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Friday, 23 December 2011

The end of the year as we know it...

It's the Top 10 you've all been waiting for...

More of this type of silliness in 2012.

Merry Christmas,


Friday, 9 December 2011

Music is good

Prog rock is probably the biggest hole in my musical arsenal. I don't really own a huge amount of prog aside from a couple of Between the Buried and Me albums, but in the traditional sense of the whole progressive genre, your Pink Floyd's, etc. it's never been my thing.

I was off work suffering from a debilitating illness (some refer to these as 'colds') a couple of weeks ago and was idly flicking through a billion channels about pregnant teenagers, people building interesting houses and why fat people are fat, and I stumbled across a Yes concert from years ago. Vaguely knowing Owner of a Lonely Heart and Roundabout I thought I'd leave it on, and I'm over the arsing moon that I did so.

Rick Wakeman is a key-tinkering legend, that much everyone with any musical knowledge is aware, but I didn't realise quite how good the rest of the musicians in the band are. Bassist Chris Squire was absolutely epic and guitarist Steve Howe, despite looking at least 142 years old, did some widdly-widdly magic with his six-string. I don't know whether I'd been listening to too much guttural metal of late but sitting there in a dark room watching ten-minute soundscapes and listening to Jon Anderson's vocals was thoroughly enjoyable.

I got Yes's In the Present: Live from Lyon box set sent through a few days ago and I'm finding myself listening to it more and more. And this excites me, as it means I could now be getting into a whole new genre of music and uncovering a raft of bands that I've never listened to before. That's the beautiful thing about music - actual, proper music, not music made by Simon Cowell; you can trace it all back and discover bands that pioneered the sounds. Imagine picking up Black Stone Cherry and subsequently discovering Lynyrd Skynyrd, Creedence Clearwater Revival and  The Allman Brothers? Imagine listening to White Wizzard and tracing the line back to Iron Maiden? Hearing the classics for a first time is a wonderful thing and if I was a teenage metaller finding his feet in the genre, I'd be soiling my undergarments with excitement and anticipation at the wealth of astonishing bands that have existed over the years.

With that in mind, let's take a seat and enjoy.


Friday, 25 November 2011

Enjoying Deep Throat

I've discovered a couple of things this week. Firstly, some excellent new music and secondly, I am probably the oldest person in the world to like The Bunny The Bear.

This week I experienced Deep Throat (no laughing at the back). The latest EP from the Italian mob is a stunning example of simplistic old school punk with a bit of hardcore thrown in. Bro Dude and I agreed that there's a bit of Buzzcocks, The Offspring and Dead Kennedys in there, and the lead singer Paolo Merenda's heavily-accented Mediterranean drawl makes it a thoroughly enjoyable listen. Have agander here when you get a chance.

The other band to impress this week are thrashers Killed The Fixtion. Their horns up, head down metal from New Jersey has a Trivium-meets-Pantera feel and new song Pulse shows real intent. I'm looking forward to hearing more from these guys, give their tunes a listen on Facebook.

On to my second discovery. I should clarify that I like The Bunny The Bear's new album, as regular readers will know, but find their constant lovey wafflings on Facebook cripplingly annoying. However, it seems that TBTB have two core followings; grumpy teenagers and people who want them dead. I haven't read such bitter vitriol again since...I actually can't think of anything. Even the uprising against My Chemical Romance pales in comparison.

I think I speak for most people when I say ”chill out, it's only a fucking band”. Yes, they're very poppy and wear silly masks but there's no reason to wish them to die of various genito-urinary diseases, is there? And similarly, to the fans - it's a band, they're not your boyfriends, so dry your fucking eyes.

Enough from me. I'm going to hand over to this lad. The comments below the video prove my point but let's all sit back and enjoy his diatribe and cover of TBTB's Aisle:


Friday, 18 November 2011

You're so good for me...

Andy Copping yesterday confirmed that The Prodigy will join Metallica and Black Sabbath as headliners for Download 2012. The Braintree crew will top the main stage bill on Friday.

Its not a huge surprise that this announcement has been greeted with mixed emotions by the Download-attending community but let's get a couple of things confirmed early doors; The Prodigy are an excellent choice of headliner. They also aren't, and have never professed to be, metal.

I've been a fan of the Prodge since their debut album Experience back in 1992. I fell out of love with them after The Fat Of The Land but rediscovered my admiration with 2009's Invaders Must Die. But enough of my personal history. The fact is, The Prodigy have always completely transcended the traditional 90s dance genre populated by the likes of The Shamen, The Rat Pack, etc. They always said they would never appear on Top of the Pops because they didn't want to sell out and despite back to back number ones in the 1990s with Firestarter and Breathe, they stuck to their guns on this. It might not be metal but that's a pretty punk attitude.

There's also the music itself. Yes, there's the proper cheesy quaver (that's 'raver' to everyone born post 1990) tunes like One Love but Liam Howlett, the brains of the operation, has shown a massive variety of compositions over the years. Opening track Jericho on Experience is a dark, grinding rave anthem, Their Law (featuring Pop Will Eat Itself) from Music for a Jilted Generation and Serial Thriller from Fat of the Land are both guitar-led headbangers - you can find elements of numerous genres across their back catalogue.

But does this mean they deserve a headline slot at one of the world's foremost rock and metal festivals? Well, yes. They are a band that has never sold out, constantly developed their sound whilst staying true to their hard dance roots and in doing so, became one of the first true crossover bands that brought together ravers, metallers, punks and popsters. And if anyone reading this can show me someone who has never drunkenly thrown some shapes to No Good (Start the Dance) I can show you a fucking liar.

It's shaping up to be one helluva festival.


Friday, 11 November 2011

At this time of year...

And so it begins. The ball is well and truly rolling for Festival Season 2012 with yesterdays announcement that Metallica are one of the headliners for Download 2012. A decade after The Black Album and a decade since the inception of the Download festival, the thrash behemoth will be playing the album in it's entirety which to be honest, will be pretty epic.

But what other big names can we expect? Judging from Download booker Andy Copping's promise of another announcement today, plus the fact that Black Sabbath have a 'major announcement' today - you do the math, as they say. Machine Head is the other big rumour; if Download gets all three that's a huge lineup. Yes, Ozzy is a batshit crazy dodery old mentalist but it's Sabbath, for fuck's sake.

There's been whispers of the Red Hot Chili Peppers for Sonisphere which will cause some eyebrows to be raised. They're much bigger than last year's day two headliner Biffy Clyro but I'd have them pegged as more a Reading/Leeds top-biller.

The trollmill has already kicked into overdrive with the elbow pad-wearing pavement lickers proclaiming that Metallica are shit, Maiden should do it, and so on, which will continue for roughly the next 500 years. With this in mind, I've decided that every week I'm going to wander the Interweb to try and find the most ridiculous comment pertaining to the suitability/metal credentials of particular bands.

This week's Not Metulz Award for Bellendery comes from Facebook and is in a thread discussing Megadeth's new album Th1rt3en:

"megashit! more metal in a fucken cricket bat."

What a fucken idiot.

