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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Live review: FortaRock Day 2 at Goffertpark, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, June 2nd, 2018

After a great first day of FortaRock 2018 and a short night, time has come for the promising Saturday of this edition of FortaRock.

Around 12 o'clock today's first band kicks off. This task has been given to Mantar. Right from the start of their set they give a very heavy and loud show at the tent-stage. It can be immediately heard that the sound is much better compared to Friday's opening band, Betraying the Martyrs. Besides that, it seems like the volume is a bit louder, which really fits Mantar's show. Erinc on drums and Hanno on vocals/guitar, yes Mantar has only two members, deliver a giant dose of heavy music. Especially when you think about the fact that this is only produced by two people. The raw vocals of Hanno go through marrow and bone. In case some people were still a bit sleepy after a short night and due the fact that it was quite early at this moment, Mantar for sure wakes you up. This duo takes care of a very heavy and raw start of this promising FortaRock-Saturday in a tent which is already filling up quite well. (Tim)

Before their appearance at FortaRock I had the privilege to see Vuur, which is next, perform two times already and full disclosure, I am a fan! But that is not without reason and Vuur and Anneke once again proved this at FortaRock! Opening on the main stage the second day of the festival is not an easy task if you ask me, but Vuur does it and they do it well. From the moment the opening song Time – Rotterdam starts the crowd goes wild and the atmosphere is great. Anneke and her crew have no trouble at all entertaining the crowd to the heart’s content, like they usually do actually. But something is different today, it is like the band is on steroids or something, like they said to each other, “we have to do really well, because we are on FortaRock and we have to show the people we are!” I don’t know but it really seemed like they had even more energy than they usually have! It’s like they thought, this is our time, it has to happen now. The show, similar to Arch Enemy’s performance on Friday, was plagued by technical difficulties, granted, they were a lot smaller than the problems Arch Enemy had, but still it was noticeable. For example, guitarist Jord Otto had to walk to the side of the stage twice to check his guitar and drummer Ed Warby had some problems with his drum kit. There was also a very short moment where the sound wasn’t working. But Vuur, under strong leadership of Anneke did not let these minor issues distract them from doing their job and they delivered a pretty solid performance! Anneke and the audience feel like one, as always, she knows exactly what buttons to push to make them go all out. But if I have to be fair and objective and compare the FortaRock show with the club shows of Vuur I have already seen, then I have to say that it all looked pretty hasty to me. I even noticed that Anneke’s breathing was not always on point during the show, but seeing Anneke run zigzagging across the stage, it is no wonder that you might run a little bit out of breath from time to time. However, seeing this I do have to say I never noticed this from Anneke during the other highly energetic shows from Vuur that I’ve been to. Who knows, maybe the stress of playing at the festival and being on the clock had a part in all that, that’s very understandable because a festival show is totally different from when you are headlining a club show! Further evidence that the band gave it their all this early in the afternoon, I got when I saw bassist Johan van Stratum jumped really high while standing in the same spot and still holding his bass guitar and playing his notes! Incredible! What an energy do these guys have, it is absolutely amazing! And I think the audience noticed that too. They were very enthusiastic if you ask me! Apart from the well-known Vuur catalog, they also played two songs from Anneke’s first band The Gathering On Most Surfaces and the fan favorite Strange Machines as the closing song. Halfway into the set list The Storm was played, a track from The Gentle Storm, a collaboration project Anneke did with Arjen Lucassen from Ayreon. It’s a song that has become standard in a Vuur set list. The fact that the band closed off the set list with Strange Machines is hardly a surprise anymore, but every time they do it’s an absolute pleasure to hear this wonderful song with three electric guitars instead of one back in the old The Gathering days! (Glenn)

After Vuur opened the main stage for today, it's time for today's second band at the tent-stage. At the moment Týr begins their set the tent is already quite packed. Týr delivers a very strong show with their pagan metal, which is heavy as well as melodic. The drums might be a bit too heavy compared to the rest of the band, but not so much that it's annoying. With a bit of imagination, you can close your eyes listening to this show and you almost feel like you're on a giant Viking boat on the rough sea. Some other nice aspects of this show were Terji Skibenæs and Gunnar "Gunz" H. Thomsen accompanying Heri Joensen on the vocals. There are also quite a few nice guitar solos in their set. The non-English tracks are also very nice and the sung language fits the music perfectly. Another highlight is for example the battle-song By the Sword in My Hand. (Tim)

Dragonforce is not really my cup of tea. Regardless of that I am well aware that the band has a lot of fans, a fact that is kind of hard to miss if you look at the devoted and enthusiastic fans who came to see them at FortaRock. But even when I try to review this band objectively, which I am currently doing, I can’t ignore the fact that singer Marc Hudson was singing out of tune multiple times during the set. Sure, he has a large vocal range and he obviously did hit some high notes, but it varied a lot! The band itself and the heavy guitars sounded decent. There was a lot of screeching and guitar solos, but for me as a spectator and listener this was about the only thing that was good about the show. The power metal I have experienced in the past wasn’t really to write home about either, it is just not my thing, but at least those bands weren’t singing out of tune. If you are a fan of Dragonforce however, I can understand that you consider it to be a good show, because like I said earlier, the band does what it’s supposed to do and then it becomes a matter of whether you like the music or not, which I don’t and that doesn’t matter! What also really disappointed me was the fact that singer Marc Hudson was very passive on stage. If there was a long guitar solo he would stand on his monitor with one leg trying to entertain the crowd in a very fake American-like way. He succeeded in that, I have to give him that, but that isn’t very difficult considering there were a lot of Dragonforce fans in the audience! My opinion about the Johnny Cash cover Ring of Fire, you can probably guess right now! No, I don’t like Dragonforce at all, and maybe I’m a bit too harsh, but that is something you are free to decide for yourself! (Glenn)

During the last four non-main stage moments the visitors of FortaRock 2018 have to choose between the bands at the tent-stage or the, since this edition part of FortaRock added, theater-stage, which is at the Openluchttheater De Goffert. While Death Alley is about to open the theater-stage, we choose to go to Igorrr's show at the tent-stage. For me personally this was one of the shows I was very curious about and it for sure was worth it! Igorrr delivered a great show. With their mix of electronic music, baroque and metal, much energy is coming off of the stage constantly. Alongside Igorrr's mastermind and DJ Gautier Serre and drummer Sylvain Bouvier, Igorrr has two people delivering vocals. The male vocals are brought by Laurent Lunoir, who also has a very nice appearance due to his make-up and outfit. He gives us extremely raw, misanthropic shouts as well as low, clean vocals, both done really well. The female vocals come from classically-trained Laure Le Prunenec, and the fact that she is classically-trained is something that can be heard for sure. She delivers the higher vocals, but she is also able to deliver some hellish shouts. She in addition shows that she can move very elegantly but can also go totally crazy during the heavier parts. Apart from some little problems with the drum kit, this was a very nice, heavy, tight show. With their music and podium-performance Igorrr shows some true art during this show for sure! (Tim)

Next is Avatar. Before seeing them at FortaRock I did not know Avatar at all, that’s why I thought it would be wise to do some research and prepare myself by listening to some songs and what I heard I liked very much! But what I didn’t know was that if you come to watch Avatar, you get a lot more than just the music! Because that’s what happened when the band took the stage at FortaRock. Their new album titled Avatar Country has a medieval theme and plays with a lot of ludicrous and a not to be taken serious form of self-glorification. This already starts at the beginning of their show when the speaker calls out to the audience to take two minutes of silence for their King. This, surprisingly enough happens all in Dutch! When the speaker is done, one of the band members comes onto the stage dressed as a king wearing a Royal cape and a crown. The characteristic singer of the band, Johannes Eckerström also enters the stage, wearing his signature makeup and outfit which is best described as a mix between the Penguin and the Joker from Batman. But I have to say that he is a bit weirder than that because he could have just as easily have walked out of the Hellsing anime or perhaps American Horror Story Freak Show. I think that this last example is very applicable when thinking of the song Smells like a Freak Show. I can’t get over the fact how spot on Avatar’s overall presentation is! Even the crewmembers are dressed and act as Royal servants to the obvious Avatar King, in a very humble way they hand instruments to the Royal band members! Vocalist Johannes Eckerström triumphantly leads the whole band and despite the fact that everything that he does is deliberately comical, it doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t take this band serious. Let me explain, if you are a band like Avatar and you choose to be this big theatrical act rather than just make music, then you have to do it all the way. Nothing is “just” with Avatar. Everything is thought of through even the smallest details. The act surrounding the music serves the music rather than overshadowing it. This is very well done! This is Avatar! What you see is what you get!

