Pick Your Rock and Metal

Thursday, December 31, 2009

First you play Carrick....

Carrick Castle...Status Quo appear there and then they Rossi and Parfitt get OBEs in the New Year's Honours list. A coincidence?

That was the metal year that was...2009

THE triumphant seizure of the Christmas Number One by Rage Against the Machine was, for many, a fine way to round up what we here on this blog predicted would be a vintage year for metal. For once, in several years the sub-Butlins talent show that is the X-Factor did not have a vacuous so-called singer, claim their predicted 15 minutes of fame while everyone talked about Cowell and not the phone-in friends failure to have a serious success later on.

But that clouds the fact that X-Factor will be back next year with another range of numpties with no talent. However, we do hope that the campaign to get a Cannibal Corpse track to number one next Chrimbo...

So, with 2009 ending with a small victory for the loud, unapologetically guitar orientated, beer swilling masses (yeah, there are more of us than they suspect mwuhahah!) what was notable in the hard rock, heavy metal world over the last 12 months here in Norn Iron? What was the best album? What was the best gig?

As philosophers of many a bar note opinions are like arseholes...everyone has one so whatever we commend or condemn there will be those that disagree, those that laugh out loud with incredulity and those that murmur and agree. Please feel free to slag off this review of the year, disgree with the selections and point out glaring errors - just make sure to post the comments!

2009, also ended with a triumphant homecoming gig for the fine gentlemen of The Answer, storming the Ulster Hall, just as they had laid waste to the Mandella Hall a bare six months earlier. Fantastic gigs apart (and a tour with AC/DC to boot!) it saw Everyday Demons hit the shops, an album with more darkness than predecessor Rise, and deservedly picking up plaudits and sales. The question for The Answer is the timing of the next platter. Just as Rise tracks have reduced in favour of '...Demons' songs, how long before the band need the fresh flourish of new tracks to keep themselves and the audiences interested? However it comes out one can be sure that the 12 months have been one that has consolidated the band in all our hearts and provided real hope for every other act here. The gigs and Everyday Demons are our first honourable mention for the year about to pass into history.

Now, for a wee swing away from that...extreme metal. While metal and hard rock has clawed its way back to the mainstream's attention (Iron Maiden's victory at The Brits) extreme metal has had a year worthy of note. While 2008 ended with Slipknot bothering the charts (and ending 2009 with the release of the brilliant Sulfur video) the year's outstanding extreme metal album was Slayer's 'World Painted Blood';  a true return to form, building on Christ Illusion to deliver a dystopian, defiant diatribe to a cacophony of ire and satire.

Honourable mention to Lamb of God for Wrath and a reportedly brutal Mandalla Hall gig. Also, one of the favourite platters of the year was Devildriver's Pray for Villains. The doubters that Dez would always struggle to shed the albatross of Coal Chamber off his back are the cantankerous minority who refuse to revel in the sheer metallic magnificence of Pray for Villains.

And, when it comes to putting extreme metal (and other forms) to the fore the work of James and the Distortion Project this year (and for the past decade!) must be mentioned. Everyone who has spent a Saturday afternoon losing hearing and destroying a liver at the Limer knows how much recognition the Distortion Project deserves for keeping the metal flame burning bright, notwithstanding the many other achievements such as bringing the likes of Amon Amarth to town.

On the subject of the Limer, the Spring and Airbrake and Katy Dalys were honoured as the best live venue in Northern Ireland. A worthy honour, especially from those of us who have enjoyed far too many nights in one of the three. Congratulations to CDC for not only this, but for the bravery at booking so many hard rock and metal acts into the venue.

And hard rock has been a theme for 2009. In the 80s Def Leppard, Whitesnake, UFO, Tesla et al were regarded as metal, together with DC and many others that today's genre splitters would disparage such titling.

But young and old alike took to hard rock with gusto at many of the gigs of 2009, whether it wasWhitesnake, Lepps and Tesla in Dublin, the Download headliner sets, AC/DC wet in Punchestown or the Tesla/UFO two night blast at the Spring and Airbrake.

UFO was certainly a stand-out night, with aged band and audience members managing to rock Ormeau Avenue to the core...yeah I hear Tesla the night before was even better, but hey can't get to as many gigs as we wish what with advancing years :)

UFO's The Visitor was a stand-out release of the year combining British blues with good old fashioned hard rock. Unfortunately it won't get the airplay or sales that it richly deserves.

And nor will many of the wonderful albums that emerged in 2009. For CDs are on their way out, as decreed by a record indstry that now sees the ease of plugging empty headed pop downloads over the effort of supporting a band to musical maturity. Not for the first time we have heard bands bemoaning the fact that gigs are populated by a minority who have either downloaded just one track or heard a song on a cover-mount sampler...and then talk through the rest of the set. While we can do the grumpy old men whine about this can we also humbly and with consideration ask those who natter while the band are playing to shut the fuck up. Other paying customers might want to actually listen to the whole set. We writers are generally peacable people, but others are not and we are led to believe that a smack in the mouth really can hurt...whether it does or not some pissed off fan of music battering teeth into a bleeding pulp will generally shut yer mouth.

And a smack in the mouth is a risk we may have to take in mentioning two non-metallic gigs that are worthy of real note. First Biffy Clyro roasting St George's Market. Yes they are darlings of some indie media and have yet to darken the pages of Terrorizer or Metal Hammer, but the Scottish threesome are no shoe-gazing freaks. From widdly wankers they have grown to have a stage presence echoed by a live sound akin to a sledgehammer being weilded with melody and angst...and if you don't get that over-stretched metaphor only being at a Biffy gig can explain it.

Also non-metallic was SLF at The Ulster Hall in March. Stiff Little Fingers may be casually labelled as punk (and they were, musically, in the late 70s and early 80s) but their sound is as much about loud hard rock than some teeny pop ten-minute sensation from the USA. When one magazine said Green Day were SLF 2.0 the writer missed the point. Without SLF, Jake Burns beloveed Clash (and their ilk here in Northern Ireland) the sound of Green Day and others would be empty, and the sociological rants of Billy Joe will never ever be as insightful as Jake. The Ulster Hall gig in March was a celebration, capped by Jake dedicating 'Guitar and Drum' to that cunt Cowell for destroying music.

And that is about where we came in, with Cowell as a pseudo hate figure for a mainstream and radio programming thought police who trot out metal once in a while to poke fun at, or nod with post-modernist wisdom at Anvil's film.

What they will never get is that Anvil's tragi-comedy documentary is not a Spinal Tap 'rockumentary' but rather a summation of the spirit that pervades all really great music, not just metal, rock or punk. Rather it is the sheer love that the band members bring and the audiences lap up.

By all accounts the career of an 80s bassist from a disbanded supergroup and latterly a noughties supergroup should be one now marked by caberet slots and bitter interviews with magazines. Not such Mr Duff McKagan who brought his 'Loaded' crew back to Belfast earlier in the year. On the back of the magnificent 'Sick' album Duff McKagan proved that it is that perverse attititude exemplified by Anvil as much as Guns 'n' Roses that sums up everything we love. Love the music - nothing else matters...

There ends the sermon....

But afore ye go to Hogmany hijinx a few honourable mentions...
Mastodon for delivering Crack the Skye - haven't got a clue what the lyrics are a metaphor for, but it was one of the best releases of the year
The return of prog - Bigelf to be the acceptable face of the resurgence, and Dream Theatre getting more of the acceptance and adulation they deserve in 2009, complex chord structures and time signatures back in style!
Alice in Chains - a super album, and here's hoping they can mantain the momentum next year
Heaven and Hell - not as good as we hoped the album would be, but still head and shoulders above others: now we can all just hope that little Ronnie recovers from his stomach cancer to deliver more magnificence
Steel Panther - cringeworthy porn lyrics and a real homage to big hair absurdity combined with actual musicianship
Back to reality with Dan Reed soulful brilliance in Ahoghill of all places
On that note kudos to Derwin and the Diamond Rock Club for keeping the metal dream alive beyond the Belfast boundary
And speaking of porn...Rammstein's video for Pussy just ain't for the kiddies. No really, it's not!
But most of all the honourable mention must go to each and every single reader of this site. Writing about anything can be a long boring stare into a computer screen, self delusion that your views count. That so many have taken the time to email, phone, comment, text, reply etc means that people care not about what we write, but about the music.

Yeah, fuck you Cowell, we won't do what you tell us! We're still here, metal lives on and my black atheist heart is ready and stoked with hard rockin' fire for 2010. Happy New Year to y'all!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rage Against The Machine's Morello praises chart race

Morello backs download battle against x-Factor....


Is it worth 79p (cheaper on some sites) to piss off Simon Cowell...value for money methinks :)

Is it a stupid thing...yeah, it's probably that too, but how will the radio stations cope :)

MSG gig cancelled

Just had confirmation that Saturday's Michael Schenker Group Belfast appearance has been cancelled. Quote from the promoters below:

"Due to unforeseen circumstances this weekend’s Michael Schenker Group performance in the Ulster Hall has been cancelled. Refunds can be attained from point of purchase."


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shine like gold

GATHER together 1,4000 of your closest friends and you know a good time is to be had - and last night the Ulster Hall rocked with a homecoming festive gig from County Down's finest, The Answer.

The band had been looking forward to gracing the veneerable Ulster Hall stage, and made no secret of how much a privilege it was to mount the steps in front of fans who were prepared to simply bask in the an unadultered and pure hard rock that Cormac and co deliver.

Opening proceedings were the Black Spiders, who took the stage brim filled with attitude. To play at the bottom of the bill would daunt many a band faced with a hall yet to fill up. Triple guitar attack to the fore the Black Spiders took up the challenge with the furious set, all hair and intricate metal ablaze.

Derry classic rock crew took time to warm-up - perhaps daunted by the venue. By halfway through they eased into the groove and by the time they played Take Me Away off their new EP the band settled and broad grins shone as they left the stage.

