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Thursday, 18 December 2008

Poppin' Cherries

You really can't beat Sundays for a shit night to go giggin'. However, as it was Black Stone Cherry, me and Hot Chick knew that we'd have to make the long arduous journey from Tunbridge Wells to glorious Brixton in the pissing rain and freezing cold because to be honest, missing Edmonton, Kentucky's finest was not an option.

Got there, queued, beers, down the front for the first support act - long time since we've got anywhere early enough for to do this. So there we stood as Sevendust, Georgia's most dated metal band, took to the stage. Don't get me wrong; these guys had a fierce energy but to be honest, the massive muscles and backwards baseball caps were a bit Fred Durst-tastic. To give them their dues, Morgan Rose on the drums was a fucking nutter but even his gob-up-in-the-air-and-catch-it-in-your-own-mouth and Tommy Lee stickwork couldn't stop me feeling a little bit like I'd seen this yeeeeeears ago. Lajon Witherspoon's vocals were good but when they were joined by BSC's Chris Robertson, there was a gulf of difference between them - ironic seeing as Chris would have been about 4 when Sevendust formed (under one of their many different names).

Next up were Stone Gods. Having recently seen former Darkness man Justin Hawkins in his new fucking abomination of a band Hot Leg ("Eat My Beer", November 19th), I was apprehensive to see what his brother Dan and the rest of the Lowestoft boys would come up with. However, in the interest of not being a stereotypical judgemental metalhead, I thought I'd give these guys a chance. Richie Edwards on vocals (I'm pretty sure not the long-missing Manics guitarist) did vibe with the crowd pretty well and their music was good old fashioned rock and roll. Nothing about them changed my life but they were enjoyable, and should their album "Silver Spoons and Broken Bones" be available on a "3 for £20" at HMV, I may consider investing.

And then Black Stone Cherry took to the stage. My prediction of them opening with "Blind Man" was a poor shout as they kept it old school, the thundering floor tom and bass line of "Rain Wizard" merging straight into "Backwoods Gold" was a great opening to their debut album and an even better opening to their live shows. Chris Robertson has a phenomenal interaction with the crowd and the fact that this was the biggest headline show they have ever played made them even more humble than usual. I'd like to also nominate Guitarist Ben Wells for "Fucking Nutty Headbanger Of The Year, 2008" as his head looked like it was going to fall off his neck on a number of occasions. Rob Flynn would be impressed.

As they continued to mix up the tunes from their first and second album - "The Bitter End" was a particularly intense breakdown that instigated a surprisingly swirling pit - the real BSC moment came from when the guys from Sevendust came out and took over some of the guitar duty, whilst John Fred Young left the skins and came stage front with a harmonica, leaving Chris to take care of the drums. A truly exceptional display, serious fucking groove from all involved.

John Fred still ain't exactly the world's best drummer - he can play like a demon but struggles to keep time as he gets a wee bit excited! His trick of throwing the sticks away and carrying on with just his hands is funny as fuck though; I watched the dude from Whitesnake doing exactly the same thing round a mate's house the night before.

Unfortunately we had to leave early due to the spasticated nature of Sunday trains but the hour-and-a-bit we saw of Black Stone Cherry reaffirms my belief that they are going to be bigger than they ever thought possible. Hailing from a town of 1,500-odd in the dirty South, I can see these guys reaching venues ten times this size. The crowd was a mix of 40-year-old rockers, bikers, emo kids, metallers - all of whom belonged there. BSC are a truly universal band - I just hope their ever-growing popularity doesn't dilute the rawness of their music.

Friday, 12 December 2008

And then it happened...again

As you can see from my last post ("And then it happened", December 6th) Slipknot have recently exposed me to the most exquisite visual/aural spectacle that metal can offer. I really thought I'd struggle to find something comparable in terms of sheer experience. Whoever the next gig was, it was going to be a tough one...

I got tickets for Trivium's intimate gig at London's Borderline ("I Stand Corrected...", November 23rd) and have been looking forward to it a fair ol' bit. Unfortunately Hot Chick couldn't make it to the show with me, which is kinda like Page without Plant, or an XL cheeseburger without bacon. So, with teary resolve, I found a surrogate gig buddy in KillerLeah, a sound Kiwi mate of mine. She's not in to metal in any way, shape or form but is interested in music, likes the Foos, Chilis; that kinda rock ting. A couple of beers, quick Guinness in Crobar (baptism of fire for a girl not used to the metal vibe) and in we went.

Happily there was a merch stand - don't tend to get those in the intimate settings. The thing that surprised me the most was how small and pretty empty The Borderline was. It has an official capacity of 275 but you could easily shoehorn another couple of hundred in there. This is metal, after all; we're used to the taste of each other's sweat. Chugged a few Tuborgs and on the Florida thrashers came to a pretty loud reception, considering the size of the crowd.

First song was "Kirisute Gomen" off "Shogun" and if I'm 100% honest, at this point I thought it was just going to be an A-Z "Shogun" run through. Which would be fine but a bit, well, predictable. Yet again, keeping to form, I was fucking miles off.

Bearing in mind the last gig in this size of venue was the dire Staind affair at the Hard Rock ("Um, hello???", September 23rd), I was apprehensive that we'd get some diva behaviour from these boys but once they'd blown "Kirisute" out, the banter started. Matt Heafy, fucking massive hair and all, was more than up for a bit of chat. Refreshing, considering he's often portrayed as a bit sullen and "frontman" in the music press. However, the biggest surprise for me was that only a few minutes in, they introduced "Like Light To Flies" from "Ascendancy". This is the song that got them their major airtime and as far as I'm concerned, one of their greatest achievements. Heafy dutifully caned himself for the laughable hair he has in the video before fucking shredding the shit out of this tune. I chucked my (well, Hot Chick's) camera at KillerLeah and got my white ass right into the shit. Now, I say "into the shit" but a pit of about 5 people doesn't really count. However, being about 5 feet from the stage whilst they were hammering through this tune was something else.

As the night continued, a few more beers were consumed by crowd and band alike and the banter increased. Trivium were having an absolute blast and subsequently, so were we. Travis Smith, Paolo Gregoletto and Corey Beaulieu ripped the piss out of each other, had some "in" jokes, and at one point, indulged in a Dave Chappelle "Lil' Jon" exchange of "Whaaaat??? Yeeeeaaaah!" That might make no sense to anyone reading this but YouTube it - funny as fuck.

The set list was virtually non-existent and 90% of the gig seemed to come about after a quick exchange between the lads on stage. For example, the first verse and chorus of Maiden's "The Trooper" ended because Heafy couldn't remember any more lyrics and Metallica's "Cyanide" from "Death Magnetic" opened when he said "apparently we sound like them so we may as well play one", a sentiment greeted with roars of appreciation from an increasingly lubed crowd. Heafy did play one comedy mainstream song but I can't for the life of me remember what it was. Something by The Darkness, perhaps?

Trivium managed to make two guys' nights at The Borderline. One lank haired, sweaty looking metaller was offered the opportunity to get on Travis's kit and play along with one song and to be fair, he did a good job (the over-the-top double-pedal solo when he sat down is EXACTLY what I would have done). A chubby dude with glasses then got hauled up to play rhythm guitar with Matt for an entire song and his elation was obvious. Lucky c*nts.

However, when the boys started coming in to the crowd, that's when my night was made. I held Matt Heafy's arm aloft as he was roaring into the mic, and now officially think he considers me his best mate...perhaps... KillerLeah had her arm around Corey Beaulieu as he shredded his way through the crowd and the whole place was more like a sweaty garage in Florida, where a load of mates were watching a few more of their mates play some tunes, not a few super fans watching a 3,000-room band.