Musically the band plays like a well-oiled machine. Johannes Eckerström has a hold over the audience like I have not seen very often. His vocals are easily among the best ones I have heard on FortaRock 2018 and he is also very versatile and capable of singing in various styles. From grunting to singing clean to hitting those pesky high notes, this man is a phenomenon on itself! Well, coming from somebody that before the festival hadn’t heard from this band at all anyway. The music itself goes in all directions. One moment you are listening to really hard metal and the next moment you are listening to a country song in the title track of their latest album called Avatar Country. In short, there is a lot of variation in the set list. The comical aspect which I spoke of earlier is what makes Avatar unique in the selection of bands performing at FortaRock and it is certainly a force to be reckoned with! I myself am planning to listen to this band more often and for me Avatar was the biggest surprise of FortaRock 2018!

While Baroness is playing their music at the tent-stage and For I Am King is delivering their show to the audience at the theater-stage, we chose this moment to get something to eat, to prepare for the rest of the day.

Then it was time for Alestorm! What a lot of energy does this band have! I did not see them live before FortaRock, but I did know their music. Straight to the point pirate metal and for those of you that do not know what that entails, it involves a lot of drinking, beer throwing and dancing, the metal way! Musically it isn’t all that complex and it doesn’t take itself too serious, but that is the whole point! Vocalist Christopher Bowes, dressed in a white shirt and kilt and holding a keytar in his hand, had absolutely no problem entertaining the crowd. Even if people never heard of Alestorm he, and his band of course, made sure that people wouldn’t forget them. The signature song Keelhauled serves as a well-chosen opener and the crowd knew exactly what they were going to be in for. In the middle of the stage behind the band members there hung a banner with two bananas that had a duck face on them. There was also a huge rubber duck on stage that later on in the show was thrown into the audience and was tossed around enthusiastically! To me the music comes across as a bit of Flogging Molly like but with lyrics about pirates and about the pirate life and let’s not forget the low pitched heavy metal guitars! I wasn’t able to view the whole show properly because I couldn’t get a great spot because there was such a large crowd of metal pirates before me. This way I could get a pretty good picture of what it was like to stand in the audience during one of their shows. Because of this I could also see that at a certain point the audience were sitting on the ground acting like they will rowing a boat. This is a normal thing to do at an Alestorm show as I verified later with my buddy Tim, but to see and experience it, is a whole other thing!

During the song Wolves of the Sea Heri Joensen of Tyr joined the band on stage. The fans loved it and it looked like he and Alestorm have been friends for a very long time. During a speech of vocalist Christopher Bowes, the seemed to be somewhat bored keyboard player played a small part of the intro to Game of Thrones. Fucked With an Anchor closed off the festive set list and there was a lot of singing, dancing and jumping! I wanted to see Alestorm earlier, but due to the fact that my family and friends organized a surprise party for my 30th birthday, I was unable to go. I am very happy that I got to see them on FortaRock 2018 because I think a show of Alestorm is something that you have to experience for yourself. It’s a big ass metal party and trying to explain how it must’ve been like to people who were not there remains a challenge. (Glenn)

While Thy Art Is Murder is trying to destroy the theater-stage, we went to Satyricon's show at the tent-stage. This band was also part of the line-up of FortaRock's first festival-edition, back in 2009. Right after the symphonic, ominous, horror-like intro, Satyricon goes full throttle. Tracks like the faster-paced Now, Diabolical as well as the bit slower-paced, new tracks like Deep Calleth Upon Deep and To Your Brethren in the Dark are part of tonight's set list. There is very much energy coming off of this tight, heavy show. Led by front man Satyr with his raw, powerful voice and accompanied by his iconic microphone stand, Satyricon truly delivers a show that is as solid as a rock.

The next band, Opeth, is the last main stage-band before the headliner of FortaRock 2018. During their set Opeth gives the audience heavier parts with deep grunts as well as some a bit calmer, more melodic parts with some clean vocals. Especially the guitars and the keyboard regularly add some progressive vibes to the music. However, Opeth's show is very guitar-driven. Opeth's guitarists show that they are very good at playing their instruments, whether they play with distortion as well as without it. This, combined with the solid drums delivers a solid show to the many people watching them.

Before the headliner show of FortaRock 2018 at the main stage, there are still two bands on today's bill. While Meshuggah is destroying the tent-stage, we went to the show of Dutch band Dool at the theater-stage. The half-rounded, upward permanent tribune of the Openluchttheater is packed and Dool shows how to give an energetic show right from the start of their set. During the first track the bass is a bit too loud in the mix, but luckily this is fixed very soon. Dool knows how to deliver a perfect show for sure. Due to the energy they put in their show, combined with their music and the haunting vocals of Ryanne van Dorst, their show is very awesome and hypnotizing. The fact that the overall sound is very clear (besides the bass at the first moments of course) also contributes to this. This was a very nice show by a very nice, promising Dutch band and based on the loud applauding during and at the end of the show, lots of people seemed to agree with that. (Tim)

Then it was finally time for Nightwish, the band I personally looked forward to the most. I saw them for the first time in 2015 in the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam. This was the first time I ever saw them. But this FortaRock weekend I had the strong feeling that Nightwish would really go all out. This, because lead singer Floor Jansen told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that the band would make it a special show because it had been a while since they were on a Dutch metal festival and were back in the Netherlands. Well, let’s just say they did not disappoint! Full disclosure, I have become a big Nightwish fan since Floor Jansen joined the band. I didn’t like Nightwish at all prior to that. I know many fans might disagree with me, but I rather hear Floor sing in Nightwish than one of her two predecessors! I especially like the fact that their show was going to be a trip down memory lane due to the release of their new Decades album. Songs from every period in Nightwish’s history graced the set list. All sang by the charismatic and energetic Floor, who also had a big dose of humor! The show started with the song End of all Hope. I was ecstatic because I have always wanted to hear Floor sing that song.

But I will try to be somewhat objective now. It is absolutely unbelievable what Nightwish as a collective can achieve. Under the leadership of Floor’s unmatched vocals, the band is a massive force on stage, playing one golden oldie after another. And I don’t know if there are still people who doubt if Floor is still treated as newcomer in the band, let me tell you one thing, she is absolutely adored by all the members in the band! The band truly kept its word and gave it their all. There were so many flames that it actually looked like the whole band was on fire! Not only there were vertical flames but there were also diagonal flames, smoke, a lot of fireworks and an intense light show. There was also a massive screen that showed beautiful artwork corresponding to the song that was played at that moment. All these things together made for the fact that Nightwish was a worthy headliner. The beautiful visuals supported the songs so well that it truly created the mystical and epic atmosphere you need at a Nightwish show.

Classics like Ghost Love Score and Nemo were sung by Floor like they were never sang before and like I said, I don’t think that there was anybody in the audience that wanted one of the two old singers back. That the band shares my opinion is underlined even more by the fact that bassist Marco Hietala took the time to tell the audience that Floor won the Buma Rocks export award for bringing music to other countries as a Dutch artist. Floor got the award presented earlier that day at FortaRock. Marco and the other band members were glowing with pride and Marco told Floor that this momentous occasion needed to be toasted with wine and that, if they didn’t have any wine, he or one of the other band members would get some for their beloved front lady, because Floor he said, that is how we treat you! Despite there being a comical note in his remark I am sure he meant it. The band is very happy with Floor and vice versa! In the set list there was also room for songs from the most recent album Endless Forms Most Beautiful, the only studio album so far with Floor Jansen on vocals. The quiet and catchy Elan surprisingly appears in the set list amidst all the bombastic and heavy-duty songs. Then it is time for the extreme complex and epic 24 minute during The Greatest Show on Earth. I swear to you, composer and mastermind behind Nightwish Tuomas Holopainen should have a statue erected solely for writing and composing this song! It still remains one of my favorite songs of the band and the way Floor carries this song is absolutely phenomenal. But after this it still wasn’t over. Nightwish closed this massive set list off with the longtime fan favorite and earlier mentioned Ghost Love Score. Floor shows the audience one last time this evening that she and she alone is the number one front woman of Nightwish. She really sings like there is no tomorrow. During the show Floor also tells the audience that she and the band are coming back to the Netherlands this November for a show in the Ziggo Dome! If that show is going to be just as great or even bigger than the show on FortaRock, then to me November can’t come fast enough! (Glenn)

Written by Glenn van der Heijden and Tim van Velthuysen, photos by Jimmy Israel

Also, be sure to check our album reviews of Alestorm's No Grave But The Sea (here), Avatar's Feathers & Flesh (here) as well as Vuur's In This Moment We Are Free - Cities (here). You can also read our earlier live reviews of Dool (here), Nightwish (here) as well as Vuur (here). We also did interviews with FortaRock's Freek Koster (here), Vuur's Anneke van Giersbergen (here and here). Furthermore we also mentioned Vuur in two parts of Promoting Bands (here and here).

