in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany, April 24, 2009

ABATTOIR (Live at KEEP IT TRUE FESTIVAL XII in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany, April 24, 2009)
Photo: Frank Jaeger

Lauda-Königshofen was again a place to be for the True Metal Warriors of Europe. People from Spain, Greece, France, Skandinavia, Holland, Belgium and wherever Metal lives gathered for a big fest, some even came all the way from Mexico to be witness to another, the twelfth, Keep It True Festival. On Paper, the billing felt less impressive than KIT X – number XI was the last one day event and is not really comparable to this event – and certainly less than KIT XIII, which was recently announced. But since the festival was sold out many months ago anyway, the organizers did not need to worry. Especially since several of the bands proved better than expected.

In Solitude

The opening act from Sweden saw only a small crowd, no surprise when a two-day, total over 24 hour festival lies ahead. Many were not there yet, some got settled in, others browsed the Metal market. Anyway, the young Swedish band played a great set of traditional, sometimes slightly Power Metallic songs which were very entertaining and carried well by the good voice of singer Pelle Ahman, who seemed quite young. A very good opening act!

Setlist: In The Darkness, 7th Ghost, The Monolith, Faceless Mistress, Temple Of The Unknown, Beyond Is Where I Learn, Kathedral, Witches Sabbath

Atlantean Kodex

Although the band only released a split-single, one EP and a 12″ with a total of seven different songs, due to their trueness to the roots of Epic Metal the Germans made themselves a name in the underground. This concert was their second gig ever, the first had been only a few days before, but that never showed. Long, epic, slow compositions divided the crowd in enthusiastic lovers of that sound, or indifferent, beer drinking and shopping bystanders.

Although every single song is definitely good, 45 minutes of this seemed much, and some songs would have benefited from being sized down a bit. The most unusual element of Atlantean Kodex was probably the knitted jacket of guitar player Manuel Trummer, but that was not to be the last fashion error of the weekend.

Setlist: The White Ship taped, From Shores Forsaken, Atlantean Kodex, Marching Homeward, A Prophet in the Forest, The Hidden Folk


Power Metal from the US from a band that is held in high regard over here in Germany: What could possibly go wrong? Right, nothing, and so the Aska gig was definitely a highlight of the day. Singer George Call played Keep It True before as singer of Omen, and many fans recognized him instantly. His powerful voice was the leading element of the heavy, but catchy hymns taken from four of the five releases the band can look back upon. Obviously having a lot of fun, the musicians interacted with the audience as much as possible through their stage acting, which was filled with typical poses, but did not fail to get the fans going. The fast “Angels Of War” started the set which focused on the last two releases, which are also the ones that are still widely available. At the end of the set, “Valkyries” and “Longships” were highlights before their playing time was over much too early. Those guys could have been higher on the billing. The band was also visibly satisfied and can be sure to have made many friends in Germany.
Setlist: Angels Of War, Freedom, Leprosy, Invasion, Immortal, Valkyries, Longships, Crown Of Thorns

Cloven Hoof

Already for the second time the old British rockers played Keep It True. What was a resurrection of a band dead and gone last time turned into a regular gig by a contemporary band that released a new album only recently. Eye Of The Sun was a good, for some even a great album which the band needs not to be ashamed of, and so they opened the show with the title track, which is actually quite old but hardly known as the live album it appeared on in 1986 was graced with a sound that made almost every bootleg appear like a million-dollar-production. But… wait! What is that? The first impression is not a musical one, but the astonishing appearance of the band, or better, bandleader and bass player Lee Payne. His free interpretation of the theme “Leather and Metal” reminded of the good old days of early Kiss, fulfilling every cliché one could think of, including stereotypical posing, and would have made many eyebrows rise. If not… well if not everybody was too busy banging to “Nova Battlestar” and “Astral Rider” which Coven Hoof fired into the hall next. So instead the fans smiled happily as the band continued their tour through the highlights of Dominator and A Sultan’s Ransom.