At not one point over the whole evening did Trivium make me feel anything other than respect for them. They know they have their critics - a lot of critics - but they played up to this. Heafy finished one song and began chanting "Slayer! Slayer!", which is what was happening on their recent Unholy Alliance tour with the thrash gods. They had a drink with us, let us play their instruments, and made my mate KillerLeah think seriously about her choice of gigs for the coming months. They got in the crowd, they sweated with us, they let one of their guitar techs use the stage to propose to his girlfriend (very sweet moment). They were a group of four lads having a fucking top time on their last show of 2008 in the smallest venue since they played Barfly in 2005.

I never thought Trivium would top Slipknot. But they just might have done it.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

And then it happened

The day after Filth Fest was one of the most exciting of my life. Chugging a brew on the train into town, I got that "I'm so excited I might need more then a few poos" gut. I was only hours away from finally seeing the mighty Slipknot.

Public transport conspired against me and Hot Chick and we got to the venue late, which meant we missed Children of Bodom. To describe this as annoying or frustrating would be like describing Robert Mugabe as "a bit tetchy". However, Hot Chick helped me not go mental and kill someone by leading me to the merch stand. I do love a tour T. I found out Bodom are playing a headline show at the same venue in February so it's not the end of the world.

Machine Head came on with the inevitable "MACHINE FUCKING HEAD" chants reverberating around the room. And they absolutely destroyed it. When you watch Machine Head you feel like you're at the apex of the evening. After them, it must be time for bed. Hammering through "Imperium" and new banger "Halo", the crowd was immersed in their Bay area thrash from start to finish. Rob Flynn managed to cane some of the lazier members of the crowd, asking them if they were ever going to headbang or whether they'd prefer a sandwich and a glass of milk, before chucking some Jaegermeister their way. I couldn't believe there was anyone standing still; as Flynn said, this wasn't a fucking Good Charlotte concert. He is an awe-inspiring front man and truly adds to the performance. This is the third time I've seen the Fucking Head and every time, Flynn has owned the venue. He never fails to introduce the whole band, is grateful for the support and hates people who don't headbang. Oh, and he loves a good pit. I have never seen a band that could follow these guys............(you can see where this is going)....

Until now.

Joey Jordisson's new mask/gloves have become the new face of Slipknot and as the curtain opened, there he was atop a fucking epic drum kit. The rest of metal's biggest line-up followed and quite simply, it went off.

Pounding through "Surfacing", "The Blister Exists" and quite awesomely, "Eeyore", I felt like I was being raped in the ear by a selection of large mammals. The lights, sounds, pyro, vocals all combined to make the most intense live experiences I have ever been witness to. Corey Taylor is the only front man I have ever seen who could follow Rob Flynn for interaction and entertainment. After virtually every song he gave us a bit of chat, told us how much they loved us fucking maggots - really makes you feel wanted. The crowd interaction on "Eyeless" and "Duality" was predictably perfect but it was during "Spit It Out" that you couldn't help feeling like you were part of something special. Allow me to explain; you all sit down as the song builds and then, guided by Mr. Taylor, the whole crowd jumps the fuck up as the tune crescendos. Simple but effective. 4,000 people sitting in lager and spit, brought together as one. The cock in front of me who didn't sit the fuck down got half of my beer over him - I do hate a killjoy.

Throughout the whole show, DJ Sid went a-wandering, doing pull-ups on Clown's barrels as they were continually lifted up and down on a pneumatic plinth. The cameras pointing at the crowd and playing on a screen in front of Mr. Crahan was inspired as it kept the maggots in the pit going insane. If you looked at any area of the stage, from the gargantuan form of Mick Thompson to the unexpected windmill headbanging of Jim Root, to Chris Fehn beating off his dick nose to Craig "133" Jones standing dead still apart from a vicious nail-ridden headbang, there was always something going on. The whole band were immersed in the gig and this really affected the crowd. It's not just Corey Taylor's passion that gives this lot momentum but the fact that each and every one of them add a different, equally important ingredient to the recipe. I'm going to stop gushing now before I end up felating them.

An encore of "(515)", "People = Shit" and "sic" kept the intensity until the very end. Joey's now infamous pneumatic drum stand went up tilted, rotated, and kept us going ballistic up to the final chords of the evening. "Thank you"'s were uttered, horns and drum sticks were thrown - in one instance, Joey personally singled out someone in the crowd for his burly security guard to give a stick to. If he'd have gone in himself, we would have almost definitely witnessed an Alice Cooper/chicken incident.

I cannot think of enough positives to describe this night. With the exception of the fucking queue for the cloak room, it was simply phenomenal. Slipknot performed material from all four main albums and didn't rely on the singles. A personal highlight for me was "Disasterpiece" - love that tune. For a band to combine such brutality with eloquent expression and respect for the people that got them where they are shows that they are some of the most level-headed rock stars out there. And for a band that used to puke on each other and throw shit across the stage, that's a big fucking surprise.

The bar for every future gig has been raised, beaten up, kissed, punched and shat on. Slipknot: I love you.

Aaaand relax

I may be bruised, scratched, full of cold and aching but this week was worth every second. Let me take you back to Monday.
Filth Fest was made up of this lot; Asrai, Septic Flesh, Moonspell, Gorgoroth and Cradle of Filth. I met a mate for a few looseners before making the journey to Kentish Town as I didn't really feel like standing in the freezing cold on my own for hours - Hot Chick was going to be down about two hours after kick off. I got there at 18:00, a little after the doors were scheduled to open at 17:00. But they didn't. An the queue was fuckin' massive.
Popped into the Bull & Gate for a quick Guinness, recalled seeing one of Bro Dude's bands playing there about 8 years ago, went back to the queue. The doors still weren't open. Back for another Guinness. About 90 minutes late, I was in.
By the time I got in I'd missed Asrai but nothing to worry about here. Septic Flesh were predictable dark but during their set I was mainly getting my merch, chatting to a mate who I found inside and chugging beers.

Hot Chick arrived as Moonspell took to the stage. Nicely beered by now, I led her down towards the front. The Portuguese doomers played a blinder and really got the pit swelling. Unfortunately, a massive cut in sound, light and power about two thirds into their set took the edge off an otherwise highly entertaining performance. I shall be investing in some of their work forthwith.

And then came Gorgoroth. This notorious clan of reprobates have a reputation for shocking the crowd and media with their crucified nudes and sheep's heads on spikes, so I was looking forward to the show. However, as the crosses were erected and the topless man and woman walked out, I couldn't help feeling a little disappointed. When you watch someone hauling themselves onto a cross, putting a bag on their head, then standing a la Jesus, it doesn't have the same impact as if it all went on behind curtains and then is suddenly revealed to the crowd with a dramatic curtain drop or something. I know little of Gorgoroth's back catalogue but they got the crowd going insane. True to form, and mainly due to my large intake of Tuborg, I entered the pit, had a row, went over the top (really caught the bug for that at Alter Bridge) and hit the bar again. I felt their performance was lacklustre and if it wasn't for their notoriety and aggression of the songs, this would have been a bit, dare I say it, boring.

You know who ain't boring? Cradle of Filth. I forget what they opened with now but song two was "Guilded Cunt" (cue the most offensive singalong in history) and this led seamlessly in to "Dusk and Her Embrace", which is the first Cradle song I ever heard. I was going mental, as was the pit. I have never been involved in such a ridiculous shitfight in my life. Due to the inclement weather outside the floor was like an ice rink and, again, beer not helping, I stacked it backwards and landed on my elbows. The crippling pain didn't set in until I'd left the pit so I carried on regardless.

The tightness of COF's set shows a band that have been doing this for years. Unfortunately, due to the epic nature of their songs, the set was probably only 6 or 7 long but hey, it's the way of the black. Hot Chick doesn't feel black metal at all and spent more time being amused by Dani Filth's insanely high-pitched screams than anything else. I, however, appreciate the variety of his range as all too often, the black bands will rely on growling and leave it there. Cradle mix it up in a big way. There was great interaction with the crown, Dani was having a great time and the pit was an extension of the band (if the band was a sweaty mass of tattoos and hair. Oh, actually...). I'm surprised these guys don't play the bigger venues as they are by far popular enough but at the same time, it's good to be in a situation where you can get right up and personal with these cross-over black metal Gods.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Can it really be??

