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Saturday, 7 December 2013

Good work...

Very clever, Sonisphere; very clever indeed. Take a year off from the UK, deliver stunning events in mainland Europe and use profits to get the two biggest bands in metal to headline your return event in 2014. Impressive.

Rumours have been circulating that Sonisphere's return to the UK, which will take place at the Knebworth estate, would be headlined by Iron Maiden, Metallica and Black Sabbath. With 66.6% (the percentage of the beast...fnar...) of this proving to be accurate, the metal fraternity now waits with baited breath. A mate of mine close to the inside has suggested that The Prodigy will fill the last gap so it's going to be interesting to see what the organisers have in store.

Despite the obvious magnitude of these bookings, I wouldn't go so far as to say the Sonisphere headliners are 'better' than Download 2014; they're clearly looking at very different audiences. There will be tens of thousands of twenty-somethings who would much rather see Avenged Sevenfold than Maiden, and the monstrous crossover appeal of Linkin Park and Aerosmith demonstrate how Download has evolved from Monsters of Rock into an 'alternative' music festival.

Sonisphere on the other hand is aiming for the guaranteed pound. I think it's fair to say that die hard Maiden and Metallica fans are probably a bit older, have probably seen both bands several times and probably won't think twice about shelling out a couple of hundred notes to see them both on the same bill. Whilst they wouldn't mind A7X and Linkin Park, they'd be happy to watch them from the beer tent as opposed to being in the swell at the front in a piss-stained denim jacket. But maybe that's just me.

The undercard announcements are what's exciting me now. Download has banked While She Sleeps and Crossfaith, two bands who continue to grow in popularity and general feckin' awesomeness. They also have Status Quo, which whilst a lot of fun, is a bit of an odd one to be honest. They're the one band with the possible exception of Aerosmith who tick the box for the archetypal older rocker.

If Sonisphere can pull out other genre-defining bands (I'm thinking Sick Of It All, Napalm Death) and Download continues with the contemporary megastars and up-and-comers, then both festivals look set to be bastard brilliant. But to choose one to invest in would be impossible for me at this stage...

M
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Friday, 29 November 2013

A horrific moment for all of us

It's impossible to ignore the horrific revelations about Lost Prophets frontman Ian Watkins that have come to light this week. I'm not going to recycle any of the unnecessarily graphic detail released by the press as that kind of nastiness has no place on these pages. But I do want to have my say.

Never in my life have I felt such disgust and anger at another person. Operation Yewtree and the terrifying fact that every tv or radio personality over the age of 60 seems to be a paedophile is shocking but I have to I be honest, I haven't had the same reaction as I have to Watkins. I cheered as Lost Prophets delivered a sterling set to thousands of fans and naysayers at Download 2008; I sang along in full, tuneless voice as my brother's band covered Last Train Home; I defended their image change from skater punks to emo poster boys in the Rooftops video.

And now we find out that whilst all this was going on, the charismatic frontman is a fucking barbaric child molester. He used his position and the fact that young girls and women adored him to commit depraved, inhuman acts. I'm the proud father of a nearly two year-old girl, which has made me even more irate at everything he's done.

I wish death on Ian Watkins, I really do. He's said to be on suicide watch at the moment; I'd happily take a shift and help the fucker on his way. The one thing that offers any comfort is the fact that he has been stopped. Pleading guilty means he'll be spending a lot of time inside and people like him do not do well at Her Majesty's leisure.

Fans around the world with Lost Prophet tattoos will be lining up to get them removed, and the poor bastards who played alongside Watkins have seen their world as successful musicians collapse. Thousands of teenagers and twenty-somethings will be confused and betrayed by the sick actions of their former hero, a rat-faced little prick from Wales.

May you get what you deserve Ian Watkins. You have caused boundless pain and have showed no remorse. The world does not need another disease and you are a cancer. Do the honourable thing and blow your head off.

M
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Friday, 22 November 2013

Doing a lot of good work for charidy

I'm not a sporty person. I play darts to a local pub level, I know my way around the pool table table and am reasonably adept at table tennis. It really goes no further than that. I am, however, a man who enjoys a challenge and a man who likes doing things for charity, so it's with a sense of overwhelming trepidation that I'm going to be running the London Marathon in April 2014.

A few years back I ran 6 miles for Sport Relief, which was bloody horrible as it was just twelve 0.5 mile shuttle runs along the Brighton sea front. Boring, cold and exhausting. And as I was running with my brother in law, I couldn't listen to any music. The only noise accompaniment was my James Gandolfini laboured breathing and the sound of an ill-advised full English I'd had two hours before the event slopping around in my stomach. 

