Friday April 27th & Saturday April 28th 2012 / Tauberfrankenhalle, Lauda-KŲnigshofen, Germany

K.I.T. XV ticket

Itís hard to believe that this was already the 15th edition of the KEEP IT TRUE festival. Who wouldíve thought that the small, one-day affair that was held here for the first time in July of 2003 would ever become what it is today (and has been for a couple of years already) in such a short period of time : undoubtedly the best underground metal festival in the world! Once more Oliver Weinsheimer and crew had managed to assemble an excellent line-up, including bands from 8 countries worldwide. Not surprisingly the majority of those hailed from the U.S.A. (9) and Canada (3), while Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden and the U.K. had one ambassador each. And to top things off, there was part two of ROXXCALIBURís New Wave Of British Heavy Metal Revisted experience! Plenty to enjoy, so read on and find out who was hot, and who was not Ö

FRIDAY APRIL 27th 2012

CAUCHEMAR (Annick Giroux)
Itís a dirty job but somebody simply has to do it : being the opening band of the festival. This time it was to be the task of the first of the three Canadian outfits of the weekend. Hailing from Ottawa, CAUCHEMAR (= NIGHTMARE in English) started out as a duo-project in 2007, then consisting of vocalist Annick Giroux and guitarist FranÁois Patry. With the addition of drummer Patrick Pageau the project turned into a real band, with Annick handling the bass as well. By 2010 the band signed a deal with Nuclear War Now Productions from the U.S.A. and during the summer of the same year the bandís debut mLP/mCD La Vierge Noire (= The Black Virgin) saw the light of day. Touring through Canada, Colombia, Chile and Peru followed and this opening slot here was part of the bandís Rites Lunaires European Tour 2012, consisting of no less than 20 dates. Earlier this year Jo Capitalicide (IRON DOGS) joined the band on bass, so Annick could focus entirely on singing and performing. For those unaware, CAUCHEMAR is a Heavy / True Doom metal outfit, and La Vierge Noire made quite an impact on me. And not just on me, by looking around me during their set. Said set consisted of familiar material (Le Gardien De La Terre, Valse FunŤbre, Le Voile díIsis) as well as new songs from the bandís upcoming new release, such as LíAppel and Rites Lunaires. In case you didnít notice yet : Annick of course sings in her native French voice, but that doesnít bother me at all. Not surprisingly thatís exactly what they did with their cover version of Under The Oak (CANDLEMASS) : they changed the title to Sous Le ChÍne and translated the lyrics into French. Needless to say that a great song remains a great song! CAUCHEMARís performance was convincing enough to make us check out the band once more in Brussels two weeks later on Friday night. Need I say more?

CAUCHEMAR pictures

PORTRAIT (David Olofsson)
The first of no less than six bands that had already performed during one of the previous editions of K.I.T. was up next already : Swedenís PORTRAIT. Back in November of 2007 (K.I.T. IX) PORTRAIT was still fronted by their original vocalist, Phillip Svennefelt. That was even before the bandís self-titled LP/CD was released. Phillip was asked to leave the band in the summer of 2008 and was eventually replaced by Per ďPelleĒ Karlsson, of OVERDRIVE fame. The first sign of life with Per behind the mike followed in March of 2010, in form of the The Murder Of All Things Righteous 7Ē on High Roller Records. A deal with Metal Blade was the result and in December of 2010 PORTRAIT recorded their latest claim to fame, Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae (LP/CD), which was released in May of 2011. Last time that I saw PORTRAIT was at Headbangers Open Air 2009, and that particular performance wasnít the best, as I hardly remember a thing. Today it was going to be different for sure, and most likely the band would focus heavily on Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae. Nothing wrong with that, but in the end it turned out that all but one song (The Adversary) originated from said release. I just wish the set wouldíve been balanced a bit more, thatís all. Thatís not to say that the likes of Beast Of Fire, Bloodbath, Darkness Forever or The Nightcomers left anything to be desired, but I wouldnít have minded hearing Hell or A Ghastly Silence either. One thing that I must add is that PORTRAITís brand of sinister Heavy Metal undoubtedly comes across better in a darker environment, rather than during broad daylight, but in the end it all comes down to the music first and foremost. No complaints here, as PORTRAIT delivered a convincing 45í set, nothing less, nothing more.

