Pick Your Rock and Metal

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: Mesuggah and The Haunted are the heroes of dark metal delight in Belfast

NEVER mind djaent or melodic death or whatever - when Meshuggah and The Haunted played Belfast it was simply about the metal - and what a night off metal it was for aficionados: power, precision and dark entertainment.

This was an exemplary showcase of Swedish metal might presented by The Distortion Project that packed out the Limelight and left those emerging into the January night (Tuesday 17th) with a sense of having borne witness to something special.

The Haunted were making a long overdue return to Belfast and vocalist Marco Aro was immediately urging the gradually filling venue to come forward.

Despite a restricted stage space they were clearly enjoying the opportunity on stage with Ola Englund's lead work impressive to the foil of Jonas Björler (bass) and Patrick Jensen's rhythm guitar, while Adrian Erlandsson was impressive behind the kit, despite the occasional teasing from Marco.

'The Guilt Trip' and 'Bury Your Dead' were highlights of a tight set, but it was 'Hate Song' that drew the most acclaim at the end of the set. The Haunted have presence and a perception that they are there both to entertain and enjoy themselves while on stage.

Preparations for Meshuggah's début Belfast show held much promise for the show, and within moments of the band appearing it was clear that this was a special presentation with a, literally at times, startling light show.

As part of the tour backing 'Violent Sleep of Reason' this was a set that you would expect from such extreme musicians as Meshuggah - little banter, band members shadows for large segments outside the first few rows and a level of technicality few can match or dare to try.

Jens Kidman was almost a dark shade of intensity as they kicked into high gear from the off with 'Clockworks' and an unwritten assurance that this was to be a special night of metal terror.

Meshuggah can never be accused of being accessible, but for those in 'the know' the familiarity of the tracks was only matched by the expected excellence of Frederick Thorendal, Tomas Haake, Mårten Hagström and Dick Lövgren.

To describe the set as tight is an under-estimate of what was laid out before the audience. 'Perpetual Black Second' or 'Nosrtum' could be picked out among any of the tracks.

The sweeping beams of lights from the bottom of the stage, the occasional spotlighted band member, the backdrop and Tomas' impressive kit were an invitation to an immersive experience, where the extremities of human existence were thrust forward to contemplate, while screaming in adulation.

The closing duo of 'Dancers To A Discordant System' and 'Bleed' rounded off an evening that showed that metal, no matter what other term you wish to affix to it, has a power that reaches the inner, elemental core of meaning and also leave you delighted and exhausted.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Photographs by Darren McVeigh of MetalplanetBelfast

ALBUM REVIEW: John Garcia Chills Out With His Second Solo Outing, 'The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues'

THREE years after his eponymous solo album, John Garcia (ex -Kyuss, Slo Burn, Unida) returns with a very different beast, offering chilled out renditions of some well known classics as well as John Garcia’s solo work.

More acoustic and melodic than his previous album, this new release by John Garcia demonstrates a maturity in his vocals, although he still has a slight tendency to drift off key.

However, this is a very small criticism of a superb record. Not afraid to play with unexpected tempo changes, ‘The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues’ is a very immediate album. No third or fourth listen is required before this becomes a favourite.The album kicks off at a pulsing pace with ‘Kylie’. With a memorable chorus, it’s a song that feels like an immediate classic. When you think you have it sussed, it puts on the brakes for a beautiful middle section.

 While less confident artists tend to front load their albums with the big, energetic numbers, John Garcia is so assured in the strength of his music that he is happy to take the foot off the gas on the second track ‘Green Machine’. It works and helps maintain the mood for the rest of the album. ‘Green Machine’ conjures up images of tumbleweeds and high noon stand-offs. It wouldn’t feel out of place on an album by those other storytellers, ‘Protomen’

‘Give me 250ML’ continues the loose, acoustic feel of the album. This track feels like John is playing to no one in a dressing room before hitting the stage. A simple but effective track.

Beginning with a catchy acoustic riff ‘The Hollingsworth Session’ continues the more relaxed approach that is unfolding with every song on this new Garcia recording.

A song that would sit comfortably on any 70s record, ‘Space Cadet’, unlike it’s title, feels very grounded. A perfect song for cracking open a few beers around a campfire

‘Gardenia’ has shades of ‘Zombie Eaters’ by Faith No More before it moves into a southern bluegrass final minute.

Unlike the other tracks on the album, ‘El Rodeo’ has an almost sinister opening. This song would fit perfectly on the soundtrack for the next season of ‘Westworld’. It is one of the more complex pieces on the record. However, it’s in this song that John’s vocal abilities seemed to be stretched too far, especially in the last section.

‘Argleben II’ begins gently and soon moves into one of the more memorable guitar riffs on the album. Like the rest of the recording it has a depth to it that creates a song that is more than the sum of its parts.

John’s guitar skills are beautifully evident in ‘Court Order’, the instrumental final track on the album. It is a very fitting way to close.

There’s no denying that ‘The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues’ is a very confident record and definitely gives John Garcia another string to his bow.

If you are after an energetic record to bounce around your living room to then blast out John’s previous album ‘John Garcia’. If you are more in the mood for sitting in your rocking chair while sipping “lemonade” as the sun goes down, then stick this on and enjoy.

Review by Laurence Doherty

John is joined on the record by, Acoustic guitar: Ehren Groban, Percussions: Greg Saenz, Bass: Mike Pygmie

NEWS: Iconic AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd to bring his band to Belfast

THE man behind the kit on so many of the most iconic AC/DC songs, Phil Rudd, is bringing his band to Belfast's this June.

The Phil Rudd Band will play an intimate show at Limelight 2, Belfast on Saturday 24th June.

He and his band will perform tracks from his solo album ‘Head Job’ along with AC/DC hits that many fans worldwide have known him for throughout his 30 years with the band.

The veteran musician has appeared on all but three of AC/DC’s 18 studio albums, which have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide.

"You couldn't find a more solid person or drummer than Phil Rudd" said ex lead AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson


Malcolm Young co-founder of AC/DC described Phil Rudd as “the real deal” 

Drumming peers from Kenny Aronoff (drummer for John Mellencamp) describes him as“the rock drummer” to Eric Singer of Kiss singing Phil Rudd’s praises “the heart and soul of AC/DC.” 