I've been out on a few runs over the last couple of weeks - I'm not in any shape to leave training until the new year - and have been listening to different musical styles to see if I can get exactly the right balance of beats to help me take on 26+ miles through Central London. Here's what's happened so far:

1. HIM 
Theory: One of my all-time favourite bands would inspire me whilst I was pounding the Tarmac.

Fact: About three songs into Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 I had no energy whatsoever and instead, wanted to sit naked in a darkened room with a bottle of red wine.

Iron Maiden
Theory: there's nothing more motivating than Maiden. Even if I'm asleep, as soon as I hear the opening bars of Aces High I feel the need to charge bayonet aloft at the nearest German.

Fact: Despite classics such as The Trooper and 2 Minutes being perfect for a bit of a hill climb, the long, undulating nature of Ancient Mariner and Phantom are better suited to holding a pint in the air than any kind of distance running.

Terror
Theory: Energy, and plenty of it.

Fact: Perfect for sprinting, but sustained pace is impossible. As soon as Lowest of the Low comes on my legs start firing away, then it stops and I realise my heart is about to explode.

Limp Bizkit
Theory: I love them, and Wes Borland's bouncy as fuck riffs would mean it's easy to get into a rhythm.

Fact: I get out of breath running and rapping at the same time. I can't help myself.

Miscellaneous early 2000s trance
Theory: Monotonous beat constantly thumping in my ears will be a metronome for my feet.

Fact: Works bloody well. The music becomes a bit of background noise as opposed to something to listen to though, which means I do tend to focus on how much my legs hurt and/or the fact that I should have probably had a dump before going out for a run.

So it's still a work in progress. If I can get the balance right though, it'll be a piece of piss I'm sure. Next stop, something like Nicki Minaj as I'm sure this will make me try to run away from my ears.

The serious bit: I'm running for a charity called Child Bereavement UK, who do amazing work with families who have sadly lost their children, or children who have lost parents. If you can head over to my page and spare a couple of quid it would be spectacularly good of you and I would be eternally grateful.

Until next time,

M
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Friday, 8 November 2013

Troll lols

It's my favourite time of year; Download headliners.

In the last year my poxy day job has kept me from immersing myself in new music as much as I would like, which has meant the creative blogging juices can get a bit dry. However, come Download headliner time, the plethora of material to choose from across the webosphere is more than I can cope with.

So what do I think, I hear you ask?

Avenged Sevenfold, the first announcement, was pretty obvious and a great response to both crowd demand and the schools who believed no 'new' bands were ready to step up the the plate (aside from Slipknot). This will be the biggest gig A7X have done and it's going to be a lot of work for them but as Synester Gates riffs his way through The Beast and the Harlot I'm sure the crowd will get moving.

Next came Linkin Park. I have always said I would only see Linkin Park if they played Hybrid Theory, an album which I almost wore out at university whilst trying to impress girls with my baggy combat trousers and classic turn of the century over-gelled hair. I firmly believe everything they've done since has been disastrous (except for the outing with Jay-Z) but as they have confirmed they'll be playing Hybrid Theory in full, this will be one hell of a show. Possibly.

And then there's Aerosmith. Good old Aerosmith. Their last headline performance at  Download 2009 (I think that's right) in the pissing rain fluctuated between average and bloody spectacular. Steven Tyler has one of the greatest voices in the rock world and the spirit of the crowd during songs like Love In An Elevator is something else. Are they exciting enough to close the festival? Absolutely. Is it the best booking? No. I backed Bon Jovi in a conversation with my mate The House (but at least mentioned Aerosmith so can retain a small level of 'told you so'-ness) as I reckon they would tear Donnington's hallowed ground apart.

My [always correct] opinions aside the absolute highlight of the festival season is the internet trolls. My eyes lit up when I saw A7X and Rob Zombie announced; with only these two out of the 100+ bands on the poster comments like "shit festival" and "rubbish emo band" made my day. Adding Linkin Park was even better and I could sense thousands of greasy haired teens in Seasons In The Abyss t-shirts pausing World of Warcraft to furiously protest by commenting on the Metal Hammer Facebook page.

It's going to be a fun few months.

M
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Friday, 27 September 2013

Not happy. Not happy at all.

I'm very much a live and let live kind of chap when it comes to music and fashion; clearly I have my preferences with either, as I believe those who listen to Jack Johnson or wear oh-so trendy ill-fitting clothing in East London to be complete tits. But every now and again my goat is well and truly got.