Russ North, the new, old singer screamed more than during the eighties and enjoyed the gig immensely, hitting every note as if no time had passed between then and now. The only cause for some nervous glances to their watches was the fact that not a single track from the phantastic debut album was played so far. Sure, Russ did not sing on that album, but everybody was hoping for one of the three long songs, the band hymn, “Gates Of Gehenna” or the mighty “Return Of The Passover” which showed a great talent for progressiveness, a trait the band shed on the later albums. At Keep It True, it would have been a great opportunity to dig one of those tracks up and excite the crowd. But the band decided to play “Laying Down The Law” from the Cloven Hoof album, which was at least satisfactory. Nobody knew that the band kept a treat for the next day.

Setlist: Eye Of The Sun, Nova Battlestar, Astral Rider, Mistress Of The Forest, Mutilator, Highlander, Road Of Eagles, Laying Down The Law


Again, the guys from Keep It True dug deep to find another US Metal cult band that released only one EP and an album in 1986, and disbanded. Although their musical legacy is quite limited, as was the circulation of their releases, the gig was highly anticipated as the band caters to the core of the audience of KIT. Those familiar with the songs celebrated the band, but the others who were the majority, realized that it is just another good, but not outstanding US Metal band. Typical stuff of that genre, with a good singer and old fashioned songs. The majority of the songs played were taken from the EP Metal Without Mercy, including the opening trio, which went down quite well, but when the set was over, there was no lasting impression other than good, but not essentiel.

Setlist: Gates Of Hell, Metal Without Mercy, Bury The Axe, Winds Of War, Discipline Of Steel, Mass Killer, Sign Of The Cross


Quite an experiment, to include an old German Thrash band into the billing between two US Metal acts. But Thrash has its history at Keep It True, and Exumer were supposed to hold the banner of brutality high. As if they wanted to achieve just that, the guy stormed the stage and began their assault. With two albums recorded in the mid 80’s which are held in high regard by many, one expected another old fashioned performance. But what happened was something entirely different: Exumer were extremely up to date in their show, more like a contemporary Death/Thrash band than an old school act. Singer Mem von Stein’s aggressive acting was great, but the band had the wrong crowd.

If put on a tour with Unearth, Killswitch Engage or similar bands, Exumer would probably take the hearts of the fans by storm. At KIT, the band stuck out like a banana in an apple tree, and while the first rows banged their heads vigorously, many used the show for a welcome break. The setlist leaned slightly towards the debut album Possessed By Fire, but the mix generally was well done. Towards the end, the continuous, relentless aggression became a bit tedious, but generally the band did a good job, just in front of the wrong crowd.

Setlist: Winds Of Death, Journey To Oblivion, Fallen Saint, Decimation, Sorrows Of The Judgement, I Dare You, Waking The Fire, Xiron Dark Star, Destructive Solution, Possessed By Fire


Symphonies Of Steel was a fantastic Progressive US Metal album which was released in 1985 and is nothing less but a masterpiece. Unfortunately, it went downhill for the band then. The second album which was released nine years later after much trouble, was still good but nowhere close to the debut. The third output is an album everybody in the hall just wanted to forget. So, what would Exxplorer do on their first European show ever? Fortunately, the band themselves knew exactly what was expected of them, and they ignored the third album Coldblackugly exactly as the CD buyers had done. Instead, “City Streets” opened the show as it had done Symphonies Of Steel.

Original singer Lenny Rizzo managed to perform the old songs well, and even some of the high parts were executed brilliantly and put a smile on the fan’s faces. It seemed the band had rehearsed quite a bit, as the show was tight and better than one could expect from a band that more or less does not exist anymore. Early in the set the band played the long “Objection Overruled” track from the debut, which has long instrumental parts. That cooled down the audience a bit and was probably not the best choice, but as soon as the first sounds of the band hymn “Exxplorer” were heard, there was no holding back. Sandwiched between two good songs from A Recipe For Power was then another highlight, “Run For Tomorrow”, which left the crowd exhausted and happy. Overall a great gig which hopefully was not the last for Exxplorer.

