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Picture - Eternal Dark + Heavy Metal Ears (Reissue)

Eternal Dark + Heavy Metal Ears (Reissue)
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 02 February 2014, 8:36 PM

And the journey through the ripples of time continues, pictures and sights out of a time that can’t possibly return as a reality. Still with the Dutch PICTURE, perhaps one of the oldest relics of the Dutch Metal scene, back when this scene produced Traditional Metal. Last time I scoured through their history with a review of their debut “Picture 1” and the 3rd blaster, “Diamond Dreamer”. This time around, playing it crisscross between time period, I present two different eras of the band’s history with the sophomore album, released in the end of the year back when “Picture 1” was issued, “Heavy Metal Ears”, and the last of the foursome classics of the band, the forth “Eternal Dark”. Generally, there is that feeling of miles away between those releases, as I mentioned earlier, a band in a developmental stage, proving its strong stance in an age when Metal music began to break out of its condiment from the Rock realm.

With the coming of “Heavy Metal Ears”, it would appear that things began heating up for PICTURE, producing an improved follower to the mildly decent “Picture 1”. The band’s lineup remained intact, songwriting upgraded for just a tad bit unveiling several moderate anthem of 70’s Hard Rock and arrows of British Metal, riff based turn ups mainly as expected. PICTURE still breathing the Brits, assimilating the likes of DEEP PURPLE and RAINBOW, yet also on this particular album reminded me of BUDGIE. Every now and then the group charged with several energetic double bass speed affirmations that sounded rather charming, considering the era. The title track “Heavy Metal Ears” finely selected as the opener, demonstrating a vintage Hard N’ Heavy uplifting smacker, taking hold of several Rock N’ Roll amalgamations, British as it can get, almost MAIDENish soloing, certainly the album’s hit. “Nighttiger” is just the right golden song to signify why DEEP PURPLE are one of the clear foundations of NWOBHN, at times I could have sworn that Ritchie Blackmore was playing this one, both sound and direction seemed so appealing right through his old direction. Jan Bechtum, serving a tasty dish of main riff, which is far than the usual power chords, and a 70’s Rock soloing that is solid gold. Other than the title track that opened up the gates, this one came as the album’s strongest early 80’s triumph. Ronald Van Prooijen, at his last appearance with the band on studio, showed better vocal attributes in comparison to the debut. “Rock N Roll / Under Your Spell”, finishing up another era in the band’s career, blinked as a merged musical piece between early MAIDEN’s “Strange World” and “Charlotte The Harlot”, what seemed to be two songs clasped into a single epic, laid down the bricks of old Metal with a few poignant aspects, an attribute the band mastered later on.

Two years after “Heavy Metal Ears” and the scenery was completely changed for PICTURE, both in personnel and musical directive. Passing the “Diamond Dreamer” album, 1983 saw the departure of Shmoulik Avigal and lead guitarist Jan Bechtum, both were partially in charge of a great release. Jan Bechtum will later make a comeback with the band, but eventually he left two years afterwards. Shmoulik Avigal became involved with several other projects, including his own solo band. In exchange for these two icons, PICTURE employed the services of the British singer, Pete Lovell, in a way showing PICTURE’s admiration for foreign Metal singers. In addition, Chris Van Jaarsveld and Henry Van Manen took their positions as guitarists, first time displaying PICTURE as a twin axe act. With a force of five, PICTURE released and recorded “Eternal Dark”, in spite of surveying the sample ample straightforwardness of the past, becoming more Metal than ever, with a few tweaks. Similar to “Diamond Dreamer”, PICTURE slowly ditched the 70’s and went on arraigning with the British Metal message. Clogging with late 70’s RAINBOW to the minimum, and scaling the merits and hooks of JUDAS PRIEST, SAXON and early IRON MAIDEN, full time British. Furthermore, I think that it went down that road mainly due to vocalist changes, the Dio / Coverdale influence on the songs, applying Blues elements were nearly gone, PICTURE somewhat left behind the Blues, meaning WHITESNAKE inspirations only to apply noticeable proto Speed Metal mischiefs. “Eternal Dark” became a runner up after the proud “Diamond Dreamer”. Though there can’t actually be a decent contrast to that previous release, this here album applied the powerful voice of Lovell, verifying in a certain manner why in the band’s comeback he came to mind thus being the band’s front till this day, impressive duo hammering guitaring of Van Jaarsveld and Van Manen and generally an 80’s Metal sensation channeled from the larger part of the songs. Title track “Eternal Dark” smelled of some of the early British Metal classics, mainly a SAXONized amplifier, making its intro with a measure of class, marching through the fields of battle, heavy mid tempo tougher with a sonic chorus. “Into The Underworld”, similar to the previous tracker but with a vigorous main riff, letting out amazing power moments, a punchy NWOBHM tune, cracking up SAXON / RAINBOW mixture that felt so good to the ears, these Heavy Metal ears. Solo section felt no less than MAIDEN meets SAXON, Laurens "Bakkie" Bakker putting up a fine display of double bass action. “Power Of Evil”, as if a tribute to RAINBOW was made, especially of the Dio era not sliding down to the Popish Rock obscurity later. I sensed a slight KISS effect, in particular on the chorus that sounds simple but larger than life, a bit of a stadium crunch. I must imply that in comparison to their past efforts, meaning first three releases, “Eternal Dark” is the band’s spirited bulldozer, showing a newfound energy within the band’s songs, yet still not the best that this band could have offered.

It is done, the four albums of PICTURE that paved their legacy as one The Netherlands’ prime Metal achievements, even if the grade shows a bit difference. Find your way to Divebomb Records to purchase these two releases, a must for every Metalhead that respects the vintage wine of the genre. Still cradling their Hard N’ Heavy authenticities, PICTURE are still out there, lately released another album and with hope to go strong once again.       

3 Star Rating

“Eternal Dark”
1. Eternal Dark
2. Griffons Guard The Gold
3. Make You Burn
4. Battle For The Universe
5. The Blade
6. Flying In Time
7. Into The Underworld
8. Tell No Lies
9. Power Of Evil
10. Down And Out

“Heavy Metal Ears”
11. Heavy Metal Ears
12. Spend The Night With You
13. Unemployed
14. I’m Just A Simple Man
15. Funky Town
16. Out Of Time
17. Nighttiger
18. No No No
19. Rock N Roll / Under Your Spell
“Heavy Metal Ears” Lineup:
Rinus Vreugdenhill – Bass
Laurens "Bakkie" Bakker – Drums
Jan Bechtum - Guitars
Ronald Van Prooijen - Vocals

“Eternal Dark”
Rinus Vreugdenhill – Bass
Laurens "Bakkie" Bakker – Drums
Pete Lovell – Vocals
Chris Van Jaarsveld – Guitars
Henry Van Manen - Guitars
Record Label: Divebomb Records


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