I have been waiting for this moment for a whole year. The festival of festivals is approaching and we’re ready for it. Two days of steaming heavy metal, a good weather forecast, meeting up with many friends, our guest house is booked, a tank full of petrol and a bill that looks as splendid as ever! Nothing can go wrong anymore. We are getting ready for the sixteenth edition of Keep It True. From the earlier announcements on, I kept up with the line-up of the festival closely and found out that ANVIL BITCH and RAYZORWYRE cancelled their shows and were being replaced by EVIL INVADERS and HOLOCAUST. I didn’t care that much about ANVIL BITCH, but I must admit that I liked the RAYZORWYRE album a lot and it would have been really nice to see them play live here. They would have been the first band from New Zealand at Keep It True. However, after last year’s guest appearance of John Mortimer with the NWOBHM tribute band ROXXCALIBUR, I was very much looking forward to the HOLOCAUST show. My personal view on these two amazing days are reflected in the following article. I realize, that some people may have another opinion, but this is how I remember Keep It True XVI.
The day of our long trip towards Lauda-Konigshofen starts off quite relaxed. The roads are not busy and after having a cup of coffee to get the engine started, I am ready for the journey towards the best metal festival in the world. Let me rephrase that. That must be THE best metal festival in the whole freaking galaxy!! I have been looking forward to it for a whole year and this year is no exception to the rule. The bill looks quite awesome once again. Where else in the world will you find a festival, that has bands like WARLORD, ANGEL WITCH, LEGEND, HOLOCAUST, STEEL PROPHET, QUARTZ, MEDIEVAL STEEL and JACK STARR playing in one single weekend? You must be at Keep It True for that magic feeling of the truest heavy metal fest in the galaxy. They said about Dynamo Open Air in Holland, that you must have been there to believe it. Those days were certainly magic as well, but in the new millennium this is the real deal, as far as I'm concerned. When we arrive in Lauda-Konigshofen, we first check in at our guest house, which is only three blocks away from the festival hall. After ten minutes, our friends from Belgium, Eddy and Christine, arrive as well and it’s time to socialize for a while. They’ve brought a giant box with vinyl records for us and that’s just the beginning of our record and CD hunting event, that will also take place this very weekend. What a coincidence! For a moment, it looks like Santa Clause has come to town, but we keep the box closed, because there isn’t a record player here, so these piles of vinyl have to wait until we get back home. In the evening we will be joined by Gerrie Lemmens, another good friend of ours from the very South of Holland. The five of us have a very nice dinner and we share all the metal memories and news, that we can think of. Who is looking forward to see which band this weekend and who we would like to see here next year. That kind of topics, you know... After dinner we say goodbye to Gerrie (who stays at a hotel nearby) and the four of us decide to take a walk to the festival hall and check out the festival poster for the 2014 edition of Keep It True. In our thoughts, we already see the bands on stage, but they are pushed aside, when we get back at our guest house, because first it’s time to enjoy the 2013 edition. And I can tell you: we’re ready for it! Hell yeah!!
Friday, April 19th, 2013
KEEP IT TRUE XVI: Day 1
Tauberfrankenhalle, Lauda-Königshofen, Germany
A good breakfast and tonz of coffee is what we need to get our day started. After that, the music will do the rest. A quick first search on the metal market and then we’re off with the first ten bands. It’s always interesting to see how other people experience this weekend, that is filled with a whole lot of metal mayhem. Some of them are coming here just to socialize and don’t get to see any bands at all and they’re just here to listen to their car stereo on the camping site. While other people come to see every band on the bill and some of them do a good mix of both. I find myself under the second group of people and as you’ll read in this review, I will also try to come up with some nice details about this two days of heavy metal event. I even saw a Spanish guy ripping meat from a hog’s head with a knife and selling records and t-shirts outside the hall. That’s their way of celebrating this metal fest, I guess. It’s also very exciting to see how these first bands make their appearance. We’ve seen some very impressive openers here already like POWERVICE, CAUCHEMAR and IGNITOR and this time BORROWED TIME from the U.S. will kick off here on Friday. .
My first thought was to find a link to “Living On Borrowed Time” by DIAMOND HEAD, but they have got nothing at all to do with these American metal heads. People might even get a wrong first impression, when judging them on their band logo. The cross in their name, which is turned upside down, will probably refer you to a black metal band of some kind. Nothing of that all is true, when you hear these old school metallers from Detroit area. Their split seven inch single with WYTCH HAZEL was already a good foretaste of what to expect from this American metal band. Obviously, the music of BORROWED TIME shows a lot of variation in styles and they even dare to make some progressive sidesteps at times. Touches of CRIMSON GLORY and QUEENSRYCHE are borrowed and mixed with their very own taste. Biggest eye-catcher of the band is frontman J. Priest, who looks like a very young version of Lemmy. BORROWED TIME starts their set with “Burning Mistress”, followed by “Midnight Tygers” from their 7” release and “Black Olympia” from the aforementioned split single. The reaction of the audience is very warm, which gives the band the power to add just another notch to the excitement of their performance. This is necessary, because they continue their show with two brand new tracks, called “Libertine” and “Of Nymph And Nihil…”. “Sailor Of The Seas Of Fate” is taken from the band’s debut album and dedicated to a good friend of guitar player Victor Ruiz. Another new track, called “Dawn For The Glory Ride” is played next, followed by set closer “Fog In The Valley”, which is the A-side of the single, backed by “Midnight Tygers”. Singer J. Priest will show his face a lot during these two days and he wants to be friends with all the metal heads and check out all the other bands, that will make their appearance this weekend. Now that’s the true metal spirit. See and be seen, that’s a good position for a fresh starting band, I guess. BORROWED TIME is a very fine opener, that gave us a good impression of their musical skills this early afternoon.
