitar notes in the solo of Adrian himself. “Wait” is another track, that was ready to sing along to. I can remember, that it was always on the set list, when the band played live and it was introduced by an acoustic guitar solo, which was sometimes a bit of a difficulty when the band had to perform this one for television. The acoustic guitar intro shows the fast fingers of Adrian, but the electric guitar solo in the middle of the song is played at breakneck speed! We already talked about “Burning Heart”. It became the big hit single of the band and it was also the ballad from this debut album. The second hit single would be “Different World”. Yep that’s right, yet another ballad. The media is so damn predictable. I don’t say, it’s a bad song. On the contrary. I like it a lot, because it has a lot of emotion and is topped by another great guitar solo. One of the better ballads and it certainly marked the big success for VANDENBERG here and abroad. “Ready For You” was the opener of the live shows. Listen to the drums by Jos Zoomer. A constant double bass beat in the background and the new fashioned drum kit toms, that he always used. Some people disliked these new fashioned drums, but Jos really knew how to play them, so maybe that made the difference for me. The solo is played with a lot of power. Always a perfect opener and it would have been the perfect opener for the album as well, in my opinion. “Too Late” has got a great riff and is catchy enough to sing along to. It has got a wonderful drive and it always gave me some kind of energy boost for a couple of moments. At the end of the song, you can actually hear that train coming towards you at full speed and there is nothing that’s gonna stop the damn thing. What a marvellous track! “Nothing To Lose” sounds slightly commercial and again it has that very catchy feeling. While in the beginning of “Lost In A City”, you’ll hear the remarkable chemistry between the band members. Once again, you might think of a faster version of BAD COMPANY here. The guitar solo is a real treat to your ears and it has a touch of Schenker lurking in the background. I always loved the drum intro to the last song here, which is called “Out In The Streets”. It is so damn powerful and fast! Maybe it’s that intro why it became one of my personal favorites on the album. An album, that I’ve played a countless times (and more). It all started the career of this band, that would last for two more albums. The band supported bands like OZZY OSBOURNE and MICHAEL SCHENKER in this period and headlined some American shows with QUIET RIOT being their support act. Adje believed in his band and I was very glad to hear, that VANDENBERG is back in business again, but now with a total new line-up. This re-release is a very nice document of those early days in the band’s blooming career. Still, it could have been so much more, when they would have added a bonus track to it of for example the long lost “Help Me Through The Night”? But who knows this song will be on the brand new album of VANDENBERG?!? It’s been thirty years ago since the album was released for the first time and I still remember all the lyrics and the pictures that are shown in the booklet. Obviously, “Vandenberg” - the album - has had a very big impact on myself as a true hard rock and heavy metal fan. The same impact “Heading For A Storm” (2nd album) and “Alibi” (3rd album) had on me, by the way. They really were a very important part of my youth and I relived these beautiful days in about forty minutes all over again. What more can you ask for? An essential release for every devoted fan of Dutch heavy metal.
(10/10- Toine van Poorten)

VANDENBERG-Heading For A Storm (Rock Candy)
Rock Candy already re-released their self-titled debut album “Vandenberg” and this time “Heading For A Storm” is on next, which includes three live bonus tracks. The band is in their heydays in 1983 and they tour with MSG and OZZY OSBOURNE. Need I say more? This second album could be crucial for their career, but with a natural born talent like Adrian Vandenberg in the band, things actually go a lot easier. The band tours in Japan, the UK and the States after this album and turn into a major player in the hard rock and heavy metal scene. Not only in our own little country, but they easily gain worldwide fame. This album sure took care of that. The name of VANDENBERG is on everybody’s lips, mainly because of the success of this album. For the album cover, a painting of Adrian is being used. This multi-talented guitar player also shows what he can do with his pencils. Sharks floating or flying (whatever you may see here), over a highway, that runs through a deserted dessert. I think, they go back home to the ocean, where they can hide for the storm that is about to hit the land. But hey, let’s not wander off, but talk about some serious music here. On the album are twelve tracks with a total playing time of about fifty minutes. The CD starts with “Friday Night”, a topic that speaks for itself. The weekend approaches and it’s time to party. It’s a feel good song and it invites you to sing along to the chorus, because that’s what this is all about. Actually, “Heading For A Storm” sounds much more polished than “Vandenberg”. They wanted to write some hit singles on this album, that’s for sure. The break is very nice and the guitar work sounds absolutely fabulous. The drums are loud. Jos Zoomer has always been well-known for his extraordinary staccato drum set. And he knew to make them fit just perfectly to the sound of the band. Just listen to the beginning of “Welcome To The Club” for example. If you would do that on a regular set, it just wouldn’t have the same vibe and it simply wouldn’t sound that perfect. The chorus is once again very catchy and Adje reminds me of a more melodic Michael Schenker in a way. The peeping sound in the beginning of the solo makes you aware of the fact, that not everything is polished and the guitar solo here is a good exception to this rule. It’s raw and heavy, just as the fans want it to sound. “Time Will Tell” also has got that typical VANDENBERG part in the chorus. You simply need to shout and sing along to it from the first time, that you hear it. The adventurous guitar solo is the cherry on the cake. It peeps and cries and it’s there when you least expect it, just like the Spanish Inquisition. Say no more. Quite a heavy outburst for such a catchy and polished song! The ballad became the big hit single on this album. I must admit, that “Different Worlds” gained more impact on me than “Burning Heart”, when this was released. Many people will not agree with me here, but vocalist Bert Heerink sings this song so emotionally and it touches my deepest inner soul, every time I hear it. Surely, this is not the only highlight here. When Adje starts the acoustic guitar solo, which already sounds amazing, but then the electric guitar part comes rolling in… The whole world around me seems to disappear and a spark of sunshine comes back into my life. It’s that magic feeling, music can do to you. The song is from the same high level of a band like FOREIGNER, who were the masters in writing sweet voiced ballads. Even thirty plus years later, I still get the shivers running down my spine, when hearing this song. Maybe that’s why “This Is War” sounds so powerful. It’s the contrast between the ballad and this song, that sounds even more powerful than it already did. The guitar solo is typical Adrian style with some nice fills and a dry but clear sound. In fact, the choirs are once again very catchy and polished, but it works perfectly here. Just listen to the staccato drum salvos at the end of this song. They seem to come from a machine gun. “I’m On Fire” has always been one of the lesser known tracks on this album, but just listen to the steady drum beat of Jos and the stunning bass parts of Dick ‘Motorhome’ Kemper. The guitar solo sounds like it has been played by two guitarists instead of one. The second guitar solo sounds like Adje is stealing seconds to make it last longer and longer, until they have to pull the plug. When Bert is already singing the lyrics, Adje continues to play the solo fills and gives you that ‘wow what a killer solo’ feeling. “Heading For A Storm” is the title track of the album. It’s a pity, that they didn’t do more with this song. In my eyes, it surely had the potential of becoming another hit single. It also has a nice sing along part in the chorus. Jos shows his best skills in “Rock On”, which is another feel good rock song, that many of us can relate to. Just imagine yourself screaming out the words ‘Rock On’ during a live show! It’s as easy as that, but you must have the guts to use a simple statement as this song title. The staccato drums bang out loud and the band rocks at their very best here. “Waiting For The Night” closes the official album, which starts with an acoustic guitar part. When the drums enter, it’s time to bang your head. The harmony vocals appear and the guitar solo has the well-known Vandenberg licks. Jos ticks away another round on his drum kit and the waiting is now for the first reactions of the press and the fans. We already know that the fans loved it and this also might have been the moment that former DEEP PURPLE shouter David Coverdale started to listen to our Flying Dutchman with different ears. I think, that this album really caught his attention. You will never know for sure which song or which moment made him start to pick up the phone and ask, if Adrian was available to become a member of WHITESNAKE. In general, this album marked the international breakthrough for VANDENBERG. Back to this re-release now, as we still have three live bonus tracks to go. I wish they’d have also released one (or more) live album(s), that marked each VANDENBERG album in a certain time frame. For example: one from the early days, one from this particular time and one from the later days. But it’s always nice to dream about that. The “Oh Fortuna” theme by Carl Orff has been used by many bands back in those days, like PRETTY MAIDS for example. OZZY OSBOURNE was the most well-known artist who used it and it became his intro tape for the live shows. . But also VANDENBERG used it for a while and it’s captured very nicely here as intro to the perfect opener in the early days: “Ready For You”. The bashing drums of Jos, the fast guitar riffs by Adrian, good bass riffs of Dick, the powerful vocals of Bert and always that very catching sound. The drum intro of Jos makes your flesh crawl. Adrian plays some improvisation parts before he gets back to the riff that the fans will recognize from the next song “Lost In The City”. A powerful opener with a stretched out guitar solo from the man himself. The last track is “Too Late”, a raw rocker to the max. The live songs have been recorded live in Houston, TX on March 3, 1983. It feels like this monster sound has been put down by a four-legged drummer. Man, what a great sound! The guitar solos are flawless and it shows that this is one of Holland’s best rock bands in action. No one could keep up with the level of VANDENBERG, no matter how hard they tried. The CD booklet contains a story by Malcolm Dome and many nice pics, also of the Japanese pressings of the singles, that were taken from this album. A super album by super heroes, that always stayed with both feet on the ground. And even after the enormous success of this album, they landed safely back on their feet again. Website: http://www.vandenbergrocks.nl.
(9,1/10- Toine van Poorten)

