Pick Your Rock and Metal

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Aaron Buchanan and The Cult Classics nail it with

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 , HRH, 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 seven ‘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 eight 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.

Review by Andy Gillen

NEWS: Ramblin Man adds UFO, Toseland, Stone Broken and Scorpion Child to an already burgeoning bill

RAMBLIN Man Fair has an already packed line-up for the festival at the end of July in Maidstone, Kent - think Saxon, ZZ Top, Extreme, Kansas, Dokken, Magnum, Black Star Riders, Glenn Hughes and many more.

But, not ones to rest on their laurels they've now added UFO - yes UF, fucking O, to the main stage.#

Also added to the already burgeoning bill are Toseland, Stone Broken and Scorpion Child...

And Trucker Diablo and Screaming Eagles are there too!

Here's the line-up...

Friday 28th July
Planet Rock Main Stage
Saxon (Main Stage Headliner)
Last in Line
Graham Bonnet Band
Saturday 29th / Sunday 30th July

Planet Rock Main Stage
ZZ Top (Main Stage Headliner / UK Festival exclusive)
Extreme (Main Stage Headliner / UK Festival exclusive)
Black Star Riders (Special Guests)
U.F.O (Special Guests / UK Festival exclusive)
Dokken (UK Exclusive)
Supersonic Blues Machine (First Ever UK Show)
Glenn Hughes
Blues Pills
Monster Truck
Danny Worsnop
British Lion
Jared James Nichols
Stone Broken

Prog in the Park Stage
Kansas (Prog in the Park Stage Headliner)
Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash
I Am The Morning
The Gift

Blues Stage
Joanne Shaw Taylor (Blues Stage Headliner)
The Quireboys (Blues set)
Tyler Bryant
Aaron Keylock
Big Boy Bloater

Outlaw Country Stage
The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band (Headliner)
Dan Baird & Homemade Sin
Steve “N” Seagulls
Whiskey Dick
Jessica Lynn
Caitlin Koch

Grooverider Stage
Rival Sons (Headliner)
Vintage Caravan
The Kyle Gass Band
The Picture Books
Scorpion Child
Dirty Thrills

LIVE REVIEW: Armored Saint precise pounding batters Belfast's Limelight into glorious submission

FOR more than 30 years Armored Saint have carved a sometimes lonely path as one of those acts that were in the thrash vanguardthat swept all in its path in the mid-80s, a style of music that combined with the pure metal thrust with the pulse of a punk-like attitude.

And, in 2017 as they undertake a mini-tour backing their live release 'Carpe Noctrum' the energy and drive of the band is undiminished, showing sheer joy at being on the stage.

Before they took to the stage Northern Ireland's Sinocence battered the growing audience with 40-plus minutes with a set that displayed considerable weight and balance from the moment 'Long Way Down' opened the evening.

Noticeable was the heavy nature of the songs, some of the older tracks given slight tweaks live and benefiting from a rhythm section in the shape of Ben and Jim that had more heft than many so-called headline acts can manage - something John Bush mentioned later.

Moro and Anto were in top form as they weaved their way through guitar lines that were punchy and almost telepathic in the delivery. 'A Coda To Self Slaughter' and 'Ascension Code' were among the highlights with the speedy and mighty 'Metalbox' melting all in its path.

Armored Saint declare at the end of their set that we will get a 'Left Hook From Right Field' but it was the one two combination of 'Win Hands Down' and 'March of the Saint' that set the tone for their 90-minute set.

John Bush a bundle of smiles, cajoling all to join in with every chorus, wiping sweat from his head as Joey prowled pounding out basslines as if his life depended on it.

Plundering songs from the start of their career to their latest release this was a precise pounding from a happy band to a happy audience. Whether it was 'An Exercise in Debauchery' or 'Can U Deliver' the energy was contagious.

Jeff and Phil manoeuvre axes and stage presence with a deft touch of a battering ram with a silk tip to the tonnage thrusting from the stage.

Their work on 'Aftermath' and 'In An Instant' was remarkable, which given the circumstances was pure mastery. Those circumstances were explained by Bush when he revealed that the Dublin and Belfast shows would not have happened without Sinocence lending Armored Saint their backline; dedicating a song to them and saying the Saint was "a mess" and Belfast must back the Sinners.

