Pick Your Rock and Metal

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nearly forgot to mention Warrior Soul, Rob Zombie and SLF gigs!

DAMN this sobriety! Now that I have been temporarily cured of it I remember that I should have mentioned the following:
Stiff Little Fingers - Ulster Hall March 12th
Warrior Soul - Diamond Rock Club March 29th
Rob Zombie - Ulster Hall June 29th.

2011 - the year when the debit and credit cards get burned badly; beer tokens get stacked way too low and merch costs rocket. Maiden, Rush, Journey etc all gonna be costly not to mention the above!

Not directly metal, but it is a rant

HAD a wee rant back in October about work related stuff on a blog I rarely use, but one or two people (who mustn't have much better to do!) said I should post it here as it mentions Maiden, Sweet Savage, and DC and 'Tallica.

Read it here - if you really have nothing better to do :)

Perception isn't everything - Blaze into 2011 for Blaze

WHEN it comes to what we see and what we take as read, then all too often we screw it up. Looking back on December 2010 all we'll remember is the week of snow and frosts. So much airtime was taken up talking about record low temperatures in Ballygobackward that we'll not remember that the last week of the year had temperatures well above the seasonal average.

Perception versus reality?

While there way too many afflicted with no water and no heating, the blame game goes on. No-one seems to notice that under-investment for years has meant that our water systems are not capable - nor where they designed to - of coping with excessive rain, nor massive drainage of meltwater. Still it is easier to play the blame game when it's not your house flooded.

Perception versus reality?

That loathsome, contrived, faked and fucked up show called the X-Factor - and the show that claims Britain has Talent, then decides not to seek out any genuine talent - had more people read about it in red-top tabloids and shouty girly mags than actually watched the waste of televisual space

Perception versus reality?

Another confusion comes when it comes to the perception of fans of hard rock and heavy metal. According to any wank stain sneary, shoe gazing waste of oxygen, NME reading, music fashionista it's all a cliché and the fans are 'just so not us' except when they fawn over a DC gig and get all retro with Ozzy. According to the popular press it's all self-obsessed preening and silly air guitaring. Guess what...no; and you all know this already, we're just like the rest of humanity. We're a fucked up, screwed up, messed up collection of contradictions - but we're also willing to step up to the mark when needed, when required and when we can.

Perception can go fuck itself.

Some years ago I played a small part in a couple of charity gigs (hello to Laura who did most of the work, and whose idea it really was!) which saw metal and rock bands turn up, play, get drunk and fans turn up, get drunk etc. But it raised money for good causes as well as being a damn fine way to spend a Sunday.

Come Friday, 7th January metal will once again step up to the mark with Blazefest.

Sinocence, Sweet Savage, Honey for Christ, Nine Lies, devilmakesthree, and others will play the Spring and Airbrake in aid of Blaze's Appeal. Just visit the site to see why this is not only a good cause, but a damn good reason to get involved. Even if you can't go you can make a donation.

You see, like the rest of humanity we who come in all shapes, sizes, temperaments, lengths of hair, backgrounds, classes and general strangeness can make an effort, no matter how small, to make a difference. In the war against, as Billy Connolly put it, the beige, we as a community of rock and metal fans know that while we are inclined to, as Trucker Diablo point out, Drink Beer, Destroy, we are also inclined to reach out a hand and help others.

Details of the gig can be found here

If you can't be there, make a donation, make a difference, and rock harder than ever!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dear blog...

Dear blog, my apologies. I've been neglecting you. Distracted by the bright shiny instant world of Twitter and Bakebook I've stayed away from your considerable delights and my immeasurable ability to rant and rave at the slightest provocation.

But my pledge to you is this: whenever I am under the affluence of incohol or just plain bored I shall make 2011 a vintage year for posts, reviews and maddening waffle. After all, it is already shaping up to be a vintage year of hard rock and heavy metal gigs, albums and general waving your arms in the air...

Usually I would, dear blog, offer up to you and your readers a summary of the year just past, pointing out the highlights, and suggesting the albums of the year. Simply put...I couldn't be arsed. Sorry about that dear blog. Suffice to say that Metallica, well they kicked all sorts of ass...

But, dear blog, I confess that I have been exhibiting a form of schizophrena with my purchases in what is laughingly called 'The Sales'. It is the one time of the year when I step into an emporium of musical type sales with no plan as to what to buy.

Thus, dear blog I emerged with an eclectic collection of CDs:

Dear blog, you may be distressed at the condition that produced such a weird collection of music, but fear not I have resolved to return to my normal ways of (a) not music shopping when sober and (b) re-order my iPod settings once I copy these all on to ye olde PC.

So dear blog, thanks for listening, and I now have to copy these seven CDs on to the PC, spend an enjoyable time reading liner notes and lyrics as I listen along...oh and I might just check what's on Twitter and Facebook; sorry bout that!

Yours sincerely


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Big four Sonisphere confirmed

SO we now have it confirmed that the BIG FOUR are to play Sonisphere - and yes that capitalisation is well deserved. Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth changed the face of metal - and for younger readers who have a pop at the odd member of the BIG FOUR you really have no idea at the impact this group of musicians had on heavier music.

So July 8th - the BIG FOUR, July 9th to be headlined by Biffy Clyro (shut up! I quite like the Biffy!) and July 10th it will be Slipknot.

Metallica / Slayer / Megadeth / Anthrax - The Big 4: Live From Sofia Bulgaria (2DV)

Now before I get the complete and total head staggers two requests - if there is to be a Belfast date for any of the above-mentioned can some promoter please confirm as soon as possible. Second request - Dear Satan's Claws: it is close to Chrimbo so tickets for Sonisphere with flights and accommodation better be in my Christmas stocking or...we're setting Sid on ye!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bah Humbug this Xm@$

By my twisted nature I like Christmas - all that paganism, importedGermanic traditions, and echoes of both Ancient Celtic and Roman traditions it is one long celebration of Bacchanalian practices.

But, there also comes along that annoying over-hyped "race for Christmas Number 1". Last year the corporate numpties got a good kick in the mince pies when Rage Against the Machine topped the pop-pickers chart.

This year the "Keep the X-Factor" off number one slot has grown to see numerous contenders (I did enjoy one suggestion of a campaign to get Cannibal Corpse to Number one, but that has falled by the wayside!) vie to keep Cowell and co off the top.

With so many contestants in the fray is there a chance to geta decent hard rock song to knock Cowell into a cocked hat? Not bloody likely is the correct answer. Still failing to get a hard rock mainstay get a carousing , rip roaring rock song in its place.

Corey Taylor is releasing Xm@$ on December 12th. He is, of course singer with Slipknot and Stone Sour for those of you who have missed the last decade. He is also a man who admits to like Christmas, but bemoans the curmudgeons and grumpy gits who pop up every Christmas, so penned this ditty for them.

Normally when we review stuff, mention songs etc we rarely commend you, humble reader to make a purchase, for as a free-thinking individual with varying tastes who are we to say where you should spend your hard earned/ill-begotten (delete as applicable) cash. In this case we are commending you to purchase in the digital store of your choice Xm@$ for a number of reasons:
  • It's a genuinely witty song
  • The proceeds go to a good cause (Teenage Cancer Charity)
  • As you attend your office party you can sing the chorus as if it really is a Christmas song
  • It might, just might, get to Number One, or at least high up in ye olde charts
  • The last words are: 'Hi Simon!'
and finally
  • The radio chiefs will be in despair with the number of 'bleeps' they'll need to edit out if it was ever to be broadcast!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Volbeat gig cancelled :(

Unfortunately this Friday's Volbeat show has been cancelled. Refunds are available from point of purchase.

Here's the official statement from the band:
"After a strenuous sold-out tour across main land Europe and Scandinavia, Volbeat are forced to cancel their first week of UK shows. The band did personally not want to cancel this tour but unfortunately Michael Poulsen was ordered by doctors not to fly or travel until his medical condition is stabilized to doctors’ satisfaction.

"At this moment Michael Poulsen is currently under doctor’s supervision and a full recovery is expected within time to be able to pursue engagements from mid next week.
Beyond Hell / Above Heaven

Saturday, November 20, 2010

True cause of recession revealed - hard rock and heavy metal

ECONOMISTS have been agonising over the slump in retail spending, despairing as to why shop receipts have been tumbling, and rending their hair working out where all the money in the economy has gone.

Traditional economic theories have been junked, the bank bail-out didn't really cost that much and we can't blame the Tories for everything (just almost everything).

