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Thursday, May 26, 2016

NEWS: Tarja announces release of prequel album 'The Brightest Void.

While waiting for August 5th and the release of Tarja’s new album “The Shadow Self”, the queen of heavy rock has yet another surprise for her fans:
Tarja and earMUSIC proudly announce the release of the new album’s prequel “The Brightest Void”. With over 50 minutes of new music, the extra album will sweeten the wait until August!

Tarja explains:
“Surprise, surprise! I genuinely hope that ‘The Brightest Void’ is a pleasant surprise to each and every one of you. During the long process of recording the songs for my new studio album ‘The Shadow Self’, I realised that there were so many tracks, too many too dear to me, for just one album. So this time I decided to keep nothing for myself and to share all my favourite new songs with you, the fans, who have shown such passionate and constant support.
“ ‘The Brightest Void’ gives more than a first taste of ‘The Shadow Self’; it is a full album filled with 9 songs! I am sure that everyone will immediately discover how much ‘The Brightest Void’ and ‘The Shadow Self’ are entwined with each other but, at the same time, are two independent records which stand on their own. I hope the release of the prequel sweetens the wait until August and that you will like the songs as much as I do. I will present songs from both albums already in summer festivals and in my headliner tour later this year.

“As always, keep your eyes open. There might be further surprises down the road.”

“The Brightest Void” will be released on June 3rd, 2016 on earMUSIC as 1CD Digipak, 1LP+Download Code and Digital. The specially priced prequel to Tarja’s upcoming studio album “The Shadow Self” will be available for physical and digital pre-order starting on April 8th, 2016.

‘The Brightest Void’ features not one but three incredible guest artists: fellow Finnish star Michael Monroe, icon of the glam rock scene and former front man of inspiring band Hanoi Rocks; Chad Smith (who doesn’t need any further introduction) and a new mix of Within Temptation’s collaboration “Paradise (What about us)” carried out with Tarja and world renowned sound engineer and producer Tim Palmer. The prequel presents Tarja’s new single “No Bitter End” as the album opener and furthermore shakes you with an incredible cover of Sir Paul McCartney’s overlooked gem “House Of Wax” and adds a new twist to Dame Shirley Basseys’ James Bond main theme hit “Goldfinger”.

Tracklist ‘The Brightest Void’
1. No Bitter End -Video Clip Version
2. Your Heaven And Your Hell - with Michael Monroe
3. Eagle Eye - with Chad Smith on drums
4. An Empty Dream
5. Witch Hunt
6. Shameless
7. House of Wax
8. Goldfinger
9. Paradise (What About Us) - New Mix of the collaboration with Within Temptation and Tarja


Monday, May 23, 2016

BLOODSTOCK - fights and strength in the field of metal...

RIGHT, you know this Bloodstock thing - music festival, loads of great bands like Slayer, Twisted Sister, Anthrax, Mastodon, Gojira, Rabid Bitch of the North, The Crawling, Acid Rein, Goatwhore etc etc etc.

Well if think that's all that goes on in Walton-On-Trent over that mad weekend (August 11th-14th) you're wrong!

This year sees the return of the Battle of the Nations UK - which is allegedly a demonstration of medieval fighting with teams from across Europe. Now, when the say demonstration, what they mean is teams in full armour, grab a pile of heavy weaponry and proceed to beat the livin' bejaysus out of each other.

Field Captain Rob ‘Moose’ Morris comments, "Bloodstock is always the most popular event we host in the tournament calendar. The unique atmosphere and amazing music always combine to a complete unreal experience. Showing the music fans what being a real metal-head involves; wearing 16kg of armour and caning the hell out of your opponent in August!" Wish them luck with their Bloodstock warm up this month, taking on the Battle Of The Nations World Championships in both the classic 5v5 Bohurt and female fighter categories.

And, after sampling the many fine ales at Bloodstock you may feel a little tender...then you will welcome the news that BOA will be hosting some of the strongest people in the world.

For the first time, Bloodstock and the 100% CA team will host two  special strongmen events. On Saturday, 20 top athletes from across Europe will compete for the title of ‘Europe’s Strongest Man Under 90kgs’.

Then on Sunday, see what pure strength is all about, in the ‘BLOODSTOCK’s Strongest Man’ challenge, showcasing some of the biggest and strongest competitors handpicked from around the world. Don’t worry, they’re not planning a face-off with festival attendees, but we wouldn’t recommend spilling their pint.

