Review by Patrick 'Sloof' De Sloover

Pictures by Elsie Roymans ( www.gig-pix.com )

Lay-Out by Stefan

The seventh edition of Alcatraz Metal Festival had several major changes, but resulted in a real highlight at the end. First of all, the Festival became a 2 day event, with the traditional old school lineup on Saturday and a daring Friday with acts that will appeal to those with an open mind. Secondly, the organization decided that the audience needed the best possible treatment, so there were flush lavatories present, the food booths increased a lot and the whole venue was embellished as if you were on the Alcatraz island at the West coast of California.  Watchtowers, guarded by Officer Nice, resulted in a beautiful atmosphere that is so typical for this event! Alcatraz Metal Festival can be best described as coming home!

 

 

There were about 10.000 tickets sold, with a capacity of 12.000 maximum, spread over both days and Friday started with the Belgian band DIABLO BLVD, all fired up by (ex-)stand-up comedian Alex Agnew. 

This man knows how to get a crowd moving and by adding some typical Agnew jokes, he creates the perfect vibe for his Southern Heavy Metal and Grooving Hard Rock. Tracks like ‘Beyond The Veil’, ‘Virus (The Pride)’ and ‘Builders Of Empires’ made the heads shake and raised fists in the air and Alex dedicated the track ‘Piece Won By War’ to his personal favorites: Life Of Agony.

 

 

 

 

Second band, and I must admit, the main reason why I made the trip to Kortrijk was the Swedish band AVATAR. Their latest album ‘Hail The Apocalypse’ had such an impact on me, that I was eagerly waiting how the band would bring their songs live. The title track launched a band that was full of energy and glad that the turnout was huge. 

When it started raining, everybody stayed in front of the stage to enjoy and have fun with songs like ‘Vultures Fly’, ‘Let It Burn’, ‘Bloody Angel’ and ‘Queen Of Blades’. The energy that this band created was really nice to see. Headbanging at maximum speed, a frontman named Johannes  Michael Gustaf Eckerström who went totally nuts and a really intense set.

He’s playing the role of The Joker (Batman) but this time he seems to run a circus. Very odd but really intense!  While most of the musicians drink a beer or soda in between two songs, he came trotting with a gasoline canister, to drink from the funnel.

 I looked forward to this band and gig and they have fulfilled my expectations totally! The signing session afterwards resulted in a very long queue, and the band deserved the respect from the audience!

 

 

HELLYEAH can be considered as a super band with members from Pantera and Damageplan, but I saw them last year at Graspop and they didn’t convince all the way. Perhaps this second chance would change my mind, but they didn’t succeed at all. After a few songs, the same creepy feeling of boredom emerged and songs like ‘Demons In The Dirt’ and ‘Sangre Por Sangre (Blood For Blood)’ couldn’t save the set.

The colorful appearance of vocalist Chad Gray (also in Mudvayne) was only nice to see for a few songs, and the rain was also a spoiling factor. We skipped the set and tried to reach a place where the rain wouldn’t bother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lovely Christina Scabbia of LACUNA COIL from Milan couldn’t stop the rain, so the set didn’t had the same result as if it was on a sunny afternoon.

The songs ‘Die & Rise’, ‘Fire’, ‘Fragments Of Faith’, ‘Heaven’s A Lie’, ‘Nothings Stands In Our Way’ were brought by excellent musicians, and Christina is a nice looking lady with a terrific voice, but I went to the outer corner of the field to have a drink with the best tapper of the festival and one of the coolest people around: Wim ‘Rosty’ Vanneste!

 

 

 

                                                                                                                              

A lot of people came for LIFE OF AGONY, not only because the original line up of their bestseller ‘River Runs Red’ was present, but to see how Keith Caputo was doing as he is a transgender.

Keith changed from man to woman and likes to be named Mina Caputo.  Fair said a separate choice, but we respect everyone, so it was time to meet up Life Of Agony anno 2014. Mina was introduced to us as the ‘newest and oldest member of the band’, which is an original quote!