The Australian drummer played in several Melbourne bands, such as Buster Brown and the Coloured Balls, before joining up with rock giants AC/DC in 1975. 

Over the next four years Rudd powered the band to superstardom with his dogged consistency and unshakeable backbeat on classics like “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock ’N’ Roll)” “T.N.T” and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” Phil Rudd is an indelible part of AC/DC history.

Rudd said he ‘‘went straight down the road to buy my first Ferrari’’ after the block busting epic album Highway to Hell went multi-platinum Worldwide.

To the inexperienced, Phil Rudd’s drumming may seem rudimentary. But his unselfish style and groove have earned him the adoration of generations of drummers.

Rammstein’s Christoph Schneider said in the October 2010 Modern Drummer, “AC/DC were my absolute heroes because they are simple and easy to copy—though soon you find they are not so easy to copy.”

The magazine’s May 2010 issue also chimed in on the timeless rocker with the feature “ 50 Reasons To Love Phil Rudd “

The former AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd was desperately missed on recent tours so much so Cliff Williams long standing bassist is retiring from AC/DC citing the fact he missed both Phil Rudd &  Malcolm Young.

Phil Rudd during 2014 recorded and released his first debut album Head Job with Kiwi musicians Allan Badger and Geoffrey Martin. The release of Head Job via Universal Music Group only took place in Australia & New Zealand. However the promotion plans for Head Job were scuppered by well publicised legal problems in New Zealand.

"I couldn't be bloody happier with Head Job, to tell you the truth" Phil told Libel Music. "I'm so proud of the album, everything I had to do with it. The guys played really well on it, it's just too good. Really great, mate… I'm pretty happy with the drum sound “

With recent well publicised problems (which ended up in Phil Rudd serving a 8 month home detention sentence) naturally thwarted the 2014 release of Head Job.

He is determined to leave all his problems behind him and is very focused on a positive life style. He will be visiting the UK and Europe on promotion for the Head Job re-release.

“My hell raising days are over” [Inspired by Sir John Kirwan the All Black Rugby Legend]. “I see a psychiatrist once a week and I'm closer than ever to my children. I still have all my flash cars but now I want to grow chillies“

Phil Rudd showcased 11 of his luxury cars in a Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake appeal fundraiser including a rare 1991 Ferrari F40 and a brand new Ferrari 599. Other cars on display included two Lamborghinis, a 2010 Rolls Royce Ghost, 2011 Bentley Mulsanneand Bentley super sport, Audi R8 V10, a 2011 Aston Martin DBS, 2010 Mercedes SLS AMG . The 11 cars have a combined worth of approximately$3m (USD).

Rudd’s airport hangar is also home to his MD 520N helicopter.

Phil Rudd has turned a corner and completely dedicated his life to the more important things in his life including family , friends and music.

Head Job was be re-released on 30th September 2016 on CD | Vinyl | Download

Tickets for Phil Rudd Band at Limelight 2, Belfast on Saturday 24th June, priced £23.50 + B/F go on sale this Wednesday 25th June 2017 from www.ticketmaster.ie & all usual outlets including Katy’s Bar, Belfast and DV8, Belfast.

Monday, January 23, 2017

NEWS: WASP set for return to Belfast bringing the chainsaw power of The Crimson Idol

BLACKIE Lawless is bringing his WASP wrecking crew back to Belfast on October 18th for a Limelight1 date that will see the band play the seminal album 'The Crimson Idol' in full, plus hits and smashes from across the band's career.

The US act have been faithful visitors to Belfast since the two shows in then Ulster Hall in the 1980s, making regular return visits, most recently on the Golgotha tour cycle.

With Doug Blair giving a superb performance that night on the lead guitar the 2017 show looks set to be another night to remember for the WASP nation on what is billed as 'The Re-Idolized Tour'

Released 25 years ago, the concept album 'The Crimson Idol' is the tale of excess with the tragic star struck doom of Jonathan Aaron Steel at its core, no doubt a metaphor for many in the LA scene from which WASP was birthed, with autobiographical asides from Mr Lawless' own career.

The cast of characters on the album have some deliciously Machiavellian characters, none less than 'Chainsaw' Charlie and Axel Rodman.

WASP always put a lot of effort into their stage shows, so expect the full 'Crimson' treatment come October.

Tickets, priced £25 (+bking fee) go on sale on January 25th from all usual outlets.

ALBUM REVIEW: The Parasite Syndicate’s debut album proves to be a great metallic showcase

THE new album from Parasite Syndicate is a great way to debut themselves into the ever expanding metal scene. The album shows what they can do and they do it well.

A great mix of sheer brutality with some growls that shake the ground then some brilliant melodies with clean vocals that works extremely well with their style.

This is a great metal record.

The album starts off with the pounding of ‘Breath you in’ which succeeds in making you want to headbang. Followed up by some chilling vocals and a great melody then back into the heaviness. This is a great and powerful song to introduce you to the album.

Then onto ‘Red Sky’ which starts with a a guitar sending chills down your spine and breaks into something evil as if bubbling waiting to explode and it does, a very good track. The album carries onto ‘Ghost’ which is one of the faster songs on the album which also has some of the more complex writing on the album.

At first ‘Animus’ starts with an interesting techno beat which shows the ability to expand their sound into different areas to enhance the music but soon after the song breaks into the most melodic tracks on the album. This song has completely clean vocals that are perfect for a song like this. This song has something to say and it does it well.

The final track on the album starts with a fast paced intro then a break and right back into it. This is an extremely strong song to end the album on. The combination of technical guitar work, along with a powerful fast paced start, is carried on throughout the song. This is a great song although the slower parts seem to break the song apart. Nearly as if the song was separate at parts. Although this also gives the song a more measured structure feel to the song. The fast parts feel like an army of death charging and the slower parts feel as if impending doom is on its way.

Overall this has some very good songwriting here and extremely enjoyable to listen to it shows what these guys can do. There is next to nothing to fault here, great debut album for The Parasite Syndicate and we can't wait to hear what they have in store for us next.

