It's always a special occasion when a band decides to do an album launch concert, gig, party, however you wish to term it. The truth of the matter is that not only are album launch parties great for showcasing a wide variety of bands, in this case metal bands, but also the nationalities drawn it from it. With Epica's EpicMetalFest II, people from far and wide came to the 013 Poppodium in Tilburg to witness bands from Europe and as far away as Tunisia and Canada.
(This was my first time at a concert abroad and first time flying alone having come from the UK)
Sadly despite best efforts, due to some rather annoying maintenance works going on the Dutch railway and highway between Arnhem and Tilburg, I missed Off The Cross (BE), For I Am King (NL) and Myrath (FR / TN) and so cannot really report on either band. However, by chatting to some punters who said all three bands were on the ball, I'll take their word for it and give all three bands a 7.50/10.
Dutch Modern Metal outfit Textures certainly had their A-game in check as they carried off where Tunisian Oriental Metallers Myrath had finished. By unleashing a charismatic on-stage presence with some rather tight and malicious sounding music, there was no reason why the crowd couldn't have matched the intensity radiating from Textures performance. Underrated at times, Textures have shown during this evening why they're worthy of a Bloodstock slot next year. Ballistic at all angels, Textures were simply raising the bar for the evening, was there anyone capable of stealing the show (besides Epica)?
Having only made their Napalm Records debut last year, Belgian Speed Metallers Evil Invaders showed exactly why the Austrian label snapped up the quartet without question. Blisteringly fast riffs crashed against all four walls of the Universe Stage, all whilst Textures were doing their own shindig next year on the Storm Stage. Evil Invaders have been knocking around for nearly 10 years and yet despite the age of the band as a unit, the members started off as teenagers, yet they're capable of proving that they've shed their teenage skins and morphed into a formidable, respectable force. By belting out songs as if they went out of fashion, Evil Invaders only had one thing in mind... total carnage and boy did they deliver.
One of a handful of Dutch Metal bands performing at this year's EpicMetalFest, Stream Of Passion are really no newcomers to the erotic world of female-fronted Symphonic Metal, in fact all but one band member have been in previous bands thus being no strangers to the scene. Moreover here is a band who despite their best efforts at delivering sweet music that is so sumptuously good to the ears, hasn't yet managed to reach the heights of their fellow contemporaries in Within Temptation and Epica. However their set demonstrated that they're on the path to achieve that goal and despite it still being late afternoon, had no reservations about keeping the crowd on their toes. Drinking was in full flow during their set, Stream of Passion? A Stream of alcohol more like.
Since the departure of Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist kicked Alissa out of the band, thus enabling her to join Arch Enemy after Angela Gossow became band manager; thereabouts), The Agonist have been finding their way with their new vocalist Vicky Psarakis. Now, Vicky showed she is up to the task-in-hand by delivering a performance worthy of continuous applause if not for some of the other band members who seemed rather lost and at times not fully convincing; it's as if they haven't stepped out of the shadows of their former vocalist, resulting in a rather disappointing set. Not entirely sure what their plans were for the evening but it seemed to not involve band practise, despite this the whole set was of reasonable standard yet without a doubt, probably the most disinteresting performance of the night.
Herewith is an example of grandiose perversion of the extremely meticulous kind, and now you're probably thinking what the actual f*ck am I on about? It's certainly a technical sentence no? Perfect for Italy's Fleshgod Apocalypse who once again don the theatrics and emit such musical ferocity that earth tremors could be felt. Seriously enough they did not put a foot wrong, in fact they are so rehearsed in their dramatis personae that they would do well at Eurovision next year (are you reading this RAI?). Strobe lights abound and an air of operatic grandeur circumventing the venue was certainly the case, plenty more where those came from as walls of death came to and fro by the commands of Tommaso Riccardi; it was as if he was playing the king and the punters as the fools, either way Fleshgod Apocalypse demonstrated once again why they are still underrated.
Where Fleshgod Apocalypse managed to succeed in shitting the audience, Katatonia did not, instead they commenced the slitting. A once great and brutal institution has now turned for the dank and dismal worse; it was as if they weren't meant to be here because to be quite frank, the music did not fit in with the rest of the evenings line-up. That said, at least Katatonia trump Justin Bieber hands down and have the decency to sing, not lip sync live. But Katatonia just could not get the audience going, some just standing and watching bare-face, expressionless, it was as if they have been subjected to a public culling of animals, it was horrific. Despite all their might, Katatonia just did not deliver tonight... well they delivered, but the music was stale and too depressive.