PORTRAIT pictures

WITCH CROSS (Michael ďMike WladĒ Koch)
Also from Scandiavia, albeit from Denmark this time, comes WITCH CROSS. A band that I never got to see live in the 1980ís, so when I found out that they were about to play here I was thrilled. Only to be a bit disappointed when I found out that original vocalist Alex Savage would not be fronting the band on this occasion. His replacement turned out to a be British vocalist by the name of Kevin Moore, who once was a member of OLIVER / DAWSON SAXON years ago. On the other hand, three original WITCH CROSS members were in fact part of this reunion show : guitarist Michael ďMike WladĒ Koch, bassist Jan ďLittle John FieldĒ Normark Petersen and drummer Anders ďA.C.Ē Hjort. The second guitarist for this occasion being Torben Aalykke, replacing Cole Hamilton, in case youíre wondering Ö As Iíve always been fond of the bandís one and only real claim to fame, 1984ís Fit For Fight LP (released on Roadrunner), I was looking forward to seeing this Danish dynamite heavy metal act at long last anyhow. When it comes to the setlist, hardly anything could go wrong, considering that they displayed the majority of Fit For Fight. The Are You There / No Angel 7Ē from 1983 wasnít ignored either, and at the very end of the bandís 50í set there was even room for one new tune : Demon In The Mirror. Not bad at all, and significant of the fact that WITCH CROSS intends to continue for another while. Anyhow, it was really good to get to hear the likes of Night Flight To Tokyo, Face Of A Clown, Fight The Fire, Axe Dance or Rocking The Night Away, although I must say that I wouldíve enjoyed them even better had they been sung by Alex Savage. Not to say that Kevin did a bad job, but I canít help but compare to the original versions, and those simply come out on top. In the end WITCH CROSS delivered a cool gig, the bandmembers obviously enjoyed themselves tremendously, and so did the majority of the audience.

WITCH CROSS pictures

ADRAMELCH (Gianluca Corona)
Just like PORTRAIT earlier on, Italyís ADRAMELCH were no strangers to the KEEP IT TRUE festival either, but nevertheless it was their first visit to the Tauberfrankenhalle. Indeed, the bandís first passage here dates back to April Foolís day 2005, when ADRAMELCH were part of the fourth editionís preshow at the Sporthalle in Dittigheim. Back then the bandís Broken History CD was about to be released and as a result over half of their set consisted of songs that nobody had ever heard before. I was expecting something similar to happen today, as the Lights From Oblivion CD in fact saw the light of day on Pure Prog Records this very day. In my opinion it just seems useless to release a whole bunch of unknown tunes unto an unfamilar and unexpecting audience. Luckily things turned out to be different today. As a matter of fact, due to the fact that WITCH CROSS started out late and played longer than anticipated, ADRAMELCH were forced to cut their set short by one song, so in the end no songs at all off Lights From Oblivion made the cut. Besides, only the titletrack from Broken History was performed today, only to say that the rest of the bandís set was completely devoted to their debut masterpiece Irae Melanox, which was released in 1988. Man, thatís almost two and a half decades ago Ö Needless to say that only vocalist Vittorio Ballerio and guitarist Gianluca Corona remain from those days nowadays. Contrary to past performances, Dreams Of A Jester was the opener today, followed by the equally convincing Fearful Visions. Both made sure that thereís definitely a market for this kind of progressive metal at a festival like this. Not that I was ever in doubt concerning this Ö Broken History was followed by the biggest surprise of the day, a song that they claimed had only been played once before, ever : Decay (Saver Comes). Excellent! I somehow missed Adramelch and Eyes Of Alabaster, but rest assured, Was Called Empire and Zephirus sure made up for that! A job well done and, as far as Iím concerned, the best gig of the day so far.

ADRAMELCH pictures

OZ (L - R : Michel Santunione & John Berg)
Totally new to Tauberfrankenhalle stage were Finlandís OZ. This cult heavy metal outfit started out back in 1977 already, and continued up until 1991, releasing five full-length LPís along the way. Especially 1983ís Fire In The Brain and follow-up III Warning (1984) should ring a bell to most of those attending a festival like this. In 2010 original members Ape De Martini (vocals) and Mark Ruffneck (drums) teamed up with bassist Jay C. Blade again, added two new guitarists and reunited OZ. In November of 2011 AFM Records released OZís new CD, entitled Burning Leather. Apart from five brandnew tracks, this release also includes renditions of six old OZ classics, all culled from Fire In The Brain and III Warning, as well as the titletrack from the Turn The Cross Upside Down 12Ē. Needless to say that the focus today would thus be on the Burning Leather release, but I was hoping for at least one or other surprise as well. Well, I can say I wasnít disappointed with the setlist in the end, not at all! Opening with the appropriate Search Lights, followed by Gambler was a wise move as far as Iím concerned, as they instigated the audience from the first notes. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, Dominator and Seasons In The Darkness represented the new OZ, which sounds in fact along the same lines as their earlier stuff. Iím still grateful that they didnít play Enter Stadium, as that wouldíve been totally out of place here. The one and only surprise came in form of Megalomaniac (also from Fire In The Brain), which preceded Third Warning. But the two most anticipated songs of them all were nicely kept until the very end : the all-destroying Turn The Cross Upside Down and the equally excellent Fire In The Brain. Vocalist Ape De Martini turned out to be a real entertainer and besides he was still in good shape vocally, and the band (including two new guitarists - Michel Santunione and John Berg - once again) turned out to be a tight entity. The overall atmosphere was excellent throughout the entire set and it was really great to finally get to hear these songs in a live situation. Without a single doubt my first real highlight of the day!

