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Sunday, 23 December 2012

Top Ten of 2012

Friday, 16 November 2012

The beat goes on...

There's no secret about the fact that I'm a massive fan of electronic music in its various guises. As a lifelong Prodigy fan, songs like Their Law make me want to throw down just as hard as Machine Head's Halo, and New Order at Reading 1998 was a truly spectacular affair. I'm also happy to admit that shit early 90s trance house (step forward Alice Deejay, Yomanda, DJ Jean, et al) holds a special place in my heart primarily as it reminds me of going to nightclubs with my pals well over a decade ago and being desperately useless at liaising with the opposite sex. Good/frustrating times.

However. I've never been hugely impressed by the fusion of electronic music and metal. Stalwarts of this genre Enter Shikari bore me, although I have never seen them live and I hear that's where they come into their own, and the plethora of abysmal dance bands masquerading as rock outfits based on the fact that they have extensive tattooing make me want to vomit. All this aside, being an actual music fan and not a metal purist I'm always open to new things.

Last year, The Bunny The Bear, a band who are aiming at a market so far away from me it's untrue, started to change my opinion with the ridiculous-yet-enjoyable If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say, but this was followed up with The Stomach For It and being as eloquent as I possibly can, that was fucking shit. The Browning took a more dub angle with Burn This World, with slower tempos, deeper bass drops and no clean vocals. Despite being pretty samey throughout, it worked extremely well and that album is still on circulation in Metal Harmony HQ.

The new boys on the block seem to have it nailed. Japan's Crossfaith are without doubt a metal band but their frankly huge riffs are underpinned with epic dance beats. I'd heard a lot about this mob but frustratingly wasn't able to see them tear up my local venue a few weeks back. I did my due diligence and Googled them extensively, and holy shitballs; this is about as up my street as music gets at present. I can't remember a Japanese export this exciting since Dir En Grey (whatever happened to them?)

A blog or three ago I asked what was happening next in music and despite the fact that the metal/electronic fusion is not a new thing, being as industrial bands such as Fear Factory and Ministry can lay some type for claim, the evolution into Crossfaith's devastating brand of metal is something that is happening right now. Its a genuine step in a new direction and its bloody splendid.

Until next time


Friday, 2 November 2012

Terror in the home counties

There are a number of things I truly enjoy in this world; spending time with my family, a pint of hearty ale, and getting stuck in at a hardcore show. Therefore one was a little frustrated on Wednesday 31st of October, the night hardcore legend Terror came to my home town, to be afflicted with a bastard illness (technically a cold).

However, in true trooper style I wrapped up warm and headed down to the venue having pledged not to drink (which didn't go too well as I was three cans of continental lager down before getting through the doors).

The Forum in Tunbridge Wells has a habit of putting on incredibly strong hardcore line ups and this was no exception. I missed local stalwarts Pay No Respect but was there in time for Broken Teeth. Clearly these guys had fans in the crowd as the good old fashioned somersaults and flying kicks were aplenty. They were excellent, combining traditional rapid-fire hardcore with massive beatdowns and generally making a bloody big noise. Brutality Will Prevail followed and whilst no doubt a solid hardcore band, they didn't seem as exciting as Broken Teeth. Plus, by the time they came on, the crowd were fully charged and ready for Terror.

Having completely disguarded my no-beer rule and loaded up with Newcastle Brown, I wandered down to the front as Scott Vogel et al came on stage. From then on, it's all a bit of a blur. Terror did not stop. They fired through song after song, beckoned the crowd forward, got the circle pits started, encouraged excessive stage diving; there was one point in the evening that it seemed no one was actually on the floor at all, everyone seemed to be in the air.

Needless to say I lost my shit during Lowest of the Low and treated my ageing body with a complete lack of respect, resulting in serious bruising all over the place. One chap has his nose smashed in, which I wouldn't have been too happy with but seeing as my last Terror experience saw me with two black eyes and my wife crying as she thought I'd been beaten up, I got off pretty lightly this time round.

At the end of the show I managed to grab Mr. Vogel and thank him for a splendid evening, or words to that effect. We shook hands, he gave me a beer and told me they would be back.

I cannot bloody wait.

On a sad note, I can't ignore the tragic news that Mitch Lucker was killed in a motorcycle accident on November 1st. The 28-year old Suicide Silence frontman was a hugely talented vocalist, but he was also a father and a husband. It's impossible to know how his family must be feeling and my sincerest condolences go out to them.


Friday, 19 October 2012

Between the Buried and Dog Eat Dog

Browsing through the music sections of the local charity shops last weekend, as one often does, I stumbled across a copy of Pantera's Far Beyond Driven. The strange thing about this wasn't so much that it was sitting alongside Jonny Mathis and Bananarama in a provincial Cancer Research outlet; it was that someone had decided to be rid of it in the first place. Resisting the temptation to interrogate the aged volunteer about who this clearly disturbed individual was, I purchased my Dog Eat Dog No Fronts CD single and left. Some people have no taste.

The latest release from Between the Buried and Me, The Parallax II: Future Sequence, landed in Metal Harmony HQ this week. I'm relatively new to this mob, having only really heard the last two albums but The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues was pure class. As often mentioned in these hallowed wafflings I'm by no means an expert on the prog side of anything. Throw on some Opeth or Dream Theater and I'll stare at you blank faced. It's not that I don't like it, it's just that I prefer my music to smack me repeatedly in the face with a brick before drinking my beer and leaving, as opposed to taking me on a whimsical journey in to the subconscience.

