KEEP IT TRUE IX - 2007

* November 3, 2007 *

INTRODUCTION

I'd been looking forward to this edition very much, because the bill looked magnificent again. The Triple Axe Attack was named after the three guitarists fronting LEATHERWOLF. Despite the cancellation of TOXIK, there were still three bands at this festival, I’d never seen before and I was very keen on seeing them play. I am talking about STEEL ASSASSIN, SACRED OATH and PAGAN ALTAR here. When TOXIK was being replaced by Danish metalheads EVIL (I saw them at the Dynamo in Eindhoven somewhere in the eighties), things looked very bright again. But also EVIL had to cancel their gig unfortunately, and HIRAX was hired to fill their space. However, EVIL will play on the eleventh edition of K.I.T. though, together with the other Danish metallers, ARTILLERY. The addition of HIRAX to the bill seemed to be a perfect move of the organisation and the band's 'true metal' reputation is flawless.
Very early in the morning we set direction to Lauda-Konigshofen, where we would spend the night. The next day we would be ready to visit Keep It True IX, the Triple Axe Attack

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007.

KEEP IT TRUE IX: TRIPLE AXE ATTACK
Sporthalle, Dittigheim, Germany

When we arrived in Dittigheim, one of the first things to do was to spend some money at the metal market, which was already doing a lot of good business. The metal market is the walhalla for every metalhead that wants to add a nice item to his/her collection. And we seem to leave with bags of music every time..haha. The main reason we are here though is the festival of course.
ENFORCER kicked the afternoon off, and man did they do a great job here! The enthusiasm, the authentic sound and what power. ENFORCER set the clock back more than twenty years. The band created a real underground atmosphere and the guitar solo spot reminded me of the days, that Hank Sherman of MERCYFUL FATE became well-known for doing a long guitar solo spot during their early gigs. Not too many bands keep up with that today, you know. When the band closed their set with “Purgatory”, I know for sure that this band might be a big promise for the future.
PORTRAIT proved, that there is a lot more classic metal talent around in Sweden, without falling back to the well-known Gothenburg sound. PORTRAIT also takes us back to the time, when MERCYFUL FATE was a regular guest on the European stages. This time it’s the singer, who reminded me of this band. His voice sounded very similar to King Diamond’s. Although their music has more doom influences and sometimes it sounded a bit messy. And in this mess, the vocals simply drowned away, which is a crying shame. They missed their chance to show their talent at a maximum level, in my opinion. The rest of the audience didn’t really seem to care and they simply loved everything this Swedish band did. I know for sure, that there is more than PORTRAIT showed today.
STEEL ASSASSIN was one of the reasons, we were looking forward to this festival very much, and right from the start they made their point. Great hooks, fiery guitar solos and a great singer made this gig to a complete and utterly success. Not only the older songs like “Attila The Hun” or “The Executioner” were great, but also newer songs from their most recent album “War Of The Eight Saints” seemed to please the crowd. A smashing performance, which will stay in my mind for a long time. STEEL ASSASSIN is a true classic metal band, that decided to stick to their guns, instead of selling their soul to the devil.
PAGAN ALTAR was the only English band on the bill this time, and they were also on my list of bands that I still needed to see, if it was only once. Before their gig, the bandmembers already told us great stories about the new album, their career so far, and how fantastic it was to be here at last. I must admit, that not everybody seemed to be thrilled to have PAGAN ALTAR on the bill today, because there weren’t too many people in front of the stage, when they started their show. The people, who did went outside, really missed out on something, because from the moment the band took the stage, the atmosphere changed into some kind of uncatchable magic. Yes, there was a bit of trouble with the sound at first, but they still knew to convince with their fantatic songs. Biggest eye-catcher was guitarist Alan Jones, who stepped forward as a very underrated guitarplayer. And of course his brother Terry Jones, who is the frontman and singer of the band. The band started off with “The Crowman”, taken from their album “Mythical & Magical”. Die-hard fans immediately eat out of their hands and sang each and every word of classics like “Lords Of Hypocrisy”, “Sentinels Of Hate” and “The Witches Pathway”. The knock out tune of this set was definitely “The Black Mass”. I really think, that this would be the best concert of the day. Nobody could possibly top this, even not headliners LEATHERWOLF.