Every Wednesday I get my TicketWeb email alert, and 90% of the time the content is pretty dire (although I did find out about Rise Against's 2009 tour through there so it aint all bad). As much as I'd love to go and see Girls Aloud and Britney at The O2, sometimes you've got to pass these opportunities up.
I opened the email this week and couldn't believe what I saw. Three words which made my heart skip a beat - "Lynyrd", "Skynyrd" and "Brixton". I love Skynyrd. To me, they're the ultimate old skool, unkempt, dirty rock band. The drummer's name is Artemis, for Christ's sake - can you get more Southern rawk than that?? So anyway, the email tells me that the Skynyrd boys are playing in Brixton on Suday March 31st. Tickets went on sale this morning at 9am, I had my "downstairs; standing" confirmed by 9:01. These guys play the big shit in the USA and I always thought that, should they cross the pond, it'd be Wembley. a 3,000 capacity venue for one of the biggest rock and roll bands of all time? No-brainer mate.

Don't get me wrong, I know its not the original line-up (I'm not a complete spastic shitfuckwanktard) but it's as good as my white ass will ever see. Plus, it's a Van Zant singing and that to me is authentic. It's the first time I've ever got tickets to a gig and phoned my mum; that's how excited I am. Plus, I think she appreciates Skynyrd more than if I phoned her to let her know I had tickets to Cradle Of Filth.

Imagine seeing "Free Bird" live? Just imagine it! I can now categorically state (split infinitive; sue me) that I WILL cry if, no, when they play "Simple Man" as it one of my all time favourite all time songs of all time.

Today is a good day for music. Plus, in less that lots of hours, the two nights of carnage begins....

Sunday, 23 November 2008

I stand corrected...

Despite my less than positive reaction to "Kirisute Gomen" as a taster of Trivium's then-forthcoming album, "Shogun" ("All Hope IS Still There", Sunday, 3 August 2008), I got an email through the other day about an intimate gig the Floridian metallers were playing about 5 minutes from my office on December 9th. Seeing as "Ascendancy" is one of my top metal albums of all time, I thought I'd dip my hand in my pocket and further add to the ticket pile. I also invested in "Shogun", a touch reluctantly but I hate being at gigs and not knowing the lion's share of the material.

My laptop has been out of action for a few days so I've had "Shogun", AC/DC's new joint "Black Ice" and "Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire" by Hatebreed, which Si-KO leant to me, all sitting on my table waiting to be uploaded onto the ol' MP3 (strictly speaking an MP4 but let's not split hairs...). I finally got "Shogun" on and hit play.

Opens with "Kirisute Gomen" but this time, it sounded a hell of a lot better. Still not perfect but a shit load more guts than when I first downloaded it a couple of months back. "This ain't too bad", thinks I. As with "Dying In Your Arms" from "Ascendancy", "Shogun" has a stand-out single and soon-to-be-confirmed crowd pleaser "Into The Mouth Of Hell We March". However, there is a pure fucking raw aggression to tunes like "He Who Spawned The Furies", proving that Corey Beaulieu has more than enough ability to take on the guttural growling since Matt Heafy has relinquished responsibility of the growly stuff. There are shades of Devildriver drums and Travis Smith has clearly been given free rein on the double pedal; something that was sorely missed with "The Crusade". "Shogun" is the album that "The Crusade" should have been - more mature than "Ascendancy" but with the passion and ferocity intact. Instead, "The Crusade" undid a shit load of the hard work that Trivium had put in, and wrote them off to many as another MOR Metallica covers band. "Shogun" corrects this - December 9th, 300 people, this lot on stage. What a fucking night it'll be.

"Black Ice"? Pure, old fashioned AC/DC. 30-odd years after the seminal "Back In Black" album, they've come back with another absolute winner. It's just a continuation of tunes about rockin', rollin, humpin' and-a drinkin' and to be honest, I can understand why their UK gigs sold out in about 0.3 seconds. It's still not polished, Brian Johnson's vocals are still like a strangled chicken and the fact that Angus Young still insists on dressing like a schoolboy well into his 50's is bordering on laughable but you know what? They can get away with it. Why? Because they don't fucking care. And that's rock and roll.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Eat my beer

So the plan was, me and Bro Dude rock up to Brixton for about 16:00, meet with Axeman and Skinsman from Nobody's Hero and pound beers for a few hours, then wander down to the Academy for Alter Bridge. A simple plan, perfectly executed.

After 5 or 6 of Download's finest beer, Tuborg, we pounded a quick can in the queue and we're in. Obviously the first stop was the bar as it had been at least 7 minutes since out last beverage. A quick stop at the merch stand for the traditional tour t-shirt, a few pisses and off we went to the front.

We caught the end of Logan but didn't see enough for me to pass judgement. Hot Leg, bastard child of former Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins, was another matter. Don't get me wrong, I'm open to any new music and Skinsman was looking forward to some old Darkness tunes. However, what we were greeted with was a wannabe 80's glam metal performance by a group of frankly terrible try-hards. Alter Bridge are not a huge band in this country but their fans are loyal - everyone was buzzing for them but Hot Leg just killed it. They were, frankly, gash.

I'm not a heckler by nature. If I don't approve, I don't watch. Or I keep schtum. But this was a whole new level of cack. The crowd were baying for blood so me and the chaps thought it only right that we take the moral high ground. By annihilating the stage with half-empty pints. Bro Dude was surprised at the velocity of a washback-laden Guinness as it narrowly missed the "guitarist". The cheers for us beat the cheers for Hot Leg. Hot Leg? Hot Shit more like.

Enough of this. Alter Bridge came on with "Come To Life" as they did at Download and the crowd caught fire. Bro Dude hit the toilet and the bar, the rest of us muscled our way down to the front. I was expecting a bit of moshing but not a full on fucking shit fight. As they plowed through the "Blackbird" album, I couldn't hold back any longer so got my carcass up onto the heads and surfed my way to the front. One thing I'll say for the security, they helped me down and just pushed me out. No bollocking, no nothing. However, when "Ties That Bind" kicked in and I went over again, I did get a wee warning not to do it again or I'd be expelled. Buzzkills.

As "Blackbird" entered it's sixth minute, me and the lads were arms in air, sweating, I was shirtless and scratched to fuck, and some random bloke put his arm round my waist and told me he loved me. "Metallingus" kicked us into overdrive and by the end of the set, 2,000 people realised they'd been beating the shit out of their mates for an hour and had screamed their throats raw (as one song finished, I removed the inexplicable headlock I had on Skinsman...)

We met up with Bro Dude outside who was buzzing, plus Axeman's dad who'd been at the bar chugging lager with roadies for the set, and off we rode into the Brixton sunset. Well done lads; it was a fucking belter.

Alter Bridge do a headline tour once a year. Here's hoping that Myles Kennedy's rumoured presence on the forthcoming Led Zep tour doesn't stop this happening again in 2009.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Master Of Tickets

Terrible title. I think my ability to think of witty and humorous titles to these posts is dwindling. Plus the fact that I'm sitting at my desk surrounded by non-believers in the metal cause makes it a bit tricky to be inspired...oh, the drama.

So WTF? I hear you ask in text speak. Sitting at my desk the other day and T-Bone, my work colleague who has always wished for a good nickname, mentioned that the forthcoming Metallica tour tickets were going on sale at 9am. This was about 8:45am. Now don't get me wrong, I think Metallica are a phenomenal band - "S&M" appears regularly on the ol' MP3, I even like "St. Anger", dare I say it! Anyway, I digress. I thought I'd give Shithouse a bell (see "Who Needs Friends...", June 30th) as after our recent Maiden experience at Twickenham, I thought he might be going to see Hetfield et all.

