FATES WARNING / HEIR APPARENT / PRAYING MANTIS / KENN NARDI / ARTCH / SKI / IRON CROSS / SAVAGE MASTER / DEXTER WARD / METALIAN
Date: 30th April, 2016
Venue: Tauberfranken Halle
Ticket: €63 / $69 (two days)
Promoter: Keep It True
Photos: Erika Wallberg
Day one ended with Canadian Speed Metal and day two of 'Keep It True'’s nineteenth edition started with the same. METALIAN perhaps looked a little sprawling with a metalhead on bass, a Lenny Kravitz looking guitar-player, a Punk-rocker on guitars and vocals and a Dave Grohl clone on drums. Not that looks matter when the music is as good as METALIAN’s was. And frankly, I rather have a true bunch of musicians giving it all than some über-studied rip-off clones of the 80’s Arena look. So, with the casual attitude and fantastic musical performance METALIAN really took day two by storm. Afterwards, everyone I talked to just said wow, that was damn good! But moving a little too far ahead, with one full length and a couple of EP’s in the baggage having the band listed on the ‘Keep It True’ poster was the first time I ever heard of them. After doing some digging I say they impressed me but it was still much better to see the songs live. And as half the songs were from the fantastic “Metal Fire & Ice”, at least half the set was familiar to me. “Into The Unknown” and “The Traveller” are truly amazing and it’s very hard to resist head-bang to “Evel Knievel”, amazing tracks really. And for sure, I was tired when hitting the venue in at lunch hour this lovely Saturday but after the METALIAN set the party mood was full on again.
02. “Metal Fire & Ice”
03. “Into the Unknown”
04. “The Traveller”
06. “Evel Knievel”
08. “Heat Ray”
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With a taste from “Rendezvous With Destiny” through the speakers of this year’s edition of ‘Up The Hammers’ festival, it was with great anticipation I looked forward to seeing DEXTER WARD play. And I think this was actually the first time I saw DEXTER WARD playing live, the members I’ve seen perform multiple time with other bands though. And since all those shows have been good I knew what to expect from DEXTER WARD. And of course, that the album sounded fantastic boosted the urge to see them too.
Set opener and first official release from DEXTER WARD “Antarctic Dream” went down well with the crowd but didn’t really bring on the energy and force from the band I was expecting. Nerves playing tricks perhaps because that changed as the title track from the new album “Rendezvous With Destiny” kicked off. And from here on it all was just as I expected it. It’s fantastic to watch these musicians play. Vocalist Mark Dexter is like a Jr Metal God, he’s amazing to watch (denim, leather and studs never fail), a great vocalist and sure knows how to get a crowd moving. Again, the intimate An Club or slightly bigger Kyttaro Club is perhaps more his comfort zone but he did a very good job on the Keep It True Stage as well.
“These Metal Wings”, again from the brand new album was another favorite from the set. But of course, “Metal Rites” and “Back To Saigon” from the full length debut sounded amazing too and really set the party mood on high.
DEXTER WARD setlist:
01. “Antarctic Dream”
02. “Rendezvous With Destiny”
03. “Ghost Rider”
04. “Stone Age Warrior”
05. “These Metal Wings”
06. “Metal Rites”
07. “Back To Saigon”
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The push for SAVAGE MASTER prior to the festival was rather massive. And for sure, it sounds cool and is ok. Also, Stacey Peak is both gorgeous and a really good vocalist/front woman. I heard she would be rather shy on stage but from where that came from, I don’t know. Stepping out in a Metal bikini, whipping the shit out of bass-player Brandon Brownwith with a nine tailed cat doesn’t come across as shy in my world. And who can really resist a song as “With Whips And Chains” and the visuals going on in it? And that Stacey is flanked by bear breasted men in executioners masks sure build up the concept as well.
And by all means, I think SAVAGE MASTER have a concept for success, they stir up a buzz around them with the shows and the songs played this afternoon sure are catchy, “Looking For A Sacrifice” and “Ready To Sin” stuck like fly-paper. But SAVAGE MASTER have still a bit to go to match the other bands on the bill from a musical perspective if you’d ask me. It's not as precise and flawlessly played as the rest of the bands on the bill. But sure a good and amusing show and it will be very interesting to see where SAVAGE MASTER will go and how they sound in a few years.
