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Monday, 30 March 2009

A frankly Dir, Duff announcement...

See what I did there? Duff McKagan's Loaded and Dir En Grey have confirmed Download, dumbass.

It's been a relatively quiet week on the music announcement front - Five Finger Death Punch and Dir En Grey are a pretty exciting addition to an already arse-stretchingly awesome Download 2009. 5FDP (as the cool kids call them) have a pretty solid metalcore sound but there's some groove in there and I'm interested to find out more. Dir En Grey are a bit of an oddity. Hailing from Japan, these guys have been retardtastically classed as anywhere between Rammstein, HIM, Slipknot, Pantera, just about every fuckin' band in the world. I personally think they're a mix of STEPS and Mortician. Jokes. Essentially, there's a dark atmosphere surrounding their tunes that stinks of Nine Inch Nails but being sung completely in Japanese, the ambiance is a touch more intense. Plus, the fact that lead singer Kyo is clearly a few wanks short of a teenage boy's weekend alone helps - his penchant for fish hooking his mouth until the blood runs down his face and scratching his chest and face bloody and raw during the set has caused many to take note. Style over substance? Wait and see, my pretty monkeys.

A welcome addition is Lawnmower Deth; spasticated death metal from Nottinghamshire at it's finest. Their cover of "Kids In America" is now legendary, and with band members that include Qualcast "Koffee Perkulator" Mutilator on vocals and Explodin' Dr Jaggers Flymo behind the skins, you can kinda tell it's going to be a shitbox giggle.

Coming soon; I'm going to see Flight 666 and you're probably not, plus Sisters Of Mercy with bro dude.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Eat my line up

As y'all know, I've been tending to update Metal Harmony post-gig only of late. However, I feel it's time to reflect upon, nay, discuss one of the greatest things to happen to the modern world since dead sheep got thrown into pitta and served at a reasonable price until well into the early hours of the morning. I am of course, referring to Download 2009.

It started well. The first announcement gave us Slipknot, Motley Crue, Devildriver, The Prodigy and Korn. Strong shit. And it's continued to get better and better. Trivium, the might Def Leppard, WhitesnakeZZTopBlackStoneCherryLacunaCoilAAAAAAAARRRRGGH! So much quality, so little time!

As you can probably tell, one is a wee bit excited. Even backwards hat-wearing camel rapist Fred Durst and his crew of large biceped keg drinkers from Limp Bizkit are going to be a laugh. I challenge any one of you to listen to "My Generation" or "My Way" from the "Chocolate Starfish" album and not do a slightly embarrassing 'bobbing head up and down, moving feet a bit like at a school disco, making up gang signs with your hands' dance. Put them in with Korn, Papa Roach, and pioneers of the genre Faith No More and you've got yourself a fuckin' fun wigga-tastic day.

The organisers have managed to cater for all g-g-generations this year. My teens saw the likes of Marilyn Manson and Slipknot rising through the ranks from annoying angry helmets to school massacre inspiring powerhouses. Then there's the Leppard, 'Snake, Top, Tesla and Crue. I have a feeling the backcombing and waistcoats will be out in force. Combine this with the prog metallings of Dream Theatre, Southern rasping of Black Stone Cherry and disease-infested groupie nailing of Buckcherry and the bag couldn't be more mixed.

However, there is one band that I was not expecting. Not hoping for. Dare I say it, I couldn't have even dreamed it.

The one...

The only...


I nearly cried happy pant tears when I saw this addition. Having checked out Arnel Pineda on the Tube of Youness, I was pleasantly surprised. In my last Journey-focused waffle ("You just ask the lonely", Sunday, 10 August 2008) I expressed my concerns as to how anyone could touch Steve Perry's unique vocal style but to be fair, the young Filipino boy don't do too bad. Better than I do anyway. I sound like I've my danglers trapped in a bear trap when I try to sing along.

In summary, Download 2009. Fuck yeah.


Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The pits

A week that kicked off with Metallica on the Monday ended with Rise Against on the Friday. Let's just take a wee minute to appreciate how fucking intense a week of music that is!



I'd been out since 13:30 pounding beers due to a well-timed leaving do at work so by the time I met Bro Dude, I was on my way to being well oiled. We hit the Crobar, London's premier heavy metal dive, for a couple of cheeky Newcastle Browns and a couple of rollies, and offski.

I've never been to Camden Roundhouse but my first opinion was "My, how awfully civilised", as the legions of punk rock reprobates poured in. We met with Hot Chick beforehand, and got into the venue for about 20:00. Just in time for Flobots. Oh great; fashionably political rap.

Hell no. I went in completely ambivalent expecting little and was hugely impressed. The blend of hand-plucked violin, smooth rap, rhythmic drums and bass groove completely got me and you could tell that, although 90% of the crowd probably had no idea who these guys were, the opinions were high. Flobots got a fierce reception when they finished with recent single "Handlebars" and left the stage; they thoroughly deserved it.

