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Monday, October 24, 2016

LIVE REVIEW: Conjuring the metal rage: Conjuring Fate, Donum Dei and Attica Rage bring class to Saturday evening

WITH the ever-lengthening list of shows over the closing weeks of 2016 it is becoming increasingly difficult for promoters to attract crowds for all but the biggest headliners. Coming just a day after Alien Ant Farm and a week ahead of four consecutive nights of gigs, Attica Rage's show was up against all the odds.

However, for those that managed to make it down to Limelight2 for The Distortion Project presentation on Saturday (October 22nd) they were treated to a triple set of metal excellence.

Sure, it wasn't the most 'extreme' metal, but it was pure old-school metal with an added dash of thrash.

Openers Conjuring Fate are a well-oiled, smooth and tight machine - no clunking of the gears here. Led by Tommy's charismatic performance and well-balanced vocal delivery they, like the following act Donum Dei, are prepping for a new album, but the familiar tracks drew acclaim.

'House On Haunted Hill', 'Backwoods Witch' and Mirror, Mirror' from their last release capture the mood of classic metal with a NWOBHM attitude. However, this is no retrograde set; rather it brings the sound right into 2016. 

Phil and Karl take the opportunity to roam around the venue, exchanging jokes with the audience while on the go with 'Trust No One' was amongst the many highlights of the show.

The camaraderie on stage means Conjuring Fate are a potent force of fun and metal joy.

Donum Dei are ploughing a thrash groove, with a little added frisson of death and classic rocking. From start to end they engage well with each other and the audience. Since the last time we caught them they have tightened up.

New(ish) bassist Neil on bass adds a dimension to backing vocals with Stuart that brings out the best of the arrangements and supports Thomas's ever-impressive attack from then front.

Crowd favourite ' Justice Fails' never fails to impress, just as 'Redemption' and the rest of the set are increasingly forceful from the four-piece.

Attica Rage this year notched up their third album, 'Warheads Ltd', release and performed at Bloodstock, amongst other festivals.

With a decade of gigging experience under their belts Scottish rockers Attica Rage could not be impressed with the lack of crowd, something that just wasn't of their doing. But, those there were largely wowed by the impressive set.

Jonny Parr dominates the stage, with an ease of playing and a range that is multi-dimensional in delivery.

His interchanges with Stevie Bell showcase a maturity in melodious, mighty metal. The festival appearances and this run of UK and Irish dates have produced a locked in unit, with Matthew Ward (bass) and Richie Rage (drums) anchoring the sound.

Songs from 'Warheads Ltd' featuring they also reach back across their previous albums. Despite a slight lag mid-set the band have an ability to produce a narrative across their set, that shows they can rise above any challenges and make their rockin' metal compelling to listen to.

Review by Jonny
Pictures by Darren McVeigh
Reproduction by Written Consent Only 

LIVE REVIEW: Alien Ant Farm 15 Year ANThology Album Anniversary at Belfast Empire

Witnessing the live performance of the AAF Anthology Album 15 years after its original release in 2001 was a truly magical experience

I have always loved the band; I recall first hearing their cover of ‘smooth criminal’ back in my early teens when I first started getting into music and have admired the band ever since. I was overjoyed and jumped at the opportunity when I was asked to review their show

The World class nu-metal band kicked off their UK tour at Warehouse 23 on October 18th in Wakefield and made their way to the Empire on Friday October 21st for their first ever show in Belfast

Supporting AAF was Punk and Rasta/Soul influenced Rock band ‘(hed) p.e.’, Sumo Cyco; a four-piece female hard rock and dance hall rhythm infused band from Toronto, Ontario joined by Female fronted Detroit Rock band Kaleido.

I was very impressed with The Empire as the choice of venue and look forward to seeing similar events held here, the evening was very intimate as well as being very personally nostalgic for myself and many other fans who attended

The doors opened at 8.30 and the show opened with a performance from Kaleido, the band was young and cool and the music was very catchy, Christina Chriss on Vocals took to the stage and set a brilliant atmosphere within the crowd for the rest of the night to follow. I had never heard this band before and was quite impressed by them.

