PROGNOSIS festival took place in Eindhoven (Netherlands) on the 22nd – 23rd, 2019
The organizers of the “Prognosis” festival were once again aiming high. They invited and succeeded to gather the ‘crème-de-la-crème’ of the prog metal scene, mixing it with some other genres. Visitors from all over Europe travelled to see bands such as LEPROUS playing a special gig, DEVIN TOWNSEND showcasing the acoustic set he has been touring Europe with, GREEN CARNATION that are now actively hitting the stages, and many more.
Furthermore, the festival provided some special happenings called “clinics” and “conferences”, wherein several artists gave lessons in singing, drumming or guitar playing. To accommodate all this, the festival events were divided between two venues. The smaller, “Dynamo”, was used for the clinics and conferences, and “Effenaar” which is located in a five minutes walking range from the “Dynamo” was used for the concerts. “Effenaar” can house about 1300 people in its biggest hall.
Friday, March 22, 2019
The day started off with several clinics and conferences, such as the ones held by Jo Quail (known from supporting Myrkur live) or Devin Townsend that talked about the relationships between agent, artist and organizer. Furthermore, Haken band members gave several clinics, such as the one held by the keyboarder Diego Tejeida. Baard Kolstad gave a very entertaining and interesting drum clinic for an audience consisting of 50% drummers itself and 50% Leprous fans.
WHEEL were the opening act in the late afternoon of the festival’s Friday. This was the first gig ever that these Finns played on Dutch ground. The prog metal musicians entered the stage hiding themselves under big hoods, opening with “Vultures” track taken from their new album “Moving Backwards”. Wheel were attracting the audience with heavy guitar riffing and a lot of finical brainteasers. In overall, they did a good job by bringing the fans into the right mood for the rest of the evening.
THE GATHERING were another loadstone, as they had announced an auto discography-reverse-set for this evening. Many fans had hopes that Anneke van Giersbergen would make a guest appearance on stage, as she was in town and had a slot in Devin Townsend’s gig the next day, but this wish was unfulfilled. This was not really understandable, as she was such an important part of THE GATHERING between 1994 and 2007. Nonetheless, the current line-up was able to please their fans. Silje Wergeland gave her best on the microphone and simultaneously very charming. She kept saluting some fans that she recognized personally down from stage with a smile, putting all her energy into her vocal performance. The other band members were equally passionate, creating the right atmosphere to carry their gloomy, massive sound. The band played songs like “Broken Glass”, “Eléanor”, “Saturnine” or “Nighttime Birds”. And even if some people claim their best days have already passed, on this evening they left nothing but happy and satisfied fan faces.
With the booking of the British artist JO QUAIL the organizers proved their brilliant taste in music. The cellist, who has supported Myrkur live, played a very interesting set with her instrument. She kept showing that you can create every mood with a cello, from jazzy to classic or from ambient to wild. The audience was spellbound by the extraordinary sound nuances she created, and visible enjoyed her show in a delighted trance.
Meanwhile, things were getting critical in the “Effenaar”, as the playing times of the bands began to overlap in a way that made many fans sad. Those who planed to see Leprous and the trendy Alex Skolnick Trio, would have to make a critical decision. It was possible but not easy to quickly change staged in this venue from one band to another, because to do so you would have to step up some stairs, cross the floor and (most important) be lucky enough to be let in. The security staff would just close the small hall when being full for the safety of the fans. The organizers might not have taken into consideration that all visitors (which were far more than the 1300 people that would fit in the bigger hall) would also like to see bands such as Soen that played in the small hall. Such a pity and maybe the only thing that really needs to be taken care of for the next issue in the coming year.
Apart from the gigs many bands were giving signing sessions in the floor of the venue. Bands such as Soen, Leprous, Haken or the “newborn” Green Carnation were spending time with their fans.
At 20:45 p.m. the headliner LEPROUS entered the stage to play a very unique, outstanding gig. They followed the request of the festival organizers to play their album “The Congregation” in its entirety. Even though it’s not their latest album, “The Congregation” still has a special place in their fans’ hearts. The Norwegians have the ability to do such demanding shows, because they are never just rehearsing only new songs, but also keep a large range of older songs in their live repertoire. And as they are one of the best active live bands around, they are predestined for a “job” like this.
