* April 23-24, 2010 *


What can I add to the erruption of the Iceland’ volcano, that isn’t said and almost destroyed the best cult metal party on earth in April? I have deeply respect for the way, that Oliver dealt with the situation. And I realise how different it could have turned out... But let’s not focus on this rotten volcano anymore and take a look at the wonderful metal party, we did enjoy for two full days. It was surely one to remember…. Not only because of this volcano thing, but also the many great bands that took the stage, the whole atmosphere and the magic, that’s all around the festival, which already starts months before the actual event even takes place…. If you ever want to see a cult name in the heavy metal scene, you have come to the right place, because this is definitely the metal valhalla. The metal mecca, so to speak. This is Keep It True 2010. Thanks go out to Tarek and Oliver for taking care of us so well and of course the many volunteers, that worked their asses off! All men play on ten, but at Keep It True they crank it out at eleven! Check this out, dear metalheads and read on what they had in mind for us this time....

The ride towards the festival was a piece of cake in my new car. No traffic jams or whatsoever and we arrived in Lauda already pretty early in the afternoon. In the evening, we did have a nice meal with our friends Eddy and Christine from Belgium. After diner, we took a short walk to the festival hall to see, if there was anything going on. But everything was closed down and dark. However, we managed to get a glimpse of the festival poster for next year. It was somehow difficult to read all the band names from the outside, but a little bit further on we discovered another poster glued right to the doors of the entrance hall. Wow, this is really something to look forward to! But let’s take one step at the time, as this years edition still has to take place. I guess, we are kind of nutz sometimes. To take a peak into the future on the eve of KIT 13……. Besides two – still to be announced - headliners, we are in for another heavy metal treat in 2011, that’s for sure!!!

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Tauberfrankenhalle, Lauda-Königshofen, Germany

The first day of the festival starts off with STEELWING from Sweden, that have to step down one place and replace the Canadian band STRIKER, who were forced to cancel their gig of today. A big shame, but the organisation was simply overpowered by everything, that caused all of this. I’d been looking forward very much to seeing STRIKER, that’s for sure. STEELWING had already been assigned as a replacement for SIREN, who cancelled their gig much earlier, when there wasn’t even an Iceland volcano in sight… CANDLEMASS and THOR were facing the same problems as SRIKER, although WHIPLASH had different problems to deal with (lawyers, demanding women and resulting divorces because of it) and WHITE WIZZARD and HADES were facing difficulties with hospitalized band members. A lot of people were already looking forward to seeing the Swedish new metal gods take the stage. And after their set, which included songs like “Roadkill”, “Sentinel Hill”, “Headhunter” and “Under The Scavenger Sun”, I can only conclude, that the band did very well. It’s quite obvious, why they won the Rock The Nation award 2009 and beat 1200 other bands in the race for that title. But to be honest, I don’t really see them as the new metal Gods from Sweden. I would rather go for the more energetic approach by ENFORCER, if I may say so. It doesn’t mean that their show wasn’t any good. It surely shows, that Sweden has got a lot of talented bands and STEELWING is definitely one of these well-talented newcomers. The tour with BLIND GUARDIAN will possibly give them more confidence and strength for the long future that’s yet to come....

ROXXCALIBUR were on next. I wondered, if they were able to deliver the goods without the guest appearances of some more or less well-known people, like in 2009. They were on their own now and facing the festival at an early time, when the public wasn’t properly heated up yet, so to speak. However, I am always ready for a good portion of NWOBHM and there’s no time limit set to satisfy that hunger. And although I missed opener “Running For The Line” (J.J.’S POWERHOUSE), I did catch the first notes of CLOVEN HOOF’s “The Gates Of Gehenna”. In a forty minutes set, the band plays a good mix of well-known NWOBHM classics, but also songs like “Seven Days Of Splendour” (JAMESON RAID), “Rainbow Warrior” (BLEAK HOUSE), “Lady Of Mars”(DARK STAR) and “War Of The Ring” (ARC) come by. I go completely apeshit on songs like “Axe Crazy” (JAGUAR), “Let It Loose” (SAVAGE) and especially “Witchfinder General” (WITCHFINDER GENERAL). It was really nice to see Neudi, the drummer of the band, with a giant cigar as big as a drumstick in his mouth, behind the drumkit. A pleasant sight for someone, who is constantly looking for such nice details, like me.