Hypersleep Dialogues managed to keep my attention despite the completely insane song structures and ridiculously long soundscapes but Future Sequences is bloody hard work. Thomas Giles, the genius behind BTBAM is quite clearly insane but this elbow-licking madness may have just taken the latest album too far. Perhaps I need to sit in a dark room with a bottle of absinthe to make any sense of it. I think I like the album but I don't know yet; I had to switch off yesterday and revert to As I Lay Dying for some easy listening.

So with that in mind, I must now plan for my weekend at the Relentless Freeze festival with the lads from The Breakfast Club on 26th/27th October, but more of that next Friday. Right now, I'm off to give Future Sequence another spin and cry in a corner.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Where do we go, my lovely?

Iron Maiden for Download 2013. It's the announcement everyone wanted to hear. It's not the most shocking or surprising revelation, as having the biggest heavy meal band in the world headlining one of the biggest rock festivals in the world is a bit of a no-brainer but fuck me it's exciting. It could only be better if the other two nights are headlined by Slipknot and Slipknot.

It does beggar the question though; what will Sonisphere do? The rumblings about Led Zeppelin continue, and I can see Green Day or Foo Fighters getting a slot but in terms of your true metal fans, Maiden is going to be a tough one to beat. Based on the redundancies and various board level departures that surrounded Sonisphere 2012 it's difficult to know if it will return to these shores.

I'm not going to evangelise about how astonishing The Irons are as I tend to do that on a regular basis. What I will say is that they are a genre defining band, and although they are not technically from my generation they remain as important, if not more so, than they ever have been to the heavy metal movement. 'Movement' might be a bit of a daft word but this kind of thing is something that I've been mulling over for a while. Allow me to embellish;

It seems that in today's rock/metal world, there is a lack of any truly new movements. As metal became less cool in the late 80s and early 90s and was replaced by grunge as the misfits choice of listening, bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam had music by the balls. Seattle came out of nowhere as a scene and our world became resplendent in long shorts and ill-fitting knitwear. Regardless of whether you liked it or not, the garage style of grunge completely changed the sound of music.

Then nu metal, without doubt the most divisive genre ever to emerge in our world, merged hip hop into massive riffs. The music was underpinned by lyrical themes about abuse, bullying, and it was angry listening that meant something to a generation. Nu metal died out (sorry Fred, but it really did) but the sentiment was reborn in the 2000s with Emo, which spawned a million bands who sounded and looked the same. Even if it's not your thing it's impossible to deny how much of an impact My Chemical Romance had.

But for me, it all gets a bit muddy after that. It doesn't feel like this very moment in time has anything unique happening in metal. There isn't any development. The UK hardcore scene is producing some great bands and US outfits like Between the Buried and Me continue to be innovative, but who is the next Faith No More? Who is the next Korn? Has there truly been a band since My Chemical Romance that has caused such a tectonic shift in musical evolution?

Metal has evolved so much in the last 50 years and there are certain names that will always be quoted as responsible for this but what happens next? There is so much amazing music coming out but is any of it going to change the future? Who knows.

Anyway, this is all a bit much for a Friday. I'm off to drive 2,000 miles in a 1986 Nissan dressed as a Ninja Turtle with my brother for charity.


Friday, 31 August 2012

Me having beef

I consider myself pretty open minded when it comes to respecting the musical opinions of others. I have even been known to change my own opinion based on balanced conversations with others, or in the case of Flobots, shit hot live performances.

However, there are certain things that I will pig-headedly refuse to accept or debate in any single way. They are the following, and are all based on direct quotes I've encountered over the years.

"Iron Maiden aren't the greatest heavy metal band of all time"

Yes they are. Of course they are. Saying they're not makes you an indescribable fool. There is quite simply no other band that has the global following of Maiden. There is no band that cares as much for their fans that they'll travel to the ends of the earth to melt faces of every colour and creed. A band that, despite the Bayley road bump, have been so consistent on record that it beggars belief. And most importantly, regardless of their combined age of 8,569, a band who are guaranteed to absolutely tear it up at every live show. They are better than Metallica, so there.

"Slipknot are just a bloody nu metal band"

Hush, you 12-fingered sister fucker. Slipknot are one of the best bands in the world and if you haven't seen or heard 'that' Download headline set then your opinion is completely invalid. There's no doubt that the debut album was a red hot piece of shrapnel from the nu metal explosion but there ain't a damn thing nu metal about Eeyore. And Iowa? Disasterpiece is nu metal is it? You are a buffoon and must immediately be castrated.

"Coal Chamber are a better band than Devildriver"

Not they're fucking not, you mug. Coal Chamber was a laughably bad nu metal ensemble resplendent in face paints, with what remains to this day some of the most poorly written songs in metal. Big Truck, for example. What the actual fuck is that meant to be about? Oh, a truck? A big one? Got it. Devildriver on the other hand have evolved into one of the most rock solid groovey thrashy metal bands in the world. Clouds Over California has the ability to tear a crowd to pieces and most recent albums Pray For Villains and Beast are absolute monsters from start to finish. If you think a shitty nu metal band is superior you are definitely not invited to my birthday party and can't have a go on my bike.

"Limp Bizkit are total shit"

Show me a man who hasn't sung along to Rollin' and I will show you a bastard liar. Chocolate Starfish... is one of my favourite albums of all time because it's so much fun. It's not imperative to constantly listen to serious, complicated musical soundscapes. Even someone who watches nothing but Fry & Laurie and Frasier will launch at a good old fashioned fart; Bizkit is this musical fart. Yes Fred Durst is portrayed as a bit of a bellend but I'd invite him to a barbecue at my parents' house over Dave Mustaine every day of the week.

