Pick Your Rock and Metal

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Awesome Audrey, Superb SAHG

THERE is a school of professional thought that when reviewing gigs a journalist should stand cooly at the back of the venue, surveying the scene in a detached, aloof manner, with his pen poised to record pithy phrases and putdowns.

Screw that!

With more than 20 years experience of journalism both on news desks and reviewing music we must have misplaced that guidebook. Much better to sample the atmosphere at the front, pint in hand and horns hoisted aloft.

And last night (Monday 29th April) it was impossible to remain detached when bands as superb as SAHG and as awesome as Audrey Horne hit the Limelight stage.

SAHG opened the proceedings and not minding whether the audience was yet to build laid down a space rock, psychadelic, tourde-force - but to be honest we were won over when they managed to segue some of the twin solos and riffs from Thin Lizzy's Emerald to their opener. (They later denied that this was just for Irish dates, as they have included that for years.

With songs as strong as new single Slip Off the Edge of the Universe, Firechld and Godless SAHG are here to stay and we reckon a headlining tour may not be far around the corner.

However, the evening was let down slightly by the stand-in band The Mercy House. Grant us the mercy not to spend any time slagging off a band who genuinely seemed to put in so much effort, but they seemed to pulling in different directions, with guitarists and bassist headbanging away while the singer was doing his best to look like Sebastian Bach.

Audrey Horne...Dear Lord Lemmy - they are good!

Those three words could sum up the show, but fail to convey the delivery, poise, confidence, and passion that the entire band laid down - it would simply be wrong to pick out any member as they all pounded the audience into adoring submission.

Opening up with Redemption Blues they rattled through huge parts of this year's album Youngblood, and with a few older tracks. The Cruel Sea and There Goes a LAdy were notable, but then again there was not a dropped phrase, a stupid interlude or daft posturing. This was a twin-guitar outfit, laying down hard rock they it was meant to be: surging vocals, guitar harmony solos and a rhythm section nailed down to the foundations of the Limelight2.

Audrey Horne are as tight an outfit and as good a set of international performers that have graced a Belfast stage in many a long while. They deserve to reach the heights!

Special mention for The Distortion Project for laying this night on - cheers as always Mr Loveday - and to Napalm Records for keeping faith with SAHG and Audrey Horne. And a huge thank you on behalf of the audience to all band members who took the time to chat after the gig.

You can see the band's own photo of the crowd on Facebook here.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mastodon, Zeppelin and Radiohead...read on!

WELL, no Belfast date, but don't forget your June slice of prog-metal weirdness as Mastodon play in Dublin on June 12 and 13th at The Academy - given the first night clashes with Slayer and Walking Dudes in Belfast some might be tempted to see the Atlanta men once again.

The gigs are as The Hunter tour draws to a close and they begin work on their sixth album to date.

Brent Hinds has been giving some hints as to what we can expect from the men who take progressiveness to the next level, add large doses of heaviness and then crack your skull (and Skye!) with musical dexterity.

 "A lot of the stuff I'm writing is in open G-Minor," said Hinds. "I'm playing a lot of slide guitar and just getting really Jimmy Page-y on the place and getting really eerie and Radiohead-ish and very spooky soundy."

Mastodon with a mix of Led Zep, Radiohead and their usual manic metal flourishes...we can't wait!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Beardiness heavy mayhem

IF there is one quintessential rule in any music genre - but especially in metal - it is to get yourself a memorable name. And only the stupidest person would deny that 7.5 Tonnes of Beard is a memorable name.

The next rule is to get yourself some damn good music. And sometimes the more extreme that music the better.

7.5 Tonnes début release 'Denied The Basics' landed in the Belfastmetalheadsreunited mailbox with a thud that registered on the Richter Scale. It has more sludge than a blocked sewer pipe, and more doom than Satanists denied their anti-depressants. 7.5 Tonnes of Beard deliver edgy brutality that will not only kill your neighbours lawn in that time-honoured Motorhead phrase, but will clear the neighbourhood of all fauna and flora of a nervous disposition.