Review by Zakk Traynor

Friday, January 20, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: Sabaton, Accept and Twilight Force rock Dublin to the core

THERE are somethings that are reliable - atomic clocks, quasars, the seasons, the moons rise and fall, and Sabaton playing in Ireland - north and south - on a regular basis. Joachim and crew are always afforded an exceptional response, but when they played the Academy in Dublin they brought some mates along for the party!

Yep, the Swedish monster arrived in the Irish capital with Accept and Twilight Force, two bands that could earn headline status in their own right.

Playing with vigour and power Twilight Force were quick to get the Dublin crowd to their feet. Interacting with the gathering crowd from the off  'Heroes...' had the audience rising with fists in their air.

However, when Accept mounted the stage it was to rapturous a reception, The Teutonic maestros have been revered on this island for longer than they probably realise.

The opening duo of Stampede and Stalingrad amped up the atmosphere and throughout every song and every note and every exhortation from Mark Tornillo and every gesture from Wolf Hoffman the audience responded.

Whether it was classics such as the tumultuous version of 'Fast As A Shark' or more recent material from 'Blind Rage' Accept were greeted as conquering heroes. The synchronised guitar movements from Wolf and Uwe might be clichéd to the intelligentsia but to the adoring fans it was yet further fulfilment of Accept's stature.

The conclusion - 'Ball To The Wall' - is an inducement to singalong every note and every chant. Accept - come back soon!

As to Sabaton? Well, they do what they do so well. They are the maestros of metallic mayhem. opener 'Ghost Division' was followed by a raft of songs, and the lurking tank...

Sabaton do not glorify war, but they honour soldiers and their heroics throughout the ages. 'Carulous Rex' and 'Night Witches' were among the stand-outs, but the closing tracks elevated the show and the audience's response.

'To Hell And Back'...well no-one does the grandiosity and humour that Sabaton deliver is something special.

Serious in their intent and self-deprecating at the same time the Swedish metal machine may add and take away from their line-up (new members on show for this tour) but they, like Accept, have a presence and power that few can equal.

Pictures and review by Darren McVeigh
Addition editing by Jonathan Traynor

NEWS: Extreme join ZZ Top as Ramblin' Man Fair headliners with Dokken, British Lion, Magnum, Kansas and more...

MEGA-selling Extreme are joining ZZ Top as the main headliners for Ramblin Man Fair 2017, joining the likes of Dokken, Magnum, Kansas and many, many others.

Following on from the critically acclaimed and commercially successful second year in 2016, Ramblin’ Man Fair returns in 2017! And, having been at the last two we believe it to be a cracking festival

"Ramblin’ Man Fair is the must see event for discerning festival goers. A quality musical line up with a number of UK exclusive performances. The event is a unique experience fast becoming a staple of the UK festival calendar," say the organisers...and we agree.

The festival will take place in the beautiful Mote Park in Maidstone, Kent – the garden of England. The park is one of the largest in South East England with more than 450 acres of mature parkland and a 30-acre lake.

The festival will remain split into four stages over two days. Stages announced so far include Mainstage, Prog In the Park Stage, Outlaw Country Stage and Blues Stage. New for 2017 is a Guest stage unique to next year’s event more details of which will emerge in a later release.

Announced acts to date are:
Saturday 29th / Sunday 30th July
Main Stage
ZZ Top (Main Stage Headliner / UK Festival exclusive)
Extreme (Main Stage Headliner / UK Festival exclusive)
Dokken (UK Exclusive)
Blues Pills
Monster Truck
British Lion
Jared James Nichols
Colour Of Noise
Prog in the Park Stage
Kansas (Prog in the Park Stage Headliner)
I Am The Morning
The Gift

Blues Stage
Joanne Shaw Taylor (Blues Stage Headliner)
The Quireboys (Blues set)
Big Boy Bloater

Outlaw Country Stage
The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band (Headliner)
Dan Baird & Homemade Sin
Whiskey Dick
Jessica Lynn

Grooverider Stage
Rival Sons (Headliner)
Vintage Caravan
The Picture Books
Dirty Thrills

Information on just added bands:

Extreme (Mainstage) - Extreme are one of the best loved rock bands of the last 30 years, selling more than 15 million albums worldwide. The band have released 5 studio albums including the multi-million selling ‘Pornograffitti’, which spawned the hits singles ‘Get The Funk Out’, ‘Decadence Dance’ and the acoustic ballad ‘More Than Words’ which hit number 1 in the USA Billboard 100 charts and going onto to become a global hit single. The band recently played two sold out shows in the UK in support of the anniversary of their seminal ‘Pornograffitti’ album. Renowned for their stunning live shows, Ramblin Man Fair 2017 are delighted to welcome them to headline the festival for a 2017 UK exclusive performance.
“There will always be a special place for the UK in our hearts. Way before More Than Words hit around the world, The UK was "Getting The Funk Out”. Recognizing Extreme as a rock band first and foremost has and will always connect us. Cannot wait to rock with you at Ramblin' Man!!!” - Extreme Guitarist Nuno Bettencourt
“We are honoured to be headlining the Ramblin’ Man Fair. EXTREME has always had a special relationship with the UK fans and we look forward to a great night.” - Extreme Vocalist Gary Cherone.

Dokken (Mainstage) – Formed in 1979, Dokken have sold over 10 million albums worldwide. Their classic 1988 live album “Beast From The East” was nominated for the inaugural Grammy Award For Best Metal Performance in 1989. That year also saw the band split only to reform 4 years later. Consummate live performers and one of the pre-eminent metal acts of the 80’s Dokken will play the mainstage of Ramblin’ Man Fair as a 2017 UK exclusive. The current lineup of Dokken is Don Dokken (Vocals), John Levin (guitar), Mick Brown (drums) and Chris McCarvill (bass).

Kenny Wayne Shepherd (Country Headliner) - There are few artists whose names are synonymous with one instrument and how it's played in service to an entire genre. Utter the phrase "young country blues rock guitarist" within earshot of anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the modern musical vanguard and the first name they are most likely to respond with will be Kenny Wayne Shepherd. The Louisiana born axeman and songsmith has sold millions of albums while throwing singles into the Top 10, shining a light on the rich blues of the past and forging ahead with his own modern twist on a classic sound he has embodied since his teens.

