Pick Your Rock and Metal

Monday, April 30, 2012

Cú Chulainn’s rockin’ the house - and we're right in the middle of the Stormzone

THERE’S a lot of stories about the fighting, fucking, all round bad ass Cú Chulainn in the Ulster Cycle. The Hound of Ulster can rightly be described as one mean so and so of a bezerker…

But like all myths, the story Cú Chuliann was probably just some bloke who enjoyed a pint of ale, partying, and when it came down to it could fight a wee bit – the hype sort of got out of control…

And hype is what too often afflicts rock and metal bands. The ones that reach the mainstream media usually have teams of A&R people, PR specialists and pluggers. Even the metal bands at the upper echelons have to strive hard to meet all their obligations and end up doing the work partly themselves.

But here in Norn Iron we have a profusion of talent in rock, punk and metal…and on Saturday night at the Spring and Airbrake three true exponents of great rock and metal came to the fore. Cú Chuliann would have been right at home, pint in hand and head-a-banging.

The night was to celebrate the launch of Stormzone’s latest album, Zero to Rage – a platter destined to go down as one of the finest local releases in 2012, and maybe of releases further afield.

Kicking out the jams as party openers were Triggerman – masters of the riff and lords of groove. At least two seasoned reporters and reviewers were down the front, hair flying and generally getting down, because as we all should know, the Riff Holds Sway…and the crowd didn’t catch the lurgy. (check the Triggerman site to see what these references are, if you don’t know already!)

The intensity was cranked another notch with the technical exponents of metal, Sinocence blazing a trail of solos and songs designed to pummel and also challenge. Toes-a-tapping, bonces nodding and mouths gapping at their prowess is the usual reaction to Sinocence…and it was difficult not to appreciate the precision of the performance as they were met with the same appreciative reaction.

But Cú Chuliann was there to party with Stormzone…

Zero to Rage is a fine platter that acknowledges the history of local rock and metal as eloquently demonstrated by album opener and surefire live testimony to the band’s roots. Where We Belong is a statement of intent...a eulogy to Northern Ireland and metal.

It would be fair to say that one or two members of Stormzone have been round the metal block a few times – some might see that as a criticism, but on Saturday it was clear that experience counts for more than just having a good set of great songs.

Any set of songs have to be grabbed by the scruff of the neck and thrown to the crowd as sacrificial offerings. Being a singer doesn’t just mean you chant out the tunes – you have to be a frontman prepared to pound and cajole the audience into adoration. Being an axeman means you deliver the licks and show the audience that you have wrestled the stringed beast to meet your will and the will of the audience. Being the drummer or the bassist you have to lay it down with beats and tone that have breastbones vibrating.

Did Stormzone meet all these criteria? Damn right they did! Harv used all his experience at the front, and Davey, Graham, Andy and Steve stepped up to the plate as a unified a force for metal.

Title track Zero to Rage was the stand-out song, there’s no need to hype this – on the album it’s great, live it moves on to another dimension.

With tracks new and old given an airing this was a band comfortable in themselves and excelling.

In Northern Ireland the ancient differences are not in evidence when rock and metal rule the house. Cú Chuliann’s myth has been misappropriated by both nationalist and loyalist groups. But when Stormzone sang Cú Chuliann’s Story, the Hound of Ulster was reclaimed from political clutches and honoured as one who epitomises the flawed hero – a hero we can respect, and a hero whose tale resonates in metal.

And where Stormzone heroes of metal on Saturday night? They were. Now if there is justice for all in this world they should be among the pack of acts rampaging from these shores to tell the world that this wee country on the outer edges of Europe rocks like a bastard.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Northern Ireland's answer to Amon Amarth

ARE Darkest Era Northern Ireland's answer to Amon Amarth? Now before you raise a steeply arched eyebrow at such a bold claim, hold on to your cup of ale, still that whiskey that was about to caress your lips with its golden bite, and draw closer to where an ancient fire burns...

Amon Amarth draw deepy from the well of ancient Scandanavian culture, using the past and present influences. Before 'With Odin on Our Side' they were struggling to break out of the niche media and audiences. All that has changed and now they are an international metal force, still with their roots in the fjords and dim winter nights.

In Ireland, north and south, bands have became comfortable expressing their gaelic roots (and for pedants Northern Ireland and the province of Ulster led the resurgence on the Gael influence long before it was politicised thanks to dissenter presbyterianism). Perhaps it is the peace process that has led this comfortable expression of Irish culture in metal. Perhaps it is because all true rock and metal sees religion and sectarianism as interruptions to drinking time. Perhaps it is because Thin Lizzy and Rory Gallagher led the way...

The crop of bands with a tint of the Celtic culture in their metal is growing ever stronger, from Primordial and Waylander through to the likes of Mael Mordha, who kept proceedings going last night in Belfast's Limelight after opener Celtachor.

As co-headliners, Mael Mordha entertained with their tin whistle take on journeys through misty swamps and dark journeys, where the gods and goddesses of ancient Ireland bring forth an air of menace and an air of joy in proceedings. A surpride Bathory cover of Vinterblot off a forthcoming tribute CD raised the proverbial horns.

