Tuesday, September 02, 2014

INTERVIEW: Sinocence: 13 years, new release, stormer of a gig coming on Saturday and much more

SINOCENCE. If you look carefully in the dictionary you'll see Sinocence's picture next to the definition of 'stalwarts'. And, that's not a negative thing for a band that has been developing and growing.

Now as the band prepare to celebrate their 13th birthday party we pinned Anthony McCaughley to the floor, and threatened to take away his guitar until he told us a little about those 13 years, what was coming next for Sinocence and...well a lot more. Including a declaration about keeping going and going... 

Back in 2001, to quote Douglas Adams: "men were men, women were women and small green furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were small green furry creatures from Alpha Centauri" and metal was once again rising, undefeated by trends or fashions, and the 'Sinners' were just starting off.

Looking back on it Anto had this to say: "Christ, that’s so long ago!, when we started I can honestly say there were no expectations at all. I can remember just wanting to get playing at RocKD in Belfast. Coming from Lurgan, Belfast was the “Big Smoke”. 

"There was nothing going on compared to what its like now in the local scene.  We were just happy to get a carryout and hit practice."

And, the band really didn't expect to be still going. "I’d have to say not a chance in hell," said the six-string slinger. 

"Things happen, people move away, get married, have kids.  You don’t tend to think will I be doing this coming 40!! Still, the feeling in the room when we play and write is as fresh as its ever bee.  When that stops,  then we’ll stop. We’ll not be faking it.

It has been quite a ride, at which they have played with rock and metal luminaries such as W.A.S.P., Prong and many more.

But was there an act that Sinocence learned from? 

"Out of all the bands we’ve played with we learnt the most on the Blaze Bayley tour," said Anto.  "About what to do and more importantly what not to do. 

"Playing has never been an issue in the band, it's more being prepared and having the right gear. We got a lot of great advice from Jay, one of Blaze’s guitarists at the time.  The Fyredogs in Germany just laughed at our gear haha when they seen it.

"This, and Jim, joining prompted the move from pedal boards to real tube sound. On the live front you can’t help but learn from bands like Machine Head and Prong… pure Pros."

Machine Head is also a gig that features highly in the memorable top shows the band have played, and we wanted to know what was the band's top gig, and what has been the favourite show Anto has attended

"Played? Over 13 years that’s a tough one. Nottingham  Rock City sticks right up there but then the local shows we did in Lurgan looking back were fucking crazy!. Off the chart, never see that level of intensity at any of the locals shows these days.
"To pin it down though to one show  it would have to the Machine Head gig in Belfast.  A band like that, sold out show. Pure volume! Was just fantastic!
"Attended? Flying in the face of metal and thrash the Skid Row/Ugly Kid Joe gig in Dublin was just another level.  The vibe between band and audience was something else, everyone looked like they were loving every second of it. Super positive gig and just tapped right into that."
At recent shows Sinocence have played tracks from the long-awaited Vol. 2 of No Gods, No Masters. When can we expect to hear it? 
"Closer than everyone thinks!" he said. "We’ve four and a half done so just the final part of song five. Looking at going into the studio end of October. 
"Songs feel really fresh and the reaction to the ones we’ve played live has been great so we’ll be ready to nail that down soon."
When that is down the challenge for Sinocence is what lies in store for the next 13 years?
"Well, 'No Gods, No Masters' Vols 2 & 3 will be getting finished", said Anto. "We’ll be shooting a few videos and hopefully hitting the UK next year for a few festival dates and shows with the UK bands we have been bringing over this year.
"But we have delusions or wild dreams. We're not too concerned about getting signed or any of that stuff.
"We are self-signed and we are best sorting ourselves! As I said there as long as the energy is up and the band are writing decent material we will continue."
With 13 years behind them it's also a time to reflect on what Sinocence would like to see as their legacy.
"Touring the world 5 times over with Slayer after 13.5 years on the go!!" said the guitarist.
"Seriously though its something I never been asked before to be honest. 
"Has to be the song writing and hard work. Ask any band together for awhile how hard it is to keep it going. It takes stamina and real will to do it.  I am proud of the fact that we are still going and proud that we are the strongest we’ve ever been at the minute."
Anto continued: "Sounds nuts but it's just how we are feeling at the minute.  The new songs are rocking, we have a fantastic back catalogue to choose from live, our gears now top notch.
"I’ll tell you what, ask me that again in five years. I'm not ready to fully answer that fucking question just yet!"
On Saturday 6th September in  Limelight2, The Sinocence 13th Birthday Party Bash takes place featuring Ourselves, Collaspe (UK), By Any Means, Cutter & Donum Dei.  Doors at 4pm.
Anto said: This bill is one of the strongest you’ll see this year! Get down early muckers! "
Normally we don't let anyone use capital letters like that, but he seemed so emphatic...

NEWS: Three months to shake 2014

THE Summer of Metal has passed and now we enter the aural assault of autumn, when metal, punk and hard rock ravage the passing days until we toast Saturnalia and bid goodbye to one of the heaviest years in Belfast.

Already autumn has had a metallic welcome with Karma to Burn, Desert Storm and the might of Armagh - Astralnaut levelling the first day of September.

It would be impossible to list all that is happening (well it isn't impossible but we can't be arsed...) over the next three months, but suffice to say it will be loud!

You can always kick things off at the Menagerie on Thursday with Thee Dreadfuls, Tusks and THVA, before heading to the Voodoo on Friday for Maverick.

Nicely warmed up by then Saturday has a plethora of choices...

Mike Tramp is up at the Diamond Rock Bar with Matt Fitzsimons in support, and Stop, Stop, Start Again are playing with The Lee Harveys and Mohican Jack in The Pavilion.

It's also a day of celebrations as Sinocence have a 13th Birthday party...helping them with this anniversary are English band Collapse, By Any Means, Cutter and Donum Dei. Who's bringing the birthday cake?

