Pick Your Rock and Metal

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Tatts giving' it all in vintage live recording 'Tatts - Live In Burnswick 82

WITH the polished, snazzed up rock acts of the 21st Century busy preening themselves for photoshoots and recording their latest video for YouTube Rose Tattoo are a reminder that hard rockin' music challenged sanitisation and the norm.

As the Aussie rock act prepare for their 2018 album release and tour the release of 'Tatts - Live in Burnswick 1982' is a stark reminder of the power and the glory that pure rock 'n' fucking roll has. No frills, no fucking about, music to sear your soul and raise every instinct to primal and lift your values to another plain.

They rose to prominence at the same time as AC/DC, and like the incarnations of DC there was an edge to Rose Tattoo - blue collar bastards ready to fight.

Sure Angry Anderson went on to star in 'Mad Max: Thunderdome' and even feckin' Neighbour, but when he cries out "There's a law for the rich, a law for the poor, and I'm just a working man" on the fighting defiance of 'Assault and Battery' your hackles rise and you want to get in the ring with the Tatts.

This is raw, unadulterated rock - no pretentious shit. Expletives, honesty and life experiences.

Raised in the mean slums around Sydney Rose Tattoo have always been the real deal - just take in the narrative of the 'Butcher and Fast Eddie'...and then realise that this really is a true, well documented gang story.

If you expect your smooth, over-produced 'Rolling Stone Mobile' live production and added over-dubs this is not go you. This is raw. This is a band pouring every ounce of energy. This is what live albums should sound like.

And, there is glory in it; the glory of dirty, unadulterated and unabashed blues-based rock. Every new band trying to hook into the wave of blues rock popularity needs to listen to 'Live In Brunswick'. The Tatts were doing it better decades ago.

Every song reverberates with passion and the imperfection that the best live shows capture. Yep - 'Rock 'n' Roll Is King'.

Slide guitars, rollicking  riffs, snarls and cynicism are packed within. Fuck your safe rock - even listening to this evokes a sense of danger.

Rose Tattoo are the 'Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw' band and this reminded us all that yes we are 'Scarred For Life'.

Right you Aussie rockin' bastards, we know you've been through a lot since this was recorded in 1982 - but we want your arses back on tour in the UK and back on a Belfast stage.

Simply put - they don't "take shit from anyone" and while reminiscing about their past glory we for one look forward to the Aussie bastards kicking the shit out of the doubters in the new year.

Mon The Tatts!

Review by Jonathan Traynor

LIVE REVIEW: Kobra & The Lotus wow the Voodoo

SUNDAY night's pretty much a 'school night' for many and after a seriously busy weekend Kobra and The Lotus were playing to a sparsely populated Voodoo - not that that dimished anything from their show.

First to take the stage were London based prog support act Brutai. Their set was tight and filled with some great riffs.

Although they failed to get fully over with the crowd they still put on a good show. They got a few cheers and played a decent show but it was clear that the people in attendance were waiting for something truly special on a Sunday evening at Voodoo.

Enter Kobra and the Lotus...

From the first note front woman, Kobra Paige, had the crowd in the palm of her hand. Her soaring vocals making everyone's hair stand on end.

The guitar work from Jasio was phenomenal. Brad's powerful basslines and Marcus' drumming drove forward the set with intense energy.

The interaction between the band and the crowd was fantastic, you could tell everyone was having a ridiculous amount of fun on a Sunday night.

From pounding heavy metal anthems to soulful ballads the whole venue was captivated by these extremely talented and fun loving Canadians.

The set was made even more thoroughly entertaining with the band paying tribute to Iron Maiden,  playing the drum intro to 'Painkiller' by Judas Priest and doing a short rendition of the Led Zeppelin classic 'Immigrant Song'.

All in all an absolutely fantastic and extremely fun gig that was enjoyed by all in attendance. If they return it is pretty much guaranteed that the place will be packed out.

Review by Phil Noonan.
Pictures by Darren McVeigh

INTERVIEW: Brian Tatler chats ahead of Belfast show

WHEN Diamond Head made their welcome return to Belfast for another stunning show in the Voodoo Belfast.

