It’s been a while since the last update! As I thought, we were insanely busy with the tour, and we couldn’t post anything. Even right now, we are on the road all the time with limited access to Internet, but I got some time to write a little bit of our metal adventure…
We arrived in Berlin from Barcelona, and took the train straight to our friend Maya’s place – who kindly hosted us for a few days before our band members came from Canada. It felt so great to be with somebody just like us! We cooked every day, and Maya brought us to visit a few things, including a squat in Berlin. My cheeks hurt, we were laughing all the time!!
On Saturday night, we went to see the gig of two of my favourite bands, LORD VICAR and ORCHID. I had no idea they were playing that weekend – it was a total surprise when Maya announced it to me! Arghh!! They played at some odd venue called “White Thrash Fast Food”, which had bartenders with huge attitude problems haha
The bands were really good that night… I think it was one of the last show of the tour or something, and they all sounded very tight. As I have been under a rock for almost a year and a half, I hadn’t heard the new LORD VICAR, but I was very surprised by their new material! I feel it is stronger than their old material. I found myself headbanging hard for their whole set. Really strong material!! ORCHID were also absolutely brilliant. I am a big fan of their EP, and had no idea I would see them one day… haha! I had heard recently their new album – and it is a bit less catchy than the EP, but live, it was very very good. Total early Black Sabbath worship!!! I especially went mad when they played their songs “Eastern Woman” and “Capricorn”…. great vocals, great music, awesome overall band. I am a bigger fan than ever!
After the gig, we kept on drinking a little with the guys of Lord Vicar and some friends. The beer was pretty expensive but I got a bit tipsy anyway hehe
After the gig, Arsenij, François and I went for some curry wurst, the most typical dish of Berlin. Basically, it’s a sausage topped with Ketchup and then covered in curry powder. Good stuff, especially after drinking some amounts of beer!
The next day, the Lord Vicar vocalist and bassist went to Maya’s home for some maple syrup French toast, which yours truly prepared! I made a whole loaf haha, it was so good!
Then, Maya pulled out her crazy Latvian drink, which she prepared with her father. It’s a drink made with pomegranate, booze and loads of garlic, which you drink to boost your immune system. Perfect for hangovers! I thought it tastes really good, but the guys didn’t really think so haha
In the evening, we made Maya a nice Poutine Italienne to thank her for her hospitality. It was made using fresh mozzarella (soaking in its own juice!) and it turned out to be the best home-made poutine I’ve made so far!!
The next day, we went to get Pat and Jo at the Berlin airport. Nothing bad happened haha, so step one accomplished!
We stayed together for a week in an apartment in the area of Kreuzberg in Berlin. It’s located near the old border of East Germany, and every day we had to walk there to go to our rehearsal room.
The first band of the night, SERPENT – an evil NWOBHM worship band was quite good, they totally had the right attitude and good riffs! Perhaps I would drop the corpse paint, but beside that, they ruled!
EVIL SPIRIT, who played second, was our promoter Marcelo’s band where he plays drums and does vocals (at the same time!) They are really cryptic, slow and evil doomy death metal. They had no bassist also, just another guitarist – which was plugged in the bass amp! Their sound was very unique and watching them was like taking a trip to down below… really cool band!
Unfortunately, I don’t have ANY photos of the gig in Berlin because the card I used was corrupted… but I can tell you that it went very very well! We were tight as hell due to rehearsing alot, and the atmosphere was absolutely perfect! About 35 people showed up, but the place (Blackland bar) was small and totally perfect for us. KILLER show!
The next day, we went to Köpi, a punk squat, where ACTIVE MINDS and SATANIC MALFUNCTIONS were playing. The guys hogged the foosball table for a while.. haha
We stopped at Fleischerei Domke, a local totally typical German restaurant, where we had kapernklopse and schnitzel (fried battered pork). It was really good, the meatballs were in some kind of vinegar sauce, which tasted very different from anything we’ve had! The schnitzel was paired with some apple-soaked red cabbage. SO GOOD!
We drove to the promoter of our gig in Nuremberg (Seb Engelhart)’s place in a little village near Nuremberg. He had a huge house and hosted us for three days. It felt good to have a home again!!!
We went to visit Nuremberg, which is an absolutely charming old medieval town. Seb took us to the castle, as well as the beer vaults in the underbelly of the city…
The first thing we visited was the beer vaults, which was constructed in the middle ages. It was meant to keep the beer colder (10 celcius) and to help with the fermentation process. I was amazed at how much trouble they went through for their beer! No wonder it is so sacred to Germans! They also had WWII emergency escape passages in there, which were really creepy looking…
The city itself was absolutely gorgeous, and had really cool old style buildings. Apparently, most of the buildings were reconstructed due to being bombed in the second world war…
In the evening, we went to the venue, which was located in some sort of cool DIY venue. COSMIC WASTELAND, a band from the next town, opened for us. They were really heavy, and had three guitarists – including a guy from Black Thrashers HELLISH CROSSFIRE. Our own show went pretty good too, some guy in the front was banging his head like crazy the whole time!!! We also never sold as much merch in a smaller show as in Nuremberg. The people there are fucking die-hards!!
