Pick Your Rock and Metal

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mmmm - I'm usually dead on Friday said Beardy guy on Cross

Well, the kind and wonderful folks on rockradioni added me to their list of getting stuff to review - no beer reviews offered as yet, but music aplenty. Thanks to Seatzie for the suggestion of adding me to the list.

So far I'm working the way through (no outside Northern Ireland bands getting a listen at this stage).

First review is Dead Til Friday's free ep, Water. Nice wee sound there - sort of Rage Against the Machine meets 36 Crazyfists in a dark alley. Hardcore, metal, early Funeral for a Friend and Lost Prophets all melding well.

Kicking off with 'The Longest Year' the early promise is slightly dented with some vocals a wee bit too American sounding (Zack De La Rocha influence). But the melodies, riffing and growly bits overcome this - but next time out it might be worth remembering that you're from Northern Ireland!

Quick Fix Casualty, while sound enough, is the weakest of the four on offer. In contrast Water and Sinner and Dogs seem to have more cohesion.

Honestly have never heard of the band before this, and usually don't review stuff on myspace sites, but as they posted on Soundcloud and seem to have a willingness to genuinely share rather than vanity posts, kudos to Dead Til Friday - keep the monster riffing, build on those melodies, drop the faux Yank accent and add a wee solo or two extra.

Now sending it in advance of Easter week...some people of Christian persuasion may be offended by the title, but as the Beardy guy nailed to the cross might have said: "love thy noisy neighbour!"

Monday, April 18, 2011

There's an election or two going on in this here country

THOSE of you still conscious enough to notice the world around you may have noticed that there is an election underway here in l'il ole Northern Ireland. While it would be stating the obvious that it is just a shuffling of the sectarian party headcount I got to wondering* what was the role of politics in 'eavy fuggin' metaaa and hard rockin' dudes and dudettes**

After all, heavy metal, hard rock, punk and most damn fine musical styles*** stand above the sectarian squabbling. We may or may not hav any views on a united Ireland or being British, but it never interferes with the music, the people we share a pint and a natter with, or our appreciation of those times when the walls are shaking and the bass line and double bass kicks ar playing havoc with facial muscles.

But, thinking on, politicians are meant to represent those who reside in their constituencies. Those of you who are readers of this blog (and the many other fine rock and metal sites) should have a say in the political future of Norn Iron!

Let's start with a few baby steps - when a prospective Assembly member knocks on your door, do not hurriedly don your Cradle of Filth 'Jesus is a C**t' t-shit. Politicians are like sheep and easily startled - whatever you are wearing will suffice. Greet them with a smile - that always confuses them, especially if you have Slayer playing in the background.

Okay, you've got them engaged so far. Next thing to remember is that time is limited - they only have a few moments per household, so have your questions prepared in advance. Something simple, non-confrontational will do, like: "How will you contribute to Northern Ireland being recognised as an international source of excellent heavy metal?" That may send them running, their shiny Top Man suits a blur...

If they have not fled by this point, bring out the big guns: "Do you know the economic contribution heavy metal and hard rock make to our economy [they won't, but don't worry, it's a rhetorical question you don't need to know either]?" Fling some names of rock and metal bands at them. Pick a quotation like the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Investment saying that every pound invested in economic development produces £5 for the economy, and say "Will you invest in a dedicated unit of Invest NI for heavy metal?"

Depending on their answers, offer some solace and say you'll consider giving them your vote. [It's a secret ballot so they don't know what way you will vote.]

And, as a believer in democracy (as Winston Churchill allegedly said, and I paraphrase, it is the worst form of government as all the other types that have been tried were worse) you should vote. You may wish to pause a moment here, because there will be three papers to fill in for the Assembly, your local council and a referendum on how to vote....best go early as it has a three beer threshhold of understanding and holding the wee pencils.

To summarise, we've taken the baby steps of challenging the politicians on our doorsteps and cast our votes
On to stage two - taking over the Assembly. Nope, not a coup d'etat with tanks on Stormont's steps as we are rather short of armoured vehicles and we'd never be sober enough to remember our photographic ID when the secuity guard asks for it at the gates of Stormont.

