Fest 2014 (Day Three)
Bands: Saxon, Therion, Finntroll, Fates Warning, MaYan, Vanden Plas, Dragonland, Ravenscry, Sunburst, Fireforce
Location: Lotto Mons Expo, Mons, Bergen, BelgiumDate: 20th April 2014
3 was one of our least hectic days, with only one interview scheduled,
it meant that we could catch nearly all the bands on the final day of
this years festival. An early interview with Dragonland meant that
our festival experience kicked off with Fireforce, who were
making their second appearance at PPM in as many years. Last year
they opened up Day 1 but due to congestion at the doors, not everyone
managed to catch all their set. So this time the band appeared a
little higher in the running order for Day 3, and like last year, these
Belgian’s gave it their all.
set of "combat metal" hit a blistering pace from the off with
opener ‘Coastal Battery’ and continued the assault with ‘The Only
Way’. With a decent sized crowd making it through the early
doors specifically to catch these guys, with fists punching the air, the
metal-heads were blowing the cobwebs off the rafter early today.
The band kept things going with the speed infused ‘Words of Hatred’, before giving us a taste of the bands new album with the rampaging metal of ‘Thunder Will Roll’, which was quickly followed by the lick spewn ‘1302 Battle For Freedom’. The temperature was already starting to warm up down the front as the metal-heads in the crowd were really getting into it and showing their appreciation of fine metal, with throngs of horns and fists raised high about the heads.
The band had not only come here today to musically make a solid impression on the crowd, but had also taken the opportunity to have a bit of fun with their stage setting. Draped across the speaker stacks was a lot of camouflage combat netting, giving you the impression the band were in a bunker in the middle of a battle-field somewhere. On top of the two stacks were two huge black wolf like creatures with smoke streaming from their mouths, very scary indeed but great fun all the same. Always nice to see a band making an effort with their stage show too.
metal anthem ‘Born To Play Metal’ rounded off another great set from
the Belgians and showed why they have been added to the festival for the
last two years. They came they played, they rocked. Next up
it was time for some Greek Metal courtesy of Sunburst.
Greek Progressive Metallers hit the ground running after the intro with
‘Remedy Of My Heart’ and ‘Symbol of Life’, led by the
big riffs from guitar virtuoso Gus Drax, aided by the big hitting
rhythm section of Kastas Milonas (drums), Nick Grey (bass) and the
powerhouse vocals of ‘Vasils Georgiou. It was clear from the off
these boys from Larissa meant business.
The set continued its impressive path with the sublime ‘Break The Core’ and the massive ‘Beyond The Sun’, again with Drax firing out some spellbinding licks, while we all watched in wonder as he made the six strings sing.
up was a band I was really looking forward to catching, Sweden’s
finest Dragonland hit the stage running as Olaf Mork, Jonas
Heidert and the rest of the band brought the Dragon Chronicles to the
the set with the haunting and power driven tones of 'Shadow of the
Minthril Mountain’, the crowd was instantly impressed. This is a
band that doesn't tour much, but when they put on a show, they sure do
put on one a hell of a show!
The impressive Power Metal assault continued with the likes of 'Fire and Brimstone' and 'The Black Mare' from their most recent opus 'Under The Grey Banner', as well as throwing in the impressive 'Contact', which prompted frontman Jonas to embark on a little crowd surfing himself. The bands all too short set was rounded off in style with a stomping rendition of ‘The Never Ending Story’, which it has to be said, was definitely one of the highlights of the entire weekend for me and a lot of Dragonland fans in the crowd. Let's hope a new album is not long in coming and perhaps even a return to Mons for a longer set next time.
who could follow the mighty Dragonland, well I suppose the equally
mighty German Progressive giants Vanden Plas.
to adore the PPM Stages were Dutch Symphonic Death Metallers MaYan.
MaYan were a unknown quantity to us apart from the fact that Henning Basse sang earlier in the weekend with Epysode. The sound mixed several vocal styles from the powerful might of Basse, to the grunts and growls of Mark Jansen and haunting tones of Laura Macri, as well as guest vocalists. Along with guitarists, bass player and drummer, this was without a doubt the biggest band of the weekend and at one point all the members were on stage at the same time.
