Pick Your Rock and Metal

Friday, July 20, 2007

Metalworks gig launch - No Fake ID required: with Sorrowfall

Metalworks is a local music community based in Belfast. It consists of a team of dedicated members, whose prime objective is to provide musical education and performance opportunity. Its not-for-profit, but Metalworks is up for rock!

As well as developing musical education (from some of the best tutors in Northern Ireland), Metalworks wants to make sure more and more young people can hear live music from some of the island’s top rock and metal bands.

'No Fake ID Required' is a planned series of All Ages gigs. They kick off on August 18th at Belfast's Black Box when Sorrowfall kick headline, with support from Circadian, Dark Light District, Escape Fails, Arcane and Darkest Era.

All this rock and metal for just £4 is a demonstration that Metalworks wants to make sure access to quality musical affordable as well as open to all ages.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rammstein hoax

On Total Rock today an update on the Rammstein situation...."It would seem that stories about vocalist Till Lindeman leaving Rammstein are not true. This is a hoax, although exactly why it started remains unknown." Mmmmmm, strange days with the German mentalists!

Diamond Head still on!

There was some confusion about Diamond Head's gig on 25th July. A glitch on myspace meant an event cancellation bulletin was sent out in error. Thankfully the gig is still definitely on! See y'all at The Rosetta!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Gig listings

Updated gig listings....any more details of gigs you want listed here drop us an e-mail

  • Hunger’s Mother/Arcane/Stone Crow – July 20th Bush Tavern, Ballymoney (in aid of Action Cancer)
  • Soundstone (album launch) with Million$Reload – July 21st – Rosetta Bar
  • Diamond Head/Sinnocence/Nemesis/Revengance - 25th July – Rosetta Bar
  • Blitzkrieg , Fireland , Rabid Bitch Of The North – 27th July – Rosetta Bar
  • Spitknot – 28th July – Rosetta Bar
  • Cannibal Corpse - 28th July - TBMC Dublin
  • MSG/Rattlesnake Remedy - 10th August - Spring & Airbrake
  • ALLIANCE (EX ANNEX and NO HOT ASHES from the 80's) Million Dollar Reload and Resurrection – 10th August – The Rosetta Bar (in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Fund)
  • Tampora (Pantera tribute), LessHelp, Blizzard Of Ozzy, Residual Effect, Honey for Christ, Condemned, War Iron, Overoth 11th August – The Rosetta Bar (in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Fund)
  • Devil Makes 3, Dangerfields, BadBoat, Dawn, Sky Pilot, The Angry Host and one other TBC – August 12th – The Rosetta Bar (in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Fund)
  • Napalm Death / Condemned / Scald / Overoth – 20th August – The Limelight
  • Foo Fighters/Nine Inch Nails - 22nd August - Marley Park, Dublin
  • The Dwarves – 25th August – Spring & Airbrake
  • MMII – Summer Slaughter - 26th August, Spring & Airbrake (in aid of Clic Sargent)
  • Wishbone Ash - 9th November - Spring & Airbrake
  • Thin Lizzy - 16th December - Waterfront Hall

Honouring the memory at The Rosetta

Condolences to Andy Allen of the Rosetta Bar who a number of weeks ago lost his sister, who was also a founding member of the Rosetta. Andy wrote on Metal Ireland that she died peacefully thanks to the Marie Curie Cancer care.

Andy is laying on a weekend of rock and metal to raise funds for the Marie Curie Cancer Fund. Further details will appear soon, but the line-up and doors to date are:

August 10th ALLIANCE (EX ANNEX and NO HOT ASHES from the 80's) Million Dollar Reload and Resurrection Doors 9pm.
August 11th Tampora (Pantera tribute), LessHelp, Blizzard Of Ozzy, Residual Effect, Honey for Christ, Condemned, War Iron, Overoth. Doors 6pm.
August 12th (TBC) Devil Makes 3, Dangerfields, BadBoat, Dawn, Sky Pilot, The Angry Host and hopefully one other. Doors TBC (will end at Midnight as it's a Sunday)

Good luck Andy with this weekend of fundraising! Hope it raises loads.