Earlier this week, source of much web-based merriment Buzzfeed published an article on why punk is dead (http://www.buzzfeed.com/alexnaidus/pieces-of-evidence-that-punk-is-dead) and continued to cite 23 instances of popular starlets wearing classic punk-style regalia or having their merchandise plagiarise famous punk imagery. To be honest, it really shouldn't have pissed me off as much as it did. I know that a tonne of alternative music sites are nonplussed by the whole affair but I cannot help but be filled with a monumental rage.

Seeing r'n'b bellend Chris Brown bowling around in a studded leather jacket with The Exploited and Cro-Mags written on it is not cool. The man who famously beat the shit out of his missus is not worthy of the punk world. Operation Ivy t-shirts being sold for multiple hundreds of dollars is NOT punk. And fucking One Direction wearing Top Shop Ramones shirts makes me want to be permanently sedated...THAT'S A RAMONES REFERENCE YOU BASTARDS!

Things like Taylor Swift dressing a bit punky can't really annoy anyone but to have iconic bands ripped off or adorning the millionaire frame of individuals who are clearly doing nothing more than tapping into a high street trend riles me. There are of course counter arguments, which it shall now rebuff:

1. Punk is a trend, it always has been, so why should it be different now?

Because punk had a sound and punks had a look. Yes, it is/was a trend, but it's something adopted by people who love the bands and don't want to (I hate to use this phrase) conform to the perception of 'normal'. By pop stars and major celebs wearing punk garments they're destroying the very meaning of punk.

2. How can you be elitist about what people wear? They might really love the bands

In which case, why are they fucking ruining their legacy? I have no doubt in my mind that I give more of a shit than the remaining Ramones about One Direction using their logo, but if you were doing it genuinely and not just following trends why haven't you always dressed like this? Why hasn't your merchandise always looked like this?

3. Punk clothing has often ripped off the mainstream, why can't it be vice versa?

Because the point of punk is that it is anti-mainstream. The point of the mainstream is not to be anti punk, you knob.

4. Isn't it a good thing that these celebs are raising awareness of bands that younger generations may never have heard of?

No.

5. Punk and alternative imagery has always had some presence in the mainstream, why does it matter now?

Look, 'that' Rolling Stones t-shirt and H&M selling AC/DC tops is a different thing altogether. These are multi-million selling crossover bands; they could sell out any arena anywhere in the world. The irritation comes from celebs who, in their quest to be edgy and left field, festoon themselves in images of bands they probably know nothing about, and a scene they know nothing about. Simply put, If I see someone with a tidy beard, skinny jeans, Ray Ban wayfarers and a diamant√© Leatherface t-shirt I will kill myself.

I appreciate that this opinion is not shared by everyone, but it is mine, and it is right.

M
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Friday, 13 September 2013

Headlining things

Is anyone else bored of seeing Cara Delavigne's face? Everywhere I look there's a pout and a pair of thick eyebrows. It's thoroughly annoying.

Anyway, I digress. Avenged Sevenfold; what a return. Following on from the tragic loss of founder member and drummer Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan in 2011 it's fair to say A7X's future was uncertain. However, the release of Hail to the King at the beginning of September saw them enter the UK album charts at number 1. Not the rock chart, not the alternative chart; the actual chart. M Shadows et al are currently sharing musical real estate with the likes of Ellie Goulding and feeble dribblers Passenger.

I've never been a huge fan of Avenged. Don't get me wrong, their back catalogue contains some absolute bangers but they're not a band that has ever caused my metal scrotum to tighten. I saw them support Maiden in 2008 and remember thinking they were pretty decent but my adulation goes no further than that.

This being said, I'm clearly in a minority. The hoards of former Tweens who inevitably bought Hail to the King will think I'm an idiot, as will the bookers who have Avenged Sevenfold headlining at Wembley Arena in November. Plus, the Huntingdon Beach mob are widely regarded as a shoe-in for a headline slot at Download 2014.

It seems that we are finally seeing the next wave of 'that big' metal bands. Slipknot blazed the trail to join the likes of Metallica and Iron Maiden as 'nothing other than a headliner' at festivals, and there's every chance that A7X will follow. 

Who else can get there? My ponderings on some of the popular names banded about are as follows:

Trivium?
They looked like they would do it but their insanely fast rise to the almost-top was ultimately their downfall. Despite Shogun and In Waves proving the Floridians are still major metal contenders, they're unlikely to reach the levels of popularity experienced around the Ascendency era. 

Lamb of God?
Not yet, but in time. Years of graft, tune upon tune and a legendary frontman tick a lot of boxes, plus a headline slot at Bloodstock 2013 means Randy and the boys are definitely on the ladder.