As for the set for me, it was a mixed bag featuring some great Symphonic parts, although the Cookie Monster growls I could easily leave behind. This was just my own personal opinion though, as the Mons crowd lapped up every minute. Such is the diversity of PPM that all tastes are catered for, and for me that’s why this is my third year in attendance.
to hit the stage were German Progressive Metal giants Fates
hit it hard and fast from the off, as they opened up with ‘One
Thousand Fires’ from last years 'Darkness In The Light' album, before
rolling back the years with the might of ‘One’. Wasting no
time, it was straight into ‘Life In Still Water’, which was
definitely one of the highlights of the set for me.
was time to bring in the heat with 'A Pleasant Shade of Grey Pt III’, before funking
things up a bit with the heady bass tones of ‘A Pleasant Shade
Of Gray Pt VI’. It was pedal to the metal once more with ‘Point Of View’ rolling back the years to 1991 for this
classic slice of Fates Warning.
It was back to the latest album for the stonking ‘Firefly’, which really got the Mons crowd on their feet. As with most festival sets, it was back to the classics for 'Through Different Eyes’ from the band's fifth studio album 'Perfect Symmetry', before ending the set on another classic ‘Monument’, which rounded off a great set. The band's set today proved that real classics stand the test of time and Fates warning's classic stood proud alongside the bands newer material. Great stuff!
As I said before PPM is a diverse Metal experience, as each year I’m blown away by bands I’ve only heard of and never seen live before, as well as band's we have seen before, but who don't tour the UK as much as we'd like. One such band making their triumphant return to PPM was Finland’s Finntroll.
Given the high number of Finntroll t-shirts we spotted in the crowd and wandering around the metal market, this was another band that a lot of the younger metallers had come along to see today. Some were even seen sporting the troll-like ears as worn by the band.
Although the bands songs are sung in the bands native Finnish, this didn’t stop to Mons crowd lapping up the mix of Death Metal and Folk, as from the opener ‘Nattfodd’, the crowd surfing began and tide after tide of bodies propelled forward with the help of their fellow kin.
you've ever thought about being part of security at a festival, first check
out PPM and see what the guys down the front have to do during the
Finntroll set and you might think again! The
waves of bodies continued as the band ripped into ‘Blodsvept’ and
‘Under Bergets Rot’. It was like Malibu beach on Labor Day!
mayhem continued as Vreth led the band from the front playing the crowd
like a gothic puppet master, the set continued with the likes of ‘Nar
Jattar Marschera’ and the dark infestation that was ‘Solsagan’.
these led up
to the massive crowd favourites ‘Trolhammaren’ and set closer
‘Jaktens Tid’. This was Metal at its most bizarre and manic and most
enjoyable, as I found it hard to watch both the band and crowd at the
same time, as the bodies continued to flow stage ward, I even saw as
couple of the PPM Staff getting in the act (you know I’m talking about
you Charlotte!). A good time was had by all.
the mayhem of Finntroll it was back to the more traditional side of
Metal with Swedish Symphonic Metallers Therion, a band who were
at the complete opposite end of the spectrum to Finland’s Finntroll on
more than one level, but again this is PPM and the boundaries of Heavy
Metal are left at the door.
Swedes opened up their set with the impressive ‘The Rise of Sodom and
Gomorrah’, although a different entity, the band and crowd carried on
the momentum and enthusiasm from the Finntroll set and from this point
on, Thomas Vikstrom and rest of the band had the crowd's full and undivided
They raised the band's
music to the next level with the wondrous tones of 'Invocation of Naamah’, before unleashing an outstanding Rock Opera
medley of ‘Overture’, 'End of the Dynasty’, 'Who’s Your God’,
'Onda Toner’ and ‘Sad End’, during which the guitar wizardry of
Christian Vidal just lit up the stage, as he displayed some six string
dexterity that was just fret board fireworks.
band kept things tight and squeezed as many songs into their allotted
time as possible, with personal highlights for me being ‘Ginnungagap’,
the excellent ‘Flesh of the Gods’ and the dark and mystical tones of
‘Son of the Staves of Time’.
