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 02 August 2003








PICS BY: ©Stefan "Absolut_Evidence" Vogelaar      

REVIEW BY  dalia "gryphon_spirit" di giacomo

The public use of these fotos   is strictly prohibited without written permission


Sunny and hot, a blue Italian sky without one  single cloud welcomes the second day of the festival. Pratteln in full week -end and vacation feeling. A saturday to remember.  Today 's bill presents nothing less than  Infinite Dreams, Darkmoon, QL, Ephemera's Party, Secret Sphere, Mystic Circle,  White Skull, Ram, GurD, End of Green, The Quill, Within Temptation, Circle II Circle, Annihilator and Testament. My targets today are Secret Sphere, Mystic Circle, GurD and Circle II Circle,  but  foto reports  and some words are dedicated to other bands too. let's start!! 
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Singer Ramon, guitarists Aldo Lonobile and Paco Gianotti, bass player Andy Buratto , keyboardist Antonio Agate and  drummer Luca Cartasegna. Italian names for an Italian band : yes Secret Sphere from Nuclear Blast house .Though they  have a certain experience and are  rather well known in the Italian scene, sorry I still don't know them very well (should I?) ,so it's the moment to discover  more of their music and to see how they act on stage.  I am always  deeply moved when i can see Italian artists that reach the international scene. You can bet i'm holding my "first row - pole  position",  though the music style doesn't belong  exactly to my chalice of blood, but... let's see. There is also some good product  provided by the so called  "melodic power with symphonic romantic elements with a touch of progressive", it's surely a question of personal taste,  but   for me most of the genre is boring, banal , with  vocals i don't like and however not really my direction of "metal". But for what i 've already heard from Secret Sphere, i'm enough sure i will listen to something interesting,  good rhythmed and dark enough. I hope this good feeling will be confirmed. 

around 13:00:  punctual on the indoor-stage after a dark-sweet intro, Secret Sphere give a very positive first impression to everybody. Very far from looking  provincial  , my country-fellows appear like a well coordinated band that can  match the expectations of the whole european audience, from Italy, Spain and France  to Holland and Sweden. With good taste  they begin with the  fast , heavy rhythms of the opener Still here. Bare- footed  singer Ramon seems to be confident and very interactive , mobile , nice, with a good voice that sounds solide and aggressive too, well audible over the instrumentation. With its attitude à la damned and "Bohemienne" provides also a certain originality of image .  The crowd is immediately appreciative. The rhythmic section is tight and the lead guitar is really in shape and melodic . Applauses. " We are Secret Sphere from Italy. How are you guys?" Approval . Everyone  seems to be fit and anxious for more. "How are you guys?" "Yeahhh"  "Oh yes... you're great!" answers Ramon. One thing is certain: when an Italian opens mouth in English , you understand everything, it doesn't matter how the accent is. Joy for my ears. while the venue is getting more and more crowded (good sign) we go on with 1000 Eyes ' Show, always from their new  album Scent of human Desire. Rhythmed again, catchy, enjoyable. Headbangings are not missed both on the stage and among the crowd . "Everything's all right guys?" "Yes!!"  "I can't hear you! Everything's is ALL RIGHT?"  "YEAHHHHH" and Under the Flag of Mary Read is announced: dark keys,  energetic guitars , tempo changings in a progressive speeding up with melodic insertions.Lead guitar solos are well executed and detailed by Lonobile and his Ibanez, pity that the above mentioned Lonobile seems to me a bit "close"? He  could be misunderstood for snobbish, anyway  he's got what it takes in order to be a first class guitarist .  

 Now it's the turn of Rain presented by Ramon through a question: "do you want a heavy song?" No need to ask twice obviously . "this is ...Rain..." dark keys, good guitar riffs, melodic passages are really embedded in a very heavy frame. The result is involving and harmonic, and, above all, it gives a taste of  metal. Ramon goes on to act very confident, while  those who like Circle II Circle i presume are all here to value the show. Applauses. Seems that everything is going successfully. 