It’s time to clear the stage now for the first British band today. Most of the time the English bands, that are on stage here, are the typical NWOBHM bands, but there’s also room for the new talents coming from over the pond. DARKTHRONE drummer Fenriz of the ‘Band Of The Week’ metal blog already made me aware of their opening track this afternoon, called “Outlaws Of The Highway”, which is a nice melodic rocker with a great speed break in the middle. It could have very well been written in the eighties. The powerful attack continues with “Danger In The Skies”. The spirit of the old IRON MAIDEN sound wanders around at times, but I think that this will be said about many new English rock bands. “The Seer” is another point of recognition, as this is from the only single, that they’ve released so far. ELIMINATOR may not have the impact on me, that BORROWED TIME had, but I am still having a good time with their feel good classic rock songs like “Echoes”, “The Warrior Of The Sky” and “We Rule The Night”. Their show closes with the flipside of the aforementioned single, which is called “Traitor”. ELIMINATOR is definitely a name to remember, especially if you dig the old MAIDEN sound and power. They may not knock you off your socks maybe, but they have their heart on the right place and they sure played a cool gig today.
AIR RAID from Sweden are next on the bill and one thing that strikes me immediately is the immense power and enthusiasm, that they start their show with. You can only make one first impression, they must have thought. “Treason” is the intro song, that they’ve been using today, which is followed by “Night Of The Axe”. And this sure is one of the two nights, where the axes will speak, that’s for sure. “The Lost City” and “Annihilation” are on next and it shows that this band came to rock. High pitched vocals, fast rhythms and an audience that eats it all, that’s the taste of AIR RAID. “Riding Out” and the fast “Free At Last” continue and there’s no doubt on my mind, that their classic metal comes as one very big surprise. “Call Of The Warlock” and “Midnight Burner” sounds very energetic and the first heads start to go up and down. “When The Sky Turns Red” and “A Blade In The Dark” are the last ear attacks of AIR RAID in Lauda and for the last move the guitar players cross their guitars high in the air, as if they were saluting their fans. A magical moment and we can definitely put this band in the list of highlights so far, but the night is still young.
HIGH SPIRITS is a band, that I expected a lot from today. Their debut album already belonged to one of the best albums of 2009, which was in fact a compilation of songs they had written so far. The follow up “Another Night” was another classic, filled with great classic metal. And they lived up to my high expectations quite easily. They opened their show with “When The Lights Go Down”. There is a certain mystery going on about this band. Have a look at their albums and you’ll never find any pictures from the band, which is kind of weird in a way. Still they rock at “Full Power” next. The band, no matter who is in it, looks very energetic. “I Need To Know” and “Another Night In The City” sound heavy and the band surely give their best shot here. They seem to have a very good time as well on stage. One of the highlights of the set for me is when they go back to their first demo with “Torture”. The band members are all dressed in white pants. They definitely want to express, that they form a union and everybody is equal in the band. Or maybe I am thinking too much about that minor fashion detail. I think, I wouldn’t have mentioned it, if they all had been wearing jeans. You can think whatever you want about white pants. I know, that they don’t really look like the ultimate heavy metal outfit, but the band will show you that they don’t care about opinions like that. So let’s go back to the music, which continues with “Midnight Sun”, “Never Going Back” and “Nights In Black”. After “Going Up”, the crowd gets a chance to sing along to the lyrics of “High Spirits”. And it ain’t over yet, because the octane fueled rock machine goes on with “Don’t Look Down”, before closing their great performance with “Running Home”. HIGH SPIRITS is officially a democratic band, but I think that we can see PHARAOH drummer Chris Black, who sings in the band, as their spiritual leader. For the live setting he called in the help of Scott Hoffman on guitar, Mike Bushur on guitar, Bob Scott on bass and Ian Sugierski on drums. Whether this line-up also played on their albums and these members are all official band members remains unknown so far. It’s the best kept secret of these high spirits. They are all dressed in white pants though, that much is the only thing that’s for sure. Plus the fact, that they surprised everybody at Keep It True with such a magnificent set here this afternoon. That’s the only thing that counts. It’s time to cool off a little now, because the saints are marching in.
And with the saints I mean MORBID SAINT. This show is a black spot in this review, because of several reasons. The first reason is a musical reason. MORBID SAINT is a bit too much for me and I am not quite interested in their heavy, brutal thrash set. Second reason is that I bumped into Cees de Leeuw, who is a long term friend of us and lives in a small village nearby Leerdam. We spent the whole set talking outside, which gave me the opportunity though to have the best sound level to discover which songs they were playing. Inside the hall the volume must have given the people pierced ear drums. Anyway, for all the people who are interested in the morbid holiness of these American thrashers, I can tell you that they played “Destruction System”, “Lock Up Your Children”, “Burned At The Stake”, “Assassin”, “Damien”, “Crying For Death”, “Scars”, “Beyond The Gates Of Hell” and “Thrashaholic”. People, who are die hard thrashers told me, that the mosh pit was the equivalent of what happens in hell. In other words, it must have been quite an experience, but I was more looking forward to the next band, because they would take care of my first gooseflesh moment on this festival.