So there you have it. Please feel free to agree with the above; any other feedback will not be tolerated.


Friday, 10 August 2012

Rubbish bands

Over time, bands change. Their sound changes, their image changes. It might be slight and almost unnoticeable in some instances (AC/DC) but in others, it means a band goes from being something special to being a big pile of fetid shit. You can probably see what's coming next...
5. Throwdown

I should apologise to Throwdown. As a band they're the constant focus of my 'you fucked up' rage following the release of Deathless in 2009, and regular readers will be getting thoroughly bored of my beration but I promise this will be the last time.

The band that released Haymaker and the seminal hardcore/metal crossover anthem Holy Roller and a host of other mayhem-inducing numbers got beyond lazy with Deathless. Being constantly criticised by the elitists for being a Pantera-wannabe band, they decided that they should release an album that sounds like a shit Pantera effort. Despite a couple of decent songs - This Continuum is worth a listen - its just not Throwdown. The hardcore edge had gone and it felt like they were going for unit-shifting as opposed to having any kind for artistic credibility.

4. Black Stone Cherry

Black Stone Cherry are still a great rock band but there's no shying away from the fact that they peaked with their self titled debut in 2006. They have gone from being a truly exciting proposition to a middle of the road rock band who have aged blistering fast. Despite writing the odd song about shagging, the 20-somethings from Edmonton, Kentucky have reached plodding speed far too early in their career. Production values have increased tenfold, tour slots are constantly there but it seems the flame has died out. I really, really hope I'm proved wrong with their next release.

3. Feeder

No one has ever said they're a metal band so don't start. The first band I ever saw live, Feeder were an edgy indie rock outfit with distorted guitars and shouty vocals. My intro to the Welsh trio came in the shape of Woman in Town which is almost certainly still their best song, and in my early teen years, my old mucker Mearz and I played the Polythene album constantly. But then it all went wrong. The edge was well and truly smoothed and Feeder are now known for the fucking abysmal ditty Buck Rogers. If they'd have stopped at Just a Day I'd have been a happy man.

2. Manic Street Preachers

Memories of head banging with my mate Roshan to You Love Us in my bedroom aged about 10 are distant at best. I'm not suggesting James Dean Bradfield et al should still be topless and wearing a balaclava - no one wants to see a part naked fat Welshman - but where did it all go wrong? I point blank refuse to accept the existence of any Manic Street Preachers activity post-Holy Bible. Everything Must Go stayed true to the title, and everything went; interesting songs, punk attitude...I surely can't be on my own in thinking Design For Life is a hideously played bag o' shite? And Australia? Feeble. What happened to If White America Told The Truth For One Day It's World Would Fall Apart? Motorcycle Emptiness? Bastards.

1. Linkin Park

When it came out, Hybrid Theory was a monster album. I fucking love it, but more down the fact that it reminds me of being 18, being in my first year at university and being regularly pissed. A small tangent; a girl at my university and I listened to Hybrid Theory together a lot. In fact, she was so much into the nu metal scene that she managed to get back stage at Korn and ended up getting genital warts off of one of their roadies. True story.

Anyway, Hybrid Theory was, at the time, a new sound. It sounded angry, it joined Limp Bizkit in telling up and coming metallers that you could wear baseball caps and massive trousers, and it was front-to-back singalong classics. However, the warning bells started to ring when almost every song on the album was released as a single, then they released the whole of Hybrid Theory again as a remix album, and then it collapsed. There is no denying that nowadays, the band are total fucking shit.

There are other offenders but these are the big hitters. If you have any to add, I'd be intrigued.

Time to go and celebrate the beautiful 28-degree sunshine in London by sitting in an office staring at a computer.


Monday, 6 August 2012

RIP Tony Sly

By now, you'll all of heard the tragic news that Tony Sly, frontman of legendary punk rockers No Use For a Name passed away on July 31st. I've been desperately trying to find time to write something about this as it is, quite frankly, a fucking tragedy.

No Use For A Name were one of my gateway bands into the skate punk world. I can't pretend I was with them since day one but back in 1997, I bought Fat Wreck Vol III: Physical fatness back in 1997 and was blown away by On The Outside. The drums were fast (and terrible in places), the guitars were heavy but it was Sly's vocals and awesome lyrics that made the song.

My long time bezzie Mearz (who has featured in these pages before) proceeded to get the entire NUFAN back catalogue and whilst the early work didn't quite resonate with our teenage mentality, Leche Con Carne was an absolute belter.

No Use For A Name often showed a much more serious side to their music, with Justified Black Eye moving away from the archetypal willies and bums vibe that made the likes of Diesel Boy and genre stalwarts NOFX so popular. Whilst never reaching the anti-political levels of Propagandhi and Rise Against, NUFAN were still a band with a message.

With nine studio albums and countless collaborations, EPs and compilations under their belt, No Use For A Name are a massively important band not only to me, but to a load of my good friends. Sly's death is a huge loss to the punk world and he will be sadly missed.

Now play this shit loud and proud.