Ivor was on hand to sit the legendary Brian Tatler down for a wee natter...

Listen below:

LIVE REVIEW: Diamond Head and Stormzone hit the Voodoo with heavy metal thunder and lightning

ON a cold Friday night in Belfast in the intimate venue of Voodoo, two sets of rock legends strode onto stage and gave everyone a night to remember. Local heavy rock stalwarts, Stormzone, and the heavy metal godfathers that are Diamond Head.

Stormzone filled the stage with their full on hard and heavy rock with a perfectly placed first song, ‘Where we belong’.

And that said it all…

A tour de force of pure enthusiastic energy they stormed on through ‘Another rainy night’, the anthemic ‘Three Kings’ and on into ‘The Pass Loning’.

Each song was a perfect delivery of the band’s heavy style of thrumming, chugging riffage tied together by Harv’s fearless vocals. All the while the floor bounced to the wrathful beat of the drums,
delivered expertly by Jonathan Millar of Maverick.

The set continued with ‘You’re not the same’ and into ‘Deathdealer’.

It came to a close with probably the most perfect song for the night with ‘The Legend Carries On’. It certainly does. Even with a heavy cold and a sore throat Harv delivered on the vocals.

Then stepped on stage the mighty Diamond Head. From the very get go it was plain to see something was wrong. Ras, the compelling lead singer, was in difficulties.

While Harv had the dreaded lurgy, Ras had full on flu and his throat was in a bad way. Diamond Head could have easily cancelled the gig or even after the first song Ras could have rightfully called it quits.

But no, he kept going through the whole set, much to the delight and utter respect of the crowd. Many a modern pop band should take note.

With complete disregard to his throat, Ras, along with Brian Tatler and the band blasted off with ‘Play It Loud’ before going on into ‘Borrowed Time’, ‘Bones’ and the fast and furious ‘Lightning to the Nations’.

The Voodoo did not know what hit it.

Brain exhibited his absolute mastery of his guitar, delivering heavy metal as it should be. It was powerful raw energy that flowed out from the stage. Nobody could stand still, these were hefty melody laden tunes that were emotionally and physically rousing.

The crowd was pumped and Ras expertly deployed ‘interactive audience mode’ encouraging the now passionately reactive crowd to sing along. Really he didn’t need to, as everyone was singing along anyway. But his connecting with the metallers there did not go unnoticed and that placed him in high esteem from everyone there.

On into ‘The Prince’, Heat of the Night’ and the hypnotic ‘Sucking my love’. ‘Shoot Out The Lights’, ‘Sweet and Innocent’ and ‘Diamonds’ continued the masterwork of this legendary band.

It was a thing of beauty to behold, seeing this band deliver metal in its purest, rawest form.

‘It's Electric’ and ‘Helpless’ continued the heavy metal headbanging heaven that the night had turned into.

And of course, Diamond Head finished off the set with the iconic ‘Am I Evil?’. That could well have been it, but Ras valiantly pushed on through the encore song ‘Streets of Gold’, much to the delight of everyone.

All in all, it was a fantastic night of heavy metal and rock as it should be, experienced up close and personal. Literally inches away from the bands.

It emphasised that in the right place at the right time with the right bands, you will have almost a spiritual experience of euphoric proportions. This gig was one of those times. 

Review by Ivor Whitten
Pictures by Darren McVeigh

Monday, December 11, 2017

NEWS: Ramblin Man add new acts including Fish

RAMBLIN Man Fair has today confirmed three new acts for the Maidstone festival including a set by Fish, who will be playing material from 'Clutching At Straws'.

Also added are Mostly Autumn and the Von Hertzen Brothers.

Fish will also be playing songs from his impressive solo recordings.

Mostly Autumn have been described as Genesis meets Pink Floyd with Celtic themes and added rock.

For those who saw Vob Hertzen Brothers at HRH in November all can pay testament to the strength of this band. 'War Is Over' was a tour de force of an album and live they add more textures and strength.

Already confirmed for Ramblin Man are Halestorm, Blackberry Smoke, Steve Earle and Sons of Apollo.

