PPM Fest 2012
|Event:||Power Prog & Metal Fest 2012 (PPM)|
After 2 successful one-day editions, the PPM fest - for Prog Power & Metal - has grown bigger this year and consisted of a 3 days indoor festival. Or rather 2.5 days since it started at 5pm on Friday.
Yet the formula stayed the same, alternating between 2 stages placed at opposite ends of the exposition hall with bands getting bigger with time. This time the bar was perfectly placed in the middle of the venue while independent food stands were outside along with a few merch stands (official band merch stands were inside). A very nice setting, especially since there was room for everybody and that everybody could have a good view of the stages.
Note: for photos, I can only redirect to the PPM fest page on Facebook (yeah.. sorry), you'll find many good quality pics there.
Friday, April 6
Goliath was already on stage when me and my friends entered the venue for the first time. And we did not bother since it sounded way too "corish" for us (heavy/prog/power fans, and I'm the only one open to louder types of metal). The singer delivered a message to the crowd, thanking the organizers and calling all metalheads to stand strong and united against things like cancer, as he was fighting the disease for some time now. Best luck to him.
I've just checked the band on Myspace and I must say the music is good but still not a fan of the vocals though.
The name itself does indicate these Belgians play good old heavy metal, and they do it well but without managing to sound somewhat special. Thus we had a pleasant time but I may not remember about the band in a year or two.
Odd Dimension were the first representants of prog metal of this PPM fest 2012. The italian outfit did well but did not impress much.
Unfortunately for Trollfest and for my ears, the sound was not very good so it was hard for me to determine whether the band did suck or not compared to their usual performances. One thing's for sure: if not the sound then the vocals would have ruined the music. The only moment that was not so unpleasant was to see the singer dressed as a beer during the first minute of the show.
I don't get why Septicflesh are adored. Ok, I understand how girls can fall for the singer (he also plays the bass guitar but it's more an accessory - in the same way goth girls carry umbrellas - rather than a tool he uses to make music with) since the guy does have charism but that's about it. Music wise it's not bad of course but it's not great either, especially when the symphonic parts sound too distant from what is actually being played live, as was the case for this show. At least we got a glimpse of death metal that wasn't too far from what prog/power metal enjoy.
Korpiklaani used to mean "folk metal" but now it's become a synonym for "party metal". And they did throw a party that certainly continued after the concert since you could meet them afterwards in the crowd, the singer bearing his usual drunkard face, holding a bottle of Jack. Singing songs about alcohol does make one thirsty.
Anyway the band did a very good show and unlike Trollfest, the sound was very good so we could hear properly all the instruments. New violin player Tuomas Rounakari had a short solo spot, also promoting his solo album. The crowd was pleased and had all the songs they requested (that is: Vodka, Tequila, Beer Beer).
Rhapsody Of Fire
The headliner for this first day of festival was the acclaimed epic/hollywood/symphonic power metal band originally from Italy: Rhapsody Of Fire, 2012 version. After the split that saw founder and guitarist Luca Turilli leave the band and create "Luca Turilli's Rhapsody", along with support guitarist Dominique Leurquin and bassist Patrice Guers, everybody was curious to see what the band had become.
And... my curiosity soon turned into disappointment. Simply put, some of Rhapsody's magic is gone. None of the 2 new guitarists can compensate for Turilli's charism and ease of playing. Perhaps they played the same notes, but it didn't have the same feel. Staropoli's occasionnal keyboard solos sounded even more toyish than the usual and Oliver Holzwarth's solo spot on the bass guitar was the lamest I ever witnessed... Also, while Lione's performance was flawless I couldn't help noticing he knelt way more than ever before, which is probably the result of touring with Kamelot and trying to mimic Khan's stage acting.
Of course we still had a good time with some of the band's classics even though the setlist focussed more on newer recordings.
Now I'm eager to see LT's Rhapsody.
Saturday, April 7
I think I only heard No Fatality's last song. Nevertheless the heavy/power band sounded quite good and looked quite young so we may hear about them in the future.
A friend of mine spotted Azylya's album at the merch stand and told us "let's go, hot stuff to see!" and so did we. Looking at the instruments before the show began I thought this could get interestingly proggy but it didn't. The sole interest emanating from this Epica-like female fronted band is that it is female frontend, and the band is fully aware of it. The singer's dress can completely be described in 2 words: stockings + corset. Add to that a fan (a la Epica) and a tendency to bend so the crowd can see her cleavage (and conclude that it's not very impressive) and it's easy to guess that this is the main argument they want to promote. Not a bad idea but please, don't forget the music... because clearly there's a lack in that department. I think the only talented member is the keyboard player, and the worst could be the said singer whose singing is just bad. A funny watch.
No surprise, Nightqueen is a female fronted power metal band and while the music also was no surprise, at least they sounded convincing.
I discovered Fury UK last year as they opened for Iced Earth and was happy to be able to see them again. The trio is a blast of metal played like good old hard rock with solid riffs and crazy solos.