"Do you like sweet songs?" the answer doesn't seem too persuasive..."or do you like only heavy ones?" Dedicated to everybody but in particular to girls starts now More than simple Emotions, a romantic ballad where a certain Lacuna Coil influence is clear, or maybe it's simply cause it's Italian. Whatever the audience likes this band , and me too in some . "I hope you are not much tired from yesterday!" No problems, easy! we are ready to listen to Runaway Train!

"Now it's time to say hello (or goodbye maybe?- whatever,  for us ciao is always ciao)  "we are happy to be here at the Metal Dayz! dedicated to all who came here to see us: Lady of Silence!" wide ranging melodic, high voice but not unbearable, with some final experimentation .  Well done: nice melodic songs, not boring, fresh, well played, harmonic and with the necessary heaviness. There is hope for this genre. Ciao ! 

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me at the signing session

and below other 2 shots of Secret Sphere's signing time
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13:55 Second important moment for Black Metal lovers (considering that one of yesterday with Belphegor). second band  in the name of the  "Princeps Tenebrarum" playing in a very diurnal time.  On the outdoor -stage Beelzebub is greeting the crowd, fully repayed. Horns up, the trio  starts off fast , determined , crunchy , rhythmed , hypnotic, aggressive on a Black structure. I'm impressed and astounded: already from the very beginning the band behaves so confidently, in full shape like a well oiled machine, i saw Mystic Circle last winter playing with Deicide,and they have played really very good, straight to the goal,  but this time they excel from the start. Enthusiasm and aggresivity united to a remarkable mobility come out with such a natural  outburst , and  the instrumental coordination appears to be at once  top notch. They seem not to suffer from the heat, moreover their show is not negatively affected by the ruling day light, on the contrary , the 3 German  knights of the Black look awsome sorrounded by the brightness .  Brand new tracks  , taken for the upcoming Open the gates of Hell, are ridden: Byond the black Dawn,  Satanic Rituals and Awaken by Blood , announced among the well understandable satisfaction. it seems that Mystic Circle are following an evolutive path , remaing anyway faithful to the cause: we have here a mixture of Black and Heavy , with very rhythmed loops and catchier passages: all this invites much more to the banging. Short solos are provided by Ezpharess who is right in form like hell, while vocals are extended to a wider spectrum. Obviously songs of the previous releases are offered: 666 Mark of the Devil is announced with proud and sung with brachial attitude. Beelzebub's eyes seem to be animated by sinister , bright sparkles . With the same proud is announced God is dead-Satan arise, again from the album Damien. it is sung with angriness, energy , supported by the applauses of their fans. It follows  Dragonslayer and then King of the Nibelungenhord, both from Drachenblut. King of the Nibelungenhord sounds crunchy, powered by excellent drums, mastered perfectly though it's not easy , being  not a short song. It's time to get a breath back with a second intro: an atmospheric background which will lead us to Hate . "Danke schön!" Sincere applauses. Another cool moment of  this wonderful show is Medina (Satans Whore) : more than 6 minutes of enthralling relentless and enjoyable attack. From the moment that Mystic Circle has played in such  exact and brilliant way, the various progresses and developments of their musical path  , from Morgenröte passing through Great Beast and Damien till the newest one Open the Gates of Hell,  we distinguish the crunchier moments, the heavier , the more melodic ones, without losing any connection with Black. Amazing!
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GurD will begin their show  at 16:45 inside the mythical venue , but hell, what do you think ? i'm placed since 16:00 under VO Pulver microphone. After such an excellent show like the one given by Mystic Circle, we will change genre but not clevernes and enthusiasm: every GurD gig is for me more than an highlight, it is a living expression of the metal spirit, it is to attend a gig played by such optimal professionals that even don't think that have an instrument to play during a concert, yes  they master guitars, bass and drums so much. If perfection doesn't exist, bands like GurD or Pro-Pain under the technical point of view are very near to it, in my opinion. And if the absolute happiness doesn't exist, and for a gothic doom based person like me an excessive joy  would be even shameful, it does exist a warm friendly partecipation to the spirit of the music: having fun, being involved together in an authentic wave length of extraordinary emotion and excitement. I do believe in this , like all the metalheads that know and appreciate this act. This will be my fourth GurD concert, everytime a great time. I can imagine that today it will be not different, on the contrary it should be even better, cause  the Z7 will offer a majestic frame and  a fit technical support enriched by pyro effects. Everything well deserved for these  giants of thrash /hardcore that with their album Encounter strike back on the European scene. New album, new label (Die Hard), successfull activity for their recording studio (Little Creek) in which "Destruction themselves" have set foot for their Metal Discharge, leaving behind the Abyss studios. I'm happy for them, but we at gryphonmetal appreciate and esteem them for their spirit, fo being so friendly, so near to the fans, animated by that underground passion that makes you believe that the authentic metal is still alive, and for being so incredibly good on stage, for their involving music. 

