LIVE REVIEW: Cradle of Filth curdle the light in dark tales of death
CRADLE of Filth are riding high on the strength of 'Hammer of the Witches' and their current release 'Cryptoriana - The Seductiveness of Decay' - and there is no weakening in live performances as demonstrated in a stunning darkly delightful show in Belfast on the night before Halloween.
Indeed, it was a show of grit and showmanship, slick but not too overly polished that it lacked soul.
Equally tour support act, Savage Messiah, produced an eye-opening set of thrash that was tight and with enough metal groove to avoid a stilted set - with their iconic 'Hellblazer' the stand-out.
Founder, Dave Silver, delivers a confident vocal and lead performance. Tightly linked with the playing of six-string accomplice, Sam S Junior, this was a tour de force outing, only marred by not enough people making the effort to see this band, currently celebrating their tenth anniversary.
But the neighbouring bar emptied quickly before Cradle of Filth, the crowd almost rabid in expectation.
To hear an audience yelling along to 'Gilded Cunt' is an aural treat that was but an appetiser for what was at times a jaw-dropping set.
What is most striking about the set is how well the material from the last two releases sits so well with the older material. 'Heartbreak and Seance' and 'Achingly Beautiful' demonstrate that this is a band re-vitalised in 2017, and seemingly determined to drive ever forward.
Dani Filth as always is the twisted ringmaster at this black circus. Energetic, with charisma oozing like murk from his pores.
The gothic metal schtick may be over-emphasised at times as a descriptive term but tonight in the Limelight the theme of gothic darkness was equally matched by the metal weight.
Lindsay Schoolcraft's searing, beautiful vocals are the foil for Dani's guttural lows and high-pitched shrieks. However, the twin attack of Richard and Marek provide a soundscape that allows each song the breath it deserves, while Martin (drums) and Daniel (bass) are the beating, diseased heart of the set.
Cradle of Filth have an established fan base, but on what was on display in Belfast there is no complacency, no diminishing of effort.
What light there was on the eve of Halloween was curdled, crushed into a nightmare that nevertheless left those in attendances grinning. For the casual revellers outside it may have seemed a death mask on the faces of those emerging, but it was only a deathly delight for the fans of Filth.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh
NEWS: Halloween rocks out to The Raven Age
IT was Halloween night in Belfast's Limelight 2 but all the tricks were in the music and the whole thing was definitely a superb treat.
The Raven Age were playing the Limelight with Safire in support and what a show they both put on.
Safire blasted onto the stage with 'Skin'. The band never fails to impress with their tight partnership and Saffron’s vocals blend beautifully with the Tim Torrens’ dedicated guitar work.
Cozy’s drums were outstanding and Dean’s bass playwork, as always, perfectly entertaining. They looked like they loved being on stage making music and the audience felt it.
Rocking through 'Cross', 'Miracles' and Sunshine Saffron belted out 'Save You' with pure, raw emotion. 'Outta’ Town' led on to 'Heartbreaker' to finish off an absolutely cracking set.
The Raven Age blew out what little cobwebs were left in the place and sent the ghosties scurrying as they primed the audience for what was to come with 'Darkness will Rise'.
Ploughing with their heavy driving rhythm, the band led the audience to the 'Promised Land' and 'into The Merciful One'.
Appropriately on this most evil of evenings then came 'Salem’s Fate' and the ponderously great 'The Death March'.
Michael Burrough’s vocals blended in perfectly with the heavy riffs that were churned out. His voice would fleet from a pure, clean tone to a hard, heavy rawness. Feet were stomped and heads were banged.
'Uprising' and 'Eye among the Blind' continued the blitz on Belfast with a perfect heavy rock combo.
Jai Patel’s drums were loud, proud and made the whole place jump to every beat. Matt Cox on Bass was a joy to behold and of course George Harris on lead was tight with all his work.
'Age of the Raven' continued to exemplify the whole band’s stage presence. Michael is a superb frontman with a mischievous banter that was well received.
Coming into the audience, picking attendees out and having perfectly timed chats. This was an interactive gig and it felt the whole place just had a great big grin on its face.
'Dying Embers of Life' and 'Trapped within the Shadows' just kept the whole place pumped.
'My Revenge' reflected Halloween with its slow creepy intro before guitarist’s Tony Maue guttural utterings pulled the audience into a fast heavy thrash pommelling until the whole song settled into its own groove.
The finale was 'Angel in Disgrace'. And what a finale! Sore necks were the order of the day as resistance to head banging was futile.
At any other time Limelight 2 would have been filled for this perfect storm of rock, and while the quantity may not have been there the quality of enjoyment and enthusiasm made up for it.
From hardened grizzled rockers to the young wolves of metal everyone left with a smile on their face. Both bands are well worth checking out and seeing live is a must.
Review by Ivor Whitten
Pictures by Darren McVeigh
ALBUM REVIEW: French black metallers Aosoth deliver the darkness by the truckload with ‘V: The Inside Scriptures’.
In the now burgeoning French black metal scene it’s hard to stand out from the crowd.
With bands like Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega putting French black metal firmly on the map you have to do something truly special to get yourself noticed.
Parisian chaos demons Aosoth have done just that with ‘V: The Inside Scriptures’, an album overflowing with insane riffs, phenomenal drumming and seriously impressive song writing.
The first track ‘A Heart to Judge’ begins in ferocious style. Double kicks and grinding fretwork will send you into a fit of headbanging as the snarling vocals creep into the mix. The music is raw and dense, the guitars fire out chaos and some seriously catchy riffs as the drums assault you with blastbeats and at times and old school death metal style of drumming. A very strong, very dark opener.
The second track ‘Her Feet Upon the Earth, Blooming the Fruits’ is a cyclone of madness from the word ‘go’. Evil, manic riffs and drumming as heavy as granite smash into each other with force. The vocal work just adds to the nastiness, beating you into the corner with a demonic wall of noise. This one will have you banging your head and hailing the devil all day long.
‘The Inside Scriptures’ starts off with an ominous riff that’ll make you feel more than a little uneasy. The drums come crashing down and the bass rumbles along creating a sinister sound which the rasping vocals fit perfectly. Dissonant riffs and blastbeats soon pick up the pace. There are some absolutely filthy riffs in this one.
The nastiness oozes out of this song like an infected wound.
‘Premises of a Miracle’ is up next, and it doesn’t ease you in at all. A demonic miasma of blasts and grating riffs smacks you in the face immediately. The vocal work adds to the chaos, the tone is superb. There are some extremely catchy moments in this track, riffs that get their hooks deep into you and insane double kick drumming that’ll keep your brain rattling around in your head for the entire duration. A definite favourite.
The fifth track ‘Contaminating All Tongues’ is a midpaced behemoth that crushes you into the dirt with heavy drumming and gritty, punishing fretwork. It’s a real slow headbanger that’ll have you putting the horns in the air. Off beat vocals just add to the creep factor as the track heads into doomy territory with a slow drum pattern accentuated by eerie guitar work before blasting into double kick blastbeat madness and a great shredding riff of pure ugliness.
Closer ‘Silver Dagger and the Breathless Smile’ is so mired in groove you can’t help moving to the devilish cacophony. The riffs are all over the place, the drumming intense and dynamic and the vocals are absolutely sinister. The sound is almost suffocating, holding you down and squeezing the breath out of you with black sludgy noise. It’ll make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, with the guitars ringing out pure evil and the drums terrorising you with blastbeats at any given moment.
A very strong final track.