That statement of them being a mess was part of the self-deprecating humour the band displayed, with a knowing wink.

'Last Train Home' induced a mass-singalong that was matched by 'Reign In Fire' before Bush declared that under normal circumstances they wouldn't be going back to their changing area for the crowd to chant as there was only dirty clothes in the curtained area. Nevertheless the crowd chanted...

The final blows of 'Left Hook From The Right Field' concluded their second visit to Belfast...a visit that we can but hope will be repeated soon...

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh

ALBUM REVIEW: Monumentum out Eclipses Eclipse!

Swedish melodic hard rockers Eclipse released what many regarded as album of the year Armageddonize in 2015.
To equal or even top that was going to be difficult but in new release “Monumentum” not only have they done that, they may have blown it out of the water...it’s that good! Eclipse have developed a melodic, hard and heavy sound that grabs you by the balls from the start and doesn’t let go of its grip.

Fast tempo opener ‘Vertigo’ is broken up with solid riffs and has a nice lyrical play on words comparing the world as having vertigo spinning round and round.

“Never Look Back” has a heavy driving riff with a massive hook and chorus. A slower middle section adds to the song as it picks up the pace again.

A number of songs on the album have darker and painful lyrics, ’Never Look Back’ being one of them but it’s more noticeable on ‘Killing Me’. A slightly slower tempo song initially it switches between fast and slow tempo and the vocal delivery from Erik is in a slightly lower register. A great underlying riff and harmonised background vocals make this a killer song with a nice solo from Magnus.

“The Downfall of Eden”  continues the darker theme. A serious song about the Earths plight with lines such as ‘let the children be our judge’ gives you the general idea. A mid to fast tempo number with Celtic sound in places it has with most Eclipse songs that powerful bass and drum combination from Magnus Ulfstedt and Philip Crusner.

‘Hurt’ is next up and is a power ballad with a difference as it’s about a break up. It fills out from about 1min 30s in and features a powerful, moodier vocal delivery filled with pain with a melodic solo that is pure gold.

‘Jaded’ has a guitar/vocal intro that builds into a good old fashioned rocker with a great heavy riff throughout. Again there are deeper lyrics to this song.

A typical Eclipse song has power combined with melody, huge hooks and choruses and a driving rhythm section and this is well demonstrated on ‘Born to Lead’ which features a cracking solo.

Before you know it you are at track 8 ‘For Better or For Worse’. A slightly more modern sounding song. It’s basically a love song but a fast paced one with more great guitar work.

The heavier ‘No Way Back’ follows. A fast paced guitar intro leads to that heavier sound which is driven along with a great bridge into the excellent solo. The abrupt end just adds to its impact.

‘Night Comes Crawling’ continues in the same vein but is a slightly catchier song but still a typical Eclipse tune full of power, rhythm and great lead and background vocals.

The whole album has been building to the climactic ‘Black Rain’. The heaviest song on the album which has a classic bass and drum section. With its killer chorus, guitar solo and a nice keyboard outro it’s possibly the best track on the album.

With the ‘Armageddonize’ sound coupled with the darker, moodier lyrics “Monumentum” has raised the bar for this genre of music and with Martensson and Henricksson becoming a writing force to be reckoned with this album should see Eclipse playing higher up festival gigs than they currently are and hopefully gain a wider audience outside of Europe. They certainly deserve it, a pre-order must!!!

Review by Andy Gillen

Eclipse are :

Erik Mårtensson – lead vocals, guitars

Magnus Henricksson – guitars

Philip Crusner – drums

Magnus Ulfstedt – bass

LIVE REVIEW: Limelight pummelled by Napalm Death abetted by Black Skies Burn, Warpath and War Iron

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, 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 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

Friday, March 17, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Riffs aplenty as stoner, doom and blues collide on Regulus' release of Quadralith

FROM the depths of Louisiana - sorry we meant Sheffield - comes a beast of an album that straddles every preconception you might have about what constitutes a stoner sound, a blues vibe, all with added dashes of doom.

Regulus took us a bit by surprise when they played at HRH Stoner Vs Doom last year, for once the hometown hype proved to have heft rather than hyperbole.