Friday, 27 July 2012

Olympics baby

Today is the day that the whole world, excluding most of London, has been waiting for; the official start of the London Olympics. With the population of the capital set to swell to almost 20 million and the weather ranging from fucking hot to fucking hot and raining, it's going to be a truly uncomfortable experience for us machine-dwelling corporate cogs. However, imminent catastrophic collapse of the transport infrastructure aside, it should be a pretty good party for a couple of weeks and the commemorate this historic occasions, Metal Harmony will run through what has happened in the inaugural Metal Olympricks event. Nu Metal Penis Marathon Early favourite Fred Durst put in a strong peperformance in the opening stages but a surprise distraction when a spectator shouted 'oi, cunty hat' allowed Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope to overtake and settle into a comfortable lead. However, the final miles in this weather meant that their clown paint sweated off and as the rules of the games clearly state that competitors must finish in full regalia, a Juggalo pitstop allowed Shifty Shellshock to overtake and cross the line into the arms of some shorties. 400m Sprint Out Of Own Arse Lars Ulrich found himself in trouble before the race even started having tied his trainers far too tight, and they subsequently sounded ridiculous when hitting the asphalt. Dave Mustaine, originally in the 400m, was disgruntled to be in the 200m and explained to journalists how the 400m was better when he was in the qualifying round. Odds on favourite Axl Rose failed to arrive. 100m Confusingly Overrated Sprint Steel Panther failed a drugs test as they didn't realise that doping was not funny and really had no place whatsoever in the current games. Linkin Park also faced disqualification for failing to wear relevant shoes, shorts, t-shirts, and bore literally no resemblance to an entrant in the race at all. It was then left to Muse to steal the gold after an overblown entrance that led to a middle of the road plod over the finish line. Congratulations to everyone who took part. Time to avoid some tourists. M \m/

Friday, 13 July 2012

Sort it out

Let's cut straight to the chase; free Randy Blythe. There seems to be more than one issue with the alleged manslaughter case against him and all we know so far is that despite putting up $200,000 bail, he's still being held in a Czech prison. It seems he could be there for some weeks yet whilst he's waiting for this case to come to trial.

I genuinely feel for the friends and family of Daniel, the lad who died after the alleged altercation in 2010, but how in the name of all that is metal can it be proved, or even suggested, that a fan at a gig died of injuries sustained from a fracas with Blythe? If he rushed the stage and was pushed out into the crowd, the injuries could have come from anywhere. I'm not an expert on the law of the land but if anyone has ever been to a Lamb of God gig they'll know that not sustaining injuries is virtually impossible anyway.

The saddest point of this story is that musicians over the years have fucked up in a monumental way, from the chicken-slaughtering rampages of Ozzy Osbourne to the tragic and irresponsible death of Hanoi Rocks bassist Razzle thanks to Vince Neil's drunken driving, but this allegation against Randy Blythe is ridiculous. There's now no way it could ever be proved that he was directly responsible for the death of the lad, who let's not forget, was a Lamb of God fan after all. The videos emerging all over the net have been widely discredited as a different incident and short of jumping in the DeLorean and steaming back to Praha '10, I don't see how a verdict of guilty could be credible in any way.

Fans of heavy metal in Prague will feel the sting of this too. The whole metal fraternity is behind Blythe, with many including Slash and GWAR going so far as to sign a White House petition on the matter. The knock-on of this is that metal fans in Prague may find themselves a little short of gigs if this isn't sorted soon. Let's get this insane situation rectified not only for the sake of one of the most important metal bands of the last decade, but for bloody human rights in general.

Friday, 22 June 2012

SoCal bound

I must apologise for my previous post which seemingly cursed both Cancer Bats and Europe's Download 2012 performances. Still, at least the Bats got a slot; the poor Europe camp fell victim to the laughable British weather and failed to get to the site in time to play their set. I would have been devastated. On the subject of Europe the latest album, Bag of Bones, landed at Metal Harmony HQ this week so I'm looking forward to dusting off the air guitar for that one.

Alongside Europe, this week has been all about Dr Acula. This band has, without any exception, the shittest name in music. I refuse to budge on this. Even the days of Half Man Half Biscuit and Prefab Sprout can't touch Dr Acula. It's just fucking terrible. However, despite my desire to hate this sextet the new album, Nation, is good fun. Its not particularly intelligent but there's something particularly compelling about its thunderously heavy guitar and massive breakdowns. Not one for the trve kvlt metal contingent, but then I ain't one of them. Full review on shortly.

This coming weekend Metal Harmony will be jetting off to San Diego for a few days - sadly for day job purposes and not to bronze my rippling abs on the beach (by 'rippling abs' I obviously mean wobbling beer gut) - but nevertheless, being an area of the world that was integral in the whole pop/skate punk movement i'm hoping to sip a beer or two at a reasonable gnarly venue at some point. After all, that dead chap and his chubby friend did famously say that California, knows how to party.

If Californ-I-A fails to yield any good beer-related moments, the day after I return While She Sleeps, Feed The Rhino and Hang the Bastard are playing in my home town. Despite the fact that jetlag may be forcing my aging carcass to desire sleep, I shall be smashing beers and faces to their delightful collective hardcore stylings. Hang the Bastard have always been on point and on the back of a successful Download performance, plus being cited as one of the UK's most exciting live outfits, While She Sleeps will inevitably bring the fury to The Forum in Tunbridge Wells.

I should take this opportunity to congratulate The Forum for recently topping an NME poll for UK's  Best Small Venue. In the last couple of years they've hosted Malefice, Sick of it All, Terror, Trigger TheBloodshed, Bleed Fom Within, Cancer Bats and Trash Talk to name but a few. Not bad for a 250-capacity converted public toilet.

Right, I'm off for a sunbed and some Botox.

