A Crazy American goes to Denmark to see Anubis Gate

Anubis Gate

So what’s the furthest you’ve ever traveled to see a concert? 100 miles? 500 miles? A thousand miles? Across the United States? Try crossing the Atlantic Ocean to see your favorite band!

Up until a week ago, I thought I would be crazy to go all the way from the East Coast of the United States to go to Denmark to see a show! My previous record was going from Washington, DC to San Diego to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in 2015. Even then I thought I was crazy. Just a long weekend to see a show, right? I’ve been to San Diego a number of times so it was no big deal. But that was nothing compared to the awesomeness that ensued in April 2018.

Let me explain. I’ve been a fan of the Danish progressive metal band Anubis Gate since 2014. Their album Horizons had just come out and when I found about it, I really liked it. I mean I really, REALLY liked it. When my metal loving friend from my hometown (who introduced me to both ProgPower USA and Anubis Gate) asked about co-sponsoring them for 2015, I thought they’d be perfect for the fest. They have really a great progressive metal sound, awesome guitar riffs and hooks, and well written lyrics. It would be a great show. To our amazement and astonishment, they were announced at the fest in 2014 that they would play there in 2015. Sadly that never came to pass as they backed out a couple of months before their scheduled American debut due to health reasons.

Fast forward to late 2017. My really awesome friend whom I’ll call My Concert Buddy (whom I attend a number of local shows in the Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD area with) is a super large fan of Anubis Gate. I found out that she was also to be a sponsor of the band at ProgPower USA and we were both disappointed that they were unable to make it. Anubis Gate rarely plays shows anyhow, so we had said to ourselves that if they ever play a show that we’ll travel to see them, even if that means that we have to travel to their native Denmark. That came to pass in late April 2018.

Lead guitarist and principal songwriter Kim Olesen mentioned on his Facebook page that they were playing a show in his hometown of Odense, Denmark (about an hour and a half train ride west of Copenhagen) on April 28, 2018. I told My Concert Buddy about that it and we both agreed that a trip to Denmark was going to happen. She had never been to Denmark.. and wait for it.. I had never been outside of North America! Yes, I’ve been to Canada, but that doesn’t really count being outside of the country – and the last time I was there you didn’t need a passport! So now it’s not just traveling to Denmark I would have to be worried about, but traveling outside of the United States PERIOD! But I’ll talk about that in another post. I’ll just stick to the Anubis Gate show here.

So My Concert Buddy arranged for travel to Denmark and I followed her lead on making my plans. Airline set, hotel set – and not much later the tickets were acquired. Now the long wait to go to Denmark and see one of the best progressive metal bands on the planet blow the roof away! And that’s just what they did!

On Saturday April 28, 2018, Anubis Gate played their second concert of what they billed as the “shortest tour on record” (a whopping two dates – they also played April 13th in Aalborg, Denmark) at the Musikhuset Posten in Odense, Denmark. I was really happy to be there with My Concert Buddy and our respective spouses. We also met in person a couple of our friends that we had met only online – one from Denmark and one from Norway. Even one of my American friends who is currently working in Germany showed up! But My Concert Buddy and I didn’t win the Most Distance Traveled record – that belonged to an American couple who flew to Denmark from San Diego! Strange thing that none of us know about them until we all met at the venue!

Myself sandwiched between a Norwegian and a Dane


My American friend came up from Germany to see the show

The interesting thing about Anubis Gate is not only the music, but their longevity. Though they’ve changed out a few band members over the course of time,  it was a sight to behold to have all of the present members and almost all of the former members (except one – former guitarist Jesper M. Jensen couldn’t make it) be there at the same time! The current members are Kim Olesen (Guitars, Keyboards), Henrik Fevre (Vocals, Bass), Michael Bodin (Guitars), and Morten Gade Sørensen (Drums). Former vocalists are Torben Askholm and Jacob Hansen (who is also a guitarist in the band Pyramaze and is a well-known metal band producer). Note that the original drummer is Morten Sørensen – which leads to confusion. So My Concert Buddy nicknamed the original Morten “Morten 1.0” and the current Morten “Morten 2.0”.