Next to take the stage was Sumo Cyco, the show was completely sold out and by this stage the venue was packed. The electric female vocals and the fast paced heavy punk music that accompanied them completely blew me away; the vibe from the entire crowd really began to pick up.

I saw many familiar faces and friends from within the Metal and Punk Rock scene that I’ve grown to know over the past decade from different shows I’ve been to. Each person I saw throughout the night was cheery and very excited as for many people this was their first chance to ever see AAF, It was definitely a night that will be remembered by all

“Alien Ant Farm were as good as ever, I seen them at download 2016 too for the first time. They really rocked the Empire and I hope they'll come back in the future” – said fan lyndsay Nicole

Hed(PE) came on to play around 10.30 and the room lit up with excitement, Frontman Jared Gomez jumped into the crowd with his mic in hand and walked around greeting everyone while he was performing. Despite never personally hearing this band before I was taken by their sound straight away – they played Punk and Metal riffs with hints of reggae and ska and some hip hop vocals over the top for good measure

“Hed PE were absolutely fantastic, they have an unusual style which I never thought I'd like but I actually do” – said one of the attendees of the event

Their chosen sound of punk and gangsta rap infused mash ups that the bands refers to as ‘G-Punk’ was definitely a first for many who attended, I loved them instantly and would definitely go see them again if they ever return to Belfast

As Hed(PE) finished their set an uplifting sensation swept across the crowd in anticipation for the grand finale of the night and everyone began to flee to the front to get closer to the stage, shortly afterwards Californian rock legends Alien Ant Farm took to the stage and began to play the Anthology album in its entirety

The tour itself was a celebration for the 15th anniversary of the Anthology album and the crowd jumped with excitement and sang along word for word throughout each song, it seemed like a very special night for all who attended - I felt as though I was reliving my teenage years

I was really impressed with the performance itself, after all this time since first releasing the album they played each song to an exceptional standard and made for a memorable evening.

Frontman Dryden Mitchell was very endearing and brought such a magical presence to the stage, he
gave it his all and he was quite funny and really engaging with the crowd, guitarist Terry Corso and drummer Mike Cosgrove also played all of the music to a standard of total perfection and made the performance truly great. I was also impressed by new bassist Tim Peugh who joined the band back in 2014, he was spot on throughout the show and played everything perfectly, the sound was just as brilliant as their original studio recording

They closed the show with ‘These Days’ and ‘Smooth Criminal’ making for a truly unforgettable experience, the crowd was ecstatic and buzzing, everyone dancing and full of excitement after the evening they’d been witness to.

This was one of the best shows I’ve been to in recent years, there was something very unique within the atmosphere throughout the entire evening and I was very happy to have been a part of it

Review By Sinead Hardy
Pictures by Liam Kielt
Reproduction by written permission only

Saturday, October 22, 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Testament bring a pureblood banger to the table on Brotherhood Of The Snake

EACH iteration of what we gloriously regard as metal has been greeted as taking it "too far". From the proto metal of Cream and Iron Butterfly, through its birth with Sabbath (ably abetted by Zep and Purple), to the 70s heyday of the likes of Priest, through to the NWOBHM.

The musical elite probably regarded each evolution in the metal sound in the same way that one Tchaikovsky said about his own 1812 Overture: "Very loud, noisy and completely without artistic merit".

In this age when black, death and other variations of extreme metal the reaction to thrash metal's birth when sniffy so-called experts were still obsessed with the dying breaths of the first wave of punk. They would have mentally referenced the notes on the 1812 Overture (one reviewer in the long since departed Sounds actually used it) and slated anything with a vaguely 'thrash' tag.

But, that vaguely deceptive grouping called fans could not get enough. The early albums of the 'Big Four' and the likes of Exodus were devoured, analysed with the complexity of each arrangement, riff and solo noted.

