Pick Your Rock and Metal

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Golden oldies...

THERE comes a time of life when each and every band must hang up their axes, retire the mic and step away from the monitors. Band break-ups and age can often be the cue to look for the pipe, slippers and comfy armchair. Well thankfully UFO have decided that there time has not come yet.

Because for a band that started life in 1969 Phil Mogg, Andy Parker, Paul Raymond and Vinnie Moore still know how to deliver a power-packed set.

A sold-out Spring and Airbrake had its arse well and truly warmed up with Sweet Savage’s first gig of 2012 before a series of summer festival dates across Europe. While many of crowd will only know Killing Time from Metallica’s cover version, title track of the 2012 album Regenerator is immense live.

UFO – well they know how to Let It Roll, and that was precisely how they opened up; sort of easing the crowd into a finely balanced set which included a nice cull of tracks from new platter Seven Deadly and the crowd pleasers which could have been plucked from Strangers in the Night.

Yes – if one was a cynic one could view this type of tour as a pension gig for the band and a nostalgia trip for ageing rockers.

Sod that! Each and every one of the last three gigs in Belfast, including this one has seen the band open a cracking bunch from their current releases. From Monkey Puzzle to The Visitor and now to Seven Deadly UFO are relevant in a world where many bands have stood still, failed to develop, and have released nothing new.

While it is reassuring to hear tracks from Seven Deadly (buy it now if you want to hear how relevant UFO are to the modern ‘classic rock’ genre – and you really got to unpick that phrase to understand exactly it means!) a few from the Visitor and more recent albums might not have appealed to the Phenomenon era fans, but for die-hards would have demonstrated a commitment to their commitment and perhaps opened a few eyes to the dynamism of these bunch of nearly pensioners. Heck I’d even beg for the likes of Profession of Violence.

As to the rest of the set: Too Hot To Handle; yep, Only You Can Rock Me; yep; pointless banter; yep, Shoot Shoot; yep, Vinni Moore, guitar solo; yep, Doctor Doctor; yep, Lights Out; yep etc. If you’re a fan you’ll know the score.

Delivered with aplomb and a backing choir of several hundred increasingly hoarse fans UFO proved that they, on form, really are one of the very veteran bands who can still punch with the best. And on Andy Parker’s birthday…we thought it best not to ask his age because while some may regard them as Golden Oldies they are simply glorious on stage!

As your faithful scribe was not able  to make it in to see Vain, owing to being distracted by Guinness, any reviews of this (preferably in something approximating grammatically correct English) would be appreciated: we can't pay in anything other than our gratitude.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fer Foo sake

WELL one of the worst kept secrets in rock in Norn Iron was confirmed tonight when it was said that Foo Fighters would be headlining Tennents Vital Day One at Boucher Road playing fields on August 21st. That's a positive tick in the rock column...

Black Keys as support....nah. Stone Roses Day two, definite no...

Likelihood of Lemmy or Queen's of the Stone Age joining Foos...don't hold yer breath!

So, to recap...Tennents Vital has Foo Fighters...

This is welcome news, of course, but in the meantime I'm off to listen to some F*ckhammer and I'll Eat Your Face and prep for UFO and Sweet Savage tomorrow night (i.e. beer, Jack and Seven Deadly...figure it out yourself because I've never been able to!)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Beat the Bullet

WITH the UFO ticket winners drawn (congrats to NJ and SB, thanks to everyone who entered!) there still remains the small matter of Wednesday night.

Ormeau Avenue might just explode as there is so much rock in the Limelight and the Spring and Airbrake.

Old codgers UFO are not, and with new album Seven Deadly, they've proved that they can still teach the young 'uns a few classic metal licks and tricks. Backing up UFO are local NWOBHM heroes Sweet Savage. Honoured and acclaimed by Metallica for being the local torchbearers for that scene they remain relevant and still lay it down with a back catalogue many of their peers in the early 80s would envy. £20? a bargain - some still available on the door.

That not enough rock for you?

Well then, also on Wednesday the glam stylings and pouting of Mr Davy Vain will be tearing up the Limelight as Vain tour to back their seventh album, Enough Rope. Support comes from Support comes from Stala & So (featuring 3 exmembers of LORDI) and Ancara. Tix are still available at £17.

And with Vain hitting the stage around 9:30ish, there's a good chance to see one hell of a shedload of rock on Wednesday with both Vain and UFO a possibility for the nimble who can nip the 25 yards or so between the two venues...why not? Sure what else would you be doing?