Bullet For My Valentine?
Probably, but it won't be a popular choice. The early days of metalcore-meets-thrash with a pretty frontman means that BFMV were the ones to watch a three or four years ago. However, a couple of weak releases later, they're becoming a bit of an also-ran.

Bring Me The Horizon?
Nowhere near ready to take on 80,000 from the main stage but this mob have been improving and improving over the last three albums, culminating in this year's fucking excellent Sempiternal. Another couple of albums of this level and its difficult to see how BMTH can't reach the top of the game.

30 Seconds to Mars?
It would be a popular choice with teenage girls but other than that, fuck right off.

Right, I need to try and find a way to listen to the new Crossfaith album whilst at work. Without even hearing it I can almost guarantee it'll be in my top ten of the year.

M
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Headlining things

Is anyone else bored of seeing Cara Delavigne's face? Everywhere I look there's a pout and a pair of thick eyebrows. It's thoroughly annoying.

Anyway, I digress. Avenged Sevenfold; what a return. Following on from the tragic loss of founder member and drummer Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan in 2011 it's fair to say A7X's future was uncertain. However, the release of Hail to the King at the beginning of September saw them enter the UK album charts at number 1. Not the rock chart, not the alternative chart; the actual chart. M Shadows et al are currently sharing musical real estate with the likes of Ellie Goulding and feeble dribblers Passenger.

I've never been a huge fan of Avenged. Don't get me wrong, their back catalogue contains some absolute bangers but they're not a band that has ever caused my metal scrotum to tighten. I saw them support Maiden in 2008 and remember thinking they were pretty decent but my adulation goes no further than that.

This being said, I'm clearly in a minority. The hoards of former Tweens who inevitably bought Hail to the King will think I'm an idiot, as will the bookers who have Avenged Sevenfold headlining at Wembley Arena in November. Plus, the Huntingdon Beach mob are widely regarded as a shoe-in for a headline slot at Download 2014.

It seems that we are finally seeing the next wave of 'that big' metal bands. Slipknot blazed the trail to join the likes of Metallica and Iron Maiden as 'nothing other than a headliner' at festivals, and there's every chance that A7X will follow. 

Who else can get there? My ponderings on some of the popular names banded about are as follows:

Trivium?
They looked like they would do it but their insanely fast rise to the almost-top was ultimately their downfall. Despite Shogun and In Waves proving the Floridians are still major metal contenders, they're unlikely to reach the levels of popularity experienced around the Ascendency era. 

Lamb of God?
Not yet, but in time. Years of graft, tune upon tune and a legendary frontman tick a lot of boxes, plus a headline slot at Bloodstock 2013 means Randy and the boys are definitely on the ladder.

Bullet For My Valentine?
Probably, but it won't be a popular choice. The early days of metalcore-meets-thrash with a pretty frontman means that BFMV were the ones to watch a three or four years ago. However, a couple of weak releases later, they're becoming a bit of an also-ran.

Bring Me The Horizon?
Nowhere near ready to take on 80,000 from the main stage but this mob have been improving and improving over the last three albums, culminating in this year's fucking excellent Sempiternal. Another couple of albums of this level and its difficult to see how BMTH can't reach the top of the game.

30 Seconds to Mars?
It would be a popular choice with teenage girls but other than that, fuck right off.

Right, I need to try and find a way to listen to the new Crossfaith album whilst at work. Without even hearing it I can almost guarantee it'll be in my top ten of the year.

M
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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Where have I been?

Regulars may have noticed that I've been absent for the last few weeks. Irregular readers probably don't care. 

The truth is, I've taken a break from metal. The actual truth is, Iron Maiden at The O2 was a bit of a moment for me. I got so into the music I ended up belting a security guard and was unceremoniously removed and handed over to plod before I could enjoy the encore. Needless to say, this is a personal low as far as gigging goes.

For the last two weeks, I haven't listened to any serious metal. Obviously the odd tune has come my way and I still worship at the altar of Planet Rock whilst doing the Sunday roast but the staple diet of multitudinous 'cores' and bastard riffs has been replaced by silence. 

Today though, I plugged the earphones in and hit random; the latest Pathology album beat the living shit out of my ears, followed by Terror, followed by Firenote, and I realise how much I've missed this. I feel happy. I am aware of my fallibility when it comes to over exuberance at gigs but fuck it. That's just me.

A life without double kick and distortion is no life at all. My hiatus is over, and I'm back. 

Here's to metal, motherfuckers.