And, as such the release of their album 'Quadralith' on Off Yer Rocka Recordings was eagerly awaited to see if that live menace could be captured in the studio. Thankfully it has.

From the rollicking pace of 'Last Chance to Die Young' through to the dirty NOLA groove of 'Heart of Stone' and the bluesy soloing on title track 'Quadralith' Regulus touch all the bases.

But, this isn't some magpie like plundering of styles. This is a band that wears its influenced on its sleeves and if you don't like it you either have cloth ears or you can fuck right off...

The way each track is allowed to evolve and develop its own distinct vibe is impressive. The aforementioned title track allows the blues solo to migrate to wah-wah speed driven mania and maintain speed without ever losing its core sensibility.

There is a coherence within Regulus' soundscape that means it has something of the swamp and the bright city lights. This is a band that doesn't bow down to the clichés.

Luke Jennings and Thomas 'Oz' Osbourne intertwine guitar lines and structure their playing that is complimentary rather than wandering off in different directions. The sense the listener is left with is one of harmony and hardness, never mind the fretboard heroics that others focus upon.

That said, to bring it all together on one collection of songs would have tried many other bands patience, but Regulus have managed to make their diverse sound, keep it within the right parameters and roar loudly.

Yep, this is Sheffield Steel that cuts the unwary to the bone - in the best way of course.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Quadralith is out now on Off Yer Rocka Recordings

LIVE REVIEW: Hard Rock Hell AOR 2017 Day Two - Slaughter, Michael Monroe, LA Guns

HAVING mastered all things media related such as interviews and the like bright and early, we were ready to hit the stages and devour as many bands as possible on the last day of Hard Rock Hell AOR 2017.

The day’s viewing commenced at the mainstage with yet another Aussie band on the bill (And you thought you had a long trip to the festival!) The Radio Sun. A high energy set from the band with beautiful harmonies and infectiously catchy choruses that we were left singing all day. With their nice-guys-of-rock sound and guitar sequels reminiscent of all the W’s (Winger, Warrant, White Lion) they have an easy-listening quality that pairs well with their set time.

Venturing to the second stage, which ideally we would have loved to have done more of throughout the weekend, we caught the formidable Hell’s Addiction. You can hear the influences of bands old and new, such as Motley Crue and Santa Cruz pouring through the speakers as they play.
With a high-octane set their guitar solos will punch you in the face and leave you with a busted lip – exactly just the wakeup call you need mid-afternoon. These guys embody sleaze through and through and would be a welcome addition to HRH Sleaze in September. (Hint, hint.)

Stone Trigger was also a highlight of the day. Having just bagged themselves a tour wide support slot with LA Guns, this was a band not to be missed. As they took to the stage, with The Terminator theme playing, we’re unsure as to what exactly we’re about to witness. As the band kick in, the room slowly trickles full with their glam rock sound acting as a beacon to guide people in from the outside bars. The Dublin boys delivered a strong set with highlights including ‘Rattle Your Bones’ and ‘Black Venom’ but the piece de resistance of their set has to the Backstreet Boys cover of ‘Larger Than Life.’

Sordid Lies take pageantry and showmanship to whole new level. You may have seen their lead singer, Valen Vain (aptly named) around the site looking akin to a glam rock magpie and single headedly taking the title of ‘Best Accessories of the Weekend’. The band celebrate all things ostentatious and if you stand too close you may well have the singer power-thrust his crotch in your face. But don’t let the feather boa’s fool you, this band are one to watch with their sleazy riffs and high vocals. Definitely one to catch if coming to a venue near you!

Leaving just before the end of Sordid Lies, we hurried back over to the main stage to seal a spot in nice and close to catch newly reformed LA Guns. And we were not disappointed. Although notable sound issues with Phil Lewis’ vocals at the beginning of the set (they were barely audible) the band absolutely crushed their hour long set of firm fan favourites.
With hits such as ‘Sex Action’ and ‘Electric Gypsy’ the crowd were with them every minute of the way.
The twin guitar solo on ‘Over The Edge’ cemented the fact that they are back and better than ever, and the loudest audience en mass singalong of the weekend has to go to ‘Ballad of Jayne’.