After ROXXCALIBUR, it was time to invite a real metal lady on stage. CRYSTAL VIPER, with frontlady Marta Gabriel, open their set with “Stronghold – Under Siege”. What strikes me the most is, that Marta also takes care of some guitar parts. “The Wolf And The Witch” follows. I don’t know if animals are allowed here, but ‘Leather Witch’ Gabriel is joined by an evil looking wolf during this song on stage. After this, Marta gets rid of her guitar to put some additional power in her voice in the AGENT STEEL cover “Agents Of Steel”. And it shows, because she hits the high notes right on the head and keeps holding it on for a long time. In my opinion, the best song of their set! Martha’s guitar is back in “Metal Nation”, “Night Prowler” and “Gladiator, Die By The Blade” and these Polish metalheads close their set with perhaps one of the most successful CRYSTAL VIPER songs ever “The Last Axeman”. The Vipers take the hall by surprise and I’m glad, I’ve finally seen the band live on stage now.

After CRYSTAL VIPER, I have to look at my schedule. Originally, OBSESSION would be on next, but they moved one step higher on the bill today, and we get ourselves ready for the Dutch metallers of EMERALD to kick some ass here this afternoon. Which they surely did! My God, how they impressed me with their energetic performance. During opener “Sirens”, frontman Bert Kivits sings so high that I almost thought that his head would explode of all the power that he pushed behind these icely high screams. What an introduction, gentlemen!! “Iron On Iron” is sung along by the audience, who really go out of their minds now. EMERALD makes a very good impression and they even dare to play some new songs during their attack. First though they play “Johnny’s On The Run”, before they crank out the new track “New Gods”. It came as a big surprise to everybody to see EMERALD here, but judging their appearance this afternoon, they really deserved their place on the bill. “Down Town” and “Angels Of The Red Lights” are next. The band gets the whole hall quiet with an emotional laden version of the ballad “Suicide”. And again a Dutch band fills the stage (remember PICTURE last year?), that makes me proud to be a cheesehead. And the thrill ain’t over yet, because they also do a killer version of “Shadows Of Almighty”, “Back Where We Belong” and “Hell Racer” for us. The audience gets easily conquered by the enormous enthusiasm, that EMERALD performs their set here this afternoon. And you can guess already, that they simply can’t leave the stage without playing “D-Day” as their last song. Respect, very deep respect for these guys, who heard that they could play here in Germany, took their instruments in the van, drove all the way to Lauda, plugged in and performed a show, that they can be proud of. Bernard Kivits could easily compete with the likes of Alan Tecchio and Allard Ekkel simply shows to be the Dutch version of the late Randy Rhoads. While Paul van Rijswijk proved to be as solid as a rock on stage. He is a guitarplayer, that you can rely on, which he proved already during his HAMMERHAWK days. And the pumping heart of the band, the rhythm tandem consists of Ruud Marissen on drums and Essie Zagers on bass. All swords rise for EMERALD and the band puts Holland back on the map again in the metal scene. I can’t wait to hear their new album! EMERALD is a real example of what a good heavy metal band should sound like and this afternoon they carried out to have the true metal spirit running through their vains!

THOR couldn’t convince his friend Arnold Schwarzenegger to come over to Germany with his private jet, although he announced that this show was very important to him, so OBSESSION is playing a bit later on the bill today. Biggest eyecatcher of the band is of course the frontman, singer Mike Vescera. He is not only well-known for his work with MVP (MIKE VESCERA PROJECT), REIGN OF TERROR and YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, but he was also the singer in LOUDNESS for a while. Not an easy task, but the band released some rather succesful albums with Mike on vocals. This time, it was time to attack the fans with his band OBSESSION. Well-known for their mini album “Marshall Law” and its cult album cover artwork, a classic album in my book, they started with the title track taken off this mini album. After this, we get a real good overview of what OBSESSION is all about. Old songs, new songs and a trip through time in a one hour set. “Methods Of Madness” and “Carnival Of Lies” belong to the highlights of the set tonight and I can only say, that OBSESSION played a very convincing hour of melodic metal, with a leading role for Mike’s vocals. Some songs were played in medley form, so they could please even more people by playing their favorite song. Halfway the set, there was room for a long medley, consisting of “Four Play”, “Hard To The Core”, “Winner Take All”, “Killer Elite” and “Shadows Of Steel”. The last track was reserved for a golden oldie with “Bang ‘Em Till They Bleed”. A great closer of today’s obsessive hour of metal, where the marshalls ruled the hall.