Thankfully the ghosts or Thomas Malthus and Adam Smith have arisen from the crypts, rattling the abacus of doom and the spreadsheets of satan, with the answer.

It's all the fault of hard rock and heavy metal.

The micro-economy that constitutes rock and metal is sucking vast amounts of cash in, with then result that retail stores are no longer able to keep their doors open and distraught telesales have threatened to strangle themselves with their headsets.

Some examples of this economic malaise have surfaced this week. Tickets go on sale for Iron Maiden at the Odyssey in mere hours, then there's Journey, Foreigner (Odyssey, June 12th) and Rush (O2, Dublin May 12th) and the plethora of gigs from The Distortion Project, the Diamond Rock Club and too many others to mention.

Credit card transactions have ceased to be the preserve of panicky parents of toddlers and pre-teens; now the credit and debit cards sit poised by the keyboard or the phone awaiting the next gig announcement.

Of course, if it were just the tickets the effect on the economy would be vast, but not crippling. But, then there is the monetary substitute sometimes referred to as beer tokens that is sucking cold hard cash out of the system. And this is not to mention the curreconfused merchandise exchange rate causing havoc on the bond and future markets!

To ease fears of meltdown for the global economy there is only on solution: a delegation led by Lemmy, Helfield, Harris and Iommi should be received by the International Monetary Fund, and the European Bank.

Their proposal will be simple: 10% of ticket sales in Ireland (north and south) for the next two years will be used to bail out the global economy. That will have the effect of wiping out the UK, Irish, Spanish and Greek debts. The delegation will have only two pre-conditions. These are: disembowel "that c**t Cowell" (Copyright Jake Burns, SLF) and shoot on sight all Strictly C**ts Dancing.

There - with the global economic crisis solved I can now move into complete panic mode: how in the name of all that is diabolically satanically majestic is an hard working fan of Lucifer's own soundtrack going to afford all these glorious concerts both in terms of money and time?

One could sell a (moderately abused) kidney, but eBay have cracked down on that sort of thing...
Sell sperm to needy women wanting children (should have thought of that before the vasectomy!)
Sell my body (would have to be for medical science as no self-respecting homo sapiens would want it for anything else)
...ahh feck it, there's no hope! Will just have to hope that Lord Hetfield and Lemmy have remembered to rig the Lotto for me tomorrow night!

So: even though I've not been keeping up here's as many upcoming gigs that my beer saddled brain cares to recall at this time of the night:
  • Diamond Head
  • Exodus
  • Decapitated
  • Toby Jepson
  • WASP
  • Airbourne
  • Entombed
  • Nile
  • Dan Reed
  • Gun
  • Accept
  • Rush
  • Journey/Foreigner
  • Iron Maiden

Ahh feck it - there's no way to keep up! Will have to sober up and sit down and list all the forthcoming gigs from national and international acts, not to mention the hundreds of fantastic local gigging and recording bands!

Friday, November 19, 2010

this one's for Baal

 Have to mention this gig announcement for Mark - Rush playing O2 in Dublin on May 12th next year: tickets on sale 26th November
Rush - Beyond the Lighted Stage [2 DVD]

Accept the past

TEUTONIC metal stars of the eighties, Accept, are preparing  for a Belfast date at the Spring and Airbrake on the 20th March hosted by the Distortion Project. Balls the Wall people!
Blood of the Nations
And a reminder that Diamond Head are on tomorrow night and Exodus on Sunday.

Heavy or what!

More soon!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

XL vibes? That’ll be Double-Wide

SOME of you who read this column on a regular basis may (or may not!) know that for six years I was a full-time journalist. Even when I sold out to the PR and Communications profession I still penned articles for many a publication.

In penning such articles, drafting text and submitting clean copy one always has to retain a certain professional detachment. One has to take a slightly jaundiced, cynical eye on what you are doing, what you are told, and exercise restraint before raising expectant fingers above the keyboard.

But this is my blog, this is about hard rock and heavy metal. And if I like something, I’m gonna damn well say so, with a hell yeah and horns thrust aloft in between keystrokes.

Thus when Double-Wide’s CD 18 Wheels of Misery landed on the doormat, it was slammed into an unsuspecting car CD player and later copied on to ye olde iTunes for future listening while walking the dog...

There are those that say it takes little to impress me, but they do not know the discarded CDs sent to me for review now decaying in a bottom drawer, the hyperlinks to hopeful contenders that have accorded nary an aural glance and been subjected to that button marked delete on the keyboard.

And, truth be told I do have varied tastes, from the nastiest thrash through to the groove of classic rock.

Double-Wide have established themselves as an act deserving of a place on my iTunes rotations; having already accorded themselves mucho plays on Rock Radio NI.

Not that Double-Wide are easy to classify... They proudly declare their influences: a heady mix of Southern rock with Pantera, Down and even Black Stone Cherry all balled up to create a unique sound.

Check out Dead River and the Devil’s Ride to hear what rock from our wee island can do to the Black Stone Cherry dry county stylings.

And listen to Hell’s Redemption...it emerges from the speakers like the sludge from a Louisiana swamp, slow swagger that snarls dreadfully like Phil Anselmo in a bad mood.

Double-Wide are not just another derivative wannabe acts. Yes the production and mix on this does not always convey the power of the tunes, and the vocal lines are sometimes overtaken by the geetar, but such a slickly dirty geetar tone reeks of commitment to bourbon, beer and bar-wrecking good times.

The subject matter lyrically has that balance between darkness and that nod to the listener that while all is not well we’re gonna have a swell time riding a big truck all the way down to hell.

Title track 18 Wheels of Misery rides that dark highway where blues legends draw their scales from Satan’s fingers at deserted crossroads.

That they have named themselves after a Corrosion of Conformity track tells you a lot about the band.

There is a mysterious area of music where the blues, rock and metal somewhere melded to form a genre that isn’t that easy to define, but is always pleasurable to play and listen to.

A little work on arrangements and slight improvement on production and mixing and Double-Wide could stand shoulder to shoulder with many of the best recent contenders from Norn Iron.

In the meantime I’m thumbing a lift on the Devil’s Ride of 18 Wheels of Misery, hooked up to a Twin Demon powering 18 Wheels of Misery...hell that’s a torturous way to say that I pretty well like the XL sounds of Double-Wide!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Goodbye to Deft....be there!

REGULAR readers will know that I have a cerain disdain for those with narrow definitions of hard rock and metal. Regular readers will know that I have a soft spot for Def Leppard.

It is because they were among the bands that defined what Ulster Hall gig shold be about.

In recent years I have become alienated from recent Lepps product.  But the glory years have been rekindled by what in humble opinion is the best Def Leppard tribute act in Europe, if not the world.

Ash, Mike et al make up Deft Leppard.

For many a drunken night they have rocked venues across the land - and as far as I know I am to date their only stage-diver (yes, I have no shame!).

But now Deft Leppard have decided to call it a day.

This bunch of slightly reprobate and wonderful guys are stepping back. And where will be the last ever Deft gig? Well in Belfast, of course!

January 8th, at The Empire.

I'll be there, and if you too can make it, say hello to me Baal and Sylvia...we'll be down the front!

A muse not a rant for a change

THERE are times when one stops and contemplates one's own mortality. For many of us (Hello Sid and Paddy!) it is in the darkened hour of bright sunlight when the libations of the previous evening(s) cast a vicious potency of hangover revenge upon fragile metabolisms.

But of recent weeks the thought of mortality has been nagging at me: the loss of people that I either knew, knew "off and on" or knew by reputation.

Too often this celebrity obsessed world with its potions, lotions and fake - sorry alternative - medicince and ambition to reach the Andy Warhol defintion of fame there is narry a care for consequence or dignity.

Too often we see the platitudes proferred by a media that has more people reading about X-Factor or some other reality shit that actually watches the crap.

Too often we see news dominated by what passes for entertainment.

That is why when one experiences loss - either of those close at hand or of those who you admired at a distance - it is sometimes difficult to quantify that loss on your own personal emotional radar.

Today I learned that someone who I both admired as a professional and a person had passed away. This came too hot on the heels of the loss of Sweet Savage's Trev and that came a few weeks after the mighty Dio left us.

Thus, I ponder my own mortality. And that is just a shit way of thinking. And drinking cheap lager and Jager ain't in psychology 101 classes as fit and proper ways to handle this type of stuff.

But a moment's contemplation is fit and proper.

For me that is looking to where one seeks solace.

Solace can be found in the music we all love; the sheer unadulterated pleasure of hard rock, no matter how dumbass it can be. Or in the complex world of heavy metal that now has almost as many genres as it has bands.

