* April 25-26, 2014 *

The countdown has started in 2013, the Sunday we drove away from our guesthouse in Lauda. Twenty-five weeks later we would be part of this magnificent event once again. Lauda-Konigshofen is the center of the world for us in the next three days. The Keep It True festival is more important than any other festival, because there you will see the bands, that you have been dreaming of for a very long time. Reunions take place and some bands even play a one-off set here to be never seen again after this moment of fame. We know, that Tarek and Oliver come up with only the best possible line-up, but a couple of weeks before our trip to Germany, the rumors start boiling again. Bands are cancelling and some new names step in last minute. Lauda-Konigshofen slowly prepares for an invasion of long haired or bald metal heads dressed in denim, leather, spikes and chains, teeshirts with band logos (some extremely rare ones!) and the most interesting outfits, you can think of. For the average man in the street, this might look a bit weird. The people in Lauda don’t think it’s strange anymore. They got used to it and know that these long haired guys and lovely ladies are responsible of an enormous economic boost this weekend.
The first cancellation is a fact, when Leicester based, female-fronted band MASQUE cancelled their gig. Singer Jo Phipps may have left the band in the meantime, but if they would have played their “The Dead Of Night” EP, they sure would have made my day! I learned about the band in the very early eighties, when my penpal Woody send me this EP. He lived in Leicester and we met each other in the early eighties at the infamous Jazz Festival in Breda, because his father played drums in a jazz band, called THE FEARLESS HISS AND BOO BAND, who combined Dixieland music with a whole lot of English humor. So thanks to Woody, I knew MASQUE for a long time, but unfortunately they stepped out last minute and STALLION stepped back in, which I think are a nice replacement. Another band, that I‘d been looking forward to see would be IRON CROSS. Back in my Snakepit days, I did an interview with these guys after the release of their fantastic double album on O.P.M. Records. Now I finally had the opportunity to meet the band in person, which did not happen unfortunately. However, their replacement is like a three thumbs up for me (if I had three). KARION from Texas is a cult name in this scene and their album “Iron Shadows” is a true winner for me. After hearing, that they would possibly be playing songs off the SA SLAYER EP, I know this would be like a wet dream come true. The biggest soap however are DARK ANGEL. They were being announced to be playing at this edition of Keep It True. The various statements, that follow thereafter are making the whole situation very confusing. When one band member comes, another one will stay away. It’s a complete mess and at some point, it's even unsure for the band members, whether they are in the band or not. Oliver keeps his head cool of course, although he might be boiling from anger on the inside. He watches the whole soap from the sideline. And when another statement is being made, which makes the situation even more unsure, he makes a very wise decision. Of course it would have been cool to have DARK ANGEL at your festival, but not if it has a negative impact on the flawless reputation of the organization. Oliver pulls the plug and DARK ANGEL is out and WARRIOR, who are still “Fighting For The Earth” after all these years, steps in. When the last band BATTLE AXE has been added to the bill, we can start the real countdown and Keep It True 2014 is a fact at the very last weekend in April. The following review is only a reflection of how I look at the festival. This may not be your opinion and you will probably not always agree with me. Well, read on to hear what my thoughts are about the festival. Have a nice read, because the most important metal journey of the year starts here....
The alarm bell rings. It’s time to gather our stuff, start the car and drive off to Lauda and be part of the Keep It True festival. We do one stop at the border to meet up with our good friend Gerrie Lemmens, who lives in the very South of our country. The way to Lauda is a long but easy road. In the afternoon we call at our guest house, who has had a major make over. We have our own bedroom, bathroom and kitchen now and the only thing is to find a suitable place to eat. The 'old' restaurant is closed, so we decided to visit another restaurant in the next village. A very cozy place with good food. In the meantime we have also teamed up with our other friends, Eddy and Christine, who arrived at the guest house in Lauda right after us. It would have been nice to check out the warming up gig in Dittigheim as well. Especially this CIRITH UNGOL tribute band FINGER OF SCORN left us in doubt for a while. Shall we do it or not? We opted for the last one. It's been a long day and we still have two days ahead of us and a long drive back home on Sunday. I think, that we have made the right decision. Case closed.

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Tauberfrankenhalle, Lauda-Königshofen, Germany

A proper breakfast and a good night’s sleep in our new room made us feel very comfortable. We saw the first people stand in line for the hall and we decided to queue up by the first lot to be able to visit the metal market before the first band starts their show. And of course we meet with the first people. It’s a reunion each year and some of these guys and girls we see more than our own family. Our first run is to the merchandise stand for a compilation CD with KIT bands covering metal classics, the DVD of last year’s festival and a DVD for our good friend Tim Perry (QUARTZ) for his collection of QUARTZ stuff. A short first round on the metal market is followed by the first tones of the sound check, the first lot of ten band starts here at twelve and STALLION is the first band that hits the stage today.

These German metal heads are immense popular and they show their faces everywhere they are wanted, just like newcomers EVIL INVADERS did last year. When you’ve played at Keep It True or Metal Assault, which is also organized by Oliver, you are paving your way to success fast. But before you are on the bill of one of these festivals, you must have already proved yourself. There is a jury of fine tasters standing in the front rows and if you are not performing okay, your head might be on the chop block and you might have a rough time for the rest of your career. This may be a hard way to put it, but there is a pinnacle of truth here, mark my words. So you can guess, that I had high expectations about these German metallers. STALLION survived Metal Assault easily and they also took the KIT audience by surprise. With an energetic start, in which they nicely introduce themselves to the public with “Wild Stallions”, they easily break the ice and win the enthusiastic and warm reactions of the public with wild rockers like “Killing Time”, “The Right One” and “Bill To Pay”. Most of the tracks are taken from the EP they’ve released, except the opener. “Shadow Run” and “Give It To Me” are on next and with “Watch Out” we hear a second, yet unknown track. Throwing in a cover is always wise in my opinion. The first impression is the best and people will always recognize you, because you were that one band that cranked out a nice version of that well-known metal classic. It’s a point of recognition and it might be a fact, that some people remembered STALLION as the band that played their rendition of the ROCK GODDESS song “Heavy Metal Rock ‘N’ Roll”. Wow, what a nice way to start this festival! It’s a shame though that until now, it has been impossible to get the original version of ROCK GODDESS here on stage, but I guess that the fans are not complaining. And they are not done yet, because they close their set with “Canadian Steele”. There is another German band, which goes by the name of STALLION, but I suggest that they’d better change their name, because this STALLION has written their name in the big KIT book with the well-known golden marker. All others can only dream on, that this might happen to them as well. And I see all happy faces in the crowd, so another nice move on the ladder to success has been made here. One down, nineteen to go.

RANGER from Finland is next on the bill They started their career as TURBIN and in 2009 they changed their name to RANGER. Finland has got something in the water, because there are so many successful metal bands coming from the country of the thousand lakes. I think, there are even more bands than lakes and RANGER is one of them. What makes them so outstanding from the other nine hundred and ninety nine? I don’t know, but all I know is that the lads also received a very warm welcome by the crowd when they start their set with “Shock Skull”, “Touch Of Death”, “Supreme Evil” and “Combat Metal”. These last three songs are taken from their 2013 demo “Combat Metal”. The band came on strong and are being rewarded for their hard work with enthusiastic reactions from the audience. “Omen Of Doom” is on next and “Steel Dawn” is a new track, that they crank out today. In “Knights Of Darkness”, drummer Miko grabs a chance to play a short drum solo, which is a very brave move in my opinion. The band says goodbye to the public with “Ranger”. A nice closure of a good performance. So far, so good. Let’s see who’s next on the bill.