The next day, we got to tastes some amazing sausages that Seb fetched in his home town. The best were smoked until they became very dark… so good, eaten with beer and dipped in mustard and horseradish sauce!!!!! Ohh man!!! We also had a BBQ with some regular sausages and more stuff!
Keep it True festival
For years, it was my dream to go to Keep it True. When I found out we were going to tour Europe with CAUCHEMAR, I contacted Oliver (the organizer) and saw if he was interested in having us play… but thought we were going to have no luck haha. Turns out Oli already knew us and actually had thought about bringing us to Keep it True!!! The line-up was fully booked, but Oli told me if a band cancels, we’d replace them… and so a band DID cancel and we were on the bill! For me, this was absolutely exciting, as not only I’d get to that legendary festival, but I’d play it too!!!!! Wow! Located two hours from Nuremberg, in the German countryside, Keep it True festival can be described in one word… OVERWHELMING!!! Everything was insane; the choice of bands (OZ! WITCH CROSS!), the people, the metal market (imagine seeing tons of records you’d never think of seeing in your life… ) and the beer (sooooo much of it haha). It was really crazy, and I wish it could have lasted a full week because there were so many things going on at the same time!
So we played first band of the festival, at 12:30 exactly… to be honest, it was kind of weird to play so early because it doesn’t really seem fitting with our style of metal, but we did our best and had a good crowd reaction I think!! It was also very strange to play in front of something like 1500 people, on such a big stage!!!
Right after us came PORTRAIT, a Swedish heavy metal band with an evil vibe. I really love them (especially the first album!!!!), and it was really killer to see them live.
Afterwards was WITCH CROSS, a Danish metal band from the 80’s. Their only album “Fit for Fight” is a total classic, and they really ripped live – even with a new singer! They also did new songs, which sounded really good.
A few bands later was OZ, one of my favourite Swedish metal bands. They played all my favourite songs, like Turn the Cross Upside Down!!!! They were ok, I don’t remember why exactly, but they didn’t impress me as much as WITCH CROSS.
A bit later on was American eccentric doomy heavy metal band THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG, which I half missed due to too much socializing! I wanted to get a beer outside, and ended up talking to a million people, which really sucks because they were one of the bands I wanted to see the most. That’s what I meant earlier for having too many things to do at the same time! Too many good bands and good people, and not enough time! I still managed to catch a song or two, and it sounded really great. They also played a cover of Diamonds and Rust!!! So good!!!!!!
The last band I watched that night was Canadian metal band SWORD. They are not that well known in Canada (they used to be pretty big in the 80’s, but not anymore) – but they really kicked ass live! Seems like everyone was there to see them…
I watched a little bit of PSYCHOTIC WALTZ and didn’t really enjoy them, so I went back to the backstage where the fun was at! I drank and headbanged with Ole from DEADBANGERS fanzine, all the guys from PORTRAIT (I seem to recall fighting the bassist!), SWORD and WITCH CROSS… who were all very nice.
Waking up the next day was difficult, but we made it in time for the first band…
…VULTURE! I think this band was my discovery of Keep it True festival. They are from the states and they play really killer metal influenced by HEAVY LOAD and GOTHAM CITY (they even did a cover of them!). Really great band, and great guys all around!
A bit later was SENTINEL BEAST, which had all their original members. They were really really killer as well, and the vocalist (who also sings in DETENTE) did a great job of fronting the band! A really great addition to the fest!
I then took a break and went to do a bit of record shopping. As I said earlier, Keep it True fest is like a record heaven… (or should I say hell? It’s frustrating not to be able to buy everything!) I spent a good 400 euros on records, which I then shipped to Canada. Unfortunately, some prices were quite high, but some others were total deals!
Then was WHIPLASH, the American Thrash metal band – who I have been fan of for years… I was standing in front the whole time, and they really played well!!!!! I was going totally insane! Unfortunately, the vocalist looked like a total idiot (with skull beads on his goatee, and his red neck hat) but I closed my eyes and let the powerful riffs sink in…
A few bands later was one of my favourite bands – ANVIL!!!!!!! I haven’t seen them since Heavy MTL in 2008, and since then they changed their bassist. I think the new guy is from San Francisco, he played in a pretty well known band but I totally forgot who. Their dynamics did not change at all, and they sounded great as usual! Perhaps they did a few too many solos though, I wish they’d play more songs instead!