Going into Michael Monroe, you have to wonder if the performance of LA Guns can be topped or even followed? But like the seasoned pro that he is, Michael Monroe always delivers.
With hits such as ‘Down with the Ship’ from his most recent album to Hanoi Rocks favourites such as ‘Malibu Beach Nightmare’ and the classic ‘Dead, Jail or Rock and Roll’ Monroe delivered a diverse and pleasing set.
Aside from set choice, Monroe’s stage antics alone were enough to keep the crowd entertained, including multiple hat changes, leaping barriers, crowd surfing and walking precariously along bannisters – all whilst still performing. All in a day’s work...

Slaughter closed the show and indeed the festival, and having not played the UK since 1992 there was a fair amount of buzz around their performance. Self-titled ‘Party Ambassador’ (see my interview with him) Mark Slaughter certainly lived up to the title, bringing his own brand of feel-good rock and roll to the festival.
Ending the set with their hit ‘Up All Night’ (pre-encore) this seems like an apt song and a fitting close to close the festival as after a whole weekend of being up all night, we think it’s fair to say that many HRHers will be sleeping all day tomorrow after a weekend full to the brim of bands.
Review by Lynn Carberry
Pictures by Darren McVeigh

GALLERY: Hard Rock Hell 2017 - image gallery

WITH Lynn Carberry busy scribbling reviews and interview questions the man behind the lens was our own Darren McVeigh.

A selection of his pictures are available to view by clicking here.

LIVE REVIEW: Hard Rock Hell AOR 2017, Lita and many more

AFTER a painfully early start to the day doing the rounds in media, we finally managed to escape the clutches of press engagements to catch Jizzy Pearl celebrating 25 years of ‘Wasted in America’ with his current UK line-up as the belated first band of the day.

Specially put together for Jizzy’s current UK engagements, the band although only two gigs in, sounded tight as ever. The set was jam packed full of fan favourites with the band playing a combination of hits from ‘Wasted in America’ including ‘Yucca Man’ ‘Happy Hour’ and ‘Evil Twin’ alongside Blackout anthems such as ‘…Dope’ and a quick-fire rendition of ‘Blackout in the red room’. Jizzy commanded the audience throughout and it was regarded by many as one of the must-see sets of the weekend.

Next up, Bang Tango. Although cancelling their other prior UK engagements outside of the festival, they still graced the stage at HRH and thus made this appearance even more of a rare treat. The instant the band hit the stage they were reminiscent of Faster Pussycat in their earlier days with a gritty snot-punk attitude and sleaze oozing from their every pore. Playing to a more passive audience than Jizzy Pearl’s Love/Hate, their sleaze rock hooks and hedonistic agenda was sadly lost on those beyond the first few rows.

Feel-good rockers Autograph turned things up a notch, as they do best. (Although, no radios in sight this time!) Whilst they are best known for this upbeat anthem, this seemed to be enough to seduce the curiosity of the crowd and draw people in to get to know more. Overall an entertaining and fun set from the band but unfortunately, we had to dash off mid-set for a date with Miss Lita Ford. (That’s not something you get to say often!)

Dashing back up to the arena post-Lita, we managed to catch the remainder of FM’s set. A masterclass in melodic rock and the true definition of AOR. Consummate professionals throughout, FM provide a glossy, high-quality performance and hit the audience with arena-sized anthems such as ‘Let Love Be The Leader’ and ‘That Girl’ – all of which wouldn’t be out of place in the best and cheesiest of 80’s action movies, which is of course no bad thing.

The day finally closed with the lady in red that we’ve all been waiting for, Lita Ford. Although initial sound problems affected the beginning of the set, there was no stopping her.

With an incredibly strong band backing her, Lita is a tour de force of a headliner not to be messed with. She speaks honestly and openly to the audience throughout, just as she as she does in her autobiography, and envelops us with her warm and welcoming aura.