Past and Present members of Anubis Gate

So on to the venue itself. The Musikhuset Posten is a small venue and appears to have been a remodeled train depot, as the modern-day Odense train station is next door. The outside looks a bit old and dirty, but inside it’s quite a nice place that’s geared towards great metal shows. Upon entry is a coat check that costs 20 DKK (about $3 USD) that I have never seen in a metal venue – ever! Then inside there is a back room with a bar, and the front room with a slightly raised stage and a small bar to the right hand side.

Anubis Gate was of course the headliner. The first two opening acts were nothing to write home about – so much so that I forgot their names! The first band was a typical death metal band with “Cookie Monster” type vocals. The second band was a female fronted death metal band that also had “Cookie Monster” type vocals. Enough about them, let’s move on, shall we?

Finally Anubis Gate took the stage and awesome progressive metal emanated from the speakers. They featured songs from all seven of their full-length albums. The first two songs of the night were Psychotopia and The Combat, both from their latest album Covered In Black, released in 2017.

They went into their back catalog for the next set of songs. Next was Golden Days from their self-titled album from 2011. But they went all the way back for Purification from the album of the same name from 2004. Next was Endless Grief from their 2005 album A Perfect Forever.  They then went back to their self-titled album for Hear My Call, Destined to Remember, and Never Like This (A Dream) –  all three of which are my personal favorites from the band.

After those wonderful songs, they then returned to Covered in Black for the song Black and Revolution Come Undone from Horizons The last two of the main set were Options – Going Nowhere from 2009’s The Detached and Snowbound from 2007’s Andromeda Unchained. They ended their show with a two-song encore featuring Future Without Past and Hold Back Tomorrow, both from their self-titled album.

I also wish to point out that the Danes are some of the nicest people on the planet. If this show were to have been held in the US, people would have crowded the stage and wouldn’t have given you any sort of “personal room” in order to give you a bit of space while watching the show. On the other hand, at this show – the Danes not only didn’t crowd the stage, they respected your place and gave you plenty of space. No crowding, no getting in your face or your back or anything like that. The US audiences can definitely take note from how well the Danes treat others during a metal show!

And finally, My Concert Buddy lost her Fitbit at the show! All of us thought she would have lost it forever, but one of us suggested that she ask one of the bartenders if anybody had turned it in. Sure enough, someone HAD turned it in! Another kudo for the Danish concert audience!

So overall what did I think? Was it worth it going all the way to Denmark to see them? Absolutely, positively, without a doubt a one million percent YES! Would I do it again? Absolutely YES! In a heartbeat! I hope they play again soon because I’d LOVE to go back! One show was definitely NOT enough!

Anubis Gate and friends – I’m second from the right

So what is this ProgPower USA all about? Let me try to explain..


Another ProgPower USA has come and gone. This was the twelfth time I have succumbed to the madness, the excitement, the passion, the…well, it’s hard to explain, and that’s why I’m making a blog post about it. How do you explain this to anybody who has never experienced this event? Basically, you can’t. You have to experience it for yourself. We as fans of the festival can talk about it, but unless you actually attend and soak it all in and immerse yourself in it, you just can’t understand it. It’s been said that you only learn 10% by reading, 20% by watching, but 100% by doing. That’s what I mean. You just have to go and dive in with both feet, not just dip your toe in the pool. How do you do that? How would you even start to begin your journey? You need to start listening to the music, then attend the festival. In that order, not the reverse!