Over the 2 days, the athletes will complete 2 events in each title, including a max deadlift event, and we hope to see 400kgs pulled on Sunday! Plus, an overhead log-press for reps, a loading medley consisting of 5 objects, 2 which weigh 19 stone! Not to mention, a gruelling back-to-back tug of war. Joining us, will be World’s Strongest Man and Arnold’s competitor, the South of England’s Strongest Man Rob Frampton, and Dave Meer, the local Tamworth multi-record-breaking strongman who has competed in the UK’s Strongest Man numerous times. With the support of XplosiveApe, USN, and Rebel Strength, we will be bringing you the best in the country!

All this AND bin jousting...


VIDEOS - Cheer yourself up with these offerings from Gojira and Cattle Decapitation

MONDAY -blah, boring, weekend so far away.

Well here are a couple of videos that are sure to blow the cobwebs off. First up is Gojira with the official video for 'Silvera'. [Don't forget they will be on Bloodstock's Ronnie James Dio stage on Saturday, 13th August].

Next we have Cattle Decapitation with 'Clandistine Ways'.

There -I bet you feel better alreadY

COMIN' ATCHA: Legendary doomsters Pentagram set for Belfast

PROBABLY one of the true founders of doom metal, Pentagram, are confirmed to play a Belfast date on Tuesday, 11th October in Limelight2.

Bobby Liebling's vision of doom started tentatively way back in 1971...and is still going today.

Eight full length albums and more members past and present than Deep Purple, Pentagram have had a turbulent history of breaking up and reforming, but that doesn't mean that they remain both influential, but relevant in 2016.

As the proto-metal of the likes of Iron Butterfly merged into heavy metal with Black Sabbath's first two albums Pentagram took the template and added an American twist from the town of Alexandria, Virginia and spread it across the US and further afield.

The confirmation of a Belfast is one that new and old doom fans will welcome, but the chance to see this act is one that any fan of metal. Support is from Atomic Bitchwax

Tickets go on sale on Thursday, 26th May priced £20.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Massive Wagons welcome us to their world on latest album

OPENING with grunt and ending with a roar Massive Wagons deliver a widely diverse set of tunes on their latest release 'Welcome To The World' and although they shouldn't in theory they meld together on the album so well as it is an almost seamless release.

It is a hard trick to achieve, almost impossible for most, but Massive Wagons pull it off on this their third full length release.

There is sense on this that they have taken the rock clichés, poured a pint or six down their throats until they are spitting fire and kicked into new life.

But for a band readily billed as rock opener 'Nails' introduces a metallic edge, with a snarl and a tasty edge to the track. No sooner as you take a breath 'Tokyo' brings a satisfying radio friendly song, with lyrics that will make sure it won't get played on the radio (which they declare).

That balance of heaviness and melody permeates the album, allowing Baz (vocals) the perfect foil against Adam and Carl's guitars.

Guitarist Adam said: "Our sound has always drawn on many different influences from classic rock to AOR to heavy blues and prog.

"Those influences are deliberately more polarised from track to track on this album. We love to be able to morph from highly accessible rock to deeper cuts.

"The result is something a lot more diverse yet a lot more ‘us’. We had a much heavier hand in the production beyond just the performance.

"I think we’ve achieved what we set out to do."

Whether it is the blues of 'Sh1t, Sweat, Death' or the bite of 'Fighting Jack' elements have been carefully drawn together.

Bowz (bass) and Alex (drums) make sure that there is a solidity to the songs, rolling along with a sensibility to know when to flourish and when to let it ride. There is real depth to the rhythm pieces.

Add in a sense of fun, and this is the killer punch. Laughter abounds on closer 'Fee Fi Fo Fum' as the band kick into party mode.

If you are a fan of Northern Ireland label mates, Trucker Diablo, you'll love this album. And, if you loved the previous Massive Wagons' releases then you'll want this on your hi fi a.s.a.p.

Welcome To The World is out now on Off Yer Rocka.

Review by Jonny

LIVE REVIEW: The riff comes down hard in Limelight as Triggerman bring it accompanied by Bosco Ramos and Hornets

THERE is no such thing as too many riffs - if you like you're rock and metal you want them in abundance. And, when Triggerman come to town the riffs rain down in a tsunami of musical terror that raises everyone's spirits.

And on Saturday, 21st May at The Distortion Project's Saturday celebration of metal the riffs were brought aplenty.

Opening the proceedings were Bosco Ramos, a two-piece (bass and drums) who delivered a fuzzed-out set, with distinctive leanings towards punk.

Their sound is a little like Oaf, without Larson's lengthy stand-up routines, a sort of post-punk fuzz sound that is not unlikeable, but may be a little full-on for some.

