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Sunday, 19 December 2010

MADman's final thought

For my final blog of this decade I thought I'd look back at a couple of my musical highlights of the year and muse in a thought-provoking fashion about what the future holds. That's the theory, anyway...

There are a few musical happenings that deserve a mention, so in no particular order:

Sick Of It All come to the Home Counties

My home town is a middle class hotbed of wax jackets and children called Hermione. Imagine my surprise when Sick Of It All announced a gig at our shitty little local venue back in April. Me and Si-KO, my oft-mentioned Straight Edge homie, had a fucking riot that night as the hardcore legends absolutely devastated the 250-capacity venue. A true lesson in how to set it off.

Trash Talk bring the noise

Cancer Bats came to town with Trash Talk in tow; Trash Talk proceeded to destroy everything in their path. From circle pits on broken bottles to foot-to-face interaction, this was one of the most insane gigs I've ever been to. Lee Spielman is an astounding frontman and manages to mix amicable banter with straight-forward abuse during every song. What an experience.

This is me and Spielman in a rare moment of calm:

Please note: Spielman is tall; I'm not some kind of midget with terrible posture.

AC/DC at Download for the absolute win

I mean, come on; if you were there you'll understand. One of the gig highlights of my life, not just 2010. Despite having a combined age of about 500, AC/DC's energy was something to behold and the crowd lapped it up. If ever I feel stressed, I simply close my eyes and regress to AC/DC playing For Those About To Rock, and all in the world is good.

2011 is going to be an odd year for me and Hot Chick as we're not planning on going to any festivals...although Sonisphere has pulled an absolute blinder out of the bag by securing the Big 4 to headline their Friday night. The flip side of this is Biffy Clyro headlining Saturday, which to me is a bit on the random side. Don't get me wrong; Biffy have had a couple of good tunes but when I've seen them at festivals, they're shit. And bearing in mind the headliners either side of them at Sonisphere (Big 4 on the Friday, Slipknot on the Sunday) I can't see this being an easy gig for them.

Download has the return of System Of A Down on Friday and Linkin Park on Saturday. SOAD I'd be interested to see, Linkin Park I couldn't care less about. The word is that Bon Jovi will be closing the show on Sunday but it's all TBC.

All this being said I've got Iron Maiden to look forward to in August 2011 so happy fucking days! On the subject of the mighty Irons, I recently became friends with the legendary Krusher Joule on a famous social networking platform. Krusher is the genius artist behind albums such as Ozzy's Bark At The Moon, Sabbath's ground-breaking Born Again and Maiden's Live After Death. I'm hoping to share a beer with him in the New Year at some point but as he's a complete nutter and is barred from most of the pubs in London, it may be a challenge...

I'm planning on some exciting shit for this blog in May, which will no doubt change the world of music journalism as we know it. Perhaps. But fear not; Metal Harmony will continue to deliver a few minutes of attempted comedy and basic musical waffling every Friday (or thereabouts) over the next 12-month.

Now run along, you crazy bastards; eat, drink and be merry during this festive time. May you all get hammered and vomit into a Santa hat.

Have a good one,

Friday, 10 December 2010

The Inevitable Top Ten of 2010

After much deliberation, Metal Harmony is proud to present the Top Ten of 2010. This wasn't an easy one to be honest, and I very nearly bottled it and went for a Top Twelve so apologies to Annotations Of An Autopsy and Black Country Communion - so close, yet so far. And Justin Bieber narrowly missed a position. But let's be honest; you didn't come hear to read an intro, you came to hear to see which beauties I picked.

So without further ado let's get ready to rumba...

10. Eluveitie - Everything Remains (As It Never Was)

Despite being released in the opening weeks of 2010, Everything Remains.... was rarely bettered this year. Whilst this album has received mixed reviews, in my eyes the undeniably fantastic mix of traditional Celtic folk music and brutal heavy metal is something to behold. You're not sure whether to stand on a Highland mound, hair blowing in the wind, gazing out over the horizon, or down a bottle of Newcastle Brown and smash it over your head.

9. Valkyrja - Contamination

Thoroughly unpleasent and as heavy as a Sumo wrestler's first dump of the day following an All You Can Eat Steak And Lentils party, Sweden's Valkyrja have no place for the theatrical over-production of more succesful black metal bands. Breakneck speed and acid-gargling vocals combine to create a phenomenally bleak atmosphere. Brilliant.

8. Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier

There is no doubt that The Final Frontier was the most highly anticipated metal release of 2010. From newly-annointed teens in Drop Dead t-shirts to fat denim-clad 50-somethings with mullets, we eagerly waited for the Irons' new album to drop. First single Eldorado was greeted with mixed reviews, as was follow up The Final Frontier and when it hit the shelves, there was some disappointment. Okay, it's not Number Of The Beast or Live After Death but it's undeniably Maiden. Huge riffs, galloping drums and one of the greatest metal vocalists of all time mean The Final Frontier is a worthy addition to any metal fan's collection.

7. Dyscarnate - Enduring The Massacre

Horsham in West Sussex isn't the most obvious place to find a slice of highest quality extreme/death metal. With Enduring The Massacre, Dyscarnate recorded as a four-piece but lost their second guitarist, so played the live tour as a trio. Despite's vocalist Tom Whitty's concerns, I saw them debut this crushing arrangement and my bowels subsequently collapsed. So heavy it would make Kerry King cry like a bitch.

6. Bad Religion - 30 Years Live

I know it's a bit of a cheat to have a live/'best of' but I run this shit, so deal with it. Bad Religion gave the fans a treat-and-a-half by offering this album totally free. No obligation to join fan clubs, no daily spam emails, just click on a link and it's yours. As a result, the website's traffic rocketed resulting in mass failure to download, but this was eventually rectified once the inital burst of "me firsts" had chilled out. Recorded during the 30th anniversary tour, it's easy to hear why Bad Religion have been around as a band for longer than I've been alive. Quite frankly one of the greatest punk outfits of all time.

5. System Divide - The Conscious Sedation

Clean female vocals, massive breakdowns, death grunts - The Conscious Sedation could have been a contrived piece of detritus. Instead, it's one of my favourite albums this year. Both unremittingly heavy and beautifully harmonic, System Divide fuse all manner of metal genres through out The Conscious Sedation and although I'm sure a large percentage of metal fans will think it's toilet, I can't get enough.

4. Wormrot - Abuse

Hailing from the metal mecca that is Singapore, this trio's Earache debut is an example of straight up, in your fucking face grindcore. Without doubt one of the heaviest albums of the year, this opus full of 20-second blastbeat-riddled screams and cruching, distorted guitar has catapulted Wormrot into the grindcore public eye. You simply will not find a bad review of either Abuse, or any of their extensive European/North American live shows. Awesome.

3. Alter Bridge - AB III

After a decent debut and frankly remarkable second album, Alter Bridge were under pressure to deliver with their tricky third, and by David Lee Roth's trousers did they do a good job. Frontman Myles Kennedy is one of the greatest vocalists of our time and despite the fact that the rest of the band are from post-grunge God botherers Creed, with Kennedy in the chair they are a truly exquisite proposition. From immensley heavy riffs to lighter-waving melodies, AB III is an absolute blinder.

2. Leatherface - The Stormy Petrel

Six years after the release of the less-than-spectacular Dog Disco, Leatherface returned to form this year. The multi-layered guitars we grew to know and love back in the day are here again thanks to the return of man mountain Dickie Hammond. Frankie Stubbs' rough-as-fuck vocals once again deliver the irreverent and poetic metaphors that only Sunderland's finest can execute, and despite not having the raw, under-produced feel of their earlier work The Stormy Petrel is another momentous Leatherface album.

1. Dommin - Love is Gone

Dommin arrived on the scene this year with the greatest debut I have heard for many moons. Combining the melancholy of Type O Negative with the catchy hooks of HIM, Love Is Gone is start-to-finish brilliance. Listening to it makes you feel depressed, elated, amorous, neglected, and every other emotion under the sun. I was blown away on first listen, even more so after witnessing two exceptional sets at Download 2010. Dommin have raised the bar to stratospheric levels so there's a huge amount of pressure on the as-yet-to-be-discussed follow up. I for one can't wait.

