Festival: PPM Fest 2014 (Day Two)

Bands: Rage, Evergrey, Masterplan, Borealis, The Black Tartan Clan, Serenity, Triosphere, Grenouer

Location: Lotto Mons Expo, Mons, Bergen, Belgium

Date: 19th April 2014

 

  

Day 2 of this years festival for us started with interviews, which meant we missed the first two bands of the day.  So Day 2 got underway proper for us with Grenouer from St Petersburg, who led by exuberant frontman Andy Ind, really showed that Rock and Metal are truly alive in Russia.

The band set the wheels in motion with ‘Blood on the Face’, instantly Ind prowled around the stage like a uncaged tiger, covering as much a the stage a possible, then it was straight into ‘Brain Fever’, a slice of Modern Electro infused Metal that was quickly followed by more of the same vibe with ‘Sands Of Silence’

The band showed their more melodic side with the haunting ‘Golden Years’.  This may not have been ever Metallers dream band, but they showed their heavier side with the thumping ‘Midday Show’, which included a rap from Ind, who still continued to cover as much of the stage as possible.  The set was rounded off with ‘Taste of Misery' and the stomping ‘Fix Your Life’.  

Like I said, perhaps not to every Metallers taste, but I enjoyed what I heard and with the new album 'Blood on the Face' showing the band have lost their aggressive hardcore side, today they showed us there is a lot more to this band than growls and the death metal tag of the bands previous albums.  The band have shown they can evolve and can expand to a greater audience, and PPM was the perfect stage for this. 

Next up was a band I was really looking forward to catching, Norway’s Triosphere, who really got Day 2 underway for sure, as the crowd seemed to come out of the darkness to swamp the Alpha stage, as Ida Haukland, Marious Silver Bergensen and Tor Ole Byberg, along with new drummer Ken Tarneby, really took the day by the horns and delivered one of the sets of the day for me.

Kicking things off with the superb ‘Driven’, then it was time to give us a taste of the bands up coming album with the fantastic ‘The Sphere’.  It was over to their most recent album 'A Road Less Traveled' for one of my favourite tracks off the album ‘Human Condition’, with Haukland delivering a fine vocal while throwing out the big bass lines on the five string bass like she was born with it.

The full on Prog Metal continued with the massive ‘Onwards Pt 2’, this time it was six string maestro Bergensen to show off his skills as he took centre stage, throwing out the licks like his life depended on it, while at the same time reminding me of a certain Mr Gus G.

The band then gave us time to get our breath back as the tempo was brought down a touch with the excellent ‘Marionette’, with Haukland delivering one of her finest vocals of the set.  This song was definitely a crowd favourite and the crowd made sure the band knew it as well with their response.

Another crowd favourite was ‘Trinity', again taken from the bands debut album 'Onwards', as the band really picked up the pace on this Metal monster, the power infused metal continued with 'Worlds Apart', another song from 'A Road Less Traveled’.  This time Ida and drummer Ken’s powerful rhythm section really showed the metal.  The band's all too short set was rounded off in style with ‘Sunriser’, on which Marious decided to get up close and personal with the crowd, going down the front.  As I said, one of the bands I really wanted to see and they didn’t disappoint.  Definitely one of the highlights of the not just Day 2, but the entire weekend.   

Another band I really wanted to see were Austrian Symphonic Metallers Serenity, yet again interviews dictated I missed them but my partner in crime gave us this report on what was a really good set. 

After the intro the theme from Game Of Thrones, Georg Neuhauser, Clemintine Delauney and the rest of the band hit the stage running with 'The Mantricide’ taken from their latest album ‘War of Ages’, before rolling back the years to their 2008 album 'Fallen Sanctuary' for the mellower tones of ‘Coldness Kills’.  Although it was ‘Velatum' that really got the PPM crowd going, as Neuhauser sang alone on this one, he was soon joined by Delauney for the Celtic tones of ‘Legacy of Tudors’.

 The tempo was brought down a touch with the stunning ‘Wings Of Madness’, with Delauney showing off her superb operatic tones, before this one kicked into high gear.  This was the perfect duet between both vocalists, which really excited me about the possibilities available for the bands next album.  The chemistry between these two singers is just simply breathtaking.