DEEP MACHINE is a NWOBHM band and their show at the Negasonic in Aalst, Belgium, that we attended in 2011, was one that you had to visit to believe your ears and eyes. A gig, that easily became one of the highlights of that very year for me for reasons I can’t explain. And of course there was a time, long, long ago, when I still had hair and went to one of their gigs at the Dynamo in 1982 (where else??). Anyway, that was then and now they had a bit more space than in Aalst, where they played an excellent set on two square meters. There has been some line-up changes, since that show and for some reason they climbed the stage with a very well-known bass player. At least for the connoisseurs among us. Nobody else but John Wiggins of TOKYO BLADE (and former member of BATTLEZONE and LONE WOLF) played the four string, low-toned instrument today - a very fine choice, if you’d ask my opinion. If old school JUDAS PRIEST belongs to your favorites, you are about to have a good time in the next hour or so. DEEP MACHINE’s songs are very much influenced by the high priests of heavy metal and nobody will argue with that and have a problem with that either. As long as you have a fine vocalist like Lenny Baxter and a guitar wizard like Bob Hooker in your team, you are a champion league winning team for me. “Demon Preacher” and “Witch Child” open their set and with this they already played two of my favorite songs. Bob Hooker asks for the most attention with his fabulous axe work. What a splendid guitar player! That’s why NWOBHM has my main interest. They always have such splendid guitar players, while a lot of other bands have guitar players, who play excellent riffs or are huge shredders. This man knows to play a good solo and makes my mouth water. On they go with “Whispers In The Black”, “Warhead” and “Iron Cross” (Is this a tribute to the guys, who couldn’t come over?? I don’t think so, but it was a nice thought anyway). With “Black Priestess” they crank out another fave of mine. The band is in good shape and Lenny is constantly in touch with the audience in between the songs. His poses might remind you of Rob Halford (who else?) and they even have the same hair dresser, I guess. “The Gathering” and “Hell Forrest” are on next. Many of the songs performed tonight are on the 2014 release “Rise Of The Machine”. Some of the songs were recorded a long time ago, but they have been re-recorded for this release. “The Wizard” is such an oldie and maybe it’s one of the oldest DEEP MACHINE tracks, but it can also be found on this majestic new release. In between the songs Lenny shouts “Breaking the what?” several times, which could refer to the JUDAS PRIEST cover “Breaking The Law” this afternoon. The reactions of the public are good, but every time he announces another song instead of this PRIEST classic. And every time he tries again and his band mates seem to enjoy the funny situation that he creates here. “The Gladiator” is on next and yet another favorite track unfolds itself. One more try for “Breaking the what?”, but again they decide to go for their own penned material with “Deep Machine”, a terrific closer of a marvelous set. DEEP MACHINE rocked the joint with a fantastic performance. Can someone please get me a mop? This was really mouth-watering! “Breaking the what????” What a laugh, those English and always in for a good joke.

KARION has got a difficult task to fulfill right after DEEP MACHINE. The fact alone, that they will play the SA SLAYER EP “Prepare To Die” makes this band immortal for me. Looking at the line-up of this Texas metal band, you’ll see that they consist of three former SA SLAYER members. Pete Perez, Chris Cronk and Art Villareal spend a long time of their musical career in this band. Pete Perez even played in SPASTIC INK and because of that they were already winners to me. Already at the meet and greet it shows that Chris Cronk has a wonderful time here. And he absorbs every attention, that is given to them. For many people they are an unknown name, but I settled myself in the first rows, simply because I didn’t want to miss a glimpse of them. KARION is another band that doesn’t want to impress with stout poses or an evil image. They just want to impress with their playing. Touches of progressive metal are mixed with pure old school Texas heavy metal and from the very beginning with “Against All Flags” and “Silent Fury”, I am in rock heaven. Art Villareal gets enough room to show his skills and there are many guitar players, who could learn a lot from this man. “We Are The Law” (a true word!) and “There For None To See” are on next and the band impresses even more. Chris has got a high-pitched voice and you can almost feel the joy by which he is performing the show, while Pete is concentrating himself on his playing. When Chris announces, that they are about to play the SA SLAYER EP, I must have screamed my lungs out. Especially the title track “Prepare To Die” belongs to my all-time favorite metal anthems. It’s the fantastic combination of the high-pitched vocal pull outs and the hard to catch up musical escapades. Don’t try this at home, you simply won’t succeed. You know the drill now. We go from “Final Holocaust” to “Unholy Book” to “To Ride The Demons Out”. The magic isn’t gone after that, but this part will remain one big highlight for me for the rest of the weekend. “Iron Shadows” and “Panzer” are magnificent last songs. And when the band kindly thanks the audience for their overwhelming response, my wife asks me why I am laughing. I answer that this is because I just saw a miracle happen, which makes me happy. On the ground in front of me are some pieces of lung tissue. Sorry for the bloody mess, but good god, this sure was freaking awesome! Good music deals with various emotions. It’s hard to explain. It can leave one cold and it can touch the other person straight at its soul. KARION just hit mine. Their show has been one big highlight to me and I’m sorry for the next band, that has to go on stage. But I press the reset button and after a short stroll on the metal market, I am ready for the next band on the bill. During the meet and great sessions, KARION hands out set lists with their autographs. What an innovative idea! I think, that all bands should follow that, so reviewers can watch the show for details instead of constantly being busy writing down the song titles.

And the NWOBHM section isn’t over yet, because next on the list is BATTLE AXE. Raise your hand, if you don’t know their “Burn This Town” album and please continue reading the ONE DIRECTION gig review. What I didn’t know, is that this band also released a live album called “Live ‘N’ Kicking” according to some websites. I must tell you that I’ve searched everywhere for it, but couldn’t find it. What I did find is that needle in the haystack, where everybody was looking for. That was an easy job. Is there anybody out there, who can give me a clue where to find this Holy Grail?? Send me a p.m. please. “A Prelude To Battle-Legions Unite” is the first introduction with these axe grinders from Sunderland and surroundings. Wow, again a mighty fine guitar player and a vocalist with a very powerful voice, who knows to get his fans going. With the energy of a nuclear power station, they are ready to deliver. How can you spread this news better than with “Ready To Deliver”, a crowd’s fave that came in very early in the set. These guys are ready to eat you alive and they have all the “Power Of The Universe”. If enthusiasm counts in the metal scene, they will soon be huge stars, because they sure gave us hell this afternoon. Dave King doesn’t give the audience one little break and continues with “Rebel With A Cause”, “Romeo” and “Heavy Metal Sanctuary”. BATTLE AXE proves to be a well-oiled machine and the next song “Hail To the King” sure is another highlight in my book. It’s taken from their new release “Heavy Metal Sanctuary”, which contains a whole lot of high octane-fueled metal tracks. Many songs, that have been played here this afternoon are from this release, that already made a lot of turns in my CD player, because it’s full of highlights. And the songs sound very well in a live situation as well. So both thumbs up for these axe swingers. “Too Hot For Hell”, “Revolution” and the old “Chopper Attack” from the 1984 release “Power From The Universe” are on next. Time flies, when you’re having fun and before you know it we’ve arrived at the very last song of today’s show and that is “Burn This Town”. The public goes wild one more time and BATTLE AXE impressed me a lot with their show. The axe is buried and we are preparing for the first American ear attack on this festival.