He answered the phone but I could barely hear him over the stereo in the background. What was he playing? Metallica. If ever there were to be a sign, this was it. He was up for it in a big way. Plus, as he pointed out, Machine Fucking Head are supporting which is a major draw for MADman. So it was settled: I'd buy 4 tickets and we'd reunite the Maiden Twickenham cartel for a Metallica shindig.

£200-odd later, our seats at the O2 on March 2nd are confirmed. Seats. Fuckin' SEATS! Better than nothing. I'm sure we'll manage to muscle our way down to the pit somehow. I've never seen these guys before so the prospect of the crowd pleasers is pretty exciting. I just hope that Nothing Else Matters is the same sitting in a plastic seat with plenty of space as it would be getting crushed to death by 20,000 overweight, denim-wearing sweat boxes.

In the meantime, if you meet one of the c*nts who got hold of standing tickets and put it for sale at double face value straight away, a short, sharp kick to the genitals would be much appreciated by my good self...

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

It's Herman!

Chatting with a mate at work today - I say "chatting", I mean emailing. Do people ever really talk anymore? To be fair, there's no reason to be sociological about it; he does work on another floor in the building so "talking" in the traditional sense of the word can be tricky.
God I'm rambling. I think it's because I've got DragonForce's Inhuman Rampage on and if there's one things that goes on and on and rambles and rambles, it's the 'Force. Which brings me [surprisingly] right on to my next point. Which was actually my first point (fuckin' 'ell, this was meant to be a quick post before I make some dinner...)
Okay, so emailing a mate a work today, who shall be known as Si-KO, he asked me if there was an Asian fellow in that "Dragon" band I went to see. Of course, he's on about good ol' Herman Li. Once we'd established that there was, it turns out Si-KO and Herman Li both train at the same Brazilian Ju Jitsu establishment. He'd asked "the short Asian guy with the long hair" what he did, as is polite, and Herman had replied that he was in a band. Si-KO told me he thought this meant he was unemployed and claiming dole. But lo, 'tis not so.

Imagine knowing Herman Li! Am I the only one who thinks that's cool as shitting fuck??!

Turns out Herm (I can call him that now I reckon) is a nice humble bloke - glad he's not just like that in the magazine interviews. What a thoroughly gnarly acquaintance to have.

Si-KO will be receiving a copy of Inhuman Rampage tomorrow in order to educate himself before their next meeting. He's into his hardcore so I'm not surprised he's never come across DragonForce. Can't see them touring with Sick Of It All any time soon.

There's another dude in the office who's into his Black and Death, although I've only ever seen him in Maiden and Metallica merch. This being said, I heard he was in Emperor clobber last week.

You know what? I think there's probably a little scene at my place. I might start a CD exchange club....

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Local mayhem

Being a firm supporter of all things up-and-coming in the music world (inasmuch as I like seeing unsigned bands play, that's about it), me and Hot Chick dutifully went down to our local converted toilet to watch our new mate and his band thrash one out last night. The place was rammed with at least 20 people but they served Newcastle Brown cold and less than £3 a bottle. Fuckin' A.

It was a battle of the bands-type affair, with the top two bands going through to the next stages. As there were only two bands playing, everyone was on for a good night out. First band on were As World's Collide (I think). Pretty good emo stuff, carbon copy of A Day To Remember but still worth a listen. The bass player's open string twangings left a bit to be desired for but they looked like they were having fun and more power to them.

Then came our mate's band, Rachel's Got A Flamethrower. Loud, aggressive, and painful (for the vocalist). Visually, think Annotations On An Autopsy meets Deftones. Aurally, think metalcore vocals with good old fashioned thrash 'n' roll. These guys would be good in a bigger room as they need the crowd - there was a shit load of energy there wasted on a large amount of empty space as there can't have been more than 40 people there. Still, RGAF won, and through to the next round. Very tight musically; I can see there being a pit next time.

Who'd have thought such a scene existed in the home counties, people?

Monday, 6 October 2008

My brothers, my sisters, my blood

A nice long lie-in after the DragonForce mayhem, a quick sarnie, and the trip to Brixton began. I must confess me and Hot Chick were both incredibly excited by the prospect of seeing "Mad" David Draiman and the boys rip it up for the third time.

The train was empty apart from a group of 5 emo's and a couple of amorous pierced metal heads. My Disturbed hoody got the traditional knowing nod from both parties so I knew we were all headed in the same direction. Arrived and Brixton, off to the boozer. Wandering around this place ain't the most pleasant experience but when you're in a metal army, the whole safety in numbers adage rings true! A few pints of Tuborg later (even Hot Chick, an alcopop-at-the-most kinda drinker polished off one of the "Download pints") and we were in.

Support from Shinedown was pretty good but nothing exceptional. If the CD was 2 for a tenner, it'd make up the numbers. But the atmosphere in the Academy was exceptional. Unlike DragonForce, the crowd here was older, hairier, had more tattoos and had been drinking for longer. It was on.

Disturbed have always split the metal community but in an odd way. Whereas usually you have your old skool NWOBHM blokes vs. metalcore, etc., Disturbed have divided the press and the fans. The press don't get them, don't dig them in any way. The metallers though, fruncking love them. As ol' Davey points out, every time they come back they play bigger rooms (although his "tell ten of your friends to tell ten of their friends and we'll bring this shit to the O2" was a combination of optimism and shameless self-promotion).

Despite this being the Indestructible tour, they dipped into The Sickness, Believe and Ten Thousand Fists for the material tonight. I broke my neck as the opening bars of Voices violated the air and it didn't stop. I'm pretty sure I've dislodged a couple of discs but I'm hoping the pit at December's gigs will save on any orthopedic necessities.

Land Of Confusion was a personal highlight tonight. Take a Phil Collins song, distort the guitar and growl over the lyrics and all of a sudden you've got a metal anthem. Perhaps Anthrax should look at In The Air Tonight, Municipal Waste doing Think Twice would also get my vote.

Mike Wengren's spotlit drum solo wasn't anything special but as it was after the first song in the encore, it could only lead on to one thing. As soon as the telltale opening bars to The Sickness kicked in, the room went ballistic. This song IS Disturbed. Okay, Stricken may have been used in the WWE but only major fans, teenage boys and overweight IT technicians know about this. The Sickness went Hollywood baby (the song on the end credits of Dawn Of The Dead for anyone who doesn't already know).

Draiman gave us all a motivational speech about how we'd feel stronger when we left and got the crowd going with the now-expected:

Mad Davey: "My brothers, my sisters, my blood; we are..."
4,000 oiled metallers: "DISTURBED!"

Say what you want about their early nu-metal stuff but these guys have got eleven years of graft and development under their belt now. When I first saw them back in 2000 supporting Marilyn Manson (I was working security - not a fan of Mazza, although he is a good showman) I was hooked. Okay, David Draiman still comes out strapped to a trolley with a mask on a la Hannibal Lecter, but it's all part of their charm. And you cannot beat a 90+ minute set of singalong songs, beer in hand, fist in the air. I hope they don't get big enough for the O2 as these guys are a band of the people - if they grow much more, they might forget those of us who were with them from day one....

Saturday, 4 October 2008

May the 'Force be with you

After two weeks off of the beer, I was apprehensive about a "sober" gig. So had some beers.

We turned up late and missed Turisas but to be honest, we've seen them before - fun as they are, I wasn't overly devastated. The one thing that did shock and to a degree, appall, was the fact that me and Hot Chick were amongst the oldest 10% of the clientele at Astoria last night. Big deal, says you, but with a combined age of 54, we're hardly over the feckin' hill. But as we stood there watching a group of three lads aged about nine chugging 3 fingers of beer and acting shitface rat-arsed, it suddenly hit home. I looked around, up to the balcony, around the pit - I WAS that old shaven-headed guy that I used to avoid. Mixed emotions, people, mixed emotions.

