Pick Your Rock and Metal

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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

NEWS: Massive Wagons sign worldwide deal with Earache Records and plan next album

WITH an ever-growing fanbase, and many loyal devotees here in Northern Ireland we're pleased that Massive Wagons are taking the next step in their career by signing a worldwide deal with Earache Records.

Formed in Lancashire by brothers Adam (guitar) and Alex (drums) Thistlethwaite, both in their 20s, MW are the newest rock 'n' roll hopefuls to sign to Earache.  Rounded out by Barry "Baz" Mills (vocals) and Adam Bouskill (bass), and as the press release says Massve Wagons "play straight-up, feel-good rock 'n' roll in the English tradition - no gimmicks, no agenda."

The band have been nurtured and developed by Off Yer Rocka for several years - and have expressed their thanks to the label for enabling them to develop to this point in their rock 'n' roll journey.

And, good news for fans is that Massive Wagons hope to release their latest album early in 2018

"You always hear people talk about 'making it'; rock fans chatting about who they think will 'make it' or who they'd like to see 'make it'," said frontman Baz.

"I've never really known what that truly means to be honest - I suppose everyone has a different take on what it means to them - but if you ask me, I'd say 'making it' means being lucky enough to reach a platform where our music is taken seriously, recognised and respected; where our music will be cemented in history, referenced in the future maybe by our peers as a band that did something; remembered by rock fans.

"I wanna leave a legacy - however big or small that is, I want to leave our mark, and although I want to take this thing much further, I firmly believe through signing with Earache that we have achieved this.

"I'm so proud to sign this deal; to be able to work with such a huge label like Earache is a dream come true.  The new Wagons album is just about written, next is the studio, then the biggest, baddest release yet.  Bring it on!  I just wanna thank the people at Earache for having faith in what we do and giving a group of guys from the street an opportunity to stand out.  Much love and rock on."

"We're mega excited to have signed to the world's toughest and truest hard rock and metal label, Earache Records," adds lead guitarist Adam.

"We have always been impressed by their artists and are extremely confident that the best material we're writing has found its rightful home in Earache for many years to come.  We are straining at the leash to get stuck into 2018 and beyond."

NEWS: The Stranglers set for Belfast return after stunning set with SLF at Custom House Square - Therapy? support

THE Stranglers will headline Belfast show at the Ulster Hall, Belfast with very special guests Therapy? on Saturday 03rd March 2018.

And, for those who saw them with SLF earlier in the summer at Custom House Square show know this will be a special show.

The Stranglers are one of the most continuously successful bands to have emerged from the UK punk rock scene. Expect to hear hits such as Golden Brown, No More Heroes, Peaches and Always the Sun and more recent tracks.

Headed up by Sunderland-born singer Baz Warne, the tour is set to coincide with the planned re-release of their first seven albums (six studio and one live) originally issued on the UA and EMI/Liberty labels.

For the 2018 UK tour, Therapy? will be their special guests.

The group are expecting to release their 15th album in early 2018 and have spent much of the past year performing a series of critically-acclaimed acoustic dates.

Tickets, priced £33.50 go on sale on, Friday, October 20th at 10am from www.ulsterhall.co.uk, www.ticketmaster.ie, Katy's Bar & Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. Northern Ireland customers 0844 277 44 55 & Republic of Ireland customers 0818 719 300.

NEWS: Belfast once again announced to host the Northern Ireland Metal2TheMasses heats

BLOODSTOCK’s annual, hugely popular ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ initiative offers unsigned and DIY bands the chance of being part of the Bloodstock festival experience and once again Belfast is hosting the Northern Ireland heat.

For 2018, your band could be playing on the bill alongside the likes of JUDAS PRIEST, GOJIRA, NIGHTWISH and many more amazing bands.
The Distortion Project is once again organising M2TM - and applications are open now. Email DP here if you’re in a self-signed or unsigned band and want to try out for a slot on the Bloodstock bill.

One winner from each event will win a slot on Bloodstock's ‘New Blood’ stage, with many more additional prizes to be announced.  In August 2018, your band or your favourite local act could be one of the lucky bands stepping on stage at Bloodstock.

For further details on M2TM, check out https://www.facebook.com/group s/m2tmofficial or for bands wishing to submit applications outside Metal2TheMasses, please email Simon here.

Standard weekend tickets for Bloodstock are currently available at ‘early bird’ prices (just £125 for four days of metal fun) so grab yours now at the ticket store if you want to save £20!  In order to keep up with inflation and extra costs in 2018, standard weekend tickets with camping will increase from last year's £139 to £145 once the ‘early bird’ allocation is gone. 

Bloodstock takes place at Catton Park, Derbyshire on 9th-12th August 2018.  Get additional information over at www.bloodstock.uk.com.

