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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