Next on the bill are NWOBHM legends QUARTZ, a band that was introduced to me by Hanneke Kappen in the late seventies already. Geoff Nichols is some kind of cult figure, who played keyboards on many legendary BLACK SABBATH albums like “Heaven And Hell” and “Mob Rules”. In my book, you’re a true hero then, no matter what. Mick Hopkins on guitar is another icon in the British rock history, because he spend his youth in a band called IDLE RACE together with Jeff Lyne of E.L.O. fame. The line-up of QUARTZ is the same as in the very early days, except for singer David Garner who wasn’t part of this 1977 line-up. Can they bring back the magic on stage like in 1980 at the world famous Reading Festival, where they opened for acts like SAMSON, PAT TRAVERS, IRON MAIDEN and UFO on Saturday night? This brings back a lot of good memories. But that was then and this is now and a lot can happen in thirty-three years! The band is formed in 1976 under the monnicker of BANDYLEGS, but since 1977 they changed their name to the so much better sounding QUARTZ. When QUARTZ opens with “Good Times”, they perfectly reflect my feeling this afternoon, I’m having a good time too with these metal godz on stage. Guitar solos seem to come straight from the heart and this simply is the real deal for me. The gooseflesh appear during the second song “Street Fighting Lady”, which was in fact my first experience with QUARTZ. You may think whatever you want. Maybe some of the band members look like old grand dads, but they sure know to play some of the purest heavy metal. The guitars are no loud riffing carpet to make things sound as loud as you can. Instead, I hear real guitar solos, just like the band LEGEND on the second day. “Mainline Riders” and “Back In The Band” bring back some good memories and the songs are played flawlessly. “Bloody Fool” is another classic, from which I know the lyrics back to forth. It’s over thirty years ago since this song saw the light of day, so you can definitely talk about a classic here. “Wildfire” is on next and slowly I am getting into a trance. “Stand Up And Fight”, which is played in a medley together with “Charlie Snow”, only makes this mighty feeling stronger by every note I hear. David Garner is dressed in a OZZY OSBOURNE kind of outfit with fringes. He also has got the same moves at times. “Around And Around” is next and QUARTZ rocks the house tonight. Underrated and misunderstood, but here they finally get the credit, that they deserved so well, but which they lacked for so many years. When they burst into “Satan’s Serenade”, I know I’m in rock and roll heaven for a moment. The guitar solos are awesome, the songs are timeless and the atmosphere of the moment feels like magic. QUARTZ is an absolute winner, and if I look at my schedule another highlight will turn up next. The NWOBHM part of today will continue with HOLOCAUST.
HOLOCAUST might be a name, that you won’t expect that easily on a German festival. Incorrect people might bring up touchy subjects, but none of that is coming up in the heads of the headbangers, that are gathering here tonight. They’re here to have a good time and after the appearance of John Mortimer here last year, they are looking very much forward to a full HOLOCAUST set, which was then minimalized to “Death Or Glory” and “Heavy Metal Mania” alone. Now it’s time to finally take revenge, after the band showed up at Wacken Open Air in 1993. Twenty years is much too long, you know. At this year’s Heavy Metal Maniacs Festival HOLOCAUST will show up as one of the main acts and it will be great to hear all these songs again, that’s for sure. HOLOCAUST enters the stage as a three piece outfit, which is a bit of a surprise to me. I know, that they were a three piece act at Brofest, but I would expect a fourth member. I don’t know why. I think, they could do with an extra guitar player. Anyway, it’s time for Scotland’s number one band to profile themselves to the Keep It True fans today. John Mortimer is the silver haired front man, who uses an ALICE COOPER kind of eye-shadow, which makes him look a little bit spookier than the average singer in a rock and roll band. He is a real heavy metal maniac and the show starts with “It Don’t Matter To Me” and “No Nonsense”, both songs reflect the attitude of the band quite well. They’re here to kick ass and they do have a true no-nonsense feeling over them in my opinion. “Death Or Glory” is a classic in my book and the set is a nice mix of old and new stuff, where the old stuff is by far their best material in my eyes. John’s voice sounds raspy and he sure is a wild rocker. “Expander” is a song from their new EP, while “Only As Young As You Feel” and “Love’s Power” are next on the list. The new song sounds groovy and raw, and I must say that I quite liked it. After that, the holy fire is lit for me, when they continue with the METALLICA cover “The Small Hours”. Just kiddin’, folks. This song is originally an HOLOCAUST song and METALLICA was authorized to use it. Those were the days, when METALLICA still admitted, that they listened to NWOBHM all the time. “Smokin’ Valves” is another classic and slowly the gig gets the magic feeling, that I’d been hoping for. “Iron Will” continues and then it’s time for the moment that everyone was waiting for. After a long instrumental intro, the whole crowd starts singing ‘inside the power cage’……which means it’s time for the ultimate HOLOCAUST anthem “Heavy Metal Mania”. It makes the shivers run down your spine, that’s for sure. For those, who can’t get enough of this Scottish metal attack, there’s one more song to go and that’s “The Nightcomers”, which is the title track of their second full-length album. In my humble opinion, QUARTZ sparkled a bit more than HOLOCAUST, but they surely left with a very good impression.
