Review by Officer Nice

Pictures by Officer Nice

Lay-Out by Stefan

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This edition of the Keep It True festival was sold out very quick! I know lots of people who wanted to sell their soul to be part of this yearly True Metal party, what was very obvious with this line-up. Warrior, Lethal, Flotsam & Jetsam, Hexx, Jag Panzer, Toxik,  Metal Church…. No one can deny this was one of the strongest bills ever. However, the line-up of this festival was never disappointing, every year it’s worth travelling the distance.

Anyway, more and more Belgian Metal heads have found their way to the Keep It true Festival. My first KIT was the third edition and ever since I saw the group of Lowlanders grow year after year. Now even some lads of Belgian’s best Metal bands ever, Ostrogoth and Cyclone, were present. The reason some Ostrogoth members were here is because of the tribute album that the Keep It True organisation has released. On this album, bands that played at KIT before, covered tracks from the bigger bands that ever played on KIT. Ostrogoth covered Lethal’s “Plan of peace” and this was the ideal moment to meet the Lethal members. This “Harder than steel” album is really nice, with bands like Deadly Blessing, Attacker, Paradox, Jack Starr’s Burning Starr and Satan’s Host to name a few. Anyway the Belgian KIT visitors were in big shape, group pictures were taken and I admit it felt good to see how young and old Belgian Metal heads were partying together.

 

 

DAY ONE

I missed Stallion and Ranger so the first band to witness was DEEP MACHINE. This band has played some gigs in Belgium lately and I know this is a good NWOBHM formation. The band performed well on stage and it was the ideal warming-up to get into the right mood for the festival. Texas Metal band KARION did the rest and these US Metal lads were the first time ever in Europe I suppose. No? Anyway they did a good job, playing the kind of US Power Metal we really adore. High pitched vocals, technical played guitars and of course lots of goodies from their “Iron Shadows” album. This band stood also at the cradle of the Texas Metal scène and it was awesome to have the opportunity to see these lads on stage.

BATTLEAXE contains old warriors and was for sure an important band in the NWOBHM scène. It was the era of bands like Iron Maiden and Saxon and we all know what happened with them during these decades. Along with Satan, Angel Witch and a few other bands Battleaxe didn’t succeed to break through but it didn’t stop them from releasing a classic album, “Burn This Town” which was re-released with a new front cover last year. Meanwhile Battleaxe released a new album in 2014, one I bought on the festival. A first listen in the car, on the way back home, sounded good. The band did a real good job and proved once again that oldies are still capable performing good and dynamic gigs. Lots of old tracks came in our direction and Battleaxe was surprisingly good. It was the first time I had the chance to see this band, probably a disgrace in the knowledge how old this formation really is, but I hope it won’t be the last time. Battleaxe was ‘Ready To Deliver’ and burned Lauda-Köningshofen in the afternoon of this first day!

HEXX was one of the surprising acts if I saw them appear on the line-up last year, on the flyer for this year to be exactly. It’s another great US Metal band that changed in styles during their career. With two original members the band appeared on stage to play songs from their first releases, “No Escape” and “Under The Sun”. The band suffered a mediocre sound and that was a pity. This hall isn’t the ideal place for a good sound but the heavier and more complex the music sounds the harder it is to get that good sound. Nevertheless singer Dennis Manzo still contains a good voice and Hexx was surely appreciated by this international crowd.

In the Gemany Metal scène SINNER already belongs to the older bands. This band has always been true to Metal and although I don’t know all of their albums I do know they released some real goodies. Playing on their home ground the chance of failing was very little. I saw the band before and I know they always do what they need to do; playing dynamic Heavy Metal. No difference this time and supported by the German crowd the band could lift itself up to a higher level! Real good performance and a band that should visit the lowlands more often if you would ask me.

One of the gigs I was looking forward to the most was without any doubts WARRIOR. I never had the chance to see this band before and their first release, “Fighting For The Earth” still remains a classic album in the history of Heavy Metal. It was a bit ‘wait and see’ who would appear as singer for this concert. I was hoping for Perry McCarty, although a little voice in my head told me this dream could never come true. This man has one of these voices that breathes anything what Metal really is about. But no, Sean Peck, from Cage, appeared on the stage. No real disappointment because Sean Peck really is a good singer and I saw him several times before with Cage, always performing outstanding. Almost the entire first album was performed by the band and that was what this public was longing for! Tracks like “Only The Strong Survive” and “Mind Over Matter” easily set the place on fire. Warrior also brought us some tracks from the other albums but of course their most famous song “Fighting For The Earth” delivered that magic touch why we all came to Laud-Köningshofen! The band contains great musicians and one after another blistering solo was heading our way, the way only Americans can! Joe Floyd was, as far as I know, the only original member and I really hope he keeps this band alive. Anyway Sean Peck announced, bit of less, a new album next year. Was it a good performance? Without any doubt although, in my opinion, Sean Peck isn’t the ideal singer for Warrior! Especially his higher screams missed the effect from the original. But I was satisfied, no doubts!