Now whilst I interviewed Anis Jouini from Myrath, The Ocean were doing their thing (and we could hear it, so let's give them a decent 7/10). Now the time had come for the star performance of the evening, well it is Epica's show of course... joking aside, Epica are another band who know how to deliver a mesmerizing yet epic live show and they did not disappoint. Using props designed to mimic their new album's artwork (The Holographic Principle), Epica used laser deflecting pyramids to divert light beams across the stage, creating a psychedelic feeling as a result. Additionally in tow was Coen Janssen and his 'keyscooter' (let's call it that because it's a keyboard on wheels) and of course the expected pyrotechnics (which culminated in the end to a firework explosion). Epica simply were sensational, by delivering a set, performance and indeed day-concert worthy of being unleashed on DVD, all in the namesake of their new album, calling it magical is simply not enough and does not describe the overarching package that is EpicMetalFest... may the 2017 edition be as breathtaking.
With the addition of Germany's The Ocean and The Netherland's For I Am King, the program for the second edition of Epica's own festival 'Epic Metal Fest' on Saturday, October 1st in Poppodium 013 Tilburg is now complete.
Altogether there are twelve bands performing on two stages, the other ten bands have been announced over the months before. The two aforementioned bands will be joined by Sweden's Katatonia, Italy's Fleshgod Apocalypse, Dutch metallers Stream Of Passion, Mayan and Textures. Canada's, Tunisia's Myrath, Belgium's Evil Invaders and Off The Cross, and of course the centrepiece of the event, Epica (NL).
Epica's destined concert will be momentous as it coincides with their new album 'The Holographic Principle' being released, but also it will be Epica's only Benelux show this year. Tickets (single tickets or ticket bundles + signed copies of the new CD) are available here:- http://www.ticketmaster.nl/event/163671?CAMEFROM=013&brand=nl_013web
The day for Epic Metalfest - 30th September brings Dutch symphonic metallers Epica new seventh studio album 'The Holographic Principle' to life, it can be pre-ordered via http://www.epicawebshop.com/
Not only is the album itself different, but also the creation of it (which lasted more than one year). The band decided not to use samples but to purely utilize instruments, guest singers and choirs. Only the preparations were a massive undertaking because all of the (classical) instrumental and vocal parts were first written on sheet music. Then the band recorded the music with numerous musicians and singers all at once: strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion, choir, soloists and ethnic instruments. The result was a record number of recorded audio tracks - sometimes up to 1,000 per song.
Brief information on the newly confirmed bands
Here's a backdrop for both the last two bands to be confirmed, The Ocean and For I Am King.
Since its inception in 2000, The Ocean are a quintet built on solid reputation in the heavy (prog) scene. The band describe their sound as "music with guitars in it". The bands live shows are given an extra dimension by using a striking light show, resulting in an impressive performance and experience.
For I Am King are a young and ambitious metal (core) band who musically sit somewhere between In Flames, Trivium, Darkest Hour, Arch Enemy and Killswitch Engage: heavy and modern but also melodic and catchy with custom-cut brutal vocals emanating from the eyecatching frontwoman Alma Alizadeh.
Tickets (excl. Service charges)
Tickets for Epic Metal Fest are available through www.ticketmaster.nl and (NL) (+31) 0900 - 300 1250 (60 cpm). For more information about Epic Metal Fest:
There’s just 48 days until your wait is over for Bloodstock - the biggest heavy metal party weekender of the year! Bloodstock HQ is a hive of activity; the sunshine is on pre-order and there are still more bands being confirmed!
Added for an early afternoon main stage slot on Sunday are rising, home-grown Century Media metalheads, Heart Of A Coward (https://www.facebook.com/heartofacoward). Check out the video for ‘Hollow’ from last album ‘Deliverance’ at: https://youtu.be/C-h3c2VnA7A.
Joining Friday’s Sophie Stage bill are German symphonic metal outfit Beyond The Black (https://www.facebook.com/beyondtheblackofficial), Wigan’s own progressive sludgelords Boss Keloid (https://www.facebook.com/bosskeloidband), and self-described ‘epic fantasycore’ group Fury from Worcester (https://www.facebook.com/furyofficial).
Meanwhile, snagging a Sophie Stage slot on Saturday are heavy psych merchants Vodun (https://www.facebook.com/VODUNBAND) fresh from Stone Free festival last weekend and fast-rising London melodic metallers, The Raven Age (https://www.facebook.com/TheRavenAge).
Bloodstock is very pleased to welcome back Teenage Cancer Trust as their official charity partner once again. After shattering all previous fundraising records in 2015 with a colossal total in excess of £13.5K, Bloodstock hopes you’ll join them to raise even more cash in 2016 to help Teenage Cancer Trust support young people with cancer all over the UK.
Meantime, the ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ finals continue around the UK through to 10th July (remaining dates below). Bloodstock’s ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ judging squad have been searching hard for hot new talent and these lucky bands have won slots on the Hobgoblin New Blood stage!
Friday welcomes Mansfield stoner / groove rock trio Witchtripper (https://www.facebook.com/witchtripperuk) and Leicester’s melodic doomsters Garganjua (https://www.facebook.com/Garganjua). On Saturday, Leicester M2TM winners Conjurer (https://www.facebook.com/conjureruk) bring their blend of progressive post-metal sludge / groove, plus Norwich M2TM finalists Vendetta (https://www.facebook.com/VendettaUKHC) offer up a slice of pure British hardcore aggression. Joining Sunday’s New Blood mayhem are Luton’s Far From History (https://www.facebook.com/farfromhistoryuk), mixing chugging groove and hardcore riffs to round out your weekend.