MEDIEVAL STEEL isn’t that old as their name would suggest. Although they have changed names from the time they resurrected as FIRE CHOIR. I don’t know the exact reason for that name change, but I must admit that I like MEDIEVAL STEEL so much better as a band name. Many people are very much looking forward to seeing this band live and especially to hearing the self-titled metal hymn, that they are about to play. When “War Machine” comes out of the speakers, there’s no escape anymore. MEDIEVAL STEEL plays a more melodic style of heavy metal and they have decided to play a lot of the new material in their set tonight. This may not be the perfect choice, because not too many people are familiar with this material. On the other hand, it’s very cool to check out the new stuff in a live setting. What strikes me is the high position of this band on the bill tonight, but you can always argue about things like that, I guess. “Battle Beyond The Stars” is still from the old days, but “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow” is a new song. “Warlords”, “Powersurge” and “To Kill A King” continue and “Tyrant Overlord” is another new track. It’s highly enjoyable to finally be able to see MEDIEVAL STEEL perform live. Bobby Franklin impresses me the most with his high and very strong voice. “Heaven Help Me”, “The Killing Fields” and “Stranger In Time” keep the metal songs coming and the audience seems to be having a good time. The many ‘unknown’ new tracks pull out the magic a little bit, but what remains is a good live performance of a band that become untouchable for the masses because of that one track. But before this magical moment appears, we hear great versions of “Tears In The Rain”, “Circle Of Fire” and “They Shall Not Kill”. All good metal anthems, no doubt about that, but when the spoken word intro of “Medieval Steel” enters the hall, obviously this is the moment everybody has been waiting for. Never before, have I witnessed something like that. It must feel awesome beyond belief for a band from Memphis, Tennessee to see a giant hall full of metal heads sing along to your music so loud and passionate. If singer Bobby Franklin wouldn’t have sung one single note, their mighty sound would still have smashed the windows from the Tauberfrankenhalle. This was more than a very impressive closure of a great show by MEDIEVAL STEEL, their self-titled anthem being the knock out uppercut of it all. That magic feeling of togetherness was there. It was like us, the fans, against the rest of the world. This afternoon we were the ones, pounding the metal, raising our fist in the air, feeling united, defending the faith and keeping the fire burning, we and nobody else…..this was f*cking AWESOME!
The night has (nearly) come to an end after this enormous blast. But to be honest with you, things are even getting better with LIEGE LORD. A band, that also started out differently than we know them now. In the early days, they were called DECEIVER and they were some kind of a JUDAS PRIEST cover band. However, things changed and nowadays they are one of the headliners at Keep It True and I’m glad they are here. It’s 2000, when we see this band live at the well-known Wacken Open Air festival. It was the year, when NWOBHM and US metal bands ruled the festival stage in the Northern part of Germany. Now they do the same in the Southern part of Germany with a set that started off almost the same as thirteen years ago. Their US metal show kicks off with “Fear Itself”, “Eye Of The Storm” and “Dark Tale”. The sound of this band from Connecticut is true heavy metal with an epic background. “Broken Wasteland” and “Cast Out” are on next and LIEGE LORD works very hard to impress every living soul in this steaming hall and with a very impressive version of “Kill The King” (RAINBOW), that they also played at Wacken, they know to reach even more people. If this well-known RAINBOW track wouldn’t have done the trick, it surely would have worked out with a song like “Feel The Blade”. LIEGE LORD take the hall by storm with stunning versions of “Rapture”, “Speed Of Sound” and “Rage Of Angels”, before Frank Gilchriest gets to show his skills in a drum solo. The man worked with VIRGIN STEELE, RIOT, HOLY MOTHER and GOTHIC KNIGHTS before and it’s good to see that he has found himself a place behind the LIEGE LORD drum kit. “Fallout” is next and then it’s time for Danny Wacker and Tony Truglio to do the workout on guitar in their solo spot. It’s a shame, that they were unable to have Paul Nelson in for a song or two, but he earns his money now by playing in the band of blues legend JOHNNY WINTER. With “Vials Of Wrath”, we are slowly heading to the finale. “Master Control” is the last regular song from this LIEGE LORD performance, but they simply won’t leave without an encore. Intro “Prodigy” starts off, before super shouter Joe Comeau (ex-ANNIHILATOR / TAD MOROSE / JACK FROST / OVERKILL) puts on a big ‘iron fist’ and starts a sword fight with a knight on stage. It is the beginning of the last song, the awesome “Wielding Iron Fists”, which is the perfect closure of a great show of LIEGE LORD. This show was the headlining show for me, because POSSESSED, who are on next, are not really my cup of tea. Mind you, LIEGE LORD were actually the last band on the bill tonight, but they swapped placed with POSSESSED.
For those, who would like to push the last drops of sweat out of their bodies, feel free to do so. POSSESSED is the odd one out for me and after the performance of MORBID SAINT, it’s definitely a bit too much for me to hear two extreme brutal bands on one day. But I was destined to see at least a few songs by this legendary band. You can’t deny, that POSSESSED is legendary, if it was only for their “Seven Churches” album, which marked the early period of the black metal scene. Next to VENOM and HELLHAMMER, they started the shit and I am aware of that of course. Still, they never stiffed my nipples like VENOM did, I’m afraid. Jeff Becerra is the name, that I remembered from the early days and he is the man who is now sitting in a wheelchair, when the band enters the stage. He was there, when there was an armed robbery going on. He was in the line of fire and a bullet touched his spine, leaving him paralyzed. A second gunshot took away the top of his finger. Many people would have stopped their career. Not Jeff. He persued his career after several years in a wheelchair and now he rocked the crowd here in Lauda with POSSESSED. After a blasting intro, “The Heretic” and “Swing Of The Axe” are on next. With “Tribulation”, “Seance”, “The Crimson Spike” and “Storm In My Mind” they continue their storming live performance. Where all the bands played on ten, they discovered that there’s also an eleven on those Marshall amps and this makes their sound go really LOUD!! I decide to check out a few more songs from the center of the hall. It’s not my intention to do some crowd surfing, slam dancing, circle pitting or whatever they like to call it , but I did see “The Exorcist”, “Pentagram”, “Burning In Hell” and “Evil Warriors”. When they start “Seven Churches”, this is the moment to start walking towards our guest house. Mind you, this is not the end of the show yet, but for me the lights will go out soon. The show is completed with “Satan’s Curse”, “Holy Hell”, “Twisted Minds”, “Fallen Angel” and the encore “Death Metal”. But by then, my ear drums are slowly recovering under a long hot shower. Too much POSSESSED is bad for my health and tomorrow there will be ten more bands kicking my butt. Time to hit the sack, my friends!