Did we know, that SACRED OATH would be that good?! This band simply lifted the roof, when they started their furious metal attack with “Two Powers” and “The Omen”. The good mix of old and new stuff seemed to please every fan. Definitive highlights were songs like “A Crystal Vision”, “Ferryman’s Lair”, “Battle Cry” and “Rising From The Grave”. What a stunning performance! I am very glad to see, that this band can also deliver the goods on stage.
However, the price for the best performing frontman goes out to Katon W. de Pena of HIRAX. He delivers the true heavy metal spirit on stage. While other bands try to avoid stagedivers on stage, Katon simply asks them to dive once more. And he too, dives right into the hungry audience, when he feels like it. And when two fans start to struggle in front of his eyes, he simply stops the show right in the middle of a song, to pull the two apart. After he is completely sure, that there is peace again in front of the stage, the band continues the same song right where they just stopped so abruptly. That’s what I call professional! They kick off with “100,000 Strong”, which is followed by “Lucifer’s Inferno”. Katon is constantly moving and I think that a song like “El Diablo Negro” was written for his own personality. He’s a madman, but a fine and professional musician as well. The only time when he stands still, it is to pose for the many photographers in the audience. No wonder, that this band had to come back for an encore. And they do come back with “Bombs Of Death”, “Assassins Of War” and “Unleash The Dogs Of War”. I may not be the biggest fan of the thrash metal of HIRAX, but their energetic performance was by far the best of all the bands played today. The organisation really did a great job by getting HIRAX here to replace EVIL and TOXIK.
The audience got very excited after this great show, and ready for headliners LEATHERWOLF. Could LEATHERWOLF live up to their expectations? The answer can be short: no, they couldn’t. There were many reasons for that maybe, but this was just a slight reflection of what I had in mind, when thinking about LEATHERWOLF and a triple axe attack. The tension was much too high, when the band kicked off with “Too Much”. A title, that is very true here. There was too much sound, and too less music coming from the speakers. And the band was forced to step off the stage after this song. Sound problems can be that disturbing. And when the solution was found, it took another fifteen minutes before the band could restart with “Street Ready”. Okay, a false start, this can happen to everybody. But the performance simply didn’t sparkle, and this is something that we can blame the band for. I think about the Aardschok day in 1989, and the show that LEATHERWOLF played there. Maybe I could even refer to the show at Wacken Open Air in 1999. And this was just a shadow of what happened there. Songs like “Gypsies And Thieves”, “Hideaway” and “Kill And Kill Again” are still terrific of course. And also the songs from their most recent album “World Asylum” sounded cool, but the sparkle was never there. When they play “Spiter” as an encore, the flame lits up…… but it’s too late now. LEATHERWOLF changed from a hungry, blood thirsty wolf into a sheep in wolf’s clothing (instead of vice versa). And so the band has slowly become the victim of its own will to entertain people. A few weeks later, Geoff Gayer leaves the band because of his long lasting drinking problems. More was happening behind the scenes and all of that reflected on their performance. What a damn shame!

And so STEEL ASSASSIN, PAGAN ALTAR, SACRED OATH and HIRAX run away with the prices, leaving behind an astonished crowd. Nobody moans, because this was another killer festival, where I would see bands, that I’d never seen live before. Heavy metal ain’t dead yet. The bills of the following two editions of this great festival are finished already and it’s just a matter of counting the days before we can travel to Germany again for the next edition of Keep It True. Out thanks go out to Oli and Tarek for putting together a great festival again and to Gerrie Lemmens (our everlasting friendship reached another milestone after two giant schnitzels at the restaurant of Paul Breitner - lol), our travel companion and metal brother. See you soon!

*Written by: Toine van Poorten/December 2007
*Photos by: Rita van Poorten

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