Finally, one of the highlights of the festival for me was the NWOBHM special, which had ROXCALIBUR band members with different vocalists (and sometimes band members as well). They played Seven Days of Splendour of JAMESON RAID with Terry Dark & Peter Green, Flying High of HOLLOW GROUND with Glen Coates, Death or Glory AND Heavy Metal Mania of HOLOCAUST with John Mortimer (holy shit did I become insane for that one!), Let it Loose by SAVAGE (with Andy Dawson and Chris Bradley), a couple of SAXON covers and MAIDEN songs with Dennis Stratton and Tom Gattis!) A totally glorious moment for me!!
During the end of the second day, people were getting seriously beaten up. As my first European metal festival experience, I can understand how actually hard it is to get through one of these…
And then, after a few hours of partying, we went to bed still totally intoxicated… not only by beer, but by a killer weekend of real, pure metal!
April 30th / May 1th
My friends Birger and Paul from BLACK SALVATION organized two gigs in the North of Germany, with their own band for both shows. They play hypnotic, psychedelic doomy heavy rock which totally crushed both nights.
The Leipzig gig was located in a strange venue, which had fur all over the walls. The sound was quite good, and there were quite alot of people that showed up that night! We also had our own beer distributing machine haha… kind of dangerous!
There are no pictures of us, because I didn’t give my camera to anyone that night. We also didn’t get to explore the city too much – but that’s ok! We need to rest sometimes hehe
Next day, we went to Halle, which is about 30 minutes from Leipzig. I thought nobody was going to show up because not only it is a middle of the week concert – we had also played in Leipzig the day before…! But surprisingly, about 40 people showed up… mostly for BLACK SALVATION but many of them stayed for CAUCHEMAR. This gig was really great for us – there was some kind of crazy atmosphere in the air!
The show was weird, as people were sitting down directly on the floor, like a bunch of hippies haha! But it was really cool.
The next day, we flew to Copenagen, Denmark, for our first Scandanavian experience…
We were lucky enough to get on Heavy Days in Doomtown, a new doom/sludge/stoner festival that was going on in Denmark! The line-up was absolutely crazy, with bands like BLACK OATH, BURNING SAVIORS, COFFINS, DEVIL, GRIFTEGÅRD, JEX THOTH, PILGRIM, SOLSTICE, etc… Unfortunately, we were playing on the opening day, which only had four bands playing. It was such a torture, because we really wanted to see the whole thing – especially GRIFTEGÅRD!!!!! I guess we’ll have to come back another year. Anyway, the whole thing was really cool and well organized. The food was killer, the bands were great, the atmosphere was heavy as hell and the weather was nice and warm. I really didn’t want to leave… but we had to play London the next day.
The two bands that played after us were really great! The following band was called Burning Saviors – and they play nice Swedish style doomy-heavy rock.
But the surprise of the night was Denmark’s own MOONLESS. I had never heard them before and live, they were incredible. They played really powerful doom with some stoner influences…
We then went to bed (staying at Ungdomshuset!) at the small hours of the morning, slept three hours, and then got up to fly to London…
I have been to London before, in 2008, to see PAGAN ALTAR, WARNING and LAMP OF THOTH live. This time, we stayed four full days, and were able to explore many things – as well as play a gig of course!
The first band that opened was called VILLAIN. They were really crazy JUDAS PRIEST-style metal with a very entertaining singer that was a cross between Phil Lynott and King Diamond! I think everyone in the venue was surprised about them – they were truly excellent.
Afterwards was the truly mindblowing heavy metal band AMULET – who were doing their debut show in London. One of their guitarists, Marek, is also the promoter of this gig (thank you so much for everything!). I had heard their killer demo, “Cut the Crap”, several months ago, and was totally looking forward to seeing them… I wasn’t dissapointed! These guys CRUSHED!
And here is a tiny clip that I got to film… the camera kept on blurring (I think there was too much sweat in the air or something!), so I stopped.
There are no CAUCHEMAR photos this time, but it was absolute magic!!
The first thing I wanted to do in London was to eat Yorkshire pudding again. As it was Sunday, it was the perfect time to indulge in this greasy tentation. We went to a reputable pub and had a killer meal of Sunday roast and Yorkshire pudding! Unfortunately, I had better before (everything was a bit cold!!) but it was still very satisfying.
We then went to visit a few things, among them – the Abney Park cemetery. It’s an old beaten up graveyard like you see in horror movies. A really cool place!
We also visited the Huntarian Museum – which shows a part of John Hunter (a famous British surgeon who lived from 1728 to 1793)’s personal collection. I had visited it last time when I was in London, but wanted to take François there… beware, it is absolutely morbid and gruesome… but so fascinating!
We then visited my friends Terry and Alan from PAGAN ALTAR at their home in Gravesend, Kent (about an hour away by train from London).