Friday, 8 June 2012

I am jealous

As previously whinged about, I sadly shan't be attending the mighty Download this year but alas, it is my duty as an opinionated wannabe music journalist to cast my tuppence into the ring. Obviously the headliners are all bleedin' marvellous but lets not forget the smorgasbord of quality outfits also sharing the woodwork. Ergo, these are the 5 bands that I reckon are going to destroy the stage this weekend.

Machine Head
Obvious, really. Stalwarts of Donnington Park and fresh off the back of an arena tour supporting the epic Unto the Locust, Machine Head will be looking to convince crowds and festival bosses alike that they are ready for the much-coveted main stage headline slot.

I may not be the worlds biggest Skindred fan but Christ alive they can play a live show. Benji Webb refuses to age and has more energy than almost any other metal frontman. Come rain or shine, the Newport Helicopters will no doubt come out in force during Warning.

Cancer Bats
Developing a reputation as one of the most exciting live bands of the moment is no mean feat and there's no doubt in my mind that the Canadian hardcore mob will show that they deserve their main stage billing.

90% of the crowd will go to hear the Final Countdown and will walk away dumbfounded that such an astounding rock band is known for such a shit song. Rumoured to be dropping Countdown from their live sets, they'll definitely play it at Download but On Broken Wings, Rock the Night and Ready or Not will silence all detractors and set the place off.

Sebastian Bach
Last year's Kicking and Screaming was a surprising inclusion in the Metal Harmony Top 10 of the Year and showed that the former Skid Row frontman still has the chops to deliver proper heavy metal anthems. As he only has a 30-min set I hope he focuses on new material, although 18 and Life wouldn't go amiss.
I'd also like to see Emmure to establish if they are as abysmal live as they are on record.

It's good to see the Devildriver boys back on the main stage but I have mixed feelings about their late morning, 30-min set. Four places below Lamb of God is a bit harsh but sharing a stage with Megadeth, Soundgarden and Black Sabbath does make main stage Sunday a bit of premium metal real estate.

The weather looks fucking dreadful but to be honest, who cares? That's why god invented excessive drinking.

If you're going, or are already there, have a dirty great belter, you lucky bastards.


Friday, 1 June 2012

A plea

I feel somewhat deflated this year. Knowing full well that I won't be attending any festivals is a bit of a shitbag, and this will be the first time in five years I've not done a shit in a hot plastic cupboard after a day drinking weak lager.

I'm not too worried though; the Download lineup is rubbish at present anyway.*

*Please sense the fucking irony.

But emo grumblings aside, 'tis still the season to enjoy righteous tunage. There's been some absolute winners landing at Metal Harmony HQ over the past few weeks, notably the latest Allegaeon album, Formshifter,  which is as superb as melodic death metal gets. Most recently though, there's the latest self-titled release from deathcore giants Whitechapel, which will be getting a proper picking apart on the pages of in the next few days, and is bloody marvellous.

However, if there is one thing the Metal Harmony headphones have been lacking it's a new, proper good punk outfit. Many weeks have elapsed since Executioners came to my attention, but now I'm after something along the lines of Rise Against, Strung Out, Lagwagon; I feel like this kind of music simply doesn't exist anymore.

Ergo, consider today a plea: I NEED SKATE PUNK. It simply ain't summer without skate punk. If you can't listen to NOFX whilst drinking a million beers at a barbecue then summer might as well fuck off. My request is simply that if any of you lot know of a band that might have slipped under my radar, drop me a line.

Hook a brother up, people.


Friday, 4 May 2012

The big 3-0

The rumours you've heard are true. Today, I turn another corner of my life and enter the world of being thirty. I now have inexplicably thick nasal hair, a complete inability to cope with a hangover and a steadily decreasing grasp on modern technologies. However this milestone can mean only one thing for today's Metal Harmony; the 30 Songs Wot Made Me Who I Am Today list.

I originally intended to put this in order but that's just fucking impossible. Instead, this is just thirty tunes that have impacted me, or remind me of an important bit of my life, or are just awesome. Simple as this.

1. Leatherface - How Lonely
2. Lagwagon - Violins
3. Iron Maiden - The Trooper
4. Dire Straits - Money for Nothing
5. Rise Against - Prayer for a Refugee
6. Westside Connection - The Gangsta, The Killa and the Dope Dealer
7. Ten Foot Pole - A.D.D.
8. Cradle of Filth - Dusk and Her Embrace
9. Manic Street Preachers - You Love Us
10. Prodigy - No Good
11. Slayer - Raining Blood
12. The Goo Goo Dolls - Iris
13. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Simple Man
14. N-Trance - Set You Free
15. Type O Negative - Wolf Moon
16. Limp Bizkit - My Generation
17. Neil Young - Heart of Gold
18. HIM - Buried Alive by Love
19. Massive Attack - Unfinished Sympathy
20. NOFX - Philthy Phil Philanthropist
21. Nirvana - Territorial Pissings
22. Dr. Dre - Still D.R.E
23. Extreme Noise Terror - Damage 381
24. Machine Head - Take My Scars
25. Point Break - Freaky Time
26. Awesome 3 ft. Julie McDermott - Don't Go
27. Steely Dan - Reelin' in the Years
28. Pear Jam - Once
29. Black Sabbath - Iron Man
30. Metallica - Battery

So there you have it.

I'm off to change my incontinence pants and have a mug of Horlicks.


