Pick Your Rock and Metal

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Permiership players unfit...drummers kick ass instead!

It's official drummers are as fit as premiership footballers! According to Chichester University drummers rock out with a heartbeat at 190 beats per minute. But given they only tested Blondie's drummer Clem Burke we reckon they're not pushing the envelope at all!

Imagine if they'd tested Tom Lombardo, Brann Dailor, Neal Peart, or even a host of Norn Iron metal drummers....premiership footballers would fade in their wake!

Too f***in' hot

It really is too fucking hot...both the gig listings and the temperature! Was in London today and yesterday (missed Ollie Dawson as a result but got smashed at the Crobar...!) and temperature was in the 30+ category. Enough of my misery and some gigs coming up...

On 8th August Waylander are introducing a wee CD to Belfast...it's been getting reviews in Kerrang! Metal Hammer and Terrorizer and the reception has been positive so far (well if it wasn't we'd head to their offices for a wee explanation about Norn Iron battle metal!) and Honour Amongst Chaos on Listenable Records is well....well worth a listen!

And the next day...RSJ and Residual Effect (with Stand-Up Guy and Two Tales of Woe) will be rocking RockD at Katy Daly's. And if you can still stand/function/walk Triggerman, Escape Fails, Soundstone and Dwell in Sun will be performing in the Spring & Airbrake....phew!

With Overoth, Last Judgement and Solace of Nadir on the 16th at Katy Daly's and too much to even mention... ahh hell you know I will mention it all again soon.

In the meantine I shall be crawling into a nearby freezer...before emerging refreshed, reasonably sober and ready for bottle or draft!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Chinese Democracy to see light of day?

Guns 'n' Roses (well Axl anyway!) seem finally about to release the most overdue CD of all time...Chinese Democracy. First taste will go to fans of the XBox 369 Rock Band game. The sequel (cunningly titled Rock Band 2) will include a track from Chinese Democracy entitled 'Shackler's Revenge'.

But with Metallica, AC/DC, System Of A Down, Motorhead, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Disturbed, Dream Theater, Bon Jovi, Jethro Tull, Rage Against The Machine, Ratt, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rush, The Smashing pumpkins, Steely Dan, Testament, The Offspring and The Who all contributing tracks will anyone notice Axl's track?

Finally...DC CD due out?

Rumours persist that AC/DC will be coming to Ireland at some stage. Rumours seem to centre on mid-2009 (Slane anyone?) after label sources have been talking up a release of new CD 'Black Ice' on October 27th,

Metallica's Guitar Hero plan

Metallica are to release their new album in September...and as well as the CD version of Death Magnetic it will also be available on both Guitar Hero III and Guitar Hero: World Tour...

25 years at the Spring and Airbrake...

Bon Jovi have been confirmed as the highest grossing live act worldwide in the first six months of 2008, selling 1.7 million tickets...which equates to about a 25-year residency at the Spring & Airbrake....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Residual Effect back and rockin!

"We're from Northern Ireland
We play extreme metal
We're Residual Effect
Any more questions? "

"FOR four years we've been blasting stages across Ireland and the UK . For four years we're been battering eardrums and blistering faces with our take on extreme metal. And we don't intend to let up any time soon."

The words of Residual Effect's fearsome frontman Micky Higgins – but more than that; it's the ethos that keeps Residual Effect alive and relevant to fans of metal played with an intensity and purity few can rival; few dare to try…

Northern Ireland has a burgeoning metal scene – Residual Effect were in the vanguard and they intend to lead from the front again.

After a brief hiatus that saw them recruit a new man on the sticks – Gerry Gallagher - Residual Effect are back on the road and back rehearsing new tracks for a forthcoming release.

And now for those who need a reminder...

Formed in 2004, Residual Effect have two releases under their collective belts: the Residual Effect EP and 2006 album 'In A World Where Pain is God'.

They've already played with acts such as Raging Speedhorn, Soulfy, Devildriver, Nevermore, Panic Cell, American Head Charge, Soil, Cephalic Carnage, Skinless, Born From Pain I Remain, Visceral Bleeding and RSJ.

"We've earned respect from our peers here in Northern Ireland and from much further a field," said bassist Anthony McKee. "Some of the bands we're played with gave us kudos, some admitted we blew them off the stage, some gave us only grudging respect.

"But no-one could challenge our ferocity, or our honesty."

In some of today's simpering, so-called metal such sentiments could be seen as hyperbole at best, arrogance at worst. But from Residual Effect they are a genuine reflection of the confidence of the band; confidence that comes from knowing they can deliver the goods.