For when one stops picking fluff off one's belly button (navel gazing that is!) it is through friends and music that most readers of this blog can truly rely on.

Whether it is raising a glass to one who has died, with BLS melancholy to the max in the background, or having the amps cranked to 11 with pure furious metal, it is the right and proper way to say goodbye.

Viking funerals are now generally frowned upon, and you can't get hold of a longboat for love, money or mead once you admit it is to be either burned or buried (think Sutton Hoo).

Persian Pillars of Death are a wee bit awkward as the average rambler around the Mournes tend to call the police when they discover a body, even if it is placed there ceremoniously.

But, amidst all this there is the reality. What those have passed away leave us is a legacy . That legacy may be of friendship; that legacy may be he music; that legacy may be just a Tweet or status update; and that legacy may be that sheer undefinable presence some people have.

Such contemplation is morose - but as fans of some of the darker expressions of musical and lyrical emotion this type of contemplation always lurks close to the surface.

Somehow hard rock and metal performs a cathartic role for us fans. Sometimes the sheer fact that that there are bands (local, national and international) who capture the mood that we know was never for us, means we find succour from them.

Writing this has been my own personal catharsis, aided and abetted by cheap beer and the rapidly dwindling bottle of Jager.

I understood the concept of death at a realitively young age through the reality of the Troubles and several family deaths; but the night that it hit home really hard empathatically was when driving down Dunbar Link, with the then girlfriend. The news came on Radio One that Phil Lynott has passed away. They played Phil's tribute to Elvis, that he penned when Presley died (and if you are a Lizzy fan you shouldn't need me to ID that one!).

The then girl was annoyed, to say the least, when a planned drive was abandoned.

But it highlighted to me that there are some people who 'get it' and some people who 'get shit' instead.

So tonight I say raise a glass to absent friends, those we knew closely, those who passed away years ago but live on in  memories, those that we wish we had had the time to say a wee word to....

And, remember before it all gets a wee bit heavy: you've got the music, and in the words of the mighty Zakk, "No-one gets out alive". We just need to rock out in the meantime.

If any of the issues I have written about here has affected you or you suspect a friend is 'down' then just ask for help, or just talk. A single word to a friend can be enough to make them think again.

Live, long, prosper and rock on!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sad, sad examples of what passes for entertainment

OKAY - I've just about had enough I can take. I don't watch X-Factor, or any of the other so-called reality shows masquerading as entertainment. But on Facebook and Twitter tonight I have seen normally sane and sensible people getting their lattes all frothed up about manufactured rubbish. Even broadacasters I respect like the BBC's William Crawley have been getting involved in posts about spurious, talentless, so-called 'acts'.

Can they just step back for a minute and look at the things they are getting all so engrossed in?

No, I doubt it: such is the allure of the filthy luchre that Cowell and co peddle with a slick production and a stylist there are few of the hypnotised massed ranks of deluded who will lift their eyes beyond the over-produced set [as I mentioned I haven't watched the rubbish, but I've seen the so-called 'news' reports on it and the tabloid hype].

Which, of course, led me to a moment of reflection - or beer fuelled ranting!

"Back when I were a lad" the promotion of popular music lay within the gift of Top Of The Pops, and latterly the likes of The Tube.

You could expect pop songs sitting next to Motorohead and Marillion, Judas Priest juxtaposed with jumping dance troops; or even Iron Maiden matched on TV next to New Romantic frilly shirts.

I mention Judas Priest deliberately. This blog kicked off in 2006 when I met, after way too long, my friend Mark and his wife Sylvia when Judas Priest played at the Odyssey with Scorpions. I was, at the time, busy trying to explain by way of gigs and playing rock and metal CDs endlessly in the car to both my children that they could think independently about music (as long as it had guitars and drums!). Meeting Mark and Sylvia re-kindled days arguing over whether Ozzy or Ronnie was the best Sabbath singer, necking beers against a backdrop of Lizzy and Slyvia's devotion to John Sykes.

The relevance to today is that then there was a reasonably fair spread of musical genres across mainstream media. We could devote our time to rock and metal with TV playing metal acts as equals to the likes of Duran Duran.

The mainstream media has now become a cold house to hard rock and metal. Bands now rely on merch sales and touring to recoup the costs of albums; even the mighty Iron Maiden admitted in an interview with Classic Rock that they would need 1,000,000 sales of Final Frontier to break even (and thankfully Bruce and Harry Harris accountants can rest easy as it looks that total will easily be reached!)

But, here is what the mainstream media misses: there is much more longevity and sheer songwriting talent in hard rock and metal than will evet be noticed by the likes of X-Factor wannabes. Northern Ireland has a small population, yet has had a disproportionate amount of horns worthy acts and individuals happily corrupting the young and old.

The Answer have played to more people than watch X-Factor - several times over. Therapy? have sold more albums than any of the Cowell creations. SLF have retained integrity when they could have easily become a tribute act to past glories. Acts such as Million$Reload are scoring record deals, and that is not to even mention the likes of Trucker Diablo, A Little Bitter, Escape Fails, Last Known Addiction, Black Freeway, Interrogate and the many, many more that lay down the licks night after night.

But what of the future. Will we ever see The Answer on an X-Factor like show? Can you imagine a stylist trying to get to grips with Cormac's flowing locks? They'd need a team to hold him down and another team to see where the hell to start. The future, I fear, is to see more and more of the TV for the gullible and the gormless.

Will, we ever see proper live acts - you know with an actual drum kit, guitar and bass amps and people who know how to play them on the main TV stations again? [I am reliably informed by someone close to the production crew on X-Factor et al that they don't have bands as it takes too long to set up their 'shit' and they refuse to have their music altered/dubbed/mimed.]

So where is all this waffle going?

Apart from being a rant (it's my fecking blog I can rant about what I want!) it is also a call to the acts in Northern Ireland to keep on doing what you do, keep on playing and keep on just being some of the best artists this forsaken planet has ever seen. Keep on being musicians not numpties. Keep on recording music that is exciting and engaging. Keep on playing the Limelight, the Pavillion, the Diamon Rock Club, and anywhere where you can get three or more together to rock their tiny socks off!.

 Keep on playing gigs, and cranking it up to 11 and raising a glass to rock and feckin' roll.

To quote Trucker Diablo...DRINK BEER, DESTROY!

This rant is now officially over :)

Wizzard tribute to Ronnie

White Wizzard, who are playing in Auntie Annies on November 6th,  are currently streaming new single 'Shooting Star' here.
A tribute to the late and great, Ronnie James Dio, it's the first song to feature the Los Angeles band's new line-up. This comes out as a single through iTunes on October 18, together with a cover of Dio's 'We Rock'. All proceeds form this will go the Children Of The Night charity, founded by Ronnie Dio. Limited edition vinyl version will be available on the night.

Gotthard vocalist motorcycle accident

Seems too much news is bad news of late. Gotthard vocalist Steve Lee has been killed in a motorcycle accident in California. (Source http://www.totalrock.com/)

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Glyder split

TALENTED Irish band Glyder have split up. Bat Kinane has posted an explanation here.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Sad news

A NUMBER of reliable sources are reporting the sad news that Trevor Fleming, guitarist with Sweet Savage, has passed away.

At this time there is no formal confirmation, but if it is so then this will be sad loss to those nearest and dearest to Trev and the wider Sweet Savage family.

It is also time to reflect on the contribution Sweet Savage - in all its incarnations - made on the metal scene in Northern Ireland, and further afield.

Yes, everyone can quite that Vivian Campbell was once a member, and that Metallica covered Killing Time, but few can actually recall what the heady days of NWOBHM were like.

Sweet Savage were among the select few that were caught up in the heady days when the brashness of punk was combined with musicianship of early bands like Purple.

Savage were regarded highly enough to get airings on Tommy Vance's Friday Night Rock on BBC Radio 1, and if my pre-alzheimer's memory is not failing me they also got a play on the covetted John Peel Show, as well as a slot in Sounds before Kerrang! spun off from that mag. Hell, they were even granted a BBC Session recording.

The sound of Sweet Savage, despite the NWOBHM tag, was always rooted in a Northern Ireland that produced - and still does - many acts that defy genre classification. Yes, SLF, Van Morrison, The Undertones, Therapy?, Ash, The Answer etc can all be slotted into one pigeon hole or another, but really there is a magical chemistry about 'Norn Iron' music that Savage exemplified.