The stage is almost prepared, bass player Frankie check the microphones and  every time, i mean e-ve-ry holy time i notice how incredibly superlative he is in setting volume , tone and whatever: just hearing the sound,then a quick indication -higher- or -lower - and it's done in seconds. He is simply born as sound technician, i think. 

The venue is crowded , 16:45 Intro ,  very warmly welcomed by Swiss and not Swiss metallers, the havy pulsing guitar riffs trigger the first approvals.Very soon moshing and banging will be "set free". A pyro effect is launched immediately . The crushing groove thrashy hardcore rhythms  make the  crowd sing and jump. The show was opened with Razorblade from the new album, and goes on with Learn and finally comes "Rule the fucking Pit!" like VO announces it! It is a classic track for GurD, a kind of symbol together with Skin up. Moshing and moshing. VO's vocals are precise and biting. heaviness and relentles shythm. it's time for What do you live for  and A fucking new War. And then Down the Drain and Control. VO speaks often with his "Gürdlers", showing again he has likeable qualities of interactivity .  Sorrounded by such massive warmth,  he announces now Control,  launches his plectrum , and make his band proceed like a steamhammer. "We will RESIST!" another hit. the crowd is totally high, on cloud nine, but the top of the top is reached with Skin up, which closes the set including a nice pyro effect. Skin up ends with a progressive braking in slow motion ,almost hyperdoom,  and even more impressive if you consider the previous faster grenades. It's like a titanic tank that stops slowly and you measure all its weight. Applauses , applauses and again applauses, approvals . The crowd calls an encore "Zu-ga-be! Zu-ga-be! Zu-ga-be!" GurD come back very gladly on the stage, acclaimed. it's now proposed Get up and then  their Kiss cover War Machine! The stage is guesting their previous singer from Poltergeist if i understand well. Gurd are born on the ashes of Poltergeist like a natural evolution, but the old soul is not fogotten , i presume, so VO can look after his guitar exclusively, letting the micro to the guest. VO, Frankie, Spring and Tschibu have been excellent like always , again not a single mistake, if not a wrong start for one of the first songs , blocked immediately, maybe it was a misunderstanding in the set list,i don't know, but it was a small thing which has not affected in any way the big success and the quality and flowing of the concert. I'm really happy if i can say so. Do you have another adjective for superb? F*ck the adjectives, join a GurD gig and have FUN!!!

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GurD signing session
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me between Frankie (on your left) and VO Pulver: you "rule da stage" guys!