The Big Four should really have been the 'Big Six' for along with Exodus there was one force of nature that emerged from the Bay Area. Testament.

More than three decades later they are still very loud, noisy and have bucket loads of artistic merit as they release their new album 'Brotherhood Of The Snake'.

The time they have taken since the 2012 release of 'Dark Roots of Earth' to pen this new album has paid off. This is one of the most complete and balanced thrash metal albums with all the power and arrangements, coupled with new twists, melody and guitar work that seers the aural palette.

Sure, we know Chuck Billy is an evocative lyricist and Alex Kolnick is superb, but this feels as if the band has discovered a new freshness, a new hunger. We're positive that feeling never left Testament, but this takes the band's work to the next level.

From the classic riffing of the intros to 'Centuries of Suffering' and 'Neptune's Spear' through to the structurally wondrous 'The Pale King' and 'The Number Game' there are elements familiar and elements that cut through the morass of predictability amongst lesser thrashers.

“Having separate periods to write set it apart,” Eric (Peterson) said. “Everybody played hard. Chuck really surprised me and belted out stuff that’s more melodic over the heavy speed metal riffs. It blended really well together.”
"It does flow,” Chuck agrees. “There’s a lot of musicianship going on there, and I was finding hooks in the moment. I was able to feel it and just go.”
It is that hook up between Alex and Eric's guitar interaction and Chuck's vocal gymnastics that works so well as exemplified on 'Black Jack'.
However, where it rips into new levels of pure excellence it really does something else that on the first, second, third, fourth and subsequent listens just has the listener foaming at the mouth in pleasurable ecstasy: akin to the best metaphorical metallic orgasm...
The title track is sheer excellence.
“It was actually one of the first songs we put together,” Chuck said. “Once we heard it mixed, we were all like, ‘Wow, we have the direction we’re going in. It’s really heavy.’”
Heaviness is one thing, but without the subtle aim of a hammer that hits your brain in just then right spot it is just flailing around - no, this is a precision attack.
Whether it be biblical epoch lyrics, or socially scathing songss ('Canna Business' with its super chorus) Chuck is once again laying down as a wordsmith, his craft sometimes overlooked because of the subject matter.
For example, on the surface, album closer 'The Number Game' is just another song about a serial killer. Written in conjunction with Steve Souza it is a complete thrash track, chilling in its story, but all tied together with musical ability, and yes, artistic merit.
Billy, Peterson, Skolnick, DiGiorgio and Hoglan are all on top form - a true brotherhood of thrash; producing music that harkens back to those 80s glory days, but also has their head firmly in 2016, thanks to some extent to Juan Urteaga's production.
Aside from the frowns and headbanging thrash music induces, what 'Brotherhood Of The Snake' really does is make you smile. You may not want to admit it, but for those brought up on thrash, those who were too young for its birth, but still embrace thrash, this will make you smile...and bang your fucking head too!
Review by Jonny
Bortherhood Of The Snake is out on October 28th via Nuclear Blast 
The band are on tour with Amon Amarth and Grand Magus including a Dublin date on November 2nd

Friday, October 21, 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: When you feel the blues, just Take it on Faith from the Rossington Collins Band

What happens when you hear the name Rossington? Well, you immediately think of Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special, Rossington Collins Band and the Rossington Band and a husband and wife that make up southern rock royalty.

Just keep that thought.

Iconic musicians always have a weight upon their shoulders of having never to fail with their next album or single. To fail can tarnish their pristine aura and reputation. Something that can overshadow years of success…

So is this new album ‘Take it on Faith’ from Gary Rossington, legendary founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd and his wife Dale, queen of southern rock, the end of the road? Is this the music that shows they should stop now? Go out on top and leave well alone? Especially since it was the 80s since their last album under the Rossington banner.

Who’s kidding who? The southern tinged genius of Rossington is far from even being tired.

From the first few notes of ‘Highway of Love’ you know you can relax, sit back cup that tumbler of sweet JD in your hand and ease off down that dusty hot road of your mind as you meander towards a thing of beauty. There is no mistaking the southern bluesy rock feel that just makes you feel good.