VANDENBERG-Alibi (Rock Candy)
My prayers have been heard and the last VANDENBERG album re-release is a fact. The band had built up a well-established name by which they could conquer the world. And they did and they became an important player in the melodic rock and metal scene, next to big names like DOKKEN, RATT and DEF LEPPARD. Would this album mean the major breakthrough of a band, that earned it so well? We get to that conclusion later on. Let’s first see what the Flying Dutchman had in mind for us on this third release, that was recorded with the same line-up as the previous two albums. The ten songs are worthy of almost forty minutes of the best melodic metal available. It’s 1985, when the original album is released and the recognizable sound of Bert Heerink rules again in opener “All The Way”, a furious rocker that contains the well-known choir vocal parts in the refrains. It always was an open invitation for singing along to it, although I’m not too sure anymore if this song was being played in a live situation that much. The guitar parts have got that typical Vandenberg style, that you could pick from a thousand guitar players. Yes, over the years Adrian had set a special guitar style, that only he could play like that. It became some kind of a trademark. It was a bit difficult to start the engine of the car used for the intro of “Pedal To The Metal”, but once they got it started, they press the pedal to the metal. Just imagine seeing yourself with your fist in the air shouting it out loud during the chorus lines of this song. It’s the catchy vibe, that makes it suitable for radio airplay. It never happened, but it is a classic rock track, that could fill a whole arena with singing head bangers, as far as I’m concerned. What did reach the charts in Holland was the ballad of course. “Once In A Lifetime” is another ballad, that could bring you to tears. It’s so sweet and yet it fitted really well to this band. And I think that fans of JOURNEY and FOREIGNER would agree with me, that this is one of the finest rock ballads, that has ever been made. The choir vocals are not forgotten and although it’s a super sweet song, I still get the shivers running down your spine, when you hear it. On with the rocking “Voodoo” , which also bears the harmony vocals, but this time in a more powerful way. “Dressed To Kill” rages at full speed. The riffs are brutal and Jos Zoomer uses his double bass technique again. The solo in this one sounds vicious and raw. It’s a true rocker and it takes care of some variation, too. A nice classical oriented guitar part opens “Fighting Against The World”, which starts the B-side of the LP version of this album. An album, that you simply couldn’t miss at your local record store, because it has this screaming red colored sleeve, which was another drawing from the hand of the master. The guitar solo cries out loud and a flash of thundering lightning comes crashing from the sky. The band is at full speed again and a second guitar solo unfolds itself at the end of this track. It all sounds like magic to me. The explosion at the end of the song is marking a little piece of rest. A second ballad, that also became a hit single, is on next, which is called “How Long”. Bert Heerink gives away his very best again. His voice was perfect for dreamy songs like that. Don’t get me wrong. He could rock hard as well, but he had that emotional touch in his voice, that would make a melodic rock fan’s mouth water from excitement. The harmony vocals, which are another trademark from the band, lift this song up to a higher level. Later on, Bert would try to implement this in the PICTURE sound, but I’m afraid that didn’t make them more popular at the time. It was a VANDENBERG trademark and for their use only and it simply didn’t work with other bands. “Prelude Mortale” is an acoustic piece of art, which was being expanded in a long guitar solo in a live setting. Mostly with a “Pink Panther Theme” part added to it. “Alibi”, the title track of this album, is rocking it out loud again. It could easily be compared to the likes of DOKKEN, FOREIGNER or KISS. It was that catchy and it had a rocking vibe. “Kamikaze” is the very last track and for the first time, next to the aforementioned “Prelude Mortale” the band added an instrumental track. It might have been intended to give Bert some rest during a live setting. Adrian rocks it out here and also Jos gives it his best shot. It sounds slightly experimental with some touches of keyboards, that was pretty normal for that time. And although it didn’t really get an ‘Adrian Vandenberg one man show’, the man puts his mark on this song like only he could. After “Alibi”, it’s over and out for the boys. Bert Heerink leaves the band and Adrian tries to continue the band with Peter Strykes, who was being nicked from FIRST AVENUE. It didn’t work out and a new album was never released. Each band member goes his own way from here. Adrian is welcomed in WHITESNAKE, Bert Heerink and Dick Kemper are found in bands like NO EXQZE and PICTURE and later on, they team up together under the monnicker of UNDERCOVER and they record two very nice albums. The second one even comes close to the sound of VANDENBERG for a while, but it could never stand in the shadow of the three releases of that band. Later on, Dick became a producer and Bert tried his luck with KAYAK and BRAINBOX and also has a rather successful solo career. Jos Zoomer plays in several bands like AVALON, PERFECT STRANGERS and SOYLENT GREEN. After many useless cases about the use of the name VANDENBERG in court, a reunion of VANDENBERG will be out of the question. The counter remains at three wonderful albums, but with the birth of VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS, I still see a bright future for the Flying Dutchman. I must admit, that this re-release would have been so much more with the addition of some live songs for example. Yes, that is what I am hoping for in the near future. An official live triple CD with all those magic live moments in a row, taken from all these three remarkable albums, that gave us the very best of Dutch melodic metal, there has ever been. http://www.vandenbergrocks.com is a nice website for all the facts about this legendary rock band.
(9,5/10- Toine van Poorten)

