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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Månegarm maul the senses on self-titled release

AHH Vikings - much maligned in history, a loose term applied to farmers and fishermen who had a land grab policy throughout western Europe and beyond.

But, in musical terms there is a rich tapestry of various shades of 'Viking' metal, ranging from those with an eye firmly on the folk side of the equation to the high concept black metal variants.

But Månegarm take the tapestry and incorporate it into a varied album that marks 20 years in the business of making noise from the northlands.

Nothing better exemplifies the variety than the two openers - 'Blodorn' and 'Tagen av Daga' - heavy but using well placed melody to offset Erik Grawsiö's growls, and deploying instruments other than guitars and bass to make for a rich sound and well placed interludes.

Varying between their own tongue and English is a little jarring on first listen, but becomes more logical on repeated listens - and after all the nomadic Vikings of the middle ages would have had to be well versed in a number of languages as testified by place names throughout the British Isles with Viking roots.

'Odin Owns Ye All' is a delightful wee metal romp at full throttle, contrasting well with the folk styling of 'Blot'.

But it is the unadulterated metal of the likes of 'Call of the Runes' that will keep most listeners riveted as Grawsiö roars and rumbles in total majesty, much like the wolf from Norse legend that their name is derived from. (A wolf moon adorns the cover of this release.) Like many of the songs '...Runes' has an arrangement that prevents it from becoming one-dimensional.

The lyrical theme may seem a little 'silly' to some who pretend to sophistication, but before criticizing it is worth remembering that much of Månegarm's output - like other bands of their ilk - is based on the legends, mythos and history of the nations of Scandanavia.

Does that make it all the more credible? It does in a way that big screen action movies about Norse Gods never will.

And, if you were to take a song such as 'Nattram' you may not get the whole sense of being a warrior upon the seas, but you do get a sense of the 'epic' that surely echoes the experiences of those on a lonely boat heading off to discover new lands on a rolling sea, all the while praying to Thor to ease the tempest...

Do we need another Viking metal album? Who cares, because Månegarm have produced a cracker.  Hail the All-Father!

Månegarm is out now on Napalm Records

Review by Jonny

NEWS: 180gm vinyl release for four albums by The Black Crowes

WITH Rich Robinson recently touring the UK and Ireland it must have seemed opportune for the record label to re-release classic albums by The Black Crowes, but at lease they're doing it right.

'Shake Your Money Maker' was the album that broke the band way back in 1990 under Rick Rubin's Def American label, smashing its way into the Billboard 100 and also performing well across the UK.

The album will be released as a single 180gm vinyl disc.

1992 release 'The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion' and 1994's 'Amorica' and 'Three Snakes and One Charm' will be released as double vinyl sets with sound cut directly from the masters.

All the albums are being released on December 4th via American/UMe.

EP REVIEW: Megaherz improve with Erdwärts release

WHILE receiving much critical acclaim the 'Zombieland' release by German band Megaherz left
 us a little non-plussed, and not just because the band sing in their native tongue.

Caught between straightforward rock and the melodrama of Rammstein it seemed not to have a singular identity compared to their earlier release 'Gotterdammerung'.

But the four new tracks on 'Erdwärts' have a cohesiveness and sense of purpose and, at times a sense of menace.

Opener 'Wer hat Angst vor'm Schwarzen Mann' has a steady, strong riff, counterpointed with children singing in key passages.

The lyric, apparently is "fear is at the heart of it all: fear of the unknown and fear of a world that seems chaotic and out of control".

But perhaps the most revelatory song is 'Glorreiche Zeiten` (‘Glorious times‘), which after the onslaught of the first two tracks is uplifting without any need to understand the words. After a couple of listens this one will find its way on to many a playlist.

Lex's vocals are sensual and soaring, while Christian and Christph's guitars play alongside each other without overdoing layers as is too common in modern metal. And aurally it seems as if Werner (bass) and Jürgen (drums) are simply enjoying themselves.

As is common with Mehaherz's previous releases they've added new recordings of previous tracks. 'Teufel' and 'Jordan' have been dusted down, stripped back and re-built. Much better than the 'originals' without departing too much.

'Erdwärts' is such a complete six-track ep that we will be going back to 'Zombieland' to re-assess Megaherz.

Monday, November 23, 2015

NEWS: Slayer vinyl re-issues from the Metal Blade vault

Metal Blade is set to re-issue its SLAYER catalogue on vinyl as part of the 'Metal Blade Originals' series being officially launched for release on January 15th, 2016 including classical editions with original artwork and extras!

Metal Blade  will re-issue the four classical SLAYER titles on vinyl. "Show No Mercy", "Live Undead", "Haunting The Chapel" and probably the most evil album of all time, "Hell Awaits"!

All albums will be released as part of the new "Metal Blade Originals" series in which classical Metal Blade albums will be re-issued on vinyl with the original layout and extras if available. All albums in the "Metal Blade Originals" edition will feature a branded sticker to make clear it's the ultimate and best edition of the title.

All four SLAYER vinyls will be featuring 400g heavy cardboard spine sleeves, inside out prints and a large, 60x60cm artwork poster. On top of it "Hell Awaits", "Show No Mercy" and "Live Undead" will be released with a 250g insert.

Colours and limitations:
"Show No Mercy": 180g Black, Orange (ltd. 500), Flame Splatter (ltd. 500), 180g White (ltd. 500, Nuclear Blast exclusive)

"Hell Awaits": 180g Black, ochor-color Marbled (ltd. 500), Olive Marbled (ltd. 500), 180g White (ltd. 500, NB exclusive)

"Live Undead": 180g Black, Violet (ltd. 500), Splatter (ltd. 200 white/red splattered, ebay exclusive), 180g White (ltd. 500, NB exclusive)

"Haunting The Chapel": 180g Black, Red (ltd. 500), Red/Black Marbled (ltd. 200, Ebay exclusive), 180g White (ltd. 500, NB exclusive)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

LIVE REVIEW: Clutch reign supreme and Planet of Zeus draw Olympian power

WHILE other American bands were re-considering their tours across Europe Clutch didn't make a fuss, just turned up to play in Belfast producing a night of pure unadulterated hard rock.

It was a three band line-up with Irish act The Mighty Steff opening the evening (November 21st) in Limelight 1. With many still in the neighbouring bar there were only a couple of dozen in the venue when they took to the stage.

Energetic and perky, the band looked as if they have loads of potential but probably need more time on larger stages to hone their set and stagecraft further.

The same couldn't be said about Planet of Zeus - they came on stage as if headlining, their recent run of dates as well as their Bloodstock slot on the Sophie Lancaster Stage have turned their hard grooving act into colossi on stage.

The Greek quartet are assured without being arrogant, confident without being crass and showcase a set that would the envy of many. 'Macho Libre' was among the stand-out tracks as Babis (vocals and guitar) smiled throughout the set, exchanging happy glances with fellow axe man Stelios as Giannis (bass) and Seraphim (drums) nailed down a solid, tight rhythm attack. Hurry back soon was the message from all in attendance.

The main attraction, Clutch, drew a rapturous response from a crowd who appreciate the hard rockers making a second date in 19 months.

