The Neal Morse Band were on for their second night in Europe, Paris, AlHambra, a beautiful venue in the city of lights, packed with prog enthusiasts.
Neal Morse was joined with a lineup of fine musicians, Mike Portnoy on Drums, Randy George on Bass Guitar, Bill Hubauer on Keys and Eric Gillette on Guitar.
The show was very entertaining and enchanted by the different costumes of Neal Morse and a brilliant video wall behind the band.
Bill is a very skilled keys player but also provides vocal parts in few songs, while Eric wowed the crowd every time with his guitar technics.
A terrific show by all means, long and porgy with an epic performance by all members, Portnoy’s groovy drumming was no strange to the prog nation, it’s easy to say that two hours and a half passed really fast, with a small break half way through the show, the band took a breath to come back and continue an epic play list of the entire catalog of Neal Morse.
The ending was a surprise, the band took us on a great and progy adventure playing a terrific encore from the finest moments of Neal Morse’s career since he began his journey as a solo artist, they started with The Land Of Beginning Again, Reunion, The Temple Of The Living God and all the way to close the curtains with The Call followed by Broken Sky and Long Day (reprise).
After the intensifying rush of Beirut Metal Fest back in September, the scene was once again gifted with a sick line up of a gig. And the best part about it? It was completely free!
Organized by the Skull Session team, Skull Session 2018 was held at The Palace, Hamra, on November 17, 2018. In case you don’t know who Skull Session is, they have been around for around 3 years, and have been working towards bettering our scene every year. They hosted the first free concert in 2016 (Read review here), which proved to be a very successful start. In 2017, they brought British thrashers Onslaught (read review here), and today they have again given our scene a free gig to enjoy.
As always, they never fail at giving us a great event, making sure that everything goes smoothly, and try to maximize comfort for both the crowd and the bands. Adapt’s guitarist, Mohammad Yatim, posted this on his Facebook page as proof of this “…not only was it professionally executed, the treatment was excellent. Not a single request was denied, and while we were merely an opening band you guys supported all of us since day one and worked hard to get all people to watch us.” So props to that!
First off, I would just like to take a moment to appreciate the location. A really big thumbs up to the venue. It was big and spacious, and there was pretty good ventilation. Smoking was allowed inside, and my eyes began to burn a little bit, but that’s normal. It was still more tolerable than any other venue I’ve been to which allowed smoking. The stage was big and could be seen clearly from anywhere you decided to stand, thanks to the venue’s stair structure. That could, however, also be considered a bad thing since people move a lot in Metal concerts and when they were moshing, it was a bit scary watching them because I was worried that someone would fall and hit their head on the edge of the stair or something. They did say moshing was not allowed, but hah, yeah right! I also found that the location of the bar was convenient, it was at the back of the venue, right as you walk in, with lots of space around it so it wasn’t crammed and you could enjoy the view of the stage from the back. Speaking about that…the sound wasn’t so good back there.
The sound was overall very good, and I think the sound was improving as the event went on, since there were constant tweakings here and there. However, I felt like it wasn’t uniform, as the back of the venue sounded too bassy and instruments were not as clear. But as you got closer to the stage, the sound got better, specially mid way, where the sound was best.
To accompany sound, lighting was cool. Nothing too fancy, but I did love the screens on the stage and the fire machines. Those were the highlight of my night. They made me laugh at times because every time a flame would pop up and a band member would be headbanging, it would look like their head was on fire.
The event started a bit late, and the doors opened around 7 p.m. , but people went in to find a screening of the first episode of Sam Dunn’s series Metal Evolution. By 7:30, it was time for the first band – Adapt. Adapt is a new band in the scene, and Skull Session was their first appearance! So, to introduce you to them they are Mario Ghadban (vocals), Mohamad Yatim (lead guitars), Jack Khamo (rhythm guitars), Sergio Ashjian (bass) and Samer Baghdo (dums). They played Gojira covers and they were fucking awesome! All the members are really talented musicians, and they were able to deliver a very solid show. I also liked that Mario had his own thing going on with the bloody makeup, many bands usually disregard stage props/outfits/image, but I think it is really important and I’m glad that they did take that into consideration. He also pulled out an axe when they performed their last Gojira cover of “The Axe”, which he used as a mic. I cannot judge them harshly, because as I mentioned it was their first appearance, and I am not sure if they have had previous experience individually on a stage before, but they should be more comfortable on the stage and try to move around some more. Their musicianship is excellent, so their comfort on stage would compliment that perfectly. I can see great things happening with this band, I can’t wait to hear some original material! Adapt, you kicked ass! Best of luck to your future.
