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I’ve never been particularly religious. I was never raised religiously. I was never brought up to believe in God. I know this is more common nowadays, since I live in a particularly secular country (the Netherlands) where the religious adherence has declined through the past forty years and most Christians I know are barely proselytic or are only so in name. My parents are not religious, although they were raised Catholics – as far as I know, my mother is an atheist and my dad isn’t… well, anything as far as I know. Let’s just say it’s not relevant.

The fact I was not baptised has never been a source of commotion. My mother’s parents were devoutly religious and I have no doubt they didn’t like their daughters’ children not being baptised (one of my aunt and uncle decided not to baptise their children either), but they never said a word against it. Maybe it is because they realised their children were adults and could handle things on their own, maybe they just didn’t care. I don’t know and since my grandparents are both deceased there is no way of asking. My dad’s side is not very religious (they too were brought up Catholic) but my grandmother had revoked her subscription to the church and my grandfather is not very devout (but I can’t tell, since he barely speaks anymore due to his paralysis). Of course my uncle is gay, so that doesn’t really aid matters. I know one of my uncles is definitely an atheist and I always got along with him very well, and I don’t know about many of my other aunts and uncles (they are all nominally Cath0lic, but the extent of their belief is not really well documented for my part and since they never speak about belief, I doubt it is interesting for me to know).

But still, you come into contact with it. I went to a public school which was secular – my parents did offer me the possibility to study religion, and I did do religious studies while I was in primary school, in which we learned the stories from the Bible, particularly that of the Old Testament stand out for me. I did not own a Bible, but my paternal grandmother did lend me her children’s bible to read – which I devoured at the age of nine, since I was into mythology and stories (and I still am). But at that age, at nine, I considered them stories – I did not think about their implications in the world whatsoever. They were just stories, and whatever they said about God I took much in the same way I took Theseus slaughtering the Minotaur, or Perseus taking care of Medusa. It was a story, and one I have always liked for its storytelling value, but never for the truth or even its morality.

I hated my primary school – I was bullied heavily, I fought with lots of people. It wasn’t happy and I was alone often. I have spent many days in my room playing and making up imaginary friends to play with. It was normal for me – I was alone often. I didn’t really notice the meaning of friends. I didn’t know how to make them. I do now, of course – not easily, but I do. In hindsight that didn’t have anything to do with religion, but I can imagine how in such a period you could turn to God for aid. I didn’t. It never occurred to me that I could ask a deity for help. Perhaps it’s because religion wasn’t something spoken about with my parents – they never encouraged one particular religion and they always emphasized my complete cultural awareness – they wanted me to learn and to question, they didn’t want to make the impression on me that what they said was invariably true. To be open-minded sometimes, particularly my mother who is to this day still this way, was a valued trait and not a burden. They liked my eccentricity, even if that brought problems.

I went to a Catholic (nominally) high school. The school affiliated themselves as being an open Catholic school – they were founded on Catholic principles, but they encouraged any religion. Religious studies was on the curriculum, but I was taught by a teacher who managed to use South Park in his classes to great effect, and who managed to bring Plato equally effectively as the Sermon on the Mount. He was an excellent teacher – he was nominally Catholic, but he was also extremely open-minded, and he was very willing to teach about anything religion-related, not just his (proselytism was not an interest of his). He had to research Buddhism for one semester for us – he let us choose whether we preferred Buddhism or Islam (the overwhelming majority voted Buddhism). It meant he had a whole new thing to study, but he did it lovingly and to this day I know more about religion because he encouraged objective study of the subject. Religious studies teachers around the world, take note: there exist people who can bring the Bible, the Qu’ran and anything else to the people without forcing their opinions on you. There are people that encourage thought. Nevertheless, he always ensured I was interested in religion.

At the age of 12, my grandmother died. She was buried in her home village (a tiny, strongly devout Catholic hamlet in the south of the country). She was very religious, and my family being rather tight-knit, I tried to pray for her. But it didn’t work. I felt empty. It was like I could turn my hands to the sky and hope for a miracle, that she could come back, or that it would be ok again. It never was. Obviously. I don’t think that was a turning point, but it started my disinterest in religion – the endless tedium of masses in her name I had to attend afterwards are well etched into my brain. I became so sick of these masses, with the endless tedious sermons, that it was by virtue of sheer boredom that I wanted to leave it. I preferred to study the Latin and Greek rather than pay attention and would recite prayers in Latin rather than Dutch.

As I grew older my interest in atheism grew. At the age of fourteen/fifteen I started to develop an interest in heavy metal music, possibly the most atheistic of musical genres. I listened to punk bands. I learned of music called Bad Religion and although some of my friends remained Christian – I never sought their company in the face of some of them pointing out I should be religious. I wasn’t. We agreed to disagree. It wasn’t until a few years ago, though, that I really started to settle on this belief. It took readings of The God Delusion to understand what I really wanted to say. What it really means to be non-religious in a world full of people devout to their faith.