Fans of the murky nastiness of black metal should give this a good few spins. It’s chock-full of monstrous goodness that Satan himself would approve of.
Review by Phil Noonan.
V: The Inside Scriptures is released on 17th November on Agonia Records
LIVE REVIEW: W.A.S.P. celebrate 25th Anniversary of Crimson Idol
GIVEN the 25 years since its release, 'The Crimson Idol's is as much as seminal release from W.A.S.P., but is also a moment captured in many fans minds as a moment in their personal lives, making the 'Re-Idolized' date in Belfast a guaranteed sell-out.
There was the expected buzz around the October 18th event at Limelight 1, which unfortunately for support act, The Cruel Knives, meant concentration was not in any way focussed towards the stage.
While they were energetic and engaging at times they were struggling to keep attention away from the bar. There songs were on occasion well executed on the strength of this show it was at times too generic.
With the introduction to The Crimson Idol, 'The Titanic Overture', there was almost feverish in the packed venue as all urged forward. From the off it was clear that the band intended to reproduce each note, each sample and each word as faithfully as the original album release.
Blackie was as commanding on stage as always. He may no longer be the demonic presence at the front, but for a man of his age still stands proud at the front. However, he does step to the back to allow Doug Blair on guitars and Mike Duda (bass) to take their rightful moments in the spotlight.
'Chainsaw Charlie' had the gang vocals of the chorus reciprocated by the audience chanting out "Murders In The New Morgue'.
Playing out the descent of Jonathan across the album 'Hold On To My Heart' was almost achingly close to the original.
The encore opened with a storming cover of The Who's 'The Real Me', invoking another mass singalong, quickly followed by 'L.O.V.E. Machine' Despite some questionable vocals all were engrossed.
Newer track 'Golgotha', reflecting Blackie's more recent Biblical story telling, is already familiar to all, but the closer 'I Wanna Be Somebody' is the song that has all roaring out ever word, pummelling fists and horns held aloft.
After just shy of 90 minutes an exhausted audience streamed out into the chilly October air, reflecting on the performance and wondering when W.A.S.P. will return, if ever.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
LIVE REVIEW: Belphegor, Enthroned and Nervochaos bring Satanic worship to Belfast in a hail of riffs.
SATAN was in the house and there was three bands to hail Lucifer's arrival in the Limelight.
First to welcome the Fallen angel wee Brazilian black death metal maniacs NervoChaos.
Grinding death influenced guitars and ferocious drumming set the tone for the next thirty minutes.
The bellowed vocals of Lauro Nightrealm thundered through the venue. The high energy set had everyone paying utmost attention. Heads were banging and horns were in the air.
The performance was tight, thoroughly entertaining and a strong start to the madness that followed.
Next to hail the Lord of Light were Belgian black metal heavyweights Enthroned. The blistering guitars, blastbeats and rumbling bass fired everyone into a headbanging frenzy, orchestrated by the ominous presence of man mountain Nornagest.
The dark imagery, corpse paint and eerie lighting only intensified the evil spewing out of the amplifiers. Enthroned showed over the course of forty minutes why they have been a driving force in black metal for nearly 25 years.
Every eye was transfixed by the dark Satanic madness conspiring on stage. The powerful vocals, razor sharp musicianship and a certain flair for the dramatic held the room captive from start to finish.
As the lights then dimmed to a creepy blue and crosses made of bones and goat skulls adorned the stage the ravenous congregation edged their way closer to witness what was to come.
Austrian blackened death metal giants Belphegor tore the Limelight to pieces in support of their absolute beast of a new album, ‘Totenritual’.
The stage presence was absolutely fear inducing, as a heavily corpsepainted Helmuth Lehner and his morbid band of madmen caused aural carnage and mayhem in its rawest form.
The monstrous bass, crushing blastbeat drumming and shredding fretwork turned the place into a nightmarish warzone.
The Limelight was now a place of evil, and Helmuth made sure nobody forgot it with demonic roars, inhuman shrieks and rasping eerie monologues throughout the performance.
It was a night of pure darkness in Belfast. A night that those in attendance will not soon forget.
Despite the lineup being plagued by Deströyer 666 and Nordjevel dropping out at relatively short notice NervoChaos, Enthroned and Belphegor put on a show that shook the Limelight to its very core.
Review by Phil Noonan
Pictures by Darren McVeigh
ALBUM REVIEW: Annihilator's 16th release For The Demented may be their best yet
ANYONE who witnessed Annihilator at Bloodstock 2017 knows what a special (and humourous) band they are. But while all fans harken back to the days of 'Alice in Hell' and 'Never, Neverland' there has been a development in what Waters and co have delivered.
Everyone expects a high standard from Annihilator, but with the November 3rd release of 'For The Demented' they have taken the bar, stuck it up the ass of any doubters higher than anyone could expect.
In one sense this is an album that harkens back to the so-called glory days: but in another sense feels fresher, vibrant an alive.
Sure, the hats are tipped to the 'classic' Annihilator style, and their familiar influences touchstones (one direct word lift from 'Tallica - spot it youself!) but this is a collection of 10 tracks that deserve to be savoured.
From the headlong race of opener 'Twisted Lobotomy' to the weird jazz shit on closer 'Not All There' this is a release to revel in.
But those expecting the classic thrash themes it is also a collection to delve much deeper into, in terms of the music and lyrics.
Waters has confessed that he has moved from his insular writing process - when we interviewed him a few years back he talked about sitting with software listening to drum sounds to get what he wanted. Taken away from the self-imposed confines and having bassist Rich Hinks Annihilator have risen to another level.
Sure, the melodic shredding on the likes of 'One For The Kill' and 'Altering the Altar' - as well on every song - is exemplary, but it feels like it is better balanced out within the arrangements.
The title tracks is a perfect example of this, from its brooding introduction to an almost atonal riff and deliberately forced melodies it pushes thrash to its musical limits, but still has moments that stun.
For those of a certain vintage 'Pieces Of You' would sit as the last track on side one of some vinyl Metallica releases, but takes that 'model' and develops it with soulful playing overlaid with dark. cannibalistic lyrics (apparently mayonnaise, pepper and a little salt work well...)
And, here within lies the secret of why Annihialtor stand above many - their dark Canuck humour and adaptability sees them above many pretenders. They are the genuine article.
'The Demon You Know' out-Musataines Mustaine's Peace Sells with a knowing nod and a twisted smile.
Many will comment that this is a little derivative, but sit them down - fuck it tie them down - and make them listen to 'For The Demented' until they 'get it'.
What Annihilator have produced is a unique product, something that gives thrash (and indeed NWOBHM fans) a glimpse into the days when music excited, and brings a collection of songs that still feel fresh.
Waters has achieved much on this - and by the Lord Baphomet there are so-called hard rock/sleaze bands that would sell their soul, clothes and drugs to have written and recorded 'The Way'.
Does all this seem to effusive? Frankly we don't care, because this is the real deal in terms of a metal record - no flummery, no fancy OTT shit and a deep lyrical thematic.
We perhaps could have done without the atmospheric instrumental 'The Dark' this is an otherwise flawless Annihilator release.
And, even before we hear these songs live the hairs on the back of our necks are standing rigid in anticipation.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
For The Demented is released on November 3rd on Neverland Music Inc
Hurricane Darkness Rips Into The Limelight
On what may become known as Ophelia Eve, a storm of a different kind arrived in Belfast’s Limelight and played like it was their last night on Earth.