M
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Friday, 2 August 2013

Hello and goodbye

I'm a very shuffley kind of chap. My daily 4-and-a-bit hour commute tends to be underpinned by a soundtrack of miscellaneous albums that arrive in the Metal Harmony inbox over the course of the week. Nine times out of ten I listen blindly to my non-Apple MP3 player, with no idea who or what is playing. This is good as it means I'm listening to everything with a completely open mind. The downside is that when people ask me if I've heard x song by y band, I probably have but just don't remember it.

However, every now and again, whilst nestled into a sweaty armpit on a packed Underground train, a song will come on that grabs me by the metaphysical balls. This happened a few days ago when for the first time, I came across Streetlight Manifesto.

My love of skate/ska/SoCal punk is well documented and whilst I don't profess to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the genre, I could bore people for several hours if required. Streetlight Manifesto are a new one on me, so when If Only For Memories from their latest album, The Hand That Thieves, started playing in my ears I was intrigued. Think NOFX-plays-mariachi and you'd be getting close.

I stopped shuffling and decided to play the album in its entirety, and I've been pretty much doing so for the last five days. I fucking love it. Massive singalong choruses, huge skanking riffs and a brass section; this is so far up my street it's untrue. If you like Mad Caddies, Less Than Jake, Voodoo Glow Skulls, you have literally no option but to listen to this band immediately.

It transpires that Streetlight have been around for a decade and have released five albums but this is their final release on Victory, a label with whom they have a serious amount of beef. As a band, they recently released a statement saying they're slowing down their touring schedule and reading between the lines, it looks like they'll be in officially packing it in over the coming months.

So in essence, my new favourite band will soon be no more, and I doubt I'll ever see them play live. The technical term for this is 'a right pisser'.

M
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Tuesday, 2 July 2013

What a return

It's painfully obvious to all that I've been a bit stretched for time this year, and haven't given nearly as much love to my review-based wafflings. However, every now and again an album comes along that makes one sit up, take note, and punch a fan of Mumford & Sons. 

Deceiver Of The Gods, the latest album from Swedish melodic death titans Amon Amarth, is such an album. It sat in my inbox for a good few days before I got around to throwing it into my ears and as a result, I hate myself. I should have been listening to this lump of melodeath perfection from the second it landed.

The opening title track sets the pace in classic Amarth guitar harmony fashion and as you'd expect, vocalist Johan Hegg tears into the song like only a big fucking Viking could. Vocally, there's not a vast amount of development from Sultur Rising, or indeed any of Amon Amarth's previous eight studio albums, but there is a reduction in the phlegmy oral growl that often underpinned the archetypal guitar sound, meaning a cleaner but no less sinister vocal.

Song two, Blood Eagle, opens with the sound of a man being brutally stabbed. Metal. But once the nastiness has subsided, Father Of The Wolf comes along with a distinctly Iron Maiden feel. There's no fantastical drum work or excessively complicated guitar widdling here; it's just an absolutely stunning heavy metal song. Simple as that.

From this point it's non-stop. Massive, massive riffs, singalong choruses and devastatingly good harmonies combine to make this one of the most epic releases this year. As Loke Falls sits alongside Cry Of The Blackbirds in the 'I Didn't Know Death Metal Could Ever Be This Catchy' top ten of all time, and closing number We Shall Destroy is full of the ire and imagery that only this band can create.

Deciever... has no bad songs. It is quite possibly the best thing Amon Amarth have ever released (as agreed a matter of minutes ago with a good pal of mine). It's more polished than previous outings and has a huge amount more melody than we've seen from the lads in the past yet it still manages to be crushingly heavy.

If you haven't heard this album yet, go and buy it, stream it, steal it (don't steal it, you dick), do whatever you have to do to get it into your life. It's better than whatever you're listening to at the moment. Fact.

M
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Friday, 14 June 2013

Sad face

There's not much to be said this week. Tonight, probably my favourite band of all time will be playing to tens of thousands of people at the world's greatest music festival. And I won't bastarding be there.

Having seen 'that' headline set at Download 2009 and the totally bloody marvellous top-billing performance at Sonisphere 2011 I probably shouldn't be as grumpy as I am about missing Slipknot on the main stage at Donnington tonight. However, as their performances are nothing short of fucking perfection, one is quite literally devastated.

Still, at least the rest of the Download 2013 line up isn't as good. There's only Maiden, Rammstein, Stone Sour, Gaslight Anthem, Cancer Bats, Amon Amarth, Dir En Grey, Chthonic, Hang the Bastard.... Truth be told it's one of, if not the best line ups that over ever seen.

A number of my pals are already on site and as a result, I now hate them. Today I shall mostly be feeling sorry for myself and listening to Eyeless in a dark room.

Now fuck off.

M
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Friday, 17 May 2013

Guess who's back?