Oh we could go on about Freebase, By Any Means, Defyed playing the Voodoo, Steamroller at the Diamond and many, many more, but we think you should DO YOUR OWN research!

You can check out gig listings here and here.

But there are some essential things you need to know....

Anathema and Mothers Cake are at Limelight2 on the 18th September, on Friday 19th September Carcass and Coldwar are at Limelight1 and Dragonforce are at Limelight1 on 20th September - the same night Million$Reload are at the Diamond.

We also are keeping diary dates free for Tim 'Ripper' Owens, Sandstone and Rabid Bitch of the North on Thursday 25th September in the Voodoo and Overoth and Ceaseless Blight on the following night at Limelight2.

Fresh from their support slots with Amon Amarth Darkest Era are at Limelight2 on 4th October...

Oh there are also gigs from Alestorm, Ricky Warwick, Gallus Cooper, Black Stone Cherry, Asking Alexandria and many more.

But Hallowe'en night looks to be a messy one...Focus are at the Empire, Orange Goblin and St Vitus have an early show in Limelight2, and you can then run up to QUBSU to see Gama Bomb headline a four-band show.

There's many, many more shows coming up to like Black Sherriff, Gilby Clarke, Y&T, Tyketto, War Iron, Eluvite, Mastodon, Therapy?, The Quireboys, Dan Baird and Homemade Sin, Saxon, the Cockney Rejects, Sabaton, Joe Elliott's Down N Outz, The Answer, The Pat McManus Band, and already many announcements being made for 2015...

We, your editorial team have placed orders for new livers, a Lottery win, beer tokens and pit passes!

Monday, September 01, 2014

LIVE REVIEW: Satan slayed by Nomadic Rituals, Astralnaut and Zlatanera

SATAN ran away...

###     Dateline: 30th August      ###
###  Location: Limelight2   ###
Issue: The Distortion Project's RockD with Nomadic Rituals, Astralnaut & Zlantanera

SATAN is a pussy. He ran away when the sheer heaviness and unholy racket was brought to bear by three acts, each determined to layer more and more slabs of musical meat.

Your review team risked the demons, djinns, fiends and hellhounds left by the fleeing Lucifer on Saturday evening.

Fortified by pints of a mystical brew we watched as the spirits of Aleister Crowley and Anton Le Fay nodded ethereally in approval as metal rained down.

Nomadic Rituals sludge fest rained down a slowed down noise. Musical malfeasance; a solid wall of bass, guitar and drums. You know you're in for an endurance test when Mark on drums has nothing to do for the first minute and a half...

Craig and Peter's effects laden performance produced an unholy cacophony, with Craig's agonisingly passionate roars and Peter's wailing strings. While undoubtedly good at what they do, perhaps a little less of the effects next time.

Musically magnificent, mystical emerging from the mysterious County of Armagh, where strange tales rise like mist around the rolling drumlins, come Astralnaut, a ten-legged groove machine.

Where the Limelight2 to be attended by the remnants of ancient peoples, they would be dazzled by light and amplification, but would soon offer their praise to their lords that brought Astranaut's sound to this earth. Demons, djinns and other denizens of the dark corners cowered before the might.

But there is much, much more to this weighty beast of a band. Their ability to put a Northern Ireland stamp on what would otherwise echo of southern groove metal should propel them yet further.

From mellow bellowing to roaring rage Thomas led the line, with Gaz weaving ancient incantations on his six-string JonJoe locked down the rhythm on bass, tight with Stephen's drums.

However, Saturday was one of the last appearances of Pearse on the 'Naut's rhythm guitar. It didn't stop him raging out backing vocals and tying down the sound.

With songs from their releases 'In the Gaze of the Gods' and 'Thieves, Beggars and Swine' aired Astralnaut are accomplished performers, and, as agreed by our review team and several others we respect they were on fire - tight and terrifyingly good.

Headliners Zlantanera have - for those that do not know - is made up from former members of Residual Effect, Stand-up Guy and Interrrogate. This impressive pedigree has been finding its legs over the past year. Now they deliver the promised riffage in a fierce, fiery set of fundamentally furious metallic assault.

From 'A Bad Too Far' through 'Holy Man's Crook, and 'Advance of the Clodhopper' it is clear that Zlantera have risen...

It might have been vocalist, Andy's birthday, but that didn't take the sinister edge in his roars, nor the guitar attack of Willie and Andy. The remaining demons and djinns fled lest they be 'Hooked, Kicked, Hooked Again'. as Anto's bass rumbled and Keith's drums pounded.

What struck most in this set was the potential of Zlantanera, and their potential to grow yet further.

And, as the denizens of Limelight2 emerged agog from the Distortion Project into the Belfast night's peacefulness the faux evil of Satanists, devils and demons had ran, cowering as they realised that metal owns the night.

Nomadic Rituals conjuring, Astralnaut's mystical roar and Zlantanera slaying - another superb night from James Loveday's Distortion Project.

Review by Jonny & Zakk
### End of Despatch ###

Thursday, August 28, 2014

ALBUM REVIEW: Accept awe with Blind Rage release and toast their progenitors

THERE was a time when heavy metal was just heavy metal. There were no genres, sub-genres, scenes or trends. Occasionally a title might be used to group a diverse group of bands who emerged at the same time - such as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal - but all were simply heavy metal.

Accept are a band of that generation, and a number of the review team here recall them blowing Dokken off the stage in the 80s in Belfast's Ulster Hall.

However, Accept acknowledge on Blind Rage that themselves and their progenitors are a 'Dying Breed'. On this, the second track Accept name check almost all of the bands from previous generations, many of whose members are now in their fifties, sixties or older.

But like those bands have raised a middle finger to the split nature of much of the 'scene' promoted by the mainstream magazines. This is Accept, and Accept do what they do best - powerful, muscular metal.

And, you can even see where many bands follow in their wake, especially the so-called power metal bands. Such bands would do well to listen to 'Dark Side Of My Heart' and learn from the masters.