Sweet Savage endured much too-ing and fro-ing in terms of line-up and reformed several times from the ashes of previous incarnations. There is a much awaited new album that is virtually in the bag at the time of writing. We hope that it will be a suitably loud and rocking tribute to Trev.

There is one thing we want to hit on the head right here - Sweet Savage deserved none of the pre-pubescent twaddle posted about them on various forums whenever they were slotted to appear. For some children the appreciation of what a dedicated set of musicians can do will never really be known. Those children prefer to notch up the 'mega' gigs they've been to, or rave about some obscure act that few will know and even fewer will care about. If you don't 'like' a band, or they don't conform to your narrow definition of 'metal' then there is no need to publicly offer views that speak more about your own vanity rather than genuine critical comment.

Sweet Savage were in toto man enough to rise above such crap.

If you are fan of metal in its broadest sense, then the passing of Trev will cause you to pause in silent reflection.

I've seen Sweet Savage on quite a few occassions, but two will stand out in my boozee addled brain: ripping apart the Queen's Student Speakeasy one early Saturday evening in the 80s and a gig a couple of years back in the Spring and Airbrake. Neither one of these were perfect shows, but they were perfectly passionate metal affairs.

We offer our condolences and deepest sympathy to Trev's family, his bandmates and the many friends he gathered throughout the years. Rest In Peace

Salvation online

THERE comes a time when it is past midnight: beer and mini-Jagers (79 in local Russell's Shop4U...nice way to spend a tenner!) are being consumed and you can't be bothered setting iTunes to shuffle again. What is one to do when effectively grounded owing to health - or lack thereof - and doggie minding?

It used to be the case that the latest CDs would be rammed unwillingly into the player, but they're really for the car or when you can scare the shit out of the neighbours and terrify the Christian family across the street.

Past midnight there must be some way to score a fix of hard rock and metal when tip tapping on the keyboard. After all Wednesday nights are sorted with Carrie Davenport's Pure Rock Fury on Blast 106FM doling out two hours of mayhem in her own inimitable style.

The rest of the week...well thanks to Seatzie's tip off to us at Metal Mansion, and Phil's dedication salvation is at hand thanks to Rock Radio NI. The concept is simple - a web based radio station which regularly plays rock and metal, and backs local bands and is available online, through wi-fi radio and other outlets. What is more if you are a fan with some time on your hands you can create your own playlist and become an online rock and metal DJ.

We're going to grasp the technical side of it when the Carlsberg runs out (sometime next week) and we get a Jager free evening (at 79p a mini bottle that's not altogether likely anytime soon!). Might even try and pull together a playlist....

But what the spirit of Carrie and Phil shows to us is that the hard rock and metal scene has massive potential.

And I'm not talking about some mythical breakthrough to the mainstream.

There is a healthy live scene. James's Distortion Project has kept the flame alive for more than a decade, and local gig venues are proliferating, from the hallowed land on OrmeauAvenue, to the Pavillion and the Diamond Rock Club in North Antrim.

Musically the scene is in rude good health, from beserker metal, through to hard rock and all the way to black metal, hardcore, classic metal and even a wee bit of thrash. The quality of the bands is growing and developing all the time.

FFS there's even a healthy rock and metal DJ scene [hat tip to Monk and the Paradise City crew!]

With this groundswell of support, interest and local dedication at some time there must be a coming together: a collective will that can bring the scene some collective earnings, that can be ploughed back into providing more and more ways to expose the scene.

And in a theme touched on previously on this blog, there is a lot of talent that merges around the scene (I have always said that headbanging stimulates brain cell growth!). Linking it all up is a challenge beyond mere mortals, but just for a few moments ponder what Norn Iron heavy fuggin' metal could achieve.

Bands who can be backed to generate the revenue to record and produce new material; live outlets; a community of support that can support the bands with everything from t-shirt designs through to PR, writing and album and poster design...

Okay, that's the maybe the Jager talking, but a collaborative approach just might begin to bring a burgeoning scene together...

Ahh feck! Re-read that and realised I was a misty eyed hippy dreamer for a moment! Action required: temporarily pause Rock Radio NI and slam some Slayer on!

Ahhh, that feels better know.

Calmness has infused the cells, more beer has been consumed. It's safe to switch back to Rock Radio NI and enjoy some new tunes, some old favourites and relax...

Your thoughts or random slagging off welcome as always either here or by email...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Diabolical diabetic fail and rebound...

OKAY please shut up! Yes it has been a wee while (22 days to be precise) since this diabolical diabetic last posted on this blog. No, I ain't dead (yet) but thanks to Rock Radio NI and the superb PureRockFury from Carrie on Blast 106 for keeping me sane!

More details and shit coming up in coming days - well I am making idle promises as the local offie now stocks miniature bottles of Jager at the superb price of 79 little pennies...which means a lot of shots for a tenner and loads of wee tiny bottles to line up til the recycling man comes along.

Now stay with me on this one...the recycling theme is pertinent to something, even if the link is tenuous.

When is a band justified in recycling its same old sounds? Or should it be like Maiden and try to explore the potential of its sound.

As payday has just stroked the hole in the wall with some available funds, what albums could you recommend that are not just the same old shit?

While you ponder that question remember if you have funds you may want to check out the Distortion Project's four days of mayhem...

Thursday 30th September. Reckless Love + Jett Black + Rebels by Nature. Auntie Annies, Dublin Road, Belfast. Doors8pm, £12
Saturday 2nd October. Ricky Warwick (Thin Lizzy/The Almighty) + Matt Fitzsimons (Black Freeway) solo acoustic performance. The Spring & Airbrake, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast. Doors 7pm, £14
and also on Saturday 2nd October: Overoth + Bloodshot Dawn + Existing Threat. The Limelight, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast. Doors 5pm, £5
Sunday 3rd October. A Storm of Light (Neurot Recordins - feat. members of Neurosis and Tombs) + Slomatics + Annapurna. Spring & Airbrake, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast. Doors 8pm, £15

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A thing of beauty...sleazy, dirty, noisy beauty

NORTHERN Ireland churns out more great hard rock than is credible for its relatievely small population in rock and metal demographics. Indeed, if you were to listen to the mainstream you'd be forgiven for thinking that apart from a clutch of shoegazers and The Undertones, hard rock is an aberration that now and again raises its long-haired face and tattooed arms above the surface.

How wrong the self-congratulatory pundits are! Proving the quiffed and stylish commentators wrong happens so often that they look uncomfortably around when the likes of The Answer, Therapy?, or any other given quota or metal, rock or punk emerges. Naturally they then claim that they backed and 'discovered' these bands.
At some stage in coming months they will be forced to look at their playlists and note down another few facts from Wikipedia before claiming they knew Trucker Diablo were great all along.

You see Trucker Diablo have produced an album - The Devil Rhythm - that has the alchemist's touch for taking base rock and metal, adding a dash of southern groove and the sort of singalong choruses chart wannabes would trade their latest boob implant to have.

The Devil Rhythm is a thing of beauty, sleazy, noisy beauty. The sort of beauty that can be enjoyed driving too fast, or with a beer in hand, but best of all un-selfconsciouslessly punching the air and unashamedly roaring along to the choruses. Try Big Truck, for example. I defy anyone with a little hard rock heritage in their humble hearts not to find themselves trying desparately to get that chorus out of their heads!

Rarely do bands emerge complete from the ether. Trucker Diablo have an impressive pedigree. Google the bands Joyrider and Titled to understand where the line-up components of Simon Haddock, (Joyrider) Tom Harte and Terry Crawford (Tilted) have been baptised in recording and touring. The heart of Trucker Diablo (with Glenn Harrison completing the line-up) lies in earning their stripes.

But with that heard earned experience many acts would become wistful, occassionally whingeing on about how the 90s was the wrong decade, etc, etc. Instead Trucker Diablo have produced a set of tunes that are the feelgood antithesis for every self-obsessed act out there. When they sing Dirty Love its with the sort of joy that should permeate all good music. The dark grooves of Never Too Late to Sin tempt the wayward back to the bottle, back to the sweaty excellence of hard rock.

Black and Blue is a great cathartic tale of excess of every kind, while Rattlehead has the sort of rockin' blues that ZZ Top used to produce.

Standing out in the track selection are the single Juggernaut with its towering hooks and riffs that burrow into memory; and the album opener, Drink Beer, Destroy. Shurely shome kinda anthem for Norn Iron rock!