After a long day at work, one of my favourite ways to spend an evening is to stand in my kitchen, play darts, and listen to back catalogues of bands that I either love, or should know more about. I think that Spotify may be the best thing that has ever happened to me. Recently though, I've mainly been using this particular media platform to blast two albums.

I'm very conscious of my evangelisation of Bring Me The Horizon this year so I'll be brief; Sempiternal is a splendid album. There are a few lulls throughout but overall, it's ridiculously well produced and phenomenally catchy. It demonstrates how much the band have grown since their abysmal debut, This is What the Edge of Your Seat Was Made For,  in 2004 and already, Sempiternal is well and truly embedded in my top ten of 2013.

Secondly, the mighty Killswitch Engage recently returned with Disarm the Descent, the first album to feature the return of original vocalist Jessie Leach. Metalcore is one of my favourite sub-genres of metal and as bands go, they don't come much bigger than KSE. I can't claim to have been with these boys since the beginning but As Daylight Dies and The End of Heartache are absolute classics.

Disarm the Descent, however, is my favourite Killswitch album to date. I'm chucking that out there after about 10 listens because nothing they've done has ever grabbed me quite so quickly. From opening track The Hell in Me, resplendent with blast beats and Leach's exquisite growls, through lead single In Good Time, there isn't a dud track to be heard. 

There's also a hint of nostalgia about Disarm..., not only because it features the return of Leach but because it harks back to the golden age of metalcore. In the early 2000s, bands such as Atreyu, 36 Crazyfists, As I Lay Dying (before Tim Lambesis started instructing people to kill his ex-wife. Allegedly) were the soundtrack to my life. This massive album from Killswitch, plus new bands that hover on the periphery of the genre like While She Sleeps and relative unknowns We Die Tonight, mean that a once great, then dead genre has been resurrected with gusto. 

I am one happy mother fucker.

M
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Friday, 10 May 2013

Why I hate girls

Obviously I don't hate girls; that would be ridiculous. I have no personal issue with the swathe of messy haired, piano-tinkling lasses who are currently populating the music world but I do have one major issue; stop covering metal songs. Just fucking stop it.

I've lost track of the amount of adverts that underpin the messaging with a soft, breathy version of a rock classic, and the biscuit was well and truly taken a week or so ago when While She Sleeps posted some unknown doing a piano cover of Seven Hills. The girl is clearly talented, no doubt about it, but that's one of my favourite songs from This Is The Six and the gang vocals should be shouted by a group of sweaty misfits, not whispered by a teenage blonde from Kennsington.

My emotive response to this current trend can be blamed on one thing: Jagged Little Pill. Alanis Morissette is single-handedly responsible for cock-blocking thousands, if not millions of teenagers in the 1990s. As I spent most of my teenage years in the arse end of East Anglia weekends were invariably spent at house parties and sleepovers, all of which presented a perfect opportunity for us chaps to drink Special Brew and attempt to indulge in carnal knowledge with our female peers. 

Sadly, every single party or social occasion would always be hampered by one enlightened girl placing Jagged Little Pill in the CD player and subsequently forming a circle with the rest of the girls to sing along to every single song. The crowning moment always came with the immortal line "and now you're thinking of me when you fuck her" in You Outta Know. At that moment, every single one of those girls hated every single one of us lads. Men were bastards, that was that.

So perhaps I don't actually hate the current piano-y movement. Perhaps I actually do hate female singers? And if that's the case, it's completely Alanis Morissette's fault.

That's fucking ironic for you.

M
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Friday, 12 April 2013

Memories

A few days ago, whilst wandering around a miscellaneous retail outlet, I heard the soft sound of The Connells '74-75' coming over the PA. I started reminiscing about this tune as many years ago, I worked in a famous pizza eatery and this tune was on several hundred times a day, along with some number by Marcella Detriot and that one by Maria McKey.

It got me thinking about other classic one hit wonders, and as a result I've put together my Top 5 1990s Songs By Bands Who Whilst May Have Had A Prolific Career Are Only really Known For One Song list:

5. Smash Mouth - Walking on the Sun
They may have a multi-platinum, seven studio album career but I know absolutely bugger all about this Californian outfit aside from this jaunty summer number. Despite its ridiculously catchy, radio friendly sound, the B-side (Sorry About Your Penis) is sure to have offended a few. One to listen to with the top down and the system up.

4. Stiltskin - Inside
Alongside whiskey, haggis, my missus, The Proclaimers and unpredictable weather systems, one of Scotland's finest exports. 'Inside' was the only rock song that played at school discos when I was a nipper; I can't listen to it without remembering a circle of awkward lads with terrible hair attempting to headbang and playing air guitar. Unbelievably, I don't think I ever pulled.