So there we have it. Job done. A pretty fucking robust list, in my opinion. No doubt there'll be some disagreements and grievances; feel free to air these in any way you see fit, as long as it doesn't involve coming to my house and throwing shit at the windows. That can get really tiresome.

I've got one final post left in me for 2010 - a round-up of the year, if you will, which will look at some of the best gigs, worst albums, and general musings on the imminent passing of the twelve-month. This may not be next week due to a fully booked agenda of drinking and vomiting for the next few days...but it will be soon...

Ciao for now motherfuckers and motherfuckettes



Friday, 3 December 2010

I've got a gooolden ticket

Well, not technically golden. Perhaps that should be "I've got a load of fucking ace tickets".

First and foremost, my main man Shithouse managed to procure us tickets to the forthcoming Iron Maiden tour which is just about the best news I've had in months. As regular readers of Metal Harmony will know, when me, the 'House and a couple of other gents attended Iron Maiden's Twickenham show in 2008, it was without exception the greatest musical outing of my life ("Maiden Heaven", July '08). It may be over eight months away but I'm already pooing myself with excitement.

January 2011 is dedicated to hardcore. Me and Si-KO are off to see Terror on January 22nd, and the following week Your Demise and Lower Than Atlantis are smashing the shit out of my home town, with tickets costing less than two pints of Guinness. Chances of MADman developing pit-related spinal injuries = 90%+.

So with these absolute blinders on the way, I was wondering what else 2011 could offer up to moisten my undergarments? An lo, a Children of Bodom and Amon Amarth double-header in April came along, with support from Ensiferum. Being as COB are releasing their new album Relentless Reckless Forever in March I cannot fucking wait for this show.

Cradle of Filth are also heading into the studio next week to record Midnight in the Labyrinth, an album of orchestral/acoustic/strings versions of their music. I like the sound of this but being as Dani Filth now insists on being referred to as Lord Filth, there's a chance it might be little more than pretentious wankfumblings.

So with all this awesomeness on the horizon, I leave you with news that next week will see the much anticipated unveiling of my Top Ten 2010. Well, that's the theory. I have a tendency to be drunk a lot at this time of year so you might just get a paragraph of pointless waffle instead.

Bye bye

Friday, 26 November 2010

Being a mentalist

One of my favourite television programmes is Criminal Minds. For those of you not familiar with the wondrous American product, it's about a group of criminal profilers in the FBI who study human behaviour to solve crimes whilst all being painfully good looking and with an inexplicable ability to endanger themselves at the end of every series. The one beef I have with the phenomenal televisual treat is that they really fucking hate metal.

From Twisted Sister to Marilyn Manson, society (specifically those in the USA who watch Fox News) has blamed metal music for ritualistic killings, high school massacres, suicides; I'm surprised Limp Bizkit's Break Stuff hasn't been blamed for inciting the attack on the Twin Towers. We as the metal community have come to expect it. But watching season three of Criminal Minds was just extraordinary.

Case in point 1: A child in one episode has a penchant for violent video games (which are of course the other cause of all rapes and acts of grand larceny) and at aged 13, is suspected of getting an inappropriate hold of his 8-year-old female cousin. When surly profiler asks soon-to-be-found-out-paedo dad what his son does, he replies "I don't know; he just sits in his room listening to that 'metal' music all day", before throwing his hands up in despair. At 13, I was listening to a lot of punk and heavy rock, the likes of Therapy? and Faith No More and to my knowledge, never got my fiddle on with any younglings.

Case in point 2: Some nutter on a gun-toting rampage has his room searched by our voluptuous protagonists and hang on, what's that? A Metallica poster on the wall? And he's got long hair? Of COURSE he has! Because after all, if you haven't listened to Kill 'Em All and proceeded to stab your granny you simply ain't metulz. And the miscellaneous hardcore/power violence playing in the background when they capture him? Inspired.

There is aggression within metal, that's indisputable. The intensely heavy, crushing power of a Dimebag riff will set most metallers on a rampage BUT 99% of us keep it in the pit. We'll all had a massive tear up with a bloke three times our size in a circle pit, only to cast arms around each other and engage in a massively heteromosexual embrace as soon as the song ends. Personally, I'd be more likely to brutally murder a tramp with a staplegun if I was forced to listen to the Westlife back catalogue than if I had Slayer on the ol' earphones.

It's fair to say I wouldn't play any Cannibal Corpse if my three-year old niece was round but It's not because I think it would make her smash my face in with her In The Night Garden rucksack. I also wouldn't play 2Pac's Hit 'Em Up or Scooter's Move Your Ass. It's simply because I don't think she'd like it. I wouldn't let her look at the Tomb Of The Mutilated album cover but I also wouldn't let her watch Zoo Vets (operations and things, you see). I also wouldn't watch Hostel with my parents, This Is Spinal Tapp with my trendy Ralph Lauren-wearing mates or lesbian porn with the wife.

I would love, just once, to see a serial killer in a film dressed like Russell Brand with a bedroom covered in Lady Gaga posters. I've been listening to heavy music in some form or other for a couple of decades now, as have numerous friends of mine. None of us are fucked up, as much as we'd like to think we are to be cool, none of us have killed a prostitute and none of us masturbate into a bucket of our own shit before setting fire to pigeons. Quite simply, listening to metal isn't just for crazies.

So Criminal Minds, ease off us lot and go for the indie kids in season 6, yes?

I'm off to cry in the darkness.


Friday, 12 November 2010

Getting Creative. Or not.

I don't have an iPod. Not for any particular anti-Apple agenda; in fact, it's fair to say it's one of the most important technology organisations of our generation. I just happen to have a Creative Zen instead which to me, is a perfectly adequate bit of kit. Until this week, when the fucking bastarding shitter decided to format itself and delete 28Gb of musical wonderment. 6,000-odd tunes down the pan. And being a special type of spastic, nothing had been backed up. Yes, yes, I know. Just leave it.

There is one small reason as to why I haven't gone on some kind of murderous rampage yet, and that's mainly due to the fact that I'm an old fashioned motherfucker so still have all my CDs, and thanks to the awesome nature of Metal Blade and Earache's distribution channels, still have access to a boat load of their material. I've lost some absolute beauties but it could be a lot worse. Now if someone would care to donate anything to the Get MADman A 160Gb iPod Fund I would greatly appreciate it.

Anyway, shit happens. What happens that isn't shit is Devildriver working on their new album Beast, which is coming our way in February (or thereabouts). I get as excited about new Devildriver album releases as I do about birthdays (not quite old enough to dread birthdays yet) and I'm hoping they continue to build on the monumentally huge Pray For Villains and The Last Kind Words. I'm going to miss their tour with 36 Crazyfists this year but the prospect of a new album tour in 2011 gives me a heroic pants missile.

The countdown to the Top Ten of 2011 is well underway so watch out for that in December - I'm not sure of the exact date as I tend to spend around 85% of the month drunk so bear with me...

Love you long time

Friday, 29 October 2010

Serious as cancer

Sometimes you have to accept you're living a lie. A few months back I declared my resignation from the pit primarily due to laughably long recovery times. However, last night I fell off the wagon in a big way as my town was absolutely destroyed by Vera Cruz, Trash Talk and Cancer Bats.

French mob Vera Cruz are a fairly nonthreatening cartel to look at, particularly diminutive frontman Flavien. They took the stage to a relatively full room and started a really quite splendid display of hardcore. The crowd was dead and fuelled by Newcastle Brown, I made the executive decision that a pit needed starting. I consider myself an ambassador for the local music scene and thought it imperative that our European friends got a decent response. So a couple of other lads got stuck in and before long we were getting a decent swell, and I felt a bit smug to be honest.

Vera Cruz left the stage, I pounded a beer and chatted to my fellow pit monkeys about the need for organised chaos at hardcore shows, then Trash Talk came on to Lagwagon's Stokin The Neighbours, which gratified me a great deal. Unlike Vera Cruz, these lads seemed a bit more likely to look you in the eye whilst pissing on your shoes. Bassist Spencer Pollard started vocal proceedings before front man Lee Spielman opened his mouth and, to coin an oft-used phrase, unleashed hell. They are pure, nasty hardcore, and the place went mental. Beers, spit, teeth, probably some piss, a couple of shoes, bodies, hair and expletives were being thrown all over the place. A personal highlight for me was my shout of "CIRCLE PIT!" that was greeted by "listen to the guy in the Morbid Angel top!" from the lead singer.