Amon Amarth claimed in their song Cry of the Blackbirds that they had routed the Irish, but bemoaned the fact that the king of the Irish had slipped away before total victory. Well the kings and queens of the Celts have risen from the mystical lochs and byways of Enniskillen, where tales of far off times seem all too close as the tendrils of fog slip across the land of bogs; where a misstep can leave you in a place where ancient, vengeful princesses await the unwary traveller...

From this land emerge Darkest Era, a land where you can be just one step away from a Heathen Burial.

Recently back from a piratical cruise with the Alestorm rogues, a journey described pre-show by vocalist Krum as both "scary and exciting"; the experience has tightened the Darkest Era set and performance.

The interrlinked work across the rhythm section of Lisa and Dave nails down a landscape that allows Ade and Sarah to punch out the celtic chords and runs that emerge like Lizzy's Emerald on steroids.

With the Last Caress of Light album to the fore, Krum is ever more confident taking the audience on the lyrical journey, where a matriarchical ancient culture kept the dreams alive of re-birth.

Standing out  in the set were An Ancient Fire Burns and title track The Last Caress of Light Before the Dark. But there can be no doubt that set closer and album opener The Morrigan rose head and shoulders before many a Celtic contender. As for the Vikings, they'd really stand no chance if there was to be a re-match.

Is it then a bold assertion to compare Darkest Era with Amon Amarth? Amarth are still to approach the zenith of their career. They are on a climb. Darkest Era? Their still down the slopes, but any realistic observer will see that the upper slopes may still be a way off, but the rumbles and stirrings are shaking the Trolls from their dark Scandanavian slumber, and the Trolls are shaking lest they have To Face The Black tide that surely must be the rightful ascent of Darkest Era.

Friday, April 27, 2012

When in metal need you call the veterans to go from Zero to Rage

WHEN the armies of Alexander of Macedon conquered half the known world he kept his general Parmenion's verteran's in reserve to deliver the crushing blow to Persian hordes at the right time.

When Genghis Khan conquered half the known world, sometimes his shock tactics needed the determination of veterans to smash through stubborn ranks across the sub-continent.

And when you feel the odd twinge that the new shit ain't rockin' quite the way you thought, it's time to call up the metal veterans to slash and burn all in their wake: veterans who can go from Zero to Rage in a heartbeat.

Yeah, there are one or two members of Stormzone who have been around the block as much as we have, but fear not, because when you need yer rock and metal turbocharged with a heady mix of classicc vibes and bang up to date arrangements then it'll be a safe bet that veterans deliver everytime.

And on this, Stormzone's third studio album delivery is key to its success.

Opening up with a statement of intent Where We Belong the intensity stays high as the title track Zero to Rage keeps the rev counter pushing the red.

Stand-out tracks This Is Our Victory and Last Man Fighting are epic, for different reasons. Victory is a statment of where the band are, what they have achieved, while Last Man Fighting takes all the best plays from the rock playbook and melds them into shape with a slow build towards a juistified strut.

And perhaps it is not fair to pick out stand out tracks: there is a consistency here that puts many album artists to shame. Harv's vocals have matured in terms of intonation without sacrificing the high range. The unsung hero too often in reviewing albums is the rhythm section. Anchored by a drummer who knows his way round a kit like the back of the proverbial hand, Davey Bates proves that flash isn't what holds down a track: solid delivery and flourishes for punctuation beat the stick show-offs any day of the week; meanwhile Graham McNulty's bass holds the bridge between the guitars of Steve Moore and long-time Harv collaborator Keith Harris.

Moore and Harris as a duo mix together riffage with axemanship par excellence. Give the one dimension shredders a rest and let these two guitarists tear it up and show real understanding that soloing doesn't always need to be a blur when you can sprinkle reflections of the song's direction.

The nicely balanced solo on Fear Hotel shows that a solo needs real structure and must merge as part of the song seemlessly

With songs averaging at around six minutes there is plenty of room for expression without self-indulgence. The shorter mid-set Uprising keeps breakneck pace going throughout, while Voices in My Head nails down hard rock melodies from vocals and guitars.

This 12-track platter proves that Harv and his cohort can deliver their own conquest. With a short Spanish stint with Sebastian Bach and no doubt some well deserved festival appearances Stormzone's continental conquest lies ahead as they move through the gears from Zero to Rage to meet yer rockin metal needs.

Stormzone launch Zero to Rage at the Spring and Airbrake on April 28th.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Belsonic newsflash

WITH The Darkness pulling out of their support slot for Thin Lizzy, here's the new confirmed line-up:
  • Thin Lizzy
  • The Answer
  • UFO
  • FM
  • Sweet Savage

That rates a hell yeah from us

Dark prophets in their own land

THEY say that prophets are not always listened to in their own land; and it is a land here in Northern Ireland that has been riven with strife for millenia, and a land where the heartbeat of music has never been far from the ears of its inhabitants.