But when it comes to The Answer hard touring for many years has honed their performance to such an extent that they have achieved a standard that many aspire to, but few achieve: that is to be both tight as the proverbial duck's ass but have a genuine feel for when it is necessary to loosen up both songs and performance.

When the band last played in Belfast, at the Mandella Hall, there was no lessening of intensity, but the toil of touring was apparent at a couple of points. On this December night there was a genuine feel that the band were relieved to be drawing the year to and end; and quite frankly ready for whatever challenges 2010 may hold.

When the band emerged for the encore Cormac stood above the drum riser, arms aloft. It was partly a salute to the crowd, but also what was sure to be a personal note of satisfaction - a vindication of what the band has achieved and no doubt a sense of achievement to be on stage at the Ulster Hall.

The setlist is almost an irrelevancy now when The Answer play Belfast. Most of Everyday Demons was aired. What a year ago might have been unfamiliar songs are now greeted as old favourites. On and On, Cry Out, Evil Man and Dead of the Night prompted mass singalongs.

Slower numbers, What Made You Change Your Mind and new single Comfort Zone were delivered with aplomb. Paul's solo was not only technically wonderful, but was evidently fun for him to play, with more than a nod to guitar idols he grew up with. James and Mickey nailed down the rhythm - and even Cormac's banter about the Belfast Giants trying to sign James didn't jar,  but was a joke shared not delivered.

The 'Belfast Blues-Off' could have been a clichéd chant, but amongst friends it had a sense of shared fun.

The Answer have worked hard. The Answer have proved their worth on album and on stage. The Answer have more hard work ahead to cement the success.

Every CD sold; every ticket bought and every grin from the band proves that Northern Ireland's top hard rockers are ready to move up to the next level.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Congrats and gig notes

Congratulations to Paul and Jason who won a pair of tickets each for Monday's The Answer gig. Commiserations to those not fortunate enough to win - there are a few tickets left for the Ulster Hall show, so make sure not to miss the homecoming concert!

On other gig news (HED) P.E. are playing the Spring and Airbrake on Friday, 12th March, and for a wee bit of Celtic punk mentalism Dropkick Murphy's are at St George's Market on Tuesday, 20th April.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Apologies, but I just had to post this

'A friend told me to buy Rage Against the Machine's "Killing In The Name" after December 13th in protest against the X-Factor always getting the Christmas No. 1.

'I said: "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me".'
Still...if RATM did make No 1 it would really be a laugh listening to the radio clones trying to explain it!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Ulster Hall homecoming just The Answer before Chrimbo

Unless you've been living in a bunker, or hardened yer ears against news on the hard rock front, you cannot help but notice the slow, steady and certain rise of The Answer.

While wannabes wail and the X-Factor waste of oxygen acts pout awaiting vacuous fame The Answer have been working towards greatness the old-fashioned and certain way - writing great songs and playing them in front of real audiences.

After a year that has seen them perform on a global scale backing AC/DC and selling out their own headline shows The Answer are ready to storm the Ulster Hall on 14th December. As front man Cormac Neeson explains the band can't wait for this special homecoming.

"We are now counting the days until we headline the Ulster Hall.

"Having watched many great bands, local and otherwise, play there and grace that stage over the last 15 years it will be an honour to finally get the chance to do so ourselves, it will be a very special night and the best way to end a momentous year for us."

The Ticketmaster allocation has already sold out with balcony tickets also gone. There are a few left at the Ulster Hall and Waterfront Hall box offices (and there may be a few left on the door).

If you want to score one of two pairs of tickets in an exclusive BelfastMetalHeadsReuntied competition click here.

Dan back in Ahoghill

DAN REED for one night only (Friday 11th December) returns to the returns to The Diamond Rock Club to perform a solo and acoustic show.

Dan last played The Diamond in May for two nights, Thursday 21st May and Friday 22nd.

The Thursday night was a complete sell out and the Friday night was a very hastily arranged gig (less than 24 hours) following the sudden cancellation of his show in Dublin.  On this trip, there will definitely be only one gig, anywhere in Ireland.

Ticket details will follow.

The Diamond Rock Club is in the village of Ahoghill, just 4 miles from Ballymena and 9 miles from Antrim.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Tenuous link to Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams epic stories under the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy stories featured the loudest band in the history of the universe Disaster Area...a band so big on a galatic scale that their guitarist had to spend a year dead for tax reasons.

But they had a problem with their drummer...

Which is a very roundabout way to say that one of Norn Iron's finest, Residual Effect is looking for a new man/woman to slot in behind the kit and lay down heavy as hell beats, double bass mania and battering any skins living or dead that falls within the range of his sticks.

Auditions will be getting underway soon, so if you want to try out for Residual be ready for some heavy, technically challenging hitting. Send your details via the band's myspace site, or email us and we'll pass on the details.

Win tickets to The Answer

Want to score tickets for The Answer's pre-Christmas homecoming date on 14th December at The Ulster Hall?

Yep, thanks to the good people of CDC Leisure we have two sets of two tickets up for grabs in an exclusive online competition right here at Belfastmetalheadsreunited.

Already the Ticketmaster allocation is sold out, but while there are some still on sale at the Ulster Hall and Waterfront Hall box offices and some may be available at the door.

Later this week we'll have a few words from the band themselves, but in the meantime to enter the competition answer this simple question...name The Answer's debut album.

Send your entries here.

Competition closes at midnight on 10th December, winners will be notified by return email. Usual rules apply....which are if you're not in ya can't win!

Jamming at the Odyssey Arena...with Pearl Jam

Hot on the heels of the announcement of Deep Purple playing Custom House Square, which was hot on the heels of Metallica announcing two dates at the Odyssey, which was hot on the heels of Machine Head announcing a Market date in Belfast comes the news that Pearl Jam are to play the Odyssey on 23rd June...

2010 gonna be a busy year :)

Deepest June date for Purple

June 28th...Deep Purple, Belfast's Custom House Square....happy days!

Tickets are 38 notes, more details to follow as soon as we get them!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Metallica - again!

As Wayne has just commented Metallica's 11th May date standing tickets are all but sold out so....they've added a 2nd date on 12th May at the Odyssey!

A double dose of Metallica! Hell Yeah!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Sweet week of rock

Right, you've maxed out booking yer Metallica tickets and still counting the shakels after buying the Machine Head entry passes...so what to do in the meantime...

Well Thursday night sees Sweet Savage play an 'intimate' show at Auntie Annie's with Exit and Red Returned for three of your finest pounds

On Friday hard blues rockers the Quireboys touch down in the Spring & Airbrake...fun, fun, fun being the order of the day!

Saturday evening...you could do worse than heading along to the Limer for Fleshgod Apocalypse, Hades Lab, Less Help and Sadisture.

Sunday, for the geetar widdlers Joe Bonomassa will be showing up the teeny shredders at the Waterfront Hall.

Take a breath then you got The Answer on the 14th and MSG on the 19th! 

Monday, November 30, 2009

Metallica set for Belfast!

May 11th, Odyssey Arena - METALLICA

Tickets 49 notes and rumours are that if it sells out there is the capacity for a second date

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Best wishes to the wee man with the big voice

Ronnie James Dio has been diagnosed with cancer – but it appears he is recovering.

In a statement, a spokesman of his management said:

"Ronnie has been diagnosed with the early stages of stomach cancer. We are starting treatment immediately at the Mayo Clinic.

"After he kills this dragon, Ronnie will be back on stage, where he belongs, doing what he loves best, performing for his fans.

"Thanks to all the friends and fans around the world that have sent well wishes. This has really helped to keep his spirit up. Long Live Rock and Roll, Long Live Ronnie James Dio"

All the best from us here Ronnie!

Source: Totalrock.com

Skindred march on Belfast

WITH March kicking off with Machine Head and co hitting the city, the month now also includes Skindred playing The Limelight on March 21st.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The official notification from CDC...


"Grammy-nominated Bay Area metal titans, MACHINE HEAD have added 5 more dates to their UK headline run in support of their now silver-certified album (60,000 UK units sold), ‘The Blackening’. The tour, dubbed ‘The Black Procession’ will now includes a show in Belfast’s St Georges Market on Monday 1st March 2010. Tickets are on sale this Friday from www.cdcleisure.com and from 0844 277 4455. Tickets priced £29 including booking fee."
Doors: 7:00pm

March to Machine Head

March 1st - Machine Head, St George's Market...let the moshing commence

Friday, November 20, 2009

Airebourne re-schedule

Looking forward to Airbourne's return to Belfast? You'll have to wait a little longer as the Aussie rockers have re-scheduled their February appearance. They will now play the Mandella Hall on April 13th. Scheduling issues - plus the need to have a new CD to promo on the tour - are the reasons given for the change of dates

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blaze Belfast return

The official notification from James of the Blaze Bayley Belfast date below (got date wrong in earlier post, ooops!

The Distortion Project presents:




+ 1 TBC
Thursday 4th March

The Limelight, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast.

Doors 9pm.

Ticket info shortly, but expect the usual.





Blaze Bayley, former vocalist for Wolfsbane and Iron Maiden, has had a long and distinguished musical career thus far. After embarking on a solo career that spawned four successful and critically acclaimed albums under the band name BLAZE, a new line-up of experienced musicians from England, Colombia and New Zealand joined ranks with Blaze. In 2007 the band now known as Blaze Bayley was born. This, his strongest line-up of musicians, features Nico Bermudez (Underthreat) and Jay Walsh (Four Way Kill) on guitars, David Bermudez (Underthreat) on bass and Lawrence Paterson (Chokehold) on drums.

The band’s debut album ‘The Man Who Would Not Die’ was released worldwide in July 2008. The accompanying ‘Tour That Will Not Die’ visited over 20 countries throughout Western and Eastern Europe, The Balkans, South America and Scandinavia during 2009. The final quarter of 2009 sees the band writing and recording their second studio album, a first visit to Greece and a return to Z7, Switzerland for the last gig of the year.

Monday, November 09, 2009

What makes a rocker/metalhead?

