Keep It True IV
Review and Pics by Blackgoat & Skyklad
Friday April 1st
Warm Up "Fist Held High"
For the fourth time in not even 2 years Skyklad and I went on this pilgrimage of Metal. Our trip from Regensburg to Tauberbischofsheim (a 2 hour drive) went surprisingly uneventful thanks to a quick trip to the FIAT dealer the day before where I had the loose muffler of my car welded. It would've been a disaster losing that on the motorway and most definetly more expensive than the 3 EUR I had to pay there. Saved us a lot of money for the impending Metal Market.
Freshly arrived and checked in we met with fellow ex-MG writer Heart Of Steel and his wife-to-be Kelley and went off to Dittigheim which turned out to almost be in walking distance. This was the 3rd Warm Up show for KIT and the 3rd location after the freezing tent at KIT II and the cozy beer cellar of KIT III. It looks like they'll stay in this sports hall for future events. I liked the cellar better but it was in the center of Lauda and there probably was a long list of complaints from people living there last time...
The "Sporthalle" of the TV Dittigheim is a nice enough venue though, especially for those having more than a few beers as it's a bit out in the fields so people were able to put up tents right there. The rather warm weather (for the season) helped as well I guess . As did the beer we had out on the lot waiting for the venue to open. A sizable crowd of around 300 people had gathered and among them were many others from the old and new KIT forum(s) like Nicolas, Runehammer, Mordred, MightyTior and a whole horde of dutch and belgians. You can imagine the beer stock in my trunk was dwindling quickly... [Skyklad: Yeah, and for once it was not just me who was making the beer stock dwindle.]
The first band of KIT IV was LANFEAR from Germany and personally I wasn't looking forward to them at all. I had the distinct displeasure of having to review their latest CD in one of the last issues of The Metal Gospel and I ripped them a new one, big enough for the Titanic to disappear in... I really don't like this "lalala" wanna-ba "Power" Metal stuff that makes ACCEPT sound like Death Metal. When I finally entered the venue I was surprised though. While I still despise their studio work I have to give LANFEAR credit for a lot more aggression and "balls" in a live environment. I'm still not going to rush out to buy their CDs but next time they are on the bill I'll probably go in earlier. [Skyklad: LANFEAR were a "take 'em or leave 'em" kind of band for me. I didn?t think their performance was bad but it wasn?t anything special either.]
MARTYR from Holland were another no name to me until this day. I see their (only) album "For The Universe" in used bins every now and then but never gave them any attention. Until they stood before me and there was no way in Hell to NOT pay attention to their Metal inferno. MARTYR play a very powerful New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (=NWOBHM) sound (yeah, they're dutch but they still sound that way...) leaning towards JAGUAR and they have a hint of early MERCYFUL FATE (sans the King Diamond vocals) as well. Sounds complicated ? Well, buy the "For The Universe" CD then. I did and I'm very happy with it. Since I wasn't familiar with their material before the show I can't impress you with a playlist unfortunately. The only titles I still recall are "Black Sun" and "Speed Of Samurai" but they all rocked. HARD. [Skyklad: MARTYR were the highlight of the Warm Up show for me. They had incredible energy and sounded super. I felt really energized by their performance, even if I was not familier with their music aside from one MP3 I downloaded from somewhere. Excellent band !]
Next up was ADRAMELCH from Italy. To me they are the european FATES WARNING (who are the american MERCYFUL FATE but that's another story ) and I was very very happy to finally see them live. I've had their (until now) only album "Irae Melanox" since its release and I worship masterpieces like "Dreams Of A Jester", "Zephirus" or the monumental "Was Called Empire". When ADRAMELCH played the HEADBANGERS OPEN AIR in Summer 2004 I was pissed for weeks after because I had missed them. Not that I had a bad time interviewing BROCAS HELM either but still... Anyways, I finally got to see them and they were great. They played about half of "Irae Melanox" and also two new songs of the upcoming album and if those two are any indication at all "Broken History" will be one of THE albums in 2005. For me at least. [Skyklad: I had been far too drunk at the HOA festival so I didn?t recall ADRAMELCH well but this time I was careful with the beer consumption and could enjoy their performance. I thought they sounded great and was impressed by the new material. I look forward to their new album.]
After ADRAMELCH we decided to skip SHADOW KEEP who neither Skyklad nor I particularly cared for and get back to our hotel. The next day was going to be long...
Saturday April 2nd
KIT IV "Masters Of Metal"
At 7:30 my nutty wifes alarm went off and while I turned around for some more snoring she went out for a run. Can you say "obsessive compulsive" ? . [Skyklad: Ok husband, can you say "HALF MARATHON" ?] Actually I'm quite proud of her for being so disciplined and consequent but at that moment I could've done without it. Of course I couldn't sleep anymore after that so I spent the 70 minutes until she came back zapping around. There were like 25 stations on that Hotel TV and at least 15 of them were reporting on the Pope and his failing health. Well, as it turned out he only had a few more hours of suffering before him... And while others grovelled and prayed we rather turned our attention to the blasphemous riches of the Metal Market.