                                   

                                                                                                                                       

I saw FLOTSAM & JETSAM a few weeks ago as one of the support acts of Sepultura. I admit that I went to Antwerp just to see Flotsam & Jetsam.  I am, as most people, a big fan of their very oldest releases and the fact that almost the entire play-list was filled with tracks from “No place for disgrace” was the main reason to go to this show. As usual the band was good that day but no one could deny the band was playing with the brake on. Especially Eric AK saved his voice by rarely using his high pitched voice, which made him so Godlike in the Eighties. I do understand this man and just as it is on the re-recorded “No place for disgrace” the listener hears a fantastic band…but not the magic Flotsam & Jetsam. A few years ago I also saw the band at the KIT Festival and then Eric AK was screaming his brains out! I was quite sure he would do this again today and if I was right. From the beginning until the end Flotsam & Jetsam played as a bunch of youngsters. What a performance! The best one I have ever seen from these Americans. “Hammerhead”, “She Took An Axe”, “No Place For Disgrace”, “Dreams Of Death” and all other classics were played with Eric AK in a leading role, charismatic as always! This man still has the skills and the crowd thanked him and the entire band for this unbelievable performance! What a gig, what a show! The band is still alive and their album “The Cold” was a true masterpiece. But witnessing a gig with only old school classics felt like seeing Venice and die… The brilliance of this Thrash Metal band was proved again and I felt about 25 years younger while watching this unique concert. I don’t know if any band could succeed doing better on this edition of KIT!

                                              

                                                                                                                    

JAG PANER is a home band on this German festival. The band appeared already several times on this stage and Harry Conklin is almost any year a guest on KIT. I saw him, besides Jag Panzer, with Titan Force and Satan’s Host what proves Oliver (the main man behind KIT) is a big fan and I suppose a big friend. I can already say Titan Force will be one of the bands for the next edition but first it was at Jag Panzer to show they were the well-deserved headliner. For this gig an old guitar hero, Joey Tafolla, was announced.. It’s incredible that Oliver succeeded in bringing this line-up on the stage!

                                                                                                         

This was an old school show on which the entire “Ample Of Destruction” album was performed. As always Jag Panzer is amazing on stage and it was exciting to see this gig. I admit I’m in particular a bigger fan of the later works of Jag Panzer but no one can deny this was a very good and exclusive gig. It was not that hard for Jag Panzer to make the crowd go wild with songs like “Warfare” and “Generally Hostile”, two pearls on this specific record! Great performance and if you would ask me Jag Panzer should play there at least once in two years! The question is of course if Jag Panzer still active or are they finally disbanded?

               

                                                                                            

DAY TWO

Due to some car problems I missed the gigs of IRON KINGDOM and NIGHT DEMON and that’s a shame because I really wanted to see these bands. First band on stage I saw on Saturday was the Spanish Iron Curtain. These guys totally play in the spirit of that famous Eighties sound and it was a pleasure seeing these guys acting on stage. Same counts for the next two bands, old Metallers Deceased, already fronted in 1984 and the Americans from PERSIAN RISK. This crowd adores this kind of bands and I suppose it must give an enormous kick, as a musician, to have the honour playing at a festival like this one. You don’t hear me say they brought memorable moments to me but it was exciting seeing this guys at stage.

I know lots of people were looking forward to see VARDIS. This is a pretty special band, in particular because of their bluesy style once and a while. This trio plays NWOBHM and I read it was 27 years ago they have ever been on a stage. Strange because these legends seemed to play as they have never left the scène. It was a good gig that this crowd highly appreciated, playing tracks from their albums “100 MPH” and “The World’s Insane”

Also this band was playing a home game and it was rather incredible to see how successful they were here in the local sport hall. ATLANTEAN KODEX is heading from Münich as far as I know  to deliver us a great gig full of Epic Doom Metal tracks. This kind of Metal is always wanted by the KIT public and I admit the band delivered a very good show. Great musicians, fronted by a very good singer, delivering us one after another great song. From the debut album “The Golden Bough” and the follow up record “The White Goddess” the band excited us for about almost an hour.

