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.:Festival Reviews:.

01/09/2007 – MEADOW FEST II (Wachtebeke, Belgium)

Two weeks ago, on the 1st of September, the local organization vzw Mano (website or MySpace page) held the second edition of their Meadow Fest. Place to be was Onze Kring in Wachtebeke, a small town north of Ghent and close to the Dutch border. The bill consisted of mainly Dutch and Belgian bands - playing the more extreme stuff, except for LA-VENTURA (Gothic/Progressive) -, with two international acts topping it off: the Australian TOURETTES and reunited Thrashers ONSLAUGHT.

The weather was very fine and not a drop of rain to feel. Inside the venue it was warm, but there were enough doors open to have a breath of fresh air circle around. The parking lot was big enough for the amount of people that were expected and most others could park their car in the neighbourhood or come by bike or on foot. And there were many that were from the region.

This was the schedule for that day, the first band starting at 14h00 and then the next every hour (with longer breaks the later it got). ASETHRY and CYPHER were added at the very last moment, since respectively DEAD END PATH and INSTIL had to cancel their appearance.


The very young players of THIRVEGOL, a local band, had the honour (or difficult task?) to try the stage and installation and show their skills to the crowd, which was not so big at that time. This Belgian band was founded nine months ago and Meadow Fest was their fourth gig. Musically they play a sort of Death/Thrash. No signs of a demo yet, but they did have own material ready. This was good, but nothing really awe-inspiring. The lack of guitarsolos is also something to work on. But since they've still got a long time ahead of them, that shouldn't be a problem. To fill their setlist the band also played a couple of covers: "The Pursuit Of Vikings" (AMON AMARTH) and "Roots" (SEPULTURA). Both were reasonable well played and for AMON AMARTH's song they even played in a higher gear. THIRVEGOL ended their playtime with an own song: "Revolution". This Thrash song was, in my opinion, the best they've come up with so far. The crowd even liked it so much that it was played a second time. All in all I can say that THIRVEGOL did well, but does have a lot of work to write better songs, sharpen their instrumental skills and in the end becoming a solid machine. One extra remark concerns the vocalist, who had to gasp for breath after two-three songs of growling. With time and the right exercices he should be able to build up more stamina. Best member for me was the drummer. He did a very neat job.


After the 35-40 minutes of Death/Thrash, it was time for the second band, who brought us Metalcore for roughly the same playtime. Yay! *cough* Yes, I have to be neutral, but it's like a CD review: there will always be personal elements included. Musically I thought there were some good things and even the short guitarsolos were good, but the biggest problem were the vocals. Screaming, screaming, growling, some clean interventions, back to screaming. When I put 'screaming', I also mean 'squealing'. That guy was doing it for the biggest part (80-90% or so) of the setlist and although it could be useful once or twice, it did get extremely annoying after that. And I wasn't the only one who found it too much.

Musically it's safe to say that there are similarities with bands like TRIVIUM, DARKEST HOUR, and more along that style. Since my taste lies elsewhere, I can't really be satisfied with ASETHRY, although I understand that the organizers had to keep a broad taste in mind.


Around 16h00 it was time for something less extreme, but still heavy: LA-VENTURA, the new band formed by ex-ORPHANAGE drummer Erwin Polderman and vocalist Carla Douw. Musically you can say they play a mix of Gothic and Progressive Metal and therefore avoiding to be another AFTER FOREVER, EPICA, WITHIN TEMPTATION, ... There are some resemblances to Italy's LACUNA COIL, though. But LA-VENTURA is still a different band. Since I had an interview with ONSLAUGHT's Sy and Nige at that time, I only saw three songs of their setlist. I could have stayed longer for the rest, but I got a very good impression of the songs. Speaking of LACUNA COIL, the band also played one of their songs: "Our Truth" ("Karmacode" album). Honesty obligates me to say that it sounded very good.