Rather, we may chose to form a political party based on metal and rock. The 'All-Night Party' could be resurrected or something similarly catchy. As to the manifesto and policies we'll make it up as we go along.

Now on to getting elected. In our voting system you have to get enough votes to achieve a quota (look it up under proportional representation on wikipedia as I'm wasting enough time on this already!). A quota in an Assembly election averages between five and six thousand votes.

Think about how many people turned out to see Metallica last year, or who will be there for Iron Maiden on August 3rd. Add into that those that populate the Limelight, Pavillion, Ma Nelson's, the Diamond and every other venue across Norn Iron that has decent, loud music playing. That's a helluva lot of voters....

So, if we mobilise now we can take over the country, ban all the rubbish on our radios and generally enjoy the subsidised grub we'd get as an MLA. And we'd lay on free concerts on the lawns around Parliament Buildings with the likes of Sweet Savage, Trucker Diablo, A Little Bitter amongst many others.

Right - there you have it a manifesto for taking over Norn Iron as the first step towards world domination - now we need a gig to raise funds for this fledgling political party. Beer too!

In the meantime too much time has been wastd by me on this when that litre of Black Bush the former junior editor of this site (daughter) brought back from Spain for me remains half full...

Normal service of reviews, concert plugs, etc etc will resume at some stage!


*well Budweiser and Black Bush may have aided such ponderings...
**apologies for that phrase was running out of word type ideas and dangerous amounts of blood was being detected in my alcohol stream
***we do not count, dance, hip hop, trance, techno or any version of X-Factor as a musical style

Nice wee video...Dead on like!

Came across a nice wee video on the RockRadioNI site, that gave me a giggle...it's like The Walking Dead but with a metal twist...

Nice work from Andrew Burns on direction and producing this with help from Philip Hendry..except way too high Buckfast quotient - no JD or Jager in sight - Fling some Buckie at them zombies and it's goodbye walking dead. Mind you Buckie can leave many a self-respecting metalhead like the walking dead!

Oxygen - Slash added to line-up

OKAY - normally you would be had pushed to find many metalheads knocking about the Oxegen field at Punchestown, Naas on the 8th to 10th of July, and even discerning hard rockers can find it all a wee bit too Glastonbury and scenesters.

But, it may be worthwhile having a wee consideration. Slash has now been added to a line up that has the Foo Fighters, Manic Street Preachers, My Chemical Romance and Weezer. Not really metal but you get the picture.

Unfortunately should you be tempted remember that you will have to put up with Coldplay's soporific drones and the chirpy inane bleating of the Black Eyed Peas - I suppose Fergie might turn out for a song with Slash though!

Planning ahead... Blink 182 for 2012!

MOST of us can barely plan a week ahead, but those fun-loving, profit chasing Blink 182 lads are planning a Belfast date in 2012. Yep - with their new album taking a wee bit longer than expected they've called off their 2011 summer tour, but added Dublin and Belfast dates to the re-scheduled dates. So, June 13th 2012, at the Odyssey, for humalomg, chant a chorus pop punk. You know it's wrong but y'all be thinking "Am I too cool and grown up, or just maybe I can..."

I am relying on any given one of my childer asking to go, then they'd need accompanied. That't my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Tickets on sale this Thursday - usual vendors and Ticketmaster

Did we miss the metal Mr Tourist Board - there follows a rant!

I have in my greasy mits (well I'm just after a feed of chips!) the Northern Ireland Tourist Board's promotional leaflet "Unmissable Music"'; and a fine wee leaflet it is!

You can read all about the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival, the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, the International Guinness Blues on the Bay Festival, Celtic Fusion, and even the Appalchian and Bluegrass Festival, not to mention the MTV Music Awards.

All fine and dandy - except where's the metal? I scoured this lovingly produced and found one, yes one, mention of metal. It was in reference to Glasgowbury, and the sentence read: "...featuring eveything from rock to indie to funk to dance to metal".

Nice to know that we appear in some of the pages - and it does mention The Limelight, saying "indie and rock fans will love this venue".

But what it does not mention is the many international acts brought to Belfast stages by James's Distortion Project. Nor does it mention the international acts brought by Derwin to the outer reaches of civilisation, also known as Ahoghill's Diamond Rock Bar (and it may be in theboonies, but buses are available from Belfast!).