Although Warrior was the only of my favourite bands I never saw before I was looking forward the most to the gig of LETHAL. I saw this band a few years ago and I know they were Godlike then. This kind of Progressive Power Metal is just my thing, I adore technical played instruments when mixed with good melody and a first class singer. Before the gig I heard Tom Malicoat was pretty drunk and this man came on stage to take the microphone and talk a little bit to the crowd. Some kind of fear took part of me because I witnessed drunk singers on stage before, being responsible for a painful failure of their band. But no, Tom had everything under control and with the band he blew us all away! Lethal is still in big shape and the tragic death of guitar player Eric Cook (Rest in peace brother!) didn’t stop the band performing another memorable moment in the history of the Keep It True Festival. How perfect does these songs sound from “Programmed”? Just brilliant and I’m quite sure the entire crowd was impressed again by Lethal. This was without any doubts one of the highlights of the festival and I doubted anybody could do any better. On Youtube there are already clips from this concert, check them out! The only thing I missed was some merchandise God Damned!

                                           

                                                                                                                                     

Who could ever imagine that TOXIK would ever reunite? Okay, they reformed a few years ago and they should have appeared earlier on this stage but still it’s a wonder to me. This eighties Thrash Metal band released two memorable albums in the eighties and their performance on the Dynamo Open Air Festival is still branded in the memories of those who were there. I wasn’t, I saw the band the day before and now, uncountable years later, they are here. Awesome! Toxik has always been a technical Thrash Metal band, without losing their feelings for some good melody and that made them so popular. Taking off with “Heart Attack” they immediately set this place on fire and some spectacular mosh pits were formed at once. Mike Sanders, from the first album, is again behind the microphone and let me assure you this guy still contains his golden voice. It seems like time never had any grip on his talent and that lifts the band up to a high qualitative level. I feared the fact the band played with only one guitar player, as on the debut album, but that seemed to be no problem. Thanks to a fantastic drummer, Jason Bittner from Shadows Fall, Toxik could hold a powerful sound with remarkable double bass drums. What we heard were all the classic tracks from the old albums but also a new song. Toxik selled a few downloads at the festival, downloads from new songs, but I doubt this public bought them. This is an old school crowd so vinyl or a CD would have been far better. Anyway, Toxik is still alive, did an outstanding job and will tour Europe, to play at the Alcatraz Festival in Belgium in August. Be there! (http://www.alcatraz.be).

               

                                                                                                                                                      

Time flies when you’re having a good time so it was already time for the ultimate headliner of this edition, METAL CHURCH. It’s  the band that played last year at the Headbangers Open Air Festival and they were just brilliant. Playing all the old school classics made this a memorable concert and only therefore I was excited to see the band appear at KIT for the very first time.

                                      

 

 

Taking off with “Ton Of Bricks” and “Start The Fire” it was no public to make this crowd go wild and it stays incredible to see how energetic this public really is. It made an immediate reflex to the band on stage, playing as this was their very last concert. “Badlands”, “ Fake Healer” and a few songs from the new album “Generation Nothing” were played and Ronnie Munroe seems to be in a big form. This man sounds good on the songs of the David Wayne era and the Mike Howe era, which makes him the perfect front man of Metal Church. The sing along song “Gods Of Wrath” was a magic moment, giving me the cold shivers I need at a festival like this one. “Watch The Children Pray” was another highlight, making the public leaving rather speechless behind!

Fantastic gig from Metal Church and it’s a very good reason to go see them at Graspop this summer. It was a pity I couldn’t make it to Eindhoven at Sunday to see them at the Dynamo club with Toxik but the knowledge I will see both bands this summer eases the pain.

 

    

  

Metal Church ended another fantastic edition of the best festival on earth. I know, I didn’t visit them all but KIT, along with Alcatraz Festival, easily belong to my favourite ones. The atmosphere, this particular Eighties mood, the international friendly crowd, the first class Metal bands… It’s just fantastic. The next edition is almost sold out which is pretty logic with bands like Exciter (original line up), Titan Force, Riot, Uli Jon Roth (special Scorpions show), Leatherwolf, At War, Shok Paris…  More bands will be announced soon and if you want a ticket, buy it now! We’ll be there again anyway!

 

                                                                                               KEEP IT TRUE OFFICIAL HOMEPAGE