So keep your eyes peeled and send me a link via Twitter to any hilariously backwards comments.
Until next time gangsters.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Get to the chopper

I’m a bit of a Tim Lambesis fan, primarily because Austrian Death Machine is one of my favourite side projects of all time, but also because As I Lay Dying are a fine example of modern metal. It was therefore with great happiness that I received AILD’s forthcoming Decas album a couple of days back, and into my ears at a savage volume it went.

Decas is being released to celebrate AILD’s tenth year in the metal world and features three new tracks, a few covers and some remixes. The cover of Judas Priest’s Electric Eye is good shit but my personal highlight is their thrash cover of Descendants Coffee Mug. I love the original and this is a worthy reworking. Not sure about the weird dancey remix stuff though; when the Benjamin Weinman (of Dillinger Escape Plan fame) remix of Wrath Upon Ourselves came on it’s such a horrible bastard noise that I thought my MP3 player had packed up.

The new Whitechapel EP is in too and it’s a curious beast. It’s eight tracks that again, has a Weinman remix which I am not looking forward too, a cover of Pantera’s Strength Beyond Strength and an acoustic version of End of Flesh. Yes, and acoustic Whitechapel track. To be honest, it sounds pretty terrible, doesn’t it? I can’t really see how the kings of deathcore (a title I have assigned, before everyone gets pissy and cries about how Job for a Cowboy are better) would work at all without brutal downtuned 8-strings and savage drums. Watch this space for a full run down…

In other news, everyone’s favourite nice-assed midget John Bon Jovi has opened a restaurant called Soul Kitchen in New Jersey, which promotes healthy eating to families on a low income. The premise is, if you can’t afford to pay for the meal, you work in the restaurant as a volunteer to settle the tab. What a thoroughly bloody good bloke.

Fare the well


Friday, 14 October 2011

Poo jokes

I'm confused about The Browning. I understand that that may read as though I'm struggling to pass fecal matter but I am in fact referring to new UK outfit The Browning's album Burn This World. There's been a lot of talk about this mob and most of the PR material from Earache talks about them being a trailblazing new band. I am inclined to agree but I can't decide if I love it or hate it.

There's been an influx of dancey trancey housey metal over the last few months which may have caused a large percentage of people to vomit but I'm actually not averse to it. It probably stems from my teens years, during which my misfit bunch of mates and I would head to nightclubs and fail to pull women of any standard to a backdrop of Lisa Pin-Up and The Tidy Boys. I have no shame in admitting that I'm still a massive fan of early 90's rave music and a bit of mid-90s hard house, which brings us full circle.

I mentioned The Bunny The Bear a few weeks back, who may be a bit of a teenage girl's wet dream band but their album is good fun. The Browning take this poppy vibe and make it a lot darker. There's been a lot of 'dubstep' references banded around but in my mind, there's only one moment that could be considered dubstep on Burn This World (Ashamed); the rest of the time it has a more trancey feel which can get a bit repetitive and bloody irritating as the album progresses. Although Time Will Tell starts off like a Scooter track, which is hilarious.

However, it's still got some big metal riffs and the token harsh vocals, so don't go all "it's not metal" on me or I will be forced to sodomise your pets. Thing is, if you actually listen to dubstep and deathcore/metalcore there isn't a gulf of difference between them; both have that slow, building dugga-dugga-dug rhthym and massive drops, and although I'm not suggesting pop starlet Katie B is likely to be touring with Whitechapel in the immediate future, there are definite similarities in the structure of the music.

I would recommend strongly listening to Burn This World before you decide it's a pile of browning.


Friday, 7 October 2011

Something new...

The sound is well out of synch, apologies for that. but you get the general idea.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Being pissed off

I'm pissed off. My ultra super special fanboy edition of Metal Hammer with copy of Machine Head's Unto The Locust still hasn't turned up. I've tweeted, I've sent a strongly worded email - what more can a man do??

Which leads me on to today's blog about things piss me off about metal. And the world in general.

5. People who listen to metal
Well, people that only listen to metal. Great idea, listening to a single genre. Best ignore NWA, they didn't do anything for music. The Eagles? Load of hippy shit. In fact, anything that isn't played in drop D and covered in blood and dead Jesus is mainstream and bland. Wankers.

4. People who do impressions of metal
"I don't know how you can listen to all that 'RAA RAA RAA' music". Well, you be pleased to know I don't. In fact, I don't know anyone who does and more to the point I can't think of a single band or song that just goes 'RAA RAA RAA'. It's like saying "I don't know how you can listen to all that 'bitch bitch bitch' music" to a hip hop fan or 'I don't know how you can listen to all that 'sandals sandals sandals, music" to a Newton Faulkner fan. Fucking annoying.

3. Facebook
I'm all for bands promoting themselves but I'm not going to 'like' something just because you've asked me to. I shall listen, if I like it, then so be it. Also, The Bunny The Bear: I think If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say... is a great album but if you post the video for Ocean Floor one more time I'm going to shit a badger. And Annotations Of An Autopsy - please, please, please stop. Just stop.

2. The definition of emo
What the fuck does 'emo' even mean anymore? I was always under the impression it stood for 'emotional hardcore' so had Alexisonfire in that category but then Panic At The Disco and My Chemical Romance came and they were seemingly the poster children of emo. Then I was at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods in 2007 and some bearded buffoon was stating how Killswitch Engage were emo, and now I'm being told Black Veil Brides are emo. As I understand now, you must have tight trousers and terrible hair to be emo. Which makes Poison and Whitesnake emo. For fuck's sake.

1. Festival headliners
Here's a shocking statement; sometimes, just sometimes, festivals are put together with bands other than just your favourites. Sometimes, bands that you don't like play the festivals that you go to. The best thing to do in this crazy situation is DON'T GO AND SEE THEM! Stop bitching and whining and go to a different stage, you swamp-dwelling anus chimp. Or better still, go on to every forum you can find and tell everyone how shit the line-up is, and how they should totally have booked real metal like Kvvtlretvtrkkaak from Norway or British up and comers Painful Foreskin Hemorrhage. You twat.

This has been marginally cathartic but I'm still in a bad mood. I'm off to punch Mick Hucknall.


Friday, 23 September 2011

Soundtracks: discuss

I was having a good hearty shuffle the other day, and following on from one of Vomitory's latest ballads my non-Apple MP4 media player selected James Brown's Living in America. This got me thinking about film soundtracks (for reasons most men will immediately recognise) and I wondered what else I'd put in my Top 5 Film Soundtracks Wot Might Not Be Perfect Start To Finish But have Some Proper Belters On list, 2011.

5. Waynes World (1992)

Before Mike Myers created that fucking Austin Powers twat, he was funny. Dudes in a basement make a TV show, they play music, protagonist pulls an impossibly hot girl - it's the things teenage dreams are made of. And thanks to Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath and "that" Queen song, a soundtrack that commands headbanging like a total tit.

4. Singles (1992)

This film about challenged bands, tumultuous relationships and lumberjack shirts wouldn't have made the top five were it not for the inclusion of Pearl Jam's State of Love and Trust in the soundtrack - in my opinion, their finest ever work. Add in some Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Mudhoney and you've got yourself the grungiest thing since Kurt Cobain woke up, donned a cardigan and decided against the hairbrush.