FortaRock Official Website
FortaRock Facebook
FortaRock Twitter
Nightwish Official Website
Nightwish Facebook
Nightwish Twitter
Dool Official Website
Dool Facebook
Opeth Official Website
Opeth Facebook
Opeth Twitter
Satyricon Official Website
Satyricon Facebook
Satyricon Twitter
Alestorm Official Website
Alestorm Facebook
Alestorm Twitter
Avatar Official Website
Avatar Facebook
Avatar Twitter
Igorrr Official Website
Igorrr Facebook
Igorrr Twitter
Dragonforce Official Website
Dragonforce Facebook
Dragonforce Twitter
Týr Official Website
Týr Facebook
Týr Twitter
Vuur Official Website
Vuur Facebook
Vuur Twitter
Mantar Official Website
Mantar Facebook
Mantar Twitter

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Live review: FortaRock Day 1 at Goffertpark, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, June 1st, 2018

It finally was that time again! Unfortunately, last year there was no FortaRock in the Gofferpark in Nijmegen, but luckily there is another nice edition of this metal-festival this year. FortaRock 2018 took place on June 1st and 2nd. On Friday June 1st, the gates opened around half past two.

There were a lot of announcements surrounding FortaRock, one of these announcements was that the FortaRock-area would be changed compared to earlier editions. When we entered the area, this indeed was very clear to see. Almost everything is placed along the borders of the area, which creates a lot of free space in the middle of it. This way the FortaRock-area becomes a very clear and open space, with almost no place being annoyingly busy. Due to these changes nearly everything is close by and easy to walk to without missing too much.

An hour after the gates of FortaRock 2018 opened it is time for the first show of this Friday, taking place at the tent-stage. Betraying the Martyrs got the task to kick off FortaRock 2018. Betraying the Martyrs start their set with a pretty catchy intro, but of course the heavy breakdowns are soon added. At the beginning of their set, the sound isn't that great, but luckily this changed during their second track. Something that keeps returning in Betraying the Martyrs' music is the catchy aspect also included in the intro. Especially Victor Guillet with his keyboard takes care of this. He also is responsible for the clean vocals, which will be combined with the lower growls of Aaron Matts. There are also a few guitar solos hidden in their set, but unfortunately these can't be heard that well. I have to admit, Betraying the Martyrs is not totally my kind of music, but with their big dose of energy and their pretty poppy, but fitting lightshow, of course combined with their music, they do what they are good at. This even resulting in the first mosh pit of FortaRock 2018.

When we arrive at the main stage, where the next band will soon start playing, there is a nasty smell in the air. However, for the soon starting band and their fans this doesn't matter. Screeching guitars, that's what matters now, fuck that smell! With the band that is opening the main stage today, the Bay Area-hailing thrash metallers of Death Angel, those screeching guitars will be present for sure. This Death Angel show will be their only Dutch show during this summer, so they give their Dutch fans a very tight, solid and heavy show. Sometimes the sound is a little bit affected by the wind, this however doesn't influence the energy coming off of this show. The musicians of Death Angel move a lot on stage and they have a lot of contact with their fans. Besides the screeching guitars and the fast thrash metal of Death Angel, there is also some space in their set for some nice guitar solos, while vocalist Mark Osegueda proves that he is able to take care of some heavy vocal screams several times. The tracks Voracious Souls and Thrown to The Wolves are, just like the bit more melodic track Lost, very well received by the audience. After the last-mentioned Lost, Death Angel goes full throttle for one last time with their closing track: The Moth.

While, after Death Angel's set, Suffocation delivers a brutal show at the tent-stage, we chose this moment to take care of our stomachs. The quality of the food at FortaRock was very good. Of course, we can only tell you this about the grilled cheese sandwiches and the frites/snacks, since we didn't eat any of the other food that was available at the festival, of which were quite a lot. (Tim)

Body Count had a lot of fans in the audience and due to the fact that they began with two songs of one of metals biggest bands Slayer, Raining Blood and Postmortem, they just couldn’t go wrong. Body Count was a whole new experience for me. Sure, I did some research and listened to some songs, but nothing could prepare me for what I was about to hear and see. It was also the first time that I was at a big festival as a journalist plus I had never been to FortaRock in my life. And getting to know Body Count as one of the first bands there certainly did not disappoint. Body Count, to me anyway, is a perfect mix between hip-hop and metal. Heavy low tuned guitars and powerful drums are the basis of Body Count's music accompanied with some screeching guitar solos. Everything under profound leadership of Mr. Ice-T himself. I personally wouldn’t associate him with metal music but after some research I came to know that he’s been doing this for quite some time. And let me tell you, it shows! Generally, rapper Ice-T remains a rapper to the core, but he puts on the metal music like a custom fitted leather jacket!

All the songs are pretty straightforward heavy metal songs with rap vocals and they all have a pretty clear message to tell. This message is that everybody needs to be treated equally and that everyone should respect that people are different. The song No Lives Matter really gets this message across to the audience, but this is also true for most of the other songs where there’s a critical view of the society we live in nowadays. Lead guitarist Ernie C. showcases some mighty fine guitar solos and the rhythm section of the band is also pretty tight. How the band presented themselves however can be considered messy at best. I am not talking about the music though, I am talking about the fact that each band member at first glance seems to be doing their own individual thing. While at the same time saying we are Body Count and this is what we do and if you don’t like it then just don’t come and see us. That every bad member was an individual was underlined by the fact that they all looked very unique. For example, one of the guitarists, who was new in the band had a cool looking mouth mask while another member had a complete facemask. But I think that their diversity was precisely their point. And it falls perfectly in line with their lyrics and music. I regret that I can’t say much about the technical aspects of their music, but what I can say is that what they’re doing comes across as very professional even though it doesn’t always look like it is. These guys know exactly what they’re capable of! I enjoyed Body Count very much and I am glad that I got to know them! (Glenn)

When Body Count just played their last notes, the tent-stage is about to burst open into evilness. It is time for the evil black metal from Watain! After a short orchestral intro, different candles are lighted with a torch. The stage is looking very great with flags, candles, fire and inverted crosses all included. Soon after this intro, and the accompanied lighting of the candles, the pounding drums and wall of guitars breaks loose. Combined with Erik Danielsson's misanthropic vocals, this is as evil as it can possibly be. The very fitting, mostly red, lightshow also adds another nice layer to this. This evilness reaches its absolute height when front man Erik throws some blood over the front-row audience. Luckily the sound is much better than during the first (and our only so far) show at the tent-stage (Betraying the Martyrs). When looking at the Friday line-up of FortaRock 2018 I personally was mostly looking forward to the shows of Watain and Kreator. Of course, Kreator's show is still upcoming, but Watain surely did fulfill my expectations with their evil show! (Tim)

The first time that I saw Arch Enemy, the next band, was at the Heineken Music Hall where they opened for Nightwish. Despite the fact that I always thought it wasn’t really my kind of music, I have to come back from that. Because ever since I saw them with front woman Alissa White-Gluz, I knew that Arch Enemy was one of the bands I would enjoy the most on the FortaRock Friday. But sadly, things didn’t go quite as I expected them to go. This was due to the fact that Arch Enemy’s set was plagued by severe technical problems. When during the song The Race the sound went completely silent, the audience could only hope for a quick recovery. When the sound is turned on again after a short period of time, the band tried to continue The Race, however, shortly after they started the song, the sound went silent again. I think that the crew tried to turn on the same amp that a while ago seemed to have short fuse. Not a great idea if you ask me, but I do understand that as a crew you want to make sure that your festival set can resume without a pretty big delay because when you’re on a festival you are pretty much on the clock. But it didn’t influence Arch Enemy’s performance very much, on the contrary, the song The Race was stoically finished after the sound went silent for the first time. It might have looked a bit weird, but hey, what else can you do as a band? I think Arch Enemy did a very professional job and I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes when something like this happens! After the sound was restored again they continued their set list like nothing happened.