Looking at the slightly different bill and time schedule, it was time for us to take a quick bite or something. ANACRUSIS have been talked about a lot, but they never really touched my soul somehow. Now I finally get the change to check them out, since I missed them, when they came to Europe supporting DEATH in 1993. The band already shared the stage with names like MEGADETH and OVERKILL in the past and in their genre, they easily reached a cult status. And from opener “Present Tense” on, the band gets the crowd going. The technical thrash metal is very well played and their setlist left nothing more to desire, I guess. Every album is highlighted and the band pulls out everything they’ve got. The enthusiasm of the band reflects itself to the public and after a full hour, I can only say, that I very much liked what I saw today. Guitarist Kevin Heidbreder develops himself as one of the most spontaneous people around the festival site. He takes the time to get pictures taken with fans and he is constantly taking time to chat with all the fans. Now that’s the way I like it. Both thumbs up for this Missouri based band.

After ANACRUSIS, I slowly start to sweat and become a bit nervous. The highlight of this festival is about to take the stage: the return of WATCHTOWER after too many years of absence. The last time, when they played in Amstelveen in 2004, belongs to my all-time highlights of metal gigs. There they had Jason McMaster on vocals, but not this time. Jason didn’t find his voice match well enough to the music of the emperors of progressive metal. Alan Tecchio, who originally would be playing here with HADES as well, was a very suitable replacement for Jason. Besides Alan, the band consists of bass beast and ‘master of putting on a clownesque face’ Doug Keyser, drum centipede Rick Colaluca and mastermind and guitarwizard Ron Jarzombek. I settled myself in the front row to see the spectacular show the best way possible. From the first seconds on, there is a certain controlled chaos going on on stage. Doug has found himself a fun fair looking outfit, including a black mask. And Alan looks like he just came falling from a plane in his parachute. Yes, that’s the way the best band of this year’s festival present themselves to the audience. No leather, no chains, no axes or other war attibutes, but Watchtower is really more like a metal circus. The tricks they do on stage can not be done at home and they are only made possible by the very best musicians in the scene. They open with “Asylum”, but as a matter of fact, most people are focussing on the band’s appearance, rather than their ability to play the songs flawlessly. Even when they cross along the stage, spending more time on the entertainment side of the show. “Instruments Of Random Murder” is one of Alan’s favorite tracks of the band and my mind goes back to the shows in Holland with CORONER in Uden, Zwolle and Rotterdam, where they played with the same line up as today. After “The Eldritch”, the band cranks out a shorty, which they called “Volcanoes Blow”. Only a band like WATCHTOWER can do things like that and get away with it. It’s a nice intro to the next song, that could be found on the internet only a few weeks before this gig. “The Size Of Matter” is a new killer track, that’s done live on stage as well and it only makes you long for more and finally hear the new album “Mathematics”. After that, it’s time again for something completely different. I didn’t know that the band had a song, called “Elephants In Kiev”, but “Mayday In Kiev” gets an elephant treatment in Lauda. Meaning, that the band trumpets like an elephant somewhere in the song. Like I said already, don’t try this at home, if you don’t want to look funny. This is only meant for the real professionals. “Tyrants In Distress” also gets a Lauda makeover. In the middle of the song, the band changes the theme into the KATY PERRY song “I Kissed A Girl”. Other bands would have been booed away from the stage, but here it sounds like this piece really belongs and I can see people grin when they hear it. With “The Fall Of Reason” and “Social Fears”, the show comes to an ending, but not before the band takes care of some more special effects. Alan definitely has got the hots for his public and he slowly gets rid of his pants during “Control And Resistance”, in which the band has put some parts of the RUSH classic “Cygnus X-1”. “Meltdown” is today’s set closer and I really hope, that it won’t take the band another six years or so before returning again to Europe. A wonderful comeback show and a standing ovation is the least, they are getting from everybody here at KIT, including myself. I want more, but the time schedule says no of course. The anti climax of the whole story comes almost three weeks later, when the internet spreads the news first, that Alan Tecchio is playing the Bang Your Head festival with HADES. Good news, but a couple of days later the news is spread around, that he has left WATCHTOWER and that the band is already looking for a suitable replacement. Will we ever get to hear “Mathematics”? Will we ever witness another live show of WATCHTOWER? Who will become the new singer of Watchtower? Questions, questions, questions. What does remain is the perfect performance by four legends, that form the band WATCHTOWER and they can’t take that away from me. These guys deserve to be in the Hall Of Fame.