Setlist: City Streets, X-Termination, Guilty As Charged, Phantasmagoria, Bible Black, Metal Detectors, Exxplorer, Ride The Storm, Run For Tomorrow, Beg, Borrow And Steel


Several things are legendary about these Californian Metal grandpas: First, their sound was groundbreaking, dirty, doomy, unusual. And secondly, the cover pic of their first album Legions Of The Dead is as ugly as it gets. The astonishing thing about it is that the band, especially singer Greg May, looked like having jumped right out of the pic and onto the stage. That was far from pretty, but very original. The set contained a great mix of songs from all three albums the band had released, but revealed that a full hour of the sound was a bit much. The performance was repetitive and singer May often sounded as if he was slightly out of tune, which is exactly the sound of Tyrant, but became tedious about halfway through the set. Still, many were quite pleased with the performance, and although the band probably did not gain many new fans, the ones who knew them can look back upon a very unique show of a unique band.

Setlist: Warriors Of Metal, Beyond The Grave, Listen To The Preacher, The Battle Of Armageddon, Legions Of The Dead, The Nazarene, Beginning Of The End, King Of Kings, Too Late To Pray, War


Another time warp back to the Eighties, when the world was beautiful, Metal was new and the singers tried to hit more high notes than any soprano in the opera. Abattoir began their career with John Cyriis on vocals, and the track “Scream From The Grave” published on one of the early Metal Massacre compilations on Metal Blade bore witness to the extreme voice of John. On the two studio albums, two different singers did the job, so it was a question whether Abattoir would be able to perform tracks from both albums to the satisfaction of the fans. But from the start every doubt was blown away as the band sped through a fast and relentless set that included the complete first album, Vicious Attack. As a classic speed Metal release, this was exactly what the audience was hoping for, and a trio of good songs from the second album were thrown in. It came as a surprise that also a track from Evildead was played, but almost all members of Abattoir were also in Evildead, so the title track of the first album Annihilation of Civilization was also greeted with enthusiasm. Only one song, “Everbody Dies”, taken from their 2004 self released demo was clearly not well known to many, but imbedded in so many hymns everybody just continued to party. There was not much of a show going on, but an honest, direct and fast Metal attack. When Abattoir ended their set with Motörhead’s “Ace Of Spades”, the crowd was sweaty and happy.

Setlist: Bring On The Damned, Game Of Death, Don’t Walk Alone, Vicious Attack, The Enemy, The Living And The Dead, Hammer Of The Gods, Under My Skin, Annihilation Of Civilization, Everybody Dies, Stronger Than Evil, Screams From The Grave, Ace Of Spades

Lizzy Borden

kitAfter an unusually long break Lizzy Borden entered the stage. Before the festival, many brows were raised and the question popped up if the band really was big and interesting enough to headline the first day. After a few minutes, everybody knew why the band had to be the headliner, as the emphasis was put on the show. Singer Lizzy used various props during the show, stressing the horror image of the band, combined with catchy songs between Heavy Metal, Glam and Power Metal. They used the whole stage showing a presence unlike any other band today until now, which was mainly because the frontman hardly ever stood still, and when he did he posed, mimed and supported the songs and lyrics in any way he could. At times, this was as much something to see as to bang one’s head to. The set alternated brilliantly between new songs and old tunes, with the second song being the title track of their very first EP, Give ‘Em The Axe, and then going back and forth through their whole discography, not excluding any studio album the band has released until now. The crowd was tired from a long Metal day, but the entertaining performance made everybody stay who did not leave the hall before Lizzy Borden started. The highlight of the show for the audience, which was mainly male and had a beer or two, was a stripper who managed to steal the show from Lizzy Borden, but only briefly. Shortly after that the music dominated once again, and the day ended with a cover version of Rainbow’s “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll”. A fitting motto for the next day, but the crowd needed some rest first.

Setlist: Abnormal, Give ‘Em The Axe, Notorious, Live Forever, Rod Of Iron, Be One Of Us, Outcast, Bass Solo, Tomorrow Never Comes, Under Your Skin, Hell Is For Heroes, Master Of Disguise, Guitar Battle, Psychopath, There Will Be Blood Tonight, Me Against The World, American Metal, Red Rum, Drum Solo, We Got The Power, Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll (RAINBOW)


  • 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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