Let’s talk about the music then. My opinion about Arch Enemy is pretty simple. It is a great band with amazingly powerful vocals, tight ass guitar riffs and a straight to the point attitude! Despite everything that happened the band had absolutely no problem in serving the crowd what they came for. The stage presence of the band is amazing and the incredible energy of front woman White-Gluz is beyond admirable! It is clear that the band is not to be stopped, not even when things don’t go the way they want them to go, after all, they came to give a great show for their fans and the rest of the FortaRock audience and also to enjoy the show and believe me, that they did! It might not be the best first impression if you are new to this band, but look at it from this angle, now you do know that they are very professional and a force to be reckoned with! The Eagle Flies Alone remains one of my favorite Arch Enemy songs. (Glenn)

The next band at the tent-stage is already the closing band for today, when it comes to the tent-stage. This place is given to the German thrashers of Kreator. What a great show they played! Besides the great stage-decor and the big, very intense lightshow, Kreator plays a hell of a heavy, tight and extremely fast set. It all start immediately with their opening track: Phantom Antichrist. Almost immediately it is very clear that this will be a great, intense show. The screeching guitars, the pounding drums and the raw vocals of Mille Petrozza crush through marrow and bone during this all-destroying show. Of course there is also some space for some nice guitar solos and Kreator also adds some extra show-aspects such as confetti, big doses of smoke (for example during Phobia) and fire (for example during Satan Is Real). During the track Fallen Brothers Kreator remembers musicians who are unfortunately no longer among us. Quite a few of these musicians can be seen on the screen behind the band, some examples of them being Lemmy, Chuck, Dio and Bowie. Like I already said earlier, I personally was looking forward to Watain and Kreator the most when it came to the Friday line-up. Watain already fulfilled my expectations, Kreator for sure did too.

Today's headliner is the Australian metalcore band Parkway Drive. Musically this isn't what I liked the most, but Parkway Drive for sure delivers quite a great show. The sometimes a bit catchy sounding metalcore results in a lot of energy and enthusiasm for a lot of people. A big audience is coming to see Parkway Drive's show with a big part of them going crazy. Parkway Drive plays a tight set with a lot of energy. When it comes to show-aspects Parkway Drive is also doing a great job. There are a lot of flames, over the audience as well as vertically into the air, even above the stage top. These Australians also brought a lot of fireworks with them. Drummer Ben Gordon, together with his drum kit sits, in some sort of cage, which is spinning around periodically. At the end of their show Parkway Drive really sets the stage on fire, literally! The flames across the whole stage can be seen clearly and even the afore-mentioned drummer-cage is on fire, while still spinning around at times. Parkway Drive finally ends their set with a lot of fireworks and proves to be a worthy headliner for this first day of FortaRock 2018! (Tim)

Be sure to come back tomorrow for our live review of FortaRock's second day!

Written by Glenn van der Heijden and Tim van Velthuysen, photos by Jimmy Israel

Also, be sure to check our album reviews of Arch Enemy's Will To Power (here) and As The Stages Burn! (here) as well as a live review of their aforementioned Heineken Music Hall show here. You can also read our album review of Betraying The Martyrs' Phantom (here) as well as an article about the metalscene in Nijmegen including an interview with FortaRock's Freek Koster here.

FortaRock Official Website
FortaRock Facebook
FortaRock Twitter
Parkway Drive Official Website
Parkway Drive Facebook
Parkway Drive Twitter
Kreator Official Website
Kreator Facebook
Kreator Twitter
Arch Enemy Official Website
Arch Enemy Facebook
Arch Enemy Twitter
Watain Official Website
Watain Facebook
Body Count Official Website
Body Count Facebook
Ice-T Twitter
Death Angel Official Website
Death Angel Facebook
Betraying The Martyrs Official Website
Betraying The Martyrs Facebook
Betraying The Martyrs Twitter

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Review: Maiden United - Empire Of The Clouds

The new EP from Maiden United has arrived! And what a beauty it has become! Since I was present at the Carré show on 27 January this year, I already knew that it was Empire of the Clouds, the well-known and lengthy Iron Maiden classic, because during the Carré show, Maiden United played their version of this song for the first time. It was sung by singer Wudstik who absolutely did an amazing job that night. The EP of Empire of the Clouds consists of two parts, the studio version and the live version as it was played in Royal theater Carré.

When listening to it for the first time it immediately becomes clear that great care and professionalism went into making this EP. Everything about the beautiful arrangements is worked out in the smallest details and played with a lot of dedication. After a spoken intro by narrator Edward Reekers, known for his work in Ayreon, who returns a couple more times to narrate the story about the zeppelin the R101, the completely instrumental intro called “part one” is being build up. The Hammond of Thijs Schrijnemakers, piano of Huub van Loon, cello of Perttu Kivilaakso, Joey Bruers on bass guitar and a subtle acoustic guitar by Ruud Jolie. The drums at the end of part one by Mike Coolen are very elegant.

But I have to say that the sound of Perttu Kivilaakso’s cello is what really stands out. It adds this whole orchestral feeling to what you are hearing, like there is a whole orchestra supporting the band! It also gives that little bit of extra to the already beautiful arrangements. Huub’s recurring piano accords also really stand out and form the base of Empire of the Clouds. In “part two” it’s finally time for the earlier mentioned singer Wudstik to show what he is capable of. His vocals are really raw, but at the same time he has a tremendous control over his voice, he knows exactly what to do when. He continues the story where narrator Edward Reekers has stopped. You know, I can try to tell you what the EP sounds like and how beautiful it is, but truthfully, it wouldn’t do it justice. If you ask me the central power of this whole thing is that it is build up so well. From start to finish the journey of the R101 is being told through music, so when the climactic moment of the crash is there, the music heavily intensifies. Especially the drums of Mike Coolen and Perttu Kivilaakso’s cello.

When narrator Edward Reekers tells about the moment of the crash and the aftermath the music calms down and receives a heavy melancholic sound. Where at the beginning of the EP, with the zeppelin’s departure, the music sounded very hopeful.

If you ask me, then Maiden United’s Empire of the Clouds is a beautifully crafted and genius acoustic arrangement of a majestic Iron Maiden classic. Maiden United succeeded in making it their own without cultivating the feeling that such a beautiful song has “just” been covered! No, nothing is “just” with Maiden United and this awesome EP is evidence of that! Regarding the live part of the EP I can only say that I’ve been there myself and that the vocals are even better performed live! What a fantastic singer is this gentleman. The fact that he supposedly was a bit overwhelmed by the beautiful Royal theater Carré, well, for me as a listener, I have found absolutely no evidence of that! The only downside to the live version was that the beautiful cello of Perttu Kivilaakso wasn’t there. I would advise every music lover to listen to this EP and not only the heartfelt Iron Maiden fans. But I know for sure that they would love it to!

Written by Glenn van der Heijden

Here you can also read the interview we did earlier with Maiden United's Joey Bruers.

Maiden United Official Website
Maiden United Facebook
Maiden United Twitter

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Review: Siksided - Leave No Stone Unturned

Ciao ragazzi da Trieste! Love the place! Focaccia forever! And your record is just as tasty.

I won’t insult you as your briefing memo says (haha) but this is what I’m going to constructively say!

The opening tune Disposable Livings thunders nicely and has a nice staccato to it. Leaf is excellent as song and great on the mellow day’s playlist. Fragments is a little ploddy for me but awesome scream at 2:31!

Meant To Be is a greatly written piece and a good, relaxing listener. Wicked howl and tempo change at 3:46 and onwards! Great stuff here as you do grunge a better homage than some actual grunge songs themselves!

Sick drum-tro and bass on Charon! A fantastic Tool-like feel to this song and is now my fave! Outstanding, feverish bit at 3:27 till end!