VANDENBERG'S MOONKINGS-Vandenberg's Moonkings (Mascot Records)
VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS, weren’t they called VANDENBERG once? Due to some unforeseen circumstances and a whole lot of trouble in court with ex-band members Adrian Vandenberg shows, that he is the wisest of them all. He renames his band and calls it VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS. After a period of silence that lasted very long, they finally present their debut album. The story goes back to the time, when Adje Vandenberg teams up with bands such as JAAP DEKKER’S BOOGIE WOOGIE SET, MOTHER OF PEARL, DARLING and MAGIC BOX. Not much long after that, he forms his own band TEASER and releases one very fine album and four singles. Nice detail is, that Adrian already painted the front sleeve of his album back then. TEASER slowly becomes VANDENBERG with which he recorded three albums, many hit singles like “Different Worlds” and “Burning Heart” and a live video recorded on their tour in Japan. The band toured successfully in Japan and America and shared the stage with MICHAEL SCHENKER and OZZY OSBOURNE. Adrian turns down the offer to join THIN LIZZY, but when David Coverdale of WHITESNAKE comes knocking at his door, if he wants to join his band, he can only say yes to this wonderful offer. They tour the whole wide world many times and his nickname ‘The Flying Dutchman” is born in this period of time. Coverdale and Vandenberg become musical brothers and despite of this, they part ways with each other after a very fruitful career. It’s time for Adrian to move along and MANIC EDEN is born. A band, in which he calls in the help of James Christian at first, but this deal falls apart unfortunately. Ron Young of LITTLE CEASAR will be the singer in the band after some auditions. The band is completed by Rudy Sarzo on bass and Tommy Aldridge on drums. Now, gimme a break! Two of my biggest heroes team up with Adrian. They both played in BLIZZARDS OF OZ with the late Randy Rhoads and now they were in the band with the biggest Dutch guitar player, next to Eddie van Halen of course. The band releases one album and unfortunately end up a dead end road after that. Vandenberg ends up on a JIMI HENDRIX tribute CD with Paul Rodgers and apparently he tried to form a band with John Waite as well, but this ends up going nowhere. Painting becomes his biggest passion for a while and every time that WHITESNAKE shows up in Holland for a live gig, Adrian is a special guest playing on “Here I Go Again”, “Fool For Your Loving” or “Still Of The Night”. Fans love it, when he does this. When soccer club FC Twente becomes champion in the premier league a couple of years ago, Adrian writes a song called “A Number One”, which becomes the anthem for FC Twente. It’s the birth of VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS. They present the song in Enschede at a party for the new champions, which is in fact the first official live appearance of the band. It gets very quiet afterwards. And when everybody thinks that nothing will ever happen after that, Adrian announces the name of his new band and the first pictures and sound files are presented. VANDENBERG has become VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS and Adrian presents a whole new line-up, which consists of Sem Christoffel on bass, Mart Nijen Es on drums, Jan Hoving on vocals and of course Adrian Vandenberg on guitar. I also noticed the name of Robin Piso on keyboards of Dutch rockers DEWOLFF. The version we have here is the pre ordered version, which is fully autographed by the band and comes in a limited edition with a t-shirt. The CD cover art was done by Adrian himself, who also designed the logo of the band. Vandenberg in small writing, like it doesn’t matter that much, while Moonkings is written in capitals, whereas the letters N and K flow together in one. I really hope, that the drawings of Adrian will be used for their upcoming albums as well, just like the VANDENBERG albums. The CD booklet contains the credits, the lyrics to all the songs and a few posed pics, because the band has never played live before, except for that FC Twente party. The waiting is over now and it’s time to rock! The new album contains thirteen tracks and about fifty minutes of music, in which Adrian shows his influences. It won’t be too much of a surprise to say that we’re dealing with some of the most talented musicians here and the whole album shows us that this is the best deal this country has got to offer to their fans. It’s not strange, that the album breaks all records and lands on number three in the album charts in the first week. What a success, what a comeback and it’s really good to see that the Dutch fans haven’t forgotten about Adrian. Okay, let’s have an in-depth look to this self-titled debut album here. Sem introduces us with a “Highway Star” like intro to “Lust And Lies”, the perfect opener for their live shows, if I may say so. Jan sounds like a young version of Robert Plant (LED ZEPPELIN) and David Coverdale (WHITESNAKE, DEEP PURPLE) from the time, when he was still in Purple. The waiting is for the guitar solo, which cries out loud, just when you expect it here. The segment after that sounds a bit like CRY OF LOVE, a band that I adored for their first album in the nineties. “Close To You” opens firmly and when Jan sings the first notes, only one band comes to mind and that’s the mighty LED ZEPPELIN. “Still Of The Night” (WHITESNAKE) might be a second guess, but I’d go for the first one. And with the preciseness of Jimmy Page, the riffs follow, like Jimmy did in “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”. This is my highlight on the album for sure. The guitar solo of Adrian is really mind-blowing! The well-known VANDENBERG riffs are there, followed by some innovative Bonham-like drum fills of Mart, who beats the crap out of his set. These are all the right ingredients of the perfect rock song in 2014. “Good Thing” is the third track, which contains a lot of influences from Paul Rodgers and BAD COMPANY. I hear the unmistakable sound of the cowbell (I gotta have more cowbell!!) and Jan’s voice really gets close to teacher Paul Rodgers. The groove and catchiness of the song could very well be on any early BAD COMPANY album. Nobody would recognize the difference. This could be a potential hit single. You also hear “The Barking Moonqueens” on backing vocals with Hanna van der Horst, Lejony and Yuli Minguel. The first single taken from this album is called “Breathing”, which has a very catchy chorus. It might give you the wrong first impression, because it’s very commercial but it’s the perfect choice for a first single. It also lacks the heavy sound, that all the other songs have. NICKELBACK fans would even enjoy this in a way, which doesn’t make it a bad song. On the contrary, because it’s so catching, you will immediately start to sing along to the chorus. I had the same feeling after hearing “A Number One”. It really isn’t the typical hard rock song, but it has got a very catchy vibe. “Steal Away” is next, which is in the best WHITESNAKE tradition and once again the chorus will invite you to sing along to it. I really like the guitar solo here, because it’s raw and shreds firmly. The instrumental part before the solo sounds very innovative and shows that this band isn’t in it for the money, but their love for (rock) music is their first passion. “Line Of Fire” is a solid rock song. The solo comes up, when you least expect it. The distorted voice of Jan sounds a bit psychedelic here, but maybe this is only my imagination. When the first notes of “Out Of Reach” are being played, you will immediately start thinking of “Burning Heart”, simply because of the very recognizable acoustic guitar sound. It gets very close to the famous VANDENBERG ballads, but you can pick any WHITESNAKE ballad instead here. While in “Feel It”, the Moonqueens are barking again. This song has got a very groovy sound, that may remind you of BAD COMPANY or even THE BLACK CROWES. “Leave This Town” contains a raw guitar attack and a sound that WHITESNAKE seems to have adopted in their music for many years now. It rocks like hell and yet it still contains a lot of melody. Jan’s vocals have a leading role in this, because his voice is the glue that keeps all the segments together. “One Step Behind” opens with the sound of a mandolin. When the groove starts off, I know already that we’re in for another perfect classic rock anthem. Man, what a great album this is! It only contains classic rock anthems, that will stay in your mind forever and ever. Just listen to the guitar solo, that cries so perfectly. It’s like Paul Kossof himself is touching the strings. He might also whisper in Adje’s ears how to move his fingers from up above, but I think that we all know by now that Adrian himself is a natural born musical genius. Which makes it even better in my humble opinion. “Leeches” is another firm rocker with a very catchy vibe. The instrumental mid-piece sounds a bit experimental with more Bonham-like drum sounds by Marten, who also knows how to fill every gap. The speed change is just perfect and by then the old rockers can’t stop and they will start banging their heads up and down. “Nothing Touches” will most likely become a live anthem at the end of their show. One more time, it’s time to push out the very last drops of sweat and adrenaline rush, before going home. This is a song that says it all and every rocker will have a little soft spot in his rock and roll heart for this one. Nothing compares and nothing touches rock and roll. Isn’t that the perfect message to close your album? I think it is and this one is from the rocker with his heart at the right place. Influences from MONTROSE’s “Bad Motor Scooter” are there in a certain way. When the tambourine gives the last sound, it’s over. All that’s left is that one final moment, that will make your skin crawl from excitement. “Sailing Ships” is a cover of WHITESNAKE. But not an ordinary rip off of this classic rock song. No dear rockers, we’re dealing with some real gentlemen here and they don’t just play a cover. They go for the highest reachable thing and that’s to perform this song in a special way. What could be more special than having Mr. David Coverdale (I take a deep bow for this man what he has done for rock and roll!!) himself singing this song? Man, I’m getting tears in my eyes. It’s the perfect closure of a perfect album. An album of which I couldn’t expect how it would sound in the end. It went far beyond my wildest imagination. I must admit though that I L-O-V-E-D the three VANDENBERG albums very much. The guitar sound of Adrian and that recognizable vocal sound of Bert Heerink were a match made in heaven for me. But what we have here is so extremely exciting and I’m so freaking pleased that Adrian is back, that I can only reward this album with a very high rating. The wings are there, now it’s time to fly. Have a perfect flight, Dutchman and we hope that many albums like this will follow. Website: http://www.moonkingsband.com/
(9,4/10- Toine van Poorten)

VANDERBUYST-In Dutch (Van.Records)
The fame of this band is rising very fast. After Willem Verbuyst and Selim Lemouchi left POWERVICE, it was like a big slap in my face. To be honest with you, POWERVICE was a really promising band in the heavy metal scene. A couple of years later, VANDERBUYST seemed to pop up from out of nowhere. We saw the band play at the Taken By Force festival, where they took the whole audience by surprise. Their self-titled debut album and three track EP were a blast and every big festival was booking the band, the reviews were fantastic and the band showed everybody that they were made to rock. Now there’s the second ear attack of this threesome, which is called “In Dutch”, just to make sure that they come from Holland. Just like the first album, let me start with a little complaint, before talking about the music. The album is far too short. It’s only thirty-five minutes and contains eight tracks. It opens with the catchy “Black And Blue”, which would have fit very well on their debut album. A short rock track with some fiery guitar work. “Into The Fire” is on next and once again I’m not disappointed. A rocking song with some good guitar work. “Anarchistic Storm” shows, that Willem is a good guitar player in an average rock tune, which is built upon the lengthy guitar solo, so to speak. “String Of Beads” comes up next and this song is definitely one of the highlights on this album until now. The up tempo track rocks your world and is followed by another great rock song with some fabulous guitar work by Willem, called “Reap The Fields”. The ultimate highlight for me on this album is a song, called “KGB”. It could be the Dutch way of playing a NWOBHM song. It has got the same vibe as the NWOBHM songs in the early eighties, which means that it’s fast and furious with some fiery guitar work. The last song, called “Where’s That Devil” is a real mockery in my eyes. Sure, this slow track may have the right groove, but it’s not quite what I’d expected from a band like VANDERBUYST, who are made to rock, as you could read in the beginning of this review. After that, a long silence is what you get…. Was this worth waiting for? I don’t want to sound too pessimistic, because I know that they will make up for the weak moments on this album during their live shows. I know for sure though, that people who loved this first album, may be a little bit disappointed. Again I would like to point out that this is not a bad album, but it could have been so much more. What do they want to say with the artwork of this CD, for example? Didn’t they have a good live track or cover song to make the album just a little bit longer? And where did the fire from the first album, which was really steaming hot, go to? I know for sure, that a lot of average rock fans won’t give a damn, but I’d expected a bit more from this second (full) length album of VANDERBUYST, that consists of Willem Verbuyst on guitar, Jochem Jonkman on vocals and bass and Barry van Esbroek on drums. Website: http://www.vanderbuyst.com.
(7,7/10- Toine van Poorten)

