UPDATE March 13, 2019:
IMPACT-Never Too Young To Rock!!
I only need to say "Metal Clogs" and your mind will directly go out to the indestructible Dutch metal legends, like FRANKENSTEIN, GILGAMESJ and IMPACT. Headbangers Records released the album "Never Too Young To Rock!!" of IMPACT, including some great bonus material, worthy of thirteen IMPACT songs of approx. forty-five minutes. There's the original album, three songs from the "Metal Clogs" compilation album and two demos. Too much to handle for an old school metal head like me and it brings back such good memories of the few times, that I saw the band live in their heydays. "Never Too Young To Rock!!" pictures a young blonde guy holding a Flying V in his hands. It matches perfectly with the title of this classic Dutch metal album. "R.O.D." is a great pounder and therefore an incredible opener here. Rock on delivery, then you have to call IMPACT. The song contains a nice mood change, next to a more bluesy part in the middle and the old school vibe shows what Dutch metal was all about these days. We're talking about 1982 here, when IMPACT was one of the leading bands in the underground scene. Just listen to "Dictator" with its fast drum intro, heavy riffs and double bass drum fills. It's some of the purest heavy metal that you can think of. "Never Too Young To Rock" is the title track of this amazing album with its undeniable SAXON influences in the opening riffs. The song is a nice opportunity to sing along to the chorus. Although it might be the most catchy song from the album, the guitar solo really knows to impress. "Suicide Mission" is fast and the guitar solo of Simon Buik is truly skull splitting. "Win Or Lose" is an ideal moment to throw your fist in the air during the chorus. Rob Struik plays the drum intro of this great rocker. The songs of IMPACT were powerful and compact and I think that a band like SAXON can be seen as one of the main influences of the band. Just listen to the riffs in "Innocent Victims" or even better the riffs in "Memories", which is another fast headbanger. It could be compared to their material on "Metal Clogs": it's fast, loud and uncompromising. It's not safe for your poor neck to bang your head to the speed of this little devil. The fast double bass drum beat can be felt in your stomach. It sounds like magic to me. "March Or Die" is a bit slower and starts with the sounds of an air raid. The ominous slow drum beats turns this war anthem into a doomy type of song about soldiers going to the war field. This album sounds killer and I think that we're dealing with a real rough diamond here. And the best part is yet to come. When I hear the first riffs of "Misanthrope", I hear one of the best Dutch metal songs of that time, captured on this silver disc. The speed and mood change leading to the amazing guitar solo are simply too good to be true. You have to hear it to believe it and this is IMPACT at its very best for me. And just when you think that this guitar solo can't get any faster than that, Simon puts it in the sixth gear (they invented the sixth gear) and cranks out an inhuman fast solo, that sounds all-destroying and mind-blowing. My poor neck hurts for weeks after this, but it's all worth it. And if this isn't enough, the next classic is on its way already. "Looking For Trouble" is another wet dream for the middle aged headbanger, like me. The vicious lyrics are spit in the microphone without any compromise. This band is looking for trouble and the fast guitar solo is short but sharp as a knife. When the trouble is over, there is only one thing that you can do and that is "Drop Dead". I just can't handle it anymore. These three songs are like pure gold to me. Help me and somebody get me a doctor, as I’m drowning in a pool of awesome guitar licks. The album is a real classic, but these three songs from "Metal Clogs" turn this release into a eargasm of the first category. There is a leading role for bass player Hans Rappard, who also played in LOST GRAVITY for a while and drummer Rob Struik in "Blackmail", which has definitely got a NWOBHM feeling to it. They give "Blackmail" a special spicy flavor. Simon also takes the spotlight in the very last song on this great CD, called "Playing With The Whip". Not only does he play a killer intro for that one, but he also blows everybody away in his guitar solo at the end of the song. I'm waiting for more, as I'm getting in the mood for so much more IMPACT right now. I think, I'll have to push the 'play' button one more time, because the forty-five minutes are over here. IMPACT may not have been the most influential band in the Dutch metal scene, but obviously they were one of the most talented bands out there. After this release, the band recorded "The Flag", which was also a killer album. The line-up of the band has changed, except for singer Thierry 'Titi' Plisson, because there won't be any IMPACT without this charismatic singer, who played a reunion show with the band at Rotterdam Rocks a few years ago. This live gig was also released on CD by Headbangers Records, by the way. IMPACT consists here of Thierry 'Titi' Plisson on vocals, Simon Buik on guitar, Rob Struik on drums and Hans Rappard on bass guitar. All songs were written in 1982 and I think that it’s amazing that this album finally saw the light of day on CD. The CD booklet contains the song lyrics and some pics, but it's the forty-five minutes of old school heavy metal, that turn this CD into a 'must have' item in every heavy metal CD collection. For more info, go to the band page on FB at: http://www.facebook.com/impact.rockband. Don't forget to check out the amazing promo video clip, that they made for "Dictator" with some amazing old school live footage. I bet, that you will eat your hat, while listening to this amazing old school Dutch metal classic.
(9,2/10- Toine van Poorten)
MOONSTRUCK-Web Of Deception
MOONSTRUCK is the new outfit of former CIRRHA NIVA vocalist Arnold Kloek (also JACKAL and AFTER DARK). In 2015, the band came together and in 2016 they released a mini CD, called "Impact". Now, two years later, their debut full-length album sees the light of day. Fans of old school QUEENSRYCHE and IRON MAIDEN can buy this album blindfolded, because the nine songs have got that old school hard rock style and for a full hour you will be infected by some high quality metal here. The album starts off with the up-tempo title track "Web Of Deception", in which you will hear the influences of the aforementioned bands. Arnold's voice is still very powerful and recognizable, yet with a lot of melody in it as well. Next to that, there is also a high dose of guitar violence in their sound to enjoy. "Dark Medicine" is on next and a touch of progressive influences mixed with the sound of MAIDEN is nicely spread out here in another up-tempo track. And you may definitely add MICHAEL SCHENKER and UFO to their list of influences. "Metamorphosis" is a lengthy metal anthem, that lasts about eleven highly enjoyable minutes. It brings the pace down a bit and sounds very balladesque in the beginning. When the speed goes up, the name of DIO enters my mind. However, this song is long and complex and there's also a more progressive RUSH type of part and an up-tempo IRON MAIDEN-like part included. It's definitely one of the highlights on the album for me. "Beyond Your Wildest Dreams" however contains more groovy riffs and it has a rather dark atmosphere. Arnold's voice still has got that melodic touch, but the music tells you a different story. The adventurous instrumental piece in the middle of this song is the cherry on the cake here. It has a lot of great guitar work, topped by the Tate type of voice of Arnold. Obviously, every song is stuffed with some nice surprises and a lot of variation in styles, which makes it a very exciting ride. "Wasting Time" has got a very catchy feeling and the appealing chorus invites you to sing along to it, if you want to. The guitar solo is quite melodic. The riffs on "The Observer Of Chaos" could very well be on any DIO related BLACK SABBATH album. It's the driving beat, that takes care of the forceful sound here. The band introduces itself closer to you in "Moonstruck", which has some Iommi type of guitar riffs. "Restless Mind" also has a great instrumental part, which proves that the classic rock of MOONSTRUCK is being played by some highly skilled musicians. Before you know it, you'll be strangled in their web of deception and you simply can’t get out that easily. But why would you want to escape from a hot bath of decent classic rock songs? The album closes with another lengthy track, called "The Assassins Blade", which plays for nine exciting minutes and includes more flaming hot guitar work. The spoken word part at the end of the song gives it a bit more strength and power, just before the break starts to a more progressive part. Influences of the old school RUSH sound can be discovered here. MOONSTRUCK consists of Arnold Kloek on vocals, Ronald Blok on guitar, Vincent van den Bosch on guitar, Jacco Boer on Bass guitar and Michel Blanken on drums. Together with the new AUGUST LIFE CD, this is a very exciting album, packed with some amazing, high quality metal songs, which hopefully guarantees a long lasting prolongation of our metal scene in Holland. Go to their FB page at: http://www.facebook.com/moonstruck.nl. Get moonstruck in this amazing web of deception or be damned forever.
(8,3/10- Toine van Poorten)
UPDATE February 10, 2019:
DARK WIZARD-Close In The Dark
I was looking forward to the new album "Close In The Dark" a lot by this long-lasting heavy metal band from the low lands. The CD of DARK WIZARD is one of the very last releases to arrive in our letterbox in 2018. After listening to it only once, I just knew it would be in my top 10 of favorite albums of this year and it's unbelievable but true. This silver disc brought back the true spirit of Dutch heavy metal and the eleven brand new tracks are a great continuation of what DARK WIZARD stood for in their heydays. Clearly, we can speak of a glorious comeback. Opener "Delirious" sounds fast and it has some amazing Steve Harris- or Terry 'Geezer' Butler type of bass parts and some fantastic guitar riffs. The bass can be felt in your stomach, while the drums are pounding really fast. To me, this sounds like the work of four heavy rock geniuses. And if this first song doesn't work for you, the dark and somewhat faster "The Day Is Coming" hopefully will. Just have a good listen at the guitar work that is being spread out in this one. It's simply breathtaking. The retro kind of approach will bring you back to the late seventies and last but not least, there's the subtle use of acoustic guitars here near the end. It adds a special touch to this anthem, as far as I'm concerned. In "Priestcraft", you will hear the force of the singer of the band, Egbert Berenst, who will most likely impress you with his trademark, the high-pitched screams. It's like he was hung up by his balls. Which is not the case, I can assure you, at least not that I know of. But Egbert also sounds great with his regular singing voice. The guitar licks in this one sound incredible as well. The band puts on steam at full force. During "Night Or Day", your mind will directly go out to BLACK SABBATH, whether you want it or not. That's not a shame at all, because it's done in a such natural way. The speed changes come as a real surprise and it proves the strength of this mighty outfit. Right there after is "Do Swidania", which is another rock song, that will bring you back to the thin line between occult rock and heavy metal, including some amazing guitar parts and ditto bass lines. Things are getting very old school now, when the band invites a flute player on "Blaenavon", which works very well. Think of JETHRO TULL, FOCUS, BLOOD CEREMONY or LUCIFER WAS for that matter. It sounds retro and heavy at the same time. This instrument really makes the difference and takes care of that special trademark that a band like DARK WIZARD has comparing to many other bands from this scene. In the early days, the band attracted a lot of attention with their amazing horror show and today this air of mystery comes from their music. It's the music of the wizard that spends his days and nights to work on new ominous spells. Spells, that could be used during dark ceremonies in the beautiful city of Blaenavon in Wales. And even wizards do play the flute and obviously, there's nothing wrong with that. Actually, it sounds like a natural flow to me and it certainly belongs to their music. "Close In The Dark" starts with more moody flute playing and it's very easy to comprehend, although it also contains a lot of spoken word parts. I think, that it's the guitar riffs that do the trick here. It fiddles along, giving you a good mood, while the wizard speaks out the lyrics in this song, which sounds very magical. "Red Line" is on next, which has some influences of the underestimated guys of the British doomy NWOBHM outfit PAGAN ALTAR. It sounds dark, very doomy, occult and also heavy and it still has got that vintage style, which feels like it has been recorded back in 1978. It would be cool, if DARK WIZARD would be seen on stage as well. Maybe not with the full horror show like in the early days, but with some wizard-type of horror elements implemented in their show, because that's really DARK WIZARD. The next song "Burn Away The Goodness" will possibly blow you away, because of the great riffs. The speed change introduces you to the guitar solo. "Dark Days" sounds dark and doomy and it shows that DARK WIZARD will easily impress and that they'll contain this high level, until the end of this album. There are no fillers here and it has many beautiful little diamonds from the beginning until the very end. "Running Out Of Time" is the last diamond in the rough, before it slowly fades away. It's another song soaked with a mysterious vocal line and the subtle mix of horror, doom and psychedelic influences, that could have been from the seventies. The last notes are the maniacal vocals of Egbert and after that there is a sudden stop. I really hope that the next album won't take them another thirty plus years in the making. On the other hand, I'd rather wait for another brilliant album like this one, than a monstrosity. The artwork on "Close In The Dark" is dark and an aurora borealis is hanging in the sky. I also see a fallen star and if you have a good look, you will also see the dark wizard disappear in the night. Don't stay away for too long, wizard, but please return as glorious as you did here. This sure is the ultimate soundtrack for an evening of occult pleasure. DARK WIZARD consists of Marcel Hop on guitars, Egbert Berenst on vocals, Tony White on drums and Kees Reinders on bass and vocals. Douwe Ziel plays the flute on this album, by the way. The album is dedicated to Hans Pol, founder member of DARK WIZARD, who passed away in 2016. Rest in peace, Hans - we miss you! Website: http://www.facebook.com/darkwizard.holland.