This is a land where the fife and drum were once a call to arms, now laid out as threadbare excuse for antagonism; a land where the gospel songs mingle with the folk strains of nascent nationalism caught in webs of sickly sentamentality.

But in this land a heart of rock, cold to the mainstream, but warming the faithful, beat steadily in the darkest times. When the impetuous fires of punks rebellion burnt a swathe through the norm they left a musical landscape ripe for rock; and from the fumblings of that scene were born the children of metal.

That evolution has come forth with a host of talent, but too often the prophets of this metal have been, like some biblical relic of a man, unheralded in their own land.

Darkest Era have been bubbling under the wider Northern Ireland radar for some time, at the same time reaching out to wider and wider audiences - the culture, the torment and the majesty of Darkest Era's melancholia bears the hallmarks of the great Irish rock and metal bands, from Thin Lizzy through to Primordial.

We explored this connection when we caught up with Darkest Era's guitarist Ade Mulgrew ahead of the band's spiritual homecoming to The Limelight for Saturday's gig with Mael Mordha. Are the Irish folk subtelties of Darkest Era's music hitting home beyond the shores of these isles?

"We've always had a stronger following in mainland Europe and beyond. Irish folk definitely isn't something that has a 'cool' image here, while people from other countries seem to be a little more open to the cultural influences woven through the music," said Ade.

"Having said that, I think audiences here connect with it as well. In our music it is quite subtle really; it manifests itself in a kind of melancholic folkish kind of way. But certainly we think audiences outside Ireland appreciate these influences a little more, at least that's what I've noticed in reviews. They pick up on a certain kind of atmosphere and style of melody that they attribute to band from this island it seems."

And there is a melancholic thread that runs through Darkest Era's music, a thread that is woven through much of modern Irish metal, both north and south of the border. Ade takes up the theme:

"It's been said before that there is a kind of melancholia present in Northern Irish/Irish metal that is unique. I think it's fair to say that bands like Mael Mordha, Primordial, Altar of Plagues and Mourning Beloveth have a certain atmosphere in common.

"Obviously melancholic metal isn't solely a characteristic of bands from here, but there is definitely an undefinable misery working it's way into the music somewhere. This is present in our own lyrics and music too I guess, in terms of the kind of language and imagery present in our lyrics and the kind of atmosphere that we try and create."

The first time Belfastmetalheadsreuntied came across Darkest Era it was at an all ages gig in Belfast's Black Box. Darkest Era's singer Krum was leading a ragged mellé of youngsters from the heart of a circle pit.

"That seems like such a long time ago now," said Ade. "[Since then] our journey has been like any other band; one of artistic development and personal growth. Our songwriting has matured a lot since then; we're a lot more confident in what we're doing both in the rehearsal room and when we take to the stage.

"We have a stronger identity now and we are a lot more focussed. I guess a few more people are paying attention to us too now that we've got an album out on Metal Blade. In general I would say the band has moved forward at a steady, sustainable pace. We've had time to reflect on things as we went along and now we are especially driven to take the band to where we want to go."

Recently Darkest Era were treading the boards with a UK tour with Scottish mentalist pirate metallers Alestorm. Apart from seeing the right way to quaff a quart of rum, we wanted to know just what the band learned from the experience.

"This was our first real tour, with 14 shows in a row across the UK, and as it turns out you really find out whether you are worth your salt as a live act in this kind of situation," said Ade "Thankfully we rose to the challenge and put in some really solid performances on that tour.

"Touring is a totally different beast than one off weekend shows or festival shows; it has it's own rhythm and it's own set of challenges and you have to be prepared to meet them.

"On this tour we were playing to large audiences, 90% of whom had never heard our music before. so you have to really work hard to win audiences over and put an energetic show across. We were using the local front of house engineer at each show, so it was a challenge to perform each night to the same standard despite varying levels of sound quality on stage and so on. We are a much stronger live act after that tour, we feel. We learned a lot about our craft."

With the Metal Blade release of Last Caress of Light impressing critics and fans alike, and a tidy video for 'An Ancient Fire Burns' out, it begs the question of what next, for this band that are sneaking their way towards wider acclaim and attendant success, after Saturday's Limelight slot:

"We are very much focussing on writing after this show. We are entering the studio later in the year to record album 2, of which we will be announcing details soon hopefully.

"We've done a lot of work since the album came out in the background to help build the band; but now nothing else matters apart from writing songs and making an album. It's liberating in a way to be back at this point again; some of the tracks on the album are a few years old and our next record will be all new songs written over a much shorter period of time. We're excited about embarking on the creative once process again."

And that is surely good news for each and every fan of local metal. It may have taken a while but Darkest Era's journey has been one that has marched steadily upwards. From the early self-produced Nemesis demo in 2006 to the poise and confidence displayed on Last Caress of Light the drums are sounding a welcome to Darkest Era, a welcome that should be heard more and more in their homeland and further afield.