Anyone, enough of my self-realisation. The 'Force took to the stage and it began. As expected, Sam Totman and Herman Li fucking ruled. It's amazing that they play the solos virtually note for note as they sound on the albums, adding masturbatory hand signals at each other, licking the guitar strings and various other [un]necessary onstage wankery. Beautiful. However, what I wasn't prepared for was quite how piss-bollockingly amazing Dave Mackintosh is on the skins. Combine the biggest drum kit I've ever seen, cage and all, with the most frankly ridiculously fast double pedal in history and you've got a spectacle to behold. For over an hour, the bloke who can't be more than about 5-foot tall owned the stage as far as I was concerned. It must be something about being a short musician - Joey Jordisson, anyone?

Never have I seen a band have so much fun. Frederic Leclercq on the 4-strings did not stop smiling for the whole set, and even ivory tinkler Vadim was going spastic crazy on the keys. ZP Theart did a great job of getting the crowd going, with perhaps the exception of the seated section up top - I know the gig had sold out but really, seating at DragonForce??

Obviously they finished with Through The Fire and The Flames, self-indulgently introduced as "the song that made Guitar Hero III famous" and amidst a flurry of plectrums and sticks, I did notice Dave missing one cymbal but overall, they were spot on.

DragonForce really are the most ludicrous band I have ever seen. Every song follows the same formula, most of the lyrics are pretty much the same, the solos saw Sam and Herman stepping to the front of the stage and taking turns to shred and call each other a wanker for the whole set, and the thunderous double pedal continued non-stop. Nothing original about any song at all. But Judas Priest (stole that from Corey Taylor; I like it) they are tight. They have a gargantuan amount of fun and you can't watch them without smiling. They really do make sure you have a fucking good night out.

Disturbed tonight - hopefully we won't be the oldest again....

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Tickets at the ready

Me and Hot Chick are currently sitting on pairs of tickets for the following:

Alter Bridge
Black Stone Cherry
Cradle Of Filth
Slipknot/Machine Head/Children Of Bodom
Rise Against

Needless to say, things are looking up on the music front.

Having just purchased Cradle's Nymphetamine album, I was leafing through the sleeve notes at work and smiling at some of the, shall we say, provocative imagery. My boss, who's iPod is full of the likes of The Ting Tings (fuck off), Amy Winehouse (too much talent for a ming-riddled tramp) and various funky house nonsensery, decided to have a read of Dani and the boys' work himself. He got as far as the lyrics to Gilded Cunt before deciding perhaps the album wasn't for him. We've decided in a very democratic way that each Friday, we'll put someones MP3 on and listen to some music of their choice. I'm going for:

Napalm Death

Oh what fun it is to have.

Kidneys are fucked at the mo so I'm off the booze. However, with DragonForce's Ultra Beatdown tour, supported by everyone's favourite Finnish warriors Turisas tomorrow, and Disturbed touring the ever-growing-on-me fourth studio album Indestructible on Saturday, I can see this being a challenge.

Could be worse though. I could have had to watch Staind sober.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Um, hello???

So I got an email from everyone's favourite label, Roadrunner, advising me of a special one-off gig Staind were playing for charity at the Hard Rock Cafe in London. As a super special Roadrunner subscriber, I got £3 off each ticket. £30 for me and Hot Chick, only 200 tickets, intimate gig, why the hell not?
I've got about four Staind albums but I've not given them much of a listen apart from Break The Cycle, the one that really brought them into the limelight. It's got the acoustic version of Outside, where Fred "Nuwwano wayawunna hate me" Durst adds his, um, vocal, plus It's Been A While.
So in we went, all on the guest list, got our wrist bands, queued for the bar. It was at this point I felt that we had accidentally gone to a frat party. We were surrounded my massive shaven headed Americans with arms the size of melons. Now don't get me wrong, my bald self tips the scales at 14-stone but I spent so much time flexing that I left the gig with cramp in 95% of my body.

So 2 beers, a double voddy lemonade and £15 later, there we are a mere 10-feet or so from the stage. We'd been there for a good 90 minutes and then they arrived. The band we'd all been waiting for. The band that are used to playing venues ten times the size of the Hard Rock. The music kicked in and my God, they were tight. Aaron Lewis's vocal were note perfect, the guitars were entwined in harmony, the bass levels and acoustics were ideal. But they fucking sucked.

When you go to see a band you want to feel like they want to be there. Staind didn't. Lewis must have said about 4 words to the crowd in between off-mic complaints to the poor sound man about his guitar levels. He had about as must energy as a arthritic donkey on a hot day, and the fact that the sound tech behind him was looking bored the whole night kinda summed up my feelings. Now don't get me wrong, the singalongs were amazing and it was great to see Outside live - the crowd were as one, it was truly moving. However, when the same thing happened during Stone Sour's Bother, Corey Taylor was moved, thanked the crowd, and had a wee chat with us. Aaron Lewis just looked grumpy and in need of a cheeseburger.

To summarise, the band were amazing. The performance was a stimulating as a morning-after-a-few-beers dump.

Oh well - DragonForce, Turisas and Disturbed in a couple of weeks. Bring it on...

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Thank you; all 9 of you

I've been slack. Updating this blog has been, well, low on the ol' priority scale for me over the past few weeks. However, since my last monologue on the great "Folklore and Superstition" from Black Stone Cherry, I have made a number of purchases, all of which are pretty feckin' awesome.
August 25th came. I woke up, took a dump, had a cup of tea (not sure if that order is right) and headed the fuck on up to HMV to finally purchase the album I have been waiting for for months; Slipknot's "All Hope Is Gone" (obviously the special edition with the DVD and stuff). I've decided I'm not going to go into as much detail as I did with Black Stone Cherry, as this takes a long time - I'm the only one who reads this, is it worth it?!
The album is carnage. Imagine meeting a girl (or a boy, I suppose) and the very next moment being involved in some kind of Caligula-style orgy. There's no foreplay on this album, it's straight fucking in with "Gemetria". Corey slows it down in a Stone Sour way with "Dead Memories" and "Vendetta", giving the album more depth than the previous likes of "Iowa". AHIG takes key elements from their s/t first album, "Iowa" and "Volume 3" and combines them in what has to be The 'Knot's most accomplished album to date.
I also got DragonForce's "Ultra Beatdown" (again, special edition) on the same day. No need to deconstruct this - they're followed straight on from "Inhuman Rampage" with ferocious shredding, 8,000 bpm drumming and the vocals from a bastard child of Joey Tempest and Steve Perry. It's nothing complex, it's just good fun.
Essential purchase this month though has been Slipknot's "9.0 Live" album. A 2-disc annihilation of the ear drums. Thank you Slipknot, for playing "[sic]" followed by "Disasterpiece". Thank you for including the best drum solo on history. Thank you so very, very much.

And I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate myself on getting tickets for the best gig in the history of the world: Slipknot, supported by Machine Head and Children of Bodom. Just to confirm: Slipknot. Machine Fucking Head. Bodom.


Not that I'm excited.

Watch this space kids, I promise I'll update Metal Harmony more regularly....

Monday, 18 August 2008

Not just folklore

As I type this I'm taking a pleasurable meander through Black Stone Cherry's new album, "Folklore and Superstition" and frankly, they've done it again. Already I'm hooked.

It opens with "Blind Man", a song that got the crowd going at Download despite no-one knowing the words. In the same way that "Rain Wizard" punched you in the face on the first album, "Blind Man" gives you a good slap and demands that you listen. It's impossible not to tap along for the first four songs and it really does start to feel like these guys have given us another future classic.

The inclusion of piano ballad "Things My Father Said" may seem a little odd for those expecting the pure Southern rawk strummings of their s/t first album but it fits, and it has a genuine emotional tone. Still, if it's too soft, wait until "The Bitter End" appears and the balance is quickly restored. The good ol' reverb trick employed at the beginning of "Shooting Star" on the first album makes a welcome resurgence on "Long Sleeves" and "The Key" but the sound is altogether more mature.