LEPROUS started off with “The Price” and the crowd went wild instantly. The international fans celebrated every track to the maximum and seemed to sing along to every syllable. Especially to furious tracks like “Third Law” there was no holding back. The live premiere of “Within My Fence” was received very well, too. After that, a long row of lyrically deep-going and musically very emotional songs started off. “Red”, the heavy, in-depth “Slave”, the passionate “Moon”, “Down” and last but not least the brutally sad “Lower” were striking a chord in many. Of course such a gloomy song would be a crestfallen ending for a gig (although it might have its benefits), but the crowd had much energy left. So after the beautiful but heart-piercing “The Cloak” they finished off with two of their most energetic songs: “Stuck” and “From The Flame”, before the band left the stage drenched in sweat, leaving a happy and pleased fan crowd.
Many came to see SOEN, Haken AND Leprous. But caused by the overlapping playing times a lot of fans had to make a bitter decision and skip at least one of those bands. During the set of SOEN the smaller hall was so packed that it was closed again due to security reasons. SOEN would have deserved one of the headliners slots, that’s for sure.
Already during the first notes of the SOEN gig it became apparent, that there is a special connection between the band and their fans. Vocalist Joel Ekelöf with the silken voice was communicating directly with his fans, not being afraid to give each single one of them a feeling like he’s singing just for him/her. With a lot of passion SOEN started a journey through their old and new songs such as “Covenant”, “Opal” or “Savia”. Their new album “Lotus” seems to be one of the better among all the recent releases on the prog market. Its first single “Rival” was therefore being performed as well as the title song “Lotus” itself. They bore the palm, say no more!
The next headliners HAKEN had the task to finish up with a bang, and they surely nailed it. Haken, which have been touring Europe this spring, came back to the Netherlands just after one week, apparently they love it there, and so do their numerous fans who were absolutely delighted to welcome them again. Playing after Leprous with which they have been touring numerous times, they sure were on the other side of the twist, starting on a happy oldies ambiance on “Guillaume Tell Ouverture” (William Tell Overture) and making a very dramatic appearance with their opening track from their latest album, the dynamic, playful and severe “Vector”. They played most tracks from the same album, songs such as “The Good Doctor”, “Puzzle Box”, “A Cell Divides”, “Nil by Mouth” and “Veil”. For fans of their album “Affinity” they added “1985” and “The Architect” to the setlist, vocalist Ross Jennings making his appearance with the funky neon glasses that perfectly evoke the futuristic ambiance of “Affinity”.
For the long-time fans, they played “Falling Back to Earth” from “The Mountain”, and ended on a very long, epic note with “Crystallized” from the EP “Restoration”. This has been their usual set list for the European Tour, to which they added a spicy track everyone knows, “The Cockroach King”. A most welcome surprise, as most of the venue was singing along to the song. As usual, their shows cut the breath of the audience with their signature technicality in their music and captivating, ever-changing soundscapes. The guitar sounds were absolutely crushing, tastefully accompanied by the meanest of bass grooves and drum plays. Haken definitely ended the festival day with a grandiose finale.
Saturday, March 23, 2019
Already in the morning the artists were passing the mic to each other at “Dynamo”, giving several clinic sessions for the fans. Anneke van Giersbergen was giving singing lessons, being the most charming person that you can imagine. Giancarlo Erra of the band “Nosound” was explaining types of live mixings, and much more. But the best frequented clinic was the one held by Devin Townsend about programming and recording. He was making it entertaining and showed a good humour, like when noticing that the audience could read his password “123” behind him on the big screen. He promised to change it into something more secure such as “12345” right after the clinic.
The idea of conferences and clinics seems to be a great success for the festival, a huge advantage that demands repetition.
NOSOUND do already exist since 2002. Several line-up changes made things difficult for the band of the Italian guitarist Giancarlo Erra. But now they are back with a new drummer completing the current line-up. NOSOUND play alternative post rock with ambient elements. Furthermore, Nosound were able to attract guest musicians such as Vincent Cavanagh (Anathema) or Chris Maitland (Porcupine Tree) for their albums. Thus, the visitors were curious about these convinced musicians and their style. So Nosound couldn’t complain about the lack of listeners during their gig, performing tracks such as “This Night”, “Evil Smile” or “Wherever You Are”, before they ended their interesting gig with “She”.
