Review by Officer Nice

Pictures by Officer Nice

Lay-Out by Stefan

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Day ONE

The minute the previous Keep It True festival ends means the countdown to the next. How True but especially how addictive can a festival really be? This festival kept on growing but the boundaries were set a few years ago, but thankfully these organizers stayed true to their concept. That means you need a ticket as soon as possible or you won’t get in, the selling starts on the first day of the festival.

Nevertheless I had the feeling, I could be wrong, that on this edition the hall was more crowded than the previous years although almost every edition has been sold out before. Maybe the colder weather had something to do with it, forcing the Metal heads to stay inside instead of hanging around at the parking lot. Maybe it was because of the bands that were scheduled, although every edition was full of first class bands … Strange but who cares anyway? It was again time to meet old friends from all over the world, time to charge the personal batteries, this is the ideal venue to do so… The next edition is already almost sold out. Why? Because it’s magic, that’s why!

With bands like Steel Prophet, Medieval Steel, Liege Lord, Warlord, Holocaust, Angel Witch and Jack Starr’s band I had enough to look forward to. The strength of this festival is that this kind of bands succeeds over here, getting the respect they deserved all over the years. And again Belgium was represented, Evil Invaders was invited and we needed to witness if they were any good, no?

The drive of more than 500 kilometres went smooth fully but arriving at noon was impossible, the reason I missed  BORROWEDTIME and ELIMINATOR. That’s a pity, certainly when I heard that Borrowed Time performed very well. So the first band I saw was AIR RAID. This is a rather new band with an eye catching band logo. On stage they did a very good job and it’s so typically that the crowd welcomed them by singing along, banging their heads and making this a very good gig. What pleased me the most is the fact that the sound in the hall was very good, it was promising for the rest that was yet to come.

And so HIGH SPIRITS entered the stage, dressed all in a white pence. Not that the band needed it because their concert was very good. A high quality level, great music and those who know the band should also know that these guys deliver great melodic Metal. The band performed tracks from their “Another night” album. A great album by the way, one you really need to check out. Nothing but positive commentaries about High Spirits.

MORBID SAINT is a band of old Metallers and they deserve it’s place at this festival. Their non-compromising Thrash Metal is well tasted by the public at this festival and was the start of the first mosh pits. Even a  ‘wall of death’ was wanted but it didn’t really work out as planned. Yet this band played sharp and heavy, making the venue burn for the very first time this year. With their album “Spectrum Of Death”  they received a cult status into the Thrash Metal scène and if this international crowd adores one thing in particular, it is cult. This harsh kind of Thrash Metal is more difficult to remain sharp on stage but Morbid Saint  stood tall. The band will stay a few weeks in Europe and I noticed they will visit the Netherlands too, with Possessed by the way. If you’re a fan of hard hitting harsh Trash Metal, don’t miss them!

QUARTZ is one of those bands I discovered many years ago thanks to the Double Hard compilations. The track “Charlie Snow” was on it, from their second album “Stand Up And Fight” and it was the brand of the special character of this NWOBHM formation. Nevertheless the band never really broke through like some other bands from that same era. Quartz released their very first album in 1977 and that means these musicians became older. I saw some grandpa’s on stage, grey hairs but these guys still have the right feeling for some good Heavy Metal. This was an ‘oldies but goodies’ show that was well appreciated by the public. I really hope these guys keep on playing.

From that same era we also know HOLOCAUST, another band with a cult status. With their debut album they wrote an important page in the history book of Heavy Metal. Tracks like “Death And Glory” and of course “Heavy Metal Mania” are, or at least, should live forever in the memory of the Heavy Metal crowd. It’s a band to worship and in their era they were at least as important as Iron Maiden, Saxon or Motörhead. Holocaust suffered their problems into the eighties but were successful for several years, but never succeeded the big breakthrough. But if you think they’re forgotten you’re so terribly wrong, at least this public seemed to worship them. And when “Heavy Metal Mania” was blowing through the speakers the first cold shivers of the day made part of me! Awesome to hear it again….

Talking about cold shivers… I was expecting something special from MEDIEVAL STEEL and I was right but what I witnessed here was beyond any belief. These Americans released an EP in the eighties from which the “Medieval steel”  can be called a real hit in the US Metal underground scène. But the band stayed low in the underground and I am aware that the big crowd even never heard of this band, don’t know this track… But the band has more than this specific track and performed really good. True US Metal, the way I just like it.

The band announced a new album, sounds great. But what was to come when “Medieval steel” blew through the speakers was just amazing! I have seen and heard this crowd singing before but this time I am sure even the scale of Richter noticed it! This was one of the most memorable moments ever in the history of Keep It True. Medieval Steelset the entire place on fire and every single person in the hall was singing along, louder than the band could produce. It was one of the most intense magic moments I have ever witnesses in my career as a Metal Head! I am so proud to have made part of this… On YouTube you can check it out https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=X2V21zXgFvY . I suppose also the band never expected this and you could see how surprised they really were ….  Thank you guys for this moment of glory!