Neil Fallon dominates the stage from the off, prowling and grinning in equal measure from opener 'X-Ray' through to 'DC Sound'.

Tim Sult (guitar) and Dan Maines (bass) are locked in an unholy embrace of strings and Jean-Paul Gaster's drums drive through the set for this 'Psychic Warfare' tour.

'Sucker for the Witch' and 'Earthrocker' are played with aplomb and the sort of straightforward on stage attack that earns deep applause and roars from long-standing fans and those seeing the new band from the Maryland monsters.

This was as close to a faultless set - despite the sound becoming muddy in places - as you will see in a long time.

PS - After the show we meandered around to see Pat McManus in Voodoo, to launch his 'From Blues Train to Irish Town' album. As usual Pat laid down a great set of intense blues tinged rock. There was not a fault in this fluid set.

Review by Jonny
Pix by Darren McVeigh

Friday, November 20, 2015

EP REVIEW: Cry havoc! Rex Shachath unleash rebellious fury on Revocation of the Blood Elect

LET'S be straight here there is death metal, and then there is death metal - two distinct forms of the one art form. One is all about the virtuoso showmanship, the other adds in a social conscience to the dexterous playing.

Rex Shachath on this, their second ep are of the latter camp. Shredding all in their path 'Revocation of the Blood Elect' is a socially aware and rebellious rant, agitating towards a future rid of the rulers and the religious from the Northern Irish metallers.

Fuelled by the playing of Andrew Pennington and Jonathan Francis vocalist and lyricist Dave Connolly is channeling the anarcho-philosophers of western Europe from the French Revolution to the 21st Century.

Opener 'Atonement Through Atrocity' envisages the great and mighty being slaughtered by a populace fed up with being raped of its resources and rights.

Connolly quotes Denis Diderot in the blurb accompanying the release: "Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."

Where punk in the 70s saw bands like Crass and SLF throw society's foibles and failings into sharp focus, it now seems that lying underground the likes of Rex Shachath are those holding the deathly lights upon this screwed up society.

Connolly explained: "This record focuses on many topics, but the most prevalent is the state of society and the natural world today.
"A track like 'Colossus Rise' deals with the overall state of the earth and how humanity is picking up the pace in its destruction for financial gain.

"Whereas the title track sees those in positions of power overthrown and put to the sword by those who have endured oppression, and watched the natural world struggle while the 'powerful' profit from the destruction of man and earth. 'Atonement Through Atrocity', much like the title track sees those who have trampled the underdog finally get the teeth end of the victim.

"In conclusion mankind will destroy itself as long as it allows those in positions of power continue to rule as they do, without any care for fellow man and the earth on which we live"

"In dealing with the everyday struggle we see the effects of daily life cripple the minds of many and this rears its head throughout the EP especially in the track 'Within the Temple of Disgust' which also features a friend of ours Ben McCrow (Gorerotted, The Rotted, Extreme Noise Terror) on guest vocals.

Got that? You should - like Kataklysm Rex Shachath have harnessed musical prowess with the type of agitatory lyrics and attitudes many could learn from.

Revocation of the Blood Elect is out now on Great Dane Records
Review by Jonny

ALBUM REVIEW: 20 years on King Diamond's The Spider's Lullabye gets re-mastered and re-released

IT's 20 years since King Diamond unleashed his vocal histrionics on the semi-concept album 'The Spider's Lullabye' and on November 27th those who missed it first time round  - or those who want to hear a fresh mix - will have the chance to lay their greasy mitts on it.

But, with a plethora of re-issues from the Scandinavian enigma and others of his ilk, is it worth you shelling out?

First up, it's worth reminding ourselves what a great album this is - second only to KD's 'Abigail' in terms of high concepts, terrifying imagery and tight playing.
Lyrically it is a diverse set of ideas, with the likes of 'Moonlight' and 'From The Other Side' telling vignettes of terror. From there the theme of anacraphobia takes flight on the last four tracks as the character Harry suffers a grisly fate..

The guitar work from Andy LaRocque and Herb Simonsen in 1995 still stands up to the test of time. Listen to many shredders of today and the influence (particularly of LaRocque) is apparent.

So, all agreed this is a good album? Yes, well with that as a given LaRocque re-mastered this originally in 2009, and now it is being re-released/re-issued by Metal Blade.

This time the re-issue comes with 'bonus tracks' in the shape of four demos. It's being released on CD and a double translucent red vinyl set with a poster on limited edition issue.

Another cynical ploy to pull money from fans pockets? Probably, but for a new generation of metal fans looking to find where the influences derived their inspiration then it might be worth a few quid, despite the occasional slices of added cheesiness.

Review by Jonny

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

NEWS: Therion announce Dublin show

Swedish symphonic metal troop Therion will play Dublin, Academy on January 16th as part of a European headline.
The band will be playing a very special, best of set list on this tour – making these shows very rare and not to be missed!

Support will come from occult rockers
Luciferian Light Orchestra, Mongolian nomadic metallers Ego Fall and last but not least from the Russian symphonic metal force Imperial Age.
Band leader Christofer Johnsson commented about the upcoming tour:
“We asked our fans on Facebook what they wanted to hear on this tour. Hundreds of people voted and in the end we got a result - people wanted to hear classic songs, particularly from ‘Secret Of The Runes’, ‘Vovin’ and ‘Theli’, so we are putting an extra focus on those.
Fans also said that they also wanted to hear more rare and obscure songs that we have never played live, so there will be a bunch of those as well as some songs that we haven’t performed more than just the once or twice, or not in a very long time.“

NEWS: Jimmy Eat World album re-issues

Universal Music Catalogue are re-issuing five classic LP reissues by alternative rock band, Jimmy Eat World.

Okay - they're not exactly metal and barely creep into the rock category, but there are those on the BMHR team who like 'The Middle'...

 Bleed American features four of the band’s most well-love singles; "Bleed American", "The Middle", "Sweetness" and "A Praise Chorus". It was the band’s fourth album and a critical and commercial success, helping the band gain mainstream popularity.
Bleed American was well received by music critics and was later certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), and silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).  Q listed Bleed American as one of the best 50 albums of 2001, and in 2013, it was ranked at number 429 on NME's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

Never before released on vinyl, Stay On My Side Tonight is a five-track EP originally released by Jimmy Eat World through downloads on September 13, 2005 and physically released on October 4, 2005. It consists of 3 unreleased songs (at the time of release), a cover of the Heatmiser song "Half Right", and a remix of the Futures track "Drugs or Me".