Although an icon, Lita isn’t afraid to have fun on stage, notably demonstrated by her selection of Ozzy ‘Howie’ Osbourne from the audience to mime along with her on hit duet ‘Close My Eyes Forever’ – definitely an uplifting twist on the song! Throwing The Runaways ‘Cherry Bomb’ into the set as well as Sex Pistols cover ‘Black Leather’ kept it fresh and interesting throughout. Ending the night on 80’s classic ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ the crowd retired from day two of the festival with their thirst for rock and roll severely quenched.
Review by Lynn Carberry
Pictures by Darren McVeigh - to view all Darren's pics from HRH AOR 2017 click here.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Memoriam take misery and pain and transform it to joyous death metal on début For The Fallen

THERE is a lot of water passed under the bridge for everyone in life, but for Bolt Thrower the past few years have seen more than there fair share of tragedy with the band with it splitting following the death of Martin Kearns.

The tragedy shook everyone associated with the band that had set the benchmark for UK death metal. Shortly after Kearns death the bassist of Benediction, Frank Healy, lost his father. Losses that could have crushed many people.

Introspection and re-consideration ended up with what could be one of the most important death metal bands in many a long year. Memoriam.

Karl Willetts from Bolt Thrower teamed up with Frank Healy, Andy Whale (formerly of Bolt Thrower) and Scott Fairfax of Ex Life Denied and Benediction and, after a brief consideration of being a cover band, decided to record new material.

"From the darkness comes light, from sadness comes joy, from the despair comes hope,"
said Willetts.

After the EP 'The Hellfire Demos' expectations have been high for their début release. And 'For The Fallen' does not disappoint. If you can spend all the time in listening to it expecting some reflection of the personal agony then you will b disappointed. To be frank if you want to wallow in other people's misery you can fuck right off now.

This is an album from a band that has taken all their experiences, wound them tightly together, looked at the past and their influences and came out fighting, snarling and ready for the world.

Socio-politically aware, riffs roaring from every spectrum, balanced aggression and precision. Anger and joy conjoined in a full-on ferocious and positivity with passion. Memoriam are the real deal.

What would have been an easy shot to regurgitate the BT and Benediction past this harnesses the scope of Midlands metal, death metal's roots, and an artillery blast. Andy Whale may not have been playing and recording for some time but he has harnessed something deep within to unleash serious firepower.

The firepower is consistent on all eight tracks. Fairfax has riffage to spare, Willetts sounds angry, but somehow happy to be angry on 'Surrounded by Death'. But the reality is that the clichés of death metal are thrown aside here.

The syncopation of rhythms on 'Flatline' and the hints of djent on 'Corrupted System' showcases a band that will not be constrained.

Deploying samples (the declaration of war on Nazi Germany intro for 'War Rages On') and pinch harmonics when necessary 'For The Fallen' is an album that cannot help but make you sit up and pay attention.

It is not perfect, but it is damn close. As soon as the almost nine-minute closer 'Last Words' ends the impulse to hit 'repeat' is irresistible. And, with every subsequent listen you discover more nuances and majestic nastiness.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

NEWS: Sunn 0))) announce summer Belfast date

THEY rank amongst the most audacious of experimental of metal bands, and now Sunn 0))) have just announced a summer Belfast show on Monday 17th July in Limelight1.

Not for the faint-hearted Sunn 0))) mash together metal, drone, sludge, jazz with an at times minimalist approach, and for 16 years have been challenging pre-conceptions about genre definitions.

Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson have relentlessly pursued dark vibrating terror since they first released 'The Grimmrobe Demos' at the arse end of the 1990s.

But, when they unleashed ØØ Void a year later people began to sit up and take notice. Since then they have baffled many, bemused a multitude, but always challenged the way we take on board our musical tastes.

With a discography that is more than substantial they are also known for adding 'performance art' to their repertoire, including one show that saw vocalist Attila Csihar claw his way out of a black coffin..

No coffins are as yet planned for the Limelight show, but we're not taking anything for granted as Sunn 0)) are concerned.

Tickets for the 17th July Limelight show are on sale now from the usual outlets, priced £22.50 plus Booking Fee.

INTERVIEW: No hoodoo as Lynn corners Voodoo Vegas at Hard Rock Hell AOR

SUPERSTITIOUS gamblers...is that what Voodoo Vegas are all about? We wanted to learn more and thus Lynn cornered the band at Hard Rock Hell AOR 2017 for a brief interrogation.