First of all, this is music that most of you have never heard or listened to before. Ever. This is typically not on the radio. Do yourself a favor and turn off the radio. Let that Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber float out of your mind. Feel better already? Good! Now, don’t confuse yourself with pretend metal. Nickelback and Staind? Nope, not real metal. If you have XM or Sirius satellite radio, you may know of the channel called Octane. That’s not real metal either. Turn that off too. Feel even better? Release yourself from false music and listen to better music. Quality music. Stuff you can’t find on the radio in the United States (or many other places, either). Yeah, that’s it. Just release your mind. Namaste. (Actually, that’s an inside joke as I’ll explain a bit later.)

So what is this music that I’m talking about? In the case of the festival, the term “ProgPower” is a concatenation of Progressive Metal and Power Metal. These sub-genres of heavy metal are quite different and diverse, but at the same time are complimentary. I’ll try to explain each of these below.

Progressive Metal: For the uninitiated, Progressive Metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal (yes, there are MANY sub-genres of heavy metal) that is a mix of old school progressive rock (say like Pink Floyd and Yes) blended with heavier aspects of metal to kick things up a notch or two. It’s hard to describe because the term Progressive Metal is quite broad, but there are a few basic sub-types of Progressive Metal. There are lighter aspects of the music, there are heavier aspects of the music, and there are technical aspects of the music. There can also be symphonic aspects as well. (Some people compare the technicality of Progressive metal to Classical Music.) But the most common aspects about progressive metal are ever changing time signatures, complex rhythms and song structures. Basically it’s heavy metal music that’s appreciated by the intellectual crowd. Not saying that you need to be a brainiac to appreciate it, but those of us who tend to have advanced degrees and technical jobs tend to gravitate towards this genre of metal. Probably the most popular band (and one of the founding contributors of this music) is an American band called Dream Theater. Another band that was one of the founding contributors of the genre was the American band called Savatage. For the most part, it is no longer around in its original form. However, you may have heard one of the spin-offs called the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Power Metal: Power metal is a sub-genre of metal that is more upbeat and a bit harder. It tends to mix traditional metal with symphonic and melodic aspects to the music. Typically these tend to have fast tempos (in a few cases, really fast!). There are typically two schools of thought with Power Metal: American Power Metal and European Power Metal. American Power Metal a harder edged metal that is more along the lines of traditional Heavy Metal. Probably one of the most popular bands that typifies this sub-sub-genre is the American band Iced Earth. The European version of Power Metal is actually quite different. The European flavor is what I call “Happy Metal”. And depending on the band, they can add some interesting… fantasy…aspects to the music too? I think many of these bands played Dungeons and Dragons growing up, or were huge fans of the Lord of the Rings series of books because some of those aspects wind up in the lyrics of these songs.

But if these are so diverse, how can they be complementary? Because some bands can mix the two and the blending of them can be greater than the separate parts. There’s an American band called Symphony X. They are a band that I tend to call “Power Progressive”. It has the harder edge aspects of Power Metal, yet has the varying time signatures and complexity of Progressive Metal. Get it? Right now I highly doubt it. Just turn your brain off of mainstream mumble jumble and start listening to this music. Listen to it. Then you’ll get it. The more you listen, the more you’ll understand.

So now that you have a background in the music, let me talk about this event. ProgPower USA is hard to describe. It’s not a concert. It really isn’t even a festival. It’s a week long journey into a musical abyss. Think about separating yourself from the world as you know it and diving in with this music for four solid days. Oh, did I mention that the people who attend this festival “get it”? That means that they understand what I’ve been trying to say here. We don’t have to try to explain ourselves all the time, like we do most of the year to the uninitiated. We just go and enjoy with like-minded folks. It’s nice to discuss different bands that we already know. We compare and contrast styles of different bands. We learn about new bands within these sub-genres. We embrace this music full on and soak it all in.

For those of us who have been attending for so long, it’s more than just the music. Remember how I just said that we don’t have to explain ourselves? That already breaks the ice for many of us. We already arrive with a mutual understanding for each other. Even if we come from diverse backgrounds, we are already destined to be friends. Not just acquaintances, but real honest-to-goodness friends. I’ve seen long lasting relationships and even marriages result from attending this festival. (Contrary to popular belief, there is a large percentage of females who are into this sort of music!)

