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Bang Your Head Festival at the Kulturfabrik in Esch/Alzette (27th November 2016) [06 Dec 2016|10:14am]
The tenth edition of the Bang Your Head Festival in Luxemburg unfortunately is also the final edition of this festival. The first two editions were still held in a smaller pub (remember the 911 in Belvaux) before switching over to the bigger venue of the Kulturfabrik. Although the change of location implicated the booking of bigger acts like Neaera, Hatesphere, Heaven Shall Burn and many more, I never visited this festival which for my taste went too much into metalcore and deathcore. But when I heard which bands were booked to headline the final edition, it was obvious to buy my tickets early in advance.

Although Exodus and Prong are thrash acts from my youth, the youth of today doesn’t seem to care too much about thrash metal. This explains why there weren’t more than maximal 300 spectators at a well organised festival. As the acts were playing on two different stages, there were no breaks between two live sets. Furthermore the organizers cared to be punctual which is necessary when you have booked ten bands that are supposed to play from 5 pm to 1 am.

The festival got opened by INHUMAN RAMPAGE, a new and promising metalcore act from Luxemburg. I am familiar with the material from the first album and think that there is enough potential behind this band. But as I am meanwhile 46, I think that 10 bands a day is just a bit too much for me.

So I only arrived at the Kulturfabrik when KITSHICKERS started to play. The band has been active for about 20 years and has meanwhile achieved its third period. A big change compared to the two previous ones is that founding member Gilles now only plays guitars and the vocals are done by An Apple A Day frontman Yann who shows that he’s able to do more than just growling into the microphone. This change was the right choice done by the band. First of all, the sound done by the Kulturfabrik technicians was overwhelming. Each instrument could be distinguished thanks to a clear sound and it’s nothing new when I tell you that the band has for great instrumentalists. This monumental rock music fascinated me from the first to the last note. Pascal and I found it quite amusing that Gilles wore a white and green striped shirt which made him look like Waldo from the famous children’s books.

FRACTAL UNIVERSE from Nancy was another early highlight of this year’s BYH edition. The band is playing an extreme mixture of prog metal and death metal. I was surprised that the band is able to play its long and complex tracks on stage on the same high level than in the studio. Furthermore, Fractal Universe was the only band with a good sound in the small venue. From a technical point of view, Franctal Universe surely was the most impressing act of the evening.

DELUGE from Metz were a bit disappointing. On CD, the post metal played by the four French musicians works quite good. The combination of early 90ies black metal with ambient passages and lots of rain samples is quite entertaining, but tonight, the strident sound and a bad acoustic were a bit too much for my ears. Furthermore Pascal and I started getting hungry. We didn’t have too much confidence into the African food truck that didn’t give too much information about its menus. So we decided to go over to the pizzeria at the other side of the road where we got tasty food. We missed the rest of the Déluge set and the local matadors MILES TO PERDITION, a best known Luxemburgish band that is especially known for its talents on stage.

Quite amusing was our return to the Kulturfabrik as we witnessed Australia’s strangest weirdos KING PARROT. These gentlemen play no music which is easy to digest. I’ve been listening to some songs in my car and decided that this surely isn’t the right soundtrack for driving. But this was a real positive surprise on stage. Germany’s punk legend Die Kassierer probably is the only more asocial band that I’ve ever seen live on stage. Some musicians were topless and showing their big bellies. Furthermore they were yelling at the audience and splashing water to the fans in the first rows. The music was not to complicated and may be described as a mixture of hardcore, punk and sludge metal. This was surely entertaining when you had a secure distance to the band.

Pascal and I have meanwhile 90 years when we add our ages. We aren’t fit anymore to stand during a show during hours and hours. So we decided to go over to the Ratelach, a nice café that is part of the Kulturfabrik. Although this place is quite comfortable, there weren’t too many people present so that we got two chairs and a table. We drank a beer in quite a relax way and Pascal always thought too add each drink to his recently downloaded beer counter app. The only disadvantage of our disgression to the Ratelach was that we missed BENIGHTED, a brutal death metal band from France.

My intention was of course to take a break to come back to forces before PRONG, one of my all-time favourite metal bands, started to play. ‘Third From The Sun’, although it is no Prong original, but a cover version by a band called Chrome, still is one of my favourite tracks after so many years.  The band only had 40 minutes to play and there wasn’t unfortunately time to play this killer track. But Prong still showed how to play groove metal as its best and presented some more recent material, but also some classics like ‘Beg To Differ’ and ‘Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck’. The only remaining founding member is singer and guitar player Tommy Victor who is already 50 and still in great shape. After the end of the set, I’d really have loved to hear some more Prong songs. I hope that this band will one day come back to Luxemburg as a headliner.

Tonight I was in the mood for metal heroes of my past. DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT was playing something completely different and this extreme and fast kind of black metal didn’t go into my mind today. ‘Unstille’ and ‘Stellar’ are two albums by the band I really appreciate, but today was the wrong place and wrong time for DWEF. Furthermore I had the impression that the sound contained too many high notes. And even if there are only 250 spectators occupying and small venue of the Kulturfabrik, this place gets too crowdie and sweaty for my taste. So I preferred having another beer at the Ratelach.

EXODUS was announced as tonight’s headliner and these thrash metal veterans accomplished their mission without the slightest problems. I already saw Exodus live two years ago when they were opening for Testament at the Atelier. At this time, the singer was Rob Dukes and that didn’t interest me too much. This time the long-time singer Steve Souza was on stage and this man, meanwhile aged 52, could impress the crowd that immediately formed a mosh pit when the first notes started. I preferred being some meters away from that vicious circle and enjoyed a kind of voyage into the past as Mr Souza still has the same voice and the same energy as nearly 30 years ago. Pascal thought that Sublind’s singer Luca could look like him in 25 years and I must admit that there is a certain resemblance. The band presented of course some newer songs and was even talking about a forthcoming album release in 2017, but even if this material was more than decent, everyone liked to listen to classics like ‘And Then There Were None’, ‘A Lesson In Violence’ and ‘Bonded By Blood’ just to name a few.  After this gig, I was totally tired and it was time to get home and have some hours of sleep before my daughter could wake me up.

I’m pretty sure that the organizers The Schalltot Collective have hoped to attract more spectators with such an awesome (and surely not cheap) package. I hope that this last BYH edition hasn’t become a financial disaster. As this kind of music didn’t fill the hall today and also in the past, I understand that the Schalltot crew doesn’t want to organize any more BYH festivals. Maybe someone else will take care of the organisation. A perfect timing, a well behaving audience and great bands are only some reasons to do it again. My only two negative points come from my belly. First there could be a more various food program and secondly, the beer served in the big venue was quite warm. 
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Wacken Open Air Metal Battle at the Kulturfabrik in Esch-sur-Alzette (19th March 2016) [20 Mar 2016|11:37am]
The Metal Battle is one of the events I try never to miss. I don’t really care about the competitive nature of such contests, but it is a perfect opportunity to see (often young) bands play under professional circumstances concise 20 minute gigs.
Tonight I arrived at 8pm and was surprised by the long queue in front of the Kulturfabrik. There had been no presale, and because of this strange Buddy List thing where you get in 2 euros cheaper when you’re on the list of one of the bands, the entrance process was really slowed down. This absolutely should be changed in the future, like for instance doing a presale and then let people decide on the inside whom they want to root for. Like one vote per ticket, for instance.
I tried my hardest to follow the shows of most bands, but some kept me more interested than others. So I allow myself to just briefly give a few short impressions, in chronological order.

  1. Heaven’s Scum
    I saw them a few weeks ago opening for Sleepers’ Guilt, and got the impression that tonight’s show was better. Their death thrash metal is mostly dwelling in mid-tempo territory, and that works ok for twenty minutes, but frankly I would like a wider dynamic range in their sound. The guitarists did good work though, and Ben is a truly impressive frontman with his 2m height.

  2. Elysian Gates
    I was really looking forward to seeing them play live, as I had always missed their shows before. Their music works really well on CD, but their live performance needs working on. The band started with their new single “Crossroads”, and the first minute or so you didn’t hear any vocals at all. This improved over the course of the song, but the sound was not optimal. The bass guitarist played some really great notes but was for instance too loud in the mix. Elysian Gates ended their set with the quarter hour long Northern Winds, possibly not the wisest choice under the circumstances. Four shorter tracks would have given the jury a better impression of the band.
    Elysian Gates were also the only band tonight that played a mellower kind of metal, and if you like progressive symphonic metal, they are just what you are looking for. Furthermore they were the only one with female members. New vocalist Noémie was quite the eyecatcher in her sexy evening gown, and guitarist Sue is probably one of the very few metal guitarists / songwriters in Luxembourg.

  3. Feradur
    They are one of the less visible bands in Luxembourg so far, which is why I was really grateful to see them play live tonight. Feradur play melodic death metal which is also open for other influences. One song for instance was incredibly groovy, but in a good way and not that tough motherfucker kind of attitude. Their German vocalist was your archetypical hipster, complete with lumberjack shirt and moustache. You had to see it to believe it. So this was no perfect set, but was intriguing enough to make them one of the best performances of the evening.

  4. Another From Above
    Everyone agreed that they had really great stage presence, but is this still metal? There was a lot of jumping around on stage, but I really felt thirty years too old for this really young band. Their fans probably averaged seventeen years, and were really into it, and I am happy for them, but they made me think if maybe we need two Metal Battles. One for old school metal and one for the metalcore kids?