This album, like its predecessors 'Stalingrad' and 'Blood of Nations', shows why Accept are not prone to the clichéd and hackneyed band many other Euro-metal bands are, or have become. From the aforementioned 'Dark Side...' to the full on album opener 'Stampede' they demonstrate proficiency and understanding of their craft.

The ever-present Wolf Hoffman (he's been the lead guitarist since 1976) melds perfectly with Herman Frank in providing scintillating solos and melodic runs, such as on Blind Rage's last track 'Final Journey', which is simply a delight for guitar aficionados.

Setting aside Accept from many of their contemporaries is a rhythm section featuring Peter Baltes (who like Hoffman was there in 1976, with only a brief hiatus) bass and Stefan Schwarzmann drumming that keep the whole sound grounded in the Accept sound.

Lyrically this is as well crafted as any Accept album. While there are a few cringe-inducing moments ('200 years') mostly it deals with topics as diverse as the massacre of native Americans ('Trail of Tears') and human trafficking, drug dealing and capitalist so-called standards ('Wanna Be Free'). Even 'Dying Breed' has a seriousness within the metal community.

Mark Tornillo, therefore, has plenty of themes to work through, and does so with some skill, especially given the range of tempos on the album.

And, that range of tempos is part of the strength of 'Blind Rage'. From the full-tilt of 'Bloodbath Mastermind' to the mid-pace of 'Wanna Be Free' and 'From The Ashes We Arise'. 'Modern' metal bands would do well to learn this lesson.

Amongst the stand-out tracks is 'The Curse', which like much of the album melds muscle and melody. From its under-stated opening it progresses to a simple tale of how difficult it is to be good and morale in the 21st Century.

While some may see 'Blind Rage' as Accept re-treading past glories, they miss the point. Accept have developed incrementally with each release, honing what they do, but never straying from what they know and understand as heavy metal. We hail them.
Review by Jonny
Blind Rage is out now on Nuclear Blast

NEWS: Rory Gallagher's Irish Tour '74 released in 8-disc deluxe package

RORY Gallagher is a legend, a man who could make his guitar weep with the blues, rock out with dirty sounds from his battered strat, and revive the American folk legacy with peerless acoustic.

And, Rory had a strong affinity with Belfast, almost his adopted home.

In December 1973 Rory defied the ongoing troubles, and just five days after three people were killed in a bomb explosion and with the Sunningdale Peace Agreement floundering Gallagher played Belfast to kick off an Irish tour that has rightly been dubbed legendary.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the tour an expanded deluxe edition is being released on October 20th.

While some highlights never released, Sony Music/Legacy Recordings edition contains all three shows in an eight disc, 10" box set, including 43 unreleased tracks, remastered audio, photos, liner notes, a feature length documentary and much more.

Reflecting on his reasons in continually playing at the heart of Northern Ireland while it was an almost a ghost town each night Rory said:  “I see no reason for not playing Belfast. Kids still live here.” And, he did with Gerry McAvoy (bass), Rod De’ath (drums) and Lou Martin (keys).

Acclaimed filmmaker Tony Palmer was drafted in to document the tour. More than aware of the socio-political situation in the North of the country at the time and Rory’s refusal to be drawn on either side of the argument, Palmer knew "this [was] a very interesting proposition".

"Rory was at pains to point out he wasn’t active in any sense politically" Palmer recounts, but felt very strongly that he should be allowed to play both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

"I don’t want to make a movie with any political content but it will be self evident," said Gallagher.

 Both the Dublin and Cork shows also feature heavily on the subsequent documentary but it was Rory’s dignified but defiant impartial stance in Belfast that helped make this recording such a watershed moment for Rory’s legions of devoted fans.

The performances, for those that were there, and those who saw the snatches of the documentary - or subsequent Belfast dates - were peerless. No studio tricks, no over-the-top fx, and no overdubs.

Gerry McAvoy recalled Rory and the band's affinity with Belfast:

“Rory loved Belfast.  Just loved it.  Anytime we hit the stage after 1971 you were aware that, apart from the odd cabaret turn at the Abercorn [site of a 1972 bomb blast killing two and injuring 130], none of the bigger bands would come back to play Belfast, it was starved of music.

"Obviously after The Miami Showband tragedy it just got worse. We’re professionals. We play as well as we could wherever we played but it was a special situation in Belfast, something you could never acquire or attain at any other gig.”

Gavin Martin from Blues Magazine said: “Rory Gallagher brought hope and musical inspiration to his war-torn spiritual hometown of Belfast.

“It was within the walls of the venue on ‘bomb alley’ that the tender-hearted, soft-spoken, dogged determination and captivating presence of Ireland’s guitar warrior poet and people’s hero found
its fullest flowering. While Ulster teetered towards the brink, Rory’s rock hit with righteous affirmation.”
For Ray Hollingworth of Melody Maker the unifying power of Gallaghrer was emotionally charged.

“I've never seen anything quite so wonderful, so stirring, so uplifting, so joyous as when Gallagher and the band walked on stage.

"The whole place erupted, they all stood and they cheered and they yelled, and screamed, and they put their arms up, and they embraced. Then as one unit they put their arms into the air and gave peace signs.

"Without being silly, or overemotional, it was one of the most memorable moments of my life. It all meant something, it meant more than just rock n' roll, it was something bigger, something more valid than just that.”