We are legion, spread across the globe, dedicated to loud, proud and at times obnoxious music. But what makes a rocker? What is the essential attribute that sets a metal head apart from the clones that walk through their lives obsessed by X-Factor and mundanity?

Is it the CD collection filled with obscure tracks from long passed acts? Is it the ability to list the tracks, and their order of every Sabbath/Maiden/Metllica album ever released? Is it an encyclopaedic knowledge of Norwegian Black Metal? Is it the ability to attend every gig? Is it the most tour t-shirts secreted in the cupboard? Is it a cultural choice? We might need the money to pay the mortgage, but that doesn't mean we've sold our soul to X-Factor?

Or...is it the statutory long hair? If that is the case then like Samson I shall be denuded of metal strength on 17th November....

On that date I will be having beard and head shaved off. Will I suddenly have the urge to watch the X-Factor? Will I suddenly listen to Slow Patrol songs and muse on their deeper meanings...

Not likely!

What makes a rocker/metalhead is that tingle when a track by Slayer makes you shiver with cathartic pleasure; it is when the intro of Fade to Black makes you feel stronger, but with empathy towards the emotions; it is when despite common sense you not only want to, but need to play air guitar; it is is when at a gig you just gotta raise your hands, mouth the lyrics and hope that the singer catches your eye for a fleeting moment.

In other words it is the sheer pleasure of the music.

But does long hair mark the hard rock fan or metalhead?

I hope it does not, because on 17th November I am having these lovingly grown locks shorn to total Scott Ian and Baal baldiness.

All in aid of Children in Need.

Yep, the shoulder length, chewing on, burning when lighing a ciggie hair is to be gone: shaved to the bone.

It is happening at 3pm at the NICCY offices in Gt Victoria St, Belfast. Come along and laugh yer wee metal asses off (and maybe part with some sponsorship money too!).

One thing is sure..afterwards I'll still be metal to the core, rocking til I die etc...
Not a totally random event...though truth be told after years of comment about needing 'a wee trim' the nuclear option means the likelihood of moving to the mainstream has been negated again \m/

Blazing a trail

Congrats to Sinocence who have landed the support slot for the Blaze Bayley 2010 tour which touches down in Belfast on March 5th, venue TBC.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Booking agents and Deep Purple

The rumours, innuendo and supposition about Deep Purple's much talked about Northern Ireland gig has been flying about. To recap: the Daily Mirror had a story on the fly (info also on here from a 'source' that same day); Lynyrd Skynyrd and Alice in Chains were also reputed to be on the bill. It was allegedly to be at Portstewart Strand or an outdoor venue close to, or in Belfast.

Since then DP have confirmed the 30th June date at The Marquee in Cork, which is usually a one-date in Ireland affair (Slayer, The Who etc in previous years).

At the same time rumours have appeared on posts that the DP bill was to have Journey and Europe included.

Promoters have been (totally understandably) tight-lipped about whether these were just the usual wish-fulfilment on the part of fans. Such wish fulfilment has so far seen 36,000 unique visitors drop in on the posts here on the rumours.

All was much as it seemed - we live in hope, expect the worst and hope for the best gigs here on the isolated limb of western Europe. And, on consideration, we thought that the booking fees for bringing DP etc would put the gig out of the real world of gig economics.

And then we received an email from a booking agent in the US wanting to know why this, 'otherwise credible' site was running this information before an official announcement could be made.

Which left us in one part elated (as in it could happen) and in an other feeling concerned that they were 'not in a position' to 'confirm any further dates at this time' (as in it may not happen).

We make no bones about it - we've been wrong in the past (very few times mind you!) - but we all would love to see this line-up (DP, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alice in Chains  - plus latest rumours Journey and Europe play here [Satyricon too \m/] ) but, there are economic barriers.

The main one is making sure that the crowd is between 5,000 and 10,000 whereever it is staged. If The Marquee in Cork and a Northern Ireland date were in the same month a solid support line-up would make sure DP attracted enough numbers...get the right venue too and the DP hard rock behemoth might hit a town near you :)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Deep Purple summer date....

WITH confirmation that Deep Purple will be playing the Marquee in Cork on June 30th coming today, news as to whether the Northern Ireland date trailed in the Daily Mirror a couple of weeks ago will actually happen is expected over next few days. There are still plenty of unfilled slots in the tour calendar with only a couple of dates in Russia confirmed in May prior to the Cork gig.

If it does happen it will be an outdoor date, much like the summer Quo gig at Carrick Castle, only on a larger scale. For those who may not have seen the Daily Mirror story or the reports here, it is being put out there that DP may be putting in appearance at either Portstewart Strand or an outdoor venue close to/in Belfast with Lynyrd Skynrd and Alice in Chains.

We can only but wait...fingers crossed etc. As soon as confirmation arrives I'll post here.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

MSG tour line-up announced

The Michael Schenker Group has brought in former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade and returning bassist Chris Glen for the December tour which sees the Teutonic axeman return to Belfast's Ulster Hall on the 19th.

They join Michael Schenker himself, plus vocalist Gary Barden and rhythm guitarist/keyboard player Wayne Findlay.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Adair takes over Interrogate vocal duties

Ryan Adair, former Escape Fails frontman, has been appointed as Interrogate's new singer. The announcement has been made official on the band's Myspace site.

Blood soaked autumn

SLAYER and Bon Jovi both today released their new albums. Bon Jovi, on the evidence of the local HMV may well top next week’s charts.

Circle represents a return to top form for Jon and his amigos, but after their appearance on X-Factor we are not really sure that we can as yet comment…praising Simon Cowell means listening to the music with a certain amount of cynicism. No doubt the strength of the material means that favourable comments will be made by me and others in due course, but for now...

Instead it is time to turn to Slayer. When all else fails, and the world is crowding you, Slayer are the constant. Simon Cowell and his cronies are never going to invite Slayer on to X-Factor.

Not for Slayer the vagaries of fashion, nor the pleading to the critics nor the attention-deficit disorder phone polls of the weak minded.

And, with World Painted Blood Slayer have returned with a visceral vision of a dystopian 21st Century, dripping with newly spilled blood, senses curdled with the cries of the dying and the revelation of rotten cultures and serial killers…oh and they have the usual attacks on religion too.

Although their most recent releases, such as Christ Illusion, were good, World Painted Blood feels like the most coherent CD from the Californian thrashers for a long time.

Whether it stands the test of time remains to be seen, but track by track Slayer have laid down a sermon for the disaffected, disenfranchised: which by any definition is what the muse of metal should deliver each and every time.

Opening with the title track the quartet’s intention is clear: bludgeoning all in their path. At almost six minutes it verges towards classic metal while retaining Slayer’s edge of monster riffage and atonal soloing.

Hate Worldwide is an ominous ode to Slayer’s atheistic leanings – the lyric ‘I’m a godless heretic, not a god-fearing lunatic’ sets out their stall clearly and without the equivocation of some of their peers on religiosity.

There has been much comment about the ‘clean’ Araya vocals at the start of Playing with Dolls, but put simply it works: as does almost everything else on this album when seen in the context of the world of Slayer.
Araya, Lombardo, Hanneman and King have laid out 11 songs that paint a world smeared with the blood of illegal warlords, the victims of killers, and the slaughter of innocent and guilty alike. Take the time to read the world headlines and dare to disagree.

But at the same time there is a cathartic joy in exploring such dreadful depths of humanity with Slayer. Here there are no qualms about discussing Japanese death camp experimentation, nor America’s modern oil wars. Here there is pressing need to understand the motivation behind ‘Snuff’ movies. Here there is a challenge, here there is a cry of anger, and here is a band maturing to even blacker visions.

Slayer don’t ever veer too far off the path of a formula that has worked for decades. Slayer are Slayer. And as they emerge into venerable years as middle-aged thrashers they are not going to suddenly decide to suck up to the mainstream, or change their outlook.
Slayer, on World Painted Blood, are back to being awesomely dark. They are back to being fucking brutal. Brutal joy to all in the festive season to come!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Escape Fails withdraw from Kerrang comp

In the wake of the split with vocalist Ryan Adair Escape Fails have withdrawn from the Kerrang competition in which they were shortlisted finalists. The band's blog comment can be found here: http://blogs.myspace.com/escapefails

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gunning for Belfast

FOR some time the re-emergence of classic rock acts has been building. Sales of the magazine Classic Rock have been growing at an alarming rate for the pop pickers on radio stations; and while rest of the music business is in a panic about piratical downloads the hard rock scene has been proving that live is still best.

Indeed the hard rock resurgence has been led by many acts that have earned their stripes throughout the years. Such has been the journey of Gun.

They reformed a while back with Toby Jepson, of Little Angels, fulfilling vocal duties. But Gun are not about looking to the past.

“We don’t want to be a nostalgia band and certainly feel we have something still to say,” Jepson told Belfasmetalheadsreunited. “Our challenge is to convince the traditional Gun fans that the new music measures up to the old and that the band has a new lease of life that can keep the audience wanting more.”

Certainly Gun provided a twist in the early 90s to a rock scene still reeling from the pundits proclaiming that grunge was ‘new’ and the rest had to step aside. The sensibilities and panache of albums, ‘Gallus’ for example, displayed a dynamic interpretation that merged riffs and solos with uplifting choruses

New mini-album ‘Pop Killer’ has already been going down well with audiences, not least the storming swagger of ‘Let Your Hair Down’ which merges the traditional Gun sound with a contemporary twist.

“We were determined to do something different, and not simply retread old steps, and so when Dante, Joolz and I started writing, our challenge was to think a little outside the box and try to bring all our favourite elements to the music that we all love without it being to obvious,” said Jepson.

“We felt compelled to use current technology and sounds to augment our collective love of traditional rock and I think we have achieved that. I think that once the music sinks in it will become apparent that everything Gun stood for in the past - pop inflected, passionate, emotional rock - is still there in abundance!”

When Gun touch down in Belfast for their 8th November date it will be after a gig in Portugal and several in Spain. It is also the start of a UK tour which provides challenges for the band.