HEXX is another US heavy metal band, who started their career as PARADOX about thirty years ago. They concentrate themselves on their heavy, power metal albums “No Escape” and “Under The Spell”. During that time frame, these were very nice albums for the metal fan, who loved it a just little bit louder. The question is if they could manage this in a live situation as well. No question about that in the first few songs like “Terror”, “Invader”, “The Victim” and “No Escape”. Good songs from a very tight band. But to be honest, there was something missing. A second guitar player would have made the difference. Dan Watson is a great guitar player, but it’s almost impossible to play the leads and the groovy riffs together and sometimes there were some inconvenient heaps in their sound where a rhythm guitar player would have filled this pretty easily. “Edge Of Death”, “Look To The Sky” and “Night Of Pain” continue their set. Another thing that strikes me is that newcomer drummer Gary Gutfield wears a bowler. It makes him quite a gentleman. If he shakes his head too fast to the rhythm of the beat, it might fall off, but I think he’s used to that. “Beware Of The Darkness”, “The Hexx” and “The Other Side” are on next and I must admit, that despite the fact that I still think that a second guitar player would do the band justice, the songs still reflect the power that they also had on the studio albums. The raw energy that comes from this hard working band is striking and that’s why I give them the benefit of the doubt, I guess. Set closers “Hell Riders”, “Under The Spell” and “Out Of Control” are definitely some old school bangers and of course it is really cool to see HEXX play live over here in Europe. Where were they in the eighties? Maybe they would have impressed me even more back then.

It’s dinner time! This is always a point of discussion, when the time table is available. When do we take a short break and enjoy our meal? We mostly try around six, but if that’s not a good option, we just see when it fits best in our schedule. The two German bands SINNER and ATLANTEAN KODEX play around six o’clock and this time they are the victims to please our loud roaring stomachs. We’ve seen SINNER several times before (for example at Wacken 2003) and we already had our doubts, if they are a suitable band for Keep It True in the first place. Sure, they will be playing an old school set this time, but we decided to queue up in the food supply chain right after HEXX. This ended up in a switch from the left side of the stage to the right side of the stage. When SINNER enters the stage, they received a very warm welcome. And not only from the German fans of course. It’s cool to see, that SINNER is still around after so many years. Matt Sinner is a cult figure in the German metal scene of course, because he’s also playing in bands like PRIMAL FEAR, VOODOO CIRCLE and SILENT FORCE, and he knows what’s going on in the world of hard rock and heavy metal because of the work he did for record label Nuclear Blast. “Crash & Burn”, “Come Out Fighting”, “Danger Zone” and “Bad Girl” give a foretaste of what we are about to hear today. Fast old school rock songs with a melodic touch, that sometimes ask to shout your balls off. I see many fists in the air and a whole lot of people are singing along to songs like “Born To Rock”, which could be autobiographical here. “Lost In A Minute” is followed by the ballad “Knife In My Heart”, a first class tear jerker, so I’m very glad that I brought my hanky. The crowd seems to like it a lot, according to the reactions I see. One more time they rock it out with “Masquerade”. The BILLY IDOL cover “Rebel Yell” is a song that can’t be missed and it becomes a nice chance to sing along. Whether BILLY IDOL is the level that I prefer on a festival like this remains to be seen, but what the hack, we’re only young once. Set closer is “Germany Rocks”…..and what about other countries?? Don’t get me wrong. SINNER played a solid set of rock songs that pleases the lot, but they belong more on a festival like Wacken or Bang Your Head. Although I’m certainly not doubting the musical quality of these rockers. It’s just not my cup of tea, I’m afraid. But when I see the reactions of the audience, you can only say that they proved me being wrong, because they receive both thumbs up from the crowd. Good for them. And of course “Germany Rocks” is a perfect song to pay respect to your audience and receive a warm well-earned applause at the end of your gig.

WARRIOR was a very nice surprise. Maybe also a name that you wouldn’t expect to see in Lauda, but the fact that CAGE and DEATH DEALER frontman Sean Peck is behind the mike today, makes the choice understandable. Old guys, like yours truly, know the video clip of “Fighting For The Earth” by heart. And I must admit, that there was a time that I turned to another channel, when it came by for the four hundred and fifty-sixth time. The song however is easy on the ears and that’s why it’s certainly a band that I’d been looking forward to seeing very much. Bass player Rob Farr shows up in front of the stage together with his wife many times, just to check out all these different bands. Especially his wife checks out all the bands that are on stage and it’s utterly cool to see that she supports the band and her husband so much. And when the band hits the stage with “PTM 1” and “Fight Or Fall”, we know that this band is born to rock. There is a connection between the various band members. They’re all WARRIORS and they came to rock, they came with a mission and they will fulfill this mission no matter what happens. I like that attitude. The blonde wife of the bass player is in front of the stage near the photo pit to take pictures and support the warriors to the fullest. “Day Of Reckoning”, “The Wars Of Gods And Men” and the mighty “Kill The Machine” are on next and Sean performs the songs really well. I agree with the fact that he actually is a metal singer, but he does his very best to put some more melody in his voice and a little bit less power. WARRIOR is a different band than CAGE and it simply needs a slightly different approach. “Mind Over Matter”, “Defenders Of Creation”, “Ruler”, “Day Of Evil (Beware)”, “Cold Fire” and “Only The Strong Survive” all are taken from that debut album, that most people came to hear. This band knows their audience and they also know that they want to make a very good impression tonight. And, as a matter of fact, they do. The only thing that we are waiting for right now is the announcement of that one song. I am not saying, that WARRIOR is some sort of a one hit wonder, but when they start “Fighting For The Earth”, the whole crowd is one big jumping mess. The public eats out of their hand during this one song and this is what a good rock and roll feeling is all about. ‘We Are…….Fighting For The Earth’ and at the same time you see hundreds of fists up in the air. A mighty fine closer of a very fine set. No wonder, that WARRIOR has to come back for an encore. Which song do we still miss from the debut album? “Welcome Aboard”, would be the answer and that’s exactly the song which they crank out before they leave the stage for the last time. Great performance, gentlemen! Rock in the American style, that is brought to you with a lot of sympathy. WARRIOR brought some melody to the arena, but there is something in the air. A lot of respect for Sean Peck, who had to replace Perry McCarty on such a short notice. I wonder what happened to Tommy Asakawa? But I’m afraid, that I’m the only one, that wants to know here.

