Pick Your Rock and Metal

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Lawless still very much alive

There are some sad people posting on the internet. Said sad people have been circulating a rumour that Blackie Lawless is dead. The W.A.S.P frontman is very much alive and kicking, ready to release the new W.A.S.P. new CD Dominator later this year and more importantly play two dates in Belfast in November!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Head Charge....

No not the start of the American Football season...instead it's the return visit to these shores of American Head Charge.

They appear at The Limelight with Panic Cell and local rising stars Residual Effect on 4th November. Doors open at 4pm (yep, that's right 4pm!!!)

Nice warm-up for Slayer's Unholy Alliance II the following night; only problem is that Belfastmetalheadsreunited's junior reporter a.k.a. daughter wants to got to American Head Charge and Muse the same night (don't ask!)...

Now with the best will in the world it's gonna be really, really tricky managing that one!

Oh bugger!

Oh bugger, there may be more costs ahead!. Scanning through the upcoming plethora of concerts, I'd decided that with three trips to Dublin before Christmas already committed to, I would give Tool on 22nd November as miss. Much as like James Maynard Keenan's inrticate waffling, 10,000 Days was not the album that it could have been.

Then Mastodon announce they are lined up as support. The bastards! After they release a stunning album in the shape of Blood Mountain, they go and decide to play in Dublin!

How's the average humble rocker and metalhead meant to keep up? Time to launch the Ageing Metalheads with Mortgages Benevolent Fund. Donations, in brown envelopes, cash only, used notes, non-sequential numbers to the usual address.....

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Second date for WASP

Cock rock 80s metal with a tinge of social conscience and a dash of concept albums must appeal to Belfast's metal fraternity - WASP have added a second date at the Spring & Airbrake. Now they will not only play on the 19th November, but also on the 20th....how much Blackie can yo handle?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Deft performance

Belfast's Empire Music Hall has witnessed many, many cover and tribute bands grace it's hallowed upper hall, from regular Friday night's Glamarama 70s extravaganza, through to tribute bands to most rock icons through the 80s, 90s and beyond (although why you'd pay tribute to bands from recent years is beyond my understanding!)

One special band for many people in Northern Ireland always has been Def Leppard. Like many rock and metal acts Leppard came back consistently throughout the 80s and early 90s, when other regular pop entertainers didn't bother because of what was euphemistically known as The Troubles. Pyromania received an early debut in the Ulster Hall, as did Hysteria, with a two-night stand supported by Tesla.

In those days the dlineation between rock and metal acts wasn't like today's plethora of genres, with some fans never daring to reach out of the silos. It didn't matter whether it was thrash, AOR (hell, I even went to see Reo Speedwagon!), hard rock, glam rock - it was all worth watching.

Thankfully when Deft Leppard rolled into town on Saturday 16th September, the same multi-facetted gathering assembled at The Empire. And all left with huge grins on their faces.

Deft Leppard are Europe's only Def Leppard tribute band. And for once that word is fitting - Ash and his team really pay tribute by playing hard and playing faithful to the sound and energy of Leppard's live shows - especialy those early years.

Of course, all Leppard's megahits are rolled out, from the well-paced Let's Get Rocked, Foolin', Animal through to crowd-pleasing balladry such as When Love and Hate Collide and Love Bites. (although was I imaging it but were myself and the lovely lady beside me - her name was Samantha I think - the only ones with lighters in the air...)

The willingness of the band to turn out requested tracks was also impressive with Stand Up and Don't Believe a Word really outstanding.

All the band are naturally fine musicians, honed through what seems to a relentles schedule of dates, when they'r not doing their dayjob.

The reaction of Belfast to their set was obviously genuine, as was the band's enthusiastic performance. (Click here to read Ashley's interview here before what all agreed was an even better night and here for fans and band comments on the gig.)

And what was better news for everyone is that Deft Leppard are planning to return to The Empire on Febuary 17th, 2007.

But we'll all have to make better post-show arrangenments than sitting freezing our arses off on the pavement outside Madisons!

Thanks again lads for a great night.

(Almost held it all together as a serious review until those last two paragraphs!)

Friday, September 15, 2006

November just got even busier

It's bewildering - the number of rock and metal planned for November! Before the month even kicks off Motorhead are celebrating Hallowe'en in Dublin. Then Muse are at the Odyssey on Nov 4th, followed the next night by Slayer and their metallic compatriots In Flames, Children of Bodom and Lamb of God at The Point for Unholy Alliance II.

Y'all already knew that, as well as WASP on the 19th and Dragonforce on the 16th. And...Tool in Dublin on the 22nd.

And now, to add to the poverty, news reaches us that The Answer are coming back to the Spring & Airbrake on the 10th (they're playing Derry's Nerve Centre the night before) and American Head Charge & Panic Cell may be planning a Belfast gig...

Any bank manager's reading who may be inclined to make a loan (secured on a pile of empty Carlsberg cans!) to make sure that Belfastmetalheadsreunited can go to all of the above and sup from full pints of Carlsberg and buy black tour t-shirts that will annoy people, please get in touch!

mastodon - mountainous music

Mastodon exploded into the consciousness of metal fans about 18 months ago when Leviathan lumbered its meaty tracks on to many people's decks of doom, with complex rhythms, intricate guitar work and plain bonkers lyrics. But can Mastodon match that with their first major label release, Blood Mountain?