“Obviously, it’s our home territory and we have a lot to prove, mainly to ourselves,” said Jepson. “We are hungry for it again, and despite being away for such a long time we feel the new band rocks harder and is more ready than ever before. It will be great fun playing the new songs.”

And, if the reaction in Spain is anything to go by Belfast fans are in for a treat.

”The band hadn’t been there for 10 years, and obviously not with me, but the reaction was fantastic and most encouraging of all towards the new songs that are on our mini album 'POP KILLER'.”

With so many rock acts re-emerging with stronger than ever material Jepson took a moment to reflect on the rock landscape:

”I think that we are in an unprecedented period of change in the music business; bands we all grew up with are getting older and the ability to choose what you listen to has exploded. The internet has allowed us all to side step the force-feeding of music that used to happen back in the day, and as a result the audience has the power now; deciding who and what to listen to and so all the bands that were written off by a very cynical business can survive playing live and creating and releasing music on their own terms.

”The challenge is to take this music and create something that truly stands up and can crossover into the mainstream and allow not just the traditional rock fan to appreciate it but anyone.

“I hate the labels, never understood the need to pigeon hole music, I’ve always believed that there are only two types of music; GOOD and BAD! I hope Gun can be considered a GOOD band!”

Here at Belfastmetalheadsreunited we’ve always dismissed the idea of musical genre stereotyping…and while Jepson may hope that Gun are a good band, we know they are!

But what can fans expect on the setlist?

”We are hoping to play most of the mini album,” said Jepson. “In Spain we were playing two new songs with another nearly ready. I suspect we will play three, maybe four, of the songs.

”We are playing what we consider the 'best' tracks from all the albums, and not necessarily the hits. We have our favourites and some of the tunes work best live even though they were perhaps not big songs from the records. We are about to retire a couple of the songs as we have new music to play, and that is what we are really about now; playing the future not the past!

”Gun always made great records and had hits despite the change in the scene. The danger is to be too concerned about 'what’s happening'. The fans don’t believe that stuff, they just like what they like!

“We have some great new music that we feel delivers a future for us and we hope the audience can feel our commitment and determination coming from the stage.”


Friday, October 30, 2009

Gun interview almost typed up and no Slayer Irish date...

Just finishing typing up interview with GUN (they're at The Limelight on 8th November). It'll be posted here in next 24 hours. Thanks to Toby Jepson for taking the time to answer the Q's.

Also in the news...no Slayer Irish date? Could it be they are saving that for next year's Big Four Thrash Tour? That is if the egos concerned ever get that together!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Crescendo kids Clyro rock the mart

THE cavernous interior of St George’s Market, packed with scene kids, fashionistas, a smattering of metalheads and a dash of rockers is testimony to the journey Biffy Clyro have made in recent years.

From club alt rockers to potential stadium busters the ‘Biffy’ are progressing the old-fashioned way – evolving their sound on albums and then honing it to a keen edge through touring. Not for them the hollow half minute of fame on shit factor or other such tawdry Saturday night numpty tv.

That evolution still awaits Atlanta’s Manchester Orchestra. Their proto-metal, mixed with Weezer-style geekiness and the post-grunge Soundgarden guitar sound still needs refining. Having said that, those not distracted by burger stands and bar tabs, gave them a warm enough welcome.

The welcome for the Biffy was that usually only afforded to hometown acts. It is a strange kind of devotion that can bond such a diverse audience .

The set owed much to ‘Puzzle’ – not a surprise given that new platter ‘Only Revolutions’ has yet to hit the racks.

Morose lyrics from Puzzle are translated live into life-affirming anthems. 'Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies' has become in two years a defiant chant against fatalism, while ‘Who’s Got A Match’ becomes a shout in the face of cliché.

New tracks Bubbles and The Captain have yet to settle fully into the set, but they potentially display a new style of dynamism from the band.

Simon Neill’s manic guitar work, crouched over his highly hung Fender and highly strung vocals, is ever more tightly woven into James and Ben’s backing. At times in the past there was a tendency of crowds to fixate on Simon’s antics, but in Belfast the band’s internal workings were displayed as fierce unit. Three vocalists, one rhythm, one purpose.

But, their real skill lies in knowing how to use crescendos. Within each song there are moments when pace fades, only to be quickly picked up again; when orchestration gives way to heavy, blustering guitar.

Equally the impressive stage set was used to build the sense of occasion. What appeared at first as semi-industrial struts echoing Scottish heavy industry glowed as the set progressed with subtlety and intensity in balanced doses.

By the time 'Mountain' closed the set Biffy Clyro had raised the temperature and the pitch of audience devotion. The burger stand and the bar were forgotten fixtures; hands were raised, voices strained and the Scottish minstrels of mayhem closed in a crescendo of musical majesty.

‘Mon the Biffy!

Photos by Carrie Davenport
More of Carrie's Biffy snaps at:
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A savage night on Thursday

This Thursday the Distortion Project's monthly High Voltage gigs take a savage turn...yes Sweet Savage warm up for their 9th November Motorhead support slot with a Limelight appearance.

Support from Black Freeway, The Suspended Congress, and Mental Deficiency.

Doors 9pm and a palrty five pounds to gain admittance.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ryan and Escape Fails part company

Escape Fails and singer Ryan Adair have parted company. More details soon about future plans for both parties.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

2010 Belfast date for Bolt Thrower

Bolt Thrower are set for a Belfast gig at The Limelight on May 3rd 2010...another Distortion Project coup! Ticket prices and full details to follow later

Warrior Soul gig not on

Despite much talk and the valiant efforts of James the Warrior Soul November gig will not be going ahead after the band spiked all its European dates...bummer!

Mad Axeman back to rock

Mad genius, Teutonic master of shredding and melody, bonkers and brilliant: the one, the only Michael Schenker! Yes, as previously noted MSG will be touching down in Belfast again on 19th December (yes Monk I got the date right this time!) for a return to the Ulster Hall with Sweet Savage supporting.

Tickets are 18 notes standing and another two notes for the seats up the apple and pears....now how will I persuade daughter to return my Built To Destroy Tour shirt for the gig!

Wednesday's in February? What to do?

With spring still months away and dank dark days alternating with the promise of ice and snow flurries February can be a strange month...but rest assured the first Wednesday in February is gonna be a loud one.

Bow down to another Distortion Project coup with the announcement that Marduk and Anaal Nathrakh will be playing The Limelight on the 3rd February. Noise destroys, fun be had, etc etc

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Michael Schenker for pre-Xmas gig

Many, many moons ago I saw the Michael Schemker Group rock the Ulster Hall. Now the blonde axeman is set to play the Ulster Hall again on 18th December, with Sweet Savage in support. Tickets at a very reasonable 18 notes...more details later

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Deep Purple, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Alice in Chains for Portstewart?

TODAY'S Daily Mirror (NI Edition) claims that Deep Purple, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Alice in Chains are being lined up for a rock gods concert next year. Among the touted venues is Portstewart Strand.

Purple and Skynyrd toured together six years ago, and Alice in Chains first record since the death of Layne Staley has received much critical acclaim.

There have been at least two abortive attempts to bring Purple to NI over the past couple of years. The full story of which may come out in due course, but a DP appearance is long overdue, and has to happen before they become incapable of touring ever again.

Despite all of Ian Gillan's flaws (ask Ritchie Blackmore) his solo work pre and post the magnificent Bernie Tormé years) were the door into hard rock for me in the early 80s, so if this comes to pass it will be suitable to raise a glass to Gillan by the seaside!

No official word yet, but hopefully an announcement will come in due course!

Through the lens

Quick word on one of Belfast's leading rock photographers...click on http://www.carriedavenport.com/ to see some fan-dabby-dosey rock pix...and to see the list of magazines and artists who have used Carrie's work.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ya gotta wonder...

Ironing school shirts tonight for junior members of metalheadsreunited (a.k.a. the children) and a shirt for work tomorrow the hard crashing sound of responibility was almost drowning out the Anthrax album....on Sunday night caring duties were holding me back from Black Stone Cherry; that damnable sound of responsibility once again coursing unwelcome through eardrums that only wanted to listen to BSC pounding out Lonely Train.

When did I sign the form marked 'Responsible Adult'? I don't remember putting my scrawl on the dotted line, but I must have...probably around the time that the doctor said 'Diabetes Type 2....drink will do that!'

And for missing BSC I received some justifiable criticism from Sylv for not so long ago having a pop at those that don't turn out to gigs...

With that consideration in mind it is with some trepidation that I outline some coming gigs...I won't be able to get to them all, but I will manage at least one or two (and Amon Amarth will definitely be one of those!).

First up is Trouble...doom rockers with a Christian/spiritual bent. Presented by James and the Distortion Project, afficianados could do worse than turn up to the Ormeau Road on Thursday night.

On Saturday (17th) the Fool Fighters take on the Spring and Airbrake with their entertaining take on Dave Grohl's act...which unfortunately clashes with the SO:NI night at the Pavillion with Trucker Diablo/Nasa Assassin/Black Freeway/Sister Marko.

Then...things get a wee bit madder. On the 23rd the aforementioned Amon Amarth join with Entombed (Evile are off the set owing to the previously mentioned tragedy) to slay all in their path and pillage in a manner that Belfast hasn't seen since longships last sailed up the Lagan.

The next night things get a wee bit tricky. I am working that Saturday. I will be presenting my respectable self at a party political conference...suited and booted, being professional and schmoozing with politicos. How the hell am I going to get changed from the suit and into party mode while trying to decide between Sorrowfall's return to the Limer and Isis at the Black Box?

And for a bit of fun the following week there's a veritable horde of metal at the Rosie on Hallowe'en night and Hotter than Hell at The Empire (anyone willing to spend the time adding the 'Gene' make-up to me ugly mug?)

Ahh to hell with this...need a serious re-think of career direction...can someone fork out for mortgage payments so I can become full-time metal hack? Anyone?

Til then work beckons with its skeletal hand...

Any other gigs I should mention in the meantime?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Don't stay still!