Friday, 13 April 2012

Tears before bedtime

Friday 13th ranks alongside Halloween as a pretty metal day. Seemingly it's also an unlucky day but as I lost my wallet with all my cards, driving license, train ticket and a small amount of cash in on Thursday 12th I'm inclined to think this is all a lot of bollocks. Clearly losing a wallet is annoying, which brings me on to today's blog; List of Ways to Make a Metaller Cry: 1. Pretend you know about metal when you don't like metal Over the years, I'm sure everyone has had the questioning looks when people first find out you're into Deicide (band, not activity). However, I once received the response "I'm in to metal too; I went to Kings of Leon last year", which is just plain stupid. 2. Actually like metal if you're not a Metaller As a scene, metal is very protective of itself. The outpourings of rage when a non-metal band play festivals, the fury when American pop starlets throw the horns, the fact that to can buy a Guns n Roses T-shirt in Top Man, all combine to make us a pretty insular bunch. However, when talking to someone who dresses like a trendy London wanker, loves X Factor and can talk to you on a level about Anthrax, it's difficult not to bite the inner cheek somewhat. 3. Know literally fuck all about metal I don't mean not having an opinion on which Megadeth album is best, or whether Bon Scott or Brian Warner was a better AC/DC frontman. I mean not knowing who Metallica is, or who the lead singer of Black Sabbath is - both situations I have encountered in my life. Simply unacceptable and as the kids would say, *facepalm*. 4. Assume that being a Metaller is a phase As the ticker to my fourth decade on this earth approaches I'm almost certain I've gone through all my phases, which included terrible curtains/undercut hair, shellsuits (which did at one point become tucked into Doc Martens during a particularly complicated transition into a punk fan) and listening exclusively to HIM. I find it very unlikely that any Metaller over a certain age will wake up one day, bin the Machine Head back catalogue and replace it with Rhianna's latest codshit. 5. Liking anything other than metal if you are a Metaller The confusion on people's face if you display awareness of anything outside of the incarceration of Varg Vikernes is always amusing. In addition, having an encyclopaedic knowledge of mid-90s dance music or enjoying the debut solo single by N-Dubz hat wearing buffoon Dappy have caused my metal credentials to be questioned with furrowed brows by my metallic brethren. On a slightly more serious note, happy birthday to Mummy Metal Harmony, who hits the big 60 today. If it wasn't for her love of music and constant playing of Neil Young, Steely Dan, etc. there's a good chance you wouldn't be reading this blog today. So it's her fault, don't blame me. M \m/

Friday, 30 March 2012

Back for good

My absence for the last few weeks can be explained by one small thing, which weighed 8.3lbs and was born on February 20th. She's just about the most amazing thing I've ever seen and I am one over the moon motherfucker. I can't wait until she's a bit older and coming with me and her mum to Family Camping at Download.

Speaking of Download, it's going to be one hell of a festival this year not only due to the stellar line up, but also down to yesterday's confirmation from the organisers of Sonisphere that this year's Knebworth event is cancelled. In terms of festival news, this is a pretty effing big story.

The official statements from Sonisphere is as follows:
"It is with very heavy hearts and much regret that we announce the cancellation of Sonisphere Knebworth 2012.

Putting the festival together in what is proving to be a very challenging year was more difficult than we anticipated and we have spent the last few months fighting hard to keep Sonisphere in the calendar. Unfortunately circumstances have dictated that we would be unable to run the festival to a standard that both the artists and that Sonisphere’s audience would rightly expect.

We want to express our deepest regrets to the artists and to thank all the staff, suppliers and contractors who worked so hard with us to try and pull off what has proven to be an impossible task and we know how much they share in our disappointment.  We also want to send a huge thanks to the Sonisphere fans who stuck by us and we are so sorry that we can’t fulfil what we set out to do.

Ticket holders will automatically receive a full refund direct from their ticket agents.

Team Sonisphere."

Download Festival organiser Andy Copping has come out and said that he's 'not jumping for joy', which is thoroughly decent of him but let's be honest; if your biggest competitor dies on it's arse there will be an inevitable sense of relief. And despite the fact that Download is remaining a three day event, the bill will now expand to accommodate some of the bands from Sonisphere. This could mean one of the finest festival line ups in the history of the world.

What does this mean for Sonisphere in the coming years though? To be honest, I'd be surprised if it didn't come back in some way. Iron Maiden and Rammstein headlining in 2010, the Big 4 in 2011; they've proved they have the trouser junk to get the biggest names in metal. And let's not forget that the demise of this year's UK event hasn't had any impact on the Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Finland and France events that will still host Metallica, Faith No More, Machine Head, etc.

As soon as Download announced the original Black Sabbath, plus Metallica playing The Black Album in full for the first time, Sonisphere had a mountain to climb. Queen with Adam Lambert was a good shout. I think Adam Lambert is an astounding singer and am sure it's be a good show but in terms of rock festivals, pitting an American Idol runner up against Ozzy Osbourne is like asking whether you'd like an ice cold beer on a summer's day or be kicked in the balls by a donkey.

So what can Sonisphere do in 2013? Original G&R line up? Led Zeppelin? The options are there but they'd better crack on sooner rather than later to avoid joining the Phoenix Festival as an also-ran in the history of UK music festivals.



Friday, 10 February 2012

Big noise and t-shirts

This week I have experienced genuine brutality. Not in a water boarded, call Amnesty International sense, more in the sense that I have become exposed to Revilement.