After the highlight of this year’s edition, it’s time to go back home... But looking at our schedule, we decide to stay a little bit longer. SAVAGE GRACE is a band, that I wanted to see again after so many years. A cold shower comes over me, when I find out that it’s in fact ROXXCALIBUR playing SAVAGE GRACE songs….only with vocalist and main man Chris Logue behind the microphone. Despite all of this, I really would love to see the man play live again after so many years, although it will be very different. I saw SAVAGE GRACE twice on stage before. And this would be the third time, that I have to travel all the way to Germany to see them play. Not completely true of course, because they are also playing in Holland during their tour with OMEN, but this will be the perfect occasion to see both bands live at the same time. I know upfront that this performance will not have the magic of their show at the Metal Hammer Festival at the Lorelei with WARLOCK, NAZARETH, METALLICA and VENOM. It will also not be the same as the tour they did the year thereafter with the mighty HEIR APPARENT. But what I can say is, that the whole show really lived up to my expectations. The setlist consists of songs like “Bound To Be Free”, “Into The Fire”, “Betrayer”, “After The Fall From Grace”, “Master Of Disguise”, “We Came, We Saw, We Conquered”, “The Dominatress” and “Sins Of The Damned”. That’s not bad at all and I think that a lot of fans were pleased with the good selection of songs. The DEEP PURPLE cover “Burn” might be called an obvious choice in a way, because it was on the “Ride Into The Night” EP. To end your set with a second cover though, could have been done differently in my opinion. “Exciter” by JUDAS PRIEST is a killer song and it’s always good to hear a classic of this calibre, but SAVAGE GRACE has got such an excellent back catalogue of songs to choose from that we could have done with any other song instead. Anyway, after the bands leaves the stage, there’s still another ten minutes left... We hope, that the band will return to fill up this time. On the original set list, we see that they still have two other songs there: “Live To Burn” and yet another cover, namely “Motorcycle Man” by SAXON. However, nothing at all happens and the stage is cleared for the first headliner of this edition. The shorter set is not a big disappointment and I do believe, that SAVAGE GRACE did put on a great show here tonight, although it could have been just excellent too, if you know what I mean.

The headliners of the first night are CANDLEMASS. Wrong, the band was forced to cancel their gig. A week before, they also cancelled their gig at the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, Holland. Very soon we hear people joking and quickly their band name is changed into CANCELMASS. You don’t make any friends with this attitude. CANDLEMASS can’t easily be replaced, especially when you know that this was supposed to be a special show where original vocalist Johan Lanquist was about to perform the whole “Epicus, Doomicus, Metallicus” album here tonight as a special treat. None of this all happened. This cancellation leaving Oliver behind with a huge gap in his program. Luckily, he could convince OMEN to stay a little longer in Germany and play a headlining show here tonight. OMEN is a killer band and they were the only band, that could be doing this on such short notice, I guess. Their show lasted for about seventy- five mintues and was filled with a lot of familiar songs, like “Termination”, “Death Rider”, “Dragon’s Breath”, “Ruby Eyes (Of The Serpent)”, “Die By The Blade”, “In The Arena”, “Teeth Of The Hydra” and “Blood On The Water” (No, not smoke!). Then it was time for the bass player and guitarist to play a short solo, after which they slowly bring the show to an end with “The Axeman”, “The Curse” and “Don’t Fear The Night”. The encores consist of “Battle Cry” and “Warning Of Danger”.

