Pick Your Rock and Metal

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Wee Reminder

Just a wee reminder. The Answer, Spring & Airbrake, tomorrow (Friday). See ya there. (Pic courtesy of RokPix's Colin Patterson)

On the Doom Decks:
Iron Maiden - A Matter of Life and Death
Motorhead - Kiss of Death
Slayer - Christ Illusion
Billy Talent - II (Don't ask, just like it!)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

BLS preview

Hey, on September 11th Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society release their latest metaallic assault on the world, Shot to Hell. Listen to the opening track, Concrete Jungle, by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


As a blog is meant to be like a diary, I did check out the Loughshore Festival tonight, with son Zakk. Con Jovi weren't there as promised, caught a band that were torn between Lost Prophets and being a guitar-led attack, and enjoyed a workmanlike, but enjoyable performance from Payola, but was tortured by the Legends of Rock's 70's themed pastiche. Left early, good riddance - any band that starts with The Tramps Disco Inferno, will not be redeemed, even with a tight cover of T-Rex's Get It On.

Too much metal for one day!

There are doubters, naysayers, trashtalkers and plain obtuse critics, who forget the exhiliration that pure metal can bring. Last week devastation was wrought when Slayer unleashed virtiolic riffage in the shape of Christ Illusion. Still there are those who chose not to dip into their pockets to sample the Slaytonic delights.

This week Iron Maiden and Motorhead release new albums - I've already had one person requesting that I copy said CDs. Errr, no mate, that's why shite music gets into the charts and pure metal assults are relegated to a 'rock' chart - you actually have to pay for music

But, then again, radio friendly chirp along songs will not be found on Maiden's 'A Matter of Life and Death', nor on Motorhead's Kiss of Death - so Radio 1 will not be playlisting the tracks that lie within.

In fact Maiden especially are getting heavier! Yep, muscular production, taut and insistent riffs, trademark Harris bass runs are here aplenty. But what sets this apart is...dare I say it....a whiff of concept. There's no clear storyline, á la Seventh Son. Instead there are lyrical concepts woven together as all members of the band seem in contemplative form; the ordinary soldier in 'These Colours Don't Run'; the horror of nuclear warfare's relevance in a post 9/11 world; the contrast between questioning religious sources (For the Greater Good of God); through to asking what exactly is this Lucifer thing all about (Lord of Light).

Lyrically it is a challenging album, and a few, very brief times, even Bruce's voice struggles with the higher registers. Musically it is even more challenging. There are more time changes than an atomic clock on speed. But unlike widdly conceptually metal the changes knit songs and mood together. None better than on album closer, The Legacy. And on that track there is a riff that is so good it brings tears to the eye.

When Different World launches this album, there's a traditional Maiden play-off between tight rhythms and a melodic chorus, reminiscent of parts of Dance of Death, but there most comparisons (apart from the Arabic phrasing on the Pilgrim echoing Powerslave) from what has gone before end.

This is Maiden all grown up, angry with what they see in the world, asking questions. This is Maiden let loose - finally the three guitarist structure given full rein, and riffing heavier and more intense than ever. This is Maiden setting new boundaries for the pretenders to aspire to reach, let alone surpass.

Motorhead, in contrast, have set their own boundaries a very long time ago (well Lemmy is 60!). They are the bastard sons of blues and hard rocking metal, illegitimate sons of Jack Daniels and Marshall amps - unpretentious and unafraid, always delivering on the promise of a gravel-throated party.

Except on Kiss of Death 'Head have taken the party further. Sweat-soaked and hazy with booze, this is the party where clichés have been ditched.

Sucker opens the album up - no nonsense, no fear and the promise of a "Smack in the mouth." From there blues metal propels the sonic assault, with stand-out tracks Devil I Know, Living in the Past, Christine and Going Down, just about managing to eclipse a platter of joyful Motorhead excess.

That is with one exception - God was Never on Your Side. Here Lemmy is asking questions uncomfortable for Christian fundamentalist and Islamic Jihadists alike; questions neither party can answer easily. And there a comparison with Maiden must be made. All styles of rock, punk and metal has rarely been more popular, and with that comes the right to ask questions of the established order. It is only right and proper that Dickinson challenges Blair's war policies (The Legacy) and Lemmy challenges religious nuttery.

But while both bands are asking these and musical questions, there can be no doubt that young and old pretenders alike can not afford to rest on laurels. Maiden and Motorhead have not - and that is why they are more than elder statesmen in the metal pantheon of icons - they are at the vanguard, ready to rock.