Revilement's debut album Pillars of Balance is undoubtedly the heaviest thing I've heard this year. Hailing from Taiwan, Revilement are more than just a flurry of blasts and pig-squealin' vocals (although both feature extensively). There are some genuinely killer riffs throughout that don't rely solely on breakneck speed; slow, sludgey breaks give Pillars of Hope plenty of meat to get your teeth into. Fans of Cannibal Corpse would be mentally deficient not to embrace this band, particularly wth song titles such as Human Vivisection and Raping the Comatose. If you like your music thoroughly unpleasant, check this out immediately - there's a link in the Cool Shit list, as usual.

Psycroptic, from Australia, and their spectacularly titled The Inherited Repression arrived with Metal Harmony this week too. Whilst by no means the same level of savagery as Revilement, this album is right up my alley. There's a real technical edge, clean guitars over apocalyptic double-kick, and Jason Peppiatt's vocal style is a merry mix of thrash and Children of Bodom-esque melodic death. Fluff aside, The Inherited Repression is a proper fucking headbanger.

On a less brutal note, I strongly urge you lot to head over to Si Mitchell's site here. Si's a pal of mine who happens to be an excellent artist, and his new range of stuff is bang on the money for any skate punks out there. I would also heartily recommend The Breakfast Club range of T-shirts, as their limited run merch is shit hot.

Right, see you same time next week. Unless my wife goes into labour, which is looking very likely.


Friday, 3 February 2012

Getting a motor running

This year, Bro Dude and I are taking part in a charity car rally which sees us driving a very cheap, very crap car to Barcelona and back. The charity in question is the Martha Trust, an organisation that does sterling work with individuals suffering from profound learning and physical disabilities.

The rules stipulate that the car can't cost more than £200, so we bought ourselves a beautiful 26-year-old Nissan Micra, resplendent in mint green. Our chariot for this 1,700-mile round trip has no tape deck, let alone a CD player. Which leads us on the a phenomenally important question; what albums should we take? With this in mind and taking into consideration the variance in mine and Bro Dude's musical taste, I have compiled  today's 5 Albums Wot You Should Take on a Massive Long Charity Drive in a Shit Car:

Fat Wreck Chords - Survival of the Fattest
Big lazy to put a compilation album in I know but for pure enjoyment this is almost certainly my personal favourite of all time. High Standard's legendary cover of California Dreamin', daft supergroup Me First and the Gimme Gimmes version of Country Roads, Lagwagon, NOFX; what an absolute SoCal skatepunktastic belter.

Machine Head - The Blackening
I'll have to work on Bro Dude a bit with this one but the idea of belting through France with Halo cranked up through whatever sound system we can get organised? Fucking yes. The only downside is that as an album, it has massive potential to cause road rage.

N.W.A - Straight Outta Compton
I don't profess to be a hip hop expert but Straight Outta Compton is a bloody marvellous piece of work. Aside from the fact that all the tracks are classics, the image of two 30-something Englishmen driving a rickety old Nissan whilst rapping along with Fuck Tha Police is rather amusing.

Metallica - S&M
Let's face it; its going to impossible to keep the conversation flowing non-stop for the duration of the rally so an epic album with tonnes of depth will be essential. With this monumental album the long, boring motorways will be eaten up in no time, and the frankly perfect Fuel will cause a heavy right foot to push our war machine well up to a mind boggling 62mph.

The Prodigy - Experience
We're 300 miles in, the car is rattling, its impossible to get above 60mph, the testosterone levels created by two men in a small metal box is causing tensions to rise; Out of Space comes on and all becomes right with the world. Pure dancealong perfection guaranteed to keep spirits up.

If you want to keep abreast of our progress with the motor, see our stupid sponsorship stunts and generally be a good egg, your 'likes' would be appreciated here. To find out more about the rally and the Martha Trust, go here.


Friday, 20 January 2012

Ranting against morons

Are people being serious? Are people actually bitching and moaning about the Download 2012 lineup? Are people fucking retarded?

I'm sure you've heard all this before so please feel free to change the channel but I'm tired, hungry, and subsequently a grumpy bastard.

Download is one of the biggest music festivals in the UK - I think I might be right in saying it's second only to Glastonbury - which means that bands have to appeal to a large audience or they won't sell tickets. And if they don't sell tickets, the festival can't go ahead. Music is a business, hence the phrase 'music business', and businesses have to make money or they close. Money pays for bands too, by the way. Believe it or not, musicians don't just do it for the love, hence AC/DC's multi-million pound headline set at Download 2010.

Like it or not, having Anaal Nathrakh headlining the opening night won't get 80,000 people dipping into their pockets for £150. And if you have any working brain cells you will be aware that regardless of how mainstream you think they are, most people outside of the metal community don't actually know who Lamb of God or Trivium are.

'I thought Download was supposed to be a rock festival?' quips some six-fingered mong on Facebook. He has a point, as Devildriver, Machine Head, Black Sabbath, Anthrax and Devin Townsend are all pop acts. Soundgarden definitely aren't a rock act either.

Yes, Chase and Status are playing, and they're currently enjoying massive airplay on Radio 1 and other mainstream platforms but fuck me, give them a chance to do their thing before start crying about it. How many people though Pendulum were a shit dance act before seeing them tear up Download every time they play?

Every single festival I've been to has included bands I like, hate, and am completely ambivalent towards. It's time to come to terms with the fact that not every festival lineup can be put together based on what you - yes you - listen to.

However, I for one am boycotting all music festivals until I get the following:

Headliners: Slipknot, Leatherface, The Police
Support: Helsingland Underground, Terror, Evergreen Terrace, Iron Maiden, Dr. Dre, Lagwgon, Gaslight Anthem, Carnifex, Motley Crue, Frank Sinatra, Cradle of Filth, Nirvana, Limp Bizkit and 90's boy band Point Break.