The second song ‘I should’ve known’ is a beautifully crafted piece of southern gospel made to push passion into your soul through its superb blues gospel sound overlaid by Dales powerful sexy gravelly voice pushing through full of old time emotion. It’s perfectly composed with the rhythm and blues guitar, drums and organ pulling you in and showing you a pew in the Church of the Blues.

Now we take it easy with the title track ‘Take it on Faith’ with a stunningly soft slow walk along the river bank as the sun heats the ground you walk on in a midday haze, or as you hold your partner close in a slow content dance in the evening heat. Soppy this may sound but the emotional response you get from this beautifully crafted track is pure and raw. Superb.

Next is ‘Light a Candle’ another gorgeous slow cooking gospel style song that just connects with your soul. Its catchy and feels just right.

Light up the stove, Y’all, as moma sticks on the pot to show you it’s best to ‘Dance while you’re Cookin’. This is a superb honky tonk raunchy song that is so upbeat you might actually dance in your kitchen. The southern style slide guitar sound resonates throughout perfectly complimenting Dale’s delivery of her cheeky grin style vocals.

Then we move to the smouldering blues delivery of ‘Shame on Me’. This song sounds like they’re channelling Gary Moore at his best. A heartfelt blues rock track of raw emotion once again perfectly topped with Dale’s pure bluesy vocals.

At this point you may wish to take a break or even start all over again. No, not that the rest is not as good. It’s just purely to feel the power of the previous six songs again just to make sure the power of those tracks weren’t a fluke. And not a single impression will change and you’ll wonder how the hell can they have that many good songs before your mind gets blown with the next six songs.

First song on this continuation of blues heaven is ‘Good side of Good’ a rocking rolling track firmly grounded in a southern blues foundation. Upbeat, catchy and superb.

We go on to a slow potent song with ‘Through My Eyes’ a love song that is incredibly powerful and raw. This is the soul stripped back type that reaches down to the bottom of your gut and twists it in either a good way or bad depending on whether or not you have just found your soul mate or just broke up with them.

Now we have ‘Something Fishy’ another fantastic honky tonk swinging piece of blues rock that trundles along with a perfectly lazy gait that will have your foot tapping in time. The sexy raunchy drawl of Dale’s vocals once again accentuates the track with a pure deep blues power that powers the song.

Put up the umbrella now as we listen to ‘Too Many Rainy Days” a track that would sit perfectly in a hot and stuffy gin joint contaminated with the hazy waft of cigarette smoke trawling through dry air. The fantastic easy drawling blues riffs from Gary are a thing to behold on this track especially beautifully complimented by the rhythm and blues hammering on the piano. The raw blues emotional weight on this track is mind blowing. It resonates so much with Gary Moore’s ‘Still got the Blues’. This is blues rock of the highest order.

The penultimate song ‘Where Did The Love Go” is another emotionally laden song that is as stripped back and raw as it can go. This is a guilty pleasure break up song that a towering hulk of a tattoo covered monster won’t feel embarrassed in having a “Having something in their eye - leaking around the eyes” listening experience.

Finally we have ‘Two Very Different Things” that proves once again the Christopher Walken adage – you can never have too much cow bell. A great track to finish off the album with. A lighter defiant rebellious cheeky style song that rolls along quite nicely, thank you very much.

This is definitely a “Put on repeat” album that you can very easily find yourself listening to over and over again.

Strangely this album will feel so much closer to you if you have ever watched the like of “The Ranch” as it seems to encapsulate the sitcom perfectly. Or indeed if you have ever watched the classic blues movie “Crossroads”.

This album pumps out beautiful passionate compelling blues music that lets you know you do indeed have emotions in your cold hard metal body.

This is a must have album. Seriously. Even if blues or southern rock isn’t totally your thing this is an album that will easily fit into your collection. It’s that damn good.

Keep the Faith is out on 4th November 2016.