  5. Soulhenge
    And what happened next was quite unbelievable. Soulhenge’s first EP a few years ago was already quite promising, and it was clear that these guys would improve, but tonight’s show really saw a strongly improved band. The two guitarists outdid themselves with their weird guitars. One played an eight string instrument with a really broad neck, while the other had one with strangely diagonal frets. Never knew something like this existed. So these djentlemen played an incredibly progressive take on metalcore, and at times they felt like the songs of early Eighties King Crimson digging into metal. Frankly no band tonight could outdo what Soulhenge did.

  6. Miles To Perdition
    And yet, sometimes fate is in favour of the more experienced bands, like Miles To Perdition, who played their third time on a Metal Battle, and tonight finally won. Deserved? Well, they are an incredibly tight playing band, and their melodic death metal is total destruction, but considering how often they participated already, I really would have liked one of the younger bands to win.

Cosmogon played as special guest before the result was announced, and I apologise to the band for missing them.
Maybe the Kulturfabrik should use both its stages for the Metal Battle, thus minimising the breaks between bands. Usually they were alright, but sometimes longer than the actual sets. Yet all in all, this was one of the better Metal Battle events in Luxembourg.
Looking forward to the next one already.
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Coal Chamber, Soil, Blood Runs Deep, Diablo Blvd at Kulturfabrik (Esch/Alzette) (2nd June 2015) [03 Jun 2015|10:31am]
Tuesday night and so far the warmest day of the year! Probably not the best conditions to go to a show in a maybe hot and sticky venue. So there were maybe 200 spectators that decided to go nevertheless to the Kulturfabrik to see the comeback of the metal band Coal Chamber that definitely had its best time in the late 90ies.
American Head Charge, an American groove metal band who – just like Coal Chamber - did a comeback on Napalm Records, were announced as co-headliners, but had to cancel the show. They got replaced by two smaller bands. The show started already at 7 pm and BLOOD RUNS DEEP from Switzerland had to play the opener. As I arrived only at 7:45, I missed this gig entirely and can’t write anything about it. The second band of this evening were DIABLO BLVD from Belgium. This band played a well done mixture of hard rock and heavy metal, but somehow they didn’t bring the audience to catch fire. Obi thought that the musicians looked like the Luxemburgish band The Barcodes. Anyway they had quite a rocker image and I thought that this was like a heavier version of Volbeat. At the end of the show, the singer said that this surely was the worst audience of his career, but that he enjoyed the show nevertheless.
The situation wasn’t easy for the opening acts. First of all, the audience came to see Coal Chamber and no one else. Secondly, lots of people preferred to enjoy the last sunrays of the still warm evening. That wasn’t too good for the American hard rock band SOIL. The interest wasn’t too big and only half of the spectators were inside. The band gave its best to excite the audience, but all efforts were in vain. After each song, there was a decent applause, but nothing more. Only the last track, a cover version of Ram Jam’s ‘Black Betty’, got a better response. It’s a pity that the cover version is more popular than the band’s own music.
Finally the situation completely changed when COAL CHAMBER started to play at 9:45 pm. OK, it started to get darker and chillier outside, but that wasn’t all. Coal Chamber are still playing groove metal as they did at the turn of the millennium. Surely this sound (especially the monotonous guitar riffs) hasn’t passed the test of time, but it was entertaining nevertheless. Not only because Nadja Peulen is the world second prettiest bass player (there is still Nathalie Haas from Lost In Pain), but the band was acting in an absolute professional way on stage. The band has a huge song repertoire and the audience (a big amount them looked as if they could act in a Mad Max or the Lost Boys movie) was extremely familiar with the material. The band presented a balanced choice of old and new material, but songs from the first self-titled album (1997) were the audience’s favourite ones. I really was surprised by myself that I amused this oldies party so much.
June is a good and exciting month for Luxemburg’s metal community. There are still great bands this month like Testament, Exodus, Mastodon, Judas Priest, Motörhead,… that will visit us. But yesterday again, you heard more people speak French than Luxemburgish. On shows, I have often the impression that there are more spectators from France and Belgium than from Luxemburg. Our neighbours are of course welcome, but it’s a pity that the national music fans don’t show too much interest in the shows. Luxemburg has namely nowadays a really hot concert scene and the offer is not only bigger, but much more various than a quarter of a century ago.  
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ELYSIAN GATES at Plectrum Bar (Weiler-La-Tour) (5th December 2014) [06 Dec 2014|07:52pm]
[ mood | OK ]

Finding the way to the Plectrum Bar wasn’t an easy venture. As I confused Schlammesté with rue Schlammesté, my navigation system first brought me to a typical Luxemburgish ‘Bopebistro’ (pub for old farts) and I knew immediately that something was wrong. Having a closer look at the concert flyer, I saw my mistake, corrected the navi info and found out that I was more or less a mile away from the Plectrum Bar.

This is quite a nice place where I’ve never been before.  The reason which brought me into this kind of no man’s land was the concert by Luxemburgish symphonic metal band Elysian Gates. I have already heard some of their songs and especially the new tracks with the new singer Jelena show that the band is actually making some huge progress. The Plectrum bar isn’t so huge, but I think that the nearly 100 spectators filled more or less two thirds of the space. The most prominent spectator surely was our environment minister Carole Dieschbourg who was hot dressed and her pullover was revealing parts of a big tribal tattoo covering her back. A present friend from Germany thought that his government can’t present a similar good looking minister.  But also members of different Luxemburgish thrash and death metal bands had been present which is quite unusual for a symphonic metal show.

The reason for this show was indeed to promote the new single ‘Northern Winds’ which may be bought on different digital platforms. But this is no ordinary single, but a benefit campaign in favour of Sea Shepherd, a non-profit organization that’s caring about the rights of the whales around the Faeroe Islands. If you buy the song online, a certain amount of the costs will be spent in favour of the organization. Furthermore, the band has shot a video clip with material offered by Sea Shepherd and it may be watched for free on Youtube.  Members of the comity were present too with a rather small merchandise and info table. Before the band was playing ‘Northern Islands’, Sea Shepherd Luxemburg president Yasmine came on stage to thank the band for its support.

The Elysian Gates set itself didn’t begin to well. The keyboards had been too loud and it was difficult to hear properly the vocals. After two songs, the volume of the vocals increased, but the keyboards still remained too hard. But it is obvious that it is harder to get a decent sound in a bar than in a larger club or venue. A thing that I saw for the first time was a Plexiglas palisade standing in front of the drum kit. This should help to decrease the noises made by the cymbals and in fact, the drum sound was ok. Some evil tongues said that this item was meant to protect the drummer from flying vegetables and eggs. After a couple of songs, the nervousness among the musicians seemed to be cast away and the set got better and better. Of course, ‘Northern Winds’ got a big feedback by the audience, but the actual highlight of the set was the first single ‘Seven Angels’ which was played in the longer album version lasting nearly a quarter of an hour. This song doesn’t get out of my mind anymore. It’s a fine example how symphonic metal has to sound. Bands like Edenbridge, Tristania, Leaves Eyes, etc would be proud of such a song among their repertoire. At the end, there was an encore, namely a cover version of the 80ies disco hit ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ originally performed by Ultravox.

It was good for Elysian Gates to be back on stage. The last gig took place four months ago. This band is ready to be on stage more often. Two critics must be named at the end. First of all, some of the male musicians wore too much make up, especially when you consider that Halloween took place over a month ago. Some musicians could move a bit more, but that’s of course difficult when six musicians are sharing quite a small stage.  But these are only minor critics that the band has to confront. Now I’d like to see Elysian Gates perform in one of Luxemburg’s three big venues.


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Eluveitie, Arkona, Skálmöld at the Kulturfabrik in Esch-sur-Alzette, 3rd December 2014 [05 Dec 2014|12:59pm]
In Luxemburg, you cannot complain that there aren’t enough metal concerts. Compared to the situation in the early 90ies, there has really been a big improvement. For the beginning of December, the Kulturfabrik has book a real interesting package if you are into folk metal. The three bands come from three countries known for cold winters and I suppose that they must have brought some snow. How else would you explain the first snowflakes of this season?

A few minutes after 8 pm, Skálmöld from Iceland (even if they were announced as a Swedish band on the ticket) entered the stage. The six men (with three guitars and keyboards) were playing songs from their three CDs, although most of them came understandably from the actual release ‘Med Vaettum’. I was surprised that the venue was already quite crowded at this early moment. People seemed to be familiar with the sound of Skálmöld as the band got a positive response from the beginning to the end. The lyrics in Iclandic language created already a slightly exotic sound, but Skalmöld had far more to offer than just this gimmick. The volume inside the Kulturfabrik was quite loud and the decibel display didn’t work. The music was quite brutal, but the musicians always found some time for more melodic and folky moments. Most of the vocals done by Björgvin Sigurdsson are growls that are fitting to the heavy sound. But sometimes two other members are also contributing some shrieks and cleaner vocals. The stage presence was well studied and the musicians had always been trying successfully to communicate with the audience. By the way, Luxemburg’s most popular Icelander Thorunn Egilsdottir wasn’t among the audience

The Skalmöld performance had been great, but I was still looking more forward to Arkona from Russia, surely one of my favourite folk metal bands.  Contrary to Skalmöld, Arkona were not dressed in black, but opted for medieval dresses that were fitting to the music. Another difference was the use of traditional instruments like flutes, bagpipes, zhaleikas, balalaikas and some more. The centre of attraction surely was singer Maria Archipowa, a metal pendant to Maria Sharapowa. Especially the wolf skin about her body was looking tremendous. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had killed the beast with her own teeth and hands. If you are familiar with The Songs Of Fire And Ice, be sure that the Kingslayer would have called her a wench. Not only her look was impressing, her voice had so many facets (growls, shouts, harsh voice, clear voice,…) that Angela Gossow could have become jealous. But her musicians supported her well with cleverly arranged song structures.  The balance between metal riffs and pagan moments was an optimal choice. Most folk elements came from the Balkan, but there had also been some more Celtic sounding tunes. Again the sound was a bit too loud so that I preferred to watch the whole spectacle further away from the stage.  