John Fred's drumming has also improved ten-fold, although there's always the chance that this is down to more expensive production (everyone's a critic, eh?) - their forthcoming live dates will tell all. There are already some identifiable crowd-pleasers - "Peace If Free" sounds as though it's written almost specifically for a mid-gig break, where the distortion is turned off and the lighters are held aloft. I'm always a bit sceptical of songs that include huge crowd sing-a-longs on the album as it feels a bit contrived. Still, it's good to hear a good old fashioned protest song on a "modern" rock 'n' roll album. It's not just the BSC guys' hair that's keeping the 1960's alive.

The references to swamps, 'gators and general truck drivin' ol' boys gives this album a truly authentic Skynrd-esque vibe, especially with the excitable organ-into-guitar solo in "Devil's Queen". It's clear to see the relevance of the oft used Soundgarden parallels in "The Key" but the bluegrass banjo keeps it Southern all the way.

"Sunrise" has a bit of a bizarre reggae feel but again, it fits. Black Stone Cherry have dipped their toe into a number of different genres across "Folklore and Superstition", 90% of the time with great success. It's great to hear a band genuinely mature with album number two but not change so much as to leave us fans confused. These guys are still a good ol' Southern rawk band - listen to the yokel intro of "Ghost of Floyd Collins and try not to smile. They're versatile, young, passionate, and fucking good at what they do. Roll on December 14th.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

You just ask the lonely

Thumbing through a recent issue of Classic Rock magazine I stumbled across an article on the new Journey album. Time for a confession: I love Journey. There's something about "Don't Stop Believin'" that makes me want to put my arms around my wife, sit her on the back of my hog and drive off into the sunset. I don't actually have a hog but if I did, I would do this. Often.
Anyway, I was scanning the review and accompanying photo an lo, no Steve Perry! I'm sure there's a huge percentage of you who already know this but I couldn't believe he's not there! Apparently the new chap sounds just as good - will have to consult with YouTube to verify this, to be honest.

I'm glad I didn't buy tickets to see them play in London - I would have been the one retard in the crowd screaming "YOU'RE NOT STEVE! IMPOSTER!".

Nearly saw Meatloaf play at the London Motor Show last week but Bro Dude reminded me that, no matter how frankly obliterated we were, there really was no need to go and see Meatloaf. In fact, there really never is any need to see Meatloaf. My Hot Chick is not going to be happy with this post as she's a 'Loaf fan. And I suppose with this ode to Journey, I can't really talk about terrible music tastes.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

All Hope Is Still There...

Despite the lack of gigs in the next few weeks, there are a number of new album releases coming up that are pretty damn exciting. Number one on this list has to be Slipknot's All Hope Is Gone, as I've said before. However, I've got a feeling the backlash is going to really kick off with Iowa's finest.

Point A - Reading Festival, not Download
Point B - new single Psychosocial debuted on Radio 1
Point C - a huge amount of Kerrang! Coverage, which means a large portion of the metal contingent will see them as going more and more mainstream

"Psychosocial" aint, to be honest, the best track I've ever heard from them. This being said, it's pretty par for the course for them to release a radio-friendly unit shifter in the vein of "Wait and Bleed" and "Vermillion". Let's hope the album is as heavy and raw as they're promising.

Black Stone Cherry's follow up to their first s/t album is coming in a few days too - "Folklore and Superstition" is going to be fuckin' huge - can't wait for the tour later this year. They're one of those bands who never fail to deliver, both live and on CD (not that there's a huge amount to judge them on yet!)

DragonForce's new widdly-widdly outing is coming too, but I know bugger all about it yet. Let me make a prediction though - 10 songs, 7-8 minutes each, at least 5 minutes of guitar wankery. Good lads - don't change that formula!

I downloaded Trivium's new single "Kirisute Gomen" off of their forthcoming "Shogun" album. It was, to be honest, well, poop. Just plain boring. Their first album was pure hardcore, then "Ascendancy" proved to be an exceptional follow up. However, number three "The Crusade" was a little less impressive and they seem to have really lost their edge in this new tune. It's a sad but oft seen example of a band that peeks to early. I always stood up for them against the "fake metal" accusations but to be honest, I don't know how they are going to survive supporting Slayer on the forthcoming Unholy Alliance tour. Seeing as the only band who don't get caned by the Slayer crowd are Machine Head, I think the Triv boys might struggle...

Monday, 21 July 2008

All quiet on the metal front

Download came and went, Iron Maiden at Twickenham seems like a distant memory. Still, the tickets for DragonForce and Turisas, and Black Stone Cherry have arrived so there's something to look forward too. Not until the "...ber" months though, so I'm having to rely on Dr. MP4 to help me through the long lonely working days. However, my focal point now is August 25th, when Slipknot release studio album number 4 in the shape of All Hope Is Gone.

Totally stuck on Rise Against now though. The Sufferer and The Witness has to be the most consistent album I've listened to in the last year, no exception. The combination of screamo and melodic vocals to a hardcore/SoCal punk riff selection is awesome. If you've not checked Rise Against out yet, do so now. Or I will come round your house and shit on your couch.

Reading 2008 continues to have a terrible line up, which is great. Without the mighty 'Knot, it'd be nothing as far as I'm concerned. I mean, you've got your Bullets, Metallica and A7X but to be honest, seen two of them this year and Metallica are always on tour for the devoted fans anyway. I do love the little tents that, a decade ago, used to play host to the likes of Lagwagon, Dance Hall Crashers, Mad Caddies, MxPx, etc etc etc. This year they've got H2O and Pennywise - a strong performance. But over the three days, there's probably 10 bands to see which, by my reckoning, is about as worthwhile as me writing this blog and expecting people to read it.....

Still, I've learnt the main chords for Europe's Rock The Night. That officially makes me a fucking hero of our time.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Maiden Heaven

I would like to congratulate Iron Maiden for causing me more pain and suffering than any other band in my gigging history.
The day started well with a beer on Shithouse's balcony, and when our lift was starting to run a bit too late, we headed down to the train station. As we walked up to the ticket counter, the dude behind the counter looked at our band regalia and metal pin badges and simply said "Twickenham?". So on to the train we jumped, Stella in hand. With me in my Machine Fucking Head t-shirt and Shithouse in his signed Maiden denim vest (legend), we looked a treat.
Got me Maiden tour t-shirt outside Twicknham, met the other boys and in we went. Beers were chugged, horns were thrown, "MAIDEN!" was chanted.
Up first, Lauren Harris, Steve Harris's daughter. His wife must be hot as there is no was she gets her looks from him. She wouldn't have been on the tour without dad being in the band - pretty girl, pretty pants music.

And so cometh Within Temptation. I cannot get enough of these guys and as with Download, Sharon Den Adel owned Twickenham with her awesome vocals. It started to fill up a bit when these guys were on, and continued to do so as the much over-hyped Avenged Sevenfold took the stage. Bottles started flying - not into the band, but in the crowd. It was truly a spectacle, until one poor sod got a full pint of piss in the chops...
I'm not suggesting A7X aren't a good band but that's it. They're good. The guitarists are exceptional, the drummer is fantastic and to be honest, M Shadows is a versatile vocalist but for some reason, they aren't anything more than, well, good. I nodded my head to The Beast and The Harlot, I taped my feet to Bat Country, I applauded politely as they left the stage with a somewhat sheepish expression on their faces when someone went down in the pit and the medics were called. They were, um, okay.

As we were right down the front, there was no way I was moving, despite my bladder being as resilient as that of a 17-year-old Labrador's. So, empty pint glass in hand, I unleashed a couple of "pit pisses", which were then poured onto the hallowed rugby turf. No chucking it from me; that's unpleasant.

Maiden came on to the traditional Churchill's Speech, and me and Shithouse were within touching distance of Bruce's spit. 2 Minutes To Midnight and Run To The Hills saw the pit going insane - I lost my hat and got one of my surface piercings ripped out - but a highlight for me has to have been Fear Of The Dark. I turned round and saw 55,000 metallers going "woo-oh-oh oh-oh-oh, woo-oh-oh oh-oh-oh" - it was a truly emotional time. One teenage lad started having some kind of panic attack as he couldn't breathe - not entirely sure what he expected in the centre of the pit at a heavy metal gig attended by 55,000, but what do I know about yoof nowadays??