One of the (I think 30+) CDs we bought there was "Wait And Pray" of INSANE from Italy, the opening band. Most other people in attendance didn't know what to expect but INSANE used to be called SLAVES and had 2 demo CDRS out which Cheryl had received for her label WITCHES BREW. Though they ended up signing to BATTLE CRY we still had the advantage of being familiar with their material. Which I may add is quite brilliant in case you like SLAYER. A mix of "Hell Awaits" and "South Of Heaven" to be exact. While they didn't draw a lot of people before the stage I'm sure many of those still trying to wake up and/or plowing through the Metal Market ended up buying their CD like I did. Though their sound was sometimes a bit thin (They might want to think about a second guitarist to fill in the gaps) I thought INSANE were a great wake up call. I hope I get to see them again soon. Italy just seems to be a hotbed of great Thrash Metal these days. [Skyklad: I thought INSANE were decent but it almost seemed like they held back a bit onstage. Maybe they were nervous or something ? I don?t know, but I would like to see them again in a smaller setting. I think a small club stage would fit them better.]
Following INSANE was PARAGON and I was a bit surprised they went on that early. I'm not a huge fan of their very german sounding Power Metal but at least they do have power in their Metal. The only song that stuck out for me was "Armies Of The Tyrant", all the rest sounded good live but didn't really stick with me. [Skyklad: I?ve seen PARAGON a few other times and again they were consistent with a powerful and enthusiastic performance. They never cease to bring on the great, headbanging riffs and make the crowd move.]
I was out for a beer during PARAGON and heard in passing that SATAN were not going to play. It took me until after THUNDER RIDER (one has to have priorities ) to find Oliver who confirmed the bad news. Graeme English had been hospitalized earlier that day because of an accident. I hope he's fine again and there wasn't any serious injury.
THUNDER RIDER were one of the highlights of KIT IV to me. I hauled in their 2 CDs at KIT III and they were some of my most priced possessions ever since. I can not thank Mordred enough for introducing their epic Metal to me . Live they sounded a bit less like MANILLA ROAD but the connection (also to OMEN and TYRANT) was still there. Among other masterpieces they mesmerized me with tracks like "Death To Death" "Evil Slayer" or "Thy Kingdom Come". I'm looking forward to their next album with great anticipation. Too bad they didn't bring any shirts in XXL... .
Next up were TORCH from Sweden and if I had not known it would've been obvious by the fact that the horde of swedish nutcases who were camped out for 2 days already crawled to the front row with their huge flag. They contrasted with the band who looked like they just jumped off a street wear advertisement quite a bit but nevertheless they put on a very energetic show. TORCH always sounded ACCEPT inspired and live even more so. Which isn't a bad thing of course and with tracks like "Warlock" or "Electrikiss" they could do no wrong. I had not expected them to kick so much ass to be honest. Nice surprise . [Skyklad: A dream had come true the minute TORCH took the stage ! I had been wanting to see this band for what seemed like an eternity and now, finally, here they were. Despite that they looked very strange from a metalhead point of view, they simply ROCKED ! They played a fantastic selection of songs from their rather short discography that had me happily headbanging the entire time. I was glad they played 'Thunderstruck'. Awesome !]
OVERLORDE can almost be considered the Metal Gospel house band so there was an extra warm hello the night before already when we first met them and we were all looking forward to them playing very much. Well, we most certainly were not disappointed. They tore off the roof of the venue.
Bobby dedicated "Metallic Madness" to "Cheryl and MetalGospel for all the support they gave us throughout the years" and I'm sure Pathfinder Cheryl can give a better report than I can . [Skyklad: I could probably write a novel about the OVERLORDE performance because it has left a lasting impression on me. I was very honoured to hear their dedication to me so thanks go to you guys for that ! The performance was top notch, energetic, enthusiastic and totally impressive. If you want to see a band that puts their "all" into a performance then you HAVE to see OVERLORDE and marvel at the awesome guitar playing and on fire vocals. They played almost every song from their latest masterpiece, "Return Of The Snow Giant" and just hearing 'Metallic Madness' made me get whiplash. I even fell down the stairs after shooting some photos because of the excitement (and no, it had nothing to do with beer, THIS time. ). EXCELLENT performance!]