Loss of a NWOBHM pioneer

New Wave of British Heavy Metal pioneer Kelly Johnson of Girlschool has died aged 49. Kelly had been battling cancer of the spine for six years.

For those of long memories Kelly almost stole the show when Girlschool supported Motorhead at Maysfield Leisure Centre in the mid-80s. Condolences to her family.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"When did Motley Crue become classic rock?"

Perennial pop punk funsters Bowling for Soup asked “When did Motley Crue become classic rock” in their song ’1985’.

They had a point.

The term classic rock has expanded and evolved over the past five years to become an almost meaningless.

Flick through the pages of the (excellent) magazine of the same name and there is a diverse number of acts and genres lumped under the catch-all of ‘classic rock’. From the retro thrash of Trivium to the prog stylings of Porcupine Tree, the acts vary in ages from the ancient to the fresh. The magazine has even carried two cover-mount CDs of acts that one day aspire to be heirs to Guns ‘n’ Roses 80s sleaze rock throne.

But what classic rock is, for many, music played in the style of 70s and 80s hard rock, the style pioneered by proto-metallers Cream, elevated by Zeppelin and Free and evolved further by Lizzy, UFO, Whitesnake et al. Bluesy rock, with roots in the delta blues of Robert Johnson’s alleged crossroads deal with the devil. Latterly the likes of Thunder, Jet and Velvet Revolver kept the torch aflame when fad orientated music promotion kicked in during the latter years of the

In Northern Ireland there is a healthy crop of acts that can aspire to the title of classic rock, despite the connotations some may draw from that (free cardigan with every CD as was once wittily said by Scottish author Christopher Brookmyre).

Leading the pack in the classic rock vanguard is Downpatrick’s finest, The Answer. In fact they are blazing a trail few can keep up with.

The Answer has been on tour in perpetuity for the past 18 months. They have scored critical acclaim in that time, recorded healthy album sales, supported mega-acts Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones. Considerable achievements.

They have played Donington, collected awards and re-released their debut album, Rise, to record yet more sales (label support evident in Albert Records even taking ad slots on TotalRock!)

Put bluntly they are on the cusp of a real breakthrough to deserved monstrous mainstream success.

Yet, after I hooked up with James Heatley (drums) and Paul Mahon (guitar) prior to their award-winning gig at QUB Student’s Union, no magazines were interested in carrying the review and interview.

Was it that the band was being over-exposed? Was it that the label’s PR machine had been there already?

No, in fact there was a jaded feeling knocking about UK music editors that the band had been covered. Unless the label was paying for a hack’s flight to Japan then there was little interest in the review etc.

This is, in fact a sad testimony to the UK music press, and the wider journalistic view in the UK and Ireland. Build ‘em up, knock ‘em down. Fortunately for The Answer being knocked down usually is followed by being built back up again. That will happen to The Answer, not thanks to the cyclical nature of journalistic habits, but through the band’s obvious talent.

But, as the band look forward to recording the follow-up to Rise, they know that negative reviews, occasional sniping and even ennui from long-time fans, has set the bar higher than on their début platter.

“We hope to be in the studio in the autumn with a 2008 release,” said Paul, as he chugged at a bottle of water and looked only slightly suspiciously at a half-cut Belfastmetalheadsreunited editor.

And as such, how much weight can be put on their live performances? At The Mandella Hall they kicked up a storm. Occasionally a little too loose, the band still managed to hold the attention and awe of the crowd. Crowd awe aside, at times the band have been guilty of being too casual. Rhythm and lead have been noted to be wandering apart during some appearances…for lesser acts this would have been fatal. With Cormac’s professionalism and the band’s ability to right themselves it has been averted. As they grow in importance and exposure such looseness cannot be covered. But it is a tribute to the totality of the band’s dominance that such wanderings do not bother crowds.

Such adulation makes the band a little uncomfortable.

“Yeah, it’s nice,” said James, “But it was a bit mad in Japan.”

