* November 5-6, 2004 *

The third edition of the Keep It True Festival was another huge success. This festival is like a wet dream come true. You become quite wet (read: tired), but there’s so much to enjoy that you hardly feel you are tired. However, we still got a long way to go, but this is not related to that wet dream. On the contrary, this has got to do with the fact, that our editor called us at the very last minute, that he didn’t go to the festival because of an acing shoulder. A very sad beginning of this whole event, but the bands will easily made up for this false start.

Friday, November 5th, 2004.

Pfarrkeller, Lauda, Germany.

It was a good thing, there’s a warming up night in Lauda after this very long drive, because the evenings can be very cold in November. And the muscles have to be trained as well after such long hours. The Italian band RAIN opens and they deliver a fine job. The show is organised in some kind of cellar under the floor level (now I know why they call it an underground festival!). An echoeing dive, which reminded me of the pictures I saw of that dreadfull cave in Hamburg, where the Beatles started their career. However, the high vocals and the ‘true metal spirit’ make up for it alright. I didn’t actually know this band, but it was a good start of the evening.
The new CD of LIGEIA sounded very promising indeed. And any band, that can write a classic like ‘Angelwitch’ must be capable of performing a good show. I am glad they also played this song in their live set tonight, next to other LIGEIA songs like ‘Walpurgis Night’, sing-along ‘Misstress Of The Night’, ‘Gloria’, ‘Beyond The Sky’ and ‘Children Of The Lust’. The band doesn’t really sound like a bad WARLOCK copycat in their highlight years, but it is also too early to call this band the new promise that we’ve all been waiting for. LIGEIA knows how to move the audience, but they also play in their home country.
RAM on the other hand are a true promise for the future. They’re very hard workers, and it shows. There will flow gallons of sweat this evening, and with their JUDAS PRIEST like style, they sure know to drive the audience mad from excitement. ‘Invader’, ‘The Beast’, ‘Forced Entry’, ‘Judgement And Punishment’ are played at full force, the tank just doesn’t stop. After the show of RAM, I decide to go to bed. I am old fart, and I am glad that my young mate Stefan will again write something about DESTINY, who closes this warming up gig. Of the old DESTINY line up, we only see Stefan Björnsborg and he likes to show that as well. The band, which was formerly known for its powerfull, old school heavy metal, now sounds a bit more progressive with a touch of SAVATAGE. They mainly played songs from their latest albums. Technically, they sounded perfectly allright, but obviuosly the crowd expected a bit more (read: more old songs!)).

Saturday, November 6th, 2004.