MAJESTY got lucky this time around. Due to a pit stop at a supermarket before we arrived at the venue we already had dinner on us. At previous KITs we used to take an hour break around dinner time and for some reason that always was when MAJESTY were on. They put on a funny show and played just like on CD. Which (to me anyways) poses the problem. Sometimes (and much so that particular night) MAJESTY are just too clean and controlled. It?s like they?re on sedatives and I stand in front of the stage waiting for at least one song that?s played faster than on CD or something that gives me the impression that this isn?t full play back. Don?t get me wrong, I like MAJESTY quite a bit but I really wish they?d let loose on stage. There?s so much potential for more there? [Skyklad: I have lost count at what number time this was seeing Germanys answer to MANOWAR but once again they rocked the stage with great Metal anthems that had fists pumping and hair flying. I always enjoy seeing these guys and this performance was another great one.]
Despite the fact that I have "Ascend From The Cauldron" since it?s original release I wasn?t too familiar with DEADLY BLESSINGs material. They put on a very good show with tracks like "Salems Lot", "Demise Of Faust" and of course "Deadly Blessing" and it was quite impressive how Sky managed to hit even the more bizarre notes. That guy most definetly can sing. DEADLY BLESSING got a surprisingly good response from the crowd, considering their material isn?t exactly easy listening. But sometimes (just sometimes) fate is just. :)
Swedish COUNT RAVEN are the first Doom band ever to play a KIT and I appreciate the opening process away from Power Metal to a more diverse line-up that includes Thrash and Doom (and both are "Traditional Heavy Metal as well !) very much. It makes for a more diverse and thus more exciting environment. The band just returned from a longer hiatus and their cool laid back stage acting made clear they are back to stay. Old classics like "Leaving The Warzone", "Until Death Do Us Part", "Let The Dead Bury The Dead" or "Inam Naudemia" from the first album "Storm Warning" were presented with great passion and the new songs "Scream" and "A Lifetime" even promise a new album to which I am looking forward to immensely. Of course they didn't play all the songs I wanted to hear but on a festival you're almost always left wanting more and they made the best out of the time they had. I hope to see COUNT RAVEN on tour again soon!
I've been wanting to see AGENT STEEL since 1985 and now it finally came true... Starting out with "Unstoppable Force" they almost exclusively played 80s material like "The Rager" and the complete "Skeptics Apokalypse" album. I think playing all 9 tracks in the order of the original album was a mistake because it took out some drive and excitement. Not that later tracks like "Avenger" or the brilliant last track "Mad Locust Rising" were bad (HELL NO !) but after the "Skeptics" tracks people seemed to gravitate towards the back of the venue to pass out. Which is somewhat understandable after 12 hours of Metal but still unforgivable considering the material. *shrugs* Anyways, I stayed and enjoyed myself immensely. As a side note, Tim Thomas of STEEL PROPHET filled in for the missing Bernie Versailles.
After "Mad Locust Rising" AGENT STEEL ran off stage to make way for AFTER ALL from Belgium. They were not planned to play but they were on tour together with AGENT STEEL and thus present anyways. I must say I wasn't too fond of them. They sounded too modern (in a bad way) for my taste and judging from the crowd reaction most people present felt like me. But it was over after 3 songs so it wasn't too torturous...
I've seen VORTEX once before on last years Headbangers Open Air and one of these days I need to see them when I'm NOT worn out from 12 hours of Metal so I can do more than hang in there half dead and nod to the music occasionally. They were planed to be the "bleed band" (in case shedule gets stretched as usual) but this time, due to SATAN not showing up they got to play their full set. The vocalist looked as insane as ever. This guy takes face paint to a new extreme... Musically VORTEX are just the right sound for a worn out crowd. Simple and forward with hints of PRIEST (They covered "Electric Eye") and ACCEPT and all was well.
[Skyklad: VORTEX really gave me a good wake up call from my beer haze that had started setting in around the time COUNT RAVEN were playing. Despite being dead tired, I really enjoyed their performance and thought it was even better than when I had seen them at the HOA festival. The frontman with his funny wig was a crazy guy as usual, prowling around the stage and making the traditional "metal" kind of faces. They played for what seemed like a long time and even before they were finished we headed back to the hotel to rest before our journey home the next day.]
KIT IV was another great festival and I'm already looking forward to KIT V in November 2005. The line-up isn't complete yet but already mouthwatering nevertheless. Or can you resist VIRGIN STEELE (USA), RAVEN (UK), RUFFIANS (USA), INTRUDER (USA), SKULLVIEW (USA), STORMWARRIOR (GER), FORSAKEN (MALTA) (and 3 more who are yet to be announced) as well as WOLF (SWE), POWERGOD (GER) with a special covershow and STRIKELIGHT (GR)...? I know I can't. See you all there or at Headbangers Open Air 2005 !!! [Skyklad: Yes, another fantastic festival comes to an end but with the announcement of the next festivals line up, who can be sad ? I had a really great time meeting people I know from online forums, drinking beer, headbanging and hanging out with some very cool bands. That?s what it?s all about ! I look forward to the next KIT in November and all those to follow.]
Festival Website: www.keep-it-true.de