This is five tracks of hell for easy-listening rock fans.

Openers Grit and Shallow Man, with their down-tuned slow torture meld into a drudge of deathly howls, with Micky Higgins voice sounding as if in pain and forced to gargle acid.

Guitars here are instruments that the Spanish Inquisition would find extract confessions aplenty from the most recalcitrant of sinners. And the lyrics...well we know some tender hearts read our blog but face-eating is here, amongst other dystopian jewels of horror.

At times there is little here to make reference to, and we dug out some old Crass and yep, there are similarities, but they are passing: Crass were never this intense.

For those that may think after a couple of spins that 7.5 Tonnes of Beard are a one-trick pony, there are subtleties in the terror, with closer Sign of the Cross having more dynamics than most bands playing doom could imagine.

The combination of Coles and Adger on drum and bass respectively lay down a solid core of constant shifting immensity, over which Higgins returns to his tortured wails before the tone and tempo shift downwards as this seven and a half epic from 7.5 Tonnes of Beard draws to a discordant close...

This is music that would persuade that persuade the TV psychopath Dexter to move from Miami and find somewhere darker to ply his deadly trade.

This is music that will strip the souls of the innocents from their sunshine hearts.

This is music that lays bare the dark core in the heart of each human.

And we love it!

Friday, April 26, 2013

What a week of rock 'n' feckin' roll!

OH DEAR Lord Lemmy forgive us humble mortals for we be bereft of the funds to be worshiping at the glorious altars of rock and metal this week!

And what a week there is in store for us humble souls...

Saturday - take your pick - Limelight 2's Distortion Project with By Any Means, Skypilot, Warcrux and Death By Consent or should it take your fancy Million$Reload are recording a live album at the Diamond Rock Club.

With Sunday set aside to recover, Monday sees the immense Audrey Horne, backed by Mercy House and SAHG at Limelight 2.

Younger types with weird tastes might like to take on board Enter Shikira on Tuesday night in Belfast or Derry the following night, but really you shouldn't...

Thursday, May 2nd will see Maverick, Sweet Taste and Infamy at Belfast's Voodoo, before Stormzone blow Saxon off the stage on Friday at the Mandella Hall...

Come Saturday May 4th Finnish rockers Lordi will be ripping apart the Limelight before Sunday, May 5th sees the Devin Townsend Project tear The Stiff Kitten a new one...

First off we'd like to see all of these, but we can't (boo hiss I hear you call!), so will be only making limited appearances. But that doesn't stop you turning up and rocking out!

Oh, and don't forget that Trucker Diablo will be launching Songs or Iron on May 18th (review here).

In the meantime here's Audrey Horne's Redemption Blues to whet your appetites....

Four letters for Monday night

OKAY people, by now you shouldn't need any more reasons to head along to see Audrey Horne on Monday night other than seeing the immense Audrey Horne, but we'll give you another four letter reason to make sure you are there - SAHG.

Norwegian doom psychedelia rock, SAHG is a one of the many projects King has in the bag, and this Bergen band are worthy of a few minutes of your time! [And, yes we know of all the controversies around King's other stuff with Gorgoroth, but we couldn't care less, we just like good metal!]

Their new album is due out in October, and they have just released the first track, Firechild (see link below).

NB - In a change from the original line-up for Monday night, Mercy House now occupy the middle spot between SAHG and Audrey Horne.

