Review by OFFICER NICE


Metal To Infinity


It takes more than a volcano to destroy Keep It True!!!!! These were the exact words at Oliver’s T-shirt when he announced the surprise acts I will tell more about later. God damned, I was nervous when the volcano, with the name I can’t even pronounce, collapsed to close almost every West European airport. Man can’t fight nature but looking back to these two days it seems nature can’t beat Oliver! I was thrilled when the KIT organization wrote at their website the festival would definitely take place, no matter the misfortunes. They refused to give in and I can only respect this spirit to not disappoint the bands and even more important; the international crowd! Oliver also asked to support him through these hard days and everybody did; the clearest proof is the fact the fans made once more an unforgettable edition of the KIT festival, a ‘True’ Metal party!    

There were, when the line-up was announced, seven bands I really wanted to see; CANDLEMASS, FIFTH ANGEL, ANACRUSIS, SIREN, HADES, SAVAGE GRACE and OBSESSION.A few days before the festival I was a bit down because HADES and CANDLEMASS cancelled their gigs but it couldn’t stop me travelling this distance.  

In case of CANDLEMASS it was a bizarre story because in everyone’s opinion, also mine, there were possibilities to make it to Germany. The band told Oliver they were afraid that they wouldn’t make it back on time for work on Monday… Strange, because on Sunday – day of return – the most problems were as good as solved at the airports and Germany-Sweden isn’t the biggest trip. I met Robert Lowe, their singer and it seems he wasn’t at all happy because of the fact CANDLEMASS cancelled. Not that he said anything about it but you could see on his face he wanted to face this public on stage… It must have been hell for him and I wonder if this will have consequences? The future will tell… Everybody was talking about this cancellation because it would have been awesome witnessing the “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus” special.  

WHIPLASH and SIREN cancelled before and due the volcano THOR and WHITE WIZZARD were forced to cancel their show too.  The last minute replacers were MORTICIAN, EMERALD, WARRANT, ROXCALLIBUR and OMEN as the headliner on Friday.  

DAY 1

We took off, the Belgian connection, on Friday morning and only the usual traffic jam around Brussels delayed our trip. The weather was good, we were in the right mood to face another edition and we ready for two more unforgettable days of our lives! “Keep It True” is so much more than the music; it’s about drinking beers, making fun with international friends we only see here, buying plenty of CD’s, eat as unhealthy as possible, waking up with a headache… But of course Heavy Metal is the main reason to travel so far and we’re not the only one. I’ve noticed once more people from around the world, even a fan from Brazil travelled to the Tauberfrankenhalle.  

Once more it was impossible for me to witness every band. First band I was able to see was EMERALD from Holland! These old time Metallers seems to have the time of their live and as usual the international crowd was enthusiastic from even early in the afternoon. A few words in Dutch to check out the homeland fans were present and yes, they were! EMERALD delivered a good and traditional Heavy Metal show! 

 

OBSESSION from the USA was a band I was looking forward to. In the car we were listening to their latest album and we could only decide this is indeed a very strong band. Two good guitarists, a very strong singer and catchy songs! Also on stage OBSESSION did a good job and it didn’t cost much of their energy to make the fans scream for more. Mike Vescera is a fantastic singer, once again he proved it, making this gig more than enjoyable! The band delivered us oldies and tracks from “Carnival of lies”, all were magnificent. Without any doubts OBSESSION made themselves popular on this festival and the dynamic crowd pleased them, that was obvious!   

 

 

A band most people really wanted to see was ANACRUSIS. The band is back again and their previous re-release by Stormspell Records proves they’ re still out there to deliver us first class technical Thrash Metal. I saw the band many years ago, as a support act of DEATH but I admit I don’t remember much from it. During the years I’ve bought all of their CD’s and although it isn’t the easiest kind of music they have something addictive. A song I really wanted to hear was “Fighting Evil”, one of their best songs in my opinion. Other songs I remember are “I Love The World”, “Terrified” and “Butcher’s Block”. I adore the darkness in it and ANACRUSIS was able to perform it perfectly. ANACRUSIS stood strong by performing this Progressive kind of Thrash Metal on stage and the public was clearly fond of them. Kenn Nardi still contains his special – yet good sounding- voice and especially Kevin Heidbreder seems to be a charismatic man. I met him after the show and next to a fantastic guitarist he’s also a very friendly guy. ANACRUSIS innovated the Thrash Metal genre so many years ago and they delivered us songs from every single album. Nor the fans nor he band showed any weaknesses, making this a very strong performance! Let’s hope the band will work hard at a new album to tour soon after…   

Next in row was WATCHTOWER, a band I have mixed feelings about. At the one hand I worship their ultra-technical kind of Metal with high pitched vocals, on the other hand they’re at some points far too difficult. I was a bit worried how this band would sound on stage. These guys seem not to take their selves too serious and dressed their self up – on a pleasant way – when they showed up. Alan Tecchio for example wore some stupid old motor helmet with some kind of desert glasses on his face. I didn’t recognize him at first and for sure I asked a friend afterwards if it was indeed Alan Tecchio… He was! His clean vocals were amazingly strong during the show and WATCHTOWER seemed to have plenty of fans. The mix during the concert wasn’t always perfect, although their songs are asking for it and that was a pity.  Anyway I witnessed some amazing musicianship, spectacular solos and astonishing vocal sounds. But I admit I didn’t lose my mixed feelings about this band but the international crowd didn’t argue about it….   