One of my personal favorite tracks of L.O.A. is ‘Weeds’, and when the band played this song, all hell was breaking loose! (S)He was rocking like in the good old days and Mina asked one moment of silence for the war followed by the track ‘Respect’.

During the set of L.O.A. Geoff Thorpe of Vicious Rumors passed by, so I had a little chat with this axeman. He was a couple more days in Europe, and definitely wanted to attend the festival. Perhaps that’s exactly how people, musicians and bands are collaborating with A.M.F.: one huge family with mutual respect.

 

 

Next on the bill was CRADLE OF FILTH from the UK, who can be considered as the most occult and extreme act on this year’ edition of A.M.F.

Vocalist Danni Filth (in the band since 1991) was dressed in a kind of leather armor and his make-up was outstanding! The band introduced us also to Lindsay Schoolcraft, who took care of the keyboards and female vocals and a few other new members as Ashok and Rich Shaw (both on guitars).

The set was intense and furious and all highlights were played like ‘Cthulhu Dawn’, ‘The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh’, ‘Her Ghost In The Fog’ and ‘Haunted Shores’. As it was getting dark, the visual aspect got more importance and the lightshow was impressive as well.

If Danni is looking for a nice side project, I would advise a part in ‘The Walking Dead’.

 

 

 

 

Last band on Friday, and probably the most controversial act of the whole festival: MARILYN MANSON. The lightshow was enormous and the first song ‘Angel With The Scabbed Wings’ was only the beginning of a set full of hit-singles, covers and sing-along material.

‘Disposable Teens’, ‘Hey, Cruel World’, ‘The Dope Show’ and ‘Rock Is Dead’ are only few of the highlights. When Marilyn started his cover version of Depeche Mode their ‘Personal Jesus’, the whole crowd went crazy and praised this unique talent. Also ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’ from The Eurythmics was brought in best tradition and the fans just loved it.

Headliners may vary, as some demand very high standards, others take pleasure in everyday things (Twisted Sister). Marilyn wanted a dressing room, painted in black and with a A.C. system that was able to bring the temperature down to 17°C. He was also accompanied by several managers and his rider (a list of things to have) contained no less than thirty pages. I guess that’s how real rock-stars dwell the world. The first day ended perfectly and it was nice that it all ended before midnight, as we could focus on the next day with enough sleep.

 

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Day 2 of A.M.F. started with a bang!  FOUR BY FATE has the same management of Twisted Sister and the organizers were forced to book this band as well. As a bolt from the blue, Four By Fate convinced from the very first moment!

The members played in the past in bands like Frehley’s Comet, Cheap Trick, Loudness, W.A.S.P., Lita Ford and Ted Nugent.  Big names with a lot of potential and when the band walked the stage, they grabbed everyone by the throat. Solid Hard Rock with a lot of guitar solos and vocals that lift the songs to a higher level! Songs like ‘Stand Up And Shout’, ‘Follow Me’ and the Cheap Trick cover ‘I Want You To Want Me’ was amused by all attendees, and I’m sure that they were winning many souls.

Traditional Hard Rock often adds a drum solo in their set, so did Four By Fate. Together with some firework and flames, the start of the second day was almost perfect!

 

 

 

 

Traditionally, we get a lot of Thrash Metal acts on Alcatraz, and TOXIK was the first to accelerate.  Most of the fans are familiar with the albums ‘World Circus’ and ‘Think This’ and songs like ‘Heart Attack’ and ‘Think This’ were shouted out loud! Necks were banging, heads were shaking and Toxik destroyed the whole place.

 

A perfect switch to XENTRIX was created and we continued with European Thrash Metal from the U.K. At that moment, the sun was burning hot and there were already many people on the field.  Crowd surfers everywhere, fantastic music that was played at high speed and also a new song (‘Word Of Mouth’) resulted in a mosh pit, all created by Xentrix. At certain point, I closed my eyes and the resemblance with Testament was striking!    

 

                                          

 

 

 

PRONG is a band that I saw last year as well on Graspop, and their set was so constructive and captivating that my expectations were pretty high last Saturday.