DeathTone was the second band to perform. It’s really sad that they don’t have any recorded material out, but I guess that makes their shows special and something to look forward to. Most of the people in the crowd knew their songs from previous events, so they were singing along and moshing and having a pretty good time. Their performance was great, specially their front man, Anwar, who was engaging with the crowd all the time. His stage attitude is one of my personal favorites when it comes to local bands. The only thing that bugged me was that the left side of the stage was empty since the guitarist and bassist were standing on one side. I would have liked to see the other members move around a little more, but overall it was pretty neat. Record your shit, DeathTone! We can’t keep waiting for you to go live. *cries*
What was really cool was that the bands went off and on stage so smoothly, and didn’t make you wait for ages for the next band to start. That’s usually rare. Thumbs up to time management! I did step outside for a few minutes before the next band went on, and I couldn’t help but notice that there were a lot of new and fresh faces who came to see the show. That is always something positive and I hope that we keep seeing even more people attending metal concerts.
Nocturna were on next, and their symphonic melodies were a perfect refreshment. I think that it was my first time watching them, and I found them to be really good. The style is not my favorite, but as a band in their genre I think they are very good at what they do. Their stage presence is also very strong and crowd engaging. Something went wrong with the sound during their 3rd song I believe, and there was only one guitar that could be heard playing. The problem was solved in a few seconds, however, and it was great to see that the crowd reacted positively and actually cheered rather than complained. They also played Amon Amarth’s Twilight of the Thundergods which was bomb and got everyone excited!
AM I BLAAACKyum! What can I say? Like I don’t even need to review this band. Their drummer warms up to Meshuggah’s Bleed. The coolest thing though? They performed a new song called Rise of Canaan, which was really catchy and had some awesome riffs. But that’s not all. They surprised us with a little something called a video clip, which was being shot right there! I don’t think anyone didn’t get excited about that, and it’s such an awesome thing that they decided to do it in their home land. They also payed a tribute to our lost brothers and sisters in the metal community with their song We Who Are Dead. It was emotional looking at their photos on the screen, but it’s such a beautiful way of bringing them back, to a place they would have loved to be in, and I thank Blaakyum for that. Speaking of screens, they had snippets from parts of The Lord of the Rings movie, which I didn’t quite understand and thought that they were odd. And why the hell was there fire and smoke near Hassan (drummer)? I thought he was gonna suffocate. I asked him about that later, but he said “Nah, but I was worried about the electrical wires because they were so close”. Yeah, that shit is scary! Blaakyum are such an amazing band to watch live, their presence is so in-capturing and Bassem is such a funny man, always making jokes and making the crowd laugh. I’d watch them all night and never get fed up. So much love and respect to them!.
Finally, the last band of the evening was Phenomy! To be quite honest, I was really surprised by their performance. I heard their 2nd album T.W.O when it first got out and I thought it was a pretty good album, but lacked some elements that I usually look for. But watching them during Skull Session made me want to re-listen to the album, because they were pretty amazing. Oh, and let us not forget the awesome percussionists on the djembes who played during Threaten World Order, Fear Not, and Dance of the Wounded Souls! They added such an awesome dynamic to the whole performance, and it was something new for our local scene. And those breakdowns, boy did they break all hell loose. And I would have jumped into those intense moshpits if it wasn’t for my fear of the stairs (mentioned at the beginning of this review) haha. What I love about Phenomy on stage is that they always look like they’re having fun, like even when Sam is trying to look like a badass, he’ll pull a goofy face once in a while. I also have to point out that Sam’s performance as a front man has improved tremendously, and his voice has gotten so good! I remember watching him the first time with Phenomy in 2016 during the Christmas Mission at Quadrangle, where he was a guest vocalist, and was singing kind of a soft clean song. I did really like his voice back then, but felt like maybe he wasn’t very comfortable. There has a been a huge improvement on his part, and I commend him for his awesome advancement, and feel like he completes Phenomy. And as I mentioned before, bands who take into consideration their stage image always have the advantage. They had some pretty wicked stage props, the voodoo dolls hanging from the ceiling and their little Tiki mic stand with glowing eyes looked so cool! They were all hand made by Lourdes Mehanna, who is such a talented artist! They also had mini voodoo dolls that they threw out to the crowd to catch at the end of their show, which was super neat! Phenomy were my favorite band that night. Love love love.