SAVAGE GRACE toured Europe shortly before their appearance at the Keep It True festival but unfortunately I didn’t see them in Belgium. I heard the band failed during a previous tour some years ago but that didn’t keep me longing to see them finally on stage. Their albums are ‘classic ones’ in the US Metal style and it was amazing to see them perform tracks like “The Dominatress”, “Trial By Fire” and “We Came, We Saw, We Conquered”. The band was supported by ROXXCALIBUR guitarist Roxx Kali from which I’ve read he’s an official member now. I saw this guy at stage before and believe me if I say he’s a fantastic guitarist, even fascinating and for ‘one hundred percent’ a pure Metal Head! The hard hitting rhythms, the sharp riffs, the high pitched vocals… all were included in this gig!    

I saw OMEN before at the KIT festival, to be exact at the tenth edition. It was a good show back then but how would they act as headliner? Their appearance to end the first day, to stand in for CANDLEMASS, was after all obvious. The band was as a matter of fact already in Europe with SAVAGE GRACE and therefore it was a logic and easy decision to add them, as another American band, to the festival. I have always been a fan of the old OMEN but since George Call from ASKA joined them I’m even a bigger fan. George owns a fantastic voice and gives without any doubts the most exclusive ‘extra touch’ to OMEN since J.D. Kimball (RIP) left the band. George Call is the strongest singer the band ever contained and I adore it when he uses all of his vocal capabilities, like he does with ASKA. In some tracks he gave us a high scream and these personal touches lifts the band, in my opinion, up to a higher level!

  

OMEN proved being a true headliner for this kind of festival and their show was extraordinary, better than a few years ago. I’ve been told the next album will probably be released at the end of this year and it’s one to look forward to. One new song was played this evening and believe me if I say it sounded great! For the rest OMEN spoiled us with all time classics! 

DAY 2

It was impossible to enter the hall when the first band appeared but I’ve witnessed HEART OF CYGNUS. This American Progressive Metal band released several albums and once more I was astonished how good this crowd knows this kind of music. The band delivered a decent show for a smaller public, seems to contain good musicians and although their music isn’t always that easy I’m convinced they left stage with a good feeling. 

RAM is a band that will never disappoint the crowd. Their albums are great, their live performances are even better. This traditional kind of Heavy Metal is strongly empowered and it is the second time the band blows me away. A several years ago I saw the band at the Swordbrothers Festival and they did a perfect job back then. They did it once more right now and to me this band was programmed way too early. RAM deserves a higher place in the line-up and I’m sure their fans proved me rightOscar Carlquist is a fantastic singer and a perfect front man! Awesome gig!   

ADX has never been my band but I took my time for them. Not that they really convinced me right now. Nevertheless also this band has true fans amongst the public, enjoying every single song… Same counts for WARRANT, the German Metal band who was invited to fall in. In Germany they’re still immense popular so it wasn’t that difficult to please the crowd. Ending with “Anti-social” was nice, but it wasn’t a memorable concert to me… In between played the Bulgarian KALAPACS. I admit I have never heard about this band but they did a great job. Their front man seems to be a pure ‘metal beast’ and what he did was more than enjoyable and not only for me… It seems there were fans out there because KALAPACS was indeed successful.    

I’m a very big fan of Harry Conklin and his performances with JAG PANZER and TITAN FORCE in the past blew me away, left me behind with eyes wide shut. I consider myself as a big fan of this man but I have never really appreciated SATAN’S HOST. Their album “Metal from hell” doesn’t mean anything special to me and even Harry Conklin’s (Leviathan Thisiren) voice didn’t convince me at this release which brand is a very weak production. On stage there was no discussion about Harry’s vocal capabilities and he’s still one of the best Metal vocalists on earth. The fact he appeared with  SATAN’S HOST didn’t change this but after all I was disappointed. Not that the band didn’t do their best to please their fans but at some points it sounded too chaotic to me and this concert wasn’t exactly what I expected from it. The weak production of the first album is a fact but I was hoping the band could make the songs any catchier on stage. They didn’t in my opinion but that’s only a pity to me, certainly not for the fans out there who had the time of their live…   