I was raised with awareness of science and technology consistently. My father has a degree in theoretical physics and now works in IT. Computers and natural history (I was obsessive about dinosaurs and the solar system as a child) were always around me. I learned how to do mathematics quickly. I was raised, in other words, to question – my father, as a scientist and rational person pur sang, would not have stood for anything less than his son doing his scientific academic work. But being induced into this early means that my upbringing is almost incompatible with religion. Be taught about the universe, about atlases, about the history of the planet and you stumble upon evolution very early – the central theory of why religion and science are at odds. Learn about Darwin and Cope means you’re almost bound to be in the field of science (I now study chemical engineering). My mother is a speech therapist and although she doesn’t really care much for sciences – she always encouraged study of it too. My brother is an animal freak and really loves nature documentaries – he too was raised with this and taking him to a zoo makes him ecstatic. He has watched more Steve Irwin than anyone we may care to consider insane – and he and I have watched David Attenborough documentaries together (one of my heroes nowadays). He also doesn’t consider himself very religious and he is planning to go into biology.

In hindsight, this makes my atheism seem almost obvious. Being raised tolerantly but always to harbour suspicion for anything; being exposed to the bane of all religion, evolution, as a young child; having experiences with religion that are quite frankly making any form of it seem irrelevant. But I still believe there’s something more to it. I like to say that I am a good person and that I am morally conscious. But science is not morality. Gravity doesn’t tell us how to love our partner. But I still believe that I can. And that seems to be the greatest victory. I don’t feel guilt about who I am or what I do. I answer only to myself and what I think is right. I answer to those I love. I have faith in those who I am close to. I love my family and my girlfriend to bits and pieces. I feel no shame for who I am. I am who I am, and I’m proud to be intellectual and to be able to think for myself.

I don’t believe I should take the advice of anyone who tries to corner me into guilt again. My one biggest weakness is guilt and the feeling I should make up for who and what I am. The feeling I have done wrong and need to make it right. That is why I declare myself an atheist. I will never feel anybody looking over me to tell me I have sinned. I will never feel the shoulder of society questioning why I have grown up to like half-Satanic music and read books about totalitarianism and suicide. Why I am a nerd into science and fantasy stories. Why I write depressing poetry. I do it because I am who I am and who I have discovered myself to be.

I have everything I desire. I have a job. I have self-expression. I have academic interests. I have music. I have love in my life. I have everything I want. God is irrelevant to my happiness. I can start to feel proud of myself soon, I hope. I sincerely hope this feeling will never change. The feeling of knowing there is someone that always loves you is the best feeling in the world, but I found this feeling on earth and not in my imagination now. For the past year I have tried to become happy and I sincerely feel I can succeed. For once I don’t always have to cry. For once I’m okay. For once I will be me.

I am sincerely yours, Planet Earth.

Jorn

Thrive on Fire

Thrive on fire – you must try,
In throes of shadow we walk.
Every hour danced away,
And we take no step forward.

Mask of fireflies that bedazzle;
Like candles on insects,
Drawing men to the flame.
Home in straw, home at last.

Burdened in the wake of life,
Smart children without glass,
Plastic or concrete walls,
Just wood to keep out the wind.

Green forms in the jungle show,
Eyes twinkling, voices warbling.
A language alien to Terra,
A voice from a distant sun.

Open the hatch and the ladder,
Carry us away from the waste;
Smoking ruins behind the trees,
Cut away the source of hope.

Please take us with you?
We saw mushrooms of fire,
Exploding in the night sky.
We are left in the barrens.

We are smart children now;
Play with sticks in the sand,
Fire around our dying heart,
Just wood to keep out the wind

Kingdom in the Mirror

I believe you need a mirror.
You see, when I look at it,
I see a face with pimples
and freckles,
and perhaps a few spots,
where beard used to grow.

But what do you see,
when you gaze into glass?

I believe you see yourself,
reflected with a smile,
whitened teeth;
perfectly brushed hair;
layers of makeup;
nary a flaw to be found.

Yet when I look in the mirror,
I see kingdoms in ruins.
I see squabbles among the people,
The very ones that you rule.

Can you imagine why I stare,
when you break the mirror
in the morning,
when you haven’t brushed;
or put on makeup;
or combed your hair;

It’s because you’re afraid.

woa woa a blog post

Journey Inside The Earth

Turned through holes of victims;
dug up the coin inside a cave.

And when I looked at it – two-sided;
Cast in the mould and came out
all like a copper circle in the rocks.

When I dig deeper into the core
I bring nothing but a trail of wine
and bread to seal my flesh traffic;
I wish you would open the gate.

I carve none on a stick, let it stand
buried in the sand from which we’re made.
I believe not that it would fall,
but I want the gold mountain to come from underneath.