Ramblin Man takes place at Mote Park, Maidstone on 30th June and 1st July. Tickets are on sale now here.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: HRH XI Day Three- as intense as ever

BEDRAGGLED but beaming the Hard Rock Hell hordes emerged from their accommodation ready to take on another day of music and mayhem in North Wales.

Debutantes, stunned from the first two days wandered around considering who to see, and when, while seasoned HRH types settled down to convenient positions to sample the aural fare and near the bars. (Hint - the outside bar is best if you time it right...)

But beers aside (not aside too often, mind you) the music was again a mighty, belly busting feast of hard rock.

Again, the continual shuffling between the two venues trying to cram in the guitar-driven sounds led to much back-and-forth across the few yards separating the two.

And, once again the offering was mighty. That may seem overly effusive, but it was a day or delight for everyone dedicated to enjoying the best of rock - from blues driven, through to prog metal and balls to the wall rockn' out.

Whether it was Western Sand wowing stage two and Bad Touch vying to outdo them, or Lynch Mob and Reef wanting everyone to raise their hands up there was almost unanimous acclaim for the line-up.

The feast devoured by fans proved that they were insatiable. Whether it was King Creature, Lynch Mob, Black Whiskey, or Von Hertzen Brothers they were all greeted with applause and more than a few roars of approval.

For many the aforementioned Von Hertzen Brothers were new found favourites. The Finnish act caught the right mood, showcasing tracks from their latest album 'War is Over' from the off and delivering with poise and panache. There was more texture from the band than in 100 Welsh blankets.

The Saturday headliners, Black Star Riders, are an act that have developed in a few short years as a Lizzy off-shoot to a potent band with their own identity.

Warwick, Johnson, Gorham et al were there to impress, however, there was a whiff of a band that was using HRH as their warm-up for their UK tour. Not that mattered for most. We were under Heavy Fire...

With three albums under their belt it was refreshing to see that they no longer rely on peppering their set with TL numbers, as songs such as 'Testify Or Say Goodbye', 'Hey Judas' and the textured 'Soldierstown' stand on their own strengths.

Sure we expected it all to conclude with a rabble-rousing 'Whiskey In The Jar' but for many 'The Killer Instinct' and 'Bound For Glory' were the highlights.

As the midnight hour struck the weekend concluded with 'Dead City Ruins' ripping it up...

HRH XI ended...and most already looking to HRH XII.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh and Lizzie Torbitt

See Lizzie's gallery here.
See Darren's gallery here.

ALBUM REVIEW: Technical, extreme and glorious from Bloodshot Dawn on Reanimation

PORTSMOUTH melodic tech death maestros Bloodshot Dawn return with their third full length brain blender 'Reanimation' with a shedload of guests to add flourishes to an already packed album of six-string splendour.

The first track 'Seared Earth' throws you straight into a cement mixer of sweep picking and tight double bass drumming. It's ridiculously technical, the riffs are crushing, the bass thunderous and the vocals full of unrepentant fury. The leadwork is a joy to behold in its blend of supreme technicality and pure undiluted melody. That's how you open an album.

'Graviton Nightmare' hurls riff after riff at you. Insane drums and paralysing leadwork assault you, turning your brain into a hot goopy mess. The melody is fantastic, a real headbanger of a track. The vocal work adds a layer of aggression to the hefty madness and that solo will have the hairs on your arms standing on end.

Track three, 'Survival Evolved' has a really futuristic sound to it. It's brilliantly structured and super heavy. Again the leadwork is otherworldly and the pounding bass and brutal drumming compliment it perfectly. The vocals are so intense, matching the ferocity and technical prowess of the music.

The next track 'Upon the Throne of Fear' assaults you from the first note with intense double bass drumming and demented riffing. The vocals are utterly demonic and the leadwork is sickeningly intricate. It's an absolute beast of a song, a stand out track.

'Controlled Consciousness' is bassy, dynamic and packed with tasty riffs and relentless drumming. It's faster than a squirrel that's been force-fed amphetamines and so tech heavy it has Bill Gates scratching his head. The vocals are grinding and powerful and the solo will melt your face clean off your skull.

