Review by Patrick De Sloover

Pictures by Elsie Roymans )

Lay-Out by Stefan


The sixth edition of Alcatraz Metal Festival had several changes since the start. This year, the organization decided to broaden their horizons and bring the festival to the open air. As Deinze, the location where the first five festivals took place, wasn’t a suitable partner in crime, they decided to move to Kortrijk where we could find a lot of parking facilities. To reduce the amount of garbage, every visitor was able to give a helping hand by collecting cups.  Another interesting change was free toilets and a big variety on food. AMF 2013 improved a lot and indicates that the people behind the festival are determined to lift their Festival to the coziest in the Benelux area.  As far as I’m concerned they all deserve a round of applause for this incredible achievement!

The opener of this year’s edition was FOZZY, not exactly a band that people are waiting for, but as they are the opening act for Anthrax’ European tour, it was kind of an obliged scheduling. Some might know Rich Ward’s previous band Stuck Mojo, who melted metal and rap into songs that grab you by the throat. I saw this band, years ago in Germany at the Bang Your Head Festival, and I had the idea that front man Chris Jericho wasn’t so impressive as back then. Being a professional wrestler results in being used to lead a show and that’s what these guys did. Songs as ‘Spider In My Mouth’, ‘Sandpaper’ and ‘God Pounds His Nails’ were the perfect introduction to a metal trip of ±12 hours. A track like ‘Shine Forever’ was extremely heavy and I really enjoyed the bass lines in this track. During the track ‘Enemy’, it was time to do a little Airbourne trick by climbing to the roof of the stage and the final track ‘Blood Happens’ resulted in respect from the audience. Not a bad start at all, but we all knew that there were much better things ahead of us! My personal highlight of Fozzy was the long guitar solo in the track ‘God Pounds His Nails’, as this is what metal is all about!


The second band was SATAN, NWOBHM pioneers and recently in the spotlights with their stunning new album ‘Life Sentence’. This band from Newcastle focused their gig with songs from their cult album ‘Court In The Act’, which is already ±30 years old.  Songs like ‘Trial By Fire’, ‘Time To Die’, ‘Twenty Twenty Five’ and ‘Break Free’ gave us a band that was focused on their gig and I was really surprised about the vocal chords of Brian Ross. He is still able to go high and low and his voice is still accurate and stood the test of time! The whole set was a big highlight as they also played ‘Incantations’, ‘Siege Mentality’, ‘Oppression’ and ‘Alone In The Dock’. The only negative comment on this set was the crowded stage. There was a camera team of our national TV station Eén, and there were a few other people that stood there without adding something to the gig.  Perhaps it was all very visible as it was only noon when Satan entered the stage.


VICIOUS RUMORS is a band that can be considered as a tradition on AMF, but I don’t care at all, as they are one of the best Bay Area power metal bands that I know. Legendary albums like ‘Soldiers Of The Night’ and ‘Digital Dictator’ are still hot, and guitar player Geoff Thorpe keeps on releasing new material while touring the world to bring his music to the people. Larry Howe is the present drummer again, and he’s not the only one that likes to make fun. When vocalist Brian Allen walked the stage, he said ‘Dank U wel’, which is a nice move to introduce your crowd in native tongue.  ‘Digital Dictator’, ‘Minute To Kill’, ‘Towns On Fire’ and ‘Worlds And Machines’ where played with a lot of dedication and the nice shaped Flying V guitars did what we all expected! Vocalist Brian Allen had a partly weaved beard which reminded me on the previous axeman Ira Black.


After the gig of Vicious Rumors, we heard some terrible news: drummer Phil B of Channel Zero was found dead due to a heart stroke. In respect for the band, families and relatives, the organization decided not to replace Channel Zero, but to give every band a little more playing time. This extended playlist was probably the best move to do, and when they asked for one minute silence, the 6.000 headbangers showed respect! At this moment of writing I don’t know what the future will bring, will Channel Zero continue their path, or is this loss too drastic. Anyhow it will turn out, Channel Zero their decision is appreciated.


                                                                                                                             IN MEMORY OF PHIL BAHEUX (CHANNEL ZERO)


Another Bay Area thrash metal band is DEATH ANGEL. They have a vivid live show and every member of Death Angel is giving full speed! ‘Mistress Of Pain’, ‘Claws In So Deep’ and of course the ‘Ultra-Violence’ turned the masses into crowdsurfing and moshing maniacs. When frontman Mark Osegueda  is banging his  dreadlocks or when he jumps of the drum platform, he just breathes metal!  They also played ‘Heaven And Hell’ of Black Sabbath and Death Angel thanked the audience by saying ‘you are so fucking awesome, you guys rule in Belgium’. Well, the pleasure was all mine dude!  The songs were played at high speed, there wasn’t much time to waste as every track followed directly on the previous song.  I guess that ‘3rd Floor’ was a highlight in this Death Angel gig!