Full-on is something that Hornets understand and deliver with extra layers of heaviness. Ever-developing, ever pushing the boundaries of their sound. No, they aren't ever going to be a prog rock act, but it is refreshing to hear and see a band challenging themselves.

There is more of a stomp to some tracks, while others retain that dark marriage between Belfast punk and blackened metal. Continuous improvement should be a goal of any act, and Hornets are doing just that.

Then came the riff...

Triggerman really deserve a proper record deal, or at least global distro. They are that good.

Like a rumbling eight-legged beast from the opening track to the last Bap and co power through a set containing old favourites and new songs.

Opener 'The Drift' laid down the template for the set, a new song with an intro that built and built until it hit into full flow; sheer metal joy.

Another new track, 'Big John' has been aired a few times live, and already feels familiar. Of course, tracks like 'I Got The Lurgy', 'Hail To The River Gods' and 'Rise of the Woodsmen' are familiar to all Triggerman fans, and are greeted with obvious enthusiasm.

But what is the alchemy that the Triggers deploy? It might sound simple, but few can achieve that masterful mix of dirty rock 'n' roll, humorous story-telling, a big sound, and a rolling heavy load of riffs. It has almost become a cliché when talking about Triggerman to mention the riffs.

Therein is where the band achieve a groove; where lies a deep well to plumb for song structure and allow the breath within each track for melody to emerge.

The riff, does indeed hold sway.

Review by Jonny - Pictures by Darren McVeigh. Reproduction by express written permission only

LIVE REVIEW: Blind Guardian and Gloryhammer bring the power to Dublin

SURE power/symphonic metal is just ridiculous, all those stupid lyrics, the pomposity and the posturing...wrong! It can be all those things and be magnificent, majestic and much more.

Such was the case when Blind Guardian and Gloryhammer lay siege to a packed Academy in Dublin on 19th May.

On the topic of silliness Gloryhammer take the proverbial biscuit, munch it up, add an oversize hammer and an extra dash of Hoots.

Angus McFife (Thomas Winkler) battled the evil sorcerer Zargothrax (Christopher Bowes) on stage as we morphed between the medieval battles across the kingdom of Fife, to the inter-dimensional space time shift that saw the 'Rise of the Chaos Wizards'.

Okay, stop sniggering at the back, sure it is silly, it is preposterous, but it works. The Academy sang along to 'Hail the Crail' and Winkler was a bundle of energy, cajoling the crowd, and James Cartwright (Hootsman) sank a can down his throat as the audience chanted 'Hoots' in acclaim.

It was a set that won over doubters and earned new fans for Gloryhammer.

As soon as the lights dimmed later for Blind Guardian the roar intensified as Hansi strode on stage with a grin almost as wide as the stage itself.

They are something of symphonic/power metal royalty across Europe since emerging from Krefeld, Germany in the mid 1980s.

As such the majority of those in attendance were familiar with the songs, and some were even spotted humming along to the guitar solos as André and Marcus played with a telepathic intensity and rigour.

The first four songs flew by - well the fourth was 'Fly'. It was a set packed with stand out songs, and in truth was filled with songs that brought the crowd with them into metal ecstasy.

Amongst the stellar tracks were 'Lord of the Rings', 'Journey Through The Dark and 'Valhalla'.

The re-introduction of 'Wheel of Time' into the set received a rapturous response and the closing duo of 'The Bard's Song' and 'Mirror Mirror' bore testament to a band in the shape of Blind Guardian that can pace a set, can perform at just the right level at the right time, and can engage all present throughout their set.

Gloryhammer and Blind Guardian sent the audience out into the Dublin night air happy, smiling, and already exchanging their favourite points of the show. and no matter what part of the music business it is, both bands can slap themselves on the back as to a job well done.

Review by Jonny - Photos by Darren McVeigh - Reproduction by express written permission only

Saturday, May 21, 2016

NOT A REVIEW, AN OVERVIEW.... Hard Rock Hell - Ibiza Road Trip 7, carnage, chaos, fun and traffic jams

THIS is not a review, because it was a holiday, vacation, call it what you will, but the reporter's hat was handed in, the journalist's quill was set aside at the airport, and the notepad buried deep in the bottom of the backpack, but it would be remiss not to give a mention to HRH Ibiza Road Trip here.

It was such a unique experience the scream went up "why have we not done this before?", and "Can we afford next year".

Of course, Ibiza is known as the destination for ravers, clubbers as they head off in drug addled states to listen to trance, electronic dance music, or whatever else shite they find entertaining.

But for one week the island's city of San Antonio sees several hundred rockers and metallers descend upon its bars and restaurants before heading off to see bands of a dizzying variety.