VANDERBUYST-Flying Dutchmen (Van.Records)
VANDERBUYST have settled themselves on the same label as German newcomers ATTIC and they released their new album now, which is called “Flying Dutchmen”. This was once the nickname for Adrian Vandenberg, when he was in WHITESNAKE. VANDERBUYST can also easily reach the popularity of this sympathetic guitarist, when they continue like this. The band is already very popular. Not only because of their great albums, but also for their wild and very powerful live shows. I’ve seen the band recently play live at the Mezz in Breda with BLIKSEM and CAULDRON and they rocked the shit out of me. It’s there that I bought this new album, which was out for a couple of weeks already. It contains eleven tracks and is worthy of about forty minutes of some good and solid heavy metal. That might be a bit short, but the music is so intense and driven, it would be no good for your health to absorb more than this at the same time. Opener “Frivolous Franny” is a wild rocker, that grabs you by the balls immediately. These guys make a statement and the fans know that they can buy this album blindfolded and without any doubt at all. “Waiting In The Wings” sounds like a metal version of a classical piece of art in the beginning, but very soon it develops into a fast rocker. Willem lets his guitar do the talking and they scream out that they are ready to strike. That’s what we want to hear! “Give Me One More Shot” is a sad song about a drugs addict, who asks for a shot, that can always be his last one. There is a nice, sensitive guitar solo in this song, in which you almost sense the emotion that comes with it. “The Butcher’s Knife” cuts like a knife, musically spoken of course and the solos will slit your throat, when the knife refuses to. “Tears Won’t Rinse” is not a ballad, although the title might suggest otherwise. Instead, it’s a fast rocker with an up tempo beat. After that the band pays tribute to the well-known Dutch rock and roll junkie HERMAN BROOD with the song “Never Be Clever”. It’s a very catchy rocker, but perhaps a bit too sweet for the hard rocking guitars of VANDERBUYST. In a live situation it works very well though. And Danny Lademacher is a fine guitarist after all, so they receive the benefit of the doubt here. “In Dutch” is some kind of a flashback, because it is the title of the band’s previous album. The song contains some breath taking guitar work by Willem and belongs to one of my personal favorites here. While “Johnny Got Lucky” is a catchy rocker with an immense guitar solo, played by THE DEVIL’S BLOOD frontman Selim Lemouchi. “Lecherous” is on next, which contains some nice guitar work with a Southern Rock feeling to it. It’s like I hear a LYNYRD SKYNYRD axe attack in this song. However, the beat is pure heavy metal, what would you think?? “Flying Dutchman” on the other hand has got a nice groove and it definitely has got radio potential, although the band might not be aiming for that at all. “Welcome To The Night” closes the next step on the ladder of success for VANDERBUYST with a very steady beat. After that it’s time to party, when the band invites everybody to come along. All in all (and I’m not talking about the very short playing time!), I must say, that this album has so many beautiful moments and every song hits the nail right on the head. VANDERBUYST is rock and roll pur sang and this album will please a lot of fans in our country and outside our borders as well of course. The band consists of Willem Verbuyst on guitars, Jochem Jonkman on vocals and bass and Barry van Esbroek on drums and percussion. Website: http://www.vanderbuyst.com.
(8,7/10- Toine van Poorten)

VANDERBUYST-At The Crack Of Dawn (Van Records)
VANDERBUYST may not be a band, that existed between 1980-1990, but I still think, that they have the same believes and the same sound as the bands from that particular period of time. Their new album is called “At The Crack Of Dawn”. Maybe they refer to the fact that their music isn’t suitable to see the light of day? The picture on the front sleeve of a beautiful blonde lady, who is digging a grave for a dead body is indeed not suitable for daylight. However, the music of VANDERBUYST can be played every single second of the day in my opinion. The eleven tracks are worthy of forty-five minutes of cool hard rock and metal. Title track “At The Crack Of Dawn” opens with some IRON MAIDEN-like bass playing and an Eastern sounding guitar riff that follows. The steady beat and firm riffs match very well with the sound of the previous albums, but it’s not so much direct and in your face anymore. “Roller-Coaster Ride” opens with more guitar riffs, that easily match to those on earlier IRON MAIDEN albums, but the rest of the song is pretty much straight forward rock and roll with a heavy touch from the guitar of Willem. “Girls In Heat” sounds catchy and carries touches of bands like KISS, MOTLEY CRUE and WASP. Not that VANDERBUSYT has gone into the glam rock direction, but the influences of these bands is definitely there. “Catch-22” is rock with a seventies feel and it contains a solo that could very well be on any old THIN LIZZY album. As you can see, the whole classic rock scene passes by on this album. “In The Dead Of Night” is more up-tempo and the chorus is rather radio friendly, if I may say so. The instrumental mid-piece sounds quite exciting and surprising. “Lost In Discotheques” has got the guitar sound of SURVIVOR. Don’t be afraid if you’re looking for some wilder stuff, because the firm beats of “Walking On Tightrope” will get you going after this. It’s a wild ride indeed. “Light My Dynamite” is another cool rock explosion, including an outstanding drum job by Barry. He really beats the shit out of his kit. “On And On” continues this rock circus with a BEATLES touch. “Secret Dancer” has got more of the old school VANDERBUYST dynamics. It’s a foot stomper, that refers to their older work. “Sweet Goodbye” is a sweet lullaby. A ballad, a love song, a romantic track, closing this solid rock album? What are they thinking? “At The Crack of Dawn” is winking to more radio airplay, but it still contains enough rock to make you sweat. It’s reaching out to bigger success without losing contact with the long term fans of the band. Maybe they are hoping for a radio hit single for some of the songs here. But I guess, that they are still too loud for the radio ……and I’m glad. VANDERBUYST consists of Jochem Jonkman on bass and vocals, Barry van Esbroek on drums and backing vocals and Willem Verbuyst on guitar and backing vocals. Website: http://www.vanderbuyst.com. Note: VANDERBUYST will break up after a farewell tour in 2015. It’s over and out for one of the most talented bands in the Dutch metal scene of today. We will miss you, guys.
(7,7/10- Toine van Poorten)

VENGEANCE-Crystal Eye (SPV)
VENGEANCE has become a more international band on their most recent album “Crystal Eyes”. It’s recorded with an all-star line-up and the band shines like never before, ready to make a fresh start. Which was urgently needed after a very tough period, the band went through. In 2011, guitar player Jan Somers died because of a heart attack, which had a major impact on the band. Their sometimes poor live performances almost saw them die at the same time. What happened to this band, that always knew to create a huge party on stage? I guess, that frontman Leon Goewie must have seen the light somehow, when recording this album. He created a new band, consisting of Keri Kelli (ALICE COOPER) on guitar, Chris Slade (AC/DC, CHRIS SLADE’S STEEL CIRCLE) on drums, Chris Glenn (MSG) on bass, Michael Voss (MAD MAX) on guitar, Timo Somers (DELAIN) on guitar and Jan Somers (R.I.P.) on guitar and started to record new material, which sounds like the old VENGEANCE days again. ‘Never change a winning team’ must have been his slogan. The last three guitarists mentioned here are only heard on the album and will not tour with the actual band. “Me And You” is a crafty opener and it has the very recognizable voice of Leon as central point. While “Bad To The Bone” starts off with a very recognizable VENGEANCE riff. From the first notes on, there’s no mistake that you’re dealing with VENGEANCE, which basically means that the basis of the songs pretty much sounds the same. And after one minute, you’ll even start tapping your feet, wanna bet?!? “Barbeque” will probably be the first single taken off this album, because the album closes with the radio edit of this song. Anyway, it is a very catchy track with a commercial sound, ready to sing along and maybe even suitable for radio airplay. But one warning to Leon! You can’t put ‘Kips Leverworst’ on the BBQ, man!! Just in case you don’t know this yet. “Shock Me Now” starts with a moving sound from the left to the right and back again, which takes care of a very cool effect. It’s another catchy song with a ballsy guitar solo. “Five Knuckle Shuffle” has got nothing at all to do with the song that ANVIL recorded. This one has got harmony vocals and it sounds much more melodic and darker than the average party song here. It opens and closes with the sound of an old jazz record in the background, but I don’t really get the link to this (if there is any). “Desperate Women” starts with a very sensual talking lady, before it changes real quickly into another party stomper. Try to sing ‘Rock And Roll Shower’ instead of ‘Desperate Women’ and you’ll see that it’s that easy to replace the words and stay in the mood. The best track until now is called “Whole Lot Of Metal”. That title alone is so unique, guys. It’s written by Tony ‘The Cat’ Martin of BLACK SABBATH fame. Fast riffs, heavy drum beats and a great guitar solo. What more can you ask for?!? The improvised singing in the middle is simply joyful, which is accompanied by a more jazzy guitar part. The end is very different as well. Definitely one of the many highlights on this album for me. “Promise Me” is the obligatory ballad on the album. I was waiting for it already. I’m not too fond of ballads in general, but they are an essential part sometimes. I was more looking forward to hear the next track though, because the music was written by Iron Anthony ‘AYREON’ Arjan Lucassen. It’s a lengthy epical song, which has that unique VENGEANCE trademark, although it sounds different than the average song on this album. Hear the rowers in the boat sing their song, while sailing the seven seas. Make sure, that the seagulls at the end of this song don’t shit on your head…….nasty birds! “Missing” is on next and you might be glad that those damn seagulls just missed you. This song however deals about missing a person and it’s the second ballad on the album. A ballad with a sphereful acoustic guitar solo, that also introduces a rather sensitive electric guitar solo. It’s the perfect introduction to the very last guitar outing, that Jan Somers recorded before he died. He will be sadly missed of course. This short piece of action is called “Jan’s End Piece” and it fits very well with the way the band feels about his death, I guess. He was very much part of VENGEANCE and they will miss him a lot. It’s a live guitar solo, by the way. The bonus track on the other hand sounds like pure VENGEANCE party rock again, which is called “Paint This Town”. Look out, because there’s a real party thrown in here with all the thrills and frills that you know so well from earlier VENGEANCE albums. The CD closes with the before mentioned radio edit version of “Barbeque”. VENGEANCE is back after a very rough time. With “Crystal Eye”, they prove to be even more international oriented, that they ever were. They still have ways to make you rock. Welcome back, guys!
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)