Quick word on our southern brethren...if you're into classic rock check out Stillroom! While Glyder have been receiving deserved plaudits from the pundits Stillroom have been slowly and surely building up fanbase and experience though gigging and the studio.

James and co dropped their latest EP (Lickin' A Promise) through the postbox here at metal mansion and it's been blasting through the speakers on he hi-fi, PC and car stereo ever since.

From the DC inspired Alright, to the singalong Addicted to Sin, to the uptempo Your Love it's a three track marvel.

Check them out, rock out!

Black Stone Cherry

Black Stone Cherry to review tomorrow...CDs/Demos from Kilraith and For Christ's Sake to review, listening to Stillroom EP...busy but happy! See ya at BSC, can't make it to Opeth on Monday :(

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Nice guys do play rock 'n' roll after all

In 1988 Guns 'n' Roses released the album 'Lies'. Half of the album was from the Live: ?!*@ Like A Suicide 1986 EP. The band covered the Rose Tattoo classic Nice Boys (Don't Play Rock 'n' Roll) for the EP. It was a defining moment for the Gunners. It had the edge of Appetite, hard rock sensibilities and a street punk snarl before the bloated excess of '...Illusion' 1&2 came along.

Spaghetti Incident's haphazard list of cover versions showed where the punk attitude of Guns 'n' Roses beat strongest - and Duff McKagan was at the heart of that attitude.

Duff McKagan is, let's face it, one of the most iconic figures in hard rock. While the albatrosses of Gunners and Velvet Revolver would have pulled down lesser men...not to mention the much repeated pancreas incident...Duff has shrugged all this off to prove that he just wants to play music and he wants to play it for people who appreciate it.

And, when Duff and his accomplices in Loaded hit the Spring and Airbrake stage, he proved that for all his straight edge, columnist for leading newspapers and websites career lifestyle, his heart beats with a passion for his beloved musical background.

There is no better city to dedicate a song to Stiff Little Fingers than Belfast; and Duff compared favourably to the trite waffle that many bands spout from the stage: he sounded genuine when saying that just over 12 months ago Belfast "hoisted us on your shoulders" after a long tour.

It's hard to credit that Loaded landed from LA just 48 hours before this Wednesday gig, did a Dublin show and then slammed on to the stage in Belfast with the title track of their latest CD, Sick played with a snarling delight.

Despite a back catalogue of hundreds of classic tunes to fall back on, it was the tracks off Sick that stood out, with their swagger, rock sensibilities and, at times, classic punk/metal crossover sneer.

'No Shame', 'Iou', 'I See Though You' and the superb 'Translucent' were ripped through, delivering a tenuous balance between classic rock and punk, mixed in a heady cocktail with metal.

Yes, it was not perfect. At times ragged, and at time loose, Duff and his willing Loaded accomplices proved that how you perform is not always as important as the attitude on stage.

Of course, 'It's So Easy' was a rousing finale to the evening, but it was equally important for all to note that Loaded is not a side project for a fading star. This is a rock icon who could retire to a comfortable ranch, raking in royalties, eyeing his investments. Instead he is recording vibrant songs and delivering live sets flled with a passion for music.

Yeah, Nice Boys do play rock 'n' fucking roll!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Evile bassist dies

From Total Rock.com
Evile bassist Mike Alexander has passed away, after suddenly being taken ill while the band were on the road in Sweden with Amon Amarth. Evile members Matt Drake, Ol Drake and Ben Carter have released the following statement: "This is so hard to find the words to express fully how we feel. We can't believe or accept what's happened. One minute we're talking to our buddy, Mike, the next minute we can never speak to him again. "There's so many things rushing through our heads that we want to say, do and feel. We half expect him to come round the corner and call us 'dickheads'. We can't get our heads around it. "It upsets us so much that he was away from his family when this happened, although knowing Mike, we're at least glad he was on tour doing what he loves. "We're lost for words. We all miss him so much already. He was such a headstrong, genuinely nice guy who loved music and his family. We've got so many brilliant memories with him. "Our hearts go out to his daughter, family and friends at this tragic, difficult time. "Mike is much loved and is sorely missed. "Rest in peace, brother."

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Support Escape Fails in Kerrang!

ESCAPE Fails have been shortlisted as one of only four finalists in the Kerrang! magazine Black XS UK Livesound Competition - a tremendous achievement given that more than 600 bands from across the nation entered the competition.

Escape Fails have long been a favourite here, with their crossover post-hardcore metal groove. Ryan takes up what shortlisting has meant for the band so far.

"We were in London on the 17th and 18th September and had a makeover by a professional stylist for a photo shoot by rock photographer Paul Harries.

"We also visited Gibson Studios where we were able to meet and question Charlie Simpson from Fightstar about his experiences in the music industry."

The Live Final will also be held at Gibson Studios, London on the 16th November where we will be performing in front of an audience of industry experts and Kerrang! ticket winners.
"The grand prize is a record deal with Search & Destroy Records, (home of Fightstar & local boys In Case of Fire,) a feature in Kerrang! Magazine and an Epiphone Guitar."
So, it's up to us to keep the ball rolling by buying (or borrowing) this week's Kerrang!, going to the Kerrang! website, emailing pictures and views and keeping all our fingers crossed for an Escape Fails victory.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

URGENT! Wanna be an extra in a rock video

The Answer want you! Yes you! The band are filming a video at the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast today from noon until 5pm. If you can make your way along they need faces old and new to turn up.

So, if unlike me you're not stuck in work head down and you could see yer bake plastered on Scuzz and Kerrang TV alongside Cormac and crew.

UPDATE: if you can only get along for a while they are auditioning for future filming

Tragedy averted

Tragedy has been averted...the demise of Triggerman has not taken place. Instead the 'Derry's best are to take a break before returning in the new year. All hail, may the attendants at Valhalla raise a glass etc!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wolfsbane appeal

Quick appeal! Lensman Simon is looking to get hold of Wolfsbane (pre-Blaze Maiden) CDs. Any ideas where he can get hold of them without paying extortionate prices on ebay?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hard rocking progressive blues space rock

The first time Belfastmetalheadsreunited caught Hunger's Mother live we unfairly compared them to what was then a burgeoning hard blues/classic rock scene (that was four plus years ago, when Classic Rock magazine's sales were just beginning to rise). Guitarist Neill McIlfatrick rightly upbraided us, pointing out that the band aimed for much, much more.

With the release of the long awaited 'Spies of Torr' album it is clear that Hunger's Mother are deploying a varied and innovative take in a sea of sameness. Regular readers know we despise the genre labels lazy music hacks bestow on bands - but for one we can apply a label: Hunger's Mother fall firmly within the genre 'Hard rocking progressive blues space rock'.

Spies of Torr opens up with the celtic tinged Killing Sphere, doffing a cap to the legacy of Lizzy and Horslips. It concludes with Time Travel Volunteers, a sprawling nine minute progtastic journey through relativity (yep, that would be the theory of relativity and Stephen Hawking's assertion that while you cannot travel at the speed of light, theoretically you can travel faster using worm holes....shit, almost forgot it was a metal blog not a physics paper!).

And therein lies the joy within Spies of Torr. Classic rock vibes and Rush style prog merge seamlessly. Neal Calderwood's production lends a space to the production, allowing drums, bass, guitar and vocals to breathe.

Some may see it all as a touch retro, but they forget the roots that forged the hard rock and metal of today. Hunger's Mother provide a bang up-to-date take on the late 60s proto metal scene that saw Iron Butterfly and Cream blaze a trail. They are the north Irish bastard sons of the Woodstock generation - the Woodstock that saw Alvin Lee, Joe Cocker, The Who and Hendrix share a blissed out blitzed out stage with hippies, rockers and too much LSD.

After the celtic blitz of Killing Sphere, Spies of Torr manages to capture that road trip vibe from the US that we can never enjoy on this small isle through the strains and twists of Empty Love.

Outta Control kicks off with a riff classic rockers across the land would die for, with political lyrics and a chilled out mid-section that revvs up again with a bass sound reminiscent of Geezer Butler's NIB intro.

Mama Told Me's plaintive strains are harmony dredged from the Bayou with more than a splash of irony and humour amidst the minor key.

Hunger's Mother have had a long road to see this platter given the airing it deserves. Some might be put off by the weird celtic imagery that pervades their cover art and liner material. Heathens!

Spies of Torr is a diverse recording in the best sense of the word, with excellent muscianship backing up ever stronger songs.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Aussie rock back for more!

Airbourne are set to make their third visit to Belfast when they play the Mandella Hall on 12th February next year....hell yeah!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

September's RockD listings

Below are the rocKD September listings. All gigs take place in The Limelight, Doors for all shows are 5pm, and admission is £3.50.

  • Saturday 5th September. Niyah Sky + Nasa Assassin + Stoned Messiah
  • Saturday 12th September. September Cross + Trucker Diablo + Common Bred Trigger
  • Saturday 19th September. Gacys Threads + By Any Means + Hero In Error
  • Saturday 26th September. Stand-Up Guy + Shardborne + Cursed Sun
And...September 19th is International Talk Like A Pirate Day...arrr, be any of ye scurvy dogs ready to cover an Alestorm song and swig a grog of ye old rum? Errr, perhaps not!

Time for a little GMT

No, you didn't read that wrong - it's not a G 'n' T like the drink that metal should avoid...rather it's GMT, Robin Guy, John McCoy and Bernie Torme.

GMT's only Irish date is at the Diamond Rock Club on 28th November.

Torme is one of the men that stand guilty of  trapping me into this glorious and unfeasibly wonderful world of rock and metal.

The Irish guitarist captured me on his three albums with Ian Gillan. Glory Road, Mr Universe and Future Shock - some slagged off his use of feedback as being Hendrix clone like but in truth his histrionics propelled Gillan's trad rock to a new level.

Had the pleasure of seeing Bernie Torme's Electric Gypsies at the Ulster Hall (supporting Budgie!) and Bernie played like a demon.

His career has seen him swing the axe with the likes of Dee Snider, Clive Burr and - famously - he played with Ozzy in the dark days after Randy Rhoads tragic death.

