in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany, April 25, 2009

ZOUILLE (Live at KEEP IT TRUE FESTIVAL XII in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany, April 25, 2009)
Photo: Frank Jaeger

Deja Vu

An old band from Bavaria, Germany, but only two albums to date, Déjà vu did not mind to open the day in front of a smaller crowd, as the beautiful weather and the exhausting day one of the festival took their toll on the audience. But the band was up to the challenge and the 45 minute dose of catchy Power Metal turned out to be the best recipe to get the guys going again, and during the gig more and more people filled the space before the stage.

Setlist: Bullets To Spare, Wings Of Steel, Catch Me If You Can, Decibel Disease, Metalhead, Under Fire, Children Of The Eighties, Evil, Nightmare


This one was for underground lovers, as this Chilean Doom band only released one EP so far, which they played in its entirety. The only thing they did was change the order of the songs, and fortunately, the EP is almost exactly 45 minutes long, which coincided with their playing time. Slow, traditional Doom with a good singer was a nice change, but during daylight this kind of Metal always has a hard time. Anyway, a good gig it was and hopefully there is more music to come from Procession as they went down well with the crowd.

Setlist: Raven Of Disease, Like A Plague Upon The Earth, Incinerate, The Road To The Gravegarden, Down The River Of Corpses, Funeral Of An Age

Gates of Slumber

kitThe day before there were rumors that Gates Of Slumber might not make it to the festival, as they got stuck in London somehow. Since several members of local heroes Sacred Steel were present – in the audience – word got around that they would fill in just in case the band from Indiana would indeed not arrive in time. Fortunately, everything went well and the US Doomsters entered the stage even earlier than announced. While musically the band was great, the appearance of the three Rockers was very, say, natural. The sexiest band of the festival? One should decide for oneself.

kitAnyway, from the opening Song  “Children Of Satan” which is the catchiest tune on their last album Conquerer to the last note of “Trapped In The Web”, Gates Of Slumber played tracks from all three of their studio albums, with a focus on the last one, and left out any of the many songs they recorded for various split-EPs, -singles and vinyl-editions, with which most people in the audience would not have been familiar with anyway. The music and the fact that the band consists only of three members did not encourage much of a show, so this was more a band to listen to instead of watch or bang. The mood in the hall was still very good, although Gates Of Slumber, just like Procession, would have benefited had the daylight been shut out. This is a band to watch out for, just don’t expect any smiles.

Setlist: Children Of Satan, Conqueror, The Jury, Ice Worm, Broken On The Wheel, Angel Of Death, Trapped In The Web


kitNow, this is obscure even by Keep It True standards, as Militia released only one EP and two demo tapes, but since the whole works of the band have been featured on a compilation, fortunately some people in the audience were familiar with the music of the Texans. Fast Power Metal was the game, and the most impressive feature was singer Mike Soliz whose screams were precise and very fitting. A typical and entertaining Power Metal show made many people look for the album, but without luck as it is not one of the most common records to find.

Setlist: Objective: Termination, Regiments Of Death, Search For Steel, Onslaught, The Sybling, Salem Square, Metal Axe

Rigor Mortis

kitIn the early days of Thrash, Rigor Mortis were quite well known as their extremely fast Metal took the genre to an extreme. Of course in the meantime music has progressed, and what was extreme then is it not so much anymore. While the band rampaged through their musical legacy, one thing became obvious. Regardless of how much effort Rigor Mortis showed, 45 minutes of this was too much for many. Except for the Thrash fans in the first rows, many people welcomed the chance to get some rest from the exhausting day. The band never minded but played a strong and brutal set that turned up the heat in the hall. Raw, still with considerable melody, it seems Rigor Mortis is to reckon with for the future as well, especially as the band had as much fun as the bangers in the front.

Setlist: Mummified, Shroud Of Gloom, Cattle Mutilation, Die In Pain, Wizard Of Gore, Contagious Contamination, Dead Fish, Demons, Vampire, Re-Animator

Living Death

kitAfter Rigor Mortis, another Thrash band entered the stage. This was maybe not the best choice to have the only two Thrash bands play one after the other, as well as earlier have the only two Doom bands play as one block, and many did only witness part of the show.

kitLiving Death was always a band that polarized, as singer Toto has a very peculiar voice. The question was would he be able to repeat his studio performance after many years again on stage. Unfortunately, the answer has to be no for the most part, so that the music was good, but the vocals were only tolerable. The biggest disappointment was the setlist which did not contain any track from the debut album, for most fans the best release in the Living Death discography.

