• daiwel

Napalm Death at the Kulturfabrik in Esch-sur-Alzette (3rd July 2013)

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!
  • Current Music
    The Tangent - Le Sacre Du Travail
  • daiwel

Black Flag at the Rockhal in Esch/Alzette (14th May 2013)

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!
  • daiwel

Dan Deacon at the Exit07 in Luxembourg (8th May 2013)

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.
  • daiwel

Out Of The Crowd Festival X at the Kulturfabrik in Esch/Alzette (20th April 2013)

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.
  • Current Music
    Acrania - An Uncertain Collision
  • daiwel

Long Distance Calling, Sólstafir, Sahg at the Kulturfabrik in Esch-sur-Alzette (14th March 2013)

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.
  • Current Music
    The Swans - The Seer

METAL BATTLE at Kulturfabrik (Esch/Alzette) (16th March 2013)

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).
  • daiwel2

DRAGONFORCE, HUNTRESS, ROCKIN' BITCH at Rockhal (Esch/Belval) (27th November 2012)

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.

  • Current Music
    Vexillum: The Bivouac
  • daiwel2

Fear Factory / Devin Townsend Project at Kulturfabrik in Esch/Alzette (30th October 2012)

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.

  • Current Music
    Late Night Venture: Pioneers Of Spacelight

MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, MOUNT STEALTH, HEARTBEAT PARADE at Atelier (Luxemburg) (4th May 2012)

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.

  • Current Music
    Huntress: Spell Eater

C.O.C., BLACK COBRA, ZOROASTER, LE SOLEIL NOIR at Kulturfabrik (Esch/Alzette) (6th April 2012)

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.

  • Current Music
    Giftdwarf: Giftdwarf