GMT have laid down two fantastic platters since the trio got together, and maximum credit to the Diamond Rock club for snagging this date...

Ahh bugger! More expense in October...it's Opeth this time!

Ahh bugger - it can be overwhelming how much good hard rock and metal is coming to Belfast...the latest joyous news is that Opeth will be playing the Spring and Airbrake on 12th October. Tickets are on sale now, for the paltry sum of twenty five pounds...

October already boasts....
Residual Effect/Gacy's Threads/The Lobotomies - 2nd - Spring and Airbrake
Y&T/Stormzone - 5th - Spring & Airbrake
Duff McKagan's Loaded - 7th - Spring & Airbrake
Black Stone Cherry - 11th - Spring & Airbrake
Insect Warfare 12th - The Menagerie
Anal C*nt (sans the terminally ill Chopper Read) - 15th - The Limelight
Tigertailz - 17th - Diamond Bar
Amon Amarth/Evile/Entombed - 23rd - Spring & Airbrake
Isis - 24th - Black Box
Biffy Clyro - 28th - St George's Market
Mael Mordhu (plus 11 other acts - 31st - Rosetta

Bloody hell!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Erre three days of hard rockin' mayhem!

Hold tight if you have the cash and liver tolerance...cuz over the next three days there's a veritable feast of hardcore, hard rock and thrash - though not necessarily in that order!.

Kicking off on Thursday is RSJ at the Limelight with By Any Means leading the supporting charge!

Recover from that and you can limber up the neck muscles when classic Brit thrashers Onslaught get set to slay the Spring & Airbrake on Friday night, ably supported by Devil Makes Three, Overoth and Cursed Sun.

For those of you still fixated with the new wave of thrashers - excellent though the likes of Municipal Waste, Evile et al are - Onslaught still kill the old way. Despite wallowing through disbandment, reformation and line-up changes they have re-emerged revitalised in recent years.

Old codgers alert! Zimmer frames at the ready for grandad rock on Saturday...Status Quo play at Carrick Castle, which is only marginally older than the Quo. Sorry, but it is really easy to have a pop at the Quo, but fair is fair they have kept their 12-bar blues boogie rock going for an eternity and deserve plaudits a plenty.

Here at metal mansions we first experienced the Quo live in '82 on what was titled the 'End of the Road Tour'. Then came some years later, the 'In The Army Now Tour' etc etc etc.

No matter what their collective ages and infirmity they always get heads a nodding and entertain!

Also with the Quo on Saturday at the Castle are Hayseed Dixie with their sawgrass take on rock. And, Speedo would not forgive me if I didn't mention Tinn Lizzy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Glyding into Belfast

Glyder, to those that take an interest in these sort of things (that would be us!) seem to have been bubbling under the classic rock scene in Ireland for some time now.

But the rest of Europe, and further afield, have been perking up their ears and clocking the Glyder sound for some time.

The Wicklow rockers are making tracks for their first Irish tour...well the first in three+ years.

September 11th they play the Terrace in Dungannon, on the 12th the Diamond Bar, Ahoghill, before rounding up the northern leg of the tour at The Limelight on the 13th.

Formed five years ago Glyder have just got their third album out, and are ready to reassert their name on the island.

Guitarist, Bat Kinane explains why they're getting back to the home land now: " We haven't focused much on Ireland before this year as it's very difficult to get people out to gigs and unless you are being hyped in the media people take little interest.

"It's also very difficult to get the attention of the press in Ireland when you play hard rock music. Irish radio and media tend to focus on indie and pop [ED: not to mention a shedload of shite dance music!].

"We decided to focus our attention on building up a name in the UK and beyond and in doing so the buzz would eventually filter back home.We are relatively unknown in Ireland but this summer we opened for Metallica in Dublin and people are now beginning to show interest in our music."

And about bloody time! Those of you may doubt that anybody bar The Answer can raise a flag for Irish hard rock - north and south - on a wider stage should perhaps note that Glyder have headlined in front of thousands in India (yes you read that right!) and have appeared on the main stages in festivals across Europe.

No less a producer that Chris Tsangrides (if you don't know his pedigree...) has helmed their recordings, and esteemed Y&T axeman Dave Meniketti contributed a solo on their latest album

"We finished recording the 3rd album "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" this summer and it will be released as soon as we have finalized partners for its release. It will be very much like the first album but the songwriting has improved and there are lot of killer hooks on it.
"Dave Meniketti guests on a solo on the title track.We got to know the Y&Tpeople through touring the UK with them last year. We sent him a backing track by email and he emailed back the solo and we put it into the song. His style is very recognizable and its a hot solo!!

Bat explained what the audience can expect come the 13th: "The Belfast show will be a mix of material from our first two albums and the EP and we will be playing at least 5 tracks from the new album.

"We also have Bandwagon and Howling Widow opening for us so it should be a great evening of rock."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

'Chopper' Read out of Belfast gig

Probably the best excuse for pulling out of a gig comes courtesy or Mark 'Chopper' Read...he's dying and is refusing a liver transplant as 'he doesn't deserve it'.

Read had been due to MC the gig by Anal C*nt, Haggis and The Dangerfields on October 14th.

With Hepatits C complicating his liver problems the 55-year-old Aussie anti-hero he issued the following statement:

"I am dying and I accept that. A transplant would save me, but I'm not going to ask for one.

"Why would anybody give 55-year-old Chopper Read a liver over an 11-year-old girl with liver cancer? They wouldn't and I wouldn't ask."

More details on the story, and the usual lurid reportage over Read's criminal past, are in today's Sunday Life, along with the usual hysteria over Anal C*nt.

Friday, August 21, 2009

AC/DC and the law...

A trial in Alberta, Canada has been postponed, because one of the defence lawyers has tickets to see AC/DC.
The trial of Joshua M. MacInnis, charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle and failure to provide a breath sample, was supposed to start on August 27. But Kevin Gubbins asked for the postponement, because his partner Christain Banks is going to see 'DC. And Judge Morris Golden agreed to adjourn the case until December 15.
Source: totalrock.com

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Insect Menagerie

Texan grindcore act Insect Warfare are reuniting and will be including local dates in their UK and European tour. As well as dates in Dublin Cork Fred Zeppelins and Galway they'll be at The Menagerie on October 12th.
Source: Totalrock.com

Metal and punk special

2nd October...pin back yer earlobes for a punk and metal special at the Spring and Airbrake courtesy of Big List.

On the bill are Residual Effect, Gacy's Threads and The Lobotomies...biased though we may be truth be told Residual is the main reason why this will be worthwhile!

Triggerman to disband - MySpace Blog |

Have been hoping this wasn't true, but still tragic - Bap, Niall, Uggy and Rory defined a new genre with their Preacher Rock, but alas it is t be no more! Here's the official note from their Myspace site:

Triggerman to disband - Triggerman's MySpace Blog : "Triggerman to disband
This is just to let you all know that Triggerman have made the decision to disband. It was not an easy decision to make but we feel that the band has run its course and we want to finish it up before it completely runs out of steam and also while we still love performing the songs. We will not be breaking up immediately as we have a few gigs to honour and also we want to go out with a bang, so we will be organizing one last monster show. We want to do this last big show as we have been in bands before which just fizzle out and we feel that a last big gig would bring the band to a good end. We are planning something special so it will take a few months to set up, so it may be around november time before it happens so keep an eye out if you fancy coming. I will post more details when i have them. The gigs we have booked if you want to see us before then are.

Diamond rock club - Aug 22nd with sinocence
Masons Bar Derry - Sept 19th with La Faro
Derry Somewhere--- Triggerman final show TBC

we would also like to thank everybody for all their support and help over the years and for rocking and drinking beer with us and being our friends. We hope to see you all at the final show where we hope it will be one to remember."

Absolute fucking bummer - but good luck to you all for whatever future plans you have!

Distortion Project's line-up for rest of August

A few wee mentions for the rest of DP's August gigs...

Saturday 22nd August. Slave Zero + Existing Threat + Itchy Trigger Finger. The Limelight, Belfast. Doors 5pm. £3.50

Thursday 27th August. RSJ + By Any Means + TBC. The Limelight, Belfast. Doors 9pm, £5.00

Friday 28th August. Onslaught + Devilmakesthree + Overoth + Cursed Sun. The Spring & Airbrake, Belfast. Doors 9pm, Tickets available from Katy Dalys, www.geturticket.com, www.ticketmaster.ie and all Ticketmaster outlets. Credit Card Hotline 0870 2434455

Saturday 29th August. Hand of Death + Criminal Jammage + Guilty by Association. The Limelight, Belfast. Doors 5pm, £3.50.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Savage head!

Sweet Savage have been confirmed as support for Motorhead's Belfast and Dublin dates in November; the latest in a series of high profile supports for the band.

With new material due soon after this gig, Sweet Savage will more than make up for missing out on The Damned, who are supporting 'Head in rest of UK, but will it make up for not seeing NWOBHM contemporaries Girlschool who are also on the UK line-up?

Sweet Savage are still at the top of their game and Girlschool are putting out 'My Mates and me' albums.

Slight erratum..

Slight erratum to a previous post...sobriety led me to claim that Keel would be supporting Y&T on October 5th. Support will instead come from hometown heroes Stormzone. Sorry about any confusion that may have been caused.

Not strictly metal, but we still like their quirkiness...support for Biffy Clyro on 28th October at St George's Market comes from the Atlanta based Manchester Orchestra and Pulled By Horses. Haven't heard either of these, but when you see the phrase 'alt-rock' in the blurb it can only mean one thing...head to the bar first :)

By Any Means...hardcore with RSJ

RSJ will be making a return visit to Belfast on Thursday 27th August in advance of their Lowend Festival appearance.

Catch them at the Limelight with the hardcore 'By Any Means' in support. (http://www.myspace.com/byanymeanshardcore).

Presented by The Distortion Project, doors are at 9pm and entrance to this full-on noisefest is a paltry fiver!

Monday, August 10, 2009

T-Shirts - black, band name, tour dates...