The title of the album is taken from a line in the song "Disintegration", the EP's opening track.
Bleed American - 1LP 4th December
1. Bleed American
 2. A Praise Chorus
 3. The Middle
 4. Your House
 5. Sweetness
 6. Hear You Me
 7. If You Don't, Don't
 8. Get It Faster
 9. Cautioners
 10. The Authority Song
 11. My Sundown
 12. (Splash) Turn Twist
Stay On My Side Tonight - 1LP 18th December
 1. Disintegration
 2. Over
 3. Closer
 4. Half Right (Heatmiser cover)
 5. Drugs or Me (Styrofoam remix)
Static Prevails - 2LP 11th December
 1. Thinking, That's All
 2. Rockstar
 3. Claire
 4. Call It In The Air
 5. Seventeen
 6. Episode IV
 7. Digits
 8. Caveman
 9. World Is Static
 10. In The Same Room
 11. Robot Factory
 12. Anderson Mesa
 13. 77 Satellites
 14. What Would I Say To You Now
Clarity - 2LP 11th December
 1. Table For Glasses
 2. Lucky Denver Mint
 3. Your New Aesthetic
 4. Believe In What You Want
 5. A Sunday
 6. Crush
 7. 12.23.95
 8. Ten
 9. Just Watch The Fireworks
 10. For Me This Is Heaven
 11. Blister
 12. Clarity
 13. Goodbye Sky Harbor
 14. Christmas Card
 15. Sweetness - Demo
Futures - 2LP 11th December
 1. Futures
 2. Just Tonight
 3. Work
 4. Kill
 5. The World You Love
 6. Pain
 7. Drugs Or Me
 8. Polaris
 9. Nothing Wrong
 10. Night Drive
 11. 23
 12. Shame

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

NEWS: Rush live spectacular R40 to be released November 20th

RUSH - the coolest uncool band in the world...

All roads have led to this. Forty-one years in the making, the R40 Live tour took a very real journey back through time. Beginning with the grand design: a state-of-the-art stage set that pivots, rolls and dives, and brings Clockwork Angels in to bombastic, colourful life before marching stridently back in time (through theatre stages, a panoply of band and fan shots, the accrued memories of a life spent playing live) to a mocked-up school gym and the band playing there; a solitary bass amp set on the chair behind Geddy Lee, a mirror ball spiralling crazily above, casting thin rods of light like a light rain across the crowd, Working Man coming to a shuddering halt as the band’s beginning becomes their end....
Rush recorded and filmed R40 Live over two sold-out shows in the band’s hometown of Toronto at the Air Canada Centre on June 17 & 19, 2015 in the middle of their R40 Live 35-date North American tour.
R40 Live had the trio of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart, performing a career-spanning live retrospective celebrating their 40+ years together. The epic live shows by the Rock Hall of Famers were captured with 14 cameras to present the band feature-film style.
The centre-point of this tour was the remarkable set-list, coupled with their idea of a “de-evolution” set design. When the band opened the show with cuts “Headlong Flight” and “The Anarchist” from their most recent studio recording, 2012’s Clockwork Angels, they did so with all the bells and whistles from that extensive tour.

They worked backwards through their catalogue as the show progressed, the innovative set design making for constant visual eye-candy, as stagehands exchanged the gear and props on stage to resemble the era-correct tour staging in accordance with the songs being played.
 The first set featured the infamous dryers on stage while they played “Roll The Bones”, “Subdivisions”, and for the first time ever live, “Losing It” featuring violinist Ben Mink who appeared on the original studio recording from 1982’s Signals.
The second set opened with classics “Tom Sawyer”, followed by crowd favourite, “The Spirit of Radio” but also included “Jacob’s Ladder” which hasn’t been performed live since 1980 on their Permanent Waves tour.

The last few songs of the R40 were set against the persimmion curtained theatre looking stage, with the crowd raising their lighters or camera phones to  “Closer to the Heart” and then Alex and Geddy appeared with their signature doubleneck guitars as they played Xanadu, into the epic “2112” and encore with “Lakeside Park/Anthem” and “What You’re Doing/Working Man”.

The concert film also includes the band’s renowned tour videos, highlighted by “Roll The Bones (R40 Live)” that features array of special guests in the rap part of the song: Jay Baruchel (She’s Out Of My League), Les Claypool (Primus), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), The Trailer Park Boys, and Jason Segel & Paul Rudd (I Love You, Man).

It is the first time the band put the song back in the setlist since the Snakes & Arrows tour in 2007/2008. During the R40 Live tour, “Roll The Bones” gained new life and became a fan-favourite with an arena sing-a-long to the chorus “Why are we here? Because we’re here – Roll The Bones”.

Singer/Bassist Geddy Lee explained how the large group of cameo appearances came about, "We had this older video of an animated Skeleton doing the "rap" part of “Roll The Bones”, and felt it was time to update the concept for this tour. So after a lot of joking around with our show design team, we thought it would fun if we called upon some of our well known pals and see if they wanted to have some fun with the lyrics. There were so many good and funny moments that it was hard to choose, some really hilarious and outrageous stuff!  I'm so glad it worked out as it brought a big smile to the faces in the audience (and to us!) every single night!"

R40 Live audio was produced by Rush & David Botrill, mixed by David Botrill (Tool, Muse), the film was directed by Dale Heslip and produced by Allan Weinrib. The live photograph on the cover of R40 was shot by baseball Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, who captured the band in a rare moment when both Geddy  Lee and Alex LIfeson were on Neil Peart’s drum kit riser.

“As a friend and fan of Rush, and the passion I have for photography to capture moments, it’s great that both can blend together for a lasting impression here for the world to see,” commented the self-described ‘6”10 ninja in the photo pit’ who was on a portion of the tour in his new role as photographer.

RUSH R40 Live will be released on November 20, 2015, and will be available in the following configurations:
 ·       3-CD/1 Blu-ray set
 ·       3-CD/1 DVD set
 ·       3-CD set (audio only)
 ·       Single-disc Blu-ray
 ·       Single-disc DVD
Disc One
The World is .. The World is ...
The Anarchist
Headlong Flight
Far Cry
The Main Monkey Business
How It Is
Roll the Bones
Between the Wheels
Losing It (with Ben Mink)

Disc Two
Tom Sawyer
The Spirit of Radio
Natural Science
Jacob’s Ladder
Hemispheres: Prelude
Cygnus X-1/The Story So Far (drum solo)
Closer to the Heart

CD Disc Three
Mel’s Rockpile (with Eugene Levy)
Lakeside Park/Anthem
What You’re Doing/Working Man

One Little Victory
Distant Early Warning
Red Barchetta
Clockwork Angels
The Wreckers
The Camera Eye
Losing It (with Jonathan Dinklage)


Set One
The World is .. The World is ...
The Anarchist
Headlong Flight
Far Cry
The Main Monkey Business
How It Is
Roll the Bones
Between the Wheels
Losing It (with Ben Mink)

Set Two
No Country for Old Hens
Tom Sawyer
The Spirit of Radio
Natural Science
Jacob’s Ladder
Hemispheres: Prelude
Cygnus X-1/The Story So Far (drum solo)
Closer to the Heart

Mel’s Rockpile (with Eugene Levy)
Lakeside Park/Anthem
What You’re Doing/Working Man
Exit Stage Left

One Little Victory
Distant Early Warning
Red Barchetta

NEWS: Anthrax, Gojira and Satyricon join burgeoning Bloodstock bill

AS the festive season looms, Bloodstock comes bearing early gifts with hree more bands for 2016!

French heavyweights GOJIRA are set to bring their whale-sized riffs to Catton Park as Saturday’s special guests!  A crowd favourite every time they play, and with a brand new album on the way, being recorded in their own studio, their Bloodstock set is sure to be a sight to behold.