The night began with Cork three piece ‘Mindriot’. The room was already full when they kicked things off. The lads even managed to get the punters chanting along. They made the most of their little sliver of stage and warmed the crowd up considerably for the impending storm, even if lead vocalist Tony’s banter between songs was difficult to comprehend; a combination of a heavy bass and an even heavier accent!
After a small break, The Darkness walked on stage after a oddly suitable Scottish themed intro. Lead singer Justin Hawkins looked like a prize fighter in his signature green cape, ready to do battle with the audience.
Opening with the fast paced ‘Open Fire’ it was easy to see who would win this fight. They had already landed a knockout. The opening salvo wasn’t without a few little wrinkles however. From the floor it was hard to hear the vocals. Justin could be seen trying to indicate to the sound desk that he couldn’t hear himself. This did little to dampen the already electric evening in the Ormeau Road venue however as the band quickly followed up with the classic ‘Love Is Only A Feeling’. They had the Limelight on the ropes, their hands swaying in ecstatic submission.
The band’s overt dig at the train network ‘Southern Trains’ marked the removal of the cape, revealing Justin’s trademark green catsuit. Was the green for Ireland perhaps? The sound problems persisted for Justin through the next song ‘Black Shuck’ but at this point it seemed to have been sorted out for the audience.
‘Buccaneers of Hispaniola’, another song off their new album ‘Pinewood Smile’, saw the band demonstrate a new, heavier sound. Drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor, son of Queen legend Roger Taylor, has brought a new flavour to the band. His flamboyant drumming style is pushed to the fore on their latest album and was in full flow during their live set. He is a perfect fit for the band who have admitted that they didn’t quite click with their previous drummer, Emily Dolan Davies.
At this point the party was in full swing with a member of the audience offering Justin her bra during ‘All The Pretty Girls’ which he happily wore on his back and found it’s way into Justin’s crotch for the next song ‘Barbarian’. Whether she decides to wash it or not is anyone’s guess!
In between songs Justin was determined to get the crowd singing along to a mysterious song with ‘Belfast! Belfast!’ as part of the lyrics. It was only later when Justin asked someone to look the song up on Spotify that it was revealed to be a Boney M song. A strange choice but one that Justin seemed to champion.
Proceedings slowed down as Justin sang the first cover of the night ‘I Should Have Known Better’ by Jim Diamond. A very left field choice for cover but it really worked, with the eager Limelight faithful chanting along to the song’s famously catchy chorus. This was quickly followed up by the wonderfully tongue in cheek tune ‘Why Don’t The Beautiful Cry?’ with Justin on an almost inaudible piano.
After confessing to a bum note (no one noticed) during ‘Dancing On A Friday Night’ Justin revealed that his ear had just popped and he could hear everything perfectly; he put the earlier audio issues down to an afternoon Apple crumble followed by a snooze.
The Darkness continued a triumphant night with a string of knockout hits including ‘Happiness’, ‘Every Inch Of You’ and the crowd sing-along favorite so far ‘Solid Gold’. After pulling off an impressive hand-stand and crowd swimming during ‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman’, they brought the evening to the first encore with ‘Growing On Me’ which could barely be heard over the Limelight crowd who sang as one heaving mass.
After a brief encore, The Darkness closed the night with the incredibly heavy ‘Japanese Prisoner Of Love’ and, in a surprise to no one, finished with ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’, with every member of the audience singing every word.
At the start of the night Justin had challenged the audience to be better than Dublin where they had played the night before. There was no doubt on anyone’s mind, much less the band’s, that Dublin was relegated to second place. To save hurricane Ophelia the trouble, The Darkness tore the roof off the Limelight.
Review by Laurence Doherty.
ALBUM REVIEW: Stormbringer strident on third release Born A Dying Breed
FOR their third album it seems the English rockers Stormbringer have nailed a sound that they are comfortable with, a band comfortable in their own rock 'n' roll skins.
Given their début release in 2011 had a more metallic edged hard rock, earning them a main stage appearance at Bloodstock, by the time Jim Brown took over vocal duties for 2015's 'Blood and Rust' there was more of a focus on the hard rock.
With that sophomore release done, Stormbringer added a guitarist and have produced a strident, confident release. Indeed 'Born A Dying Breed' seems a much more coherent album.
The hellraising 'Don't Trust Me' has vocal and guitar refrains delivered with furious fervour as Brown vies with Jamie Peters and Dom Wallace's guitar in this infectious opener.
It isn't a case of straightforward hard rock excellence throughout the release, there are varying degrees of complexity and depths. For example 'Dying Breed' oozes southern rock, but adds a tinge of the NOLA sound.
Without a doubt this is an album that will take Stormbringer to the next level. The hype that has seen them featured on Scuzz and Metal Hammer has been justified in the past, but now this propels them to the next level.
In a world that is just Born A Dying Breed will attract more fans, more coverage and more airplay. Having had it blaring here at Metal Mansions all occupants love it, and even the dog perks up when Stormbringer are on.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
ALBUM REVIEW: LA Guns back with a bang on The Missing Peace
People said it would never happen, that we’d never see new L.A. Guns material with Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis reunited under the same L.A. Guns banner. But it has and finally, 'The Missing Peace' is here!
Long awaited after their on-stage reunion and tour, fans have been patiently waiting to see what new Guns awaits them and most importantly, will it be as good as it always was?
Spoiler alert: Yes. Yes, it is. Although taking a little while to warm up, this album is classic L.A. Guns through and through.
Kicking off with It’s All The Same To Me this may just take some fans by surprise – especially those who’ve been listening to the single Speed on repeat since its release. This track is entirely different, proving that a steamroller can be just as effective as a Harley when it comes to running people over.
It’s a nice opener and contrasts second track, Speed well – allowing the audience to get comfortable before giving them the equivalent of an auditory slap across the face.
Speaking of Speed, this track does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s fast, rampant and sleazy and a great single choice. It even has an ode to Highway Star woven in for good measure. When listening, you instantly know this must be the band’s opener when playing live.
And, as the lyrics suggest indeed “A little speed will make you want a little more”. Therefore, we’d recommend at least 3 plays concurrently to get the full effect.
N.B. L.A. Guns are not responsible for any speeding tickets or traffic offences you may receive or commit if you choose to listen to this track while driving.
Drop Of Bleach, as the title suggests, takes the listener back to that heavy 90’s L.A. Guns sound. With a catchy hook and Lewis’ vocals on point throughout. There’s some thrusty bass which helps accentuate the sexy vibe of the song, with some serious grit underneath.
Sticky Fingers sees the band create another tune which fits that age old L.A. Guns X factor to a tee. There’s good use of the drums throughout which accent and compliment the vocal line. This one sounds a lot meatier than the previous track, with classic lyrics such as “You seen me come, now you’ll see me go.” This wouldn’t be out of place on any of their previous albums. The breakdown, although beginning with Ghost-esque features morphs into an echoey guitar solo which showcases Tracii’s raw talent.
Okay, so it’s not the type of album that’s gonna make you want to grab your hairspray and head to the nearest local version of the Whiskey-A-Go-Go , but L.A. Guns never were like their pretty poser boy peers, and that is exactly what you get on this album.
And, then it’s time for a ballad, Christine. You can hear the influence of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers on Tracii’s playing in this song, with a nod to Under The Bridge. There’s nice guitarwork and embellishment throughout and somewhat reminiscent of Quireboys Sweet Mary Ann.
Baby Gotta Fever amps up the ferociousness again and is the closest song on the album to Speed so far. Stand out lyrics include, “I like my pleasure with a little pain.” If you like your L.A. Guns fast and furious, then this track is for you. This is a fun song that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is reminiscent of bands such as Alleycat scratch, TigerTailz and even Motley Crue when they chose to have a bit of fun.