For some reason, they could not surprise me again as they did last time.  The songs were played well (‘Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck’, ‘Lost And Found’, ‘Whose Fist Is This Anyway’ and the obligated ‘Unconditional’), but I didn’t feel the magic.

 Perhaps we were still impressed about the thrash metal attack of Toxik and Xentrix…

 

 

 

 

 

Another highlight was ARCH ENEMY. As Angela Gossow decided to call it a day and preferred to work for the band, behind the stage, it was a difficult task for Alissa White-Gluz to replace the blonde animal. Of course, she knows what metal is all about and yes, she did already nice things with her previous band The Agonist, but Arch Enemy plays on a higher level.

The vocal chords of the blue-haired lady are growling, massive and extreme, but she doesn’t have the charisma of Angela, yet. These things will come within very short time, and Alissa did what we expected. Bringing the songs with a lot of passion, abet the people and make the crowd go wild. 

Songs that were played: ‘We Will Rise’, ‘Nemesis’, ‘Dead Eyes See No Future’, ‘No Gods, No Masters’… The sun was still present and the people had a perfect time, although the best was yet to come. 

 

 

 

 

 

SACRED REICH played Dynamo Open Air Festivals in Holland andevery time, they managed to deliver the best of the best. I was anxious to know if they could still create that vibe of decades ago.

Well, they did! Vocalist and Bassplayer Phill Rind was very enthusiastic and enjoyed every second on stage! He was wearing a Dynamo T-Shirt, to pay homage to the legendary festival. When he noticed a drone above the crowd, he mentioned to everyone: Fuck It.

Songs like ‘Who’s To Blame’, ‘Love…Hate’, ‘Death Squad’ and of course their version of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ were hailed by thousands of headbangers!

 

 

 

 

CHANNEL ZERO started with one minute silence to honor their drummer Phil B.

After this, the band started with ‘Suck My Energy’ and continued their show with so much passion and dedication, that Phil will be proud on the lads when he’s watching from above. The new drummer is Seven Antonopoulos and he’s a Greek American, born in Dallas (Texas, USA). He played in bands like Vanilla Ice, Opiate For The Masses, Actrociy and Leaves’ Eyes and surpassed all expectations with the Channel Zero set.

The band recently played Lokerse Feesten and Biesenrock and their new album is the best one so far in the career of this Belgian band. Songs like ‘Electronic Cocaine’, ‘Kill All Kings’ and the new single ‘Dark Passenger’ were welcomed and the crowd just loved it.

When they started the first Dutch song ‘Duisternis’, they blew the proverbial roof off! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

W.A.S.P. was the next big thing and Blackie Lawless seemed to be in a good form! 

The sound was perfect, the songs even better and the whole W.A.S.P. set was really enjoying! Everybody was scanning and shouting on anthems like ‘L.O.V.E. Machine’, ‘Wild Child’, ‘Sleeping (In The Fire)’, ‘Blind In Texas’ …

Hard to say, but I think it was the best W.A.S.P. gig that I ever witnessed.

 

 

 

 

After the intro ‘It’s  A Long Way To The Top, If You Wanna Rock’n Roll’ by AC/DC, TWISTED SISTER started with a bang!  Headbanging, jumping, running from one side to the other, it’s like vocalist Dee Snider started his second youth. 

Being at the age of almost 60, it’s really remarkable how energetic he still is. A fantastic light show, a band in great shape and songs that stood the test of time. What else can we say: Twisted Sister was a worthy headliner and it will be hard to top this act in the next editions of Alcatraz. ‘The Kids Are Back’, ‘I Believe In Rock’n Roll’, ‘Shoot ‘Em Down’, ‘Under The Blade’ and of course ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’!  It’s really hard to point out the better songs, as they all have the same enthusiasm and melodic approach!

These S.M.F. surprised us for the third time in a row!  After the show, the band went to Brussels to jump in an airplane and fly to Canada as they were scheduled to perform on Sunday on a Canadian Festival. It’s only rock’n roll, but I like it ! I can only conclude that Alcatraz is increasing in popularity and Kortrijk can be proud to have such an unique festival on their soil.  See you all next year on A.M.F. 2015 !

 

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