3. Forrest Gump (1994)

Tom Hanks plays a mong with a weighty beardline who's good at running to an absolutely extraordinary soundtrack that spans a good few decades. Creedance Clearwater Revival, Lynryd Skynyrd, The Doobie Brothers; what more could you need? Oh, The Doors? Fleetwood Mac? Done. Fantastic.

2. The Crow (1994)

A film that played on repeat in my household during my early teens, and which subsequently inspired my sister's dress code, The Crow sees the late Brandon Lee off on a mission to avenge the murder of himself and his fiance. Dark, eh? A soundtrack of angst and pain, provided by the likes of Rage Against The Machine, Stone Temple Pilots and Pantera, mean this is possibly one of the most gothically metal films of all time.

1. Rocky IV (1985)

Quite simply the best soundtrack in history. A man with a melty face runs through the snow carrying logs, sweats a lot and punches five shades of shit out of Dolph Lundgren. Robert Tepper's No Easy Way Out is without exception, the most awesome song you could ever work out to. And of course, Survivor not only had Eye of the Tiger on the soundtrack, they had the monstrously powerful Burning Heart included too. That's some serious rock right there.

Now press play on this video and do some sit ups.


Friday, 16 September 2011

Machine effin Head

If there's one album I really can't wait to hear this year it's Machine Head's Unto The Locust. Reviews thus far suggest it's going to surpass their 2007 masterpiece The Blackening which to be honest, is about as big a feat as can be achieved in metal. Having pleaded for a preview copy with the MetalasFuck boss, only to be told Roadrunner Records will only allow certain people from certain brands to listen to their big hitters for a certain period of time, I decided to order the awesometastic ultramega fanboy deluxe edition, which comes with a bonus track, a 130-odd page Metal Hammer Machine Head special, a bottle opener, a patch and a couple of posters. All vital parts of any album, in my opinion.

Machine Head are one of the few bands who are almost universally loved in the metal world. They've had a few stinkers over the years (the cover of The Police's Message in a Bottle is best left unmentioned) but aside from this they've produced some truly seminal metal tunes. I've often said that if someone who had never heard music asked me what metal was, I'd play them Black Sabbath's Iron Man and Slayer's Raining Blood. I'm confident that Machine Head's Take My Scars would also be a worthy inclusion.

Then of course, their live performances. Having first experienced Machine Fucking Head live at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods in 2007, and five or six times thereafter, they are true masters of their art. Robb Flynn is a phenomenal frontman and aside from his shredding and vocal prowess, the fact that he'll often get people up on stage, pass a bottle of Jagermeister into the crowd, and generally make the whole thing a proper fucking party make the whole live experience something to behold.

And the set lists?Always spot on. Since The Blackening, Aesthetics of Hate has been an integral part of Machine Head's live set - the tribute to Dimebag Darrell and "fuck you" to his critics is always emotional and played with such fury that it's no wonder I ended up bleeding from the face in my inaugural Machine Head pit.

So what will Unto The Locust do for Machine Head? Reviews so far have been universally excellent, lead song Locust is absolutely punishing; it seems as if the band who have repeatedly reached a career high are about to do it again.

Now, to patiently wait for the September 27th release date.


Friday, 2 September 2011

Mo' production, mo' problems

Over-production is the curse of many a modern rock and metal album. All too often the vocals will be polished to within an inch of their lives (never more prevalent than on HIM's latest Screamworks... album - Ville Valo's vocals have no hint of the dark, doom-ridden malevolence of Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666) and you're subsequently left listening to some sort if grandiose example of music that could never be recreated live without Metallica-sized budgets.

The wonderful thing about punk music is that broadly speaking, it tends to avoid the overblown dramatics of soaring, multi-layered guitar harmonies and gets straight to business. I am, of course, referring to actual punk bands and not pop punk clusterfucks like Simple Plan and All-Time Low. Proper punks like Loudmouth, the more melodic Samian and bands such as
Satanic Surfers that came from the skate scene.

This week a copy of Executioner's Anthology landed on my desk. Formed in California in the early 1980s, this group of miscreants have put out a 29-song catalogue of their finest, rawest, most socially unacceptable punk rock. The guitar is fuzzy, the drums are tinny and the vocal levels are all over the shop. It's absolute class. It sounds like punk should sound and creates a crystal clear picture of nutters with mohawks and skinheads draining beers and stamping bovver boots into each other's foreheads. In a nice way, of course.

Don't get me wrong; I'll happily stick on Dimmu Borgir's In Sorte Diaboli and get lost in a whimsical world of black metal fantasy as the plentiful string sections fuse together to create a unique ambiance. But sometimes you get bored of all that bollocks and simply want to get drunk with your mates and sneer at the general public. It's then that the likes of Executioners, Christ on a Crutch, and more recently Trash Talk and Arson Anthem, become the only viable soundtrack.


Friday, 26 August 2011

Reading: A memoir

Ah, the Reading and Leeds festival. A true staple of the August Bank Holiday. My very first festival experience was way back in 1998 when the Reading Festival didn't have a Leeds bit bolted on. Bro Dude, my sister and I trucked down with our immensley complex tent and set about enjoying a weekend of musical variety.

The highlight of Reading '98 was the Vans Warped Tour. That year saw Bad Religion, Lagwagon and No Fun At All on the same stage which for a 16-year-old MADman was about as exciting as life could get. I spent my hard earned pocket money on a Lagwagon hoody which I wore solidly for the next two years of college and still don to this very day. It's a bit on the grey side and there a large, suspicious burn mark in the front but it's still without doubt my favourite item of clothing.

It was the first time I had gotten well and truly battered with my siblings. Clearly the age restrictions on booze were a little more lax back then as I distinctly emember me and Bro Dude sitting in the middle of the main arena smashing pint after pint of lager in front of Monster Magnet and Rocket from the Crypt. I also treated myself to 20 Silk Cut which I shared with my sister as we sat in front of the tent discussing life, the universe and everything when Bro Dude had drunkenly passed out somewhere. We took that opportunity to imbibe about four litres of Strongbow, resulting in me hanging my head out of the tent and vomitting. The police walked up and asked me if I was okay, I explained it was my first festival, they moved along. They were simple times.

New Order graced the main stage that year and despite my teenage drunken fug I remember being blown away by True Faith, which remains my favourite song of theirs. Peter Hook's short-lived side project Monaco were there that year too so Bro Dude got two slices of his bass hero that weekend.

As a lifelong Prodigy fan watching them destroy the mainstage was pretty bleeding spectacular. I remember little of their set, apart from dancing like a twat in the vain hope that my chubby legs were moving vaguely like Leeroy Thornhill's in the No Good (Start the Dance) video. They weren't. Obviously. And the dancing continued with drum and bass Mercury Music Prize winner Roni Size who played in a tent, and it was loud, and that's all I can remember...

There was also a chap walking around selling hash cigarettes for a pound each and although I didn't partake (I promise, mum) I remember thinking that was a bargain, even then.

So as the crowds descend upon Berkshire and Yorkshire this year, I hope a marvellous time is had by all. The line up isn't setting my groin ablaze but as always with this festival there are some awesome punk and hardcore outfits to be seen.