Darkest Era appear in Belfast's Limelight on Saturday, 28th April with Mael Mordha and Celtachor. Doors are at 5pm and tickets are yours on the door for a measley £7 - well worth it for such melancholic grandeur.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Harken to the sound of real music...

SATAN was slinking out of the Louisiana swamps, a half empty bottle of Jack Daniels dangling from his taloned hand, and a throbbing need for real, down and dirty rock 'n' fuckin' roll is tugging at his black heart. He knew there was a reason he chose to leave the sterility of heaven - it was to find a place on this forsaken earth where the melancholy melodies could plunge him to the depths and at the same time raise his fists in unadulterated joy.

His goat feet took him on a journey, a long and lonely journey, strumming his guitar, strung with the guts of scenesters, pseuds and the unenlightened ignoramouses who watch TV's pathetic 'music' talent shows.

His journey was to a land becoming all too familiar to this lord of light, a land where be bathed in the fire, fury and angst of A Little Bitter, where he partied with Trucker Diablo, and had his corrupt soul tortured with the southern groove of Double Wide. It was a land where he had watched the fires of youth rebellion ignited by Stiff Little Fingers and laughed with the sick humour of Therapy? It was a land where he had danced around the fires lit by The Answer; it was a land with the dark beating heart of rock and roll, where he could bathe in the hardcore battering of By Any Means and feed Hunger's Mother and refresh himself in Swanee River.

It was to the land known as Northern Ireland.

But what was rousing the Dark Lord from his slumber? What was that low-end rumbling that called him with mournful tunes and soaring guitars? What was that Baleful Creed that he felt the need to pledge a rocking soul to? Was it the sound of heaven? If so it was a heavenly blast even he could get down too!

Baleful Creed have been calling to the faithful and the faithless with their two 2011 eps, Killing Time and Buried Beneath. It is a calling summed up in the opening blast, their crie de guerre and eponymous naming of their band and their intent. Buried Beneath opener Baleful Creed revs up the riffs and makes sure you are in no doubt that this is a band with intent - an intent to rock.

Killing Time features two tracks that will have you panting in agony that the mix is a little off; but the sheer majesty of Fortune Seeker and Throne of Thorns will have a heavenly host coming down to this patch of earth and joining Satan and his minions in a party blur of Jack Daniels; heads-a-nodding, arms interlinked and getting down to the low end.

And, it is the low end that rumbles through all of Baleful Creed's two eps to date; sometimes overwhelming on Killing Time, but perfected on Buried Beneath; an ep which would have Geezer Butler grinning and Tony Iommi reaching from his sick bed for his trusty SG.

Make no mistake - these are not 'metal' eps. Nor are they strictly hard rock tales of excess, instead tales that are tempered with the memories of consequences. This is a melding of styles, southern groove, metal, rock - all delivered with aplomb. Crazy Man has lyrics to challenge and a groove that has the gators in the swamplands wondering if they are outclassed. Hex - well, it's gonna put a hex on ya! And as for the lead guitar throughout? Well there are tones here that just show why there are times when an axe just has to be wielded.

Vocally, there is a sneer to the melacholy: as we've said before in the heart of a cynic beats the murmur of romantic hope. It also knows there are times when  you must stand up and rock...

Nodding his approval Satan hooked his arms around the heavenly host, his former brothers; maybe, just maybe they could work this disagreement out. As another bottle of Jack emptied to the strains of Baleful Creed's Suffer in Silence all seems better. This place Northern Ireland, they reckoned they could settle down in it nicely; the Tayto Cheese and Onion crisps, the Ulster Fry and this font of rock 'n' roll? Why not stick around for a bit in the only place where someone would say: "Oi Satan! It's your round!"

Baleful Creed - when melancholy melodies, groove, and low-end can solve the metaphysical puzzles of the universe.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bacchus stalking Ormeau Avenue

THE god Bacchus was partying in Ormeau Avenue,  a pint or six were downed before getting his groove on and headbanging like a bastard...

Wizards of Firetop Mountain, By Any Means and Orange Goblin had Bacchus down and dirty, hot and sweaty as he enjoined in the ancient rites of partying Spring and Airbrake metal style...

At this point one would normally see your faithful reviewer detail the setlists, the attitude and other esoteric ramblings. But last night was just about joining Bacchus, arms linked, heads banging and pints a plenty.

Pleasently surprised by Wizards of Firetop Mountain, battered by By Any Means and slayed by Orange Goblin...

To hell with reviewing, last night was just about pure metal fun.

Recovered now it is time to get my serious head on. Interview with Darkest Era to come before their 28th April date in The Limelight and a review of the rather tasty eps from Baleful Creed to write up later...may have to eat first and chug some refreshing brews to inspire the paws to type something meaningful...Oi! Bacchus! Where'd you leave that bottle?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Guest interviewer Mark Ashby catches up with Marco Medoza

MARCO Mendoza, bassist in the current incarnation of Thin Lizzy and formerly a member of, among many others, Blue Murder, Whitesnake and Ted Nugent’s band (oh, and Right Said Fred!) plays his first ever solo tour of the UK this weekend, finishing right here in Belfast, at the Spring and Airbrake on Monday night.