Big Al to preach ...

AL Jourgensen is bringing his own particular brand of industrial preaching to Belfast with the first ever Northern Ireland trip for Ministry.

The Godfathers of indistrial metal will be appearing at the Mandella Hall on 17th July.

Tickets are £29.50 and available from all the usual outlets and Ticketmaster.

The Belfast date comes as Jourgensen prepares to release the latest oeuvre from Ministry, the apocalytic Relapse, to be released later this month.

It's an album of brutal industrial sounds, coming 30 years after the birth of Ministry. The blurb claims that "Relapse incorporates elements of thrash, crossover metal, groove metal, angular prog rock, psychedelia and even classic rock".

Coming five chaotic years and one near-death experience after the release of the band’s The Last Sucker it's a tour and an album that could not only re-define Ministry's appeal, but also challenge the industrial metal genre and help it break out of the clich├ęs and the stereotypes.

Can Ministry can blow Belfast's minds away with this reinvigorated sound and Jourgensen's undoubted talent? Well it would be worth finding out!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hours tick closer...

THE hours are ticking closer to the closing time for the UFO ticket competition.

Your chance to win one of two pair of tickets for the Wedenesday 21st March show in the Spring and Airbrake closes on Saturday 17th March at 23.59.

To win - just answer this simple question:
What is the name of UFO's new album?

Send your answers here by Saturday 23.59 17th March.

NB - as there was a slight problem with email on Wedensday we will accept two entries per person - see how kind we are!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Here there be Vikings...waste will ensue

THE last time so many Vikings landed on the shores of Norn Iron they came to rape, pillage, plunder: now they come for metal!

Headed by the mighty Amon Amarth, the trio of bands - their number made up by the magisterial Grand Magus and newbies to the UK and Ireland tours, In Solitude - are fresh into a trek round these isles without long boats or horned helms: but they bore axes...

Hitting the Mandella Hall on a mid-week, over-18s only gig at the bottom of the bill is tough enough; as such openers set openers In Solitude chose wisely to play as if the hall was full and ripped into a fair sampling of their 2011 release "The World. The Flesh. The Devil."

Despite being hampered by a muddy vocal mix singer Homper emerged into his own for an epic rendition of 'To Her Darkness'. The interplay between Niklas and Henrik in particular elevated their complex NOWBHM and classic metal arrangements to a compelling live listen: a little bit of work on stagecraft and set composition and In Solitude will be proving just exactly why Metal Blade had them sign their Scandanavian signatures on the contractual dotted line.

As for Grand Magus - they had nothing to prove to a Norn Iron audience - solid, tight and engaging, this trio was as tight as an Orca's arse, delving into the back catalogue for the likes of 'Iron Will' and 'Wolf's Return' and giving newer material like 'Hammer of the North' a thorough trouncing. No strangers to Belfast, Magus had an easy relationship with the Mandella Hall crowd, one that showed in the onstage banter and the ability to engage with their trademark power metal with a dark twist.

And then came the band from Mount Doom....

Amon Amarth. Johan and co may wish to distance themselves from the Viking Metal tag, but they come to lay waste...

Holy enslaved abbeys Batman but we have heroes here!

From inasuspicous beginnings Amon Amarth have grown from a Scandanvian phenomenon with a niche following to  a band ready smash down the doors to the metal mainstream...with a double-headed axe of course.

'Runes to My Memory', Blackbirds, 'War of the Gods' all displayed the tradmark growl, guitars and subtle melody, but 'Under the Northern Star' also showed that Amarth also have delicacy in their arsenal.

Carefully honed presentation, synchronised stagecraft and easy manner meant the twin guitar attack if Johan (the other one!)and Olavl built a landscape around which songs were elevated beyond the contraints of the studio.

But when it came to sheer power, 'Twilight of the Thunder Gods' and 'Guardians of Asgard' concluded proceedings with aplomb and bombastic brilliance.

Vikings? Aye, we could take them in a fair fight of they want a re-run of the sixth century battles, but in the meantime their lasting appeal is built on pagan myths, stories of terror raids and rapine - now it is a story best told through the medium of...HEAVY METAL.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Doctor, Doctor Only a competition can rock me!

WANT to win a pair of tickets to see UFO and Sweet Savage at the Spring & Airbrake on March 21st? Then keep reading! [Or scroll down to the end if you don't need sold on the idea of free UFO tickets!]