The band I was looking the most forward to was without any doubt LIEGE LORD. Since their debut album you can call me a fan and I still pity the fact these guys only released three albums. Joe Comeau was announced as the singer and so we knew that most stuff would come from their latest effort, “Master control”, dated 1988. From the very first until the last second I witnessed an almost perfect concert. This band is in big shape and what I saw were superb guitarists, an incredible drummer and a singer who still contains that awesome vibe in his timbre.       

With songs like:  “Dark Tale”, “Fear Itself”, “Master Control”, “Rage Of Angels”, the cover “Kill The King” and the ending song “Wielding Iron Fists” you understand a true Metal party was going on in Lauda-Koningshöfen! There isn’t any negative point to say about this gig, the sound was perfect, the band played dynamic, the songs took anybody by the throat!

This was without any doubt one of the best gigs I have ever seen during all the KIT festivals I have visited. But there was more good news: the band announced a new album and promised to tour later on. Maybe some organizers of Belgian festivals should try to get them on their stage. Awesomeness is promised, an unforgettable concert that impressed any Metal head I talked with later!

POSSESSED stood, along with Morbid Angel, Death etc. at the cradle of extreme metal genres. That’s a good reason to respect these guys because they were able to break the dictatorship of the leading Thrash bands in the eighties. A pretty wide bunch of Metal heads became, thanks to bands like Possessed,  interested in those extreme subgenres and so Death Metal became more and more important, even overgrew Thrash and Heavy Metal later on. 

The history of the band ended in the early nineties to come back later and to stand here as a headliner at the Keep It True Festival. Death Metal on this festival is an exception but for Possessed Oliver and co made this concession work. Jeff Becerra lives in a wheel chair nowadays but that didn’t hold him back to be the right front man for this gig. Long hairs, dark clothes, red guitars, an overdose of energy and a true wall of sound! Those were the ingredients for this gig. Difficult, again, to keep a clear sound but the band nor the crowd did even mind. A Death Metal show pur sang that closed day one…

 

Day TWO

As every year we visit the town nearby to have breakfast. One friend couldn’t make it to the festival, the result was less beer, less headaches the day after. But we had a great first day again, everybody was impressed by Liege Lord and the Medieval Steel song. Another day of Metal was  ahead of us although the weather was not as good as we’re used to. That was a pity because the KIT festival normally is my official beginning of Spring. The Metal market was a good reason to stay inside, it stays exciting to discover old gems for fair prices.

First band on stage was Belgian, EVIL INVADERS. The fact these youngsters were invited for this edition means a lot. Lots of bands would die to play on stage here and for  Evil Invaders  a dream came true. I don’t know if these guys knew what to expect today but their old sounding Thrash Metal was without any doubts appreciated by the crowd. There was already a good audience at front of the stage and the members of Evil Invaders played with all the energy they had. Being the first band of a festival isn’t always pleasant but right here you can expect respect from the crowd. It was with a good reason the front man said this was the best crowd the band had ever played for and so these guys made us, Belgian Metal heads, proud! Great performance.

A band I was really looking forward to was ATTIC. These Germans are mainly influenced by old Mercyful Fate and you can consider me as a fan. It’s not without a reason I am so glad King Diamond is back… Attic’s album “The invocation” was very good and brought the atmosphere of the old good years back. The guitars, the vocals, the entire mood in that CD are really fantastic, ideal to listen to on dark nights, when I’m feeling evil or melancholic. Some candles on the stage, a mysterious intro and the band took off to deliver us 45 minutes of dark Metal. The vocals were as good as we can hear on their album, closing your eyes could make you convince King Diamond was on stage. That the band worships Mercyful Fate became obvious by performing “Into the coven”, closing a gig I’d hope to relive in the future but not in the afternoon. For a young band this was a fantastic concert.

TORANAGA is an old school band. Did you know they were formed in 1985? I didn’t. What I do know is that these guys are back since a few years to deliver some good old school Metal, in which traditional genres are mixed. Thrashy on the one way, influenced by the Godfathers of Metal on the other they performed good on stage and so the American MIDNIGHT came on stage. These guys replaced Anvil Bitch, who was forced to cancel their show. Anyway; Midnight has a good reputation on stage and they came to held this reputation high. Did they succeed? Without any doubts! Their performance was very well tasted by the public. Heavy Metal from the underground often stands for great performances. I suppose a band, invited to travel a few thousand miles for one gig, is ultra-motivated… A band that will stay on my radar.

About OCTOBER 31 I always had some doubts. I have a few CD’s in my collection but admit I don’t take them often for a spin. I suppose that counts for more people who known them although I also know Metal heads who really adores this band. I was curious to see King Fowley and October 31. A very funny guy anyway and the band really made a good compilation of their works, including Saxon’s cover “Power and the glory”. Nothing to get wild about but a good intermezzo.