There is an easy option for many bands - that is to re-tread sounds, add a new look and claim to be the best thing since a sliced loaf of Ormeau Veda as buttered as a hangover cure. However, this is a trick that cannot achieved in the rock genre. As John Cougar once said, it's just arranging the chords, but as Trucker Diablo and the growing wave of Northern Ireland's quality rock and metal proves, it is how you play those chords, tease out the hooks and tear off the solos that matter.

Trucker Diablo's The Devil Rhythm - raise the glass, punch the air, and most of all enjoy!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Congrats to Million Dollar Reload

Quick note to say well done to Million Dollar Reload for scoring a deal with Powerage and getting a couple of tracks on the Classic Rock cover mount CD.

They helped me and a mate (Hi Alli!) a couple of years back by playing with Stillroom at the Rosie. Good luck guys!

Reviews and views

A FEW bands (well two actually!) asked my recently why I didn't review their output that has been posted on Myspace. Rather than go into a long convoluted rationale (well I am half cut!) suffice to say there are two reasons:
First - every band seems to have some recordings on Myspace and the quality from PC speakers makes it difficult to judge the mix, playing and arrangement (well that's my excuse;)
Secondly - legally there is a specific requirement as to what constitutes a review. The legal precedent may date back to the 19th century, and has not been tested in terms of blogs but I don't want to be a test case. In other words: if you want a CD/EP/single reviewed here, I've got to have a 'review copy' and if you want a gig reviewed then the reviewer has to be 'invited' to the gig either as a +1 on the guest list or as an invited payee on the door.

Anything else is comment and opinion.

In short, I'd love to have more reviews on the blog, and with the number of page impression/unique visitors there is an opportunity for Norn Iron acts...

Email me if you want a review

Some upcoming Saturday afternoon highlights

Just in case you're stuck for something to do on a Saturday evening,  here are some of the forthcoming RockD Limelight gigs...
Saturday 11th September. For Ruin + Devilmakesthree + Atheos + Corr Mho...na. £5 (First For Ruin rocKD gig since 2007)

Saturday 18th September.Interrogate + By Any Means + Gacys Threads + Exit Wound. £5

Saturday 25th September. "Dickheads of Aggression - an afternoon of all metal fools" featuring Lesshelp + Mental Deficiency + I'll Eat Your Face + William Christ and the One Man Orgy. £5

Doors for all shows are at 5pm, and run until 9pm

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Morbid tales and tunes

LET'S face it, a lot of rock and metal tunes are pretty morbid: if you took the cathartic elements away from listening to such dire, morbid lyrics it could really send you on downer. But, on the other hand a lot of tunes are life affirming.

This tangled talk in my own head (well who else is going to listen to my tortured analysis of 'eavy fugging metal') led me to contemplation about what tunes should be played at a rocker/metalhead funeral.

I've always had a few in mind: Black Sabbath's Never Say Die to mess with expectations; BLS's The Damage is Done to have people reflect (I don't expect any mourners, just people turning up in case there's beer at hand); and maybe Metallica's Fade to Black too.

It may be a weird topic for a beered up Saturday night, but does anyone out there have another suggestions? Highway to Hell will not be on the list...too predictable, and Stairway to Heaven is also off the list, as I don;t believe in Heaven or Hell they're out, although Sabs Heaven & Hell is a contender!

So in brief: suggestions for tracks for my funeral, and what would you like to have played as your coffin is lowered?

Happy thoughts everyone!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

If you ever feel put upon...

IF you ever feel put upon as a fan of hard rock and heavy metal then you should spare a thought for fans in other countries.

While we enjoy our music think of those who can be imprisoned for listening to metal.

Take the time to read this Freemuse report - 'Headbanging Against Repressive Regimes' on the persecution, censorship and the real difficulties faced by fans across the world, especially in the Middle East, north Africa, China and South East Asia.

As the report author, Mark LeVine, acknowledges heavy metal was one of the first truly global art forms, but with that has come misconceptions and sheer unadulterated hatred for everything that bears the label of hard rock or heavy metal.

The causes of such misconceptions may be many, but please, remember that what we have here is something special: the freedom to listen to what we like, when we like and enjoy the music recorded or live.

Y&T still on

DESPITE serious illness within the band, Y&T's September show in the Spring & Airbrake is still on. Read more on the Pied Piper blog.

Infiltrating the mainstream...

HEAVY metal doesn't often penetrate the mainstream sensibility, but perhaps we're making strides. Iron Maiden's The Final Frontier has penetrated the UK album charts at Number One this week, and even the tweedle dee tweedle dumb pop pages of the Daily Mirror managed to mention this (of course, given the hordes we know are out there, like a Nightbreed of Cabal fame it was always going to happen).

And, in the latest shocker the Financial Times, that bastion of besuited bankers and stockbrokers, has included a (brief) review of Black Label Society's Order of the Black.

This, surely means that the pop-tastic pricks and the orderly ranks of merchant bankers has been infiltrated. To those that, by stealth and guile, have snuck upon the unwary, orderly world well done.

What next? Heavy metal in Bollywood? Well Panic Cell have done that with tracks appearing on the forthcoming Pusher movie (they've also snuck into the wholesome world of Lego with their video for 'Crazy' and its hilarious massed ranks of headbanging lego figures).

Hell there even is a Heavy Metal Fun Time Activity Book (you too can indoctrinate the kids before boy bands steal their mojo or Katie Price steals their virginity!).

In all seriousness (no seriously I'm sober so have a tendency to be serious once a week without fail) heavy metal and hard rock lurks in the consciousness of the wider, unwashed and unbidden folks who are normally content with bland, beige tunes. Play them a little AC/DC riff, Metallica's Nothing Else Matters, a snatch of Maiden, a hint of G 'n' R, and a smidge of Sabbath and they nod; a little (bitter) part of their soul yearning for the sweet abandon of metal.

But the, boring, soft, yielding part of their make-up urges them on, forever cautioning them against the wearing of the black, and not caring what the neighbours think about Reign in Blood upsetting the cats.

I cry for them. I despair that they will never have that sweet abandon of having drunk too many pints, yelled till hoarse and been dazzled by the brilliance of a live performance and then stumbled into the street with the brothers and sisters of metal and ears a-buzzing and face-a-grinning.

But, we shall perservere, we'll hail those that infiltrate the beige and slowly, but surely begin the world dominance that will see every speaker blown (tangential Manowar reference there!) in the cause of metal.

[NB: for those who have read this far you may have gathered that the tongue was firmly inserted in cheek (and that wasn't a sexual reference...though I'm sure Steel Panther could come up with one). All heavy metal, even in its most serious, reverential knows the danger of taking itself too seriously!]

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Is it Lizzy or not?

THIS coming Friday 'Thin Lizzy' tickets for a Waterfront Hall performance on 16th February.

That they will be fronted by Ricky Warwick has caused much consternation on a variety of bulletin boards and numerous social media sites.

But is it Thin Lizzy in anything bar name?

Warwick is among the first to acknowledge that no-one could ever replace Phil Lynott, and only Scott Gorham and Brian Downey could realistically claim to have been 'proper' members of Lizzy (okay Darren Wharton was on a couple of tours).

Is this a semi-legit tribute to Lizzy's glory days, with some 'old hands' like Vivian Campbell and Marco Mendoza along for the ride?

Or is it a cynical attempt to cash in on the Lizzy legend?

Or is it a legitimate attempt to keep the memory of Lizzy alive for a new generation of fans and conjure up memories for those longer in the tooth?

I honestly don't know.

Ricky Warwick is a hard-working musician (check out his acoustic set at the Spring & Airbrake on 2nd October to hear more of what he can do!), and much as I find Campbell's attempt to distance himself from his metal roots distasteful he is still a damn fine axeman, I am still in a quandry as to whether there should even be a reference to the February 16th set as a Lizzy gig.

Answers on a postcard....

Archie and the Texts

Archie and the Texts are coming to Belfast...hold on: I mean The Architects.

Yes, that's definitely The Architects and they are playing The Limelight on Sunday, October 16th.

Here at Belfastmetalheads Manor we do confess readily that we're not afficianados of The Architects. While others may claim knowledge of bands, while liberally copying from press packs and paraphrasing Wikipedia, when we don't know, we embrace our ignorance, gaze at the can of Carlsberg and wonder whether any of their songs are on Spotify.

Suffice to say that The Architects are well regarded by Metal Hamster, Merrang! and other mags. The press info claims they are metal/harcore crossover act, and laughingly says that they have had a "prolific career" to date. Given that their début was 2009, the definition of prolific must be different in their PR Officer's dictionary than mine.