(9,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
UPDATE January 29, 2019:
STEEL SHOCK-With Fire & Steel
I just recovered from the debut album by STEEL SHOCK and at breakneck speed, the band released a follow up to one of the most true heavy metal albums of 2017 "For Battle To Metal". This brand new album is done "With Fire & Steel" and I think that's why the band used it as the album title. Ten brand new songs are being hammered into your brain. The true heavy metal spirit remained. When you are familiar with the band members, this doesn't come as a surprise at all. Knowing guitarist Martjo Whirewolf and vocalist Nima Metalheart for many years now, it's quite obvious that these warriors have got metal blood running through their veins. Rumor has it that these lyrics were written in blood with a heavy metal pencil. That is the way heavy metal is supposed to be in 2019. No alternative choir vocals, keyboards or anything that is getting close to modern hypes or whatsoever. Instead, these fifty minutes are packed with solid heavy metal, divided over ten new commandments of pure steel. What else should we call these songs in the modern 2019 language? So, are you prepared to receive your second STEEL SHOCK therapy?? Just hit the 'play' button and fasten your freaking seatbelts, because we will drive through all possible sound barriers and give you a full treatment for "With Fire & Steel". The spoken word intro is being accompanied by thunder and lightning. This is how I like it. The song is called "Hammer Battalion" and it will pierce your eardrums at once. Think about a combination of WIZARD, PRIMAL FEAR and ROSS THE BOSS and you will get very close to the sound of it. And if your head doesn't go up and down from excitement, then turn on your hearing device, you pussies or are you afraid of banging your head to this haunting rhythm? It just can't get any better than that. These warrior songs will make you stronger, when marching to the battlefield in the cold and pouring rain. Guitar solos are coming from everywhere. You can run, but you can't hide. You have arrived at the war field and it's hell out there. It's the hammer battalion that has crossed your path, which will stick to your mind, once you've heard it. In "With Fire & Steel" you are facing the enemy on the battlefield. It's good to know that you have heavy metal warriors like Martjo and Lijon in your army. Think about JUDAS PRIEST in their heydays here. Well, be honest, did the PRIEST ever sound bad at all? I hear influences of many great "British Steel" anthems, like "Steeler" and the spoken word part here fits just perfect in this 'stand proud for metal' song, which also includes some fiery guitar licks of the aforementioned warriors of steel. Their guitar attacks are more vicious than an axe or a sword. And if this won't do the trick, the high-pitched vocals of Nima surely will. The next song "Metal Avengers" will invade your eardrums and I think that you will sing along to it right away. It has also got some PRIEST type of twin guitar attacks, which will easily become a crowd's favorite, when playing live. These metal avengers will be thy guide and they're damn proud of it. Obviously, these guys are not bound to stick to one particular metal style only. Don't be surprised, when you'll hear some BLACK SABBATH type of riffs in "Blade Of Flames". The heat is on and they sound absolute killer. Then another icy scream leaves Nima's throat. Not many Dutch singers have the charisma of this front man with the golden lungs. The lyrics come straight from his heart and when he says that you have to kneel before him, you're already on your knees. In the wink of an eye, he will raise his flaming blade and screams another warrior anthem right at you. Hear the swords of thundering steel that are being used to create more power. They're sharpened by the riffs of Martjo and Lijon and striking deadly in each song. "Desolation Angels" is dominated by the biting guitar licks of Martjo and Lijon. It sounds even more aggressive than hydrochloric acid. It will burn the flesh off your bones and will rip your spine out. The pounding sound in "Savage Retribution" will probably appeal to many MANOWAR fans out there. "The Blood On Thy Shield" is the ultimate salute for the warriors in the field. In my perception, I translated it to the world of today. It's like a tribute to all the metal fans that like to visit the small clubs to see their favorite band. Those people, who write with passion about the many unknown and unsigned bands, that everybody should know about. And also to those, who buy the CD and the vinyl version of their favorite band, because it's the only way that they will survive in a world, where the music scene is dominated by nitwits, that spend millions of dollars or euros to so-called musicians, that create music with a computer and tour the world with a memory stick in their back pocket. It's a salute to the ones that defend their music through thick and thin. Together they are an army of soul survivors defending their love for heavy metal. I think that because of them, a band like STEEL SHOCK and many other underground metal bands for that matter are still there. The union of friendship and respect for one another is extremely high. Needless to say, that together they are an unbeatable army. They have the blood of the non-believers on their shield, but that won't hold them back from fighting until the last man is standing. The fast and loud pounding metal in "Knock 'Em Down" will tell you exactly what to do in the lyrics. Need I say more? I guess not. Well, in the next battle hymn, I'd better warm you upfront that these guys with the vicious guitars will definitely use their weapons. In "The Battle Rages On (With Fire & Steel Part II)" it's quite obvious, that the battle simply ain't over yet. The last song on this stunning second album is called "Anointed With Steel". It's time for more flesh ripping riffs, next to some thunderous drum rolls, because how could a metal ride do well without the keepers of the holy metal rhythm? Drummer E. Klipse and bassplayer Marcel Aerodyne protect the rhythm section and set out the pace and they do it proud and loud. I raise my sword to these fearless metal brothers that plunder the thickest metal threads on the bulldozer bass and pound the loudest beats on the metal drums. When the last notes have faded away, the album closes with a loud BANG. After a bit over fifty minutes, this second march to success is a true fact and there are only winners here. STEEL SHOCK will always be winners, because they believe in what they're doing and they stand proud amongst the no-hopers and wannabees in this scene. They've got the real power and the glory and this is surely reflecting in the ten great new songs here. Of course the listener is a winner too, because we don't want to hear any more fake bands for that matter. We want to hear true metal and STEEL SHOCK has set out the standard for 2019 with this album, which is hard to be topped. These five guys are bound for glory and can't be stopped. If you want to survive this true metal attack, then you'd better arm yourself to the teeth. The five legendary STEEL SHOCKERs that provide you this solid steel CD are Nima Metalheart on vocals, Martjo Whirlwolf on guitars, Lijon Knight on guitars, Marcel Aerodyne on bass and E. Klipse on drums. Website: http://www.steelshock.com or http://www.facebook.com/shockwaveofsteel. Go and find this masterpiece at your local record shop or buy it online. The artwork of this second release already invites you to buy this true metal gem. The album is produced, mix & mastered by Jörg Uken (ANVIL, STORMWARRIOR, GOD DETHRONED, GLORYFUL) at the Soundlodge Studio in Germany and they did an excellent job here. Even my neighbors like it. It's a 'must have' for every devoted old school and true heavy metal fan.
(9,2/10- Toine van Poorten)
UPDATE January 04, 2019:
ATTILA-Weapons Of Extermination (re-release)
(Mosh Over Records)
It took some time, but we can gladly say that this album of ATTILA has finally seen the light of day on CD. Not only their four track EP "Weapons Of Extermination" is there, but the CD has twelve (!!!) - yeah, you read that right - bonus tracks. Among these bonus tracks are the songs that got on the "Violent Streets" EP. Altogether, it's worthy of seventy-five minutes of some unbelievable technical heavy metal, which is not that easy to describe at times. Let's first focus on the four songs from the "Weapons Of Extermination" EP, for which they recently did a CD presentation at the Noot in Hoogland. The only song that they played that night was the opener of this fine compilation album, "Death Racer". The many speed changes and instrumental parts are exactly the way I remember this band from near Amersfoort. They aren't even trying to sound catchy, they will impress their listeners much more by putting innovative technical details in their metal sound, as that's still the foundation of their music. "Night Angel" contains some awesome guitar licks by Herbie Vanderloo, who I think has always been an underrated musician. In fact (and that's my personal opinion), the whole band has been rather underrated for that matter, because they released some killer songs throughout the years and only got credit for that in the underground scene, that really respected their sometimes strange technical outings. Did they name the song "No Respect" after that phenomenon? I don't think so, but it still is the next song here. Just listen to the awesome axe work in this incredible song. This is killer stuff. Herbie Vanderloo and bassist Arjan Michels were some of the guest musicians that played on FRANKIE WOODHOUSE's "Something In The Air", which still stands firmly on top of the all-time best Dutch metal albums in 2018. This secures them an untouchable reputation, I guess. The guitar explosion at the beginning of title track "Weapons Of Extermination" is only just the beginning. In fact, this song is one lengthy guitar explosion for that matter. Obviously, it's the ultimate highlight of this four track EP. However, there is a lot more to enjoy here. The twelve bonus songs start off with the fast and furious "Call Of The Challenger". Let's enjoy some speed changes and the furious guitar playing, while you can. Don't bother to try this at home, because this is only for the gifted and well-experienced musicians on this planet. It's one of the best bonus tracks, in my opinion. They don't hold back any challenges and they even wrote some songs about the "Bermuda Triangle". Perhaps that is where they've been hiding themselves, when they were out of the radar for a while. The guitar solo here sounds like a whirlwind of chords indeed. While in "Attila", they like to introduce the band to you. So who are these hard working lads? We have Herbie Vanderloo on guitars, Arjan Michels on bass and Ton Holtewes on drums. Well, now you know who's responsible for all these amazing songs. "Flight Of The Phoenix" is another killer track with more nice mood changes. These are all remastered demo recordings and the sound quality is absolutely perfect. Just listen to a song, like "Sad Cry" which builds itself up very nicely. This slow ballad type of song gets more power halfway through and shows that ATTILA is also capable of writing more sensitive and melodic songs. The guitar solo is fast and shows the amazing Herbie at his very best. The speed and mood changes are still there, but they are just more subtle. The beginning of "Nighttime" reminds me a little of "Blitzkrieg" by BLITZKRIEG, although I must state that I never heard any NWOBHM influences before in the sound of ATTILA, so this comparison really stops after that. Most of the time, my mind goes out to the more technical stuff of for example bands, like WATCHTOWER, MEKONG DELTA or HADES. And you'll hear some other influences as well here and there. The furious guitar licks by Herbie will definitely drive you insane and in a good way. And what about those vocals in "Southern Woods"? My thoughts directly go out to an excellent singer like UFO's Phil Mogg. Yes, it's that great. The music sounds way different than UFO though. Anyway, "Legions Of Justice" continues with some amazing guitar solos that go beyond all human comprehension. It's too technical for a large crowd, but this is truly stuff for connoisseurs. It's fast, faster, fastest and so like Herbie. "Attack Of The Natural Forces" is another ear attack, in which the band will really blow you away in a second without a doubt. The title track of the EP that is captured here among the other reworked demos, is on next and it's called "Violent Streets". Sometimes, their fast music sounded a bit thrashy at times and this worked just fine, as far as I'm concerned. "Enter The Lightning" continues with some speedy drum beats and more furious riffs. In "Fight For Your Rights", the knifes have been sharpened one more time and the band will fight themselves to a great climax. The songs of ATTILA have never been catchy. Maybe that is why they were never able to reach gold. At least, their music comes straight from the heart and it really belongs to the very finest of the Dutch underground metal scene for sure. Their technical metal contains a lot of power and they deliver some very high quality tunes. I'm glad that this original four track piece of art is finally released. "Triad" is on next and I'm looking forward to that a lot as well. ATTILA consists of Herbie Vanderloo on guitar and vocals, Arjan Michels on bass and Ton Holtewes on drums. Next to the lyrics of all thirteen songs, the CD booklet contains a lot of nice pix, which is a real 'must have' to all music fans out there, technical minded or not. Website: http://www.facebook.com/attilanl.