Eluveitie from Switzerland had been this evening’s headliners and now nearly everyone of the more or less 700 spectators was inside the main venue. But I had to admit that it wasn’t Eluveitie that made me move to the Kulturfabrik. Skálmöld had been great and Arkona even far better (surely one of the most exciting acts I ever witnessed at the Kulturfabrik), but I had some trouble to get into the sound of the eight Swiss. The band follows two rather different directions that are only difficult to match. The songs with Christian Glanzmann on vocals are strongly death metal influenced while the songs with Anna Murphy on vocals rather go into a Celtic direction. The instrumentation wasn’t bad at all and the use of traditional instruments like hurdy gurdy, violins, pipes, harps and many more gave the music an interesting touch. But there were three points that were strongly disturbing to me: 1) I just prefer the songs by Skálmöld and Arkona. 2) The volume inside the venue had even become louder. 3) The incoherence between the two Eluveitie styles. Most people were nevertheless enjoying the show that was surely a success for Eluveitie. Nevertheless, I preferred having some beers with two Skalmöld musicians close to the bar. The show was supposed to end at 23:45, but I decided to go home half an hour earlier as I had to do my day job the day after. Congratulations to the KuFa team for this great show. I’d like to see some more mature metal events (not only kiddie metalcore) in the future!
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Bob Mould at the Rockhal in Esch-sur-Alzette (11th November 2014) [12 Nov 2014|06:31pm]
While our French speaking neighbours were celebrating Armistice Day, and the Germans to the East the beginning of their Carnival season, Luxembourg was happy to welcome Bob Mould, one of the most important figures in American punk history. Starting in the late Seventies with Hüsker Dü, originally a hardcore punk band before turning more melodic, he also had a successful indie career in the early Nineties with Sugar, and of course also a very active solo career covering everything from singer/songwriter over electro to punk rock.

Tonight he came with two musicians on a punk rock mission, but first we had to suffer through a gig from British post punk trio Young Knives. These guys may have more than a decade’s worth of album releases, but they were totally unfitting to open for Bob Mould. Their sound had this modern thing where the guitarist either plays single notes, or when he plays chords, he doesn’t play them well or interestingly. This was the kind of music the kids listen to at local festivals like Rock-A-Field or Sonic Visions, but it was at the wrong place with the more mature audience tonight. Was this some pay-to-play thing? Fortunately the schedule was rigid, and the band had to open at half past eight, even though there weren’t many people yet.

At half past nine, it was time for Bob Mould who also had to play in front of only 100 to 200 people. One might think that such a legendary figure should have been able to attract at least twice the amount of fans, but it was the middle of the working week, not the most ideal slot for such a show. Bob Mould may look very unprepossessing, with his bald head, grey beard and glasses, but give him a guitar and 100+ dB, and he will blow your mind. He started the evening with two classics from Hüsker Dü (Flip Your Wig, Hate Paper Doll), before turning to his solo material. What was the most incredible thing was how dynamic his performance was. The sound may not have been optimal, but Bob Mould had such a charisma and gravitas that the audience couldn’t help being mesmerised, even if it meant being half deaf the following day. He played for well over an hour, surprised towards the end with another Hüsker Dü classic (I Apologise), and not only I would have wanted one or two more encores.

I won’t go deeper into the show, because frankly I am only truly familiar with his early days, but he showed tonight, with his really able backing band, that his solo material also still has a lot of punch. If only he showed better taste when it comes to opening acts!
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Miles To Perdition, Cosmogon, Kill The Innocent at the Kulturfabrik in Esch/Alzette, 7 November 2014 [08 Nov 2014|10:45am]
For once, local bands were playing at the Kulturfabrik for a different reason than another album release party. Titled “Do You Even Metal”, this evening was meant to be filmed by half a dozen cameras, to be later released as a budget priced DVD. A valid question is of course why still release DVDs in a time where most people prefer to watch their music on YouTube and the likes, but one can guess that, as the whole endeavour isn’t a commercial one, the video will also soon find its way to the Internet.

Miles To Perdition insisted on using the small venue of the Kulturfabrik, which turned out to be a smart move. This was a free show, so it was a little surprising that there were only about 200 people, many of whom constantly smoking outside, so that the venue was nicely filled but not necessarily crowded. Which was ok for the older generations who apparently need more space to feel comfortable, and also for the young, energetic kids who did their weird 21st century styled moshpits that are so different from the ones we knew back in the Nineties.

First band of the evening were Kill The Innocent, a young metalcore band that has been around for a couple of years now, and it shows. The band was playing very tight, and the two guitarists shared the work nicely between themselves. One played mostly the rhythms which has sometimes a certain hardcore quality, while the other one was in charge of the solos which occasionally came across rather progressive. The band was unlucky to have a really bad sound at first, like all of a sudden there was way too much bass guitar in the mix, giving me the impression that they guy behind the mixing board had bouts of deafness. Later this improved though, although it was never quite optimal. Kill The Innocent’s metalcore is modern, performed at a professional level, combining aggressive modern metal music with lots of gymnastics on and in front of the stage.

Next up were Cosmogon, whose groovy death metal has much more of an old school flair than the two other bands of the evening. The band didn’t have their best day and again this might have been partly to blame on the sound which in this case was unforgivably muddy. With only one guitar, one bass, one drummer and a vocalist, something clearer should have been possible. It still was good fun though, as the vocalist and the guitarists are really furious on stage, looking like regular wild men, while the drummer is providing them with a clockwork precision rhythmic backbone. With a grittiness not unlike Motörhead, Cosmogon are always able to entertain their audiences.

Miles To Perdition ended the evening with a more modern touch. Coming from a metalcore/deathcore background, the quintet has gradually evolved into a finely tuned melodic death metal band. There are no doubts anymore about their skills and talents, and lately they have started to come up with uniforms and a stage design to emphasise the atmosphere of their music. It might feel a little overdone if done half-heartedly, but in the case of Miles To Perdition, it is obvious that they are willing to go all the way. Everything worked in their favour tonight. The song material is tight and perfect, the musicians played flawlessly despite some or many rum shots earlier in the evening, yet what impressed me the most is the way they handled their audience. Where Kill The Innocent earlier seemed a little pouty when people didn’t move that much, Miles To Perdition had a more positive take on such a situation, and it worked.

Nice evening, and even the half dozen cameramen were not obnoxiously hindering the band or the audience. Free entry was nice too, but I guess a small fee of let’s say 5 euros wouldn’t have deterred people to come. Now we only need to wait and see how the video will turn out.
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Retrace My Fragments CD release show at the Rockhal in Esch-sur-Alzette (22nd March 2014) [23 Mar 2014|10:40am]
Those among you who read my recent review of Retrace My Fragment’s first longplayer will certainly understand that there was no way for me not to be at the band’s release show at the Rockhal. The quintet has been around for eight years now, but most of the musicians’ pasts go back to the mid-Nineties.

The conditions were actually ideal. There were not that many competing events going on this evening, and the free entrance should also have encouraged people to come. But when Lorraine based chaos core band Hungry For The Truth entered the stage shortly after 8pm, the Rockhal Club was still very empty. The band’s sound was intriguing, the musicians were really awesome. I especially admired the crazy antics of the guitarist on the right side of the stage. Things were a little more awkward with singer Emilie whose sparse attire certainly caught the attention of the male part of the audience, but her vocals didn’t really strike a chord with me. Her growls and screams were ok, but her melodic parts somehow drowned in the sound. Still, it was a fun half hour set full of musical surprises. The band has been compared to Converge, but I also discerned a late Eighties, early Nineties noise rock component reminiscent of certain AmRep band, and that’s what made the band finally a winner for me.

Next up were An Apple A Day who won last year Luxembourg’s Metal Battle competition. It really showed that the guys acquired a lot of experience in the last year. Their deathcore sound is of course mostly aimed at a younger audience, but the longer they played, the more I made out the subtleties in their sound. Basically their music is really aggressive and straightforward, but the guitarists often come up with incredibly melodic parts that deepen the dynamic impact of the songs. Considering that the band played tonight with a replacement bassist, it has to be said that he did a perfect job too. By this time, there were already more people present, and while that makes me happy for An Apple A Day, it is also somewhat a sad statement that non-local openers too often have a hard time. But maybe it also means that three bands a night would be sufficient. At least it would for me.

Enough about that, and onwards to Heartbeat Parade, a band that most people should also already be familiar with. Formed in 2010 by members of dEFDUMp and Riktus, this trio still plays their mathy post rock core with political voice samples instead of lyrics. Just like that, their performance feels overly didactic to me. And without a text sheet, it is of course sometimes impossible to make out the meaning, as the music is of course loud and drowning out the samples. Most everybody really likes the band, so they must be doing things right. What would make their shows more appealing to me would be, instead of vocal samples, they would work with film projections. Just an idea, guys!

