Pick Your Rock and Metal

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top 10 CDs of 2008

IT’S that time of year when it is time to look back – that is the end of the year – at what the past 12 months provided. And in metal terms it was a bumper 2008. A host of fantastic gigs, a bumper crop of songs and a superb basketful of albums.

It would be a tough task to gather all the highlights, but rather than bore all the constant readers, better to focus on one – our take here on the top 10 albums of the year. After all, every magazine, TV channel and radio station picks their top 10.

So below is our choice of Top 10 albums of 2008. We’re sure to have left one or two out, maybe left out your favourite platter of the year. Or you might think we’ve gotten it all wrong. Anyway, enjoy the choice and leave your comments.

Number One: Metallica – Death Magnetic.
After years of seeming wilderness twiddling the kings retook their throne at the top of the global metal tree. Only Iron Maiden are on a par. Death Magnetic was both a return to the progressive thrash roots and an evolution. Complex changes and simple riffing sit side by side, but above all it is simply a damn fine metal album.

Number Two: Amon Amarth – Twilight of the Thunder God.
Amon Amarth promised much in the past, but inconsistent albums hindered them. Twilight is a different proposition. If Vikings sounded like this then no wonder they kicked medieval ass: a surging triumph of battle metal that knows its thrash heritage – fearless and victorious.

Number Three: Airbourne – Runnin Wild.
Hell – small Australians, the Young brothers, Angry Anderson, and now the O’Keefe led Airbourne show that small Aussie rockers know how to provide a soundtrack for a good time. Runnin Wild is a soundtrack to a good time.

Number Four: Slipknot – All Hope is Gone.
The Nine aren’t the most optimistic bunch of extreme metallers. All Hope is Gone is a slavering beast of noise. Intermittent melody mixed with brutality. Simply superb.

Number Five: Cancer Bats – Hail Destroyer.
Swinging, angry, humorous, demons flying – Cancer Bats delivered a hilarious and nasty album, replete with anthems and irate tirades. But above all it was a chant-a-long party of metal.

Number Six: Trivium – Shogun.
Okay – it has been fashionable to slag off the Floridian crew, but Shogun finally saw Trivium throw off the training wheels. Approach this album with an open mind and you’ll find melody and aggression coupled with musicianship of the highest quality.

Number Seven: Dragonforce – Ultra Beatdown.
Only included here because it always makes us smile: yeah it isn’t much different from any other Dragonforce but it is fun as hell to listen to

Number Eight: Cavalera Conspiracy – Inflikted.
When the Cavalera’s got together they delivered a brutal, back to basics sound storm of riffs and primal beats. Not easy on the ear, but damn fine metal listening.

Number Nine: Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider.
Vincent Furnier’s alter ego delivered a tasteful tale of murder and slaughter, all with his usual poignancy and evil take on life – who said the son of a preacher man couldn’t rock out.

Number Ten: AC/DC – Black Ice.
Much overdue DC provided us with a reminder as to what straight forward hard rockin’ is supposed to sound like. And this was it. More bluesier in some parts, and even with a singalong anthem in Anything Goes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sweet 09 ahead

As mentioned earlier, Sweet Savage are supporting Saxon for the 26th April, 2009 Mandella Hall gig (tix £17). In preparation for this mighty NWOBHM line-up we caught up with Savage's axeman, Ian 'Speedo' Wilson who is looking forward to a healthy 2009 for Belfast's legendary rockers.

"We supported Saxon at their St George's Day concert in London last year and Biff was impressed enough to promise us this gig as well as others which we can't reveal just yet. I hope we can let everyone at Belfastmetalheads know the full details after Christmas.

"This is an exciting time for Sweet Savavge, we are currently half way through recording our new album and it's sounding pretty damn good, even though i say so myself!

"It will open a few eyes. There are promo videos scheduled as well as a rockumentry which began with us opening for Metallica in the summer.

"Aside from the album, we are eagerly awaiting our dates for next year. All we know is we will be touring throughout Europe over the Spring & Summer months as support to someone, we just can't say yet. In late summer we will be off to Germany/Spain for the Metal festivals."

Good luck to Speedo and the Savage crew - about time they were recognised for being more than a band that Metallica covered one of their songs. They were, and remain an inspiration -sometimes unknown - for so much of today's hard rock and metal.

