Sunday November 11th 2007 / 013, Tilburg, Holland
Marioís Metal Meeting is yet another new addition to the ever growing list of European metal festivals. Driving force behind it all is Mario Van Dooren, known for being the main man behind Marioís Metal Mania webzine. Lined-up for this maiden edition were 6 foreign bands : 3 European ones + the same amount from across the Atlantic. Originally TORCH was set to play as well, but they were replaced by RAM in the end, for reasons that I donít even want to begin to discuss here. Suffice it to say that Mario did the right thing in my opinion.
My fellow compatriots DOUBLE DIAMOND were initially scheduled to perform second today, but due to the fact that the opening band wasnít able to reach Tilburg on time, they were forced to open proceedings in the end. Which they didnít mind, as long as they were allowed to start out at the scheduled hour Ö As usual, DOUBLE DIAMOND delivered a convincing set of pure heavy metal. Including such classics as Anubis, Murder At Midnight, Ride The Wind, Conquer With Steel or Flash In The Sky, but also three newer songs that most people sure werenít really familiar with. As I did see the band at the Heavy Metal Maniacs 8 festival two weeks earlier, that didnít apply to me Ö Speaking of new songs : the band has 16 new tunes waiting to be recorded. If only their record label would show a little activity Ö Anyhow, Battle Hymn concluded yet another satisfactory DOUBLE DIAMOND gig, and Iím pleased to say that quite a few of those in attendance were already familiar with Antwerpís finest!
By the time that DOUBLE DIAMOND went off stage Americans IMPERIOUS REX had arrived at last as well. They had played in Austria the evening before, got stuck in the snow in Germany and thus arrived late at the 013 venue. They soon went on stage, for what was to be a very short set (22í). Over the course of that timespan they managed to play almost their entire The Beast CD. Not surprisingly, since that one only lasts for some 26í. IMPERIOUS REX are a very energetic speed metal trio, but from my point of view they are a bit too one-dimensional, and most of their songs are simply too short. They did their best, and also invited people to come and pick up a copy of their CD for free on the edge of the stage, but I guess most people simply werenít familiar enough with this band in order to appreciate them completely.
Swedenís DREAMLAND is a band that I was totally unfamiliar with until now. But from what I had heard / read before I was pretty sure that they wouldnít really be my cup of metal. One look at the bandmembers only strengthened my thoughts. The bassist wouldnít be out of league in, say, HANOI ROCKS, if you catch my drift. As it turned out heís in fact the bassist of BABY JANE, and filled in today because the bandís original bassistís wife had just had a baby. The same can be said about one of the guitarists, whoís a member of DRAGONLAND. He filled in for the same reasons, believe it or not. Speaking of a babyboom in Sweden! Obviously DREAMLAND has already released two CDís, and todayís set was a mixture of both, I believe. Musically this band is in the melodic hard rock vein, and I would say they are highly influenced by the likes of HAMMERFALL. I admit : I used to like HAMMERFALL when they first came out of the underground, but I soon lost interest again as well. And as DREAMLAND are more in the vein of later period HAMMERFALL Ö You get the picture, right? Not really my fave band on todayís line-up.
DIVINE RUINS is another U.S. band. One that I was at least familiar with, for a change. In fact, I had seen them live once before already, at the Powermad festival in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2001. Only the vocalist from that particular line-up remains today. In fact, he resurrected the band after his short spell with Englandís SHADOWKEEP came to an end. Todayís setlist included (7) songs from the bandís upcoming Kingdom Of The Sun release only, thus no old material whatsoever. Revolution, The Mirror, Destinyís Eyes, Blood Red Skies or the titletrack : they all are prime examples of excellent U.S. power metal, with a high-pitched vocalist to match. The band really came across as a very tight entity. Which was a bit surprising, as they had only recently added a (very young) second guitarist. Once the bandís own material was over and done with they decided to treat the audience to some SAXON covers. And as the new guitarist wasnít familiar with those songs, DOUBLE DIAMONDís Erwin joined DIVINE RUINS during Denim & Leather and Princess Of The Night. Things came to an end with Power And The Glory, which they performed as a quarted, as Erwin wasnít able to play that one either. Much to the enthusiasm of the crowd, as most of them seemed to like DIVINE RUINSí performance just like I did. Definitely the biggest surprise for me today.