Kill It Or Die is definitely one for the guitar players. (Or appreciators!) With a steady pace, Kravits-esque guitar line and an intro that channels Mr Hendrix. It’s a head-nodder that makes you want to join in instantly. The Guns get their groove on for this track and give the audience something they can shake their hair to. (Or any other body part for that matter!) There’s raspy full-pelt vocals from Phil throughout, so much so you can almost feel the spit landing on you from the speakers. This track will instantly want to make you move and sing along from the moment you hear it.
Track eight, Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gunfight invokes images of a triumphant return after being down and out and it’s easy to see how this track could be part of a movie soundtrack. The gang vocals are great and you know exactly how they’re gonna play out live and we hear that signature Tracii Guns guitarwork that remains on fire all the way through. It’s a ready to go song if you are!
One of the most interesting tracks on the album is The Flood’s The Fault Of The Rain, especially given recent events in America. It begins with a House Of The Rising Sun feel with an atmospheric storm and perhaps even a little bit of fire crackling in the background.
This is Over The Edge L.A. Guns - it’s slow, it’s sexy, it’s honest and it hurts. The vocals have honest vulnerability in this track and the subject matter sounds close to the heart with astonishingly beautiful lyrics throughout this song. Tracii does indeed let it rain with the solo. This is the Guns we’ve been looking for and easily the most beautiful piece on the album. The stormy sounds re-enter at the end of the track, with the roar of thunder parallel to Phil’s vocals with the song soloing out till the end. You can imagine a classical orchestral arrangement of this song à la Metallica working wonderfully well.
In true Guns style, they bring it straight back up to 200 mph with The Devil Made Me Do It – an angsty, punch in the face overdrive melody which is a world away from the previous atmospheric track. It has chant-along ability and instantly appeals to your sense of debauchery. You can imagine there was a devil on each shoulder when this song was being written, like the devil helped pen it himself. As a result, you’ll only need to hear this track a couple of times before the lyrics are automatically engrained in your head. It’s like listening to controlled adrenaline (an oxymoron, yes) and being encouraged to sin. Short, fast and sweet.
The title track of the album, The Missing Peace, sees its way in at number 11. Initially, it leads you into a false sense of security, thinking it’s going to be a wholly acoustic slow number. No chance. It divebombs into an electric song of pain where Lewis paints a picture of his world crumbling and falling around him, with begs and pleads of “Stay” and “I’m made of flesh, but I’m covered in bones.” lyric. Lewis takes his vocals to the brink with this song and it works brilliantly. Tracii talks him down from the ledge with a guitar solo that could save any soul.
The final track, Gave it all away, also begins acoustically, bringing in that abandoned desert town feel which hones itself into almost a Nothing Else Matters riff. Immediately, you can sense this song has a heed this warning type feel. At points, it feels like Lewis is singing this one from his cell, perhaps padded, rejecting of a lifestyle that so many strive for. Changing up the lyrics between “Gave it all away” and “Take it all away” there’s a flashback here to Johnny Cash’s Hurt. A certain maturity comes from this song, one that we don’t always associate with the band due to their three minute wonders of all fucking and no foreplay. This is a great song to end the album on and leave’s the listener feeling a little self-reflective, ending with an almost back masking effect as if listening to life rewind itself and playing out your very last moments. Very much a perfect closer.
To be continued or not? Who knows….
Review by Lynn Carberry
The Missing Peace is released on Frontiers on 13th October
NEWS: HRH Sleaze 2018 announces first acts - including LA Guns and Backyard Babies
L.A. Guns -The legendary veterans of the sunset strip glam and sleaze metal scene are announced headline the Saturday stage at HRH Sleaze next September at 02 Academy Sheffield.
The band are true warriors of the 80’s genre and are geared up to tear it up at HRH Sleaze, promising to deliver the high octane Rock-n Roll that they are famed for.
Backyard Babies, one of Sweden’s most successful and bestselling rock bands are also confirmed to headline the Sunday main stage. They have several Grammy awards, gold selling albums and world tours to their name and HRH can’t wait to see their sleaze rock swagger at the O2 Academy next year. The band officially reunited in 2014, five years after they announced that they were going on an indefinite hiatus.
HRH have also confirmed the following bands.
L.A. GUNS – BACKYARD BABIES
TIGERTAILZ – JETBOY
SANTA CRUZ – TOXICROSE
WILDHEART – THE EROTICS
SNAKEBITE WHISKY - SHIRAZ LANE
THE MAIN GRAINS – MIDNITE CITY
THE SENTON BOMBS– FALLING RED
BLACK BULLETS – THE IDOL DEAD
BLACK BULL – SPYDER BYTE
PSYCHOBABYLON – LAST GREAT DREAMERS
Plus more bands to be announced.
HRH Sleaze is already 58 % sold from this year’s event. To make it cool, we have a killer deal which is giving you more than 50% off, but only for 6 days and all subject to availability.
For 6 days only, the full weekend will be 25 GBP and no booking fee, What's more we will be giving you the Friday night pre party, which is the 9th Cycle of Highway to Hell, Free of
Accommodation packages, which some include the Royalty passes for the upstairs balcony have a 35% discount for the 6 days.
It all finishes Monday 16th at Midnight where they go back up to the normal price of 60GBP and no 35% off hotel packages…BUT, that’s if there is availability
Sites have reduced rates on them, meaning you don't need a promo code, but its only for 6 days
if you know your Sleaze then this is a weekend not to be missed.
HRH Sleaze 2 will take place at the O2 Academy in Sheffield between 1st -2nd September, 2018.
HRH Sells Out super-fast, so if you’re clever, book soon to avoid disappointment, online at www.hrhsleaze.com, or ring Sam on 0207 193 1307.
ALBUM REVIEW: Sorcerer present a grandiose vision on The Crowning Of The Fire King
ON first listen to Swede metal crew Sorcerer's The Crowning of the Fire King you think that they have been listening to Rainbow too often - in particular Stargazer. But after that initial cognitive dissonance there is a real sense of something epic this way coming.
Since their 2015 release 'In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross' and the follow-up EP 'Black' there was a sense that they could stretch themselves a little further.
On 'The Crowning of the Fire King' they have taken that template and built upon it to shake off any comparisons, and produce an album chock full of grandiose songs. Apart from the atmospheric acoustic 'Nattvaka' there are no short songs on display here.
Opener 'Sirens' is a relatively brief five minutes compared to some tracks that nudge well beyond nine minutes. And, not a one has a second wasted.
Anders Engberg holds the attention with his compelling phraseology of each lyric, and Kristian Niemann and Peter Hallgreen manage to put together parts that enthrall - not an easy feat given the length of some songs.
For example, the title track meanders magnificently with no missteps, onomatopoeic playing and compelling throughout.
It is a similar story on 'Ship of Doom'. Any track that is almost a full 10 minutes needs the breath to develop and entrance. It succeeds.
Similarly closer 'Unbearable Sorrow' has the legs to keep the pace throughout it's nine minutes 55 seconds. And, what is more it has the balance and arrangement that makes it seem like a much shorter song.
True, Sorcerer reference a lot of what has went before them, but The Crowning of the Fire King' is a truly wonderful immersive experience.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
The Crowning of the Fire King is out on Metal Blade on Ocotober 20th
ALBUM REVIEW: Intergalactic scumdogs GWAR back with The Blood of Gods
AS soon as you read, let alone say the word Gwar the cynicism meter is cranked to maximum. Yeah, they have some credibility somewhere, someplace, within the performance art of Slave Pit Inc. Or are they just an elaborate parody of Scientology that has gotten out of hand?