I sold everything for a brass coin
when I wanted the silver in your home.
The glittering of a soul in the middle,
the sparkling of a smile in the heart.
I breathed your air from the start.

I am but peasantry digging for coins;
not even a dog to sniff for the hoard.
I know I have very little;
yet you always leave me wanting more.

When you’re having fun. Time to blog about Porcupine Tree last Monday. I apologise for the delay of this blog. I know the three regular readers really care for this apology. But yeah, I was having ISSUES. I has issues. Now you know.

I had no fun during Robert Fripp though. I know, I know, he was in King Crimson. I know, I know, he released some classic music. But his solo project needs to die. Seriously, ocean sounds with an added layer of Shine On You Crazy Diamond-intro PF guitars for 35 minutes? Get the hell off my stage, buster. I know you’re a legend, but that’s just the most boring thing since watching paint dry. Or my life. Or both, while watching grass grow. Please, SW, I know you love the guy and all, but this is not suitable for a live setting.

 Robert Fripp gets 2 whales out of 10.

One of those points is for being in King Crimson, mind. Awful.

Porcupine Tree took to the stage after a way lengthy soundcheck. The band was on top form, even with the vocal mix being a bit off in the beginning. The band are a solid, tight unit and SW’s presence live is not as overbearing as most musicians – he exudes a sort of quiet geeky presence – but he is clearly in command of the crowd anyhow. It was quite fun to watch him react to a man in the audience crying out for songs he wanted to hear; his subtle derision of “do you not know how a rock show works” and holding up a setlist was enough to excite a ripple of laughter from the crowd.

Apart from that, the long, excellent setlist with a few amazing crowd pleasers (Lazarus, thanks!) and of course the closing Trains (god that song is one of the best things ever), and an excellent rendition of the heavy section of Anesthetize means I’m glad about having witnessed SW and the boys back on the road. Thanks for making some of my time fly. Also, the visuals are sexcellent. Many thanks to Lasse Hoile for them.

Porcupine tree get 9 paparazzi hands waved at them out of 10.

Setlist:

Occam’s Razor
The Blind House
Great Expectations
Kneel and Disconnect
Drawing the Line
The Incident
Your Unpleasant Family
The Yellow Windows of the Evening Train
Time Flies
Degree Zero of Liberty
Octane Twisted
The Seance
Circle of Manias
I Drive the Hearse
—————-
Start of Something Beautiful
Russia on Ice (first part)
Anesthetize (heavy section)
Lazarus
Strip the Soul
.3 (coda)
Normal
Bonnie The Cat
——–
The Sound of Muzak
Trains

Until the next time, Jorn

I think this is the third time I’ve seen Dream Theater live, and I think it’s safe to say that they have never been better. Even though they are playing puny 90 minute sets now (for any other band that is a lot, but Dream Theater manage to squeeze in like… 9 songs with a set like that. And a keyboard solo. Stuff the keyboard solos, will you, guys), their performance is so top-notch it’s unfunny. And my neck still hurts TWO FUCKING DAYS after witnessing them.

Anyway, as DT were last, details of their set when you scroll down this lovely blog entry.

Opening up at 6:15 PM were the quebecois of Unexpect. These guys are more insane than a turtle/dolphin hybrid on a simultaneous combo of acid, shrooms, and various other drugs. I think I’ve seen everything from polka to metal to classical to jazz pass by. And that’s just probably a tenth of the styles this band incorporates. They have a very energetic stage performance, the band never stands still for a second, and even with limited stage space this band knows how to work an audience. It’s a shame not everyone had come in yet during their set, but they are well worth the repeat visit to Brussels in 8 days. These guys are absolutely nuts and their technical mishmash of orchestral metal, death vox,  Mr. Bungle-esque circus music, Dillinger Escape Plan-chaos, and whatever else have you is worth the price of entry anyday. Good musicians, good music, good band.

Unexpect are allowed to play 8 unexpected shows in my neighbourhood out of 10 possible venues.

Bigelf are extremely retro. Next time, don’t blow up an amp on stage (but Mr Fox wonderfully entertained the crowd during that little mishap). Organs, Pink Floyd-esque guitar solos combined with Sabbathian heaviness and a Deep Purple-ish organ sound, a new band from an old decade. As wonderfully 70s as they may be, Bigelf are competent performers anyway, and even with Fox’s funny stage outfit, they are charming rather than annoying.

I do suppose this is the band I care about the least on this lineup, but it’s all right. Bigelf get a solid 7 retro LP cases out of 10.

Opeth were absolutely fantastic. Third time I’ve seen them, third time they are spot on. Mike is always funny. Great fucking band. Second time my neck hurts for days after seeing them. Just go watch Opeth. Prog metal of the most exquisite calibre.

Opeth setlist:

Windowpane
The Lotus Eater
Harlequin Forest
April Ethereal
Deliverance
Hex Omega

Opeth get 9 metal headbanging neck hexes out of 10.