Like I mentioned earlier on already : RAM filled in for TORCH at short notice. I had seen them plenty of times before already, and pretty much knew what was in store next. Nevertheless they caught me by surprise by starting out when I was still outside talking to some people, thus missing their first couple of songs (Sudden Impact, Judgement & Punishment and Sea Of Skulls) today. I did however arrive in time to hear the only (really) new tune today : Ghost Pilot. Sounded promising enough. It was followed by Forced Entry. And then it was time for a little surprise : vocalist Oscar announced that his fave Dutch band was POWERVICE and all of a sudden three (ex) members of that band turned up on stage : one of the guitarists as well as the bassist and drummer. Together with the rest of RAM (minus drummer and bassist Ė in fact the drummer showed up in the frontrows of the audience) they delivered POWERVICEís cut above the rest, Behold The Hand Of Glory. I was hoping to hear the rest of their 3-song demo as well, but unfortunately that didnít happen. The good thing is that POWERVICE are obviously looking for a new vocalist and plan to return to the scene as soon as that happens. Things calmed down a bit with Blessed To Be Cursed before another treat was offered : RAMís metal version of NIFELHEIMís Black Evil. Not such a strange thing, knowing that RAMís new (or should I say : temporarily?) bassist Tyrant is a member of that band as well. The song sure went down well with some of the audience, but in my opinion it was the weakest of them all. Correction : it was the only weak one! Luckily Machine Invaders and Infuriator made up for that, thus concluding another high energy RAM performance.
With a delay of exactly one hour (for reasons mentioned earlier on, and beyond the bandís control) RAVEN kicked off at 10.10 pm, for what was to be 80í of pure Athletic rock. I must admit that I never got around to seeing RAVEN in their early 1980ís heydays, but I did see them several times over the past decade. The last occasion was at the K.I.T. V festival, in November of 2005. And just like during my previous encounters, they didnít let me down back then. Once again the setlist tonight was quite different, compared to the one from 2005. Thus no Seven Shades, Gimme A Break or The King this time around. They were replaced by several songs from the bandís already recorded but still to be released new CD, Walk Through Fire. The titletrack as well as Long Days Journey and Breaking You Down sure sounded okay to my ears. Unfortunately there was no room for the likes of Inquisitor and Donít Need Your Money either, but at least we were treated to plenty of other early stuff, with the emphasis on All For One (opener Take Control, the titletrack, Mind Over Metal). But also the likes of Rock Until You Drop, Live At The Inferno and Crash Bang Wallop. Less ďauthenticĒ material came in form of Speed Of The Reflex and On And On. The one and only encore was an 18í version of Break The Chain, including their usual Rock Ďní Metal medley. This being my only point of criticism : just play the regular version of Break The Chain and add three more RAVEN classics in stead, and Iím sure youíll please the die-hard fans a lot more! Thatís not to say that RAVENís performance was bad, on the contrary : despite having gained several pounds in recent years the band is still very much energetic and alive & kicking. And thereís no doubt about who was the headliner tonight as they most certainly managed to gather the biggest crowd of the day. Iím sure there were even people that only came to see RAVEN! Hopefully weíll be able to see RAVEN live again once Walk Through Fire will be released!
And thus this first edition of Marioís Metal Meeting came to an end on a high note. In my opinion itís definitely a worthy addition to my personal festival calendar. The friendly atmosphere definitely added to my enjoyment, and the overall sound was more than acceptable too. The crowd turnout couldíve been better, but bearing in mind that this was the first edition, I guess that 200 people wasnít too bad. Hopefully there will be a second edition sometime next year. May I suggest switching to a Saturday then? Either way, if the line-up turns out to be anything along the lines of this one, weíll be there again for sure!