OZ pictures

MYSTIC FORCE (Gabriel Lewis)
Most likely I was one of only a handful (a dozen, at the most) people present here that had seen the next band live before. Nothing too strange, as Marylandís MYSTIC FORCE had never played in Europe before. My one and only previous encounter with this progressive power metal outfit dates back to August 2000, at the (sadly) long since gone Powermad festival in Baltimore. A lot has changed since those days, as bassist Keith Menser is the only remaining member from the line-up that I saw back then. Indeed, MYSTIC FORCE has been around since 1983 and released several quality demos leading up to the release of their 1990 independently released Take Command / Shipwrecked With The Wicked debut CD. A deal with Germanyís Rising Sun followed and resulted in The Eternal Quest (1993) and A Step Beyond (1995). The bandís latest claim to fame dates back to 2001, when Man vs. Machine saw the light of day, on the bandís own Siegen Records. After that, a long loud silence until it was announced that they were set to play here today. Apart from Keith, the nowadays MYSTIC FORCE consists of vocalist Ryan Rawlings and guitarist Gabriel Luis (both also members of FALLEN MARTYR), as well as Mike Evans (guitars) and drummer Allen Brunelle. I was anxious to find out what the band would sound like these days, and what the setlist would be like. Luckily the band had one hour to their disposal, and thus we got to hear tunes from all four CDís, with the emphasis clearly on their first three releases, by means of Take Command, Closer To The Truth, Awakened By The Dawn, Answers Of The Mystery, Among Infinity, Shipwrecked With The Wicked, A Step Beyond and Eternal Quest. Idiosyncrasy and Identical Strangers represented Man vs. Machine and there was even room for one new tune (Modern Day Fury), which will undoubtedly surface on the bandís upcoming new CD. Not just the setlist managed to convince me, so did the band! Ryan has the perfect voice for this kind of progressive power metal, and he even made me forget about his predecessors William Wren and Bobby Hicks. The rest of the band was on par with Ryan, resulting in a second consecutive highlight of the day. And what surprised me the most is that plenty of people seemed to know the band well, and enjoyed them just as much.


SLOUGH FEG (Mike Scalzi)
The third (and last) band of the day that made a return visit to the Tauberfrankenhalle was none other than San Franciscoís SLOUGH FEG. Their first passage here was during K.I.T. V, back in November 2005. I had seen the band once more since (in 2011) but my first recollection goes back to when these guys were still called THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG, when I saw them at the first Classic Metal Festival (2001) in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Fronted by originator Mike Scalzi (vocals/guitar) and including longtime bassist Adrian Maestas (since 2001), SLOUGH FEG has had a stable line-up since 2007, including Angelo Tringali (guitar) and Harry Cantwell (drums) as well. Eight CDís have been released since 1996ís self-titled debut, culminating in 2010ís The Animal Spirits. I must say that Iíve been a fan of the bandís a-typical brand of folky heavy metal since day one, but Iíll also be the first to admit that Iíve somehow lost track in recent years. Although I have all of their releases, Iím not really familiar with the bandís last couple outputs. Just a case of too many fish in the sea Ö nothing personal. As it would happen, no songs off The Lord Weird Slough Feg nor Twilight Of The Idols would be performed. The oldest stuff we got to hear today was off Down Among The Deadman (Death Machine & Traders And Gunboats) and Traveller (The Final Gambit & High Passage/Low Passage). Furthermore nothing off Atavism, and just one song each off Hardworlder and Ape Uprising. Kinda strange to my ears, evenmoreso as they did indeed lump in Joan Baezís Diamonds And Rust as well. The Animal Spirits of course deserved a royal treatment, and five songs were performed tonight, including The 95 Thesis, Materia Prima and Lycanthropic Fantasies. Nothing to argue about when it comes to the bandís convincingly energetic performance, but in my opinion the setlist couldíve been just that bit more leavel headed. Due to the fact that I wasnít really familiar with most of the material, I soon started to lose interest, but the ever fanatic SLOUGH FEG fans clearly proved me wrong!

SLOUGH FEG pictures

SWORD (Mike Larock)
Todayís co-headlining band was one that I had never expected to see live, never ever. Quťbecís SWORD started out over three decades ago (1980), but ceased to exist sometime during the first half of the 1990ís. Back in 1987 however SWORDís melodic heavy metal debut LP Metalized made quite an impact worldwide. It was soon followed by Sweet Dreams (1988), which wasnít quite as excellent as its predecessor, but still way above average. After that, SWORD basically disappeared from view and faded into obscurity. That hiatus lasted until 2011, when the band announced their reunion. Whatís rather remarkable is that all four original members were to take part in this reformation : vocalist Rick Hughes, his brother Dan on drums, as well as guitarist Mike Plant and bassist Mike Larock. Plenty of hair may have vanished over the years (in Mikeís case : all) but they were all present to rock the house once again. It wasnít until a few weeks before the festival that I started to rediscover SWORDís musical legacy, only to find out that especially Metalized is an overlooked metal jewel. I hadnít heard that LP for several years, but boy, what a scorcher it turned out to be! No doubt tonightís setlist would be some kind of best of selection from both releases, but nobody could imagine it would turn out to be this excellent in the end. In a nutshell : SWORD performed the entire Metalized release, plus 60% (six songs) off Sweet Dreams. Really nobody could ever argue such a treatment, apart from the happy few that prefer Sweet Dreams over Metalized perhaps. Pointing out highlights is thus rather pointless, as SWORDís 70 minute set was one big highlight altogether. A band performing accurately, clearly enjoying themselves on stage, and getting the full treatment in return from the audience. What could one wish more for? Nothing, as far as Iím concerned, and thus SWORD became my third absolute highlight of the day!