Review by Ivor Whitten

ALBUM REVIEW: Graham Bonnet's back with The Book - new album and greatest hits re-recorded

WITH a career spanning over 40 years singing in such bands as Rainbow, MSG, Alcatrazz and Impellittori, as well as an extensive solo career, Graham Bonnet has returned with a new band of Jimmy Waldo (keyboards), Beth-Ami Heavenstone (bass), Mark Zonder (drums) and South American guitar sensation Conrado Pesinato. Having played with such luminaries as Blackmore, Schenker, Vai and Malmsteen Bonnet has unearthed a hell of a player to join these exalted players.

The new album ‘The Book’ is due for release on November 4th and promises a blend of songs from that era that Bonnet promises to blow hard rock fans away. Never being one to write simplistic lyrics but rather songs with complicated storylines full of content and meaning can this album deliver what the promo material suggests?

Opening track ‘Into The Night’ confirms this straight away. A story of a husband coming home to changed locks and packed bags with his wife saying their marriage is over sets the tone. A hard rocking number with a slow middle section is a song that in terms of the guitar riff could easily featured on Alcatrazz’s Disturbing the Peace. Bonnet’s voice is a strong as ever, if in a slightly lower register and the melodies and hooks are all present.

‘Welcome to My Home’ continues in the same vein with a hard rockin’ feel to it with more soulful vocals and a nice keyboard underlay on the solo. Harmony vocals and steady drum and bass are already a feature on this album.

Track three ‘Earth’s Child (I am your son)’ has a standard mid tempo hard rock riff and another nice bass line from the impressive Beth-Ami Heavenstone. With a bit of a dramatic intro and nice vocal melodies again and a very nice solo from Pesinato it continues the strong start to the album.

‘Rider’ has a slower mid tempo feel with again a strong rhythm section. It’s a more radio friendly song but still had that hard rock riff.

Track five ‘Dead Man Walking’ has a mellow Schenker-esque opening before a full on assault attack on the eardrums. The drums and fierce bass from Heavenstone add depth and the hooks and melodies lead to a blinding solo from Pesinato again.

‘Strangest Day’ has an intro mix of synth keyboard, drum and bass intro that leads to a heavy fast paced riff. The hooks and melodies between the guitar and verses are very melodic and there’s a nice fast paced rhythm section under the solo.

‘The Dance’ is melodic and slower in tempo with a drum and bass lead in. Again the melodic vocals are in evidence overlapping nicely between the verses and chorus.

Track eight, ‘Where Were You’ has a Queen-style funky keyboard intro. The harmony vocals again overlay a strong riff and a slow middle section just sets up a shredding solo from Pesinato.

Title song ‘The Book’ has a fast driving riff that has a strong Rainbow feel to it mostly in part to the Don Airey style keyboards. Again Heavenstone proves she is a pretty accomplished bassist and the song has a very Rainbow style ending to it.

‘Everybody Has To Go There’ has a combined drum, bass and guitar intro and is a driving hard rock song with big hooks and melodies

Another fantastic solo has a great bass line underneath it.

Final song ‘California Air’ ends the album with a crunchy yet melodic riff with a bit of a plinky piano piece. Once more the harmony vocals overlap between the verse and chorus and a very sweet harmonic solo just rounds the song off nicely.

So, that’s the review for “The Book” done....or is it? The album comes with a second cd of re-recorded classic from Bonnet’s back catelogue. Rather than review them all (you should bloody know them anyway) its safe to say that although they are recorded in a lower key to suit Graham’s ageing voice they actually sound really fresh and the band to a great job in re-creating the old songs with a fresher more modern feel to them. In particular Pesinato puts hiscown stamp on the songs without ever straying too far from the originals.
The track listing for the 2nd cd is ÷
Eyes Of The World
All Night Long
Lost in Hollywood
Since You’ve Been Gone
Night games
Assault Attack
Dessert Song
Island in The Sun
Hiroshima Mon Amour
God Bless Video
Will you be There Tonight
Stand in Line
Here Comes The Night (Down Without a Fight)
All in all this is a superb release and anyone who hasn’t got tickets for his upcoming tour, including Northern Irish dates and appearance at HRH X.....what the feck are you waiting for......
Review by Andy Gillen

ALBUM REVIEW: Red Fang back with full length LP, Only Ghosts

To get everyone up to speed, Red Fang are a US rock band that have been on the scene since about 2005 and since the release of the first album it’s been all about no-nonsense rock. ‘Only Ghosts’ is no different.