But how did we get there from here? The music has been around in one way, shape, or form since the 1980s. It evolved to its current state sometime in the 1990s. There have been a number of festivals that have come and gone between then and now. A number of festivals are still around, but many of them don’t have the close bonds such as ProgPower USA. The venue that holds the event (Center Stage in midtown Atlanta, GA) can only hold about 1100 people. That right there limits the crowd. We’re not talking 50,000 people in a football stadium, yet not a small club of 100. It’s a nice size where people can mingle and get to know each other, yet not be so overwhelming that you get lost.

Another aspect of the festival is that it is unique in two factors. The first one that people who are well versed in Power and/or Progressive metal know that that most of these bands are from outside of the United States. Sadly, this music is not really popular here. (Imagine that!) Even American bands that are in these genres do not see success here – only overseas, which is really sad. However, ProgPower USA has become a place where these foreign bands are brought to the United States, often as an exclusive event -meaning they just come here FOR ProgPower. Some do use ProgPower as an anchor for a tour – but often times they just come here for the single event. Hence that means if you want to see a band, you need to travel to Atlanta. And hence us folks that are few and far between who “get it” travel to a “Mecca” where we are with like-minded folks who also “get it”. Get it? (Grin)

The other factor to note (and what makes ProgPower unique) is the fact that the promoters who run the event run a quality show. The creator and main person behind the event is Glenn Harveston. He and his wife Jen run the festival, albeit with a small volunteer army that works their collective butts off. The army has grown over time and now includes two up and coming promoters (Nathan and Milton) to assist Glenn and Jen. These folks are doing this because they are fans of the music and care about putting on a quality show for the fans. It’s not some big whig corporate promoter who’s out to make a ton of cash, it’s a small group of people who actually give a damn. That is what it’s all about. By the fans, for the fans. Imagine that!

PP USA crew 2016So what else makes this festival unique? Given the fact that 1) it’s small, 2) run by a tight knit group and 3) fans come all over and most importantly 4) unique once-in-a-lifetime shows – we have basically become one big happy family. Many of us who attend have been attending for quite a while. The festival started in 2001 and has been held every year since (twice in 2001, once a year thereafter). Because ProgPower is about the only place to enjoy the music AND the common bonds, we keep coming back! Add in the modern social media aspect (Facebook has pretty much transformed things for the fest in a HUGE way!); the festival has no plans on stopping for quite a while. Glenn wanted to stop in 2014, but we sold out the fest. We did it again for 2015. Add to the fact that the just completed 2016 fest was sold out in an amazing NINE hours after tickets went on sale – that was insane! The festival lineup for 2017 is so damn good that I see tickets selling out in nine MINUTES!

hakenmikeStarting this year and continuing into 2017, the festival is crossing over a bit. It’s no longer Glenn’s little festival that could; it is attracting the attention of some of the bigger fish in the small pond. Mike Portnoy (who used to be the drummer and major songwriter for Dream Theater – remember me mentioning them?) will be playing in 2017. That is HUGE for us. We are now attracting performers that some segment of the mainstream population may have heard about.

But how can you even begin to understand this magic, this craziness? For this most recently completed fest, Devin Townsend (a Canadian musician/performer) published a video blog of performing the fest (he was the final day headline act). This is by far the best compilation of what goes on at the show – behind the scenes, by the fan’s perspective, and the performance itself. Even though this is the tip of the iceberg, it’s a nice starter for those who have never attended the fest.

So, if you may be interested in this fest, start listening and enjoying the music. Jen has put together a list of YouTube videos of the bands that are slated to perform at next year’s event already! (14 of the 20 bands have been announced as of this date.) This is the way to start immersing yourself into this music. Get to know the music, and then you can start to get to know the fest. Turn off the radio, turn on this music instead!