Monday, October 16, 2017

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

LIVE REVIEW: Hurricane Darkness rips into The Limeight

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
Pictures by Darren McVeigh

Friday, October 13, 2017

EP REVIEW: Drakonis development continues apace with the epic tales on The Great Miasma

LEAVING aside the definition of miasma regarding odours, the remaining definition refers to a dark, oppressive atmosphere and that is a worthy ambition for any black metal act to strive for.

To title their EP 'The Geat Miasma' is an ambitious thing for Drakonis to take on - the sound must echo the sense...

Thankfully they achieve that on this three-track release. The ambitious promise of 'As They Rot' is surpassed with better arrangements, execution and darkness.

The seven-minute plus track 'Queen Of Sorrows' feels like their best track so far from Drakonis, brimming with oppressiveness allied with some sublime playing.

But to isolate this song is to do the EP a disservice. Despite the fact that there is a mere three songs this is a story driven collection. Even from a musical sense all the tracks are bound together.

Sucking up their influences and absorbing them into an attitude that draws from the past and brings a (dark) refreshing twist.

The band promise to reveal much more of the story of ancient gods and sacrifice as each accompanying video is released but the sense of coherence on each track.

While stylistically bound together the songs are well constructed individually but fit together. Opener 'The Great Miasma' is atmospheric and brooding before 'Let Us Pray' (see below) kicks the listener in between the eyes at the same time that it rolls around the inside of your skull.

As mentioned the closer is an outstanding conglomeration of ideas and will be a treat to hear on stage. There are clever elements, but not overblown or musically verbose.

In resisting the temptation to release an album Drakonis have managed to showcase their development and their ambition. Given the fact that this is their third EP and their ongoing development 2018 is a year to look forward for the band.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

The Great Miasma is released on 1st December on Hostile Media

NEWS: Falling Red release single and reveal new video

FALLING Red have today premiered their new video for their single ‘My Town My City’. The track is from their exciting new album ‘Lost Souls’, due for release on 16th March, 2018. (see video below)

Vocalist and lead guitarist Andrew Roze comments “This song is very much not the norm for us when it comes to writing Falling Red songs but when we sat down to start writing for the Lost Souls album, we took a different approach to normal. Usually once a couple of songs are written, we write to a theme or idea but this time we just sat down and wrote songs we love playing."

Dave Sanders adds “My town, My city is about a few things, it’s about the love/hate relationship most people have with where they live, they can’t wait to get away but once they are away they can’t wait to get home. It’s also about being proud of where you come from or where you reside and finally for us its about Cumbria, its where the band was born and bred hence

"Its always home to me except Mikey, he’s from Edinburgh but now lives in Carlisle so he is an honorary Cumbrian. All our footage was filmed in Carlisle, Penrith and Ullswater, Cumbria. Due to the theme of the song we asked fans and friends from around the world to be part of it and submit videos to go in to the video, which they gladly did for us”

My Town My City features the following bands. 13 Stars, Stevie Pearce and the Hooligans, Estrella , New generation superstars, Theia, Massive Wagons Knock out kaine, Star Rats, Flush the Fashion, Fahran, Fragile Things, Chasing Dragons, Speedstroke and Panther.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

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

Born A Dying Breed is released on November 3rd on Attic Records


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

LIVE REVIEW: Alter Bridge's triumphant return to Belfast's Ulster Hall

AFTER playing two gigs at the Royal Albert Hall in London earlier in the week it was clear the band was pumped up and that Belfast was in for yet another spectacular Alter Bridge show.

Playing to another nearly sold out crowd they brought with them London formed rock band As Lions playing songs from their début album ‘Selfish Age’ it was evident from the start that this band had energy and a good stage presence of a band that had been performing for a while, playing songs such as ‘White Flags’ and ‘Bury my Dead’ they got the crowd’s attention.

The lights dimmed a shout went out to the crowd take lighters out phones out and raise them then they played ‘World on Fire’ Finishing up with ‘The Great Escape’ and the Ulster Hall was showing appreciation for a young talented band.

After a short break it was yet again time for Alter Bridge to take the Belfast stage.  After teasing the crowd accordingly, the band emerged onto the stage to kick off what would be a memorable show.

The rock legends opened the night with the heavy riff of one of the more immediately recognizable songs from the ‘Fortress’ album Addicted To Pain; a common staple for the band’s live performances.

Next up was ‘Ghosts of Days Gone By’, described by Mark Tremonti as a track that starts out like a feel-good song but then takes you straight to hell, it was a great follow up and shows off the two sides of the Alter Bridge.

After two classics – ‘Come to Life’ and ‘Brand New Start’ – it was clear that even AB fans were blown away by. ‘Cry of Achilles’ rattled the speakers and ears of the crowd and the cheers from the crowd was clearly heard by the band in appreciation for an Alter Bridge classic.