First off, why should you bother with UFO and Sweet Savage in the first place?

If you need me to answer that I suggest you hand in your hard rock and metal club membership card, or re-sit your Rocker GCSE right away.

Neither UFO not Sweet Savage have reached the mega-tour status of Maiden or Metallica yet both bands have had a huge influence on not only those two bands, but on a legion of hard rock and metal acts.

UFO kicked off their career in 1969 as a space rock outfit, before successfully pioneering a twin guitar attack that provided power, ranged against the melody and passion of singer Phil Mogg. Classic albums tumbled off the shelves, arguably culminating with the double live Strangers in the Night (the template for basically the majority of live albums throughout the 80s and 90s).
UFO singer par excellence Phil Mogg croons for another stunned set of
Marshall stacks...and a willing audience too!

The hits were plentiful: Doctor, Doctor; Mother Mary, Only You Can Rock Me and so on (those re-sitting their Rocker GCSE are permitted to download these on Spotify or iTunes, but beware, the sudden intake of such heady classic rock may make you a tad dizzy until you become acclimatised!)

But as with many great acts UFO were plagued with fall-outs, drink and drug issues, line-up changes and a largely indifferent media. Did they quit? Well they did for a wee while, but have fought back and fought back in style: this is a band well past middle age, still gigging and still releasing new material that stretches their admitted wrinkled hides that little bit further.

Many a man (or woman) who has reached the age of Phil Mogg, Paul Raymond, or even Vinnie Moore and Andy Parker, would consider taking it a wee bit easy and heading for the cabaret tours. Not so UFO, who have returned - yet again - to Belfast and have -yet again - released another fine album in the shape of Seven Deadly. Tracks such as Angel Station, Burn Your House Down and Fight Night will stand up against many a so-called classic rock artiste of today.

And, as if having UFO returning to Belfast in another display of loyalty to Norn Iron, which many acts could learn from, there is also the small matter of Sweet Savage as support.

If you're a fan of Metallica then you should know that 'Tallica covered Killing Time; if you're a fan of Dio you should know that the ex-Savage guitarist who goes by the surname Campbell strummed a few chords for Ronnie, and went on to Whitesnake, Def Leppard etc. You should also, if you are to achieve an A* in your Rocker GCSE, know that Sweet Savage was at the heart of that heady time of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, when Tommy Vance ruled Friday nights, when Maiden, Diamond Head, White Spirit, Saxon, Tank and a host of others were saving our souls from New Wave and terrible hair-dos.

Like UFO, Sweet Savage are still out there turning in new tracks and great live shows. Last year's Regeneration album showcased a band that could bridge the 80s with more contemporary metal, without "selling out".

Okay - you get it why you should go? What? You only want to see UFO play Shoot Shoot and Lights Out and Savage play Killing Time - boy are you in for a night to delight your innocent wee cotton socks.

And - Belfastmetalheadsreunited have teamed up with the ever-generous folks at CDC Leisure to offer you two pairws of tickets to UFO and Sweet Savage on March 21st at the Spring & Airbrake. For clarity that means two winners will get a set of two tickets each - or in simpler terms, if you win you can bring a mate/partner/spouse/live-in lover/random long-haired dude or dudette you met on the bus. A pair of tickets means two, and we have two pair on offer!

To win - just answer this simple question:
What is the name of UFO's new album?

Send your answers here by Saturday 23.59 17th March.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Due to an illness to singer Josh Franceschi, You Me At Six have been forced to postpone this week’s Irish dates in Dublin and Belfast. The band issued this statement:

"Hi Sixers,

"We regret to inform you that due to Josh having acute tonsillitis, we have to reschedule the Belfast and Dublin dates scheduled to take place this week. The new dates are as follows:

"April 8 – Belfast Ulster Hall

"Tickets purchased for the original shows will still be valid. Please contact the outlet you purchased your tickets from for any returns.

"We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Please join us in wishing Josh a speedy recovery!"


Competition special!

LOOK out for an extra special competition coming your way tonight - up for grabs? Two pairs of tickets to see the mighty UFO, who have just released one of their best records in a decade, the awesome Seven Deadly.

And if that wasn't enough on the same bill at the Spring and Airbrake on 21st March are Norn Iron's own Sweet Savage: and if you don't know enough about Sweet Savage consider this: Raymie was flown to the Filmore East in San Fran to join Metallica on stage for their anniversary gig.