Still, there's no Lagwagon, so whatever.


Friday, 5 August 2011

A forecast

Today there is a 100% chance of rock, with cold beers approaching from the South. Towards the end of the day, an area of London will be covered in a cloud of Eddies and which may cause flash singalongs in lower regions.

It's the penultimate night of Iron Maiden's Final Frontier tour tonight. I've been awake since 7am wondering when it's appropriate to crack open a beer to get the ball rolling. In t-minus 4 hours me and The House will be on a train to London reliving our monumental Maiden Twickenham 2008 outing and discussing how today will have some shoes to fill but judging from the setlist of the tour so far, it looks extremely possible. The O2 is an excellent venue but it doesn't have the sun-soaked open air vibe of Twickers. We shall see.

DragonForce supporting is a bit disappointing as, although I thought Inhuman Rampage was a belter of an album, they haven't done anything new or exciting for some time. This will be the first time I've seen them since new vocalist Marc Hudson joined after original wailer ZP Theart buggered off so open-minded one is remaining.

Joining the festivities today is Maiden 2008/Metallica 2009 veteran Bandy, Sonisphere compadre Petrovski and work colleague/slightly unhinged former soldier CJZ. In a word, this is going to be a big day. The write up will be on MetalasFuck once I've regained my motor skills.



Friday, 29 July 2011

You need this stuff

2011 has been full of marvellous albums and everyone loves a list. Hence today's 5 Albums From 2011 Wot You Must Own Or You're Some Sort Of Arsehole list was born.

1. The Bunny The Bear -
If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say...
Mental. Amon Amarth had a child with Savage Garden, raised if for five years, then went onto The Maury Show only to find out that Combichrist or Between The Buried And Me might be the baby-daddy. That's what this album is.

2. Malefice -
Awaken The Tides
The latest album from the increasingly excellent British metallers is absolute class. They've taken their sound to a new level with more blasting, harder vocals, and cat's arsehole-tight musicianship throughout. A must have.

3. Agnostic Front - My Life My Way
Hardcore lives. Consistently intense, plenty of singalongs and hundreds of opportunities to rip off your shirt and get stuck the fuck in. So to speak.

4. Joe Bonamassa - Dust Bowl
Smoother than a freshly-sanded pint of Guinness and cooler that a Penguin's ballbag, Bonamassa's solo work is about as good a summer album as you could ever listen to. Pretty much perfect rock and roll blues, it's better than whatever you're currently listening to.

5. Evile -
Five Serpent's Teeth
You want thrash? I said do you want THRASH?! Then buy this. Then grow your hair, buy some denim, and play air guitar like you mean it. Evile's return was highly anticipated and rightly so.

If you haven't bought any music this year, start with this lot. If you like metal, that is. And to be honest, if you haven't bought any music this year why are you reading a music blog? What's wrong with you?

With the promise of more musical excellence on the horizon, this is an exciting 12-month period. Either that or everything good has already come out and I've just fucked up my end of year Top Ten.

God speed

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Guest review: Leatherface - Viva La Arthouse (Live in Melbourne)

Bro Dude explains why the boys from the North still have it...

As I sit here listening to their latest release Viva La Arthouse – Live in Melbourne I realise it’s nearly 20 years since I first heard Leatherface, courtesy of a DJ at The Venue, a once great (now crap) music club in London’s grotty suburb of New Cross, and it got me reminiscing a bit. That first introduction was the band’s cover of Message in a Bottle, an epic reworking of the Police classic – bigger, faster, harder, growling vocals. I loved it.

I bought their debut EP and, taking aside the Police cover, listening to Not Superstitious and Trenchfoot proved to be a bit of a punk rock epiphany for me. This band was pretty damn special. A copy of Mush was purchased soon after (now widely regarded by fans of the genre as one of the best punk albums of all time) and this cemented my love for Sunderland’s finest.

So, a fair few years down the line and I have another album to add to the collection. Viva La Arthouse..., the second release on the band’s own Big Ugly Fish label, was recorded during their Stormy Petrel world tour in 2010 at the Arthouse, a small, family run music venue that has played host to many bands of many genres for the last 19 years. Sadly, due to the enforcement of new licensing laws and restrictions, their doors closed in May 2011.

Being on the other side of the planet I never got the chance to visit the ‘Arty’ personally, but from what I’ve read it’s definitely held in fond regard by musicians and patrons alike. Indeed, before launching into Not Superstitious, frontman Frankie Stubbs remarks that ‘I’ve never been to a better venue than this’.

Recorded on the spur of the moment, Viva La Arthouse has that intimate feel you can only attain when a band plays a small venue. From the balls-out opener of Not a Day Goes By you can tell that the band is enjoying being there. The set list touches everything from 1990's Fill Your Boots through to 2009’s Stormy Petrel, although it’s pointless to try and categorise old and new Leatherface material in such a way; a new track like My World’s End wouldn't have sounded out of place on 1989’s Cherry Knowle.

The bass and drums are tighter than a camel’s arse in a sandstorm and it’s great to have original guitarist Dickie Hammond back in the line up. There’s something special about the Stubbs/Hammond partnership, something about the song writing and guitar harmonising. Very few punk tunes make my hairs stand on end (or give a ‘reet neck mohican’ as Stubbs once put it in an old NME interview) but Springtime has always had that effect on me, as does the recent track Never Say Goodbye.

A great set continues, the crowd’s call for Springtime is answered, a rowdy rendition of Wat Tyler’s classic Hops and Barley follows, and they finish with an impromptu karaoke style cover of Nine Inch NailsHurt, which, whilst being one of those ‘maybe you had to be there’ moments, has an undeniable charm and poignancy given the fate of the venue.

In short, the new stuff sounds great alongside the old, the band are on top form, and if this album follows the tradition of being as hard to find as all the other ‘live’ Leatherface albums, you’d better hurry up and get a copy.

Viva La Arthouse is out now on Big Ugly Fish Recordings

Friday, 15 July 2011

Sonisphere 2011; how it went down...

There are certain times in your life that you don't mind being called a bastard. I experienced one of these times last week when telling my mates that I'd won Rock Royalty tickets to this year's Sonisphere festival. The added bonus for me, which not everyone appreciated, was that the win included a meet and greet with Limp Bizkit.

Being as my homie Petrovski is a fan of the Bizkit, plus it was his birthday, he was the lucky recipient of ticket two. He couldn't get the day off work but after some strategic truth realignment we were on the road and aiming for as much of the Big 4 as possible.

Tent erected (stop sniggering at the back) we hit the main arena. Unfortunately, traffic fuckaboutery and confusing contraflow meant we'd missed Anthrax and Megadeth but as Slayer pounded their way through a blistering set and the beers flowed steadily down our gullets, it didn't seem to matter. Finishing with Raining Blood and Angel of Death, Slayer played a blinder. But then it was time for the main event and as soon as the Ecstasy of Gold started wafting over the PA the crowd were off.