Shorty before 11pm, it was time for the headliner of the evening, and by then I estimate that there were about 200 people inside the Rockhal. Before Retrace My Fragments entered the stage, the audience was treated with an ingenious black and white animation filmed that either was from the Fifties or Sixties, or just a well made retro tribute. Once the quintet was on stage, the projections turned into astronomical science fictional territory, in accordance with the concept of the band’s longplayer “Ethereal Flux” that they were presenting tonight. The question I was asking was if the band were able to reproduce the technical intricacies of their music in a live setting, but it turned out there was no reason to worry. These guys are pure perfectionists, and it was a real pleasure following their music into ever unexpected places. There were two kinds of reactions among the audience. Some were simply amazed at how great these guys have become, while a few others paid them respect but decided that the sound was a little too progressive for them. Which means that Retrace My Fragments have made everything the way it is supposed to be. Comparisons to Between The Buried And Me may be making their rounds, and they do make sense, but RMF are more than that. Let’s hope that they will get all the recognition they deserve with their stellar music.
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Wacken Open Air Metal Battle 2014 at the Kulturfabrik in Esch-sur-Alzette (15th March 2014) [16 Mar 2014|10:17am]
It has become a tradition over the years to check out the bands playing at the Metal Battle. The winner can play another contest during the Wacken Open Air festival, probably the biggest metal festival in the world. I don’t really care who wins, because performances are more important to me than competition, but it has to be said that the winning band, like last year’s An Apple A Day, get a professional live cut that was aired on the German television station NDR and was also streamable on the Internet. What better visiting card can a band have?

The running order is usually kept a secret, so that fans don’t only come to support their band, but this year one band leaked it already to Facebook a couple of hours before the battle started. I doubt though that this made any big impact on when people showed up.

First band of the evening were Kill The Innocent, a young metalcore band that was technically quite adept, with some nice guitar work and occasional arrhythmic fluctuations that left me wondering if this was now a progressive break or some stumble. But let’s leave it in favour of the band. My only problem, and it is a personal one, is that metalcore has outlived its welcome, and if you are not willing to add something new, you might risk sounding like a relic of the early 2000s. In that way, Kill The Innocent still have a long way ahead of them, even if their performance this night was already quite promising and far from amateurish.

Next up were Sleepers’ Guilt, a band whose beginnings were clearly marked by the progressive power metal sound, but with their new singer and guitarist, the quintet has added a groovier thrash sound to the mix. Tonight they were all about experimentation, starting with one of their usual six minute tracks, and then ending their set already with a new song, which made it to nearly twelve minutes. This was of course a rather brash movement, and I dare say it left many people, and probably including the jury, a little baffled. Sleepers’ Guilt are one of the technically most versatile bands in Luxembourg, but I can’t shake the feeling that they are still trying to find their own sound.

The winners of the 2008 edition Everwaiting Serenade decided to give the Metal Battle another try tonight, and of course their performance was tight, well choreographed and brimming with experience. After ten years in the business, you get a self-confidence that most younger bands still lack. But that doesn’t change the fact that even if EWS were today as good as they were six years ago during their most popular time, they may not sound as fresh anymore. Their vocalist has currently a rising career with his rap duo Freshdax, and while I was happy that no rap influences found their way into their set tonight, I left with a been-there-done-that feeling, and that may be time to leave such competitions to newer bands.

And one can’t say now that Cosmogon are young people (apart from their bass player who is not yet in this thirties), but the band hasn’t been around for so long. When ExInferis split up in 2011, three members added the bass player from Babyoil to form Cosmogon, whose sound is still some kind of death metal, but also couldn’t be further away from the more cerebral antics of their former band. In fact Cosmogon combine Gothenburg death’n’roll with gritty stoner rock into something which sounds quite original. They are not really a progressive sounding band, but their sound will surprise you again and again, and their fierce performance also proved that we are in the presence of seasoned veterans. Best performance of the night so far.

Another great show was delivered by Sublind, a band I heard much about but which I saw today for the first time. With bands like Evile and Gama Bomb having spearheaded a new retro thrash movement, it was high time for Luxembourg to get their own old school thrash metal band. And Sublind are unafraid of all the clichés that their genre seems to demand. The cover artwork is a primitive cartoon drawing reminding of Eighties albums by German thrash bands, and their music is also deeply rooted in Teutonic metal. Expect no subtleties, and the performance didn’t always seem very tight tonight, but the guys had tremendous fun on stage, and when they ended their set with their Luxembourgish beer hymn “Humpeknupper”, they had won over the already nicely inebriated audience. All of this might be rather folkloristic, but it was good, dirty fun, and there was even some pogo dancing started.

Last band of the night were Miles To Perdition, another metalcore band that has been around for quite some time already. With a slightly different line-up, they started their set with a tight sound, but that was also the moment when my system was turning into overdrive, when your brain decides that it can’t take any more decibels, and your gut agrees for a whole different, organic chemistry related reason.

Even though I had left by then, it should be noted that Disquiet, a melodic thrash metal band from the Netherlands played a guest set while the jury deliberated.

And while at this moment I haven’t read anything official yet, it seems that Cosmogon will be the band to represent Luxembourg at the Wacken Open Air. And frankly they deserved it. As last year a deathcore band (An Apple A Day) won, I had a feeling that the jury would go tihs year with something more traditional, so no chanced there for Kill The Innocent, Everwaiting Serenade and Miles To Perdition. Sleepers’ Guilt were probably overdoing the experimentations tonight, and Sublind, as charming as they sounded, didn’t yet have the full professionalism needed. This left Cosmogon, a maybe elderly bunch of gentlemen, but who blew everyone away with their dynamite performance tonight. So good luck in Wacken, guys!
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Cradle Of Filth and Behemoth at the Atelier in Luxembourg (19th February 2014) [20 Feb 2014|09:33am]
Even though this was billed as a co-headliner show, the three additional international opening acts made this more of something like a little festival, dare I say of world music, considering that all five bands came from different countries.

I arrived to be more or less on time, and normally getting into Luxembourg-City at 6pm would be purest horror, but as this was a period of school holidays, it was an especially calm rush hour, so that I entered the Atelier shortly after 6pm, when the first band must have just started to play. Svarttjern is a quintet from Norway that has been around for ten years and plays a dirty hybrid of blackened death thrash metal. The sound wasn’t really optimal, with the rhythm guitar leaving little space for the lead guitar, but the corpse painted misanthropes still did the best of the situation and consequently managed to get the 200 to 300 early comers’ positive attention. Svarttjern may not really do anything new, but they sure were the ideal opener for the evening.

After a short break, it was time for a true underground band. Inquisition started already back in the late Eighties in Colombia but moved to Seattle in the mid-Nineties. They have been a guitar and drums duo for a long time now, and frankly that made their sound a little thin of my ears. The audience, which gradually grew by numbers, didn’t seem to care though. Maybe it is in the end more about the artistic value of the corpse paint than it is about the music. But to be honest, Dagon was a hell of a guitar player, and Incubus drummed also quite coherently, as long as he didn’t miss his point of entry, as happened two or three times during their half hour set.

The third band of the evening In Solitude was a huge surprise, as they were standing naked on stage. In this case, this doesn’t mean “no clothes”, but rather “no corpse paint”. Also their music wasn’t black metal or death metal, not even thrash metal or power metal, but just plain, old, good heavy metal. Of course that alone wouldn’t do them justice, because the Swedish quintet had more to offer than just plain formalistic genre music. The singer looked like the illegitimate son of the late Joey Ramone, but acted more like a young Ian Astbury (The Cult) with all the glamour and mystery that entails. In Solitude’s music had a very occult touch, and in that way it did make sense that they participated on this tour. Their songs were also quite great, with a strong Seventies touch and undeniable blues and psychedelic elements, the latter being emphasised by burning incense sticks on the drum kit. The bass guitar had a nice dominant but not domineering sound, while especially the two guitarists were gods, feeding each other guitar solos in best Scandinavian way, as if there were no tomorrow. I guess at this moment there were about 400 people inside the Atelier, while the remaining 300 were less tolerant of unblack metal and preferring to stand outside in the not so cold (despite black metal, still no winter), some even closely huddled around the heat mushrooms that I personally consider a crime against global pollution. But anyway, after forty minutes, In Solitude left the stage and were my personal highlight of the evening.

The next break took a little longer, because Behemoth needed to get their stage set up. The Polish black metal legend has been around for a little over twenty years, and where most bands lose their steam along the way, Behemoth somehow achieved even bigger fame with their latest and well received album “The Satanist”. So it was no surprise that already shortly before they entered the stage with burning torches, the Atelier was neatly filled, and it also struck my attention that there were more women now present inside. The band started their set with their latest hit single “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel”, and from there on, there was nothing much to lose. The audience was going along, and the black metal veterans had an easy game. After four tracks I left, as I do prefer an atmosphere where there is more room to breathe... call me claustrophobic!

Behemoth’s vocalist Nergal is apparently still facing two years in prison in his native Poland for publicly tearing apart a Bible, and considering that he recently survived leukaemia, it would be tragic if he were incarcerated because of some obsolete law from a theocratic government. Tonight the bands were selling t-shirts with such friendly slogans like “Jesus is a cunt” and “Dead girls don’t say no”, and nobody cared, because in the end black metal is just like a good horror movie: the more shocking, the better!

So what about Cradle Of Filth? I once saw them at the same location in 1998, when I went there to watch Napalm Death and Borknagar. Back then, after two songs, I had enough. Cradle Of Filth may very well have some redeeming values, but for me they have always been the band that tried to make black metal mainstream. And also, I had been tonight at the Atelier since 6pm, and after three hours, I had enough noise and beer and had to get home safely.