Lastly, I would like to thank Skull Session for this beautiful experience and their hardworking efforts to keep this scene alive and strong. We are all grateful to have such people who care and support our local bands. Until next year!
Three hours from Paris in my car, it’s probably the longest ride as I drive, I can’t wait to be on site, I count every minute while my car player is shuffling a playlist that I create each year based on the bands playing Hellfest.
I’m finally there, the wonderland for each metal fan, truly excited to see what’s new this year.
As usual, my first stop is the press area, a luxury lounge that we all appreciate, all thanks to Hellfest management for taking such good care of the press.
The art invested in the area is magnificent, the small lake turned into a swimming pool, a gothic swimming pool to properly describe it.
Hellfest comes back for the 13th edition, you can’t control it was this year’s slogan, and it really describes the festival, you can’t really control what Ben and his team are up to each year, they never fail to amaze us.
As the year before, 13th was sold out in a matter of hours with the lineup locked in a box in Ben’s office, this is truly incredible, it only shows how Hellfest became a cult for us, no matter who plays, WE WILL BE THERE.
But of course this did not stop Hellfest from bringing the finest in the industry each year, every time we say this is the biggest yet, it runs out we were wrong, each year it gets bigger and bigger, you will understand what I mean at the end of the article.
The first day kicked off at about 10:30, yeah, beer and metal, it can’t get any better as a breakfast.
Six stages were on fire, bringing multiple genres of Heavy Metal. The main stages were busy with some great groups, Sons Of Apollo had their Hellfest debut, and they were great performing their debut album, a prog band that consists of Portnoy, Sherinian, Bumblefoot, Sheehan and JeffSoto, or shall we call it a super group!
It was a non-stop kinda day on the main stages, band after band, from Tesseract to Meshuggah, JoanJett to Europe, StevenWilson, HollywoodVampires, StoneSour and finally the almighty JudasPriests that headlined the first night, WOW, what a show, Halford was truly a heavy metal god. The last band to play the main stage was A Perfect Circle. The stages, Altar, Temple, Valley, and Warzone had an amazing atmosphere as well with bands: Therion, Satyricon, NapalmDeath, Bad Religion and Rise Against.
Day one was a blast…
The second and third day is where usually the atmosphere starts to pick up, everyone was looking forward to a fat second day, on the bill: Iced Earth, KillswitchEngage, ACCEPT, Septic Flesh, CarpenterBrut, Exodus, Amorphis, Arch Enemy, Alice In Chains, Megadeth, Marylin Manson, Nightwish and the mightiest of all to headline day two… IRONMAIDEN Now you get the idea why I called it a fat day… IRONMAIDEN had a magnificent show, it is amazing after all these years how these guys can still manage to WOW the fans.
The third and final day, it is always a sad feeling approaching the end of Hellfest, but we were on for a huge surprise.
After a long day of heavy metal with bands like: Powerwolf, JonathanDavis, Bullet For My Valentine, Katakalysm, Enslaved, Body Count, Children Of Bodom, Nile, LimpBizkit, and to headline the last day AvengedSevenfold were up for their first ever headline of Hellfest, it is really great to present a younger generation band to headline the biggest metal festival in the world, I love the music of A7X but I felt that their show wasn’t really up for headlining Hellfest.
It was a blast, by all means, an edition that you surely can’t control.
But that wasn’t just it, Hellfest team decided to change their policy of not announcing the bands for the next edition, they decided to give us something this year, but as we know by now that Hellfest don’t do things as usual festivals do, they had something big planned for us, it was an announcement for 2019.
Lights out on the main stage, few minutes of silence and suspense, lights are back and there’s someone on stage….
It’s Joey DeMaio of MANOWAR, yes you heard it damn right, Joey DeMaio came all the way to Hellfest to announce the return of Manowar to headline Hellfest 2019.