Dream Theater are simply flawlessly massive like nothing else I’ve ever witnessed. Festivals always give you sound issues and the previous time just had too little of a good setlist to be really stunning, although it was amazing in its own right. This time, the band was firing on all cylinders. I’ve walked home with the idea that every single penny was worth it. James sounded fantastic, too. The setlists still leave something to be desired (four Black Clouds songs is too much), and the keyboard solo is still unecessary, but other than that they got everything right. I practically died when the played Take The Time.  Fantastic performance.

Dream Theater setlist:

A Nightmare to Remember
A Rite of Passage
Hollow Years (demo version)
Keyboard Solo
Prophets of War
Wither
The Dance of Eternity
Take The Time

The Count of Tuscany

Dream Theater get 9.5 counts of prog metal out of 10.

 

until the next time, jorn

This is a blog post about my favourite band… ever. I mean like, ever ever. This is the best band since Pink Floyd. The loudest band since Manowar. The most atmospheric band since Brian Eno. The sexiest band since Marilyn Monroe. You know, like that kind of thing. That’s how much I like Anathema. They are the essence of my musical life, the core of my love of music, the awesomeness of my tastes, they are everything that I love.

Figures they’d translate well to the stage, dunnit?

Well actually Leafblade opened for them, which is basically a dude and Danny Cavanagh (yes, he of Anathema) playing acoustic songs. It’s nice. The singer has a good voice. It’s not particularly interesting or bouncy or I want to jump around in a container full of rubber balls kind of awesome, but it’s good. And you can take your girlfriend who isn’t into grunts, atmospheric keyboard tralala or pounding riffs to see them. And slowdance. That’s kind of awesome in itself.

Leafblade get 6 invitations to go to California to sing their songs in the hippie era out of 10.

After that was a short break for instrument setup. And then came the awesome. The hair on your balls. The semen in your ejaculation. The cherry on top of your birthday cake. They are Anathema, and to say they are no good is anathema from this day forward. Seeing Anathema is like witnessing Pink Floyd cover My Dying Bride, Sigur Ros, and themselves all at once, before imploding on themselves and starting to sound like Radiohead on speed. They’ve just got such a variety of songs, a multitude of ideas, and a prevalence of good melodies that makes you wanna simultaneously bang your head, clap your hands, and run around in circles for the awesomeness of it all.

Anathema aren’t the most technically skilled band, but they don’t need to be; the strength of their songwriting (!) is such that they need only competence at their instruments to be leagues ahead of everyone else. They delivered a solid two hour set full of two encores and everything ranging from metal bashing to acoustic folkery to atmospheric keyboard-drenched layers to creepy robotic noises. And they pull all of it off without sounding cheesy. Morose, maybe, but they have fun playing it, and they do it from the heart. This is a band you should go see the next time they come near you and buy their shirts, merch and everything else because this band does not deserve to play small clubs when shitty rappers sell out stadiums. This is real, true, class from real performers.

By the way, Anneke van Giersbergen (you know, she who is not in the Gathering anymore) made a guest appearance on three songs. She rules. Her voice is inch-perfect. Also, Vinnie is a charismatic performer. I love Vinnie. Even with his tight pants and leather jacket which don’t suit him at all. Go this band.

Anathema get 9.5 offerings to the gods out of 10. Where the gods are the band themselves.

Setlist:

Balance
Closer
Empty
Lost Control
Angels Walk Among Us
Deep
Temporary Peace
Judgement
Panic
A Natural Disaster (with Anneke van Giersbergen)
Hope (Roy Harper cover)
A Fine Day to Exit
Flying

Encore:
Are You There? (acoustic, Danny only)
The Blower’s Daughter (Damien Rice cover) (with Anneke van Giersbergen)
Parisienne Moonlight (with Anneke van Giersbergen)
Sleepless
Hindsight

Encore 2:
Universal
Shroud of False
Fragile Dreams

It was more like piratefest. Swashbuckle and Alestorm at the same venue is like a recipe for tavern wench drinking than sacrificing to Odin. Me and my friend were late, so, we missed Swashbuckle and Ex Deo (but the drummer from Swashbuckle gets a 10 for wearing a parrout suit afterwards).

We also missed most of Alestorm, except the end, but fuck these power metallers that can’t take themselves seriously at all. Ok, they’re not HammerFall. Or Rhapsody of Fire. But they’re still a bunch of weirdass Scottish pirates. With songs about beer and pirates. And drinking. And they’re still quite lame.

Alestorm get 4 “ahoy matey, you can go scrub the deck”‘s out of 10.

Die Apokalyptischen Reiter were pretty good. If they didn’t have a guy in a bondage costume (how is that pagan anyway) they might have scored a point higher. Also if I actually knew their songs. But they weren’t bad, and I actually might want to listen to the studio stuff now to check if they’re just a (good, unlike Alestorm) live gimmick, or actually worth the bucks.