Tauberfrankenhall, Lauda-Königshofen, Germany

In my head, I am already fantasizing about the next festival, the very day that I drive home from the previous edition. The flyer with the names of the upcoming edition is scanned in my brains and it holds an important spot in my memory. And from that day on, I already look forward to what’s gonna come. When this day finally arrives, there is a some kind of battle going on in my head between the two most important music styles: NWOBHM and US Metal. Which of these is still the most important and interesting one nowadays? I can’t really decide, which one is my most favorite style. Maybe todays festival will bring a solution to this question. A festival, that is constantly increasing and attracting more metal fans each time.
The kick off this afternoon is done by REPENT. A band, that sounds like a good mix between TESTAMENT and NUCLEAR ASSAULT. Their singer looks like a reincarnation of ‘cousin It’ of the Adams Family. There’s almost no picture available of that guy without showing an enormous pile of hair in front of his face. They really know to wake up the crowd, however it's METAL INQUISITOR that really gets the audience exciting.
The band makes a very good impression, and especially Blumi shows of with some great guitar solos. I am positively surprised by their SWEET SAVAGE cover ‘Eye Of The Storm’. The level is set high for tonight, and this will become another night of pure nostalgia.
While most of the audience seems to watch the show of ROTTWEILLER a bit apathicly, the band scores the first goal to me. These living legends sound absolutely awesome and I really go out of my mind during songs like ‘Enter The Flame’, ‘No Escape’, ‘Evil Genius’, ‘Hell To Pay’ and set closer ‘Exterminator’. Their set is a good mix of old and new material, and the new singer of the band, Martin Morin, is definitely a great newcomer in this band, who saw their old singer leave to join METAL CHURCH. At the end of the set, guitar player Rick van Zandt juggles a bit with his guitar, and he thanks the audience for their support. ROTTWEILLER still knows to touch a soft spot with me, just like they did at Wacken a couple of years ago.
Right thereafter, WITCHFYNDE scores a point for the NWOBHM pioneers. When the band opens their set with ‘Stagefright’, I am struck by lightning. Three quarter of the original line up is standing in front of me, and I am really touched by this very important moment. Tears of joy start to fill my eyes and I won’t make any secret of this. These gentlemen may look a bit older, but Montalo shows the audience to play some mean guitar with his great solos and riffs. The holy fire is still burning, and when you hear the great versions of classics like ‘Conspiracy’, ‘Leaving Nadir’, ‘Cloack And Dagger’ (in which they also play a short part of ‘Long Live Rock And Roll’ by RAINBOW) and of course ‘Give ‘Em Hell’, and you see Montalo play his guitar like a real magician, you know this band can go on for ages and ages. They’re even working on some new material at present, which really made me curious!
To be honest, I watched the SACRED STEEL gig with mixed feelings. On CD, the band doesn’t always convince me of their strength and power, but live they still know to put down a great show, that’s for sure. Gerrit Mutz’ voice in in great shape tonight, and the interaction with the audience is great, too. ‘Dark Forces Lead Me To The Brimstone Gate’, ‘Sacred Bloody Steel’, ‘Blood On My Steel’, ‘Wargods Of Metal’, ‘True Force Of Iron Glory’ and ‘Sacred Warriors Of Steel’ are part on the menu tonight. And during the last song, Gerrit shows the audience a giant sword, and nearly beheads the very first rows in front of the stage. Very impressive show and musically just perfect!
JAGUAR scores the second point for England. These guys really blew me off my feet with a show, reminding me of one of their very first shows in Uden and in Amersfoort (Holland) in the very early eighties. What a power, what a first class band! They open their set in Germany with ‘Dutch Connection’. Can anything go wrong after this? Frontman Jamie is a first class performer. He can’t sit still for a moment and constantly jumps from the left to the right of the stage, sprays a tin of wax serpentines over the rest of the band, climbs in a light pylon, and what’s more important: he sings surprisingly good, too. ‘Out Of Luck’, ‘The Fox’, ‘Stormchild’, ‘Axe Crazy’, and ‘Backstreet Woman’ (with a short piece of ‘Black Betty’ of RAM JAM). Do I need to go on, or is the message clear to you already? Guitarist Gary Peppard doesn’t seem care about anything. He plays one helluva show and seems to live in a little world of his own. While ADHD patient Jamie is crowdsurfing his way through the audience. An absolute amazing gig!