Love the prog length and feel to New Saviour. This is a thorough sound belter that should please any musical taste with its stylish rhythmic changes and harsh-ass vox. I wish there would have been more chug-chugging like at 6:14, but that exit scream at 5:58…yea!

Overall, I like this metalish-fusion record (or whatever) and you’ve clearly put a lot of hard work into it. The vibe is not my usual groove but you hit the right chords of Audioslave, Monster Magnet, Tool, Days of the New and the like. There are some hints of metal but this disc stands in its own category. Darker and gloomier than I’d prefer but very well done and a great listen!


Written by Alessandro

Siksided Facebook

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Interview: Absque Cor

In November last year, Polish one-man black metal band Absque Cor released its debut album, called Wędrówkę Haniebnie Zakończyć. DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen recently interviewed sole member Vos.

Hey, congratulations with your, last year released, debut album, Wędrówkę Haniebnie Zakończyć. It's a great debut!

You are welcome.

How does it feel to have your debut album released?

I don't really 'feel' this world, so I think releasing this album didn't affected on me quite much. I appreciate it very much, but I think releasing this album is only motivation to work more on composing next thoughts.

Absque Cor is a one-man band. How was the idea of Absque Cor formed?

I was in a band with the drummer and bassist from Preludium (from my hometown) and I felt that we were not doing good with ourselves. We understood each other very good, but we were staying in one place, so I get myself only, and just put some life situations into music, then recorded it.

Do you think of Absque Cor as being a one-man band forever or is that something that could change?

I don't really like to guess like that, but I have a band, so I think Absque Cor will be only my own project for the next couple of years, and then we will see.

You already recorded Wędrówkę Haniebnie Zakończyć in December 2015, what was the reason for waiting to release it until November 2017?

I was doing this album for myself only, and really start with mix/mastering from then, so I didn't thought that someone will like that music and want to release it. I have ended mastering like after a year from releasing (I don't have full time access to professional assets like monitors and adapted room, so I must do it partially, some at home and some at studio) and because of my friend which made me up to send it for some labels.

Your lyrics are all in Polish. When you compare writing lyrics in English with writing lyrics in another language, what made you decide to do them in Polish, besides of course that it is your mother tongue?

All lyrics are in Polish, because I feel being the most free, singing in my native language. Absque Cor is just me, and I feel like using another language is passing the point and doing something against myself.

I translated them with Google Translate. There is very much negativity in it, where does that come from?

Like I told before, all music and words are just some situations put up into music. Nothing more, nothing less.

For releasing Wędrówkę Haniebnie Zakończyć you signed with Godz Ov War Productions. What makes them the best label for Absque Cor at this moment?

I don't know which label is the best for Absque Cor. I really just wanted to have a physical CD in my hands, and after my friend's suggestion I sent it to some labels from Poland, and I was very surprised, that one of answering labels was Godz ov War, because Greg is doing very good job from the beginning and he keeps up with high level of his releases. I don't think Absque Cor is quite high level, but like I said, I appreciate this chance very much.

Since Absque Cor is a one-man band, do you have plans for taking it to the stage? If yes, where and when will it take place?

No, I don't have plans like that. I have a band and the guys I'm playing with, have motivation to play live. I don't really like playing live, but I don't want to block them.

Are you already working on new material? If yes, can you already tell us something about how it will be?

Yes, I'm working on something new. I have some plans about it, there are thoughts written down, it won't be that much dark as Wędrówkę Haniebnie Zakończyć, but it won't be 'happy' also. I don't have much written down yet, I lean on guitar when I write Absque Cor, so I don't think about how ideas will sound when I put them together with drums and bass. Maybe I will have to do many changes, so I don't know when it will be recorded.

Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to our readers?

Thanks for your time.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Review: NMAC - Split Second

"Nu-Metal is dead, long live Nu-Metal" it says on top of the short biography of NMAC in their press kit. So, what's the case? Is Nu-Metal dead or not? To be honest the sentence they used perfectly summarizes NMAC. I will get back to this at the end of this review.

For now: Who are NMAC? Andy (vocals), Fedor, Ingo (both guitar), Max (bass) and Andy (drums) are five guys from Cologne, Germany. Together they form the band that was founded at the end of 2016 and they play, you probably already guessed it, Nu-Metal. NMAC released their first EP, First Strike, in March 2017. Now, First Strike has a successor, an EP titled Split Second, released on February 10.

Split Second contains five tracks and an outro with an instrumental interlude in between. Opener Inside/Outside starts with a typical guitar sound as an intro which is repeated a few times in this track. After the intro NMAC is unleashed and grooving drums, heavy guitars and a funky, heavy bass-sound can be heard. Vocal-wise we get to hear clean vocals as well as growls. At some moments these vocals are brought in a very filthy way as in, for example, some moments of Allegiance. Personally I dig Andy's growls a bit more than his clean vocals, but that is a matter of taste, because both are of good quality. Sometimes Andy even proofs that he is also able to rap a bit, for example in the more nu-metal-like Battle Ready.

After the first three tracks it is time for the instrumental interlude, entitled Diverse EXXXtreme. This interlude almost sounds like reggae with some added electro-sounds.

With the next, and last, two tracks, Detached and Bulldozer, NMAC again goes crazy. While Detached is more standing out because of its tempo-changes, Bulldozer is a very strong track with a highly energetic intro. I guess this track will be killer during live shows, what an energy comes off of this one! After Andy sung "Get out of the way bitch, move!" the audience can go completely crazy screaming "Move!"

After Bulldozer it is time for the outro of Split Second. This outro is pretty much going towards hip hop and is called Trendkill Trinity.

Is Nu-Metal dead or not? That is the question I promised to get back at. I don't think that Nu-Metal is dead, but I do think that it has changed. NMAC for sure makes that clear on Split Second. During listening to this EP you will probably get a bit of a nostalgic '90s-feeling at some times, but it is brought to you wrapped in a modern cover. That's why the aforementioned sentence "Nu-Metal is dead, long live Nu-Metal" perfectly summarizes NMAC. Good job!

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

NMAC Official Website
NMAC Facebook

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Review: Metaprism - Catalyst To Awakening

The UK-based melodic metalband Metaprism has, after their formation in 2012, released their debut album, called The Human Encryption, in 2015. This was one of the things that brought them to the stage of Wacken Open Air in that same year. Now, since January 26th, Metaprism has a successor of The Human Encryption out. This successor is entitled Catalyst To Awakening. The band consists of guitar-combo Ollie Roberts/Callum Downing, bassist Matt Hudson, drummer James Clarke and vocal duo Theresa Smith/Joey Draper.

After the quiet intro called The Awakening, Metaprism goes full throttle with Codex Regius. Metaprism lets us hear clearly that their music is very heavy, but maintains very melodic at the same time. Besides that a lot of variation can be found in this album, instrumentally as well as vocally. That is what makes Catalyst To Awakening so interesting. It makes you not wanting to miss anything of this album, right from the beginning.

Instrumentally there are some heavier parts and some less heavy parts, with the almost ballad-like Aftermath standing out on the non-heavy side. There are also a lot of different rhythms and tempos audible on Catalyst To Awakening. The always strong and solid rhythm-section guides everything perfectly and with many solo's to be found there is also plenty of space for the guitar. Check for example the solo in Anomalous II Ghost Of Asylum, really nice!

The main source of variation on Catalyst To Awakening is probably vocal-wise, partly by the fact of Metaprism having two vocalists in their lineup. The female vocals of Theresa Smith and the male vocals of Joey Draper complement each other perfectly to a fantastic match. Besides the vocals coming from two different voices, there also is the variation in the vocal styles. Whether it is clean vocals or growls, both can be heard on Catalyst To Awakening. The voice of Theresa Smith sounds very relaxing and is very nice to listen to. She also shows us that she's able to sing a bit higher, for example in Incarcerate. Joey Draper's voice is a bit rawer, also when he sings clean vocals.

With their second album Catalyst To Awakening, Metaprism delivers a very great album. The many variations on this album makes that it turned out very great with the many vocal variations as a definite peak! This album of Metaprism is surely worth checking out. Of course that applies to melodic metal fans, but to be honest I would recommend everyone who enjoys the heavier kinds of music to at least check it.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

Metaprism Official Website
Metaprism Facebook
Metaprism Twitter

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Live review: Amsterdam Metalfest at Melkweg, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, May 19th, 2018

On May 19th, at 16:00h the Melkweg in Amsterdam opens its doors for a lot of time filled with nice metal under the banner of Amsterdam Metalfest!