These are some of his words: Hellfest is the true festival of the world, You haven’t seen shit yet… Net year Manowar will come, and we will strike the fucking ground and crack it open with the ultimate power and spectacle of light, that is my word and that is what will happen, we’ve never broken our word for the French fans and we never will…
ARE YOU WITH US? DEATH TO FALSE METAL… ARE YOU WITH MANOWAR?
VIVE LA FRANCE
That was his closing statement and the fans went nuts…
Hellfest is now in the history books for another amazing year, now all we have to do is wait impatiently for the complete lineup to revel…
The thriller is at it’s the best level
Enjoy our photo gallery from the three days combined taken by SharbelKanoun
In the midst of all the hype of the international bands set to tread Lebanon, it is important to remember to support the local metal scene. And as it usually goes, Rock InSight has organized yet another event dedicated to supporting home territory, That One Night IV.
While the original lineup consisted of Nocturna, Hatecrowned, Apathia, and FreeFall, Nocturna had to apologize due to a car collision that guitarist Michel Kammouj was a part of. But fortunately they were directly replaced by DeathTone.
Starting off the event were FreeFall, a unique band in the event due to their clean vocals and relatively newer type of metal. With covers ranging from Killswitch Engage’s rendition of Holy Diver to Bullet For My Valentine, Metallica and Ozzy. The vocals were very well executed and the performance was relatively tight other than a couple of mistakes here and there.
Up next were Tripoli-based Groove Metallers Apathia. Announcing this was their last performance together, the band shook the crowd with covers of Lamb Of God, Sepultura and many more. Apathia’s final show was emotional as they featured for the last time as well their first vocalist as a guest. Unfortunately, their show didn’t pass without problems, as the rhythm guitarist broke a string mid song and had to switch guitars. Nevertheless the moshing and headbanging didn’t stop!
As Black Metal band HateCrowned stepped the stage, it was clear that the mood got darker. Kicking off the show with Mayhem’s Freezing Moon, the performance was reasonably flawless with a couple of minor mistakes. The vocals were hauntingly screeching and instrumentally the sound was creepy. Everything you’d expect from a Black Metal band.
Ending the show were Melodic Death Metal band DeathTone. However, the vocalist and lead guitarist dislocated his shoulder and there was a bit of delay. But the delay was worth it as DeathTone put on the finest performance of the evening with everything from originals to Children Of Bodom Covers. The vocalist and main axeman was highly energetic and his shredding was spot on. This performance also included the first Wall Of Death of the night, consisting only of females due to the band’s request. Prominence guitarist Matt also participated on a couple of songs.
The entire show was hosted by the highly sarcastic Charbel Haddad of Eden. And many prizes were announced varying from Beirut Metal Fest tickets to free tattoos from Saturn Tattoo shop. The sound and lights were great with no major issues. The only problem with the venue (Metro Al-Madina) is the lack of space for moshpits, otherwise the bar prices aren’t too bad and the location is remotely accessible.
Review by our reporter: Mohammad Yatim
Photos by our photographer: Hashem Ismail
Out of the ashes they surged in 2012, shaking off the rust from the wings of a dormant phoenix that had waited for years to have a sip of Lebanese metal glory. And heavily rewarded were they, with an entire generation eagerly awaiting the continuation of this journey, to quench their thirst and support a local band which looked so promising on its debut, yet couldn’t string it all together again until 2018, after almost all hopes of a new opus had been lost. Continue reading
As we all know, the 19th of January was a busy night for all of them Pink Floyd fans. Pink Floyd’s music is kind of like psychedelic rock and is considered to have some trippy effects on the mind if delved into. Recreating their music isn’t like a bunch of 14 year olds covering “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, but needs a lot of experience in sound effects with instruments, which not too many bands in Lebanon might be capable of. But Brick Floyd sure can. They announced that their show would be held in Beirut Open Space, on Jan 19. What I like about that venue is that it is located in Mar Mkhayel and not on the main road, which means we don’t get stuck in traffic from the beginning of Gemayze street. Continue reading
DIRKSCHNEIDER is a group led by UDO Dirkschneider, the former lead singer of ACCEPT.
He formed the band and started touring the world with one aim, bidding farewell to his former band ACCEPT. He plans to play his material from his time with ACCEPT one last time. Continue reading
Anneke Van Giesbergen’s VUUR First Headlining show REVIEW!