Watch the interview to find out what happened:

INTERVIEW: To sleep, perchance to dream....with the Last Great Dreamers

AT an unfeasibly early hour Lynn tracked down the Last Great Dreamers at Hard Rock Hell AOR 2017, where they played a VIP slot and stood in for an absent act too.

Listen to what they had to say:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

INTERVIEW: Walk this way? We did with Walkway

IT may have been relatively early in the day at Hard Rock Hell AOR 2017, but Lynn decided it was time to walk...no not the Pantera song! It's an interview with rockers Walkway!

Watch and listen below:

ALBUM REVIEW: How charming? The Charm The Fury claim to be The Sick, Dumb & Happy

AVENGED Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch have a lot to answer for. Damn them for encouraging new metal fans to pick up instruments and forming bands. Or should they really be cursed by all the metal gods?

On one level more traditional (i.e. older) fans slate them; but on another level they could be seen as a 'gateway drug' to the purer metaaaal.

All these thoughts crashed into each other as we sat down with The Charm The Fury's new release, the catchily titled 'The Sick, Dumb & Happy'.

And, at first listen we recoiled a little, but being diligent (or foolhardy) we decided to give it a few more spins, leading to much stroking of the beard, sidelong glances at those being forced to listen.

It was more rewarding than we could have contemplated. True, the whiff of A7X and FFDP, as well as a bit of metalcore surrounds some of the tracks, but overall this is a nice slab modernity in metal terms, without forgetting the roots of the genre.

Caroline Westendorp provides a strong vocal anchor throughout, but she manages to vary her style from growls to clean. Don't let the opener, and lead single fool you, as while 'Down On The Ropes' is a straightforward banger she has many strings to her bow.

By the time the second track, 'Echoes', appears the cleaner singing appears. Similarly 'Silent War' has sweet singing. They never, however, lose the grunt. That's where the slight tang of metalcore comes in but it is not enough to taint 'The Sic, Dumb & Happy'.

Indeed what the Dutch band has achieved is a contemporary metal album that has flaws, such as the short instrumental 'Corner Office Maniacs' but what could have been a release that wavers overall the socially aware lyrics and some nice guitar muscle elevates it from potential mediocrity.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

The Sick Dumb & Happy is available from the Nuclear Blast imprint Arising Empire from 17th March

NEWS: Tankard release studio trailer for 'One Foot In The Grave'

THREE decades and then some…When cult thrashers Tankard are torn out their winter’s sleep, it has to be for a valid reason:  It is their jubilee year! 35 years of Tankard!

And, of course, a suitable soundtrack cannot be missed. That's why Gerre and co. went on a long journey to Troisdorf, together with producer Martin Buchwalter (Destruction, Suidakra), to record their 17th studio album entitled ‘One Foot In The Grave’ at Gernhard Studio. The album is scheduled to be released on June 2nd 2017 via Nuclear Blast.

Today, the band has published a studio trailer in which you can have a look behind the scenes of the record's production. In addition, you may also listen to the very first song snippets. Watch it at the end of this post.

Vocalist Gerre said: "Yes, we are old, but even as the album title suggests - this is not the end! It was really exciting to finally work together with Martin Buchwalter, whom we've already known for like 100 years!

 “He demanded everything from us and we are very confident that this album is going to be amazing! As usual with Tankard, we had the huge pressure of time for song writing and our nerves were on edge. But the effort was all worth it! We really hope you will like the album just as much as we do! Cheers to the next 35 years!"

More info coming soon - stay tuned!

The story of Tankard is an exceptional one: the thrash metal force from Frankfurt, Germany has been around since the early 80's, spearheading a wave of German thrash bands who became successful worldwide (Kreator,Destruction, Sodom...). And while a lot of other bands struggled, split up or came back for reunions, Tankard never had these problems. They have always been there. And they've kept their worldwide fan base for all of these years, delivering strong album after strong album. When you think of beer and thrash metal, the name Tankard is the resounding response.

ALBUM REVIEW: Snuff metal fury from Basement Torture Killings on There's Something About Beryl

SNUFF videos created panic in the 1980s with their alleged depiction of real life murders and depravity. Some extreme metal acts take that cue and feature tales of murder, often with violent misogynist leanings.

Many find this uncomfortable. The connotations are one thing; but are they a reflection of a band's real views? Or are they a cathartic release? And, crucially, do they influence fans' behaviour?