They gave us a visit of their newly built studio, which they will use to record their upcoming album – “Never Quite Dead”:
The guys then took us to a 15th century pub, which was once the favorite drinking place of Charles Dickens!
On the other side of the pub was… surprise! An old church, as well as a graveyard! This place was so amazing!! I just couldn’t resist wanting to take photos with the guys there…
Apart from that, we went to visit an old friend of mine, Miya Higashi, whom I haven’t seen in something like 13 years! She stayed at my place in Canada when I was young, to be in a French-speaking environment – and exchange cultural differences with me! She was staying in London with her husband, so they invited us for a nice Japanese-style dinner.
It was really cool to see Miya again, after so many years!!! Since she lived very close to the Abbey Road studio, we also went there before leaving for the night…
After London, we flew to Leipzig – stayed one night there, and then drove to our next destination…
Organized by Jerry of DETEST records, our only Belgium gig was a total success! Tons of people showed up, and were really into it. OK, the owner of the bar tried to strangle our drummer, and our set was cut a bit short, but the gig was really fun haha.
We also went to visit a little bit the old city (a Unesco heritage site!) before we played…
The local band that opened for us was called TROUBLE AGENCY. Their drummer was one of the promoters of the gig, and they play thrash metal/crossover!
No photos of the band once again, but it doesn’t matter – the show really kicked ass!
This gig is the first one that we play in the land of our ancestors, France!! It is also very special as it is partly because of this one that we decided to set up a tour in Europe. Organized annually by the guys of Emanes Metal records, the Long Live Metal!!! festival is a small one-day fest that features only total quality bands. This year, there was GAE BOLGA, BOTTLE DOOM LAZY BAND, WARHAMMER and a bunch of others!! The cool thing about this one is that the gig itself was located… on a boat! It was a really insane feeling to play on the water…
Some highlights for me were the Belgium speed metal band GAE BOLGA, whom I had no idea about! They are on Emanes Metal records, and definately need to be heard if you don’t know them already!
Also, The Bottle Doom Lazy band played – whom I’ve known for a long long time. I always wondered why they were called that way – until I saw them live… the vocalist always has a bottle in his hands! It’s almost his instrument! Haha… They were great, probably my favorite band of the fest.
Our own set was ok, I feel it wasn’t as solid as the night before (perhaps we were a bit tired) but still, it was cool and people actually sung along!!
And the gig finished with German cult band WARHAMMER, who did a killer set in front of maybe 20 people! Where did everyone go? So weird!!!
I was almost certain this gig was not going to be too popular, since it happened on a Sunday… turns out it was the best one! The venue is tiny but it was absolutely packed with doomsters from all over Paris (the event was called “Doom Over Paris!”). What made this show truly special for me is that NORTHWINDS were playing – a French doom metal band who have been around for a long time (and whom François and myself love immensely!).
The first band that saw was FUNERALIUM, which is doomy Black Metal. They were really excellent, I had never heard them before but I was pretty blown away. Good stuff, nice melodies and dark and evil atmosphere…
After this was NORTHWINDS, who played a nice 1 hour set (or more? I’m not sure!) They were really good, and played some older songs, as well as brand new ones. Killer band, killer guys, I had so much fun with them!!!!
After them was CHILDREN OF DOOM, whom I’ve known for quite a while also! They play doomy punk/metal, which really got the crowd going. I really enjoyed what I could see of their set!!
There are no pictures of CAUCHEMAR but a video someone sent me, with three of our songs. The last one, D’Encre et de Sang, is actually a new one, which has never been recorded before! It will be on our full-length:
We had a day off afterwards, so we went for a nice picnic in Paris’ largest park. We met up with my friend Nagawika, who did the awesome cartoon drawings in Morbid Tales #6 as well as Hellbent for Cooking!
From Paris, we took a detour to the famous cathedral of Chartres, to be able to see its two mysterious vierges noires (black madonnas). We’ve been wanting to do a small pilgrimage, because as some of you know, we named our EP after them! Also, the cathedral itself was so big that I couldn’t take a proper picture of it…
We got just in time to visit the crypt, where was located “Notre-Dame-Sous-Terre”, a very ancient vierge noire. Unfortunately, the original was burnt down during the French revolution. The original statue is said to be an antique statue of Isis sculpted before the birth of Christ! This crypt is also the largest of all French crypts. You can find there ruins from the foundation, which dates from Gallo-roman times (4th century AD!) There was also a well, which the Romans used to drown and kill people (1st century AD!!!).
Afterwards, we drove to Rennes, where the promoters of our gig were waiting for us… with a killer couscous dinner cooking on the stove for everyone!! We were so hungry, we devoured the thing like we never had eaten before… and it was so good! The next morning, we made some nice Britanny black wheat crêpes (they call ‘em galettes here!) It took a while to figure out how to make them, but they turned out tasting pretty good.