(8,8/10- Toine van Poorten)
AUGUST LIFE-New Eternity
AUGUST LIFE is a collaboration of Gert Nijboer (HIGHWAY CHILE) and Bryan Ketelaars (ARMAGEDDON). With a little help from their friends, they recorded this amazing album called "New Eternity", where metal comes together with melody and strong powerful riffs. The ten songs are worthy of a bit over fifty minutes of awesome progressive melodic heavy metal. It's the world where QUEENSRYCHE, RAINBOW, SAVATAGE and DIO meet and where the musical clock will tick forever and nothing can stop this well-talented band. When I look at the artwork of this release, it's quite obvious that we’re not dealing with a regular straight forward heavy metal band, but one that likes to explore the many different sides of this genre. Opener and title track "New Eternity" already asks for a second spin. The vocals, riffs, big guitar sound and the powerful drum beats are topped by a ditto production of nobody else but Jack Nobelen of Jack's Place and ex-HORIZON and ex-SAVAGE. It's such a pleasure to listen to this. AUGUST LIFE created a song that will blow you away immediately. After the intro, you are already sitting on the edge of your seat waiting what's next. "Coming Home" has a lot of DIO influences from his heydays, including some amazing guitar work. It’s melodic yet groovy enough to bang your head upon. "Draw The Line" contains a great spoken word part, which creates a dark atmosphere. The whistling part that follows keeps the song in balance. The instrumental part holds a crown of flashing guitar work. QUEENSRYCHE fans might like this a lot, I think. Just listen to the beautiful guitar parts after the spoken word part. This could have been on any early QUEENSRYCHE album, while the guitar solo creates the more metal part in this song. "Angels Of War" starts off with a radio announcement. It's a straight forward rocker that marches out of your speakers like a wild rhino. It has this all destroying beat and an even more pulverizing guitar part. What a monstrous and vicious ear attack this is. And the rage goes on in "Immortalized". Right in the middle, there is a sudden change and a more bluesy type of ballad takes over. It's only a short stop and once you finally realize what just happened here, the song returns to the original loud bashing part. This is what I like a lot. Things are happening here that you can't foresee and can't predict. You can expect the unexpected and prove is given in this particular song. AYREON also has got some of these special moments on his albums and I guess that Lucassen is definitely on the list of influences that may not be missed here. "Unstoppable Force" is an amazing beauty. It sounds modest and it's a piece of rest for that matter, but it gave me goosebumps all over. Music has the ability to touch you deep down inside, as this one did with me. The feeling this guitar solo is being played here is almost sensible. "Love/New Life" contains an impressive instrumental part, which lifts the song up to a much higher level. And the clock ticks on and brings us to the RAINBOW type of song, called "Turn Back Time", which sounds very catchy. Maybe it's even suitable to sing along to this one. Obviously, the music of AUGUST LFE can move into every direction possible and that's what makes this album so great. And the groove goes on, too. Just listen to the mighty riffs of "Dead End", they sound really amazing to me. Would you expect some angel-like female voices at the end of this groovy riff monster? I don't think so, but I guess you'd better think twice. Another prove that you can expect the unexpected here. Anyway, before you know it, we've arrived at the seclusion of "New Eternity" with a song, called "Nevermore". This has some QUEENSRYCHE's "Silent Lucidity" influences all over and it made me silent and humble. This is a great release by some very gifted musicians. Next to Gert Nijboer (HIGHWAY CHILE, DEATHRIDERS, THE DUTCH DISCIPLES) on guitar and Bryan Ketelaars (ARMAGEDDON, AURACLE) on vocals, there are guest performances by Hans in 't Zand on drums, Rob van der Loo on bass, Peter Vink on bass, Marchell Remeeus on bass, Harry den Hartog on bass guitar, Gerald Vos on keyboards, Amelie Mangelschots on background vocals, Madicken de Vries on background vocals, Samantha Greenwood on backing vocals, Hein van Berkel on piano and Jacqueline Hamelink on cello. Website: http://www.augustlife.nl or http://www.facebook.com/augustlifeband.
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
BURNING-The P.I.D. Files (EP)
Is he alive or dead? BEATLES frontman Paul McCartney was rumored to be dead. He died in a car accident in 1966 and many clues pointed into the direction that Paul has been replaced by a lookalike. The speculation that Paul is no more among us has been used for the new EP of BURNING. Their debut album received many raving reviews and the band supported bands like DANKO JONES, DIAMOND HEAD and TYGERS OF PAN TANG. The latter is not a big surprise, since BURNING covered "Killers" on their first single, "Something Lurking In The Dark". Four brand new songs were recorded and the conspiracy theory about the death of sir Paul has been used as a concept for this EP. Bronja Hoffschlag wrote some of the lyrics and they shot an incredible video for one of the tracks. The artwork was done by Marion van der Laan. The right half of the painting is Paul McCartney, as we know him from his younger days, while the left half is how he would look like right now, when the conspiracy theory was right. We will talk about the video clip later on. Let's have a closer look first at the music on this EP, which contains four songs and is worthy of a bit over seventeen minutes. The music is certainly not influenced by Paul McCartney or the BEATLES for that matter, as you will notice, when hearing the first riffs in opener "Paul". You will get the same shivers running down your spine, while listening to the lyrics and the TYGERS OF PAN TANG influenced NOWDHM music style of BURNING with ditto guitar solos. This up-tempo song definitely gives you some food for thought. What do you think yourself? Is Sir Paul still alive and what really happened in 1966?? I guess, we will never know. The doomy riffs in "On The Run" will surely make your mind go out to BLACK SABBATH, but in the case of BURNING, I should opt more for a band like WITCHFINDER GENERAL. Although I must admit that Hugo's voice has got some similarities with the voice of Ozzy Osbourne in this track. I really love the speed change in "Angels Of The Universe", which actually starts out as any other NWOBHM track, but then it suddenly gets a more slow twist. It even gets better, because it ends with an acoustic part. There is a lot of stuff happening here. The best is saved for last. The band is pounding some real loud metal in "Buried" and they're playing at full speed. The spooky spoken word part is exactly what the song needs to make it special. The riffs that follow next are truly awesome. To me, this is by far the best out of four. I love it loud and it's as simple as that. I must admit, that I had a great time with this four track EP. BURNING already astonished me with their video clip for "Something Lurking In The Dark", and I just have to review their video clip for "Paul" here too. It's a bonus for all the BURNING fans out there and I'm sure that their fan base is growing fast with this new release. A girl is sitting in her bedroom playing the records of the BEATLES. Suddenly, her eye catches two different photos of Paul on various albums. She is getting a strange feeling that something is going on here and she starts to investigate this weird situation. There are differences in the eyes and the girl is getting really upset. She cuts out a lot of pictures from Paul and uses them as evidence, that something just isn't right. I won't reveal the end and you just have to see the video on the internet. Unfortunately, we won't get an answer, if Paul is really dead or not. I hope you didn't expect that. All in all, we do like the concept very much and the theory behind it and of course the bloody good music. Paul McCartney's new album is called "Egypt Station". I'd rather listen to "The P.I.D. Files" by BURNING instead. The EP is also available on vinyl, as a limited edition of 300 copies only. Don't miss it! BURNING consists of Hugo Koch on vocals, Renee Knegt on guitar, Johnny Karst on guitar, Robin Zinger on bass and Max Prevoo on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/burningmetalband.
