Pick Your Rock and Metal

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What citrus fruit likes oral sex?

WHAT citrus fruit likes oral sex? That would be Orange Goblin! Geddit? No! Ahh c’mon, surely you did! An Orange Gobbling; Orange Goblin!

Argghh! The joke is pathetic, I do hereby confess that, but instead of shaking your head, head off to your local ticket outlet and shell out the cash to see Big Ben and his compatriots in Orange Goblin play Belfast on April 21st with By Any Means and Wizards of Firetop Mountain in support.

Go on, you know you want to: and I promise no more crap jokes if you do!

Venue: Spring and Airbrake and Tickets at the unfeasibly reasonable price of £16.

If you have an IQ over 75 and watch X-Factor shoot yoursellf

SERIOUSLY - if you have an IQ over 75 and watch X-Factor shoot yourself! Or at the very least shoot your computer and give your 'Smartphone' an acid bath.

Here's a fact for you numpties: the advertisers, those sons of Satan grubbing their way into your souls, judge the success of TV on the basis of how many people tweet or update. Media agencies cancel shows when not enough people are tweeting about them.

I mean go and f*ck away off! X-Factor is an off-cut from the mechanically recovered meat of TV entertainment while the real talent, real musicians, artists, scientists are left hanging on the butcher's hook, unwanted; their intellectual muscle forever untasted...

Next week I will have the joy of watching a series of actual, real life, talented musicians. Stiff Little Finges, Loaded, The Answer and Therapy?

I will not be approaching my televisual remote control to watch the 'reality' shows, unless it is to switch over to a music channel or something that might stimulate me to THINK. Go on try it! You think about it for a minute: formulaic fodder for the masses, with cynical executives rubbing their hands as they grub around for another pound of your hard earned cash. Advertising is paid for by you! When you buy their tasteless tat, or have banks sucking cash from you that's you paying for the ads as the bastards hope to get more of the money you earn so it can pay the salaries of those that use every trick in the book to avoid paying tax: yeah they won't pay tax, but when they've a heart attack at their over-priced gym it is your tax money that pays for the paramedic, the emergency department's nurses, doctors and staff, because you pay tax. Every pay packet, every bottle of buorbon, every 10-deck of ciggies, every CD, you're paying tax: they're not.

How has this world, this island come to the state where hard rock and heavy metal is sneered at by prats who idolise the pro-tooled vacuous pretty boys and girls with their sampled drum lines, backing dancers and destruction of the nations brains. They stand accused of murdering songs penned by people who knew what a tune was, how to write and how to perform. Their guilt is apparent to all who watch...

So, what prompted this outburst. Moving languidly to the kitchen to retrieve a stray beer, lest it got lost and failed to make it to my hand, I switched on ye olde transistor radio; BBC Radio 5 Live to be precise. A popular radio presenter from these parts moved from a serious story about standards of care for older people to a report on the X-Factor - in the language these so-called people will understand I thought...WTF!

There then followed a debate that included a snippet of some brain-dead person destroying The Clash's Should I Stay or Should I Go. No intonation, no concept of the song's central themes. Nothing. The debate included one bampot saying that Gary Barlow had been brought to the X-Factor as, and I quote the no-dick nonentity here, "an incredibly authoritative figure". WHAT! He sang in a boy band that was managed within an inch of its life: over-dubbed, studio toned, mimed live and definitely not authoritative. Christopher Hitchens, Richard Attenborough, to name but two, are authoritative. Gary feckin Barlow is a product for pre-teen girls and their middle aged mothers to give air to maternal instincts while hoping he actually has a dick and not some genitalia recepticle for more money.

C'mon people of the UK and Ireland: let's hunt down the executives and producers of this twaddle and ship them off to Rockall, a tiny almost inaccessible island off the north coast. Dump them there and they can live in bird shit and seaweed til they confess the error of their ways.

Right, sorry this is a music blog. But this penchat for people with even a smidgeon of intelligence to watch this dipshit show while Cowell (or to give him his full title as revealed by Jake Burns of SLF, that c**t Cowell) counts his millions and prays for a Christmas Number One because he really, really doesn't have enough money.

Do you think he'd ever, ever think about listening, let alone backing one of the many, unsigned but immensely talented hard rock and heavy metal acts pounding the boards in Norn Iron. Would he feck! Would he back any actual musician? Not unless its the session musos earning peanuts to back talentless musicians.