Kerrang!, spent two pages extolling the virtues and sales in Japan. Then gave a poor review for their Donington and Hyde Park appearances

Other mags showed their devotion by indifference.

Fickle press cannot be swayed by freebies (though I’m willing to try and be swayed by freebies!).

So what does the future hold? Blues-based groove is ‘in’ at the moment with a plethora of pseudo-rockers like The Killers bothering the charts.

Would The Answer sign their souls away for such fame?

Paul and James exchanged a nervous glance before answering that question…MTV fame and royalties versus longevity.

“The MTV royalties would be nice,” said James, “But we’re here for the long term.”

And that is the attitude that will make sure The Answer will slowly, but with inevitability, gain more fans, gain critical credibility and still be grounded in where their music comes from – classic rock with a Northern Ireland spin.

“We’re working on the songs for the next album,” said Paul.

Hard work is what The Answer do better than most. Great blues rocking is what they can and, all metal gods being willing, do best.

The next album will not have the benefit of, as James put it, “a dozen months of rehearsing on the road”.

What it will have is the benefit of goodwill the band has generated through the constant touring and swimming in the relatively strange seas of Japan and Korea.

The Answer will have a rocky ride over the next 12 months. “We’re ready for the challenge,” said Paul. But, the perseverance they have shown to date will need to be apparent in spades.

To return to Bowling for Soup…on their piss-take song ‘I’m Gay’ they declare a hate for bands that take their rock too seriously. The Answer know it is a serious game, they know that when they take to the stage it is a serious game, but other than that it isn’t life or death for the punters who put their pounds down for a few hours of fun and damn fine entertainment.

The Answer, even when not at their best , deliver pure hard rocking fun. Try to interrogate them about this and, well, there are no ulterior motives lurking in the background.

In short The Answer will lead the way towards a hallowed ground where they may not dominate, but will permeate and seal longevity.

For Northern Ireland it will be further proof that, in the wake of Van Morrison, Gary Moore, SLF, the Undertones, Therapy?, and Ash, there is a further wave of talent bursting through. Better still The Answer are inspiring and showing others that it can be done.

Rise up, the vanguard of true classic rock has led the way…let me follow!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gigging, ligging and reviewing

Got a gig coming up? Let us know and we'll put a listing up...(include link etc to myspace or other sites). Want to help us lig about.....ok, that was a blatant attempt to blag...but if you want review of album, ep or demo, same addy...

Raise your axes for charity!

Heavy metal ‘Summer Slaughter’ charity gig

SOME of the heaviest bands in Ireland will take to the stage on August 26th in an aural assault to raise money for children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent.

Belfast’s Spring and Airbrake will host ‘MM2- Summer Slaughter’ - the second time heavy metal and hard rock bands have rallied round a good cause in an epic gig.

Last time out 12 bands played in 10 hours – and the winning formula will be repeated again.

Event organiser, Laura Kennedy said the hard rock and heavy metal community had proved they could have a good time and help others.

“When we hosted the Valentine Metal Massacre hundreds had a great time and raised £1,100 for Fibromyagia Northern Ireland,” she said. “This time out we hope to repeat the experience and raise money for a great cause.”

Stephen Wright of White Wolf Promotions said fans of heavy music are in for a treat come August 26th.

“There’s another great line-up of bands ready to rock Belfast,” he said. “I know that these bands will let rip for the audience and all are fired up to be playing for such a good cause.”

A full list of bands playing will be available soon on www.myspace.com/valentinemetalmassacre with details of how you can help raise funds for CLIC Sargent through MM2: Summer Slaughter.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rosetta pix!

The pictures from Friday night's Rockin' the Rosetta with Heeltap/Stillroom/Million$Reload. View the pix here
In the meantime...some samples!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

So what is this metal lark anyway....

Back when rivers ran deep, eagles soared and Maggie Thatcher reigned like a scabbed snake...there was a music wave called New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Lumped in this genre were the likes of Saxon, Maiden, Priest, Tygers of Pan Tang...and even uber-cheesey rockers Def Leppard (but we all love the Lepps anyway!)