And to paraphrase Micky…they don't intend letting up anytime soon!

Residual Effect play Katy Daly's on 9th August with R.S.J.

Photo credit Mark Leetch www.wakeuphate.com

Stone support

Slight amendment to the earlier story about Stone Gods...seems that they might be lined up as support for Airbourne at the Mandella Hall on November 11th. Confusion on my part comes from the fact that all the listings outside Northern Ireland have Airbourne performing at Limelight again...now that would be a bit crowded!

Confirmation of Stone Gods as support to Airbourne within next seven days.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Remember The Darkness?

Remember The Darkness? Now, go on, don't deny it! You hummed along to the tunes on Permission to Land before One Way Ticket to Hell and Back disappointed you, Justin Hawkins disappeared up his own arse and the whole thing fell down in an almost predictable shambles.

Justin's brother Dan shook himself off, took a while to gather his thoughts and set about looking up the word credibility in the dictionary, marshalled the troops and emerged last year with Stone Gods.

Although the basic Darkness template is there, Stone Gods have an edgier, harder rockin' sound, which at times veers towards - and whisper this softly - trad metal.

And now it seems that they are Belfast bound. No Odyssey extravaganza this time, but a date in The Limelight.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Make a date for old school this coming Sunday when classic NWOBHM comes to town, thanks to the Distortion Project team...Denim and Leather etc will be aired by Saxon founder member, Oliver Dawson...with support from A Little Bitter and Soloway. Hell, at least it's another chance to see ALB!

On a personal note the last time I saw Saxon I was still at school (doing 'O' Level Maths the same day...) and they played at the now closed Maysfield Leisure Centre. Missed 'Saxon' when they played here last (although after hearing what a dick Biff was to a friend not that sorry I did!)

Anyhows, here's the official blurb...

Oliver/Dawson Saxon will play The Spring and Airbrake, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast on Sunday 27th July. Support comes from A Little Bitter and Soloway. Doors on the day are at 7.30pm, and tickets (£12) are available from Ticketmaster.ie, www.geturticket.com, Katy Dalys and Zavvi (Virgin)

Saxon is one of the founders of the heavy rock/heavy metal genre. The band evolved in the early 1980,s from Son of a Bitch (SOB) – founded by Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson near Sheffield, UK. Now performing as OLIVER DAWSON SAXON (ODS) the original sound and perspective of the band has been developed further with the arrival of best mate of Guns n Roses’ Slash – ‘Wardi’ John Ward – on vocals. Saxon produced over 17 full albums in their career from which numerous hit singles were released. The original SOB song, Wheels of Steel, set down a marker from which much of the band’s song writing stemmed. Nowadays, ODS performs the newer and also the older classic compositions such as Denim & Leather, Dallas 1PM, Crusader, 747 (Strangers in the Night), Frozen Rainbows etc in a more contemporary heavy style.




http://www.myspace.com/httpwwwmyspacecomods (Oliver Dawson Myspace site)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

'Love, Blood, Family, You' amidst the shops

Somehow Belfast's flagship shopping centre didn't know what hit it on Friday, 18th July. Amidst the designer brands, fashionistas and chic shops a cacophony of hard edged rocking rattled the rafters of the architecture as Escape Fails ripped into an hour-long set to launch their début Cd.

All bar one track off Love, Blood, Family, You was aired for a crowd of family, friends, fans..and some stragglers who wandered unexpectedly to a congenially noisy set.

Banter about the price of the CD (in case anyone forgot...£6!) proved unnecessary as they fairly shifted off the shelves...helped no doubt by a confident airing.

Management asked, at one point, politely if EF could turn it down...well they did. A wee bit.

From album opener through to Wall the EF team may as well have been playing a stadium as they displayed a well-honed confidence in the limited space.

Played in CD running order (even if Ryan had to be reminded of the what song came where at least once!) the set may have been constrained by time and venue but EF maintained intensity.

Brighten the Blackest Sky, In the Arms of the Storm, Obsession and Wall particularly stood out when aired.

But overall, what was apparent was the album's running order made sense when played as a coherent entity.

Although CD closer Flarestar was left out - as explained by Ryan it's a personal, special song for the band - Love, Blood, Family, You's launch emphasised the heights EF can rise to, and judging from these beginnings they are starting to scale what could be heady heights.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Power and Angst on 'Love, Blood, Family, You'

AT this moment in time there is a burgeoning Northern Ireland rock and metal scene, with more and more bands maturing to a point where they are on the cusp of excellence.

Latest to enter the fray of CD releases is Escape Fails. On July 18th (Friday) they release their début ‘Love, Blood, Family, You’.