But you know what's even worse? Pseudo intellectuals trying to rationalise X-Factor, Strictly Wankers Dancing, or Britain's Got Talent (which on the evidence to date it does not have talent on prime time TV shows). These self-same so-called smart people then have their giggle, their tweets and move on to praise some shoe-gazing sweetie eating arsehole. If they have a conscience they'd be calling a care line to have the contestants counselled and referred to a psychiatrist.

I've been listening today in the car and on ye olde computer to Anthrax, Trucker Diablo, Machine Head, Mastodon, Last Known Addiction, Stone Sour, Trivium, Dogs D'Amour, Nightwish and Manowar (random shuffle on iPod!). Now these X-Factor watching numpties will snigger at the growling vocals, the wall-of-noise and worse will guffaw at Manowar. They know nothing, they're worth nothing. Manowar, for all the over-blown theatrics, obsession with deafening a generation and over-the-top attitude are head and shoulders above these non-entities clogging the airwaves and causing previously intelligent people to tweet about this drivel.

A few weeks ago I raised a beer in memory of Cliff Burton, who died just over 25 years ago. I had the honour of seeing Mr Burton perform twice (Donington in the Ulster Hall). This was a bassist who knew his way aroung Bach, Lyrnyrd Skynyrd, The Misfits and Rush. This was a man whose time signatures confused atomic clocks and Danish drummers. Do you think Mr Burton or Johann Sebastian Bach would be enamoured by X-Factor? No, they'd be grabbing the nearest semi-automatic weapon and sending Cowell and his 'friends' back to Satan with the message 'Do Not Return'.

Here's another useless wee fact for you: scientists have begun to work out how quantum physics is at work when the transistors in your radio and older televisions receive power. Do you think Cowell and co would ever think of broadcasting something about how physics, chemistry or another science actually matters? Do you think they'd ever do a show on how modern medicine and pharmacological advances use cutting edge biological understanding and micro-electronics has changed the way we perceive disease? Next time you're in hospital whether seeing and ultra-sound of your unborn child, or watching a sick relative receive an fMRI scan the diagnosis from which may help save their life, spare a thought for X-Factor. They scanned the brains of contestants and the resulting CT scan showed no cerebral activity. They scanned the brain of Rob Flynn of Machine Head to understand how the lyrics of The Darkness Within came about, but the radiographer's mind was too frazzled by Strictly and X-Factor that their head melted.

I'm not even drunk yet and that one snippet of a radio show has got me so enraged! Hell, I checked my Twitter feed and couldn't find a single thing of real importance such as football (side jokes welcome) for all the people going on about X-Factor. Yes, BBC presenter who does shows on a Sunday you know who you are! And, yes one massive supporter of local hard rock talent, you know who you are.

Right here, right now, pledge to boycott X-Factor, Britain's Got Talent, Strictly..or whatever twaddle the ratings hounds want you to empty your brain to.  You have brains, use them.

That is all....apart from this...

I and those about me do not advocate suicide in any way. This post has a satirical note and if you take it seriously then you really have problems. And as to shooting yourself, you may have difficulty procuring a gun: as we have a current issue in Norn Iron with 'dissident' terrorists/gangsters, they may willingly shoot you thereby removing your stupid tweets once and for all as well as keeping the terrorists/gangsters from hurting anyone else (satire, people, satire: see: Bill Hicks, Lenny Bruce, Folks on the Hill etc for further information)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Duff, Devin and Turisas

THE winners of our competitions for tickets to see Duff McKagan's Loaded and Turisas/Devin Townsend have been drawn. Cngratulations to them all.

If you haven't received an email by this morning, then we're sorry that you haven't won out this time. Which means you can now get yer asses into gear and buy tickets!

Thanks again to CDC Leisure for their ongoing support and look out for more competition news soon!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sad news of a split

SAD news comes our way that the mighty Interrogate has split-up.

Following on from rumours on social media I confirmed with former member Stephen Brown that the band is no more.

Now's not the time or place to go into the whys and wherefores, and no word as yet of future plans for the members.

From myself and on behalf of the readers here who were fans of the band, thanks for some great music. Tonight I shall wear my Interrogate 'Tear the Place Down' t-shirt and tip a beer down my neck to toast the great music the band has produced for more than half a dozen years and stick Silence the Fallen on ye olde iPod

Enthrone Darkenss wins out

DIMMU Borgir have announced the album they'll be playing in full on their forthcoming visit to Belfast on 28th November - it's to be Enthrone Darkness Triumphant.

Borgir had run a fan competition to decide which of their output would be aired live in the first part of their show.

Tickets are still available for Triumphant Darkness coming to be enthroned at the Spring and Airbrake.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Viking Roar

THE mighty Viking roar of Amon Amarth is coming back to rock Belfast as the Distortion Project presents Amon Amarth at the Mandella Hall!