VENGEANCE-Piece Of Cake (SPV)
This band needs no introduction. If you don’t know VENGEANCE, you ain’t worth calling yourself a metal fan. Their new album is called “Piece Of Cake”, which was a true understatement, I guess. Their guitar player Jan Somers died and Chris Slade and Chris Glenn with whom they recorded their former album left the band as well. With Timo Somers, son of Jan, John Emmen on drums and Barend Courbois on bass guitar, they recorded this new album, which contains eleven tracks and almost forty-five minutes of VENGEANCE rockers. “World Arena” already predicts world domination and contains some fiery guitar work by Timo. Get ready for some action! The main focus here is of course vocalist Leon Goewie. I can tell you, that he sings like he’s still twenty-two years young. This man simply can’t be stopped. “Tears From The Moon” has got that well-known VENGEANCE vibe. It’s a slowdown ballad, that still has got the balls to stand proud among all these rockers on this album. “Raintime Intro” is a short instrumental bass intro by Barend to “Raintime”. What strikes me the most is that the quality of the songs is very high. They may not all have that same party atmosphere like on their earlier albums, but luckily they have kept that VENGEANCE vibe, which makes it very easy on the ears and recognizable. With “Sandman”, it’s time to swing around and bang your head again. Just listen to the mind-boggling guitar solo by Timo in this one to get in the right mood. Then we go “Back To Square One”, which is a ballad type of song. So you’d better pull out your handkerchief upfront. Don’t forget to check out the video clip of this laidback love song as well. And in case you’re in an emotional kind of mood, you’d better check out the clip with the deleted scenes after this one. Perhaps that will cheer you up. The solo contains a lot of emotion and comes straight from the heart of Timo. While “Headquake” contains some mean guitar riffs, which proves that VENGEANCE still knows how to rock hard. Barend plunders his bass like it’s his mother-in-law. What mean bulldozer parts he pulls out here. It will make your head shake or ache, if you don’t like hard rock or VENGEANCE in particular. “Train” is steaming along next and Timo cranks out more fiery licks here. “Mirrors” is a little piece of rest, where Leon sounds at his very best. You can sense the emotion in this song. Title track “Piece Of Cake” takes them back to their roots. Rock with your cock out (please don’t do this on stage, Leon! ‘Kips in m’n bips’ sounded cocky enough!!). Straight forward party metal, made famous by this band in the eighties! I really look forward to seeing VENGEANCE on stage again soon! What wonderful moments I can still recall of every line-up they existed. Anyway, we’ve come to the last song now, which is called “Goodbye Mother Sky”. This is another tender love song, which has some acoustic guitars and later on, an AC/DC kind of riff appears. VENGEANCE is back with a vengeance! So mothers lock up your daughters, because these guys will take anything by surprise as everything is still a piece of cake for them. This CD proves it. It’s a shame, that the tour with MAD MAX was cancelled, but I’m sure they will return to the Dutch stages in 2014 to promote this beautiful piece of art. As you may have noticed, the ballad and love songs are being represented on this CD a bit more than usual, but I can honestly say, that this album is by far one of their best in the last few years, together with their previous album “Crystal Eye”. Congratulations on this achievement, guys and welcome back!
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)

VORTEX-Drink Bat Blood (red vinyl)(Metalizer Records)
So, and now I’m gonna have myself a cup of bat blood. Freshly squeezed and served hot, it tastes at its very best. VORTEX is my main distributor of bat blood and they just had a new lot in. “Drink Bat Blood” is finally out on LP and I’ve bought myself the ‘Bat Blood Red’ edition of the album. These guys are still alive and kicking and prove is given on this brand new album that was already released on CD some months ago. They only turn up at night, when the blood is hot and the beer is cold (or the Jack, in Martjo’s case). “Megalomizer” is a good mix of ACCEPT (for the riffs) and VENGEANCE (the choir vocals) and is a great opener. “Attracted To Fire” has been played live several times and in this pyromaniac song, the guitar players have to work hard. Cult vocalist Jurjen Tichelaar pulls the high notes from out of his toes in this song. Try to bang your head to this one, many have failed already. When “Fury” starts, my mind directly goes out to the other brain child of Martjo, but there are no further links to this metal lifestyle webzine in this rocking track. It’s a slow banger to give your bleeding neck muscles some rest. “Unexpected” is just like the Spanish Inquisition: it appears, when you least expect it (remember Monty Python?!). You can sing along to the song after only a few seconds, because of its very catchy character. That’s the strength of VORTEX, they may sound catchy at times but they still remain true to their heavy metal style. “Drink Bat Blood” is VORTEX at its very best with a huge compliment for vocalist Jurjen, who handles the vocals in a miraculous way. Only he can do it like this. He sounds a bit like Leon Goewie at times, don’t you think? The choir at the end of the song ends kind of frightening… Before you know it, a glass of warm bat blood is already at your lips, while you actually asked for a nice cold soda. You might get rabies, and your mouth is starting to foam before they crank out “Run Of The Metals”. This next song contains that very recognizable metal riff, that was to be found in many metal classics from the eighties. You know, the one that keeps clinging to your head, once you’ve heard it. In “Live For The Day (All Night Long)”, we hear the fascination for old school metal bands like SAXON and JUDAS PRIEST. Just check out the solo in this song, ain’t that a killer?! In the meantime I have another look at the great sleeve. The ‘evil princess’ is pointing at the (metal)bat from which she will drink the blood tonight, and the ‘metal like Golem’ next to her is getting the task to get it for her. That’s my interpretation of the front sleeve so far. It really looks fantasticfabulous. I know that this word doesn’t exist, and with this observation we come to the album closer “Oblivionimous” (what’s in a name?, but very well found guys!). Maybe the heavy choir vocals are a bit over the top, but the guitar solo definitely makes up for that. The growling voice of Tichelaar is mind blowing again. The very last sentence makes me worry a bit though. They sing ‘Closing The Gate’ and right after that a big, heavy door is closed. This wasn’t a symbolic way to say, that VORTEX is over after this, so Martjo told me and I am glad to it. “Drink Bat Blood” is another classic album by these “Hammers of the North”. The only negative remark I have is, that this bat blood red vinyl LP only runs for about thirty-five minutes. But these are thirty-five high quality music minutes. The metal bat flies again!
(8,6/10- Toine van Poorten)