Escape Fails have already proven their fervour on the live front, but translating that intensity from a sweat-soaked stage to a platter you can listen to in the comfort of your own living room or to pin yer ears back in the car is always a challenge.

Thankfully EF have managed to largely meet that challenge with a consummate display of songwriting and performance.

At times EF steer a risky path between the metalcore of 36 Crazyfists and post- hardcore á la Fightstar. Throw in a healthy appreciation of power-pop sensibilities and it is a heady mix to try and distil on to a 10-track CD.

Opener ‘Bring Me Down’ is where EF show that they can match riffage with the subtlety. It kicks off with a guitar assault but segues into melody with poise.

‘First to Fall’s hook heavy guitar lines scream single, before ‘In the Arms of a Storm’ swaggers like Killswitch Engage and ‘Crazyfists’ in a drunken brawl about a failed romance outside a Belfast pub.

And here lies in the strength of the album. EF’s influences are clear and present for all to see. They neither hide them nor flaunt them. Rather they incorporate, assimilate those influences and produce a unique blend.

Sometimes that gets a little lost in the cacophony, such as in the all out assault of ‘Dancing in the Fallout’, which doffs a cap at too many other post-hardcore acts in an otherwise excellent work-out. It’s one of the few times the production and arrangement let the proverbial side down, but most newcomers to EF will neither know nor care!

What EF do well here is meld sounds, subtleties that have too often been lost on stage emerge stronger. From the well-arranged ‘Wall’ (familiar already to visitors to their Myspace site) through the poignant ‘Death of Jane Doe’ there is a better appreciation that by matching the arrangement with the lyrical story and the disparate musical parts you can produce a stronger song.

Nowhere is this more evident that on album-closer ‘Flarestar’. Here EF have managed to sum up the tale they tell.

Yes, there are some who will accuse them of singing of the angst of relationships and the hazards of the heart. There is no sense here of bleating, no sense of singing about problems amidst a background of cheery melodies and business-manufactured hairstyles.

As on ‘Brighten the Blackest Sky’s furious chorus scream, ‘Fallstar’ deploys the right tool at the right time. Power can be delivered in clean guitar picking as much as in distorted wailing axes and screamed lyrics.

The entire Escape Fails crew seem to have discovered the ability on ‘Love, Blood, Family and You’ to make sure that power can express angst and that sometimes the angst can best be exorcised with healthy dose of guitar.

Overall a damn fine first foray in the ‘proper’ recorded medium, but as this is after all primarily a metal site, one quick recommendation…more guitar solos please!

Remember – Escape Fails launch the CD at ZAVVI, Victoria Square, Belfast on July 18th at 6pm, with a live performance of tracks that will shake the rafters of the dome and shock more than a few of the permed and preened House of Fraser clientele. Should be a corker!

'Force video

If you didn't know by now Dragonforce are coming back to Belfast in October with the mighty Turisas. As a taster here's the 'Force's latest video, for 'Heroes of Our Time' off their forthcoming August release platter...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Two nights of RAWK 'N' Roll

Fasten yer seatbelts for two nights of rawk 'n' roll mayhem!

Tomorrow (Tuesday) Arnocorps touch down in the Black Box to lay down their Schwarzenegger inspired vibes (piss-take or genius...you decide). Support comes from highly rated thrashers Gama Bomb (their new album with Earache well worth a listen!), relaible noiseniks Hand of Death and Escape Fails. EF are about to launch their debut album...and from early listens it's set to be bring the EF guys to a new level.

Once you've recovered your breath from that...head off to the Spring and Airbrake on Wednesday night for the rock and blues geeeeetaaarrrr of Joe Bonamassa. Ok, it ain't exactly metal, but if you wannna learn the licks you gotta see where the tricks come from. Bonamassa has an unerring ear for combining the best of blues with the attitude of hard rock. While there are shredders by the dozen Bonamassa has a feel for mixing technique with style and a lyricism. With Kevin Shirley at the helm of his latest release Sloe Gin he has produced a landmark of rock and blues fusion. Check out his versions of John Martin's Jelly Roll and Paul Rogers' Seagull for evidence!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Landmines and Dixie

Hayseed Dixie - for those who have been living in a closet for the past decade - is a band described as "A Hillybilly tribute to AC/DC." The band performs cover versions of hard rock songs in a style that is a cross between bluegrass and rock, which some have termed rockgrass.

The band's name is a play on the name AC/DC. The band will play the Spring & Airbrake on Sunday 31st August - when they'll be bringing their own original material to the stage, along with their unique take on rock and metal through the years.

A quick word from their frontman...