Holy Thor! This is going to the Twilight of the Thunder God at Queens, with Grand Magus blasting out as support to Amon and one further act to be confirmed.

The date when Odin's hordes storm back to Belfast? March 14th, 2012.

Tickets are already on sale here at the measly price of £27

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Napalm Christmas Death!

DECEMBER is such a good time for parties...all those office functions with dry turkey and hard-boiled brussel sprouts, not to mention bad dances and inappropriate mistletoe advances...

Alternatively you could just go see Napalm Death at the Spring and Airbrake on December 6th! Much more festive, we're sure you'll agree!

More details to follow.

Ticket competition update

JUST a quick note on the competitions to win pairs of tickets to Duff McKagan's Loaded and the Turisas/Devin Townsend Project.

Thanks for all the entries so far: now to answer a few points from your emails [which saves me writing to each and every one of you]
  • Closing date is midnight, 24th October
  • There is no restriction on the number of entries
  • Each entry is allocated a random number
  • Numbers are them drawn
  • Winners will be contacted directly by email to inform them they have won
  • Winners will simply then need to turn up at the venue on the night
  • Winner's first names will be published on this blog [unless you expressly have not won]

Hope that helps, and if you haven't heard from us by 26th October run out and buy your tickets for these two super shows!

Now a reminder of the questions:

To win a pair of tickets to see Duff McKagan's Loaded on 2nd November:
"Name one of the bands Duff McKagan played in before Loaded?"

To win a pair of tickets to see Turisas and the Devin Townsend Project on 7th November:
"Name of a Turisas album and a Devin Townsend Project album".

Email your answers before midnight on 24th October.




You me at 6...

NOT to the taste of most readers, but some of the younger readers I know like them - You Me at Six - play the Ulster Hall on 14th March.

Pop punk, scene sluts, whatever, their third album Sinners Never Sleep, has been critically acclaimed beyond the pages of Kerrang! and other even less worthy publications.

[Editor's note: Junior Editor a.k.a. son, wishes to disassociate himself from being one of the younger readers who like YMA6: "I just bought Five Finger Death Punch and Dream Theatre albums...go figure why I would want YMA6 when I got those and Machine Head to listen to!"]

Leaving aside his comments, here's the official blurb:

"There aren’t many bands who reach their third album while still only aged between 21 and 22. Fewer still have headlined Brixton Academy, staged two sold out nights at Hammersmith Apollo, or have played to a total of 65,000 people on just two of their many UK tours. That YOU ME AT SIX are also the 2011 Kerrang! Award winners for Best British Band is yet another accomplishment.

"Since the release of YOU ME AT SIX’s 2008 debut album ‘Take Off Your Colours’, they have been at the forefront of British rock music. From that album’s riotous pop-punk, via the explosive thrills of their 2010 Top 5 album ‘Hold Me Down’, the Surrey-based band have dealt in party anthems, relationship dramas as they’ve sound-tracked the summer with their buoyant melodies and crackling riffs.

"But the release of YOU ME AT SIX’s third album, ‘SINNERS NEVER SLEEP’, marks a shift. Older, wiser, and with more to say, this is a band who have enjoyed their youth but who are moving into new pastures.

"This is an ambitious band who, with their third album, are looking ahead. Older, wiser and brimming with confidence, ‘SINNERS NEVER SLEEP’ is the first step towards the rest of their lives and, as the maturity, intensity and quality of the record prove, there is much to be excited about."

Tickets £22.50

Manowar set list

IF there is anyone doubting that the Manowar show at the Mandella Hall on November 10th will be worth the price here's a wee glimpse at the set list:

Death Tone
Metal Daze
Fast Taker
Shell Shock
Dark Avenger
Battle Hymn
Sun Of Death
Brothers Of Metal
Kill With Power
Fighting The World
Sons Of Odin
William's Tale
The Gods Made Heavy Metal
Call To Arms
Hail And Kill
Let The Gods Decide
Hand Of Doom
The Power
Warriors Of The World United
Kings Of Metal
Black Wind, Fire And Steel
The Crown And The Ring

Putting aside the joy of hearing the first album in full Fighting the World, Hail and Kill, and Black Wind, Fire and Steel should surely make it a night to remember [although I might be forced to nip out for a ciggie and extra pint during Sons of Odin :)]

Monday, October 17, 2011

Win tickets to Turisas/Devin Townsend Project

AHH those folks at the Limelight and Spring and Airbrake are so generous to you lot that they're offering ANOTHER competition to win tickets. So not only can you chance your arm to win tickets to see the mighty global superstar Duff McKagan with his sensational band Loaded, but now there's chance to win tickets to see the double header to end all double headers.