Around 16:30h the first band begins. The groovy drums of Yuma van Eekelen and intense shout of Pieter Verpaalen are clearly audible, Onegodless has started their set! Where the energy and enthusiasm seemed to be missing for a bit during the first track, this luckily appears very soon during the rest of their set. Onegodless sounds very heavy which, in combination with some very nice solos of guitarist Yordi Lopez, delivers a heavy, nice start of Amsterdam Metalfest. A few people in the audience that is already inside are visibly enjoying themselves, but it seems some people also need some more time for going crazy.

For today's second band Amsterdam Metalfest is a hometown-show, the Amsterdam-based band For I Am King. Only guitarist Koen Scheepens isn't hailing from Amsterdam, which soon results in vocalist Alma Alizadeh calling him Brabo-Koen. For I Am King delivers a very tight set with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, with as a definite peak frontwoman Alma, who of course also delivers some very nice vocals. The energy coming off of their show also results in the first moshpit of today. A kid which was sitting on, probably, his father's shoulders who was very enthusiastic right from the start gets an invite to the stage by Alma. After this he also gets his first crowdsurf across the venue and when Alma announces a second time of crowdsurfing, he lets Alma know that he prefers to see a wall of death. So, he of course gets what he asked for and a wall of death appears!

After For I Am King left the stage and it has been prepared for the next band, it's time for today's most brutal band, Hideous Divinity! Continually pounding drums, heavy guitars and low grunts with sometimes a bit higher shouts is what Hideous Divinity stands for. At the start of their set the vocals are a little bit difficult to hear, but this luckily changes after their first two tracks, especially where it comes to the very low grunts. So, is Hideous Divinity just a heavy wall of sound? Yes and no. For sure the heavy, loud, extreme pounding sounds are the main part of their music, but it also is very clear that they thought about their tracks and their music also contains some very nice guitar solos. It for sure is a miracle that the Melkweg is still existing after this set and Amsterdam Metalfest doesn't have to be canceled because of a destroyed venue.

That would be a shame, because this edition of Amsterdam Metalfest is only halfway through and there will be another three nice bands upcoming.

Luckily the Melkweg isn't destroyed and Amsterdam Metalfest isn't canceled, so it is time for the guys and girl of The Charm The Fury to start their hometown-show. They also play a very energetic show, which is heating up the audience once more. The results of this energy are multiple moshpits, a few crowdsurfers and quite a big wall of death. The Charm The Fury delivers a very solid show and based on the many people going crazy, there are a lot of The Charm The Fury fans inside today's venue. Very nice show!

After The Charm The Fury, it's time for Obscura to let us hear their set. Are there also fans of more complex guitars and bass-sounds combined with loud metal present today? Based on the sound that the audience is producing when the guys of Obscura are starting their set, there sure are! Honestly, I have to say I only listened a few tracks by Obscura before, but this show is quite a pleasant surprise for me personally. These guys combine loud metal with some more quiet, progressive parts with nice, complex (bass-)guitar parts, without getting too technical and irritating. Obscura plays a very tight set, which results in most of the audience audible and visibly being happy with this set. The band members aren't moving very much during their show, but this probably is because of Obscura's instrumentation. However, this for sure isn't causing problems to their show.

After Obscura's set, the end of Amsterdam Metalfest is already nearby, but not before today's headliner have played their show. It's a very nice headliner! None less than the Italians of Fleshgod Apocalypse! When I saw their show in Doornroosje, Nijmegen last year I was very pleasantly surprised. This band delivered a perfect show and they do so again tonight in Amsterdam's Melkweg. A month ago these Italians had to cancel a few shows because they were robbed in Sweden. However, it is impossible to stop Fleshgod Apocalypse and they let us know that they continue giving phenomenal shows. The costumes and the atmosphere of a Fleshgod Apocalypse show could almost be compared to a scene coming off a 17th century-painting like Rembrandt's De Nachtwacht and their music is a perfect combination of epic and brutal. The audience goes crazy for one last time and the kid who joined For I Am King on stage also gets invited on stage by Fleshgod Apocalypse vocalist Francesco Paoli and even gets a photo with them at the end of the set. Fleshgod Apocalypse showed that they are a perfect headliner and closer of this very nice edition of Amsterdam Metalfest.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen, photos by John van der Zee

Read our live review of another show by For I Am King and The Charm The Fury here, as well as our live review of another The Charm The Fury show here. You can also read our review of The Charm The Fury's album The Sick, Dumb & Happy here as well as an interview we did with their vocalist Caroline Westendorp here.

Fleshgod Apocalypse Official Website
Fleshgod Apocalypse Facebook
Fleshgod Apocalypse Twitter
Obscura Official Website
Obscura Facebook
Obscura Twitter
The Charm The Fury Official Website
The Charm The Fury Facebook
The Charm The Fury Twitter
Hideous Divinity Facebook
For I Am King Official Website
For I Am King Facebook
For I Am King Twitter
Onegodless Official Website
Onegodless Facebook

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Review: White Wizzard - Infernal Overdrive

In 2017, White Wizzard's bandleader/bassist Jon Leon announced the return of classic White Wizzard members Wyatt Anderson (vocals) and James J. LaRue (guitarist) to the band's lineup. They also signed with another label, M-Theory Audio. On January 12, 2018, the first White Wizzard album on this label was released. This album, entitled Infernal Overdrive, is White Wizzard's fourth full-length and is the successor of their 2013 album, The Devils Cut. Their music can be described as heavy metal with some prog-influences.

Even before you start listening to Infernal Overdrive the cover of this album, created by UK White Wizzard fan Christopher Hardy, promises a lot for this album. I can already tell you, that's deserved!

Immediately when Infernal Overdrive begins the band kicks in full throttle with the title track. Soon vocalist Wyatt clearly lets us know that he is also present. The energy immediately kicks into your body, this is very promising!

Something that is very noticeable and sounds really cool is the very present bass guitar. It's very clear to hear the difference between the bass guitar and the bass drum, which gives the music some sort of extra dimension. You can clearly hear the bass-strings blast, which gives a very nice sound. Luckily this maintains during the entire album.

Vocal-wise Wyatt Anderson shows a very strong voice with some extra emotion in it, because of his a bit raw sound. At a few moments he also let us hear that he can get pretty high with his voice, for example in Critical Mass and at the end of closing track The Illusion's Tears.

I guess that Critical Mass will be a killer song when played live. It has a pretty fast start, with also a bit slower, doomy part and the choruses are almost anthem-like.

Of course guitarist James J. LaRue can't be unmentioned when talking about some very positive peaks on Infernal Overdrive, because he shows that he is a very great guitarist. You can't deny that after listening to this album. Besides the great riffing, James also gives us quite some solo's which are, piece by piece, very nice. Some examples of these which are very worth checking out are in Voyage Of The Wolf (a bit oriental-sounding), Metamorphosis and The Illusion's Tears.

Logically, this all can't be possible without a drummer and that's why drummer Dylan Marks shows that he is the very solid, strong backbone of White Wizzard. In Metamorphosis he gets some extra space to show his skills, which he of course takes in a very great way.

The last, and longest, track on Infernal Overdrive is The Illusion's Tears, which is a perfect closing track of a perfect album that you definitely don't want to miss. Here White Wizzard shows us what they are able to for one last time.

Apart from the fantastic music on this album, Infernal Overdrive is also produced in a really good way. Everything sounds pretty intense and clear, but it definitely doesn't sound overproduced.

In the end, the many promises based on the cover and the titletrack definitely came true. White Wizzard's Infernal Overdrive is a very energetic, perfect heavy metal album with some prog-influences which gives it some nice variations.

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

White Wizzard Facebook

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Review: Marabou - Spirit Lights

Marabou was originally formed by two friends, Shay Davitt and Tom Leacy, in Wexford, Ireland back in 2011. They blended metal with post-hardcore and a few more styles into a brutal mix that gave them an almost instant success in the Irish underground scene. With their fame and fan base quickly growing, they found themselves an extra guitar and a set of vocal chords in the person of Aaron Gaffey, expanding the lineup to four members, with bassist Kalebh Grocock completing the quartet, securing their reputation as a strong live band. To underline this growth they have now released their first studio work, which comes as an EP called Spirit Lights. A great opportunity to find out if they have the potential to convert their live performance into a solid studio performance.