Track six, 'Soul Affliction' starts of nice and heavy only to become even heavier as the vocals, pummelling guitar riffs and unforgiving drum work. The unbelievably skilled solos will turn you into a transdimentional space goat. You'll lose yourself in a galaxy of flowing madness and absolute brutality.

'Shackled' is hook heavy, catchy and superbly written. The guitars have a melodic quality to the riffs, the drums and bass compliment them perfectly. The vocals are so strong, maintaining a level of nasty aggression throughout and the guitar leads are completely dripping in melody and virtuosity. One of the best structured songs on the album.

And, 'Battle for the Omniverse' is a pounding monster of a track, showcasing unparalleled musicianship and an ear for excellent songwriting. It walks the line between brutal death metal and melodic death metal without wobbling once. The guitars are absolutely stunning, the drums are limb splitting and the vocals cut through you like a knife as the bass suffocates you. The leadwork is yet again out of this world.

The penultimate track 'DNA Reacquisition', an instrumental, is more of a midpaced affair, wonderfully melodic. At just over a minute and a half in length it'll send chills up your spine and it's the perfect setup for the final song.

'Reanimated' is crushing. The riffs and drums are surgical in their execution. The vocals are aggressive and the bass devastates everything. The highlight, much like the rest of the album, is the leadwork which is oozing melodic proficiency in abundance.

Fans of brutal and technically proficient and insanely melodic music would do well to pick this gem up. It's a space age blast of riffs, shredding, blasting drums and leadwork that'll fry your nervous system.

Review by Phil Noonan.

LIVE REVIEW: HRH XI - Friday mayhem

"FRIDAY night's here, what's the scene, nothing to do, if you know what I mean" were the opening lines of Stiff Little Fingers ode to desolate nights in Northern Ireland titled 'Here We Are Nowheee'. But on Friday at HRH XI there was too much to do rather than nothing.

With bands battling for the audience's attention across two stages timing was everything, however, such was the quality on display that it, as always as HRH, the dilemma was to chose what bands to catch - and where the queues at the bar were the shortest...

Yes, unlike many other fests HRH has such a spread of bars that, apart from the outdoor bar, you can still hear the bands playing.

Competing with the Airbourne documentary on the main stage Those Damn Crows set the bar high for the rest of the day; really high. It's fair to say that there were few bands that were as good across the weekend. There was a grim determination about the band to completely engage and enthral with a hard edge and a steely stare, matched with a wry grin. Excellent.

As if fired up by seeing their predecessors performance Kingbreaker mounted the stage determined to enthral. Spinky commanding all of the stage - painted face and a voice caressing and curdling the souls of the unwary. The London four-piece's sense of musical drama captured their essence and a true sensibility of what hard rock should deliver - it's fucking show business!

With the afternoon rolling on the pressure to do reviews, pictures and interviews always has all review teams, no matter how big or small is in constant motion. That's not a complaint: it is a privilege to be there, meet the acts and take the time to absorb the acts and drink in the atmosphere.

The competition between the stages was intense throughout the day. From Systeria on the main stage through to Fire Red Empress on stage two the smorgasbord of rock captured the spirit of the day.

And, that was the reality of the day (and Saturday too). Whether it was catching a few moments of The New Roses, or Florence Black the choice was always excellent.

The impressive performance of Chasing Dragons clashed with the end of the ever-reliable Tyketto, but the night was owned by the stage one headliners, Airbourne.

Energy, like static electricity buzzed off the stage, crackling and producing a roar of approval, Airbourne do what they do and they do it damn well.

The clich├ęd comparisons with DC are now long past - they are 'Running Wild' and the audience definitely have done 'Too Much, Too Young'.

Sure, all the usual stunts from Joel are on display, and they don't vary their set too much, but Airbourne are there with one purpose: to rock the fuck out of the place. That is all.

And, we had to it all again tomorrow...

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh and Lizzie Torbitt as indicated.

See Lizzie's gallery here.
See Darren's gallery here.