THERE is, of course, a cliche that says that all metalheads and hard rockers wear only black t-shirts emblazoned with the band logo and tour dates on the back. Usually they only adorn the male of the species, with that slight stretch along the mid-section to accommodate the 24-pack beer bulge...

Of course, like most cliches this is based on a partial truth...as well as a plethora of black tour shirts a red Metallica tour shirt can be found and a grey MSG tour shirt from 1983 has recently been purloined by junior editor (daughter) as bedwear. Blog critic and champion of prog and classic rock, Baal, has also been spotted in a white Motorhead t-shirt.

The cliche that the tour shirts can only be worn by the male gender has led to one enterprising County Antrim outfit to solve the conundrum that tour shirts usually have a cut that only suits men.

Tops For Rock Chix takes the tour shirts and band t-shirts and re-makes them for the more shapely female form!

You can check out the site here. And, I'm sure that if local acts want their tops altered for local fans they'd be more than happy to oblige!

On the subject of t-shirts for local bands, some time ago there was a comment on the blog as to where to get shirts of local bands. Mulled this over for a while...1) On sale at gigs 2) from their website; or 3) drop me a line here and I'll see if I can get in touch with the band concerned to access the threads you want.

Finally some rules for t-shirts: Led Zeppelin t-shirts bought from British Home Stores are never to be worn. Any band t-shirt bought from Cult is wrong...ffs a Motorhead or Clash t-shirts with spangly glistening bits...that's just wrong. Only wear tour shirts if you saw the band on tour (dispensation given under two special circumstances...that you had lost a limb and couldn't attend but a mate brought t-shirt and bootleg tape of gig or that you really, really, really wish you were there!. Final rule - if you like/love/admire the band wear their colours loud and proud! No point in being a fan of an act if you don't declare yourself as a fanboy/girl.

One word of warning...that Cradle of Filth t-shirt...yes the Jesus is a C*nt - shirt, is not appropriate for work. Just so you know!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Calling all local acts!

Wanna get a shot at a record deal? The esteemed hard rock and heavy metal label Roadrunner Records has opened its (online) doors to unsigned acts. The opportunity is to upload tracks and have them reviewed by volunteer 'scouts'.

The cynic says...nice play guys: free publicity, free A&R people and the chance to pick up one or two half decent bands with attendant PR blitz.

On the other hand...if you are in a band, here's the plan: register, upload a track, get all your mates to register as 'scouts' and have them rate and review your tracks and yours alone. Might not get you the record label deal, but it will raise your flag higher and one never knows!

This is a US initiative...it may spread and be copied in the Roadrunner UK division. And what have you got to lose!

And on the recent evidence from NI's hard rock and metal acts...we kick the rest of the world into a cocked hat in terms of musicianship, songwriting, recordings and live performances....Yeah WE ROCK! :)

Below is the Roadrunner 'blurb'.

"Are you in a band?
Do you know someone in a band?
Do you think you're good enough to be signed to Roadrunner?
Or do you think you have the "ears" to help us find the next big artist?
The new media department at Roadrunner Records have [sic] been busy in the laboratory over the past 8 months working on a brand new website designed to make submissions of recorded demos easier for bands hoping to one day get signed to our record label.
At this website, you can join as an ARTIST and upload your best material.
SCOUTS who join can then rate, review and comment the music you submit.
Roadrunner's A&R department will be looking at all of this material every day - listening to submissions and occasionally rating and reviewing songs themselves.
That website is signmeto.roadrunnerrecords.com.
Come to signmeto and check out the hundreds of cool, interesting, cutting-edge and...yes...totally lame bands that have uploaded music to the site. And if you are one of the bands involved - we have nearly 200 new scouts joining daily, so there are plenty of opportunities to get your material reviewed.
It is early days for signmeto, and there are still a lot of improvements that have to be made. We hope for your patience. Jon Satterley, Senior Vice President of New Media, has started a new blog at the regular RR website to discuss, on a weekly basis, the updates, fixes, changes and roadmap for the signmeto website. Check it out here.
Feedback is welcome at the comments area of the blog, and also by using our getsatisfaction feedback widget to the left of every web page at signmeto.
Don't forget to follow us on twitter by going here.
We hope you enjoy the new home of Roadrunner's online A&R."

Up and coming

Further to the earlier post on up and coming gigs:

Y&T with support from Keel are about to be confirmed for the 5th October at the Spring and Airbrake...

Anal Cunt, Haggis and The Dangerfields will be at The Limelight on the 14th October as the only date on the 'Assholes and Troublemakers Tour'. As part of the evening there will be a spoken word MC appearance from Aussie ex-convict, author and refreshingly open Mark 'Chopper' Read.

The Sub-Humans will be at Auntie Annies on 9th September.

Thanks for the tips readers. I'll add details on each of the above acts when I have the chance (and am within touching distance of sobriety).

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Try before you buy?

Downloading songs has always been an awkward topic in music...witness the dispute between Metallica and Napster. Lars 'Loudmouth' Ulrich may have been right, but got the PR battle wrong.

BitTorrent and other services use P2P (peer to peer networks) to access tunes, albums and much more on a legal footing that is less than clear...i.e. illegal! At this point we at belfastmetalheadsreunited should apologise to Magnum, Marillion and Alestorm. Albums have been downloaded from BitTorrent sources. In defence, m'Lord we say that (a) we already have Magnum and Marillion tracks on vinyl and cassette and just wanted it on the PC without hassle and (b) we bought Alestorm CDs after listening to downloads.

The reason why this post is appearing is that we have discovered Spotify. Spotify is like LastFM, only better. For a start - it appears - that the bands on Spotify receive actual money when you listen to tracks on Spotify. So far this has revealed that we have an eclectic set of tastes!

Spotify also enables devotees to exchange playlists. Playlists so far have encouraged us to shell out the cash for Duff McKagan's Loaded mix of punk and classic rock CD, Sick and caused endless pining for Panic Cells' 'What Doesn't Kill Us' CD which a certain person has in their posession...just one email please to return this asap!

One of the main reasons for this post is to encourage local acts to get in touch with Spotify. Spotify charges for tracks to appear; but get all your acquaintances, Myspace mates, Facebook friends and Bebo buddies to downloads your tracks and...money!

Norn Iron's hard rock and metal scene deserves to dominate Spotify!

Feel the thunder!

SWEDEN’S Amon Amarth are – as sensible fans know by now – playing the Spring & Airbrake on 23th October. The Distortion Project have confirmed Swedish death ‘n’ roll veterans Entombed and Brit retro thrashers Evile as support.

And if that isn’t enough for a pre-Hallowe’en knees up we don’t know what is!

Amon Amarth have been a band that displayed the patience of the proverbial saint to rise from relative obscurity and twitterings in specialist mags to the front page of Metal Hamster as acclaimed leaders of the New Wave of Traditional Metal (whatever the hell that is!).

Johan Hegg’s towering presence fronts a band that appears immersed in Nordic paganism, but read deeper and the allegorical nature of the lyrics from the atheist frontman are intriguing.

Having dabbled with the occasional offering from Amon Amarth for some time ‘With Oden on Our Side’ was a revelation. ‘Runes to My Memory’, ‘Cry of the Blackbird’ and ‘Prediction of Warfare’ were among the tracks that showed a clear evolution of their style and songwriting form.

But last year ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’ was unleashed. It was rated on this site as one of the top CDs of 2008, with due cause. The strident title track will, undoubtedly, prove immensely popular, the rest of the platter pounds. ‘Guardians of Asgard’ has a riff to accompany the conquering of nations. ‘The Hero’ has a unique lyrical take on what makes a warrior, while closer ‘Embrace of the Endless Ocean’ has a concept that many a prog act would die for…slave freed from toil at the oars dies happily at sea rowing!

Amon Amarth may not be one of the most important metal bands of the decade, but they are pushing the envelope and will help shape the Swedish ‘death’ scene and beyond for years to come. Respect not only to the band but to the Metal Blade label for keeping the faith and allowing Amon Amarth to grow into potential world conquerors.

Entombed have been knocking about for years (20+!). The Swedish act started off as a straight death metal, but evolved through the course of nine studio albums to their present domination of death ‘n’ roll – which even has its own Wikipedia entry as a genre!

Evile are the snotty nosed bastard son of 80s thrash, with a lot more credibility that some of the US bands knocking about. While many will have stumbled across Evile via sampler CDs from magazines, their Earache release, ‘Enter The Grave’ is worth checking out. While lyrically it can be a wee bit embarrassing at times, and the Slayer references are a little too far forward, Evile can, with a fair wind and plenty of live experience be at the forefront of reinvigorating thrash.

Tickets for this October extravaganza are now available from the usual outlets…neck braces and liver transplants are not covered in the ticket prices and good luck trying to persuade BUPA to cover the costs of excessive metal fun after the 23rd!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Some upcoming gigs....

There’s a few wee gigs coming up…take a deep breath and add these into your personal rock and metal planner and speak to your bank manager about getting some advance beer tokens!

On Saturday the usual RockD sees A Distant Sun headline the Limelight festivities before Spitknot rock the Spring and Airbrake later in the evening with Sinocence and Residual Effect.

With that over you Coldwar, Howlin' Widow and Sadisture are RockD’s line-up on the 15th. Slave Zero, Existing Threat and Itchy Trigger Finger lay waste to the Limelight the following week.

On the 22nd Sinocence and Triggerman are at the Diamond Bar, Ahoghill.

For pop punks with a conscience Rise Against play the 26th August at the same venue…

Old style Brit thrash descends on the 28th August when Onslaught make a return to Belfast for a Spring and Airbrake assault.

On Saturday 29th RockD presents Hand of Death and Guilty By Association…and on the same day Status Quo will be rockin’ all over Carrick with a gig at the historic Norman Castle…or in the car park beside it!

When you recover from that The Diamond Bar sees The Fool Fighters supported by the excellent A Little Bitter.

September sees Stand Up Guy support Finnish Metallers Farewell at the Empire and Dublin hardrockers Glyder play the Limelight on the 13th.