But when it comes down to the bottom line we're interested in the music: We'll deal with the hyperbole and the 'story' of Gwar later...
'The Blood of Gods' is their first recorded output since Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie) died in 2014. Has that loss diluted Gwar in any way? Not at all.
It is as over-the-top and lyrically stupid as ever. And, if you have a problem with that don't forget we grew up on Manowar and still listen to a lot of metal with battle lyrics.
Indeed the opener 'War On Gwar' is a hybrid of Manowar and Power Metal tomfoolery in musical terms, stretching through it's seven minutes plus path. However, it is when they kick into the fast-paced 'Viking Death Machine'. Heads down, full pelt metal that allows you to pick all the songwriting influences. (But, we have to say will the Viking Death Machine, alien-manned, be able to cope with heavy metal pirates once Alestorm track them down...)
Throughout you can see Gwar riff on the metal tropes as always. Some have wonderful nods to their listening habits - 'I'll Be Your Monster' tips the disease-ridden cap to Wednesday 13 et al.
Of course the album is peppered with silly samples, such as on the wonderful 'Death to Dickie Duncan' *
It wouldn't be Gwar without the likes of 'Fuck This Place' but there is a track here that stands head and shoulders above some of the previous work. 'Phantom Limb' may also reference many metal songs but it is executed to near perfection - six minutes and 10 seconds that reads as if Michael Moorcock and Terry Pratchett were doing acid with Blue Oyster Cult.
The inclusion of a pretty good cover of AC/DC's 'If You Want Blood (You Got It)' may seem a tad incongruous, but then again DC weren't adverse to a bit of cod horror such as on 'Night Prowler and Angus impaled by his guitar on the cover of the If You Want Blood live album.
At this point readers may ask has sanity totally went out the window - it's fucking Gwar!
Put aside the alien suits, the story about Gwar spawning the human race by shagging apes after being exiled.
Put aside the blurb that accompanied this: "The Blood of Gods, is nothing less than a sacred text chronicling the rise of humanity against their makers, and the massive battle between GWAR and the forces of all that is uptight and wrong with the world. Along the way, the band challenges the sins of their great mistake, from politics, pollution, and organized religion, to fast food, and factory farming. Humans are shown as what they are; a parasitical disease that must be eradicated before they suck the planet dry."
Once you get over that it stripped back it is simply an album that plays metal. Is it great? No. Is it good? Yes. And, that ladies, gentlemen and scumbags of the universe as of any evening on this benighted planet is all that matters.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
The Blood of Gods is released on Metal Blade on October 20th.
*Dickie Duncan has many references, but it is also urban US slang for withdrawing from anal and finding some matter clinging to your 'Dickie'.
LIVE REVIEW: The Glory that is Inglorious live
ON an autumnal Tuesday evening the bright light in our lives that bears the label classic rock breathed life into Belfast's Ormeau Avenue Limelight in the shape of Inglorious.
Though foreshortened by the usual student disco shit happening later in the night, Inglorious grasped an adoring crowd by the scruff of the neck - in the nicest possible way of way of course.
Before that tender rock choking local metal heroes Stormzone surmounted an albeit cramped stage to assault the unwary with a set crackling with songs oozing with their typical energy.
Harv as the deadly vocal jester cajoled the crowd along as songs such as 'Death Dealer' and 'Where We Belong' rattled the rafters.
Junior and Steve kept the guitar histrionics at max, and pulled all the appropriate shape with Harv and Graham. But the real highlight was seeing Davy Bates back behind the kit and the rattle to the intro 'The Pass Loning'.
With the stage cleared for Inglorious it was clear that this act was intent on making the best of their set despite the time restrictions. Looking cooly assured Nathan was a picture of calm as he led the band through the highlights of their first two albums.
What they have is an arsenal of songs that engage with that era of classic rock, but are refreshing in their current edge. True 'Taking The Blame' has echoes of Deep Purple, but it is still definitely an Inglorious song, rooted in the 70s and living in 2017.
Andreas Eriksson is a true guitar wizard, and it seems that the return of Drew Lowe has given them that edge needed to boost them ever onwards.
'Read All About It' and the tremendous 'I Don't Need Your Loving' were highlights, but the drum and bass solo from the energetic Phil Beaver and Colin Parkinson seemed an unnecessary indulgence given another song could have been slotted in.
What was a special moment was the acoustic covers of Linkin Park's Numb and Soundgarden's 'Black Hole Sun' as tributes to those musicians that have passed recently. Nathan's ability to give his own stamp to Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell's vocals was one of those spine-tingling moments.
With plans to tour 'II' further with more shows and festival dates this is a base many a band would yearn for as they begin plotting their third album.
Whatever the future plans are now Inglorious are deservedly riding high on the crest of the proverbial wave, and we think they'll be riding on many more on the evidence of the Belfast show.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh
ALBUM REVIEW: Panzer hook on to their metallic roots on Fatal Command
WHEN it comes to Panzer sometimes it is difficult to tell if this a metal super group or an ongoing side project for Destruction's Marcel 'Schmier' Schirmer. Whatever it is they are a band intent on delivering their metal.
Schmier and co deliver a non nonsense album in the shape of Fatal Command, solidly heads down and bristling with anger.
But, to be clear this isn't re-inventing the wheel, it sounds like a band honouring their musical idols, adding their own twist and Schmeir's snarl at the state of the world.
Make no mistake that this is a band, not a one man show. Pontus Norgen (Hammerfall) tears through solos that at times are sublime, such as on 'The Decline (And The Downfall)'.
V.O. Pulver (Gurd,Poltergeist) is a worthy replacement for Herman Frank, showing his own virtuosity on guitar.
Rather than extol all the performances (Stefan Schwarzmann deserves several mentions in dispatches for his drumming) this is a coherent album, which features the ferocity of thrash and the refinement of NWOBHM - 'Scorn And Hate' is willingly flavored with more than a soupcon of Maiden.
You can pick your way through the influences (spot Priest and Accept in there..), but it all sits as a coherent work. Many will compare it to their debut, 'Send Them All Back To Hell', but this seems like a different beast, in ways reflected by Schmeir's reflections on the current state of metal.
“Contemporary heavy metal sounds like kindergarden,” he complained. “Just look at the bands getting really big right now: Pop melodies and nonsense.”
There is none of that nonsense in evidence here from the fast and furious opening track 'Satan's Hollow' through to rampaging closer 'Promised Land'.
While many look on groups such as Panzer as an indulgence it serves to remind us all that the very roots of the metal of the early 80s has a purity and integrity that needs not appeal to the TV video channels; that picks up its axe with intent.
As mentioned this is not going to reinvent metal, nor is it going to bring new legions of followers of metal, but you know what - who fucking cares! This is 50-odd minutes that compels you to raise the horns and down a beer or six.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
WITH 'One Man Army' Ensiferum set the bar high for folk metal, with an almost live feel. The
subsequent extensive touring showcased a band at the proverbial top of their game.
But unlike many bands the Helsinki act were already planning their next release well ahead of time, with these tracks on new release 'Two Paths' demoed seven years ago - yes seven years. Talk about foresight...
Having these tracks in formative structure at the turn of the decade could have made them stale, but in the seven years hence they have been beaten into glorious shape. In short 'Two Paths' is as close to the ultimate 'folk metal' album as you'll get.