The set continued with the wonderful ‘Royal Pain’, before another all too short set was rounded off with 'Serenade of Flames' from their 'Death and Legacy' album.  A real crowd pleaser of a set and yet again, a band like Triosphere, a lot lower down in the running order than they should have been in my humble opinion.  Another fantastic PPM weekend highlight for me. 

Next up were Emergency Gate, but as like most of these festivals, you have to miss some bands because the need for food and drink had come and reluctantly we had to miss Emergency Gate.

This year we had one band drop out of the festival just weeks before the event, Equilibrium, but they were replaced by The Black Tartan Clan, which resulted in a little switch around in the running order, as Borealis were pushed up a place.

The Black Tartan Clan might have been a late entry, but they sure won't be forgotten in a hurry.  It gave me a warm feeling to see the Saltire flying as the backdrop as these mad Belgian Punk Metallers brought a smile to everyone’s faces with their salute to all things Scottish.

The set was kicked off in spectacular style with ‘Toola Loora’, which was the instant catalyst for the crowd surfing and mosh-pit to kick off.   They continued the Celtic mayhem with the thumping Punk anthem ‘Here We Go’, and the bagpipe rallying cry of ‘Beer and Women’.

They continued with a tribute to Bill Millin, more commonly known as ‘Piper Bill’, who is remembered as playing the pipes whilst under fire during the D-Day landings and the only man to wear a kilt that day.

The Saltire was flying high as the set continued with the anthem 'We Are The Clan' and the more metal infused ‘Don’t Walk Alone’, the latter seeming to infuse the mosh-pit into a state of sheer frenzy.  If ever there was an anthem that demanded to be sung loud and proud, then this had to be it.  The pipes were back with a vengeance on the tongue and cheek ‘Maggots In My Haggis’, by which time the whole venue was behind the band, as they continued to bring Punk-ass Celtic Metal to the masses with ‘Proud to be a Kelt’, and the broadsword metal of ‘All For One’ and ‘Standing Strong’, before rounding off a very enjoyable set with 'Ye-De-La Hey' and ‘Black Tartan Clan’.  This band infused the whole spirit of PPM Festival into a real barnstorming set and were more than a worthy replacement.  I don’t know if I would have enjoyed Equilibrium as much as I enjoy The Black Tartan Clan, but one thing's for certain, I'll be keeping my beady eye out for a lot more from these guys and hope they make it across the waters for a tour of the UK before too long. 

After the madness and musical mayhem of The Black Tartan Clan it was time for Ontario’s Borealis to bring a little harmony to proceedings with their own brand of Power Metal.  Kicking things into high gear from the off with the opening barrage of ‘Finest Hour’ and 'Where We Stand’, instantly the band had the Belgian crowd's attention, with frontman Matt Marinelli leading the charge both vocally and on the guitar, as the powerhouse rhythm section of Sean Dowell and Jamie Smith kept the thunder coming, in perfect symmetry with fellow guitarist Michael Brigulio firing out the licks.  

The set continued with another track from the bands 'Fall From Grace' opus with the excellent ‘Break The Curse’.  This one had more of progressive edge than the openers, but still a fantastic slice of power infused metal.

The Canadians by this point were in full swing and continued with the 'Fall From Grace' album with the title track.  Another thunderous assault on the senses as the band took things to the next level with this one, and continued to impress even when they brought the tempo down with the haunting ‘Watch The World Collapse’.

It was pedal to the metal once more with the massive ‘Regeneration’, before rounding off a great set with ‘Forgotten Forever’.  Definitely one of the surprise packages of the festival for me.  One of those bands who produce the goods both live and on album.  Tremendous stuff.  I hope to see these guys again at PPM when they have a new album under their belts.   

Next up was a band that I definitely wanted to catch, Roland Grapow’s Masterplan, a band I hadn’t seen perform live since 2007, when they supported Saxon in Manchester.

Now with a new frontman in the form of Rick Altzi at the helm, this band has promised so much over the years but now with a more stable line-up and a strong touring schedule, Masterplan are ready to deliver the goods once more and today they did just that and then some!