SWORD pictures

Headliners should be among the highlights of a festival day as well, but as nothing is ever for granted, thatís not always the case. Only time would tell Ö Selecting festival headliners canít be an easy task, but Iíd say that you could do worse than picking PSYCHOTIC WALTZ on any given day, especially knowing that the band was about to treat us to a special and extra-long set. One can cram plenty of songs into a 130 minute set, so this would be quite a difference compared to the bandís appearance during last yearís Power Of Metal tour, when they could only perform seven of their tunes. I really enjoyed that short set back then in Antwerp, and I wasnít opposed to hearing plenty more today at all. In the end, it would turn out that PSYCHOTIC WALTZ had played 28 tunes, out of a possible 42 that were released on their four full-lengths to date. For the curious ones, this is how things panned out : 9/13 off A Social Grace, 6/8 off Into The Everflow, 6/10 off Mosquito and 7/11 off Bleeding. For all I care they might just have played A Social Grace in its entirety, as itís by far my most favourite release, followed hot on its heels by Into The Everflow. Iíve never been too familiar with Mosquito and especially Bleeding, although there are plenty of excellent songs to be found on those releases as well, and I was glad to get to hear them live at last. Then again, I must say that over 150 minutes (!) turned out to be a bit too long for its own good in the end, especially knowing that we had to wait until the encores to be able to digest the real goodies : Another Prophet Song, Halo Of Thorns, Nothing, I Of The Storm, And The Devil Cried and Spiral Tower. All off that timeless masterpiece called A Social Grace of course. Well worth the wait, but it had been a very long day already, and actually I was glad to be able to hit the sack shortly after Spiral Tower had been completed. PSYCHOTIC WALTZ, featuring the entire original line-up that recorded their first three releases back in the day, was in perfect shape and did nothing wrong at all, but perhaps a shorter (110 minute) set wouldíve been enough to please the audience too, considering the progressive nature of their music, and all of this at the end of a long, hot spring day.



VOLTURE (Brent Hubbard)
A good nightís rest, an excellent and plentiful breakfast, plus another quick stroll through the Metal Market : all of those things preceeded the second day of K.I.T. 15, which promised to be even better than the first. Originating out of Richmond, Virginia, pure heavy metal quintet VOLTURE kicked off right on time at 12 noon. Having only been in existence since 2008, this bandís legacy consists of one split 7Ē, a 7Ē and a mCD/mLP. The latter, entitled Shocking Its Prey, had made quite an impact on my ears recently : high-pitched heavy metal bordering on speed, and definitely influenced by the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement as well. Right up my alley, indeed. Despite being a relatively new band, the various bandmembers can hardly be called rookies, knowing that three of them used to be in IMMORTAL AVENGER. Actually, guitarist Dave Boyd made a return visit to the festival, as he is of course also part of TWISTED TOWER DIRE, who played here back in 2007. My expectations were thus high, and I have to say that I wasnít disappointed with the bandís performance in the end. I simply love this kind of (at times, very) high-pitched vocals. Especially during Cheap Thrillz, Brent Hubbard reminded me of the singer from Hollandís EMERALD. As for the setlist, it was kept nice and simple : the band played all six tunes off Shocking Its Prey, as well as both songs of their most recent 7Ē, Rulebreaker and Killer Angels, which is of course a GOTHAM CITY cover. Just like all of their originals, this song went down really well with the crowd. The only bad thing being that the band was only on stage for some 33 minutes, which is a pity, as I wanted more for sure. Itís a recurrent fact that opening bands have a tendency not to be able to complete even a 45 minute slot, and I hope one day I wonít have to mention this again. Nevertheless VOLTURE immediately set the standard high for the following bands, by means of an allround convincing set.

