Pick Your Rock and Metal

Monday, March 31, 2008

Worst kept secret...

The worst kept festival secret of the summer has been confirmed - Metallica will headline the Reading and Leeds festivals...Leeds on August 22nd, and Reading on Sunday 24th...read the official announcement on the 'Tallica site here; and note the hint at further shows...let the 'where on the island of Ireland?' rumour mill resume!

UPDATE: Also confirmed on the Reading/Leeds bill are Rage Against the Machine, Slipknot, Queen's of the Stone Age, Serj Tankian, Tenacious D, Bullet for My Valentine (don't forget their June 2nd gig at the Spring & Airbrake), Avenged Sevenfold, Dropkick Murphys, Feeder and Manic Street Preachers

Sunday, March 30, 2008

New shit, old shit - it's all good shit..

The future is bright - the future is metal...ok, hands up; that's a pretty tired attempt to flog an ad cliché in a manner designed to raise familiarity of phrase. But familiarity of phrase came to the fore when the Distortion Project's latest Saturday show brought new heights of familiarity - in the best sense of the word. Not in terms of familiarity breeding contempt - rather the familiarity of seeing two local acts primed for new releases and the return of the awesome Panic Cell for their first headling show in the city.

Interrogate have been through a variety of phases in their time. On stage first tonight, their hardcore shaped metal sound presented both a challenge and an invitation to the patrons of The Limelight. Arriving with their usual stomp attack, the band unveiled two tracks from their soon-to-be-released new CD.

Despite occassionally muddy sound for the guitar parts Interrogate delivered an invigorating set. New tracks Victim and Losing it All swaggered forth with precision. Further live outings will strengethen these yet further.

Andy also chose to tonight to demonstrate a versatility in his vocals that has in the past been too often hidden. With the rest of the guys he proved that Interrogate have groove as well as balls.

Sinocence are also gearing up for an album release, and their thrash tinged metallic assault was peppered with new twists to their ever reliable sound.

Alongside old faves, new riffage was unveiled- it doffed a cap to Bay Area influences without being slavish to an eighties vibe. At times Morro's voice flagged under the strain, but with being away from the boards for a while it was a forgivable flaw, which didn't detract from the impressive attack. Like Interrogate some of the more detailed guitar parts were occassionally lost in the otherwise fine sound mix.

Restricted to an hour-long set, this was Panic Cell's first headlining appearance in Belfast, although with previous gigs on the Ormeau Road they are all familiar and welcome faces.

Catching up with Luke shortly before the show he expressed his pleasure of being back in boomtown (interview to follow later). But for all the band's amiability and all-round niceness off stage, once on the boards all bets are off...quite simply they produced a blistering set of ferocity and feral brilliance.

Smattered with favourites from the soon to be re-issued 'Bitter Part of Me' and a healthy dose of anthemic tracks from last year's follow-up 'What Doesn't Kill Us...' the truncated set was delivered with aplomb and stagecraft that many wannabes could do well to learn from.

As always Luke's presence dominated, with walkabouts into the crowd, singalong Belfast moments and joining a brief, if small pit.

Feature moments included the rousing 'Calm', the tuneful but heavy Fallen, and crowd fave Save Me.

Of course, Panic Cell have an assurity and deploy their craft well that only comes from constant touring. But this was not a set by numbers. Forced to whittle down, they blitzed with the deciptively melodic thrash of Stare into Oblivion and the power of Shallow.

Dead to Me proved to be even more impressive this time around - as an album closer it has epitomised the Cell's ethos of classic metal with a twist. Live it is an aural assault few could equal.
But what impressed most was that depite the clichéd, but welcome moments (share the Jager anyone?) this wasn't a set that drew on familiar shapes and well-worn chant and clapalongs. Instead it was five people on stage having a great time - which meant the crowd fed off Panic Cell's vibe, who in turn fed off the crowd, creating a virtuous circle that contributed to a great early evening entertainment.

Panic Cell, as noted previously, are vastly under-rated. They deserve a much bigger break, not because of hard work, or a reward for persistence. Not even for persuading a jaded old hack like me down to the front to headbang. No, they deserve to have greater exposure and a major break simply because of what they do - deliver damn fine music, bang on the money every time.