Carla's voice is not of the operatic type, but still clean and powerful enough to express the right emotions in the different songs. While the guitar is responable for heaviness and grooves, the focus lies on the keyboards for the melody and atmospheric backings. Erwin's drumming is not too technical, but fits in perfectly. The band's debut album has been postponed a few times, but now the schedule states this fall. You can thus expect a review when I receive my copy and then I can form a better opinion on this new band. But it must be said that they stand their ground on stage, with a very solid performance. The songs too are very much recommended material... so far. ;-)

After the gig I had a small talk with the bassist Michael Saffrie, who also gave me a copy of the setlist. Such things are always convenient, especially if you didn't see one on stage and if the band's material is unknown to you. I definitely want to see those guys live again. The only questions are: where? when?

Playlist: Deadline - Karnivool - Only Love - Our Truth (LACUNA COIL cover) - The Hunter - Cry - Trefoil - R&R


After this more melodic intermission, the rest of the extreme-tinted afternoon continues. First band to do so was the DeathCore formation A SWITCH BELOW, also being a native band. DeathCore, meaning you get a growler as a vocalist and Bart does a pretty good job. The heavy guitars, pounding drums and the occasional solo are important elements to put on a very energetic show. A SWITCH BELOW definitely played a better sort of Core than ASETHRY, from my point of view. After a While, though, predictability started popping up and I found I had seen and heard enough. There's not really much to add, except that A SWITCH BELOW are a very decent live band and deliver quality Hard/DeathCore.


The situation improved - in the sense of non-Core stuff - as the Dutch Death/Thrashers from CYPHER occupied the stage. From the first note, riff, .... an enormous blast came out of the speakers, making it instantly clear you didn't have to expect fluffy stuff. I heard some of their songs on their MySpace page, shortly before I left for Wachtebeke and the impression was good. Hearing them live blew me even more away as the four guys showed great potential, although they still have plenty of time to further develop their songwriting and instrumental skills. Death/Thrash means ferocious stuff, skull-crushing drums, monstrous vocals and throat-slicing riffs. Even the guitar solos were good, but still left lots of room for improvement.

Since this unstoppable fury kept going on and on, I decided to give my ears some rest, because there was more heaviness to come afterwards. And since I want to have a decent hearing for many years to come... "If it's too loud, you're too old." goes the saying, but with all the great bands I still want to see (again) and the albums I want to buy (or enjoy the ones I already have), it's no use staying inside for the entire afternoon, seeing and hearing band after band and eventually getting a severe hearing damage for the rest of my Metal life. Silence is a more than welcome change then. But anyhow, we'll hear more from CYPHER in the years to come (first evidence being their debut album "Darkday Carnival", out since 2006 on Rusty Cage Records), because they play qualitative Death/Thrash that will appeal to lots of extreme Metalheads.


DISTORTED was the last native band to hit the stage. This West-Flemish Hardcore/Thrash/Death Metal has been working hard since their founding in 2003. A first release, the "Devil To Pay" EP, came out in 2004 and around that time they also played at Ostend's Velorock festival, where I thus saw them for the first time. At that time they clearly showed this wasa force to reckon with as the material was actually very good. Many gigs later and earlier this year drummer Peter left the band, but a replacement was soon found. The band had prior to Peter's leaving added a second guitarist, to better control and divide the heaviness. Niek, that second guitarist, left only very recently. His DISTORTED career was rather short, you might say. Both new members actually stood their ground very well at Wachtebeke.