Afterwards, our friends took us to visit Rennes, which was absolutely beautiful. It kept many old houses, which are surprisingly still standing up!
I also bought a nice rich Kouing Amann, which is a specialty of the region. You make it by putting as much butter and sugar as possible, until it is completely saturated. The result is a juicy caramel cake, full of fatty goodness!
The gig was held at a place called “Mondo Bizarro”, which is a cult venue for punk and metal bands. There were only two bands, ourselves and CHILDREN OF DOOM – who I got to watch properly this time! The band ripped through a set of total rock’n’roll doominess and left us wanting for more! Argh! They were really good and have total stage presence, especially Tetard – the vocalist/guitarist! Just look at his face!!!
No photos of us, but instead, this beautiful drunken picture of some of the promoters crew and ourselves! You can see our CD as well as the first issue of our doom metal fanzine, Les Templiers!
Afterwards, we had a huge after party, which lasted until the moon faded!
Bonneuil-Matours, Poitou, France
Now, we are heading to my friends Shaxul and Nath’s place close to Poitiers, the capital of the Poitou region. This place is very special for us, because not only my direct ancestors from France came from that region, but also because Shaxul and Nath are good friends of us (we had visited them in the past) – and we were very happy to see them again!!
We arrived at their home, dropped our bags, and right away we left to explore the area. They brought us to an insane necropolis in the village of Civaux, which features hundreds of opened sarcophagi. According to a very old legend, after the victorious battle of Clovis’ Franks over the Visigoths of Alaric 1st that took place here, a multitude of sarcophagi rained down to collect the remains of the warriors killed in combat… but actually, the sarcophagi were just part of a giant cemetery, and they date from the 6th and the 8th century.
We then went to visit the medieval city of Chauvigny, which has three castles! Everything was closed as it was a public holiday, but we could still enjoy the medieval ruins…
It was getting late, so we returned to Shaxul and Nath’s place – where a nice meal was waiting for us… By the way, these guys have a gîte, a kind of bed and breakfast hotel where you can stay and soak in the French countryside, while having some great food and visit interesting places around! Check out information at www.legionofdeathrecords.com. Here are some photos of the beautiful house:
Our 3-hour-long meal consisted of local specialities; we had mojhettes (white beans who are grown in the region), a ratatouille (vegetable stew) made from vegetables grown in Nath’s garden, as well as a nice heart warming pork stew! She also made a pentagram cake, which had some kind of digestive herb inside. For dessert, we had walnut and raisin stuffed apples. So amazing!
Thank you Shaxul and Nath for the hospitality! You guys are the best, arghhh! We would have stayed longer, but we had to go to our next destination…
On the way to Toulouse, we saw a little sign that was announcing a Dolmen (a megalithic structure) that was right in the countryside. We decided to stop and explore a little bit…
The Dolmen was obviously not touristic, and was just located in the middle of a field. What I found interesting is that there was traces of burnt wood, as well as flower offerings at its step!
We arrived in Toulouse in the middle of the day, and went to a store to pick up more tour shirts. We were sold out of larges and x-larges, so we had more made! In the store was a flyer for our gig:
Before the gig, I met my friend Laurent Lignon who took me to visit a few things around the venue:
Back to the gig, we had some awesome food prepared by our dear promoter and friend, J-F Sisquellas (désolée pour la tarte aux oignons!) and then the first band started playing… it was NUIT NOIRE, who first started as total Black Metal, but then started adding pop and punk elements to their songs… quite interesting, and quite creepy really! Their session drummer is from MELKHEBRE.
After them was a band called The Grand Astoria (Russian psychedelic rock), and then we played! The venue itself was so cryptic looking (we were in a cave), and everything around us reflected our lyrics… it really gave another meaning to our songs…
We slept at J-F Sisquellas’ home that night, in the morning, we went to Notre-Dame-de-la-Daurade, a church which also has a very very ancient vierge noire.
Unfortunately, the vierge noire there was dressed in some designer clothing – which looked totally ridiculous. At least they kept the triangular shape…
Thank you J-F for your great help and hospitality!!!!!!
Torreilles is located in the pyrénées – the mountainous South of France close to Spain. The town itself is quite small (3000 people) but the gig attracted something like 80 people! Of course, some traveled from nearby towns, but it was still really impressive! It was organized by the Pyrenean metalheads crew, particularly by Patrice Rohée. The venue itself was really cool and cozy, it was a small French-style pub located right in the middle of town…
Two bands played with us – one was called LOL (for real!) and the other one was OCD. They both are female fronted heavy metal bands! Incredible! And OCD played an extra long set… covering the entire SORTILEGE EP! I was really going insane for that!!!