But still, this was a very nice concert, with an audience of 700 friendly metalheads that once again proved that inverted crosses and pentagrams are much preferable to any hipster infested coolness zone.
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Napalm Death at the Kulturfabrik in Esch-sur-Alzette (3rd July 2013) [06 Jul 2013|05:11pm]
[ mood | relaxed ]

The Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’Art Contemporain has lately often invited underground artists not unfamiliar to the metal community for showcases. I remember fondly the performance of Stephen O’Malley (Southern Lord Records, Sunn O)))) in early January this year. Currently, since May, they have been running the exhibition Altars Of Madness which takes a closer look at the relationships between extreme metal music and art, and should be visited by every self respecting metalhead. You still have time until 15th September to check out this intriguing collection of artworks ranging from paintings over photography to all kinds of installations.

On Wedneyday 3rd July the Casino had organised together with the Kulturfabrik a concert with Napalm Death, the undisputed originators of the grindcore genre who have been active since the Eighties and still show no signs of fatigue. Back in the days I saw Napalm Death once opening for Cradle Of Filth. They truly destroyed and were so amazing that I had to leave after two songs by the black metal divas, so lame was their sound compared to the Birmingham grindsters. I thought this show must have been five to ten years ago, and only now found out, while doing some research on the never forgetting and almighty Internet, that this has been already fifteen long years ago! How time flies…

First of all today should be the presentation of the newest edition of the fanzine Conservative Shithead, the brainchild of art critic Jérôme Lefèvre and artist Damien Deroubaix, both of whom are also the curators of the exhibition Altars Of Madness. Somehow I missed this part of the evening, although I did arrive on time. But still it took quite some time before French grindcore veterans Blockheads finally found their way onto the stage. The band which has been active since the late Eighties still adheres to the early primal sort of grindcore where the songs are rarely any longer than one minute. Starting about a quarter to nine, the quartet truly indulged the audience with twenty-seven songs which made it to three quarters of an hour. Maybe my ears aren’t what they used to be, but I didn’t like the sound very much. The drums were blitzkrieg-fast and ultimately impressive, but then they were also the only thing that I heard well. Guitar and bass somehow got lost in the mix, and while I found the vocals ok at first, I soon grew tired of them. I understand that Blockheads are no up-and-coming newcomers, but still in my opinion they were overstaying their welcome. No matter how many beers I drank, I couldn’t find my way back into their music. Half the length would have made this a nice introduction to the evening, but this longish performance and the obligatory break between sets made it nearly ten o clock before it was finally time for Napalm Death to enter the stage.

Some people may complain that Napalm Death have had so many line-up changes over the years that not a single one founding member is left, but that doesn’t change the fact that the current one has only members that have been in the band for more than twenty years, and the names Barney Greenway, Mitch Harris, Shane Embury and Danny Herrera are no stranger to even semi-literate heavy metal fans. The years have of course left their traces, most of all on burly bass player Shane Embury whose long hair combined with top head baldness looks kind of funny, while vocalist Barney Greenway still looks like a chubby mischievous kid from Birmingham. But then they are not that old, all in their mid-forties, and definitely are still able to show the younger generations how to truly sound extreme.
Sound was also a bit of an issue at first, but the engineer soon found something rather listenable, even though it seems that grindcore is not as easy to configure for a live setting than tamer kinds of metal. The band seemed in a good mood, switched between ancient material and newer songs, with everything in between, and my day finally became a success when they played their hit single “Suffer The Children” from their 1990 album “Utopia Banished”, their first one to feature Greenway on vocals.

I didn’t stay until the end, as this was a weekday show, but I was happy to hear that the grindcore pioneers haven’t lost any of their charm. Barney Greenway’s announcement between songs can be a bit lengthy, and his proud Birmingham accent is not easy to understand for everyone, but he comes across as a funny chap, adding a dose of humour in between the grim music.

I was also pleasantly surprised that about 300 people showed up, a respectful number for a Wednesday night show, especially considering that the same night Dead Can Dance were at the Abbaye Neumunster, The Sword at the Rockhal and Total Chaos in the SoulKitchen. Now please I don’t want to hear any more complaints that Luxembourg is a cultural wasteland!

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Black Flag at the Rockhal in Esch/Alzette (14th May 2013) [15 May 2013|06:54pm]
Reunion shows are always quite unpredictable. Sometimes they are a wonderful trip down memory lane, and at other times, they just disappoint. When you pay nearly 30 Euros admittance fee, you have of course the right to expect something special. The question was: would Black Flag be able to convince their audience tonight.

When Versus You started their local opener set at half past eight, the venue was still quite empty. The Luxembourgish punk quartet started out good enough, found their vibe in the middle of their show when they opted to perform some of their hits, and then made the mistake of ending with a mid-tempo track that was just the wrong choice in my opinion. Apart from that, it was once again clear that they are the tightest local band in matters of catchy pop punk music, and Eric is just one hell of a frontman and lyrical poet. So this was at least a good way to start the evening. Towards the end of their set, I even saw Black Flag’s Greg Ginn standing to my right. The greying gentleman doesn’t really look like a punk rocker anymore, but then I doubt that he has to prove himself to anyone any more. I don’t know if he wanted to check the local punk produce, or rather was waiting impatiently for Versus You to end. But let’s be optimistic and hope it was the former.

Next up were Good For You, another band of Greg Ginn, and fronted by skater legend Mike Vallely. It all started promising enough, with Ginn delivering some crazy sounds on his theremin, and Vallely shouting Fuck You all over again and again. But that was also already the best of it. Rolling Stone magazine once claimed Greg Ginn to be one of the 100 best guitarists in the world, and it is true that he helped defining a truly unique sound that combined the abrasiveness of punk rock with the complexity of free jazz. And he had a good time soloing his fingers crazily through the material, but the songwriting was rather less inspired. The band was chugging through their sludgy mid-tempo material that all too often sounded like a blues band gone bad. Now I know it is my problem for not liking Good For You’s music, but I paid good money to see Black Flag, and was therefore rather frustrated that Good For You only ended their set after a way too long hour. That’s just too much for an opening act, especially when they are supposed to warm the audience up for a legendary band to follow.

The audience, which I guess must have been closer to 200 than 300 people, had to wait through a lengthy break, and then finally Black Flag were on stage. My first surprise was that, apart from the vocalist, these were exactly the same guys as Good For You. Black Flag had in their past such illustrious vocalists such as Keith Morris (Circle Jerks), Dez Cadena (The Misfits) and of course Henry Rollins. But tonight we got Ron Reyes, who only did vocals on one of the band’s early EPs. He was a short and heavy set Hispanic who ran a lot across the stage and screamed like mad, but somehow I couldn’t really get into his antics. And to be sincere, I was really mad that we got to see the same people play twice, with such a long break between the two sets, making me quite paranoid in a way that I wondered if Greg Ginn only used this reunion show to promote his new band Good For You.

This was very unfair to the few people who showed up and paid a price that had certainly nothing in common with the spirit of punk. If Greg Ginn had wanted to make a Good For You tour, I would even have been willing to pay about 15 Euros, but when the price is doubled, I guess I have the right to expect a quality show, which this tonight certainly was not. Shame on you, Black Flag!
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Dan Deacon at the Exit07 in Luxembourg (8th May 2013) [09 May 2013|06:58pm]
Ever since 2007, after the release of “Spiderman Of The Rings”, I was eager to see a live show by American electronic musician and composer Dan Deacon. But it took another two albums and six years before he was finally booked to play at the Exit07, THE ideal location for an artist like him.

Weekday concerts at the Exit07 are usually not ideal for anyone who has to get up at 6 am the following morning, but thanks to this being the night before a public holiday, I had no qualms about going to the show. Why only about 100 people turned up (when the place is sold out for other, in my opinion more banal bands) stays a mystery to me. Of course other concert venues also saw the opportunity to organise concerts on this balmy and fortunately dry Wednesday night, but in the end Dan Deacon is probably just “not cool enough” and possibly way too geeky for the hipster community that one often meets in Hollerich.

But first there was the opening set by Chester Gwazda. His name may sound African, and on his EP “Shroud” (that can be downloaded at Bandcamp for a pay-what-you-want fee) he sometimes dabbles with African polyrhythms, but tonight he came strapped on with an electric guitar and was joined by a drummer. A lot of the sounds still came from the hard disk (we no longer say: from the tape machine, this being the 21st century after all), but still what he performed during his half hour show was purest pop music that reminded of very early Of Montreal and They Might Be Giants, with maybe a hint of the Beach Boys. He was dressed in a very red sweater, and his cap looked like one of those freebies paint companies give away at trade shows, but that only added to the innocence of his act. His songwriting ranged from good to the truly excellent, and his brittle voice perfectly fitted the music. He didn’t move around too much on stage, and the drummer also wasn’t really a madman, but that is more than understandable as both of them were also part of Dan Deacon’s live band. The audience rather liked the music, even if some opted to stay outside, but all in all this was quite a success for Mr Gwazda.

