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Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Rain, brutality and art

I'm on the train, it's summer, it's pissing with rain, and my super special mega fan fuck off gnarly edition of DevilDriver's 'Pray for Villains' still hasn't turned up, despite the fucking thing being released over two weeks ago. I can only assume the American distributors are sending it to me by retarded bicycle courier.

So in theory, I should be in a bit of a shitty mood. Am I fuck. "But why ever not?" I hear none of you ask, let alone care. You see, the kind people at MetalAsFuck are currently seeking accreditation for the forthcoming Bloodstock festival, which would mean a press pass for this MADman, enabling me to chuck the ol' horns up to the likes of Amon Amarth, Carcass, Arch Enemy, Cradle Of Filth and...wait for it...Europe (fuck yeah!). So, fingers crossed. Are they crossed? Then I'll continue.

Also just around the corner, straight on for 200 yards and second turning on the left is London's Metalfest 3; a celebration of all things horrible taking place in Camden on August 8th. Headlined by Download-impressers Sylosis this 8-hour orgy of all that is savage looks pretty shit hot.

On a slightly less brutal note, and bringing a bit of culture to Metal Harmony, I command you lot to check out the art of Simon Mitchell. I've known this punk reprobate for about a decade and his love of the traditionally mohawked way has lead him to work on posters and album art for a number of bands, including Fat Wreck favourite The Dickies. If you're a fan of cartoons and being fucked up, check out the link in my list.

I've also just reviewed the new album by Cain's Offering for MetalAsFuck so have a read of that too.

More band shit and inexplicable waffling to come soon folks...

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

How hard is it to get a sandwich?

I know it's often hilariously touted as a "typically British pass time, a-ha, a-ha" but I fucking hate queuing. I also hate being hungry. Ergo, being hungry and in a queue makes me a little bit the wrong side of pissed off.

As I work in London's glorious den of drug-hazed sexual iniquity that is Soho, I'm surrounded by eateries from every corner of the globe. However, I tend to bring my own lunch in - please see my opening sentence. But today this wasn't possible so I had to venture out into the detritus-filled suit swamp that surrounds my office.

I am a simple man of simple means. A nice sandwich was all I required. Plus, I was hoping to find something that didn't require me to sell a kidney to afford.

Once I'd waded through the sea of flamboyant homosexuals and wannabe socialites to my destination, I saw the queue and though "oh deary me, that seems awfully long", or words to that effect, so continued my trek.

This happened 6 more times.

6 fucking times.

It's hot outside, I'm sweating, and now I'm eating a disgusting flaccid salad from a chain store super pharmacy I shall call "Shoes" to avoid any aggro. I have spent half of my lunch hour avoiding the over-sized handbags and oh-so-Bohemian flowing garments of a million wankers and am now in a terrible mood.

Listening to Type O Negative's "Dead Again" was a terrible decision too.

I know this isn't a very metal post but fuck it, you've read it now.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Sound of progress

A mention from a friend, a Tweet on a social networking site - a couple of ways in which I'd heard about UK progressive metallers Stone Circle. As you may already know, I have a raging boner for unsigned UK metal bands so have given these guys a good listen.

The first song, "Eastern Skies" leads you to make the embarrassingly obvious Opeth comparison but cards on the ol' table, it pretty much sounds exactly like Opeth. In every way. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But I'm not really a prog fan.

Did I not mention that? Oh dear.

This being said, "Crystal Burial" is a solid outing, despite opening as a virtual carbon copy of Coheed and Cambria's "Welcome Home". The introductory guitar harmony runs for the first minute or so but rather than Claudio Sanchez's slightly whingey babblings we're greeted with Joe Ashwin's "two pints of Coke in quick succession burp"-sounding growl. Mikael Akerfeldt would be proud. The Spanish guitar style break is impressive and as the song kicks in you can feel a crescendo building but for me, maybe a little bit of synth to add another level here. No? Fuck you then. I think Ashwin does a good job throughout "Crystal Burial" of keeping the listener engaged, and wade through the first few minutes of this song to find a frankly staggering moment of calm which is unexpected, and I fucking loved it.