 SAHG Firechild

Beastly lords hit Belfast

EUROVISION victors and over-the-top metalheads Lordi are getting set to rock Belfast's Limelight 1 on May 4th, with a Finnish explosion with, of course hard roll hallelujahs
With their sixth album to date - "To Beast or Not to Beast" currently doing the rounds, and single "Riff" gaining radio play across Europe the band has set a new direction, but not without tgragedy sowing the seeds for the Lordi re-birth.
The new tone and brutal approach was set by former drummer Ortus, when he took more of the song-writing responsibility, inspiring guitarist Amen to lay down the riffs that were the architecture for the new material.
Then, jut as the band were preparing for their 20th anniversary drummer Ortus passed away in February and keyboardist Awa decided pursue other paths.
Re-grouping after this was not going to be easy but in 2012 they fulfilled summer festival dates and now with new keyboardist Hella and drummer Mana behind the kit Lordi are ready to hit the stages again.
Sure it is easy to mock their schlock horror of Lordi, but there is one thing that they are not short of, and that s hooks, riffs and catchy choruses.
And on that night of Eurovision, when that arch-cynic Terry Wogan was left speechless, rock and metal fans across the continent were dialling in their votes with glee as the mediocrity was thrown out in a hail of masks and rock.

“To Beast or not to Beast” was released on the 1st March. 
Tickets for this Distortion Project/Limelight gig are on sale priced £21 (excluding booking fee) from www.limelightbelfast.com www.ticketmaster.ie Katy’s Bar & Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. Northern Ireland customers 0844 277 44 55 & Republic of Ireland customers 0818 719 300

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Audrey Horne competition winners

THE winners have been drawn from the Belfastmetalheadsreunited/rockradioni Audrey Horne competition; the Jager baseball hat was filled with more than 100 entries and drawn from the hat were Wayne and Mark/

They have already been notified via email, so if you didn't get an email - you're NOT a winner.

Which means you've now no excuse not to get your hard rockin' arses down to the Limelight on April 27th for what promises to be one of the best, but unheralded shows of the year.

Yep - Audrey Horne have snuck up on many of us with the sheer Norwegian hard rock. Read the album review here and below is a wee taste of their tasty wee video for lead album track Redemption Blues.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Iron grooves, killer hooks - bow to the Big Truck!

WHEN it comes to Trucker Diablo you can be guaranteed of a superb live show, but after the phenomenal success of début album The Devil's Rhythm, can they repeat it on record, or will they suffer from second album syndrome that afflicts so many bands?

Rather than just take our views on this we enlisted three other reviewers for their take on the Trucker sophmore release, Songs of Iron, which hits record stores and online retailers on May 18th.

But, first, what was our take on it...can the recording live up to the airing of several of these tracks on stages from the Diamond to Tennents Vital?

The answer is a resounding yes!

From opener Red Light through to closer I Want to Party With You this is a statement of intent, a declaration that Trucker Diablo can lay it down whenever and whereever they choose - a band maturing nicely and confident in their abilities to pen great songs.

Heavy vibes, just check out Year of the Truck; choruses to die for, check out second single Drive; power ballads to catch the emotions; check out Maybe Your The One...

There are no weak tracks, rather they compete with each other in quality, enabling the listener to pick their own favourite for repeated plays.

Nods to influences are here, but Songs of Iron is not a slavish rehash of hard rock also ran riffs. Skynyrd and even the Foo Fighters would die for some of these hooks, and many a so-called first division act should just roll over in the path of the Big Truck. In fact the riff off Highway Radio is so much better than anything than Skynyrd or other Southern Boogies acts have penned in decades.

Bulldozer is a slam in the face song pushing the iron to the fore, without sacrificing melody in its ferocity.

There are a few trims that could have been done, as the outstanding Rock Hallelujah could be 30 seconds shorter, but that is only mentioned because we struggled to find any real weaknesses on Songs of Iron.

As much as we were blown over by this we decided to check out what others thought. First up is our student correspondent Nadia, recently returned from efforts to prove that you can drink a whole country dry...