There have been a few twinges around the music press about Metallica being a bit static and unengaged but clearly the people saying this need their genitals nailed to a moving train. The setlist was:

Hit the Lights
Master of Puppets
The Shortest Straw
Seek and Destroy
Ride the Lightning
The Memory Remains
All Nightmare Long
Sad But True
The Call of Ktulu
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Fade to Black
Enter Sandman

Pretty much as good as it gets? Oh no. Not yet. As with their recent Big 4 appearances, Metallica were then joined on stage by Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax and members of Diamond Head for Am I Evil. Never has a moment been so metal. I assumed the world would implode. Once 60,000 people had finished going mental Metallica chucked Battery and Creeping Death at us and buggered off. Petrovski and I proceeded to drink a million beers, eat some crisps, and bivvy down for the night.

Saturday morning brought with it a stunning hangover, an expensive sausage and egg baguette and a rather pleasant shit in the Rock Royalty cans. With the weather threatening rain, we headed down to the Apollo stage for Sylosis, who's energy for 11:00 was extraordinary and a significant crowd got involved. Beers in hand we wandered across to the opposite Saturn stage for Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine. Having spent the last few years recording lounge music versions of modern pop and metal songs, Mr. Cheese has built up a bit of a cult following and as such, the numbers witnessing his versions of Limp Bizkit's Nookie, Disturbed's The Sickness, Black Eyed Pea's Boom Boom Pow and Weezer's Buddy Holly were huge. It was nonstop laughs and a thoroughly excellent addition to the lineup.

Architects followed with a blistering set that lead nicely into Gallows. The day after Sonisphere, Gallows frontman Frank Carter revealed he would be leaving the band, which came as a huge shock considering the passion and balls out punk rock fury of his delivery on stage. Carter remains one of UK punk's most compelling front men and despite Gallows continuing without him, it will be his new band Pure Love that will get my attentions.

It's not a heavy metal festival without Max Cavalera appearing in some guise. Cavalera Conspiracy brought a refreshing simple slab of chugging metal to the site with Refuse/Resist and Inflikted involving major crowd singalongs. He may look like a stinking cider tramp but Cavalera knows how to work a crowd, particularly with the inevitable inclusion of Sepultura's anthem Roots. My only criticism was that Igor Cavalera's snare sounded like someone hitting a bucket with a tennis racket but you can't have everything I suppose.

With the onset of a) pissing rain and b) Kids in Glass Houses it was time to meander back to Rock Royalty for an expensive beer, some shelter and another sausage baguette. The VIP area was a pretty opulent area for a festival. It even had, in some instances, seats. After another marvellously clean bog experience, we headed back to the tent for more provisions. In true male preparatory style we'd packed 15 cans of beer, 24 bags of crisps, 12 sausage rolls and a bag of dry roasted peanuts (important roughage).

Despite the brutal downpour which started to assault the tent, I waterproofed myself up and headed out into the elements as there was no way on Satan's green Earth that I was missing Bad Religion. The funniest thing about these punk legends is the fact that they are old. It's difficult to imagine that the balding, polo shirt-wearing blokes on stage were the force behind Voice of God is Government and We're Only Gonna Die but by the time they'd pulled out 21st Century Digital Boy and Fuck Armageddon...This is Hell their credentials could never be denied. Bad Religion are one of the bands that I started listening too in my yoof with the rest of the Fat Wreck/Epitaph bands so to finally see them in the flesh was a pretty immense experience.

After another tent/beer/sausage-based product intake the sun found it's way through and with the promise of Paradise Lost and The Sisters of Mercy on the way, we headed down to the Jagermeister stage for Rival Sons. A somewhat erroneous addition to the traditionally brutal Earache Records roster, this quartet sound like a modern day Led Zeppelin, with frontman Jay Buchanan commanding the stage as I would imagine Robert Plant did back in the day. Their blues-tinged rock and roll was absolutely spot on and is vying for a top five slot in terms of performances for the festival.

Saturday started to go a bit wrong after that. As we descended upon the Bohemia stage, which is in a tent, we came across belligerent security guards and metal barriers. Seemingly Gojira had caused such a surge in the crowd that barriers were put in place and in their infinite wisdom, the crowd control staff decided that the tent shouldn't be more than half full for the rest of the night. As a result, we stood in the drizzle for about twenty minutes listening to Paradise Lost before fucking it off completely and heading back to the tent. Saturday came to an inglorious end. In hindsight we should have headed to the Bedroom Jam stage for Watain but the buzzkill of Paradise Lost coupled with the turgid monotony of Weezer and Biffy Clyro headlining the Apollo stage meant we were better off smashing a few cans at the tent and waiting for Sunday whilst discussing pertinent questions such as who would win in a fight between Bruno Brooks and Keith Chegwin.

Dawn broke, as did a great deal of wind thanks to a heroic intake of sausage rolls, and wellington boots were donned. Petrovski also made a sneaky dash to Asda for 24 cans of lager as we'd spent the national debt of Ethiopia on Tuborg over the last 36 hours and were feeling the festival pinch. So with cans in pockets and underpants we strolled into the main arena, unable to avoid the hellish aroma of a broken Rock Royalty toilet block but happy nonetheless. Opening the proceedings was Volbeat, who got a chunky crowd and despite covering Raining Blood with the wrong notes kicked the day off a storm.

Arch Enemy then took the stage and the bizarrely sexy Angela Gossow unleashed her epic lungs upon us (stop it). I've never seen Arch Enemy play a bad set. Michael Amott's guitar pedigree is unrivalled and their delivery is bordering on perfect every time. As I Will Live Again cascaded across the field and we were planning to head over to the Jagermeister stage for hardcore outfit Feed The Rhino I received a call from Steph van Spronsen of The Noise Cartel informing me that the meet and greet with Limp Bizkit would take place at 14:45. I won't lie, I did a bit of a shit. Stop pretending you don't sing along with Rollin' whenever it comes on. I had also told my pal The Red Wizard I would film Fred Durst telling him to fuck off (there's a long history of hatred there) but knew this would be unlikely to come to light.

So back to the tent for a few more cans and some revision on who the fuck the bassist was in Limp Bizkit and off we went a-wandering. Steph met us and walked us into the band area which couldn't have been more different from the place us proles were used to; clean, quiet, cheap beer, free tattoos, and Joel O'Keefe from Airbourne walking frantically in every direction with no obvious purpose. Durst's PR met us and explained he was tired and feeling unwell; at this point I was expecting him to live up to his "being a dick" hype. However, we wandered over, shook hands, and just had a bit of a chat (which apparently was filmed by Scuzz TV, so if you see Durst with a fat bloke in a white vest and an Agnostic Front baseball cap on telly do let me know). He told us how happy he was to be touring with Slipknot again, we spoke about the tragic loss of Paul Gray. He also kindly offered to buy me a blowjob as part of the prize win, which I declined as, although generous, I suspected Hot Chick wouldn't be too pleased. He then offered to fly her in by helicopter but alas, the logistics were just horrendous.

Here's a photo of us thugging out:

Having bumped into the hugely pleasant Mikael Akerfeldt and stood a bit startstruck as a sweaty Arch Enemy walked past, we were ushered back to the main arena, where a series of odd events resulted in my giving the manager of Exit Ten my stock of festival Immodium. But still, we'd met the Durst, we were buzzing (legally) so decided to enjoy a bit of Motorhead. The sad death of original Motorhead bassist Wurzel the day before was a shock to the crowd but it meant that Lemmy and the boys delivered a spot on, emotionally-charged set of songs that spanned 35-odd years.

