KEEP IT TRUE X: 04. – 05.04.2008
Review and Pics by Herr Nabel
If one festival is now known as THE festival of classic heavy metal, it must be Keep It True. The tenth version of KIT was sold out in a few weeks. That should come as no surprise once you see the lineup. Everybody who has been there knows the deal, you never manage to catch all the bands, to buy all the vinyl, to drink all the beer, and to meet all your friends. But we tried, oh yes we tried I can tell you…
DAY ONE 04.04.08
Arriving little bit late to the venue, the first band I caught was the semi-legendary thrash act Sentinel Beast. Most famous for it’s female vocalist Debbie Gun, Sentinel Beast was in good form. Debbie Gunn has aquired quite a young backup for herself that showed lots of energy in their playing. This was not a bad thing at all of course! Debbie’s voice was in good shape and backed by a young and hungry band there were no complains at all. Even "Phantom Of The Opera" was played, quite interesting cover choice! Only thing missing at this point were muddy sounds.
Metal Inquisitor as is known to play Heavy Metal with capital letters. I had to skip most of their set because of meeting fellow metalheads and buying records, but from what I saw and heard they played a fine set like always. Lead guitarist Blumi seemed to take care of all the vocals which made it more interesting to buying vinyl at the moment. In the end, even legendary Brian Ross (Satan, Blitzkrieg, Avenger) came on the stage to perform vocals in magical "Trial By Fire" originally performed by Satan.
Then it was time for something really legendary, the allmighty Attacker from the USA. As promised, they played a special set, covering the whole debut album "Battle At Helms Deep" (songs from later eras were also played). From the intro at the start it was cold shivers all the way through to the end. Hearing songs like "Kick Your Face", "The Hermit", "The Wrath Of Nevermore" and "Call On The Attacker" was something I have never dreamed of. The whole band seemed to enjoy themselves too, and hearing the audience singing to songs was just simply great!
Omen was a little question before the festival because they had a new singer announced just before KIT. After the first song there were no more questions to be asked. Like Attacker before, it was pure magic. Straight, honest and powerful heavy metal as it should be and as Omen is known for. Kenny Powel shred those magical riffs from his guitar, new vocalist Matt Storey did his magic and the rhythm section (Steve Wittig drums and Scott Clute bass) were on fire. Total domination of Friday night, my eyes were literary shining like the ruby of the serpent after the gig.
Another legend from the USA, this kind of straight (Attacker-Omen-Helstar) was just maybe too much for me. But when Helstar started to play eternal US metal classics like "Run With The Pack", "Suicidal Nightmare" and "The King Is The Dead" there was nothing else to be done than just to bang your head. Once again, great gig, sounds were good, and band was on fire.
Titan Force was somehow a good way to end Friday night in Tauberfrankenhalle. A band with a more progressive edge was good choice to see and hear after vicious headbanging with other acts from the USA before. Their music may not stand out in the progressive metal field in my ears but one thing is for sure. Vocalist Harry Conklin makes them stand out from everything. In a way, I was not floored by their music but by Conklins vocals. So ending night with Titan Force was a good choice as it made me hungry for Saturday and the mighty Jag Panzer!
DAY TWO 05.04.08
French legends Demon Eyes were my wake up call for Saturday. Legends to some, unknown to most, but still they managed to gather a nice crowd for themselves. Once again the band enjoyed themselves and playing was tight. Demon Eyes’ songs are quite lenghty and complex and it was a surprise how well they worked out live. Only negative of the gig would be two cover songs, first being "Seek And Destroy" (performed in French) and "Antisocial" originally by Trust (popularized by Anthrax). In that point there were guest stars singing on stage but I could not hear who they were. Despite those lenghty cover choices, good gig. "L’invincible force de la mort" had to be the highlight!