The full - and we mean full - tracklist is below:

Disc 1 & 2
Cork (5th of January 1974)
  1. Messin’ With The Kid*
  2. Cradle Rock
  3. I Wonder Who
  4. Tattoo’d Lady
  5. Walk On Hot Coals
  6. Laundromat*
  7. A Million Miles Away
  8. Hands Off*
  9. Too Much Alcohol
  10. As The Crow Flies
  11. Pistol Slapper Blues*
  12. Unmilitary Two-Step*
  13. Bankers Blues*
  14. Going To My Hometown*
  15. Who’s That Coming
  16. In Your Town*

Disc 3 & 4
Dublin (2nd of January 1974)
  1. Cradle Rock*
  2. Tattoo’d Lady*
  3. Hands Off*
  4. Walk On Hot Coals*
  5. Laundromat*
  6. Too Much Alcohol*
  7. A Million Miles Away*
  8. As The Crow Flies*
  9. Pistol Slapper Blues*
  10. Bankers Blues*
  11. Unmilitary Two-Step*
  12. Going To My Hometown*
  13. In Your Town*
  14. Bullfrog Blues*

Disc 5 & 6
Belfast (29th of December 1973)
  1. Messin’ With The Kid*
  2. Cradle Rock*
  3. I Wonder Who*
  4. Tattoo’d Lady*
  5. Walk On Hot Coals*
  6. Hands Off*
  7. A Million Miles Away*
  8. Laundromat*
  9. As The Crow Flies*
  10. Pistol Slapper Blues*
  11. Unmilitary Two-Step*
  12. Bankers Blues*
  13. Going To My Hometown*
  14. Who’s That Coming*
  15. In Your Town*
  16. Bullfrog Blues*

Disc 7
City Hall in Session (3rd of January 1974)
  1. Maritime (The Edgar Lustgarden Cut)
  2. I Want You  / Raunchy Medley*
  3. Treat Her Right
  4. I Wonder Who*
  5. Too Much Alcohol*
  6. Just A Little Bit
  7. I Can’t Be Satisfied*
  8. Acoustic Medley*
  9. Back On My Stompin' Ground (After Hours)
  10. Stompin’ Ground (Alt version)

 Disc 8 (DVD)
The Tony Palmer directed documentary Irish Tour ’74
(courtesy of Eagle Rock Entertainment)
 * Previously unreleased
 Irish Tour ’74 Expanded Deluxe Edition is available to pre-order now at  http://smarturl.it/RoryGallagher


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

NEWS: Cavaleras' extra busy (again) and Steak release video for new song

MAX Cavalera is a busy bunny - it seems he can't keep still...

Last month Soulfly were in Belfast as part of a tour cycle (review here) shortly after releasing
the awesome Killer Be Killed, with assorted collaborators. (Review here.)

And now the countdown to the release of the new Cavalera Conspiracy album is underway, with Iggor Cavalera revealing the track listing for the album and the artwork.

Pandemonium is set for release on Napalm Records on November 3rd.
The track listing for Pandemonium is:

1. Babylonian Pandemonium
2. Banzai Kamakazi
3. Scum
4. I, Barbarian
5. Cramunhao
6. Apex Predator
7. Insurrection
8. Not Losing the Edge
9. Father of Hate
10. The Crucible
11. Deus Ex Machina
12. Porra

If you want a wee preview the first track from Pandemonium is available for streaming now.  Check out “Bonzai Kamakazi” here: http://metalhammer.teamrock.com/news/2014-08-18/premiere-cavalera-conspiracy-bonzai-kamakazi

For More Info Visit: www.cavaleraconspiracy.com/

Steak sneak preview

With English stoner/desert rock act Steak added to the John Garcia they have released a preview of their forthcoming Napalm release, 'Slab City'. 

The album is out on 1st September. But while you wait you can watch the brand new music video for their track 'Rising' here.



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ALBUM REVIEW: Comply or Die bow out with stormer album in the shape of Northless

AND, lo it was foretold that all good things must come to an end...and Comply or Die have drawn a neat line from their birth to their demise with this, their third album, 'Northless'.

But, if you are going to allow your band to die, do it with style; a style resonating with hardcore, punk and prog metal in a furious assault on the senses of the unwitting listener.

From opener 'Meridian' it is clear that while the raw energy of the band is still evident there is a more mature approach. By the time that you reach 'Argonaut' it is clear that recent developments towards progressive noise have not past them by.

While the snappy 'Cultus' is on familiar territory, with two and a half minutes of riff-laden fury.

However, the seven and a half minute 'Iron Mountain' displays sensitive arrangements amidst the range of sludge, technical, death metal and atonal sections of this track; a track that unfurls its depths after a number of listens.

And, in many ways while most tracks on 'Northless' are likeable on first listen, once you hit them up two of three times they reveal elements of pure hard rock joy, joy and fury.

While the band called it quits after recording this, there is almost a prophecy within the lyrical theme, casting a sceptical on a dystopian world, and despairing over the foibles and frailties of fallible humanity.

From the full speed 'Architecture of War' there is a sense that all is not well out there - and halfway through the track there is a riff many a band would envy.

While 'Agon' has a hardcore feel it has metallic weight behind it, muscle bound noise, providing a contrast to the groove-laden 'Bishop', which has a real sense of experimentation. Closer 'Dagon' is a sub-two minute romp, with great guitar work and tight bass and drums.

So, that all said, is this a fitting coda for Comply or Die? On one level, yes. On another 'Northless', after a couple of spins just makes one think that we want to hear more.

What Matt, Michael, Ian have achieved is an album that is challenging, at times radical, and wrapped up Comply or Die's all too brief career of raiding the noise cupboard to provide us with delights.

Goodbye Comply or Die...

Review by Jonny
Northless, as well as Comply or Die back catalogue releases can be bought at www.complyordie.bandcamp.com

NEWS: Lepps and American Football...

DEF Leppard are to get fans rocked for the first of this year's NFL International Series game on Sunday, September 28th, when the Oakland Raiders play the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium.

Given most of out contributors like the Lepps (for the editor it's a nostalgia thing) and American Football it's a perfect(ish) mix.

The 100 million album sales band are up for the pre-game show.

Joe Elliot said: “Having most recently visited Wembley in May to watch Sheffield United in the FA Cup semi-final, I know what the atmosphere in the ground is like for ‘our’ football so I’m really looking forward to performing there before the NFL game and of course soaking up the excitement of the actual match. I can’t wait!”

Should you fancy seeing the spectacle a limited number of tickets returned by the participating teams will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Thursday September 4 via www.ticketmaster.co.uk.