TYGERS OF PAN TANG appeared a few months ago at the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival and I’ve read their concert was fabulous. I cannot compare because I wasn’t there but this time TYGERS OF PAN TANG did a fantastic job as well! This NWOBHM band is still kicking ass and you can see these guys are enjoying their reunion. It is always a pleasure to witness a band that get pleasure from their very own concert and their enthusiasm made the public going wild! New stuff is coming our way but the classic ones like “Wild Cat” and “Slave to freedom” still means a lot to me! It’s obvious this eighties kind of Heavy Metal is far from dead and the band fitted perfectly on the bill of this festival! TYGERS OF PAN TANG is a first class live band and these lads are still strong enough to please us in the coming years…   

Last year I remember the crowd was singing along, between two gigs, with the DEMON song called “Don’t Break The Circle”. It was played through the speakers just before the NWOBHM anniversary show and I remember it gave me cold shivers back then. I suppose it was a good reason to invite the original formation on stage. Anyway we can’t deny DEMON released some classics. Also these guys are “middle aged” now but believe me if I say nobody noticed it. DEMON has always been a very instrumental band and their song writing is a strong point. Not that every track during this gig blew me away but when the crowd was singing along with “Night Of The Demon” and of course “Don’t Break The Circle” once again cold shivers were making part of me. I saw every single person in the hall sing along with this track and it must have felt fantastic for these guys to see how the crowd, thirty years after DEMON was formed, freaked out! Fantastic! 

There was a special show announced for this festival but Oliver kept it secret. For a little part it was clear ACID would appear on stage because a signing session was announced. Indeed Kate from ACID was asked on stage and she was extremely nervous. “Max Overload” was played and ‘the bitch’ was surprisingly strong! I heard there will never be again a reunion of ACID again and that’s a disappointment after this act. Afterward Kate seems to be surprised because plenty of people asked her autograph or wanted to be with her on photo. On this festival it doesn’t surprise me at all because this crowd knows the classic ones!!! And yes, Kate should be proud being the very first Belgian Metal head ever on stage at the Keep It True festival! 

The second part of the surprise act was a TRIBUTE TO MIDNIGHT. At the 8th of July 2009 this Metal God, singer of CRIMSON GLORY, died and it was another big loss for the Metal community. I can only respect the fact KIT honored the man who appeared on some of the most remarkable Metal albums ever written. CRIMSON GLORY was one of the best US Metal bands ever, lots has to do with Midnight’s incomparable voice.

Due to circumstances the vocalists, who should have appeared on stage for this tribute, were replaced by Mike Vescera and Harry Conklin. Both didn’t have much time to practice their songs but no matter how good these singers are, once more was proved how unique Midnight’s voice really was. Musical wise there weren’t any problems but nor Mike nor Harry could deliver the magic Midnight was worshipped for. Three songs were played to end with “Lost Reflection” through the speakers… It made the crowd calm, something I have hardly seen before at this festival. I suppose a lot of people were anyway touched by this tribute and I didn’t hear anybody criticize the fact the tribute ‘an sich’ wasn’t really a blast.

I saw lots of people staring at the pictures of Midnight, on a big screen next to the stage. A moment of lucidity, that was what this tribute was meant for and it worked out! Midnight and CRIMSON GLORY will unfortunately never make it to this festival but tonight at least Midnight’s spirit was present. Rest in peace my friend, you will never be forgotten!   

FIFTH ANGEL is a band that released two fantastic albums in the eighties to vanish for a long time. This band was far underrated but I suppose everybody knows classic songs like “In The Fallout” and “The Cathedral”. Peter Orullian, a man I saw before with HEIR APPARENT, was asked to replace Tim Branon behind the microphone. He had only two weeks to rehearse but he did a fantastic job. FIFTH ANGEL is a very professional band and their strong song writing could be witnessed here.

All classic ones could be heard and the band didn’t take much time between the songs. The fans were enthusiastic, singing along with every single track. Fast fingered guitars, great arrangements, fantastic vocals, a classic and unforgettable show! I am glad I finally saw this band because it was another one I was longing for to witness. Thanks to the organization of the Keep It True festival another dream came true… 

No matter the misfortunes Oliver suffered, this was once more another memorable edition! I saw unique concerts and the atmosphere was once more ‘top’! No fights, no drugs, no unsolvable problems… Metal fans might look though but even bartenders from the neighborhood said this public was once more fantastic. I had fun and I’ll be back again next year to see MALICE, GRIFFIN, VICIOUS RUMORS (with Carl Albert’s son), SATAN  (original line-up), OSTROGOTH (First Belgian band ever!!!), SLAUTER XSTROYES and still unknown headliners. Buy your tickets as soon as possible and keep your eyes on http://www.keep-it-true.de    

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