Spielman was a proper mental. He was in the pit, up on shoulders, kicked a heckler in the face and told a chap who insisted on being ultra cool and sitting on the stage drinking a beer that he was going to kill him (shortly after stealing his beer and downing it).

Despite an older gent warning us about the broken glass on the floor, which I think was my bottle of Brown, the pit was insane. By the end of Trash Talk's set I was cripplingly exhausted and went outside for a breather. Then a fellow patron who was talking to a bouncer points at me and says "he's fucking mental"; after an accolade like that I had no chance of staying still during Cancer Bats, did I?

One more quick pint and back in. My first time seeing the Canadians live and the rumours are true; they're sick. Liam Cormier said he recognised people from other gigs they've played in our town over the years which might have been fluff but fuck me, it worked. The entire floor was moving, people were flying all over the place, and by the time Cancer Bats played their excellent cover of the Beastie Boys classic Sabotage the air in the room had been replaced by a misty hue of sweat and Red Stripe.

It's the morning after and I really, really hurt. Banging my head on the stage during a particularly raucous moment wasn't ideal, I could have done without getting windmilled in the jaw and the Vans-shaped bruise on my back is a little on the sore side but what a fucking gig. Absolutely immense. Ten out of ten. Simple as that. However, I am definitely retired from the pit now.



Friday, 22 October 2010

12 inches of pure pleasure

I'm (un)lucky enough to work near HMV on Oxford Street in London, so at least one lunch hour a week will be spent wandering aimlessly around the various floors of Europe's biggest branch. However, in recent months my attendance has thinned out due to my new found love of vinyl.

Purists amongst you will scoff at the fact that I have only recently got into this particular musical medium but to be fair, I grew up in the era of tapes and CDs, with vinyl well on the way out by the time I was old enough to buy stuff myself. Mind you, I probably should never have been allowed to buy things myself as my first purchase was East 17's Walthamstow album.

So for a recent significant birthday, Hot Chick got a record player. Since then, I have hemorrhaged a chunk of loose change in charity shops because ladies and gentlemen, vinyl is fucking amazing. On no other format can you walk into a shop and procure the Best of Louis Armstrong, Queen's News of the World and Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms album for less than £2. I get a wave of excitement every time I walk past a stinking old box of 12-inches, which despite sounding heroically homosexual taken out of context, is a thoroughly enjoyable feeling. Once you've waded through the plethora of Johnny Mathis, Cilla Black and various album releases from close-harmony singing Welsh males the variety on offer is devastatingly immense. Dire Straits' Alchemy live album is one of the best things I've listened to this year, Thin Lizzy's Johnny the Fox is pure brilliance (and a personal fave of Hot Chick) and Difficult to Cure from Rainbow includes Spotlight Kid, which is a moment of heavy-meets-prog wonder. And picking up Led Zeppelin and Blue Öyster Cult's debut albums for next to nothing? Don't mind if I do.

Of course the other good thing about buying vinyl is that music you wouldn't purchase becomes infinitely more appealing - virtually everything is worth a 50p investment, with the exception of anything by Ocean Colour Scene, 3OH!3 or Simply Red. I picked up Jim Reeves Good 'N' Country, Holst's The Planet Suit and something called It's Party Time, which features party classics such as Maybe It's Because I'm a Londoner and has an amazing photo of old women dancing on the front.

That's the other point; the artwork is fucking brilliant. ELO's Out of the Blue gatefold can only be the result of extensive narcotic use and as for 1984 by the mighty Van Halen? Seminal.

Plus, a big chunk of the money you give to charity shops goes, unsurprisingly, to charity, which makes you feel a whole lot better about buying yet more music to clutter up your house. Luckily, the wife is as much of a music junky as I, otherwise I'd end up on the street with nothing but The Best of Blondie as a pillow.

Bye for now gangsters

Friday, 15 October 2010

Coping with addiction

Over the last couple of months I've realised I have an addiction. It began years ago but has been bubbling up for the last few weeks. I know I'm not alone but I don't know who to turn to about my problem.

I'm in love with a dark mistress. My drums.

My kit is old, not particularly pricey, and needs constant tuning. But since I pulled it out of the loft in my parents house and set it up in my basement it's all I can think about. I went to my local music shop to buy a new tuning key and came out with a new set of heads and two new sets of sticks. And the pushers in the shop don't help - "buy nine items, get the tenth free". Okay! I will! Bleeding me dry with their hickory goodness and Mylar-coated wonders.

I log onto eBay and a world of opportunity opens up before me. New cymbal stands, double kick pedals, and most importantly a cow bell stand, all just a couple of clicks away. Needless to say I think I have to check myself into rhythm section rehab before I bankrupt myself on drum equipment that I probably can't even play, let alone actually need.

But who to turn to? My family is no good, as my brother's got a similar problem but with bass guitars. The only option is for me to embrace it. Spend every penny I earn on Zildjian and Sabian. Indulge myself in Remo and Pearl. Wash myself in a sea of Axis and Vic Firth. I simply see no other way.

The struggle continues...



Friday, 8 October 2010

Not being illegal

Apologies for the absence last week. There is no justifiable reason as to why your inbox was not furnished with the latest instalment of inane, occasionally music-related chat; I was simply so hungover that I couldn't focus on my computer screen. But, after last weeks 72 hour drunk/hungover clusterfuck, I'm back. "Oh joy!" I hear none of you cry.

Free music is an absolute winner though, isn't it? I mean legitimate free music, not illegal downloads. I've never robbed anything off the webernet, personally. This is more down to the fact that I don't really know how to work things over the moral implications of undertaking such activity. Plus, a techy geek of mine who had shit loads of security got done for £1,000 for downloading a few albums and as I don't have that kind of money laying around, coupled with the fact that I don't wish to go to jail and lose my colonic virginity, I think I'll continue to give it a miss.

It's also not really necessary; there's so much free shit punted into the musicsphere on a daily basis anyway. Firstly, Atreyu's cover of Aerosmith's Living On The Edge is a bit of fun, although massive Aerosmith fans will shit twice and die at the Orange County metalcore titans take on this classic. Go here to listen (you'll have to 'like' Atreyu on Facebook first)

Cradle of Filth are giving us a taste of their new album Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa by streaming The Persecution and Lilith Immaculate here. It's classic Cradle but as was always going to happen, Dani Filth's vocal is struggling more and more with the range we've come to expect from the crazy little bastard. On this topic and in one of my favourite stories of recent months, young Mr. Filth has been nominated as a Suffolk icon alongside Adnams Ale and Suffolk punch. For those outside of the UK, Suffolk is essentially a boring county where fuck all happens. Here's the full story.

As black metal goes though, it's all about Netherbird for me this week. Their album Monument Black Colossal may have a pretty ridiculous title but it's pure class. There's a similarity to Dimmu Borgir but without the theatrics and it's well worth a listen - MySpace page in me list.

Oh, and before I forget, there's a new Me First & The Gimme Gimmes album on the horizon. Can't wait to see what this punk super group has for us this time, although if the rumour of and INXS cover is true it's going to be a friggin' winner.

Seeing as I'm doing a charity run this weekend and wearing a suit I'd better go and do something resembling training. It might only be 5km but fuck me I'm unfit.


Friday, 24 September 2010

Skinheads and kvltsters

Speaking to a colleague about political stance in the pub the other night (definitely a few Guinness into the evening), she was generally shocked to hear I was of left wing opinion. I wondered why and after a bit of 'erm, well...' it came down to the simple fact that j'ai un skinhead.

I want to put this out there early doors; I have a skinhead but am not technically a 'skinhead'. The whole idea of what it is to be a skinhead is a bit confused nowadays; the style emerged fifty-odd years ago as a purely fashion thing, and since then has been adopted by everyone from far left to far right. It ain't just neo Nazis who buzz cut the ol' dome, that's just the unfortunate and most common label attached to us baldy-by-choicers.

In fact, most educated people know that the ska and reggae movement which originated in Jamaica was a founding element of skinheads. Punk and Oi all developed from traditionally black music. But if you're a skinhead listening to punk music, you must be a Nazi. Hmmm.