That gives all of us some time to breathe before a manic October takes over….

Duff McKagan’s Loaded on the 7th, Black Stone Cherry on the 11th, Amon Amarth on the 23rd (all at the S&A) and Biffy Clyro at St George’s Market on the 28th.

And on the 17th October 80s glam rockers Tigertails play at The Diamond Bar.

November sees Fightstar on the 6th, Gun on the 8th (both Spring and Airbrake), Motorhead at the Ulster Hall on the 9th and Yes at the Waterfront on the 25th. Oh and Green Day are at the Odyssey on the 20th…which is pretty much like listening to Americans playing the Stiff Little Fingers back catalogue!

By the time December rolls on the confirmed gigs are The Quireboys on the 4th December at the Spring & Airbrake The Answer on the 14th December at the Ulster Hall.

Phew! There are probably a few left off this list…comment/text/email/Facebook or Twitter to let me know which ones have slipped off my alcohol addled radar!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Loaded 7th October

As mentioned earlier this week Duff McKagan's Loaded will be playing the Spring and Airbrake on 7th October. Tickets, priced £20, are on sale now from the usual outlets.

Be all at Anthrax...NOT!

The situation at the good ship Anthrax has gotten somewhat confusing. After several promo appearances in the UK with singer Dan Nelson confirmation has come that he has left the band, John Bush is standing in for Sonisphere for one time only and they have a new album with Dan Nelson on vocal duties which no-one seems to know whether it will see the light of day or not.

No Belfast date then on the horizon - if ever again

Monday, July 20, 2009

Been away a while...time to get Loaded now!

Been away from posting for a while - kitchen fires etc intervening! But normal service will return now...and first up is the news that ex-Gunner Duff McKagan is coming back to Belfast with his straight edge punk/metal cross-over outfit Loaded. Date will be in October, official news, ticket prices etc coming on Monday afternoon.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Glyder touchdown in Belfast

Southern classic rockers Glyder play The Limelight on 13th September. More details to follow.

Stand up for Stand-Up Guy's busy summer schedule

The busy Stand-Up Guy are embarking on a series of UK and Irish dates to wrap the summer up. It touches down in Belfast on 3rd September when they support Finnish act Farewell at The Empire. More dates no doubt to be added, full details here.

Busted boy back to rock Belfast

Who knows if Charlie Simpson will ever live down his reign in teen band Busted, but damn he's working hard with Fightstar to prove that he has the stamina to earn a reputation as a hardcore hero.

Fightstar are appearing at the Spring & Airbrake on 6th November, tickets, priced £13 are on sale now from usual outlets.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hometown heroes…don’t believe the hype…they’re better than that

THE Answer are on the crest of a wave. But there is no sudden crash waiting for the hometown heroes any time soon.

The usual form is that as soon as any band reaches a certain level the media decides to knock them down a peg or two.

Don’t believe the clichéd crap, because The Answer have ascended that; they have become the true hometown heroes – humble super stars with an awe inspiring live presence to match the peerless classic rock excellence of their recorded output.

On Monday night at the Mandella Hall it was a hot and sweaty lesson par excellence for budding protégés – there are many that might claim the throne, but few can aspire to achieve the presence and sheer joie de vivre that County Down’s finest can achieve.

Kicking off with the power packed album openers off Everyday Demons, Demon Eyes was blistering and Too Far Gone was a rallying cry for the disaffected, disenfranchised majority.

The true measure of any act taking to the stage in Belfast is their ability to merge the new with the old; the tried and tested with the new vibe.

Old favourites can raise the hands, raise the voices and raise the tempo. But can they stand beside the likes of Come Follow Me, Under the Sky, and Preaching in front of an audience that can react with indifference?

From the dark tones of Why’d You Change Your Mind, through to the surge of positivism echoed with Cry Out doubters be damned! The Answer proved they are now ‘all growed up’.

From the tiered stadia supporting AC/DC to the intimate Mandella Hall The Answer command any stage, any time.

It is too easy to say a band performed with aplomb. It is too easy to heap plaudits upon any band. But when the band is The Answer it is more difficult to find sufficient praise.

One magazine described Cormac as an ‘affable scarecrow’ off stage. On stage he exudes presence. Paul’s lead playing has emerged ever more powerful and lyrical in recent months, while Mickey and James lay down a rhythm tighter than ever before, despite James recent injury.

But what is more they now feel their way through the set. Preachin’ may get the crowd singing along, but newer tracks like On and On and Tonight sit easily in the set.

And it is a band that can have the anthem for ‘Norn Iron’ Dead of the Night dedicated to the first newspaper to cover then (the Newry Democrat) on the day that the newspaper closed its doors. In other words The Answer may have played to hundreds of thousands of people on the AC/DC tour; they may have appeared on then David Letterman Show: but they never forget where they laid down their rock roots and earned the stripes needed for success.

It is with that confidence that The Answer can throw in the Ike and Tina Turner song Nutbush City Limits and have Answer balloons bounced across the venue

The Answer’s take on classic rockin’ can be easily dismissed by the sneering critics who forget the sheer unadulterated excitement of a proper rock ‘n’ roll gig. They dismiss The Answer at their peril.

Co Down’s finest…The Answer.

Now, if you have any questions we can offer The Answer…harder than quadrilateral equations…more down-to-earth than an earthworm…cooler than ice chips in a heatwave…The Answer are Northern Ireland’s finest.

PS: The Answer are so cool that, despite their hectic schedule, they took almost an hour to back the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People’s ‘Here We Are…Nowhere’ campaign at the Oh Yeah Music Centre. www.niccy.org/herewearenowhere. Cool, hard and caring...that'll be The Answer!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Free gig for teenagers

Wanna go to a free gig? Wanna meet The Answer? Wanna hear local acts like Shotgun, Dead Vito, and Escape Fails?

If you are between 14 and 18 and doing nothing between 4:30 and 7:30pm on Monday 29th June (i.e. today!) and your answer is YES to the above questions, the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People is hosting a free gig to launch her campaign on play, leisure and things to do for young people at Belfast's Oh Yeah Music Centre.

Email john@niccy.org as soon as possible today to snag your free spot on the guestlist.

Special thanks to The Answer for their personal appearance!

Rock numbers

Sad fact...the post before this one was post number 666...which means this post is 667...neighbour of the beast :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Guitar Hero faces JP's wrath

Guitar Hero is a gaming phenomenon...and it has seen hard rock and metal acts given more exposure, as well as earning a few extra shillings for the acts. But now Jimmy Page (along with Jack White) have slagged it off (see story here).

They make some good points, but ultimately what harm is there in it...as they point out it could spoil some learning in terms of finger shapes and rhythms, but the benefits in terms of digit dexterity could outweigh that...your views?

Free gig for 14-18 year olds

THE Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People is holding a free gig for 14-18 year olds at the Oh Yeah Music Centre on Monday. Admittance is strictly by invitation only.

Escape Fails are headlining, with Dead Vito and Shotgun also playing. There will also be a personal appearance by The Answer for pix etc.

If you want to snag one of the free tickets you MUST be between 14 and 18 (seriously you have to be!) and email john@niccy.org as soon as possible. Doors at 4:30pm, gig ends at 7:30pm.

Spit it out!

Another gig date for your diary: Spitknot (that's a Slipknot tribute band for the slow of reading) take to the stage at the Spring & Airbrake on August 8th with the rather excellent Sinocence and Residal Effect in support.

Tickets for this Distortion Project promotion are on sale now.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Metal in the mainstream...

What the heck is it with the press these days...metal is in the mainstream with Maiden picking up Brit awards, Slipknot, Metallica and DC topping the charts across the world at the end of '08, and now Classic Rock devoting almost an entire magazine to metal.

CR is now one of the best selling music mags in the UK; it has even a prog rock spin off edition. This month's edition features a natty cover listing dozens of metal bands logos, and has features a plenty.

It touches on the genres and some of the history, and claims (not unfairly) that the grunge movement of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden et al was metal in all but name.

While the magazine makes many fair editorial comments it does go overboard on it New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal claim. This phrase, coined by Metal Hammer, gives hope to a lot of bands that are hopelessly stuck in a timewarp. While some acts have the ability to tap into previous bands work and inject a new twist to the magical formula the danger is that too many simply don the spandex, ripped jeans and retread the riffs.

Metal is at once comical and deadly serious, and its best exponents recognise this; absorbing the past and giving it new life (the transition between 70s metal, NWOBHM, thrash, prog metal, and the 21st Century vibe is acknowledged) is a trademark of the music form dubbed metal. However, such is the supposed stigma attached to 'heavy metal' that some acts seem determined to distance themselves - even the great Lemmy, before he embraced it once decried the dungeons and dragons tales; and the Ulster man who wrote the defining Holy Diver riff (Vivian Campbell) has dissed metal.

But, when it comes down to it, metal (and all its sub genres, sub-sub genres and disputes over where a band 'fits') has been around, will stay around and will always appeal to those who like loud, heavy rock music played with attitude. Belfast has seen UFO, Tesla, Down, Static X amongst recent acts gracing stages; not to mention the host of local talent.

When the music press has forgotten today's metal fixation there will still be fans and bands who, to paraphrase Gerry Adams "have never gone away ya know". Or in the words of the excellent comedy metal troupe, Steel Panther...DEATH TO ALL BUT METAL.

Stupid and intelligent, obnoxious and thoughtful, progressive and dumb, brash and introverted -metal is a beautiful contradiction that some will never get, but for the rest of us...raise the horns, raise a glass and gimme a hell yeah!

[This rant now ceases...I'm away for a cool Carlsberg and refreshing Jager to ease frayed thoughts and listen to some 'eavy fuggin metal]

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No failure on the 10th

Escape Fails - long local favourites here for their hardcore metal - are headlining an All Ages gig on July 10th at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast.

Support comes in the shape of Valkaine, Circadian and Silver Cord. Doors at 3pm and entry is a measly three quid.

The gig is part of the TransBelfast series of summer events. More details here.