The wildebeests are entering next for a firm dose of old school thrash. I’d better be prepared for the crowdsurfers, circle pitters and more of those outings of enthusiasm. I’m afraid I’m getting too old for that, so I leave to the tribune upstairs to watch the clashing from above. FLOTSAM & JETSAM are on next and it’s the second time that we see them at KIT. The first time was that one year that the festival was held in Wurzburg, but I wasn’t too enthusiastic about that show, I’m afraid. This time however, the band would be playing old material only. Count me in. Although I must admit that my admiration for thrash metal didn’t come right away, when these bands were in their heydays. I was more into the classic rock scene back then and these bands were a bit too much for me. When they played in Holland I mostly enjoyed their shows, but they never grabbed me by the balls. Now, about thirty years later I start to enjoy them more and more. Maybe it is because of the age difference. Fellow headbangers that are only three or four years younger than I am are more thrash oriented, while I am more grabbing back to old rock heroes like PURPLE, ZEPPELIN and HENDRIX instead. Or even more bluesy acts like RORY GALLAGHER, PAT TRAVERS, JOHNNY WINTER or FRANK MARINO. Enough jabber, it’s 2014 now and albums like “Doomsday For The Deceiver” or “No Place For Disgrace” belong to my favorite albums in this genre. Let me be clear, that this also counts for the bigger names in that scene like EXODUS, DEATH ANGEL, TESTAMENT and SACRED REICH. It’s a confession, that is well worth sharing here. Don’t be afraid, there has been a huge catching up process going on over the years and I can now enjoy it more intense, than I could in the eighties. There were too many other bands to enjoy at that moment. Then is then, now is now and I was looking forward to the mess that was about to happen, when the thrashers are coming in action in front of the stage. “Doomsday For The Deceiver”, “Dreams Of Death” and “Hard On You” are the openers of tonight’s show. The first song is messy, because of giant problems with the guitar sound of Michael Gilbert. Professionals as they are, Steve Conley makes some extra steps to fill in for him and make sure that the song is brought to a good ending. After a short break, the problems seem to be over and nobody could stop the Flotzilla invasion. It was good to hear, that the band didn’t pass by “Der Führer”. On other festivals it might be a song that could be categorized as ‘not done’. I think, that they knew quite well that the fans that come to the Keep It True come to see the show, enjoy the music and also to have a good time. There are so many songs written about the war or other touchy subjects. This song just belongs in the old school set that the band played in Lauda. “Hammerhead” and “Iron Tears” belong to my favorite songs, especially that last one is a killer track. And sometimes the pit in front of the stage looked pretty scary. It’s nice to see everybody moving to the brutal riffs of FLOTSAM and the band is getting the hang of it as well. “Desecrator” and “She Took An Axe” are on next and the heat is definitely on now. The band really served their fans with the best set they could possibly give. Many thrash fans know that this is the ultimate old school show, which ends with “P.A.A.B.” and the knock-out punch “No Place For Disgrace”. Then it’s over and FLOTSAM & JETSAM took revenge for their average show in Wurzburg six years ago. This was high class material and when we look at the faces of the crowd that came back from the pit in front of the stage, it looks like they’d just worked double shifts. A crowd drowned in a mix of sweat and adrenaline walked out of the hall with a big smile on their face. The real fans must have been very pleased. Now it’s our turn to put a smile on our face with the last band of this evening.

JAG PANZER will not please every fan in the house. Some of them think that the hype over the great vocals by Harry ‘The Tyrant’ Conklin are a bit over the top. And Harry showed up here many times. He played here as part of ROXXCALIBUR – TRIBUTE TO NWOBHM and also with SATAN’S HOST, TITAN FORCE and JAG PANZER. This time he’s back again with JAG PANZER. I could think of worse singers and in my eyes he’s the Rob Halford of the underground metal scene. His voice is really amazing and I must admit that I absolutely L-O-V-E JAG PANZER, so I don’t mind at all. The main reason that JAG PANZER was on the bill again wasn’t just because Harry could be welcomed again. No, this year the organization saw the opportunity to put together the line-up of the band, including guitar wizard Joey Taffola. Now my mind is gone. How the hell could this happen after so many years?! For die-hard fans another dream come true. I pushed myself into the first ranks, because I don’t want to miss anything. We were told, that the band would be playing the entire “Ample Destruction” album. In my opinion, this sure is one of the highlights in heavy metal history with the ultimate heavy metal tune called “The Crucifix”. Did you know, that there have been magazines, that rated this as a very poor metal album? I’m afraid, that these people will never get it and need to have their ears checked. Anyway, we have to wait for this a while, because they kicked off with “Battle Zones” and “Death Row”. I could only stare with my mouth wide open. Of course I’ve seen this band several times before, but this time it has the ultimate twin guitar tandem. Harry remains an entertainer. He is not only singing the songs, he performs them. They turn out being mini plays and always with the same guy playing the leading role. A singer, that you could only wish for in your band. “When The Metal Melts The Ice” is another killer track from the very early days. Those days before the band released “Ample Destruction”. When the first tones of “Licensed To Kill” have been fired away, the band begins their victory ride through the “Ample Destruction” part of the set. The songs are being played in exactly the same order as on the album. Meaning that we hear bashing loud versions of “Warfare”, “Symphony Of Terror”, “Harder Than Steel”, “Generally Hostile” (they still show no mercy for the weak!!), “The Watching”, “Reign Of The Tyrants” (where Harry walks around with a dagger in his hands), “Cardiac Arrest” and “The Crucifix” (wet pants for yours truly!). And the fun isn’t over yet, because with “Shadow Thief” there’s another all-time favorite to enjoy. And Joey?? Joey gets enough space to show his skills and I can tell you, that he still plays some mean guitar licks. Man, it sounds like he has never been away, while he has been continuing a solo career for many years now. “Black” is a bit of a surprise in a way, but a rather nice one. The set closes with three hard hitters being “Call Of The Wild”, “Future Shock” and “Tyranny”. I am in ecstasy and when the band leaves the stage, we can only hope for more. The tiredness doesn’t play tricks on me now. JAG PANZER rules and when they return for the encores, the fans go wild. Two more songs are on the list and they start with “Chain Of Command”. JAG PANZER is for the metal fan what FLOTSAM AND JETSAM are for the thrash metal fan of today. A throw back to the past in the world of today. When the band cranks out a stunning version of ACCEPT’s “Fast As A Shark”, I feel like being in a wonderful dream, that ends when the last notes fade away. These notes also mark the end of day one. Day two has ten other bands on the bill. The first day was a very good one, which was over before you know it. JAG PANZER being the big numero uno for me, but KARION are hot on their heels. Tired and exhausted we went to our guest house.

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Tauberfrankenhalle, Lauda-Königshofen, Germany

Like always the first day of the festival was being discussed at the breakfast table in our guesthouse. The flyer of next year’s festival is handed out to Frau Boger and the date has been put in her agenda, so we have confirmed our room reservation already while this year’s edition isn’t even over yet. We better be sure about the important things in life. When we take a quick look at the time schedule of today, it’s telling us that we have more interesting names on the bill to look forward to. Today we will go to church. Don’t get me wrong, the Metal Church we’re going to will be attended at the end of the day. But we still have got to wait a while, before they will hit the stage. When we arrive at the hall, the doors open right away and my first run is to the metal market. Now it’s not that crowded and we still have some room in our bags and some money left.