VOLTURE pictures

FUELED BY FIRE (Rick Rangel)
Just like yesterday, three bands on stage today had already played at the K.I.T. festival before. In the case of Californiaís FUELED BY FIRE that first visit dates back to edition number 10, back in April of 2008. To be honest, Iím still wondering why these guys were asked to return here so soon, knowing that dozens of bands that havenít played here before are patiently awaiting their turn. Oh well Ö Without a doubt FUELED BY FIRE are still one of the more interesting bands when it comes to the New Wave Of American Thrash Metal wave that started out several years ago already, but I hate to admit that they are a far cry from being equally interesting as the original thrash bands from the 1980ís that they are heavily influenced by. By the looks of it, the line-up had remained intact over the years, and they clearly progressed when it comes to technical skulls, but the lack of originality is still there too, unfortunately. As for the setlist, it turned out to be a mixture of songs culled from 2006ís Spread The Fire and the recently released Plunging Into Darkness CD. Quite naturally the emphasis today was on the latter (The Arrival, Rising From Beneath, Within The Abyss, Unidentified Remains, Eye Of The Demon, Sickness Of Humanity and even bonus track Deadly Restraints) but ďoldiesĒ Put To Death, Striking Death and Thrash Is Back werenít overlooked either. Besides I have no idea where Merciless Blade originated from : most likely itís a brandnew tune that has yet to be released. 50 minutes of in your face thrash metal mania may well have pleased and convinced fans of the genre and this band in special, from my point of view it was the band that I enjoyed least of the day. Or even the entire festival Ö Nothing personal, just a matter of taste and opinion.


Another American band that had played here during the festive tenth anniversary edition in 2008 was SENTINEL BEAST. Compared to that day, only vocalist Debbie Gunn made the return trip, as the rest of the members were all different. But believe me, it was a change for the better, because this time we got to witness the complete ďoriginalĒ line-up that was around even before the Depths Of Death LP was recorded for Metal Blade / Roadrunner, back in 1986. It sure was great to see guitarists Barry Fischel and Greg Williams, bassist Mike Spencer and drummer Scott Awes on stage backing up Debbie and performing their old stuff together once again. Obviously all problems from the past have meanwhile been resolved, and it definitely showed, as this quintet couldnít hide that they clearly enjoyed themselves on stage. And, Iím sure, that wasnít only as a result of the success that they enjoyed. Just like four years ago the likes of Depths Of Death, Mourir, Dogs Of War, Corpse, Sentinel Beast and Evil Is The Night represented Depths Of Death, but (fortunately) no Phantom Of The Opera today. Instead we got to hear some pre-album stuff in form of Sacred Line and Beyond The Walls (off 1985ís Depths Of Death demo), plus the inevitable Kill The Witch, the titletrack from their 1984 debut demo! Clocking in at just 45 minutes, this was quite an entertaining set. I recall that I enjoyed SENTINEL BEASTís set in 2008 tremendously, but this one was even more convincing. I donít have a crystal ball, and thus I have no clue as to which road SENTINEL BEAST will follow from here onwards, but I wouldnít mind if they continued with this line-up. Not at all! Most definitely my first highlight of the day, and undoubtedly just one of many more to come as the day progressed.!/pages/Sentinel-Beast-Offical


OSTROGOTH (Mario ďGrizzlyĒ Pauwels)
The band up next was supposed to play here last year already but, due to a serious hand injury of one of their guitarists, had to postpone things to today. Of course weíre talking about my fellow countrymen OSTROGOTH. A band that started out over three decades ago already, progressed to the highest achievable level when it comes to Belgian heavy metal bands during the early 1980ís, but sadly went downhill towards the late 1980ís already. Back in 2002 there had been a first OSTROGOTH reunion already, but that one collapsed soon after already. A couple of years ago they decided to give it another try, and as such headlined the Ages Of Metal festival in 2010. Although that didnít turn out to be the success that they had hoped for, the band did soldier on and played at the Up The Hammers festival in Greece in early 2011. Shortly afterwards tragedy struck when guitarist Rudy severely injured his hand, disabling him to play guitar for several months. Although time healed all wounds in the end, more bad news was announced earlier this year, when the band announced that they were on the lookout for a new vocalist, in order to replace Marc ďRed StarĒ De Brauwer. At one point I was starting to think that the band would have to cancel here once more, but at last they found a suitable replacement in Georges ďJosey HindrixĒ Hinderijckx. For most people, guitarist Glen ďDario FrodoĒ Ployaert turned out to be an unfamiliar face too, but of course the rest of the band today still consists of members from their heydays line-up : guitarist Rudy ďWhite SharkĒ Vercruysse, bassist Marnix ďBroncoĒ Van de Kauter and drummer Mario ďGrizzlyĒ Pauwels. In general, Iím not at all in favour of bands performing without their original vocalist, but necessity has no law, and thus I was anxiously awaiting what Josey would sound like on this, his debut live performance in front of a bunch of people, plenty of them being just as curious as OSTROGOTH (Georges 'Josey Hindrix' Hinderijckx) myself. Iím not too keen on introís but Heroesí Museum, which followed hot on its heels, was an appropriate tune to start off with and, although the entire band seemed to be a bit nervous at first, they pulled it off remarkably well. Joseyís voice isnít an identical copy of Red Starís, but heís definitely along the same lines! The crowd seemed to have no problems at all accepting the new guy, and neither did I. So, what was the rest of the setlist going to be like? No new songs, for sure, but I could never have imagined it would turn out to be this good. In fact, OSTROGOTH played only songs off their Full Moonís Eyes debut EP (1983) and follow-up LP Ecstasy And Danger (1984). Not that I expected to hear anything off Feelings Of Fury, but maybe I did when it comes to Too Hot. Having said that, no complaints at all in regards to the setlist as it was, as I could easily listen to the likes of Scream Out, Lords Of Thunder, The New Generation, Queen Of Desire or Ecstasy And Danger each and every day. Not to mention Full Moonís Eyes, Paris By Night and the all-destroying Rock Fever, which closed the set on a high note. By the looks of it, everybody in attendance enjoyed this 45 minutes set tremendously, and perhaps the bandmembers themselves did most of all. The band was in great shape, the setlist better than excellent, the new singer gelled in perfectly, and the audience simply adored the band. Needless to say that most of them had never had a chance to see OSTROGOTH live before, in whatever line-up, and Iím so glad the band managed to make such a good impression on this occasion. Mission accomplished! I just hope that this will be the starting point of a fruitful new reunion, one that lasts longer than the one ten years ago. More gigs have already been booked, and in my wildest dreams I have visions of new material being written as well. You canít blame me for hoping, now can you? Anyhow, from my point of view OSTROGOTH turned out to be the second highlight of the day!!/pages/Ostrogoth