Frontman Joe Duplantier said: “Bloodstock is one of our favourite festivals in the UK!  The quality of the bands playing is always a high standard and we love the passion of the people who come to rock out!  It’s an honour to be a part of it again.” Look out for updates from the studio at www.facebook.com/GojiraMusic.

Axe legend Scott Ian said: “On the most metal of days we will once again have the privilege to rage with you crazy fuckers!  Bloodstock !!!  A festival fit for all kings!!!  See what I did there?  See ya soon, my friends.”  Get excited by checking out their latest single ‘Evil Twin’, released last month, at: http://youtu.be/xPmLkF3e6Fc.

Playing their only UK show for 2016 are Norwegian trailblazers SATYRICON, performing their classic ‘Nemesis Devina’ album in full on Sunday.

“Next year it’s 20 years since Satyricon made its live debut as a band, and 20 years since we released Nemesis Divina,” frontman and visionary Satyr said.

“There's a nemesis walking through life, for all to face.  And there's a Divine Nemesis, for all to face that come to see Satyricon at BLOODSTOCK 2016.  Let us celebrate the 20th anniversary of a milestone album like only Norsemen and Brits can!"  Learn more at www.facebook.com/SatyriconOfficial.

They will be joining the acts already announced: Mastodon, Twisted Sister, Behemoth, Venom, Dragonforce, Paradise Lost and Rotting Christ.

A further headliner is yet to be announced

Early bird weekend tickets with camping are available now, priced £120 (+ booking fee) from http://bloodstock.seetickets.com/event/bloodstock-2016/catton-park/902838.  BLOODSTOCK is family-friendly and welcomes rockers of all ages!  A weekend ticket with camping for kids aged 4 - 11 is just £35 (+booking fee) and if your little mosher is under 4, they can join you for free (Note: all children must be accompanied by a parent/guardian over the age of 18)!  Campervan pitches are already on sale and these move very quickly, so pick yours up ASAP to avoid disappointment. Rock Society passes are already sold out.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

LIVE REVIEW: Evil Scarecrow bring metal and laughter to Belfast

Ever since galactic metallers Evil Scarecrow turned Bloodstock Festival on its head with their now legendary 2014 performance, Belfast fans have eagerly awaited a visit to these shores.

We got close so close - back in April; sadly that gig had to be cancelled due to 'transport issues' (ie their van died en route).

Happily, they made good on their promise to reschedule, slotting in a date on their 'Boldly Going Anywhere' tour even better, we got them on a Saturday night. Yes!

First up were two local acts to support them, in the form of By Conquest Or Consent and Scimitar.

By Conquest Or Consent describe themselves as 'metal/groove/thrash/progressive', which basically translates to 'modern nu metal with added brawn'...

Vocalist Pete Crenshaw opens proceedings with a quick introduction of the band before releasing a scream that clearly comes from his bootstraps and up his body; by the time it emerges from his mouth it could smash windows. This roaring scream (screaming roar?) is one of BCOC's Unique Selling Points along with their heavily groovy riffs and modernised nu metal grunt. Crenshaw also dabbles in clean singing here and there, often harmonised by guitarist Jay Stevenson, to great effect.

They throw down a short, sharp set of bruising metal, including their best known track 'We Came to Win the Fight' to a small but growing crowd, spraying out rapidfire riffs that purposefully and gleefully punch you in the chest, before leaving the stage sheened in sweat and wreathed in smiles.

Thrashers Scimitar follow them with a set full of machinegun riffs, fiercely screamed vocals and battering defiance. The intensity and concentration on every member's face proves their dedication to their craft: they're clearly a hard working and well rehearsed unit.

They pound the Limelight with tracks such as 'Erased From Existence' and their ubiquitous self titled number, prompting the growing crowd to hold both horns and plastic scimitars (helpfully provided by the band) aloft, as well as headbanging along.

In short: their set of new school and old school thrash, combined with a dash of extreme metal, goes down a storm (and the dedication to the victims of the atrocities in Paris from vocalist Jonny Gray is a nice touch).

And, then it's time for that most mysterious and rather standoffish of bands Evil Scarecrow to treat the crowd to an evening of sedate and measured radio rock...sorry, what?! Not even close, actually: the band themselves set up the stage and soundcheck (in full costume, no less!) which for them involves occasionally leaping into the crowd for photo opps...having set up their instruments to their satisfaction, they huddle beside the stage steps, arriving in flamboyant, high-fiving style to that speech from Rocky ("that's how winning is done!").

After a short, jubilant speech from vocalist Dr. Rabid Hell about finally making it to Belfast ("four years we've been trying to get here...four years!") they're off, encouraging audience participation right from first song 'Rise'.

Although their music is ripe with parody and liberal doses of silliness, there's no joke in their musical talent: the music fizzes with energy and pounds with proper heaviness, while their vocal harmonies soar effortlessly. It's catchy as f**k, too!

They blast through favourites such as 'Frankenstein's Mirror', 'Morbid Witch' and 'Dance of the Cyclops', the latter prompting what is guaranteed to be the only time people have ever waltzed in the Limelight!

Throughout the set they are bubbly, beaming and quite simply bonkers, offering up silly stories and songs in equal measure, such as new, three second long track 'Sheep' and the crowd (and band!) participatory 'Robotron'.

The odd dash of potty humour lends them a slight Steel Panther vibe (albeit it with black metal corpsepaint); much like the Hollywood retro rockers, it works because they are accomplished musicians.

The crowd responds to it all with unfettered delight, performing the aforementioned waltz and robot dances with glee and really getting into the spirit of it.

For their part the band seem genuinely delighted to be here and at the response they receive, reacting with laughter and complete show-boatery at one stage drummer Ringmaster Monty Blitzfist (yes, really) snatches one of his floor toms and clambers on a table in the audience to play it!

There's no sense of snideness or insincerity, just good, clean, raucous fun, whether it's during the 'no gravity' dancing in 'Space Dementia' or the party poppers provided to add 'pep' to 'War and Seek' and certainly not during the "very brutal, very evil war march this is definitely not a conga!" led by guitarist Kraven Morrdeth during same!

Their last song is...not the one the crowd has been waiting for, pincers aloft. Instead, they play "a depressing one", jokes their vocalist, 'Blacken the Everything', all beastly riffs and heavy metal grapefruits all over the shop.

They wave goodbye and exit stage right briefly, before returning triumphantly to play yes, it's time it's 'Crabulon'. A spaceship/crab thingy joins them onstage to 'assist' as the crowd participation level hits fever pitch, with crab pincers as far as the eye can see (and yes, your scribe joined in of course!).

The band spend most of the song laughing almost uncontrollably at the crowd's antics, before ending with a flourish and another dedication to "our brothers and sisters in Paris", leaving the stage to Whitesnake's 'Here I Go Again' and immediately setting about trying to meet every audience member personally. Brilliant.

Six months on from their near miss, Evil Scarecrow finally unleashed their Galactic Hunt on Belfast. Was it worth the wait? You'd better effing believe it.