The first day went by very quickly and ended pretty early. To be very honest with you, I would have asked WATCHTOWER to be headliners for this festival... Why not? They don’t perform that often and this would be the perfect ocassion to have them play a bit longer and maybe add the complete version of “2112” of RUSH as an encore to their show, like in Amstelveen six years ago. But don’t let this minor remark sound like a complaint.

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Tauberfrankenhalle, Lauda-Königshofen, Germany

The second day starts with a good breakfast to mark another long day, that has got a lot to offer. This time, the waiting at the doors was not that long, because most people aready collected their wristband(s) on day one. After another visit to the metal market, it’s time for MORTICIAN to get things going... This band steps in for WHITE WIZZARD, who cancelled their show, because one of the band members had to undergo some surgery. So both thumbs up for this Austrian band, who plays here at such short notice. The band already exists for a long time, but disbanded inbetween for a couple of years. They surely poked up the heat on this Saturday morning with their heavy metal sound. And with their set consisting of eight songs, among which one cover song, they proved to be capable of holding the attention from a lot of people. The JUDAS PRIEST cover “Breaking The Law” might be a bit of an obvious choice here as a set closer, but I think not too many people did mind because after all this is a true classic. And with the metal sounds of MORTICIAN, day two of the festival is a fact.

HEART OF CYGNUS are on next and I really didn’t know what to expect from this band. The reviews have been very positive, but I wondered if they could live up to this expectation, since their music sounds a bit more progressive than the average band, that climbs on stage here. The band showed their skills with some very lengthy instrumental passages and in a way, it was even like listening to old RUSH or DREAM THEATER stuff here. Yes, it was that good. The guitar solos were like magic and the exciting mood changes and instrumental explosions hit me right in my soul and surprised me each time. I actually liked their show a lot and I wasn’t the only one here, as a lot of people kept staring at the band with their mouth wide open. HEART OF CYGNUS came, saw and conquered with “Prelude”, “Metropolis”, “The King And His Steed”, “Over Mountain, Under Hill”, “Awake, Sleeper” and “Lost At Sea”. I think, that everybody was really flabbergasted by these American prog metallers and I’ve never seen an audience ask for an encore so quickly at a festival…. Except maybe for a band like POWERVICE or IGNITOR, but they play true heavy metal and you simply don’t have a choice other than to ask for more. However, this prog metal attack came as a real surprise and I can’t wait to hear more of them, that’s for sure.

RAM from Sweden have been carved in my mind as a good powerful band with a lot of JUDAS PRIEST influences. Well, you can always wake me up for a good JUDAS PRIEST tune, so I was kinda thrilled to seeing the band live again on stage. To my big surprise though, they actually didn’t really sparkle, like the first time in 2004. Mind you, the band didn’t perform a bad show or anything of that kind, but their sound is becoming slower and sometimes I even hear some epical parts, that could have been taken from the latter MANOWAR albums. Four songs were taken from the new album “Lightbringer”, but I must admit that a speedy song like “Sudden Impact” sounded so much better to me. Both horns up for RAM, especially if you look at the reaction of the crowd towards their exciting show. If I have to reflect my own opinion though, I much more enjoyed their show in 2004 at the third edition of K.I.T., but that’s just personal.

ADX from France was next on the bill, and I must admit that I’ve always enjoyed the French input on this festival so far. ZOUILLE & HANTSON and DEMON EYES were very welcome French metal bands indeed. ADX opened with “Caligula” and their power was truly amazing! Not that they blew me away, but their powerful sound had charisma and they played with a lot of energy. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact, that the band played a lot of old songs, which turned out to be a good idea. From the beginning until the end, ADX showed to be a well-oiled machine, that knew to surprise most of the audience in a very positive way with their fantastic performance this afternoon. When they finish their show with “Déesse Du Crime”, I know that I can add another French band to my list, that easily lived up to my expectations.