OSTROGOTH pictures

WHIPLASH (Tony Portaro)
Just as with OSTROGOTH, New Jersey thrashers WHIPLASH were supposed to have played here before, but had to cancel for one reason or another back then. But as long as your reasons for cancelling are valid, Oliver will give you a second chance, and this time WHIPLASH well and truly did show up. I remember seeing this band twice in one week, back in early 1990. That was prior to the release of their third album, Insult To Injury, which wouldnít be released until the next summer. Several line-up changes followed, before three more CDís were released during the second half of the 1990ís, with 1998ís Thrashback being the latest. Fast forward to 2009 : a comeback and the release of Unborn Again, which neatly leads us to 2012. I was lucky enough to see WHIPLASH live earlier this year, at the 70.000 Tons Of Metal cruise, and they most certainly delivered the goods on that occasion. From the original line-up however, only vocalist / guitarist Tony Portaro is still in the band nowadays, as Tony Bono (bass) died back in 2002 already, and drummer Tony Scaglione seems to have other priorities in life. Their replacements anno 2012 being bassist Dank DeLong and drummer Dan Foord. In an attempt to grab the audience by the balls right from the beginning, the band started out with three killer tunes off their 1985 debut Power And Pain : Last Man Alive, War Monger and Spit On Your Grave. Stage Dive and Power Thrashing Death would follow later on as well, indicative of the fact that WHIPLASHís set was predominantly a flashback to their very early days. Evenmoreso since The Burning Of Atlanta and Walk The Plank (both off 1987ís Ticket To Mayhem) were performed as well. The inclusion of Snake Pit wouldíve been appropriate too, but that didnít happen. The remainder of WHIPLASHís short (only 37 minutes) but sweet set was completed with two tunes off Thrashback : Killing On Monroe Street and This. Judging by the cool moshpit (not as big as the one during RIGOR MORTISí set a couple of years ago, but still impressive) the band took no prisoners today and may well have gained a couple of new fans along the way. Their set was loud, wild and energetic, and itís only recently that I started to wonder why I didnít enjoy these guys more in their early years. A job well done and hopefully more gigs to follow!

WHIPLASH pictures

TENSION (L - R : Tom Gattis & Mike Francis)
Contrary to WHIPLASH, the U.S. band up next on stage was just about to perform their first ever European gig. And, unfortunately, their only one too, for the time being anyhow. Of course weíre talking about TENSION, a band formerly known as DEUCE, and originally hailing from Baltimore, Maryland. Nowadays the various members are spread all over the U.S.A. In fact, for this special TENSION reunion, mainman Tom Gattis (vocals / guitars) teamed up with drummer Billy Giddings again, as well as with bassist Michael Francis (replacing Tim OíConnor), who used to be part of DEUCE in the early 1980ís already. The second guitarist today being none other than Petio Petev, who used to be in BALLISTIC with Tom as well. A credible line-up and one that was eager to make an excellent impression on this occasion. Over here in Europe the band has always been considered as being a cult outfit, based on their 1986 Breaking Point LP alone. Especially since their Epitome EP (1987) never saw the light of day officially. Although it was included on the Epitaph anthology CD on Metalgrind Records in 1997. A killer release that has been re-issued now as well, I might add. Needless to say this was one of the bands that I was looking forward to most of all today, and kicking off with One Nation Underground and Wrecking Crew will work anytime for me. A combination of power and speed, and some thrashy elements incorporated as well, still provide that typical TENSION sound. And it was good to notice that the rest that Mr. Gattis had taken prior to the show did pay off in form of a stunning vocal performance. Not to say that the rest of the guys didnít do an accurate job, as the entire band and overall sound turned out to be great. Death Sentence was the only song off Epitome, and during Angels From The Past Tomís brother Bill joined the band as an extra guitarist. The one song that I wasnít counting on being played today, and thus caught me by surprise was Telemannís 3rd, an old DEUCE classic. Of course Shock Treatment and Seduced couldnít be overlooked either, before Reach For Your Sword closed down TENSIONís set in style. Nothing to argue about at all, as the setlist was excellent, so was the bandís performance and a good time was had by band and audience alike. Hopefully weíll get to see more of this, but at least I can die happily now. My absolute highlight of the day! So far anyhowÖ