VORTEX-First Bite Of The Bats (Mighty Monster Records)
When I take a look at the pictures inside the CD booklet of this compilation of demos by the Dutch kings of heavy metal VORTEX, I can only think of the word CULT. Take a trip down memory lane with these five guys, that have been bitten by a metal bat. OZZY OSBOURNE did it the opposite way. These lads are the unlucky ones, as these vampire monsters managed to suck the blood from their neck and made them play heavy metal for a very long time now. In forty minutes, the band fires ten heavy metal beauties right at you. All you can do is absorb them and bang your head. That’s the ultimate way to celebrate thirty-five years of VORTEX history and they are worth it. “Land Of The Late” has got the power, that you could expect from a NWOBHM band like JAGUAR. The leads are mind-blowing and the brutal screams by singer Thunderfox matches perfectly to the enormous energy, that is being spread around here. “Attracted (To The Fire)” opens in a way, that BLACKMORE’S NIGHT could have died for. But pretty soon the band will blow your mind with sharp as knife riffs and thunderous drum rolls. The twin lead guitar solos will remind you of JUDAS PRIEST in their heydays. The choir vocals in the chorus is typically Dutch in my opinion. “H.M. is King” needs no further introduction, I guess. It’s a tribute to our favorite music style and it captures some very high Halford type of screams by Thunderfox (or Jurjen Tichelaar as his regular name is). The guitar parts make my heart beat faster. What power! The twin lead guitar attack in the beginning of “Mercenary” has been inspired from the holy book of JUDAS PRIEST. VORTEX has always been more of a PRIEST sounding band instead of a MAIDEN type of band. The Whirlewolf also looks like he’s the twin brother of KK Downing. The pounding metal riffs and solos keep coming and Jurjen loses his mind again. The band is ripping you apart and you’ll like it. This is really high class underground material. “Revert” gets as close as possible to being a ballad type of song. A power ballad, that is with a “Strange World” (IRON MAIDEN) type of intro on acoustic guitar. The guitar parts are not of this earth and fade out at the end of the song. I don’t know, if there was more officially. “Tormentress” is on next and it sounds dark and creepy, like it was meant to be. A tormentress is not a happy person, that you want to party with. It’s someone you hope you will never meet in dark places. The way, they chant “Tormentress” makes you shout along to this pretty easily. The opening riffs of “Nobody’s Fool” sound very similar to PICTURE. They are mean and vicious, just like the rest of the song. They were nobody’s fool and they always did what they wanted to do. That’s what makes this band so special to me. “Midnite Riding Kid Catching” is a hard rocker and only VORTEX could come up with a song title like that. “She Says” contains some firm drum beats and once again the band shows that this is the best underground metal available in our beautiful country. The sound quality of these recordings may vary, because these recordings are from a long time ago. Not the last bonus track though, which is the 2001 recording of “Nobody’s Fool” and it’s in a perfect quality. The CD is very recognizable in its shining red cover with the drawing of someone, who has been bitten by a bat, too. The vultures are gathering around to pick up the last pieces of flesh from the skeleton’s bare bones. They were nobody’s fool, they stay nobody’s fool and that’s the way they like it. VORTEX still rules the underground scene and they will always receive both thumbs up from me. Also check out the liner notes of Arno Hofmann, Dutch metal connoisseur and long-time friend of the band. This release simply wouldn’t be complete without him. VORTEX rules, in case you didn’t know that already. http://www.facebook.com/VortexHeavyMetal.
(9,1/10- Toine van Poorten)

VORTEX-Remains (Scream/TOPX Music)
VORTEX kicks my ass once again on “Remains”. There won’t be another cult band like that in Holland, I’m afraid. Pure heavy metal comes up to you, when you put this silver disc in your CD player. For fifty minutes you are in rock and roll heaven with these ten new tracks and believe me, I tell you no lies. Just listen to the very first seconds of “Feverish Eyes”. These riffs mean the world to me. It’s the beginning of a wild party with the sound of pounding metal performed by ‘the hammer of the north’. The up-tempo track has got a spooky background, mainly because of the way Jurjen screams his vocal lines into the microphone. He always puts his heart and soul into his singing. Does he give you the fever yet? Yes, he does and I can see it in your eyes. That’s the magic of VORTEX! The guitars cry out loud and the rhythm section leaves no space unused. In “Babylon Flashback”, you can see the air guitar player’s hair waving in the wind, if you close your eyes. Except for my hair, because there isn’t much left these days. The choir vocals are suitable to shout along to on this doomy little devil. “Nightliner” is a true speed killer. It’s one of a kind and ‘The Tank’ puts it all into the fourth gear as soon as they take away. In the chorus you’ll hear some icely high screams and there’s another riff to die for by the maestro himself, Martjo Brongers. A killer track, if I may say so. Listen to the solo part. It will split your skull in two and don’t say I didn’t warn you. Or be a pussy and skip that third track, which is only suitable for real heavy metal bastards! “Marduk” is not a tribute to the Norwegian black metal band with the same name, but it’s another first class foot stomper, that starts with some very impressive guitar playing. The rhythm guitar part that follows next is so recognizable that it takes your breath away. Why doesn’t this band belong to the ‘Rock’n’Roll Hall Of Fame’ yet? In my book they sure do, but why does a band that throws in metal riffs like that not get the recognition that they deserve all over this freaking world? My neck hurts so badly after four songs, that I’m afraid it will be an almost impossible job to survive these ten head shakers without being admitted to hospital. “Brainbugs” starts off with some doomy slow riffs. The laughs of Jurjen before he starts singing are maybe the highlight of this song. This small detail makes it perfect for me. Although I’m afraid, that I’m doing wrong to the amazing guitar work in this track. Wow! This is really awesome beyond believe and far beyond any imagination. BRAINBUGS!! I guess, they’ve already gotten into my head and I can almost feel them eat my brains. They’ll be out of food very soon, I’m afraid. My brain hurts after this. Title track “Remains” is on next and again the ‘silly’ opening of this track is so CULT! The spooky “what’s outside remains outside” can easily be shouted along to. While “Eat Your Heart Out” lifts up the speed a little and it contains a sentence, that you can shout along to. It invites you to shout your balls off and eat them. If you’re still hungry after that, then you sure can (as the title suggests) eat your blood pumping heart out. The most difficult question is being asked at the end of the album, when I’m hardly alive anymore. “What Are You Anyway”? A good question, while I don’t even know my own name after hearing the previous seven tracks. I think I’m going insane after an overdose of heavy metal. “The Fightin’ Flower (Cataleya)” is on next and I’m getting a completely different view on the flowers, that we have in our living room, after this. The PRIEST-like guitars I take for granted, but the flowers must leave right now! The most catchy song has been saved for last. They already played it at one of their shows at the Little Devil in Tilburg and it was a huge success. Just like the title track of the previous album “Drink Bat Blood” and the album title of “Metal Bats”, this is also about bats (what else?) and it invites you one more time to scream along to “Windows Crashing Bats”. It doesn’t get any better after that, I’m afraid. Let’s party, let’s rock, let’s bang your head, let’s devote your heart and soul to heavy metal and bow deep with respect for VORTEX, who survived this very tough scene for thirty-five years already. For me, they are the absolute prove, that you can still make an excellent album after so many years! I’ve never heard a band play with so much passion and dedication for heavy metal than those guys did on this album. “Remains” is a killer album from back to forth and I put both thumbs up for these metal grinders, who also managed to have the best roadie of the whole scene. Sixth band member Eggo may definitely not be left out here. VORTEX consists of the ‘thundervox’Jurjen Tichelaar on bolderbash vocals, René van Zonneveld on thundering bulldozer bass guitar, Orion Roos on flashing axe guitar, Henk ‘The Tank’ Bosman on the Leopard drum set including a double bass rifle set to destroy all monsters and last but not least the metal bat maestro himself Martjo ‘Whirlwolf’ Brongers (Martjooooooooooo!!!!). Of course there’s Eggo ‘Uncle Fester’ Bosklopper on explosions, silly faces, exploding nuns and monk outfits including scythe and other VORTEX show props. These guys mean the world to me and all that remains is to give these cult metal heroes a brilliant score, because that’s what they deserve. Website: http://www.facebook.com/VortexHeavyMetal. No thanks go out to dentist Schalema. May he rest in pieces! Spank you for releasing this awesome album after thirty-five year of hard work. You shook my nutz, guys!!
(9,6/10- Toine van Poorten)