All the elements from Ensiferum are there, with the added bonus of touring accordionist Netta Skog, formerly of Turisas, now a full-time member of the band, adding another vocal texture.
From the opening orchestral and choral intro 'Two Paths' gives you the expected grunt on 'For Those About To Fight For Metal', with flurries of guitar and growls plus huge choir like melodies.
While this is about as 'typical' as you would expect in the genre it veers close to cliché in places - but is saved by the arrangement.
However, the rest of the album is anything but clichéd. The reason for this could be attributed to the length of the writing of the tracks, or the organic, analog recording and producer Anssi Kippo's insistence on getting the right instrument's tones from the off.
Anssi has a really great recording method, in that he wants to find the best possible sound and tone for drums, bass, guitars, vocals etcetera at the start, so that as you finish the individual tracks it's close to what you want the final sound of the album to be. That way, you don't have to ponder over what you can do in the mixing." - Hinnka
The result are tracks that sound massive - whether it is full-on such as 'Way Of The Warrior' or 'King of Storms' or the quieter tracks, such as Netta's vocals on 'Unettomann Aikaan', all sound as if they were created as if to address a gathering deep in a primeval forest.
Title track 'Two Paths' opens with an almost rock-like riff from the 80s before upping the ante in a song delivered with clean vocals with a wistful edge and no shite tools to mask the feeling.
That Markus, Petri, Sami and Netta all contribute different singing textures makes every element of the album as varied and challenging as possible.
'Feast of the Valkyries' sees Netta opening the vocals and delivering a masterclass on digital accordion before the chorus as if delivered by Finnish warriors storming the land of the Russ.
Lyrically throughout, as always, there is more than what may appear on the heroic sounding surface.
"For me, it's really important that all lyrics have deeper, more serious and sometimes very personal meaning, while also fitting Ensiferum's heroic theme. It's a nice challenge to write lyrics this way, but it's also really rewarding to hear fans' interpretations of our music. There is no right or wrong in this matter." - Hiinnka
On 'Don't You Say' and 'God is Dead' the band challenge the listener even further by offering two versions, with Hinnka offering Ensiferum fans the chance to pick their favourite version.
'Don't You Say' opens with a drum line that nods to Priest before becoming a piece of groove infected folk, while 'I Will Never Kneel' is defiantly superb.
It would be easy to rant further about how good 'Two Paths' sounds. It is gritty, catchy and orchestral in equal parts.
Amidst the might and grandeur Ensiferum display a lightness of touch - in even the heavier elements - that demonstrates that this is no longer another folk metal act. Not only will they stake their claim to be among one of the originators, they are a force of nature to bow in admiration before. Madly beautiful...
Review by Jonathan Traynor
Arcade Fire Takes Belsonic To Another Level
Arcade Fire kicked Belsonic 2017 off with a bang on Tuesday 13th of June in the new venue Ormeau Park. Fans have been waiting for 15 years for the band to come to Belfast but I think everyone would agree it was worth the wait!
Special guests The Kooks got things started playing a mix of old and new tracks. Their most popular songs got the biggest reception with the crowd singing and dancing along to Oola, She moves in her own way, Naïve and Bad Habit. A highlight for me was a solo rendition to See me now on the piano.
I saw Arcade Fire three years ago in Dublin but Tuesday night’s show was in another league. With a new album on its way in July they opened the show with its title track and new single Everything Now. Along with a few other new tracks the set included all the old festival favourites from their back catalogue. Tracks from the 2013 album Reflektor were crowd favourites including Afterlife and Here comes the night time.
Never ones to shy away from the political, Arcade Fire played their anti-Trump track I Give You Power. Win Butler doesn’t say much during their performances but he couldn’t resist commenting on this track, introducing it by claiming he was too "Harsh on Bush" in the past. This was met with rapturous applause and laughs from the crowd and added to the great atmosphere in Ormeau Park.
The set list was eclectic, just like the band’s music. Reflektor was like a mini-rave while Sprawl II showcased Regine Chassagne’s amazing voice. As expected the crowd went wild for The Suburbs, No Cars Go, We Used to Wait and of course Rebellion (lies). There are too many other highlights to mention, each track seeming to better the previous one. The nine-piece band was on top form with instruments ranging from guitars and synthesisers to fiddles and saxophones; I even heard a cowbell at one point! They are well known for their impressive set designs and lighting and they didn’t disappoint in Belfast. They played for two hours but left the crowd wanting more. On leaving the stage they promised they wouldn’t wait as long as 15 years to come and I really hope they keep that promise as I would go back and see them again tonight.
Ahmed Al Sarraf
Enter Shikari &Crossfaith Live review from Limelight 1 Belfast.
For many, heavy metal
equals vocalist, guitar, bass and drums. No more. No less. It's a stubborn mentality that restricts them from enjoying a plethora of modern acts, two of which hit Belfast's Limelight 1 this
When Crossfaith take to the stage, they open their set with a hard 4/4 electronic kick that wouldn't be out of place in any trance club. And, the crowd kick off instantly. There's dancing, there's bouncing and there's headbanging. Within moments, Kenta asks for a circle pit, and he doesn't have to ask twice. He asks, he gets.
Too many support acts are greeted with polite head bobbing and a spattering of fans on the barrier. This is not that kind of gig. This is lit. Seriously, this show is fuckin' LIT!!!
Crossfaith rattle on with a set that can only be described as metalcore with a massive dose of trance synths, techno acid lines and the unmistakable wub-wub-wub sounds of dubstep.
Terufumi occasionally steps away from drum machines and synths to add a second layer of vocals, while occasionally swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniels. Bass player, Hiroki is also armed with a bottle of Jameson. This is clearly a band that love their drink (further evidenced by their song "Jagerbomb").
At one stage, the band disappear off stage with only the vocalist and "DJ" returning, and break into... a remix of Human Resource's Dominator, a rave track from 1991. There couldn't be more than a hand full of people in this room familiar with the original, but it gets the crowd moving none the less. But not as much as the following track, a faithful cover of The Prodigy's Omen, a song that gets the "everyone get get down and bounce up again when the song kicks in" treatment.
A few more tracks wrap up the set, during which we get two walls of death in the pit. And finally Crossfaith leave the stage, leaving a Limelight crowd soaked in sweat. I don't doubt for a minute that they'll be back at some stage as a headline act. They've earned it.
Enter Shikari have promoted this gig as a "warm up show" for their Slam Dunk festival headline slots, and for some that's disappointing. We know in advance that we're getting a stripped down show. No quadraphonic sound, no screens, no elaborate light show. The flip side is, few are likely to witness Enter Shikari in a venue the size of the Limelight now. They've successfully sold out arenas in the mainland UK and are tipped to be a future headliner at Download festival. So a smaller intimate show is welcome. And, for many, the music is the main attraction anyway.
As the stage techs start shifting kit, the crowd are clearly hyped for the main act. The well known lyrics "and still we will be here, standing like statues" is chanted by the crowd. Many fans hold their hands in the air, using their fingers to form the band's iconic triangular logo.
The lights drop and an almighty rumble of bass is unleashed from the speakers. And to celebrate ten years of Take To The Skies, Enter Shikari burst into that album. From the self titled Enter Shikari, the anthemic Mothership, through Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour and into Labyrinth...
Despite the anniversary of the afore mentioned album, Enter Shikari seem self aware enough to realise that playing the album "in its entirety", as per tradition, is not the best route. Not all albums are strong enough to sustain a full live outing (I'm looking at you Fear Factory). And so it's at this stage that we deviate from Take To The Skies.
