Review by - PATRICK DE SLOOVER

Lay-Out by - STEFAN

Pictures by - TIM TRONCKOE

http://www.pbase.com/timsphotos    http://www.myspace.com/tim.tronckoe 


Metal To Infinity


I checked my review of last year to have an idea what where the highlights and impressions of that day, to give everything an honest and reliable review this year. Well, let me put this thing straight: Alcatraz evolved in every possible way! The cozy and nice area before the entrance remained the same, the second stage (only accessible for a few hundred people) moved into a huge tent aside of the Brielpoort, the food and drinks were still democratic and of good quality, so horns up for the organization of Alcatraz Metal Festival !!! What about the bands ?  The original idea to revive the 80’s remained, but with an extra addition of contemporary talent. When I got informed that Anacrusis was going to play, a few months before date, I knew that this edition would be awesome, and before I talk about every band separately, I want to express my deepest respect for Filip, Koeke, Mario, Rico, and tons of more metalheads that made this day one of the best of 2011.

Opener of the day was After All from Belgium. They struggled a while when vocalist Piet called it a day, but with their slogan   ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’, they found a good replacement in the person of Sammy Peleman, formerly of September Syn. The sound was good, the presentation of the guys outstanding, and thrash metal was present from start till finish.  Songs like ‘Frozen Skin’,’Land of Sin’ and ‘Betrayed By The Gods’ entertained the people, although the place wasn’t so crowded at that time of day. After All  promised a surprise during their live set, and most of the metalheads knew what was going to happen.  Guido Gevels from legendary Cyclone walked the stage and the band played ‘In The Grip Of Evil’!  With all my respect to  Sammy, but Guido showed why Cyclone was such a legend. He took the stage, grabbed the audience by the throat and gave us all he could. This was one of the best moments of the day, although it was noon.  It makes me yearn for a reunion of Cyclone, but it will remain a dream… After All was the perfect preview of what was yet to come!

In the tent, we saw a second Belgian band, called Guilty As Charged. They were totally unknown so far, but that changed  since Alcatraz! The four members of the band have their own identity and deserve my respect. What a great band! Truly awesome how they manage to come out of the blue and make such a big impression. The vocals of Jan fit perfect to the music of the band, and I’m sure that he’s a big fan of Metallica (James Hetfield particularly). While the white Flying V howled, the bass parts of ‘hippie’ Hannes De Caluwé drew everybody’s attention. This dude knows how to rock !!!  

After this gig, I rushed to the merchandising booth to buy their EP ‘Boxed In’ as they made my day! Impossible to maintain this standard, I got back to the main stage to see and witness what Anacrusis is all about anno 2011. Believe it or not, but they were major! Fucking hell that this band is going to stop after this tour. They bring their metal with enthusiasm, totally diverse musical influences and bravura! Anacrusis is enormously difficult, but I guess that you will love them or hate them.  I adore them! 

Next band was Emperors Of Decay from Belgium. They were the winning spot of the Band Clash that was organized by Alcatraz. Their musical influences are Motley Crue, Warrior Soul and Iron Maiden and they won already several rock competitions. Not exactly my cup of tea, so I had to skip this gig and have some beers and stew with fries.

Next band was Helstar from the U.S.A.   They supposed to play a best of their first albums, but when 'Angels Fall To Hell' opened their gig, the crowd went totally nuts!  James Rivera is a first class performer and he brought the temperature a few degrees higher. What a show, what a great performance ! ‘Glory Of Chaos’, their latest album was promoted with a few tracks and we also got songs from their earlier releases. Helstar conquered Deinze at full speed, including a great sound all over the place.     

 

After this neckbreaker, we checked Izegrim from Holland in the tent. Needless to say that Marloes draw all attention with her long blonde hair… The band promoted their latest output Code Of Consequences and their aggressive show was great to watch.  So far, so good, and it’s almost unbelievable that all bands delivered such a high standard!

