The first bands have been confirmed for Alcatraz Hard Rock & Metal Festival 2020 that takes place in Belgium on the 7th – 9th August!
Few bands are able to match the live intensity the Polish blackened death metal iconoclasts of BEHEMOTH have been bringing to the stage for more than a quarter century.
BEHEMOTH have razed our prison grounds on several past occasions and are one of the driving forces behind the surge in popularity of extreme metal. Ironically though, it wasn’t until frontman Nergal was diagnosed with leukaemia that Behemoth’s popularity truly soared. After vanquishing the spectre of death, Nergal & Co returned to full form with an album that has been widely acclaimed as their best to date. A black metal album at its core, ‘The Satanist’ (2014) is an unprecedented extreme metal orgy with undeniable thrash and doom influences. Since then Behemoth has gone from strength to strength, playing larger venues and drawing bigger flocks of extreme metal cohorts than ever before. ‘I Loved You at Your Darkest’ (2018) carries on the momentum and is probably Behemoth’s most accessible contribution to date. There are acoustic guitars and a few tracks are perfused with an almost classic rock vibe but the music and the lyrics are as blasphemous as ever. Epic. Majestic. Crushing. Behemoth.
In October of 2010, the untimely demise of singer/co-founder and driving force Steve Lee left the future of GOTTHARD hanging by a thread.
After taking some time to regroup, the Swiss hard rock outfit went in search of a worthy successor. New vocalist Nic Maeder was able to fill Lee’s shoes and with the announcement of the new ‘Firebirth’ record, things starting looking up again. GOTTHARD’S self-titled 1992 debut reached gold status in their home country of Switzerland. More than two million copies and over a quarter century down the road, GOTTHARD is one of the most successful Swiss bands in history. Their last two albums have shown a slight shift in musical direction. ‘Bang’ (2014) proves they are still willing to tweak their sound thanks to an energising mix of the best hard rock has to offer; ‘Silver’ (2017) is more of a straightforward rocker fit for big arenas and was the 11th consecutive studio album to top the charts in their home country.
A new album is in the works for 2020 so look out for new material!
Formed in 1991, EMPEROR is widely regarded as one of the most influential black metal bands.
The Norwegians disbanded in 2001 following the release of their fourth album ‘Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise’. Frontman Ihsahn subsequently embarked on a successful solo career under his own name while his old bandmates Samoth and Trym Torson concentrated on their band Zyklon. EMPEROR’s debut ‘In the Nightside Eclipse’ (1991) hit the metal scene like a tidal wave. Innovative due to the inclusion of orchestrations and keyboards, it’s hard to imagine the band members were just seventeen at the time of its inception. ’Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk’ (1997) firmly established Emperor as the flagbearers of black metal and is still recognised as one of the most influential releases in the genre. ‘IX Equilibrium’ (1999) spread its tentacles beyond the realm of black metal with overwhelming speed, exceptional musicianship and omnipresent keyboards that create a symphonic feel. The amazingly complex ‘Prometheus’ and its progressive influences concluded EMPEROR’s recording career on a high note.
Ihsahn and partner in crime Samoth have repeatedly said a fifth album will never happen but fortunately for us they like to reconvene from time to time to resurrect past glory.
Guitar wizard Akira Takasaki & Co have been active since the early 80s.
LOUDNESS gains notoriety in the Low Countries thanks to Hanneke Kappen’s radio show Stampij that introduces listeners to a variety of new metal bands. Their albums are now also distributed in Europe and that brings them to European stages for the very first time. Personnel issues sidetrack the band in the 90s although Takasaki continues to carry the torch as the sole remaining founder. In Japan LOUDNESS remains very popular and the eponymous album ‘Loudness’ tops out at No. 2 in the Japanese charts.
In 2001 the original line-up reformed and they continue to put out albums at a relentless pace with close to thirty studio albums to date. LOUDNESS have been pretty active in Europe in recent years and ‘Rise to Glory’ (2018) aims to revive the band’s worldwide popularity. Masayuki Suzuki is recruited following the untimely demise of drummer Munitaka Higushi. Takasaki, Suzuki, bassist Masayoshi Yamashita and vocalist Minoru Niihara walk a fine line between fast and technically virtuoso heavy metal on the one hand and commercial appeal on the other, as illustrated on their most recent effort ’Rise to Glory’.