TYRANT’S REIGN however, is not willing to make the victory of the Englishmen last that long, and they score the second point for the US Metal. Many people came to see this band, and they are about to witness a great show. TYRANT’S REIGN plays old school US Metal. The band featuring cult vocalist Randy Barron (WINTERKILL), came, saw and conquered, to use an old cliché. The fans of their old stuff weren’t forgotten either, because the band played their whole mini LP ‘Year Of The Tyrant’ just like that. The songs off their most recent CD ‘Tyrant’s Reign’ are already a few years old, but they finally released it on CD now. You can hear it back in the sound and style of these songs, because they sound as authentic as hell. Lots of flashing guitar solos, bashing drums and a singer, who ‘screams’ with such a high-pitched voice, you’d almost think that his pants are much too tight. Biggest point of recognition is the METALLICA cover ‘Welcome Home (Sanitorium)’. In my opinion, they don’t really need to do this cover, because they wrote better classics themselves! Hail to this great metal band, who definitely lived up to my high expectations.
And that is something, I can only say partially about STORMWITCH. When you like the sound of this German band for years, you would definitely have the time of your life, because their set existed of all the old material. They also took care of some nice show gadgets, mainly consisting of guest actors who enter the stage to do some spooky tricks. There also is a sword fight (that was really done very well) and a dramatic murder scene. It beefs up the whole show, and songs like ‘Dancing With The Witches’, ‘Trust In The Fire’, ‘Rats In The Attic’, ‘Witchcraft’ and ‘Walpurgis Night’ get more expression this way. Singer Andy also does a duet with the female singer of LIGEIA. In short, they use every trick in the book to make this an unforgettable show and the fans don’t seem to get enough of it. To me, it’s all a bit over the top, and I liked their show at the Lorelei festival in the eighties much more. And what happens next??
HALLOW’S EVE scores...... an own goal! The whole day long, the rumour was going the band would be playing an ultraloud thrash set tonight, with sidesteps to black and death metal. At first I thought this would not really happen. First to see it, then believing it, is my vision! But when they took the stage by storm, and opened with an overwhelming volume, the rumours changed into true facts, also for me. The band played ultraloud and very tight, that’s for sure, but with their sound they didn’t belong to this festival at all. Despite the fact the band was working very hard, they didn’t seem to impress the bewildered crowd. Original members Tommy Stewart and Skellator (dressed up in corpse paint!) tried to save the whole gig with very raw, dry and bone hard versions of ‘Plunging To Megadeath’, ‘Death In Effect’, ‘Hallow’s Eve’ and ‘Metal Merchants’, but it’s no use. They never sounded like this in the old days, did they? Bass player Tommy Stewart already wrote the words ‘I lost reality long ago, now I live in a horrorshow’ on the bands ‘Tales Of Terror’ album. Little did he know that these words would become the painful truth, about twenty years later.
HELSTAR on the other hand, scores the game-tying goal. Nobody can destroy this band. James Rivera is a world class singer to the real heavy metal fans. I am very impressed by their show, that consists of wonderful songs like ‘The King Is Dead’, ‘Evil Reign’ and ‘Good Day To Die’. What really makes me feel good is not only the fact that Rivera has such a great voice, but there’s a lot going on on stage as well. Bass player of the very first line up, Jerry Abaraca, works his ass off all night, and he constantly moves to the most impressive poses and besides that, he also plays a very tight set on his awesome ‘Nosferatu’ bass guitar. It’s like time stood still, only his hair is a bit shorter nowadays, but the true metal spirit is still there with this giant. Mike Lepond of SYMPHONY X is supposed to be the new bass player of the band. But I am glad, that I watched this magnificent show, because with the awesome playing of Jerry, this flashback to the past has become reality for me! Texas old school metal rulez!! When DESTINATIONS CALLING starts, I decide to pack it in. Everything after HELSTAR is neither here nor there. But that game in my head ended in a draw. So we will go for a replay on April 2nd, 2005. The new players being PARAGON, THUNDER RIDER (!!), TORCH (!!), OVERLORDE (!!!), MAJESTY (again!), DEADLY BLESSING (!!!), SATAN (!!!), AGENT STEEL and our own Dutch pride VORTEX (!!). The Dutch band MARTYR (!!) will try to warm up the crowd on the well-known warming up party. Big winners of today were JAGUAR and HELSTAR, which rhyme with eachother, like it was destined to be! I will end this review by saying thanks to the organisation of this great festival and to Stefan and Kim, Rita, Henk ‘The Tank’ Bosma and my good friend Gerrie Lemmens for the many great hours, that we spend together at the festival site. See ya next year!

Written by: Toine van Poorten
Photos by: Rita van Poorten-Wiegel
[Printed in HEADACHE magazine/2004]

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