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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.