Rival Sons (Grooverider Stage Headliner) - Based in sunny Los Angeles, California, Rival Sons evoke the bluesy rock of bands like Led Zeppelin and the Black Crowes. Formed in 2008, the quartet of Scott Holiday (guitar), Robin Everhart (bass), Mike Miley (drums), and Jay Buchanan (vocals) captures that massively huge, guitar-driven classic rock sound, with rock-solid drumming and a riff-oriented approach to song writing backing up Buchanan's soaring vocals.

Weekend Tickets Now On Sale at https://ramblinmanfair17.eventbrite.co.uk/

Weekend General Admission – £150.00*
Weekend VIP - £250.00*
*Subject to booking Fee

Day Tickets Now On Sale at
Day General Admission - £85*
Day VIP Admission - £125*
*Subject to booking Fee

To keep up to date with all Ramblin’ Man Fair announcements please like, follow and visit us:


ALBUM REVIEW: Chrome Molly re-kindle the magic on Hoodoo Voodoo

WAY back in the long ago mystical times called the '80s' there was this thing referred to as the 'New Wave Of British Heavy Metal'. Always a slightly awkward nomenclature, it nevertheless became a handy name to categorise a clatter of bands under.

Just before thrash outdid the album sales of many of the acts UK rockers Chrome Molly were selling out the Marquee Club (look it up youngsters) and headlining CBGBs in NYC.

After stalling for a while as fashions ebbed and flowed in 2016 Chrome Molly were back on the road with the Graham Bonnet Band including a Belfast show.

As promised on that date Chrome Molly have released their sixth studio album, 'Hoodoo Voodoo' and it is chock full of riffage appropriate for the band's vintage.

For some many the likes of 'Some Kind of Voodoo' will sound a little dated, but this blog is called Belfastmetalheadsreunited! Echoing with the kinds of songs that had us rocking along to Rainbow it takes the template and brings it bang up to date.

Sure, you'll hear all the influences of the likes of Rainbow, Priest, Maiden and Leppard throughout, and the band even play on that with namechecks of the acts on the song 'Pillars of Creation (Albion). If the bands on this track aren't in your collection then you need some serious revision.

The entire album has melodic metal (not the melodic death/black melodies), nicely balanced solos and choruses, and a tight idea behind each song.

There is one song that sits a bit out of place. 'Now That Those Days Have Gone' is a Poison-like ballad and could have been beefed up a little...

Thankfully the following track redeems all, with 'Indestrucible' a well thought out take on Maiden et al.

The band have said that while it isn't a concept album as such, they wanted 'Hoodoo Voodoo' to echo the glory days of the NWOBHM, and they have more than achieved that.

Steve Hawkins (vocals) said: “We wanted to make an album that made us feel like we did in the ‘80’s, one that you can turn up in the car and sing along and play air drums and guitar to.”

Does it achieve that? Well for those of a certain vintage it most certainly does, conjuring up memories of sitting in friends houses, sneaking illicit swigs of beer and comparing band's strengths and weaknesses.

'Rock For You' perfectly captures those feelings, but will a younger audience, now attuned to the various extremes of modern metal 'get it'? If they want to understand the origins of much of what inspired the acts that broke through in the mid to late 80s from the US and Europe then this is an excellent primer (and you'll get an idea of the type of sounds that created all the power metal...).

For the rest of us over 40s and early 50s types this is an album to just wallow in. As the last notes of 'Dial F for Freakshow' fade the repeat button gets hit...leather jackets, cut-offs, tight jeans, white high top gutties, plastic bottles of cider with lager mixed in, and walking tall and proud are but a memory, but one that we can re-live every day and 'Hoodoo Voodoo' makes all the years wandering in the wilderness worthwhile. Welcome back Chrome Molly.

NEWS: Hard Rock Hell launches HRH Sleaze this coming September

OFTEN described as “heavy metal’s bastard child”, Sleaze is as much about the attitude and pose as the music: music full of rebellion, aggro, and downright nastiness, not to mention more tight black leather and tattoos than most can comfortably dream of.

It’s not, as they say, done in the best possible taste, but it kicks ass, especially live on stage - the Hard Rock Hell way.

“We experimented over at Camp HRH Pwllheli”, explains HRH Kingpin Jonni Davis, “After that, by overwhelming HRH fan demand, we’ve given HRH Sleaze its very own weekend, with a horde of Sleaze gurus from North America and all over Europe. We love this genre and by bringing together a carefully-selected cauldron of real pros, we’re cooking up something special. Bring on the Sleaze!”

HRH Sleaze will debut at the O2 Academy in Sheffield between 2nd-3rd September, 2017.

HRH has been at the cutting edge of staging music events for many years, never sits on its laurels, and has assembled an impressive line-up for its first standalone HRH Sleaze event.

No band epitomizes Hollywood sleaze more than Faster Pussycat and HRH are proud to announce the kings of sleaze will be getting down and dirty at this very first event. 

Also joining the bill are Vain, a band that have earned themselves a cult status among sleaze fans over the years. This acclaimed band have been described in ‘Classic Rock’ as “unharnessed, haystack-haired heaviness from beginning to end”. 

More Sleaze to cross the Atlantic are Jizzy Pearl's /Love/Hate. The band will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of their album ‘Wasted In America’ and what better place to do this than HRH Sleaze. 

Other class acts confirmed are; 

Tyla’s Dogs D’Amour 
Crazy Lixx
Stop Stop
Wildside Riot
New Generation Superstars
Daxx & Roxane
New Device
44 Caliber

NEWS: Belphegor prepare for release of 11th album

European diabolical death/black metal commandos Belphegor are back in the studio to record their 11th still untitled album.

The LP will act as the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2014 recording ‘Conjuring The Dead’. Expect a release date of September through Nuclear Blast Entertainment, followed by an intense touring cycle worldwide.

Frontman/founder guitarist Helmuth Lehner has given an update on Belphegor´s current run in the studio:

"The drums and bass guitar have been executed masterfully by Serpenth (Bass, screams) and German maniac drummer Bloodhammer. A new chapter, a new challenge."