On we go with Hungarian metallers KALAPACS. A lot of people may not know this band very well, but their frontman Joszef Kalapacs used to be the singer of POKOLGEP, one of the most successful bands from Hungary. And this afternoon the band would play a tribute show to POKOLGEP, especially for Keep It True. Now, that’s interesting! They may be too odd for most people out there, but Icouldn’t wait to see them live. POKOLGEP started out in the early eighties, when it was forbidden in Hungary (or in any other country behind the iron curtain, for that matter!) to play heavy metal. It was against the rules, so to speak. POKOLGEP refused to obey these rules and they played their illegal live shows in small clubs, because they were true metalheads and kept doing this although they could have been caught. Quite a rebellous act, if you look at it that way. Therefore, Joszef Kalapacs is a true hero for me and a survivor singing songs of POKOLGEP, who are the real defenders of the faith! In this perspective, this show feels like magic to me. A lot of songs are well-known to me soundwise, but I actually can’t write down the names, since they are rather unpronouncably to non-Hungarian people. What I do remember is that they opened with “Maszk”, the second single from 1985. Joszef still has got a brilliant voice and even if you don’t know the lyrics to the songs, their sound will hit you right in the heart, I think. Finally, you’ll come to one conclusion and that’s this is a real tribute to the band POKOLGEP, knowing that their set consisted of POKOLGEP material only. Other bands would probably have added some songs of their own in order to create some kind of balance. And in the case of KALAPACS, that wouldn’t be strange at all knowing that they have released quite some material througout the years. But none of this all happened and it’s been a great pleasure to be able to see this true hero of the Hungarian metal scene perform live on stage again. 1988 has been the last time for me, when he played with POKOLGEP in Holland, together with ATTILA en the Belgian HELLFIRE. Highlight of this magnificent set was the very recognisable “A Jel”. When the band played their last song, it was also the sign for us to queue up at the food stalls. p> WARRANT would be on next as replacement for HADES. And Alan Tecchio was here?! Yes, that’s right, but their bassplayer had been hospitalized and it was impossible to play the show with the bassplayer of NON FICTION, Kevin Bolembach, because of this damn volcano. HADES had been high on my list of ‘must-see’ acts for this year. WARRANT is a good speed metal band from Germany, but compared to HADES?! Come on! You know how things sometimes work out….but of course it’s cool, that this band showed up at such a short notice. They opened with “Satan” and pretty soon an executioner shows up swaying with an axe. The band plays a good solid live set, but unfortunately they don’t play my personal favorite “Condemned Forever”. At the end of the set, they do crank out another classic in my book, namely “Nuns Have No Fun”. I was pretty surprised, that they finished off with the TRUST / ANTHRAX classic “Antisocial”, which caught my full attention. WARRANT is no punishment in my eyes, but if I have to compare them to HADES, it’s like comparing midgets to giants.

Before we know it, another miracle happened on stage. If someone had told me, that I was going to see SATAN’S HOST on stage with Harry ‘The Tyrant’ on vocals, I would have laughed him right in the face and called a psychiatrist to treat the poor fellow. Miracles may take a little longer to happen sometimes, but they do happen here at Lauda on a very regular base and this performance was one of them for me. Fronted by one of the most friendly people in this scene, Harry ‘The Tyrant’ Conklin, the four demons take possession of the stage, starting their fabulous live show. This is the real deal, my friends! Opening with “Flaming Host”, the band just does what they are supposed to do and that’s to impress the metalheads with their satanic verses. “Black Stele” and “Into The Veil” are also taken from that majestic album “Metal From Hell”, pressed on blood red vinyl on a record label, that no one has ever heard of since. History is written though, when the band presents us a new song, entitled “Black Hilted Knife”, which will be on their new album. Harry, you make me crazy with great news like that! And we were touched by more blasphemic sounds, because they played a make over of the ANIMALS classic “House Of The Rising Sun” and turned it into the 666 version, called “House Of The Burning Nuns”. If this isn’t a good taste of humour, I’ll eat my hat! This song was on the second, unreleased album “Midnight Wind” and matches very well to the hippie look of guitarplayer Satan Patrick Evil, who had a guitar in the shape of a coffin. Need I say more? Song titles like “Hell Fire” and “Standing At Death’s Door” will certainly explain the true satanic feel on stage tonight. Another classic song was rearranged next. This time, they transformed “Norwegian Wood” of THE BEATLES into “Norwegian Burn”. Absolutely magical in my eyes! “Dark Priest” was the only song, that was not taken from the two albums recorded with Harry on vocals. “King Of Terror” follows and before you’ll know it, we are facing the seclusion of this fabulous live show with “Metal From Hell”. Was it the amazing voice of Harry or the fact, that we got to see something we never could have believed happening in our wildest dreams? I don’t know. I think, it was a combination of both, that turned this show into something very special. After “Metal From Hell”, the doors to hell slowly close and I finally get back to my senses after floating around for about an hour of full ecstasy. Leviathan Thisiren is back and the world has got to know!