Being an EP, Spirit Lights only clocks a little over 15 minutes, in which four songs are served. Opener The Heat is a groovy song that leaves no doubt about why these guys have such a great reputation as a live band. The tight riffs are accompanied by harsh vocals that breathe anger and a very strong rhythm section that defines the song’s borders. I have no problem whatsoever imagining a huge mosh pit developing when this is played on a random stage anywhere. The next song, Keep Hating Me, builds on the same foundations, but those foundations are so expertly tucked away in the countless differences in rhythm and structure you will most likely barely notice it, if at all. And to be honest, even if you do it doesn’t take anything away from the entertainment this song offers. There is not always the need to reinvent your style, in fact, it hardly ever is as long as you keep things varied enough. Next up is These Creeps, which is a bit different from the other songs, it vaguely rang a few Suicidal Tendencies bells every now and then with its clean singing and various intermezzos and rhythm changes. As if to summarize the album closer, Mr Architect, kicks in, in which the guys show what they are made of one last time. I have no idea what exactly they are made of, but it’s pretty damn’ solid I’d say.

Marabou pretty much nailed it with their maiden release Spirit Lights in my opinion. The four more than solidly composed and executed songs are a perfect reflection of what they stand for music-wise and I think it’s safe to say every single one of these songs is capable of making any metal minded crowd go absolutely bananas at a live performance. Saying these songs are best consumed live would derogate the band’s efforts, the songs are way too strong quality-wise to simply state that, but man, these songs will cause a serious stir when played live. If metal with a post-hardcore flavor and a blend of subtly dosed other styles is your thing, buying this is a no-brainer. If you are into metal as a whole you should give this a shot as well. Chances are you will like this.

Written by Henric van Essen

Marabou Official Website
Marabou Facebook
Marabou Twitter

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Review: Ashes Arise - Resurgence From Oblivion

Melodic death metal trio Ashes Arise hail over from the US and France – and here is already a special thing about them: they overcame time zones and language barriers and managed to form a fully functioning band – a beautiful example that music knows no boundaries. Another curious thing: from composing over production to artwork design, everything is self-made. A very impressive achievement, so let’s listen to the result!

It starts with The Countess and a more symphonic intro, which quickly turns over to a proper melodeath track, while still also incorporating some clean vocals in it. Fate is mainly characterized by tempo switches and incorporates some symphonic elements in it. This latter point actually holds true for a lot of the songs, so if you’re i.e. a fan of Septicflesh, then you’ll like this album very much. There are some deviations from it, though. Theory Divine, the album’s fifth track, for instance offers a hearty dose of doom metal, especially in the beginning, and the seventh track, Awakening, has a lot of rock influences.

In conclusion: Resurgence From Oblivion still has some rough edges here and there that need a bit of sanding off, for instance the tracks which are rather long and could be brought a bit more to the point by shortening them. Nevertheless, it’s a very good album. The fundamental style is melodic death metal, but also a good portion of i.e. symphonic metal are added to the whole mix, thus making it a varied album that is fun to listen to. I’m curious to see what the girls come up with next! Recommended and 9/10.

Written by Julia Obenauer

Ashes Arise Official Website
Ashes Arise Facebook
Ashes Arise Twitter

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Interview: Gonoreas

On February 23rd, the Swiss metallers of Gonoreas released their new album, called Minotaur. Time for DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen to ask Gonoreas' guitarist Damir Eskic some questions!

Hey, congratulations with your new album, Minotaur. I really like it!

Big, big thanks my friend! It's nice to hear.

When you compare Minotaur to its predecessor, Destructive Ways (2015), what is it you notice?

Hmm... we did Destructive Ways in a easier way, only heavy metal. With Minotaur we speak about our influences, and depths of the ideas and music. So, Minotaur is a little bit more dark and a little bit more complicated album.

What is the story behind the lyrical content of Minotaur?

It's not a story, every song has a different lyrical content, but it's all about life, and what's happening during it. The song Minotaur is about big obstacles that appear in our life, sometimes the biggest obstacle, the biggest enemy is ourselves. On the song, the walls of the labyrinth are made of mirrors that reflects past memories and regret. The main character tries to attack the minotaur, but attacks the mirror, his on reflex, the glass breaks and kills him. The meaning behind the lyrics is about not getting lost on the labyrinth of our mind, sometimes we can be our worst enemy.

Where do you get inspired by? 

Our inspiration now are, we by ourselves. When we composed the songs this time we only thought our way, and how to give the riffs and ideas for us only.

Since your 2011 album Apocalypse you work with V.O. Pulver in the studio. What is it that makes you return to him?

It's just a perfect way to create and record the album with V.O. and everybody can hear the great result. We love the work of V.O.

The cover art of Minotaur is made by Osmar Arroyo. He also did some covers of your earlier releases. What made him the best person for creating the cover of Minotaur? What is it that makes you return to him for the covers?

Osmar Arroyo is an great artist and he is a friend of our singer Leandro. He is a uncomplicated guy and he does great artwork. For the special edition of Minotaur, we have a different cover and another artist too. It was made by Gyula Havanczack. Gyula made covers for bands like Blind Guardian, Destruction, Grave Digger and more.

For releasing Minotaur you signed to Art Gates Records. What makes them the best label for Gonoreas at this moment?

We needed a partner who would help us. I'm a full-time musician and also worked for my wife's band called Burning Witches. Now we have too much to do, so we needed a partner who can work good with us. This is the first album with Art Gates and we must see how it will work the next time.

You hail from Switzerland. How is the Swiss metalscene?

The Swiss metal scene is great, but there are too many concerts every week in, for example, 40 km around of us. It's great but sometimes it's bad. For like 10 years we did some easy promo and much people were coming to every show. Today we must do big promo for every show.

Any bands from there you recommend checking out?

Yes! Burning Witches, Mind Patrol, Final Crusade, Hellvetica, Comaniac and Emerald.

You already announced some shows, can we expect more of them? Maybe coming to The Netherlands?

Yes, we now have some shows booked for the Minotaur tour. Maybe we can come to The Netherlands.

Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

Big thanks for love, great metal sounds and enjoy the greatest music in the world!!

Gonoreas Official Website
Gonoreas Facebook

Friday, May 18, 2018

Interview: Morvigor

In November last year, the Dutch metallers of Morvigor released their second full-length album, called Tyrant. Time for DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen to interview them!

Hey, congratulations with your new album, Tyrant. It's really nice!

Thank you! We’ve been working on Tyrant for a long time, so it’s always great to hear people appreciating our work.

How are the reactions you get on it so far?

The reactions have been overwhelming so far. Almost every review online is hugely enthusiastic and speaks about us with lovely flattering words. We also really enjoy the fact that people don’t really know how to classify our music. We’ve been called almost everything, ranging from Hardcore Punk to Prog Rock to Atmospheric Black Metal and, my personal favourite, Eclectic Meme Metal.

When you compare Tyrant with its predecessor, A Tale Of Suffering (2014), what is it you notice?

Personally I notice a much more matured band, both musically and conceptually. The songs are more thought and worked out than on A Tale Of Suffering. Soundwise, A Tale of Suffering shows a mixture between Melodic and Folk metal with a little progressive touch, Tyrant shows a hybrid between Black / Death / Prog Metal and a little bit of Punk.

The song structures are great! How does the writing process go for a Morvigor track?

One of us introduces a riff or an idea in the rehearsal room. We jam a little, and then our guitar player Sytze makes a little demo recording at home. Then we improve and improve and improve the demo till we got something we all are content with.

This is your first album with Brendan Duffy on drums, did this change something to the creating process of an album compared to creating an album with your former drummer IJdo IJssennagger?

Brendan is a fantastic guy, both musically and personally. I won’t go into details about differences between Brendan and IJdo, since they aren’t really comparable, but I can say that Brendan is a drumming mastermind and is extremely motivated, which is really inspiring for all of us.

You have two guests on this album, Jan Jongewaard (who is responsible for the programming on Voices) and Geert Omta (who plays piano in the outro). How did these collaborations came to pass?

