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Sunday Old School: Picture

The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was truly an amazing movement. Like punk, it succeeded in taking rock music back down to street level and saw working class kids like Def Leppard and Iron Maiden become global superstars, while others like Venom, Raven and Diamond Head become cult favourites. Some fans of this type of heavy metal claim that the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was more of a sound than a national happening and claim that some groups from outside of the United Kingdom should be included when discussing the era, one of the names which is brought up the most in this argument is one of the first heavy metal bands from The Netherlands; Picture.

Picture was officially formed in 1979, two years after bassist Rinus Vreugdenhil and drummer Laurens Bakker began jamming with other musicians before eventually finding guitarist Jan Bechtum and vocalist Ronald van Prooijen, completing what would become known as Picture's "classic" lineup. They soon signed with Warner Brothers but decided to leave the label before releasing an album, as they felt the company was attempting to steer them towards a pop direction. Instead, they signed with Backdoor Records, a sub-label of Phonogram, through which they released their self-titled debut album in 1980, which spawned the single, "Bombers."

The band were disappointed with the sound quality of the record and the audio quality wasn't much better on their sophomore full length, "Heavy Metal Ears." Despite the production quality, it became a favourite of many fans and the opening title track created an anthem of their own. To date, "Heavy Metal Ears" remains the last album from the original lineup, as soon after its release, van Prooijen left the group and was replaced by Israeli singer Shmoulik Avigal.

Avigal's stay would be brief but memorable, as he recorded perhaps Picture's best album, "Diamond Dreamer," which was released in 1982. Fans immediately warmed to the vocalist who boasted a powerful voice and many of them consider it the best record in their catalogue. Shortly after it was released however, Avigal was fired from the band after getting into an argument with their manager. Growing frustrated with seemingly petty obstacles in the way of success, Bechtrum left the band too and the group found a new singer in Pete Lovell, as well as hiring two guitarists named Chris van Jaarsveld and Henry van Manen, who all made their recording debut with Picture on the album, "Eternal Dark."

Released in 1983, "Eternal Dark" was considered a disappointment after such positive reactions to the previous two records, which along with constant touring and management problems, led Bakker to quit the band, leaving Vreugdenhill as the sole remaining original member. He was replaced by Jacques van Oevelen, who appeared on their next album, "Traitor," released in 1985. Reaction to the album wasn't much better than it was for "Eternal Dark" and some fans accused them of selling out and moving into more of a hair metal direction, a sound which remained on "Every Story Needs Another Picture," which was released the following year and 1987's, "Marathon," before Vreugdenhill decided to call time on Picture.

A reunion was always being touted of course and in 1996, fans got a reactivation at least when Jan Bechtum brought Picture back, albeit with an otherwise entirely new lineup. Though this incarnation of the band lasted for three years, the quartet never released any material and folded in 1999. With the explosion of internet use in the early 2000s, many disbanded groups found a new, younger fan base who were able to discover more music and Picture was no exception. This set the wheels in motion for another reunion, which this time included Bechtum, Vreugdenhil, Bakker, Lovell and Rob van Enkhuizen, who played drums on the last two Picture albums.

The reborn Picture toured throughout Europe, performing at festivals and received a good reception everywhere they went. Inspired by this, the band got to work on what would be the first album in twenty two years, appropriately named, "Old Dogs, New Tricks." The comeback received mostly positive reviews from critics, while fans were just happy that Picture was back and making music. It was not to be a one off either, as in 2012, Picture released another album, "Warhorse," which again was received warmly.

After continuing to perform solidly since reforming, Picture made the announcement in 2016 that Pete Lovell had left the group and only a day later, revealed that the lineup was to be comprised of all four original members, in addition to second guitarist Appie de Gelder. Whether or not Picture can recapture the magic of the first two albums remains to be seen, but seeing the original lineup together for the first time since 1982 is a treat that no fan will turn down.

Picture - "Bombers"

Picture - "Heavy Metal Ears"

Picture - "Message From Hell"

Picture - "The Blade"

Picture - "Fantasies"

Picture - "Battlecruiser"

Picture - "Now It's Too Late"

Picture - "My Kinda Woman"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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