Note that right after the PPM fest, Luke Appleton was announced as Iced Earth new bass player.
I feel really sorry, I was there but I cannot remember a single thing about the performance of Evidence.
The venue started to feel seriously cold for me, my mind was set more on whether I should fetch some warmer piece of cloth than on the actual show... So the only things I remember from Pathfinder were that 1) their power metal was interestingly good 2) their guest singer Dianne Van Giersbergen is smoking hot.
Again I'm sorry, we just sat through this show, paralyzed by the cold. Eventually we walked back to the car to take some more clothes on.
Still recovering, I didn't watch a lot of Andromeda's set but enough to say that the sound was good and we could clearly hear all the musicianship from the Swedish proggers. We got some of their most famous songs such as Periscope" and "The Words Unspoken". I feel bad not to have been in the crowd since it's been years since I saw them on stage.
Damn, how could I never know about this band, apparently cult. Even though I must admit that, being mesmerized by the frontman's performance, I didn't pay a great attention to the music that does appear to be NWOBHM with an edge.
But back to the singer, short haired, wearing a crown of thorns and using a headset microphone, often on the move, leaning on his knee to headbang and of course acting as a sort of priest from hell. You don't see that so often and although the vocals could have been louder in the mix, the result still is the second best performance of PPM fest 2012 for me.
I've never been a huge fan but for some reason I found Finntroll to be very enjoyable that night though I can't say more about the show.
Evergrey's lineup having drastically changed, I was not sure what to expect from them. It eventually turned very good, somewhere near as good as it was before the split. The setlist included "Masterplan", "Rulers Of The Mind", "Recreation Day", "I'm Sorry" and some more before the final song "A Touch Of Blessing".
The first time I saw Rhapsody on stage, for their first European tour, I fell for the opener: Sonata Arctica. But while I loved their first album, I found the second to be a step below and then the third one came out and was garbage to me. And so I stopped listening to Sonata Arctica. That and the fact I heard rumors on how uncool they were on tour.
This time I played the game and attended the full show. It was not bad at all except for the songs from their upcoming album - and the fact they performed them live for the first time is no excuse for such lameful material. At the time I'm writing this, a video for "I have a right" has been released so go and check for yourself, and try not to laugh or cry or suicide. Though, haha, you have a right to actually like it.
So in short, me liked "Replica" and "Full Moon" and wish luck to the band for their uncertain future.
Accept are back with a new album, Stalingrad, and simply put: they rock! Fronted by singer Mark Tornillo and powered by Wolf Hoffmann's enthusiasm and talent they played for more than 2 hours, with 3 encores (although all planned IMO). Perhaps a bit too much for someone like me who's not that familiar with the discography of the German band, but given the quality of the set I cannot complain.
Sunday, April 8
Hailing from southern France, Nereids opened this last day of festival in front of a small crowd and on what could easily be identified as Epica's stage since giant flower-like lights were installed in the back. But I'll come back to them later.
Nereids plays symphonic metal with female vocals and they had a guest violinist with them. They were a nice choice for that time of the day but they clearly have a lot to learn, mainly in terms of presentation: some of the musicians were overexcited, others not moving a single bit, all dressed differently from a tux to a complete goth outfit making the whole show a bit awkward. They had the delicacy of playing a ballad in honor of all the Belgian children dead in a bus accident in Switzerland a few weeks before.
Given the name I concluded Stone Goats would be heavy stoner rock or something I'm not interested in, therefore I decided it was lunchtime. But from afar, the band did sound better than I thought, more southern rock oriented than stoner and with riffs and vocals somewhat reminding of Metallica.
Beyond The Labyrinth
Beyond The Labyrinth was the most "progressive" element of the fest, and while the Belgium band was unknown to me, I enjoyed their performance that turned out to be more "metal" than just the 80s prog music I expected. I'm tempted to dig further into their albums.
Hailing from France and engaged in a tour with Mystic Prophecy, Stormwarrior and Powerwolf - all of them playing on this same day - Lonewolf are metal warriors fighting foes with a heavy power metal that is pretty classic but cleansed of all the boring bits. So it's fun to hear and has you headbang all along.
You read about how little I knew about numerous bands but now, do you know Manigance? Cause I do, and even though their latest studio effort isn't as good as their other release, I do consider them one of the best heavy/power band out there. Proggers and NWOBHMers should also feel at ease with the band's music but I admit it may not be the case with the vocals, cause as they said during the show, French is kinda their specificity. The band did an ok performance and the new songs proved to be excellent live material.
I was eagerly waiting for Power Quest so I can troll on their performance afterwards, and they didn't disappoint in this regard. I watched them only once before, opening for Angra in what was supposed to be the brazilians' 15th anniversary tour but turned to be a very ordinary tour that left the early fan that I am quite angry. Nevertheless, Power Quest had proven to be a good power metal amateur opener but the simplicity of their music and lyrics could certainly not withstand a full show. Now that the only remaining member from that time is the keyboard player, perhaps it would appear better and less standard than it was back then.