Serpenth added: “We've once again created an LP with two different tunings in the manner in which we did ‘Pestapokalypse VI’ (Oct. 2006). We’ve added a lot of new elements and structures to our trademark sound and tuned the guitars down to achieve even more brutal and obscure effects.

“These are the most furiously heavy, fierce and superior nine sound collages we have ever written and recorded."

Keep an eye out for news on further details such as the album’s title, producer, as well as lyrical and artistic concepts – all coming soon…

Check out this exclusive clip of Belphegor playing 'Totenkult - Exegesis Of Deterioration' recorded live inside their rehearsal bunker. This scorching death/black metal track will be included on the upcoming album. Crank it to the max and go to hell with them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMT9xxBpFK4

Order Belphegor's latest record here:
‘Conjuring The Dead’ Limited Edition CD & DVD

Since the release of Belphegor’s now legendary debut ‘The Last Supper’ in 1995, band founder Helmuthand his henchmen have relentlessly worked their way to the top with their technical proficiency, sophisticated song writing and truly blasphemous lyrics. Having now risen to iconic status in the art of supreme death/black metal, Belphegor continue to strengthen their craft as one of the most extreme line ups to ever come out of that scene.

The band members describe their hellride as ‘Supreme Death/ Black Metal Art‘

NEWS: Tankard prepare for follow up to RIB

LEGENDARY German alcohol soaked thrash metal act Tankard are currently working on the follow up to their highly acclaimed 2014 album, ‘R.I.B.’.

The guys entered Gernhart Studios in Troisdorf with producer Martin Buchwalter (Destruction, Accuser, Perzonal War, Suidakra, etc.) earlier this month.

The guitars, bass and drums are already done – and right now Gerre is lending his voice to the soundtrack of their 35th anniversary!

Vocalist Gerre said: "At the moment I have 7 songs ready! It's a great pleasure to work with Martin for the very first time! He really kicks my ass, so I have a lot of work to do! I really look forward to having a great result to celebrate our 35th birthday with, in a reasonable way! Senile with style!"

The band has unveiled more details on their new album: the record is planned for a 2017 spring/summer release via Nuclear Blast and will be called ‘One Foot In The Grave’.

The cover artwork will once again be created by Patrick Strogulski, who's a student of Sebastian Krüger, the recent artwork designer of Tankard. More info coming soon... stay tuned!

Their current album 'R.I.B.' (Rest In Beer) was released June 20, 2014 via Nuclear Blast.

You can order your copy here. 

The story of Tankard is an exceptional one: the thrash metal force from Frankfurt, Germany has been around since the early 80's, spearheading a wave of German thrash bands who became successful worldwide (Kreator,Destruction, Sodom...).

And while a lot of other bands struggled, split up or came back for reunions, Tankard never had these problems. They have always been there. And they've kept their worldwide fan base for all of these years, delivering strong album after strong album. When you think of beer and thrash metal, the name Tankard is the resounding response.

ALBUM REVIEW: Sepultura deliver mixed bag on Machine Messiah

A quick look on Wikipedia defines objectivity as the following: "Generally, objectivity means the state or quality of being true even outside of a subject's individual biases, interpretations, feelings, and imaginings."

This is something I've struggled to approach Sepultura with since I heard that absolutely horrific cover of 'Bullet The Blue Sky' when to this day, I vividly remember my wide eyed excitement at seeing the Seps with some new music on the TV turn into abject disappointment.

With this pushed as far to the back of my mind as possible, I marched onward into 'Machine Messiah'.

First things first, the production is excellent. It may be a bit too crystal clear for the purists out there but this album wasn't made for them anyway.

The album's namesake and opener begins with an almost Pantera sounding clean guitar before it kicks in to a low paced, melodic guitar driven crawl. Derrick Green slides in with an almost understated, chant-like clean vocal that caught me completely off guard, however on repeated listens really works. His yell is his strong point though, particularly in the higher registers.

Moving on, 'I Am The Enemy' picks up the pace from the get go. One thing I couldn't help but notice is when the drums shift into blast territory that either they're poorly written or sloppy. There's something offbeat about them but I'm not sure it works. Iggor Cavalera one mister Eloy Casagrande is not.

That aside, it's not a bad song and the poor shift on percussion is more than made up for by the efforts of  Andreas Kisser who arguably plays better than he ever has over the whole album.

As we hit 'Phantom Self', this is where the wheels start to fall off. There is some added instrumentation that really lets it down. Unfortunately this becomes a bit of a recurring theme.
'Alethea' also suffers from some piss poor drum sections and really is a thoroughly uninspired track from start to finish. Leave it in the practice room lads.

'Iceberg Dances' starts off in familiar territory before proceeding to rip off Mastodon for the remainder. It's not bad but it's just not Sepultura and whoever is playing that organ in the background can fuck off into the night.

'Sworn Oath' has a satisfyingly creepy crawl before a solid slab of double kicks lead into arguably the most satisfying groove on the whole record. I'll even let that daft orchestration slide (SEE WHAT I MEAN).

At this stage it's almost as if the band remember who they are and start sounding like Sepultura again. Hooray! It might be too little too late though. Seven songs in is a bit too far to be remembering who you are.

'Resistant Parasites' isn't a bad effort and 'Silent Violence' takes no prisoners while 'Vandals Nest' is full bore from the get go. Wahey! The lads are back again!

Except they're not... 'Cyber God' opens with a dull crawl and fails to excite throughout and 'Chosen Skin' starts off with promise but very quickly becomes a Fear Factory clone. As Roy Walker would say, it's good but it's not quite right.  'Ultraseven No Uta' sounds like they're taking the piss and would be a laugh to have a jolly aul pit to, but again seems a bit...off.

I really do have mixed feelings about 'Machine Messiah' (as I'm sure does Paolo Jr. after getting a dose of the ...And Justice For All treatment).

At times it's terrible and at times it's incredibly enjoyable, but overall it seems to be lacking a bit of inspiration. Throwing enough shit at the wall to see if it sticks really isn't good enough at this stage of the game and the presence of Iggor is sorely missed throughout, but when it shines it really does shine, specifically toward the latter half of the album.

Give it a go. You'll not burn all your Sepultura records after hearing it, but it's not going to change your life either.