3. Lit - My Own Worst Enemy
Still used to death as background music on shows like MTV Cribs, My Own Worst Enemy is pretty much the perfect pop punk song. Bouncy as fuck guitars, massive singalongs, a couple of cheeky swear words to retain an edge; can't beat it. Despite Lit's two-and-a-half decade career, this is the only song anyone really gives a shit about.

2. Spacehog - In The Meantime
Possessing quite possibly the catchiest bassline of the 1990s, Spacehog's anthem is a post-grunge, indie classic. Lead singer Royston has an Eddie Vedder twang but this lot are actually from Yorkshire. Despite the chorus being almost completely indecipherable, you can't help but shout along. As an aside, a mate of mine was in a band many years ago who supported Spacehog in a Leeds dive, and described how surreal it was standing at the bar having a pint with Royston's wife, Liv Tyler.

1. Mighty Mighty Bosstones - The Impression That I Get

The song that made everyone in the 90s assume they liked ska. Sharp suits, a brass section, a quite mental frontman - when the Bosstones arrived with this stone cold classic in 1997 almost everyone loved it. Positive, upbeat, and underpinned by Dicky Barrett's legendary vocals, if you show me someone who's listened to this song without joining in on a big "AAAAAAAAAAH NEVER..." in the chorus I will show you a fucking liar.

If by any chance you don't know any of the above songs, your homework this week is to go and listen to them all immediately in the above order.

Class dismissed.

M
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Friday, 15 March 2013

Time, where did you go?

A brief explanation folks; my current job means every time I get a spare few minutes, I sleep as opposed to blogging. So now you know.

By enough of this shameful self pity. The Metal Harmony world has been full of wonder of late as for the first time in many months, I managed to haul my frankly disgusting carcass to a couple of rock solid gigs.

Bro Dude and I are long time fans of a number of lesser known punks bands, and a couple for weeks back we got to see the mighty China Drum on their WTFYB Tour - the acronym stands for Where The Fuck You Been due to their 12-year hiatus. After boarding the train and imbibing a number of chilled German lagers, we descended up the North London venue and met up with a couple of hundred other 30-something punks hell bent on beers and cheers. After chatting with the singer/guitarist from local punk outfit Philtrum (for whom Bro Dude now plays bass) the Drum came on stage in exactly the way we wanted; Can't Stop These Things followed by Cloud 9.

The best thing about China Drum is that they are a truly 1990s band. Their blend of punk and indie can be found in also-rans like Sugar and Veruca Salt but they stand alongside Leatherface and Snuff as examples of how fucking spectacular the UK underground can be. The Garage in Highbury was nowhere near capacity but the people who were there knew all the words and the atmosphere was spectacular.

Skip forward a week and it was time for the most exciting moment of 2013 so far; Black Dahlia Murder, Cannibal Corpse and Devildriver. Sadly my pal The House was laid up with the plague so I was riding solo amidst a groundswell of the bullied and unwashed, and wasn't it a wonderful thing.

The Black Dahlia Murder have a number of detractors as, despite the fact that they are heavier than a horny rhino's ball bag, they have fun with their music. Trevor Strnad is a fucking excellent front man and his genre-defining (I'm thinking death core) vocal whipped the crowd into a complete mess. Despite struggling a bit with the sound levels TBDM were as good as I've ever seen them, and by the time Miasma came on the pit was complete bedlam.

The stage was set for Cannibal Corpse, and as the most brutal band in history, expectations were high. George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher took the stage with his menacing stance, and after a few minutes of continual sound fuck ups, apologised and started again. It was the musical equivalent of getting part way through a blowjob and having to go for a piss. Still, their archetypal death metal malice get the crowd going, and I Cum Blood was greeted with cheers and hair from all corners. For this scribe though, I always get a bit bored during Cannibal Corpse. They take the stage and it's carnage, but after ten or so songs I can't help but find myself waiting for it to finish. The traditional ending of Hammer Smashed Face and Stripped, Raped and Strangled was typically awesome though.

And then, Devildriver. Long time readers will know how much I adore this band and tonight, they were outstanding. Dez Fafara could not stop smiling and it felt like the whole band were having an amazing time. As classics such as Not All Who Wander Are Lost created monumental circle pits, I stood at the back like a fat old bastard with a smug smile on my face. This was what it was all about. A couple of thousand like-minded individuals going mental to the heaviest music you will hear today.