Die Apocalyptischen Reiter get 6 leather costumes out of 10.

Unleashed are solid death metal. No idea what they were doing on this tour, considering most of it was rather melodic humppapa metal, but they were excellent, the best band of the night in my opinion. I like my paganism with balls, they are excellent at providing me with some (and giving me a headache of epic proportions. Which I already had, but anyway).

Unleashed get 7.5 Dutch hammer battalions out of 10.

I didn’t see Korpiklaani because we had to get the train home. Sucks for them, good for me, never liked Korpiklaani anyway.  So fuck them. 1/10

I don’t have any setlists. Poor 3 readers of the blog.

Until the next time, Jorn

I made my way to the Melkweg (again) for pop-punk shows this time. Band of choice: Taking Back Sunday. For some reason they played the Oude Zaal rather than the Max, which didn’t actually matter because these shows are better in smaller rooms anyway.

Left, the local opening band, was generic but tight indie rock with a bit more power than your average Maximo Park song. Didn’t suck at all, had some sound problems with the guitars being low in the mix, solid act overall, but the songwriting is low quality and samey.

Left get 6 right turns to get on the stage out of 10.

Taking Back Sunday came on after a relatively short break. They played mostly a “best-of” set, except it’s not a best of if you play new stuff in their case: they just mixed it up between all the albums they have released so far. This means that obvious picks like “This Photograph Is Proof” were omitted, but on the other hand some old tunes like Cute Without The E or You’re So Last Summer, or the amazing Timberwolves At New Jersey.

The band were energetic, as most bands of this type are bound to be, but somehow a little bit was missing from the vocals: perhaps it was that they were just slightly low in the mix from where I was standing? Anyway, Taking Back Sunday, despite not providing anything overly theatrical, are a solid live act, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them again if I actually got the chance.

Taking Back Sunday receive 7.5 sundays I was taken aback by solid performances out of 10.

PS: Can we stop kiddie crowdsurfing. Or crowdsurfing altogether for that matter? Damn that is annoying.

apologies for ripping off Behemoth in the post title.

opening band were the Lucifer Principle, who were ok I guess. They have a cello instead of a bass player (sounds like a jazz thing to do), and were pretty ok. I guess. For having shit sound and some remotely headbangable riffs. They were endurable but that is kind of all that there is that needs to be said about these guys. I’m gonna leave it at that.

TLP get 5 principles of matches out of 10.

Lamb of God are the hair on yer arses. They are the metal kings of metal today. Better than Slayer, more existent than Pantera, less inclined to go down the shitroute like Metallica/Megadeth/Anthrax, and plain tight as fuck, even with Mark back home to witness the birth of his child, they know how to kick ass. Pits were plentiful, heads were banging, voices were chanting, and the band tore the Melkweg apart. I’m sure you’re pleased with yourself busters, ’cause I am.

No setlist qualms except maybe one more Sacrament song next time? Please? Foot to the Throat? Have you guys even heard that song after you wrote it? Anyway, the setlist was top notch, the performance was top notch, the energy was top notch… it was a high calibre show from a high calibre band that I am glad to see in a 1500 man club venue headlining rather than opening on a festival (like last time at Graspop).

Very metal, and go see them if you like any of the other bands I mentioned. Or if you like your metal headbangable without cheesy keyboards. They do it better than anyone else out there at the moment.

Setlist:

The Passing
In Your Words
Set to Fail
Walk With Me In Hell
Hourglass
Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
Ruin
Dead Seeds
Pathetic
Broken Hands
Omerta
Laid To Rest
Contractor
———-
Reclamation
Redneck
Black Label

Lamb of God get 9 codes of honour out of 10.

Until the next time, Jorn

Inspired by the Alanis Morissette song.

 

 

Ironic Butterfly Effect

 

He’s got a house and it’s made of straw

He doesn’t know it could burn at all

Oh and when he lights a cigarette

You could just imagine his wife fret

‘Cause she knows he’ll throw it down

Get it up and stamp it in the ground

And she knows it only takes a spark

To light the fire that kills the dark

 

She’s got thoughts and it drives her insane

She doesn’t know that could kill your brain

Oh and it will take her all year to fight

And get that damned fire out of sight

‘Cause he sees she can’t help but know

Stop mulling and let the misery go

And he knows it only takes a spark

To light the fire that kills the dark

 

They’ve got a life and it’s made of glass

They don’t know it’s got style and class

Oh and when it comes around to call

They don’t know it rung the bell at all

‘Cause they don’t know it wears a dress

Acts just like the others more or less

And life knows it only takes a spark

To light the fire that kills the dark

 

Life’s got the time and it knows the way

To show you death or another day

But they’re unaware and at a loss

Don’t see the things over which they gloss

But still they light the fire that they made

Caused bonfires in the middle of a glade

And they knew it only took a spark

To light the fire that kills the dark

 

Until the next time, Jorn

Hoohah. Read my review here.

http://www.sputnikmusic.com/album.php?reviewid=31267

 

Yes I am lazy. Fuck you all.