Review by Steve Martin

Friday, January 13, 2017

NEWS: Screaming Eagles set to feature in new Amazon Prime series starring Bryan Cranston

The Screaming Eagles will have their sensational track ‘Rock N Roll Soul’ featured in ‘Sneaky Pete’ - the new Sony Pictures TV produced series on Amazon Prime, airing 13th January 2017.

‘Sneaky Pete’ stars Bryan Cranston of ‘Breaking Bad’ fame and Giovanni Ribisi (Saving Private Ryan, My Name is Earl) in a new 10-part crime drama series to be aired in full on Amazon Prime on 13th January 2017. 

The series is produced by Graham Yost (Justified, Band of Brothers) and Bryan Cranston and will feature ‘Rock N Roll Soul’ in Episode 2.

‘Rock N Roll Soul’ is the hit track off Screaming Eagles’ debut album ‘From The Flames’. This marks the second time the band has teamed up with Sony Pictures Television; the same track had previously been featured in the hit US TV series ‘Justified’.

Screaming Eagles are currently working on their third album, due for release in summer 2017. The band will be releasing a live mini- album in spring 2017 and will be touring in the UK, France and Germany throughout the year. They recently signed with international booking agency IAA Touring.

ALBUM REVIEW: Gotthard score a hit with album number 12 Silver

Swiss hard rock outfit Gotthard are set to release their 12th studio album today, Friday January 13th and for fans of the band and hard rock it is highly recommended!

Formed in Lugano, Switzerland 25 years ago by singer Steve Lee and guitarist Leo Leoni the new album has been aptly named ‘Silver’.
It’s the third album with singer Nic Maeder at the helm and he has now firmly established himself in that role. Musically it has the harder rock sound as in ‘Bang!’ rather than some of their softer rock earlier albums but has more of a feel of seminal albums ‘Lip Service’ and ‘Domino Effect’.

Well known for their ballads Gotthard have actually released an album without one on it....sort of, but if you are expecting another ‘One Life, One Soul’ or ‘Heaven’” you won’t find it on ‘Silver’. A couple of songs almost fit the bill but what you actually get on this album is a masterpiece in straight forward hard rock with that distinctive catchy Gotthard sound, anthemic choruses with big hooks, excellent riffs and solos and a super tight rhythm section

Starting with ‘Silver River’ with a keyboard and harmony vocals intro it develops into a classic hard rock riff with a real groove to it. The solo is a sign of good things to come later.

‘Electrified’ continues with the up tempo groove attack and features a nice bass line from Marc. There’s a great hook on this fast paced song that briefly lets up before the solo which continues on for a time under the vocal.

Track 3, “Stay With Me’ is the first released single. With an acoustic start that hints at a ballad it soon builds into a melodic song with a nice mixture of soft and hard rock tempos. The vocal harmonies are spot on and it’s another song with a big hook questioning whether you should change who you are just to stay with someone, just to please them.

The catchy ‘Beautiful’ has a radio friendly mid tempo beat with great harmony vocals and just enough of a hard edge to it. It’s a song about escaping from the world with someone to make a better life together with the weight of the world lifted from your shoulders. The tempo and beat nicely conveys this feeling.

‘Everything Inside’ is a song of hope and freeing your mind without keeping things bottled up. It has a haunting opening but has a good solid rock riff to it that gives the song an upbeat feel to it. It also has a pretty good solo that fits the song nicely.

As for track 6, ‘Reason For This’ has a Heart style riff to start but develops into a mid tempo, straight forward rocker with a tight rhythm section and nice vocals from Nic. It’s a song about blame and has good harmony vocals to match.

‘Not Fooling Anyone’ has an acoustic start and screams Gotthard ballad. But, it’s not exactly that as it has an almost personal emotional depth to it that defies the normal love style ballad as it’s about having a cold heart which makes it acoustic angst and not quite the typical smushy ballad.

‘Miss Me’ is up next. With a slow groove to it it doesn’t quite build into the song it could’ve been as the lyrics have a lot of hurt and pain that a slightly harder edge from the middle section might’ve sold the songs meaning and feeling better. Doesn’t make it a bad song, in fact it’s good but just feels like something is missing…

Track 9 is the interestingly titled ‘Tequila Symphony No.5. We are now back to the hard rocking mode again (with a nice classical music touch) with a great riff and rhythm section. It’s another song about dealing with the darker side of the mind, finding yourself and needing someone to believe in you to do so. Possibly the best track on the album both lyrically and musically.

‘Why”’is another acoustic track mixed with a rock beat and has the now traditional Gotthard background vocals.

Track 11 “Only Love is Real” has a piano, vocal and orchestral intro that develops into quite a dramatic song both lyrically and musically. It has a great arrangement to it and the songs title basically gives the lyrical content away.

Penultimate song ‘My Oh My’ is right out of the ‘Domino Effect’ era with a heavy riff and probably Nic’s best vocal delivery. With some excellent guitar work it’s another song with a positive message. It competes with ‘Tequilla Sympony No 5 as possibly the best song on the album depending on your personal taste.

Final track “Blame on Me” is a fast paced rocker to finish the album off. With a bit of harmonica thrown in for good measure, it’s full of energy with a bit of a manic solo to it. A song many can relate to about going out for a pint (or in this case JD) which doesn’t quite end up like that!

Lyrically the album feels like an exercise in the duality of life and trying to keep the balance between good and bad. A crisp, clear production only enhances the musicianship of this band and the variety of songs they are capable of producing. With little bits of piano, harmonica and the good old Hammond organ thrown in for good measure this is an album that is highly recommended!

Review by Andy Gillen

Gotthard are :

Leo Leoni (guitar)

Freddy Scherer (guitar)

Marc Lynn (bass)

Hena Habegger (drums)

Nic Maeder (vocals)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

NEWS: The Quireboys release Breaking Rocks single and video ahead of Diamond Rock Club dates

YOU all set for The Quireboys appearance on two nights at the Diamond Rock Club on Friday, April 7th and Saturday April 8th?

Yes, the reborn rock and roll reprobates The Quireboys will be plugging in and partying hard as per usual.

Their new video / single 'Breaking Rocks' is at the end of this post.

A 10-date run of UK acoustic shows this December brings down the curtain on another landmark year for the supercharged six-piece.

