in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany, April 13-14, 2007

It is about time for MER to recognize a truly unique festival that has been around for a few years in Germany. It is called Keep It True, and in April 2007 the 8th festival in the series took place. Born from the idea of a bunch of old school Metalfans to create a festival they would like to visit themselves, with bands they would love to see for a price they would be willing to pay, Keep It True, or KIT as it is often abbreviated, is truly an event from fans for fans. Every year over a thousand die hard Metalheads from all over Europe – the Swedes and the Greeks are (in)famous for their presence and are surely loved by the local stores with an off license – gather for the big KIT in April to see some new bands, some underground bands, and some legends believed long dead and forgotten.

But, it is not only the music that makes this event special. It is the atmosphere of friendly music fans belonging to one big family, supported by the fact that friends and relatives of the organizers work behind the food and drink counters, that sometimes lets the music take second place and helps one thoroughly enjoy the festival that positively reminds of the good old eighties when Metal was young, concerts were special events, leather and bullet belts were mandatory, and fans had to count their money over and over to make sure they could afford the ticket and the travel to just another dirty, underground club and enjoy a metallic evening.

On that spirit, the whole KIT is built. The ticket costs 19 Euro ($25 US) for 10 bands and 12 hours of music, a Metal market takes place inside the hall until 8 p.m. without additional charge, food is very affordable, and beer is also not at the outrageous prices other festivals shock fans with again and again. What else could one ask for? The music? Oh, sure, time to take a look …

Opening act was Canadian outfit Cauldron. Not long ago they called themselves Goat Horn, but it seemed both bands were not very well known to the audience. Their Thrashy Metal was nice background music for browsing through the CD racks of the Metal market, but due to poor sound, only a few bangers were already starting the sweat pit in front of the stage. That was not much different for the next band, Bullet from Sweden. Only that their Hard Rock sound, occasionally reminding of old Accept or AC/DC, could cope with the poor sound quality much better as the simpler riffs seemed indestructible, and their Rock ’n’ Roll feeling made everybody’s feet tap. Quite a good show!

Twisted Tower Dire is a band that fits the KIT billing perfectly, as the foundation for it all is USA Power Metal, typically of the old school type. Unfortunately, the traditionally poor sound quality was apparent here as well, and paired with the new singer, who just sounded wrong on several of the old classics like “Isle Of The Hydra” and “Axes And Honour,” made for a less-than-smooth showing.


The focus was on the albums originally sung by front man Tony Taylor, with only one track performed from the new album Netherworld. So, it was no surprise that the crowd in front of the stage diminished the longer the gig lasted, although the band is a real killer on their four studio albums. Last disappointing fact: The band did not manage to stay within their stage time, so the last track was announced, but could not be played –- it would have been the only one from the debut album, longed for by the TTD fans present.

After a nice, but unspectacular Party Thrash Metal (does that category exist?) show by Dutch band Defender, who made a good impression mostly because they covered Metal Church’s “Metal Church” and Annihilator’s “Alison Hell,” it was time for a Thrash Metal legend, one of those KIT is famous for digging up from the ashes of Metal history. With only two regular studio albums, a show and image based on bad taste and exaltation, and songs that sported names like “Sex With Satan” and “Sodomize The Dead,” The Exalted Piledriver as they call themselves today, was a highlight of the festival. Guitar and bass player hidden behind monster masks, and a singer who showed too much flesh for the taste of the ladies present, they played a gig that not only equally featured tracks from both studio albums, Metal Inquisition and Stay Ugly, but even a new track from an upcoming album, should they find a label for it. For the rest of the day, Piledriver’s motto was on the lips of almost every fan in the hall: “If you ain’t a Metalhead, you might as well be dead!” Note: For those who do not know the band –- the motto is not to be taken seriously!