Geert Omta has been a friend of the drummer Brendan for a long time. We were thinking about doing a piano-outro, and since Geert is studying classical music at the conservatory, it was really obvious we had to ask him for doing the outro. It was a great experience, we recorded it in a small church in the Dutch countryside, it was beautiful. About Jan, he was my English teacher when I was in high school. He had this low, intense voice, which I then, and still, found really imposing. So when we decided to do a interlude with voices, I sent him an email, and he was enthusiastic right away.

How are you going to surpass this on a new album?

A healthy combination of motivation, inspiration, exploration, experimentation.

Speaking of it, are you already working on new material? If yes, can you already tell us something about how it's going to be?

I can’t tell how it’s going to be. We already have a few ideas lying around, musically and conceptually. But, it still requires a lot of work before we can make anything public I guess.

You recently participated in the Dynamo Metal Fest BandBattle for a spot on Dynamo Metal Fest. How did that go?

Brendan is doing the MetalFactory at Dynamo, so the choice to play there was an easy one. We were very glad to see we were selected for the finals, since it’s kinda strange for a Black Metal band to compete in a bandcontest for a more modern / mainstream open air metal festival. We didn’t won, but we had a great time there, and I think we’ve made quite a impression on the bookers of Dynamo, so we might be back there another day.

You currently have three upcoming shows announced. Can we expect some more Morvigor shows soon?

Yes! We are planning a few other, mostly small local shows, which will be announced over following months I guess.

Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to our readers?

Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to check out Tyrant!

Morvigor Official Website
Morvigor Facebook

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review: Kobra and the Lotus - Prevail II

Last year Kobra and the Lotus released their first part of the Prevail album, of which you can read our review here. Now Prevail II is out and I again feel privileged to be able to review this second album as well! The album immediately is off to a good start beginning with the earlier released single Losing My Humanity, this track builds further on where Prevail I stopped. The song has the guitars and fierce vocals that bring us the all-too-familiar Kobra and the Lotus sound. The force and aggressiveness of this opening song immediately sets the right mood. I can understand why this song has been put at the beginning of the tracklist!

The beautiful Let Me Love You dials down on aggressiveness and fierceness without taking away the familiar Kobra the Lotus sound. It sounds more like a heavy rock song then it is a metal song per se. This is perhaps the power of Kobra and the Lotus and in particular with these last two records, there are quite a few variations between different styles of music, but switching between those styles sometimes happens without me actually being fully aware of it. I mean, I obviously did notice it, but all the songs blend perfectly together and it actually adds a lot of flavor to the record rather than diminishing it. The next song called Ribe is an acoustic intermezzo which connects the songs Let Me Love You with the next track, My Immortal. Ribe takes you out of all the guitar and drum violence for a few minutes, which I will address later on, and calms you to give you time to charge up for the beautiful My Immortal. This song in some ways builds on the foundation of Let Me Love You. Only this time there is more variation and the song builds up constantly eventually leading up to the beautiful high notes of Miss Kobra Paige herself. These well-controlled and clear high-pitched vocals show how versatile and talented Kobra really is.

Human Empire shows itself as being a true metal track to the bone. The guitar and drums are absolutely phenomenal here and the fierceness of the vocals again shows its face! After this violence follow two straightforward rock songs that don’t really jump out but are necessary and beautiful nonetheless even if it were only due to the fact that they again show how versatile Kobra and the Lotus as a band really is. I love how they show time and time again that they make the music that they want to make rather than thinking about whether it’s metal enough for some people.

Modern Day Hero is the next track. This song is really positive, it makes me feel good and I immediately want to fight for righteousness! Something that really fits Kobra and the Lotus and the reason they make music. You can read about this further in this interview which we did last year with Kobra herself! In You’re Insane the band goes really all-out! This is metal like it's supposed to be, straight to the point and heavy! At least that is my opinion! The fierce and powerful vocals of Kobra are back once again and she really gives her all! As a listener I was completely blown away by her power! With White Water, the ballad on the record, the band again shows their vulnerable side. The song is really beautiful and is without a doubt, like ballads have been so many times, my favorite song on the album. The classic 80s guitar solo at the end really makes the difference! That’s how a powerful rock ballad, with little bit of metal must be! Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain has been covered with grace. The band really gives color to the original song and makes the song dynamic! This coming from a guy that doesn’t even like covers! Great job Kobra and the Lotus!!!

The acoustic version of Let Me Love You is the bonus track. To me this is the cherry on the cake. Where the original track is only vulnerable in the chorus, this acoustic rendition is vulnerable the whole way through and translates the feeling of love and positivity even more than its electric counterpart!

I can only say that Prevail II is a great continuation of the path that Kobra and the Lotus is on right now! I really hope that the band continues to do this with all their positivity and love!

Thanks Kobra and the Lotus!

Written by Glenn van der Heijden

We also mentioned Kobra and the Lotus in part 14 of Promoting Bands, which you can read here.

Kobra And The Lotus Official Website
Kobra And The Lotus Facebook
Kobra And The Lotus Twitter

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Live review: Nachtblut and Krankheit in Willemeen, Arnhem, The Netherlands, May 9th, 2018

May 9th, it's a pretty hot day today with a lot of sun, but a very dark evening is planned in Willemeen, Arnhem. Not just a dark evening! Two bands will play their first Dutch show tonight: headliner Nachtblut and support act Krankheit!

When the doors of Willemeen's cafe (where tonight's shows will happen) just opened, the venue stays pretty empty for quite a while. Just a few moments before Krankheit will begin their set, the café starts to fill up quite well. It’s possible that many people where just enjoying their last few moments of sun for the day.

At 20:00 the show has begun; the background music fades out and Krankheit begins their set. Immediately it's clear that the sound guys are doing a great job, the quality of the sound is very good right from the start. Luckily this remains the same the entire evening. Anton (Tony) Gassner, Christian Präauer and Roy Preissler play their set with a lot of energy. Krankheit presents themselves in a very maniacal way, with especially drummer Tony standing out with his Joker-like appearance. The set is very well done, they give all they have to give during the show, there is a very hectic light-show present and the audience is already getting quite warmed up as well. Yes, I am going to compare Krankheit with Rammstein, but not just because they are a metal band singing in German. Of course, there are some similarities, but Krankheit for sure also has their own things. A few examples being Krankheit using a lot more classical music in their tracks and the vocals are clearly different. The atmosphere of their show was also really their own, but sometimes reminded me a bit of Rammstein. Of course this is a personal opinion from someone who unfortunately never went to an early period Rammstein-show. Tonight's small venue, the heavy, drilling music of Krankheit and tonight's atmosphere made me feel that I was at one. I am definitely not saying that Krankheit is imitating Rammstein. To be honest, I think that Krankheit clearly shows that they are very able to turn these similarities into their own thing, also partly because of the addition of other aspects.

After Krankheit left the stage and it's prepared for Nachtblut, it finally is time for tonight's headliner. Right after Nachtblut entered the stage they start with the first notes of Multikulturell, the much-discussed track from their newest album, Apostasie. In case there were people present for who tonight's atmosphere wasn't strong enough yet, it at this moment, can't be a problem anymore. Nachtblut shows to be very enthusiastic on stage, something that for sure passes onto the audience. Of course tracks from Apostasie are played, a few examples being Amok, Der Tod Ist Meine Nutte and Frauenausbeiner, but also some older Nachtblut tracks will pass by on tonight's setlist, for example with Töte Mich and Antik. At some point during the show, Nachtblut serves their legendary shot-drink.

A while later vocalist Askeroth asks the audience if they want something else to drink. This of course means the start of Ich Trinke Blut. The chalice with blood is handed to Askeroth, he takes a sip and empties the remainder over a part of the audience. Askeroth also joins the audience at some moment, starting a mosh pit to heat up the audience some more. When Nachtblut leaves the stage, the audience immediately starts shouting "Zugabe! Zugabe!" Nachtblut soon comes back to deliver this eagerly anticipated encore, which contains quite a few tracks. Wat Is Denn Los Mit Dir, Nachtblut's version of the Kollegah & Majoe-track and Apostasie's bonus track, also is part of this encore, with vocals being handled by Krankheit's vocalist Christian.

This Dutch live-debut of Nachtblut and Krankheit was great and I can't imagine that there won't be any more Dutch shows for these two bands in the future. It was an awesome evening!

Written by Tim van Velthuysen

Read our earlier interview with Nachtblut's drummer Skoll here.

Nachtblut Official Website
Nachtblut Facebook
Krankheit Official Website
Krankheit Facebook