"As every procrastinating student will know there's nothing to brighten a sunny day stuck in the library than a bottle of sweet liquor and good music. After the ever popular summer hit "Drink Beer, Destroy", I was unsure whether Trucker Diablo could top their last offering The Devil Rhythm, but oh how wrong this procrastinating student was…
"As ever with Trucker, joyous riffs come bounding out of my cheap headphones, which manage to make the opening track all the better - it doesn't need fancy equipment, a true rock and roll album, a good start. The defiant "Year of the Truck", reminds us who Trucker Diablo are (like we needed reminding) with riffs left, right and centre, and a chorus that tells us that "noting's going to stop me now", which is good news, this writer doesn't want to see Trucker Diablo go anywhere anytime soon.
"The lead single "The Rebel" we heard first hand at Tennant's Vital 2012, and every time I hear it, it just keeps getting better. A song it's difficult not to smile at when listening to. Tunes follow about love lost and love found, which even with the unrelenting need to bounce when listening to this album, you genuinely feel Tom's heart and soul going into every lyric, from the ballad with a soaring solo to "Rock Hallelujah" (thankfully not an homage to Eurovision winners past), the album reminds you that rock music can be fun, even with a side order of straight faced lyrics.
"Like all good rock and roll albums there are ups and there are downs, but there is not a single song on this offering that can be described as bad, or even mediocre, and every one should be enjoyed with a beer firmly in hand. The band believe in this album, and they're playing each song as if it's their last (which we very much hope it isn't) which just makes it sound all the better. So many bands these days play for the sake of it, these guys don't.
"This is an album that you can't help but enjoy, and with every listen you will grow more and more attached, and with sunny days ahead I can see many a summer barbecue with a group of like-minded hallions and a beer or seven, with Songs of Iron playing out into the evening. If you have't heard of Trucker Diablo yet, WHY THE FUCK NOT?"
Convinced yet? We then sought out then views of self-confessed Trucker fanboy Darren - if anyone can spot a flaw he is close enough to the band to pick it up...
"Alright I’ll play my hand before we start, I’ve an interest here in that I help the Trucker boys out with promotion etc, so over the last 2-3 years I’ve seen a lot of shows, and stuff that goes on in the background that would bore the life out of you if I told you! Having said that, I’ve been busting for people to hear this album, and now its finally getting out there for you, the good people, to enjoy!

"Unlike its predecessor, The Devil Rhythm, a lot of the songs on this album have been honed and fine tuned in a live setting over the last year or two, and it tells. Everything on this album is tight, Tom Harte’s lead vocals, like the song writing, show a growth in maturity and quality that comes from the bands extensive live performance’s over the last 2 years and the experiences gained therein.
"One thing Trucker do not do, is limit their “genre”, their influences range from Metallica and Anthrax to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackberry Smoke and anywhere in-between. Take the opener Red Light On with its pounding bass line (a feature of both Trucker albums is the bass is never hidden, you can hear it riffing along in parity with the guitars), swing up a gear into Year of The Truck which wouldn’t be out of place on a Metallica album, and by the time you hit track 4, current single Drive, which is gaining daytime radio play on many FM stations, you’re into radio friendly hard rock territory...but always with a bite, just check out the solo! Infact every solo on this album has you reaching for your air guitar and making “wanking” faces as you play along.

"Some of my favourite tracks on this album are at the back end, the stomping groove of Whens It Gonna Rain, the Southern country style of Highway Radio, and the awesome double guitar solos of album closer I Wanna Party With You, that rumbles to the end like an 18 wheeler going down the gears.

"Tackling topics from social disorder on Streets Run Red, to (and I quote Metal Hammer) “a beefy number about Axl Rose being a dick” in Not So Superstar, the Lord of all rock vocalists Ronnie James Dio on Rock Hallelujah, to having to break down barriers in life that stop you getting anywhere on Bulldozer, Truckers philosophy is clear, Big Riffs, Big Choruses, Big Bass, Big Solos…….Big Truck!"

But we themn put the album to the biggest test... our Black Metal editor Zakk, who thinks Deicide are pussies and that Gorgoroth need to toughen up a bit.