The next day, a bloke in my office asked me about the gig. I sent him a link to a Cannibal Corpse video to give him an idea of what went down. He told me that everyone there looked like they had issues and to a degree, he's probably right. He also asked if George Fisher had ever killed anyone, but we'll skip past that. The thing is, it was a gig that genuinely brought a mass of metal fans together. There were old Kreator fans standing with Suicide Silence (RIP Mitch) fans, and everyone was there as one. It was the perfect example of how metal gives us something to be a part of.

Fucking amen.

M
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Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Year of the Horizon

I try my absolute damnedest to bring you, the Metal Harmony family, independent and objective reviews of musical happenings but every now and again, it becomes impossible.

Let me tell you a story.

As regular readers will know, I care not for Bring Me The Horizon. Their music is not meant for 30-something skinheads and as such, does not resonate with me in any way, shape or form. However, BMTH have recorded what is, without exception, my favourite song of the year so far in the shape of Shadow Moses. I am struggling to find a catchier song with a better singalong chorus.

The bullet point of this diatribe is simple; BMTH have proved me wrong. They have made a truly astounding metal tune that not only commands a singalong, it also demands mainstream airplay. Absolutely spectacular.

Yes I'm drunk but the sentiment remains.

M
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Friday, 8 February 2013

Are we mainstream?

A very good mate for mine is a director at a media agency. One of his clients is Sony and a few months ago he went to a showcase of all their latest releases. The chap in question has always been a very middle of the road music fan but in the last few years of our friendship he started listening to the likes of Killswitch Engage, 36 Crazyfists and Anthrax, so I was surprised when he told me that 'one of that lot' was featured amongst the Calvin Harris and Mumford & Sons extravaganza.

He was of course talking about Bring Me The Horizon, who's recent signing to the label represents a massive shift in metal (let's not have the 'they're not metal debate for fuck's sake). Due to the backing of a major label, Radio 1 now plays BMTH alongside the likes of Rhianna and various other aural abominations. So, in conclusion, metal is now mainstream.

Metal has always had an advocate on mainstream radio in the shape of scene hero Daniel P Carter, who managed to shoehorn both Slayer and Agoraphobic Nosebleed into the lunchtime show during his takeover a couple of weeks back. However, the rawer sided of music is no longer confined to late nights, although the daytime DJs still find it impossible to play BMTH's Shadow Moses without some hilarious comment about the harsh vocals and down tuned guitars.

To be honest, that's alright with me. Whilst I feel a pang of pride that one of our lot (even though, as previously discussed, I'm not really a fan) is making it in a serious way, I still don't want the whole music-listening public to like it. I like that it confuses DJs and is found generally unpleasant by your average Radio 1 listener, and although BMTH are a million miles from the heaviest band on the planet (Cattle Decapitation, obviously) hearing some electro-tinged post-hardcore chucked into a mix of awful so-called R'n'B and horrific beardy acoustic wank is refreshing.

In conclusion, Radio 1 - well done, keep it up. But not too much.

M
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Friday, 25 January 2013

Let's get going then

Happy new year you lot. Belated, I know, but heartfelt nonetheless. Just so you know, my New Years resolutions are to drink less beer, be less fat, and listen to at least one new band a day, even if its a single song. Not succeeding at any so far but it's the thought that counts.

I'm also committing to doing more blogging and writing for the mighty Metalasfuck.net, which I'm pretty sure I can stick to. But enough of this inane drivel.

Bring Me The Horizon. I've never liked them and always think of Oli Sykes as a bit of a clown. However, Sepiternal, their fourth album due out in April, is receiving critical acclaim and is being paraded around as a real game changer for this troupe of Northern monkeys. It is for that reason that I shall give it an open-minded listen and report back. I know you're all dying to hear my opinion.

The year has started well for metal. The elegantly-titled Carnage Slaughter and Death from Zombified (February 5th) and Lateral Constraint from Gloria Morti (February 5th) are a couple of brutally heavy new releases that I've been enjoying. They don't feel like top ten material yet but it's only January for fucks sake, so chill out.

However, the biggest decision I have to make this year is, which gig do I choose? Allow me to embellish; up until mid 2011, me and the missus would go to see at least one live band a month but since the little one was born 11 months ago this trend has petered out somewhat. For this reason, my phenomenal other half will be providing me with tickets to the gig of my choice this year.

Sadly, she's already vetoed Download, Bloodstock, and the recent Strung Out/Lagwagon/Pulley/Pennywise show in Hollywood, so I'm on the lookout. Having missed my 2012 number one band While She Sleeps TWICE in the last few months I'm praying they pull off a headline tour supported by Crossfaith, as this would cause my pants to explode with metallic pleasure.

If anyone has any other absolute must-sees, you know where to find me.

M
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