Saturday, April 20th, 2013
KEEP IT TRUE XVI: Day 2
Tauberfrankenhalle, Lauda-Königshofen, Germany
Okay, that first day went pretty smoothly and a nice breakfast will make the second day start without any problems, too. At the breakfast table we hear that everyone has got his own highlights and preferences and this second day will become even more interesting in my book. The weather is better than yesterday and the queue before the hall is even longer than yesterday. Metal fans from all over the world are gathering for this seond day of heavy metal mayhem, which will start with a Belgian heavy metal band, called EVIL INVADERS.
I have already heard a lot of good things about these young guys, so I have a good feeling about their show. When the band takes the stage by storm with “Speed Invasion”, I am really thrilled. EVIL INVADERS made the same good impression on me as ENFORCER did a couple of years ago, when I saw them for the first time. Their music is fast and the speed metal riffs keep coming, leaving everybody breathless. “Driving Fast”, “Tortured By The Beast” and “Alcohol Maniac” (which sounds so much better than “Zatos Poepeloeros”) take off in the fifth gear one by one. What an enthusiasm, what energy and what a blasting performance! This ain’t enough yet and the band surprises the crowd with a killer version of the EXCITER classic “Violence & Force”. The battle is won and I know one thing for sure: I have to get their album after the show. And the show is not over yet, because successively we can also enjoy songs like “Siren”, “Stairway To Insanity”, “Victim Of Sacrifice” and set closer “Evil Invaders”. That’s the way to impress your audience at Keep It True! And this is only just the beginning for today…. And as far as the band concerns, since these fellows are still very young, hopefully they’ll have a long and very fruitful future ahead of them. Fast speed metal from the holy metal grounds of Belgium, where heavy metal seems to be even more successful than ever. I love this country and this is one of the reasons why. The true heavy metal feeling still exists there. EVIL INVADERS rocked big time and this Belgian opening act was really perfect.
Next on the bill are ATTIC from Germany. I have seen the band before in Hoorn at the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival last year and I thought they gave a great show there. If ever there’s a band, that comes close to the first time I saw MERCYFUL FATE live, it must be ATTIC. Black candles, corpse painted faces, dark occult lyrics and twin flying V guitar attacks make the band a flashback to the early eighties. The intro is the spooky horror tape from which the band will start their live show with “Funeral In The Woods” - a great opener, by the way. The crowd is ready to “Join The Coven” and the black mass of ATTIC starts right there. A short intermission gives the band the chance to catch their breath a little before introducing “Satan’s Bride”. “Edlyn” and “In The Chapel” are on next. The guitars cry and it’s a shame that these guys have to perform their show in bright sunlight, while they would have done so much better late at night, when it’s a bit darker. That doesn’t keep them from giving it their best shot with great MERCYFUL FATE type of songs like “The Invocation” and “Evil Inheritance”. “The Headless Horseman” is a song with a topic, that has been used by many occult metal bands. However, the biggest surprise is, when the band plays the first note of their last song. They treat us on a second funeral. This is not a funeral in the woods though, but it’s the “Black Funeral” made famous by MERCYFUL FATE. This is the cherry on the cake for ATTIC today. They show us, who their forefathers were and they pay an honest tribute to them. They are definitely heading for a prosperous future, if they keep on performing shows like that. ATTIC is another winner on the bill, as far as I’m concerned.
TORANAGA are one of the bands at Keep It True, I wasn’t too familiar with. Their name did ring a bell, but I never bought any records by this English outfit. However, they are on my list of bands, that I absolutely wanted to check out this afternoon. TORANAGA know to impress me right away with their powerful performance and explosive openers, like “Hammer To The Skull” and “Psychotic”. Their guitarist has got a Phil Lynott tattoo on his arm, but their music doesn’t have anything in common with THIN LIZZY. I’m afraid, I can’t give them a bonus for this, but it sure is good to see that Phil isn’t forgotten by the metal heads. “Dealers In Death” and the slower “Sword Of Damocles” are on next and they sound like a nice, solid heavy rock band to me. This is followed by “Ultimate Act Of Betrayal”, which is a new song. before the band gets back to the old material, like “Sentenced” and their last song “The Shrine”. Although I didn’t know the band that well, I must admit that I did have a great time hearing these powerful songs. They were a real eye opener to me.
MIDNIGHT are next on the bill. At first I thought we were about to witness another tribute to the late CRIMSON GLORY singer. After doing some research though, I did find out that we’re dealing with an extreme heavy metal band from The States here, who are about to destroy the Tauberfrankenhalle. Well, I’m always in for some fun and I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. Even before they play their first song, the band destroys a guitar and opens with “Vomit Queens”. What a spectacular entrance! MIDNIGHT looks a bit like THE MENTORS and they have explicit lyrics as well. “Rip This Hell” and “Lust, Filth And Sleaze” are on next. You might think they look pretty silly with their masks on, but they sure play a thunderous live set. “All Hail Hell” and “Take You To Hell” seem to derive straight from hell. This band is truly evil and shocking, dear readers. The fans seem to like it, because a mosh pit has been created pretty soon, which will keep me away from the stage. The music is loud enough to reach the end of the hall (and outside). “I Am Violator” and “You Can’t Stop Steel” give you a brutal slam in the face. Guitars are being attacked with a hammer and something tells me, that this is not really suitable for pussies! And although I wasn’t familiar with the music of this brutal metal company, I must admit, that I liked their show. Mind you, I would never ever buy their music, but songs like “Endless Slut” and Satanic Royalty” are very energetic indeed. “Black Rock And Roll” sounds like a description of their music and before you know it, the band leaves the stage with “Unholy And Rotten”. What a nice surprise! I don’t rate this band as high as LEGEND or QUARTZ, but they kicked my butt and I liked it. Both thumbs up for these underdogs, who showed some shocking metal action this afternoon.
