in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany, April 5, 2008

Battle Ram from Italy started day two of the festival. Since many fans decided to get some rest after the exhausting first day, the hall was everything but filled. Battle Ram did not seem to care and played their Epic Metal with verve, including a cover version from NWoBHM heroes Angel Witch, but had a hard time impressing the crowd.

This would change with Fueled By Fire, who followed next, and who managed to wake up the bangers better than two liters of coffee could. Old school Bay Area Thrash from California paired with a clear sound, quite surprising in a hall that was only half filled, which regularly creates problems for the sound guys in almost any hall, was the fitting recipe to blow away all stupor.

Fueled By Fire The mosh pit in front of the stage was only bigger once during this day, another sign for the impressive wall of sound the band built.

A stylistic outsider on the billing, Demon Eyes from France were supposed to come next and play their traditional Heavy Metal without any Thrash or Melodic Power influences. During both days. the 15-minute pause between bands was enough to set up the stage for the next act, and it seemed to be no different with Demon Eyes at first as guitar player Thierry Masson seemed eager to play and dove into the Metallica tune “Seek & Destroy” during soundcheck. Then the technician started the intro, and out of a sudden Thierry needed to get off stage! It took several minutes before he returned, having exchanged his Marshall T-shirt for a different one and put on a leather coat.

demon eyes This faux pas lead to a shortened set and seemed quite unprofessional. But, once the intro started again, the band became a sight worth seeing. Singer Philippe Masson entered the stage, also clad in a leather coat with added sunglasses, and served every chliché one could think of. At times he reminded of Udo Dirkschneider, and his over the top posing was incredibly eighties! But, since the main two albums of the band were actually recorded mid-eighties, one has to give them credit for authenticity. With an emphasis on their debut album Rites Of Chaos, Demon Eyes played a good show which split the crowd into lovers or haters. Metallica’s song was covered in the middle of the set, and as the last song “Antisocial,” originally not from Anthrax but from French Metal band Trust, was played with a little help from Ares Singer Damien and ended a very different, but quite entertaining gig.

Setlist: Pestiferes, Indifference, L’Invincible Force De La Mort, Resurrection, L’Orgie Des Damnes, Seek & Destroy (Metallica-Cover), L’Ermite, Demon Eyes, Les Deux Maudites, Antisocial (Trust-Cover)

Crescent Shield The next two bands were eagerly anticipated by many in the crowd as they played the style which almost everybody at Keep It True likes: Melodic Power Metal. First was Crescent Shield who released their debut album via Cruz Del Sur music only about 18 months ago. Since their new album was just out for a few days, the set consisted mainly of songs from The Last Of My Kind. Next to singer Michael Grant, who is quite tall, the good looking (but small) bass lady Melanie Sisneros seemed almost tiny, but she played a great set and was constantly smiling. The fun the band had spread to the audience right from the start, and hymns like the opener “Above Mere Mortals” and “The Path Once Chosen” were winners and drew people from the Metal market to the front. An excellent band, a great album, and a highlight of the day.

Setlist: Above Mere Mortals, Slaves To The Metal Horde, Lifespan, The Path Once Chosen, Rise Of The Red Crescent Moon, The Last Of My Kind, Burn With Life

asia Singer Tim Aymar was the one musician, with the exception of singer extraordinaire Harry Conklin, who was anticipated most. The one album he recorded as singer of Control Denied, Chuck Schuldiner’s last project, is one of the best Technical Thrash albums of all times, and when he joined Pharaoh and met all expectations with the debut album After The Fire, Pharaoh was a new star on the Power Metal canopy. Now he was expected to satisfy on stage as well, and the crowd in front of the stage did not leave after Crescent Shield, but even increased. Although Tim did not look much like a Metal singer, his vocal performance was outstanding. The band played tight and was fun to look at. The only strange thing was guitar player Matt Johnsen who wore a The Police shirt which seemed incredibly un-true. But when one looked at the average age of the audience, it seemed a good bet that at least half of the guys present had an album or two from the British Pop stars at home. From “After The Fire” to the last song “Now Is The Time,” Pharaoh played a triumphal set and left the stage after 45 minutes, leaving behind a happy, sweaty crowd.