Myles then handed the mic over to Mark to take control on vocals as he unleashed ‘Waters Rising’. He perfectly showcased his ability to play guitar and sing a true talent; hopefully a new album from Tremonti is imminent.

After a strong finish, it was time for Myles to take it down a notch for a more mellow and personal touch. The singer with guitar in hand, strummed the intro to ‘Wonderful Life’. It was a great reminder to the crowd that Alter Bridge have a vast catalogue of music.

After the conclusion he played a melody of Watch Over which seen him sway from side to side in a deep trance and grabbing the crowd’s attention by the slow melody.

The ‘last’ song of the night was 'Metalingus'. Being one of the first songs of AB it didn’t disappoint sounding as fresh as the day it was released the crowd banging their heads in approval of a true rock classic. Hopefully 2018 will see Alter Bridge return with another rock spectacular.

Review-by Warren Stewart
Photos by Darren McVeigh

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.
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 Charge
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.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

NEWS: Bloodstock ups the ante with three stellar acts in the metal universe

PEOPLE got excited and a little bit overcome when Bloodstock announced Judas Priest as the Friday night headliner, but today's announcement saw thousands swoon in delight.

Yep, added to the bill are Emperor, Devildriver and Nails. Geologists across Derbyshire are warning of earthquakes and the possible tilt of the earth's axis with the addition of these three.

Emperor fans have had to be revived after they learned that the legendary act will be playing 'Anthems To The Weilkin At Dusk' in its entirety.

Frontman Ihsahn confirmed they’ll be performing a special set based around it.  “We're finally bringing the 20th Anniversary show for ‘Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk’ to the UK," he said  "We’ll be performing the album in its entirety and look forward to celebrating with everyone at Bloodstock!”

With Devildriver on the bill we humbly suggest that from now until August you get yourself circle fit....

Dez Fafara said: "Devildriver is playing Bloodstock in 2018 and we couldn’t be more fucking ready to bring the heavy and get the whole festival moving!

"We are thankful for the opportunity and can’t wait to see everyone there!  Get ready to get the fuck in the pit!”

Keeping the heavy theme three piece Nails will be throttling the fuck out of Catton Park.

Todd Jones said: “I've been following Bloodstock and looking at their advertisements online for the past few years, admiring how great a job the festival does having a great mix of underground bands and some of metal's biggest and finest.

"We're proud to finally say we're part of what Bloodstock is doing to fight the good fight!  We'll see all you motherfuckers at Bloodstock!!!"

With Gojira and Nightwish (fuck up haters, there'll be something in the Sophie Lancaster stage for you) we only eagerly await the confirmation of Toto as Thursday night headliners :)

And, if you haven't got your tickets yet what the fuck are you waiting for?

Saturday, October 07, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Lush exploration of darkness from The Fright on Canto V

DANTE explored the sinful nature of humanity in his tales exploring the circles of hell. While we may be living in a time when there are less wars and less global deaths, despite what rolling news might tell us, it is still potentially a dark time, as explored by The Fright on their latest album.

For all the lush melodies and carefully crafted arrangements 'Canto V' takes us on a journey through the crises we face, explored through tracks that veer from classic rock to melodic punk.

If Lon Fright's stated intention was to deliver an album with catchy choruses and dark themes then it is fair to say that he achieved it -  'Wander Alone' sticks in your mind like a leech that keeps pumping delicious anaesthesia into your aural tracts.

Based loosely on the first chapter of Dante's Divine Comedy Canto V is, is their fifth outing, and perhaps the most coherent in terms of concept and songs that they have ever produced.

The melodies are executed with care and the twin work of Kane and Danny is exemplary. The restrained intro to 'Fade Away', counter-pointing the piano being a perfect example. Lon channels his inner Pete Steele as he veers from languid to powerful hard rock in a track that sucks you into its weft and weave.

The fact that producer Waldemar Sorychta has worked with Moonspell and Type 0 Negative is no accident...

Often when a reviewer receives the blurb accompanying any album they thrust it away to concentrate on their own subjective take. But, re-reading the notes this time they have caught the essence of this album.

Teetering between hard rock and gothic rock The Fright have produced an album that resonates with repeated listens.

That they secured Michelle Darkness from End Of Green to guest on 'Leave' is one thing. Then they top it with roping in Andreas Lohr of German punks Fleihende Sturme to guest on a cover of...a Fliehende Sturme song 'In Sicherheit'. It's a nice nod to the variety of tracks on offer.

What is most enjoyable about Canto V is that is can be taken on many different levels - there are tracks that are radio-friendly and there are tracks that require deeper listening, but taken overall it is a coherent, lush and wonderful album.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

The Fright is released on October 13th on Steamhammer/SPV

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'.

Friday, October 06, 2017

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