Back on earth, two NWOBHM bands are getting ready to make their entrance. The TYGERS OF PAN TANG has always been one of my favorite bands from that scene, especially their early material. After seeing the band play a wonderful show in Hoorn at the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival, I was very much looking forward to seeing them again. And they kicked some serious ass here as well! I can tell you that much. It was thirty years since they released “Wild Cat” and this calls for a celebration, they must have thought. From opener “Euthanasia” on, there’s a continuing flow of old Tyger songs, followed by “Raised On Rock”. The Tygers were one of the very few bands that seemed to have a lot of fun during the signing sessions and they took their good mood to the stage as well and didn’t let their fans down one second. In an elated mood, they continue with “Take It”, “Suzie Smiled”and the newer “Hot Blooded”, which fits just fine to the older tracks. This is the only new song here today and everything else seems like a long trip through memory lane with “Slave To Freedom”, “Never Satisfied”, “Rock And Roll Man”, “Hellbound”, “Wild Catz” and “Gangland”. “Don’t Touch Me There” is the last song for tonight, but to be honest, they could have cranked out another song or two….or three. The Tygers gave it all and if they continue playing with such power in the future, they can go on for years and years to come. What an energetic performance and what a killer set!

After last year’s performance of Dave Hill at the NWOBHM tribute of ROXXCALIBUR, I’d been looking forward to this show for almost a year. He managed to get the complete hall singing “Don’t Break The Circle” back then and the audience simply couldn’t stop anymore after the show had finished long after that. DEMON have been another legendary band from the NWOBHM scene and tonight would be their celebration of thirty years of Demonic history, that surprisingly enough opened with “Sign Of A Madman”. Dave Hill’s face expressions are very well-known and in a wink of an eye, he can tell you the whole story. At one point Dave didn’t remember from which album “No More Hell On Earth” was taken, so he decided that it came from their ‘best of’ album. Does humour belong to music, FRANK ZAPPA once asked himself. Yes it does, my answer would be after this fantastic joke! Although there’s even a bit of room for keyboards on stage, this instrument was only meant to emphasize the melodic input of the band here and there. “Don’t Break The Circle” didn’t have the magic touch like last year, but it remains a great song to sing along to, just like “Night Of The Demon”. Of course DEMON had to return for the knock out punch. And they did with “One Helluva Night” - a true statement, spoken by a band that still can rely on a lot of die hard fans.

Time was moving fast and we were getting ready for the surprise act of tonight. In fact, we were getting two surprises at once! The first one was something we found out long before it would actually happen. This day was quite special in that respect. Not only did we witness the CD release of the “Live In Belgium” CD of ACID, but three band members were in Lauda to do an autograph session. Frontlady Kate, bass player T-Bone and four-legged drummer (how on earth could he be so fast otherwise??) Anvil showed up and I can’t tell you, they were so friendly and down-to-earth. And they were very surprised and honered with all the attention, that they got from metal fans all over the world. Kate would also perform a song with members of LANFEAR and ETERNAL REIGN, who were the backing group for the second surprise act as well. I have seen ACID several times in the early eighties and I’d never thought of facing them again after they disbanded in 1985. Another miracle happened, when the band kicked out “Max Overload” with Kate on vocals. And I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, that she still stands tall. This small, one song performance asks for more. I was very excited for this to happen at last and I am glad, that Kate made a smashing performance out of these four minutes. You can’t errase anything and have a second go, it has to be right the first time. And luckily, it did turn out right and so much more. We knew, that she was nervous as hell for this live appearance, but if she wouldn’t impress the people with her voice, she would definitely impress them with her charm and devotion to sing “Max Overload” tonight. It brought up some very warm feelings by yours truly, which can’t be said from the second surprise act. The fact, that this was some kind of a deception had nothing at all to do with the organisation though. It was more the volcano’s fault, that things got messed up a bit here. Originally, there was a tribute show scheduled for the late CRIMSON GLORY singer Midnight, who passed away in 2009. Due to illness and other difficulties, the original vocalists couldn’t make it tonight, so Mike Vescera was asked to do two songs and Harry ‘The Tyrant’ would step in and do one song as well. Once again, the band consisted of the same members of LANFEAR and ETERNAL REIGN, who backed up Kate earlier. Mike didn’t really rehearse the songs and so “Valhalla” sounds almost unrecognizable to the audience, which is in fact a real CRIMSON GLORY classic. “Red Sharks” didn’t get any better, resulting in a poor surprise, that was gone with the wind. However, Harry’s version of “Lonely” did give me the goosebumps all over. Not only because he tried so damn hard, but also because of the emotional laden lyrics, that had been rehearsed this time. A tape of “Lost Reflections” announces the end of this surprise act. The idea of paying tribute to Midnight was absolutely perfect and the man certainly deserves it for what he has done for the heavy metal with his music. The way, it turned out to be, was a bit clumsy, I’m sorry to say so.