Simply put Northern Ireland's hard rock and metal scene deserves recognition from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board for introducing so many international acts to our wee neck of the metal world. The Tourist Board has a wee website which I am about to head on to and bleat and whine about support. Hell I may even go to the Department of Enerprise, Trade, and Investment's website and suggest they provide buckets of grant aid to James, Derwin and all the other promoters - plus the cottage industry that is locally produced hard rock and metal!

Not that the stuffed shirts would ever let their hair down or take a risk on the metal. Should they not, they mus remember that Tenacious D may be a joke band, but they weren't kidding when Jack Black sang:

"You can't kill the metal

The metal will live on"

Rant over - normal service to resume as soon as I calm down with beer and the latest Amon Amarth album...'Surtur Rising' indeed!

PS - quite fancy that Appalachian festival if they can mange some metal banjo playing...

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Y&T announce new bassist...and a return to Belfast.

LEGENDARY hard rockers Y&T have today announced bassist Brad Lang as the permanent four-stringer. Lang has been filling the bass duties for Y&T during the illness and eventual the tragic death of original bassist Phil Kennemore in January of this year.

And, Y&T are now set for a return to Belfast with a Spring and Airbrake show on 11th October this year.

Support comes from Zepperla and tickets are £16.50 plus £2 booking fee.

Here's the official blurb:
"Many of the biggest acts of the '80s became popular opening for headliners Y&T—and cut their teeth on the band, as evidenced by the Y&T mentions in tell-all books by acts such as Metallica and Mötley Crüe. Now after two sell out shows they are due to return to Belfast to play the Spring & Airbrake on Friday 7th October.

"Born in Oakland, California, Y&T is one of the San Francisco Bay Area's own innovators of the hard rock sound. World-renowned headliners on their own, the band also remained the most requested support act on the hard rock road, touring with icons Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Mötley Crüe, and more. Whether performing to a festival crowd of fifty-thousand or in an intimate nightclub, Y&T's high-energy set still captivates legions of fans around the globe, proving Y&T's music timeless.

"Originally formed as Yesterday and Today, the initial powerhouse quartet—featuring Dave Meniketti (lead guitar/lead vocals), Phil Kennemore (bass), Leonard Haze (drums), and Joey Alves (rhythm guitar)— tore through the '70s and '80s with their own brand of hard rock. After two '70s albums on London Records, they shortened their name to Y&T and released eight albums on A&M in the '80s. Two more albums with Geffen Records marked an era of change with Jimmy DeGrasso (Alice Cooper, Suicidal Tendencies, Megadeth) on drums and Stef Burns (Alice Cooper, Berlin, Huey Lewis) on guitar.

"With a discography of 18 albums and three greatest hits collections, Y&T has sold over four million albums since their 1974 inception. The band received extensive airplay with hits such as Forever, Rescue Me, Mean Streak, and Summertime Girls—which played in heavy rotation on MTV. Y&T songs have been featured in a multitude of movies and television shows, including Real Genius, Out of Bounds, Baywatch, and Hunter. After five top 100 albums, songs that tipped into the 40s, two Bammie Awards, and many international television appearances, Y&T's hits are still played on VH1 Classic and classic rock radio stations everywhere.

"In 2010, Y&T released their first studio album in 13 years, featuring original members Dave Meniketti and Phil Kennemore, along with longtime members John Nymann on guitar and Mike Vanderhule on drums, who were each hand-picked by Kennemore and Meniketti years earlier. As the title indicates, Facemelter is a hard rockin', song-oriented album that lives up to its name. Recorded mostly live in the studio, it captures the band's raw energy and tightness for which they've become known. Featuring heavy grooves, powerful guitars and strong melodies, the band shows their versatility, delivering a range of high- energy rockers, mid-tempo head-bangers, modern rock grooves, majestic ballads, and signature Y&T rock anthems.

"After a show in the mid-'70s, a rabid fan told the band, “You melted my face.” And as any Y&T fan will testify still today, Y&T's strong suit lies in their high-energy, power-packed rock 'n' roll set.