Right from the opener ‘Enlighten Me’, all thoughts about him delivering the older Masterplan songs were thrown to one side, as he really made this one his own.   Also you could almost feel the harmony running smoothly in the band, with Grapow giving us the biggest smile, while Axel was just whipping himself into a frenzy on the keyboards right from the off.

The set continued with 'Spirit Never Die', another track taken from the bands self-titled debut and another on which Altzi was just superb.

In an all too short set, the band set about bringing this new regenerated Masterplan to the next level with ‘Crimson Rider’ from the 'Aeronautics' album.  I absolutely love this song and live it was just spellbinding.  7 years I’ve been waiting to see Masterplan perform live again and today I and many more Masterplan fans, were treated to one hell of a set.

Things continued with the metal ballad ‘Back For My Life’,  again from the 'Aeronautics' opus, which showcased the true diversity of Masterplan, as they can deliver the punches, but can also bring it down with equal splendour.

It was back to the debut for ‘Crystal Night’ as Grapow unleashed six string hell on this one, before Altzi announced his favourite Masterplan song ‘Soulburn’ was up next.  If you have any doubts about Altzi as Masterplans front man then check out this one on Youtube from the Masters of Rock DVD, this song sounded so good live.

The debut album material kept on coming with Kind Hearted Light’ this is where Axel really went to town on the keyboards so much so the was bright red in the face I thought he was going to pass out at one stage.

The set was closed in style with the massive ‘Crawling From Hell’, yes I would have liked to hear some of the new album live, but I wouldn’t say I was disappointed with the set.  With only a short time slot and the bands lack on touring in the past, the fans hadn’t heard many of these songs in such a long time, so hopefully the band will embark on a full length headline tour, because this band deserves at least a 90 minute slot to deliver the full Masterplan experience, as they did on there recent tour of Japan.   

Next up were a band making a welcome return to Lotto Mons Expo and PPM Sweden’s Evergrey, led the charismatic frontman and guitarist Tom S Englund.

The band hit the stage and hit it  hard.  Again a short set for such a big band, just a eight song set that included ‘I’m Sorry’ and the superb ‘Recreation Day’, even rolling back the years with ‘Solitude Within’ during which Englund announced he was as old as Santa.  The massive 'The Masterplan' also brought out the cheers from the PPM crowd, as did set closers ‘Broken Wings' and ‘Touch Of Mercy’.  As a returning band I would have liked to see the band higher in the running order, as I suppose would a lot of fans today. 

Next up it was time for some old school Heavy Metal courtesy of Teutonic metallers Rage, who are about to celebrate their 30th Anniversary later this year with a full European tour.  So what better way to kick off the celebrations that here at Lotto Mons Expo.  

Peter ‘Peavy’ Wagner and the rest of the band, Victor Snolski and Andre Hilgers, show how old school metal should be delivered as they kicked into high gear from the off with ‘War Of Worlds’ and the blistering almost Power Metal infused  ‘Carved In Stone’.  

A rip snorting set continued to with some great old riff laden Metal with the likes of ‘Great Old Ones’ and ‘Enoughs Enough’.  This is what the crowd at PPM loves, rampaging metal at its most intense and Rage were giving it all, showing how its done and why they’ve been at the top of their game for the last 30 years.   

The set was rounded of in superb style with ‘Soundchaser’ and 'Higher Than The Sky’ which had the whole room singing along to it.  Once again the old guard had showed the young guns how its done.  For me that would have been a good end to Day 2, but there were still two bands to go. 

Next up where Finnish Doom Metallers Amorphis who to be honest are not my cup of tea at all, but the crowd flocked to the Alpha stage to hear these guys play.  However, we headed out to the Metal market to catch some air and by the time headliners My Dying Bride hit the stage, we had to call it a day and return to the hotel because Day 3 was sharply catching up on us.  

 

All in all Day 2 was a day of  two thirds.  I enjoyed two thirds of the bands on the Saturday, the other third I felt two wide-ranging for my tastes and by all reports the next day, many other thought the Day 2 headliners weren’t really up there with previous Saturday headliners.  Having said that, you can't please everyone and once again PPM showed its diverse nature.  Roll on Day 3!  

Review by: Barry McMinn & Little Linda  

 

 

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