A million miles away

I would keep myself

I would find a way.

In essence, that was the climax of Nine Inch Nails last night, and basically the reason why I chose to see them on their farewell tour. I’ve always been a fan of 1994’s classic The Downward Spiral, but never listened to much NIN for a long time. Only when I realised I had never seen Trent perform “Hurt” live, which I am glad to say I have now, I realised I had to get tickets for this show. Thank fuck I did. (I’d say thank God, but I’m an atheist and NIN has Nietschzean themes running all through their work so it would be weird).

First of all, Mew were on for about half an hour; too short for me to make up my mind about what they really are like apart from a more compact Sigur Ros (even the vocals remind me of Jonsi occasionally) with better songwriting and less ambience, without losing any of the texture. No clue about their set list though.  Last song made me feel really in love with my girlfriend.

Mew get 6 “I don’t know why you’re named after a Pokemon and sound like Sigur Ros but I don’t care because I want to smooch my girl even though she wasn’t there anyway’s” out of 10.

Nine Inch Nails plowed through a massive, massive 2 hour set (how does Trent keep pulling this off every night? He doesn’t? Oh, that’s why they quit touring). I’m glad thye played some of their louder material; that is always the NIN stuff I got more into, and besides I don’t think Ghosts type of stuff would suit the live setlist anyway. So thanks for making probably the only time I see NIN filled with stuff like Head like a Hole, Hand that Feeds, La Mer, Wish, Burn, Gave Up, Suck, Survivalism, and March of the Pigs. Getting I Do Not Want This, actually the first NIN song I loved, was amazing too. Only complaint is no “Every Day Is Exactly the Same”.

Nine Inch Nails get 9 inch nails out of 10.

Setlist (mistakes to be corrected; please leave a comment if there is an error)

01- Home
02- 1,000,000
03- Letting You
04- Sin
05- March of the Pigs / All the Pigs, All Lined Up
06- Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)
07- Metal
08- The Line Begins to Blur
09- Head Down
10- Burn
11- Gave Up
12- Gone/Still >
13- La Mer
14- The Frail >
15- The Wretched
16- Non-Entity
17- I Do Not Want This
18- The Downward Spiral
19- Wish
20- Survivalism
21- Mr. Self Destruct
22- Suck
23- Echoplex
24- The Hand That Feeds
25- Head Like A Hole
———–
26- Hurt
27- In This Twilight

Until the next time,

Jorn

The first gig report I’m doing in over two months is a complete festival report. I attended Graspop Metal Meeting 2009 in Dessel, Belgium, along with my new girlfriend and a bunch of other people. I attended all three days so what will follow are rundowns, setlists, and short reviews of every band I’ve seen there.

After setting up our tents, and obtaining some food and other things, we made our way to the festival grounds. On Friday, we’d decided on staying a lot at the Marquee 1: Dream Theater were playing there, and as we wanted to queue for being in the first row during their set, we pretty much went there to sit through all the bands that played before them (except WASP, which we wisely ignored to see Samael instead).

First band of the day were Greek power metallers Firewind. They only arrived 10 minutes before their set, but worked through their material well enough regardless. Solid, solid metal even though there was nothing of note to be found that they did that elevates them above that. Firewind, despite having one of the world’s biggest shredders in ex-Dream Evil and Arch Enemy guitarist Gus G., still are a B-league power metal band. Their set is all fine, and closer Falling to Pieces is an amazing song, and I would easily go see these guys as a support band or on a festival again, because there’s nothing wrong here, but there is something lacking from the band that elevates them to the pantheon of immense power metal gods (more on those later).

Firewind get 7 Greek flags out of 10.

Next band was Jon Oliva’s Pain, who, after bringing a full-fledged piano to the stage, seemeded to be intent on contuining the legacy of their forebearers Savatage. Needless to say, a lot of old Savatage songs were played, such as Jesus Saves, Hall of the Mountain King, and Gutter Ballet. This band is also pretty much the ugliest (apart from Jon Oliva himself) which I’ve seen in quite a while. The singer sets a new obesity record and so did one of the guitarists. Again, this is some competent, competent stuff, but there again is no elevating point. Their performance of Gutter Ballet was fantastic, though. Great song. However their songs meandered more than Firewind’s, which leads me to take a point off their score compared to the first band on the bill today.

Jon Oliva’s Pain receive 6 fat pianos with fatter pianists out of 10.