Yes! On November 7th Turisas and the Devin Townsend Project play the Spring and Airbrake. Hope y'all have already got your tickets, and as before if not, why not? After all you get the Finnish Battle metal and war paint, allied to the mad genius of yer man Townsend!

Well for the stragglers out there yet to book there tickets, we have two pair of tickets up for grabs.

All you got to do is email the name of a Turisas album and the name of a Devin Townsend Project album before the closing date of 24th October.

As per all competitions on this site all correct answers will be put into a draw; winners notified and details of how to collect their prize.

Good luck hard rock/metal/battle metal/geetar fans!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Win tickets to see Duff McKagan's Loaded

HAVE you got your tickets for Duff McKagan's Loaded's gig on November 2nd at the Spring and Airbrake? If not, why not?

Duff is a true bona fide legend with Guns 'n' Fuckin' Roses and Velvet Revolver. What does this man of many talents, but minus a pancreas, need to tour for, much less than troop along for another appearance in Belfast.

Well, we should be thankful that he is again heading our way on 2nd November. And, if you haven't got your tickets yet then you might be in with a chance of winning a pair, right here right now (okay, not right now, after the closing date!)

In partnership with CDC and those fine men and women of the Airbrake, Limelight etc we are offering as a prize one pair of tickets to have your arse blown away by Duff and his compatriots in Loaded.

To win these tickets you'll have to answer this exceedingly difficult question:

"Name one of the bands Duff McKagan played in before Loaded?"

I know it's difficult and younger viewers may have to look up Wikipedia, but email your answers by Monday 24th October to see if you've won.

It gets better all the time...

THREE Bristolians and I forgot to ask them whether they supported Bristol City or Bristol Rovers...but given how down-to-earth and friendly Onslaught where on their recent visit to Belfast they would not have shied away from the potentially awkward football question.

Remember this is one of the few bands not just content to meet fans after a gig, but to stand shoulder to shoulder with them at the bar too. This is one of the few bands outside the big five or six metal bands to span continents gigging – thanks to budget flights and not deluxe personalised planes and corporate jets.

And being on the carousel of concert venues seems not to bother them at all.

As one Nige Rockett, Sy Keeler and Andy Rosser-Davis agree “It gets better all the time” when asked was the lengthy journey from 1983 to rocking out venues as diverse as the Spring and Airbrake, Italian festivals and south American gigs all worth it.

From personnel changes through to breaks in the band’s career, Onslaught are happy to reflect on the journey with positivity.

Nige declares for the rest of his band mates: “I’m enjoying it more than ever”; his colleagues chipping in their agreement.

And there hinges a lot of what Onslaught are about: a unit, operating at one on stage, at peace with the journey that takes them on a lengthy tour in 2011 and beyond.

Given that the rock and metal news rags and TV stations seem to concentrate all too readily on the latest US release and publicity hyped acts, at the expense of UK and Irish outfits, Onslaught are – perhaps surprisingly – relaxed about the situation. Many in their shoes would reach all too readily for the default grumble button.

“It’s always been the case,” said Andy on the lack of exposure to many homegrown heavy acts.” First time around we had a reasonably good crack of the whip.

“But they [the magazines] were always very trend orientated, especially Kerrang. But it’s a little different for us in Europe, the press isn’t as easily led by trends.”

Nige joining in, points out that many of the “hyped” bands don’t go out and do the touring legwork: a charge that could not be levelled against Onslaught.

Standing corrected as to the many times the band has played Belfast Sy tells that they were the first English band to play “at the height of the Troubles” in 1987, which we had to confess was what we used to tell all the bands that at the time to make sure they came back!

At a time when there was no Odyssey complex and few medium size venues Onslaught ventured to Northern Ireland. At that time only punk and metal bands played gigs in Northern Ireland.

“It was certainly memorable,” says Sy of their first appearance in Belfast in 87, “and for all the right reasons. It was awesome, absolutely awesome. The gig itself was crazy, certainly memorable. I remember looking across the stage for my fellow band members and I couldn’t see them for the stage invasion.

“I remember after the show doing our usual meet and greet and being literally whisked off my feet! There was a real thanks for us coming.”

As to the current resurgence of Thrash, Nige chooses not to namecheck the big four, but notes that the other forerunners of 80s are coming back, like Onslaught, stronger than ever.

“Everyone’s still here!”he says. “Testament are still here, Exodus, Overkill are all still here.” And as Andy points out: “They’re all still making good records!”