So, in lazy hack style summary...

Interrogate and Sinocence warmed up the crowd by proving potential can translate into power, before the punters received a pumelling by Panic Cell...ah the future is metal; old shit, new shit, it's all good shit!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Don't Panic - it's almost here!

Don't Panic is emblazoned on the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy...and there's certainly no need to panic as the return of Panic Cell is almost upon us. Luke and Co will hit the stage at The Limelight on Saturday in a line-up ably propped up by Sinnocence and Interrogate.

Show your support by heading along and visiting the band's sites:
Panic Cell

To keep you going check out Panic Cell's Save Me and Fallen videos.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pepper's Democracy incentive

Dr Pepper could be stung to the tune of 260 million cans. The soft drink company has said they will give every citizen of the United States a free can of Dr Pepper if Guns 'n' Roses release Chines Democracy before the end of the year. Nice gimmick, but not much chance of them having to pay up!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Return for Fighting the Wire

They're much hyped as the saviours of Northern Ireland's rock scene, and now Fighting With Wire are coming home to Belfast to launch they're Man Vs Monster platter at the Spring & Airbrake on 31st May. Here's the official blur:

DOORS: 8pm TICKETS: £6.00

Tickets available from Katy Daly’s, Virgin & all usual Ticketmaster outlets. Credit card bookings & info: 0870 2434455. Book online at www.getURticket.com

Fighting With Wire are a fantastic success story from our very own shores. The 3 piece have recently signed a multiple album deal with Atlantic Records and will be touring with there new album MAN VS MONSTER, (released 3rd March 2008). They will be headlining in the Spring & Airbrake on Saturday 31st May to a more than likely rapturous crowd of

“An imminent debut album will seek to harness the onstage Hiroshima that the three-piece detonate each and every time they play live."
Alternative Ulster

"vicious and stinging in parts, but applied with dexterity and finesse"

Fighting With Wire - ‘Man vs Monster’

Debut album from Derry trio. Forty-five minutes of razor sharp riffs colliding full force with huge melodies. Recommended for fans of Jimmy Eat World, Foo Fighters, Hüsker Dü and Biffy Clyro.

Fighting With Wire emerged from the ever creative Northern Ireland music scene in 2003, the brainchild of guitarist Cahir O’Doherty (Jetplane Landing / Clearshot) and drummer Craig McKean (Clearshot).

An idealistic bunch, they’ve since done what rock bands are meant to do: they wrote a bunch of songs, and took to the road. The last three years has seen them play shows with the likes of Reuben, Biffy Clyro, Million Dead, Seafood, YCNI:M and Future Of The Left, racking up hundreds of miles and honing their live show into a ferocious explosion in the process.

After putting out a number of limited edition DIY singles, they took a breather at the end of 2006 and finally started work on their long-awaited debut album. Recorded in Northern Ireland and finally completed in mid-2007, Man Vs Monster is a dynamic beast of a record – raging out of your speakers one moment yet gentle and intricate the next, and all without losing focus of what’s important: the song. What’s next for Fighting With Wire? More touring and more songs, we would expect.

"Do what you believe in, believe in what you do and don’t give a damn about anything or anybody else. That seems to be the philosophy of Fighting With Wire."
Rock Sound


Now on to the views of BelfastMetalheadsrenited...after catching them with Ash I was underwhelmed...but a week later when they supported Biffy Clyro I was forced to re-evaluate them. FTW are a force to be reckoned with.

Good luck to them! Now, hopefully the labels and A&R men will hover to sign up the likes of Escape Fails, Siundstone - and a hundred others worthy of similar accolades and opportunities!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gama Thrash...

It's a wee bit overdue but congrats and big up to Gama Bomb for signing with the Earache label...and they've even been mentioned by the non-metal NME in a feature on Thrash!