"Plague" kicks off bizarrely sounding a bit like Alter Bridge's "White Knuckle" but with vocals you'd only get out of Myles Kennedy if you poured molten iron into his throat and threw him in a cement mixer. The blastbeats are a bit, um, well, unconvincing. Drummer Sam Hill clearly ain't Derek Roddy but to give him his dues, this ain't really death metal.

Then something irregular happens. "Parchment" shows an awesome synergy between Joe Ashwin and Tom Skelton but to be brutal, I don't get this song at all. It's a great indie singalong but I didn't come hear to wear thick glasses, put on a cardigan, go to Camden and generally be a cunt; I came here to rock and this song doesn't. It fits in like a 12" strap at playgroup. It's like ordering a pint of Guinness and getting an egg sandwich. It's just not right.

"Nosferatu" is safer ground for Stone Circle. The rhythm section get more of an outing here, with bass man James Pearce accompanied by a bit more enthusiasm on the kick drum during the slower sections. It smells a bit like Ashwin's throat's giving up though; the belly-deep anger of the first couple of tunes seem a tad tinny but as I always say with MySpace reviews, a lot of that shit's down to the fact this ain't done in Abbey Road.

"Purgatory" for me has the most solid opening of all the songs. Everyone meaty here; guitars are low, vocals are lower, bass is throbbing. But again, it just, well, goes on. There are so many layers it's difficult to really get in to the groove of the tune.

Maybe it's just me though? Maybe I don't get prog and am subsequently a bellend? I can cope with prog if it's a hot day, I've a beer in my hand, I'm sitting on the ground with Hot Chick, smoking a fag, chilling in general, and there's other shit going on. It's awesome music to have on in the background but it's not my scene in terms of standing in a room, eyes front, know what I mean?

I don't want this to come across negative as it really isn't. Stone Circle are fucking good at what they do. If you're a fan of the Opeth's and Dream Theatre's of this world you would be absolutely fucking retarded not to like this band. Click on the MySpace page; listen for yourself.

But with all prog I always feel a bit empty. Damn that fucking egg sandwich.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Not something for the train journey

There are some nice things in the world. A cold beer in the sunshine on a hot day, the smell of a fresh steak on a barbecue, the scream of Metro Station's fans as the lead singer is pushed under a train.

There are some things that aren't nice, like people with halitosis yawning, genocide, warm lager. And Sa-Da-kO

Not to be confused with commuter time-hemorrhage Sudoku, Sa-da-kO are a five-piece death/grind band from way up North. There's a distinctly oriental theme to these bruiser's blogs so I can make the educated assumption that the name is taken from the scary long-haired chick that crawls out of the TV at the end of The Ring. However, this is a big hit with MADman as I'm a huge fan of Japanese culture, so was intrigued to dig into their MySpace. And they are not nice.

Demo tunes "rEd" and "Name Your God" open the set of eight songs in the kind of noise you'd expect if Lamb Of God walked up to Atreyu in a chainsaw factory and called their mum's a bunch of slags. The immediately harsh guitar slaps you round the chops and in my opinion, vocalist Jim Arnold absolutely shreds his throat to open the demo. In fact, it seemed a bit rude sitting down whilst listening to "Name Your God" and I felt I should try and get a wall of death going with Hot Chick. There's a vocal break that has Dimmu Borgir-like qualities and reminded me a great deal of the initial slow down in "The Serpentine Offering", only with less Nordic atmosphere.

The third tune "The Struggle" didn't felate me in the same way as the openers but, with similarities to Disturbed's "Sons Of Plunder" on the intro, it's still worthy of some ear time. My one possible criticism about the first four songs is that "Ju-on" could have gone into a mental halfbeat breakdown after the first couple of bars; this tune has the potential to create fucking carnage in the pit so I would have liked a to hear a bit of variation here.

"It Grows" shows a Black Dahlia Murder style to Jim's vocal and, if properly produced, should be on a demo. I can see legs, arms, bottles of piss and babies being chucked around a pit once this piece reaches full swing. "False Prophecy" gives us a traditional "bit from a horror film" intro, with a poor woman being terrorised by some sort of mean demon types, before we get toe-punted in the cock by Jim and the crew as the song kicks in. Interestingly, this number takes us back to the horror narrator midway through, giving an interesting depth to an otherwise pretty traditional thrash chugger.