But there’s no rest for the wicked where Spike and co. are concerned and the boys are back in Ahoghill in a matter of weeks.

Lauded as their loudest and proudest album for 25 years, 'Twisted Love' screams heartache, passion, tears and tension. And it’s time for the record’s most powerful themes to be unleashed.

“We made this record with a full-on rock and roll show in mind,” said guitarist Guy Griffin. “The songs are some of the strongest we’ve ever written and that comes across best when all six of us are on stage and the volume is turned up.”

Not since the band’s early 90s heyday have The Quireboys sounded so compelling and so relevant. The bittersweet title track, bullish 'Breaking Rocks' and terrific 'Ghost Train' reveal a band going back to the future and back to what they always did best.

And if The Quireboys have proved themselves masters of an intimate and intriguing unplugged experience, then rocking out remains their traditional calling card.

“We played a handful of fully plugged shows in the UK earlier this year and the response to the new songs was tremendous,” added Griffin. “Those gigs gave us the confidence to dig deep into Twisted Love on the next tour and we can’t wait.”

Twisted Love is The Quireboys’ 10th studio album and the sound of a band enjoying a creative rebirth and a rich vein of songwriting form. More than 30 years after bursting onto the UK’s rock and roll scene their incendiary live shows continue to set the standard for the next generation of homegrown heroes.

The Quireboys are: Spike (vocals) - Guy Griffin (guitar) - Paul Guerin (guitar) - Keith Weir (keyboards) - Nick Mailing (bass) - Dave McCluskey (drums), as if you didn't know that already!.

NEWS: Dimmu Borgir set to release double DVD with Norwehian Radio Orchestra and Wacken 2012 set

NORWEGIAN symphonic black metal giants, Dimmu Borgir, finally emerge from the depths of darkness to mark 2017 as the year of their monumental return.

On April 14th  they will finally release their highly anticipated double DVD ‘Forces Of The Northern Night’, which will contain two of the band's live rituals: their legendary show in Oslo, presenting Dimmu Borgir on stage with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and a bombastic choir, as well as their entire performance at Wacken Open Air 2012 with almost 100 musicians on stage.

Both concerts present a spectacular sound scenario of raging black metal in front of an epic orchestral landscape plus the band's unique visuals.

Their remarkable and atramentous stage show has long seemed like a natural evolution for fans, but much time, arrangements and commitment were necessary to put this gigantic production into reality and fill the stage with 90 minutes of mind blowing aural delight per night.

The shows guide the fans through classics from the band's discography - from the majestic finisher 'Mourning Palace' to the stomping manifesto 'Puritania' and the haunting 'Gateways'... Norway's Dimmu Borgir know how to leave nothing behind but pure ashes.

"For us, this is the pinnacle of our career so far. As a band, we've always used a lot of symphonic elements in our music. But we haven't been able to use a real orchestra.

"We've had to use samples, synthesisers and so on, so this was a huge, awesome experience for us!", said Shagrath.

On April 14th, both concerts plus a bonus documentary feature will be available in many different formats – further details to be revealed soon...

NEWS: Chrome Molly getting set for release of Hoodoo Voodoo on EarMusic

REMEMBER back in November, when Graham Bonnet played Belfast? If you do, and you were on of the types that actually make it in for the support bands you will recall that Chrome Molly opened the evening's festivities.

As promised on that evening the new album, Hoodoo Voodoo, is set to be released on January 27th, via EarMusic.

Chrome Molly made a bid for stardom in the mid to late 1980’s, opening for Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne amongst many others, playing the legendary Marquee Club over 20 times and headlining the CBGB in New York.

How do you take a band that has been performing and recording since 1983 forward? By going back to what you love – riff laden melodic metal with tons of delicious guitar solos that make you want to grab your air guitar and join in.

That is what Chrome Molly have achieved with this, their sixth studio album 'Hoodoo Voodoo'.

Hoodoo Voodoo draws on the bands core influences. Formed during the latter half of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal scene, the Mollies were always inspired by the great metal bands and this album is something of a tribute to those acts – you might hear Priest, UFO, early Leppard, Saxon, Rainbow and myriad others echoing through the album.

While not strictly a concept album, the original idea was to create an album that conjured up the magic of listening to the great bands of the ‘80’s, with the riffs and tunes that shaped the band.

Inspired by a friend who asked why bands don’t go in and make albums like they did in the old days, backing tracks were played live and much sweat was poured.

Steve Hawkins (vocals) said: “We wanted to make an album that made us feel like we did in the ‘80’s, one that you can turn up in the car and sing along and play air drums and guitar to.”

1. In The Beginning
2. Can't Be Afraid Of The Dark
3. Some Kind Of Voodoo
4. Pillars Of Creation (Albion)
5. Now That Those Days Have Gone
6. Indestructible
7. Save Me
8. Rock For You
9. Feeling Pressurised
10. Dial 'F' For Freakshow

Monday, January 09, 2017

NEWS: Schenker to release live package with McAuley.Barden and Bonnet

On Friday 24th March 2017, rock guitarist legend Michael Schenker and in-akustik will release Michael Schenker Fest “Live” Tokyo - a new live recording and filmed concert released on 2CD, 2CD+DVD Combo, LP, DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital.

Filmed and recorded Tokyo International Forum on August 24, 2016, this historic concert features guest appearances from some of the greatest rock vocalists who have worked with Schenker including M.S.G.’s Gary Barden and Graham Bonnet, and Robin McAuley of the McAuley Schenker Group.  5,000 fans witnessed an anthology moment of quintessential hard rock music of the highest calibre.

Says Schenker, “It’s a miracle that after all these years, something like this took place with the original band members of M.S.G. Being able to go back to those days and celebrate the music is an exciting experience for us, as well as for old and new fans. To being able to re-experience, and for the new audience to get a feel of what it was like, is incredibly enjoyable.”