"With Kennemore's untimely passing from lung cancer, the band carries on the legacy that is Y&T. Y&T continues to tour the world, featuring Dave Meniketti (guitar/lead vocals), John Nymann (guitar/vocals), Brad Lang (bass/vocals), and Mike Vanderhule (drums/vocals), playing songs from Facemelter as well as all the hits and fan favorites. Prepare to have your face melted."


Happiness not in your lexicon – Honey for Christ might be for you

WHEN it comes to cheerful misery and doom-laden emotional tales then it could be your too happy and you should add Honey for Christ’s first full-length album, The Cruelty of Great Expectations, to your regular listening.

Northern Ireland's Honey for Christ
Lyrically this offering from the Northern Ireland trio is enough to turn the happiest, clappiest, tambourine wielding Salvation Army member into a tattoo bedecked alcoholic; it makes angst ridden emos seem genuinely happy souls.

Slayer offered a dystopian global view in World Painted Blood, Honey for Christ reach into the deepest parts of each individual’s soul; where bleakness and desolation stamp down the smiles.

But musically there is a pure joy to listen to such well-arranged, dark metal.

Live favourites such as album closer The Final Transition, and recent single offering, All Hope Was Strangled, will already be familiar to fans of the band. However, they are now placed firmly in an aural landscape that broods, menaces and snaps you into a place, where, as HFC say: “the serpent eats the sun”.

And therein lies a strength for Honey for Christ that too many emerging acts forget. There is a need for metaphors in lyrics, and the music must match the tone of the lyrics and vice versa. Arrangements can be overlooked by eager musos who’ve just come up with a riff, without thinking how it can be fitted into a fluid song. Gigging and recording have honed Honey for Christ into a tight studio force as well as an awesome live act.

Take a close listen to Another Way Down and its landscape, painted in lush tones of despair, with gloom slowly building to inner terror, the terror behind every business suit briefcase carrying drone or power-dressed woman eager for the top.

Plunge into the seven minute opus of Failures Within, and wrench apart the souls’ clothes that hide the trembling beast in poor bindings.

Self-confessed influences of Katatonia and Slayer can be traced, but the landscape of The Cruelty of Great Expectations is one also populated by time changes at times akin to Dream Theater, slowed down hints of Down and the inner consideration of Gojira. But from this melange a great spice has been extracted – one with the dark beating heart of heavy metal strident in its blood-soaked glory. Gothic was never so good.

Great expectations can be cruel, for the flipside of hope is despair. David Lee Roth once said that Eddie Van Halen was only happy when he was miserable. Misery isn’t so bad when Honey for Christ’s misery can make one so happy.

The Cruelty of Great Expectations is available from 7th April on Rundown Records.

Honey for Christ are: Chris Armstrong (drums), Andy Clarke (vocals/guitar) and Paul McCoberts (bass).

Album launch party is Saturday 9th April at the Spring and Airbrake.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Lizzy part with Campbell

THIN Lizzy are to split from guitarist Vivian Campbell...and this time it's not because a guitarist is leaving as a result of musical differences.

Def Leppard Instead Campbell is returing to axe duties. Lizzy will replace Campbell with Richard Fortus, last seen wielding a six-string with Guns 'n' Roses.

Campbell's departure will be ahead of Lizzy's Slaine Castle appearance on the Kings of Leon undercard.

It also ends any speculation that Campbell would be double-jobbing for the Def Leppard, Alice Cooper, Thin Lizzy Odyssey Arena triple header in June.

Tickets are still available for the Odyssey gig for those of us who cannot afford to travel to Donington for Download!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Inflammable political material

STRANGE times are with us - heaviness abounds and doom-laden skies....ooops almost started writing a short story there. Just a quick note instead to mention a couple of things.

First - today I couldn't be arsed at all noting down all the upcoming gigs. Especially since Phil and the Rock Radio NI has already done it - comprehensive local listings check! Move on to next piece of waffle.

Elections are boring - right? Well at least there is now a wee music connection. Former Stiff Little Fingers sticksman Brian Faloon (he was the one who played on Inflammable Material) is standing in the Assembly elections in South Belfast for the People Before Profit Alliance. Good luck Brian!

Now this is enough for now as I'll need some beer before progressing further!