After some vinyl hunting (again) the next band for me was Pharaoh from USA. They have nice melodic twin guitar melodies going on but the final strike, something coming right in between your eyes is missing. Maybe quite poor sounds from the stage could be blamed, at least I could not hear much from vocalist Tim Aymar. Pharaoh goes to the endless list of bands to be checked out from a record one day…
More music from USA, which seemed to be the name of the game in KIT 10. Far from Pharaoh’s melodies, Cage relies more on aggression and heaviness. Catchy parts here and there but I was not floored by them. A few very good moments but still I could only wander back to the metal market to find more bargains from endless vinyl bins…
After a few American bands, expectations were on the shoulders of Italian Doomsword to bring back days of high adventures to stage in the form of epic metal. And they managed to do that very nicely. Especially material from their last two albums (Heathen Assault, Days Of High Adventure, Death of Ferdia etc) ruled the evening. Their older material somehow becomes a little bit too complex to do anything for me. They also had a special guest in the form of Gabriele "Nightcomer" Grilli, singing older material. Doomsword know what they do, they do it with confidence and they do it well.
Heathen has never been big favorite of mine, and again quite muddy sounds they did not make me write any diplomas to them. Ok, once again experience showed on stage, the band played very well but that final kick did not happen. The front rows in the audience seemed to enjoy it. There were pits and nice noise for example during "Death By Hanging". I did not expect much, better than average but after so many spectacular gigs already…
Manilla Road seemed to be maybe the most anticipated band of the whole festival. None other than Manilla Road could have people paint banners to show their love for their music. I have to say I was quite sceptical about their gig as most of vocals were to be done by Bryan "Hellroadie" Patrick. But once again I was wrong which again proved to be a good thing. Even the little more heavier songs from their new album sounded good. But still the table was set for all the classics like "Flaming Metal System", "Witches Brew", "Divine Victim", "Necropolis" and the mighty ultra heavy "The Riddle Master". The big surprise for me was that they even played one song from "Mark Of The Beast" (Avatar). The whole gig was pure magic, Hellroadie’s vocals were as if Mark Shelton would have took the microphone over and rest of the band (Vince Goleman bass and Cory "Hardcore" Christner drums) played their asses off also. Up the hammers and down the nails as they say!
The final band of KIT X was Jag Panzer who were scheduled to play extra long set with guest appearance by Bob Parduba. When a band has a song like "Generally Hostile" to open up a show you just can’t go wrong. Unless everything goes wrong with sound and equipment. And that is just what happened, at least to us who were lazy bastards and rested their legs after a long day. In the seating area one could not hear everything properly. And to top that off, few Marshalls resigned from heavy metal action during the gig. Oh well, that sometimes happens! One complaint was also that the gig was maybe little bit too long. A little bit more dynamic set would have done the trick! Or then I just love "Ample Destruction" LP too much over rest of their material. But when "Warfare" was played right after "Reign Of Tyrants" if was the moment of the gig. And maybe the moment of whole Keep It True (I could not care less about the sounds at that magical moment). As already said Mr. Bob Parduba came on stage to perform, he got do the lead vocals on super catchy "Chain Of Command" and "Never Surrender". (Harry Conklin and Parduba shared vocal duties in "Shadow Thief".) Barduba (like Conklin) has not lost his magic in the vocal department and both Parduba and Conklin have really excellent charisma on the stage. One could say that heavy metal history was done right there! The rest of the band did their job also, commanded by Harry "The Tyrant" Conklin himself but points has to given to drummer Rikard Stjernquist, excellent playing (and improvised drum solo during technical problems) all the way. Sometimes he alone lifts songs to new dimensions! Last Jag Panzer songs performed were "Legion Immortal", excellent "Take To The Sky" and "The Crucifix". After a little while JP returned to do three encores, The Tyrant singing "Gypsy", Bob Parduba commanded Electric Eye in the sky and both had their share of singing "Where Eagles Dare". Overall it was a good, historical gig but with a little more of a dynamic set, better sound, and luck on the technical side would have made it better. And where was "Metal Melts The Ice"?!?!
That was it, Keep It True number ten was over. Eleven is already sold out and by judging the flyer for KIT number twelve better be quick when the tickets are for sale…