The main stage was our next goal and although Forbidden cancelled their whole European tour, they teamed up for just one gig at Alcatraz. The departure of drummer Mark Hernandez resulted in an unlikely benefit: Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel, Fear Factory, Zimmers Hole, Testament, Strapping Young Lad, +1000) flew over to Belgium to help the guys of Forbidden. ‘Step By Step’, ‘March Into Fire’, ‘Eyes Of Black’, ‘Chalice Of Blood’ passed the revue and although Russ Anderson gained a lot of weight, his voice is still remarkable!  Another great gig, all on the same day, which is remarkable!  

From the U.S.A. to Norway was only a tent away, as we could see Communic, originally booked as supporting act of Forbidden. Due the cancellation of Forbidden, Oddleif Stensland took the trip to Belgium to promote their latest album ‘The Bottom Deep’.  Besides the new songs, they also played their first ever written track ‘Communication Sublime’, which is still one of my favorites! Remarkable that this trio has such a full power sound and play their music at very high level. Fans of Nevermore and Sanctuary need to check this band, as they are 200% metal!  Also great that they wear shirts with their name on! Communic ruled all the way! 

On the main stage, we check the following band U.D.O. and I agree that his latest album Rev-Raptor is a masterpiece, which can’t be said of the gig that day. U.D.O.  his voice is still present, but the German attitude sucks.  He played too many slow songs that drag you forward, while the sing-along attitude is constantly present. We don’t need this kind of crap, as we aim for real metal instead of surrogate rock anthems. ‘Balls To The Wall’, ‘Princess of the Dawn’, ‘Metal Heart’ and ‘I’m A Rebel’ were shouted out loud, but I had idea that it was pre-chewed…  

Time for a little party with Where Angels Suffer. It’s a shortened version of WASP, as Blackie Lawless isn’t involved, but they had the charisma and feel good attitude of the good old days. Guitarplayer Chris Holmes’ mother is a Hell’s Angel and he gained the rock genes with a good dose.  Chris was the Wild Child in person and the gig was totally ‘out of control’ in a positive way.  Drummer Stet Howland (ex-Wasp, ex-Blackfoot, ex-Belladonna, ex-Lita Ford), played most of the time upstanding, and that was a rather odd sight. Chris his underwear was above the waist and he had a hell of time, just like the crowd. Songs like ‘Crying Eagle’, ‘Eye Of The Storm’, ‘Morning After’ and ‘Hellhound’ were played with so much passion that everybody was dazed and confused! Ira Black, the guitarplayer and formerly of Lizzy Borden, Vicious Rumors, Heathen, Metal Church and even Bralalala, did an outstanding performance and he’s ready for the next step in his career: a major metal band! 

What can we say about Death Angel. I saw them 25 ears ago at Leopoldsburg and they made my day until today. This band is one of the most active live performances, they rule with tons of enthusiasm and last but not least, they have killer riffs! Mark Osegueda is one of the best performers in his genre and they know how to party. After the gig, he presented me a ‘local alcohol bomb’ and the thing did his work…  8-)  Let’s say that Death Angel ‘Killed As One’…  

Headliner in the tent was Vicious Rumors.  Amazing how these dudes still  dwell the world in search of their spot in metal history. Geoff Thorpe is an outstanding performer and he gathered perhaps the best line  up in years. New vocalist Brian Allen did a great job, old timer Larry Howe tortured the drum skins and we received a revue of ‘old time favorites’.  V.R. is still imminent and deadly, and that's how we like them most!                                                                              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year headliner was Helloween from Germany.  Okay, I liked their albums a lot in the past, their newest output was outstanding as well, but nothing can be compared with the live presentation. This band has a childish attitude, perhaps typical German, and their gig of 90 minutes could be shortened to 50 minutes. All that gibberish worked on my nerves… In the past, Alcatraz had problems to find a suitable headliner, but Helloween ruined my day. I understand the prizes, the capable headliners, and the factor to have an original festival line up, but Helloween didn’t pass the test at all.  All other bands showed how to please the masses and it was great to see the efforts of unknown (Belgian) bands !  Horns up for Alcatraz Fest, and despite of the headliner, it was one of the best days of 2011! Keep the metal flame alive and see you all in 2012 !!

 

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