(8,3/10- Toine van Poorten)
EAR DANGER-Storming The Gates (EP)
This review is a combination of the brand new four track EP of EAR DANGER, released by Headbangers Records and the expanded cassette version, which contains four rare bonus tracks. EAR DANGER has been in charge since 1981 and obviously, you can hear that in their rather mature sound. It has got a strong connection to the early days of heavy metal. It's a true flashback to the time when heavy metal was still considered underground and only for the filthy rockers. Nowadays, it seems to be more common, that you are a hard rock fan. It's fancy to wear a KISS t-shirt or walk around with the logo of METALLICA on your chest. That's not the case with these guys though and especially the driving force behind EAR DANGER, Matt Verschoor. He is cool at heart and every time when the band plays live, he chooses his weapon carefully to attack the audience, just like in 1981 when the band was founded. Nothing really changed in the life of this rocker. After thirty-seven years, he is still storming the gates fully focused. Backed by partner-in-crime Dick Vijgen on drums and three younger band members, he still conquers the battlefields in Holland by torturing the ear drums of the poor audience. If this doesn't deserve respect, then you didn't understand what I'm saying. The four tracks here are EAR DANGER at full force. They start off with "Wave The Flag", a song which contains some very strong riffs, that could even make SAXON be proud of them. The NWOBHM atmosphere is all around and you can't go wrong here. Then the brilliancy of EAR DANGER takes over and a completely unexpected speed change in the middle of the song is a fact. It sounds truly amazing and lifts the song up to a killer track, including an amazing guitar solo. What a great opener! Title track "Storming The Gates" is on next and you'll hear an army of soldiers and wicked warriors storming the gates of the enemy. It's a battle, they just can't lose. The gates will open soon, because they can't stand the force of this battering ram. The soldiers that are violently attacking the gates of the enemy are pictured on the cover of this EP. You don't want them as your enemy, I guess. The energetic riffs in this song are just perfect to bang your head upon. The classy guitar work has that typical MALMSTEEN type of sound that I like a lot, however the song itself sounds more like the brute force that a band like for example RIOT carries out. "Blood On The Beach" is about World War II and it has a spoken word part taken from a radio news report. My thoughts go out to IRON MAIDEN at first, but I think it goes deeper and it has some of the early ANGEL WITCH and WITCHFYNDE influences. ANGEL WITCH has always been the masters of gore blood stories, which gives me an ominous feeling. This song has the same effect on me. "Wall Of Shields" is totally different in a way. It has got the power of MOTÖRHEAD and it's a bit punky in the short shouts. It's absolutely in the NWOBHM style, although it has more the dynamics of a band like BLITZKRIEG. Once again the song is beefed up by some marvelous guitar work and some mind-boggling bass parts of the maestro himself. Four killer tracks, that will surely please every devoted EAR DANGER adept. This is my review of the EP release, but I suggest you should read on for more EAR DANGER songs from the special cassette release. EAR DANGER released a special cassette version of the album, which contains four rare tracks on the B-side. A real must have for every die-hard fan of this cult outfit. Just check out the overwhelming version of "Thousand Days In Sodom" from that awesome demo, that the band recorded in 2007. Lesley van Toor is on vocals here and Karina Wolf on lead guitar. I wonder what happened to her?!? The song has got nothing at all to do with the VENOM song that has the same title but it sure sounds great to me. Karina really knows to hit them strings right here. This line-up played a killer set at the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival in 2008, whereas they shared the bill with PORTRAIT, ROADKILL, GILGAMESJ, WIZARD and CLOVEN HOOF. Those were the days and great memories! I still remember that Karina was quite nervous for this gig. This particular song also got on their "Full Blast At Last" album in a different version, by the way. "You Need Warmth" is taken from the pre-production of this amazing album, which was recorded in 2010. It was also on the band’s second demo from 1983, next to their most well-known track, "Beelzebub's Friend". This version features Leon Lohman on vocals, who's got some amazing high pull outs for us in his high hat. The fast and straight forward 'Give 'Em Hell" didn't make it on the "Full Blast At Last" release of 2011 and it was also captured on this aforementioned second demo. And hell no, there is not a reference to the WITCHFYNDE song with the same title. It matches very well though with the other songs from that great heavy metal album. It's a shame that it was left out, but it's on this tape so you can listen to it again. I must admit that by listening to these old songs I get a very nostalgic feeling that makes me wish for these early days a lot. It would be really great to have those three demos altogether on one CD. I guess, that would be a wish of every EAR DANGER fan, so obviously I'm very pleased with these four tracks here. The last song is rather exclusive one, because it was recorded live on July 27th at the Little Devil in Tilburg. It captures the new singer, Sander Pastoor, in one of my personal favorite EAR DANGER songs and probably is also a true and very strong statement, "Bound By The Law (Of Heavy Metal)". Aren't we all tied to this and share the love for heavy metal?! This song represents everything that EAR DANGER stands for and therefore it's the ultimate closer on this tape and this review. Both horns up for EAR DANGER, because they have released a great EP, which proves that they still rock at full force. I didn't expect anything less. Quick deciders can still order a copy of these '100 copies only tape' with four exclusive rare bonus tracks. Just check out their Facebook site for availability. I will give this disc another spin, because it's killer stuff. EAR DANGER consists of Matt Verschoor on bass and backing vocals, Dick Vijgen on drums, Leon Lohman on guitar and vocals, Antal Lohman on guitar and Sander Pastoor on vocals. Website: http|://www.facebook.com/eardanger
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
MAESTRO-Can't Stop (Thinkin' Bout You" (EP)
It's so good to see, that Orion Roos (VORTEX) decided to get MAESTRO moving again where they left off. Their material has actually never seen the light of day, at least not on CD. This has finally changed after so many years and right now we are reviewing their four track EP release, worthy of a bit over eighteen minutes. The space shuttle on the cover of the EP has landed and it looks beautiful. The booklet contains a lot of great pics, however it's the music that counts and I think that we're in for a treat here, too. Vocalist Anne Blouw has got a great voice and these first riffs already show that we're dealing with a melodic metal band here with a very catchy approach. Their sound has some influences of QUIET RIOT ("Slick Black Cadillac") for that matter. The catchy influences are also there in the title track and opener of this EP "Can’t Stop (Thinkin' Bout You)" that switches rock with A.O.R. I hear some BOSTON influences here and there, although MAESTRO's sound is not that big and more in the details. I also love the very raw guitar work, that keeps the song in balance. The guitar part, that starts "Huntin'" could very well be from Adrian Vandenberg. It sounds truly amazing and you can hardly tell the difference. It's there that the comparison stops though. The melodic rock has got a fine groove and again the guitar parts lift the song up to far above average. There are some progressive parts there, which will introduce you to an instrumental part, including a nice guitar solo. After that, MAESTRO steps into "The Time Machine". The straight forward rock is easy on the ear, yet not that catchy. There are some distorted vocal parts as well, but they fit in quite well here. The slightly fuzzy guitar part by Orion sounds excellent and I love the mood change in this song. The EP closes with the alternate version of "Can't Stop (Thinkin' Bout You)", which is fifteen seconds longer than the other version, by the way. You have to admit that this song is extremely catchy and it will stick to your mind at once. There is a short piano part added to the song as well. Their full-length album will be released in 2019, but this four track EP is a great appetizer and it will surely make the wait a lot easier, I guess. MAESTRO is back, they'll be playing some live shows in 2019 and there is a full-length album in the making. What more can you ask for? MAESTRO consists of Anne Blouw on vocals, Orion Roos on guitars, Marlon van Balen on guitars, Peter Douwenga on bass and Jahrin Kersten on drums. Website: http://www.bandmaestro.com or http://www.facebook.com.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
MORDANCY-The Anthology 1989 - 1993
This is the legacy that MORDANCY left behind after the band split up in 1993. The first six songs of this eleven track compilation were recorded in 1992 and shows that MORDANCY was not just an average death metal band. They explored the technical side of death metal. Starting from the amazing bass part and the short drum solo in opener "Macabre Justice", you'll already get some kind of idea that this will be an adventurous ride. There are brutal death metal parts with the dark growls of Angelo, but also fascinating musical outings with many speed and mood changes. What a great opener. "White Magic's Kin" contains more crying guitar moves, before the evil growls are starting. These two worlds collided in the early nineties and you would hear the brutal and progressive parts at the same time. Obviously, that was something that MORDANCY understood very well. The death metal scene in Zeeland was rich and the countless bands from that scene were absolutely masters in that particular music style. I'd like to refer to bands LYCANTHROPE, PARALYSIS and GOREFEST for that matter. "Chronic(le) Agony" continues here and once again we're able to enjoy these mood changes, but the trashy side is the main focus in this very brutal sounding track. "Lonely" is another mix of the brutal sounding vocals that are spit into the microphone and the guitar parts that sometimes are trying to bring some subtlety into the song. The brutality wins though, what else would you think? But it's the suppleness these guitar players handle their instruments, which catch my attention most. The dark growls in "Unsociable" dominate the song and influences of NAPALM DEATH are close by, when the polka beats are changing in the slower riffs. It shows the band in all its brutal ways. These speed and mood changes became the trademark of the band. The last loud drum bashes sound like a thunder striking under a clear blue sky. "Violent By Nature Or Nurture" is the final violent outing of the recordings, that took place in 1992 in the studio of Jack Nobelen in Meerle, Belgium. The live songs have been recorded a year before, actually in 1991 in Hulst. The good sound quality of the PRONG medley shows the power that MORDANCY had in a live setting. The medley contains the songs "Freezer Burn" and "Decay", which is as fast as lightning. To me, their best song is "Macabre Justice" from the 1992 recording that you just heard. It closes this short but very spectacular live recording, which also contains some innovative breaks. Even the drum solo in the beginning wasn't skipped. The last part of this awesome compilation is a rehearsal of the band from 1993, recorded in Westdorpe. In "Scarred For Life", we will hear the progressive side of the band. Heavy riffs have been accompanied by some innovative breaks and more sudden speed changes. The band proves that there is enough fun during their rehearsals. Who is shouting 'homo' there??? (lol). At the same time, the impressive instrumental parts show that the band is also in a very creative mood and some parts are very promising. I am glad that this rehearsal has made it to this CD. In "Revenge", the band has added some slow doomy elements to their music. The maniacal growls remained. The fast part at the end is probably meant to let of some steam and to destroy your study room in half a minute. It rages on like a brutal storm. Two new members have joined the band by now. The bass parts are being played by Erwin van Dorsselaer and Jimmy van Landeghem plays the guitar. The last song here is called "Radical" and I must admit that their music, despite the intense brutality it still has, has made a very huge step forward. Their musical ideas were perhaps even ahead of its time. There are plenty of brutal death metal bands around in the metal scene, but not too many bands dared to put some technical progressive elements into their music. MORDANCY took their chance and this is the final result of their hard work in Terneuzen area. MORDANCY consisted of Angelo de Bruijn on vocals, Frank Schobben on guitar, Mischa Serrarens on drums, Jan Verdoorn on bass and Robert-Jan Jansen on guitar. The inlay of this fantastic compilation contains some great pics and a short interview with the band from Headbangers Zine issue #9. This CD is made to play as loud as hell.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
PICTURE- 40 Years Heavy Metal Ears Live !!