2 hours later, we stumbled out exhausted, bruised, bleeding and inexplicably topless. £10-worth of cheeseburgers later, we hit the road.

Maiden completely blew my mind. I've always liked the band, they have some amazing tunes but I am a complete convert. Never in my experience has a band had such a draw and such an impact on so many people of so many ages. 90% of people were in their Maiden colours, everyone knew the words and the pit was a thing of beauty. It was hardcore, aggressive, mayhem, and full of love. The whole day was a celebration of all things metal, from Within Temptation's Gothic operatics to the emo-screamo wailings of the Avenged Sevenfold heartthrobs. Iron Maiden put together a perfect lineup to cater to a whole stadium of music fans and for that, they should be exalted and applauded.

Iron Maiden, we salute you.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Who needs friends? Me, actually.

I must apologise for the lacklustre Download summary. It is virtually impossible to sum up with mere words the vibe you get from tens of thousands of rockers drinking, eating and circle of deathing for three days. My advice to you online cartel would be the following; check out the Throwdown pit on YouTube - if you don't want to be there in 2009, shame on you.
To explain the title of this entry, one of my dear friends, a car salesman who we shall call Shithouse (a name based on his size before his recent beer amnesty, street smarts and surname) owed me a very small sum of cash. Shithouse is one of the world's biggest Maiden fans and not only has he an extensive back catalogue of classic metal (oh fuck, I still have a Megadeth CD of his...) but he's also seen Heart live. Bow down, fools.
So anyway, Shithouse calls me and says "MADman, I've a spare ticket to Maiden. Coming?" To which one replies "I'm in squire, and thank you for your kind offer."
To summarise, free ticket to see Maiden supported by A7X and Within Temptation. You see, his lass wanted seats, he wants to be at the front "giving it plenty (sic)" so who better to call than everyone's favourite freshly-pierced metal head? That's me, by the way.

I bought my limited edition Eddie slip-ons today..........

Friday, 20 June 2008

It came, we saw, they conquered

After months of hype, grief, excitement, anticipation, tears, beers, Cyril Sneers, and potatoes, Download 2008 is no more. What a flucking weekend.

Stopping at the service station en route we were greeted by a number of sleeved-up metalers and one fat topless chap eating a civilised cooked breakfast - they were obviously headed the same way. A breakfast bap and Big One Brekkie later and we hit the road again.

Day 1 - Hostile impressed from the Gibson stage, and the gruelling death metal of Black Dahlia Murder certainly proved that we were at Download. For all those forum geeks (myself kinda included) that thought the festival was losing it's metal heritage, hush thy mouths. A personal highlight for me was seeing Rise Against perform classics Ready To Fall and Prayer For The Refugee - they ripped the crowd a new one with a perfect mix of hardcore and pop punking keeping us all confused as to whether to dance like a bell or throw the horns. Fuckin' A.

Disturbed continue to be one of my favourite bands; ever since I first saw Mad Davey come onstage in his Hannibal Lecter clobber 8 or so years ago when they supported Marilyn Manson, I've been a fan. THere is nothing as rousing as 10,000 fists in the air when they sing, um, 10,000 Fists. Particularly in the chorus, when the aforementioned fists go in the air...

But it was all about KISS on day 1. You can't beat slightly flabby, topless, middle-aged men in facepaint shooting fire out of their guitars for two hours for entertainment. Not playing Crazy Nights was a bit odd but throw Detroit Rock City and I Wanna Rock And Roll All Night in there and it was virtually a perfect gig. Pure theatre, these boys.

Day two was more beer-fuelled mayhem. Bullet, 36 Crazyfists, A Day To Remember - all sweet as. Biffy Clyro were sub par but what can you do?

I must apologise for this blog post. It's one of those ones where there's too much to write and I've lost my mojo with it. Plus, writing about Download reminds me I'm not there any more, which sucks huge hairy balls.

I can't help but feel this could go on and on and get a bit boring. So my summary is as follows:

Beers - 37
Best bands - HIM, Alter Bridge, BFMV, KISS, Disturbed, Municipal Waste, Black Stone Cherry
Worst bands - Biffy, Madina Lake, Job For A Cowboy
Food of choice - cheseburgers, some weird potato dish
Oddest image - men dresed as monkeys sodomising each other whilst the Elephant Man watched
Best hat - a chicken

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Come rain or shine...

...we'll be there in a matter of hours now. Well, days. Not many. One, in fact.

Download 2008 has arrived so this will be my last entry before standing in a wet/muddy/hot/sweaty (tbc) field listening to popular beat combos such as Judas Priest and Alter Bridge.
Me and Hot Chick have pretty much planned who we're seeing already so as to avoid an embarrassing domestic situation outside the Throwdown slam pit. We've agreed on most things but the Cavalera Conspiracy vs. Lostprophets war still rages. The way I see it, Lostprophets are going to play their best stuff last so we only need to catch 15-20 minutes. Speculative at best.

Most excited about:
Alter Bridge
H.I.M (again)
Disturbed (again)
Judas Priest
Cavalera Conspiracy
Black Stone Cherry
36 Crazyfists
Apocalyptica feat. Christina Scabbia
Potential sunshine
Phantom meat burgers

Least excited about:
£15-a-pint beer
Getting the shits (will happen with aforementioned phantom meat burger consumption)
Simple Plan
Simple Plan's hair
Simple Plan's fans' hair

So, beers and cheers up North, maggots. See you there. I'll be the stocky bloke with no hair in a black t-shirt.........

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Seems like doomsday's come early this year...

I finally managed to find Atreyu's "A Deathgrip On Yesterday" album after months of looking. Turns out it was in a CD case. Imagine. Seen them twice now and both times have been mightily impressed. Not to sure about the bit where I got my teeth chipped in the pit last time but it's all par for the course. I'm still surprised that the fellow got his foot up to head height. Kids nowadays.
I wasn't sure about their new album "Lead Sails Paper Anchor" when I first heard it - my whole thang for Atreyu was the archetypal screamo/metalcore vibe, so was a bit taken aback by some of the glam rock clap-a-long tunes on "Lead Sails...". Couple of listens though, it's a bloody masterpiece. Bought "Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses" today as I'm in an angsty frame of mind and to be honest, only Atreyu, 36 Crazyfists or Caliban will really do.
That's me done for tonight as I need to work out "Ex's and Oh's" on guitar. Oh, it's going fine, thanks for asking.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Skins to strings

As you can probably guess from my previous posts, I'm a skinsman, and have been ever since good ol' mum and dad entertained my teenage wishes and bought me a kit aged about 14. After many months of playing virtually all of Green Day's "Dookie" album with my mate Perrett, throwing in the occasional Nirvana and the opening few bars of "Girl From Mars" by Ash (it gets boring after it kicks in at the start, so we just stopped), I had to leave for uni and so leave the kit. 'Twas a sad day. But in the years that followed I've become a professional desktop tapper, much to the annoyance of, well, everyone I've ever met.
My hot ass wife recently bought me a small electric set, complete with foot pedals, so I've been nailing some Cradle of Filth and NOFX on that for the last few months but the time has come for me to make the plunge. Down with the sticks and up with the strings.
Bro dude is a shit hot self taught bassist with an arsenal of axes, so he was my first port of call. Obviously he nailed rhythm guitar too so had a six-string laying about which is now sitting in casa del MADman. So far I've mastered a C.
Next stop, Free Bird.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Iron Priest

Get my rant published in this months' Metal Hammer - so far I'm a published author in Metal Hammer, Kerrang and Sega Power magazines. I think I should be respected and admired in the writer community for my contribution to mankind. I mean, I fail to see how Anne Frank's Diary can be any more insightful than my request for cheats for Mortal Kombat back in the early 90s.
I was also glad to discover that my metal mistress has now discovered Iron Maiden ("WTF?!" I hear you cry). Despite being more than aware of their work she'd never really, well, "absorbed" their beauty. The times have changed though; she's a convert. I'm still working on getting some of the toilet Radio friendly guitar guff off her iPod but apparently variety is the spice of life...
Listening to the old Devildriver joint a lot recently too, purely because the song "Grinfucked" has given me a new expression to describe what my boss does to me weekly - no, this music blog is not about to turn into a gripe about how I hate my job, things are tough, and so on and so forth. For if I go down that route, I may as well hang up my horns right now - FIGHT THE POWER KIDS!
Cannot wait to see Priest play "Breaking The Law" at Download - 80,000 metal/emo/grunge/screamo/punk/goth/spatula/porridge kids chanting along is going to be pretty huge.
See you there. Unless you're watching Simple Plan on the second stage...