Review by Melanie Brehaut
Photos by Darren McVeigh

Saturday, November 07, 2015

LIVE REVIEW: Satch takes Glasgow by storm - Satriani rips through new and old classics

WHEN Joe Satriani played Glasgow in November there was only one man for the job - uber-fan and one of our resident photographer and reluctant reviewer Darren McVeigh...This is what he had to say.

Let's face it, it's a tough job for anyone to open for the Satch and it was South African born blues guitar player Dan Patlansky who landed the job.

Despite the task Dan showed no nerves and he and his band took to the stage. They ripped through their set with such aplomb to earn admiration from the crowd.
The axeman said he had been touring with Joe for the last month and it had been humbling experience and one of the biggest honours of his life.

The main focus  tonight for Patlansky was to promote his debut international release 'Dead Silence Thieves' . One thing that stood out was the crowd's reaction to his single 'Backbite', played like Hendrix with pedals screaming and total fluency. This is a artist worth keeping an eye on.

However, let's face it - much as Parlansky was good it was Guitar maestro Satriani everybody had come to see...

Big screens lit up with alien animation themed production kicking off the set. Then with guitars screaming it was time to rip into Joe's latest release, 'Shockwave Supernova' and at this stage the audience, as expected showed their total appreciation for Satriani.

Straight away he slowly slides into 'Flying in a Blue Dream' then into the melodic 'ice 9'.

Addressing the crowd Satriani said it was good to back in this building as it brought back good memories. and tonight he built more great memories for everyone present. 

Then he tore into 'Crystal Planet' heading into the 'Extremist' album we go with the song 'Friends', dedicated to Dan and, of course, the audience.

With all the fury and frenetic pace it was time for a mellow note with a classic Satriani tune from 'Is There Love in Space' album, 'If I Could Fly', there was great applause from the crowd as it finished.

Joe was clearly having a lot of fun on stage and got us to rename the bassist 'Thunder Beast' and urging the crowd to chant the man's nom de guerre.

There was one song that stood out; 'God is Crying', Joe showed again how clinical this band is 
playing together as they jammed and played of one another note for note: amazing to watch.

We were treated to an outstanding rendition of 'Goodbye Supernova' then into the 'Satch' classic 'Satch Boogie', bringing it all back to me and all in attendance to where it all started for Joe.
As per gigging tradition we then get a good night from Joe and his band, a quick bow and the lights go out.

Everybody in the concert hall as expected were screaming 'Joe! Joe! Joe!' and with no great surprise but plenty of delight the lights go up and the 'Big Bad Moon' rose to a standing ovation then straight into 'Surfing with the Alien; complete with the screen playing out an alien frenzy.

This was an amazing night of Satch classics; but then again we expected no less!

Review and photographs - Darren McVeigh.

Friday, October 30, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Turn it up with Skindred on Volume

WALES - land of leeks, rugby, dragons and... Skindred.

Yeah, they Welsh may still be licking their wounds after nearly beating Australia in the Rugby World Cup quarter finals, but at least the nation can raise a glass and get down to the new Skindred album release 'Volume'.

And, what a release it is. Sure 'Babylon' and 'Union Black' wre great albums, but this time aroudn Benji and the boys have reached a higher ground. The PR blurb says that we should "turn it up to 12" (as if 11 wasn't enough...) and in this case there is some justification.

Opener 'Under Attack' has the trademark Skindred light and shade, but the title track has a rollicking, rolling monstrous riff and a chorus embedded so deep as to have you humming along on your first listen.

The band have never been as prolific as could have been hoped - formed in 1998 Volume is the Skindred's sixth studio album - but this has been worth the wait.

While the US wannabes all claim to be crossover they trail way behind in how many genres Skindred draw together in a melting pot to produce a molten morass of metal. 'Hit the Ground' for example opens with a ska/reggae feel, which Benji keeps throughout as the music mashes up off-beat rhythms and muted guitar melding into riiffage of the most pleasant type.

Why does this melange of music culture work? Obviously the band are drawing on what they listen to when not invoking the 'Newport Helicopter'; but equally there is enough metal muscle to make sure that fans of dance and electronica aren't going to touch them with the proverbial bargepole when Benji gets the pit into full flow.

Thus, apart from a few non-metal fans drawn by curiosity to see how dub step and metal mix the core Skindred audience are of the denim and leather brigade, or at least that's what we used to wear.

And, that is a shame, because on tracks such as 'The Healing' there are dance and dub-step elements sitting comfortably with the guitar, melody aplenty and again that wonderful sense of rhythm that Skindred deploy.

Equally lyrically Skindred are in touch with a vibe that resonates across all those who sit on the edge of societal norms, with 'No Justice' a prime example on this release.

And, it is on this relesase that Skindred have stretched their roots, added meat and veg to the sound, deployed the variety of influences that make up their DNA. 'Stand Up' perhaps sums this up best as it takes a mid-tempo twist to the sound with a contemporary metallic feel that simmers behind Benji's invective.

Newport stand up and be proud of Skindred!

Review by Jonny

ALBUM REVIEW: Def Leppard release Def Leppard...but is it any good?

SHEFFIELD'S finest return with their 11th studio album simply entitled Def Leppard. When asked about this the band said it was named that as it just sounds like Def Leppard and they didn't want to put too much weight on a title track and put all the weight on the band.

An interesting concept but does it actually SOUND like Def Leppard?

Well, yes, yes it does but with a few interesting twists on the norm.

Opening with the two tracks pre-released on youtube, 'Let's Go' and 'Dangerous' we instantly have that classic Lepp sound. Let's Go has a "Pour Some Sugar On Me" riff and is typically pop rock with the now traditional layered harmony vocals. The chorus is a bit annoying at first but does grow on you and there's a nice Brian May influenced solo.

'Dangerous' is an up tempo melodic rocker with a "Pyromania" era sound and a slightly punky riff to it. It also has a sweet, if too short, solo.

'Man Enough' is where the band changes direction. Opening with a funky bass line it struts along nicely and has a bluesy guitar riff. The song is very much Queen in its composition with "Another one bites the Dust" being the obvious comparison, hand claps and finger clicks included. A great song.

'We Belong' is a classic Def Leppard ballad that few do better. It features all members of the band sharing lead vocal duties and as Joe said, "The lines everyone sings are poignant to parts of their lives" A smooth love song featuring a nice clean solo which should get decent radio rotation.

'Invincible' is a typically British sounding mid tempo rock song. It has a great bass line to it complimented nicely by the drums, which on this album, seem to have a more traditional sound. The chorus has Joe sounding a bit like David Bowie in his early years.

The jazzy, up-tempo 'Sea of Love' is next. A lower range vocal suits the song and Joe perfectly on this. The song, apparently was due to be on Phil's Delta Deep album and you can see why by the bluesy feel and solo which has a bit of a Skynryd riff in it.

'Energised' will probably be seen as the weakest track on the album as its a bit techno sounding. It does have a catchy sing-a-long chorus to it so its not all bad.

Gears get crunched for 'All Time High', another up-tempo hard rocking tune with more of the usual stacked vocal harmonies. This song could almost be described as glam rock and is very enjoyable.

As quickly as the Lepps pushed up through the gears they slow back down again with the heavily Led Zeppelin influenced 'Battle of my Own'. An acoustic blues song featuring huskier vocals from Joe again and a killer electric solo ending.