Setlist: Grippin’ A Heart, Vengeance, On The 17th Floor, Natures Death, Last Birthday, The Galley, The Testament Of Mr. George, Screaming From A Chamber, Eisbein (mit Sauerkraut)

Zouille & Hantson

kitBefore the show it was widely wondered if the band was not a bit too high on the billing. Zouille is the original singer of Sortilége from France, who released an EP and two albums only. Not that one doubted the skills of the musicians, but Metal sung in French, or any other foreign language for that matter, always had it difficult in Germany. That was true even during the Eighties, when it was still young and fresh. But the French proved everybody wrong right from the start when they started with ‘D’ailleurs‘, probably the best track Sortilége ever did. The audience welcomes the traditional sound and great melodies, especially after the luke warm performance of Living Death earlier.

kit‘Gladiateur‘ from the first EP of Sortilége is next and the crowd celebrates the musicians more than anyone expected. It seemed everybody was a Sortilege fan, but the others did not know. The acting on stage is not spectacular, especially singer Sänger Christian Augustin, nickname “Zouille”, lets his singing do the talking and seems very natural in his black t-shirt. As early as the third song did the band change their course. A song from Furious Zoo, with English lyrics, blended well into the other compositions, and bore witness to the fact that the rest of the Sortilege musicians were not interested to appear at Keep It True. Instead, Renaud Hantson and musicians from his bands Furious Zoo and Satan Jokers filled in on all instruments.

It was known before the show that not only songs from Sortilége would be performed, so nobody was surprised. And indeed, the songs from Hantson’s bands which are played during the set are all good, although many would still have traded a “Just Keep Holding On” for “Metamorphose” any time, especially since it is a rare occasion that one can see and hear songs of Sortilége performed. Later two more songs from Furious Zoo, including “A Dead Man Won’t Lie” which like the Satan Jokers track “Indien De Demain” is originally a duet between Zouille and Hantson, are performed and gain a fair share of applause. Only the solo sections, guitar, then drums and even a short bass solo, are not met with a lot of enthusiasm. Instead, another song would have been preferred. But when Zouille & Hantson end their set with the band hymn “Sortilège”, all is forgiven and the crowd very excited. So, the French were not too high up on the billing, but just right.

Setlist: D’ailleurs, Gladiateur, Just Keep Holding On (FURIOUS ZOO), Civilisation Perdue, Quand Un Aveugle Rêve, Get Out (FURIOUS ZOO), Chasse le Dragon, Cyclope De l’Etang, Indien De Demain (SATAN JOKERS), A Dead Man Won’t Lie (FURIOUS ZOO), Marchand d’Hommes, Sortilège


kitFrom France to the Netherlands, and from Power Metal to traditional Hard Rock. Picture have never been really big outside their home country, which is because of many unfortunate circumstances and coincidents during the musical career of, what they claim to be, Netherlands’ first Heavy Metal band. And at least the first four albums are classic gems one should know. After that Picture did not manage to stand out of the many similar sounding bands that appeared on the scene in the end of the Eighties, and at the same time were grinded down by the business. Today the band can prove that they are still a force, but when singer Pete Lovell enters the stage to the first sounds of the fast “You’re All Alone”, the first impression is not a musical one.

Lovell’s hair looks like a poodle died on his head, or maybe his mother’s flocati rug has to die for this outfit. But it seemed, this hairstyle disaster was real, or taped down well, as even with banging there was no way to unsettle the white mass, not even through the fast “Heavy Metal Ears” and the hymn “Diamond Dreamer”. But the reformed Picture do not want to live in the past, which they made very clear by playing no less than six new songs from an upcoming new album called Old Dogs, New Tricks. The title track is played next, and although it has a nice chorus, it seems too simple to excite. A faster “Blood From A Stone” is cut from a different cloth, before the fans get what they long for.

kitA block of four songs from Picture’s masterpiece Eternal Dark beginning with the title track is welcomed loudly, and many voices sing “Griffons Guard The Gold” with the Dutch guys. The return to history is ended with “Lady Lighning”, before another couple of new songs, which are all okay, but not outstanding, continues the set. Still, the crowd is happy and sings along. It seems the simple compositions struck a nerve today, and with “Bombers” from the very first Picture album the old rockers close a very entertaining set that leads perfectly to the co-headliner of the day.