If horror movies and violent video games have failed to turn generations into car stealing drug barons with a penchant for shooting people using automatic weapons then it is unlikely that an extreme metal act - which is usually so far beyond the mainstream - is going to cause distress to Daily Mail readers. Well, we can only hope that Basement Torture Killings manage to as it would create a sales surge.

The latest incarnation of Basement Torture Killings is 'There's Something About Beryl' featuring the new singer who is called...Beryl.

A total of 11-tracks of putrid pleasure, with the stench of rotting bodies, the aroma of deviant chambers wrapped up in delicious death metal depravity.

With track titles such as 'Shit Carcass' and 'Abduction Torture Snuff Porn' you know that (1) Ed Sheeran fans won't be checking this out on Spotify and (2) this is what Basement Torture Killings do best.

Except, this time there are a few twists and turns. Death/grind will always be at the core of what BTK do, but Tarquin and company do this time is ever so slightly introduce some wrinkles with added dashes of thrash and some blackened death.

This is not some attempt to widen the fanbase. This is taking the vicious attack and adding a few deft knife thrusts and bringing the touch of the scalpel (on soft, yielding flesh...) to the sound.

Certainly Beryl's addition adds a dimension to the vocal department, allowing Tarquin to flow more freely.

Given that 'There's Something About Beryl' is released by Northern Ireland's Grindscene Records it is perhaps appropriate that there is a cover of one of Northern Ireland's own bands songs. The BKT take on Therapy?'s 'Knives' adds to the disturbed menace of the original through even more menace.

Existing fans of BKT will no doubt be happy with this release, but we have a feeling that this might reach out to some more, willing to explore their dark side. And, if some idiot thinks they want to re-enact the songs content, may we suggest you see a shrink first...

The rest of us will wallow in the deviancy happily.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

INTERVIEW: Addicted to the Satan's Lair? Hell's Addiction speak!

HARD rockin' Hell's Addiction put in an appearance at Hard Rock Hell AOR 2017. And, lo it came to pass that they couldn't escape our clutches as Lynn Carberry got down to some serious questions.

Watch the interrogation below:

INTERVIEW: We were Kane'd at Hard Rock Hell AOR

AT an early hour Lynn got Kane'd...yep, at Hard Rock Hell AOR 2017 the ladies sat down for a quick chat about, well about everything Kane'd related!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

INTERVIEW: Mark Slaughter chats to Lynn about how the band is doing since they first kicked ass in the late 80s

SLAUGHTER came along at a time when rock was supposed to be dead...but nobody told the fans, and Mark and Dana kept the flame alive for those fans.

When Slaughter came along to play HRH AOR Lynn caught up with Mark to find out what the, proverbial, craic was.

This is what he said.

INTERVIEW: Lita Ford proves she isn't a runaway when Lynn nabs her for an interview at HRH AOR 2017

SHE was a Runaway, she kissed deadly, with Ozzy there was a promise to close eyes forever, and she was a million teenage boys with of a poster of her on their walls.

But throughout she maintained honest approach and musical and song writing talent. When she arrived at Hard Rock Hell AOR in Wales in 2017 Lynn Carberry sat down to hear what this rock icon had to say.

And, it is worth listening to...

INTERVIEW: Romeo's Daughter chat to Lynn at HRH AOR 2017

WHEN Romeo's Daughter landed into play HRH 2017 Lynn caught up with them to get the low down on where the British band are right now...and crucially how the band got their name...

Here's what they had to say:

Monday, March 13, 2017

NEWS: Edguy toast 25th anniversary with 2-CD/DVD package in July

IN February 1992, a bunch of German kids set out from the middle of nowhere and founded a band that would conquer the hearts of a whole new generation of fans around the globe!

Today 25 years later, founding members Tobias Sammet (Avantasia) and two guitarists Jens Ludwig and Dirk Sauer, as well as Tobias 'Eggi' Exxel (bass) and Felix Bohnke (drums), who joined the band 20 years ago, can look back across their hugely successful career to memories of shows in more than 40 countries, countless tours in Asia, Australia and America, ten studio albums and top 10 chart entries from all over the world. 
To celebrate such an exceptional career with their fans, Edguy will be releasing a 2-CD/DVD-package called 'Monuments' (release: July 14th via Nuclear Blast) which will include brand new material, their best tracks of the last 25 years, and old rarities that have never been published before!