OCTOBER 31 is the day, that Halloween is being celebrated and it’s also the heavy metal band from Arlington, Virginia, led by King Fowley. We saw the band perform at Wacken Open Air a decade or something ago and it’s good to see that the band is still alive and kicking. The signing session earlier this afternoon were already a goofy blast. I really don’t know what the ‘normal’ face of ‘The King’ looks like, because he was constantly fooling around, showing his most ugly faces. Once on stage, this fun attitude doesn’t change a bit and although the band is able to create a very powerful show, frontman King Fowley still knows to fool around in between the songs. Despite that, he also sings the songs very convincing and conducts the show like a real pro, because he’s the (choir)master of the game. They open with “Visions Of The End”, “The Warlock” and “The Chosen One”. King is having a blast. He runs around on stage and is in heavy metal heaven. “Commit To Sin”, “Salem’s Curse” and “Meet Thy Maker” are pure metal tunes and the band is in really good shape today. “River Rat”, “Powerhouse” and “A Million Goodbyes” bring us to the seclusion of tonight’s set. The joy, this band has been performing tonight, reflects back to the audience. They pay tribute to their heroes by going nutz during the last song of their set, which is a fine rendition of the SAXON classic “Power And The Glory”, taken from their “Meet Thy Maker” album. A short chat with King made us realize, that he didn’t buy as much vinyl records and CDs, like last time at Wacken. Probably because the plane would get too overloaded and crash. We don’t want that to happen, I guess. I will never forget seeing him walking around near the metal market at Wacken with three plastic bags full of stuff in each hand. Good memories like that will never fade away. Those were the days and it was so much fun seeing the band back on stage again after all those years. Next year, King will return at K.I.T. with his other band DECEASED for another ear attack, where he will possibly drum and sing. Don’t miss it!
LEGEND are one of the bands, that I have been looking forward to seeing most here this weekend. Guitar player Pete Haworth is like a true legend to me. We were not able to go to the LEGEND gig in Jersey and I must admit, that I was glad that we didn’t try. We would have travelled by airplane and it was so foggy that day, that they only were able to fly above Jersey, but they couldn’t land there. That would really have ruined my weekend! Like I said, I’m glad that we didn’t try and waited patiently for them to cross the sea, because now I’m able to see them here in Germany. I know that LEGEND will only have a one hour set, but hopefully that’ll be enough to satisfy my hunger for those ever-lasting guitar solos. Already long before the show starts, we hook up with the band members and find out that Pete is ready to rock. “Hiroshima” already proves, that Pete was right. The guitar sound destroys every living soul and is really astounding. This is what I’ve been hoping for and yes, I am not kidding, they were that amazing! “Burn With Your Demons” and “Taste Of Life” are next, before arriving to the one song a lot of fans have been waiting for. I’m talking about “Death In The Nursery”. Because the song was left out in the set in Jersey, this is the present of the band to their fans. Another guitar orgasm unfolds itself and LEGEND steals the show before our very eyes. Next song is called “Red”, which is taken from their latest album “The Dark Place”, from which they will play five songs totally. Call this some kind of album presentation, as half the set will be from the new album. I actually don’t care what they play, as long as Pete does these heavenly solos, I am fine with everything. “Why Don’t You Kill Me” is an oldie, but I’d rather want them to wait until the show is over. First we must see LEGEND, then we can peacefully die! The killer riffs and solos keep coming and coming though. “Prisoner” and “The Watcher” are new and old, following each other without any hesitation. Apparently, the new material is integrated in their set very smoothly and the new songs sound like they’ve been written in the same session as the old material. Pete is having some trouble with his tremolo arm halfway the gig, but this doesn’t seem to bother him that much. He’s playing the guitar so damn easy and I bet that he will leave some guitarists behind crying from shame, that they can’t keep up with his skills. Try harder, I would say to them. LEGEND closes their great performance with “The Dark Place”, which is the title track of their current album and another new song, called “Too Late To Be A Hero”. They already were true heroes to me, before they even went on stage, but now they have become immortal to me. LEGEND is the first band, that receives a standing ovation from me. Now it’s time to search for some dry clothes… Anybody?
From one guitar hero to another is just one small step today. JACK STARR is another great axe pulverizer at this festival. The first time I saw Jack playing was at the Breaking Sound Festival, near Paris in 1984. He shared the bill with DIO, MOTLEY CRUE, SORTILÈGE, MERCYFUL FATE, ULI JON ROTH, TOKYO BLADE, ACCEPT, METALLICA and GARY MOORE. I remember, that WHITESNAKE cancelled their gig and BLUE OYSTER CULT was added instead as a special act. It was one of those very ‘rare’ shows of Jack STARR as a solo performer and I know, that Paul Kane, Gary Bordonaro and Rhett Forrester were in his band that day. He had just left VIRGIN STEELE to start a solo career. He played many songs from his first solo album that day in August. Now he appears at K.I.T. with Martha Gabriel being his second guitar player. The days have changed, but it will be great to see the master crank out some of these unforgettable anthems again. I don’t know exactly what he’s up to, but as long as the guitar work is fine, I’m happy. “Go Down Fighting” is the opener and “The Flame That Never Dies”, is the first GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME tune. The band is warmed up and after “Blaze Of Glory”, it’s time for the first guitar solo. Todd Michael Hall is the perfect front man, who is blessed with a great voice and the guy is not afraid either to climb into the audience and be with his fans. Willingly, he poses before the camera and makes the sign of the devil, while cranking out the greatest vocal chords. What a singer! “Land Of The Dead” and “Day Of The Reaper” are on next, while we slowly stroll to the right side of the stage to get something to eat. When “No Turning Back!” starts off, the hall seems to explode and JACK STARR can absolutely call himself a winner after this. After “Sands Of Time”, it’s time for another GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME song with “Conspirator Sanctos”. “Burning Starr” is a crowd’s favorite and tonight’s set closes with “Evil Never Sleeps”. What a great performance! JACK STARR did exactly what I’d hoped for. He impressed everybody with his great band, good sound and not forgetting his good looking, ultra-hot female guitar player, who played a beautiful flying V with a V-shaped neck. I want more, but all good things come to an end and also this one. By the way: it was really good to see Rhino, the old MANOWAR drummer, who was still in great shape. The only song, that I’ve been missing tonight is “Concrete Warrior”. I know, you can’t have it all. All in all, I’ve had a real blast with this full hour of metal madness. An impressive show by a true hero, who has been teaching the youngsters a lesson in heavy metal!