It’s ten solid tracks of sludge or stoner rock depending on which part of the world you come from as it’s a moot point otherwise. There was a point back in 2014 when the album, ‘Whales and Leeches’ caught the imagination and I found myself watching these guys on the Letterman show. Of all places, the Letterman show, but it told us the band had arrived and that the average guy was looking for simple, straight up rock without all of the shenanigans. ‘Only Ghosts’ continues that tradition.

Before we get into the album the cover is a hark back to the day when the art told you something about the band, confirmed the purchase and gave hours of entertainment pouring over the liner notes.
This cover is an optical illusion that gives you the impression that the art work is slithering across the page towards the red ball in the centre. Just the tonic for coming home after a big night, fighting the room spins and then being taunted by an album cover.

Anyway, the music is as immense as Red Fang always sounds. There is no trickery in the mix and it’s just a huge solid sound from the four piece. Bryan Giles on vocals is perfect for the band and this album is a headlong rush from beginning to end. Kicking off with, ‘Flies’ it’s a no-holds-barred rock out, simple straight up melody but still unpredictable. ‘Cut it Short’ is up the stoner end of the spectrum and it’s another solid, unpretentious track that bookends into, ‘Flames’, a ninety-second instrumental, all chimes and feedback.

As long as I’ve listened to this band I’ve always been happiest when they just sway all over the place, changing time and throwing everything into the mix. Just listen to track four, ‘No Air’, and you will get my drift. Its riffing, its sludge, its stoner then it all grinds to a blurry halt. Need a quick introduction to Red Fang, then drop the digital needle onto this track and strap yourself in.

Pick of the bunch is track seven, ‘The Smell of the Sound’ which is feed
back where a riff should be, all running through a go-stop-go beat that danced my speakers across the desk. This is the gut wrenching, internal organ reorganisation that trademarks Red Fang.

Not one dud on this album, we close the show with, ‘Living in Lye’, with its syrup thick riffs and insane drumming to the end. The solo here is beamed from another era and hints at the direction that this band is heading. As the song closes, it kicks on again with the solo jostling to be heard during the fade out.

I think that Red Fang could sing a dictionary and I’d still go to see them. Word to the wise, get this on vinyl if you can as it adds a whole new dimension to the sound. Digital is great but vinyl lets this music breathe. Get it, stare and the cover and get sucked into the Red Fang universe.

Review by Craig Grant

Thursday, October 20, 2016

NEWS: Blues rockers Dirty Thrills release acoustic EP and unveil new video

LONDON blues rockers Dirty Thrills have just premiered their video for single ‘Lonely Soul’ and release a very special acoustic EP ‘Devils Wine’ 21st October 2016.
Lonely Soul is about the hardship of losing somebody you love- in this case the vocalist’s father and was recently featured in Classic Rock’s ‘Tracks of The Week’

Watch the video below.

The track features on their new EP. Lead singer Louis James explains “Acoustic is pretty new to us, we played a couple of sets at Ramblin' Man Fair and were blown away by the response from the fans, so this is for them, with thanks!

The title 'Devils Wine' holds fond memories of my dad, who whenever he would enjoy a drink or two, he would recite the origins of the phrase 'Devils Wine'.”
For fans of their turbo driven rock, this acoustic Ep may come as a surprise, but it is worth the effort. Review to follow shortly

NEWS: Glenn Hughes previews track from new album in preparation for UK tour and HRH show

Glenn Hughes has premiered the audio stream of ‘Let It Shine’ on YouTube. The song is taken from Hughes’ forthcoming album ‘Resonate’, which is released on Friday 4th November by Frontiers Music Srl.

