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KEEP IT TRUE Festival 5th edition
Lauda, Germany
4th & 5th November, 2005.


Describing this event typically invokes the use of descriptive phrases such as ‘old school’, ‘classic metal’ and even NWOBHM. Germany’s Keep It True festival seems to have a knack of unearthing bands whom metalheads might be forgiven for giving up hope seeing ‘live’.

But, as the saying goes, ‘never say die’ and the young and not so young 2000-something metal fans that attended the 5th edition of this event in the first weekend of November lived Metal in its stripped-down, honest and wildest glory.

Apart from some light showers, the weather was relatively pleasant during this weekend. Not that it would otherwise have affected my spirits of course as I was really looking forward to the festival and determined to enjoy myself. Well these are my views focusing on each band that played…..

Friday 4th November - ‘Warm-Up’ show – Sporthalle, Dittingheim.
•    STRIKELIGHT - Unfortunately an unexpected train delay caused me to miss the performance of this Greek band. Strikelight’s music is heavily influenced by 1980’s British bands and this was their first German adventure. Check out the official band-site listed at the end of this Report for more info on the band.

•    EMERALD - Best described as ‘Iron Maiden with Kai Hansen or King Diamond-style vocals’, Emerald’s show was well received. The vocalist has a great voice although with a somewhat limited range.     This was supposed to be Emerald’s swansong and the band should be satisfied that they bowed out on a high note (no pun intended).

•    POWERGOD - Why Powergod decided to forge a career as a cover-band I’ll never understand. But judging their performance at KIT in its own merits, the band really put on a great and entertaining show. Covers played included ‘I Am A Viking’ (Malmsteen) and ‘Burning The Witches’ (Warlock).     One of the surprises for me was the cover of ‘Stars’ by Hear ‘N Aid - a project Dio had  organized many years ago as Heavy Metal’s response to Bob Geldof’s Live Aid. Another cool surprise was the cover of Raven’s ‘Mind Over Metal’ for which Raven vox John Gallagher came onstage to contribute lead vocals, much to the frenzied enthusiasm of those present.

•    ANVIL - The tangible anticipation that had gripped the Sporthalle theatre before the performance of one of Canada’s most legendary Metal outfits morphed into a crazy moshpit during Anvil’s show. An amazing show that’ll undoubtedly be mentioned for a long time to come.   The natural performer that he is, vocalist / guitarist Lips was evidently touched by the audience’s enthusiastic reaction and this further electrified the atmosphere. Anvil thrashed through old favourites such ‘666’, ‘Smokin’ Green’ and the obligatory ‘Metal On Metal’ as well as more recent songs such as ‘You Get What You Pay For’. A gobsmacking drum solo by Rob Reiner was really the proverbial cherry on the cake.    This is as Metal as Metal can get.

Saturday 5th November - Main Festival – Tauberfrankenhalle, Lauda.

•    IGNITOR - If every festival has its surprise act then Ignitor were the revelation of the 5th edition of KIT. A professional stage-attitude and solid execution of their repertoire characterized their 45 minutes. Admittedly Ignitor’s music isn’t overtly technical but what they do they do very well, and that’s what counts most.    Although this was the first time this USA band performed in Europe it certainly won’t be the last if the band plays its cards right in the immediate future.

•    FORSAKEN - I’ve always maintained that Forsaken are best appreciated when performing live, and this Maltese band’s performance at KIT amply justified my stance. Being the only band on the bill with an inclination towards Epic Doom Metal probably earned Forsaken some welcome extra attention.   Vocalist Leo Stivala gave one of the most dynamic and emotional individual performances of the entire festival as Forsaken regaled us with a selection of their repertoire. Particularly effective were ‘Carpe Diem’, ‘Daylight Dies’, as well as a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Symptom Of The Universe’.

•    STORMWARRIOR - A restless performance from this young ‘old-school’ Metal band. In spite of this, I felt that Stormwarrior lacked an amount of assertiveness when communicating with the crowd.    The band line-up featured recent recruit Alex Guth (alias ‘Firebolt’) who took over guitar duties from Lars Ramke (alias ‘Thunder Axe’) who was thus able to concentrate on vocal duties.