Barley Scotch In His Own Words

"I’m Barley Scotch, singer and guitar player of Hayseed Dixie, and I’m here to tell you about our new record that we’re calling “No Covers” and that the record label is supposed to be releasing on February 18, 2008. If you don’t have one, you need to call up Joolz, our publicist person.

"The whole thing started when I was sitting on an airplane from somewhere to somewhere else (we fly around a LOT – see the previous “industry standard press release”). I was just finishing up a Mark Thomas book and I happened to have the interesting fortune of sitting beside a nice 60+ year old businessman-looking fellow who turned out to be an American arms dealer.

"We got to talking about guns and stuff and he whooped out his catalog. Somewhere around page 20-something I got to the M-16 Anti-Personnel Mine, nicknamed the Bouncing Betty. Hell, there was a studio picture of it backed by crushed velvet! It turns out there are thousands of these little honeys just waiting for the right man to come along scattered all around the nastier parts of the world.

"So I asked the fellow … was there a decent chance that if I had gotten off my motorcycle when I was riding through Bosnia and ignored the “Beware of Land Mines” signs everywhere and walked out into the field, and one of these Bettys bounced up and “rendered me nonviable” (the catalog’s words), it might have said “Made in Springfield, Missouri” on the bottom of it?

"He took the catalog back and quit talking to me and I ran into the airplane toilet and wrote the words to the song Bouncing Betty Boogie on a handful of toilet roll.

"And that’s how all the words to all of the songs came – personal experiences and talking to people during the 2007 world tour. When you travel every single day for months on end, you meet yourself some real characters.

"The music was inspired a lot by all the bands we played with at festivals and who supported us on our own gigs. Every one of them had drums and electric guitars, and we got to thinking that it would be a hell of a lot of fun to crank up a Les Paul and pound some drums on about half of the songs - we’ve always been a rock band, just using acoustic instruments.

"Why not get REALLY loud this time? We’re really excited about the record and we think we stayed true to our roots while also moving ahead and growing musically.

"And by the way, if you’re gonna sell the damn promo CD you got with this to a used record place, at least have the decency to wait until after it’s actually been released.

"You may think the record is crap, and I frankly don’t give a damn what your personal opinion is about it, but if you sandbag us at retail you’re just an asshole and if I find out about it I’ll give you an East Tennessee asswhooping.

John Wheeler (credited as Barley Scotch) –vocals, guitar, fiddle, founding member
Don Wayne Reno – Banjo
Dale Reno – mandolin
Jake Byers – bass

Funereal support

It won't be wake when Funeral for A Friend play Belfast in October...as well as local hopefuls In Case of Fire playing support Cancer Bats will be on the line-up. All together now...HAIL DESTROYER!

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Funeral For A Friend have confirmed another visit to Belfast. The Welsh five piece play on October 15th at the Spring and Airbrake, tickets £15.

Here's the blurb courtesy of Dino and the team at CDC Leisure, which captures the mood of the band when they released their last album, and just before their last Belfast date, at which it has to be said they emerged from teeny emo, screamo widdliness into a proper hard rock act. Come October, hopefully that transition will be complete!

In any life, the end of adolescence and the coming to terms with adulthood is a cataclysmic time. But imagine vaulting that hurdle while a member of a rock n roll group skyrocketing their way to fame, living through and adjusting to these changes in the public spotlight.

Imagine trying to learn from your mistakes with an ever-growing army of rabid fans hanging on your every gesture, attempting to ride out both the emotional tsunami and some truly life-altering experiences.

Since their inception just three years ago, gale-force Welsh rockers Funeral For A Friend have experienced more extraordinary highs and lows than most people will go though in their entire existence.

In the UK, the band have been nothing less than a phenomenon, scoring three Top 20 singles, a gold-certified debut album, headlining the second stage of the world famous Reading/Leeds Festival and winning Kerrang!'s Best Newcomer award.

In the States, the band has received reams of critical praise while growing their ever-increasing fanbase via tours alongside such like-minded outfits as Linkin Park, Taking Back Sunday, Coheed & Cambria, From Autumn To Ashes and Atreyu.

All of which can be quite a headfuck, especially if you factor in the twenty-something tumult as well."HOURS," Funeral For A Friend's eagerly anticipated second Atlantic Records release, tells the story of that headfuck, passionately essaying the vulnerability of young adulthood via such potent tracks as the album's first single, "Streetcar."

Following on the heels of 2003's breakthrough label debut, "CASUALLY DRESSED & DEEP IN CONVERSATION," Funeral For A Friend have carefully cast a sound by turns heavier and softer than before, with the band's dual impulses for metallic riffage and melodic bloom no longer at odds with each other.