But then the band we were they to see kicked us all in the fucking face. I can't even remember which song came first (perhaps due to the frankly hilarious amount of booze I had consumed by this point) but I left Bro Dude and Hot Chick, and hit the pit. And shit my ballsack, was it a pit. The majority of songs in the early part of the set came from my favourite "Sufferer And The Witness" album and despite my trying to leave the pit, songs like "Injection" and "Bricks" kept me going shitfuck pony buggery crazy. "Drones" caused a ridiculous frenzy (that might have been the first one, actually...) and as they kicked in to "Collapse" from their newest album "Appeal To Reason" I went over the top. A successful surf to the front was combined with the realisation that I had lost both of my shoes. And t-shirt.

There is something haunting about Tim McIlrath's vocals; the guy just commands that you listen to the lyrics as well as the harsh yet melodic tones. I think only Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy sounds so similar live as on record. Although Tim didn't interact a huge amount with the crowd, Rise Against did exactly what they came to do. The passion of the politics, the ferocity of the crowd and the stealing of the shoes all combined to make an epic experience. We left feeling like we'd been to a seminar on how to be a fucking hardcore punk rock band.

Going through Rise Against's back catalogue, it's difficult to find any stinkers. I mean, some of the acoustic protest songs are a bit simple, but so what? They're a punk band, retard. They play with a fire that singes your bollocks. The fans are insane. The pits are violent but compassionate and the band really give a fuck. I mean, really give a fuck.

Political bands that matter are hard to find today; Rise Against may be a decade old but with their constant relevance, there's another few years in them yet. I fuckin' hope.

The day that finally came

The day arrived, and me and Shithouse kicked off the beers at 13:30 in true heavy metal style. For at that point, we were only five hours away from the Dark Lords and by arse, the excitement was running like the blood of a slaughtered dragon (not sure why I've gone all Manowar here but it's my blog, so whatever...)

Bandy picked us up, and off we went, three fucking metallers with inflatable guitars in a company Vauxhall Vectra. For 'tis how we roll. We got to the O2 after a rousing chorus of the Kill 'Em All album en route and set off in search of a beer. Met up with Metal-R from my work, then the four of us hit the bar. We sold the car so we could afford the second round in the Guitar Hero bar, and by now me and Shithouse were a tad beered up.

We were all keen to catch Sword and Machine Fucking Head so took our seats relatively early doors. Sword, I must confess, I knew very little about but after an impressive, prog-inspired few songs, I can see them being a band I take an interest in.

Machine Head didn't have the same energy as the last few times I've seen them but in all fairness, this wasn't their fault. The mass appeal of Metallica means that the front standing area was a mix of old rockers, young emos, and every type of person in between. For this reason, the fucking bat shit donkey rape carnage of the circle pit you'd expect was little more than a couple of people fidgeting around, occasionally grazing the person next to them. Even my inspirational shout of "START A CIRCLE PIT YOU FUCKING PUSSIES!" didn't set them off. Strange.

Machine Head limped through a much more family-friendly set than usual but it wasn't for the want of trying. Rob Flynn's calls for a pit were greeted with a couple of moments where it looked like it may go but alas, the front was a bunch of gaylords.

Not too long after the Bay Area gods left the stage, house lights went down.

It was beginning.

The crowd were on their feet.

And fuck me didn't they start well.

Opening with a track off the new album was bold but inspired. "That Was Just Your Life" threw the crowd into a frenzy (still no pit though) which continued for the next few songs. The positioning of the stage made this an even better spectacle than was expected - friends have been to the O2 and seen bands with the stage at one end, never positioned dead centre of the arena. We all had a great view, the acoustics were awesome (Bandy had a few issues with it but he'd had 3 Pro Plus and 4 Red Bulls - he could have been raped in the ear by a Silverback and would barely have noticed) and the interaction was something else.

As "One" opened, my neck was at breaking point but we kept the momentum going. In all honesty, the double-pedal breakdown in the middle of the song was pretty fucking terrible by Lars, and there was a couple of hits that he clearly missed but the crazy little bastard had so much energy, I think I was the only sad twat who noticed.

My lighter ran out of petrol during "Nothing Else Matters" but this tune was probably my highlight of the show. Metallica's haunting epic being backed by 20,000 loyal fans, in an atmospherically lit venue the size of a football stadium. And the fact they ended and went straight for "Enter Sandman" only exemplified their greatness and absolutely mastery of the crowd.

Ending with "Seek and Destroy" meant we all left on a high. Sorry, let me rephrase that. We left on a monumental, 10-storey high with sea views and personal helipad. My one criticism, and this is not of the band, was the lacklustre front of the crowd. Iron Maiden at Twickenham was fight-for-your-life carnage; this could have been as good but the cross-over nature of Metallica's music meant that the range of those at the front was so great that it never really kicked off. Me and Shithouse tried to storm the crowd but the ever vigilant security guards stopped us pretty sharpish. Which is probably just as well; I don't think they were ready for about 30-stone of drunken windmilling.

To summarise, in essence, I would like to say, Metallica owned the O2. They were the Masters, we were the Puppets.

Boom boom.

Faith No More to headline?? I fucking like your style boys! Journey as a rumoured addition? Get that in and I'll touch you all in a sexy place...