And yes, it was better but still laughable. They got themselves a singer that can sing and run all the time but the whole thing made me think of a Kpop show rather than a metal show. They're not that bad of course, but their power metal is so average and stereotyped that they'd rather be a flower metal parody band. They'd be successful.
Speaking of a parody band, I wasn't sure whether Stormwarrior was one or if they were super serious about the true metal warrior image that they got for releasing an EP with an epic cover artwork: the Heavy Metal Fire EP. That artwork was the only thing I knew of Stormwarrior before the show. I discovered that they used it as a backdrop so I was waiting for Manowarriors to arrive on stage and crush us - posers - with trueness unknown to man.
And no... The guys we saw on stage were definitely not warriors and were just a bunch of power metallers, pathetic. I felt betrayed, misleaded and not amused at all. Their power metal is so average and stereotyped that they'd rather stop. They'd be successful.
Unfortunately for them, I needed to get prepare for the remaining bands that I knew would kick serious ass, so once again I can't comment though what I heard wasn't enough to make me watch a bit instead of securing a good place in Powerwolf's audience.
Cause here is the band I was looking forward the most. 2 weeks before I had never heard of them but one of the guys I went to the fest with did search on the internet for some of the bands he didn't know and linked me to a live video of Powerwolf that totally changed my mind from "uh, a name like that pretty much says how much this band sucks" to "OMG this is pure genius!". And it really seems that the entire world knows except the French, since at the PPM fest in Belgium I could see lots of people with Powerwolf patches and t-shirts.
The Germans, claiming to hail from Romania to match with the nearly parodic themes of wolves, vampires and churches that they use, play a terribly catchy power metal with immediate lyrics boosted by a great acting on stage and excellent crowd control (though I could do without the moshpit on my right) even through the keyboardist who does join the frontman when he's not needed behind his instrument. Plus I loved that, having 2 guitars, they don't need a bass player, because that makes sure the sound is clear and does not turn into muddy noise like it's often the case when the sound is not top notch - which is often the case (don't be mistaken, I love bass guitar).
Powerwolf easily won the best show award for me at the PPM fest 2012!
After such a blast, more fun was on the way with the crazy Swedes of Freak Kitchen. Doing the soundcheck themselves right after Powerwolf finished, they seemed to be ready and waiting for the "go". So of course, Mattias took advantage of the situation by throwing a few jokes before announcing that they had no epic intro whatsoever and that the show started right away. Unfortunately, not everyone got it and I bet some people just wandered around not knowing it had begun. And others were having their final meal, perhaps thinking there wasn't anything special to see or not getting any of the jokes the frontman made in such a rapidly flowing English. As a result, the crowd wasn't very dense and I could easily get 3 rows to stage... and so did an annoying over-excited dude who slammed and moshed so many times I swear I was thinking of punching him in the face more than I was watching the show. After realising the irony of this, I stepped back - not willing to ruin the show of this incredible band. This said, I must admit that the setlist wasn't the best and that I already knew all the jokes the band offered us that night from previous shows. Thus, I was pleased but not totally entertained, but the bastard in the crowd is the first I blame for that.
Ah, Simone... if you were ugly your band would never have succeeded in this harsh music world. This was once again proven by the nearly out of tune singing we could hear during the first half of the show, although it's right to say the sound engineer didn't help by pushing the frontwoman's microphone a bit too loud. Hopefully it was better when Epica played their most famous songs but then again it wasn't enough to turn me into a admirer of the band but the big crowd they attracted was certainly pleased. So it's ok. Even though the damn plant-like lights stuck on the back of this stage since the very morning proved to be quite useless.
Every journey has an end, and the bards were in charge of making sure that particular journey to the PPM fest would get the magical ending it deserved, although it was a pretty standard show from Blind Guardian. If you've never attended a Blind Guardian show, that means a lot of fans - and this time yes, I can say I am a fan - are singing the lyrics sometimes even louder than the singer does. The music is so good that they don't even need any special stage antic or decoration to turn the crowd into happy singing sheeps. This is good for them since that means they can leave quickly after the show, just piling up their instruments and good bye. If I say that it's unfortunately because - despite being a happy singing sheep fan - it was disappointing to see them leave without an encore. Without playing "Imaginations From The Other Side" for instance, although Hansi did friendly warn us we wouldn't get it and that they were expected back in Germany at 4am so we'd better not lose much time singing "Valhalla, delivrance" for hours (and of course we did, that's a golden moment for us, sheep fans). And we had "The Bards' Song" too. And we also got "Bright Eyes", a song I personally wanted to hear live.
So all in all it was a very good show, top #3 I'd say, and the story ends here.
As a spectator, this 3-day PPM fest was a success! Perhaps you did doubt that while reading my report but it really was an excellent festival, with an excellent formula, nice bands and a good organisation. If only I had brought warmer clothes - the previous week having been curiously hot and sunny for this time of the year - it would have been perfect.
So, granted you are into power metal, and the heavy, symphonic, progressive nuances of the genre, I strongly recommend you this festival.
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