So there.


Friday, 13 January 2012

New things and sad things

The year's got off to a bit of a good start in terms of music. Four bands have landed on the Metal Harmony desk (obviously not literally, idiot) that have impressed, which is a good omen for things to come.

Firstly, Topper, a punk outfit from Sweden. Their latest release Punk Don't Death (Just Get Through It) through Sound Pollution is a more melodic type of punk that doesnt have the face-smashing, snot-spitting fury of Executioners and is much closer to the likes of Leatherface, although the song writing is not as strong. Very easy to listen to.

Secondly, Spaniards Noctem release their second album Oblivion (Rising Records) in June this year. This brutally heavy death metal is just horrible. The vocals make your throat hurt, the double kick makes your shins ache, the guitars make your eardrums bleed; pretty much everything you want from death metal. A must for fans if popular beat combo Nile.

Then there's We Die Tonight, who's four track EP Stem the Tide is the polar opposite to Noctem. Dwelling on the metalcore/hardcore border, this London mob are well worth a listen if you like your metal with a bit of singing amidst the mayhem. Big fan of this.

Finally, Otep. Although Atavist was released last year on Victory Records I've only not gotten round to listening to it, and I'm glad I did so. By no means easy listening, Atavist fluctuates between haunting 6-minute narratives from female vocalist Otep Shamaya and, for want of a better term, post nu metal tracks. When Shamaya sings there's a real Courtney Love vibe, and the male backing vocals have a Dez Fafara growl that sits nicely on top of some pretty interesting tuneage.

Awesome music aside, let's not ignore the metal elephant in the corner. The terrible news Tony Iommi has been diagnosed with lymphoma has shaken the music world but seemingly an early diagnosis means he's got a good chance of beating it. Let's bloody well hope so.


Friday, 6 January 2012

Smashing things. Literally.

Welcome one and all, to Metal Harmony  2012. His year, you will notice literally no changes to the blog, so if you weren't a fan before I ain't going to win you over any time soon. Unless you particularly enjoy video posts, as I'll be doing more of them. Some may even have the sound in synch.

But to the rest of you, Happy New Year! I hope that like me, you're suffering from the horrific bloating and general biliousness associated with the consumption of chocolate and beer from 9am onwards for a sustained 7-day period. In order to ease us into a year that will see the reformation of Black Sabbath, new albums from metal titans such as Lamb of God, Cannibal Corpse and Napalm Death, and the inevitability that most bands will get a dubstep makeover, I thought I'd start us off with a good old fashioned list. Everyone loves a list after all.

Today, my Top 6 Favourite Romper Stomping, Arm Round Your Pal, Beer in Hand, Shout at the Stage, Scare the Shit Out of Fashionistas, Belting Punk Singalongs. This is harder than it seems as the hardcore scene is littered with epic gang song classics, but I'm purely focusing on punk before you get grit in your ball bag about me omitting Scratch the Surface.

6. Anti-Flag - Die for Your Government (Die for the Government, 1996)
Although its difficult to identify this band as a punk outfit from their name and song motifs, Die for your Government is one of the best anti establishment punk songs ever. With the rising chorus of "You gotta die, gotta die, gotta die for your government, die for a country that's shit", its impossible not to frown and shout when this is playing. Simple chords, simple lyrics, brilliant.

5. Leatherface - Hops and Barley (Hops and Barley EP w/Wat Tyler, 1992)
The Sunderland outfits seminal work with Wat Tyler may not have the most serious theme, being as its about beers, but all it takes is 'Face frontman Frankie Stubbs to kick the song off with an a cappella "Hops aaaaaand..." before the crowd takes over, beers proudly held up high.

4. Snuff - Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads (Physical Fatness, 1997)
Yes, its a cover of a TV theme but Snuff make it something marvellous. The rousing chorus makes you want to don a pair of 18-hole Doc Martens and kick a window in, all with a smile on your face.

3. NOFX - The Brews (Punk in Drublic, 1994)
NOFX founder/guitarist/vocalist Fat Mike is a bit of a hero of mine. No only do we share a moniker but Heavy Petting Zoo was one if the first albums in the SoCal/skate punk genre that really got me hooked. The Brews is a story about a gang of Jewish skinheads and features some of my favourite NOFX lyrics and possibly their best Oi chorus. Absolute class.

2. Agnostic Front - Gotta Go (Something's Gotta Give, 1998)
Yes, I know, they're a hardcore band so I've gone against my self imposed 'punk only' rule but in all honesty, Gotta Go is as punk as punk gets. Starting with a monstrous sing along and leading into a fist in the air Oi Oi chant, there isn't a better song to unite a crowd in a bout of absolute fucking bedlam

1. Pennywise - Bro Hymn (Pennywise, 1991/Full Circle, 1996)
Of course its number one. If you don't listen to Bro Hymn and imagine yourself with all your mates, arms round each others shoulders and shouting your throat then you're clearly mentally incompetent. Bro Hymn Tribute on Full Circle is equally emotive - the original was penned by Pennywise bassist Jason Thirsk in memory of friends he lost in a car accident, the Tribute was penned in memory of Thirsk himself after committed suicide in 1996. I get actual goosebumps from this song and as far as I'm concerned, its perfect.

So there we have it. Now wherever you are, listen to this and tear the place up*

*Disclaimer: Metal Harmony does not accept responsibility for any damages to person[s] or property during aural consumption of any of the above anthems.