Anyway, I could continue but won't as this is not amusing and probably not enriching your Friday Metal Harmony, metal. Have I mentioned System Divide yet? Without doubt the best metal I've heard in [exaggerated time frame]. Their debut full length album The Conscious Sedation is a work of wonderfulness which caused me much excitement. Loads of people will probably hate it but then they're retarded.

Whilst I remember, Dimmu Borgir are streaming their new album here for 48 hours only so get stuck in when you've finished reading here (link in the list, as per). I'm unlikely to get a chance to sit and dissect it so let me know what it's like. Dimmu do tend to polarise opinions but as far as I'm concerned it's pretty obviously black metal, no? They're another victim of the kvlt masses who refuse to like a band with more then seven fans. There's definitely value in that attitude; I can't think of anything worse than going to a gig where there's an actual crowd. That would be fucking shit.

Got to go, I need a poo. Bye.



Friday, 17 September 2010

Top Ten of epicness

You can't beat a good cover version. A band takes a classic song, redoes it, and occasionally makes it something spectacular - Pantera's cover of Black Sabbath's Planet Caravan is one of the greatest things I've ever heard, and Type O Negative's version of Summer Breeze by Seals and Crofts (or The Isley Brothers) is one of the most exquisitely depressing covers known to man. But today I'm celebrating those covers song that are completely inappropriate, mindless and fucking funny.

Props to brit metallers and thoroughly decent chaps Sa-Da-Ko for inspiring this list with this their most recent and retarded outing; a cover of DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Boom Shake The Room. Brilliant.

10. Snuff - Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads

Punk legends Snuff Oi-up the 1970s comedy show theme tune. Try and listen to the last few half-beat bars without donning bovver boots, downing a bottle of Newcastle Brown and smashing it on your head

9. Lagwagon - Bad Moon Rising

Basically exactly the same as the Creedance Clearwater Revival original, with the exception of a cripplingly fast chorus that back in the day made this budding teenage drummer's balls tighten.

8. The Bezerker - All The Things She Said

Technically, T.A.T.U's original was all about a video of them dressed as schoolgirls and lezzing up in the rain. Pretty much a winning idea. Until The Bezerker added impossibly fast double kick and substituted vulnerable, questionably-legal teenagers with a PVC'd dominatrix couple.

7. Lawnmower Deth - Kids In America

If Kim Wilde's original wasn't awesome enough, the British legends give it a comedy metal makeover. Indescribably awesome.

6. Ten Masked Men - Cry Me A River

Internet legends Ten Masked Men have metalled up everything from Christina Aguilera to Eiffel 65 but their cover of Justin Timberlake's whinging opus about losing tragic psychopath Britney Spears is a stroke of genius.

5. Austrian Death Machine - T2 Theme

As I Lay Dying's Tim Lambesis drops a bit of a bollock here as technically, this theme is from the end of the first Terminator but nevertheless, adding chugging riffs and soaring fretwork to one of the most seminal pieces of music from 20th century cinema (well, I think so anyway) is a stroke of genius

4. Me First & The Gimme Gimmes - Mandy

With a massive back catalogue to choose from, the punk supergroup could have a top ten of their own but in my mind, punking up Manilow is always a winner.

3. NOFX - Vincent

Don Maclean's tribute to earless Absinthe mentaller Vincent Van Gogh gets the SoCal treatment. Fat Mike's nasal squawk and Erik Sandin's trademark drumming takes a somber, down beat song and makes it a pit-swelling anthem

2. Turisas - Rasputin

Take Boney-M, add folk metal, et voila. I almost pissed myself when I first saw this live as it's such a perfectly retarded song to cover. However, Turisas do it so well you'd think they themselves had penned this tribute to Russia's greatest love machine.

1. Hi-Standard - California Dreamin'

Without doubt, my favourite stupid cover of all time. Nothing pays tribute to the mid-1960s anthem more than this double-quick version by a group of Japanese punks. It's a moment of pure genius and a hands down winner.

Ah, that was fun. Time to go and pull a moonie at the pope.




Friday, 10 September 2010

Yo' mamma. Well, my mum, actually.

Alice Cooper: what a legend. He brought us Poison which is without doubt one of the finest mainstream metal songs of all time, his antics with a chicken have put him in the metal history books but most of all, his breakfast show on Planet Rock gets me up and running every single day. You just can't beat a bit of Free's Wishing Well at 6:15am.

Today was special though. Ol' Vincent kicked off with Neil Young, closely followed by Tom Petty, both of whom are up there with my mum's favourite artists. I'm hoping this is a sign, as MADmum is currently in hospital after falling down her stairs and busting her leg. She's got an operation today to get everything pinned backed together.

MADmum gave me, Bro Dude and my sister an epic start to life with her staple diet of Crosby, Stills and Nash, Steely Dan, Neil Young, Tom Petty, The Byrds, Motown and old Ratpack music. Coupled with my dad's love of Dire Straits, The Rolling Stones and the fact he owned a first edition Paranoid vinyl, I've got a lot to be thank them for. So horns up high for me mum; get better soon, you clumsy moo.

On the subject of quite serious shit, I'm doing a fun run (massive oxymoron) for a UK stillborn and neonatal death charity - feel free to find out more and give me money here.

But back to the metal! I have an absolute plethora of new shit to plough through, including the new Stone Sour album Audio Secrecy. I'm hearing good things so far and seeing as Come What(ever) May gave me a priapism, I can't wait to get stuck into it. Then there's The Conscious Sedation by System Divide and Dawn of Ashes' Genocide Chapter which both look promising. I'm also enjoying Aeon's Path of Fire at present; a bit Trigger The Bloodshed-y, very much my sweet spot.

Right, time to fuck off. May your weekends be filled with much merriment, alcoholic pleasures and rough sexual intercourse.


Friday, 27 August 2010


Until today I've never noticed the similarities between commuters and emo kids - generic dark clothes, miserable faces, a general aura of grumpiness. Less fringe action mind. I don't object to being a cog in the ever-churning corporate machine but days like today, standing in a cramped train, cock-to-leg with numerous other besuited fellows, in a soaking wet coat and with the need for a cigarette meaning I'm about 17 minutes from mass homicide, I do sometimes wonder if it would be so bad if I chucked it all in went to live in a wood cabin in Alaska...

I'm being a bit emo myself now but fuck you, man. You like, don't understand my pain. Only Gerrard Way does... *hums The Black Parade*

Still, on the plus side The Big 4's performance from Sonisphere Bulgaria is coming out on DVD and BluRay in September. If The Red Wizard's review is anything to go by I shall most definitely be procurring this, buying a crate of beer and tuning my air guitar. Plus Slipknot's new DVD (sic)ness is released on September 28th and includes their crushing performance at Download 2009. I still get heartilly engorged thinking about Spit It Out during that performance.

Sad news about Adam 'Nergal' Darski this week though. You've probably heard by now that the Behemoth frontman has been diagnosed with leukemia and is in urgent need of a bone marrow transplant. On a rare Metal Harmony serious note, donating bone marrow is something we should all get involved with. The relative discomfort that the doner feels is negligible when you look at the good it can do. I'm going to get myself registered, go here if you want to do the same (UK only I'm afraid but information is easy to find).

Right, I'm off to get my hair cut like Justin Bieber.


Friday, 20 August 2010

Not a review of The Final Frontier

What a week, eh? How many reviews of The Final Frontier have you read? I think I'm on about ninety so far. I'll be honest homies; in my tiny mind, Iron Maiden are pretty much as good as old school heavy metal gets. However, after a couple of listens I'm still not getting a bonerus ginormus from this album. There's no doubting that songs like The Alchemist and Mother of Mercy are great songs but there's a lot of relatively uninspiring, long sections where not much happens. I do like it, I really do. I think my expectations were perhaps a little impossible to match though.

This being said, Maiden could come round my house, drink my last beer, piss on the sofa and take a shit without flushing and I'd still get the Live After Death album cover tattooed on my face.

Anyway, looks like I'm going to be missing out on an interview with/review of And Hell Follows With next week due to work commitments - yes, believe it or not writing album reviews and a weekly blog doesn't pay the bills - which is a shame. These lads have had a bit of a shoeing from the metal elite, as have every other deathcore band in existence but for me, Proprioception is a great big chunk of nasty metal noise that deserves a listen. Still, I'll get my deathcore fix from the Job For A Cowboy, Trigger The Bloodshed, Whitechapel and Annotations Of An Autopsy gig later this year. That, my friends, will be an awesome use of an evening.