No photos of us, but you guys know what we look like playing live by now… haha
The next day, we were invited for a killer meal of Catalan-style lentils, and artichoke. The lentils were so good, they were cooked slowly with some smoked fatty pork and ribs (it had a nice smokey flavour, a little bit like French-canadian beans!) and the steamed artichoke was eaten by biting out flesh from every leaf (which was dipped in vinegar and oil). It sounds weird when I try to explain it, but it was an absolute revelation for me! I shall be making those at home!
Barcelona, Spain/Marseille, France
May 20th / May 21th
On Sunday May 20th, we rushed from Toulouse to Barcelona, which took something like 5 hours to reach. Salva, our promoter and friend, welcomed us with a nice meal and some beers! A band called Oniphagus opened for us – I really enjoyed them, they played doomy Death metal which sounded very cryptic! Unfortunately, it was really shitty weather, so it seems that not too many people came to the gig because of that. I also forgot to take photos that night, I don’t understand why! I only have a photo of this:
The next day, we drove up north to Marseille, the second biggest city in France after Paris. It did smell like that too, haha, as soon as we opened the doors of the car – piss stench crawled into our nostrils! We were so rushed, I wasn’t thinking of taking pictures of that day either. All I took of the city is this one:
Before the gig, I met my good friend Sebastian, who took me record hunting at Saber Tooth records. I found a few LP’s, like the first HIGH POWER… really great shop and great owner too! I took a photo with him!
Not that many came out that night (Marseille on a rainy monday night is not very popular for going out) but there was surprisingly enough people to fill up the place, which was really cool! Haha! I wish I took photos once again of the gig, but I didn’t… argh!
We are now driving to the third biggest city of France, Lyon – where we will play our last French gig! Located near beautiful mountains, Lyon is a very cultural city full of music and record shops. I wish we had the time to explore a little bit, but when we arrived – everything was closed! In any case, we played in the basement of a venue called Le Moko, which is located in a cave. It always feels good to play in really cryptic places like that…. it’s the total opposite than playing at Keep it True for example! Anyway, we had the chance to be booked by Flo of SANCTUAIRE/NECROWRETCH (it was the first time he put on a show) and thus we were able to play with his band, SANCTUAIRE!!! It’s old style heavy metal with French vocals. Just the type we love! They were really great, I especially liked what Flo was saying between the songs… You got to see them to understand!
I also met a few friends of mine, Eve and Azmoth (Forgotten Wisdom prods!), and it was really nice talking to them in real life hahaha
Now, onward to Switzerland…
We arrived pretty early to Switzerland. Everything went well while driving there, although it cost a fortune to pay to use the highways! Doesn’t matter too much anyway, the sceneries were so beautiful!!! The venue, Base Bar, was actually a place run by a French-Canadian and his Swiss girlfriend. It was a nice and clean bar, and kind of reminded me of some bar that would be in Gatineau (those coming from my region will understand!) They even had Molson Canadian for sale, haha, it was so strange! Apparently, they also sell poutine from time to time. Man, I am craving that dish so much now, I think it will be the first meal I have when I come back home.
A Death Metal band called CALCINED opened for us. It’s actually the vocalist, Flo, that helped me get this gig by suggesting me Base Bar. The band was perhaps a bit too brutal death for my taste, but live – they were really cool! And they did a CELTIC FROST – Dethroned Emperor cover!!! It was quite amazing to see Flo sing too, he acted like a demented psychotic killer, which fit perfectly with the music. Haha!
And we played a great set that night… it did help alot that the sound on stage was fantastic!!!
May 24th / May 25th
We finally got a day off, so we decided to do a dream pilgrimage to one of our favourite labels… Black Widow records in Genoa, Italy! But before I start anything, driving from Switzerland to Italy had one hell of a scenery…
Pino and Massimo welcomed us with opened arms, and had us listen to many great records. They were so passionate about the music, and told us many fascinating stories. Massimo sold me his BLACK HOLE LP (original press, totally mint condition!) and I spent about 300 euros of stuff there haha… so many good records. I wish I had a photo to show you! Thank you for everything guys!
We had to leave pretty quickly unfortunately, as we had to drive again many hours to Bologna, Italy, where Marziona (our friend and promoter) was waiting for us with lasagna! Mmmm!
Marziona knows how much I love food, so she brought me to this really typical Italian restaurant. The owners are from the south, so they really make it nice and oily (olive oil, of course!) We had a huge feast that had something like 8 different dishes!
Of course, we had to do a little bit of sight-seeing; so we walked around the streets of Bologna. We had some coffee, visited the famous two towers (which were built by rich families…) and looked at windows full of yummy food:
The gig itself was located in a squat place called Atlantide. We played with two other bands, Marziona’s BOLT THROWER style band called AXIS OF DESOLATION. They were really killer! My favourite band of the night for sure! Marziona really knows how to kick the shit of her drums haha, I rarely saw any drummer play so hard!!! Yeah!!!