‘Let It Shine’ features Glenn Hughes (vocals, bass), Soren Andersen (guitar), Pontus Enborg (drums) and Lachy Doley (keyboards).

‘Living Colour’, who were originally Hughes’ special guests on his November UK tour, have pulled out, and have been replaced by Midlands rock band ‘Stone Broken’.

A spokesperson from Glenn’s management said: “Unfortunately Living Colour have decided to pull off the tour with Glenn Hughes. UK and up and comers Stone Broken have been added to the bill.
“Glenn promises a magical night of rock with tracks spanning his entire career alongside some brand new tracks from his album Resonate out 4th November.”

Glenn Hughes tour includes Hard Rock Hell X, November 10th to 13th in Wales. He plays on the Saturday.

EP REVIEW: Cursed Sun realise their potential and rise to pummelling new heights on The Amygdala

WHEN you name your EP after two parts of the brain that are at the core of memory, decision-making and emotions you are taking a 'cerebral' risk with your music and lyrics, but Cursed Sun have always been ones not to rest on the proverbial laurels both on recorded material and on stage.

The EP bears the title 'The Amygdala' and within its four-tracks are a forceful dynamic musically and a dystopian vision of where humanity rests right now in the second decade of the 21st Century.

Throughout they showcase talent and a terrifying amount of ability to translate their aspirations.

Composition and arrangements have been elevated on this release and from the opening bars of 'Breeding through Bleeding' to the end of 'Primordial Chaos' there is a sense of urgency as if Cursed Sun not only want you to hear these songs, but need you to listen.

The opener follows tried and tested territory for the band, but with a better sense of what they have always intended for their contemporary metal, taking from history and adding what the best of 2016 can bring to the table.

On 'Cataclysmic Decline' more subtle touches come in, with some great work from Jonny's solos adding to Jonesy's altering of styles and anguished vocal conclusion.

But it is the title track that is a stunner. There is more restraint, yet greater power. Horrific lyrical content is matched well with a sense of a band painting a musical landscape that allows you to immerse yourself as a listener. Ciaran, Chris and Monty pace out the arrangement for Jonesy's styling and Jonny lays down some sweet, lyrical guitar work to overlay the pain of the song's message.

'Primordial Chaos' has a romp and a roll, groove embedded into the essence of the track. The "darkness is my throne" twisted into "the darkness is in control" as the riffs propel the song to a manic declaration of malevolent paths where nothing can stand in its path.

What Cursed Sun have done here is compact their year's of experience, gigging and recording throughout Northern Ireland into a stunning release that is compelling and draws you inexorably in.

Repeated listens open new vistas within the release, vistas that will draw you back to dark places, leaving you to contemplate the terror and reflect on the best of the metal mangle that Cursed Sun put you through, yet...you go back again.

Review by Jonny

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

LIVE REVIEW: Feeder mix up old and new in Belfast's Limelight

WHEN it comes to reviewing bands like Feeder there’s always a nostalgic feeling someone my age usually gets.

I’m a fan of the band, but when I say “fan” I don’t mean one of those “buy every t-shirt” types.  I mean I like what they do, always have and happy to see them live, no more so than when they played Belfast’s Limelight on Monday (October 17th).

Feeder will always be one of those bands who just always seem to be around.  Never making too much noise but usually doing something in the background – the true secret of their success.  They’ve garnered a really solid, loyal and growing fan base out of being the reliable sort.

That’s not to say they don’t have their magical moments - for someone who used to hold quite a crush on frontman Grant Nicholas I’ve found myself at the centre of many heated arguments among friends who like and dislike the band.

Headed up by Grant on vocals and Taka Hirose on bass, Feeder have always had one live trait that I admired - no matter what musicians were drafted in to play live or on their albums they’ve always been a solid, tight band.  