Fellow Belfast Metalhead Mark Ashby caught up with the garrulous LA native before the Italian leg of the jaunt. Much of the rest of the content of his extensive interview, covering his views on the importance of connecting directly with fans and other topics, is published on http://www.uberrock.co.uk/ – and the first part of what follows includes some of that material, reproduced here, with the website’s permission… but, Mark also saved a few juicy titbits exclusively for us…

So without further ado, over to Mr Ashby

With Marco having been a member of Lizzy for almost 20 years now, the logical place to pick up the conversation is the recruitment of current frontman Ricky Warwick – the first Ulsterman (not counting Viv Campbell’s brief filling-in session last year) in the band’s ranks since the late, great Gary Moore. It’s a move Mendoza agrees has breathed new life into what many saw as a dying entity – and one which looks like producing the first original material from the group in just shy of 30 years… we’ll let the bassist tell it in his own style:

"He’s just perfect for the job. He’s so passionate about what he does. He so believes. He’s been a Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy fan all his life – obviously, growing up in Belfast. I tell people that Ricky knows more Thin Lizzy history than I do because, you know, he lived it: he lived the phenomenon, the success, he saw the whole thing from the beginning – he lived it… as a fan, and a big fan.

"So, he absolutely does a great job: he’s a great frontman, he’s a great singer – and, now, his writing is going to come to light. His writing is beautiful: it’s very deep and perfect for what we do for Lizzy.

"It was meant to be. Timing in life sometimes works itself out and I can’t think of another guy that would fit in there… On top of everything else, he’s a great guy: he’s a great father, he’s a great human being, he’s a great husband and a great friend. And on stage, he just kills it – he just kills it! We go out there confident, knowing he’s just going to do a kicking job – and we have to do the same…

"So, now, our next move is to start writing new songs, to represent Lizzy: that’s gonna be our next step – and it’s coming."

So, with the Irish connection in Lizzy’s very firm Irish heritage obviously very firmly reconnected, the time is obviously right to resurrect the band’s great songwriting heritage…

"Yeah. The timing is right. There’s a lot of writers in the band, obviously: there’s a lot of influences that we can bring to the table, and different styles, but in the keeping of the legacy of Lizzy – and the sound. We’re all taking that into consideration. But, I think we’re up for the job: I really think we are, as a band. As a unit, we’re really working – it’s like a well-oiled machine, starting from the management: I’ve gotta give credit to those guys, because they also believe in it and they love it with a passion, so they treat it with a lot of respect : it’s not just another band wanting to go out there and tour and make a few bucks. This is about continuing the legacy."

The Lizzy legacy, to many fans, became greatly tarnished in the decades since Lynott’s death, with many viewing the band as a ‘tribute act’ cashing in on his memory. It’s something Mendoza doesn’t shy away from – but also very much wants to put behind him as the band seek to build a credible future, especially with younger fans now discovering the beauty of the band’s material…

"Working with Brian, Scott and Darren, for me, is like coming back home because we’ve put in a lot of years, back in the Nineties. When it all fell apart, I think it happened for a reason: I think it all fell apart because this is supposed to happen today, in this form. Of course, last year we had the problem with the ‘revolving door’ of guitar players, with Vivian Campbell coming in and then leaving and then Richard Fortus doing the same: that was big question mark there… But then Damon Johnson came along and he’s another guy that fits like a glove and is willing to give it 100 per cent – he believes in Thin Lizzy: he’s been a fan for years. He’s a great guy, and also a great singer and songwriter: he’s got so much to offer and bring to the table – and he’s so happy to be part of this thing that it’s contagioius… it’s a beautiful thing… So, he was the last piece in the puzzle, to be honest… when he came in and everything started cooking and working so smoothly, it was obvious that the timing was right for us to take it to the next place.

"And, hopefully the fans will get it. And support it."

Like the rest of the current Lizzy line up, Mendoza is quick to admit that there are those who will not accept them no matter what they do… those who regard the band as dying the day their charismatic, irreplaceable leader passed on (this interviewer, as one whose early musical career the late Phil Lynott helped to shape, will admit to be one with a foot very firmly in that camp). Rightly, he respects this view but also has a challenge…

"There’s a lot of interest (in what we’re doing now). Ninety-nine point nine per cent of the fans are into it, when they come to the shows. There’s that one per cent, or fraction of a one per cent, who are really fighting it, and that’s fine, and you can have that, but those people I say: OK, open your mind, come to a show and give us your opinion – we can have a talk after the show. It’s undeniable. The shows are very strong and, obviously, the catalogue speaks for itself – the music is so powerful, lyrically, in every way… and the spirit…

"Ricky and I talk about it all the time: I had a dream the other night… and, this gives me chills – I’m not making this up – where Phil was there and he was giving us the thumbs up: he’s giving us his blessing… he’s happy (with what we’re doing)… how could he not be? (Lizzy) is a part of rock ‘n’ roll history and needs to continue for the new generations: people need to understand that… as opposed to just another wanking band out there trying to make a few bucks. All of us are deeper people than that: there’s a lot of things we could all be doing separately to continue in the music business but I believe in Thin Lizzy and I really believe in carrying the flag to the next generation.