We then played our full set, in front of something like 15 people! For some reason, everyone was sitting outside. It’s not like it was nice outside or anything. I think people were more there to talk or something. I don’t mind though, I got totally possessed by the music once again…
Then was EMBERS, a Crust band with some black metal elements from the states. They played a good set, which had total a total US black metal vibe – bringing forth images of forests and stuff.. haha, it’s hard to describe, but it was interesting!
Located very close to Milan, Bergamo is an old medieval town, with lots of interesting history… unfortunately, we played in the lower town, so we didn’t see any of that. Haha! We played at this pizzeria place (how fitting!) with one of my favorite metal bands right now… BLACK OATH! I was beyond excited to be able to see them…
They really played a powerful set, easily one of the best bands we’ve played with on this tour. I had goosebumps when they played the song “Black Oath”…. especially the part where Alex sings “In this temple of rituals… darkness is calling my name!” haha. So good. They also played a new song that sounds absolutely promising… this was the last show because their next album. I am really really looking forward to it.
The following day, we drove something like 9 hours to Nuremberg, Germany – and crashed at Seb and Nikki’s place once again. They made a bbq and we had a really good time!!! I turned 26 years old at midnight, and Nikki made me some really killer wild berry cupcakes to celebrate. Seb made me a white russian, which was a bit powerful hehe!
The next day, we drove 5 hours to Berlin, and then took the bus to Copenhagen. It was was a pretty crappy birthday, haha, because of the stress of traveling and everything… but I tried my best to enjoy the most of it! And we were on a boat for two hours, which was really cool!
May 29th – May 31st
So, you wonder why we went to Copenhagen again? It’s because we had a few days off before going to Muskelrock, and it’s only about 3 hours driving from there. We also had free accomodation at the Copenhagen Youth House so it was perfect for us! We finally had time to do sightseeing and we actually did ALOT of things in two days! We visited some nice buildings in the middle of town, we took a walk through a really cool cemetary, ate some patries, did some record shopping, went swimming at the olympic pool, visited the national museum, and the squatted town of Christiania…
Outside of Denmark, we call their pastries “danishes”, and I am a huge fan of them. In one day, I think we had three of them! Haha, they were so good. Filled with all kinds of jams and custards… yummy
The Copenhagen cemetary was really cool also, full of Scandanavian tombs and crosses…
We went to Michael Denner of MERCYFUL FATE’s record shop (Beat-Bop), but unfortunately he wasn’t there! I still bought a few things though… really cool shop!
The visit to the museum was really fascinating also… it was really cool to see the history of vikings and the arrival of Christianity in Denmark. I really enjoyed reading about the old beliefs; sacrifices of swords, the chariot of the sun and the burying of the dead in tree trunks, etc. Really interesting!
And finally, we went to the squatted town of Christiania. It was an old abandonned military base back in the 60’s or something, until the youngsters jumped the fences and took hold of the houses there. Now, the place is not even considered to be in the European Union! It has its own laws and is totally different from the rest of Copenhagen. It looks like a gigantic garden with markets and stuff. You even see drug dealers selling pot and hash in the open! Really interesting and strange phenomenon… it’s forbidden to take photos, so I could only show you the entrance to that place… it needs to be visited if you are in the area!
May 31st – June 2nd
Muskelrock has to be one of the best European festivals of the year. As you can see on the flyer, it features incredible bands like GRIM REAPER, HELL, PICTURE, ENFORCER and THE DEVIL’S BLOOD! What an incredible line-up!! And it is located in the middle of nowhere, Sweden, on an old carnival site from the 70’s.
On Thursday, the main band I wanted to see was HIGH SPIRITS from the states. They play some upbeat Heavy Metal that has total roots in KISS and early 80’s HM. Their gig was great, and the frontman was very expressive in everything he did!
Friday afternoon was the best band of the festival for me… GRIM REAPER! Or should I say Steve Grimmet and friends? Haha, it doesn’t matter, because their set was absolutely amazing. And on top of it, it was raining (and cold as hell) – but as soon as GRIM REAPER started playing, the sun came out and the temperature rose! It was actually the warmest hour of the whole festival. They played so fucking well, and even did a Dio cover – “Don’t Talk to Strangers!” I guess Dio did a deal with the horned one to bring forth that sun… hehe
A little further on was some… wrestling! Of course, as the festival is called Muskelrock, they have wrestling every year. It was really entertaining… in fact, it was the first time I ever witnessed wrestling live! Almost every wrestler had a punk or a metal edge, which really added to the whole thing. My favourite teams were the clown vs the black metal warrior and the friendly fighters.