Canadian band IRON KINGDOM will be the opener of today and last weekend we missed them at the Very ‘Eavy Festival in Holland, because we only attended the second day of the festival and they played on the first day. We heard, that they did a fine show and judging by the two albums they’ve released so far, we are in for a real metal treat here. The band is fresh, we are fresh (again) and a steaming performance is what we want. “Crowned In Iron” and “Guardian Angel” show us, that we’re dealing with a good stage presentation. Besides that, it’s also good to see a woman on stage. Sometimes, she’s a bit difficult to spot behind her drum kit, but she’s definitely there. Amanda is the keeper of the torch for all the metal maidens here today and she did a great job. With “Ride For Glory”, the band also presents a new track, which is followed by the lengthy “Egypt (The End Is Near)”. I know, that Dave Meniketti could bend his body backwards during a guitar solo in the eighties, but front man Chris Osterman must have an elastic backbone, because when he bends backwards he almost touches the ground with his head. He is an acrobat, a singer and a guitar player all in one. And he shows, what he’s capable of in “Legions Of Metal” and one of my favorite tunes “Voodoo Queen”. In front of the stage they even build a mini pyramid, like the SCORPIONS did in their heydays. The band really impresses with their show and musical talent. When they close their set with “At Home In The Dark”, I know that this has been a winning opener again. A very talented band that we knew already from the two albums they released so far, but now they have showed us, that they can also realize their sound in a live situation as well. IRON KINGDOM, a name to remember.

Next on the list is NIGHT DEMON and I can tell you upfront that things will get even better with this fine act. Man, did they blow me away!! Already from the very first signs when hearing about this band, far before they were being confirmed to play at this festival, most die-hard headbangers were amazed about the high quality old school metal of this threesome. Now, a couple of months later, they could prove their skills to us on stage. Three members producing a sound, that you would only expect from a five piece band. The image of the band is about the hard work and the tonz of sweat that they produce. Their guitar player Brent Woodward is a left handed guitar player, who wears an ACE FREHLEY button on his guitar strap. Both guitar players (lead and bass) play Flying V guitars. If that ain’t worth some bonus points, then I don’t know what will. When the band hits the stage with “Ritual”, they have my attention right away. And they won’t let go, until the last notes have been fading away. The song is one of the four tracks on their 2013 EP release. The band continues with the RIOT cover “Road Racin’ “, which certainly did the trick to keep everybody’s attention. This is not just any cover, but you can steal away the hearts of your public with this one. They know it and therefore they are a winner. “Ancient Evil” is also taken from the EP, while “Satan” is a new song and highly enjoyable . During the set, the band notices that the fans are at their side and they start working even harder. “Curse Of The Damned” and “Living Dangerous” are true killers and the band sees an euphoric crowd in front of them. “The Chalice” is also from the EP and another surprise comes, when they start up the DIAMOND HEAD cover “Lightning To The Nations”. I’ve seen that this song will be on the expanded version of the EP together with a few other covers and live tracks. That they would play this killer track here this afternoon proves that these guys know what they are doing and they do it well. After this amazing cover, they close their victory ride with “Night Demon”. One more time they know to impress the crowd. Yep, this was a true winner in the best POWERVICE and IGNITOR tradition, as far as I’m concerned. And this is only the second band, which promises a lot for the rest of the day. Ventura, California can be proud of their NIGHT DEMON.

IRON CURTAIN from Spain is a name, that I’d heard about some weeks before the festival took place. Their high octane fueled speed and heavy metal would be a nice appetizer for the bigger names on the bill today. Songs like “Satan’s Race”, “Black Fist” and “Ranger Attack” warm up the crowd really well. IRON CURTAIN are old school rockers and they also know that they’ve come here to win over the audience. With orange colored shields on stage, the band shows that they want to do something special to the stage decoration. Not many bands do this, besides the different backdrops that you see every now and then behind the drummer. “Burning Wheels” and “Get Out Of My Way” are real speed bangers that also contain some NWOBHM influences. “Southbangers” is one the older songs that they play here today, but most songs are taken from their most recent album “Jaguar Spirit”, from which they play the title track next. The expectations are right, the first three bands would take care of a great warming up for the rest of the festival. The newcomers sound amazing, but IRON CURTAIN could hardly be called a newcomer anymore, because the band consists about seven years already. This show could very well be their major breakthrough though. “Scream & Shout” is on next and “Heavy Metal Nation”, which is a brand new track, closes their set. Spain is a real heavy metal nation and prove is given by IRON CURTAIN, who receive both thumbs up from me. Larga Vida El Rock & Roll! These lads will make your heart boil and the temperature is rising fast this early time of the day.
After these three bands, it’s time to get some fresh air and meet some friends outside. One of them is a twosome from Singapore and surroundings. I think, that most of the fans have seen them walk around in their coolest outfit, including some mirror glazed sunglasses. Steel Le Manz and Iskandar Tyrant Shah are two real cool headbangers, who hand out wonderful patches with an awesome Flying V and the text Heavy Metal Brigades Singapore. Heavy metal is a worldwide religion and they all come together to celebrate their favorite music style here in Germany, as you can see. The two guys are having a wonderful time in Europe. Heavy metal is their law and they breath it in everything that they do. I think, they made many new friends during their stay in Europe. Both horns up to you, guys! In the meantime the stage is covered with a nice band, that plays a bone hard mix of death metal, thrash metal and old school heavy metal. A strange combination?? You can leave that up to King Fowley, who we saw with OCTOBER 31 last year. The band members look like they just came together from playing in other bands and have just found out, that they are about to play here at this hour. When they start playing, the cohesion they seem to lack from at first sight, totally disappears and they surprise me with a very tight set, starting with “Elly’s Dementia”. The band already exists almost thirty years and they’ve released countless singles and EP’s since then. Front man is the always good looking King Fowley and I am not saying anything strange, when I call him a living legend. The faces he pulls, the enthusiasm he exudes and the energy, that he puts into his shows is truly amazing. He is constantly drawing the attention from everybody and although the music may not completely be my taste, I still can’t say anything negative about this cult figure. “Night Of The Deceased” and “The Triangle” are on next. The songs are being performed very well and most of all, King Fowley is having the time of his life. This man lives and breathes heavy metal. “The Premonition” and “Dark Chilling Heartbeat” take care of some movement and the first small mosh pit has been created.

Meanwhile, VARDIS has taken place behind the meet and greet desk. There is so much to see and to think about and it almost feels like hard work at your normal daily job. So I enjoyed most of the set, while queuing up for the VARDIS signing sessions. No problem, because the place is strategically chosen very well. You can wait and see the bands very well from where this all takes place and so I can enjoy the band from there cranking out songs like “Fading Survival”, “The Mausoleum” and “The Silent Creature”. The music has got a hard bite and sometimes they crank it out real loud. But there is a bit of melody in there as well and the guitar solos are mind-blowing. They got those heads banging, mainly because they’ve all got pure metal adrenaline running down their veins. “Fearless Undead Machines” marks the end of their set. But I couldn’t really imagine that the band would leave the stage without playing a cover song. They played so many on their albums and it would be a shame to miss this opportunity. King gives the wheel of fortune a hard swing and it stops at VENOM’s “Black Metal”. Any comments here? I guess not. This is what we want to hear and the crowd goes completely nutz one more time. And when the guitar player doesn’t bang his head hard enough, the King is very willingly to help him by pushing his head up and down. What a wild performance. The fun is over after this and we can prepare ourselves for the NWOBHM invasion of this afternoon. Always a highlight in my personal book.