Anneke Van Giersbergen was poised, charismatic, and down to earth. Two hours before the start of the show where she and her new formed band Vuur are going to headline for the first time, we left the tour bus where an in-depth interview has just taken place (find out all about it here). “It’s unbelievable” I said to myself “Unbelievable that a mega star like Anneke can be that modest and friendly”. I guess sometimes you have to see a person outside of the limelight to discover the human in them. To have a glimpse, only a little one at their true self.
Interview with Anneke Van Giersbergen of Vuur - Ep 1 - Metal Bell Podcast! For our very first episode of ... LISTEN TO PODCAST
The place is Paris and on a cold and rainy Thursday evening of December, Vuur alongside My Propane and Scar Symmetry were ready to rock the Parisian night. Into the waiting line, I make my way and there to my surprise I meet many fans who came to see Scar Symmetry, a band that I didn’t know beforehand but for sure worth a listen. And for sure, all of Vuur’s fans waiting under rain drops to meet the stars of the night.
The concert started with My Propane, a dark progressive band with one album under their sleeve (Modern Violent Gentleman-2013) with a new release coming soon. Their energy was quite remarkable with interesting melody lines and outstanding musicality. This band is definitely going straight to my Spotify playing list. Unexpected surprise…check!
The next act was the Swedish melodic death metal band Scar Symmetry. This band has a lot to offer: catchy riffs, dreamy melodies, strong growls, and spacy clean voice. By seeing the many die-hard fans in the audience losing it, I could say that Scar Symmetry has built a loyal fan base through the years even if this was the first time they play in Paris for a long time. Metal dose….check!
Then of course, it was time for the one and only Vuur. With their great melody lines, extreme music mastery, the spot on lighting, Vuur had the venue in their pocket!
Anneke, the front woman that she is, moved us all with her powerful, angelic voice proving again why she’s a power player in the metal world. She was on another dimension, moving us through space and time with her voice range and her undeniable presence on stage. She also plays an important role with the string section playing those important chords that add to the orchestra of steel.
But what caught my attention even more was the great harmony and connection between band members. Beginning with Ed Warby behind the drums, the guardian of the rhythm, he was spot on the whole concert bringing fluidity and beat to the sound.
And then there was the string section comprised of Jord Otto (guitars), Ferry Duijsens (guitars), and Johan van Stratum (bass). The energy between those three gentlemen was very satisfying to watch. Goofing on stage, making fun of one another, all while rocking the hell out of their instruments. With great solos of Otto, cut clear bass lines of van Stratum, and hypnotic rhythms of Duijsens, the mix was explosive.
They were not shy to include Anneke into their little stage games. Seeing the band on stage was a privilege. The playing, the amusement, and the stage atmosphere made the concert an extraordinary experience. A night to remember…check!
The setlist included mainly songs from Vuur new album “In this Moment We are Free-Cities”, but the surprise package were songs from “The Gentle Storm” (Anneke’s latest music adventures), a Devin Townsend song (Fallout), and the ending was no other than The Gathering’s signature song “Strange Machine” (for the full setlist, click here*). The only other song that I personally wished to be included was the power ballad “Freedom” from their latest release.
Taking a step back to see the whole picture, it seems that Vuur is one big family: The band members for sure but also lighting technicians, Evert behind the console and Robbin the tour manager who even with a broken hand because of a “stupid accident” (to paraphrase her own words) is around to make sure that it all goes smooth and on schedule for the band.
All in all, Vuur’s concert got the Metal Bell seal of approval! The only downside in my opinion was that there were some empty spots in the concert hall. An event like that really does merit a full house.
After the show, in a generous gesture, the band was at the merchandise booth for their traditional after party meet and greet. I make my way to thank Anneke and the boys for a great evening.
Then again, with a smile, with the lights almost out, and the energy fading away, we exchanged our farewells. The contrast between now and then tremendous just like the warrior’s rest after a glorious fight…. The balance is restored….. This is “Darkness and Light”…..
– By Maher Ajamane
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SepticFlesh Live In Lebanon REVIEW! – Check Out Event Details >Here<
Due to the recent rise of the scene within the last couple of years, metal heads expected none other than the almighty Greeks SepticFlesh. The event’s opening band was chosen by popular votes on Facebook, which was a pretty cool idea. The line up consisted of InnerGuilt, Verdict from UAE, and Deathlam as supporting acts to SepticFlesh live in Lebanon. Continue reading