It was getting colder and colder… and it wouldn’t stop raining. In fact, my feet were wet and cold for the whole day. Not fun at all! Anyway, M-PIRE OF EVIL (or should I say VENOM?) came on stage right after the wrestling match. They had a few technical difficulties but really, they were great! Their own songs were not very good – way too nu-metalish for my tastes, but they did many VENOM songs… like Countess Bathory, In League with Satan, Black Metal, Witching Hour, Die Hard… so nice to hear all of that… especially Witching Hour! ARGHHH!!!!!!
A few bands after was the theatrical NWOBHM band HELL, which played a really great set… They were probably the tightest band of the night. To be honest, I’m not a 100% sold yet with their approach, but it certainly a good time!!!!
Afterwards was The Wounded Kinds, who played hypnotic sounding doom metal. Their female vocalist really sounded like she was underwater, and it gave a really cool atmosphere to their set. I quite enjoyed seeing them… and especially since they were playing indoors! We could finally get warm and dry!
The last band I watched on Friday was RAVEN. Oh man, they were absolutely incredible… and very very very entertaining! They were grinding their guitars together, throwing themselves from one place to another… I’ve never seen an old band being so fucking energetic before. I am really happy I got to see them live! Oh yeah, and their drummer was Joe Hasselvander who played in PENTAGRAM!
I unfortunately left right after RAVEN. I couldn’t take it anymore, I was really not prepared for that cold, and my toes were about to fall off… so I went to our guest house to rest. We were playing first band the day after anyway, so I had to be in good shape! That night, it took me a good hour to warm up in my bed. I should have taken a hot shower or something… arghhh!
So like I mentioned, we played first – at 2PM on Saturday at Muskelrock. It was the last date of our crazy 20-date European tour! Our set was really good I think, and many people crawled out of their sleeping bag to see us. I think we also had a good reaction from people…! It was hard to get in the mood at such an early time of the day, but I eventually became possessed by the songs like usual… hehe
I watched a little bit of VANDERBUYST as well as BLACK TRIP… both bands were fantastic… and now I can celebrate the end of the tour!!!! Woohoo!! I walked around, and took a few photos of some people:
Later on in the day was the dutch metal band PICTURE, who were good! I only know “Metal Ears”, and they played many songs from that album… they sounded pretty much exactly like on record. People were really into it.
A few bands later was POKOLGÉP, a speed/thrash metal band from Hungary. It was one of their rare shows outside their country, and they really ripped live! They totally had an eastern European vibe though, clapping their hands together, and playing a ballad (which didn’t get much crowd reaction haha). It was freezing cold, but totally worth seeing!
Right after was ENFORCER, whom I know since their 7”. In fact, that 7” is my favourite material, and they played “Mistress of Evil” from it! It was so fucking good! The whole set was great actually, they were extremely tight and had great stage presence. My friend Ian from CAULDRON was there – and he went absolutely crazy during their set. He ran backstage, and threw himself right on the crowd from the stage! It’s a pretty huge leap to not fall on the metal gate!!!
A little bit later was MANILLA ROAD… I was looking forward to see them for years actually, and they played totally classic songs like Open the Gates, Flaming Metal System, Mystification, Necropolis, Witches’ Brew, etc… arghhhh!!!! But yeah, the vocalist had a really bad stage presence, and it was really too bad that Mark Shelton wasn’t doing more vocals. He sounded so great and magical!!! I still enjoyed their set tremendously. People around me as well, wow, there was one hell of an ambiance during their set!
Last band I saw was THE DEVIL’S BLOOD, whom I last saw in 2008, opening for PENTAGRAM in NYC. I was sick as hell back then, on heavy sinus pills, but I remember their show to be absolutely mind blowing! My expectations were thus very high – too high I think. Their show was very good, and got me into a trance for a while, and, perhaps it was because of the insane cold, but my mind was drifting to other places. I am not a big fan of their newer material either, which didn’t help! But at the end of the set, they played some stuff from Come Reap and the demo, which really got me going! They also played tons of 15-minute+ solos, which sounded really crazy live with the three guitarists…
We then rode to the guesthouse, really happy about the whole festival. If I wouldn’t live on the other side of the planet, it’s for sure that I would come back here. It was a really great event, ran by amazing people!!!
So overall, the tour went very well… but we are tired as hell haha, and we are glad to be back with just the backpacks! Thank you to everyone that came out, and especially to the promoters and bands that we played with… cheers!!!!
Right now, we have actually arrived in Dublin, Ireland, where we will spend a full week! It is really nice so far, and Irish people are insanely friendly. Can’t wait to explore the city and metal scene… arghhh! Afterwards, we will be attending the Hell fest in France. The line-up is beyond amazing this year! See you around!!!