Otherwise The Raiders-Dolphins game, which kicks off6:00 p.m. will be aired live in the UK on Channel 4 and Sky Sports and in the US on CBS.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

ALBUM REVIEW: Overkill strike hard on #17 with fully armed White Devil Armory

IT seems that Overkill have been around forever, given that their roots first dug into the earth in 1980 as The Lubricunts in 1980. But 34 years later can they still remain relevant as the thrash movement evolves and moves on?

On White Devil Armory, the band's 17th release, it could be argued that they haven't really moved beyond the East Coast Thrash template, but that would be to ignore the maturation of the individuals.

That's not to say they've settled down to a life of sounding like a thrash version of Foreigner. The fury is still there - take the track 'PIG' for example - it has just become more focussed.

At the heart of the band are Bobby 'Blitz' Ellsworth (vocals) and D.D. Verni  (bass and backing vox). Both original members, and both seem to be determined to keep the Overkill template; even if at times Ellsworth is beginning to sound a little Teutonic in places.

That's not to say that the rest of the band are not committed to the 'Kill. Lead axeman Dave Linsk, after all has been there for 15 years, rhythm man Derek Tailer for 12 years and drummer Ron Lipnicki for nine years.

Indeed this is one of the most stable line-ups of the band, and sounds a more coherent release than 2012's 'The Electric Age'. On 'Bitter Pill', for example they easily transform a chug-a-long riff to a breakdown that echoes Masters of Reality/Vol 4 era Sabbath before a tasty Linsk solo rounds the track off.

There are times when they do fall back on the thrash by numbers template, but these are few and far between. Even when they do such as on 'Down to the Bone', there is an honesty about the delivery that means one can forgive these elder statesmen that indulgence.

There are enough highlights throughout the album to keep even the critical voices still, such as when Verni's bass introduces the potent 'Freedom Rings' in all it's almost seven minutes of thrash glory; a track when even the chanted backing vocals do not grate but match the sense.

'King of the Rat Bastards' is another stand-out track, building with menace to a hellish vision of society torn apart.

The closer 'In The Name' perhaps sums up Overkill in 2014. Ellsworth straining to achieve maximum effect, intertwined guitar lines from Linsk and Tailer, while the clear production picks out Verni's bass lines and Lipnicki fires fills out. The breakdowns and the targets of the lyrics merge from pure fury to slowed down punctuation.

Yes, Overkill are still relevant in 2014. Yes, Overkill deserve their place in the  pantheon of thrash greats. Don't overlook Overkill. Join and get the head down.

White Devil Armory is available now on Nuclear Blast
Review by Jonny


Friday, August 22, 2014

NEWS: Symphony X, Inter Arma, Nonpoint

News Round-up
By Nico Solheim-Davidson
Symphony X’s Mike LePond to release debut solo album
Renowned bassist Mike LePond (Symphony X) is set to release his debut solo album Mike
LePond’s Silent Assassins, which is the same name of his solo project. The album will be

release through ADA/UDA on 29th September, this year.
Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins will feature a host of special guests such as guitarist Metal
Mike (Halford, Testament), lead guitarist and drum producer Michael Romeo (Symphony X),
vocalist Alan Tecchio ( Hades, Watchtower), and, of course, Mike LePond on bass and rhythm

Inter Arma announce plans to release single track EP

American genre destroying
metal outfit Inter Arma have recently announced their plans to
release a new EP, titled The Cavern. The EP will consist of a single track that will last for 40
minutes. Originally written during the summer of 2009, but reworked and perfected over the last
few years, The Cavern was recorded last year during breaks from the relentless touring the band
did with the likes of Baroness, Russian Circles, Ulcerate and numerous others. The recording
was captured with producer Mikey Allred at Dark Art Studios in Madison, TN.

The Cavern will be available worldwide as of 13th October, later this year, except for North
America where it will be release on 14th October. The Cavern will be release through Relapse
Records. Preorders
of the physical copy can be made here while preorders
for the digital copy
can be made here.

Nonpoint release behind the scene clips of The Return
Nonpoint are set to release their eighth studio album, The Return, via Metal Blade Records, on
29th September this year. In anticipation of the new album, the band are releasing a series of
behind the scenes clips of the recording process of the album. The first video can be viewed at
this location. Further episodes will be posted in the coming weeks.

Fans can stream the new single, Breaking Skin, and preorder
at The Return here. Elias explains:
"t's about addiction, whether it be food, drugs, sex, lying, or
anything, that tends to turn into an itch. You can't stop scratching it so you break skin. Then,
you're bleeding. You need to get help at that point and deal with it."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

NEWS: SLF hit lucky 13 in Rock Album charts

THEY are influential, they are radical, and they are among the best in the world at what they do. They are from Belfast, and they are Stiff Little Fingers.

Their stunning album, 'No Going Back' was funded via a very successful Pledge Music campaign.  Now with worldwide distribution through Mondo Recordings/INgrooves the band have hit the UK rock album chart at Number 13.

Our review (here) discusses the background of the SLF release, but we feel that the most powerful message is hope. From the challenges to the economic and political elites, and to religious abuse and crass media scaremongering Jake Burns lashes lyrics against the norm and offers an alternative future..

But the real message of hope comes in the track, 'My Dark Places'. Jake has spoken of how he has suffered from severe depression - a courageous move in front of thousands fans.

The words of the song are worth it, such as "Well, I got there in the end, With the help of many friends, Some who helped by simply just believing."

Burns opens his heart on this song. Anyone who has - or is - suffering from depression should take the message of hope from 'My Dark Places'

"And the days look brighter now
Yet I know someday, somehow
I could end up back there in an instant
Some days I really feel like laughing
Some days I realize I must stay on my guard."

Listen to the album, listen to the messages, buy it.