The last couple of tunes lose the initial impact for me but overall, this is a fucking fantastic display of garage death metal. If Jim Arnold can hold on to his vocal chords before they rupture into some kind of pissing gore shower, I can see myself banging my head off of a stage in front of this bunch of reprobates in the not too distant future.

Check them out in my "Cool Shit" list.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

A day of new stuff...

First and foremost, big thanks to Manda Ashby at In Skin, Tunbridge Wells, for a painless couple of hours resulting in the epically good bit of ink you can see at the bottom of this page. If you need any serious tatt work done, give MADman a shout and I'll put you in touch. A load of our crew have work from Manda and every piece is fucking ace.

Following on from a nice new bit of scarring, I dutifully adjourned to the public house for light ale and civilised conversation. One of these conversations was with SNM, our resident Namibian mentalist. When he's not challenging people to drink their body weight in Jaegermeister, SNM is a follower of the metal church and suggested I have a wee looky at African metal band K.O.B.U.S; as a wannabe scribe, it was my duty to do so.

K.O.B.U.S. sing entirely in Afrikaans so with the exception of "fuck", you can understand pretty much sod all in terms of lyrics. However, I've yet to meet anyone who can sing along word for word with George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher so this really isn't a problem. The first track I experienced was "Honger", which is a simple but effective three-minute chug that no doubt incites absolute bedlam when played to the fans. Then only problem I had with the song is the accompanying video. It looks like a couple of pretentious students have tried to remake The Shining, Phantom Of The Opera and The Prodigy's infamous "Smack My Bitch Up" video in their parent flat on a budget of £20. Quite frankly, laughably bad. But that's beside the point. "Honger" is a stamp-around-with-an-angry-face belter with real parallels to be drawn with Motorhead in terms of the vocal style, speed and the guitar tone. Combine this with a Max Cavalera-esque pitch to vocalist Francois Breytenbach Blom's rantings and you've got a serious metal moment.

"Tienerangs" (roughly translated as "Teenage Angst") is subtitled and as such, makes it a bit easier to understand. As you can probably gauge from the title, the tune is savage assault on all things whingey and emo, with numerous suggestions that the perpetrators of regular complaints should engage in intercourse with themselves. The song itself is faster than "Honger" but for me, it doesn't have the same impact. I can't help but think this sort of "fuck you" message has been done. And done. And done.

"Hoenderman" is a song about dreaming of chickens that drink our beer, apparently. Fuck knows....

K.O.B.U.S are a not brutal but they are fucking heavy. The harshness of the Afrikaans inflection in Francois Breytenbach Blom's vocals adds a rawness to the music which gives it that garage feel. You an imagine watching these guys destroy a room, then go to the bar for a beer with their fans. They're simple, angry, harsh, and want to kick your face in.

I know little of African metal but seemingly there are some bands making real moves to cross over from local heros to international names. K.O.B.U.S are only on my radar due to SNM's recommendations but based on this mob, I can see myself exploring this interesting genre further. If you like it heavy, give them a listen - the K.O.B.U.S MySpace link's in my Cool Shit list as per.

Until next time...

Thursday, 9 July 2009

I am Metal As Fuck

But I am! Okay, so I might like HIM but fuck you.

Yes, I've been drinking. But hey, it happens.

Seemingly this MADman has something of value to add to the metallic world of metal metalness. Over the coming months, I'm gonna be contributing to, an Australian site dedicated to the most brutal of metal. So, this is a short post but if you there's any of you who want to get some airtime, shout at your MADman - let's show the antipodeans that we do it harder, faster and more often than anyone else in the world.

My first review is of the album Winter Hours by upcoming doom metallers Tombs - there's a link, as usual, in my "Cool Shit" list.

Keep in touch beautiful fuckers.


Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Infectious 'Virus

A couple of my esteemed metal colleagues have told me about a local band that, in their opinions, are worth breaking your neck to. So, in my never ending pursuit of all that is metal, I gave them a listen.