TENSION pictures

TYTAN (Steve Gibbs)
At long last it was time for a New Wave Of British Heavy Metal band to hit the stage, and from my point of view it was another case of one that I had never expected to see in my life. To be honest, TYTAN wasnít your typical N.W.O.B.H.M outfit back in the early 1980ís, as they sounded way more melodic compared to most other bands around at the same time in the United Kingdom. Then again, this set them apart from most of those other bands as well! TYTAN only existed for a couple of years, and all they released at the time was a 7Ē/12Ē, titled Blind Men And Fools, in 1982. The band broke up the next year already, and a full LP (Rough Justice) wasnít released until 1985. But what a killer album it turned out to be! It was a joyful day when I found out that TYTAN was going to play here today, but I was less pleased when the bandís line-up was announced. It didnít bother me that none of the bandís former drummers (Les Binks, Dave Dufort, Simon Wright) would be behind the kit, but my major concern was the absence of vocalist Kal Swan. To say that I was not amused is an understatement. Anyhow, original members Kevin Riddles (bass) and Steve Gibbs (guitar), plus Steve Mann (who joined the band later on) teamed up with vocalist / guitarist Tom Barna, drummer Andrew Prestidge (of recent ANGEL WITCH fame) and Andrew Thompson on keyboards. According to the bandís website, the latter two are to be considered as ďspecial guestsĒ, and thus not fulltime members. Doesnít really matter Ö As soon as I heard Tomís voice during opener Blind Men And Fools, I was convinced. In fact, it would turn out that I didnít miss Kal Swanís once majestic voice one single second throughout TYTANís set. Besides killer vocals, Tom also delivered an extra layer to the already impressive original dual guitar sound. Furthermore the keyboards werenít too dominant (just perfect actually) and the backing vocal harmonies were almost perfect. And to top things off, the setlist comprised of the entire Rough Justice release, minus The Ballad Of Edward Case. Absolute cuts above the rest : Cold Bitch, Rude Awakening, Sadman, Far Side Of Destiny and Women On The Frontline, including a guest appearance by CRYSTAL VYPERís Marta Gabriel on backing vocals. Nothing to complain about at all, and I know this might start to sound boring, but TYTAN turned out to be yet another highlight for me.

TYTAN pictures

ANVIL (Steve
To say that the The Story Of Anvil movie turned ANVILís life completely upside down might be an exaggeration, but at the very least it did put the band back on the right track. Their career has always been one consisting of ups and downs, and theyíre definitely on the upper side nowadays. Back in 2005 things were still quite different. On November 4th that year, ANVIL headlined the KIT V warm-up show at the Sporthalle in Dittigheim. That was when bassist Glenn Five was still in the band. Quite recently Glenn was let go and a replacement has since been found in Sal Italiano (ex CITIES). Which I only found out after the show, as Salís typical face did indeed seem familiar, but I couldnít quite recall his name. Sal seemed to be at ease on stage, did a good job, albeit nothing too spectacular. Of course Steve ďLipsĒ Kudlow was the main point of attraction once again : pulling funny faces, playing guitar with a vibrator, allround acting like a maniac, Ö Some things never change, do they? As Juggernaut Of Justice had been released just last year, it came as no surprise that a couple of those recent tunes would make the cut today. A couple wouldíve been just fine, but four was a bit over the top. The titletrack and On Fire are excellent, but I wouldíve replaced Swing Thing (including a totally redundant drum solo) and Running with two more classics. A bit more variety when choosing those classics wouldnít hurt either. March Of The Crabs, 666, Winged Assassins, Metal On Metal, Ö all killer tunes, but Iím sure that people want to hear something else every once in a while as well. I know I wouldnít mind. ANVIL sure didnít let me down on this occasion, but they didnít excel either, mainly due to the inclusion of too many new songs, not to mention a guitar and drum solo, and an otherwise not adventurous enough setlist. All things not to do when having only 60 minutes at your disposal Ö Good performance but simply not exciting enough to rank amongst todayís highlights. Not in my book anyhow Ö