BURNING-Something’s Lurking In The Dark (Vinyl single) (independent)
BURNING are an old school metal band from Holland. Sure, there are many of them. This one however captures Hugo Koch on vocals, who’s the organizer of the Very Eavy festival. Besides that, the band consists of Jan Engelkes on drums, Andre ‘Andy’ Haandrikman on bass, Johnny Karst on guitar and Rene Knegt on guitar. At the 2014 edition of the Very ‘Eavy festival in Stadskanaal, this seven inch was officially released and the promo video of this track was shown on a giant TV-screen there. I didn’t pay too much attention to it back then, because there were so many other things on my mind that faithful night. Now I can finally give it a moment’s thought and spend some serious words to it. The best way to let this single get to you is by listening to this seven inch first and then play it one more time as background music to the video. Words are becoming reality and it sure is a wonderful gem for old school rockers. The music is based on the sound of the NWOBHM scene, as we know it from the bands, that have been playing at Hugo’s festival. That’s where most of the influences come from for this single. Just look at the flipside of the single, where they cover the TYGERS OF PAN TANG song “Killers”, but we get to that later on. There is so much more to tell, but we’ll start with the video clip first. The face of the creepy person, who plays the leading role in the video clip is also on the A-side of the single. The icely scream, the peeping sound of a door that opens and the horror laugh of the green haired monster are the introduction to this NWOBHM influenced ‘easy on the ears’ rock song, which has a very catchy refrain. The rhythm of the bass and drums introduce you to a short guitar part, after which the next verse is presented. After singing to the refrain, it’s time for some nice guitar licks, of course in the best NWOBHM tradition. First the solos alone and then some twin guitar work. Very nicely done indeed! The song deals about a haunted place and if you want to know what’s going on there, you have to find out for yourself by going in there. That is, if you dare. You can hear influences of the very early IRON MAIDEN days in their guitar sound. At least, it was recognizable at the end of this song. However, the first riffs and the whole song in general has a more TYGERS OF PAN TANG approach. They know the drill. It’s just a freaking catchy track, that settles inside your mind and will stay there forever once you’ve heard it. Their band logo looks a bit like CIRITH UNGOL’s with a kneeling beast figure before the band name, which is burning with flames of course. Very well done, guys! On the B-side is the TYGERS OF PAN TANG cover “Killers”, like I mentioned before. It’s from their “Wild Cat” album from 1980, which is and will always be my favorite TYGERS record. What more can I say rather than it’s a good version of a great song. The axe work sounds really awesome. Two guitar solos and an amazing speed change in the end, where the guitarists push it into the fourth gear. It’s all there and more. This is what BURNING is all about on their first single. This simply calls for a full-length release in the near future with more of such work. I’d be the first one to buy it. At the end of this review, I’d like to take some time to write just a little bit more about the video clip, that goes with the A-side of this single, because it would be unfair to spend no words to this awesome clip. These days, there aren’t too many bands spending so much time and effort in a video clip. This is a very detailed and completely worked out horror master piece, that is mixed with footage of the band playing the song. It goes together really well and you can tell that it’s done with a lot of passion for the music. There are more than enough details in the horror part to stay focused. I know, that it’s the music that counts, but I can imagine that the video really gets you on the edge of your seat for almost seven breathtaking minutes. Three girls drive around in an industry zone, where the factory is, in which the monster is already sharpening his knife. The car falls still and the three beautiful looking ladies go inside the factory to see if they can find someone to help them. It’s unclear if they will ever see the light of day, but I think this is a killer story, which asks for more. When BURNING is doing something, they do it well, they do it very well. My compliments for this complete package of metal and horror. It is worth every penny spend. Website: http://www.facebook.com/burningmetalband.
(8,8/10- Toine van Poorten)


HELLOISE–Live4Life, One More Time (DVD) (independent)
It was a magic night in Zoetermeer. One more time, the title says it all, HELLOISE would climb onstage for a reunion gig. It took a while to complete this live CD/DVD set, but it sure was worth the wait. You can read the CD review elsewhere on these pages. For now, I will only review the DVD, which contains seven more songs than the CD. “Polarity” , the title track of the second album, opens the set. Bright lights, detailed camera settings and views from around the drummer in the back into the venue of the Boerderij turn this in a beautiful scenery. The first guitar duels are on the program as well. The band has kicked off their set and they look more focused than ever. “After The War” is on next and you can feel that the band is very excited about this evening. They are “Ready for The Night” and sometimes we even get a view of the front rows of the audience. We must be there somewhere, but I think they’ve only censored some parts. Another guitar solo turns into a duel and I think this won’t be the last. In the intro of “Broken Hearts” you’ll notice the talents of all the band members. They seem to play so relaxed and it all looks very easy. A lot of other bands constantly deal with difficulties and are struggling with effects, wires and broken stuff. Not with this band. They all seem to be without stress, focused and working hard for their fans, like professionals do. “Die Hard” is suitable to sing along and shout out loud. Stan even creates time to shake hands with some fans while singing. At the end of the song a t-shirt is thrown upon the stage with the text ‘Helloise, We Love You’ printed on it. It’s the devotion of the fans that we’re dealing with. HELLOISE has some real die-hard fans. After “See Tomorrow”, it’s time for the crowd to sing a birthday song for Stan, who celebrates his birthday today. The band takes care of some musical guidance. Then it’s time for the ballad of the first album. One of the many hit singles they had in Holland. “Run A Mile” contains a very tasty twin solo, which is very nicely filmed. We go back to the third album from 1998 with “Take It Or Leave It”. It’s one of most successful tracks from that album, in my opinion. Next on, there’s an acoustic part. All the band members in a row perform “Fallen Angel”. I’m not too fond of acoustic stuff in general, but this time it’s a bit different. HELLOISE knows to make it sound exciting. The acoustic version of “Hard Life” has been dedicated to Willem Rietveld (Beest), an emotional moment. The acoustic part continues with a single from the third album “A Time And A Place For Everything”, called “Madelene”. Arjen continues the acoustic part on his own with the instrumental track “En La Linea De Fuego”, which is the intro of the heavy “In The Line Of Fire”, a true heavy rocker. Besides being melodic, HELLOISE is also able to play very loud and prove is given here, believe me. “Destination” is on next and then the band explodes into the second version of “Hard Life”. This sure is heavy shit, guys. The band is being announced and we’re also introduced to the sixth member of the band. It’s a guy, called Anton Arema, who has a small stage on its own at the right side of the stage. And we still vote Ernie for President!! “For A Moment” pokes up the heat even more and the excitement level will peak for a moment. Then Stan adds a word of sorry for forgetting a song. This is what happens, when the excitement level is getting too high. No worries, because “Gates Of Heaven” isn’t left out, it’s only played a little bit later than expected. The guitarists team up for a belated guitar duel as well. “Cosmogony”, the title track of the debut album is the final piece of the regular set. One more time there’s the request for the fans to shout it out loud, which they do with their heart and soul. The encores start with a bunch of flowers for Stan and a solo spot for Ben in “Carol”. People with masks appear on stage and on a screen behind the band you can see some old pictures of the band. It’s party time with “Carol”. After that, there is still time for another ballad, which slows things down a bit. “So Close To Love” is on the list as well and it marks the end of the show. But they still have one little treat, before the band will leave the stage. “Rock Unites”, which is a true word dear friends and a very nice closure of this live show, that has been recorded and filmed in a very nice way. No bonus stuff, but after seeing HELLOISE with this full show, you don’t need much more. This is a nice flashback for those who were there that night and a nice opportunity to watch the whole show for people, who missed it. All in all, it’s a great DVD for those who like the sound and sights of HELLOISE. Don’t we all?
(8,8/10- Toine van Poorten)

RFB-Heavy Rockband Documentaire 1982-1986 (independent)
Rob Orlemans launches RFB in 1982 and this homemade DVD is a good overview of his career from 1982 to 1986, helped out by his band mates Fred Hillebrand on bass and Ben Spitsbaard on drums. Their band name is formed by the initial letter of each band member, by the way. Already at an early stage, Ben Spitsbaard is being replaced by Ben van der Velden. It’s good that Rob found himself a second Ben, otherwise the band name would have to be changed as well. The name RFB remained and the DVD shows a lot of old pictures and even some moving images. The sound is taken from the original seven inch recordings. The music of RFB sounds quite heavy back in those days and could be compared to a softer version of MOTÖRHEAD with rock and roll influences from bands like PAT TRAVERS and ZZ TOP. The most striking part is the rather heavy guitar sound by Orlemans and the rock and roll style of the songs. In between the chat session of the former band members, we hear songs like “Cadillac”, “Stuck”, “If I Could”, “Jungle Fever” and “Run For Beauty”, while “Never Be Ready” contains some real live footage. It shows us a band, that is ready to sweep the floor with all their competitors. Hilarious is the story about the blind soundman, of which the band thought he was deaf (as well). He recorded the show at de Gigant in Apeldoorn, but he stopped the recording after each song because he was afraid to be running out of tape. Those were the days, my friends!! Thirty years later it’s very hard to imagine stories like that. Two vans were smashed right after one other, so all the more reason to buy a van of their own, from there on. “Kinda Life” is on next and after that there’s a rehearsal version of “Finding My Way Back Home” with Jos Veldhuizen of FLAVIUM (and formerly TEASER) on vocals. This song appears on the “Metal Power IV” compilation EP, released in 1984. This version can be heard here, too. “Lady Jane” follows, which is captured with more live footage. Rob is a left handed guitar player, and the poses are a mix of the boogie style of STATUS QUO and the ‘Breaking The Law” type of moves of JUDAS PRIEST. The guitar playing of Orlemans however shows more resemblance to the bluesy rock style of JIMI HENDRIX. The recording of this performance is incomplete however, because the camera broke down at the end of the song. The 1985 single “Hold On The Line” and its B-side “Heartbreakin’ Woman” are the last recordings on this DVD. The band gained a lot of success and even had its own fan club and fan club magazine by then. The single was released on Ivory Tower Records and it was also the last piece of vinyl, released by the band. The future looked very bright for them, but not too long after the last release several members decided to call it quits. Ben and Fred continued their career in bands like FOUR ROSES, MONTEZUMA and later on ZUMA. Rob Orlemans started his own band ROB ORLEMANS & HALF PAST MIDNIGHT, which became very successful. Even now, many years later it still exists and HIGHWAY CHILE / HELLOÏSE drummer Ernst van Ee is part of the line-up of this band, with on Piet Tromp on bass and Rob Orlemans on guitar. This DVD is really an essential release, because the band really meant a lot for the hard rock scene in our country and without the input of people like Rob Orlemans, things would have looked very different indeed. Rob is a very well respected guitar player nowadays and like me a regular visitor of Triple J Records in Tiel, where he hangs out a lot with more local heroes like Tenny Tahamata (JULIAN SAS), Julian Sas (JULIAN SAS) and Dick Stam (ex-HAMMERHEAD, ex-GILGAMESJ, ex-DIRTY WHITE BOYS). This is one of the very few cd/dvd stores, where you may find a copy of this very nice documentary, that unveils all the secrets of RFB until now. An essential buy for every fan of the Dutch hard rock and heavy metal scene, if you ask my honest opinion. The whole documentary lasts for about fifty minutes. I wish, that more Dutch bands would follow this great example of making a good overview DVD like that!
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)