It must have been shortly after 11 pm when the venue filled up nicely with the audience who now were all inside. The left side of the stage was taken up by Chester Gwazda and his drummer on the outside, while on the right side was the table of Dan Deacon and a second drummer. Before the show was to begin, Dan Deacon told a strange story in which he included the audience from the start. This would happen more frequently during his ninety minute set, especially the first half. Dan Deacon may not look like your typical rock star. He has an ample body, not too much hair left on his head, but instead sports quite a sizeable beard, and he is also wearing nerdy glasses. His shirt was also one of the more tasteless variety. But that didn’t prevent him from being a truly outstanding entertainer who is not only not shy of involving the audience, but also quite confident that his often silly orders will be followed. For instance during the second track of his set, Konono Ripoff No. 1 (a new single recently released as his contribution for the Record Store Day), he picked two people from the audience to animate all the others to imitate their dance moves. Normally you would think that this could never work in Luxembourg, but Dan Deacon proved us wrong. One of his more adventurous stunts later on consisted of having all the spectators create a dynamic bridge under which everybody else had to move to become the next link of the bridge, etc., all through the yard and back inside. First of all it’s again surprising (or maybe not, knowing Dan Deacon), that this worked, and even more so that the Exit07 is known for NEVER opening the glass doors to the courtyard. A final highlight was of course the song during which half the audience showed off that they had downloaded the free Dan Deacon app (available for Android and iPhone), providing thus an unexpectedly hypnotic light show, even though I have to admit that holding your smartphone up in the air all the time is tiring for the arms. Hats off though to Dan Deacon for giving people a meaningful way to use their phones at a live show.

So much about his antics, but the music was of course also excellent. While he and Gwazda were playing the synthesizers (with Dan Deacon often pottering around on strange electronic devices), the two drummers delivered a furious rhythmic backbone so that the music made it entirely without programmed beats, which in my experience is quite rare for an electronic live performance, and therefore made it also more accessible to people normally not interested in that kind of music.

While I am still best familiar with Dan Deacon’s first major album “Spiderman Of The Rings”, and therefore especially liked his renditions of “Crystal Cat” and an unfortunately rather abridged version of his über-hit “Wham City”, I also quite liked his concluding “America” from his latest album, which tonight wasn’t as long as on the album, but probably still made it to fifteen minutes.

Dan Deacon is one of the rare artists who is not only an incredible musician and composer, but also a hilarious entertainer, and while he would have deserved more people to witness his genius tonight, I am still rather grateful because the lesser density inside the venue allowed for better audience participation.

I only couldn’t stand the music selection before the show, consisting of Beyoncé, Spice Girls and other such crap. But the following live sets made up for that little misgiving.
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Out Of The Crowd Festival X at the Kulturfabrik in Esch/Alzette (20th April 2013) [21 Apr 2013|10:35am]
[ mood | contemplative ]

Until last year, I never missed a single Out Of The Crowd Festival, but for the ninth edition, things became a little too predictable for me so that I decided with a heavy heart to skip it for once. This year I gave it another go, considering it was the festival’s tenth anniversary, but let’s face it: the mix of mathy indie rock bands and modern dismal electronica starts giving the OOTC a somewhat foreseeable image, making it harder and harder to truly make astonishing discoveries.

This year the festival was co-organised by the Kulturfabrik and the Exit07, the latter probably in charge of the more electronic artists. The Kulturfabrik stage was in the big room, while the Exit07 stage was located where in the smaller one where you normally find the bar during regular concerts.

The first band started playing at 4pm, and when I was younger I always took care to be there from the beginning, but even then I often missed out on the headliners to either fatigue or excessive beer consumption. So today I arrived at 7pm, just in time to miss the omnipresent Monophona, a band which is highly praised by nearly everyone but still not reason enough for me to like their sound.
British indie rockers Tall Ships had just started their set at the Kulturfabrik stage, and while Wikipedia calls them an experimental band, I had a hard time coming to the same conclusion. Earlier in the day I checked some videos of them on YouTube, and their live show didn’t really improve on that. Their music is playful, the guitarist did a lot of live loops, but his vocals were not that interesting, as it seemed that he cared more about his flowing blond hair than his actual performance. The kids seemed to like it, but then they are kids and still highly impressionable, unlike the oldsters who have seen it all.

Next up it was time for Heartbeat Parade in the smaller Exit07 stage, and to their credit, they filled it to the last place with their fans and people generally eager to find out what is so special about this much lauded trio. Since the band’s inception, there were always undeniable parallels to From Monument To Masses, mostly due to the heavy use of politically charged speech samples, and this hasn’t changed since then. FMTM had a more refined approach to music, unlike HBP who maybe should pay more attention to dynamic song structures instead of overburdening their music with the samples. And again, I seemingly stand alone with my opinion.

So what about BRNS from Brussels about whom I heard already a lot of positive stuff? Their music was strange, to say the least, and they were able to surprise time and again with really good moments, but in between it all seemed a little weird to the uninitiated. Sometimes I would have liked the pace to quicken, and the songwriting could have been a little more compact, but so far they were the best band of the evening until then.

But not for long, as Rhode Island indie rockers Fang Island showed on the small stage that you don’t need good sound to make a convincing show. Was it the location? Or did the soundman have a bad case of tinnitus? All I could hear at first were guitars, guitars and guitars, with the vocals drowning in the mix. After some time it became a little clearer, although good sound is something different. This didn’t prevent the quartet to deliver a great set full of screaming guitars, and their music reminded less of the triteness of math rock than of testosterone fuelled arena rock of Thin Lizzy and Allman Brothers. Don’t get me wrong: I couldn’t care less for Seventies hard rock, but mixed with the hipster geekiness of indie rock, it became quite the potent potion.

Then it was time for the first headliner: Maserati. I think this is the fourth time I have seen them. And while the early demise of front row drummer Jerry Fuchs was an immense tragedy, I must admit that I liked their last two albums better than their early material. Tonight was no different: their music has become more electronic, and the new drummer and the two guitarists didn’t need a bassist, as they relied instead on the prominent use of sequencer parts. This gives their music a nice kraut rock touch, making them sound as if Neu! had discovered post rock. Good show! But the question remains: why always have headliner bands that have played here already so often instead of finding good yet undiscovered bands?

I more or less passed on Mmoths, an Irish electronic artist who had the good sense to play his set with a couple of live musicians. But it was already getting laid and I saved my breath for the final headliner Minus The Bear that also already played in Luxembourg years ago. The mid-2000’s were a really good time for them but tonight I couldn’t really get into their sound. Maybe they had their zenith years ago, or maybe I just had enough music for one night. And that’s why I didn’t stay for Publicist, which is the solo project of Trans Am drummer Sebastian Thomson, doing live drumming and vocoder singing over sampled music.

Has age made me more critical or even cynical? But then lately it is getting harder and harder to become really excited at concerts. Twenty years of busy concert visits must leave a person saturated, and therefore it may be time for a new generation to take over. The Out Of The Crowd Festival is still a viable and valuable to other local festivals like the Rock um Knuedler and the Rock-A-Field, but just like the latter, the OOTC has started to rely on well known headliners instead of fulfilling a mission to bring the audiences something new. But would the audiences still show up in that case? This must have been the best visited OOTC yet, and I am happy for the organisers that they finally get the success for which they have worked so hard all these long years.

I didn’t even get around this time to visit the art exhibition or try the vegan food (soy steak burger, anyone?). If the weather is nice and the programming good, I might just make it to the eleventh edition in 2014.

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Long Distance Calling, Sólstafir, Sahg at the Kulturfabrik in Esch-sur-Alzette (14th March 2013) [24 Mar 2013|09:46am]
[ mood | Sunday morning ]

To be fair, had it been for Long Distance Calling alone, I doubt that I would have made it to the Kulturfabrik on a weekday evening, but as the Münster based progressive post rock band were accompanied by Icelandic post metal revelation Sólstafir, I couldn’t really pass on this show.

But first I had to make it through the opening set of Sahg, a stoner metal band from Norway. These guys have released three albums, originally titled “I”, “II” and “III”, and frankly, their music fits the scheme. Sahg are by no means amateurs, they just happen to play a genre that I don’t find particularly interesting. Based in Seventies hard rock, they add the stoner elements of the Nineties to come up with something sounding somewhere between Thin Lizzy and Volbeat. The former could be heard on the sometimes really cool dual guitar harmonies, while the latter must have been the input of the vocalist who looked like a greasy rocker. After the first plastic cups of beer, their music began to develop at least some redeeming qualities, and maybe that’s what this is actually all about.

Next were Sólstafir, four wicked Viking giants from way up North with shaggy beards and even braided hair. Starting out as a black metal band in the early years of their career, they gradually evolved into something more indefinable. Last year’s double album “Svartir Sandar” finally convinced the big, wide world outside their small native island of their importance. Sólstafir were absolutely able to transfer their geniality into a live setting. Their songs are often long, take time to build up, but unlike many other post metal bands who often are often content just to repeat the same, old, weary patterns, Sólstafir are truly great songwriters who start a song with meditative guitars that are distorted beyond recognition, and subtly add layer upon layer of complexity until they finally arrive at rousing hymns that will shake the hearts of every thoroughbred Viking. Their hit single “Fjara” was of course the focal point of attention. Yes, this is pop music at heart, but delivered with such passion and verve that it will leave you speechless. In the end, Sólstafir are like Sigur Ros with balls, neither afraid of huge emotions nor of fiercely rocking parts. This made my visit to the Kulturfabrik definitely a worthwhile visit.

How could Long Distance Calling top that, you may ask! Well, they couldn’t, at least in my opinion. The more or less 300 spectators didn’t think so and stayed on for the show of this former instrumental band that has finally decided on adding a part time vocalist for their fourth album “The Flood Inside”. Martin Fischer may be best known as vocalist for melodic death metal band Fear My Thoughts, but he left his growls at home tonight and did his best new art rock thing. And that’s where my problem lies with Long Distance Calling. I have been following their career since their second album “Avoid The Light” in 2009, and while I always kind of liked their Pink Floyd influenced post rock, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that eventually they sound a little bland. Tonight was no different. They do their thing, yet somehow it fails to move me. It’s melodic, slightly psychedelic, but in the end maybe a little too stiff and not enough druggy/trippy to really feel authentic. But at least they were gracious enough to bring along a really cool opening act in Sólstafir.