ANVIL pictures

ROXXCALIBUR had done a special show to celebrate 30 years of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal back in 2009 (KIT 12) already, and now it was time for a similar event. The idea is simple but efficient : ROXXCALIBUR (or most of the members anyhow) is the backing band and several members of various bands show up to sing and / or play one (or more) of their songs. Tonightís show commenced with the only song that was already displayed three years ago as well : JAMESON RAIDís Seven Days Of Spendour, featuring vocalist Terry Dark and bassist Peter Green. Reason being that Terry would be the master of ceremonies for the rest of the show from then onwards, neatly introducing the guests, and the songs that we were about to hear next. Enter Paul Gaskin from GASKIN, who delivered Iím No Fool. Some of you may remember Glen Coates from his days in FIST. He sung Turn The Hell On tonight, but that wasnít all. Glen also used to be part of HOLLOW GROUND prior to FIST, and thus we got to hear Flying High as well. Excellent! The next surprise out of the hat was Carl Sentance, former vocalist of PERSIAN RISK. He performed Riding High on this occasion. Another guy that I didnít expect to show up here was TRESPASS-er Mark Sutcliffe. He proceeded to sing and play guitar on One Of These Days, one of my alltime fave N.W.O.B.H.M. tunes. Actually, his brother Paul (drums) was present as well, albeit only in the audience. The good news is that a new CD is in the works! I had noticed that HOLOCAUST was about to play a show in Cyprus (of all places) in early May, so I was thinking that a visit here would be possible too, without having high hopes though. Then again, John ROXXCALIBUR's N.W.O.B.H.M. SPECIAL (Dennis Stratton) Mortimer did show up and delivered a stunning vocal performance during Death Or Glory and Heavy Metal Mania. No surprise that HOLOCAUST have since been announced for KIT 16 too, where they will be playing an old school set. SAVAGE had just released their Sons Of Malice comeback CD, yet Chis Bradley (vocals & bass) and Andy Dawson (guitar) brought Let It Loose with them. Not a bad choice, to say the least. The Troy brothers of course represented PRAYING MANTIS and Tino (vocals & guitar) and Chris (bass) selected Panic In The Streets and Captured City for us tonight. The vocals during the latter were performed by ROXXCALIBUR frontman Alex Stahl. Alex remained on stage for the next two songs too, as ROXXCALIBUR continued with SAXONís Motorcycle Man and Princess Of The Night. Just like three years ago, the finale turned out to be a tribute to the biggest band to have originated out of the entire N.W.O.B.H.M. movement : IRON MAIDEN. This time the focus was entirely on the bandís first album, thanks to the fact that Dennis Stratton turned up to play Prowler, Remember Tomorrow and Iron Maiden. Taking care of the vocals on all three songs was TENSIONís Tom Gattis. Allow me to say that he did an outstanding job! Way better than what Paul DiíAnno is able to do nowadays, thatís for sure, as I was able to witness not so long ago at a club show in my home country. But hey, letís stay focussed and cherish the high quality of this special event, as no weak songs, nor performances, were to be detected. Actually, this mustíve been a male headbangerís equivalent of the famous multiple orgasms that (some) women are capable of enjoying. That what it was : one long (85 minutes) highlight, enjoyed tremendously by all those still standing. Canít wait to relive this on DVD next year, and hopefully weíll be treated to a third volume in a not so distant future!


ARCH / MATHEOS (John Arch)
Oliver Weinsheimerís fascination with (old) FATES WARNING in general and vocalist deluxe John Arch in special isnít exactly a secret. The formation of ARCH / MATHEOS must have sounded like a dream come true to Oliverís ears, and the release of last yearís Sympathetic Resonance CD was a joy for many more, including myself. As a result, the band finally agreed to come over to Europe and play a special headlining show, including ARCH / MATHEOS material, as well as some vintage FATES WARNING stuff. Apart from the obvious John Arch and Jim Matheos, todayís line-up was identical to the one that recorded Sympathetic Resonance : Frank Aresti (guitar), Joey Vera (bass) and Bobby Jarzombek (drums). Or simply put : the nowadays FATES WARNING line-up, but including their original vocalist. Or 3/5 of the old FATES WARNING, plus a new rhythm section, whatever description you prefer. Tonightís set started out with the lengthy Neurotically Wired, and convinced the audience that John hadnít lost any of his vocal skills over the years right from the start. A couple more 10+ minute songs (Stained Glass Sky and Any Given Day) followed later on as well, while Midnight Serenade turned out to be the fourth and final ARCH / MATHEOS song. The rest of the set was entirely dedicated to old FATES WARNING. Night On BrŲcken delivered Damnation, while follow-up The Spectre Within enjoyed a double treat, by means of The Apparition and Epitaph. But the majority of the FATES WARNING segment originated from Awaken The Guardian. The Sorceress came early on in the show, while Guardian marked the end of the regular set. Exodus, on the other hand, was the bandís second (and final) encore. A setlist hardly anyone could disagree with, right? By the looks of the ecstatic audience not just Oliver had been waiting for years for this show to happen. Rightfully so, as the band was in super form and mood, and Mr. Arch seemed to enjoy himself tremendously. A bit like a kid in a candystore! I was always under the impression that John suffered from stagefright, but if that is the case at all, he sure was able to disguise it perfectly. It was a show to remember, and I feel sad knowing that it wasnít filmed by the crew. I donít know who was responsible for that decision, but Iím sure it wasnít the right one. Then again, itís comforting to know that we were there and enjoyed it in the flesh. Another absolute highlight, one of many this weekend, and something that we may never be able to witness again.


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