Setlist: After The Fire, I Am The Hammer, Telepath, By The Night Sky, Solar Flight, No Remains, Up The Gates, Now Is The Time

asia The organizers of K.I.T. X did a good job of mixing styles during both days with the one exception of two Thrash bands playing after one another on Friday, and so a change of direction was to come now too. USA Metal masters Cage started their show. The band is not undisputed because of their egotistic attitude expressed in interviews and on their Web site, so many expected distanced and arrogant behavior. And if one looks for something, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, so the pumped-up appearance of guitar player Dave Garcia and singer Sean Robert Livingston Peck’s combination of sunglasses and baldness met some of the expectations head on. But, whatever the guys express off stage, musically they delivered a good show. The compositions were straight, but effective, consisting of catchy riffing and a great vocal performance. Although lyrically simple – unless one combines songs to create a funny epic story made up from “Kill The Devil” via “Hell Destroyer” to “It’s The Final Solution” – the 45 minutes were amusing. The band kept stage announcements to a minimum and concentrated on delivering one pure Metal bullet after another in which only drummer Norm Leggio of Psychotic Waltz fame seemed not challenged much. And if Judas Priest had not released Painkiller over 15 years ago, the music would have been original, too.

asia And now something completely different: Doomsword. Viking Battle Metal, with some Doom tendencies, complete with drinking horns and menacingly behavior was the game, and even though some of the band members looked like everything but Vikings, the crowd and band wound each other up more and more. If one was not familiar with the material, the hour of Epic Metal began to be quite long towards the end, but the intermission with the ex-singer Nightcomer (one of the more stupid aliases, but a principle in Doomsword) performing a medley of old tracks was nice to see. Apart from those the sing along “oh-oh-oooh’s” and little stage acting made some fans wish that the playing times of Doomsword and Pharaoh would have been reversed as the ranks up on the stands were filling.

Setlist: Onward Into Battle, Heathen Assault, The DoomSword, Medley with Nightcomer: Helm’s Deep, Warbringers, One Eyed God, Return To Imrryr; Days of High Adventure, For Those Who Died With Sword In Hand, Death Of Ferdia, Odin’s Hail.

asia After many years in which cult Thrashers Heathen have not played in Europe, it was clear from the start that their gig would become a glorious return to the old world. Before the band started, the biggest crowd of the day, maybe even of the whole festival up to now, gathered in front of the stage. And from the first not of “Hypnotized” the audience just went crazy. Crowddivers and moshpits like in old times celebrated every song. Heathen were a secret headliner and many fans came especially to see 60 minutes of one of the finest Thrash bands ever. The setlist put an emphasis on their second album Victims Of Deception in the beginning, before the debut was honoured towards the end. Even two songs from their 2005 demo made it to the set. The only point of criticism was that “Goblin’s Blade” was not played. It seems the band has to return soon to make up for that.

Setlist: Hypnotized, Opiate of the Masses, Arrows of Agony, Mercy Is No Virtue, Heathen’s Song, Dying Season, Open the Grave, Death By Hanging

asia An old friend for most KIT visitors, Manilla Road developed a solid following based on their early albums when they were one of the bands who founded the typical US Fantasy Power Metal. These days, there 13th album Voyager was recently released, and many fans were torn between the hope for a set consisting of old classics and the fear that the band would mainly promote the later releases. But the fear was unnecessary. Manilla Road knew exactly what the fans wanted and started with an impressive array of classic tunes that blew away every hint of skepticism about the setlist due to some less convincing releases in the band’s history.