STEEL PROPHET is one of those bands I’ve been looking forward to seeing again for a long time. I still remember Wacken Open Air in 1999, where we had a blast with Rick Mythiasin at the back stage area. They handed out their “Inner Ascendance” demo and played a stunning gig. Today we will be seeing the band in a different form, because Rick has been tied to a wheelchair. The second musician, that has to perform this way at the festival. Anyway, you never know what to expect with STEEL PROPHET. I am used to high quality music on their records and their show at Wacken was very energetic and amazing, but I also heard that their gig at Swordbrothers a couple of years ago was far away from being perfect. I have the feeling, that things will turn out well again. Keep It True has the reputation to have the finest bands and the best shows and I’m sure they want to keep up with that. When the band continues with “Montag” after the intro of “The Ides Of March”, it becomes clear that they didn’t pick the most obvious songs and this is only the beginning of a few surprises. It’s hard for Rick to sit down. He’s constantly trying to stand up, to have a better eye-contact with the audience. “Sleep Of Despair” and “When Six Was Nine” are on next and the band seems to be in perfect shape today. Bass player Vince du Juan Dennis performs barefooted and moves around like a madman, being jealously followed by Rick, who wishes he could jump up from his wheelchair and walk around, too. Rick’s voice is in perfect shape and when they continue their show with “One Way Out” and “Trickery Of The Scourge”, I see a band at work that really gives it all. The speed and mood changes are a bit subtle at times, but they keep the music very alive, exciting and full with surprises. Surprising is also the word that I’d like to give the outfit of guitar player Steve Kachinsky, who walks around in a Superman shirt. It doesn’t affect his enthusiasm while jumping around the stage during “Penance Of Guilt”. Like I mentioned earlier, the band is at their very best today. “Earth And Sky” and “Death” belong to the crowd’s favorites. Rick is undoubtedly looking forward to do something weird and he warns the crowd upfront, that they’ll have to wait and see, because there will be something very funny going on. From the very first notes on, everybody looks up very surprised. STEEL PROPHET is about to play QUEEN’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” live on stage. One will call this blasphemy, while others think it’s great that a band like STEEL PROPHET is doing this. I belong to the second group and I think that most of the people in the audience agrees with me. The song gets a Keep It True choir treatment from the audience and afterwards the band receives a standing ovation. Everybody gets crazy and from all the enthusiastic reactions, the band can surely celebrate their triumph. This worked out even better than they’d hoped for, I guess. Nothing can go wrong now and when Rick introduces all the heroes on stage, he uses a nickname for himself. He uses ‘Lady Gaga’ as his nickname tonight. A weird bunch of metal heroes, but hell, can they play! The last song of tonight’s victory ride is called “Strange Encounter”. Vince leaves the stage one more time and makes his way to the first row of the almost going insane crowd. STEEL PROPHET thanks their public after this and we’re now only two bands away from the closure of this sixteenth edition of Keep It True again. Time flies, when you’re having fun.
ANGEL WITCH is on next and they already had to cancel their signing session earlier that evening. I must admit, that this band has got a terrible reputation when it comes to communicating with their fans, but on stage they usually give the full hundred percent and more. As long as Kevin Heybourne is on stage, there will be an ANGEL WITCH. Although they lack of a stable line-up most of the time, they have played a lot of great shows throughout the years. Always astonishing their enemies and never letting down their fans. The new “As Above, So Below” album is a true killer and I wouldn’t mind if they would play a handful of songs from that album here tonight. Billy Steer (CARCASS, FIREBIRD) is added to the line-up of the band to give it a bit more body and when the band opens with the fantastic “Atlantis”, I am in heavy metal heaven! This band has released so many perfect songs in their early days, that I’ve simply stopped counting and a lot of these cult songs are being played here tonight, because Kevin takes us back to the beginning days of ANGEL WITCH many times. He is wearing a beautiful shirt with a print of the horror movie “The House By The Cemetery”, which is a must for people, who like it bloody and gore. “Dead Sea Scrolls” is the first track from the new album and I must admit, that it fits just perfect to the older stuff from the witch. After this, they continue with three old songs, like “White Witch”, “Sorceress” and one of my all-time faves “Gorgon”. I like what I see, but I also notice that some people think this is just average stuff. I think, that they have chosen the wrong festival and they must listen with their ears and with their soul. “Guillotine” is one of my favorite tracks from “As Above So Below” and after “Free Man”, ANGEL WITCH starts up the all-classics jukebox for the final punch on the nose. It’s good to know, that “Dr. Phibes” is around to give some help. “Angel Of Death” and “Baphomet” take us back to the dark thoughts of Mr. Heybourne and although these songs are more than thirty years old, they easily stand the test of time. It’s great to see, that the band is having so much fun again on stage. They invite the audience to sing along to the last song of tonight, called “Angel Witch”, which sounds even more impressive coming from so many throats. ANGEL WITCH has never played big shows and they are not famous for communicating to their fans. They just let the music do the talking. The band amazed me again with their power and energy. Maybe one or two more songs from the new album would have been nice, but hey you can’t have it all. I’ve enjoyed a lot of the old material, which makes me a very happy man.