And if you want to copy these albums, the answer is no - buy them, you're ears will love you for spending a few quid for such majestic metal.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Iron Maiden's debut single from A Matter of Life ande Death, The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg charted at no. 1 in Sweden and Spain. Here in the UK the powers-that-be deemed that it was too long for inclusion in the singles chart!?! Must be that they expect the average person who buys a single to have an attention span of less than 5 minutes. Once again the powers-that-be (and especially those in the BBC!) prove they are dumber than a bag of squirrels on acid.

PS. Slayer's Christ Illusion hit the UK charts at a respectable no. 23, they played at Reading & Leeds and will shortly be hitting the UK and Ireland for a headlining tour. See any mention of Slayer on BBC recently? Not since last November in the 'shock,horror' documentary on the evils of metal! Ha, if only they knew....

Ground and Pound

Ok folks, I know that there are a few of you that like Dragonforce, a few who don't, and a few that just don't understand their appeal. No matter which camp you fall into, you've got to check out the video for the ridiculously titled Operation Ground and Pound. Click here to watch it on You Tube.

It passes over the top on the way to sublime surreal piss-take. What starts off with the band playing against a CGI backdrop of invading alien ships á la Chronicles of Riddick quickly descends into a computer/console guitar battle between Herman and Sam. And to show they recognise the not-too-serious side of vidz, during the guitar battle ZP appears sipping a coffee against the green screen that is used for performers doing work with CGI....I know it sounds silly, banal and a little bit self-indulgent, but it works. Check it out, laugh and giggle as Extreme Power Metal once again produces, shock! horror!, a sense of humour.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Monday - Maiden and Motorhead

Last week Slayer rocked us all with their new album Christ Illusion - and now tomorrow there's a double feast of metallic delight when Iron Maiden and Motorhead release A Matter of Life and Death and Kiss of Death respectively. Mmmmm, what a year 2006 is turning out to be for hard rock and heavy metal!

And to keep you all going until The Answer on Friday night, here's a pic from their gig at Maginn's in Castlewellan, courtesy of Rokpix's Colin Patterson.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Post-Slayer come down

After the exuberance of constant listening to Slayer's new opus Satanicus, there's much to look forward. Motorhead's Kiss of Death, plus Maiden and Mastodon - deep joy! Check out updates to the gig guide

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Slaytonic worship

Fucking = dozens
Putrid = 2
Hails for Satan = 4
Controversial lyrics = 10 tracks out of 10
Controversial artwork = 1
References to false religion = 42
Slayer's new album = priceless!

Yep - Slayer are back in their usual bombastic style. Christ Illusion hit the shops on 21st August, after being available for download for 2 weeks and on their myspace site for the same length of time. And after living with it pushing out of tinny PC speakers, finally it hit the doom decks for full on aural assault.

Slayer are, of course, the thrash band that have never evolved, never compromised and never been afraid to dis everyone else - or at least Mr King has been doing that in recent interviews. But like Sadolin, Slayer do what it says on the tin, uncompromising music, technically superlative solos and and lyrics to scare all God's children.

For Chist Illusion Slayer had a lot to live up to. God Hates Them All set a benchmark for the band - with an invective that had been lacking for some time. The hype over Christ Illusion was that the CD would land on decks with the same impact of Seasons of the Abyss, or dare it be said, Reign in Blood. Alas that is not to be. But, Christ Illusion stands on it's own merits.

Sure, there are always those that look back on classic albums (Master of Puppets, Peace Sells, Among the Living, Reign in Blood) and wish their band hadn't grown up, but bands do. Christ Illusion, for all it's infantile lyrics, shows a band comfortable in their controversy, sure of their style and hammering out vibes that are a definitive collection of extreme heavy metal.

CD opener Flesh Storm is Slayer by numbers - the band easing fans into the CD on familiar territory, only spoiled by Araya having to force his invective over polysllabic words ill-suited to the velocity and riffing.

But by the time Catalyst kicks off, it is clear that Christ Illusion's real bonus is Lombardo's drumming. He is technically the best in the business, but has a looseness of style that hints Slayer's music may be on the verge of tipping into chaotic parody; while laying down blast beats and fills that serve to punctuate the vehemence of the tunes like angry bastard children of the apocolypse.

None more so than on Black Serenade and Cult.