His view on Songs of Iron...

"Hell yeah - buy it you...." [Editor's note we've deleted the rest of his comments owing to risk of offending public decency, but it was something about sacrificing a goat - at least we think that's what he said - to praise Thor, Satan, Odin, Loki and other deities for Songs of Iron.

So, overall our editorial team here rated it, the man closest to the band spotted no flaws and we think that Trucker have nailed the myth of second album firmly to the front of the Big Truck, were it flaps uselessly in the path of iron grooves and killer hooks. Bow down mortals it's the Year of The Truck - ten out of ten guys!

Songs of Iron is released on Ripple Records on May 14th, launch party at the Diamond Rock Club on May 18th.

You ready for the Horne - win tickets to see Audrey Horne rock Belfast

BELFASTMETALHEADSREUNITED, in association with RockRadioni and Audrey Horne, are delighted to launch a competition to win two tickets for the superb Bergen-based rockers show in the Limelight on April 29th.

For those who haven't got the horn for Audrey Horne just yet, then why not! Hard rock at its purest, twin guitars, soaring choruses and ample riffage, the new album Youngblood is an aural treat just waiting for you to devour (review here).

To win one of the tickets answer this (really, really) difficult question:

Answers to be emailed here before midnight on Friday, 19th April, 2013.

Good Luck!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Total honesty, brutal intensity - :Lamb of God

WHEN Lamb of God play the Limelight on August 12th, you can be sure of one thing - brutal intensity. But fans will also appreciate - as should any music fan with a sense of justice - the total integrity of this band; singer Randy Blythe above all.

This was the tour that nearly didn't happen. Blythe was charged with the manslaughter of a fan in Czech Republic at a 2010 concert. Blythe could have done what many people would have and stayed behind legal machinations, but instead he faced the charges - and was acquitted in March of this year.

He spoke movingly about the family of fan's tragedy, speaking from personal experience after losing a child.

And it this integrity, this total commitment, this intense desire to always, always deliver, to always fight lyrically and musically that Lamb of God bring to the stage each and every time.

Their albums are a testament to what metal can deliver - not just catharsis, but confronting each and every member of the audience, with each and every song.

2012 album Resolution being a case in point, further refining what they deliver to a point that the sheer face melting metal has been tempered into a fine blade to scythe the metal clichés all too prevalent from some US bands.

Come August 12th Belfast will once again see Lamb of God deliver.

Monday, April 08, 2013

From Bergen the Youngblood explodes...

SOMEWHERE in Norway there is a factory producing great music - and somehow - we're not sure we missed the release earlier of Audrey Horne's fantastic album Youngblood - and what an epic hard rock album it is.

From the start it is hard rock the way it is meant to be played as Redemption Blues tears out with strong vocals and battling twin guitar attack.

This is a band that knows it roots - from the sound of many two axe bands such as Lizzy and UFO, through to the echoes of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

And, with the rousing Straight Into Your Grave tipping a hat to Death Alley Driver and the Bonnet epoch of Rainbow.

Throughout Youngblood this is hard rock laid down with passion and verve - taking what could have been another formulaic clatter of songs and giving them the edge - as proved by the title track, which has a refrain that most bands that would die for.

The only weak track is There Goes a Lady - it stands head and shoulders above the usual crap, but it does tend towards what one expects of the hard rock genre.

However, the rest of the album has balance, poise, and the sort of hooks and riffs - check out Pretty Little Sunshine and you may never get the chorus out of your head.

The balance is evident in the arrangement of the album - the lyrically similar to Alestorm - The Open Sea is followed by the frenetic This Ends Here and the album closer The King is Dead has the mid-paced power many seek and few will find.

Lyrically it is darker than many hard rock acts can manage, but this lends an edge to the songs.

Fans of local acts Trucker, Million$Reload, A Little Bitter and Screaming Eagles will find much to enjoy here - but most of all this is an album that stands for itself.