But most of all a big up to Philly and Luke for rating Among The Living as one of the top 5 Thrash albums, as it is a platter rarel off the Belfast Metalheads Reunited Decks of Doom. Nice to know the young 'uns have taste. :)

Sorrowfall added to Thurisaz tour

Sorrowfall have been added to the brief Thurisaz Irish tour in June. The dates and line up is:
Fri June 6th - Lavery's Belfast w/ Sorrowfall, Devilmakesthree, Overoth.
Sat June 7th - Fibbers, Dublin w/ Sorrowfall, Valediction, Ex Inferus.
Sun June 8th - An Cruiscin Lan, Cork. w/ Sorrowfall, Valediction, Ex Inferus.

Belgian's finest (apart from their beers!) Thurisaz will be playing a selection from their new platter 'Cricadian Rhythms' during the three date tour.

A Thurisaz vid to keep you in anticipation til June...

..and a brief Sorrowfall minute or so..

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Why the court said long hair had to go...

Regular readers will remember the case of the pupils at County Antrim's Ballyclare High School who refused to have their hair cut, in contravention of the then shool policy.

The presiding judge in the Judicial Reiew - Jutice Weatherup has now made his judgement available online. In it he outlines his reason for saying the school policy was legal, the punishment was wrong and why the school council should be involved in revised uniform/appearance policy.

Hopefully the pupils concerned will be allowed to continue to complete their GCSE examinations and they can then fuck off to somewhere that respects their abilities rather than some 19th Century rose-tinted version of reality.

Should you be an insominiac you can read Justice Weatherup's judgement here.

So we all just wanna be big rock stars...

Nickleback are set to make their Belfast début on 12th September this year at the Odyssey Arena.

No doubt half the crowd will be made up of people who know three songs (Rock Star, Photograph and How You Remind Me) but there will, hopefully be a few others who actually have the albums rather than 3 iTunes downloads.

The last time Nickleback visited these isles, supporting Bon Jovi, they delievered - by all accounts - a rousing performance, so hopefully when they land at the Odyssey they can repeat the feat.

PS: Nickleback also earned one of the funniest review headlines ever in Kerrang! - "Nickleback in half-decent album shock!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Rumour Mill continues

Ever hopeful metalheads have been stoking the rumour mill...ahh sure if all the bands we want to see were to sign up for Belfast dates we'd all be broke and going to gigs sober!

This week's instalment sees rumours abound over Dio...that the great-grandaddy of metal announced two UK May dates last month has seen speculation mount that Ronnie will return to Belfast. Well we can wish, but no signs just yet.

The 'Tallica rumour mill still continues with the Gods playing every hole in the hedge across Ireland according to some....again no signs!

But the ponces that book gigs for middle-class wine tipplers have managed to book The Police to play Stormont...they join Pavarotti, Eagles Rod Stewart in playing the grounds of Stormont. Methinks that despite the many thousands of hard rock and heavy metal fans in Northern Ireland we'll neve see a serious hard rock/metal act play Stormont. But then again, if you were a groundskeeper at Stormont would you let us go there?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bored on a Friday night?

Bored on Friday nights....

It's all change for Friday nights at Auntie Annie's, one of Belfast's best known alternative club venues and bars. After eight years of hosting a succession of indie and alternative music nights - the less said the better - the future emphasis will be firmly on rock music, covering the entire spectrum ranging from classic rock from Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Motorhead, to heavy metal, punk and modern alternative rock.

Resident DJ is Tony Wright, guitarist with the highly regarded local band And So I watch You From Afar. In his capacity as a DJ, Tony has played at Belfast's Limelight club, as well as appearing behind the decks several times at Lavery's.

Over the coming months, Tony will be joined by guest DJs including Cahir from the phenomenally successful local band Fighting With Wire and LaFaro's Johnny.

For the opening night and throughout the month of April, the first 25 customers will be entitled to a free bottle of beer, courtesy of Carlsberg, and there will be other amazing drinks promotions on offer running throughout the night.

For more details contact the venue on 028 9050 1660

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Damn this!

Damn this being less than 100% fit and healthy! Regular readers will know that I've been recently diagnosed with diabetes type 2. Little did I know that as a result I'd miss a gig that I'd really being looking forward to!Without going in to too much detail I was 'not well' and didn't make it to see one of my rock idols, Fish.