And, unlike some previous Slayer outings, the solos from King and Hanneman do not seem divorced from the songs. Technically Kerry and Jeff have always been a cut above the average shredder, but tended to go for widdly bits that were about showing off rather than being integral to the tunes. On Christ Illusion the axe duo of doom have managed to construct intricate patterns of guitar hate that matches the intensity of the songs.

But where the dynamic duo really score is on the riffing. Jihad's time signatures, Catalyst's grinding and Supremist straight forward assualt all show the pairing laying down riffs heavy enough to make 1,000 Scandanavian Death and Black Metal bands weep that they are no match for the masters.

The return of Lombardo, the anger of King - these are matched with an Araya and a Hanneman that seem to once more be eager to rip new arseholes for a new breed of the Slaytonic Whermacht while making us older fans smile, toss the zimmer away and get ready to mosh like a bastard.

At times it almost tips over into an anarchic tribute to the feedbacked whail of Jesus and the Mary Chain, or avant garde noise nonsense; but Christ Illusion manages to stay focussed, stay evil and stay Slayer. It's not the best CD of 2006, but it's damn close.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Watch out for The Watch

Word from deepest darkest Fermanagh has been coming the way of BelfastMetalheadsReunited for some time of some fine acts emerging from that water-logged county. Thanks to Rokpix Colin Patterson and Ciara we were tipped off about The Watch. Colin managed to smuggle a copy of an early demo past customs at the Fermanagh/Tryone border...and it has been on the decks of doom for some time.

Put simply are a traditional classic rock act, with more than a (not unwelcome) whiff of New Wave of British Heavy Metal clinging around their riffs. Shades of Diamond Head, Witchfynde and, whisper it softly, Saxon cast welcome dark and shade about The Watch.

Riffs come from the school of Maiden and the afore-mentioned Diamond Head, and solos are paced well within structures that are exhilirating, but on a few occassions predictable.

Cloak and Dagger kicks off with energy and pace, before the Sweet Savage style riffing of Witch Among Us. But it is Dearg Doom's Celtic tinged riffing and the pace of Under a Howling Moon that stand out.

The one major gripe is lyrically. Somehow it rings a little forced. Dio, Dragonforce got away with it, Manowar did for a while, but it if The Watch want to stand up and be seen in a scene crowded with witches and warlocks, daggers and venom, spirits and battlecries, then more thought and better phrasing of lyrics will raise their game.

Overall, as mentioned this has been on regular rotation on the Decks of Doom - no better commendation needed. Hope the next demo shows steady improvement, then a surefire slot on Metal Hammer's Battle Metal CDs is guaranteed.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Listen to Iron Maiden's Different World!

More Maiden frolics in advance of the release of their new album at the end of this month. You can listen to Different World by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Christ, it's no illusion, you can listen to Slayer online

Fed up that Slayer's new album won't be hitting UK stores until 21st August? Can't be bothered ordering it from US or other parts of the world? Have no fear, cuz Slayer have posted the entire album on Myspace.com/slayer to listen and enjoy... or perhaps that's not quite the right word :)

PS: It's awesome! The banner to the right features the US release date. It and others like it can be downloaded from Slayer.net and by clicking on the tags link.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Blue Murder time

Tygers of Pan Tang, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Blue Murder - all have one thing in common apart from great music: John Sykes. The blonde guitar maestro impressed those of us who saw him in the heyday of the 80s, when soulful and fast playing was still a mark of a great axeman. Samby's been campaigning to get Sykes back playing the UK - and especially Belfast. Sign her petition here to make sure another rock great comes back to Belfast

Demo(lition) Zone

As mentioned some time ago Belfastmetalheadsreunited is launching an area for Northern Ireland bands (and even some from further afield) to have their demos or CDs reviewed. Okay, well truth be told here lies a professional journalist of 16 years standing whose alter ego rocks out like a ....well you get the picture. Several have already submitted their CDs (fools, muh ha ha ha ha ha) for dissection.

One that we at Metal manors didn't expect was Hunger's Mother. I caught them at the Rotterdam during the Custom Bike Show and they received no mightier endorsement than that of Dean's Dad - who rated them as one of the best bands to hit the Rott in a long time.

Live they were impressive (especially at 4pm and sober!!!)

Clutching the CD we expected to be let down, but no, Hunger's Mother's essence held out on the slaver of plastic, no doubt helped by being recorded in a five hours live take at Coleraine's Stable Studio.

Guitarist Neill McIlfatrick explained that the band were a little like The Answer, but vered more towards "classic rock and psychaedelic jamming" than the Downpatrick band.