VORTEX–Live At Vera 2014 (DVD) (Mighty Monster Records)
Thirty-five years of existence calls for a celebration. VORTEX is one of the ultimate bands in the history of Dutch heavy metal and they decide to throw in a party for that reason. Vera in Groningen is a great place for that and the celebration was filmed for this DVD release. Fifteen songs are on the set list, the venue is jam-packed with many fans and it seems that nothing can stop the band from having a good time. The “Intro” is used for grim reapers with scythes to fill the stage. When the band starts with the furious “Gotta Get Away”, the tone has been set and we’re going to have a blast tonight. VORTEX is always using props on stage, if possible and in “Hammer Of The North”, roadie Eggo is already on stage with an axe that is being transformed to a giant torch. The picture is complete now. Five hard working band members, one member with corpse paint (I think, that Jurjen was one of the first doing this) and a totally nutz roadie, who is constantly willing to set the stage on fire. This is a heavy metal circus, that you simply must see. The announcements of Jurjen are really humorous . He is the perfect front man for the band. “Attracted To Fire” must be about the roadie. It proves, that the band is in perfect shape and willing to give it all tonight. “Beauty & The Teeth” can be seen as a real VORTEX classic. The backstage footage after that is really priceless for the long term fans of the band. In “H.M Is King”, we see the pyro king in action again. Jurjen has ‘shaved’ his head and removed his wig. Doesn’t he look aerodynamic this way? In “Gonna Hit You”, the Tank sets the pace. It’s time to sing along to this song. Jurjen feels like a fish in the water. Just fooling around with the audience from time to time is all what he needs. The band simply follows him, until the Tank and Martjo decide to return to the main anthem. “Welcome To Metalland” contains a nice intro with the two guitar players Martjo and Orion. They also team up at the solo spot in the middle of the song and the influences of the old JUDAS PRIEST sound is unmistakable there. “Eat Your Heart Out” is on next, which is a new track from the “Remains” album and a fast rocker, that mixes well with the rest of their material. To me, it’s simply one of the best CD’s of 2014. Seeing the title of the next song makes me realize that another pyro show will be lined up by roadie Eggo. “With Witches Help” is one of my favorite tracks by VORTEX. It’s the beat, the rhythm, the solo, the show element, that always turns this song into something special. It’s being introduced by Henk ‘The Tank’ Bosma, a killing machine, who gives Eggo the chance to hand out the flashing fire sparkles. The guitars of the guitarists spit fire and the roadie scares the people in the front rows of Vera. As long as the witches help, it will be fine and nobody will be harmed, I guess. It’s the doomy dark sound of “The Curse” that follows next, where Eggo has found himself more firecrackers to explode in his mouth. Madness rules in the hall of the mountain king, but also in Vera tonight. Laughter, when Martjo discovers the camera and the first stage divers appear. It’s a wild night and everything could happen in an atmosphere like this. Especially, when the band decides to “Drink Bat Blood” after that. But first up, we are treated to some backstage footage. We discover who the grim reapers of duty are tonight, but I won’t reveal the secret here. Better find out for yourself. They are on stage during “Drink Bat Blood” and as far as I know, they don’t originate from Russia, although that is mentioned by Martjo. I think, he had a bit too much bat blood to drink. It doesn’t do any hard to his playing though. Some more firework is there and the party is complete now. I also won’t describe the romantic love scene between Jurjen and Martjo after the song. You must love each other so much after thirty-five years to have a romantic rendez-vous on stage. No matter who is watching. “Rollin’ To The War” continues and the guitar players let the music do the talking now. In between, the crowd has taken over the scythes and “Riptor” explodes with a firm beat. The band is enjoying themselves massively and although the show is almost over, they keep focused and are giving their very best until the very last note fades away. Even Jurjen screams louder than ever. The ultimate VORTEX anthem is saved for last. “Open The Gate” is a real crowd pleaser and from the moment on, that Martjo plays the first riffs, you can see that the crowd and the people on the stage go totally nutz. This is what they call magic and even die hard metal heads will get goose flesh by seeing this footage. The song also marks the end of this anniversary show. In the meantime, there is more people on stage than before the stage. It’s a total madhouse and after this, it’s time to watch the bonus footage, but first Eggo sets himself on fire. Everything in name of the band and everything for the fans. Thank you Orion, René, Henk, Jurjen, Martjo and of course Eggo for another amazing show. Here’s to the next thirty-five years, buddies. It’s time for the bonus stuff now. The bonus footage consists of three clips and a photo gallery. The first clip is a live shot of “Land Of The Late”, filmed at the Taken By Force Festival in 2014. Next, we go a long way back with the original video clip for “Open The Gate”. Two original members are still in the band right now. Thundervox and Whirlwolf were young and with their band, they are trying to invade Bourtange, near the German border. It’s 1986 and the footage went all over the world and was even to be seen in the well-known BBC program “Never Mind The Buzzcocks”. Last, but definitely not least, we see their latest video clip. It’s a 2014 edition of “Beauty And The Teeth”. You never want to go a dentist anymore, especially when you’re living in the area of Groningen. The bloody operation shots are mixed with even more shocking live footage. Dentist Schalema and his assistance plead you welcome for a free treatment. A horror dentist that makes you bleed and shiver. An amazing video, that reminds me I have to make an appointment with my own dentist soon. The large and beautiful photo gallery is the final part of this amazing DVD, that must be purchased by every devoted metal head out there. Seeing is believing, so why wait any longer? Buy yourself a copy and see for yourself, that VORTEX deserves your support. And if they don’t deserve it after thirty-five years of existence, who will? Rock on guys, the world needs bands like you!!
(9,2/10- Toine van Poorten)


HELLOISE-Live4Life–The Ultimate Reunion (book) (Arjan Schuitman)
It’s probably the first time, that I do a book review. But if you want to relive the HELLOISE reunion to the max, you’ll have to do it good. You could already read about the event itself, the CD and the DVD release of the show. And here is the cherry on the cake, which is a book, that shows you all the aspects of this much spoken about reunion show. It shows a lot of pictures in color and black and white of the rehearsals, the in-store pre show, the show in Zoetermeer itself and the after party of the show. The band members are being introduced, the set lists of the two shows are printed and the lyrics of “Ready For The Night” and “For A Moment” are used as pieces of text in between. When you browse through the beautiful pictures, you definitely get the idea, that you were part of this whole reunion. That’s the power these pictures have. If you were there, like we were, it is a nice overview of a beautiful night. It really has become a document, that will make those who stayed at home jealous. The one hundred pages thick book is printed in a very limited edition of fifty numbered copies only and contains a bonus. Yes, dear readers, even books can have a bonus. You will get an exclusive HELLOISE discography for free. In sixteen pages, you will go through a short biography, while having a look at all the releases of the band through out the years (singles and CD’s/LP’s). Quick deciders know what they have to do right now. So be quick or be sorry. Website: http://www.arjanschuitman.nl/
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: June 14, 2017]

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