I’ll post a review of the 2016 fest in another post, but for now I just wanted to get my non-ProgPower friends and relatives brought up to speed on why I attend and will continue to attend for as long as the festival exists and I am alive on this planet.

Oh, the inside joke about Namaste above? That’s a song by the Norwegian progressive metal band Circus Maximus, who graced the ProgPower USA stage yet again this year.






Capturing nature – one picture at a time

I would like to consider myself an amateur photographer. I’ve been taking pictures with a SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera since my first Pentax that my parents and I split the cost on in 1984 for a photography class in 8th Grade. Since that time, I’ve loved to take pictures.

I “went digital” in 2004 and never went back to film, which in a way was a shame. In 2007, I purchased a Canon Rebel XTi DSLR (Digital SLR) camera. I still use it to this day. I will probably upgrade it before September (when a certain four day wall to wall concert called ProgPower USA takes place).

Today I dug it out for the first time in a while. Most of the time I’m satisfied with the pictures my cell phone (current weapon of choice is a Samsung Galaxy S7). But today I was in the quest to take pictures of hummingbirds that come to our feeder in the back yard.

I already shared a few of these to my Facebook page, but here’s one I really liked. It’s a little dark IMG_9976(underexposed) but I left it that way because of the effect.


I’m tired, Boss..mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other.

i'm tired boss

(Part 1 of 2. I’ll probably post Part 2 later this week.)

In the wake of mass shootings, bombings and a general distrust and hatred for one another, how on Earth explain such things to a four year old child?

I am the “Grumpers” (step grandfather) for a four year old “cute redhead” as I call her. I don’t have any direct DNA relationship with her, but I treat her as if she were my own flesh and blood. Maybe even more so. Even though she has her moments where she can be a whirling dervish, most of the time she is the sweetest and nicest person you would ever meet.

Which leads me to the question – Why on Earth did we get so violent? Were we born this way? I highly doubt it. I think hatred is a learned trait, not something that we inherit. So what happened between birth and living in today’s messed up mixed up world?

Children have a hard time comprehending things outside of their small paradigm. New things need to be brought into their consciousness slowly. They need to process it. Then they can form an opinion on it. I guess that by the time we’re adults, we pretty much have mastered that process. But for a four year old? Good luck with that!

It seems each and every day there is something bad going on in the world. Most of it involves the death of people. Wars, protests, mass shootings – you name it. The availability of round-the-clock news doesn’t help either. Thank you Ted Turner and the Internet for that.

But more importantly – how do we explain these bad events to our young children? I am not sure that there is a right way to do so. I guess the best thing to do is to say that in a world of wonderful people, there are some people that are not so nice. The number of people who want to do the right thing far outnumber those who want to do bad things. Or at least that’s what I hope.

One of the things that we can do is to show them that even in a bad situation, there are good people. There is a famous quote attributed to late Fred Rogers (of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood fame) that said “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” I think that speaks volumes.fred rogers helpers

We need to show our children that not everybody is bad. We need to show them that even in our upside down world that they should not become part of the problem, rather be part of the solution.

What can be done about the problems? That’s for another topic. But for now, we need to ensure that the next generation doesn’t fall down the same path as the current one.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – December 2015

Back in December 2015, I was able to see not only the “East Coast” troupe, but also the “West Coast” troupe as well.

I will post another article soon that compares and contrasts the two traveling troupes, but here’s a picture of Al Pitrelli from the show that I saw in San Diego in December 2015.


So what does a middle aged metalhead have to say?

So what does a middle aged metalhead have to say? Actually, quite a bit.

As I said on the About page, this site is more of an extension of my Facebook page. Whatever I think I want to talk about in more detail, I’ll do it here. Album reviews, concert reviews, concert pictures, etc.

But what I’ll also talk about are things on my mind. A lot of things are happening in the news lately that I don’t want to dwell over on “Facecrack” (my term for Facebook), but I still want to talk about. The 2016 election, the latest tempest in a teapot, etc.