After making our way to Samael, we realised that Samael’s industrial black metal is a bit hard to translate to the live setting. Not that they are bad, no not at all, but it just did not seem to work out completely right ever. Sometimes, it was just danceable enough, sometimes, their blasting worked, but from what I heard of their studio output they just cannot seem to match it as a live band. I don’t think it’s the members, maybe it is the festival sound or maybe it’s just that what they put out does not conform to the right energy prospects, but there’s something about it that leaves me with a small bitter aftertaste of wanting just a tiny bit more. And that’s a bummer because I like this band.

Samael get 5 performances under one flag out of 10.

After seeing exactly one song of WASP (fuck you, WASP, I do not wanna be somebody, I already am somebody), we queued at the Marquee again, this time to see an old favourite band of mine that I have not listened to regularly in ages, but have always wanted to see. This band is called Blind Guardian, they play the epitome of Tolkien Metal, and also, Hansi has a new haircut which makes him seem like your very nerdy uncle who works in IT and plays computer games. Wait, that is probably what he is. Blind Guardian’s material live was strong, Hansi is still one excellent singer, and even though their hour-long set did not include the majestic Bright Eyes, it was still rife with classics, such as The Bard’s Song, Script for My Requiem, Mirror Mirror, Time Stands Still, Lord of the Rings, and they rstill rule. One of the most consistent acts out there and they have the live show to prove that. There was nothing completely over-the-top, but with all the strong material, strong performances and strong setlist, there is no reason why I would not go and see these guys as a headliner again. Good band, put out some new material so that we can enjoy you live once again and stop writing songs for computer games you geeks. Or not. You guys rule anyway.

Blind Guardian get 8 bards singing Tolkien poems out of 10.

Last up for Friday were New Jersey metallers Dream Theater. I don’t know whether you can say anything about these progressive metal titans that hasn’t already been said a million times. They are insane musicians, people hate LaBrie’s voice, they still make girls abstain from seeing their shows (except mine? I have a cool girl) by attracting predominantly guitar nerds, and they have songs longer than the Chinese Wall.

They also decided that playing a heavier set for the festival would be a good idea. Fortunately I agree with them, because the metal-geared setlist did do the band’s performance favours. Getting both Pull Me Under (when will James learn how to sing this one) and Metropolis makes a longtime fan’s wet dream. I don’t get why they open with In The Presence of Enemies Part one, that song takes way too long to get going, something like As I Am would suit the festival a lot better, but apart from that there was no complaining. Dream Theater are still a hors-categorie band live, and they will remain so until someone cuts off all their arms and legs.

Setlist:

In the Presence of Enemies Pt. 1

Beyond This Life

Constant Motion

A Rite of Passage

Erotomania

Voices

Pull Me Under

Metropolis

 

Dream Theater get 9 blistering guitar solos in overlong instrumental bridges spanning the Atlantic Ocean out  of 10.

On to Saturday, the day where we were really tired. After not sleeping at all that night, I was ready to see some bands still. The first band, after a good refreshing breakfast, were Norwegian metallers Keep of Kalessin. Their symphonic black metal with synchronised windmilling was solidly executed, pretty much like last time, and featured enough other passages to prevent the BM blastbeat problem. I still expect a slight bit more from them, but this is enough to raise them a point from last time.

Keep of Kalessin receive 6 ascendants out of 10.

After a mixup and a cancellation of Killswitch Engage, Mastodon’s set was postponed until later. Mastodon are playing as a foursome again, which is good to see. What is less good to see is that this time they seem to have slightly disappointed live. The band are tight as fuck, but the vocals seem to still let them down. Good setlist, that focused on Blood Mountain as well as some Crack the Skye material still brings Mastodon up a notch. Particularly their rendition of the old classic Blood and Thunder is amazing to hear. I would like to see this band headline in a smaller show sometime just to hear how these guys translate to a smaller stage that is more intense. For now, the second time I hear them and the second time I enjoy them immensely but still something is missing for the perfect Mastodon performance.

Mastodon get 7,5 Crystal Skulls out of 10.

After another mixup where Gojira missed their flight, and an early attempt at dinner, while getting a slight bit annoyed at Wolves playing too much of their new BM and less sympho/atmospheric BM from outside, we finally lined up to see France’s biggest metal exports. I’m glad we did because Gojira delivered the performance of the weekend for me. These guys had some indomitable energy, thrashing around the stage with fervor, chugging out the riffs with intensity. They had an epic, insane drive to perform and Joe constantly looked like he was trying to exorcise a demon from his guitar. Apart from that, the band were tight as fuck, the music was heavier than a ten ton anvil, and the setlist was crazy good. Gojira are definitely top contestants for Heaviest Matter of the Universe, and I am extremely impressed by their live progression. They were amazing when I saw them the previous time, but they have improved even on that. I tip my hat to these guys. Joe, fucking thank you for coming and making my weekend worthwhile. This is what I did not expect to get in a million years. A-fucking-mazing.

Gojira get 10 flying whales out of 10.