FIFTH ANGEL are the headliners of tonight and to be quite honest with you, I did have my doubts at first, if this was the right thing to do. After all, they only have two albums out and bands like DEMON or TYGERS OF PAN TANG could (in that perspect) perhaps be a better option for a headlining position. Weeks before the show, Ted Pilot quit the band. This wasn’t a good sign. The winner of the American Idols took over his place and rumours said, that he was the perfect sound-alike of Ted Pilot. Okay, shit happens, so let’s see what he has got. A few weeks later, this guy was already replaced by Peter Orullian, who used to be a member of HEIR APPARENT. Now we’re talking! A lot of line-up changes in the band and although we are not getting a reunion with James Byrd nor Ken Mary, I was open for everything else we would get to hear tonight of course. And I must admit, that the band really knows to pull out an exciting show. Obviously, the songs are taken from those two existing albums, but the way they are performed here tonight is in my eyes headliner worthy indeed! No big show elements or whatsoever, just plain good melodic metal is what they give their fans. “The Night” is chosen to be the opening track. Pretty soon, there’s one outstanding song, which was sung along by the whole crowd and is responsible for another goosebump moment for me, and that’s during “Cathedral”. Other highlights are “Fifth Angel”, “Time Will Tell”, “Only The Stong Survive” and “Wings Of Destiny”. The last song of the regular playing time is for “We Rule”. And judging by the reactions from the crowd, they did indeed rule. There’s still time for one more encore and that’s reserved for the UFO classic “Lights Out”. And with this song, Keep It True thirteen (the unlucky edition for several reasons) came to an end.

We took a moment to thank Oliver for another smashing edition and we also took the time to say goodbye to Anvil, T-Bone and Kate and wished them a save trip home. Just before they went, Kate sang ‘ACID is the name, heavy metal is the game’. This lady will hopefully return with her guys, but not only for signing sessions, but we want to see them on stage again. That’s where they belong. After another fifty three weeks, we will face the fourteenth edition of this festival. This time with an even more exciting bill, if that’s possible already. The flyer has got a prominent place in my study already - just to know which treats we get to see in 2011. For those who can’t wait, here’s the list of names already. We have VEKTOR, SIGN OF THE JACKAL, ENFORCER (Swe), HELLHOUND (USA), METALUCIFER, BITCH, SARACEN, DAMIEN THORNE, SLAUTER XSTROYES, DEATH DEALER, BROCAS HELM, OSTROGOTH, SACRIFICE, GRIFFIN, SATAN, BREAKER, MALICE, VICIOUS RUMORS and CRIMSON GLORY with their new singer. And if this isn’t enough, one headliner still has to be revealed. Is this for real or is it just a wet dream? Can someone pinch me in my arm, please? Thanks go out to all the volunteers at Keep It True, Tarek & Oliver and our good friends Eddy & Christine and Gerrie Lemmens for making this a special one again. See you next year, volcano or no volcano, we’ll be there, when the cult metal circus comes to Lauda again.

*Written by: Toine van Poorten/May 2010
*Photos copyright by: Rita van Poorten []

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