Great way to end the tour

Couldn't make it to Black Stone Cherry tonight for various reasons...but to quote someone who was there...

"Great show. Hot and sweaty but they loved it. Voice was going half way through as he sings so harshly and they’ve being going 5 weeks straight.

"To quote them: ‘Great fucking way to end the tour man, amazing'!"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

April Fools...that would be the Eagles (of Death Metal)


While the Eagles are set for a return to Belfast, on April Fool's Day an entirely different set of raptors are set to make their Belfast d├ębut - Eagles of Death Metal.

Dismissed by some, loved by others - the Eagles arrived in 2004 when they launched their wholesome good-graciousness with “Peace, Love, and Death Metal.”

It was a favorite of advertisers, as several songs from it were used in television advertisements including those for Ask.com, Comcast, Payless ShoeSource, Nissan Motors, Budweiser, Pontiac Motors, Wendys, as well as in the trailer for the film Thank You for Smoking and for a promotional disc for the film Grindhouse.

Since then their 2006 release, Death By Sexy and this year's Heart On have earned then plaudits and cynicism in equal amounts.

The Eagles Of Death Metal play The Spring & Airbrake on Wednesday 1st April 2009. Tickets are on sale now from all usual outlets, priced £15 subject to booking fee as usual.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The other bit of Darkness

The Darkness played in Belfast twice...once at Ormeau Park, the second time at the Odyssey. At Ormeau Park they were at their trashy best, full of a mischievous glee at finding their glam rock, twin guitar pastiche popular. While the Odyssey gig was musically sound, the floating tits and overall campness suggested -looking back - that it was the beginning of the end for the Hawkins brothers as a gigging unit.

Cue trip to Priory for Justin, awful Eurovision attempt and gloom all round as the mainstream media pretended they knew it was a joke all along - the self-same mainstream media who nearly shat themselves handing The Darkness major-league awards and fawning at the feet of the band.

Dan Hawkins was first to dust himself off and return with a healthy spattering of old bandmates and start gigging with Stone Gods, bearing the same pomposity, but with a harder edge.

Now Justin is back recording and gigging with new act Hot Legs. On February 26th Hot Legs will be playing at The Limelight (tickets £11) in his new persona. While he remains as over-the-top and full of bullshit as ever, he has now moved on from the 70s inspired glam rock to a persona more akin to Dave Lee Roth. He's now added a 'Dave' in the middle of his name and was wearing a get-up much like Mr Roth's 'Jump' era denim and neck bandana in recent TV appearances.

February 26th will be a fascinating gig for a number of reasons. It could be like watching a car wreck.

Or it could be seeing a real resurrection from a man prepared to admit he has always been a pastiche of the past, and prepared to pay homage to an era we older wrinkly rockers earned our stripes in; and still hanker for innocent days when you could actually like Van Halen and Def Leppard as well as Metallica and Slayer without anyone batting an eyelid.

I'm hoping that Hawkins manages to pull it off - he's an annoying prat at the best of times, but I suspect he knows that it is all really for a laugh now, pays a few bills, that his arena headlining days are behind him, but playing in front of fans is just as important has having the 'serious' critics and fashionistas fawn up to him for fifteen minutes. Good luck for the 26th 'Dave' Hawkins!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Real Punch for DC fans!

Fretting over missing AC/DC's sold-out April date in Dublin...fear not for the Aussie monsters of rock will be bringing their Black Ice tour back to Ireland in June, with a date at Punchestown Racecourse.

So far only the date has been confirmed (28th June) with no details of ticket prices, support slots (surely it has to be The Answer!) or timings.

As soon as these are in the public domain we'll post it here.

New Zealand Datsun...

New Zealand hard rockers, The Datsuns, are set to play Belfast's Spring & Airbrake on February 6th...details and ticket prices to come

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

BBC finally realise there is a metal community

BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme is recording a feature for Christmas week (exact broadcast date to be confirmed) on hard rock and heavy metal.

The hook they are using is that hard rock and metal is 'enjoying' a resurgence with Metallica, AC/DC, Slipknot all topping the charts recently.