"And it’s the same with Ricky and, of course, Scott is elated – he’s having a great time: (he believes) that the time is right and the right people are involved. And Brian? I’ve gotta tell ya, I’ve worked with Brian Downey for a few years and I’ve never seen him happier, y’know – him and Darren and Scott… so, the timing is right, the rhythm is good – the canvas is set up for us to paint the new Thin Lizzy picture, if you will… "

Of course, we’re really here to talk about Mendoza’s solo show – an experience he describes as more akin to a conversation between him and his audience… and chance for him to open up, explore a different side of himself and to communicate with people (not that he has much trouble doing that anyway: as you can probably tell, he likes to talk…). However, the bassist reveals that Belfast wasn’t on the original tour schedule, and was only added at the last minute…

"That was the thing… London is on the 22nd and then Thin Lizzy starts rehearsals in Amsterdam on the 25th, so I have to fly out the next day… So, I know it’s a Monday night, but if we didn’t do it, then… and I wanted so much to come back to Belfast and play my solo stuff. There’s a connection: I’ve been coming there for so many years, in so many situations, there’s a lot of history up there for me and I’ve made a lot of friends, and I’m really looking forward to it. But, if we didn’t get to drop by this time around, what with everything else that’s going on, God knows when the next opportunity would come along…"
One thing that came out of this interview is that Marco Mendoza is a genuinely nice guy – the Skype connection between Belfast and Rome actually died halfway through the interview, and he took the time to wait for us to get re-connected, and then picked up virtually in the middle of the same sentence!

He plays the Spring and Airbrake this coming Monday (April 23). Support comes from the brilliant Pay*ola, tickets are £12 and will be available at the door. He then returns with Thin Lizzy to play Belsonic on Saturday August 18. His album. ‘Live For Forever’, released on Frontiers, is still available, so check it out (‘cos he said to tell you to!!)

Big truck keeps on rolling.....

ABOUT two years back a phenomenon was released on to an unsuspecting rock scene, a phenomenon with a slightly diabolical twist, a groove that would have Satan himself boogeying around the seven circles of hell and the angels of the lord opening a cool one as they get down and dirty - truly Trucker Diablo have unleashed a musical, spontaneous, riff-ridden joyride.

Too much hyperbole? Yeah, all the loyal readers of this blog are healthily cynical and rightly should be. Bands that have been reviewed also know that we're a picky bunch here at Belfastmetalheadsreunited, but we also have been know to spot the odd good one or two acts.

Back in September 2010 (the 7th for picky types) we reviewed Trucker Diablo's début platter, The Devil's Rhythm, and while we loved it to its wee rockin' cotton socks, not even our metal crystal ball cold have prepared us for the force of Trucker live when they revved up the Big Truck.

We caught up with Tom Harte from Trucker to see what he and that band's take on the wild ride on the Big Truck has been so far...starting with what have been the highlights.

"Donington, Hammerfest, Twitterfest, and of course the Diamond! Basically playing our music on stage we never dreamt we would and continuing to achieve milestones to further the band and all the people we have met. We ain’t ready to get off yet….."

But with all the gears screaming and the rev counter nestling comfortably close to the red line isn't it about time that a new album was ready for release, as we've already heard some new tracks live?

"No Specific date as of yet, we plan to release early 2013. Yeah we feel like Metallica touring an album for two years! It's great!

"The Devil Rhythm has been received really well. It was a very spontaneous album and it retained a certain quality that people connect with.

"On the next album we are taking a bit more time on it but it will be a stronger album with a mix of heavy classic tunes with our own twist on it. We hope people will be into as much as we are….."

And the band have justifiablyt been looking to widen their horizons with US distributors and a label confident to take ads for The Devil Rythm in the rock press. As so many bands get sucked into deals, we wanted to know what the relationship has beeen with their US distributors and label?

"It’s been great so far, very supportive and very much on the ground helping us build the profile. We plan to go out to the States next year to do a tour to reinforce the work that has went on in the background. We hope we will breakthrough and see all the hard work come to fruition."

"It’s down to hard work, setting goals and achieving them. Writing good tunes helps as well lol…But that’s the formula, work hard and things will happen…Don’t sit on your arse.

"We have some great airplay and TV coverage and that was of our own making. Importantly in our own country the media should take notice and help, but they aren’t."

Criminal ain't it!

"When we were away on tour we would always watch the I AM FIGHTER boys, I think we felt we have a similar sense of humour,

"I made a leap of faith and asked Colin Geddis, he said he would make one for us. We gave them free reign and it turned out great…It’s an awesome vid!"

And, a sure sign that the world is taking notice is that you can get to play Trucker on a plastic guitar...yep,  Drink Beer, Destroy is available as a downloadable track for the console wannabe star game, Rock Band.