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METAL BATTLE at Kulturfabrik (Esch/Alzette) (16th March 2013) [18 Mar 2013|11:01pm]
The 2011 edition of the Luxemburgish Metal Battle was a bit disappointing. First of all, there were only more or less 400 spectators. Secondly, the winner Rude Revelation was a bit unexpected. The band had already passed its zenith and the result at the Wacken competition was a second or third to last position. This also may explain why Rude Revelation didn't get the usual spot as a special guest why the jury was taking its decision. This place was given to Fateful Finality (not to be confounded with Final Fantasy) who got the second place at the international Wacken Open Air competition.

As there weren't too many visitors in 2011, there was a break in 2012. The presale didn't run too badly, but at the end, there weren't more spectators than two years ago. This didn't matter as the atmosphere was overwhelming. AN APPLE A DAY kicked off with an awesome start. They are five young musicians playing a mixture of death metal and metalcore. The band was only playing material from the new EP which had already shown the band's big improvement. The first track was hard and imposing like a trailer-track, but the band went also into a faster and more emotional direction. I was astonished about the precision and the technical skills behind the different tracks.

The second was band WE KNEW JOHN DOE who wasn't too different from the previous one. They consist of five young musicians who have done two releases so far. WKJO also play a mixture of metalcore and death metal, but they surely have a more melodic approach towards music. People who like AAAD will also appreciate this band, but it's still playing on a musically lower level. AAAD's songwriting is much more diverse and subtle. But especially the younger audience liked both bands and showed a bizarre kind of dancing. Twenty years ago, a mosh pit was still the ultimate sensation, but the new dance is a strange mixture of break dance and martial arts.

The band with the oldest musicians was surely LUCEED, a band that wouldn't suit totally into this event. Some of the musicians have already been active in the popular gothic band Pronoian Made, but Luceed have the advantage to count a real drummer among its musicians. I was surprised about the band's live qualities. The sound was surely heavier than expected and frontman Oliver Made isn't a bad singer and the voodoo puppet on his microphone post. He also knows how to act on stage and especially his scary round eyes had an impact on me. A negative aspect is that the song writing itself could take profit from more diversity.

The fourth band was SLEEPER'S GUILT. I really like their CD, but I've never been on a show as the band was always performing at clubs where lots of people are smoking. Thankfully, the Kulturfabrik is a smok efree club and also offers great conditions to all bands. It surprised me that the quartet has meanwhile become a quintet. The addition of a second guitar has been a wise chose. Two musicians have been active in Ophidian and the sound from both bands isn't too different. If you like melodic, but dynamic power metal, Sleeper's Guilt may be up to your taste. The song writing is extremely elaborate and drummer Max showed again that he's one of the best rock musicians in the country. The band has been founded less than two years ago and they have already reached such a high level. But there are also two critics from my side. First, the keyboard samples are quite superfluous and secondly, singer Rafael's voice doesn't always hit the right tone.

Two years ago, LOST IN PAIN had been my favourite band at the Metal Battle. They are four very young musicians and they are sounding like hailing from the Bay Area thrash scene. I remember having compared them to Metallica and Death Angel in the past. Now, this hasn't changed and Lost In Pain are still one of Luxemburg's hottest metal acts. And it's even a pity that the band hadn't been able to transfer its stage qualities to the studio recordings. A negative point surely is that the set was nearly identical to the one they'd been playing in 2011.

The evening's last participant was KRATON, another new band I hadn't heard anything about before. The name is sounding like the main character in the famous Playstation game God Of War and so I supposed that this could be a black metal band. But I was wrong and Kraton are a traditional death metal band in the vain of Morbid Angel. Even if the instrumentation hadn't been too bad, the band still has to work on the song writing. All songs are brutal, but played at a mid-tempo pace. There have surely been some interesting ideas, but there's still a lot of space to make further development.

While the German special guest Fateful Finality was playing, I made my way home as I really was tired after two exhausting weeks of private and professional effort. Nevertheless, I was still able to make my personal hit list in my head: 1) Sleeper's Guilt 2) An Apple A Day 3) Lost In Pain 4) We Knew John Doe 5) Kraton 6) Luceed. Even if only my number two won, I'm satisfied with the jury's decision. An Apple A Day is a young and hungry band and I'm pretty sure that they still have good prospects. Please try to reach as positive results at Wacken as Abstract Rapture (3rd) and Scarred (2nd).
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DRAGONFORCE, HUNTRESS, ROCKIN' BITCH at Rockhal (Esch/Belval) (27th November 2012) [28 Nov 2012|09:33pm]
[ mood | cheerful ]

In the past, there have been more and more prestigious metal shows at the Rockhal and tonight's triple page with Dragonforce, Huntress and Rockin' Bitch definitely was worth seeing. During each performance, the crowd was growing and growing and while the headliner was playing, much more than half of the venue was well filled.

This has been the last show from the long European tour featuring Dragonforce and Huntress. Tonight there has been a regional opener from France called ROCKIN' BITCH. The music offered everything that the band name already promised. This was a mixture of hard rock, southern rock and blues and you could define it as a combination of AC/DC, ZZ Top and Motörhead. The flagship of the band surely was the female singer who called herself Dirty Lady, a name that fitted like a fist into the eye. But nevertheless this slightly voluptuous woman was looking quite sexy in her burlesque dress that you could imagine in every cabaret movie. Her voice was rather vulgar and the lyrics were only about one subject that you're surely guessed meanwhile. Especially the part where she was imitating Cheech Marin's pussy speech from the 'From Dusk Till Dawn' movie was quite entertaining. The 100 spectators that watched this French sextet had some problems getting into the right mood for gruff rock music, but after some tracks and jokes by the second singer, everything was easier for a band that I consider as a good opener. To avoid any confusion, I have to underline that this band was not Rock Bitch and that there hasn't been any golden condoms. 

As the show took place on a working day, the breaks between the different acts were luckily quite short. Already ten minutes before 9 o'clock, the evening continued with much more class. The five Los Angeles based musicians from Huntress entered the stage to show how heavy metal has to sound. Meanwhile there have been more or less 300 spectators who didn't want to miss Jil Janus who's not only a good-looker, but she has a tremendous voice that goes over four octaves. I already met here at 4 o'clock for an interview and she was very kind and cooperative towards the press. But on stage, she seemed to have transformed herself into a fierce witch. The slender woman dressed in tight black clothes was running without interruption over the stage and she never came out of breath. Even if the music is traditional, but technically demanding heavy metal in the line of bands like Judas Priest, Metal Church and Iced Earth, the vocals are of course rather special. Even if Jil Janus is partially copying Angela Gossow’s (Arch Enemy) style, she shows that she doesn’t only master the harsh, but also the high vocals without sounding squeaky at all. As it was the last show of this tour, there had to be a special surprise. Bass player Fred from Dragonforce was playing the guitar on the Huntress single ‘Spell Eater’. The band was so overwhelming that I was surprised that time had passed so quickly during the 40 minutes lasting gig. I really hope that this great band will come back to Luxemburg to promote the second album that’s supposed to be released in 2013.      

Dragonforce from England came back to Luxemburg after a successful gig at the Kulturfabrik in October 2009. Even if Huntress had been the band that motivated me to come to the Rockhal, most of the (mainly French speaking) fans had come for Dragonforce and I suppose that there were now more or less 500 metalheads in the hall. Two of them (apart from me) even had a Nintendo 3 DS mobile console with activated street pass. This shows that heavy metal and video games are a possible combination, not only for me.  But isn’t it ridiculous to call Dragonforce a heavy metal band? Wouldn’t epic fantasy metal be more accurate? The sound of this band is so sugar-glazed that you could use it for decorating a birthday cake. But decoration seems to be important. The light show was splendid and sometimes you had the impression that there were already Christmas lights as known from American suburbs in the background. It was the right season for such impressions, but it somehow fitted to the music. The highlight of this gig was ‘Starfire’, a classic from the debut album ‘Valley Of The Damned’. But ‘Seasons’, the single from the actual album ‘The Power Within’, also has the potential to become a band classic. It doesn’t matter if you adore or detest the sound of Dragonforce. You have to admit that there are six totally professional musicians that are living for their music. Ignoring the drummer and the keyboarder, you can’t ignore that the other musicians are moving without a rest and finally I had to compare them to the Duracell bunnies from a classic TV ad from the 80ies. Finally I have to add that Dragonforce is the third ventilator metal band I have seen. After Dave Wyndorf (Monster Magnet) and Tom Warrior (Tryptichon), Dragonforce singer Marc Hudson is the third singer who needs fresh air from a fan so that his hair is swinging and looking cool.

This brings an end to my concert year 2011. There are still some great shows left for December (Meshuggah, In Extremo, Mono,…), but due to family business and end of term stress, I will stay more at home than this month. But in general, the live journal has become less active than it was before. Maybe you will read on January 4th 2013 about Stephen O'Malley & Jason van Gulick who will act together at the Casino in Luxemburg city.  But this is no promise as the world risks to go down on December 21st 2012.