German fans are fond of NWOBHM. Legend was the next band in this style on stage and I heard many friends talking about how they were looking forward to this gig. In the early eighties this band released some albums in a short time to come back after a silence of twenty years with “Still screaming”. Although the members are getting old and the music sounds so traditional Legend performed very good on stage. The classic LEGEND style was represented to this crowd and believe me if I say it was well tasted.

JACK STARR needs no introduction as a former member of Virgin Steele. He’s without any doubts one of the best Metal guitarists on this globe. After he left Virgin Steele he released some great albums under his own name but never became successful with it. His latest efforts were fantastic but still the big magazines refuse to give it the attention it deserves. At the sound check the man played some classic music on  his guitars, those who were watching this were impressed at once. Todd Michael Hall is since a few years the singer of Jack’s band. US Metal fans should know him from Reverence too.

It was a bit of a shock to see him with short hair on stage but I can assure you this guy contains a fantastic voice and he’s without any doubt one of the best singers I have ever seen. Five fantastic musicians, delivering us old and new songs from Jack Starr. It was imposing to see, impressive to hear and I believe most people in the great hall were totally under the spell of this performance. This isn’t only a band that brings great albums, live they are so strong I really hope to see them again. And yes, Jack Starr promised to come back to Europe later… 

STEEL PROPHET was another band that easily convinced me to travel to Germany. I suppose it’s no secret this is my kind of Metal, powerful, with a bit of a progressive touch, melodic and with a high pitched singer. Rick Mythiasin did a fantastic job with Masters Of Metal, also known as Agent Steel, at the same stage and with him you always know a good show is waiting ahead of you. The band was again in a good shape. It was awesome to see how energetic these guys really are, especially bass player Vine Dennis, the black guy.

For the first time at the Keep It True Festival we saw two singers in a wheel chair. Rick suffered an accident which obliged him to roll on stage. He didn’t mind I suppose because I saw him rolling before through the hall like a formula 1 pilot. This guy really contains a fantastic voice, delivering us old and newer songs. I confess I was a bit disappointed in the set list because I was waiting to hear “Truth” and “Church Of  Mind”. But I don’t complain because Steel Prophet did what they were paid for; delivering first class Metal. A big surprise was the cover the band played, “Bohemian Rhapsody”  by Queen. It needs a lot of guts to play that particular song from a band that must have scored ‘number one hits’ in almost every modern music genre. Failing this would have been blasphemy. But Steel Prophet stood tall and Rick really did an outstanding job. Not that he will ever replace Freddy Mercury but it was fun, the band set the place on fire again and it was great to sing along again with “Gallileo Figaro” and “Mama Mia” and bang that head as in “Wayne’s world”….! Great performance from one of my favorite bands.

If there is a band who needs no introduction it is ANGEL WITCH. It was the last NWOBHM band on the festival and it was predictable which song would close this concert. Nevertheless Angel Witch is more than that specific track and on this festival they had no secrets for the crowd. The band played old and new stuff and was able to bring their mysterious sound on stage. These guys invented some special chords, some even call it the ‘Angel Witch chords’. Kevin Heybourne will never be the most exciting front man, hardly searches contact with the public, but he’s professional in everything he does. This band breathes anything traditional Heavy Metal is about and was influencing for the entire generation of bands that were formed after their debut back in 1980. They didn’t maintain the big successes but tracks like “Gorgon”, “Angel of death” and the ending – of course – “Angel witch” still delivers cold shivers! And yes, “Angel Witch” set the place on fire again or what did you expect?

During all the editions of the Keep It True Festivals I went to I was every time surprised about how much WARLORD fans there are. This is a specific audience, I am aware of that, but die hard Warlord fans can be found here, not at Graspop or whatever. The fact that Warlord would ever be scheduled as a headliner didn’t surprise me at all. I’m not their biggest fans although you can find several albums from the band in my collection. I also took the chance to buy their brand new album “The Holy Empire”.

Warlord opened their show with “Deliver us from evil” and that was the best they could do, the public was with them at once. What followed was an good old Metal show with tracks like “Child Of The Damned”, “Lost And Lonely Days”, “Lucifer’s Hammer”, “Black Mass”, “Aliens” …. Especially the Greek fans are fond of them and I saw Metal heads who were totally focussed, under some kind of mysterious spell… I witnessed a good show with professional musicians.

But to be honest, how good Warlord was on stage, the bands of this edition was without any doubt Liege Lord at day one and Jack Starr at day two. No disappointments at all, a lot of fun, good concerts, lots of new CD’s and travelling back in time gave me a new boost of energy. I already have tickets for the next edition with Jag Panzer, Lethal, Hexx and who knows what beauty’s will follow. My favorite festival, without any doubts!

 

 

 

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