"We’ve never played it…we have an invite to, so we will!"

One bone of contention among many younger fans is a lack of access to gigs at venues that don't bar under 18s, and Tom isn't ruling out future all-age events.

"We have never been asked to do under age gigs but, we are definitely open to it….They’re should be more. Get those kids away from the front of city hall!"

Trucker are on a high at the minute as well they should be. Their open to new opportunities, they, like many local bands, gig relentlessly and that effort, damn fine tunes and a sense that they take the rock seriously, but don't take themselves too seriously is an almost perfect combination.

Beer in hand we say, Keep on Rolling!

Final note: Trucker Diablo have bern shortlisted to pitch for a spot on the main stage when the Foo Fighters play Vital in August 21st. They're against 15 other bands, but looking at the competition...no contest. If you can get down to The Limelight on May 17th, raise a beer and a cheer to make sure that Trucker get the just reward of taking to that main stage....Are we biased? No, we're biased towards quality, and Trucker have that by the bucket load!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mojo Fury to tour, recording album etc...

Source: Totalrock.com
Irish band Mojo Fury are currently in the studio recording their second album. And they'll out be out in time to headline Derby Victoria Inn May 9, Andover George 10, Doncaster Leopard 13, York Stereo 15, London Old Blue Last 17 (free show). They will then tour with labelmates LosAlone, playing Bristol Thekla Top Deck May 20, Glasgow Captain's Rest 21, Manchester Dry Bar 22, London Barfly 23, Nottingham Rock City Basement 24. After this they go to Belfast to do an acoustic set at No Alibis Bookstore on May 26

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Brit Floyd in May

MISSED posting this one for all the prog-heads out there, but Brit Floyd are playing the Waterfront Hall, Belfast on Saturday 5th May.

Here's what the blurb says on the Waterfront Hall site:

"From the producer of The Australian Pink Floyd Show comes a brand new spectacular - the ultimate live Pink Floyd Tribute show, bringing together all the best elements of a real Pink Floyd show: world class musicians, an amazing new cutting edge Floydian animation and a staggering new stage production.

"This show promises two and a half hours of the absolute best of Floyd live in the sort of spectacularly ostentatious setting that all true Floyd fans will relish."
More details here.
Tickets will set you back the best part of £30 notes...well they're £27.50 but you'll not be left with enough for a pint after that...

Total Rock info line...

FOR those of us looking a wee fix of daily rock and metal news you can sign up to daily e-mail bulletins from Total Rock. Visit the site and sign-up - below are some of the stories from today's email.


Puddle Of Mudd frontman Wesley Scantlin has been charged with being in possession of cocaine. He also faces charges of driving while under the influence of a controlled substance and also driving without a licence. This all stems from his arrest in Los Angeles on January 12. Scantlin, who's pleaded not guilty, is due in court this week.


An exhibition celebrating Gary Moore has opened at the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast. It marks the life and work of the celebrated guitarist, who died on February 6 last year.


John Fogerty is recording an album of Creedence Clearwater Revival songs. It's to be called 'Wrote A Song For Everyone'. The Foo Fighters are to guest on the new version of 'Fortunate Son', while Bob Seger is featured on 'Who'll Stop The Rain'.

FOZZY ANNOUNCE TWO SHOWS - Download warm-ups

Fozzy are to support Ugly Kid Joe at The Underworld in London on June 6. The next night they'll open for Soil at The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton.


Municipal Waste are to release a limited edition seven inch EP through Scion A/V. This will feature 'Repossession' from new album 'The Fatal Feast', plus re-recordings of 'Garbage Stomp' and 'Poser Disposer'.


Wolfsbane are to play Leicester Musician October 17, Kendal Bootleggers 18, Liverpool Eric's 19, Rushden Attic 20, Sheffield Corporation 21, York Fibbers 24, London Relentless Garage 25, Glasgow Cathouse 26, Bilston Robin II 27.


Hell are to support Primodial at Manchester Moho Live May 4, London Islington O2 Academy 5.


I Am I, the new band fronted by ex-Dragonforce vocalist ZP Theart, will release a video for the song 'Silent Genocide' later this month. The band's debut album, 'Event Horizon' will be released on May 26, but only on USB. And they play their first live show the following day at Birmingham O2 Academy II

Storminin' Sebastian

A BIG well done to Norn Iron metal starz, Stormzone for snagging a three date support tour with ex-Skid Row chanter Sebastian Bach in sunny Spain.

So if you're off to the Costa Del Beer near Madrid or Barcelona - and let's face it if we had enough beer tokens we would be -  around mid-June then you could do worse than to head for the sweaty sounds of Sebastian and Stormzone!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Gig listing

WAS going to take the time to go through all the up-to-date gig listings, but beer and ennui got the better of me so you can find a pretty comprehensive listing here. (Good work from the great chaps behind rockradioni!).

