Pick Your Rock and Metal

Monday, June 23, 2008

Oh dear Celine

The dubious honour of the worst cover version ever has gone to Celine Dion's awful live cover of AC/DCs You Shook Me All Night Long...36 seconds of the horror is available for the stout of heart on the BBC website here.

Guns 'N' Roses make it on to the 'worst covers' list for their version of Wings Live and Let Die...read the others and I dare you not to smile at the fact that a boy band managed to screw up Extreme's More than Words - a slushfest that didn't reflect half of what the inappropriately named Extreme could do!

Sneak peak...

Escape Fails are a few short weeks away from releasing their debut CD...and BelfastMetalheadsreunited caught a sneak preview of one of the tracks, In the Arms of a Storm.

Keeping the well honed EF sound from the live sets, the tracks delves into EF's influences of hardcore and screamo, but this time with a clear nod to the likes of 36 Crazyfists and Killswitch Engage. The riffing is intense and vocals this time explore a wider range of both screams and clean contrast.

If this is a portant as to the rest of the album, roll on July 18th and the launch...(which regular readers will know takes place at Zavvi, Victoria Square).

Twinning for metal the Fireland way

THE twin guitar assault of traditional metal has a long heritage – from Maiden to Metallica, with via the traditions of Lizzy, Scorpions, UFO, Priest, and Accept. Hard riffing, melodies and just plain straightforward heavy music.

For a brief period such classic metal fell from the headlines, but never from the hearts of fans, especially those that remembered, or yearned for, the days of cut-off denims atop motorbike jackets and beer-fuelled queues outside the Ulster Hall.

Coming from that heritage are Fireland, whose eponymous platter is now available in multiple formats – and well worth an investment from those who still love and respect heavy metal.

Of course, like any self respecting metal platters there are flaws, but thankfully few and far between.

Kicking of with the mid-paced brace of Servants of the Dark and Star Crossed Fireland’s intention is clear – laying down licks that are both mainstream metal (if there is such a thing!) and putting a Norn Iron stamp on it. Star Crossed in particular develops both a groove and melody supported by an arrangement that nods at the past and looks forward to how metal can develop.

In a world where speed is sometimes valued over composition (with the possible exception of Dragonforce, who Fireland have supported) solos can bleed into shredding for the sake of shredding, Fireland’s twin attack of Steve Moore and Jamie Johnston keep the licks in perspective, speeding up and slowing down as appropriate to the song, without interrupting the feel of the song and adding fills rather than leave a vacuum.

Gods of Love’s plaintive metalology serves as a warm-up for the pacier My Eternal, which explores the legacy of New Wave of British Heavy Metal, with structure reminiscent of early Diamond Head and White Spirit.

I Am Invisible’s chuggalong opening is the cue for a heads down romp, before In the Shadow of the Sun sees a return to the mid-paced ominous rhythms nailed by Chris Mawhinney on drums strive to deliver with much success throughout.

Fallen is the ‘Big Power Ballad’ of the album, and as scholars of the dark arts of metal know, no collection of riffage is complete without a power ballad! Fallen shows a depth of song writing Fireland can deliver. There are those that criticise the genre, in particular the propensity of even the hardest metal bans to show their sensitive sides (Nothing Else Matters anyone…) but in this track Fireland show their potential to reinterpret the cliché in an original way. And for the first time on the album Andy Baxter’s vocals are more prominent in the mix; matching both the solos and the riffage which completes all the best power ballads.

Betrayed to the Night starts gently before developing into what could have been an epic song – but it has possibly the only real flaw on the album. The inspired chorus and superb pacing are spoiled with a rap delved from nu-metal which should have been left on the cutting room floor as elsewhere on the track this is a simply superb song. This tendency reappears on album closer Widow By Morning

Fireland are on comfortable territory with Coming Home’s twin guitar attack, followed by In Her Strong Arms, which has the feel of Tesla after a night on Jack Daniels in its structure.

Little Pieces and the aforementioned Widow in the Making round off the album with intent, both keeping the structure of sound riffing, melodic choruses and balanced solos characterised on the rest of the album.