"We wanted to make a record that had no sense of compromise," adds guitarist Kris Coombs-Roberts. "Something people would either really love or hate, that no one would feel "wishy-washy" about. There's no middle ground."For this purpose, the band left their native South Wales for Seattle, Washington, where they lived for two months recording "HOURS" with renowned hard rock producer Terry Date (famed for his work with Soundgarden, Pantera and Deftones among others).

The two months of sessions working at both the legendary Bad Animals studio, and Pearl Jam's own, personally built studio was the longest the band had stayed in one place for as long as they could remember.

They put down roots as deep as they could, digging inside of themselves for the music that would make up "HOURS.""To be honest, we didn't see all that much of Seattle," drummer Ryan Richards notes.

"We were so excited about the process of making the record, we stayed in the studios most days and nights.""We knew we had to make a landmark record," adds bassist Gareth Davies.

"It had to be better than anything we'd done before."While the band was rightly proud of the acclaimed "CASUALLY DRESSED & DEEP IN CONVERSATION," they nonetheless viewed it as somewhat compromised, compiling previously released singles and only a handful of new tracks.

They were determined that "HOURS" would be a proper album of pace, structure, mood and sentiment. It would reflect the distance Funeral For A Friend had come as both musicians and as songwriters.

The bludgeoning hardcore assault was finessed, strengthened; the melodies were stronger, stickier, nagging and unforgettable. Matt Davies' lyric sheet rang the changes further: deeper, darker, more mature, his words navigating the same emotional icebergs he and the band had encountered over the past year.

"The album is all about the idea that nobody's perfect, "he reflects, "That perfection doesn't exist. That nothing is that well-built."

Though Funeral For A Friend is a true group, stronger than the sum of their parts, it was Matt in particular who felt the pressures of the preceding months. As the group's focal point, he became the fulcrum and sustained the deepest wounds, learned the hardest lessons, on behalf of the band.

There were points where his voice suffered, where his health as a whole suffered. There was a stay in the hospital."My body was shutting down," Davies recalls. "was skeletal, fucked up. I thought, "All this pain, should I just go away? Should I just croak it?" But then I realized I've got a lot of things to look forward to. I've got to get better, get my ass moving!"Those feelings inform "HOURS," from its deeply personal lyrics to its emotionally charged sonic power. While "Monster's Ball" and "At The End Of Nothing" are fraught with a ferocious ferocity that is, quite frankly, breathtaking in its force and fervor, songs like "Recovery" and "Hospitality" showcase the band's melodic depth and mounting maturity.

Working with the skilled Terry Date enabled FFAF to capture their gifts for multi-faceted songcraft while polishing the diamond-precise crunch of their pulverizing live performances.

"People are going that the emo-screamo tag that was put on us really doesn't fit," points out guitarist Darran Smith.

"That's not what we are. We're a rock band, and with the diversity of this album, we show that there are a lot more strings to our bow."The heartfelt noise of "HOURS" makes it plain that, for Funeral For A Friend, their hard won experiences has endowed the band with a strength and self-confidence that will see them through the triumphs and the trials of the rest of their lives. Funeral For A Friend has grown up, and it suits them fine.

Residual on the 6th

Don't forget Sunday's Residual Effect gig at Lavery's!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Honour? Chaos? Folk Metal?Must Be Waylander

Irish folk metal warriors Waylander will be bringing their unique take on folk tales to the Darkened Halls of Metal (well The Limelight at least!) on 8th August.

While many wait for Turisas's appearance with Dragonforce in the month of Samhain (October that would be) Waylander give the Finnish Battle Trolls a serious run for their money on latest release (at least from the tracks posted to date on their My Space) Honour Amongst Chaos.

The platter touches down on 7th July according to their site...though why release it on a Sunday? But then again why not when Pagan tradition has Saturday the night of feasting etc, and modern tradition has Sunday the day for shopping...with the nice civilised time of opening at 1pm, when the hangover has abated somewhat!

Loyalties not divided

Amidst the rausous cacophony of Guns 'n' Roses sleae rock, Duff McKagan's punk influence kept the anarchy alive. Asides from the unfortunate Spaghetti Incident covers CD, it was apparent that he maintained his allegiance to the punk ethos on a couple of snappy tracks from Use Your Illusion I & II.

And while he's keeping true to the punk (anti)dream with Loaded, he's bringing one of the latest bunch of punk hopefuls, The Loyalties, with him when Duff's Loaded play at The Spring & Airbrake on 25th September. Find out more about The Loyalties Ramones/Black Flag swagger here.