The setlist was focused on the band's latest release, "Demon Inside" (2006), which featured guest appearances by Gary Meskill (PRO-PAIN) and Do Devos (SOUTHERN VOODOO). Since I haven neither release in my collection, it was hard to recognize the songs, but I do remember "Bleed Me Dry" (I think) and "Unbroken". Here too, I didn't see the entire show, because I had an interview with Michele from TOURETTES at that time. What I saw was just a confirmation of what I already knew from their performance in 2004: solid Metal, live even better than on CD. Truly a must-see band! And from my province. ;-)


Around 20h00-20h30, I think, it was time for the first of the two foreign bands to conquer the local crowd: TOURETTES, formerly known as TOURETTES SYNDROME. Due to fans' demand and perhaps some other, personal things, they changed it back to what it was in the beginning...without the SYNDROME. And perhaps for the better, as their last album, "Sick Sense" (2006), wasn't that good. Too much nu-metal, annoying singing (although the growling was good) and other things that didn't really make this a super album. Personal opinion here. I heard a rough mix of a few new songs and those gave a good impression and made me happier, so to speak. Finally the band has found the right track, going for the Melodic Death approach. I hope to have a better impression and understanding of the new material when I get the promo of "Treason Songs" (to be released in November).

Prior to their performance I had a 15-minute talk with vocalist Michele regarding the upcoming album. This will come online as soon as I have had enough time to put it all together.

On to the performance then. Since I wasn't convinced of their performance on CD, I was ofcourse very skeptical, although rumours went that the band's live performances are nothing like the CDs. And so it was. Michele had put on a suit and stood on stage barefoot. Her growling is as good as on the album. So good you can even call it competition for ARCH ENEMY vocalist Angela Gossow. Michele is also not someone who'll stand still. Oh no, sir/madam, she's one wild beast when the lights are on her and the crowd in front of her. Luckily for the barriers, else someone would have gotten injured, I think. The wood also prooved strong enough for her stamping feet.

Instrumentally the three guys did a more than good performance. Ash showed he knows how to play the guitar, and there were several occasions that I was just looking at him play. Ross played around with mics during the soundcheck ("I'm the mic tech, I want to be the mic tech" - funny voice), but showed the bass is his instrument. And although I had some doubts about Michael's playing, he does play the drums quite well.

The sound was very good, the overall performance was very good and very energetic, causing a part of the crowd to mosh. I even had a very excited (read: annoying - nothing personal, though) "I totally adore and worship Michele, even though I don't know her name or the band" girl next to me. I'm more of the observer-type, to put it in Michele's words. I also had a talk with her after the show, confessing that I had changed my opinion about the band (before the interview I told her openly what did and didn't please me about "Sick Sense" and she accepted the criticism. Perhaps that triggered something in her to give the crowd one hell of a show ;-)). Once again, great moment. Sadly enough, too short. But going back to the gig: It was simply awesome. The majority of the songs were new and my first thought was: thumbs more than up! The rumours were true, the band does sound much better and different live. With all this moshing (yes, I'm a wuss, with the music being too loud, not moshing when others do... whatever. To each his own. :p), I took some distance to write draft comments on the performance and went outside to cool down and prepare for the final attack, brought by ONSLAUGHT. Since it was much cooler at that time, it didn't take long. ;-)

Playlist: Circus - Diatribe - Seasoned In Destruction - Rivers - Miss Misogyny - Hopesprings - D.N.A. - Trinity - Johnny Wad - Clean - 3am Quarter - FFDQ - Ghost Parade


And there they were, back from being absent for a very long time: ONSLAUGHT, one of Britain's best Thrash bands. Having made a couple of albums in the mid-late '80s and after several problems each going his own way, the band reunited two years ago. Their first three albums were re-released at that time, but the musicians didn't get anything from those arrangements. But this reunion wasn't just for the money, as they started working on new material and doing gigs again. The new album, "Killing Peace", came out earlier this year and they did it right from the start, with producer Andy Sneap. Old School but with a modern touch. Yes, close to EXODUS, Andy's favourite Thrash band. Still, it catapulted the band into 2007 without sacrificing the elements of old.

Several hours before the gig I had an interview with Sy (vocals) and Nige (guitar), but this - like with Michele's interview - will come online in due time. Having a job and doing reviews/interviews/gig reports afterwards takes time and energy. Such things can cause a certain delay...naturally.