We have colleagues and friends - reviewers from other sites (Carolyn from Planet Mosh) - all have taken hope, all have gained yet more respect for Stiff Little Fingers, a band who have always provided Inflammable Material.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

NEWS: Liv Kristen goes solo, Alestorm storm the charts

By Nico Solheim-Davidson
Liv Kristine reveals details for new solo album

ICONIC vocalist of Leaves’ Eyes, the lovely Liv Kristine, has revealed the details for her next solo
album, which is the follow-up to her 2012 solo album Libertine.

Her new album, titled Vervain, will be released on 27th October in the UK via Napalm Records and promises lots of great melodies, haunting song structures and of course Liv’s worldclass voice.

Vervain promises to be a spectacular piece of musical art: “A rock masterpiece with an incomparable sound, multifaceted and in every song in another shape between light and darkness.”

Autumn 2014 is going to see Liv on a tour, a first for her outside Leaves Eyes

Her tour band will be Kari Ruslåtten and Anneke van Giersbergen. The Sirens In Concert 2014 takes place in midOctober and December 2014.

Pirate metallers Alestorm enter the charts

Scotland’s pirate metal staaarrrs, arr, they be Alestorm and they be touring the seven seas in support
of their new album: Sunset On The Golden Age.

The album, which was released through Napalm Records, has entered the charts at number seven in the
USA Heatseeker listing, at number 26 in Germany at number 68 in the UK, number 49 in Austria and so on, and so on, showing how much these bunch appeals has grown.

Alestorm are also hitting the road in the UK in October this year. Catch them with Red Rum, Lagerstein and Rainbowdragoneyes across the countries including Belfast on 17th October. They also play Dublin, Cork and plethora of Scottish, English and European dates...with only Wales seemingly left out...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

LIVE REVIEW: Amon Amarth & Darkest Era - From The Viking Pit

MIGHTY Odin may have gazed with his one eye upon Belfast's Limelight1 on August 12th when the echoes of the heroic warriors spirits from Valhalla resounded like Loki's steed hooves flying across the roof of the world and Thor splitting the leaden skies with storms of metal.

The Celtic metal warriors who are Darkest Era opened up for the mighty Viking horde that are Amon Amarth - both with whirlwinds of riffs and unapologetic heavy metal.

And, what is there to apologise for when songs are so mighty, so deeply steeped in ancient oral traditions with allegorical undertows ripping the unwary from their comfort zone.

The last time I saw Darkest Era was when they opened for Wintersun and they left quite an impression then. Now, they are even coming through stronger, cohesive and cracking skulls with their pure take on the classic rock/metal of Maiden and Lizzy with melodic death metal twists.

Krum leads from the front, powering through releases new and old.  'An Ancient Fire Burns', 'The Morrigan' and 'Sorrow's Boundless Realm' all stamping all over the gathering crowd with tunefulness and rolling thunder from Cameron Ashlund-Glass' drums and Daniel O'Toole's bass.

Ade Mulgrew and Sarah Weighall lay down a superb set of inter-twined solos and rhythm parts - more evidence of why Darkest Era deserve to adorn many, many more metal fans collections.

With a relatively quick turnaround the stage was transformed to an homage to Amon Amarth's mythical landscape - replete with jagged 'rocks' and rune filled mini-monoliths.

From the opener 'Father of the Wolf' to closer 'Pursuit of Vikings' the Swedish five-piece proved that they are amongst the most exciting live bands.

It only takes a moment to suspend disbelief, plunge into the pit and soak up their tumultuous songs.

This was my first experience of being pummelled by Amarth - and I'd gladly succumb again.

It's not just that they put on a phenomenal live performance; it's not just because Johan Hegg is an engaging frontman; nor is it because they are tremendous musicians; rather it is because the sum of the parts comes together in one ominously glorious moment in time.

As a unit Amon Amarth are solid, tight and well-rounded, each playing their part. Mikkonen and Soderberg are linked by an ethereal bond as they use their six-string weapons to soar through solos, rip through rhythmic melodies and tear down any remaining inhibitions in the Limelight1

'Deceiver of Gods' and 'Cry of the Blackbirds' are majestic as Anderson (drums) and Lundstrom (bass) leaden the night as 'Guardians of Asgard' delivers as if Mjölnir had been wielded to split landscapes of Northern Ireland.

'Blood Eagle' saw the venue bathed - literally and metaphorically - in the life force of Vikings, while 'Embrace of the Endless Ocean' brought the narrative of the ocean bondsman and sailor to life.

By the time the encore of 'Twilight of The Thunder God' and 'Pursuit of Vikings' ended the crowd had responded to every exhortation of Hegg...and the very All-Father himself raised a toast to Amon Amarth and Belfast.
Review by Zakk
Sub-editing and additional reporting by Jonny
Photos courtesy of Darren @ Metalplanet
All rights and copyright of contributors reserved - reproduction of text and/or photographs by permission only

Sunday, August 10, 2014

LIVE REVIEW: Rockin' the Diamond with Ajenda and Lo Mejor

THE Diamond Rock Club has seen quite a few things in recent weeks, from a confirmed engagement through to a wedding reception on Saturday (9th August).

The wedding reception to the tunes of Ajenda and Lo Mejor was appropriate as the happy couple, Cathy and Graham first dated at an Ajenda gig...in the Diamond

Last night the newlyweds were serenaded with a bucket full of great tunes. Opening were relatively new act, Lo Mejor...even if the members have been around a while. Steve on vocals, Niall on guitar, and the two Andy's forming the rhythm section (Andy McKeown, bass, and Andy Logan on drums).

For those that aren't aware of the backstory the four piece contains members of Swanee River, Hungers Mother and Sub 60.

Steve - in between blasting out tunes new and old - urged all present to visit their Facebook profile...apologising for not having a website as yet. What they do have is an urgent sound, real soul in their performance and groove a plenty in a mix of classic r&b and hard rock.

In a tribute to the late Johnny Winters they played Winters' version of Jumping Jack Flash, with Niall showing how much he is capable of, as he did throughout the set. Steve's vocals have a rich, velvety resonance that he can step up to a throaty roar when required and the two Andy's were very tight in each and every song.