SAVAGE MASTER setlist:
01. “Dark Light Of The Moon”
02. “Black Hooves”
03. “With Whips And Chains”
04. “Satan's Crown”
05. “Looking For A Sacrifice”
06. “Ready To Sin”
07. “Path Of The Necromancer”
08. “The Ripper In Black”
09. “The Mystifying Oracle”
10. “Mask Of The Devil”
11. “Death Rides The Highway”
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I was really happy to see IRON CROSS’ name on the poster again after they cancelled due to the tragic passing of guitarist and vocalist Mike Skelton a few years ago. But this year they came and there was an anticipating crowd waiting for them. The coolest thing with the IRON CROSS show was that all of them sung, almost everyone doing leads and did it very good also. I thought “Mistress Of The Dark” would come much later in the set since that is the one most people were talking about prior to the show (and after as well). In this one, drummer Tony Blair took on the majority of the lead-vocals. The chorus line I thought, not knowing what IRON CROSS is capable of when it comes to singing, would be a little poor but the different harmonies was spot on. So, this was actually mightier than on record.
I normally don't like it when bands set aside their own material for a cover, especially when they have as little time to play as a festival allows. But the MOTÖRHEAD classic “Killed By Death” sounded fantastic. And in a way, it actually brought attention to the band. I mean, it's not like you can go into just any record store and buy IRON CROSS records. The following was good but there was also a part of the crowd not familiar with the band. Nothing unique for IRON CROSS, the crowd was different from previous festivals. People not as routed in to these old school bands as normal. It's not bad, just different.
And hell yes, it was a true pleasure to get to hear “Demons” and “Bloodlust” live. They are fantastic songs from a fantastic record. Also the performance as flawless, IRON CROSS sounded amazing.
IRON CROSS setlist:
01. “Dark Dreams Of Evil”
02. “Mistress Of The Dark”
03. “True Barbarians”
04. “Killed By Death” (MOTÖRHEAD cover)
07. “Queen Of Deception”
08. “IC Brotherhood”
09. “Die Like That”
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I for sure knew that Norman R Kiersznowski Jr, aka Ski, could sing even if I only had seen him perform once before. Both releases with DEADLY BLESSING and FAITH FACTOR are fantastic, just to mention a few. But I wasn't really prepared for this show (yes, it was mainly Ski who stood for the show) put on. I mean, IRON CROSS sounded fantastic and I'm not complaining on anything but the fact that Rex Alan mainly sat down and played for the majority of the set it became something completely different with Ski running around like crazy on stage. Also, for each song removing some of his clothes and throwing it out in the crowd. Sunglasses, bandana, vest, shoes... yes, his shoes even. And I think it's the first time I've seen a clothes change during a ‘Keep It True’ set with Ski coming out dressed with American flag patterned clothes for the closing song of the set, the LIZZY BORDEN track “American Metal”.
But I’m moving ahead a little fast... Before all clothes was off Ski managed to impress with a fantastic set of DEADLY BLESSING songs. I just love “Salem's Lot” and even more so “Escape The Wrath”, absolutely fantastic US Power Metal. And of course the bands signature track “Deadly Blessing” was a blast to hear.
It is performances like this one that are impressive on these festivals. Basically, any old school US Metal band, Heavy or Thrash delivers in a fantastic way. Musically it's flawless, always. On occasion, the show can leave more to wish for but not with SKI, the guys behind Mr Ski did a very good from a visual aspect too even if their effort wasn't as intense. This along with the chock factor with the clothes change made this one of my favorite gigs at this edition of ‘Keep It True’.
02. “Search And Destroy” (DEADLY BLESSING cover)
03. “Salem's Lot” (DEADLY BLESSING cover)
04. “Escape The Wrath” (DEADLY BLESSING cover)
05. “Silent Madness” (DEADLY BLESSING cover)
06. “Deliver Us From Evil” (DEADLY BLESSING cover)
07. “Deadly Blessing” (DEADLY BLESSING cover)
08. “Cry Of Medusa” (DEADLY BLESSING cover)
09. “Holy Soldier” (WITHOUT WARNING cover)
10. “American Metal” (LIZZY BORDEN cover)
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