set was rounded off in style with ‘To Mega Therion’, with the icing on
the cake ‘The Khlysti Evangelist’. This set things up nicely for the
headline act of the day and festival closers, of course I’m talking
what can I say about Saxon that I haven’t said before, born out
of Barnsley, South Yorkshire in the era that brought us NWOBHM, some 40
years later Biff is still the leader of the pack, aided by the twin
guitars of Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt and the hardest hitting rhythm
section in Heavy Metal Nibbs Carter on bass and the mighty Nigel
Glockler on drums. Outside it might have been a warm Spring
evening, but inside the quintet rained Heavy Metal Thunder on the Mons
up with the title track from the latest album ‘Sacrifice’, it
wasn’t long before we were treated to some classic Saxon with ‘Heavy
Metal Thunder’, then ripping through the modern classic ‘Battions of
Steel’ with Carter his ever frantic self, coving as much of the stage
as humanly possible.
announced its been 38 years since ‘The Power and the Glory’, so that
was next and still sounded as impressive today as it did back then (god
that makes me feel old!).
was then time to return to the 'Sacrifice' album for the riff laden
‘Night of the Wolf’, with the twin guitars of Scarratt and Quinn
dueling with six string precision and majesty, this is what Heavy Metal
and Saxon are all about.
was then time to turn up the heat as only Saxon can with the massive
anthem ‘Solid Ball of Rock’ rolling back the years to 1990 for this
one. It was heads down all the way for this one as the Mons crowd
head-banged on mass. What a wonderful sight to behold.
Flanders just down the road Biff dedicated ‘Broken Heroes’ to all
those that fought and lost their lives in WWI, before bringing the tempo
back up in spades with the stomping ‘Hammer of the Gods’, which gave
Scarratt a chance to deliver the chops on this one. Then it was back
classic Saxon from here on in with ’20.000 ft’, ‘Crusader’ and
then one of
my all time favourite Saxon songs, ‘To Hell
& Back Again’ from the 'Strong Arm' album, and guess what was
next ‘Strong Arm of the Law’ itself.
then announced the band would be embarking on a 42 date tour later in
the year, which really got the crowd buzzing. The set was rounded off with
‘Wheels of Steel’, before a short departure from the stage, then Biff and the boys
returned to end a wonderful set and wonderful weekend with 'Denim and
Leather’, which that saw Quinn and Scarratt trade licks once more,
finishing off with ‘Princess of the Night’.
wrapped up another wonderful PPM Fest.
This wrapped up another wonderful PPM Fest.
One thing that we've omitted to mention about this year's festival was the introduction of a second smaller stage, the Entertainment Stage, where a wide variety of acts performed into between bands throughout the Saturday and Sunday's events this year. I think the noisiest of these had to be the marvelous Attila & Les Huns, who really know how to catch the ear with their brass orientated musical selections. Another act appearing this year that had the crowd rocking wildly along to the songs being played was electric violist Michelangelo. Definitely one to check out if you ever get the chance.
Now, whereas Attila & Les Huns and Michelangelo caught everyone's ear, the third performer to grace the stage this weekend was something slightly different, although one that got quite possibly, the highest number of male metal-heads assembling on mass to watch up close. Who could it be, well none other than Lady K-Line and her dance of the fluffy feathers. Ms K-Line certainly got the pulses racing and kept the blood pumping in between bands. Thankfully it was all done in the best possible taste and not as tacky as some we've seen at other festivals.
Overall the weekend was packed with top quality bands from all over the world. Yet again we left with huge smiles on our faces and aching feet after three glorious days of Prog, Power & Metal. Some might criticize that the line-up didn’t surpass last year, but for me it was another fantastic festival. The whole weekend was magnificently organized with perfect timing between bands and seamless switch-overs between the Alpha and the Omega stages. The price of the tickets for the weekend and for individual days was less than you'd pay for a lot of big touring bands these days, and here you had LOADS of great bands, some big, some not so big, but definitely destined for bright futures if this weekend's performances were anything to go by. There was something for all tastes.
Thanks to all the crew for keeping everyone safe while the crowd
surfing went on and to the staff who manned the beer pumps and made sure
it flowed smoothly so that a
good time could be had by one and all. A special thanks must also
go to the guys who made sure the stages were good to go when the bands
were ready and the lovely press gang who made our job that much easier
when doing interviews across the weekend. Although the biggest
thank you of all must go to Tony Carlino, without whom there would
simply be no PPM.
Great stuff! See you all next year!
Review by: Barry McMinn & Little Linda
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