Overall, Fireland have strived to achieve something rare in Northern Ireland’s current metal scene: that is acknowledge what has gone before, reaching as far back as the seventies, plunder what works and discard the irrelevant to keep the sound fresh.

What is all the more remarkable is that they produced this themselves and created their own studio in the process. Perhaps therein lies the only real flaw. Sometimes Andy’s vocals are either restrained, or sometimes a little too low in the mix. As someone who can command a stage and belt it out with the best of them this ability is not always reflected in the recorded material.

However, this is a minor flaw in what otherwise is both crunching and thoughtful.
Fireland have created that rare beast – a metal album that stands aside heavy metal classics, but has a fresh Northern Ireland inspired twist. Bop along to the band’s websire, fireland.tv to find out more, download tracks and generally get into the metal mood!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Loaded Duff back in Belfast

Former Gunner Duff McKagan and current Velvet is taking time out from Revovler duties to tour with his side project Loaded. The skeletal bassist will be bringing the set to the Spring and Airbrake on September 25th

The end of cynicism?

AFTER you’ve seen hundreds of concerts, listened to thousands of hard rock and heavy metal tracks it is easy to be cynical. As that American soft rock singer John Cougar Mellancamp said: “It’s just the same few chords in a different order.”

And, it was with a certain amount of trepidation that a feeling lingered the same old chords would doom Aussie rockers Airbuorne to a cliché ridden set, when they debuted in Belfast last night.

Given that their album reeked of AC/DC and Rose Tattoo influences, sometimes so clear that occasionally it seemed that the ghosts of riffs gone past were haunting the chapel of Australian production suites when the O’Keefe brothers were conceiving their plans for hard rock domination, they could have easily slipped into parody.

But, what was always the essence of DC and the Tatts was their attitude; an attitude that at one railed against the injustice of a working class life, but celebrated the sheer joy if indulging in the fun and intensity of good old fashioned hard rock.

And Airbourne set a new definition of intensity last night. Quite literally few, if any, have ever shed so much sweat or energy on a Belfast stage. As lensman Colin marvelled outside, the quantity of calories they used is mind-boggling.

From the opener of Stand Up… Airbourne dispelled the lingering suspicion that they were just another set of hard rockers recycling blues riffs in a hard rock frame.

Despite occasional sound problems – including the loss of vocals from the PA at one point - the band shredded; not in the guitar widdling indulgent solo type of shredding, but rather in straightforward high energy playing.

The entire debut album was aired, with Running Wild closing a party set. Stand-outs were many. Diamond in the Rough and Blackjack ripped through the packed Limelight, while even the mid-tempo Cheap Wine donned a new dimension live.

Too Much Too Young was just one singalong highlight, but what separates the band from the ordinary is frontman Jason O’Keefe.

Wild-eyed stares and manic movements, topped off by a walkabout mid-song, concluded with a trip to the Limelight bar for a pint before returning to the stage.

O’Keefe’s constant name checking of Belfast was a bit clichéd, but that – and sound glitches - was the only thing that marred an otherwise perfect party hard rockin’ set.

For the devoted a clear sign of a healthy future for Airbourne is that tickets for their November 11th Mandella Hall set were selling healthily at the door of the Limelight even before the Aussie quartet took to the stage. (Snap them up while you can...it 's sure to sell-out!)

Airbourne are an abject lesson to all hard rock and heavy metal bands. They understand that it is a job being on a stage, but part of that job is delivering the goods for paying customers; part of that job is giving your all for the brief moments in the spotlight; part of that job is making sure you understand how to engage and relate to your audience; but most importantly that job is to make sure you and the fans have a shed load of fun.

Cynicism may not have ended last night, but it lies in shattered remnants for the audience that stumbled into an Ormeau Avenue night, each face adorned with a shit-eating grin.