WARLORD is the last band of tonight and the stage is getting a major facelift. The big red winged capitol W is everywhere on the backline and I think they are the perfect headliners. WARLORD is a legendary band and the Greek metal heads really see them as the true heroes of epic metal. Their show at Wacken in 2002 was really amazing, but a lot of people thought that the voice of HAMMERFALL Joacim Cans simply wasn’t good enough to do the job. I agree, that nobody can replace Damien King III, but I thought it was already very special to see the band perform live once in my life. Today things will be slightly different, but one thing is for sure. What Kevin Heybourne is for ANGEL WITCH, is Bill Tsamis for WARLORD. As long as he is in the band, WARLORD has the right to exist. Giles Lavery is the singer of the band tonight and original members will be William J. Tsamis (also known as Destroyer) and Mark Zonder (also known as Thunder Child) on drums. Remarkable name in the band is Philip Bynoe on bass guitar, who also played with the likes of VAI. One remark would be called for, I guess. If the band would have played their set the other way around, it probably would have been more perfect. Now, the fast and heavy tunes were on first and the more epical, heraldic tracks were played near the end, which actually pulled out the speed, whereas the big bang wasn’t there or at least it didn’t have that effect. But maybe this is my own interpretation. Anyway, when the lights go down and the intro tape starts, everybody is very excited about what’s going to happen. When “Deliver Us From Evil” starts off, it’s quite obvious that nobody has forgotten about WARLORD and it’s such an amazing sight to see the public go nutz on this one. And this is only the beginning. Like I mentioned earlier, the more heavy songs were at the beginning and after “Winter Tears”, there’s “Child Of The Damned”, “Penny For A Poor Man”, “Black Mass”, “Mrs. Victoria”, “Lost And Lonely Days”, “Aliens” and “Soliloquy”, which sounds quite impressive indeed. The bass sound is extremely loud and overruling at the beginning, but after a handful of songs, everything seems to be perfectly balanced out. The singer sounds very much like Damien King III and it’s so much better than eleven years ago at Wacken. “City Walls Of Troy” (from the LORDIAN GUARD demos) and “Kill Zone” are on next and the guitar sound of William is amazing! It’s so recognizable and it dominates within the overall sound of WARLORD. The keyboards get a bigger role later on in the show though, because of the more epic character of the songs. “Father” is next on the list. It’s taken from a demo, that they released in 1985. The show continues with “Glory” and “War In Heaven” that we know from LORDIAN GUARD of course and “Winds Of Thor” also from the LORDIAN GUARD period. It’s an overwhelming performance, but it could have been so much more impressive, if they would have played these songs at the beginning of this show. At least, that’s my opinion. It’s time to scream my lungs out for an encore or two. I want to hear more magical moments by this Greek axe master. The band returns with “Beginning / Lucifer’s Hammer” and one more time, the hall explodes in ecstasy. The last notes of tonight are from “Achille’s Revenge”. Then it’s all over and the countdown for the seventeenth edition has begun...
What another pleasant event this has been. Our car is packed with many nice souvenirs and our heads are filled with many good memories. The magic is over and we’ve had the time of our life reliving our musical past in the present. Just a small peak to the future with a look at the bill of 2014, make my horns go up again. It will be another wonderful event, that’s for sure. On the bill are confirmed names like NIGHT DEMON, IRON KINGDOM, DEEP MACHINE, MASQUE (great reunion, but unfortunately without leading lady Jo Phipps… What the f*ck happened to this lady?????), IRON CROSS (yeah \m/\m/), DECEASED (the re-appearance of King Fowley), PERSIAN RISK (I guess without Phil Campbell), WARRIOR, ATLANTEAN KODEX, SINNER (old school set), HEXX, LETHAL, JAG PANZER (playing the whole “Ample Destruction” album), FLOTSAM & JETSAM, and VARDIS (a reunion, that I’m looking forward to very much, with the amazing Steve Zodiac!). The bill is far from completion and I can’t wait to find out the other names, that will be announced soon. What about RAPID TEARS, MYTHRA, HELL, BITCHES SIN, SACRED RITE, SCARLET ANGEL, BOW WOW, LOUDNESS, MARI HAMADA, ACEIUM, RIPPER, DEATH SS or ROCK GODDESS, EVIL UNITED, CHASTAIN with Leather Leone, or Dutch legends GILGAMESJ, EAR DANGER, SEVENTH SEAL, BLACK KNIGHT or VORTEX? Whatever will happen, you can read a review of the 2014 show here, because I will be hanging out in the front rows again to pay tribute to the heavy metal masters, that make my blood run faster and my adrenaline flow. First of all, our thanks go out to Oliver and Tarek (and all the K.I.T. volunteers!) for another amazing festival and of course our friends Eddy and Christine, Gerrie, Pascal, Stefan, Martjo and Paul and everybody we forgot to mention here! See you again in 2014!!
*Written by: Toine van Poorten/July 2013
*Photos copyright by: Rita van Poorten [www.metalmaidens.com]