While ONSLAUGHT's instrumental skills had gone down between the split and reunion, there were no signs of that at Wachtebeke. The many gigs they played since 2005 really helped to reform the Thrash block and set the automatisms right again. Steve's drumming was really tight and Thrash-worthy. The axemasters Alan and Nige litterally destroyed the place - in Nige's case, his sound got drained constantly for a good 5-10 minutes, leaving Alan as the sole survivor, who showed great professionalism by continuing like Nige never was important. One or two guitars, ONSLAUGHT will not be stopped. Sy's vocals were amazingly good that evening and one can only wonder why the band never reached the status of an EXODUS, KREATOR, DESTRUCTION, ...

The setlist consisted of material from their four albums, even "In Search Of Sanity", which was recorded back then with ex-GRIM REAPER Steve Grimmett. Prior to his (Steve) entrance in the band, Sy was involved in the material, so he knew what to sing and how. you name the song, Sy sang it and with splendor. Like with TOURETTES, the crowd went mad from enthusiasm and I too very much enjoyed the performance. Especially since this was my first ONSLAUGHT gig. Their four albums have since then found a place in my collection. Although they like to keep a low profile, I can highly recommend them as a live band. A great closure of a very nice afternoon.

Playlist: Killing Peace - Let There Be Death - Angels Of Death - Shellshock - Metal Forces - Twisted Jesus - Fight With The Beast - Planting Seeds Of Hate - Demoniac - Thermonuclear Devastation - Burn - Power From Hell


Meadow Fest's second edition, focussed on extreme Metal. Positive about such events are the chances for local bands to show their skills, but also the addition of bigger names to keep the balance even. I certainly had a great time, mainly because of the interviews, but also because of the performances. TOURETTES and ONSLAUGHT were the main reason for me to be there and both bands also opened my eyes more. The younger bands showed potential and I'll try to keep an eye on CYPHER and certainly LA-VENTURA. Depending on my schedule and the line-up, I might go again next year. But that's still 12 months from now. To close I want to thank Mike and vzw Mano for the access and pleasant talks and the bands for delivering the goods.

More pictures can viewed at this location. My apologies for some not-so-good photos, as my device has a hard time when it comes to dark interior photography. Or I have to play some more with the settings.

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01/09/2007 – Meadow Fest II (Wachtebeke, Belgium) ----- PREVIEW!

Saturday, the 1st of September, will be an earth-shking day in the small town called Wachtebeke, Belgium. The local organization vzw Mano (website) will be having its second Meadow Fest (website). The focus lies on the more extreme genres such as Hardcore and Thrash and anything around it. Notice that no one else but the British Thrashers ONSLAUGHT will have the honour to tear the stage apart at the end. Since this little festival will take place on Belgian soil, it's also a nice opportunity to showcase upcoming Belgian talent, but the neighbours from The Netherlands aren't forgotten either.

Date: 1st of September Location: De Kring, Kerkstraat 10, 9185 Wachtebeke
Doors: 12h30
First band: 14h00
Tickets: 12 EUR (presale), 14 EUR
Info: see the websites

Below are the bands that will serve you a good medicine to channel all your energy, stress and whatever more. Just click on their MySpace link to get a first impression.


THIRVEGOL is a name that would make you think of a Viking or Black Metal band, but these young Belgians drew the Melodic Death/Thrash card. Formed in 2006 by drummer Jonathan and guitarist Maarten, the line-up soon was completed with keyboardist Gert, vocalist Frederik and bassist Jens. Frederik's stay was short, but a replacement by the name of Johan was soon found. THIRVEGOL is at the moment working on a first demo, but on their MySpace page you can already listen to a few songs. Musical influences range from SLAYER, AMON AMARTH and KREATOR to SEPULTURA, OBITUARY and similar styled bands.