More rain, more beers, and bin bags fashioned into dresses as the afternoon progressed and before long, Limp Bizkit took the stage and tore it up. The set was everything a fan would have wanted, i.e 90% Chocolate Starfish, plus Break Stuff. The only track from latest album Golden Cobra that they played was Douchebag, which features the eloquent chorus:

"Douchebag, I'mma fuck you up
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you up"

A searing critique of cultural oppression, I'm sure you'll agree. But fuck it; it's Limp Bizkit. Unless you've stood with 30,000 people during My Generation, Take a Look Around, Rollin, and all the other songs you all know, you really can't say you hate them. To go all Durst on yo' ass, that shit is fuckin' infectious bro.

Bill Bailey followed Bizkit with his absolutely spot-on comedy. From Rammstein to The Wurzels, he was hugely entertaining. But we didn't come here for comedy; Sunday was all about Slipknot. Their first UK show since the death of Paul Gray was second to, if not on a par with the Big 4 in terms of anticipation. There were Slipknot shirts everywhere on people of all ages and despite the onset of the shitting rain, the crowd was immense.

Opening with the traditional 742617000027 and blasting straight into (sic), Slipknot weren't there to piss about. Drawing on over a decade of material, they fused new and old as my personal fave Disasterpiece led into Psychosocial before steaming through The Heretic Anthem and Duality. The lack of Paul Gray hasn't effected the sheer intensity of Slipknot's live performance and as Corey Taylor said, this was a celebration and not a commiseration. Earlier in the day there had been a two-minute silence across the whole site; all the fairground rides shut down and 60,000 people stood facing the stage in memory of the fallen Number 2. Taylor commended the crowd for their respect and tells us it was a truly wonderful thing to see.

There is of course one main reason why Slipknot are so brilliant live and as the main set draws to a close, we're told it's time to "SPIT! IT! OUT!". Most of the crowd know what happens next. Despite the mud, down we sit, and as the song kicks back in, up the fuck we jump. Wonderful stuff.

Coming back on with People = Shit and Surfacing, a giant "2" dominates the backdrop and Gray's boilersuit and mask are brought to the front of the stage. It all comes to an end and it's been a hugely emotional experience for the 'Knot but they couldn't have been on better form.

The music, and indeed the festival, had finished. As the rain continued to pour we headed back to the tent to evaluate the weekend we'd just experienced - the bands, the beers, the toilets, the food, the awesome fat ginger bloke in an army helmet - and there was only really one question on our minds; how the fuck are we going to win Rock Royalty tickets for Sonisphere 2012?

Friday, 24 June 2011

'Appy day...(I should be shot for that pun)

Two of my favourite things are thrash metal and beer. The only thing that makes either better is the prefix 'free'. I spent last night enjoying both courtesy of Earache Records at the first playing of Evile's new album Five Serpents Teeth, scheduled for release on September 26th, and I am quite marvelously hungover as a result. Being as the full report is going on to MetalasFuck imminently I shan't regurgitate the evening here but needless to say that me and Shithouse, posing as our photographer and doing a bloody good job, had a belter.

One of our lengthier Stella-fuelled conversation was about genres and band classification. The beauty of Evile is that they're a thrash band. That's it. Simples. However, according to Heavy Metal Encyclopedia, an Android app available now via Marketplace, there are 86 genres of metal.


Now although the app includes 'Punk' and 'Oi' as two genres, the rest are pretty legit, although what the fuck 'Humppa' is is beyond me. Seemingly that's what Finntroll is. I thought they were folk metal. And herein lies the problem.

I'm pretty sure no two people categorise bands the same. Iron Maiden are heavy metal, Megadeth are thrash, Sonic Syndicate are shit; this much we can all agree on. But I recently came across El Schlong who have been described as prog, post-hardcore, spazcore, all of which are broadly correct. Children of Bodom are, in my opinion, a melodic death metal band but are often referred to as blackened death metal, Opeth are everything from death to prog and back again. So despite being a good app, it's a tad flawed on the basis that the vast majority of us categorise bands differently.

It's worth downloading though, predominantly because it's linked to Spotify and has a vast amount of bands listed, although it doesn't have band bios which is a bit shit. There's also a lack of detail on the nastier genres, such as goregrind (which lists Carcass - I thought they were grindcore?...) I'm sure this will be updated over time though.

Another app worth exploring, particularly for fanboys like me, is the new DevilDriver app - tonnes of music, photos, a fan chat board, merch and band info. Both this and Heavy Metal Encyclopedia are free on Android, which is marvelous.

So now Metal Harmony officially does it all; news, reviews, tours, technology updates; you have to wonder if you'll ever really need another music resource ever again?


Friday, 17 June 2011

A storm is coming...

After a bit of a personal drought, there are finally some hugely exciting gigs on the horizon. Firstly, skate punk legends Strung Out are at the Camden Underworld on July 27th. This pleases me greatly as despite having listened to them for the last 15-odd years, I'm pretty sure I've never seen them live.

At the other end of the spectrum is oriental oddballs Dir En Grey in August, again in Camden. Their unique mashup of industrial-Japancore-Rammsteiny-Slipknotism is rather splendid, plus the lead singer Kyo is completely fucking batshit mental so provided he doesn't set fire to his eyeballs this is likely to be a pretty epic gig.

There's also the Hell on Earth tour in August. Headliners Unearth have a new album to promote (Darkness in the Light, out July 5th) and the fact that Evergreen Terrace are on the tour makes this a proper exciting proposition por moi.

My home town then plays host to much-applauded post-hardcore upstarts Letlive in September, all for the hilariously retarded sum of £6. And who said there's no money in music? The venue has a capacity of 250, so a sell out would be £1,500, plus a bit of merch. Then their support will need paying, and I suppose all final profits once the venue has taken it's cut
will have to be split between all five members of Letlive...they'll be rolling it it...

Finally, Deep Purple are undertaking an arena tour complete with a 38-piece orchestra which will be nothing other than awesome. I've not shelled out the necessary £50 yet so if anyone fancies sending me a gratis ticket I'll be sure to buy you a beer.

These are my planned movements so if anyone is intending to break into the house on the above dates, the PS3 is upstairs and the single malt is in the kitchen. Enjoy.

I'll leave you with this, from Dir En Grey. Feel free to have nightmares:


Friday, 10 June 2011

Download 2012...or not

Normally at this time of year me and Hot Chick would be teeing ourselves up for a massive weekend music of beers and sausage and mash-filled Yorkshire puddings, but this year one of our family has rudely decided to get married thus rendering our Download 2012 attendance impossible.

The line-up this year is nothing too exciting for me personally but it's the weekend itself that I'm going to miss; the endless stream of cold beer, the sitting in the sun applying extensive amounts of factor 50 to my bald head, the chatting to random people whilst laying in the sun and enjoying the mid-afternoon twiddlings of some rock legends. Download is just an amazing experience from start to finish.

I have no more to add this week other than wishing everyone that every one of you bastards has an amazing time and if anyone fancies writing a report of the weekend for Metal Harmony, drop me a line...