Hang on, just listened to a song from Archi and The Texts...sorry The Architects on Spotify....not bad. Might be something in these acts that I miss while writing the rubbish that I do for this blog. Memo to self...listen to more stuff! :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Final Frontier...is it the best Maiden album for a long time

A LOT of people are always wedded to the classic albums bands produce. In Iron Maiden's case this could be Number of the Beast, the eponymous début, or even later works like Fear of the Dark.

It is, of course, difficult to separate that point when nostalgia can be dispassionately viewed, the great tracks can be isolated from the just plain good (Gangland? I mean it sounded good then, but how many of us air it now?).

Which, of course means we all have differing takes on new material from any act we loved some time ago. [I am discounting younger readers - too many of them talk about classic albums, but were not around, or even alive - when these albums were released, and thus have no perspective on their impact].

This all, in a rather meandering way, leads to Iron Maiden's latest offering, The Final Frontier.

I've been mulling this over for some time. It is a diverse, complicated and ultimately fantastic release. It would do a disservice to the album to try and dissect it here, rather I will throw the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons and say that The Final Frontier is their best album to date.

All the Maiden trademark sounds are present, but folded and wrapped by sophistication and accomplished arrangements.

But that is just the fantastic sounds of the album...I simply hate the cover...Eddie just isn't Eddie-ish enough :)

Will, at some stage succomb to the merchandise by buying lates Maiden t-shirts, but hope that they have a slightly better design than the cover.

Still - The Final Frontier shows the band themselves are still fresh, relevant, and most of all getting heavier as they get older!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chaimira cancel Gunners go ahead...

ACCORDING to Totalrock.com Chaimira have cancelled their UK tour - including a Belfast gig - owing to "acute illness" in the band.

This comes a couple of days after Guns 'n' Roses said their tour was going ahead after Axl's Twitter account had been hacked with the claim that the tour was off.

Well, given that it is Axl and a few mates/session musicians, we know which gig we would rather be going ahead.

While I was too lazy to post about G 'n' R being back on (well it was all over the Interwebby!) I have got a wee bit of cynicism hanging about. No-one was talking about the G 'n' R tour, few tweets or blogs mentioned it: the advertisements were still appearing for the Odyssey show and Reading and Leeds were not attracting the usual coverage. Then, apropos of nothing the story about the tour cancellation comes about. The band's PR company waited several hours to say anything. In the meantime every news outlet, including primetime BBC news/talk shows were covering the story; even our own Belfast Telegraph carried a story on it!

Which gave the band and the tour priceless publicity...

I'm not naturally cynical (okay I am!) but this non-story suited the tour profile very well indeed.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Want a review?

AS I am too often stuck with 'responsibilities' at times I miss out on the immense well of local talent out there. However, in the past I have taken the time to listen and review the many, many excellent local acts in Norn Iron.

If you are a local hard rock/heavy metal band and want your CD/EP reviewed here drop me a line here and we can work it out how to get some more coverage for your efforts!

To Dimebag

THIS week Dimebag would be celebrating his 44th birthday (August 20th). When doing a wee bit of background I saw that some sick fuckers have posted videos of the shooting on the web. I didn't look at them. This type of sick behaviour seeks rewards through trying to get the most click throughts and comments: hell for all I know it may be made up shit!

But I'd rather think that most rockers and metalheads would prefer to remember Dimebag through his music and, like his friend Zakk Wylde, would toast him in true style: http://bit.ly/cLnant

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wasted in December?

Another one for the ever growing gig list of 2010...Municipal Waste + Saviours + Ramming Speed Spring & Airbrake 03/12/10.

Nice warm-up for Airbourne even if it is a different genre of slightly mental hard rock and metal :)

Axl axes tour?

RUMOURS abound that all forthcoming G 'n' R dates are cancelled, after a post on Axl Rose's Twitter account.

Whether it is really true - and the Belfast date is cancelled - rumours are the tickets haven't exactly been flying out of the window across all tour dates.

Is this a dignified withdrawl, or will we see a 'too much snow on the roof' type of excuse á la Crue.

Confirmation/more word etc once we have it

Friday, August 13, 2010

some of the many gigs coming up...

Jesus fecking hard rockin' metalhead Christ there are a shedload of gigs coming up.

The info has been cobbled together from James, Dino and Derwin's lists and my own faded and jaded memory. All errors are entirely my own, aided and abetted by supermarket own brand vodka and Carlsberg and some weird Schnapps of indeterminate taste and colour.

Please use the comments box to point out gigs I may have missed and errors I may have made..

20th & 21st August. Dan Reed. Diamond Rock Bar
22nd August. Cannibal Corpse + Condedned + Atrax Mantis. Spring & Airbrake. 8pm, £20

23rd August. Suffocation + Coldwar + Overoth + Zombified. The Limelight. 8pm, £18
31st August. Axl and some session musicians...sorry Guns 'n' Roses. Odyssey Arena. £too feckin' much
27th September. Y&T. Spring & Airbrake, £18.50
30th September. Reckless Love + Jett Black. Auntie Annies. 8pm, £12
2nd October. Ricky Warwick + TBC. Spring & Airbrake. 7pm, £14
2nd October. Chimaira. Stiff Kitten
3rd October. A Storm of Light + Stand-Up Guy + Slomatics. Spring & Airbrake. 8pm, £15.
9th October. Glenn Hughes. Spring & Airbrake. £22.50
12th October. Porcupine Tree. Mandella Hall. £22.50
14th October. Fozzy + TBC. Spring & Airbrake. 9pm, £16
15th October. Desaster + Altus Astrum + Decayor Sorcery. Spring & Airbrake. 9pm, £15.
16th October. Girlschool. Diamond Rock Bar
2nd November. Robert Plant & the Band of Joy. Waterfront Hall. £44/38
4th November. Cancer Bats+Trash Talk. Limeligh £12
7th November. White Wizzard + Primitai + TBC. Auntie Annies. 8pm, £10.
7th November. Paul Gilbert. Spring & Airbrake
20th November. Diamond Head + Howlin' Widow + Two Tales of Woe. Spring & Airbrake. 7pm, £15.
21st November. Exodus + Man Must Die. 8pm, £20
26th November. Volbeat + The Black Spiders £11.25
27th November. Toby Jepson. Diamond Rock Bar
28th November. W.A.S.P. details TBC
3rd December. Municipal Waste + Savious + Ramming Speed. 9pm, £17.50
5th December. Airbourne. Ulster Hall. £22.50/£24.50
12th December. The Sword. Stiff Kitten

More may be announced soon... \m/

...and if that is too much for you Jedward are playing (with themselves) at the Waterfront on 22nd August :)

W.A.S.P. back in Belfast

Blackie Lawless is making a return visit to Belfast with his WASP chums on 28th November...more details to follow soon!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pure rock fury

Finally getting to listen to Carrie's Pure Rock Fury on Blast 106 online...nice to hear Metal on da radio and nice selection from Carrie: she's not just a pretty super photographer person!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Metal week

Recovered from the weekend?
Right, time to get started:
  • Soulfly and Sinocence tonight
  • Fear Factory and Gacy's Threads on Tuesday and
  • Katatonia on Wednesday night...

There! Has that got August off to a good start or what?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Here's a wee Trash Talk exclusive for ya!

ON Monday the support for the awesome Cancer Bats' November 4th Limelight appearance will be announced as Trash Talk and Vera Cruz...and we have to say that this is shaping up to be a tasty autumn night of full on noise.

Trash Talk - for the uninitiated - were a nominee for Kerrang!'s besy international newcomer. Normally that would have most of you running for cover, but bear with us here: Trash Talk are a nice, thrashy hardcore band, and one perfectly fitting with the Cancer Bats trademark anarchy. Check out the track Explode off the Eyes and Nines album to see where we are coming from.

So, November 4th: Cancer Bats, Trash Talk, Vera Cuz - all at the Limer for a measly £12...another heavy night in store in a long year of neck breaking, liver killing, ear bleeding 'heavy fuggin metal.

Come this weekend 'twill be time try and sum up all that is coming up...if you see me bealry eyed at the Spring and Airbrake at Soulfly on Monday it will be not because of the beer but as a result of trying to list everything coming up!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Soulfly winner

Thanks to the many people who tortured my email inbox with entries to our Soulfly competition. The winner is Bill (he knows who he is).

For the others who entered in the hope of scoring a free pair of tickets now's the time to make your way to buy the ticket. And while you are there pick up a Fear Factory ticket (Gacy's Threads confirmed as FF support).