Then we watched KoRn from the back. I have nothing to say about KoRn except that they apparently played old stuff. I never liked the band and seeing them live doesn’t change anything. I still hate Jon Davis’ voice, I still think their riffs are mediocre and I still don’t care a fig for their Pink Floyd cover.

KoRn get 3 freaks on a leash out of 10.

After watching a few songs from Lacuna Coil (please Andrea Ferro, shut UP for the love of God you tone-deaf idiot) and getting bored, earning them a score of 3 out of 10 as well, it was time for more bed and sleep.

The last day, Sunday, started with queuing up front for Nightwish at the main stage. After getting bored and catching a few songs of the mediocre UFO, we waited for Lamb of God to hit the stage. Lamb of God’s powerful thrash metal translates pretty well live and gets crowds going. It was pretty much a set full of all the fan favourites including Laid to Rest, Ruin, Redneck, Black Label, Now You’ve Got Something to Die For, all the good stuff. It got pits going and heads banging. I am taking one point off for the overuse of the word motherfucker by Randy. Solid fucking act and would see again on a headlining show.

Lamb of God get 7,5 black labels out of 10.

Then I went to watch Scar Symmetry, but they are not as good without Christian Alvestam. Even with a pretty good setlist, this band disappointed me a little. Maybe next time when they play I can see them in full and I’ll be more interested, but for now, I have a sour aftertaste in my mouth from a band which I expected more of. It was never bad, just not interesting.

Scar Symmetry retain 6 paths of least resistance out of 10.

Trivium are a band I did not dig for quite a long while. I still don’t like their first two albums, but with The Crusade and the switch to thrash instead of metalcore, they started to become interesting. That album was a heavy Metallica knockoff and their influences were obviously overdone, but with the new record Shogun they have proven to finally be able to be a unique metal entity. Their instrumental prowess was already known, but now that they are starting to use it they are becomingmore and more of a valid band as well. Live they perform solidly and extremely energetically, and I think Matt like Randy needs to lay off the cursing, but unlike Randy’s wild anger, Matt seems to be a tad more sympathetic. I bet he would be a cool dude to hang out with after a show. Thanks for improving miles upon your last performance, guys. I even bought a shirt of yours, and I would never think I would have done that. Good work boys.

Trivium get 7 crusades of improvement that succeeded out of 10.

If I threw a party, Chickenfoot are the first band I would not invite. I don’t understand how a band with Satriani and Chad Smith can write this terribly. Please, go and die. This is almost as bad as hair metal or tr00 gr1m n3cr0 black metal or extremely gory death metal. That is all there is to say about this.

Chickenfoot get 1 kick up the arse to the moon out of 10.

Disturbed are nu-metal. I don’t like this genre, but they perform it well and for a festival as an interlude band I have no problems watching them. Not necessarily a good band but a fun one to watch when you have nothing better to do.

Disturbed get 5 fists out of 10.

Then finally it was time for Nightwish. Always have loved this band, and they deliver another solid performance even though some of the band members seemed to be drunk off their asses (Marco in particular). The readdition of Wishmaster to their set was a great move and even though their setlist was a bit shorter than usual my voice was still dead at the end of it. Probably still not as good as the first time I saw them, but still excellent nonetheless.

Setlist:

7 Days to the Wolves

Dead to the World

The Siren

Amaranth

Romanticide

Wishmaster

Ghost Love Score

Nemo

Sahara

Dead Boy’s Poem

Escapist

Dark Chest of Wonders

Wish I Had An Angel

Nightwish get 8 masters of wishes out of 10.

I listened to Bodom from outside and saw three more Marilyn Manson songs, but none of it was worth it and is not worth the bytes used to type this review. Therefore I finish it with a thank you to the Graspop crew for not delaying much at all, keeping the organisation superb  and for having flushing toilets.

Expect a NIN review soon.

 

Until the next time, Jorn

A silent tribute to Jonas P. Renkse

Scarlet Ravages

thus we have become chrome
a poison canker in the heart
this filthy blood in my veins
draws itself to its old home
from its end to the new start
on its brown horse-saddle reins

lost in the ravages of scarlet
heavens collide in the wake
of dead stallions marching through
the ashes of armed starlets
a silver corpse for me to take
a horse-bride for me to groom

hooves trample the artery floor
blood clots scramble to its aid
another jab at the cold white skin
another thought of wanting more
and hormones march to their raid
driving the nails home from within

burst the vessels before they break
clean the wound before it infects
but i bleed for nothing anyway
here is nothing for me to take
out of greed like a damn insect
no hope to lead my blood astray

a black prince atop the horse-back
jumps off his dead steed’s seat
and lands his boots in my arms
sell another bruise for this wreck
and I’ll buy out of righteous need
I’ll hoard these wounds like farms

he unsheathes a dreaded iron sword
and lets the metal glint in my eye
into my flesh the blade is driven
as I scream a last dissonant chord
he grins that last malicious smile
the last sign of life being given.

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