Destructor was next, and although they performed a killer show the evening before at the warm-up gig, most fans were disappointed as they replaced Danish Thrash outfit Artillery, who unfortunately had to cancel their appearance. While their Thrash was not bad and the song titles true as can be, somehow the crowd took a break, being exhausted from Piledriver during Destructor’s efforts. Or, they were just keeping their strength for the rest of the festival, because from then on, KIT 8 gathered momentum and rose up to become one of the best KIT’s so far. Lethal then entered the stage. Two albums and one EP are their only legacy, but what a legacy. Lethal

The debut album, Programmed, has to be put on the same pedestal as Queensryche’s first outputs, and it is no surprise that the gig focused on this masterpiece. Singer Tom Mallicoat, with his unique voice, entered the stage in a rather strange outfit, with shorts and a hat, and every fan of the band looked with a mix of expectation and fear at the stage. Would Tom be able to sing those songs still after all those years? Yes, he could. From the opener “Fire In Your Skin” until “Killing Machine” sixty minutes later, Lethal clearly were one of the best bands ever to have played at KIT, and the crowd thanked them accordingly with enthusiasm that would only surface again later for Sabbat, and during the last band of the day.

After such a show, normally one needs a break to have a beer and watch the next band from further behind. Only, what can one do if the next band is UK heroes Sabbat? Right, nothing but drown the beer and get back into the pit. That is what most of the audience did to see singer Martin Walkyier, who is famous for his years with Skyclad, thrash them good. The tracklist consisted solely of songs from the first two albums, and from the first note to the last, the crowd was nothing less than enthusiastic. One needed to know the songs, though, as the technical finesse of the tracks was not always clearly audible, and several compositions sounded suspiciously alike to the untrained ear. But, Martin’s announcements in German made up more than anything for that.

Every Metalfan knows Diamond Head. The British Metal force has been covered by the Metal heroes Metallica no less than three times, and the track “Am I Evil” is probably one of the better known Metal compositions. The question is, who knows it is not from Hetfield & Co?

Diamond Head

With only Brian Tatler from the original line-up, it was a bit strange to see the show as you expected to see old rockers rather than a bunch of young Brits. Anyway, it is the songs that matter most, and the selection was very cleverly chosen. Tracks from the classic debut album Lightning To The Nations were mixed with newer songs, and it was quite obvious that most of the audience was not familiar with those tracks. Overall, many people used the show to calm down a bit after two strong bands, but not many left the hall entirely. The musicians would probably have preferred a stronger feedback from the crowd, but played their gig with routine and fun. At the end, when they played the rest of the debut album they had not performed yet, including “Am I Evil,” most people were back in front of the stage. And, not just to reserve a space for the last band of the day …

But, it would have been justified to do so. Lȧȧz Rockit started the show, and the crowd came pouring back to the front. Within minutes after the instrumental intro, which was actually played by the band rather than being from tape, “Forced To Fight” summoned everybody through power and sheer enthusiasm by the whole band.

Laaz RockitThey seemed to send a spark out to the audience that started a Metal fire that would last over 70 minutes. The tracklist left out their last album, which was probably their weakest overall, even considering the really mellow production and commercial approach of No Stranger To Danger, and they focused on the other three releases, which offered plenty of hymns and powerful tracks to choose from. The band played in their original line-up on their only second tour in Europe, and actually blew all the other bands away, also because the sound was quite good.

Playlist for Lȧȧz Rockit by album:
City’s Gonna Burn: “City’s Gonna Burn” * “Forced To Fight” * “Prelude”

No Stranger To Danger: “Spared From The Fire”

Know Your Enemy: “Last Breath” * “Euroshima” * “Shot To Hell” * “Say Goodbye M.F.”

Annihilation Principle: “Mirror Into Madness” * “Chasin’ Charlie” * “Fire In The Hole” * “Bad Blood”

After the show, which also included one track that was not from a Lȧȧz Rockit album, but was featured on the album Fix by Lȧȧz Rockit successor Gack (only released in Japan), the crowd was completely exhausted, grabbed a last beer and strolled over to the tents to celebrate another wonderful Metal feast called Keep It True.

In November, the traditionally “small” KIT takes place, which is also traditionally already sold out. But, next April, Lauda-Königshofen in southern Germany is again the place to be. For their tenth anniversary, the KIT guys have a very special line-up that you do not want to miss:

Friday: Strikemaster, Phantom X, Attacker, Sentinel Beats, Omen, Helstar (special show playing the complete Remnants Of War album), and Titan Force

Saturday: Fueled By Fire, Battle Ram, Demon Eyes, Doomsword, Crescent Shield, Pharaoh, Cage, Razor, Manilla Road (with Mark Sheldon on vocals!), and Jag Panzer

See you there!


  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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