Setlist: You’re All Alone, Heavy Metal Ears, Diamond Dreamer, Old Dogs, New Tricks, Blood Out Of A Stone, Eternal Dark, Griffons Guard The Gold, The Blade, Battle For The Universe, Lady Lightning, Fill Your Head With Rock, Celtic Cross, Choosing Your Sign, Live By The Sword, Bombers


kitA very special gig was to follow. For the first time ever, a cover band was co-headliner of Keep It True. A Cover band? Yes, but this time only partially. Roxxcalibur from Germany consists of Metal maniacs that hold the banner of traditional, classic Metal high. As long as it is from the UK, and was written and performed between 1979 and 1986. We are talking about the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, of course, which celebrates its thirtieth anniversary more or less this year. What Roxxcalibur and the organizers had promised was a special NWoBHM show with guests.

Many people in the audience had mixed feelings about this, as most would have preferred another original band to play. And when the band began to play their introductory medley of three very obscure tracks by NWoBHM underground (for those who want to know: JJ Powerhouse, Arc and Radium), in spite of the power and great performance there was some doubt upon some faces, if this was going to be worth their while, or if it was better to take a break before the headliner would take away the last bit of energy left after two days of Metal.

But then the band announced their first guest star, Brian Ross. Brian had been seen earlier signing, so he was no big surprise. Clad in black, the band and Brian Ross performed “Blitzkrieg” which gained popularity through a Metallica cover version. Fortunately, no one seemed to think that it indeed was a Metallica song. And to bridge from the popular to the obscure again, another great song was played: “Break Free”, originally by Satan. A peculiar choice, as several other songs would probably be better known, but since the album Court In The Act has no weak song, this was no flaw in the selection of tracks. And from there the gig was triumphant and had the whole venue singing and dancing. Jess Cox, original singer of Tygers Of Pan Tang’s first album, entered the stage and sang “Wild Cat”.

That was 1980, and many brilliant bands came across the Channel, even the record industry began to recognize that there may be money to be made with the new sound. So they changed Jess Cox for Jon Deverill for the coming albums of the Tygers. Only one song for Jess though, the band continues their tour de force through Metal history with two underground gems, Bleak House’s “Rainbow Warrior”, a band who only released two 7″ singles, and one of the best songs of the era, “7 Days of Splendor” originally by Jamesson Raid. Both tracks are sung by their respective original singers, Graham Shaw and Terry Dark. Already at this point many in the audience began to hope for a live recording of this gig in full, because the guys may be aged, but they have not become worse singers.

Next up was something a bit more ordinary, as Girlschool is still quite active and have played many festivals only recently, but two short, straight songs sung by Enid Williams can never harm. And now the moment approached where Cloven Hoof fans would be happy, as the guys entered the stage again and performed the sadly missed “Gates Of Gehenna”. Russ North was excellent and screamed and wailed and got the audience to a new height of activity. Still, this was not the highlight yet, as another singer followed who is a nice guy with a great voice, and truly loved by probably everybody in the hall. Dave Hill from Demon sang “Night Of The Demon” and “Break The Circle”, and this time even the guys on the seats got up and sang. Next year Demon will play Keep It True 13, and everything but a  treat for the fans would be a surprise.

kitSo far, all the guest stars were singers, but before the next performance, the drum kit has to be changed. It only takes a few minutes, and then Thunderstick, drummer of Samson, was visible. Or at least his mask was, as he always played with a mask that covered his head completely. Jokes made the round about who really may be under the mask, and the break and the fact that the two Samson songs played, “Bright Lights” and “Too Close To Rock”, were unusual picks which were hardly known made it difficult to keep up the level of enthusiasm. Maybe the change of the drumset was not such a good idea after all, and although Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin, singer of Jag Panzer, did his very best, for some it was time for a beer break. Harry did his best, but these songs were written for Bruce Bruce (for those who do not know: That was the alias of Bruce Dickinson before he joined Iron Maiden), and the Tyrant was close enough to satisfy, but still a bit off at times.