A hat-trick of Last Garrison, Sorry You're Not A Winner and Juggernaut has this old codger (relatively speaking) pushing to the front of the crowd to get down with the kids (though my knees are paying the price this morning).
Another crowd favourite, Anaesthetist, keeps the pit busy, not that it's relented since the start of the show. A mish-mash of dancing, push-pitting and the odd two-stepper keeps the atmosphere buzzing.
As Rou asks the crowd "Is everyone enjoying the nostalgia?" we return to Take To The Skies with Return To Energiser, a track that has the whole room singing in unison at the top of their lungs, followed by Jonny Sniper.
If you know Enter Shikari, you'll have known that we weren't getting through the night without mention of the recent atrocity at Manchester Arena. "If they, whoever they are, want to start a war with live music, they will always lose". Rou delivers a touching speech. Some of the crowd listen attentively while others break into a "Man-chest-er!!!" chant. A cover of Oasis's Half The World Away is played, followed by their own Adieu, during which the crowd all hunker down. More than a few tears are wiped from cheeks.
Exit left, and the lights drop. The chants begin, but we don't have to wait long for the inevitable encore.
As Enter Shikari return to the stage, they break into Redshift, a song that I personally find a bit too devoid of their trademark sound, but OK Time For Plan B makes up for it. They finish with The Appeal And The Mindshift, an absolute rager that you just can't not dance to.
I confess I'd a sneaky peak at Dublin's setlist before the gig, and on paper it looked a bit flat. While there's a lot of love for Take To The Skies, I always felt that it was their second album, Common Dreads, where they really nailed their groundbreaking sound. However, despite skipping a bunch of my favourite tracks, Enter Shikari delivered in spades. Crossfaith were the perfect support act. And the crowd added almost as much to the show as the bands did. A fantastic night of modern metal left me drenched in sweat with a massive smile on my face. 9/10
Now can someone book these guys for a full Belfast gig? Stage show et al. I'd suggest Ulster Hall. Thanks.
Review by Wayne Donaldson
Photos by Darren Mcveigh
Wheatus : A flashback to our youth Last night I had the opportunity to re-live my youth as Wheatus played the Limelight in Belfast. Wheatus, a pop rock band most well known for their hit Teenage Dirt Bag entertained a packed out Limelight with a mix of new songs and old favourites. They hit the big time around the same time as Sum 41 and Weezer and follow a similar style. The crowd were eager to see Wheatus but most were pleasantly surprised by the support act- Michael; an electronic and experimental music group. In fact they are quite the discovery and one to watch for the future. Composed of three members including Mathew Milligan (the guitarist from Wheatus) they perfectly showcased their talents, even while using an ipad as their mix table. Wheatus took the stage to rapturous applause and didn’t disappoint the crowd. Entertaining and amusing, stage presence is not lacking with this group. They played a good variety of new and older songs but the solos by Brendan B Brown were a highlight for me. They brought a relaxed atmosphere to the limelight and didn’t appear to be playing to set playlist. They encouraged the crowd to shout out their requests (of course Teenage Dirtbag was requested more than once!) but fans were eager to hear songs from all seven of their albums including Holiday, Sunshine and Lullaby. It was obvious that a large percentage of the crowd came for one song- Teenage Dirtbag. The great thing about Wheatus is they didn’t shy away from playing their most famous song; they embraced it. The crowd finally got what they had been waiting for at the end of the set and Wheatus didn’t disappoint. They had the crowd jumping and singing along and I am sure I wasn’t the only one picturing the famous music video for the track! They even performed a remixed version during their encore before saying goodnight with a final solo from Brown. If you haven't seen Wheatus live I would recommend it. I was pleasantly surprised by their depth and back catalogue- they are much more than Teenage Dirtbags! Ahmed Al Sarraf
RYAN HAMILTON AND THE TRAITORS FEAT. GINGER WILDHEART – THE DEVIL'S IN THE DETAIL
It has become quite the done thing for musicians to branch out into side projects, supergroups and entire new bands in order for them to flex all of their musical muscles. Take for example the likes of Corey Taylor, Max Cavalera, and even (just a few days ago) Five Finger Death Punch's frontman Ivan Moody; all have spread their wings into new projects, much to their fans' delight.
Today's subject for review includes not one, but two rockers who have come together to form a new band. Ryan Hamilton was a solo musician originally, releasing an album (Hell of a Day) in 2015 on Pledge, before he met up with Bowling for Soup's Jaret Reddick and they formed People on Vacation. If that wasn't enough, he was also hand picked by the legendary Ginger Wildheart to support him on his tour in 2016. Evidently they got along rather well, as Ginger and his guitar feature heavily on Ryan's latest venture, a band called Ryan Hamilton and the Traitors – specifically, their debut album The Devil's In the Detail. Wildheart is famous for several different projects and bands; this is yet another feather in his crowded cap.
The band's info states that they are based in “Texas and the UK” but from literally the first note of opening track 'Smarter' it is obvious that their music is pure Americana; it's rather Tom Petty-ish in it's execution but with an intriguing dollop of pop-punk. It's a toe tapping little number with a surprising bluesy time change at the end which is an unexpected delight.
Listening to the album is like taking a trip back in a time machine: you have your Seventies grooves (the cool, swaggering Bad Company-esque 'Anywhere'; the upbeat and jangly 'Drugs and Fashion'); the simplicity of the Eighties (the radio-friendly 'We Never Should of Left L.A', and the 'John Cougar Mellancamp sings the Partridge Family' of album closer 'It Ain't Easy'); as well as classic Noughties pop punk (the toe-tapping 'The Gulf of Mexico', an ode to drinking to forget) right up to modern times, especially the heartfelt and soaring ballad 'Heavy Heart'. There's also a few tasty surprises sprinkled in, such as the country-flavoured simple ditty 'Back In Time', the inclusion of Scottish singer Chrissy Barnacle on 'Don't Say I Told You So', and the secret track at the end of the album which is a meaty burst of pure punk rock – more of this please, Mr Hamilton!
The Devil's In the Detail takes the listener back to a simpler time musically; a time when lyrics were important and variety was the spice of life. It's less 'get ready on a Saturday night' type music than it is a soundtrack for 'chilling out on a Sunday' or 'going for a long drive': the harmonies are sweet, the guitar work even sweeter, and it has just enough rock and roll snarl to save it from becoming too saccharine. Of all the collaborations, side groups and various musical configurations of late, this one can definitely be chalked up to a successful one.