In the meantime, we also managed to get the autographs of the guys, who will appear on stage pretty soon now. The fact, that I am shaking Steve Zodiac’s hand gives me the shivers once again. But we’ll talk talk about that later on. First we will enjoy PERSIAN RISK. This band will always be remembered for the fact that MOTÖRHEAD guitar player Phil Campbell started his career with the band and was part of it for about five years. At that time John Deverill was also a band member, before he made his move to the TYGERS OF PAN TANG and jumped on stage in different musicals. The many band line-ups contain a lot of well-known names and they are an important loot on the NWOBHM tree. Now we are ready to welcome these guys from Wales, fronted by Carl Sentence, here on the holy ground of Lauda. Their enthusiasm is huge, when they kick off with “Don’t Look Back”, “Dark Tower” and “Ridin’ High”. PERSIAN RISK sure takes the audience by surprise. They’ve not been on stage on a regular basis on the European continent, but with their slightly brutal approach, they show that they are able to perform a very energetic show, which overwhelmed me a bit. They added some melody to their songs, but sometimes they also made their songs extra spicy. Their stage presentation was good and the guitar player knows to impress me. After the newer “Spirit In My Dreams”, taken from the 2012 release “Once A King”, they perform “Who Am I”, which is a foretaste of things to come. It’s a real pleasure to hear a brand new track off the upcoming album. The band apologizes, that the album isn’t available yet, which was not planned that way. It will hopefully be out later this year. “Fist Of Fury” grabs back to the previous release. “Rise Up” is on next and this is one of the songs, which simply can’t be missed here in my opinion. After that, they pay a nice tribute to the women in the rock scene and the female rock and metal fans out there in “Woman And Rock”. The song “Calling For You” has been the very first single for PERSIAN RISK in 1981 and now it is the last song in this very powerful show. To me, it’s been like a breath of fresh air, which was very welcome in the warm and sweaty hall. It’s far better than the previous years, but still the temperature is rising very fast, when the sun is shining. PERSIAN RISK has been the perfect warm up for the band, that I’ve been looking forward the most and that’s the second NWOBHM band this afternoon, namely the mighty VARDIS.

VARDIS has come a long way and I must have played their album “100 m.p.h.” a thousand times or more. What a killer album. I could do with the band only playing that album and then leaving the stage with a big smile on their face. That ain’t gonna happen, but it’s a nice dream and I wake up with a big smile on my face. Good for me. The guitar sound of the barefoot guitar hero Steve Zodiac has always been so different from the other guitarists in this scene and it’s really awesome to listen to this. It has a rocking vibe and it also contains some boogie rock influences. It rocks like hell and it sure is heavy as hell at the same time. I think, that their Port Vale show at the Heavy Metal Holocaust festival marked the highlight of their career, when they played at the football stadium of FC Port Vale, together with RIOT, FRANK MARINO & THE MAHOGANY RUSH, TRIUMPH, OZZY OSBOURNE (with Randy Rhoads) and MOTÖRHEAD (with ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke and Philthy ‘Animal’ Taylor). Not a bad line-up, if I may say so. I don’t know if the band has got any private footage of the gig, that they played there. There are only a few bits and pieces of video footage on You Tube of this CULT happening, which took place thirty-three long years ago. When I mention the festival to Steve, while waiting for the long wanted set of autographs from the three band members, he only giggles and says, that he only remembers very well that he looked rather different back then. Englishmen and humor. That’s the perfect combination. I think, they never came over to the continent. At least, not as far that I know and for a long time the band was out of the radar after 1986. When you’re searching for the name Steve Zodiac, you didn’t get any information at all. And then all of a sudden, there’s the news that the band had reunited and they were playing at Brofest in Newcastle in England. Not long after that, the news came that VARDIS was added to the Keep It True line-up in 2014. The band looked fresh and the guys made a lot of jokes during the signing sessions. Their album “Vigilante” has just been re-released and possibly the focus would be on the songs from that album. To be honest with you, a lot of rockers weren’t that interested in VARDIS at that time anymore. It’s 1986 and the whole NWOBHM scene is over the hill. Listening back to the album nowadays, I can only say that it’s a great release, but it came out too late. No bare feet anymore today, I guess. Away with the long blond hair, that almost reached the ground, when his head was moving backwards. I didn’t know what to expect. Well, that’s not really true. I'd heard, that the Brofest show was perfect and for all time sake I’d already bought a t-shirt with the logo of that cult live album printed on it. I am ready for VARDIS, so there’s no better way than to start tonight’s show with “Let’s Go”, which is also on that marvelous live album. The lengthy guitar solo is just the way I’d expected it to be. That recognizable guitar sound is still there and the band is having so much fun, that it reflects back to the audience in front of the stage. What an excitement! “Out Of The Way” is also from that live LP, which results in a guitar orgasm extraordinaire. The boogie sound of the guys is a bit more hidden than what other NWOBHM experts like SPIDER or PREDATUR carry out, but man did these guys make my skin crawl! “Gary Glitter Part I” is almost as dangerous to play as “Der Fuhrer” of FLOTSAM & JETSAM, but if it’s performed well, the band will get away with it. And in this case there isn’t a doubt on my mind, that the public liked what they heard. I must admit, that I also listened to GARY GLITTER, when I was a little boy (I wasn’t born old!!) and it’s really strange that nowadays you must apologize for that, because they would hold it against you. “Love Is Dead” and “Steaming Along” are both taken from their second full-length album “The World’s Insane”. They hit the nail on the head with that title. “I’m A Loser” gets on the list of highlights of tonight’s show. What a killer track! It rocks from the first notes on, until the last one fades away. “Radio Rockers” and “Learn How To Shoot Straight” contain a whole lot of guitar violence and the three rockers seem to have a great time on stage. Steve sweats like he has just run a marathon, but he leaves behind every guitar player astonished and with their mouth open wide. The show could be described as one big guitar solo, although things wouldn’t have been so perfect without the input of long term band members Terry Horbury (bass) and Gary Pearson (drums). Alan Selway wasn’t part of this enormous successful reunion, which is at this very moment the only minor detail, that I can think of right now by these old British rockers. The band closes their set with “If I Were King” and to me they are the three kings of this festival. They may not have the brutal look, the leather and chains, and the lyrics also don’t deal about war and the devil. But these guys played music and a lot of the fans came to hear good music. VARDIS played a killer set and they could be proud of what they achieved here on stage tonight. It made me hungry to rock, but I also think that this is the right moment to get something to eat.