After the exceptional good mood and charge that Gurd gave to me, i don't feel for the moment like listening to alternative depressed subcore or whatever you want to call it. Nevertheless End of Green remain intresting to me , so  i lend  an ear and one eye to the outdoor stage . Passing near the stage before, i had the impression  that unfortunately  the sound was not set in an optimal way. The  hit song Only One is proposed and, even better, End of Green prove that, besides rock depressive, they can also shoot heavier loops in a more resolute metal direction. All in all their music seems to me  more than likeable and enjoyable.  For all who are interetested, here a couple of pics.
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An no, no, please no more! My readers know since long that Within Temptation is nothing for me. Anyway i followed them gladly when they supported Paradise Lost this spring: 3 days from Switzerland to Italy when i could realize how nice and able Sharon den Adel is, and how really good this band works  with its romantic  world. But no one will drag me to follow them again today! their fans will understand  me once more , and, from the moment they have really devoted admirers (by the way i meet again  Mike of their Official French Forum, it was fine to see you again! ) we have not forgotten to gift them with some pics again , taken during the gig and during the signing session. I can add that WT's  scenery on the outdoor stage is simply awsome .
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Let's make  immediately one thing clear: i don't like that much Savatage, i saw them once in Wien in february 2002, if i remember well, and i appreciated the show, i listen to some of their songs from time to time , but nothing more cause i don't care about, though deeply respecting Mr Jon Oliva's career and work. Consequently ..yes, right! i'm not very thrilled  about Circle II Circle concept. Volumes have been written on this subject: "..after having been a member of Savatage for many years bla bla , bla bla,  and then being out of the music scene bla bla bla bla Zak Stevens is back with a new band of his own, like a kinda osmosis and help from the old circle of friends (see Savatage) and the new one (see this new band), bla  bla . Jon Oliva and Chris Caffery have given a big contribution to song -writing and production bla bla bla bla. Due to his glorious past, Zak and new band Circle II Circle (why not Savatage 2 Savatage , tout court? ) deliver only one CD but tons of fame ,  opportunities and chances, many fans , or at least, many who are enormously interested. I will try to look at them like a new entity and not like a Savatage's rib. Difficult task , from the fact that in the setlist many songs of the Savatage era are included, like Turns to me and Follow me, if i have heard well, being this an even more difficult undertaking. : i am near the huge speakers of the indoor stage , well it happens, i hold a similar place also when brutal and extremely aggressive Death metal bands lauch their attacks and i have no problems, i don't use ear plugs. But damnation if it is unbearable now . Since when the band took the stage at 21:10 i had a terrifying ear pain listening to their high tuned instruments, in particular the lead solos were a torture. A torture for me!! that i shoot in my ear decibels and decibels! Therefore to enjoy songs and to listen to the words (especially for a not fan) was difficult and annoying from my position. I damn hate when i must use my ear plugs: it is a sign for me, that the sound is set in order to suck bollox or that the band doesn't play well. In this case, i honestly would exclude however this last option, from the moment that i firmly believe that behind , in the last part of the venue, the effect might be strong and very good. Moreover the band has able artists. Circle II Circle can result roaring, mighty , heavy and clear there , near to door , or to the food tent, but sorry, there are also the first rows, usually full with die hard fans. A young man  near to me, who was singing along all the concert, headbanging like hell, complained a kind of tinnitus when  the gig was over. I can believe it! Anyway let's go back to music in itself and stage acting. All in all Circle II Circle are not that bad: the mobility of the band is very good, Zak sings with passion and care, one can see that there is preparation and hope behind the curtains of this project. The crowd liked the gig a lot (sorry but for the above mentioned reasons , please keep me out from the general enthusiasm) . It seems to me that Zak feels the importance of this venue and of this audience, so he is not very relaxed, but he really tries  his best. The style is so much ballad-esque, placed in a solide melodic power prog frame. In one word: those good heavy rock/metal songs that let you dream. The setlist presented a lot of songs taken obviously by the album Watching in Silence.  The romanticism in these tracks is nice, i like the piano intros or outros , the timbre of the voice, and in general all the short moments when the lead sound was silent . I was anyway surprised in enjoying really very much three songs: Face to Face , Sea of White and Fields of Sorrow.. Face to Face in particular is awsome, you could say is the more commercial track, but whatever.  "...time to hate you, i forsake you,but i could never replace you..." eh yes, sweet , melancholic , balladesque with a touch of heaviness you will not resist this song, and its lyrics too. The concerts ends with a Metallica "cover": cannot believe ! Circle II Circle play Sanitarium. I'm astonished. And Sanitarium goes straight under the skin of everybody, those who are near the entrance not giving a flying f*ck to the gig included. Laudato si, oh thou Saint Metallica
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written  by dalia di giacomo  08.07.2003 




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