On the platter Hunger's Mother do deliver that classic rock feel. At times vocalist Rodney Tosh really rips the sound barrier, but too often he appears restrained on the CD. His ability live, and his range means he should open up to the passion next time the band hit the studio.

'Trust You' and 'Sweet Liberation' stand out on the CD and are obviously live favourites, but throughout the CD is a display exemplary muscianship - from Tosh's voice, through to the tight rhythm pattersn of bassist Christopher Wilson and drummer Allan Starrs (although at times the tambourine hi-hat gimmick does wear a little thin).

At times Neill's guitar work reaches sublime heights - technically and in line with the structure and feel of the songs his work is almost always appropriate. At times this creeps into a little self-indulgence, but hell if I could play that well I'd be indulging every self I could lay my hands on.

Overall Hunger's Mother self-titled CD is a work screaming with potential. Excellent musicianship now needs a producer and manager to assist with song arrangements and deciding exactly where they want to be in a year's time. This band has the potential to reach far beyond the confines of biker shows - we here at Belfastmetalheadsreunited hope they can turn taht potential into their live kinetic rock energy!

Playing Tribute to Leppard

IT'S rare that Def Leppard come to these shores, yet the finest songs from Def Leppard's long career can be heard live on a regular basis throughout the UK - and in Belfast on September 16th.

Europe's only tribute band to the Sheffield heroes, Deft Leppard, will be playing in Belfast's Empire on 16th September - and the band can't wait!

"Belfast's fantastic," said Ashley Cooper, who sings the part of Joe Elliot when Deft Leppard hit the stage.

"We played here in February and the reception we got was fantastic, the venue, the promoters and the crowd all treated us really well, and we played even better than normal!"

One member of Deft Leppard got into the action more than he anticipated.

Aaron Sutton, who plays Leppard's guitarist Vivian Campbell ended up in the crowd.

"Aaron got a little too close and some of the ladies, shall we say, encouraged him to get down into the crowd," explains Ashley. "I suppose it was because Vivian Campell's a Belfast lad, but there might have been a button undone by the time he got back onstage."

A range of tribute bands have been around for the past number of years, from big productions such as The Australian Pink Floyd, through to pub bands plying covers. But Deft Leppard's motivation is simply a love of the music, especially that of their heroes.

"Our main reason for doing it is simply that fans can't get to see their favourite bands that often," explains Ashley. "And as those bands have gotten bigger they never get to see them up close in an intimate venue.

"Def Leppard played just two dates in the UK this year in Sheffield and London."

Deft Leppard, who formed just over a year ago, have been refining their set now throughout the summer touring.

As yet they haven't decided if they are to put some of the tracks from Def Leppard's latest album, 'Yeah', in their set - especially seeing as Leppard themselves seem undecided as to what songs they are playing on their current US tour.

"We've been thinking about that," said Ashley. "We could do 21st Century Boy pretty well, or Hanging on the Telephone, but we concentrate on the hits that the fans want to hear."

All of Deft Leppard are experienced musicians, who have played in their own bands or have been session players. Through the week they hold down a variety of jobs - from site managers through to teachers - but it is at weekends that Deft Leppard come to life.

"We've been on tour most weekends, and will have played about a dozen weekends straight before we arrive for Belfast on the 16th. It's the last date of that leg of the tour and it'll be a special night because of that!"

NB: This exclusive Belfastmetalheadsreunited interview with Deft Leppard is available for free use in print media. Please drop a comment/email if you wish to use it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

More tour dates!!!!

More gigs have been added to the Rockin' Calendar, including Buckcherry at the Limelight on Sept 4th. Visit the calendar using the Northern/Ireland Tour News link to the right of the page or by clicking here

Between now and Christmas there are now officially too many gigs. No, not that we here at Belfast Metalheads Reunited ever want to stop rockin' and moshin' - it's just that it has now become impossible to afford all the beer tokens, t-shirts and other necessities in attending the autumnal rock and metal fest!

Donations to the usual address, sealed envelope, unmarked, used, non-sequential bills - no demonations less than £50 please.

WASP come back to Belfast

WASP, seminal 80s rock 'n' roll animals are coming back to Belfast.

Sunday 19th November, Spring & Airbrake, marks the Lawless crew's third visit to the city. Tickets £21.50...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tool in Dub

Prog metallers Tool are set to play in Dublin on 22/11/06 at the Point. Check the link on the right for Tour news, and if you are a band playing NI or Dub and want to be included, get in touch!