(Pure Steel Records)
What can I say that isn't already said about these living legends? Seeing PICTURE in many different formations, I always hoped that the original line-up would team up again. Not that I didn't like the other line-ups of PICTURE. On the contrary, there was always something happening around this mega metal band from the lowlands. And when the news finally came, that the reunion of the original line-up was a fact, I felt like being in hard rock heaven. The live show that they captured here has been the first one of the original line-up, recorded in Ridderkerk in 2017. Actually, it was the second show, because there was a try-out show earlier as well, which was only for people, who were invited to their rehearsal studio. I already knew what to expect, but I think that I'm not fooling you, when I am saying that this is simply the best show, that they've ever played. And I heard many people say the same thing. It was recorded live and pressed on a silver disc, so everybody can relive these magical moments, whenever they want to. Seventy-five plus minutes of PICTURE classics in a live setting, what more can you ask for? The intro tape is playing and the venue is getting ready for the rulers of the Dutch heavy metal scene: PICTURE. There can't be any arguments about the song choices, because everything you ever wanted to hear is there. When the band opens with "You Are All Alone", the magic is there right from the start. The band is not only consisting of the original members but they also recruited an extra guitar player in their ranks, namely Appie de Gelder, who already played with singer Ronald van Prooijen in ROSLYN. The guitarists share the solos almost equally and they constantly keep each other sharp with their flashing duels. Ronald's voice is in an excellent shape and the band is ready to attack. "Get Back Or You Fall" is a very nice surprise, that you don't hear that much, but you can still sing it word by word. That's the magic of the old PICTURE songs. Riff master Jan Bechtum introduces "Message From Hell" with a slow start, before cranking out the well-known riffs of this fast classic tune. Just listen to the thundering drums by Laurens 'Bakkie' Bakker. He's the driving force behind the rhythm section, together with bass beast Rinus Vreugdenhill. It's a tough job to play fast rhythms like that, but Bakkie is not afraid of anything. He even tends to play them faster and poke up the heat a little for the guitarists. He's a real wrecking machine. "Night Hunter" continues next and if you listen to these recordings, you can tell that you're listening to Holland's best heavy metal band ever and there is no doubt about it. Nostalgic feelings will go through your mind, while listening to these songs. The band is not only staying true to their songs, but the poses and strong energy are still there, like in the old days. This is the way PICTURE sounded and looked like in the early eighties. Nothing has changed as a matter of fact. It's a throwback in time and to my youth. Same power, same energy, same band, life can be very simple at times. Only this time with fifty shades of grey hair for band and their fans, but who gives a f*ck anyway?! At least, if there is some hair left. "The Hangman" contains these magic and very recognizable riffs by Jan. You can tell that it's PICTURE, right from the start. That's the power of this band. They created a sound that nobody would be able to copy. It's their own blueprint and nobody could touch it, unless you have Jan, Rinus, Bakkie and Ronald in your band. "Nighttiger" is a furious rocker with more inhuman drum beats by Bakkie. Is he fast or what? He is the night tiger himself, fast as a shark and vicious as a beast! One of my own personal favorites from the early days is the fast, wild and furious headbanger "No, No, No", and they play it faster than ever before. It sounds hot, wet and dripping with sweat. Amazing, what a great power!! I still remember that Big Al (Alfred Lagarde) introduced us to the album in his radio show "Betonuur", and the band was invited in the studio. When they played this song, I almost fell off my chair. WTF was that?!! PICTURE set the standard for real heavy metal in Holland and nobody could ever reach that same level. They blew away every fuse in my radio at the time and the shot of adrenaline that I got was one that would never ever go away. That's what music can do to you. Otherwise I would have been a freaking MADONNA fan. Thank you, God, big Al and Hanneke Kappen, that didn't happen. Anyway, the loud barking of a wild dog introduces you to "Old Dog, New Tricks" and I'm still glad that they play it in their live shows. It's from the time, when Jan Bechtum and Rob van Enkhuizen shared the guitar parts in the band. I saw some amazing gigs of that line-up. Jan's solo spot comes next. Just listen to his playing. Now you know why I keep calling him the Dutch Ritchie Blackmore. Especially the first strike of them strings could very well be on any RAINBOW album. It's the introduction to "Live By The Sword", which is another timeless anthem, that rocks my world. I am very glad that they used the original sound of the audience on this album, which was not the case on the live album, that they released in 2008. It gives you the feeling that you were there that night, in case you weren't. With a nice intro, "Eternal Dark" is being introduced. It gave the band another boost, when HAMMERFALL decided to cover it twenty years ago. They were young and their star was rising fast and they knew that this was how heavy metal was supposed to sound. If a shooting star like that covers your song, it expands your fan base really big time. The band probably didn't need that, but it also introduced the band to many youngsters who didn't know them yet, which is a good thing. PICTURE has been a great influence to many metal bands and they still are for that matter. The pumping bass sound of Rien is felt in the stomach and that's the way it's supposed to be. A riff to kill and the song is made to sing along. Once again "Diamond Dreamer" starts off with one of the riffs that comes from guitar magician Jan. It's from the time that former HAMMERHEAD singer Schmoulik Avigal was still their vocalist. Ronald however is not afraid to sing the songs that were originally intended for Schmoulik and Pete Lovell. He's an all-rounder for that matter and the perfect frontman. He easily becomes one with the crowd and your soulmate until the last notes fade away into the deep dark night. The album is called after the next song. Forty years of "Heavy Metal Ears". It's incredible and you can easily feel the enthusiasm of the people singing along to this forty years anniversary track. Forty years of PICTURE. I'd really like to go for another forty years, simply because I can't live without this ultimate Dutch metal band. "Unemployed" is another classic from that second album that set the standard for the Dutch metal scene. It's also on my list of favorite songs, mainly because of the amazing speed change in the middle of the song, where both guitarists show their skills in some flashing solos. And just listen to an amazing drum part of Bakkie that gets it all going. Has this man got four legs and four arms, just like drum octopus Cozy Powell? Also, there are the high pull outs by Ronald. What a killer track! And if you think that this is amazing, you just didn't hear nothing yet. "Bombers" will always be everyone's favorite song and you can ask any PICTURE fan from around the world. This song, taken from their first album, has got it all. It has got the fury, the riffs, the sing along part, the Blackmore-esque solo of Jan and also the gorgeous bass part of Rien, Mr. Picture himself. Remember the video clip for this song, recorded at de Bonkelaar in Sliedrecht (where else??)? Next to the band live on stage they'd mixed in some old ladies clapping their hands for this awesome performance. It's really superb and ultra-funny and just feel the energy of this amazing song. This is what PICTURE is all about, captured in five minutes. Nowadays, Rien steps off the stage during this song and mingles with the audience to do his 'bass part'. This is really incredible and every show lives up to that very moment, where the band gets one with the audience. They are the musicians, but they are also one big happy family. "Lady Lightning" is another song from the Schmoulik era and it's also the introduction song of the band. The band closes off with a lengthy instrumental interlude, before the encores will start. In the first one, the band grabs back to the very first album, released in 1980 with "You Can Go". It's one of the two songs, next to "Bombers" that got on the double live "Hard Rock Live" compilation, next to bands like SLADE, RUSH, KISS, GOLDEN EARRING, NEW ADVENTURES, THIN LIZZY, STATUS QUO, JIMI HENDRIX, RAINBOW and PAT TRAVERS. You must have done something right to be featured among these names, I guess. But there's still one more song to go. The CD closes with the killer track, "Spend The Night With You" from that second album. When the dust has settled in Ridderkerk, everybody will drive back home safely and dream about this memorable night, that will always be remembered. And if you want to refresh your memories, this release will surely make it happen. It goes far beyond all human comprehension and it simply can't be topped. Just name me another band that has played with the likes of APRIL WINE, SAXON and TED NUGENT in their early days of existence? Give me the name of the band that played at the Chicago Metal Fest in the US, Keep It True and Headbangers Open Air and next year Bang Your Head in Germany, Sweden Rock, toured South America and even played in Sliedrecht more times than every other band from Sliedrecht (if there is one?)? You won't succeed, because the only answer to this question is PICTURE. This honest reflection of what happened that night in Ridderkerk will stay in my CD player for a very long time. Just to be complete, I will give you the current line-up of PICTURE. The band consists of Appie de Gelder on guitars, Jan Bechtum on guitars, Ronald van Prooijen on vocals, Laurens 'Bakkie' Bakker on drums and Rinus Vreugdenhill on bass guitar. For more info, go to their official page at: http://www.pictureband.nl or http://www.facebook.com/PictureTheOnlyPage. The rating is extremely high, but there always must be something to wish for, even for a band like PICTURE. We love you guys and I mean it from the bottom of my heart.
(9,9/10- Toine van Poorten)
RADIATHOR-Decay By Creed
(No Dust Records)
RADIATHOR originates from the ashes of MANDATOR and was founded by former members of MANDATOR, DEADHEAD, THANATOS and HOUWITSER. On this album, we hear twelve old school brutal death/thrash metal songs. The name of the band might show some resemblance to MANDATOR, however this band sounds definitely twice as brutal. Because of the connection, I simply can't let this one go. The songs are worthy of over fifty minutes of very powerful, aggressive, dynamic and brutal death/thrash metal. Once you push the 'play' button, a furious ride through the old school vaults of the thrash metal scene is about to happen. There is no turning back now, when the first notes of "Corruption Of Innocence" are hammering down your brains. I just love the amazing guitar solo in this speed metal monster. What a true killer! The beautiful artwork on this CD will really urge you to buy this amazing piece of violence. The skull on the front sleeve looks very aggressive and for once, I can read the band name properly. There's no time to breath, as "Infinite Hate" follows at once with more amazing guitar licks and drum beats, which really must be heard to believe it. If you are fan of the Dutch old school death and thrash metal movement, then you don't need to look any further, because you will immediately recognize the influences of bands like DEAD HEAD, THANATOS and of course MANDATOR. It's time to switch back gear for a moment in "Time To Burn". The hour is near and you'll be burned to death by these skull splitting riffs and dagger sharp guitar solos. The pounding riffs and beats are truly amazing and perfect to bang your head upon. High screaming guitar solos also dominate "Chaotic Breed". This is just what a thrash song needs: it’s fast, it's short and it contains some amazing guitar work. Who can ask for more? In "To Deliver Death", the drummer must be possessed by the beast to deliver such fast drum beats. This is just inhuman. The melodic balance comes from the amazing guitar solo by Walter Tjwa, who formed this amazing old school thrash legion after MANDATOR split up. Sometimes, the vocals appear in pulses, which gives the song a more vicious character. You can literally feel the killer attacking his victim with a knife. Just listen to these brutal growls. This is a mass murderer at work and he is delivering death and destruction at your door, whether you like it or not. "Psychic Playground" on the other hand sounds even more extreme, especially the final screams. Is someone brutally killed or raped? There is no mercy for your poor ears and in "Hellhounds" you can bang your head to the most brutal and filthy death and thrash beats and riffs. "Corronation Of Madness" is definitely one of the highlights here and the sound of war gives this thrash song just that little bit more to become high above average in my book . Also, the vocal parts have been spit out in a pulsating rhythm, which gives it a very brutal character. The classical end is the cherry on the cake. "Capital Punishment" is short, brutal and intense and the blazing Hanneman (former SLAYER guitarist - R.I.P.) type of guitar solos in "Six Feet" are exactly what I am looking for in thrash metal song. The song is dedicated to Rene Bruggeman and Douglas van Sloten. "Toxic Rain" closes the album with the last attack of brutality. It's in a much slower pace, but the intensity is still there. There is also a twelfth song here, which is not mentioned on the CD. I'd like to call it "Outro", because it only has some slow riffs. If you wait a little longer, you'll be rewarded with more though. SEPULTURA's "Slaves Of Pain" is being covered in the last four minutes of this all destroying thrash attack. What a pleasant surprise. If you like it old school thrash metal, without any compromises, then I'd suggest to find yourself a copy of this album and don't wait not longer. RADIATHOR consists of Ralph de Boer on bass and vocals, Walter Tjwa on guitars, Matthijs van de Sande on guitar and Marco de Groot on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/radiathor666.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