Reporter Julie Flanaghan contacted Belfastmetalheadsreunited and a few words were quickly laid down on tape. Truth be told it was a lot of waffle on my part...but it was early morning and without the requisite caffeine injection I may have even mentioned metal tapping into the deepest darkest psyche of the human condition....

Of course, seeing as Judas Priest are playing on the 11th February the old 'metal causes young people to commit suicide' line came out. Suffice to say she was reminded that the case was thrown out of court.

Julie also interviewed Circadian for the piece. We here at the Metal Mansion also put her in touch with several luminaries of the hard rock and metal scene, from Sweet Savage's Speedo, through to many, many others. If she ever gets in touch with them all and lays down interviews it may run to a three-hour piece...

Once the broadcast date is known please email goodmorningulster@bbc.co.uk and text in on 81771 to show the BBC that the metal community is in rude good health...

Thanks for the link below in the comments for the full interview...hear it here:

Supersuckin' pussy...

Excuse the headline innuendo, but it was too good an opportunity to plug the Supersuckers appearance with Nashville Pussy at the Limelight on 20th April. Ticket's £14.50

Saxon back

Saxon are to make a return visit to Belfast as part of their spring tour. According to Totalrock.com the veteran rockers will be playing the Mandella Hall on the 27th April. Support comes from out own NWOBHM legends Sweet Savage, who are laying down tracks for a new CD. More details soon.

Ticket prices to be confirmed

No need for a requiem for metal, all is not lost...

No need for a requiem for metal, all is not lost...okay, been a bit lax posting this, but suffice to say that last week BNB Promotions announced the headliner for this year's Full Metal Racket.

Paradise Lost will head the line-up of several stunning acts on Saturday 25th April at the Mandella Hall for what is sure to be an awesome all ages gig.

Full line-up:
PARADISE LOST
ROTTING CHRIST
STEVE GRIMMETT/GRIM REAPER
SCALD
CELTIC LEGACY
SORROWFALL
AIRGED LAM'H
FOR RUIN
SINOCENCE
DECAYOR

Monday, December 08, 2008

When does protection become censorship?

The Internet Watch Foundation has caused internet service providers across the UK to censor a Wikipedia Scorpions page with the cover of the 1976 album Virgin Killer. The picture is of a naked pre-pubescent girl. The picture is already available on dozens of websites as part of the band's discography.

The IWF statement is here, and you can judge for yourself the album's cover here.

Obviously in 1976 the internet was non-existent, and the standards of the time were less rigid. While we wouldn't condone such an album cover now, there is no hint of any child having been abused at the time through this picture being taken. Ironically, the album is not one of Scropions best of the 70's era, with only two tracks making it to the live Tokyo Tapes double platter just two years later.

But the IWF's action has enraged Wikipedia editors and users, with the claim being that the IWF action has led to users being unable to edit pages.

While this is a debate relating to web censorship, one has to wonder what is the next step in the IWF's crusade? While all of us should support actions to prevent child pornography and stop the abuse of children, the ability of a self-appointed body, which has no oversight or accountability to decide on the distinction between creativity and abuse. What would they have make of W.A.S.P.'s Animal: Fuck Like a Beast, Motorhead's Jailbait or other lyrics, stageshows, album covers etc.

I fear that heavy metal is once again under the censor's spotlight.

ADDENDUM: The IWF has backed down...they have now withdrawn their objection...in slightly less than gracious terms. :) Read the BBC report here.

while you're waiting...

Been up to my eyes lately hence the lack of regular posts...thanks for the kind emails...("where the f**k are you you lazy shit" being the highlight so far.

Normal service will be resumed shortly...til then check out the new Metallica video here for All Nightmare Long.

This one won't get past uncut by the censors on Kerrang! Scuzz and MTV etc, but it's well worth checking out, with an homage to so many art forms and trashy Zombie movies, as well as classical Soviet propoganda...nice merging between 'live' action and animation.

All proving the thesis that there are few acts who put as much effort into their promo videos...even though they will only be rarely seen!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Maiden vocalist's April battle

Paul Di'Anno has announced April dates on his myspace that are set to include a Belfast show. With Blaze Bayley playing around the time (full details to come soon). Will be interesting to see which one has the better solo material...my money is on Blaze