'Broke 'N' Brokenhearted' is a catchy, guitar driven song with another punchy riff which has an almost punk vibe to it. One bound to get the foot tapping.

'Forever Young' starts with a disjointed guitar sound and is fast-paced with a good dual guitar sound to it. Def Leppard at full on rock speed is always a joy and this is no exception.

A second acoustic ballad is up next in the form of 'Last Dance' A classic Def Leppard love song in the same vein as "2 Steps" etc. Harmony vocals are to the fore on this one. Bound to get a slot in the live show.

'Wings of an Angel' may sound like it's another ballad but it is far from it! With huge riffs and great solo's in it this is a flat out rocker which should keep most fans happy although there is a strange vocal between the verse and chorus that doesn't quite feel right, but that's a minor gripe.

The final song on the album is The Beatles inspired 'Blind Faith'. Described by Viv as a psychodelic rock song its similar in style to 'Lucy' or 'Strawberry Fields' it has a nice clean guitar solo between verses and finishes with a full on hard rock riff. A completely different sound for the band and a song that should definitely grow on people.

So, Def Leppard 2015?

Released from record company demands and constrictions the boys have produced an album that is as impressive as it's diverse and it should appeal to a broad spectrum. Yes, the influences are obvious but you're supposed to listen to 'Man Enough' and go: "Hey! that sounds like Queen."

I may be only one set of ears but if you want old skool Lepps it's all there. If you are interested in hearing them venture into different musical genres then that's there too. This may be the freest album they have ever written and well worth the effort of a listen......Welcome to the Show!!

Review by Andy Gillen

Def Leppard appear at Belfast's SSE Arena on December 7th, with Whitesnake and Black Star Riders

Friday, October 23, 2015

INTERVIEW: Catching up with Thundermother...

ONE if the most hard rockin' bands out there on the planet right now are ThunderMother, a five piece machine, featuring three Swedish ladiies, an Italian and an Irish singer.

Right now they're out doing the promo for their fantastic 'Road Fever' album and caught up with lead guitarist and founder Filippa to quiz her on material, the recording process and much more.

Listen and enjoy:

ALBUM REVIEW: Ludicrous brilliance from Gloryhammer on Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards

STUPENDOUS musicianship, stupidly brilliant lyric and concepts that focus on the alternative histories of Bonnie Scotland...must be Gloryhammer's newest release.

Is Christoper Bowes under the pay of the Scottish tourist board to create a mythos to rival Northern Ireland's success as the setting of Game of Thrones?

Last time out the medieval struggles on 'Tales from the Kingdom of Fife' scoured the distant parts of the Pictish state after the 'Unicorn Invasion of Dundee'

But fast forward to the 13th generation of the McFifes and we find ourselves in the alternative timeline of 'Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards'.

After his defeat in the Battle of Dunfermline the evil sorcerer Zargothrax has been in frozen slumber -  a slumber that the Chaos Wizards are determined to destroy and bring back the scourge of mankind.

Stop sniggering at the back and pay attention! For all the madness on the lyrical front this is a superb example of power metal. And, given the mad nature of many a symphonic or power metal's lyrics why shouldn't Bowes et al take it to the next level.

On Voice-Modulated Star Nucleus Thomas Winkler manages to keep a straight face while singing about the Astral Hammer, the Quest Lords of Inverness, and the 'Heroes (of Dundee)'

The best form of drama, whether it be based on pathos, bathos, satire or comedy needs the performers to stand straight and allow the audience to enter that state of suspension of disbelief.

Immersing yourself in the Chaos Wizards universe can also cause oneself to question whether Gloryhammer are taking the piss or paying genuine homage to epic metal anthems. When we interviewed Bowes on the release of '...Kingdom of Fife' he insisted it was the latter, and rhymed off with affection band names, albums and individual songs. Thus, we not only suspended belief, but also granted Bowes the benefit of the doubt...

Let's be clear though, the Alestorm front man gives full rein to his own performance on keyboards and effects...sorry the credits say he is on Positronic Oscillator Command.

The rest may be playing out Bowes Scottish sci fi wank fest, but they are more than bit part players. They really play and play well.

Ben Turk's drums - sorry Percussive Phi-Quason Battery - hold the entire sound together, preventing it spinning into a Super Massive Black Hole of over-expressiveness. On 'The Hollywood Hootsman' (yes, that really is a song title) he varies between solid rhythm and just the right amount of fills, and the title track has some serious pounding going on.

Paul Templing's riffage on guitar (Dark Matter String Manipulation Interface) is equally impressive on '...Hootsman' with a measured solo. Indeed throughout the album it is that ability to measure the guitar input that is a tribute to Templing's performance and the song arrangements.

Lest we forget, James Cartwright's bass (Trans-Dimensional Subsonic Cluster) is a constant anchor, bridging Turk's drums and Bowes and Templing's exuberance. 'Victorious Eagle Warfare' and 'Heroes (of Dundee)' are two examples of that (astral) bridge.

The whole album is again based on the struggle between McFife and Zargothrax, this time across a galactic tapestry during which sacrifices may have to be made to ensure victory...but we're not going to make the mistake of plot spoilers. You'll have to stick with it to find out the outcome.

But there is one song that will nag your core, will insinuate itself into your very melodic temples like shrapnel from an Astral Hammer's strike may pierce your heart... 'Universe on Fire' is a throwback to the 80s roots of power metal. It is catchier than an STI at a Mars Brothel.

Damn you Gloryhammer, we can't get the chorus out of our minds!

And, this is the real secret of Gloryhammer. For all the nuttiness, the weird styles and the lyrical ludicrous nature of the band the tunes are tremendous; songs that soar; and music that laughs at the po-faced 'serious' metal acts.

For some Gloryhammer will be a guilty pleasure; for the rest of us it is proof that we don't need a note from teacher to have FUN.

Review by Jonny 

PS - this really is an over-the-top video in everyway...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Stryper rise with Fallen

STRYPER are back with their 11th album 'Fallen' and sounding heavier than ever. Lyrically they have always relied strongly on their Christian beliefs and this album is no different.

Does it divide opinion? Yes, but here's the thing. All songs are stories, whether based on fact, history or the writers' own imagination. You don't have to believe to enjoy and if you've heard the new WASP album then you will know of the powerful religious imagery throughout. Good enough for Blackie? Then 'Fallen' at least deserves a listen. You won't regret it!


The Gospel according to Stryper: Chapter 11...

11:1 Yahweh.

'Yahweh' has a choral opening before blasting an all out power metal assault on the ears. Three minutes into the song the tempo increases again, Fox and Sweet exchange lead breaks before slowing down with a Sabbathesque riff. Soaring vocals with Sweet hitting the high notes seemingly without much effort and huge harmonies complete the song. Named after the ancient God of Israel and Judah and depicting the crucifixion of Christ this is an epic start to the album.

11:2 Fallen.

With a heavy riff and Sweet in top screaming form 'Fallen' backs up the opener brilliantly. Great guitar work and vocals are the mainstay of this tune. It's got a bit of a nasty edge to it as it's about Lucifer being expelled from Heaven before becoming that nice chap Satan.