Classic rock par excellence, NWOBHM heroes all on one night and a competition for tickets from our friends at CDC Leisure...we're almost too generous to y'all!

Check back later tonight for details on how to enter!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Not just a solitary joy...

WE'VE all been there - sitting at home, with a drink in hand and coming across a band that intrigues us, delights us,  and has the head-a-nodding; a new found treasure to enjoy amidst the mediocrity that crowds the pages of the populist rock press. Better still you find they're set to play near where you live.

Better still they're appearing on a line-up that you were going to go to anyway...

Next Tuesday any self-respecting metaller will be dusting off the denims and stretching those neck muscles as Amon Amarth return to lay waste to the Belfast agaih. Being backed by Grand Magus would normally be enough to have us practically ejaculating (metaphorically!!!) with joy but then throw into the mix a rather tasty band to boot and well...feckin' awesome!

In Solitude are opening for Amon Amarth and Grand Magus and for those who normally stumble along for the headliners only...well that would be to miss a treat. Get there early.

There are many bands who emerge from the Scandavian metal melting pot who never rise above mediocrity, but set openers on Tuesday In Solitude should emerge to be a band truly worth investing your time, ears and liver in to.

The bastard sons of death metal, classic metal and NWOBHM, In Solitude are intriguing and adept. And this will be a tour date they will want to prove their mettle on, as it is part of the band's first ever UK and Ireland tour.

So what do the band expect? We caught up with them as preparations intensified for Belfast and put that question.

In Solitude
"We try to avoid preconceived notions of places and audiences, since its often quite useless to put yourself somewhere (in your mind) based on other peoples/bands experiences of the place. It all depends on the emotive currents at work in that place at that time.

"The live experiences often take us to outer landscapes of emotion, which becomes very exhausting and self destructive for the body and the mind when it all becomes a tour. Each night stripped down naked and bleeding. But its an elevation that is painful by necessity."

But lest you think this is some band propelled into the spotlight before their time, In Solitiude have earned their touring stripes having recently completed US jaunts with Down and Pentagram in Europe. It is a memory they feel has developed the band yet further in the live arena:

"The tour with Down certainly had a greater impact. No matter how big the differences were musically or lyrically, we came very close and each night was to bathe in fire. The whole ordeal was very powerful, and we learned a lot from doing our first American tour with that band, that crowd and that part of America.

"Of course, the Pentagram tour was amazing as well. Pentagram is madness and dangerous brilliance. A combination that should be found in all rock music."

And when they cool their jets after touring with Amon Amarth they have another heavy duty set on the way with Behemoth, Watain and Devil's Blood.

"Both Watain and The Devils Blood are close allies of ours and we are 'on the same page', so to speak, on a lot of the underlying motifs of the music. There's a personal bond and nexus there that will kindle a lot of blood and tears. like there always should in rock music"

Signed to Metal Blade In Solitude have the chance to not only endear themselves to the ever selective US audiences, but to earn their tour stripes with the toughest critics - the UK and especially the Belfast audiences.

We've every confidence they'll make their mark, and hopefully return again.

Amon Amarth, Grand Magus and In Solitude play Belfast's Mandella Hall on 14th April. A limited supply of tickets are still available

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Gig-tastic time

OKAY peeps - who'd got the beer tokens? It's a fantastic few months of gigs coming up. Can we handle it all?

First up, if you were planning to go see Korn or You Me At Six...if you haven't got your tickets yet it's too late: both gigs are sold out. But if you want your fix of hard rock and metal there's plenty out there!

This Friday night Nasa Assassin and Trucker Diablo are at Ma Nelson's; and if you want a full listing of local  rock and metal head over to RockRadioNI's gig guide or the Distortion Project pages.

Meanwhile there are still tickets available for Amon Amarth (with Grand Magus and In Solitude) at the Mandella on 18th March, UFO and Sweet Savage on the 21st March at the Spring and Airbrake, with Vain playing the same night at The Limelight.

If you can still keep up Ministry are playing the Mandella on July 17th, Ice Earth are at the Spring and Airbrake on 8th August. Hang on to your hats then because WASP will be bringing their 30th Anniversary tour to the Ulster Hall on 24th September, with Y&T playing the Spring & Airbrake on the 29th of that month....

Damn it, I've probably missed a few out, but....who's heading to Download?

Sabbath [possibly the last time to see Ozzy, Tony and Geezer play together live], Metallica, Anthrax, Slash, Machine Head, Black Label Society and a host of others.

Who's going?