And now for something completely different. My mate The Crook, when he's not either undergoing surgery or *allegedly* downloading copious amounts of music and films, is a master of sending me amazing videos he's found on the Webnet International. However, yesterday he surpassed all previous efforts with this. I'll leave you with what has to be the funniest thing I've seen in months..

Det Satan Club

Have a good weekend pickles


Friday, 13 August 2010

In the belly of a Kentish town

Gallows? In my home town? Go on then. It's difficult to think of a band in recent years that made more of an impact than the Watford bruisers. When their debut Orchestra of Wolves was released, the music press hailed them as the new saviours of true British punk rock, and the train kept rolling with their follow up Grey Britain. Simple, stripped down, spitting punk from ugly tattooed blokes - it's a beautiful thing.

My local venue has been going on about their big announcement for some time now and I was half expecting it to be some shit, reformed Britpop band so getting the email about Gallows was most exciting. With them, Cancer Bats, Lower Than Atlantis and The Casino Brawl all coming to my manner before the end of this year, South East England is on it's way to a right good kicking. Me likey long time.

Can you all just take a moment to raise your horns for Behemoth frontman Adam 'Nergal' Darski, who is currently receiving medical treatment for serious illness. Get well soon, you bible ripping heathen - more information here.

And excitingly, Alter Bridge are back at the end of September with their third album, AB III and if it's anywhere near as good as Blackbird I will make a pants milkshake.

Since I've mentioned pants, I can't help thinking of 30 Seconds To Mars. The sub-standard emo arsedribble they've produced in the past is nothing compared to the thunderously fucking awful new song. I know I'm not exactly target market as despite what my laughable beardline suggets, I'm not a teenage girl, but I like to think I know music and Jared Leto's boys are fucking shite. That is all.

On the subject of my laughable beardline, I got ID'd in a supermarket yesterday buying £150-worth of beer and wine with my work colleagues. That wasn't embarrassing at all. I'm never again wearing an Atreyu t-shirt when I need to buy booze.

Have a good weekend chickens


Friday, 6 August 2010

To Oz or not to Oz

I got a message from Shithouse the other day asking me if I wanted to go and see Guns N' Roses in October. If it were the original lineup I wouldn't be able to buy the tickets fast enough but as they are I find it difficult to get excited. Slash playing Paradise City and Sweet Child O' Mine with Myles Kennedy at Download 2010 was a beautiful thing, as not only does Kennedy hit every single note but witnessing one of the greatest guitarists in history playing some of the most anthemic riffs ever created was truly immense.

This being said, Kennedy's not the same kind of old school gritty frontman as Axl Rose who despite being pretty much a full on fucking lunatic, has to be one of the most distinctive lead singers in the history of rock and metal.

Thinking about it, maybe I do want to go...

This kind of flakey non-commitment is happening to me a lot at the moment. I've been toying with the idea of Ozzfest when it returns to London for one night only as Ozzy is one of the few remaining stalwarts of metal who I've not seen live. However, I have a fear that I'm going to be a tad disappointed. Maybe I'm being a bit negative but does Ozzy still have it? I'm actually asking that question because for me, I just don't know. The lineup is decent - Korn, Murderdolls, and the always excellent live Skindred - and it's only £40 so I can probably justify it to myself to head along. Perhaps.

I'm off up to Nottingham today for a stag do with the oft' mentioned Big Mearz and I'm wondering how we're going to cope with wearing relatively smart clothes so we can get into places. It's fair to say we're both scumbags and although I've not seen him for a few years I doubt he's ditched his Bad Religion t-shirt and general hairiness in exchange for some brown slacks and a red turtleneck.

Whilst I'm on the subject of clothes (which will happen very rarely on this blog) what the fucking fuck is going on with 'fashion'? Trying to find a shirt that didn't make me look like either an ugly woman or a homosexual lumberjack was nigh on impossible. And let me make this point loud and clear: CARDIGANS ARE WHAT GIRLS WEAR. And skinny jeans? If I wore skinny jeans I'd look like a Mr Whippy. What about normal jeans for the gentleman who enjoys perhaps a few too many beers, huh? Fucking fascists.

Anyway, enough of this. I've a bag to pack and a head to shave so must be off. Oh, and if you haven't played the new Iron Maiden game yet, get stuck in here.

Love you

Friday, 30 July 2010

I've arrived!

I got told I sucked yesterday. Some young chap took exception to my slightly derogatory review of the new Fleshwrought album, Dementia/Dyslexia and wrote on MetalasFuck's Facebook page that I suck.

I have to be honest, the pang of pride I felt was extraordinary. I've written something that has genuinely pissed someone off. I'd have preferred a bit more embellishment as to exactly why I suck but it's always nice when people have emotive responses to stuff I write... I can only hope that one day I too reach the level of Ian Winwood

I have enormous amounts of beef at the moment though. Lagwagon and No Use For A Name are touring Europe and not coming to the sodding UK, which is frankly devastating. I haven't seen these boys live for over a decade and when I heard a tour was planned, I immediately messaged Big Mearz and dusted of my wallet chain in preparation. How can you tour Europe and not play the UK?? Bastards!

As you can see this has cut me deep...Still, with a Whitechapel with Annotations Of An Autopsy and Trigger The Bloodshed tour, plus Devildriver and 36 Crazyfists all planned for the arse end of this year there's plenty to look forward too. It's been a fair while (in MADman terms) until I've been to see anyone live due to everything that's been going on at home so I'm getting jittery. Unless I'm in the pit getting sweated on by a selection of robust gentlemen in the next few weeks I might turn peculiar.

On the subject of gigs, Sonisphere takes place this weekend so for all you lucky, lucky fuckers who are trucking to Knebworth, have a truly amazing time. It's going to be difficult not to with Alice Cooper, Rammstein, Slayer, Anthrax, and some mob called Iron Maiden? It's a spectacular lineup and if money were no object I'd be all over it like a fat kid on a Mars bar.

I'm off to buy tickets for Cancer Bats so with the sun shining and last night's Chinese pushing uncomfortably on my lower intestine, see youz lot later.


Friday, 23 July 2010

Little drummer boy

I might have mentioned it once or twice before but I love a bit of drumming. My old man bought me a set when I was 14, partly due to the fact that I was a fucking annoyance and it kept me out of the way, but mainly because I was growing up in Norfolk and he was keen to distract me from the temptations of incest and sheep buggery.

My mate and I then spent the next four years ruining the relaxed ambiance of our village, me on the skins, him on the out of tune guitar, with our fucking horrendous covers of Nirvana, Green Day, 3 Colours Red, Feeder, and other timely outfits. Me and Bro Dude also formed Spazmodik Kontraction, a Scandinavian-inspired deathgrind band that covered songs by then-popular girl band Hepburn.

But lo, off I went to university and since then, I've not had space for the kit. Until now...

Me and Hot Chick now live in a place with a slightly Fritzl-esque soundproof basement so preparations are in place for Operation Drum Resurrection. All I need is a crash cymbal stand and a double kick and I'll be touring with Dream Theater before you know it.

The kind people at Metal Blade have been on an album release mission of late which has resulted in some absolute quality finding its way onto my Non-Apple MP4 player. There are two that have really caused penile engorgement on my part; A New Era Of Corruption from Whitechapel and Blekinge from Istapp.

Whitechapel's latest album came out a few weeks ago and it's quite simply devastating (in a good way). This mob are absolute genre leaders in deathcore and the new outing cements this. Enormous riffs, crippling vocals and big name appearances (Chino Moreno, anyone?). It's a truly wonderful thing.

Speaking of which, Istapp are a new band on me but Blekinge is without doubt in my top ten albums of the year so far. Swedish black/folk/death/prog metal? Don't mind if I do. I'd recommend wandering over to their MySpace for a bit of a listen, particularly to I Väntan Den Absoluta Nollpunkten

Is it wrong that I'm looking at my clock, which is currently sitting at 07:35, and thinking about beers? I know I have a problem, that problem being I don't have enough money to drink as much as I'd like to. But the weekend shall undoubtedly be full of ale and merriment, punctuated by globules of extreme metal and arse-leakingly amusing stupidity so with all this in mind, I'll leave you lot to it.