Did anyone think that GREEN CARNATION would be able to reconnect with the good old days? It doesn’t matter. In fact, they did. They did big way. Seems like they were the surprise “Wow, how great they are”- band of the festival. The elder visitors might have thought, they can’t do it anymore after such a long time without new albums and without decent touring. And the younger folks might not even know who they are and that they actually already exist since 1990 when some of them were not even born yet. Oh well, an old flame never dies. So GREEN CARNATION played some single festival gigs in the past years, but obviously now they seriously want to return with a new album. Of course they have some remarkable band members such as Tchort (Carpathian Forest, Blood Red Throne, …), but their most precious possession is vocalist Kjetil Nordhus (Tristania and others) with his powerful, solemn, deep-pitched voice, that can have a smooth timbre when needed, and can articulate both softly and strongly. In combination with the catchy melodies and the propulsive guitar riffing, the band captivated the audience playing tracks such as “My Dark Reflections” for the first time after many years, or “Sentinels Of Chaos”, “Crushed To Dust” and “Lullaby In Winter”. Well, we are looking forward to a new album! Get it on, gentlemen!
DEVIN TOWNSEND is currently touring Europe with his acoustic tour. Those, who might think “acoustic” might be less exciting than a “real” gig with full instrumentation, probably doesn’t know the strong stage presence and charisma of Devin Townsend. The Canadian mastermind is a natural born solo entertainer. Armed only with his guitar he entered the stage and was not short on humorous segments. He would interrupt his own songs to quickly tell a story that just came to his mind, or simply to respond to a fan. So, he provided a mixture of the best quality music on high vocal standards and amusement. Starting with “Let It Roll” he easily convinced the audience with his passion. “Solar Winds”, “Funeral” or “Deadhead” had their slot in the setlist as well.
One of the highlights was the guest appearance of Anneke von Giersbergen, who would sing the track “Ih-Ah!” with Devin. The battles of great voices! So, in case you have a chance to catch a ticket for Devin Townsend’s acoustic gigs, don’t let the chance pass by!
All good things must come to an end, but if we’re about to say goodbye, we’re going to make the most of the time left, right? And that happened with TESSERACT, British incredibles . After recently ending a long American tour with Between The Buried And Me, they don’t seem to be getting tired. Having released their latest album almost one year ago, they have been touring with a lot of passion.
Their setlist didn’t differ too much from what they have been playing in the last years. The singles taken from their latest album “Sonder”, “King”, “Luminary”, “Smile” and the fans’ favorite “Juno” were all part of the show. They always cover all of their albums in their shows, playing both “Of Matter” tracks from “Altered State”, “Proxy” and “Retrospect”, as well as, probably their most popular song, the catchy “Nocturne”. Halfway in their set they did a throwback to the colorful “Polaris” touches, playing the very well known songs “Survival”, “Hexes”, the emotional “Phoenix” and a very powerful performance of “Dystopia”. Therein, once again, Daniel Tompkins had fun with the microphone stand, throwing it in the air and catching it back in perfect accordance with the song’s breakdown. Most of the Tesseract members have a very mysterious stage presence, occasionally the barefoot bass player Amos Williams made crazy jumps around, but in general they don’t move that much. That’s not a problem at all, as their band leader absolutely covered enough stage movement for a whole band assembly. The order in which they played their songs at this festival was a unique thing to happen. They started the show in the meanest way possible, with their more aggressive stuff: early day songs from the debut album “One”. From complete silence, the show boomed within a second with visceral screams and djenty explosions. Dan Tompkins owned the audience, jumped down to the fan crowd right over the heads of the photographers in the photo pit, screaming the memorable lyrics of “Acceptance”. This was definitely the spiciest moment of the whole show, leaving the audience spellbound. Tompkins impressed the visitors with his extremely well defined technique and shockingly impeccable singing, and with his exposing stage persona. The incredible Jay Postones behind an impressive stack of cymbals vehemently dominated the show as well, reminiscing of Meshuggah’s Tomas Haake. It really was a clever decision to hire Tesseract to complete this awesome festival line-up.
Obviously, the Netherlands are a stronghold for prog metal. But does this region really needed another prog festival? Oh well, clearly the number of visitors seem to support the claim. Well done Prognosis festival.
We would like to acknowledge Prognosis Festival for allowing us to make the photo and written report of this event.