Laters homies

Friday, 3 June 2011

An homage to the new champions

Way back when, in the distant annals of 2006, Hot Chick played me a track called Hell and High Water by some unknown Southern rock outfit called Black Stone Cherry. I thought it was an alright tune but it didn't cause any scrotal tightening. She then bought their self-titled debut album and on one particular car journey, she stuck the CD on to my complete unbotheredness.

Opening track Rain Wizard started up and by the time the first verse came in I was hooked. It was without doubt one of the best, pure rock and roll albums I'd heard in years. Despite my initial ambivalence to lead single Hell and High Water, there isn't a single stinker on the album.

Black Stone Cherry played at the well-missed London Astoria in October 2007 (after being moved from smaller venue LA2 due to popular demand), and the set was recorded and pressed on CD on the night. In keeping with their humble roots, the BSC lads took the stage and were so grateful that they promised to come and chat to all the crowd and sign anything that needed signing once they'd come off stage.

Second album Folklore and Superstition was an absolute belter, and BSC continued their theme of opening up with a winning anthem in the shape of Blind Man. The gigs and tours that followed included major slots alongside the likes of Def Leppard and Whitesnake, as well as continually brilliant appearances at the major UK festivals.

Skip to the end, MADman...

The Cherry's latest album has recently hit the shelves. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea had a huge amount of promise based on lead singles Blame it on the Boom Boom and White Trash Millionaire. So Hot Chick dutifully bought it on release day and I sat down to give it a listen.

The infamous "tricky third album".

And they have fucking nailed it once again. They may be a more polished, better looking, older, more mainstream version of their 2006 selves but bugger me sideways if this isn't yet another moment of pure Southern rock and roll excellence. So often a band loses their way and becomes too mainstream, or too generic, but BSC have kept their roots whilst spreading their wings. There's nothing complex about the content and to a degree, a lot of the tracks are quite predictable but sometimes you want to throw on a record, chug a beer, drive round to your buddy's house in a Ford F150 truck and go shoot some animals 'n' shit. This is the soundtrack to that afternoon and it is marvellous.

I could spend a lot of time discussing these legends from Kentucky but I shan't; instead, I politely suggest you buy everything they own, sit in the sun and enjoy the noise of the South. Y'all.

Much love

Friday, 20 May 2011

Being heavy

No, not as in "being a fatty".

I was having a chat with my mate Si-KO this week about heaviness. Not personal heaviness, as that would be odd. I am of course referring to musical heaviness.

In my not-even-slightly-humble opinion, 'heavy' isn't just about insane speed and indecipherable lyrics. If someone asked me to define heavy music I'd probably play them Slayer's Raining Blood and Sabbath's Iron Man. Neil Young's Hey Hey My My is another tune that, despite being thoroughly un-metal, is made indisputably heavy by a distorted, chugging guitar riff and dark as balls vocals.

This isn't to say that deathcore, the very much maligned and misunderstood bastard child of death metal and metalcore, isn't ridiculously heavy; it's just a different sort of heavy. I'm very aware I'm straying dangerously close to the "it's not metulz" line here...

The thing is, it ain't just metal that's heavy. Without sounding like a pretentious arsemonkey, O Fortuna from the opera Carmina Burana by Carl Orff (you all know it) is one of the heaviest, darkest pieces of music I've ever come across. I'd even suggest that The Prodigy's No Good and Voodoo People are pretty fucking heavy tunes, especially bearing in mind the odd videos. Drum and bass also has it's heavy moments outside of Slipknot's Eyeless; the 1999 self-titled album from D&B chappy Aphrodite contains some pretty weighty music.

In a nutshell, heaviness is all around us; it must be embraced.


Friday, 6 May 2011

Metal Harmony: The Heavy Edition

One of the most wonderful, and sometimes annoying, things about metal is the seemingly endless genres and sub-genres that exist. In fact, it's almost a necessity to invent a new classification for any new bands on the scene.

Over the last couple of weeks - actually, first let me apologise for my two-week absence. This is due to public holidays and hangovers, most recently to be blamed on the Royal Wedding. What a visual spectacle it was, eh? I'm not even the slightest bit interested in the Royal family, except for the value they hold for the British tourist industry, but seeing young baldy Prince William and fitter-when-shes-fatter Kate Middleton get their nuptial on was a very pleasant day.

Anyway, the metal. My ears have been abused over the last fortnight by nothing but the heavy. I don't mean headbang heavy; I mean smash your house up with one of your own severed limbs heavy. I've put some links to the brutality at the end, primarily so you have to read all this drivel first.

First up is Wormrot. Some of the nicest chaps I've met but without doubt the most abusive grindcore I've experienced. Stripped down drums, no bass, just pure grind madness. I haven't heard new album Dirge in its entirety but the excerpts I've come across have been insane.

From grindcore to death, Phoenix Amongst the Ashes from death metal titans Hate Eternal is quite simply brutal. I've got a full review on MetalasFuck here but this is the definition of heaviness. And on the subject of heaviness, time to doth a cap to Archspiar, the new kids on the block. They're just horrible. The fastest, most aggressive metal in existence may not be everyone's cup of Bovril but their debut All Shall Align (reviews also available on MetalasFuck her) is an absolutely devastating piece of work.

Moving back to the world of grindcore, Scottish outfit Cerebral Bore released Maniacal Miscreation last month and it is berserk. The vocals sound like Satan gargling landmines in his anus. You will struggle to find much heavier than this.

And finally, Mincing Fury. Yes, Mincing Fury. The most retarded goregrind in history. Samples from TV shows, scratching, a grind version of Korn's Blind, vocals that are pitchshifted beyond all recognition and a song entitled Heterosexual Testosterone Compressor. It's just insane.

So here are some links - enjoy:

I shall be drinking heavily to celebrate my birthday this weekend, I suggest you all do the same.


Friday, 15 April 2011

People at gigs are dicks

I get the train to London five times a week and it never excites me. However, last Saturday was a different kettle of salmon as I embarked on my journey, not only because I had two ice cold cans of miscellaneous European beer in hand, but because I knew that at the other end was Amon Amarth, Ensiferum, Children of Bodom, and me old mucker Si Mitchell.

Me and Mitchell have been mates for the best part of twelve years and although we lost touch in the pre-Facebook void of time that no-one under 23 can comprehend, we chat on a regular basis. Normally about complete bollocks. On this occasion though there was something of substance to discuss and after I'd failed to identify about 80% of the band logos he'd tattooed on his own leg (mainly as I'm shit at that game) he told me about his new t-shirt company Zukie. Si's always been an excellent artist and has set this company up with A frontman Jason Perry and quite randomly, Dougie Poynter from boyband popsters McFly. The stuff is good, so buy something here.

Shameless plug aside, we drank a couple of quick pints, I fell down some stairs, we said goodbye, hugged, and Si and his missus went off to see ska punk legends Capdown whilst I made my way to Children of Bodom's headline

The monumentally long queue outside the HMV Forum was something to behold and frustratingly it meant I missed a big chunk of openers Ensiferum. Still, beer in hand I waded down to the front and caught a few numbers from their arsenal of frankly awesome folk death metal. They left the stage to make way for the mighty Amon Amarth - the main band I wanted to see.