The main albums considered were 1983’s Crystal Logic, 1986’s The Deluge and Mystification from 1987 with three tracks each, plus two songs from the 1985 release Open The Gates. Mark Shelton on guitar who recorded all albums with the band took over vocal duties on several songs from Brian Patrick, and both singers earned a lot of applause. Two songs from 2008’s Voyager were played, but did not create a friction in the enthusiasm of the fans who were highly rewarded by an unsual as well as unexpected encore: “Avatar” from the album Mark Of The Beast was a song the band had not played in a long time.

Setlist: Masque Of The Red Death, Death By The Hammer, Hammer Of The Witches, Witches Brew, Flaming Metal Systems, Divine Victim, Road Of Kings, Mystification, Blood Eagle, The Riddle Master, Isle Of The Dead, Voyager, Necropolis; Encore: Avatar

asia After Manilla Road many Metalheads already thought about leaving, and if it had not been Jag Panzer and singer Harry Conklin whose impressive performance on Friday with Titan Force made many mouths hang open in astonishment, the hall would probably have emptied considerably after Heathen and Manilla Road. But if one had left he would have missed another – if not the – highlight of the festival. The announcement was a two hour extra long show with a special surprise from Jag Panzer, and the band delivered even more.

Starting with a three pack from Ample Destruction, the band made clear from the start that they would demand every rest of power left in the audience. The set was like a true best of selection picking tracks from almost every release in the history of Jag Panzer. The cheering audience hung on The Tyrant’s lips who made sure to equal the great performance of the day before. In the middle of the set, Bob Parduba entered the stage, and Harry Conklin left. Bob had replaced Conklin on one album which was never released but leaked to the fans as a bootleg. Several songs were used for later albums, so most of the fans were familiar with hymns like “Chain Of Command”, now sang by the original recording voice from 1986.

A rare “Never Surrender” was played to much surprise, before Conklin returned to the stage for a duet: “Shadow Thief”. After another three songs including the highlight “The Crucifix” from the debut album, Jag Panzer went off stage. That they would come back for an encore was obvious, although they had already played two hours, but there was hardly a song the band could play that was missing from this already perfect set that could increase the satisfaction in the crowd. So instead of playing more Jag Panzer songs, the band dove into a great cover version of Mercyful Fate’s “Gypsy”, followed by another appearance of Bob Parduba for Judas Priest’s “Electric Eye” before The Tyrant finally concluded the festival with Iron Maiden’s “Where Eagles Dare”. If there ever was a perfect Jag Panzer set, it was this one!

Setlist: Generally Hostile, License To Kill, Symphony Of Terror, Black, King For A Price, Iron Eagle, Fate’s Triumph, Lustful & Free, Tyranny, Battle Zones, Future Shock, The Moors, Reign Of Tyrants, Warfare, The Mission (1943), Chain Of Command, Never Surrender, Shadow Thief, Take To The Sky, Vigilant, The Crucifix; Encore: Gypsy (Mercyful Fate Cover), Electric Eye (Judas Priest Cover), Where Eagles Dare (Iron Maiden Cover)

asia Overall, this was the best Keep It True ever. The organization was great – not flawless, but every problem was solved in a timely and satisfying manner showing incredible flexibility – food and drink and atmosphere were outstanding. A few minor points of criticism like the increase of smoking in the hall on Saturday or the fact that there was no merchandise available from some of the top bands like Heathen, Titan Force or Jag Panzer cannot taint the fact that an in-door festival was hardly ever that close to perfect. If you now add the fact that almost every musician was seen mingling with the fans to the point where Kenny Powell or James Rivera were seen quite wasted in the vicinity of the bar chatting and having fun with the fans, it was a weekend which will be remembered for a long time as an event from fans for fans.

Just for information: November’s Keep It True XI festival is already sold out again. It will be the last of the small, one day events as starting next year the organizers will concentrate on one event per year, running for two days with only 2.000 tickets available. Ticket sales with start in summer, so check the website from time to time and be sure to get yout tickets in time or you may not get any. Keep It True X is hopefully the first in a long series of 2-day-KIT’s to come!



  • 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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