There’s also a chance for punters at each M2TM event to win weekend tickets to Bloodstock, a case of Hobgoblin Ale to take home, or various other Bloodstock related prizes. You can even shake hands with Bloodstock’s ‘M2TM’ mainman, Simon Hall. Remaining finals run as follows so get out, support, and win those festival tickets for yourself!
24th Jun - SWINDON – The Victoria
24th Jun - DEWSBURY – The Old Turk
25th Jun - MERSEYSIDE / LIVERPOOL – Bumper
1st Jul - LINCOLNSHIRE / LINCOLN – The Lincoln Imp
2nd Jul - READING – Facebar
9th Jul - BURNLEY – Sanctuary
9th Jul - BOURNEMOUTH – The Anvil
9th Jul - POLAND / BIELSKO-BIALA - The Rude Boy Club
10th Jul - BIRMINGHAM – The Roadhouse
Maybe you waded through D(r)ownload? Or you’re paddling off to Glastonbury? First timers and old timers, everyone’s welcome at Bloodstock. If you’ve a little ‘un under 4 yrs old, they can even join you for free. No mates to go with or a bit unsure on your first visit? Make new friends with the “Bloodstock Loners & Newbies” camp, a Facebook group set up by some regulars (https://www.facebook.com/groups/171715506329753/).
Twitter on @BLOODSTOCKFEST.
Bloodstock Open Air is excited to announce another batch of bands for August’s event at Catton Park!
Regrouped Brit industrial metallers, Kill II This joins the main stage for a Saturday slot. Frontman, Mark Mynett says “Bloodstock is one of the finest metal festivals there is; this year’s stunning line up says it all! So we are both delighted and honoured to be playing the Ronnie James Dio stage.” Check out their video for ‘The Universe In A Nutshell’ here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myNgEf8I7jU.
Stepping into Friday’s special guest slot on the Sophie Lancaster Stage are Norway’s black jazzsters, Shining. Singer Jørgen Munkeby comments, “Last time we played at Bloodstock was one of the best and most exciting shows we’ve ever done. We’re so much looking forward to be back at the UK’s best metal festival again!” Remind yourself of their sound with the video for ‘The Last Stand’; https://youtu.be/7tNODbdyJaw
Also landing Friday slots on the Sophie stage are Brit crust / grindcore monsters, Foetal Juice and British apocalyptic metal crew, Anti Clone. Tunisian symphonic prog metallers, Myrath play the Sophie stage on Saturday, as do French avant-garde extremists, Misanthrope. Lastly, stepping into a Sunday Sophie slot are US progressive thrash beasts, Vektor.
The second wave of Bloodstock club nights kicks off in June. Get along to one of the following local events for a chance to win Bloodstock weekend tickets and Bloodstock-related giveaways. Check with your local club for further details in case of changes and expect the unexpected! Events for June and July stack up as follows:
Wed 1st June - Nottingham - Bodega
Thu 2nd June - Bury - Blind Tiger
Sat 4th June - Stoke-on-Trent - Bunker 13
Thu 9th June - Manchester Rebellion Bar
Sat 18th June - Stoke-on-Trent - Bunker 13 (Rawkus)
Fri 24th June - Middlesbrough - SUMO
Fri 24th June - Reading - Face Bar
Fri 24th June - London Elektrowerkz
Fri 24th June - Glasgow - Cathouse
Fri 24th June - Ipswich - The Cock and Pye
Sat 25th June - Birmingham - Eddie’s Rock Club
Sat 25th June - Sheffield - Corporation
Thu 30th June - Exeter - Timepiece
Fri 1st July - Leicester - Firebug
Sat 2nd July - Doncaster - The Vintage Rock Bar
Sat 2nd July - Brighton - Envy
Sat 2nd July - Coventry - The Phoenix
Sat 2nd July - Stoke-on-Trent - Bunker 13
Fri 8th July - London - Electric Ballroom
Thu 14th July - Winsford - De Bees
Sat 16th July - Birmingham - The Asylum
Sat 23rd July - Burnley - Sanctuary Rock Bar
Thu 28th July - Sheffield Leadmill
Sat 30th July - Birmingham - Eddie’s Rock Club
Sat 30th July - Sheffield - Corporation
Weekend tickets with camping, plus various VIP packages are available now, priced from £139 (+ booking fee) at http://bloodstock.seetickets.com/event/bloodstock-2016/catton-park/902838.
Bloodstock will be held at Catton Park, Derbyshire on 11th-14th August 2016. Keep up to date with the very latest info on Bloodstock’s official sites at www.facebook.com/bloodstock and www.bloodstock.uk.com, or via Twitter on @Bloodstockfest.
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