The organisation, as with all HRH events is superb, and provided all attendees with some fresh and novel ways to keep the crowds amused...

It is fair to say that after airport rules were applied (no matter the hour you are allowed pints) our contingent from Northern Ireland arrived refreshed [Editor's note: thirstier than they started}, we checked in, met our HRH rep, Harri and ventured forth.

Now in the sunshine as you walk past a bar which proclaims from two signs that pints of San Miguel cost a whopping Two Euros and Fifty Cents. As Meat Loaf's antagonist said: "Stop Right There!"

So quaffing began, and in the surreal world of the HRH Ibiza Road Trip you end up sharing a pint with Evil Scarecrow drummer, Jordan (you owe me a pint, sir).

Now, owing to the continual flow of cheap pints of the Wednesday night we can recall Trucker Diablo's set (excellent as always!) before taking a taxi back to the hotel.

Thursday it emerged that rockers and metallers can survive in the sunshine...yes sunbeds occupied by long haired, tattooed types smearing sun cream over each other.

One of the features of the Ibiza Road trip is the band's are staying at the same hotel as the fans. We were fortunate to have RSJ, Diamond Head, Stoneghost and Tygers of Pan Tang at our hotel, and all were happy to mingle, chat and exchange road stories.

How do the organisers manage to get several hundred rockers in three hotels across the bay to the venue. First assemble them and march to the dock. There ensued traffic jams as the masses crossed zebra crossings...

And, why were we going to the docks? Of course, for a boat ride to the other side of the bay. Nobody was drowned...an achievement in itself. Return journey could be achieved for a modest fee in a taxi, or await the HRH laid on bus back.

There were bands aplenty, with each night themed as AOR, NWOBHM, Metal etc. It would be unfair to list any as top acts, but Diamond Head, Bonafide, Vardis and RSJ shone bright.

The venue for these shows was, it has to be said neither disability friendly, nor really rock friendly either, but that didn't stop the fun.

The last night of music saw us all decamp to an abandoned zoo, yes an abandoned zoo. usually the venue for raves etc. But for one night...

Swimming pools, a rockin' foam party - yes rockers almost drowned in a sea of foam that topped even the tallest - four acoustic sets and then into the main venue.

Pontius Snibb's Blues Band performed a quite extraordinary set of jaw dropping excellence.

Topping the night off was laughter and singalong. Hayseed Dixie. Plain good fun, delivered with an intelligent set played with a knowing wink of the eye.

On the return journey we all sang the songs, but videos posted since show that singing was a loose term for what was performed.

With the last formal night simply drinking the next day the general consensus was it was a helluva good time...

A special mention must go to Fleur, Terri, Jonni and Harri for keeping us all safe and emphasising that we were there to enjoy the hell out of our selves.

Not a review by Jonny

Neil Reed's group pic of some of the hallions who attended:

Some of the hallions at Pacific Hotel - rockers and metallers alive in sunshine...

Monday, May 09, 2016

LIVE REVIEW: Irontown Diehards bring style and hard rockin vibes to Limelight

WITH their album release date getting closer and closer, 'style' icons and hard rockers Irontown Diehards brought the volume to Limelight2 on Saturday May 7th.

And, that sense of rockin' style came through in spades, with an aural attack that left everyone grinning.

Opening the evenings entertainment were On Parole. From their earlier days this band have evolved from trading on Motorhead licks to gathering their own sound. A few more gigs and they'll have an even more polished sound.

Cross-Eyed Mary have also improved recently, but a lack of distinct separation across the three guitars sometimes muddies the performance. They have the tunes but need to figure out how best to balance out their sound.

Irontown Diehards have developed a sound and image that delivers power and panache in equal measure. Dapper and deadly.

Phil is a consummate frontman, with a voice and on-stage attitude, ably engaging the audience and drawing them down the front.

While Andrew adds the flourishes on guitar to songs like 'For The Rose' and 'Horizon' the sound is balanced by Mark (bass) and Gordy (drums) keep the sound nailed down.

Of course there have always been comments about the band's image - sharp suited, trilbys and fob watches.

With a new twist on Saturday the band donned brown coats to cover their suits as they set up. And, that is the key to ID. The style is adopting a sense of wit - it's not laugh seeking, it just is a wry smile, a wink to the knowing, and an attempt to add a flourish to the music.

The Irontown Diehards sound isn't contrived, rather the music and look work together to produce something worth paying attention to.

Review by Jonny
Photographs  by Darren McVeigh
Reproduction of images/review by explicit written permission only