Well, the gig of Death Angel was a hell of a party, but Alcatraz showed no mercy at all. EXODUS was the next band with an altered line up. The two guitar players of Heathen were present as Gary had commitments with his other band Slayer. The show of Exodus is always extremely heavy, and  the band knows what people demand!  The track ‘Piranha’ was dedicated to Phil of Channel Zero and they even mentioned Jeff Hanneman of Slayer for a R.I.P. moment. Exodus just came back from Sweden and they had some problems with their gear, so Death Angel decided to let Exodus use their guitars and necessary gear.  The track ‘Bonded By Blood’ was a duet with Rob and Mark of Death Angel, and tracks that followed were ‘Blacklist’, ‘Fabulous Disaster’ and ‘A Lesson In Violence’.  Needless to say that the crowd went crazy and everybody was screaming for more! ‘The Toxic Waltz’ followed and ‘Strike Of The Beast’, slaughtered us all!


After this violent attack and outrageous bands, it was time to slow down a bit. The Metal Queen of Germany DORO entered the stage, and played songs of Warlock, some songs of her own repertoire and even some covers. ‘I Rule The Ruins’ was the opener and the crowd welcomed Doro with open arms! She continued with another Warlock track ‘Burning The Witches’, and although we have already been slaughtered from the earlier bands, the people at AMF were enthusiastic as well! The guitarplayer was Mark Jansen from After Forever, and the complete line up of Doro were dedicated and passionate musicians! Tracks like ‘The Night Of The Warlock’, ‘Rock Till Death’, ‘Raise Your Fist In The Air’ and ‘All We Are’ are necessary tracks in the playlist of this Teutonic Leather Lady. The video screen aside of the stage resulted in a perfect result even if you are standing in a distance. ‘Für Immer’ is a track that needs to be played, and for some it’s the ultimate chance to make a wedding request. Although this lady isn’t my personal favorite, she did a great job and her gig pleased a lot of people!


I have seen ANTHRAX three time in a very short period of time, but this was definitely the best one so far. They were scheduled at 9.15 p.m., so it started to get dark which results that the lightshow had more impact. Songs like ‘Among The Living’, ‘Caught In A Mosh’ and ‘Efilnikufesin’ were played with a very good sound and enthusiasm of the members of Anthrax.  The next song was Hymn 1 and two banners aside of the drumkit were revealed. We saw Ronnie James Dio and Dimebag Darrell, while the track ‘Deathrider’ was played in homage for Phil D of Channel Zero.  During the track ‘In The End’, all members of Anthrax were headbanging like maniacs! Drummer Charlie was replaced by John Dete as he had some problems to leave the U.S.A.  Anthrax brought us a gig to be remembered and a song like ‘Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t’ was one of the highlights of this gig!


After the gig of this Big4 band, it was time for this year’s headliner NIGHTWISH! Previous years, Alcatraz scheduled bands that could be discussed like Immortal, but thing is, the organization is always searching to catch the best band available at that time. With Nightwish, they had a very strong headliner, and everybody was anxious to see how the new front woman Floor Jansen (ex-After Forever, ReVamp) would fit in the difficult song structures of Tuomas Holopainen. Well, Floor did an excellent job and she adds her own stamp on the music of Nightwish. Compared with the previous Anette Olzon, it was a real revelation to see how Nightwish stands out of the ashes! ‘Dark Chest Of Wonders’, ‘Wish I Had An Angel’ and the mighty ‘I Want My Tears Back’ were songs that resulted in goose bubs all over my body! The lightshow was breathtaking, the performance of Tuomas, who was standing behind an ………….. was simply top notch! All tracks were performed with deadly precision and with an eye on the smallest detail! There is only one remark that I have, and that’s simple: how comes that the video screen was turned off during this gig.  Was this a demand of the band, or did we encounter a technical problem? It would have been much better with the screen, on so people could enjoy the show whether they are in the front row or at the backside of the area!


Anyway, Alcatraz did a good move by switching into an Open Air Festival.  We all were lucky as the sun and weather gods were metal minded! I do hope that this will remain a 1 day event as that’s the perfect combination.  Secondly, the first names of last year are already announced, so we will welcome W.A.S.P. and Arch Enemy on Alcatraz 2014!  See you all next year, hopefully with nice weather and the same spirit as this year: enjoy the festival and have fun while seeing great bands! 




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