High 5 mother fuckers


Friday, 16 July 2010

Music; it's a funny old game

The past few weeks have undoubtedly been the hardest of my life so far but I don't want to dwell and just repeat last week's post. So, for the shit loads of messages me and Hot Chick got from people we know, people we don't, and a fantastic collective of folks on Twitter, I shall simply say thank you.

Music has been a massive remedy for me recently. It's also been the catalyst for disaster but more on that in a moment. I've always had a particularly emotive response to some songs - Leatherface's How Lonely always causes me to smile, Slipknot's Disasterpiece from the 9.0: Live album makes me want to run down a street smashing windows, etc. But add personal grief and booze into the equation and as a badass ghetto homeboy like myself would say, shit gets crazy.

I went for a few drinks the other night, as one does, but started to feel a bit melancholy so though I'd do an early swerve and head home. My shuffle's formidable choice of tunage at this point was Dance Hall Crashers' Lockjaw album. Those who know the band will be aware that this is not metal at all; it's simply the most upbeat, positive 'ska' sung by a couple of chicks and I love it. So with Pick Up Lines chirping away in my ears, things were bearable as the booze hammered it's way through my blood system. Then it all went a bit wrong as my shuffling landed on Dyscarnate's Enduring the Massacre. Angry music makes angry man. I should have probably skipped immediately but I love this album and in a way, wanted to be angry. So after six tracks and with blood pressure at an all time high, I made the executive decision to shuffle on and landed on Ugly Kid Joe's Cats in the Cradle, and promptly spent the rest of the evening (including a rather awkward leg of a train journey home) crying.

Isn't that fucking amazing though? Isn't the fact that music does this to people extraordinary? Beer had loosened up my emotions but even walking along stone cold sober, certain songs will cause me to well up, certain songs will cause me to smile and certain songs will cause me to punch the crap out of a moving vehicle.

Some bearded fellow once wrote a few plays and in one, he said "if music be the food of love, play on". I couldn't agree more son, but it's not just the food of love - it's the food of pain, happiness, sorrow, joy, and just about every other emotion.

With that in mind, my beautiful freaks, away with thine and listen to some fucking tunes.


Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Our pain

Me and Hot Chick have been together for many years now, married for half of them, and it's fair to say our life together has been perfect in every way. A few months ago it was made even more perfect when we found out that there was going to be an addition to our family.

With our little one on the way, we've been spending the last few months preparing. The crib is sorted, the Download Dog stuffed toy was ready and thanks to one of our best friends, the kid's AC/DC T-shirt is ironed and ready. Hot Chick's even compiled the songs she wanted played at the hospital come the big day despite the fact it's a few months off. She likes to plan, does my other half.

Last week we went to the doctors for our first glimpse of the kiddy which, as I'm sure many of you can testify, is a pretty exciting time. As we were called in, my heart was hammering away like Derek Roddy's kick drums and I had the constant, overwhelming desire to take a shit.

My wife lay down on the table, we held hands and smiled, and the ultrasound was passed over her. The midwife then stoically informed us that she couldn't find a heartbeat. After a second midwife came in to confirm, we were told our baby had died.

Needless to say our hearts broke at that very instant. Nothing could prepare us for the indescribable pain and overwhelming sense of loss.

I remember when we found out about the pregnancy I cast a cursory eye to the sky and flippantly said "right God, here's your chance to make me believe - please make everything okay". So, if there is indeed a God, he's a total fucking arsehole. This experience is the final nail in the coffin of religion for me. No omnipotent deity would ever allow such pain to be bestowed upon good people. I've lead a good life; I give to charity, I love and respect my family, I've never committed a [serious] crime, I help old people cross the road, I help people carry heavy bags up stairs, and I will continue to do so but not with the vague notion that by doing good, goods thing will happen to me. That's all bullshit. Karma, religion, it can all fuck off with it's retarded nonsense.

Seeing my wife in a hospital bed in preparation for an operation to remove our dead child, crying, doubled over in pain, bleeding; nothing in my life will be worse than that. Nothing could compare to how useless and superfluous I felt. I always want to make things better, fix things, but this was one thing that I could do fuck all about.

Some smart fucker once said "time is a great healer". And they're right. It's been over a week since our missed miscarriage and subsequent operation and although we cry every day, things are getting better. We have amazing families, our friends are second to none but more importantly, we're in it together.

Sorry for the lack of metal this week but this has been incredibly cathartic.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, 25 June 2010

Guest Blog - The Red Wizard and The Big 4

This week, The Red Wizard provides us with the first guest blog in Metal Harmony history. Our resident guitar aficionado and Mikael Akerfeldt lookalike was at one of the screenings of the Big 4 thrash extravaganza, the lucky bastard. Here's how it went down...

I have MADman to thank for getting to the screening of the Big 4's performance at Sonisphere, Bulgaria as if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have even known anything about it. So with 2 tickets booked for me and the missus we hit the pub for a swift pint before going to the cinema just in time to grab another cold one in the bar. We found our seats as the warm up began.

This consisted mainly of motormouth Lars, Scott Ian and Dave Mustaine talking about how great they are and how Lars created the universe. Lots of back slapping etc. Naturally Lars was the only one that looked comfortable, with Dave hunched forward with his hair over his eyes. Nothing particularly interesting.

So onto the show…

With Anthrax drawing the short straw it’s their job to open and they come out all guns blazing with a true thrash anthem in Caught in a Mosh. Once again Joey Belladonna is back in the band (for what is the third time now) but he’s in good form and boy does he prove it when they play Indians. Halfway through the song we hear the familiar intro to Heaven And Hell and the cinema and crowd at Sofia go crazy as Anthrax pay tribute to the recently departed Ronnie James Dio. Joey manages all the high notes effortlessly and it’s a joy to watch. After Anthrax we decided to smash another beer but whilst we were at the bar we were told Megadeth had already started. So much for it being live. There was obviously a delay so as to skip the changeover between bands. Beers smashed we rushed back into the cinema to hear Hanger 18 played with ferocity by Mustaine and crew. It was so cool to see 'Baby Dave' David Ellefson back on bass especially as this occasion was so huge. With a set picked mostly from Rust In Piece they got a fantastic response.

"Slayer! Slayer! Slayer!" You’ve heard it so many times before they step out on stage and when they do, they're still one of the most formidable looking bands ever. Opening number Hate Worldwide saw the Slayer fans crying out to cinema staff to turn it up as it did sound far too quiet for Slayer, so sensibly the volume was increased. I have to say their set was a bit lacklustre; sure they played great and had tremendous power but something seemed to be missing.

It was no surprise that Metallica would headline this little jaunt and when the sound of Ennio Morricone’s the Ecstasy of Gold seeps out of the p.a. the crowd starts to go crazy. I could tell you all about their set but all you need to know is this. …

Their first encore was Am I Evil and they were joined onstage by Anthrax, Dave Lombardo AND MEGADETH! Yes thrash fans, you heard that right. James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine, whose bitter rivalry is almost as famous as the two bands themselves, were stood side by side onstage. I never thought I would ever see the day when they would play on stage together again.

And so to close.

This was a unique chance to see the four biggest thrash metal bands perform onstage together. I was surprised to discover the cinema wasn’t full and the crowd inside it seemed pretty tame. They needed a little encouragement from this Red Wizard to start throwing horns clapping and cheering. The fact we couldn’t take beer into the cinema sucked and I also learnt Sofia, Bulgaria has the lamest circle pits in the universe. We hit the local metal pub for another beer and reflection. Seeing metal bands in the cinema is certainly cheaper and closer than travelling to gigs but it’s no substitute to actually being there sitting in a field smashing beers and feeling the full force of metal hitting you like a sledgehammer.

So with this epic cinematic experience behind him, our man in Scotland hands back the reins. I truly wish I could have seen this show but I already had tickets for Sex & The City 2 that day.

Until next week,



Friday, 18 June 2010

The highs and lows

As a final high-5 to Download 2010, I though I'd do a good old fashioned best of/worst of. This is a combination of me being lazy and the fact that I'm sure you've already read several hundred reviews of the event (clearly the best of which was mine). So, on to the business in hand.