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Thank you Coal Chamber

Saturday's Defenders Of The Faith tour (3 Inches Of Blood, DevilDriver, Arch Enemy, Opeth)marked a momentous occasion in my gigging career. Not only did I get to revel in the brutality of Arch Enemy for the second time in less than 6 months but I got to see, in the flesh, the man who penned such modern day classics as "Loco", "Big Truck" and "Sway". Ladles and Genitalmen, Mr. Dez Fafara (alright, he presented an award at the 2007 Golden Gods so I've "seen" him before but you get my point. I hope. No? Are you stupid?)
Dez is potentially one of the hardest men in metal, with his relentless martial art training and frankly odd chin tattoos. This is reflected in DevilDriver, the brutal band that clinched the deal for me when I was deciding whether to buy DOTF tickets. However, it is key for us to remember that this man originally fronted the oddest metal band for many moons in the shape of Coal Chamber. My long-standing bezzie mate BigJM and I used to listen to "Big Truck" as teenage SoCal punk-lovin' scumbags and wonder what the underlying theme was. What does it all mean? Is it an elegant critique on capitalist oppression? Is it a damning riposte on the commercialism of the music industry? Is it really a song about a lorry? The decision is yours.
We got to the gig late so missed 3 Inches Of Blood - disappointing but not critical. I did miss the first couple of DevilDriver tunes which was a pisser but my beautiful wife let me sweat my way down to the front whilst she got the beers in. No, really. She is that perfect.
Dez's vocals ripped me a new arse/ear hole and John Boecklin's double pedal was frankly awesome. A fucking epic live bad; go and see them or I will kill you all.
Arch Enemy did the business yet again. Daniel Erlandson's drum solo was a personal highlight of mine (seeing the theme? The kit's in my mum and dad's loft, alright?).
I am still in non-sexual awe of Angela Gossow and have been since they played alongside Machine Head, DragonForce and Trivium at the Black Crusade (I missed Shadows Fall that time - must organise my travel better). How something so small can make a noise so imposing is beyond me. I did enjoy the teenage scene kid standing behind me attempting to growl along, before experiencing a perfectly timed coughing fit, although this may have been caused by him choking on a perfectly straightened fringe. Hopefully his blue WKD eased the pain.
We left before Opeth. "Oh my God, why?!" I hear you cry. Because, lazys and Germoline, I felt like it. For MADman is unpredictable like that, so keep reading this thing and see what I do....mwah ha ha ha.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

He's so Angry!

The Download line-up is coming along nicely, with stages and days seemingly getting confirmed as the dates draw ever closer. During my usual moment of YouTube research, I thought I recognised the lead singer of Rose Tattoo. Upon further inspection, I saw that lo, 'twas none other than Angry Anderson.
Now kids, grap a cushion, sit on the floor and stop listening to Bring Me The Horizon a moment. Angry Anderson penned and voiced one of the greatest songs ever to grace televisual weddings - Scott and Charlene's wedding song from Neighbours.
Am I the only one who finds this amazing? Am I the only one who is completely starstruck by the prospect of seeing a man who's song defined a whole generation of soft-focus TV mullet marriages perform in the flesh?
And will I be the only one screaming for them to play this song in a tent full of metallers??

Tuesday, 22 April 2008


It's been a few days since I last updated this bad boy - unfortunately my schizophrenia has meant corporate whore MADman has been in charge of my body. This guy insists on working on PowerPoint presentations and attending IT-related conferences. It's a dry existence.
But on to the fun stuff. More bands have been announced for Download, which is muchos exciting for all. There's not a lot of big names which has terrified the "where are AC/DC and Machine Head" brigade. It seems that, once you've started listening to the classic rock and metal bands, anything post-1995 is automatically emo/gay/pop. Interesting.
Also interesting is the people that insist on leaking the Download line up. However, my favourite forum-based bantery is those who complain about the leaks, yet read and reply to the threads. It seems to be that age-old everso English need to bitch about everything and everyone. I would imagine these people also watched Robocop in slow motion and posted on the Internet Movie Database that when Robocop throws Clarence Boddicker through the big fuck off window, the glass actually smashed before he hits it. So amazing I could, no, just have climaxed.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank one Download forum contributant for posting the best comment in interactive web-based shenanigan history:
"Reading may have RATM, Metallica and Slipknot but remember, you're never more than three people away from a c*nt"

Well played, sir.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Fantastic Max...worst pun ever

So I'm working my way through the Download 2008 line-up, still waiting for some of the big guns to sign up (come on Slipknot for the love of God!) to see if there's any little beauties yet to be discovered. Alter Bridge have done a f**king good job of making me want to go more and more so I thought I'd give the new Cavalera Conspiracy joint a crack.

From the really quite terrible "Fantastic Max" title, you can probably tell I'm pretty impressed. Max's vocal screams of the old Sepultura days - his style hasn't changed through way back then, through Soulfly, and up to now, and it's great that the Cavalera bro's are buddies again.

I can see the pit at Download now - angry, angry people. I just hope Madina Lake aren't on directly before them....

Monday, 31 March 2008

Fingers crossed.......

It's official - Reading 2008 has Slipknot. Whilst maintaining my positive outlook and villification of all those griping about Download 2008, this does make me nervous.

Rage Against The Machine and Metallica are strong headliners (I'll take or leave The Killers), definitely more "metal" than The Offspring and Lost Prophets, but let's make a list:

Reading 2008
Good solid headliners
Might get some of the SoCal punk/ska cartel along in the smaller tents

So many bands beginning with "The" that it makes me want to the cut the my the balls the off.
Will be full of people who think heavy metal = Guns & Roses
The Feeling are there

Download 2008
Alter Bridge, BFMV, Within Temptation - nice
Loads of beer and possibly more manly phantom meat stalls than Reading

None of my big guns are there yet....apart from H.I.M, that is.

The big question is, wll the mighty 'Knot make my summer and get to Donnington? And will Fear Factory surprise us all and bring some industrial aural damge to the month of June?

Fingers crossed............

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Why can't we all get along?

So I've finally succumbed to the temptation to become that guy with the opinions online. I've started this blog to ask a simple question - why can't we all get along? Clearly I don't mean this is in a tree-hugging, nuclear weapon-disarming, Bernard Matthews turkey-releasing way but more in a sense of, why do people decide to complain constantly about music and bands?

Every gig I've been to recently, of which there are many, has included the two dudes who bitch for the duration of the set about how shitty the band are, how conventional the music is, and various other tired tirades which, let's be honest, are of no real value to man, woman or ferret.

I've recently bought tickets to Download 2008 as a present for my lurvly wife. This alternative music festival has been causing more controversy in the music world since them four scousers said something about Jesus. Why? The line up may not be amazing but there's enough metal and good old fashioned rock on there for everyone - and they're only about a third done. Not all the bands will be playing guitar with the severed head of a virgin dove whilst defeacating into the hair of their dead grandmother but surely the likes of Throwdown and Job For A Cowboy can't be seen as anything other than metal?

We are a nation of complainers but is not the whole point of the metal scene to embrace the different and be proud of our acceptance of diversity? Or do we really just want to feel hard because we like tough bands?