Last and final day of the 2019 edition of Alcatraz. With already two excellent days in our pocket this couldn’t go wrong. Let’s party !!!
Alien Weaponry (*** 1/2)
Alien Weaponry performed as the opening band on Alcatraz’s last day. And their show was a great way to start the day! The crowd attendance was quite high for an opening show too! And the crowd seemed to really like Alien Weaponry! Moshpits, jumping, throwing horns in the air. Alien Weaponry made it happen. The performance was energetic with songs like Pc Bro and Holding My Breath. It was interesting to witness and very well performed, though there appeared to be some guitar problems during Nobody Here. Hoping to catch them again sometime soon!
Carnation (** 1/2)
Carnation had a live recording going on… All I can say is that I hope they managed to get anything useful out of the recorded footage. The Swamp stage should have come with a big “seizure warning”. Lots of fast lighting effects, which were rather inconsistent with the music. It seemed whoever was in charge of the lighting forgot some of the songs and had to act on instincts and acted on the wrong ones too often. The vocalist was sporting red face-paint all over his face with black face-paint around his eyes. Eye-catching at the start, but the magic of it quickly wore off. Musically the performance was quite good, but visually it definitely needed improvements.
Metal Church (****)
The oldies did it very well on this edition of Alcatraz. Metal Church is no exception on this, they are also a band that loves to have fun on stage. With the biggest backdrop ever (a t-shirt) it was a sign that the show would be filled with a lot of humor. This is how it should be, don’t take yourself too serious and let the music do the talking, Metal Church did it in a majestic way !!
These Canadians brought us a loud, a very loud performance in The Swamp. It was even a bit too loud. With their dissonant songs that sounds like a progressive industrial band the fans loved it. What a musicians, for the casual heavy metal fan this was too much to get inside their head. Even for being myself as a big fan of Voivod, I had to say that after half hour the ‘ I have heard this before’ came around the corner, nevertheless I loved it.
Sacred Reich (***)
Another golden oldie, this time from the thrash period in the eighties, with Sacred Reich. Although you could see that they are a getting little older they have still fun playing. While not energetic jumping around on stage, but hey if every band would do this it would be boring, they brought us classics like Ignorance and Indepent and luckily for one time they didn’t play War Pigs. Each time they played that song I left the building. Dudes, you don’t need that, play your own songs, they are better than those of Black Sabbath. Oh yeah, they played also some songs of their upcoming album after 23 years of silence, hopefully better than the one Tool gave us.
Off The Cross (**)
Another Belgian band, if you haven’t seen them or at least heard about Off The Cross you must have been living under a stone for the last years. It surprised me that they just came out of nowhere a couple of years ago and played already the big stages of Graspop and company. And it still surprises me, while they are not bad at all, live they sound as a typical metalcore band with here and there a more groovier approach, especially the screaming didn’t do it for me.
Powerwolf wasn’t the headlining band for Alcatraz’s last day, but damn! They sure made it seem that way! Lots of pyro, good lights, consistent with the music, which was also very good. Supposedly, Avantasia was the headlining band, but it did make me think: “If Powerwolf isn’t the headlining band, and they’re putting up a show THIS GOOD, then Avantasia must be doing some ridiculously crazy good stuff to get the headlining spot instead!”. Honestly though. Powerwolf put up an amazing show.
Between songs, the band found time to introduce their songs and have some fun with the audience too. When Atilla Dorn tried to explain a vocal piece to the crowd for Armata Strigoi (if I recall correctly), the crowd quickly got ahead of themselves and did the entire piece by themselves, leaving Atilla speechless for a few seconds, after which he recouped himself and told them they were out of sync and made them practice it anyway. During the explanation for Werewolves of Armenia, there was a similar moment of ‘disagreement’ between the crowd and Atilla. His determination to make the crowd say something in a specific way until it’s just right makes for a bit of fun between songs. Even the band’s keyboard player joins in on the fun several times during the show. The band closed off with We drink your blood, and just like every other song, the crowd loved it. It’s a shame they didn’t get to headline and perform for longer! It was very enjoyable to see Powerwolf perform and do so with a passion. Can’t wait to see them again in the future!
In the era of modern progressive music Tesseract is a band that is climbing steadily to the top of the genre. So now it was time to conquer the audience of Alcatraz. This is a not easy task as their music is not for the faint hearted that are just here to enjoy some nice sing alongs. Their complex songs full of groove and odd times were brought excellent. Dan Tompkins, what a voice he has, put the cherry pie on top of the cake. While this kind of music is not for everyone, a lot of people appreciated what Tesseract was offering.
Only one word can describe this band, next-level music. Meshuggah is a band you love or hate, their rhytmic patterns will be too difficult for the stereotype heavy metal fan. Their show was sober but great, played as tight as a ducks arse, a lot of banners on stage, no gimmicks or anything else, that’s how it should be, the music is important not the show. It was a pity that they started when the sun was still up, their light show was so much better when it became dark. This was for me the band of the weekend, you could see that they had fun playing these breathtaking songs, these are incredible musicians.
Avantasia (** 1/2)
The german supergroup metal opera project created by Tobias Sammet, vocalist of the band Edguy had the task to close the Prison stage on Sunday. With an incredible collection of backdrops , which were very well designed and a ton of guest musicians it must has been an daunting task to get this all together, especially in a live setting. A lot of respect for doing this, but there it stops, while musically there was nothing wrong with it, it all sounded out-dated. This was no Ayreon, the stereotype heavy metal fans enjoyed Avantasia a lot, musically there were no surprises and the set just went on like background music.
Max Cavalera and his Soulfly were going fast as hell from the beginning. The impression couldn’t be more that it was pushing the pedal to the metal . Very aggressive playing which resulted in some mosh pits. When they started playing their older more groovier songs like The Prophecy you could feel that the audience became less active but more danceable. So next time put some more groovier songs in it, that is how we know Soulfly. And a bad sound again in The Swamp…
Alcatraz delivered us an mix of very interesting bands, some new, some old, not the biggest headliners, but they don’t need this. La Morgue was a very good idea, we hope to see next year a more mixed style of Belgian bands, this year there was even though it is very popular at the moment, a bit of overkill of stoner, sludge and post-metal bands. There are rumours that next year there will be a fourth stage, really, you don’t need this, leave it like it is, cozy, you can go for a drink, a rest, a nice bar, nice people, don’t try to go each year bigger. This is Alcatraz, let it be.