Friends like Juno and Baal were there - worse still I left my phone in work so couldn't even apologise for not worshipping at the altar of the Mighty Scot!

From henceforth I decree that even if 'they' strap me to a hospital bed I'll not miss a gig that I want to see...blood pressure, well The Clash sang about Pressure Drop; heart fucked...well Nirvana sang about Heart Shaped Box; and even if yer privates are bleeding and you may need a leg or two amptated...

Moshing and stagediving might be a problem if short a limb or two, but what the hell!

Sorry to all for not being tere, and apologies to Fish...I briefly had the pleasure of meeting you in 1985 (Marillion, Maysfield Leisure Centre, hello Kyle!) and your music's impact has only been matched by Metallica, Sabbath, Maiden, Anthrax and Machine Head. For a prog rocker/folk rocker to stand on such equal terms for a wrinkly, diabetic such as I reveals the regard I have for you!

Again to all I hoped to be there with..sorry.

Bad Company for Belfast

Seminal 70s classic rockers will be touching down in The Empire on Saturday May 3rd...thanks to Alli and Colin for flagging this up. In the words of Colin: "Bank holiday weekend as well !! Should be a crackin' show, really lookin' forward to this."

Focus on Belfast

Prog rock mentalists Focus are set to land in Belfast for an 18th April slot at the Spring & Airbrake.

With their unique progressive rock Focus manifested themselves at the start of the seventies as the most successful and the most appreciated of all the Dutch pop-rock exports. The group released Moving Waves, which brought the band international acclaim and a hit on both sides of the Atlantic with the radio edit of the rock rondo Hocus Pocus. This rock classic consists of Akkerman's guitar chord sequence used as a recurring theme, with quirky and energetic interludes that include alto flute riffs, accordion, guitar, and drum solos, whistling, nonsensical vocals, falsetto singing, and yodeling.

The band were fronted by the much admired duo of Thijs van Leer on the Hammond organ/flute and Jan Akkerman on the guitar. Their hit potential came in the form of a couple of instrumentals, "Hocus Pocus", "House of the King", and "Sylvia", but we shouldn't forget their timeless albums "Moving Waves", "Focus 3" and "Hamburger Concerto". But like all good things, it couldn't last and internal wrangling ended this legendary group.

After an initial careful comeback which resulted in a well received album "Focus 8", the band are now back on the frontline, with a fantastic line-up! Of course the founder member and musical genius Thijs van Leer is still holding the fort. Also back in his old spot is Pierre van der Linden, the drummer who is internationally renowned for his rhythmic skills, and who was and still is a defining factor in the whole Focus sound. Together with Bobby Jacobs who stems from a well acclaimed Dutch jazz family, they are responsible for the rhythm section and that unmistakable Focus groove. The talented Niels van der Steenhoven, who without any shadow of a doubt can hit the mark when it comes to the guitar completes the band's line-up.

A new Focus era has arrived. There is a rejuvenated passion in the new compositions, that adorn the new album "Focus 9 / New Skin", which has been released on the famous Red Bullet label of Willem van Kooten. This album -and the following gigs- will surprise the loyal fans. They will hear once again all the classic Focus tunes and they will be surprised at the strength and depth of the new material. "Our music is evolution, not revolution", Thijs van Leer once said about the music of Focus. Well now, the evolution is at full pace.

Thijs van Leer - Hammond-orgel, flute and vocals
Niels van der Steenhoven - guitar
Bobby Jacobs - bass
Pierre van der Linden - drums


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Aussie rockin' power

Aussie AC/DC soundalikes and general excellent party metal groovers Airbourne are set to his Belfast on 18th June.

Wildly over-the-top bad air guitar shapes are predicted - not least from Belfastmetalheadsreuntied editor!

If you are a fan of classic rock 'n' metal á la DC and haven't got a copy of Airbourne's album...why not. Ok, it ain't the most original platter to ever darken your CD collection, but damn it is a whole lotta fun despite the AC/DC soundalike sections!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Korn-free Davis

Kor's Jonathan Davis brings his solo tour to Northern Ireland when he plays the Spring and Airbrake in June 23rd...we'll all be able to see how many freaks are let off the leash that night!