Thirvegol band

The next band to hit the stage also hails from Belgium, having a name that's a bit strange if you're superstitious: DEAD END PATH. The first stone was laid back in May 2003 by two people: Fubar and Punetaro, both living in the Antwerp area and already having some musical baggage from playing in other hardcore/metalbands. That same year two songs were written and this formed a basis to look for other members to play them. One year later a vocalist was found, as well as a bassist. Circumstances required another addition to the line-up, so now the band has two guitarists. All these changes helped to fasten the writing process. The result is 9 songs in 2005, while their latest release is a four-track CDemo "God's Converted Darkness", finished last year. Musical influences range from MACHINE HEAD, OBITUARY and SLAYER to PANTERA, MESHUGGAH, CATARACT and more. Skull-crushing riffs, thunderous drumming and Jadran's growls and screams are important elements in DEAD END PATH's songs.

Dead end Path band

Does the name ORPHANAGE ring a bell? This atmospheric Gothic Metal band from The Netherlands was disbanded two years ago due to internal problems, but drummer Erwin Polderman didn't wait to think of a new project/band. Together with vocalist Carla Douw he formed LA-VENTURA. Together with Sascha Kondic (guitar), Michael Saffrie (bass) and Marco van Boven (synths) they have already recorded one demo ("Trefoil", 2006), in preparation for their 10-track debut album that was to be released early this year, but circumstances forced the release to be delayed. La Ventura means 'luck' in Spanish, so does this mean the band will have a better future than ORPHANAGE? Come to Wachtebeke to find out.

La-Ventura band

Another local band that will be present in Wachtebeke is A SWITCH BELOW. This DeathCore band was formed 6 years ago, also by two people: Steve and Bart. They were a real band one year later and after all the hard work they recorded their debut, "Signs Of Impact", in 2005. At the evening of their first gig, the website went online and the online promotion could take off. This also got the band some gigs with EMINENCE, THE 7TH, LIAR, SINISTER and many others. First in Belgium, later in their home country, supporting RUCKDRIVER JR. and NOTHUS. Inspired by all this the writing process for a follow-up album to "Signs Of Impact" had commenced, but they only had a couple of songs ready before they went on tour again, in Belgium and The Netherlands, this time with NECRONOMIC, INCARNATE and BRING OUT YOUR DEAD. The band had to look for a new drummer and bassist during this tour. Maarten and Axl joined and helped with the making of a new promo, which was done around March 2007, and gives a pretaste of what to expect from their upcoming full-length release "Zero". Meadow Fest is just one place where they played and will play this year. If you want to hear the new songs, Wachtebeke is the place to be.

A Switch Below band

The schedule is nicely divided between the Belgian and Dutch bands, even though the latter ones form a minority. One of them is INSTIL, a name that should ring a bell with any Metal/Hardcore fan. With their typical mix of emotion, brutality and fury, these guys have gained massive critical acclaim and a whole legion of fans. Touring was a big part of their agenda, playing in countries all over Europe and even Iceland, sharing the stage with THE HAUNTED, THE CROWN, CALIBAN, CROWBAR, CARNAL FORGE, TERROR, GOD DETHRONED and the list goes on. So far the band has 4 releases, incl. a split-album, each of them contributing to the band's success, with positive reviews from magazines like Rock Tribune, Aardschok, Rockezine and others. In addition, INSTIL also got attention on TV (one example being their videoclips), playing on the European Talent Festival called Eurosonic/Noorderslag, festival appearances in 2004 and 2005 at Noordschok, Burning Season Festival, Thrash to the Core, Deadfest, Californa Circle pit Fest. Last year the band recorded 6 new songs in the Soundlodge studio in Germany (a.o. GOD DETHRONED, DEW-SCENTED). Late last year the line-up underwent some changes as a new guitarist and drummer joined the fold. INSTIL will be playing old and new stuff, but the focus will lie on their latest release, "Stalking Death", a 6-track mini-CD that came out last March.