11:3 Pride.

'Pride' is a down tuned monster of a song and possibly the best on the album. Sweet has a gutteral sound in the chorus which adds great effect to it. Another song about Christianity but a total headbanger with more excellent guitar work.

11:4 Big Screen Lies

'Big Screen Lies' is a pretty vehement attack on the film industry and their depiction of, yes, you guessed it, Christians in movies. Another catchy riff runs through this with some almost tribal drumming in places. There is definitely a lot more aggression on this album both lyrically and musically. Another top tune.

11:5 Heaven.

'Heaven' chugs along with a slow backbeat and matching heavy riff with a more traditional Stryper sound thrown in for good measure.

11:6 Love You Like I Do

Opening with a more uptempo riff 'Love you Like I Do" is a pure rocker with great harmonies and chorus. This song would've had serious rotation back in the days when MTV played music. Catchy as all hell. Yet another strong tune. (with a strange ending!)

11:7 All Over Again.

Next up Stryper out Bon Jovi Bon Jovi with a ballad that just stays on the good side of not being nauseating. Superb harmonies and plenty of 'ooh's' in the chorus are followed by a clean solo that makes this song a potential radio hit.

11:8 After Forever.

A Black Sabbath cover is next up. Yep, Black Sabbath! Taken from the 1971 album Master of Reality this was Geezer Butlers "Christian" song and its a very good updated version with a 'faith' melting (sic) solo.

11:9 'Till I Get What I Need

This is a fast tempo number and seemingly a personal statement on Sweet's life. Great guitar work again with a great solo. Nice bit of shredding from Fox.

11:10 Let There be Light.

Possibly soon to be known as the Creationists anthem 'Let There be Light' is ripped, in part, straight out of Genesis. More fast, powerful riffs elevate this song to one of the highlights on the album.

11:11 The Calling.

'The Calling' carries on in the same vein. More powerful riffs and top notch vocals with another catchy chorus. Yet more shredding in the solo should see this song being firmly inserted into the live show. Plenty of squeals too to keep the air guitarists happy!

11:12 King of Kings.

'King of Kings' bookends the album nicely touching on the same subject matter as 'Yahweh'

And they kept the best to last as this is a monster of power riffs and harmony vocals with Sweet giving it loads and ending with a high pitched scream.

Theological Analysis: Overall this is an excellent album musically and any true metalhead should be giving it a listen.

Lyrically? That's down to individual taste and viewpoint but certainly shouldn't put anyone off giving it a go. It was, supposedly,  the Greatest Story Ever Told after all.

COMIN' ATCHA: Four feardome, mad, loud days of rock and metal

RIGHT rockers, ready yourselves because over the next four days your lugholes are gonna get a battering, your necks will be snapped and when Monday 26th October rolls around you'll be heading into work for a rest.

Starting tonight (Thursday, October 22nd) legendary - and yes he really is a rock legend - Glenn Hughes is at Limelight 1. The man who lent bass lines and vocals to Deep Purple, Sabs and a host of super groups will be on a Belfast stage with axe man Doug Aldrich and on the sticks is Pontus Snibb.

Then on Friday it's another feast, when NWOBHM legends Raven appear at Limelight2, with support from local noisenicks Rabid Bitch of the North. Then you have a choice of heading to see tribute act 101% Pantera with support from Donum Dei and Cursed Sun in Voodoo or stay in the Limelight complex for country rocker Steve Earle.

Saturday (October 24th) sees Screaming Eagles, Gasoline Outlaws and Baleful Creed in Limelight2. After that it is a quick race round to the Voodoo for cross over madness with English Dogs, By Any Means and Acid Age.

And all of that was just to get your pulse racing before the utter destruction of every ounce of your being when Deathcrusher 2015 decimates Limelight1. Yep, five acts that will mash your very soul.

Carcass, Napalm Death, Obituary, VoiVod and Herod...five acts to round up four days of rock and metal that proves, once and for all that there is a scene that is not for scenesters, hipsters or floppy fringed wannabes; it's a scene where rockers and metalheads rejoice in glorious insanity...well as Suicidal Tendencies said "Pledge Your Allegiance".

Monday, October 19, 2015

INTERVIEW: Harlott talk Aussie Rules, Airbourne and ambitions

AUSTRALIAN thrashers Harlott were in Dublin recently as part of the Annihilator tour package.

We caught up with the band and asked all the (not very) tough questions...Enjoy.

Monday, October 12, 2015

INTERVIEW: Catching up with Skalmold...

WITH news that Skalmold are about to head back into the studio, and having hit the festival stages in Scandanavia we thought now was as good time to reprise an earlier interview with Þráinn.

And, after seeing them in Belfast and at Hammerfest the obvious first question was:
How do you keep that intensity up night after night?

Þráinn: It´s not difficult to tell you the truth. Even when I´m dead tired I always find it easy to lock in with the other guys onstage and everything else is forgotten. When you start playing onstage the world changes, everything changes. It´s the best feeling in the world, playing your own music to people with your best friends ... I enjoy it a lot, love it ...

Despite singing entirely in Icelandic, have you ever thought about handing out translations to English speaking audiences?

Þráinn: No. hahahaha ... we have translations available online and in the booklets with our cd´s ... it would be cool though ... to hand out a brochure to every guest at a concert ... yeah ... I´ll work on that! ;)

Icelandic and Norse mythology are, of course, key to the band. Has the revival of these myths been powered by the many bands

Þráinn: We grew up with these wonderful stories. By bringing them to life again with new music is something we are proud of and it´s important to bring the stories back to life for the people of today. If you dont teach the younger ones and remind the older of the magnificent sagas ... they will be forgotten, you know what I mean? You can't blame young people for not knowing about something if you never teach them about it ... "oh, the kids today ... they know nothing ..." - well then fucking teach them instead of whining!

What do you think festivals can do for a band’s exposure, when there are so many other acts to see?

Þráinn: When you go to a festival, you, as a fan of music want to see something you´ve never seen before. A lot of people still talk to me about Wacken 2011, our first Metal festival show. They had no idea about Skálmöld but have seen us every tour since ... so playing festivals is important for exposure.

With the autumn/winter festivals already underway and planning for 2016 festival have you any festival survival tips?
Þráinn: Drink water ... a lot of water AND be sensible in whatever you decide to do. You are your own guardian, if you behave like an asshole, people will treat you as such. Be proud of your self and your family be it your parents or family in Metal, stay true!!!

UPDATED COMIN' ATCHA: Slipknot Belfast announcement & Exodus show - mad February mayhem!

The multi-platinum, Grammy-Award-winning, masked beast that is SLIPKNOT will play The SSE Arena, Belfast on 15th February.
After their triumphant return headlining this year's Download Festival at Donington Park, the metal icons return to these shores with their visually arresting, chaotic and spectacular shows.
SLIPKNOT frontman Corey Taylor comments: "Any time we get the chance to come over to the UK, it's awesome. Hopefully the fans have as much fun as we do.  We'll be putting together a great set for them, and as we fill out the bill with bands, we hope the excitement gets even bigger."
Tickets on-sale THIS Friday at 9am:

UPDATED NEWS: Exodus playing Limelight2 on 29th February...