Review by Melanie Brehaut
Former Heaven’s Basement vocalist is back with his new and interestingly named band The Cult Classics. Featuring sister Laurie on guitar, Tom McCarthy (guitars), Chris Guyant(bass) and Kev Hickman(drums, formerly of Raveneye). Promising a 90’s sounding album with influences such as Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell, Scott Weiland and Queen it sounded an interesting project and with festival appearances at Download and Ramblin’ Man Fair among others their live performances thus far seem to have backed up that promise. But could the album “The Man With Stars on His Knees” live up to the hype? The answer is a resounding YES!! The thunderous (if very short) opener ‘Show me What You’re Made Of’ hits you straight between the ears with its bass and drum into and heavy guitar riff. The first single off the album ‘All The Things You’ve Said and Done” follows. It’s autobiographical and at times an angry song but it’s got a great melodic fast tempo to it. A bit Alterbridge in sound with a catchy chorus, nice guitar solo it’s a great first release and well worth a hit on youtube. Third track ‘Dancin’ Down Below’ again has a great melodic tempo to it with big hooks and effective guitar fills accompanying Buchanans’ powerful vocal you are already drawn right into this album. ‘The Devil That Needs You’ is a slightly catchier number considering its subject being about addiction. There is a solid heavy riff throughout whilst staying true to the melody and the middle to end section really gives you the feel of anguish and pain. Bit of a strange ending to it but it doesn’t detract from the overall tune. At this point you get to take a breather with the mellow ‘Journey Out’. It has an overall more subdued sound both on vocal and guitar which is complemented by the tight rhythm section. A conflicting louder and deeper chorus is perfect as is the extended outro of atmospheric vocals over the guitar line. Title track “The Man With Stars on His Knees” is next and is another mellow song giving Buchanan a chance to showcase the more soulful side of his vocal range, at least to start with as it dramatically builds into a driving, melodic riff laden song with a huge chorus and commanding vocal. It chills out again with a great Queen style harmonic guitar play off. Seriously well crafted song. Track 7 ‘A God Is No Friend’ is another atmospheric tune with strong and passionate vocals. It’s a song about keeping an open mind about life, yourself and the path you eventually follow. ‘Left Me For Dead’ with its slightly Hendrix guitar opening is a mid to fast paced song in tempo with a very strong guitar and rhythm section. Again theres a bit of an Alterbridge feel to it but other ears may pick up something different. This was track 8 and so far there is no filler at all. To emphasise that point penultimate track ‘Mind of a Mute’ is a mean and dirty tune about self destruction and judgement. A Stoner rock vibe to it fits the lyrical content perfectly and in terms of heavy it’s the heaviest song on the album. The album finishes with what the bands PR guys described as “the incredibly elegant ‘Morals’. A showpiece song, stacked harmonies that closes the album in the best possible way” Hard to disagree with that so if you can’t say it any better..... “The Man With Stars on His Knees” is a provocative album that deserves careful consideration. There’s a lot going on and one listen just doesn’t do it justice even if it does grab you from track one.Buchanan himself said “the album is about struggle brought on by surrounding yourself with the wrong people at the wrong time” Think they pretty much nailed it..
NAPALM DEATH W/WARPATH IRELAND, WAR IRON & BLACK SKIES BURN Although Sunday night's gig in the Limelight was ostensibly simply part of grindcore legends Napalm Death's 'Apex Predator – Easy Meat' tour, it may as well have been subtitled “Pummel Your Fucking Face Off”, such was the ferocity of the four bands on the bill. First up, English grindcore stalwarts Black Skies Burn took to the task of warming up the growing crowd with glee, firing out their short, sharp and furiously profane songs like a big, dirty flame thrower. Describing themselves as “deathcore disco”, they certainly tick all of the required boxes, with riffs that could saw through walls, bass that sets the furniture trembling and all but indecipherable lyrics. That their set contains a song called 'Ashes to Ashes, Turd to Turd', about “shitting on dead people”, tells you all you need to know about the band... By the time local doom/sludge metallers War Iron take to the stage the room is filling up nicely. Front man Baggy is imposing in both stature and voice, with a clawing vocal style that is laden with menace. Accurately (and wittily) describing themselves as “the heavy in a grind sandwich”, they tackle their ponderous and wrecking ball-heavy tunes with aplomb, much to the delight of the crowd. Unlike the previous act, their songs ebb, flow and meander in absolutely no rush at all, resulting in a set that consists of three or four songs at most – not that anyone seems to mind in the slightest. Warpath Ireland are next, again showing just how varied the acts are on tonight's bill: this time, it's a wee bit of “brutal” death metal to really clear out your eardrums. With both and high and low pitched shredding vocals over relentlessly paced death metal, they're as heavy as a sledgehammer and about as subtle, too – intricacies be damned! The crowd respond in appropriately raucous fashion, with headbanging aplenty and even a small moshpit. Their set flies by seemingly in a minute; always a sign of a talented and entertaining band. At approximately ten minutes to ten, Napalm Death manage to surprise everyone – including the sound guy, no doubt – by appearing onstage early (unheard of at a rock gig!). After beginning in relatively calm fashion with their intro track and the title track vocal from their latest album, they then launch headlong into a rambunctious and blizzard-like set with 'Evolved As One'. Latest album Apex Predator – Easy Meat gets a hefty airing tonight, with no less than seven tracks woven throughout their ninety minute long set, along with favourites such as 'The Code Is Red...Long Live the Code', 'Scum' and of course, the ubiquitous and record breaking 'You Suffer', after which vocalist Mark 'Barney' Greenaway smirks “keep up!”. Greenaway himself is in fine fettle, covering every inch of the stage in his usual “toddler throwing a tantrum” style, complete with stamping feet and flailing head. The crowd, who expect absolutely no less from their legendary front man, respond rapturously and in kind – truly, it's hard to tell who is having more fun. Bassist Shane Embury is mysteriously absent, however, with Greenaway referring to a monumental cock-up and announcing his temporary replacement in the form of long time friend Jasper. The band barely pause to take a breath during their entire set, much to the crowd's delight: a Napalm Death set is nothing if not value for money. Each song is met with delirious applause; each is like a hammer blow to the head. They wrap up with a trio of covers: 'Face Down In the Dirt', originally by the Offenders; Hirax's 'Hate, Fear and Power'; and a punchy version of the Dead Kennedy's 'Nazi Punks Fuck Off', now more relevant than ever in today's political climate. Another new track, 'Adversarial/Copulating Snakes' brings the night's proceedings to a close, leaving both band and audience spent, sweaty and satisfied; truly, you'll never see a group of people so pleased to have had their faces pummelled and ears permanently damaged. Review by Melanie Brehaut Photography by Darren McVeigh
The contrast in audience sizes was
immediate upon going into Limelight1. Rival Sons had the place packed and pulsating. There was even more present than when Meshuggah had the venue rammed the previous Tuesday.
There was an almost religious devotion to the crowd's response by the time the first few songs had been hammered out, something the band seemed knocked out by, especially at the end of 'Torture' when the audience kept on with the refrain long after the band were about to end the song.
Jay Buchanan seemed almost overwhelmed by the response, as the rest of the band had grins almost as wide as the stage.
Fresh from a night supporting Sabbath this felt as much like an impromptu jam as it did a headlining show. The band took on the challenge of the set as if it was just another night in Long Beach, but one doubts if they have ever had such a warm response in California.
While the momentum had been building throughout the set, by the time 'Belle Star' was aired there was a palpable sense of occasion building, which continued throughout, and by the time they closed with 'Hollow Bones pt2' and 'Keep on Swinging' they had accomplished what they had set out to do: warn up the full set for their headlining shows across Europe and have a good time while at it.
On such an evening of musical contrasts it is hard to draw any real conclusions. All five bands have tremendous sets of songs, albeit across a range of genres, and all have talented musicians.
The main difference, of course, is that Rival Sons have label backing and PR support that draws airplay and sales. However, there is one nagging thought. If the fans of metal who can ram venues for the likes of Meshuggah remain largely absent for the likes of the DP shows. Rightly many will not be able to travel, and are maybe only fans of some types, but if even a few per cent more would part with a fiver, then the opportunity to grow would be afforded to bands, along with those in attendance having something to do on a Saturday other than watch TV and play old songs again. Okay, that is something of a controversial thing to note after such a good evening of rock and metal, but...ponder on that and wonder "what if..." should you ever want to step out of a weekend evening and have some fun without expectations.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh
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