VANDENBERG'S MOONKINGS- Rugged And Unplugged
To be honest, I'm actually not a big fan of unplugged CD's at all. Especially when bands are trying to be trendy and take their acoustic guitars out and show that they can play rock music without the use of electricity. There are a few exceptions here though. I don't mind listening to RORY GALLAGHER playing an acoustic tune and even with a mandolin he could really do the trick. Many blues guitarists sound indeed very impressive wireless, but in the hard rock and heavy metal scene, I'm not too fond of acoustic releases. PEARL JAM, QUEENSRYCHE and TESLA, to name but a few, lost their dignity when they played some acoustic gigs. This doesn't sound like a good start for the "Rugged And Unplugged" album of VANDENBERG'S MOONKINGS but it's not so bad at all. The band has actually been chopped in half for this release. Drummer Mart Nijen Es and bass player Sem Christoffel took some time off to release a new album with their band TEN TIMES A MILLION. On the other hand, Adrian pulled the plug of his electric guitar and put his acoustic guitar on his knee to play eight fantastic songs, while singer Jan Hoving sang the stars of heaven on these acoustic anthems. "Rugged And Unplugged" has been born, containing eight tracks and worthy of about twenty-five minutes of VANDENBERG'S MOONKINGS in its purest form. "What Doesn't Kill You" was quite a heavy song on that second MOONKINGS album. I was rather surprised that they performed it live in an acoustic environment during their live shows. It worked very well and the result is the opener on this CD. "Sailing Ships" is a WHITESNAKE classic that was recorded on the first album of the band. Ballads like that are perfectly shaped to play acoustic. It gives the song a special romantic touch. You can't kill a good song like that, so I really love it just because the song is so good. "Out Of Reach" is also taken from that first album and it received an acoustic make-over with a short orchestral input as well. "One Step Behind" is taken from that same album and obviously the band chose the right songs suitable to play in an acoustic kind of way. "Burning Heart", the VANDENBERG classic, may not be missed here as well. I could do with another ballad from Adrian's early days too like "How Long" or "Different Worlds", but this is the most well-known song of them all, I guess. It has been played in many different versions over the years, but this one is really one you can't do without. "Walk Away" is another song that sounds very fine in the acoustic way. The only minor detail is that I miss its power so much. It's very beautiful but I miss something here. This doesn't hold me back from listening to these eight songs over and over again, simply because they have such high quality. "Breathing", the ballad and first single from the debut album is next and before you know it, we have arrived to the very last song, which is "Sundown". This is a short instrumental tune, which proves that when you're a good guitar player, you can even surprise a die-hard headbanger and metal head with a good and very solid acoustic album. And I think that when a musician wasn't as gifted as Adrian (after all, we're talking about one of the best guitarists from Holland, next to the invincible Jan Akkerman), I wouldn't have rated this album so high, as I do now. The passion this album came about, will surely make your skin crawl. I don't need too many unplugged albums, but when it's taken at a low dose, it will really give you a good view what these songs sound like in a naked version. The next album will undoubtedly have the input of Mart and Sem again. This CD has Adrian Vandenberg on acoustic guitars and Jan Hoving on vocals. Put the lights down low, play at high volume and just enjoy it to the max. Go to: http://www.vandenbergsmoonkings.com and http://www.facebook.com/moonkingsband for all the information you want to know about the band. (8/10- Toine van Poorten)
VORTEX-The Lost Tapes Vol. 1 - Open The Gate (cassette)
Clear the vaults and release everything on tape, that's what VORTEX must have been thinking, when releasing this 'Lost Tapes' cassette. "Open The Gate" starts this lot of pre-recordings of the full-length album "Open The Gate". It's a good start and I hope that a lot of stuff will follow in the very near future, since Martjo once told me that a lot of demos and live material have been digitalized recently. The full album is on this tape, including a bonus track. The songs are played in the same order as on the album and it's a great experience to listen to it again, one by one. Many songs are no longer included in the live set of VORTEX anymore, which make them almost new again. Take opener "Open The Gate" for example. Is there anybody out there, who doesn't know this amazing metal anthem? VORTEX will always be connected to that song. Ask any VORTEX fan to name their favorite song and they will probably mention it. When you go to You Tube, you'll be directed immediately to the amazing video the band shot at Bourtange, a fortified town near Groningen. Mark my words, the cult level of this video is so high, that it's easily one of the coolest videos ever in the Dutch heavy metal scene. The band arrives on motorcycles and plays this song in front of Bourtange and demand to open the gate. Canon balls of destruction fly in the air, vocalist Jurjen is wearing his meanest make-up and spits out the lyrics in a way, that KING DIAMOND would have wished for on his birthday. Then fireworks are exploding, while Martjo 'Whirlwolf' cranks out his amazing guitar solo. After such a loud demand, everybody would open the gates to prevent one big bloody mess. Metal fans of today that watch this video will probably think that it is a bit over the top and too much cliche. However, things were so much different back in 1986. A great image, good songs and the right skills really ensured the success of a band for a greater part. VORTEX has it all, in my opinion. They didn't just have a good image, the best looks (comparable to the likes of KING DIAMOND, JUDAS PRIEST, RUNNING WILD, etc.), they also have the skills to perform a good live show. Many times I've seen a full stage with loud singing metal fans throwing their fists in the air and singing along to this particular song with the band. It really feels like magic every time. I think, the popularity of the band has got a lot to do with the high level of respect that the band has for their fans. There's no success without the dedication of your fans. If you keep that in mind and practice what you preach (hello TESTAMENT!), it will lift you up to a much higher level of popularity, I guess. "Open The Gate" is a crowd's favorite, because it's heavy and it's very accessible. Just check out the riffs at the beginning of the song. It's catchy, it's easy to sing along to and it will cling to your mind immediately. That's the power of this song and you will relive it every time you hear it. At least it does with me and I'm listening to rock and metal for forty-five years now, so I know what I'm talking about. The song even got on British television in the TV quiz "Never Mind The Buzzcocks". I don't remember anymore what specific question was asked there, but the fact alone is already a rarity. Because of that, they reached a huge crowd in England. Anyway, we'll go on with the next track now. Just listen to the high pull out of Jurjen in "Soul Killer", which contains some PRIEST type of screaming guitar licks by Martjo Brongers and Berend Stegeman. The riffs that follow next to the solo are so recognizable back in these days. And once again Jurjen pulls out a high scream. He surely was and is one of the greatest metal vocalists in Holland. His stage presentation is somewhat hilarious at times and he's also not afraid of swaying around with an axe, when this is necessary. Better watch out during the live shows of these heavy metal heroes. "Bastards" starts off with some blazing guitar work and it has a fast pumping rhythm. The guitar solos will surely burn your ears, so be careful as they're very hot and steaming. The rather spooky start of "Horrible Dolls" fits very well to the song title. The Schenker type of guitar solo sounds truly awesome and makes me very proud that VORTEX was one of the first Dutch heavy metal bands. This is top notch material, although it didn't reach the status of opener "Open The Gate". Just check out the riffs in "Growing Power", which also contains the very recognizable vocals of Jurjen. This man is an absolute cult figure and together with Martjo they are the driving force behind this amazing metal outfit from the North. His icy high scream at the end of this song will give you the shivers running down your spine. If this doesn't sound like magic to you, then you’re reading the wrong lines. The first riffs of "Massgrave" have some influences of ACCEPT ("Son Of A Bitch"), but only in the beginning. Obviously, VORTEX presented the ultimate metal sound and they have been influenced by many big names in the metal scene. It closes the A-side of this tape (instead of being on the B-side, which is a mistake). On the B-side, we will encounter a previously unreleased track, which was recorded just in case one other song wouldn't make it to the actual album release, but more about that later on. "Beauty & The Teeth" is another classic tune in my book, for which they released a video in 2014. It's very funny and a real must in your video library. It contains the slightly horror type of vocals of Mr. (Jurjen) Tichelaar and the brilliant instrumental break has a leading role for bass player Jan Klemens and afterwards the guitar tandem plays to kill. I would even like to categorize some of the instrumental parts as progressive rock with references to RUSH and DREAM THEATER. It proves that VORTEX is so much more than just another straight forward heavy metal band. Ok, before we continue here, I'd just like to share another memory with you, to visualize the fun this band has on stage. I don't exactly know anymore which venue or where, but it must have been the period of time, when the band was helped out by the mightiest of all and most funny roadie of the world, Eggo Bosklopper (We love you, Eggo!!). He sang with the band that night and during this particular song, he showed the audience his false teeth and sang the rest of the song without them, holding them in his hands. I nearly wet my pants. This is just one of the many good memories I have about VORTEX and they're hammered in my mind forever. "Glory Gone" is really a piece of melancholy. It could be called a 'ballad type of song', but I don't think that VORTEX plays a ballad, yet it has got some elements in it. The guitar solo is from the category 'Ganzenhaut'. The drum outro of John Roffel, who passed away in 2017, fits perfectly in this song. "Get Out" is the last song on the official album and they fully step on the gas. The song contains some killer guitar solos, which get all the space they need. The best part however is saved for last. "The Breath Down In His Neck" is a previously unreleased song from the "Open The Gate" recording sessions. It's another fast track with some references to the mighty VAN HALEN, at least in the instrumental part. The alternative end is the cherry on the cake here. What more can I say, other than it's been a great ride down memory lane for every long term VORTEX fan, including myself. I really hope, that Vol. II will capture a whole lot of previously unreleased stuff and live material and this was just a warming up. The inlay of the tape contains some beautiful pics of the band members. The self-painted backdrop with a bat spreading his wings and showing his bloody fangs, that's VORTEX and the way they will always be. It’s a shame, that drummer John Roffel passed away in 2017. We will be missed a lot, since he was still very active in the music scene. The memory remains and his legacy is captured here on tape. The line-up of VORTEX on this tape is: Martjo 'Whirlwolf' Brongers on guitars, Jurjen 'Thundervox' Tichelaar on vocals, John Roffel on drums, Berend Stegeman on guitar and Jan Klemens on bass guitar. VORTEX is still alive and kicking in 2018 and I'm ready for Volume II!! Bring it on, guys, the gate is wide open here. VORTEX forever, forever VORTEX. Website: http://www.facebook.com/vortexheavymetal.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
UPDATE November 05, 2018:
How do you eat an elephant? Part by part, I guess, simply because your mouth isn't big enough to swallow it in one piece. How do you review a mighty HELLOISE box set of six CDs? One by one, I guess. HELLOISE was formed after HIGHWAY CHILE disbanded and this "Anthology" is a perfect compilation of everything, that is available of this band. A must have for every collector and music fan. Let's browse through the several CDs and take this huge musical legacy step by step. We'll start from the beginning with the album "Cosmogony", which contains eight original tracks, but this time it has been expanded to thirteen tracks with a playing time of a full hour. Title track and opener "Cosmogony" is a very catchy song with great guitar work and the stunning vocals by Stan Verbraak, who will immediately catch your attention. It has a great melodic feeling, yet with a heart of steel and that amazing appealing sound, that make it easy on the ear and ready to sing along. It's 1984, when the band got together and after thirty years their songs have easily stood the test of time. "Broken Hearts" for example sounds casual, yet it still has a heavy beat. "Run A Mile" is a lot more than an obligatory ballad and Stan sings it full with passion. If you like it more up-tempo, I guess that "Die Hard' will be your cup of tea, which includes some double leads and shows that HELLOISE had a melodic touch but also wasn't afraid to play some real firm hard rock songs. Feel the power, that is being spread out in the amazing "Ready For The Night". "For A Moment" has always been one of my favorites, next to "Gates Of Heaven". Just pay some special attention to the powerful drum beats of the Dutch equivalent of Cozy Powel, Ernst van Ee (ROB ORLEMANS & HALF PAST MIDNIGHT) and you'll get the idea. Anyway, "Gates Of Heaven" is on next, which is being introduced by a radio voice, that says it's a quarter past eleven, a well-known short piece here. "Hard Life" rounds off the album, which proves that Holland can add another name on the long list of well-talented high quality hard rock bands. It put HELLOISE right on the map. The band toured a lot in their home country, sometimes supported by HORIZON (with singer Shmoulik Avigal), at least that is what I remembered from their early days. The two bands fit very well together. HELLOISE's career lasted a lot longer though. It's a shame, that their demo songs, like "Surprise Highway" and "Today's Winners (Are Tomorrow's Losers)" aren't included on this massive package. What brings us to the bonus tracks of that first album: four singles and one flipside single, that did not get on the LP. "For A Moment" starts off and it's cut down to one minute, in comparison to the album version. "Ready For The Night" is only thirty seconds shorter and "Cosmogony" loses more than one minute. "Friend Of Fortune" was on the flipside of the "Cosmogony" single. It has a steady beat and a great guitar solo and it matches very well to the other songs. I did never understand why it was being left out on the original album. Anyway, I'm glad that it's finally on this special box set release. This first CD closes with the single of "Run A Mile", that is also almost a minute shorter than on the album. The album marked a fabulous start for these five musicians. And in my opinion, it only got better with the release of their second album "Polarity", which was released two years later. Maybe their sound wasn't much of a surprise anymore and you exactly know what to expect here. But the high quality of the songs is still there, as well as their catchy sound. The melody is playing an important role in its entirety and the guitars are still crying out loud. The second CD has eleven tracks and it's worthy of forty-five minutes. It opens with "Polarity", a great up-tempo rocker, which contains all the ingredients from the first album, so the fans will end up in a warm bath. "Destination" has some raw guitar work and it clings to your mind right from the start. The second time that you'll hear it, you can immediately sing along to it. That's the strength of HELLOISE. Fans of melodic hard rock are hooked at once. 'Give It Up" sounds faster and it has got something mechanical. After that, it's time for some fabulous guitar work in the acoustic intro, which is titled "En La Linea De Fuego ". And if you don't know what that means, just listen to the English translation of one of my favorite HELLOISE tracks 'In The Line Of Fire", which is on next. What a killer song that is. You can't deny that you're in the line of fire, because you'll constantly have to hide for the fire explosions that are trying to hit you. It makes the song stronger and very heavy, in my opinion. It's only on the second part of the second album that the band does a song, called "Helloise". This represents the sound, the brand and the name of this Dutch hard rock and heavy metal band, that earned a lot of respect and support from their fans. The band finally got its own song and a damn good as well. "See Tomorrow" is a hotspot for Ernst and his firm drum-extravagance. The power explosion of Ernst is at the end of this song, which has got a refrain that you definitely want to sing along to over and over, once you've heard it. It's the teamwork that did the trick here. The line-up of the band stays untouched, which is crucial in the story of success, in my opinion. Never change a winning team and HELLOISE picked up that lesson very well. "Pool Of Confusion" contains more great guitar work. It's a ballsy rocker with a raw feeling and isn't that the way we want to hear it?! "So Close To Love" is a romantic song and this soft touch needs to be on every good hard rock album. "Sole Survivor" continues with a good stomping beat. It has the perfect rhythm to bang your head upon. The guitar solos sound truly amazing. The CD closes with "Mystery Eyes". It's the only bonus track here. It's the flipside of the single "Destination". The logo and the artwork of the album might be simple, but it's the music that counts here and it was being picked up by a lot of more fans. Their po(pu)larity gained enormously and the band received a lot of radio airplay, especially in a great show like Countdown Cafe with Kees Baars and Alfred Lagarde. On stage, they rocked the world as support for bands like TWISTED SISTER, UFO and ACCEPT. The next step would make the band even bigger. A big show in Ahoy in Rotterdam was the absolute highlight in the career of HELLOISE. They were supported by LINE (the band of ROBBY VALENTINE) and the show included guest appearances by Patricia Paay and some guys of VENGEANCE and STRYPER. At that time nobody really did know, that this was their farewell gig for a while. Ernst decided to leave the band after the show. I guess, that we can conclude that the band was at the peak of their career. The band fell apart and each band member went his own way. We'll have to wait a long time, until something happens again in the career of HELLOISE. It's 1998, when the "A Time And A Place For Everything" release is a fact. In between, there was a re-release of the previous albums with bonus tracks, but this album marks their comeback and the reunion of HELLOISE. The album was completed with four bonus tracks, giving it a total playing time of about a full hour. When you listen to opener "Take It Or Leave It", you can hear that almost nothing has changed in the sound of HELLOISE. The grunge movement went out through the backdoor and the fans were finished with the woodchoppers outfit and baggy trousers. They were in for some good old fashioned hard rock again and HELLOISE was more than willing to fill that gap. The opener became a small hit single and "After The War" has got the same groove that existed in their previous material. The fade out of the song gives me the feeling that there is more and the groovy rhythm sounds surely amazing. This is the second single after "Madelene" and taken from that fabulous comeback album. "Tainted Love" starts off with some tasty Blackmore-type of guitar licks. The gorgeous guitar solo proves that the rock vibe is still there, although the airy atmosphere is more in the background. Obviously, the sabbatical years have matured the band. Sometimes there seems to be more profundity in the lyrics and the way the songs have been put together. "Telephone Lover" is a great straight forward rocker, so let's move those heads up and down. Just listen to those powerful screams of master vocalist Stan, who is doing an outstanding job here. The ballad "Madelene" is the so-called hit single from the album. Most of the time a ballad can open doors to a more broader and mainstream public and I think, that "Madelene" has been a good choice in that respect. A Morse code for "Emergency" starts off in this rock song with the same title. It's a false alarm, because it will rock your world indeed. "Young Rebels" is another firm rocker and as you can see, the music of HELLOISE didn't change that much. The album is definitely a safe buy, if you already liked their previous stuff. Just tune in to "Blame It On The Night" and you'll sing along to the chorus parts pretty easily. "Fallen Angel (Where Are You Now)" shows the capacity of these musicians to create a high quality piece of art. The guitar solo sounds amazing to me. "Message Of Love" sounds a bit slower and you'll hear more of that particular ballad kind of structure here. "Vicious Circle" is one of the last songs on this comeback album, which sounds like the band was never really away after an absence of more than ten years. HELLOISE has put themselves right back on the map again of the Dutch hard rock scene. The CD closes with "Carol", a HIGHWAY CHILE song, that was regularly being played in a live situation. The CD is compiled with four bonus tracks, starting with the up-tempo rocker "Glad To See You Again" that was already on the CDM version of "Madelene". Same goes for "Complete Surrender", which rocks out loud as well. If these two songs would have been on this album, the difference with the previous releases would have been even smaller. Just check out the amazing guitar solo here. Make sure that it won't blow your mind! The demo version of "After The War" and the reprise version of "Madelene" (read: instrumental version) closes the album. One of the most important things is that it has been recorded in the same band line-up. All musical differences have been put aside and the band simply went on, where they left off. Not too many bands can say that. A few years later, the band released their album "Fata Morgana". Needless to say is that they recorded it in the same line-up. This fourth CD contains thirteen tracks and runs for a bit over sixty-five minutes. For a moment, some thoughts are going through my mind. Am I listening to the right album? Opener "Secura Prologue" has been sung by a choir with a bombastic orchestra handling the instrumental parts. The song itself sounds a bit like the soundtrack album of "The Omen" or any other horror movie. When "Children Of The Night" starts, I know that it was all in my head and this fourth album of HELLOISE will turn on its ear. Not knowing that this would be their final album, if you don't count the live registration of the reunion show as a 'new' album. It's 2001 now and the grunge scene has definitely left the building and fans of hard rock and heavy metal can breathe freely again. The music still has its recognizable sound, because of the voice of Stan, who colors the songs brightly with his powerful voice, which is still in very good shape. It has survived many storms, and in my opinion Stan really belongs to the top singers of the Dutch hard rock and heavy metal scene. The two guitar players always try to play as heavy as possible, while the rhythm section is as steady as ever. Nothing has changed much over the years, but perhaps the catchy twist of the songs have been pushed backwards more. Alright, after this surprising opener, you're treated to a couple of other surprises. I think, it's a brilliant idea to cover 'Eloise" of Barry Ryan, originally recorded in 1969. The song has got nothing at all to do with the repertoire of HELLOISE, but just listen to it and be surprised and excited at the same time. The guitars (in the more quiet parts) are a mix of Blackmore and Gilmour and the breaks and mood changes are simply breathtaking. I don't think that Barry Ryan even could imagine that his song would be covered in such a heavy way, which is a brilliant move, in my opinion. "World Of Make Believe" continues and the band amazes me again quite easily. Like on their previous album, the 'sing-along' anthems have made room for great melodic rock songs with a very groovy drive. The catchy feeling is not completely gone, but a song like "The Game & The Rules" sounds more mature than ever. It is striking though, that this is the only album of which the band didn't release a single. Also a very important thing in the sound of HELLOISE must have been the addition of keyboards by ROBBY VALENTINE in the studio. "Wasted Time" is next and I hear some VANDENBERG influences in their sound. The incredible vocals of Stan, mixed with the acoustic guitars reminded me of them in a way. The guitar solo is very nice and I think that in a live situation the cigarette lighters will definitely light up here. "Wings Of An Angel" rocks furious and it has many speed and mood changes, which turns it into a real highlight for me. The guitar solo is mind-blowing and it really shows the high quality craftsmanship of the band. "Dreammaker" starts off as a traditional Greek folk