In short, yes! But Blood Mountain ain't no easy listen. It's bewildering, intense and, frankly madder than a bag of hungry squirrels. But it's worth the effort.

Here at Belfastmetalreunited's gloom laden mansion of madness we're going to take some time to listen further to what could be a masterpiece if we could understand it! Mayhaps we need to change our drugs. Methinks Mastodon will be massive - if we can get an interpreter!

Saturday night

Saturday, 16th September...busy night for rock and metal fans. At The Empire are Europe's only Def Leppard tribute band, Deft Leppard. At the Rosetta, Bob Catley, at the Pavilion Residual Effect....lot to chose from.!

I'll be at Deft Leppard (well I saw the first date on the Pyromania tour! So a little nostalgia is llowed!). If you plan to be there, mine's a pint of Carlsberg!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

BLS review....

Was going to write a lengthy review of Black Label Society's new album Shot to Hell. But it's enough to say BUY IT! Bloody great classic metal, ballads to weep to, and shredding and sensitive soloing in equal measures. BUY IT!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Stuck for a Christmas laugh?

Stuck for a Christmas laugh? Want a December gig before Iron Maiden. Well Tenacious D are planning a Dublin date on 10th December...

Okay, it's more comedy than metal, but after all Jack Black brought us the funniest homage to battle metal with the song Wonderboy. Anyone who can sing the line 'High above the mucky muck' with a straight face is either a true comedian or should sign up to join Manowar!

Pity his films weren't as funny!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Some good support news and some not so good

It's long been a contentous issue - high quality support bands din't always join their headlining colleagues when they make the trip to Belfast and Dublin. Throughout the 8Os, with a few notable exceptions (Anthrax supporting Metallica and the courageous Irish Winter's Reign) rock and metal fans were subjected to a succession of dodgy bands.

Recently, while local acts have improved considerably, there has been a trend for headlining acts not to bring support bands who are touring elsewhere. While we can all toast Maiden's decision to bring Trivium along to Dubin, and Slayer's willingness to bring the full Unholy Alliance II line-up, we learn with some disappointment that Dragonforce's UK tour line up, including All That Remains and Firewind will not be catching the ferry.

Hopefully this will mean that one of the emerging Northern Ireland acts will get another chance of exposure before a larger audience.

On happier support news, Saxon will be bringing Aussie legends Rose Tattoo on their visit to the Spring & Airbrake on March 2nd, together with Masterplan. Rose Tattoo, for those with really long memories played the Ulster Hall in the 80s when hits such as Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw and Assault & Battery bothered the charts. The Angry Anderson crew will be touring despite the death earlier in the year of guitarist Pete Wells. In Classic Rock magazine Anderson said the new album and tour was a tribute to Wells.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Answer rock the town

When it comes down to hard work in rock its not necessarily a criteria for what passes for success in this video, fad and fashion driven business. There are rock and metal acts who arrive in the pages of magazines and on to festival stages through manipulation, money and machiavellan management. Those self-same acts usually have one song, and are inevitably one trick ponies.

Thankfully the acts that have longevity, true success and a dedicated fanbase take hard work seriously, and have talent by the shedload. They are the acts that take to the road, turn out albums that are consistent and actually play their instruments. Downpatrick's The Answer are one such act.

Not for them the posing and posturing of the scene; the attempt to garner chart-topping pap; not for them the hairstylists and endorsements from hair gel companies. Instead they take to the road, touring for what amounts to more than half the year, and have an album, Rise, packed with infectous grooves, songs from the heart and damn fine playing.

When The Answer took to the stage of Belfast's Spring & Airbrake on Friday night, they could be excused for being a little jaded. It was their fourth date in Northern Ireland in the last year, and they are looking forward to a lengthy autumn tour of the UK and parts of Europe.

Instead they took to the stage with verve and good natured intensity. Cormac's vocals and stagecraft are continually improving, while Paul's playing has loosened up, showing that he's comfortable in being able to express both the harder edge of The Answer's music as well as the bluesier work-outs.

Before the gig (when blagging autographs for children who couldn't be there) Paul spoke of his influences, naming the late Paul Kossoff amongst them. As well as the blistering runs he is capable of, it is these Free-inspired slower, more soulful solos that shine in what could have been a wall of noise as both fans and band cranked it up.

The entire album was given an airing, naturally, with a b-side or two thrown in to pad out the length of the set. Into the Gutter stood out for it's pace and crowd reaction, while Memphis Water allowed the rhythm section to lay down a solid pattern to counterpoint Paul and Cormac's work out.

And, of course, Always rocked the rafters in the Spring & Airbrake.

The entire set lasted just a tad over 70 minutes, which given that The Answer only have single album out so far is understandable. Those packed into a sold-out venue will, and should, expect The Answer to keep touring, but the imperative must be now to get into the studio soon; using what they have learned on the road to craft an album that will take them to the next level of hard-earned, honestl gained success.

[Can't say any of the above about support act, The Delewares. Stylistically all over the place, half the band looking bored (the female singer could try smiling and engaging the audience once in a while!) and songs that were absent any significant hooks when played live. Only highlight was a drummer who hit the kit as if he was pissed off with the world. Mind you, if I had to play in the Delewares, I'd beat the shit out of the kit too!]