As guitarist Ice Dale told Belfastmetalheadsreunited earlier (see interview here) this was an album that was targeted at their own tastes.

"Actually we didn't think too much when we made this album," said Dale. "We just jammed and had a lot of fun. There are a lot of influences from all the bands we listened to when we grew up and we just mixed it with our own sound and our own way of approaching it."

Surely that is the secret for great rock and metal.

Youngblood is now available on Napalm Records and Audrey Horne will be playing the Limelight on April 29th - see ya there!

Black Sabbath to play Belfast!

LET'S face it, there is one band that were the true founding fathers of heavy metal - Black Sabbath. From the first diminished fifth chord of the self-titled album and the self-titled song itself music would never be the same.

And now - with new album, '13', scheduled for release in June Sabbath have announced a European tour including a Belfast date on December 12th. Yes, you read that right - Black Sabbath will play in Belfast - at the Odyssey Arena.

Tickets (£55 + booking fee) go on sale this Friday coming, and with this being the only Irish date you can rest assured demand will be high.

The triumvirate of Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler are probably near as to being the perfect epitome of heavy metal. Unfortunately Bill Ward will not be joining them, but Sabbath are such an important band in the history of 20th Century music, this is a defining moment for heavy metal in the 21st Century.

Sure metal has evolved and Sabbath have been through personnel changes, but Sabbath are really something special in terms of the history of metal. And are still relevant today.

The new album has been produced by Rick Rubin, and with Iommi beating illness to record the tracks, seeing Black Sabbath on an arena tour is -and for once the hyperbole is justified - a once in a lifetime opportunity.

We here at Belfastmetalheadsreunited are probably as excited as we have ever been - junior editor (aka Zakk) has been muttering 'riffmeister general' since he heard and our graduate editor (aka Nadia) has just been telling everyone how good they were at Download last year.

War Pigs, NIB, Electric Funeral, Paranoid, Lord of This World, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Fairies Wear Boots, Snowblind etc etc etc - these were the songs that carved heavy metal, that etched it in folklore and placed it in music history.

This is heavy metal, this is Black Sabbath - see y'all there. And we'll say it one more time - Black Sabbath are playing in Belfast!

Friday, April 05, 2013

Anachronistic yet relevant - one fat dude who knows how to entertain

FIRST some facts - when the Sex Pistols were scandalising the British press an overweight American and his composer partner were sitting atop the album charts with an overwrought platter filled with psalms to smalltown Americana.

Bat Out of Hell had cover artwork that would have fitted many a metal act's roaring tunes. It was an anachronistic piece of pomp delivered with vocals wrung out of a college American football player with penchant for acting and generally going so far over-the-top that he often seemed a parody of himself.

Yet it was glorious.

And the 45 million people who bought a copy seem to agree.

Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman had tapped into a rock generation that was confronted with tired overlong prog rock with endless keyboard solos and a plastic punk revolution with few bands with talent and few with any message other than sales.

The title track itself was a tremendous statement of rock 'n' roll theatre and in total the album was a singalong in extremis with Paradise by Dashboard Light the perfect song for guys and galls to challenge each other.

Since then Meat Loaf's output has been varied - sometimes great, sometimes good and sometimes average.

He has been a constant presence on the softer rock scene and we have lost count of the number of times we have seen him - most memorably winning over a Knebworth crowd when supporting Deep Purple and competing with UFO, Blackfoot and Mama's Boys. Yet despite the barracking and bottle throwing he had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand by the end of his set.

Now Meat Loaf is drawing a final curtain over his music and touring career.

On Tuesday The Last At Bat tour lands in Belfast's Odyssey Arena on May 14th. The show will be in two halves: first the hits of his career, the second the entire Bat Out of Hell album.

Yes, he is probably past his sell-by date but Meat Loaf deserves one last send off. The sirens are screaming and the fires are howling...