Sunday, October 11, 2015

COMPETITION: Win tickets to see The Prodigy and Public Enemy in Belfast

FOR goodness sake we are generous to you lot here at Belfastmetalheadsreunited and RockRadioNI. Really, really generous! We've teamed up with those superb people at MCD to offer you the chance to win two pairs of tickets to see The Prodigy.

And, if that wasn't enough The Prodigy are backed by Public Enemy for their December 1st date at the SSE Arena.

Yep - two pairs of tickets for a band that straddles so many genres but are bracketed by lazy journalists as Electronic Dance Music. Ha, ha, ha! The Prodigy are more than a bunch of samples and turntable twiddling.

Anyone expecting an EDM sell-out for album number six obviously doesn’t understand The Prodigy’s oppositional ideology. The Day is My Enemy finds the band pushing at the edges of expectation with the unbridled fervor of a bunch of teenage car thieves hot wiring the fastest motor they can find.
 "The Prodigy right, we’re proud of our roots and we cannot be lumped in with the f**kin’ formula dance music by numbers crew," Liam Holett said. "They’re the f**kin’ jokers that stop this music getting taken seriously. Skits on Saturday night live takin’ the piss? That’s where it’s ended up…  That’s not what electronic music is about.

"The lazy DJ’s, they have to be exposed. I’ve gone out of my way on this album to not have any of those things that people attach to dance music now… there’s no f**king typical snare builds or that bollocks."

"I’m coming out firing on this record."
Now if you want to win one of the pair of tickets we've set you a question...yes a real question!

To win a pair of tickets answer this question: Name Keith Flint's motorcycle team?

Send you answers here before midnight on 24th October. Good luck! Usual terms and conditions apply -  i.e. if you are not in you can't win and buy a pair of tickets anyway, so if you win you can be a hero to your mates!



LIVE REVIEW: Annihilating Dublin with Canuck's, Aussies and Yanks - Annihilator, Harlott and Archer

WHEN there are songs that range from the Dublin crowd singing 'Hairy Dick' to a master class in guitar from Jeff Waters of Annihilator you know it was a special night.

As part of the European tour from this trio the gig in The Button Factory could have been seen by the bands - like the previous night in Bristol - could have been seen a warm-up for the extended run of dates across the continent; but that didn't mean each band wasn't giving their all.

From Santa Cruz Archer provided competent contemporary thrash that was engaging and relatively fresh but it fell on relatively deaf ears as the venue filled up. Sure, they were good, but perhaps needed more time on stage to engage the audience.

In contrast Harlott brought a sense of humour, and more importantly a sense of humour, as their opening was plagued by technical problems. Rather than be daunted by this the band used banter and chat with the audience and band mates to ease through the problems.

Despite having to drop a song from their set their take on thrash, with classic bay area elements mixed with Teutonic thrash á la Kreator Harlott ripped through their set with real purpose.

Andy Hudson may lead the line as vocalist and lead shredder, but it is clear this is a unit. Ryan Butler (guitar), Tom Richards (bass and backing vox) and Tim Joyce (drums) Harlott are clearly a band revelling in this opportunity to rise from 'Down Under' to storm Europe.

While many reviews may focus on the humour - and yes everyone did chant 'Hairy Dick' - this is a band with a real tight set of songs and the chops to deliver them: 'Heretic' in particular stood out. Definitely a band to watch out for the next time they come this way.

For guitar aficionados Jeff Waters has always been amongst the elite, despite flying ('V') under the radar from the mainstream media. He plays with a precision and, as importantly, with a sense of fun in every riff and every solo - not to mention the wit inherent in songs and between tracks.

In Dublin Annihilator were a force of nature; a thrash 'phantasmagoria' of new tracks and older favourites. And, it is to their credit that while fan choices such as 'Never, Neverland' were in evidence the band aired tracks from their latest release.

The title track from 'Suicide Society', the crushing 'Snap and Creepin' Again' were greeted with the same ardour as the likes of 'Brain Dance' and set closer 'Alison Hell'.

Waters, as always plays with ferocity and fun in equal measure, but the band are not a supporting cast to the man's six-string genius. They are a thrash quartet determined to deliver. Ryan Hinks (bass) and Mike Harshaw (drums) combine with Aaron Homma (guitar) to provide an intense backdrop.

Certainly with Waters returning to lead vocals the focus is on him throughout, but this is a band that are tight, coherent and corroding all doubts that they are still relevant in 2015. They are more than relevant, they are playing with a ferocity and freshness that deserves more attention.
Review by Jonny
Photos from Darren McVeigh 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

LIVE REVIEW: WASP wow the Limelight in pure showbusiness style

NEVER mind the overblown stage clothes, never mind the doubts over vocals, never mind the vaudevillian vacuous nature of everything - that all comes to nothing because 17th September WASP were back in Belfast and on top form; c'mon it's motherfucking WASP, it's gonna be fun!

Their loyalty to play all parts of the UK and Ireland is without doubt and the 33 years on the road mean the expectation of a packed audience is always delivered.

However, that cannot be said about The Treatment. Competent and with the tunes that should please instead it was marred by the constant cajoling for the crowd to applaud and shout. And, what's with the fashionista hair styles?

There may only be two members of the original line-up but the musical soul of the band is intact. Tunes such as 'The Doctor' 'Bloodsucker' and 'I Bleed Rock 'n' Roll' are catchy, riff packed hard rock. They have an undoubted stage presence, but by just throttling down a bit it could have been more enjoyable.

When they next play Belfast it is sure that they will have gained more fans, but on 17th September they seemed to forget that many were getting the beers in preparation for WASP.

Blackie first brought the LA madness to Belfast in the mid-1980s, and has consistently returned with various incarnations. A sold-out Limelight1 roared approval when the band came on stage; echoes of past glories washed away into a deliver of where WASP are in 2015.

The energy of songs such as 'Inside The Electric Circus' and 'L.O.V.E. Machine' are contagious as the audience sang almost every word and shouted themselves hoarse on every chorus.

Four songs in a storming version of The Who's 'The Real Me' took the energy levels up another proverbial notch.

With the new album 'Golgotha' about to be released lead single 'Last Runaway' received a solid response and the large screens flanking the stage showcased creativity in terms of a stage show.

But one obvious drawback was the breaks the band took, such as for 'The Titanic Overture', which brook up the intensity of the set and caused mounting queues at the bar...

With the title track of the new album played Blackie's overt Christianity is once again on display - while the days of 'Animal' and exploding cod pieces are well in the past no-one seems to mind this change.

Certainly by the time of the encore the audience was hanging on every note of Doug Blair's playing and every gesture of Blackie. His propensity to turn his back on the crowd at times was perplexing, as was his movement away from the mic during 'Wild Child's chorus; but all that came to nowt as the audience roared to both 'Wild Child' and 'I Wanna Be Somebody'.

When WASP come to town it is a reminder that great songs, great stage show and great audience response makes a helluva metal show. It was not perfect, but it was a super night.

Review by Jonny
Pictures by Darren McVeigh
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