tune and soon turns into a nice melodic rocker. "Mirage" is a very exciting instrumental song, in which the musicians show their skills. In my opinion, this is pure progressive rock in the best DREAM THEATER tradition and I mean that as a big complement. The keyboards are in front of the mix in "The Fugitive" and the choir vocals sound more like on their first albums. "Secura Reprise" closes the album, but there's more. On this version you'll find two bonus tracks. Listen to the masterful fast drum beats of drumbeast Ernst van Ee in "The Water", which is a killer rock song with a fast pace. It's definitely one of their heavier songs and it even contains some nice guitar extravaganza. The last track is a WHITESNAKE-type of rock song, called "Love On The Rooftop". This sounds like scary business to me. It marks the end of the four original HELLOISE albums. However, this is also where the fun starts for every huge HELLOISE fan. The last two discs are the cherry that belong to this proverbial six disc cake. The double CD "Eternity" includes all the early recordings, demos, unreleased and other additional bonus tracks, starting with the first CD that has eighteen tracks, worthy of seventy-five precious minutes. It starts with a short a capella part of "Cosmogony". The demos from 1984 are showing a much rawer and unpolished sound of the band. This will definitely contribute to a lot of excitement. Just check out the roaring guitars and innovative drums in "Gates Of Heaven". It's really lovely to hear this amazing heavy sound, including the twin guitar solos, that makes it even louder. The drums are also much more up front in the mix and it certainly lifts up "Broken Hearts" to a much higher level. Or listen to the raw version of "For A Moment", which simply rocks a little bit more. This is really a treat for the long term fans of the band. "Hard Times" continues and I really wouldn't have mind, when they had released this demo version on the original album. When I listen to the extensive instrumental parts in "Hard Times' though, I must admit that this sounds so much more adventurous and exciting. One of the songs that remains very close to the album version is "Run A Mile", which is the ballad, so to speak. I also took the liberty to obey their rules in "Play It Loud", because it simply deserves to be played out loud! "Rock Unites" is one of those amazing songs, that was really hard to get your hands on and I'm glad it's there. They also crank it out at live shows every once in a while. It's from their 1986 demo. Just listen to the lyrics and the title. It's a true statement that rock unites and besides that, it's just a great rock song. "Danger Games" is another one, that didn't get on one of the original albums. Actually, every song stands proud among these classic tunes, but unfortunately some songs were simply not found 'good enough' to be on the album. In this special box they make up an amazing set of additional bonus songs, which is enjoyed very much by yours truly. What do you think of the original version of "Give It Up", which is called "Slow Down" in the demo version? It starts slightly different maybe, but it remains a killer track. The demos from 1986 are sounding not as rough as the ones from 1984, but songs like for example "Polarity' or "In The Line Of Fire" do sound fiery like never before in demo format. However, songs like "Somebody", the instrumental "Wanted By The FBI" and "Don't Talk To Me" are demo tracks only and they have never been released on any album. Once again, I must state that those songs would have fit very well on "Polarity". "Don't Talk To Me" has some amazing guitar work. It really captures the high quality musicianship of the band. The last three songs are from the 1997 demo and called "Fallen Angel", "Emergency" and "Message Of Love". The second and final "Eternity' CD in this package has seventeen tracks and another seventy-five minutes of HELLOISE sweets that's a must for every dedicated fan and rock music addict. The special remix versions of the "Polarity" album are up first and this 2.0 version will really blow you away. The songs sound very fresh. The intro already clings you to your seat and, when the band starts playing, it's quite clear that this 2.0 version sounds a lot different than the original songs. "Destination" and "Give It Up" still stand proud and they rock harder than ever before. The longer guitar intro "En La Linea De Fuego" and "In the Line Of Fire" sound very fiery. "Helloise" is next and for this remix alone you should have to buy this box set. One more time you'll be able to enjoy "See Tomorrow", "Pool Of Confusion", "So Close To Love', "Sole Survivor" and "Mystery Eyes" in a new jacket, that fits the band very well. "Until" sounds very melodic and I really liked "A New Day" with the speed changes and lengthy guitar solo. It's a very bombastic track and a shame that it didn't get on the album. And if this whole lot doesn't really sound exciting enough to you, there are four new unreleased tracks on this magnificent release. "So Long Alhambra" sounds great and also the guitar solo in "Virtual Dimension" is absolutely breathtaking. "The Tower" is another new song with a great melodic taste. The CD closes with "Lost In A Crowd". The CD booklet contains a lot of nice pics and a whole lot of information about the band and its releases. It surely is a must have for the fans. What more can you wish for? The only thing that I can think of right now is an expansive set with live material and video clips on DVD or a live CD from the old days. Besides that, this is the Holy Grail in the land of HELLOISE. HELLOISE consists of Stan Verbraak on vocals, Ernst van Ee on drums, Ben Blaauw on guitar, Arjan Boogerds on guitar and Marchel Remeeus on bass. Website: http://www.helloise.nl or www.facebook.com/Helloise.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
PICTURE-Every Story Needs Another Picture + Marathon
With this compilation album, the whole back catalogue of PICTURE has been released on CD. The nineteen songs together are worthy of over seventy-five minutes of solid hard rock. From the original band line-up, we will only find back bass player Rinus Vreugdenhil. Mind you, that the sound of the band is not exactly that what you may have in mind, when you know the first two or three albums of PICTURE. Rinus has always been standing tall along the way and that's why he deserves the title 'Mr. Picture'. No matter what happened, Rinus was the man who put their name back on the map. Let's start with an overview of "Every Story Needs Another Picture" which are the first nine tracks here. It starts with "Battlecruiser", that has a lot of DEEP PURPLE influences. It's a great song and because of the evolution of the band, it's a good follow up to "Traitor" in my opinion. The first notes on "Moving Down The Line' are probably from a computer, but the high screaming vocals of newcomer and singer Bert Heerink are absolutely breathtaking. Heerink sang in VANDENBERG and back in those days, it felt like a shock to me (and many other fans) that he now teamed up with PICTURE. As a die-hard fan of both bands, it definitely felt very unreal. The keyboards by Ronald de Grauw received a prominent place in the sound of PICTURE, which also came as a real shock to a lot of fans. However, the influences of the early DEEP PURPLE, that we already heard in a song like "He's A Player" remained and actually became stronger, which I really like. For example, "Burning For Your Love" sounds very close to DEEP PURPLE in their heydays. You almost start to sing "Might Just Take Your Life" here. What else happened in the band line-up? Jacques van Oevelen (R.I.P.) is the drummer now and they found a very talented guitar player in Rob van Enkhuizen. Both came from the band ZENITH and the area of Krommenie. I wish, I could lay my hands on their single "Motorbike" from 1980, which is still very high on my wants list, but that's another story. "Stay With Me" is the obligatory ballad, which can't be missed on a 1986 release. It has a lot of VANDENBERG influences, probably because of the vocals of Heerink. The song was also released as a single. "She Was Made For Loving" sounds more or less like "Gimme All Your Loving", the 1983 million seller by ZZ TOP, but this time with the label PICTURE on it. Even a deaf man could hear that. Well, I'm a lot more open-minded, but it's real hard to accept that this is a totally different PICTURE with a more commercial sound. Instead, most of the songs have been written by Tony Acardi, who played in CATAPULT a few years. "I'm Still Flying" is an easy on the ear song with a very catchy feeling, like most songs on the album. "Stand Back For The People In Charge" has got a disco beat, that will make the cups on your table shake and rattle. Don't get me wrong, there are also some great rock songs on this album. Even if I may sound a bit disappointed here, it's just a reflection of how I felt back in those days. Today, it sounds like a good and solid hard rock album to me, but back then it was really like a stab in the back from the band that I'd loved so much all those years. When I listen to a song like "You Took My Money, You Took My Pride" right now, I really get the good old rock and roll fever again. The song starts off with a riff, that may remind you of "Nutbush City Limits" by IKE AND TINA URNER in a way, which is really great. The album closes with "No Way Back", which has a great "Allright Now" (THE FREE) riff. The stomping rhythm is like a good hard rock song is supposed to sound and the guitar riffs of Rob van Enkhuizen are more up-front again, thank god. The only question is, who's that lady on the cover of the album? Maybe Rinus will tell me the answer in the future. That completes the first album. "Marathon" start off with the single "Break Away", that I can almost sing word for word. It could have been written by VANDENBERG in those days, for that matter. It has the same beat and catchy vibe with former VANDENBERG singer Bert Heerink behind the mike. The band recorded this album in the same line-up as their previous one. Tony Acardi wrote the lyrics to some songs, but the band also teamed up as songwriters on five songs. "Vampire Of The New Age" sounds like the soundtrack of a science fiction movie, but because of the fast beat and keyboards, it turns into a nice rocker in the best GILLAN tradition. The next song is called "Money", which received some radio airplay. It's so appealing, that you just have to sing along to it. The lyrics are very real, but who gives a damn, when you hear Rob playing his guitar and torturing them strings in such an awesome way! The band was desperately in need for a big hit single, but unfortunately that didn't happen. "Desperate Call" is the obligatory ballad and the vocals of Bert Heerink show up really well here. He's an excellent melodic rock singer. Just check out "I'm On My Way", which received a lot of radio airplay. It's very catchy and it has some mind-blowing guitar work by Rob, who got a bit more space here, whereas the keyboards have been pushed in the back. "We Just Can't Lose" grabs you right away and thirty years later I must admit that the album "Marathon" wasn't that bad at all and I'm glad it got another chance with this re-release. The band has been influenced here a lot by VANDENBERG though, just check out "Don't Keep Me Waiting", which could be a potential hit single. If a band like BON JOVI or EUROPE are able to do it, why can't PICTURE do the same? "Get Out Of My Sight" is another rock song with a pounding beat, while "S.O.S." has got a more commercial sound. The intro alone must have raised some eyebrows in the eighties. There's a fast beat and the futuristic Star Wars sound of the keyboards in the middle of the song are nice. The CD closes with the single "Sarah", which received much airplay. It's a great song and spot on for the vocal abilities of Heerink. I would consider the musical qualities of the band on this album as outstanding and also the music is of a very high quality but it's not the PICTURE that many fans have in mind. The very last words in this song are "now that it's over", which is very true, because it was all over and done after this record. Rien pulled the plug after "Marathon" and it would take almost ten years before PICTURE reformed again. Rob van Enkhuizen tried to continue the legacy of PICTURE in PHOTOGRAPH, together with Jacques van Oevelen and Ronald de Grauw, but unfortunately this adventure didn't last long. Well, there you have it, the final two releases of PICTURE, who are back in business right now in the original line-up. Good news for the long-term fans, like me, because they sound like the time stood still in 1982. These two albums from 1986 and 1987 have given me some mixed feelings and now you'll know why. This was just 'another' PICTURE and every story needs one. The PICTURE line-up on both albums is Rinus 'Mr. PICTURE' Vreugdenhil on bass, Ronald de Grauw on keyboards, Rob van Enkhuizen on guitar, Bert Heerink on vocals and Jacques van Oevelen (R.I.P.) on drums. These recordings are dedicated to the memory of drummer Jacques van Oevelen, who passed away in 2016. What a great tribute to this wonderful musician!! The CD booklet contains some nice pictures (a wordplay - lol) and the lyrics to every song. Are you looking forward to a new album or some other PICTURE news?? Go to their official website at: http://www.pictureband.nl or Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/picturetheonlypage.
(8,8/10- Toine van Poorten)