Unfortunately, Algy Ward, past singer and bass player of Tank, had left the band last year, but the two guitar players were present and joined by Tom Angelripper of Sodom to play a fantastic title track taken from their brilliant This Means War album, followed by “Don’t Walk Away”. If you only have two songs to convince someone of Tank’s qualities, this selection of tracks was probably perfect.

After that, Harry Conklin returned, first to sing a version of Grim kitReaper’s “See You In Hell” together with Roxxcalibur singer Alexx, and then to pay homage to the most successful NWoBHM of all: Iron Maiden. “22 Acacia Avenue” is an unusual pick, but a great one, and the hall is happy. For the grande finale “Running Free”, all musicians of the show are invited onto the stage, and the sight of several heroes of the time and place made a fitting 30th anniversary celebration.

kitSetlist: Roxxcalibur Medley (feat. Roxxcalibur mit Alexx Stahl), Blitzkrieg (from Blitzkrieg, feat. Brian Ross), Break Free (from Satan, feat. Brian Ross), Wild Cat (from Tygers Of Pan Tang, feat. Jess Cox), Rainbow Warrior (from Bleak House, feat. Graham Shaw), 7 Days Of Splendour (from Jameson Raid, feat. Terry Dark), Race With The devil and Emergency (both from Girlschool, feat. Enid Williams), Gates Of Gehenna (from Cloven Hoof, feat. Russ North & Lee Payne), Night Of The Demon and Don’t Break The Circle (both Demon, feat. Dave Hill), Bright and Too Close To Rock (both Samson, feat. Harry Conklin & ThunderStick),This Means War and Don’t Walk Away (both Tank, feat. Cliff Evans, Mike Tucker, Tom Angelripper & Bobby Schottkowski), See You In Hell (from Grim Reaper, feat. Roxxcalibur with Alexx Stahl & Harry Conklin), 22 Acacia Avenue (from Iron Maiden, feat. Harry Conklin), Running Free (from Iron Maiden, feat. all singers)

Armored Saint


Now it was really difficult to keep the level of energy up for the headlining band, a Metal legend, Armored Saint. But for some the last two hours had proven to be all they could still do, and the hall was slightly more empty now than for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal special. And the ones that stayed were also quite tired and difficult to motivate to celebrate the gig of a great band which never had the success they deserved. But the opening song “Reign Of Fire” mobilizes last energy reserves, and “March Of The Saint” shows everybody that the Americans mean business.

kitSinger John Bush is flawless and Joey Vera crosses the stage dancing continuously. The selection of songs is close to perfect, although when John Bush announces that the band does not want to play the same setlist every time, many brows are raised as many are certain that the only unusual song, “False Alarm”, has been played in Europe before, even though the band seems to think not.

Overall, the band could have made everything absolutely perfect, but they did not. Why not? Well, read this: “Long Before I Die”, “Raising Fear”, “Den Of Thieves”, “Tribal Dance”, “Lesson Well Learned”. Those songs were not played, although the band ended their show after 80 minutes, which included a superfluous drum solo, and 13 songs. For a band which only rarely plays in Germany, that was disappointing, regardless how good the musical performance was. In retrospect, the NWoBHM show was the real headliner of the day, although it does not stand to question that Armored Saint has the potential and skills to be the highlight of any festival, any day. Just not this day, today they had to be announced runner -up.

kitSetlist: Reign Of Fire, March Of The Saint, Pay Dirt, Creepy Feelings, Last Train Home, Book Of Blood, False Alarm, Aftermath, Drum Solo, Symbol Of Salvation, Nervous Man, Chemical Euphoria, Can U Deliver, Mad House

Overall the organizers of Keep It True had managed to put together a billing that was fun on stage, but did not sound much on paper before the festival. Of course, after the unbelievable KIT 10 billing, the only way to go was down, but KIT 12 was much better than anticipated. It is the unique energy of bands and fans that consider themselves part of a Metal movement within their favorite musical genre, a small group, but where everyone is in it with his heart. At the festival, tickets or KIT 13 were sold, and it looks like the show will be sold out very soon. If you want to be part of this, and the billing is probably even stronger than the fantastic KIT 10 billing, be sure to get your ticket now. Or regret it next year.


  • 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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