Quick word for support act The Galvetrons...dump the 80's Eddie Van Halen keyboard sound, bring the guitars up in the miz, and re-write and re-arrange all your songs...the wave of indifference that greeted you will be what you find at all venues.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Launch party for Escape Fails

ESCAPE Fails are bringing their album launch to the big city's top retail destination. On 18th July at 6pm the band will play a select set at the Zavvi store in the prestigious Belfast Victoria Square Shopping Centre. House of Fraser afficianados are in for a shock!

They'll be following that up with a gig for their Warrenpoint fans at the Square Peg in the town.

After that it's off to England for a short tour for the Escape Fails gang!

For those who want a sneak preview of some of the album tracks EF are supporting Arnocorps at Belfast's, Black Box on July 8th.

PS: Thanks to the Wayne for the quick heads-up from Rock Am Ring (see comments from previous post 'Been Away')

Sunday, June 15, 2008

F*cked Up - August 20th

Ok, most (sane) readers of this site will be heading to Dublin on 20th August to see the mighty Metallica lay waste to Marley Park, but should you be stranded in Belfast with nowt to do, Canadia mental punk act, Fucked Up will be playing The Limelight.

For many punk has lost it's way, but for the past seven years Fucked Up have kept the dream alive. Full feature to follow, but for now, here's the press release.

Fucked Up’s live extravaganzas generally strike a playful tone, their cuddly frontman disrobing among the audience and/or beating himself on the head with the microphone (“I have dents in my forehead”). The communal entertainment turned chaotic at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, when the band played their annual small hours set on a pedestrian bridge. MOJO

All too often punk music is about getting it right, picking a particular subgenre and acing it the way you might a test. Toronto's Fucked Up has proven the antithesis of this approach since their inception.

Formed in early 2001, this five-piece has managed confrontation without cheap gimmicks or novelty, creativity without pointless noodling and intensity without predictable arrangements. Seamlessly plowing through punk's varied past, a Fucked Up song can invoke the melodic anthems of British Oi, the brawny directness of early ’80s American hardcore and the artistic autonomy of a band that doesn't care what its forebears have done before.

Gruff, raspy vocals reminiscent of Negative Approach's John Brannon topple over driving guitars, sometimes favoring melody, sometimes a chaotic, down-stroke frenzy. A trail of hard-to-find seven-inch EPs show a band not only perfectly at ease with the trade of vintage hardcore punk, but one constantly willing to push its music into new, original directions.

Fucked Up manipulates everything from its lyrics and artwork to song length and writing to make a distinct, singularly unique point.Threading the best elements of Killed By Death obscurities through the Undertones' melody, Black Flag's aggression and Minor Threat's Marshall-driven guitars, Fucked Up rarely makes for direct comparisons, arriving instead at something wholly intense and new ... and isn't that the point?

· 10,000 Marbles (Mike Haliechuk)
· Father Damien aka Pink eyes (Damian Abraham)
· Slumpy aka Laundry aka Mustard Gas (sSandy Miranda)
· Concentration Camp aka Gulag (Josh Zucker)
· Guinea Beat aka Mr. Jo (Jonah Falco)
· Young Governor (Ben Cook)

Been away - but we're back

Been a long time since we all rock 'n' rolled with y'all - but we're back!

Short story, long story, in mini-version - sponsors were almost secured for the site; they asked us to hold posting for a few weeks to help get details sorted, examine proposal...two weeks went by, three weeks went by...finally after an exchange of emails...

"We're sorry, but after consideration, while the reach of your site is impressive your core demographic does not match our target audience."

Well, I'll not name them, but what did they expect with a site called Belfast Metalheads Reunited!!!!

Anyhows, anyway we're back! Plenty of posts and gig information to come up...keep reading...short info burst now:
  • Airbourne's Wednesday night's gig is sold-out - but fear not the Aussie party train will be back in Belfast for a Mandella Hall appearance on 11th November - review on Thursday
  • Residual Effect are back in gear with new sticksman - feature to follow
  • Fucked Up play in August - feature on why the Canadian mentalists have a confrontational name and an anarchist background to come
  • Don't forget Dragonforce and Turisas's October gig - new 'Force album out on August 25th - at last!
Stay tuned and keep it metal \m/