What is certain is that Lo Mejor have bucket loads of potential, and road testing material before recording is a sure fire way for them to hone their sound.

Ajenda have honed their sound yet further since the release of 'Unrecognisable'. However, last night a few technical issues threw them off their game for a while.

But that is not to criticise the performance - even the best band can be thrown off momentarily when gear goes awry.

What Ajenda have is a cohesive sound, with killer rock songs that should be dominating the FM and AM stations in USA. It's almost perfect for that driving experience along stretches of freeway.

From 'Unrecognisable' we were treated to the likes of 'Tattoo ', 'Dirty Rock 'n' Roll' and 'Hatred and Greed'. amongst a range of sounds.

While Jenny is undoubtedly the focus, with her stage presence and a soulful voice that could coax the hardest heart to melt, Ajenda have real musical muscle behind her.

Gav is a technical marvel with his six-string, coaxing a range of sounds from the axes he wields with deft precision.

Peter (drums) and Janny (bass) have an almost telepathic link as they anchor the sound. 

While Ajenda ply their craft in the general classic rock/AOR mode there is no doubt that they underpin it all with a real awareness of their forebears and how to add unique flourishes to the sound.

Glitches aside Jenny, Gav, Peter and Janny laid down a tremendous show in the Diamond. That so many had taken the time to travel on a night when other gigs/entertainment was going on is a tribute to the draw they can be (plus those there to toast Cathy and Graham's marriage too).

This was the last Diamond Rock Club show for a couple of weeks as  Derwin, Paul, Tony et al take a well deserved break from keeping one of the best 'secret' venues ticking over with rock.

And, what a send-off it was them!

Review by Jonny

Friday, August 08, 2014

Where to find our review of Prong and Sinocence....

RIGHT chaps and chapettes, those that were fortunate to head along to see Prong and Sinocence may have noticed we were there reviewing. So where's the review?

We, and our good friends at MetalPlanet, were on assignment from Devils Gate Media to pen and few words and capture some images.

You can read the review here and see some of the pictures from the night. To give you a taste of the evening here's a couple of snaps from MetalPlanet:

Anto startled by cameraman

Only Davy's not headbanging
Jim in full swing...literally

Moro doing his best not to swallow the mic

EP REVIEW: 12-legged crustacean crushes as Warcrab revel in the Ashes of Carnage

HAILING from the deep, deep south of England (Plymouth) Warcrab are a crusty crustacean of death and sludge, emerging from the depths with a mission to swamp all with a tidal wave of noise.

Two years after their last release Warcrab have just put out there their latest slab in the shape of the five-track mini-album, 'Ashes of Carnage'.

For a beast with two guitarists (Paul 'Budgie Garbett and Leigh Jones) backing lead axeman Geoff Holmes and singer Kane Nelson they present a serious assault of death and sludge.

From the opening track, 'In This Iron Tomb' the band declare their intent to lay waste to your eardrums. Stand-out track, 'Scourge' sees the atonal wailing of guitars and dense patterns supplemented by a stand-up section from bassist Dave 'Guppy' Simmonds and Rich Parker on drums.

The variations of time signatures and fills throughout this release shows just how important it is not to be entrenched within a sub-genre. 'Entombed in Flames' increases the speed to produce a sound not unlike Whitechapel, but without the annoying Americanisms. It borders on the  more technical aspects of death metal.

Kane Nelson's vocals are pure hatred throughout - the man seems pissed at the world he inhabits.

Title track 'Ashes of Carnage' is a pounding piece, which sees all six members head pellmell towards the nuttier side of death/sludge with the lead guitar lines saving the song from disappearing up its own arse.

'Lay To Waste' was the only track we didn't rate as highly as the rest. At times it sounds a littler derivative of many ploughing the same furrow; however, we suspect that it is more suited to the live environment.

Overall Warcrab have produced a solid release into a crowded marketplace, one which could do with some refinement in arrangements and production/mixing to bring their sound to the fore.

A solid 7/10

Review by Jonny

Vocals - Kane Nelson
Guitar - Paul “Budgie” Garbett
Guitar - Leigh Jones
Lead Guitar - Geoff Holmes
Bass - Dave “Guppy” Simmonds
Drums - Rich Parker

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

NEWS: Prong, Slomatics, Ajenda in another busy week

AS hundreds prepare to venture from these isles to Bloodstock there is plenty still to be getting on with...

Before the mini-exodus tonight sees Sinocence support Prong at Limelight2 as part of Prong's Ruining Lives tour. And, Sinocence are promising a new song from the forthcoming No Gods, No Masters Vol2.
Sinocence getting down to work...

Could really be a night when you 'Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck'

Thursday sees SO:NI present Smoking Tongue plus support at the King's Head, while Friday brings another SO:NI gig as Crossfire Hurricane lead a four-band slot.

But Saturday is when it gets really busy....

Starting at three pm HMV and Limelight will host Flaws at the Donegall Place store's second floor. Flaws consist of members of the now defunct In Case of Fire, so you know what to expect.

Jenny from Ajenda
If you can catch your breath, doors open at 5pm at Limelight2 when James Loveday's Distortion Project's RockD presents a heavy, heavy evening.

Glaswegians Headless Cross top a bill which includes Slomatics, Wild Rocket and Tusks...earth trembling stuff.

As the riffs from Headless Cross shake your inner ear, it might be an opportune time to hop in the car and make the journey to Ahoghill for something to soothe battered ears.

The Diamond Rock Club will host Ajenda and Lomejor.

Got all that? Good. That's a nice wee warm-up for Amon Amarth and the mighty Darkest Era on the 12th August!

MAVERICK - Paint By Numbers video

Just watch this -  yep it's Maverick unleashing first single from their début album Quid Pro Quo

Monday, August 04, 2014

LIVE REVIEW: Super and fantastic night with Eric Martin and Phil & Bam (M$R) in County Antrim

WHEN it comes to acoustic rock 'n' roll there are often audible groans from those who believe rock should be played via a specialist six-string, plugged into an over-sized amplifier, and with a PA loud enough to cause fractures in the earth's crust.