You might say that as a professional band they should be - and you’d be right.  But as we all know it’s not always the case.  On stage at the Limelight were a group of musicians that you could easily believe had been playing together a lifetime.

On stage Feeder were flawless in their performance but one thing I noticed this time, that I hadn’t noticed last time I saw them live (a few moons ago) was that there wasn’t a lot of crowd interaction as there should be.

The band opened the night with ‘Another Day on Earth’ from their latest album ‘All Bright Electric’ (released July 2016), an indication of was to be the template for the night: a classic sound with lots of new material in there too.

This is a band which knows they’re trading on a lot of nostalgia but who are keen to make sure their new material is well heard.

‘Universe of Life’ led nicely into an old classic Feeling A Moment (Pushing The Senses) after which Grant paid tribute to local support act R51.

When they announced ‘Pushing The Senses’ set the crowd wild, as if things were finally going the way they wanted it to.

The thing about Feeder for me is that they straddle confidently the lines between light grunge, indie and rock giving them a unique but almost universal sound.

Despite a sound malfunction during ‘Pushing The Senses’ where the vocals couldn’t be heard at the front of the stage all was now right in the Limelight world

Although if I’m honest - and this is something about Feeder crowds - they were a little lifeless except for the diehards at the front.

But I wonder is that indicative of two things?  The fact that Feeder are one of those rock bands you can chill out to, but also the kind of band that can make you feel inspired and energised all at once.

What I love about Feeder is that they’ve always been a modest and simple band, free from the ego of contrived styling and elaborate set design.

As most artists of these genres do they used a back wall projector and lighting in an unassuming but effective way.

As they returned to their new material ‘Eskimo’ the almost polite audience seemed captivated by the song which had a more electronic feel to it.  A real pounding beat that resonated across the room.

Although the song was well received by the crowd I felt my interest waning.

It’s lacking a hook and to me that’s crucial in a song which came next in Paperweight, another song from the new album.

There’s something about this tune, to me it has a 70s undertone with an 80s post punk era vibe to it.

This is definitely one of those songs where you have to do the old step back slower head nod rather than a full head bang but it keeps a nice double beat coming in and out to give it a bit of variety...definitely more a “headbang while you’re drunk” kinda song.

Next up was Tender (double A-side with Shatter) which is one of those “must do a ballad for the girls” songs, soft keys, girls swaying, beautiful guitar solo….Grant on vocals...swoon!

Back to reality and the band liven things up with the classic ‘Come Back Around’ at which point the crowd lights up and you could almost see them reminiscing about carryouts and graveyards!

Sticking with the old school they launched into ‘Insomnia’, which was faster, bouncier, noisier and had much more texture to the song.

The audience was a real mix of passive onlookers and engaging hard core fans and funny enough this is how many felt about the music, Feeder songs are either passive chill out tunes or big anthemic songs.

Next up were ‘Borders’ and ‘Geezer’ before the band launched into yet another classic in ‘Just The Way I’m Feeling’ much to the appreciation from a more lively audience.

Throughout ‘Just The Way I’m Feeling’ the audience went from singing along to jumping around during the chorus before going totally wild to ‘Buck Rogers’ It’s not surprising that the set was ended on the loudest and saw the crows more active than it had been all night and why not. Buck Rogers is definitely iconic of an era.

Of course that wasn’t enough from the Belfast audience who were chanting “one more tune” for what seemed like an age before the band came back for the encore.

Finishing off with ‘Infrared-Ultraviolet’, 7 Days In The Sun and as expected ending the night on ‘Just A Day’  it makes me wonder in the days of Facebook Live and Snapchat, how different could that “fan” video have been.

All in all it was a great gig and the band were excellent.  Moving through the crowd at the end as they were going wild the diversity of Feeder fans was evident.  From hipsters with perfect hair, skinny jeans and tweed jackets to long-haired, band t-shirt wearing metal heads they were all screaming “How did we end up like this?” by the end of the night to the perfect defiance anthem.

Review by Tina Calder
Pics by Darren McVeigh
Reproduction by written permission only.