The Best:

5. Semi-naked people

I don't mean the promo girls walking around in their underwear; I mean the fat/bald/hairy/old Downloaders: people that really do not give a fuck and are just themselves all weekend. It's the least judgemental place on earth and a welcome relief from the ultra-critical world in which we spend 90% of our lives.

4. Five stages

An acoustic stage? What a great shout. There's no such thing as too much metal but sitting in the sun chinning a beer whilst a quality rock band strum their way through an unplugged set is a wonderful thing. Then wander to one of the tents for some smaller bands, past the main stage for some of the biggest names in music on your way to a different stage to catch a brutal death metal outfit, and they're all close enough to avoid "I really can't be arsed" syndrome.

3. Cold beer/great Guinness

Every single pint I got was chilled to perfection, whether it was at 10:30 or 23:00. Nothing in the world is less satisfying than a warm lager. And the Guinness Extra Cold was, um, extra cold, with the creamy, velvety head you only get on a lovely fresh pint. Mmm...

2. The variety

Napalm Death and HIM sharing the same stage? Zebrahead and Whitechapel treading the same boards? Dommin and Hellyeah plugging their instruments into the same amps? It can only be Download. The people who criticise the lineup are hilarious and although Machine Head and Suffocation playing every slot on every stage would indeed be very metal, the variety is what makes Download truly awesome.

1. The headliners

Okay, Sonisphere has Iron Maiden this year but let me just spell it out for you again:

Rage Against The Machine

AC/DC was as close to perfection as a rock show could ever be, RATM brought a passion and political anger the likes of which I've never experienced and Aerosmith demonstrated potentially the greatest live vocal I have ever seen. Fair enough AC/DC bringing their own stage was a bit ostentatious and their £3m+ price tag is a bit on the renty side but you know what? That's fucking rock and roll baby.

The Worst:

5. Friday beer queue

With AC/DC headlining the main stage, it seems the extra 30,000 tickets for Download this year were all day tickets for Friday. As regular readers may have gleaned from Metal Harmony, I love a beer and subsequently drink a lot of them. Therefore, standing in a fucking enormous queue for fucking ages was a complete pain in the arse on Friday.

4. The Sunday afternoon rain

Fair enough we had sublime weather on Friday and Saturday but the biblical rain on Sunday was a bit of a buzz kill, especially as it dramatically thinned the crowd and meant me and Hot Chick were stuck watching fucking T-34.

3. Missing virtually all of Whitechapel's set

My one shocker of the weekend; we'd managed to get shelter and started to dry off a bit, only to realise that Whitechapel were playing at the other side of the site. We got there only in time for one song, which was a right pain in my arsehole.

2. T-34

I may have mentioned it previously but why the fuck this shit covers band were gracing the same stage as Suicidal Tendencies baffles me. I'm generally a bit of a miserable twat at the best of times but coupled with the rain, this completely pissed me off no end.

1. The noodles

I've done it once; "I'm bored of burgers, I'm going to try the noodles". This was the only time in my hearty-eating life I've not finished a meal. The noodles at Download are fucking horrendous. They taste of dysentery, smell like a corpse's foreskin and look as appealing as a bareback bunk-up with Margaret Thatcher. And NO-ONE LIKES THEM. There are piles of the bastards all over the site that you always end up sitting in. I hate them. Ban the fuckers, I say.

So there we have it. It's all over for now but as Metallica once eloquently said, the memory remains. But in no time at all we'll be discussing how the first announcement is shit and isn't metal all over again.

Until next week, and for those about to rock, I salute you.



Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Download 2010 special!

Friday, June 11th

It pissed down with rain, cars crashed into each other and there were endless traffic jams en route but with the help of AC/DC and Iron Maiden on the CD player of our rented Citroen, we got to Download 2010. Being as Hot Chick and I are far too old for this camping malarkey, we chucked our stuff in the B&B and made our way to the main arena.

You know you're going to Download when you're standing next to a 20-stone man dressed as Xena Warrior Princess and a teenager is sleeping in his own sick at 16:00. God I love this time of year.

AC/DC, in true rock star fashion, decided to bring their own stage this year and dump it next to the actual main stage:

So with hideously over-priced Tuborg in hand, we got ourselves to the Bedroom Jam stage to catch Imicus, who's post-grunge vs. metalcore stylings were thoroughly enjoyable. Their debut album Animal Factory is going to be worth a listen. As we wandered over to the main stage to see 36 Crazyfists ripping each and every Downloader a new arsehole (with the help of a surprise performance from a particularly dapper Howard Jones of Killswitch Engage), the sheer volume of metallers gave me immense satisfaction. Here's me and the wife in a field in Derbyshire, with 109,998 other music fans of all different shapes, sizes and hairstyles. This is the time of year we all get together, put the musical differences aside and simply smash beers for about a week. Oh happy days.

And in a matter of hours, we'll be watching AC/DC. I'm pretty sure my day is better than yours so far.

After much meandering around the multitude of stages on offer, we got engrossed by Jet Black on the acoustic stage. Whilst the banter had a bit of a Spinal Tapp feel to it, the music was solid and complimented the unexpected sunshine.

As one fellow decided to drink a Wellington boot full of beer, we decided to catch Killswitch Engage and to be honest, I remained impressed. Fair enough, their main stage slot might have seemed a bit high and my better half can't stand them but the crowd loved it an their excellent cover of the late great Dio's Holy Diver set the festival on fire.

Today was a metalcore fan's wet dream; As I Lay Dying followed Killswitch (on different stages) and those fond of the melodic beatdown were well catered for. Seeing this two stalwarts of the metalcore genre was a great thing.

And on the subject of great things, let's talk about Them Crooked Vultures. Their melodic rock strummings were the perfect soundtrack to an afternoon on the beers. However, as I'm a drummer and one of my first introductions to proper alternative music was Nirvana's Nevermind, seeing and hearing Dave Grohl on the drums was a truly extraordinary and humbling experience.

But everything today was dwarfed, shadowed and bitch slapped by AC/DC. From the new Runaway Train to the classic Thunderstruck, this set was virtual perfection. The crowd interaction was immense, the set list was flawless and the pensioner dressed as a schoolboy was everything we expected and more.

Tomorrow needs to be bloody amazing to beat this...

Saturday, June 12th

Day two started with a sizable cooked breakfast, three coffees and a pledge to drink slightly less beer than on Friday.

The lack of AC/DC meant that Saturday didn't feel quite as busy, so after a journey to the medical tent in search of some form of tablet to prevent my insides falling out (lots of beer + festival food = intestinal carnage) we wandered to the relatively empty main stage to catch Taking Dawn. In true opener fashion, there were several shouts asking us if we were ready, telling us to get up/wake up/etc. but to their credit, they did get a decent crowd in front of them for their contemporary thrashings. We made the mistake of leaving Taking Dawn to watch Rise to Remain on the second stage, who's generic brand of metalcore-by-numbers was as stimulating as a small plastic carrier bag.

Hellyeah came out onto the main stage in the increasingly-awesome sunshine and proceeded to deliver an absolute beauty of a set. Their sleazey, hicktastic rock was delivered with the subtlety of a rubber mallet to the the back of the skull. Former Mudvayne frontman Chad Gray is an amazing vocalist and with the legendary Vinnie Paul on drums, who's mention of his brother Dimebag Darrell was exceptionally moving, it's hard to imagine anything other than perfection. Plus, these boys have some of the best beards in metal. Fact. Greg Tribbett's is unbelievable:

Atreyu and Flyleaf did a bit of an ol' switcharoo on the main stage so Atreyu came on first. Although drummer/vocalist Brandon Saller has shaved his head and looks like Alexi Sayle, there's no denying that the boys from Orange County deserve their slot here despite Alex Varkatzas humbly acknowledging that they should have been on the second stage. There wasn't a lot of new material in the set though, with the lion's share of the stuff coming from Lead Sails Paper Anchor, an album that failed to set the world on fire. Still, with the likes of Doomsday, Bleeding Mascara and the ever-popular Ex's and Oh's this was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Flyleaf are late on stage - in fact, Flyleaf have been late every time we've seen them. Bassist Pat Seals immediately jumps down into the security section, barges through the crowd control and gets straight into the fans. A good bit of showmanship. But frontwoman Lacey Moseley again fails to be particularly engaging. Don't get me wrong, they're a tight band but a bit distant when they're playing. No real interaction and a touch on the boring side. Still, they pleasingly yet predictably ended with I'm So Sick so it's not all bad.