That's their loss. Even hardened metalheads like this site's review team and our colleagues and friends from Planet Mosh know the real power of a good acoustic show

Eric Martin, of Mr Big, was the latest artist to walk onto the hallowed stage at The Diamond Rock Club. Following in the footsteps of luminaries such as Danny Vaughn, Toby Jepson, The Quireboys and Dan Reed a goodly crowd made its way to north Antrim on Sunday (August 3rd).

Opening proceedings were Phil and Bam from Million $ Reload. Seeing the pair on stools, strumming easily at their acoustics was a strange sight for those of us more familiar with the full speed rock they normally front.

But, acoustic rock 'n' roll can be a powerful force. Choosing to air new songs for a long awaited new platter, 'Waiting For Holywood', 'Under Your Skin', and 'Penny For Your Dirty Mind' all sounded familiar, despite the review team only hearing them once before.

They are destined to be firm favourites when released and in future live outings. The banter between the pair was genuinely amusing, when with much teasing Phil played the "tuning song". As Bam adjusted the tuning on his acoustic the "tuning song" was delivered by Phil in the shape of 'Bullets In The Sky' with the Diamond Rock Club choir accompanying the track.

Eric Martin was an obvious draw, with his background in Mr Big  providing tracks for many of those present teenage years (yes, it is that age group that makes up much, but not all the Diamond clientele at this show).

Asides from the obviously strong track list Eric laid down, his easy on stage chat had laughter and amusement throughout the venue. But even Eric had to admit it was the first time his appearance saw a marriage proposal when Stefan made his engagement to Susan official on bended knee. Eric did comment that breaking off to shake his hand may be the first row of the marriage, or was Stefan's proposal actually to Eric....

Musically the strength of the material, and the aplomb of his presence made an ecstatic crowd rise to every song, clap along and sing every chorus.

Of particular note were 'Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy - the Electric Drill Song', 'Superfantastic' and 'Promise Her The Moon'.

What is clear is that whether it is a stage only persona, or the full-on Eric Martin live he is a performer in every sense of the word, from tales of the road with Mr Big and Paul Gilbert, through to inviting Phil (M$R) to join him for a sing and mock admonishing him for his "potty mouth".

Acoustic rock 'n' roll delivered with charm, wit, talent and verve - sure what else would be better on a Sunday night?
Review by Jonny

Next Saturday the Diamond Rock hosts local rock act Ajenda

Sunday, August 03, 2014

LIVE REVIEW: War, doom and thrash - Limelight caught in headlights by Wardomized, Owlcrusher and Scimitar

SATURDAY evening at Limelight2. RockD in the Limelight2. Beautiful noise in the Limelight2. All the ingredients for another fantastic metal presentation from James Loveday's Distortion Project as Wardomized, Owlcrusher and Scimitar took the stage.

Scimitar took over headlining duties as a result of illness forcing Bakken to withdraw. While they were missed by all, it was nevertheless a diverse, and highly entertaining triple dose of different forms of metal on Saturday (August 2nd)

Opening up the noise attack were Wardomized, a four-piece with a fearsome thrash, punk and hardcore mix to their sound. What them young 'uns call 'crossover'

Wardomized...and a squid atop
With Luke (drums) and Josh (bass) the rhythm section was nailed on solid, but for the first few songs the guitar tone was very thin, with Eddie struggling with what seemed to be problems with his monitor and amp settings. It was only when 'Degenerate' came along did the pace pick up.

Eddie singing....
The more punky sound towards the end of the set complimented the overall effect of Wardomized, with singer Steve switching to guitar and Eddie taking over lead vocal duties. While enjoyable enough they need to refine their take on crossover thrash and perhaps think about a second guitarist to add another layer on the furious riffing.

Steve delivering ground
shaking bass
Fast, furious riffing is not something Owlcrusher have ever indulged in. Nope, it's more a case of slooooowww it right down, get the bottom end dropped through the floor and deliver a set that had many hidden layers within the doom, sludge wall of noise.

Damien produced deceptively straight drumming with in particular clever use of the cymbals as the only 'bright noise' against the wall of deathly racket.

Andrew - shouldn't have
been pissed off
Andrew's straight forward guitar gave way on occasion to intricacies amidst the sludge, while Steve's bass rumbled with ground shaking effect.

Comprising a couple of songs in their half hour set Andrew seemed pissed off as he left the stage, throwing his guitar down and declaring, "that was shit". Perhaps an overly critical slant to take in a set that clearly kept the doom fans in the venue happy.

Taking the stage on their second headliner for The Distortion Project's RockD Scimitar have obviously benefited from the experience of supporting Arnocorps the previous week

Launching into the set with the eponymous 'Scimitar' John's guitar work scythed, well like a scimitar made of Damascus Steel and honed to a deadly edge.

With one ep already behind them and work underway for their second release the pure thrash of the band is clear. Ryan (drums) and Chriz (bass) have grown as a powerhouse duo, driving the sound ever onward, notably on closer 'Beaten To Death' and 'We All Shall Burn'.
Ryan enjoying the thrash

Jonny's vocals are now complimented with better stagecraft and presence behind the mic.

It is always hard for bands to adapt their own take on thrash - do you  go down the more punky route, opt for the straightforward 'classic' thrash of the 80s, or do you develop a take that incorporate all that, as well as more contemporary thrash sound that has evolved throughout the first decade of this century.

Scything from John
Scimitar have worked hard on developing their own sound, especially notable on 'Innocent X' and 'Act of War' - the latter the title track on their first ep getting better as the band wrestle out tiny shifts from the original to make it a more lethal track.

Overall a band growing every time they take the stage, heading a show that many more could honestly enjoy. What better way to relax on a Saturday that get smashed to thrash and drink with doom.
Review by Jonny
Photographs courtesy of Metalplanet
Alcohol courtesy of Limelight