Instil band

DISTORTED, who hail from the region of Torhout, are not to be confused with the Israelian band that also called DISTORTED. This Belgian mix of Hardcore, Thrash and Death has erupted from the collaboration of ex-COWBOYS & ALIENS drummer Peter Gaelens, Olivier Claeys (guitars, ex-GALLOW, ex-ZERO TOLERANCE) and Hans Vancouillie (vocals, ex-GALLOW, ex-ZERO TOLERANCE). One month later Jürgen Elias fills the empty bass spot. This four-piece will spread the word about DISTORTED at many gigs and also record a 6-track mini-CD in 2004, "Devil To Pay" (released via Watt'S'On), recorded at the Hype Studios in Mechelen with producer Dee J. The list of bands they played with is already something to be proud of: AFTER ALL, IN-QUEST, PETER PAN SPEEDROCK, OCEANS OF SADNESS, .... with the support slot for PRO-PAIN in November 2005 topping it. The need for a second guitarist starts boiling and Niek Devos (ex-MINDSTAB) is the one who would add more power and groove. In 2006 the band enters the Hype Studios again for their new album, "Demon Inside", which was mastered at the Antfarm Studio by Tue Madsen. Later that year a deal was made with Precious Metal Productions for the international release of the album. Prepare for a brutal performance by this amazing band from the west of Flanders.

Distorted band

Next to the more 'native' bands, it's time for some foreign Metal. First one is the Australian female-fronted band TOURETTES SYNDROME, who released their latest album, "Sick Sense", last year in October. Armageddon Music was pleasantly surprised by what these Aussies bring. Main attraction is vocalist Michele Madden, who's not a cat you should handle without gloves. No operatic or angelic singing here, but rough to the bone. The band has played on the famous Metal festival Wacken Open Air. Sumer Breeze and Up From The Ground are two other places where they got a spot. And while they were touring Europe, they also stopped by at Bloodstock, in the UK. In March 2007 the band entered the studio in LA to record the follow-up to "Sick Sense", again with Rob Hill, who also worked on the previous album. Having played the Wacken Road Show, they played at the festival this year, as well. Tourette syndrome: a nervous disorder characterised by spasms of the facial muscles, shoulders and extremities, accompanied by grunts and other noises. Or as the band puts it: TOURETTES is a labyrinthine excursion into the darkest depths of cerebral disorder and psycho-acoustic mayhem - a concoction of pain-inflicted vocals and menacing guitar riffs over apocalyptic soundscapes and industrial-strength basslines and rhythms.

Tourettes band

Is there any (Old School) Thrash fan who doesn't know this British band? Formed in 1982 by Nige Rockett (guitar) and Steve Grice (drums), the band began life under the influence of the second generation of hard-core punk bands like DISCHARGE, G.B.H. & THE EXPLOITED and the more metallic MOTÖRHEAD. Three years later they released "Power From Hell", which got lots of positive criticism. One year later vocalist Sy Keeler joined the fold and a deal with Music For Nations was made. The result was "The Force", containing classics like "Let There Be Death", "Metal Forces" and "Fight With The Beast". The album catapulted ONSLAUGHT into stardom. They also got to tour with MOTÖRHEAD, played at the 1st Dynamo Festival and got support slots for ANTHRAX and NUCLEAR ASSAULT. 1989 saw the release of the band's third album, "In Search Of Sanity", but with a new vocalist (Steve Grimmett). This seemed to be their best selling album to date. The die-hard fans thought otherwise, mainly because it was a little different from the previous relases and Sy Keeler wasn't the singer anymore. A split was in the making and a few years ago the band reunited, incl. Sy Keeler. ONSLAUGHT got a deal with Candlelight Records and recorded their fourth full-length album, "Killing Peace", at Andy Sneap's (SABBAT, NEVERMORE, MACHINE HEAD, ARCH ENEMY, EXODUS, ...) Backstage Studios in Derbyshire. "Killing Peace" came out a couple of months ago and showed renewed fire from these British veterans. The band will soon (26/08) play at the Biebob and now they're back for a long stop in Wachtebeke. What better way to close this second edition than with some good old Thrash?

Onslaught band

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