EchoVirus are a Brighton, England, based band who sit on the thrash/death border. Their MySpace page is well designed, which is always a bonus, and there's a couple of sample songs on there (although I'd avoid the somewhat bizarre "megamix" third track).

The first track, "New Gods", comes straight from the Lamb Of God school of "fuck the build up, have this". There's no doubt that it's an intense introduction and I was pleasantly surprised by their vocalist (known simply as "Dan"). With the half-beat snare and double axe attack intro, I was anticipating a Glen Benton-esque death growl but was instead greeted by a mid-range snarl that fitted perfectly to the music. There's no doubt Children Of Bodom are a massive influence on these guys and Dan does a great Alexi Laiho. There's also strong similarities with Arch Enemy and Michael Amott seems to be the benchmark for both EchoVirus axemen (Dan's voice ain't quite Angela Gossow but then, who's is??)

Song two, "Once The Hero", has a fantastic guitar harmony and is pure cut and paste fucking thrash. With the exception of the vocals, this tune is very "Ascendancy"-era Trivium (oh, don't start that "but they're so shit" nonsense because they simply fucking aren't). The song then leaps into a circle pit inducing pace, then they slow it up, then straight back in. Horns will be thrown and cheek bones will be broken to this song. My one criticism of this tune is that the guitar solo doesn't really fit in, although this is more than likely just a production issue.

In my humble yet ridiculously important opinion, EchoVirus are shit hot. Okay, there's nothing ground-breakingly unique about the music but this is metal - we like it rough and we like it loud, and this is exactly what's delivered.

I'm looking forward to taking in a live 'Virus experience in the not too distant future. Watch this space and the band's MySpace page (I've put the link in on my "Cool Shit" list) for further details...

Oh, and I've nearly got the Download videos updated, which includes a frankly epic six-minute Journey affair that will bring a tear to your eye. Unless you're a total helmet.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Drum and bass-ically pretty boring...

Being a bit slack, I still hadn't had the opportunity to listen to Pedulum's "In Silico" album from start to finish but today, whilst sitting in my sauna hot Swedish turbo barge, I had an hour on the road to kill. So on it went.

The opening tune, "Showdown", is one of the enthusiastic crowd pleasers that tend to dominate their festival sets and yes, I did turn it up to a level that made my speakers teeter on the edge of destruction. But then it all got a bit, well, unexceptional. The problem (if you can call it that) with Pendulum is that their live shows are astonishingly good. Download 2008 saw Pendulum getting more crowd surfing than any other band. They create the kind of buzz that one would expect from hooking a car battery up to damp testicles, and the grinding synth sound is hugely infectious.

However, stick this on a CD and it really doesn't work for me. There's no arguing that singles "Granite" and "Propane Nightmares"are exceptional tunes that do make you want to do that funny-hand-pointy-suck-cheek-in dance like a total cock, but maybe that's just because I've seen them live and was remembering how good these tunes were when looking up at the stage.

In essence, "In Silico" is like having 8 pints of strong continental lager then trying to have sex. You get all psyched up, it starts out great but after a while, it's only operating at about 60% efficiency, starts to get uninspired and lazy, and 45 minutes in you just can't wait for it to finish.

Don't get me wrong, you should absolutely go and see Pendulum live. Just don't bother buying the CDs.

Friday, 3 July 2009

"Not a day goes by...

...when I don't spare you a thought"

The prophetic lyrics of one Frankie Stubbs, frontman of Sunderland punk legends Leatherface; one of, if not the most important band in my life.

"But MADman, why are you being such a dramatic fucklordassmonkey?" I hear you ask. Well it upon my knee, young child, and your weird uncle will tell you a story...

On my eleventh birthday, my primary school embarked on it's annual coach trip to the Isle of Wight (stick with me, this isn't as boring as it sounds). As a birthday present, Bro Dude had made me a tape. For all the younglings out there, tapes were pieces of plastic that you usually had to rewind with a Bic pen as most...oh, hang on, a Bic pen is an orange plastic...ah, fuck it.

Right, so I get on the coach and I've got my Sony Walkman and my 90-minute TDK. Side one is some album by this band Nirvana called "Nevermind" and on the other side is this album called "Mush" by some mob known as Leatherface.