•    SKULLVIEW - Apart from the static presence of some band-members and some vague-sounding guitar solos (at least to these ears), Skullview’s show was tight and the set-list included their strongest songs.     Also meriting specific praise was the excellent voice of recent recruit Eric Flowers – quite melodic but also very powerful.

•   SLOUGH FEG - Slough Feg oozed confidence and tightness. This band’s music is hard to define but the influence of Iron Maiden could be sensed very clearly both from the music as well as from the tendency of guitarists to confuse the stage with a racing track!    Irish culture, Progressive Metal and Jazzy time signatures also found their way in the set-list.

•    INTRUDER - An electrifying performance from these Tennessee Thrashers. Monstrous guitar riffs were adorned with amazing solos and even at breakneck speed, Intruder’s tightness never waned even for one moment.   Similarly great were the falsetto-style lead vocals courtesy of Jimmy Hamilton – pity he didn’t move about the stage with more confidence. Guitarists Arthur Vinnett and Greg Messick provided some vocal grunts.

•    RUFFIANS - Raw Heavy Metal is the trade of Ruffians who gave a totally crazy performance. I felt that the vocal style was more pertaining to melodic Hard Rock than the Thrashier music of Ruffians – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all.
    Ruffians earned a few more fans tonight, one of them being the author of this report!

•    JAG PANZER - While being one of the headliners, I can’t say Jag Panzer let anyone down. The Colorado dudes proved what huge musicians, performers and songwriters this quintet still is.   JP offered quite a comprehensive set-list that included: ‘Iron Eagle’, ‘King At A Price’, ‘Burning Heart’ and ‘Take To The Sky’ amongst other both vintage and recent successes.

•    RAVEN - Raven are one of those bands that have to be seen live to be fully appreciated. The energy, showmanship, tightness as well as the fun atmosphere this legendary NWOBHM trio created at KIT made Raven’s performance one of the best of the entire festival. In particular, Mark Gallagher possesses one of the most inhumanely unique voices in Metal.   It was a joy hearing the band effortlessly go through classics such as: ‘All For One’, ‘Hell Patrol’, ‘Don’t Need Your Money’ as well as a cover-medley.

•    VIRGIN STEELE - As much as I admire this band, their performance was a bit disappointing. On the positive side, the showmanship Virgin Steele displayed was one of the best of the festival. The band used various props such a 2 huge excaliburs at the sides of the stage, a bloodied head under Dave DeFeis’ keyboards (!), handling of burning swords, etc… One of the highlights of VS’s show itself was a drum solo by Frank Gilchrest.    The 90-minute set-list included ‘A Symphony of Steele’, Invictus’, Twilight Of The Gods’,   as well as various instrumental interludes such as ‘Pyre Of Kings’.     Towards the end of VS’s show, the enthusiasm of the Tauberfrankenhalle Metalheads succumbed completely to exhaustion, painful necks and German beer. Of course all these superficial expressions of pain belied happy people.

Apart from some sound problems which affected most bands but especially Forsaken, Slough Feg, Skullview and Virgin Steele, the overall verdict of this edition of the Keep It True festival is a loud ‘brilliant’. One of the nicest things of these German festivals is the ‘family’ atmosphere that reigns throughout the event.   Already some interesting bands have been confirmed for the next edition of the festival. All ‘true’ Metal bands of course!

The author would like to thank Oliver Weinsheimer, all the bands involved in the festival and the record labels that offered their co-operation.

Official Festival Website: www.keep-it-true.de


List of band websites:
ANVIL-www.anvilmetal.tk
EMERALD
FORSAKEN-www.forsakenmalta.com
IGNITOR-www.ignitor.org
INTRUDER-intruder.biz/intruder.htm
JAG PANZER-www.jagpanzer.com
POWERGOD-www.powergodonline.de
RAVEN-www.ravenlunatics.com
RUFFIANS-www.ruffians.org
SKULLVIEW-www.skullview.com
STORMWARRIOR–www.stormwarrior.de
SLOUGH FEG-www.slough-feg.com
STRIKELIGHT-www.strikelight.net
VIRGIN STEELE-www.virgin-steele.com

--Chris Galea - luciferlament@yahoo.com




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