Seriously, this is a chance to see two epic acts, who have each, in their own way, shaped metal in recent years. But unlike a lot of acts they continue to do so...Soulfly's Omen is a contender for album of the year.

Soulfly play on Monday (with Sinocence) and Fear Factory the next night.

Exodus coming to town

Exodus are coming to town - legendary Bay Area thrashers will be coming to town thanks on November 21st, in a line-up including Man Must Die. Tickets are £20 for an Ormeau Avenue spectacular.

And, this came after I'd just cleared a lot old vinyl out, disposed off to the wonderful Dragon Records in Belfast. Visit them in Wellington Place to see if there are any Exodus or other 80s thrash albums lurking there...[hint: I know there are because they took a lot off my hands :)]

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

White Wizzard

American purveyors of NWOBHM style White Wizzard are playing playing Auntie Annies on the 7th November.

Well, various web sites (rock radio, totalrock) are saying Auntie Annies, but CDC 's web site was initially saying The Limelight...All cleared up now: the gig is definitely at Annies (unless hundreds of you all pile into buy tickets and it has to be upgraded)

Sinocence support Soulfly

Sinocence have been confirmed as support for Soulfly on August 2nd at the Spring & Airbrake.

And don't forget that the competition win tickets to the gig closes tonight!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Oh how remiss of a child in time...

LET'S face it...this blog that has been going for almost five years has missed as many reviews and comments about gigs as it has actually reviewed and commented upon. [And for those others who review gigs please remember the legalities associated with reviews!]

So it is almost a month after the event but here's a quick review of Deep Purple's appearance in Belfast....Twas rather good!

That quick enough for you?

But seriously...we rather think that Purps are pushing at the boundaries of way tooooooo past it. While they performed rather well, and laid out greatest hits set there was a slight (and only there for discerning listeners)  air of a 'pension tour' about the show.

Rationally we were there to have fun and we did - so much fun that we can't remember from the end of the set to waking the next morn with the riff off Black Night stuck like a nagging thought in the mind.

And, that, ultimately was what Deep Purple's Belfast show was about...a trip down memory lane (Knebworth was better) that rewarded long time fans but broke no new ground.

In contrast - despite
 the negative comments from some - Sweet Savage are adding new songs to their NWOBHM catalogue.

Still - despite all - it was Deep Purple in Belfast and that deserves a 'Hell Yeah!'

It may be the last time that they are capable of a proper tour with a semblance of s proper line-up, but at least they played Belfast in the final round-up.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wanna win Soulfly tickets?

Do you want to win a couple of tickets to see Soulfly? Of course you do!

Anyone who has a heart beating with the molten lead of heavy metal couldn't but want see Max and co rip up Belfast once again!

Well, those kind folks at CDC (cheers Sabrina and Dino) have a pair of tickets up for grabs for Soulfly's 2nd August appearance at the Spring and Airbrake. All you gotta do is tell us the name of Max Cavalera's crew's latest platter. Email yer answers to be in with a chance.

Closing date is Tuesday 27th July - usual competition rules apply (which basically are, if you're not in you can't win!)

Wee quick bitterness

Wee quick word here to display my bitterness...yeah A Little Bitterness!

There are many excellent Norn Iron bands hitting the boards across the land. Indeed there are too many to list! But I have an exceptionally soft spot (sorry Seamy but you don't make me hard except musically) for A Little Bitter.

Tonight A Little Bitter once again rocked like their asses depended upon it.

But c'mon a 50 minute set!

A Little Bitter have a musical depth that can be missed by casual listeners, and have consistently turned out recorded product and live shows deserving of a much higher profille.

While it may be easy to slip in a cover version (tonight it was DC's TNT) to keep the punters hapy, the two albums worth of material A Little Bitter can bring to bear on proceedings should obviate the need for such steps.

All in all A Little Bitter are A Little Bit Special - those who disagree are entitled to their opinion, but it;'s my feckin blog :)

Hell I even liked the live arrangement of 'Nothing' and Johnny's blatant abuse of the Wah Wah pedal during solos :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Been away too long....

Hi all - I've been singularly remiss about keeping this blog updated, but shit happens etc!

Normal service will be returned as of this coming week...with features on Fear Factory and a Soulfly ticket competition courtesy of our good friends at CDC.

Til then I'll leave you with this thought. The top-earning act in the world over the ast 12 months was U2, with DC 2nd....Metallica didn't even make it to the top 10: but then again I'm pretty sure that when the next 12 months list comes out Maiden and Metallica (+Jovi) will push out the likes of Beyonce and Gaga...if not then what are you spending your beer tokens on?

Thanks to everyone who has expressed concern at the absence of updates: 'Twas for a very reasonable reason!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lonely Is The Word

TONIGHT I was planning to post a few blogs about all sorts of random rock and metal stuff: a reply from Tristan on my post about Metallica, links to the Metallica dates, ruminations on Cathedral, kicking off the 'Lizzy or not' debate, and launching a competition for Ratt tickets.

Alas, the news that filtered through this evening that Ronnie James Dio has passed away has put all that on the shelf for a while. His wife Wendy made the announcement that he had succombed to stomach cancer.

That Dio was one of the most important metal singer of all time is undisputed. But his journey to metal icon was one that began with the hard rock/hippie crossover that was Elf, a name somewhat ironic given the stature of the man.

The Rainbow years saw the man's voice toughen up, a counterpoint to the occassional meanderings of Blackore. The evolution from a great singer a true icon came when Ronnie joined Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward to record Heaven and Hell: an album that together with the NWOBHM began the journey to of metal to be both revered (from within) and reviled (from without).

In many ways Heaven and Hell showcased the dexterity of songwriting and musical and lurical ingenuity that heavy metal could achieve. And, though many sneered at Ronnie James lyrical myths it is worth the investment of time and energy to listen again to the allegories buried within...Remember that Stargazer was written at a time when the USA's space programme was being brought into question; Mob Rules written at the time when the first serious disturbances in the UK during Thatcher's rule were taken place. I could quote more, but take th time to draw you're own conclusions.

The days with Sabbath were numbered: after Mob Rules and the abortive sessions for Live Evil, Ronnie parted ways with Sabs and stormed the metal world once again with Holy Diver. My personal journey of listening to Dio began with Rainbow and Sabbath around the same time (82-83) but when Dio played the Antrim Forum in September 1984 Baal, Rab and about 2,000 others experienced first hand the power and commanding presence of the man.

It would be many years - and indeed many albums later before I would see Dio play live again. On the 26th October 2005 a packed Spring & Airbrake literally worshipped the man. With songs full of equal parts menace and humour his stage presence was magnificent; growling and prowling, using pillars and props in equal measure, making eye contact and throwing the horns. Truly, it was a night when the wee man belied his years (the first single with Dio on it was released in 1958!) with a performance that was engaging to all.

Though there were many albums to come (topped with last year's The Devil You Know) it was Dio's engagement with fans that made him an icon. Most of his songs from Rainbow through the Sabbath and solo years were about choices. The choice between good and evil was most prevalent. For all the seriousness and the mock histrionics Dio remained the sort of man you would have both liked to enjoy a pint with and have a serious conversation with too.

But, he was also a man who did not take himself too seriously, as his various collaborations with Tenacious D proved.

Above all, Ronnie James Dio possessed a voice honed and refined, but always easily identified. It was, too often overlooked as being a voice with real emotion. Listen to 'Lonely is the Word' the closing track from Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell to understand this.

Already there have been a plethora of sites paying condolences - not least the official Facebook Dio page. They are the online equivalent of a wake for the man, but together with this there is the intriguing proposition of a campaign to get Holy Diver to #1 in the charts to raise money for charity. Charity was also something Dio took seriously. He was the driving force behing Hear 'n' Aid at the time of Live Aid, and his wife Wendy was chairman of the American charity Children of the Night, which helped rescue child prostitutes.

So, it would be fitting if the last chart entry Dio achieved was a number one that raised money for charity. Whether it will happen or not remains to be seen, If it does, it would need to be soon, but I would rather that Dio was #1 across the globe in and around July 10th, the day of his birth.

Why the death of people, like Dio, can touch so many is sometimes queried by sociologists and anal assholes who have never, ever been touched by music. The music produced by Dio is more than a 'Demon Dance' it stirs all of us who have a heart which needs - nay craves- the facile world the one-minute wonder and the choreographed mimes of the boy bands.

This is not an obituary - this is a thank you to the man and for his musical legacy.