As the 80s rolled on the over-arching label of heavy metal was such that in the late 80s it wasn't unusual for Belfast's denim clad legions to watch Metallica, Bon Jovi, WASP, Marillion, Anthrax, Kiss and Alice Cooper all within a few months.

Then somewhere in the 90s music journos had to put labels on it all. Thrash Metal, Glam Metal, Speed Metal, Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Prog Rock, Adult Rock, Black Metal, Stadium Rock, Death Metal etc. All different. All with some common core of fans who will go to the gigs, all only bothering the charts occasionally, but all having longevity beyond all reason.

Which, by a very (VERY) tortuous route, brings me to Friday....

Was nattering with Kie and Phil of Million$Reload in the Rosetta's salubrious beer garden (best in Belfast!) before they headlined with Heeltap and Stillroom.

I choose, blithely, to paraphrase the converstion here...Phil mentioned that he read this blog, but wondered if and why Million$Reload would appear on a 'metal' blog as they were more 'classic rock'. Mmmm thought I, but then I recalled days when I saw Lepps and Blackfoot and Slayer and Metallica and Kiss and Anthrax...all while during my brief tenure at uni...So I said that 'back in the day' even Lepps were considered metal... Kie laughed "We're not as metal as Def Leppard?Are we?"

But come 10pm at the Rosetta labels were of no concern to anyone. Not that they should be!

Heeltap were on stage and laying down fine licks and tunes that belied their relatively tender years. They have a definite ability to eke out good songs that in less able hands could turn into cliché.

Stillroom were making their first venture into Northern Ireland. Even after winning through to Emergenza and the prospect of playing in front of 30,000 people they were still both nervous and stoked to be playing to a hundred at the Rosie.

They needn't have worried. Like pros they provided a show worthy of a stadium rather than a sparsely populated Rosetta. The band produces a great vibe, have obvious chemistry and have developed a repertoire of songs that span hard rockers, mellower moods and out raunch.

If this is how they perform nervey and on their Belfast début then it will not be long before they return!

Million$Reload, backing their album Anthems of Degeneration, concluded the evening's hard rock fun with a run through of most of the tracks on the platter.

Accomplished musos they are (after all the individual members have been gigging for a while to a consistently high level!) and they have songs that have been honed to a keen edge. The album tracks are now benefitting from more and more live exposure.

But are they metal (or even heavier than Lepps to answer Kie's question)? In this genre obsessed world they probably wouldn't qualify...nor, I'm sure would they want to.

Still I counted 20 people there who would normally be seen headbanging to heavier brethren, nodding their nappers to all three bands.

In the words of Stevie (he was the man responsible for getting the gear on stage, on time, plus another 100+ essentials) it was "damn fine entertainment for a fiver". Never mind what you call it, it was a great night.

And a few honourable mentions now follow (ya don't get this crap in Kerrang or Classic Rock!):
  • Alli - my co-conspirator;
  • Stevie (see above);
  • Andy from the Rosetta (and all the staff);
  • Sid....for being Sid;
  • Nichola and Stephen (for suggesting new nickname for Grets)
  • The Mysterious Barry...;
  • Bar staff;
  • Taxi firms (for not throwing out my lost phone); and,
  • All three bands....Carslberg don't do gigs, but if they did they'd book these three
And finally....a month before this I watched Chimira, Killswitch Engage and Machine Head...three metal bands. On Friday night I watched the hard rock of Heeltap, Stillroom and Million$Reload. And you know what...both were great gigs, albeit in different ways. As Rainbow once sang...Long Live Rock 'n' Roll. Now if only cut-off denims with painted back panels were to come back into fashion....

Friday, July 06, 2007

"Friday night's here..."

Belfast rock/punk gods SLF once sang of Belfast's entertainment scene Friday night's here/what's the scene/nothing to do/ya know what I mean' in their blistering invective of Here We Are Nowhere....how times have changed now rock, hard rock and metal have asserted themselves in....a post-conflict Belfast....

And on Friday night you can mainline that scene when Heeltap, Stillroom and Million$Reload hit the stage at the Rosetta!

Get yer asses along...doors 9pm...entry fee £5!