I think, that I will be lynched next time, when I touch the holy grounds of Lauda. I guess, that a lot of fans, especially the German metal heads, came to see ATLANTEAN KODEX. It’s 2009, when we saw this band perform here for the first time, earlier on the day. In 2014, they sound much more mature and the sky is the limit for these guys. Their success has no limits and their music is definitely worth checking out. These festival days however are very wasteful of energy and people have got to eat to survive. A whole bunch of younger people may think that they have to drink to survive, but older guys like me just need to have something in their stomach to make it to the end of the day. Unfortunately, ATLANTEAN KODEX was playing at the most suitable time of the day to sit down and take a bite. And after all, the band has had their meal already during the signing sessions. Sausages, bread and beer were brought along to the long tables, where the band is signing the stuff of the fans. They made something special out of it. I think, that the band has grown a lot over the years and they entertained the hungry crowd from the first notes of “Enthroned In Clouds And Fire” to the last beats of “The Atlantean Kodex”. Four out of seven songs came from their most recent album “The White Goddess”. The long epic tracks received some real nice choir vocals from the audience, which sang the lyrics word by word. The players receive enough space to really go out of their minds and this combination makes it a very successful gig. The set list consists of “Enthroned In Clouds And Fire”, “Sol Invictus”, “Pilgrim”, “From Shores Forsaken”, “Heresiarch”, “Twelve Stars And An Azure Gown” and last but not least “The Atlantean Kodex” and the fans are very pleased with this one hour triumphant ride. I promise to write a more detailed review about this band, the next time that I see them at a festival. The fans looked very lucky and when we walk back inside the hall, it’s time for LETHAL to do their thing.

The victorious performance of LETHAL in 2007 is still on my mind, when I see the guys walking around and signing the stuff on the tables, that the fans bring along. Eric Cook is missing. He died of cancer in 2012, but I’m sure he will look at the band from above. Chris Brown will fill his place, yet the stage will still feel empty without Eric. You can mourn a long time about a lost friend, but you can also pay tribute to him with a glorious live show and LETHAL is about to do that today. It is difficult to decide if this is the perfect band for Keep It True. Of course, because the band has proved their rights some years ago and everybody was flabbergasted about their show. But the music of LETHAL contains so many mood changes and instrumental high quality pull outs topped by the stunning voice of Tom Mallicoat. It would be difficult to top the show of 2007, but they were destined to give it their best shot tonight and the fans are ready for it. And I think, that Tom is ready for it as well. Dressed with a cowboy hat, he’s joking around and nothing could hold the band back from paying tribute to Eric and giving the audience a powerful and energetic performance. The opener “Swim Or Drown” came as a real surprise to me. I would have set my money on “Programmed”, which was next on the list. Almost a cigar for my thoughts. Tom is in a very good mood tonight and during the sound check, he was telling one joke after another. To get some idea of the humor level this is in, I will tell you one of his jokes. He said: “I’ve just bought a new vacuum cleaner….. It sucks!” I really laughed my balls off. And now for something completely different here. Tonight we almost get a lethal dose of “Programmed”, although that seems to be impossible, but here and there they wrap in some songs from the other releases as well. “Fire In Your Skin” is followed by “Secret Stars”, before going back to the “Programmed” stuff with “What They’ve Done” and “Obscure The Sky”. “Distortion” and “Balancing Act” are from their 1991 demo and the progressive touches of the band are on here, too. My eye is on the six string bass player Glen Cook, who really did an outstanding job. He crawled around on stage like a tiger, searching for a victim in an uneven fight. He’s constantly moving, searching for contact with the audience and in the meantime he tortured his bass guitar like no one else could do. He carried it around as a personal weapon. Don’t cross the line, because he would take care of business right away. This man is a real mean bass player, who’s armed to the teeth and I have deep respect for a bass player, who catches so much attention from any reviewer. Most bass players stay in the back, like they are nailed to the ground and they only show up, when beer is served in the backstage area. Not Glen. He’s a vicious predator and constantly ready to strike. Next to Pete Perez of KARION, he is the second bass player, that caught my special attention, which is a true compliment. And what about Tom? Oh man. Let me be honest with you. Would you let a guy with a cowboy hat sing songs like this in a progressive power metal band? I guess not. You would categorize him as a country and western singer, if you would judge him on his looks alone. But when this man opens his mouth, he sounds like the almighty himself sings with words of gold. What an amazing voice!! He is a totally different singer than Rob Halford or that other hero, Harry Conklin. This man really sounds a-freaking-mazing!! “Immune” and “Invention” are on next and the crowd eats out of their hands again. I wouldn’t say, that this show was better than in 2007. It was so much more overwhelming back then. Maybe we are a bit spoiled. “LETHAL? Oh, we’ve seen them before and they were brilliant!”. They were brilliant once again and prove has been given here on stage. The 2007 show simply wasn’t possible to top, but this comes very close to the quality level, that they reached back then. They close their set with “Killing Machine”, and for a moment I think I heard a slight grin coming from above. It must have been Eric, who nodded that it was good like that. Rest In Peace, dear Eric Cook. We will always miss you. Rock on, LETHAL. We can’t do without you.

The finale is slowly getting closer and TOXIK would warm up the audience for the headliner METAL CHURCH. It’s 1988 and in Eindhoven is the well-known Dynamo Open Air festival. PARADOX, SABBAT, LAAZ ROCKIT, CANDLEMASS and EXODUS perform there and TOXIK is one of the bands, that impressed me most there. Just to give you an idea. The income for this festival was 45 EUROCENT!! Can you dig that? These days will never get back and I’m so glad that I could be part of it. We were still young and didn’t realize, that these bands would all become big names in the metal scene. Even better, most bands are still alive and kicking after so many years and so to me, it lasted over twenty-five years before I finally got to see these venomous metal heads again. The two albums are on my stereo on a regular basis and I’ve been very curious what to expect from these guys. Could they make me relive the old days again? Previous appearances here failed. I’ve seen the name of TOXIK on the bill a few times before, but this time they couldn’t escape us anymore. We’ve already gotten a lethal dose of metal, now we’re facing a toxic metal attack. It’s a tough job, but somebody has got to do it. “Heart Attack” is the opener of the set and after “Greed”, we’re treated on the first new song, which is called “Too Late”. The new songs would get a story of their own during the presentation between the songs. Front man Mike Sanders is constantly announcing that there’s a download code available at the merchandise table. It’s causing some moments of disbelief. Most bands give their fans a pre-taste of their new material on their website or facebook page. TOXIK only makes it available with a high priced download code. I’m curious, whether they sold a lot of codes tonight. Okay, let’s go back to why we are here: the music of the band. Enough said about this matter on the internet forums and I can only agree with the statement, that the band should make their music available for the fans through their website. This opinion doesn’t affect my opinion about their show here tonight. Their gig consists of five new songs out of thirteen, which I think is rather much for a band, that you don’t see that often in Europe. “Spontaneous” and “Door To Hell” are taking a flashback to the past, but right after that we’re treated to another new song, which is called “No Rest For The Wicked”. Josh Christian’s guitar playing is still mind-blowing and this man is really fast, when he flies over his fretboard. In the second half of the set, the level of new tracks is increasing. But the high quality of the oldies is getting higher, so the variation is good and the mix works pretty fine, although we all know that most of the fans come to hear the old material for old time’s sake. “False Prophets” is being followed by new song “Crooked Crosses”, and after the title track of the second album “Think This”, we can dig in at another newie, called “Inhumanities” again. Nobody has heard these songs before and it puts a break on the speed and energy, that is in the whole performance. The audience has to focus too much on this new material and therefore, they don’t really react very enthusiasticly. They want to digest the new material and think if they really like it or not, but they haven’t got the time for it, because “Social Overload” is next up. In 1988, the band cranked out “Symptom Of The Universe” by BLACK SABBATH and at the Dynamo club in Eindhoven, they played the JUDAS PRIEST classic “Victim Of Changes” in the early days. I think, that a lot of fans would have loved to hear one of these songs instead of another new track. It’s a point of recognition, in which the whole crowd would have gone wild. Now the atmosphere seemed to be a little lame. The quality of the songs is good though and technically, it’s all in the pocket as well. The show continues with another new track, called “Breaking Class”. The fans definitely liked what they saw and there’s also room for an encore. One song is still missing, so TOXIK plays “World Circus” as the finale. I didn’t really miss that second guitar player, because Josh Christian has got the capacity and capability of doing this job by all alone. It has been twenty-five years later, but the magic still hasn’t gone. World circus time has been over and now it’s time to go to church for the final round. Have you ever been to a circus and right after that gone into church? I guess not?! You must be at Keep it True for strange things like that! I told you before and I will keep telling you, until you’ll understand that this is the place to be.