And see them I did, through the view finders of 200 fucking digital cameras.

People: when we go to see bands, we go to see bands and listen to music. We go to enjoy an atmosphere and drink a couple of pints. We go to run around shirtless like retarded poultry. We do not go so we can all take two hours of video and upload it to YouTube. If you want to watch videos of the band, buy a FUCKING DVD. Because I can tell you this right now, my pretty little damp-chinned wonders; the next person who stands in front of me filming whilst I'm trying to get my metal on will be removing said camera/phone in several pieces from their anus.

Once my rage had subsided I got into the Amon Amarth experience and their epic onstage windmilling set the girl next to me off, only every rotation of her head saw her hair dunking into my pint of Tetley and the whipping me
in the face. Rather that than the camera wankers, mind.

Frontman Johan Hegg is an absolute beast who's vocals are deep enough rupture your spleen. These boys are bonafide Viking through and through and the set was everything you would expect; loud, fast, soaring guitar riffs, and Twilight of the Thunder Gods, which set the crowd off. I was buzzing.

When Children of Bodom took the stage, I started to get a wee bit bored. Maybe Amon Amarth were too good but Alexi Laiho et al didn't excite me tonight. I've seen them twice before and remember thinking "I thought they'd have been better". I might be wrong (unlikely) but for me COB are ace on record, a bit uninteresting on stage.

I left about an hour into their set and began the long arduous journey home in my usual post-gig state; ears ringing, completely broke and 100% drunk.

Good times.


Friday, 8 April 2011

Trying hard, getting far, and it the end it not really mattering

Tyranny has, bizarrely, featured quite highly in my listening this week. xTYRANTx on Eulogy Records have a hardcore/metal crossover sound that's pretty raw and incredibly meaty. Then there's Greek symphonic metallers Nightfall's latest offering Astron Black and the Thirty Tyrants. It's a bit of a chugger and has some epic atmospheric moments that combine heavy heavy guitar and vocals with soft orchestral breaks. Decent stuff.

Something else that's been resonating in the ol' ear this week is Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory. When I was in my teens, nu metal was a big deal. Sitting round my mate's house smoking weed and listening to Korn's debut album whilst watching Teletubbies was a staple of the week. Slipknot's self-titled belter, Disturbed's The Sickness, Papa Roach's Infest; I loved them all and still do. And of course you can't ignore Limp Bizkit's Chocolate Starfish... which, whilst indisputably hilarious, is a monster album from the era.

Hybrid Theory was fantastic when it came out. Listening to One Step Closer makes me feel like I've just got my driving licence and I'm gunning around Norfolk in a 1.3 Toyota Starlet (colour: Tropicana) all over again. Every track on the album is quality. But rather than becoming one of my favourite bands (a la Disturbed), Linkin Park decided to release virtually every song on Hybrid Theory as a single, then re-release it as a horrific electro-remix, and it all went downhill. It was all signs that they were lazy; they knew they had a winner and milked the living cock out of it.

I respect what Linkin Park has achieved. They've toured arenas, released four major albums (aside from the bastard remix album) and have got top-billing at some of the world's biggest rock music festivals. But for me they'll always be the band who peaked right at the beginning, got lazy, and ultimately got shit.

And on that note, I'm off to buy some massive jeans, a backwards baseball cap and have a beer with Shifty Shellshock.


Friday, 1 April 2011

Metal Gods

For many years I've been working in Soho which, for those of you who don't know, is the area of London populated by transvestites, predatory homosexuals, prostitutes, tramps, drug dealers, drug addicts, suit wankers (like me) and famous folk. I'm not generally a man who gets excited by celebrities (although I did bump into Lisa Snowdon once which caused a special type of excitement). But yesterday, after a number of fermented apple-based alcoholic beverages, I had a moment of major starstruckism.

There, wandering past the boozer, was the one and only Tony Iommi, accompanied by an attractive lady and a burly minder. I didn't want to be annoying fanboy and run over like a tit; after all, everyone deserves their privacy. However, in my defence I was a bit pissed, so over I went.

In my mind, I was planning to say:

"Tony! Great to meet you. I've been a huge fan for years and truly
consider you to be a pioneer of the genre. Thank you for the Iron Man

What I said was:

"Tony! Huvumanashuffaphotoplease??!"

He kindly obliged. As you can see I'm doing a very poor job of playing it

What a legend.

The funniest part of this whole process was returning to my group of workmates, holding aloft my picture, smiling like a mentalist, and declaring:

"Look! It's Tony Iommi!". This was greeted by a wall of silence and blankexpressions.

"You know, the legendary axe man?"


"From Black Sabbath?"

A bit of disinterested eyebrow-raising.

This surprised me a wee bit. Even if you're not into metal, surely you know who Tony Iommi and Black Sabbath are? Am I being daft? One of the most important bands in the history of rock and metal? No? Fair enough.

I suppose it's all relative. To me, and I would imagine most people reading this, Iommi is a frickin' deity but to others, he's just an unusually tanned, ageing chap. But quite hilariously I've been with people who've been hugely excited about seeing balding lothario Callum Best, speech impaired controversy monkey Jonathan Ross and hot-but-bland-as-fuck girl band The Saturdays. No, honestly.

It takes all sorts I suppose.


Friday, 18 March 2011

You're the best, around...

A few mates and I used to play a game, normally during working hours whilst we were pretending to be busy and professional. You've probably all done it but the rules are simple; who would be your ultimate super group? You can have as many people as you like provided that combined, they make a cohesive band, so twelve lead guitarists is not acceptable. But if you feel the need to put in a sitar player then it's perfectly acceptable to get yourself a bit of Ravi Shankar in the lineup.

Today I've decided to revisit this high level piece of musical analysis on a genre-specific basis, although I'm not breaking down into 'death metal', 'black metal', 'hardcore' and so on because some total bellend will invariably have a hissy fit about who fits where. So with this in mind:

Punk Supergroup

Vocals - Greg Graffin, Bad Religion
Lead guitar/backing vocals - Frankie Stubbs, Leatherface
Rhythm guitar - Eric Melvin, NoFX
Bass - Matt Freeman, Rancid
Drums - Derrick Plourde, formerly Lagwagon

Metal Supergroup

Vocals - Ryan McCombs Drowning Pool
Lead guitar - Dave Mustaine Megadeth
Rhythm guitar - Dimebag Darrell Abbott formerly Pantera/Damageplan
Bass - Steve Harris Iron Maiden
Drums - John Boeklin DevilDriver

Stadium Rock Ultra Awesome Supergroup

Vocals - David Coverdale, Whitesnake
Lead guitar - Mark Knopfler, Dire Straits
Rhythm guitar - Steve Stills, Crosby, Still and Nash
Bass - Bakithi Kumalo, African bassist, played on Paul Simon's Gracelands album
Drums - Keith Moon, The Who

It's something you can spend a bollock-achingly long time on and it brings out the twat in us all, as no-one agrees. But the beauty of it is there's no right or wrong answer. Unless your line-up includes any members of My Chemical Romance.

If you can be arsed, post your winners on here.

Peace, love and painful intercourse,