Our next stop was, shock horror, the acoustic tent...

Since hearing their excellent debut album I've been looking forward to seeing Dommin live. But in true awesome Download style my expectations are met and exceeded with Dommin playing an acoustic set on Saturday and an electric one of Sunday's main stage.

The surprisingly chipper frontman Kristofer Dommin (I had a much more miserable gothic character in mind) sat on stage with the band's keyboard player Konstantine and proceeded to play a truly fantastic set. The electricity-less version of My Heart, Your Hands was (and this is a bit wet of me) beautiful.

From the chilled out, atmospheric warblings of Dommin we made our way to opinion-dividers Five Finger Death Punch, who are anything but melodic but always put on a quality live show. Ivan Moody's crowd interaction is first class but this performance took it to the next level. After explaining to to the security and crowd that they should be working together, he asked everybody to crowd surf to the front in an orderly fashion to shake his hand.

What followed was predictably total carnage, resulting in bodies all over the place and the plug getting pulled. Not before The Bleeding though, which finished off one of the most rock and roll performances of the day.

And then it happened. Lamb Of God, playing to their biggest ever crowd, came on and destroyed the stage, crowd, campsites, local woodland and my mum's house in Kent. Now You've Got Something to Die For, the Grammy-nominated Redneck, Laid To Rest; this was Pure Fucking Metal 101. Randy Blythe tried to get the world's biggest circle pit going and although I don't think it quite touched Devildriver's Download efforts, it was pretty close.

Blythe tells the crowd that whatever people say to us, we're all beautiful - clearly he's not seen the man in gold spandex hotpants - before closing the set with Black Label and leaving everyone speechless. What a show.

After being blown away by 5FDP and Lamb Of God, my expectations for the mighty Megadave...sorry, Megadeth...were high. As the thrash icons took the stage, led by Dave Mustaine's implausibly massive ginger hair, the crowd were clearly getting a bit excited. But as the set wore on, I was a bit underwhelmed. Yes, Headcrusher, Sweating Bullets and Symphony of Destruction are awesome songs and Mustaine's guitar work is pure genius but I didn't really 'feel' them today. Peace Sells was a slice of pure class though and it was a solid set but to be honest, nothing that made me climax.

Deftones then proceeded to kill the buzz in an epic way. They were just boring. I didn't get the point at all. Chino Moreno's voice was terrible and after about three songs, we had to leave. The main reason, apart from a sub-par performance from the nu-metal stalwarts is that HIM were on the second stage and as a total whore for this band, nothing was going to make me miss their set.

Hot Chick went off to Breed 77 and I stood at the back singing along with every HIM song like a horny teenage emo girl. Opening with Buried Alive By Love and love-metalling through the likes of Wings Of A Butterfly and Right Here In My Arms, Ville Valo and the boys were bang on tonight. Valo's voice was a bit crackly when they started but he soon warmed up and by the time the set finished with their cover of Sunday main stager Billy Idol's Rebel Yell, I was loving every minute of it.

I managed to see the end of Breed 77 which involved frontman Paul Isola saying that this festival isn't about AC/DC, it's about the musicians we've lost recently (perhaps a bit of venom directed towards AC/DC's rumoured £3m price tag for their headline slot?). He thanked us for not giving a fuck about the football (not strictly true) and proceeded to put on a brutal cover of The Cranberries' Zombie.

Then it was time for the main event. Rage Against The Machine, fresh off the back of their Finsbury Park free show to celebrate fucking up the X-Factor's constant Christmas number one slot, came out and went hard. Really hard. So hard in fact, that there were two crush injuries and the set had to be stopped and 100,000 people asked to take two steps backwards. I don't know what happened but hope no-one was seriously hurt.

Back onto the good stuff though. The crowd was like a big swelling sea of tattoos, odd hair and sweat as Bulls On Parade and Bombtrack punched us in the ear drums. But when that song, you know the one, came on the atmosphere was indescribable. Hearing tens of thousands of people screaming "FUCK YOU I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!" was a true sight to behold. It rivalled last year's "jump the fuck up!" during Slipknot's Spit It Out.

So with one day left and experiencing what can only be described as the onset of rectal prolapse, on we go to day three...

Sunday, June 13th

The third and final day of Download 2010 opened with sunshine, beer and another bloody fantastic set by Dommin, including a version of Cutting Crew's I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight that got a good ol' sing song going in the weary and hungover crowd.

FM are a new band to me, although according to the Interwebosphere they're nearly as old as my good self. The set reminded me of Thunder's last year - sunshine, good old fashioned rock and roll and a helluva tight performance. We walked over to 3 Inches Of Blood on the second stage briefly but I just can't take singer Cam Pipes seriously. He sounds like the bastard child of Justin Hawkins and Zed from the Police Academy films. Back to FM it was.

The pure rocktastic main stage activity steamed on with Saxon coming out and playing the whole of their 1980 album Wheels Of Steel - as Biff Byford said, lots of anniversaries all round at Download this year. Cinderella followed and slowed the pace down a bit but again, with the sun beating down, they slotted into the day pretty well.

After applying another 30 litres of sun cream - actually, sun tan oil, which is the best would could find. It essentially bastes you so the sun can cook you without setting you on fire. And it stains the shit out of everything it comes into contact with. Anyway, Napalm Death. Pure British grind at it's absolute finest. Barney Greenway remains the consummate gentleman between bouts of brutality such as Suffer The Children and When All Is Said And Done. After addressing the crowd with "love and peace my friends", the Midlands mentallers chuck out Nazi Punks Fuck Off and leave.

There are certain moments over the course of a festival that you really have to be a part of; defining times that capture the whole spirit of the weekend, if you will. Seeing guitar icon Slash playing live is in itself, a wonderful thing, to be joined by Myles Kennedy is even better but to then play Sweet Child O' Mine and Paradise City is enough to make any metal, rock, and music fan in general soil themselves. This was a true 'where were you when...?' Download moment.

Then the rain started. When I say 'rain' I mean 'total complete pissing down like you've never seen' rain. After a long, arduous quest for waterproof clothing which I managed to procure from a hugely busy and subsequently happy stall, we enjoyed Billy Idol's unique brand of utter cheese and 80s classics. The loose-skinned wrinkle-meister was good fun but the atmosphere was marred by the onset of the most savage rain I've ever experienced.

But alas, the newly-opened heavens got too much. We needed to find shelter and as Whitechapel were on in the Pepsi Max stage tent we headed over just in time for them to finish with This Is Exile. No room at the inn for a couple of drowning folk though so off to to the Bedroom Jam stage tent. I wisely purchsed a couple of pints of Guinness to keep myself warm.

Whilst we may have been out of the rain in this tent, we were in some kind of despicable hell. Why? T-34. What a load of utter shit. Comedian Al Murray's band play sub-standard covers of karaoke classics like Whole Lotta Love. The most irritating thing I've seen in years. I've no idea if this was some kind of sick joke but why Andy Copping booked them is beyond me. Thankfully the pissing rain started to ease off a bit but not before a big chunk of the Download populace had left, leaving festival closers Aerosmith with only a fraction of the crowd that they should have had.

Steven Tyler might be one of the oldest people in the world and look like a praying mantis covered in leather but Christ on a bike that man can sing. They've got a massive back catalogue of anthems and chose some true winners - I wasn't expecting Dream On so was thoroughly impressed. Dancing like a total twat to Walk This Way in a muddy field was a special experience and even the nauseatingly overblown I Don't Want To Miss A Thing got me holding a lighter aloft. There was a sense that they'd have preferred a few more thousand bodies in front of them but with the weather suggesting the onset of apocalypse, plus the fact that most metallers aren't like the grubby hippies at Glastonbury who enjoy bathing in mud, it was a solid turnout of tens of thousands.

And with that, Download 2010 came to an end and what can I say? It was yet again an insurmountably awesome experience. The music, the endless beers, the sunshine up until the final afternoon, the people; it's enough to make me emotional. Almost.

My round up and closing comments, plus videos of some of the highlights, to come this Friday so stay tuned...