1.       Intro: Searching For Freedom
2.       Into The Arena
3.       Attack Of The Mad Axeman ft. Gary Barden
4.       Victim Of Illusion ft. Gary Barden
5.       Cry For The Nations ft. Gary Barden
6.       Let Sleeping Dogs Lie ft. Gary Barden
7.       Armed And Ready ft. Gary Barden
8.       Coast To Coast
9.       Assault Attack ft. Graham Bonnet
10.   Desert Song ft. Graham Bonnet
11.   Dancer ft. Graham Bonnet
12.   Captain Nemo
13.   This Is My Heart ft. Robin McAuley
14.   Save Yourself ft. Robin McAuley
15.   Love Is Not A Game ft. Robin McAuley
16.   Shoot Shoot ft. Robin McAuley
17.   Rock Bottom ft. Robin McAuley
18.   Doctor Doctor ft. Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley

EP Review: Maximum High show how its done on four-track

IF there's one thing that really irritates many a reviewer it's the bombardment they receive in their Twitter and Facebook - as well as any other social media streams they are on - from bands who say "check out our new tracks/single/album/video. We really don't have time to "check it out".

However, occasionally independent bands do the right thing. Just before Christmas dropping into our social media stream a Greek four-piece rock act, Maximum High, politely asked if we would be interested in receiving an EPK (electronic press kit) to learn more.

And, no nagging, no insistent messaging about when we would get round to listening.

What dropped into the email was indeed a succinct EPK, with press release, links to four tracks, picture and other information. Now, we just couldn't resist giving the tracks a listen.

What emerged from our speakers were four-tracks of laid back rock, relatively easy listening with singer Irene Dimopoulo smooth vocals, distinctive and alluring.

Of the four the stand-out track is 'Long Ago' is a nice piece of rock (video below) which could ease its way into many of the more, non metal rock charts with its funky undertones

For Northern Ireland rock fans what this may remind many of you of is our local act Ajenda, and while it may not appeal to the more 'metal' :) readers, for those that have a penchant for rock this is an act that may be from Greece, but definitely have an ear for a good tune.

And, to boot, being recorded on analogue systems rather than digital gives each of the four-tracks a warmth that many an act could learn from.

Learn more here.

NEWS: Crowbar announce Belfast date in March

PREPARE to have your fillings shaken loose, your insides churned and bone marrow turned to liquid because Crowbar are coming to Belfast.

The NOLA sludge legends will be appearing in Limelight on Wednesday, March 22nd in a promotion by The Distortion Project.

Kirk Windstein and crew are embarking on a European Tour that will see them take in UK and Irish dates.

Crowbar have been one of the most influential bands in their genre since they switched from previous names to release their seminal self-titled and second album in 1993. For those that remember that far back they even featured on Beavis and Butthead segments...

Despite their association with controversial Phil Anselmo in their early days the band established their reputation in their own right.

With Windstein re-united with original bassist Todd Strange this promises to be a show to produce earth tremors in the Ormeau Avenue are of Belfast.

Tickets, priced £17.50 are on sale on now.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Kreator stretch the thrash boundaries on the dark Gods of Violence

WHEN it comes to Germanic thrash three names always pop up, Sodom, Destruction and Kreator. And, now in 2017, it could be arguably put that Kreator have stepped up into a dominant position with the release of 'Gods of Violence'.

A dark album, with multiple lyrical tonalities and stretching the thrash template further than many of their contemporaries. Forget the clichés, this is a band that takes the 'open E', tosses it aside and moves it through many gear changes.

Mille Petrozza and his cohorts have pulled together a selection of 11 tracks of sufficient variety and depth that this should propel the Teurtonic four-piece further on the ladder.

Not that they need much of a boost given their reputation, but on this, their 14th album the boundaries have been pushed. While on the likes of 'Totalitarian Terror' the musical thrash template remains firmly in place as it romps along, full-speed ahead - albeit with an insanely likeable chorus.

This is an album rooted in the present, not only with the added musical dimensions, but in current world events. Petrozza's lyrics reflect the turmoil many feel and some of his word play began after the terror attacks in Paris in November 2015, including the murders at the Bataclan.
Kreator album cover for Gods of Violence

“Currently, religion has regained a level of importance that I would have never considered possible 20 years ago,” Mille said. “An extremely dangerous polarization is taking place, giving rise to growing hate among us all. That‘s what I wanted to write about.

 “These days, our weapons of mass destruction are called hatred and religious delusion. It‘s a vertical war, being fought by the media as well as by fanatics of all shades."

'World War Now' deals with it in a well balanced series of observations, while 'Gods of Violence' deals with Mille's propensity to war against each other throughout the ages. The latter track also features a 12-year-old harpist Tekla-Li Wadensten...

While it is fair enough to look upon the lyrical maturity, this is an album that features musical excellence. The inter-play between Petrozza and Sami Yli-Sirniö is impressive and Yli-Sirniö pulls out some stunning solos that are not mere fretboard frenzy, but match the tunes.

Even on the straightforward battering on the likes of 'Totalitarian Terror' and 'Army of Storms' the thrash is played with, counterpoints and melodies woven subtly into the mix.

Producer Jens Bogren has managed to pull out of Kreator a stunning selection of tracks and the band's willingness to draw other influences in pays off. As well as the aforementioned pre-teen harpist, indie popster Dagobert has a guest slot and Fleshgod Apocalypse helped in the orchestration of four songs.

While Petrozza and Jürgen “Ventor” Reil (drums) may be the only 'original' members there, as some backward looking fans might see it, but this has been a stable line-up from 2001 and Reil's work with Christian Giesler (bass) knits the musical concept together in impressive style, such as on 'Lion With Eagle Wimngs', which together with 'Satan Is Real' are stand-outs.

However, it is unfair to pick two tracks in this plethora of enjoyable thrash. This is as complete an album as Kreator have released. While it is always hard to try and rationalise how bands manage to stay fresh the fact that they are still rooted in Essen, west Germany may help. When anyone strays from home they can lose their identity. Petrozza certainly hasn't lost that identity.

What will surprise many is the closing track 'Death Becomes My Light' - a seven and a half minute track dealing with near death experiences and with an epic feel. Even when it has manic riffing there is space and breath - this isn't another 'thrash' track with a subtle intro.

And, this isn't another thrash album. Yes, the speed and frenetic riffing is ever-present, but there is more depth and thoughtfulness than many can exact in the genre.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Gods of Violence is out on Nuclear Blast on 27th January