In addition, the DVD includes an entire show from their 'Hellfire Club' tour in 2004 as well as the complete collection of their video clips. The limited edition will include an extensive coffee-table book containing material from throughout the entire history of Edguy.

Frontman Tobias Sammet said: "Whilst collecting all of this picture material together we were once again made aware of how proud we are of what we have created.

“There are probably not many musicians who are lucky enough to be able to look back on a 25 year-old band history only at the end of their thirties. And especially without any line-up changes in the last 20 years!

“This is even more incredible considering that we’re not from Birmingham, New York or a German metropolis but from a small town called Fulda, a place where you normally only know about the insights of the music business by hearsay. I mean, as kids we started to play Edguy shows even before we had visited concerts as fans ourselves!

“Then we started to play shows outside our home town, then outside Germany and all of a sudden we found ourselves touring in Asia, America and Australia on a regular basis, because apparently there were people who liked our music. And the numbers kept on growing. For us, the process felt quite natural, the very next step was all that mattered to us. We didn’t think about what happened while things were actually happening...

"But if you look back now, you will realise how lucky we were! It’s now time to celebrate our anniversary with our fans. We'll celebrate our quarter century with the release of 'Monuments' and LIVE in some select cities!

"We'll perform a best-of set list, a journey throughout our past, with a lot of fuss and at full throttle! The first quarter century is over and we want to honour these years with our fans! To the next 25 years!"

NEWS: Alice adds second Dublin date

FOLLOWING on from the announcement that Alice Cooper will play Dublin's Olympia Theatre on 8th November a second date has been added the following night owing to "phenomenal demand".

Tickets for both shows are the same price, 54.50 Euros, plus booking fee.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: Fifith and final heat of Northern Ireland's Metal2TheMasses

IT was down to the last four bands to challenge for a spot in the Metal2TheMasses semi-finals, all vying for the chance to battle out for a prized slot at Bloodstock in August - and as always the competition was fierce but friendly in Belfast's Limelight2 on March 11th.

The four bands all had varied style, and all put on an entertaining set in their allotted 30 minutes. There was groove, extreme, shlock and melodic metal on display and the variety only enhanced the experience.

What was noticeable was that all the bands had worked hard on their stagecraft as well as their music.

Arriving on stage the opening act (appearance times were as per all heats drawn randomly) Oracle provided a wall of groove, taking their lead, it appeared from one part DevilDriver and another from Lamb of God, without being overly derivative.

The five-piece honed their ferocity to a keen edge, and well-balanced guitar elements trading off each other's licks. Matched with a sensibility on vocals that worked in the heavy groove assault. Loads of promise to be built upon.

From the full-on to the melodic metal of Rusty Taste of Sweetness, with bitter sweet vocals delivered with a smoothness amidst the swell of guitar and bass. They used the stage to the full as their mixture of classic rock with metal sensibilities oozed over the Limelight.

Some nice solo runs created a warmth to the sound, a sense of needing to hear more, but always keeping a little in reserve to catch the unwary with the next lick.

The new line-up of So Long Until The Séance (SLUTS) brings the horror and melody to the fore, without sacrificing the heft. Behind the make-up there is a death snarl and a metal menace designed to garrotte while the head bangs.

There is still that glint in the eye that hints at evil but promises a quick death. All would be puff and corpse paint were it not for the fact that the band has the tunes and performance to match the visuals.

Deathbus suffered a series of technical disasters in last year's Metal2TheMasses that led to their set being cut short. This year was no different with a guitar/amp failure. But rather than throwing in the towel they shrugged it off and roared on with a double vocal assault.

Surprisingly it did work and gave more dynamism to their extreme sound. A future direction or a smart way to get round a problem? Whatever was the case there is no doubt that Deathbus have used the last 12 months well and are practically unrecognisable now.

This was a heat that once again demonstrated the diversity of talent on display in Northern Ireland's heavy scene - much promise for the future and we can't wait until the semi-finals.

Qualifying are SLUTS and Oracle.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Lizzie Torbitt