Long Live Rock 'n' Roll!
Ronnie James Dio - July 10th 1942 to May 16th 2010
You Rocked and We Rocked with you!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Soundtrack to nightmares, soaring to the ecstasy

WHERE to start with Metallica? Where to start with 'Tallica's Belfast 'reunion' gig at the Odyssey?

Metallica have been the backdrop to many, many, many years of my life. From Hetfield's tortued lyrical meanderings and the structued musical pumelling there is a quality about Metallica's output that even maintaned true fans through years when they experimented.

The first time I witnessed Metallica was in '86 in the Ulster Hall with support from Anthrax. It was a gig with some great friends in attendance, at least two of whom are no longer with us. Baal, Rab, Alan Sid, Stevie, Kyle, Michael, amongst many others.

That day there was many a pint sunk (the lest said about the Alhambra the better!). To this day the Anthrax set is a little hazy, but Metallica at times took the breath away from me, despite Hetfield's arm being in plaster and guitar tech (John Marshall I think) filling in the rhythm parts.

I've seen them subsequently, sometimes good, sometimes great, but nothing really compared to that day.

That is until Tuesday night.

Let's be straight about this for a start. Metallica is a business. The music and the show may be at the core of the business, but the Metallica machine sustains the equivalent of a medium sized Northern Ireland company; from staff members beyond the band through to outsourced suppliers and graphic designers, let alone the business suited wankers that occupy the upper echelons of certain record labels.

But, for all the massive logistical challenges that puts the Metallica machine on the road, it would be nought without the willingness of the band members of turn out and play for two hours with an obvious delight to dw what is essentially their day job.

Even with the obligations placed on them by contracts Metallica could do what so many bands do, hit the festival circuit, turn in an hour and a half and jet off to wherever bands go when they care very little about their fans.

Instead Metallica lay on a stage set, which very, very, very few acts would dare take on the road. Although the record company might be paying some of the cost, the vast majority of the cash for eight massive coffin lighting rigs, an 'in-the-round' set with all the complications of where to put monitors etc, and the manpower required to design and erect such a set came from James, Lars, Kirk and Rob as the principals of Metallica plc.

But to consider all this in some way diminishes the experience. Stepping into the arena on Tuesday night, there was a sense of awe at the sheer scale of the set, the intimacy of the in-the-round set-up and the sheer devotion of those gathered.

Yes, there were in advance a few naysayers. Some who have become disillusioned through the Load to St Anger years. They I can forgive.I cannot forgive some of the little people who were not born when The Black Album was released, yet still seem to have more opinions about 'the good old days' than their ill-formed brains justify. But that is jut bitching, and makes me sound like a grumpy old metaller.

Setting aside those 'get over it, old man' comments (shut up my children! I am entitled to be grumpy at my age!) it is hard for me to be impartial about Metallica (also Maiden, BLS, Marillion and all incarnations of Sabbath).

So, how to comment on Metallica's appearance at the Odyssey Arena. There's no point me trying to be impartial. I like many who have commented on various online fora and social networking sites were blown away by the Metallica experience in its totality.

It would be easy to rhapsodise about the song selection - and easy to bemoan the songs that weren't aired (yes Sid I too would have loved to hear Disposable Heroes given an airing!). But what was gratifying and immensely pleasurable that the set lists on both nights spanned from the very earliest to the latest Metallica...including 'fans only' material like Breadfan.

I hesitate to rehearse the songs and the associated stage show elements (descending coffins, pyro storms etc) as each person has a unique association with a Metallica song. For me All Nightmare Long sounded a good as Seek and Destroy and One...and Nothing Else Matters...and Master...and...well you get the picture!

Metallica were, as much as possible in the contrived setting of a big budget prodution, a force of nature. Brutal and measured at the same time. Yes, there are heavier out there. Yes, there are more precise out there. Yes, there are better Metal drummers than Lars. Yes, there are better metal singers than Hetfield. Yes, there are better soloists than Kirk, and dare I say it there are a few (very few) better bassists than Rob. But but them all together and almost miraculously emerges a power that defies greatness to reach another level, that soars with an elemental pulse and reaches a height that only an exalted few acts can reach.

Metallica's dystopian musical and lyrical lndscape can paint a nightmarish vision of struggles with mental health (Fade, Sanatarium to name but two) but can also unify with a 'us against them' spit in the face to the mainstream.

I may be biased, I may view Metallica through rose-tinted shades, but fuck it! Metallica were awesome in Belfast; at times magesterial, at times furious, at times poignant, but all times fucking metal.

"Awesomer than an awesomer thing has ever been," one young fan said in the chilly post-gig air. His father beat me to the punch line..."yer not wrong there son!"

Hurry back James, Lars and co - more people need Metallica in their lives!

Pix courtesy of Simon Graham - as with all pix on the website from Simon or Carrie (both amogst the best of lens peeps out there!) contact me if you want to order a print!

Damn you Metallica! Damn you laptop!

First things first - damn you laptop god! Your vagaries and hard drives with suicidal tendencies have kept me away from the usual over-stuffed, beer-fuelled waffling late-night sessions that see me churning out copy by the yard.

May Loki smite you laptop god, lest you ever think to scramble and mangle precious files again...

While I honestly missed updating, I did not appreciate being buttonholed by more than one person asking about the blog: I do not get paid for doing it and my name is not 'Belfastmetalheads'. Not until I have that wee appointment :) I, like so many who take the time and effort to post into the wilds of cyber-space on hard rock and metal do it for the love of metal!

Now on to why I damned the mighty Metallica in the headline above. I have been struggling where to start in reviewing the gig (and in my next post there will be comments about the gig and some pix courtesy of Simon).

Simply put, while I try as far as possible to give fair - sometimes too fair - reviews there is no way that I could approach the review dispassionately, without coming across as a 40-something fanboy.

I am biased with regards to Metallica, Maiden, BLS and Black Sabbath; not that all these acts have not been occassionally below par - rather that I can forgive them when they err as they defined not only the music that I and many others adore. They have been the soundtrack for all of my adult years.

So damn you Metallica I cannot even come close to writing a 'proper' review. I've been struggling to find the right way to write about the awesome, righteosusly massive, superb masters of metal; the one, the only mighty fucking METALLICA!

Fanboy moment over I'll now take a long sip of me Guinness and prepare to put fingers to keyboard and give an opinion rather than a review.

In other news...Ratt ticket competition coming your way, and a post to hear your views on the Thin Lizzy line-up being touted about under the band name.

Guinness and ciggy break now follows.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


BEFORE going any further the Cathedral review will come late; I'm not going to be able to get along to Negura Bunget (supported by Fen and The Way of Purity) tonight so anyone wanting to pen a review send it to the usual email address.

Okay? Got that all? Right, news from The Distortion Project...Cannibal Corpse are coming to along to delight us all with their nursery rhymes from hell on August 22nd. Mmmm Tasty!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Distortion Project

I was going to list all the forthcoming gigs being laid on by James and the wonderful Distortion Project, but it would take up most of this blog! Cathedral, Bolt Thrower, Deicide, Negura Bunget...the list goes on and on!

Instead use the links below or subscribe to James's Facebook page!

The majesty of gothic

WHEN one hears the word gothic in a modern popular culture sense the image comes of a pasty skinned obsessive who spends too much time considering the whys and wherefores of vampiric lore.

But, of course gothic goes well beyond that, in terms of history and literature. But in terms of architecture gothic is always associated with a certain type of building...which brings us to a very, very tortuous way of reminding y'all that Cathedral are playing at The Limelight tomorrow night.

Backed by Church of Misery and The Gates of Slumber, you also need to remember that the door time here is 8pm, and there are a very few tickets left at the reasonable and downright wonderful price of £18.50.

Last time Cathedral's Sabbathy take on dark gothic metal doom (and I mean gothic in terms of literate, aware and ever so slightly 'knowing' wit) brought their rif-laden groove to Belfast was supporting HIM. Then the fairy-winged teens simpy didn't get Cathedral. A small few of us amongst the crowd did 'get' Cathedral including one hilarious moment when a lone metaller scattered kiddies to the wings with an impressive extended circle headbanging flailing away to 'Wytchfynder...'

Cathedral gigs come with a health warning...do not under any circumstances try to match your metal knowledge with Lee Dorrian! A friendly guy, yes, but he does know his rock, punk and metal in almost encyclopaedic depth.

He also, for me sums up an attitude that reflects what metal should be all about. The more journos and ignorant fans try to pigeonhole Cathedral into a genre or sub-genre Dorrian declares "We're a metal band. That's all - a metal band". Not just any metal band though!