Side one was ready to go and as soon as the opening chords of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" kicked in, I had a revelation. Kind of like the first time you have a dream about a girl where you, you know, do stuff. Or the first time you smoke a cigarette and vomit out the back of your mate's nan's shed. Until this point I'd been listening to pretty much chart music - my mum kept it real with the Neil Young, Steely Dan, Crosby Stills and Nash vibe but this, for the first time, was loud. My music collection extended to East 17's "Walthamstow" and "Monster Hits Vol. 3" and all of a sudden there was this noise. Rough sounding, angry; I was fucking away. In fact, I distinctly remember not hearing the bus sing "happy birthday" as I was so overawed by the music. Ungrateful little fucker.

So "Nevermind" came to a close. "Fuck me", thought I, "that was pretty good shit". Flipped the tape, and in comes Frankie and the boys. "I Want The Moon" is one of the best openers to an album I've ever heard. You get no intro, you get no warning, it doesn't build up, it comes in at whatever volume the Walkman's on and fucking stays there.

Then the vocals start and your sucked in. They're pure gravel, they're clearly owned by a man who drinks 3 litres of Jack Daniels, smokes 60 Bensons and gargles with flaming tyres every day. And then it happened; "How Lonely" smashed into my ears and on first listen, almost made me cry, which was a bit weird seeing as at this point, I had no experience of punk, metal, grunge, whatever - this was just such a fucking palm-shaggingly good song that I didn't really know what to think.

I listened to "Nevermind" and "Mush", flipping the tape over and over as each album finished, all the way to the Isle of Wight, on every excursion on our three-day visit, and then all the way back to London. Then I listened to it every night in my bedroom, and then I listened to it when me and my parents drove to Cornwall from London, and all the way back. And although "Nevermind" to me has been played to death for the last decade-and-a-half, "Mush" still gets played at least once a week.

Leatherface got me into punk. I loved Nirvana's grunge soundings, and "Territorial Pissings" remains one of the all time teenage headbang classics but Leatherface changed my world. I started getting into some of the old school shit (with help from Bro Dude, of course), plus bands like The Jam and The Police, and then started to find my own way with the Southern Californian punks - NoFX, Lagwagon, Mad Caddies, etc. - which got me into some of the Scandanavian hardcore like Satanic Surfers, which made me appreciate a violent vocal and savage drum sound...see where this is going?

I love Bro Dude for fundamentally changing my entire life with a single tape. I love Leatherface for recording, and to this day, performing the greatest punk tunes I've ever heard. I love the fact that Frankie Stubbs today became my friend on Facebook (cue imminent cringe-worthy geek email of adoration...)

You need Leatherface. Trust me on this one.

I'm off for some razorblades and asprin.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Jesus hates hippies

Look at the facts:

Glastonbury festival - hippies everywhere, thunder and lightning every year
Download festival - nothing but glorious sunshine

Ergo, Jesus is a metaller.

So a couple of things to look forward to over the coming weeks. The new DevilDriver album, "Pray For Villains" comes out on July 13th, which is colon-cleansingly exciting for a uberfan such as this MADman. I of course pre-ordered my copy, which comes complete with autographed booklet ("whilst supplies last", apparently - they better fucking had do), four bonus tracks, behind-the-scenes DVD and alternate cover artwork. Shipped from the grand ol' US of A, this came to about 25 notes so not too shabby at all. Now I just have to sit and wait until it arrives, at which point I'll stick it on full volume in the office and form a brutal circle pit with my no doubt unwilling colleagues.

Whilst we're on the subject of DevilDriver (which happens a lot), how fuckin' chuffed am I that they're touring in October?? Again, straight in to purchase tickets for myself and Hot Chick. It's got a Filth Fest vibe about it - 5pm Saturday start, five bands on the line up. With support from Behemoth, Suicide Silence, Trigger the Bloodshed and Malefice I can see this being a frankly ridiculous affair and imagine I'll lose a couple of items of clothing and/or teeth.

Right, I need to focus my energies on annihilating this hangover so must leave you now...