It is not too often that bands acknowledge the scene around them, offering praise for contemporaries: “Kreator are making some great records,” says Andy.

And that sort of sums up Onslaught: they’ve been around the block, they know the score. From adulation at massive Italian festivals (“The fans all dress like we all would have in the 80s with cut off denims, motorbike jackets and tight jeans,” says Sy.)

They know that as band they have stretched further musically than ever before both on stage and with the release of ‘Sounds of Violence’ earlier this year. But they recognise that the re-emergence of the thrash scene over the past four or five years it takes a collective success to ensure each band gets their fair crack of the (neck?) whip.

From headlining in Japan to, as I write this, touring Brazil, Onslaught are moving forward. As Andy notes technological developments “over the last 30 years” have helped bands to record without the impediments. “As musicians you can get quicker and heavier without trying to work around the studio.”

But equally, as Nige says, the shredders and dial it in rockers, lay down their licks, “at the expense of songwriting. New thrash and some of the new metal seems to be complex for the sake of being complex.”

“We pushed ourselves as far as we could on the album [Sounds of Violence] technically and in terms of music,” says Andy, “But it is all in the context of the song. The song is the most important thing.”

On stage in Belfast that is clear. The songs are clarion calls, mixed metaphors for middle aged and teens alike; political commentary comfortable with the old black metal-inspired lyrics of the 80s.

Chatting about style changes, when challenged about the changeover from the trend for cookie monster vocals to more clean styles band mates are quick to note the maturing of Sy’s style. He himself says that while he still retains that “chest based growly voice” he prefers clarity, even with his, as he admits “very growly” clean vocal style.

In many ways that speaks to the honesty of Onslaught again: not only are they prepared to stick together, and acknowledge their place in the thrash scene, but to analyse their sound, their individual influences. They are an exemplar for many bands growing through the ranks

Onslaught have grown up gracefully in a scene that has seen so many fade to the blackness of bickering and disillusion.

“When we quit,” says Nige, “we said that was it, and never, never again. But you should never say never. I, and we, could never imagined that we could be doing what we are doing and doing it much better than before.”

Doing it better than before. That’s honesty. And with Onslaught, they have proved it really does get better every time: even if I don't know whether they are City or Rovers fans...

Saturday, October 01, 2011

The grace of music

TO put not too fine a point on it I am a radical atheist. But, as Anthrax, slightly blasphemously put it, I worship music. And specifically hard rock, metal and punk...

And so to Northern Ireland’s ‘For Christ Sake’.

When a Christian band gets in touch, the instinct many would suspect I would adopt would be to slough off any shreds of decency and decry the juxtaposition of my beloved metal with overtly Christian lyrics. To add fuel to the fire of that assumption I am currently reading the memoirs of the renowned atheist and socialist commentator Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22, A Memoir) and am catching up with Richard Dawkins earlier texts.

My views over that juxtaposition are coloured by the awful Stryper (later beset by scandals about the ‘truth’ of their faith) and several other mediocre bands adopting a Christian stance.

The aforementioned Hitchens references a quotation from the 20th Century influential economist John Maynard Keynes: “When the facts change then my opinion changes: and you sir?”

So with that challenge I plunged into For Christ Sake’s ‘Death is But a Breath Away’ to see what the proverbial score was.

This is an ep almost two years old, so this was pretty much a chance to evaluate For Christ Sake as they prepare to record a full-length album and are riding high after getting a track on the Terroriser cover mount CD.

It’s always hard to review local bands, as sometimes their output fails to match their live performances, and especially after seeing the likes of Onslaught and being smitten with the Anthrax, Machine Head and Mastodon recent releases.

For Christ Sake, however, evidence a solid and precocious talent. Navigating the rocky roads between death, black, classic and speed metal, the songs execute a fine balance between fury and aplomb.

The eight-minute ‘Sleep’ is a stand-out track, with its nightmare-ish imagery and the promise of salvation painted on a backdrop of fiery melody, haunting chorus and blistering riffs make this a classic – in tone and structure.

‘O’s revelatory message is strewn across a musical arrangement that mixes styles in a more than satisfactory conclusion.

As Keynes posited – noted above – when facts change, opinions must also. For Christ Sake are the proof that one can, and indeed must, abandon existing musical prejudices when the evidence is laid bare. The comfortable zone of making lyrics match insipid music is one that For Christ Sake have transcended. Their lyrical content is moving towards a more contemporary issue-led style, which many bands could do well to note.

For Christ Sake – I enjoyed the journey so far. Now, as they prepare to record their first full-length platter, it is worthy of a certain amount of anticipation.