And with church I don’t mean that stone building, where a priest is spreading the word of religion. No, of course I am talking about METAL CHURCH here. Every line-up of this band would be a worthy headliner for this festival. There has been so much talk about this band on different forums already. A wish of mine would be that they would play their entire debut album, like they did on Headbangers Open Air. METAL CHURCH and Holland have a long history together. Let’s go back to 1987 for example, when the band plays in Zwolle at the Aardschokdag (What happened to that event?). During workdays horses and cows were being sold there and in the weekend we would enjoy a bill, that could very well compete with a small edition of Keep It True. Just think of names like LAAZ ROCKIT, CELTIC FROST, CRIMSON GLORY, ANTHRAX and METALLICA (who?). Now you can only dream of a line-up like that. It’s 1991, when they headline the Dynamo Open Air festival (What happened to that event?) with bands like SAIGON KICK, IGNORANCE, PIRIMUS, OBITUARY, MORBID ANGEL, PSYCHOTIK WALTZ, EXTREME and ARMOURED SAINT. Maybe some less known names, but still an exciting day with a great fireworks at the end of the METAL CHURCH set. In 1995, they do a tour with ZODIAC MINDWARP & THE LOVE REACTION, KILLERS and VICIOUS RUMORS. Ten years later David Wayne dies, but the memory remains. Now in 2014, the band plays a headlining show at Keep It True, fronted by Ronny Munroe, former ROTTWEILLER vocalist, who is here with his buddy Rick van Zandt, who also played in ROTTWEILLER. (Remember Wacken 2002, dear friends??) When the band spits out the first notes of “Ton Of Bricks”, the metal massacre starts and the highest priests are on stage. A good sound will take care of a great last show of the 17th edition of Keep It True. What we will get is a trip through time, in which the band doesn’t forget to play some tracks from their latest album “Generation Nothing” as well. “Start The Fire” is an oldie and right after that it’s time for title track “Generation Nothing”. The crowd eats out of their hands tonight and “The Dark” and “A Light In The Dark” have similar topics, although METAL CHURCH can’t be seen as a dark metal band at all. They actually bring a light in the dark as the second title suggests already. “Fake Healer”, “Badlands” and “Gods Of Wrath” all belong to the best songs of METAL CHURCH. If playing their debut album is not an option, then we go for a sort of ‘best of’ set of course. And this gets close to what they have in mind for us. “Dead City” is on next, which is taken from their recent album. It proves that the band is still kicking ass, as far as I’m concerned. They may not reach the quality of albums like “Metal Church”, “The Dark” and “Blessed In Disguise” anymore, but this last album still rocks my world. “Mirror Of Lies” and “Watch The Children Pray” are killer tracks and obviously the band is working towards a sensational climax. You can see that the band is enjoying themselves a lot and the fans are still there and having a great time. The music gives them energy and although a lot of fans are tired and worn out, they are still giving all they’ve got simply because METAL CHURCH deserves the support. Metal fans fight until the very end and together they go “Beyond The Black”. My old time favorite song of the band is saved for last. “Metal Church” makes my head go up and down one more time. Respect guys, this is the way I want to hear it! Powerful, loud bashing drums, crying guitars and the high-pitched vocals by Ronny. This is METAL CHURCH in the best possible way. The festival comes to an end and of course there is no way out for the CHURCH without an encore (or two, or three). To my big surprise, they get back for a fast rendition of the DEEP PURPLE cover “Highway Star”, which is also on their debut album. Great stuff! With “The Human Factor”, they really close the curtains and all that’s left now is to get the four of us together again and say goodbye to some of our friends, jump in the car and drive back to our guest house.

Heavy metal brings people together and you’ll see that people from all different countries, religions and beliefs get together to have a good time. It’s the heavy metal language, that we all speak, which gives us a very strong bond. Without making promises, we know that we will probably see most of the people, who are here right now at the same place one year later, on April 24th and the 25th, to be exact.
Anyway, all good things come to an end. But before I finish this report, we’d like to say thanks to all the K.I.T. volunteers (Hi, Manu, what’s up??!), security guards, record dealers, merchandise people and all the wonderful people, who work backstage. Also, hail to our metal brothers and sisters, with whom we experienced another great festival. No names, because I could miss one or two and I wouldn’t want that, besides Eddy and Christine and our metal brother Gerrie Lemmens. Without them, it wouldn’t have been the same. Of course we’d like to say a huge thanks to Tarek and Oliver - the organizers of this festival - for giving us the best bands from this scene. The line-up of this year was once again really amazing! When I take a good look at the names on the bill for 2015, I can tell you, that this will be a good mix of newcomers, some unknown bands, all-time heroes, reunions, that you can only dream of, and bands that have earned our respect for many years already. SACRAL RAGE, THE UNHOLY, IRON THOR, MAUSOLEUM GATE, COBRA (from Peru of all places), MINDLESS SINNER, ARTIZAN, BLASPHEME, JUTTA WEINHOLD BAND (with Oliver as special guest behind the mike?? We’ll keep our fingers crossed!), HEATHEN’S RAGE, AT WAR, FIST, SHOK PARIS, LEATHERWOLF (three guitarists axe attack), MPIRE OF EVIL (VENOM fans, watch out! The seven gates of hell will be re-opened!), TITAN FORCE (The Tyrant returns to Lauda), ULI JON ROTH (SCORPIONS revisited), RIOT V (Metal Assault knock out show, H.O.A. kicked ass too and K.I.T. is on next) and EXCITER (original reunion line-up). There is still one band missing right now. I do hope, that Oliver takes up on my suggestion and will add a band from the Benelux to the bill. Dutch bands are a rarity on this festival and we have some great Dutch hardrock and heavy metal bands in our small country, like ELISE, OVERRULED, JACKAL, SEVENTH SEAL, SAD IRON, EAR DANGER or GILGAMESJ, so there are enough choices, I would say. I hope, that Harry ‘The Tyrant’ will team up with RIOT V to play the two songs from “The Tyrant Sessions”! Also, the news reached us, that bassist Sal Italiano was kicked ut of ANVIL. Maybe the time is right for a CITIES reunion, Oliver? I’ve seen stranger things happen, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed. If you want to find out how we will survive this edition, then I’d suggest to stay tuned. Rain or shine, I will be there to inform you about this festival of festivals, because the world has got the right to know. \m/ \m/.

*Written by: Toine van Poorten/August 2014
*Photos copyright by: Rita van Poorten []

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