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Fear Factory / Devin Townsend Project at Kulturfabrik in Esch/Alzette (30th October 2012) [31 Oct 2012|10:04pm]
[ mood | cheerful ]

The DisAgreement duo has an accumulated age of 82 years and that explains while these two former concert freaks don’t go out so often anymore. The last input in this forum is already half a year old. But when a really fascinating artists is visiting the country (we are too old to visit them), we don’t hesitate to go to the avenue. One of the most shimmering performers in the rock and metal scene is doubtlessly Devin Townsend. I was already quite impressed when he was responsible for the vocals on Steve Vai’s ‘Sex And Religion’ album and during a nearly 20 years lasting breath taking career, I always followed his Strapping Young Lad and Devin Townsend records.

Devin Townsend ProjectThere were only more or less 400 spectators at the Kulturfabrik in Esch when Devin Townsend entered the stage. The meanwhile bald shaved man remembered me of Peter Garrett, singer from Midnight Oil, but Pascal thought that he had a typically Canadian head which may easily be split in two as we know the comics from the ‘Terrence And Philip’ strips. But I don’t want to slander about Devin Townsends appearance, but want to write about this performance. He’s a man who feels well and secure on a stage. He is self-confident and has always been searching the contact with the audience. His comments have been amazing and there have been so different subjects like the weather in Luxemburg, masturbation and the respect for one’s parents.  He may be a very talented guitar player, but that’s nothing compared to a unique voice in the rock business that you can’t compare to anyone else. It’s just incredible how many diverse sounds are coming from his lips. A negative point about this show may be the huge amount of samples for backing vocals and special effects, but I think that you have to see the set as an entire masterpiece. Even if not all his songs have the same level, this has been one of the few shows that I’ve seen from the first to the last note with only short beer buying breaks (and you don’t saw me standing all the time at the bar). The videos shown in the background have been splendid too and this just shows what a perfectionist Devin Townsend is.

After this ambitious performance, the situation wasn’t too easy for Fear Factory who have returned to Luxemburg Fear Factoryfor a second show. Last time (5 or 6 years ago at the Atelier), singer Burton C. Bell kept a bad memory of this show where he got electrocuted. He tried to fix an American microphone (110 volts) to a European amplifier (220 volts) and he got hospitalized. This may explain why he chose the Kulturfabrik this time as this venue is close to two hospitals. I left the show after five or six songs and don’t know if he survived this gig without any accident. But I got a rather good impression about what Fear Factory did on this Friday. The band works best when there are more brutal and sophisticated parts with awesome growls. The melodic passages sometimes left a rather clumsy impression on me. But the audience appreciated Fear Factory which surely were more behaving more photogenic that Devin Townsend.

It’s difficult to say which artist got a better feedback by the audience. It’s always risky to choose two quite different acts which have more or less the same level of popularity. I don’t think that lots of spectators have come to see both artists. And you could doubtlessly declare that the front rows were filled by different persons during the two sets. But I have to give nevertheless my congratulations to the musical direction of the Kulturfabrik as they have created an event that’s worth being repeated.

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MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, MOUNT STEALTH, HEARTBEAT PARADE at Atelier (Luxemburg) (4th May 2012) [06 May 2012|06:48pm]
[ mood | content ]

Mutiny On The Bounty are meanwhile one of Luxemburg's most popular rock bands and I didn't want to miss the occasion to see them play under the Atelier's professional conditions. Furthermore, I hadn't seen Heartbeat Parade live since last year's edition of Rock um Knuedler. And the Mount Stealth set should be a premiere to me.

When my wife and I arrived at 20:45 at the Atelier, we were welcomed by loud noise what meant that HEARTBEAT PARADE had already started. I don't think that we had missed a lot as the set was still lasting over half an hour. But I was surprised that the venue wasn't too filled, yet. Those three musicians are in fact another instrumental post rock or post core band, but they are playing far over the average stuff. First of all, all three are able to play the most complicated riffs without coming out of the rhythm. Secondly, the use of spoken word samples is a decent solution to replace a missing singer. Even if this band wasn't the highlight today, Heartbeat Parade also released a CD today, even if it only was an EP. The only negative aspect about the show was the too high volume which forced us to leave the atelier and have a drink on a roofed terrace not far away.

We were back in time when MOUNT STEALTH started to play. All four musicians did great jobs in former bands (Miaow Miaow, LaFa Connected, Artaban, Treasure Chest At The End Of The Rainbow, Metro, Mutiny On the Bounty,...), but I really have problems coming into the music. Even if it's my first live experience with the band, I've already been listening via online stream to the music and can't discover the actual point behind it. Mount Stealth are surely playing Post Rock, but there are too many synthetic sounding passages that remind me of the 80ies icon David Sylvian. Maybe I need some more time to come behind it. Let's not forget that I wasn't too fond of Heartbeat Parade in the beginning. But I think that a singer and some more straight passages could help here. Anyway it's a problem for me that there are actually too many instrumental bands. That's surely one reason why I missed this year's edition of the Out Of The Crowd Festival.

After a short trip to a gas station as we wanted some salted chips, we were back for MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY who were not only today's headliner, but also the most exciting band. And the venue was well crowded and probably close to a sold out. 'Danger Mouth' has already been a great album, but it's amazing to see the progress the band has reached during the last three years. The band has found the right ballad between elaborated math rock structures and more melodic passages that are easier to follow. And it's of course a big advantage that most members from MOTB are able to sing in a powerful way. The band intends to follow a professional career and I think that the right competences are present. That explains why they had decided to stay over a month in Seattle to record the album under the tutorage of Matt Bayles who already worked together with Pearl Jam and Mastodon who surely have a big reputation. As a present from Seattle, the band covered a song from the mathcore band Botch (1993 - 2002) from the same town. There was also a guest singer, but I didn't understand who he was neither did I recognize him. This surprising gag was of course more extreme than the usual song material by MOTB. At 23:15, we had to leave as our babysitter wanted to go to the Rockbox at 23:30. I suppose that we only missed a few encores, but we had seen enough to get a serious impression about the band's talents.

Even if I generally prefer the Kulturfabrik and the Rockhal to the Atelier, this has been an amazing evening. I even will come back to this place to witness the shows by Anthrax and Of Montreal. The other two concert venues can't present such exciting acts this season, but have the big advantage that smoking isn't allowed inside. I don't think that the anti-smoking law will move on as our christian party is quite opposed to it. But coming home in smoke smelling clothes and bad smelling hair isn't too comfortable. I wish the Atelier would share the same philosophy as the other two venues.

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C.O.C., BLACK COBRA, ZOROASTER, LE SOLEIL NOIR at Kulturfabrik (Esch/Alzette) (6th April 2012) [07 Apr 2012|09:53pm]
[ mood | calm ]

When entering the big venue of the Kulturfabrik, I wasn’t surprised to see quite a spare place with less than 200 spectators. Corrosion Of Conformity from North Carolina already did top out more or less 15 years ago and due to several line-up changes, the musical style has been changing as often. I suppose that more or less 90% of the fans have been older than 30 years. Lots of these people already have an established family situation and go out less often. Teenagers have no use for a band from the past, but they are able to sell out the Rockhal twice by buying tickets for the LMFAO bullshit.

The first band was LE SOLEIL NOIR, another instrumental band from Luxemburg. As they already started at 7.30 pm, I missed the entire gig, but I was told that they are promising newcomers. When I arrived more or less one hour later, ZOROASTER from Georgia were showing how drone metal has to sound. The bass was vibrating enormously and I think that only Sunn ((O)) even exaggerated more during their gig six or seven years ago. This trio was playing quite long and pasty songs without any interruptions. The vocals were used quite seldom, but they were dark as hell and fitted in a great way into this apocalyptic presentation. The end of the last track was played extremely fast and this was a nice gag to end a memorable show. The guitar player exactly looked like Mackel from Clean State and I thought that he had found a new band. But as Mackel later on appeared before the crowd, I knew that I was wrong.

Even if BLACK COBRA come from California, this duo didn’t let the sun shine. I was surprised that a duo consisting of a guitar player and a drummer could make so much noise. Singer Jason Landrian has a voice that makes him exactly sound like Al Jourgensen. Because of the quite hectic and chaotic riffs chosen by Black Cobra, you could describe the band as a less industrial version of Ministry. Even if the bass wasn’t present, nobody missed it in this noisy cacophony and samples apparently weren’t used.

Corrosion Of ConformityFinally the headliner CORROSION OF CONFORMITY (another band from North Carolina) started. While driving to the KuFa, I’ve been listening to some Ramones in my car to avoid an overdose of metal. But it surprised me that the drummer was wearing a T-Shirt of America’s finest punk band. The two front men Woody Weatherman (a guitarist that looks like the wrestler Mick Foley) and Mike Dean (a bass player that looks like the wrestler Christian) showed a sweat-inducing performance and liked to make some jokes between the songs which was appreciated by the audience. Compared with the openers, C.O.C. played a more diverse set which contained stoner rock, metal and even southern rock. As all three members were sharing the vocals, the result was a quite diverse and entertaining performance for rock fans above thirty.

I know that (but don’t know why) the Kulturfabrik doesn’t make concerts in the small venue anymore. I really like the big venue when there are at least 400 people and it is split in the middle. But even with the split, there was too much space in front of the stage. Remember that most spectators weren’t very young, so expect a peaceful audience that didn’t headbang and jump around. I really think that this show would have been much more suitable for the smaller venue which has a maximum capacity of 300 spectators. Another fact was the loudness. The decibel meter was between 95 and 100 most of the times. I think that 105 is the maximum allowed. Many people were complaining about the big volume. But some earplugs may help which I refuse as it is no comfortable feeling to my ears.

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