Not listed here are:  Blink 182 on 13 June 2012, Odyssey and the Foo Fighters at Vital (21st August) and Belsonic with a Thin Lizzy tribute act and The Darkness...

Right off to write some more short stories, listen to loud stuff and you know what elses...
If you want to let me know about a gig, get in touch (also if you have an album your want reviewed!) contact me here.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Slaughter those who suck Satan's stem

[Parental/sensitive types advisory note - there will be lots of sweary bits in this rant and review]

RIGHT I've just about had enough of the corporate pop sluts and their over-hyped, preened poseur madness. This week we're marking the tragic sinking of the Titianic. So what's Belfast offering up in terms of music...well some wankers whose names I can't bear to type let alone listen to.

This week I've been reading some of the work of the late, great Bill Hicks; who believed that the likes of Debbie Gibson, (MC) Hammer in the 80s and early 90s were "suckers of Satan's cock". He advocated - in a comedic sense that those who pranced and preened their pre-pubescent pop and sucked at the corporate sponsorship teat - that they should be put down.

At the same time as re-reading Mr Hicks sophisticated humour I've been delighting in the new Soulfly release and two releases from Grindscene records. Now Journey fans may want to step away for a while (not that I don't like the lighter side of rock, there are just times when the slavering metal ghoul in my soul shreds its way past the mask of respectability...)

Amid a corporate world infected by mediocrity and mainstream radio playlists riddled with rubbish you can't beat it when a CD lands on your doormat with the subtle, delightful title of 'Hammered to Fuck' - then the metal Ghoul in me fights its way to the surface, slavering and drooling with delight. Yep Fuckhammer are as subtle a smack in the balls with a bag full of spanners.
Fuckhammer preparing for the Drone

De-tuned, deathly sounds abounding, terror stalking the unwitting listener...this is not for the faint hearted frollicking with their chords filled with joy. The four-tracks slither and ooze from your speakers. By the time you've recovered your composure from opener Born of the Ass, Drone picks up a sledgehammer, and slowly, with intimate precision amidst the sludge, makes sure you are truly hammered to fuck. Completed by Hillbillies and Abortion Addict this is social commentary with a machete and a mace. With the band comprising of members from north and south of the border (members CVs include War Iron, Dyslusic and Two Tales Of Woe) I'm pretty sure there must be a European grant for this sort of metal collaboration across boundaries: if there's not there feckin' well should be!

Stepping back with a cold sweat trickling down your pale face take a wee trip down to Cork for the intricacies of I'll Eat Your Face. What the fuck is going on with this duo? Boy (guitars) and Tron (drums) are the bastard offspring of Mastodon, Satyricon, Dream Theatre, Rush, Pantera, Slayer and some unholy freeform jazz funk lovin' mama.
I'll Eat Your Face readying their escape
from the the Prawn Master

On Hot Brain Terror lyrics? Screw that when you're on a musical journey that stops and starts at all points marked Supergrind (they apparently made that term up over a can or two...read more here). Time sigantures - sticking to them is for wimps in the world of I'll Eat Your Face. And how in the name of all that's black could you not like a band with song titles like Acid Worm Monsoon, Castle of Vomiting Owls or Enslaved by the Prawn Master. Stand out track Reverse Eagle Embeastment builds the terror and change-ups throughout a myriad of layers. On Hot Brain Terror are nine tracks that will leave you in equal parts amused and bemused...Supergrind? No this Uber-Prog-Grind!

So...after all that where does this humble reviewer go when the cathartic chords have finished echoing through his ears. He gets more and more irritated by the mainstream...Now before any of you undergroundy-types start sniffing about mainstream rock and metal, hold on to your inverted crosses. I'm talking about the mainstream media: the purveyors of filth, the publicists and kingmakers who preen as their latest no-talent worms mime their way onto stadium stages with choreographers orchestrating their sad, pathetic dance routines.

And, as for the dance and DJ scenes... From Trucker Diablo to Fuckhammer, from Sinnocence to Stormzone, from A Little Bitter to Triggerman there is a common theme: they can actually play their instruments; they don't push a bit of vinyl back and forth.

As for the 'dance shows' with groups of idiots working out how they can 'perform' - they've even pushed their corrupting ways on to the streets of Belfast with wallies in baggy pants bounding round as if infected by fleas. Damn the ban on semi-automatic weapons, for it would be a kindness to murder them en masse without mercy, and then with a brief stop at the so-called radio stations for some C4 desposits, ahhh then all would be well in the world. [For those impressionable readers I nor anyone connected with this site advocate the use of violence as it is better to pity their misguided ways.]

We live in a time when science has never advanced as far; when we can peer into the beginnings of spacetime; when we can unravel the base code of species' DNA; when we can plumb the depths of the ocean to understand life; when we can watch kilometre high eruptions of gas and water on the moons of Saturn...and the mainstream pumps another no-name wannabe on to the stage.

Where our young people once strove to achieve the aspirations of past generations fold into themselves in horror and it must despair even the most jaded careers teacher as "I want to be famous" is the vapid cry of the cretins.

How are we to convince these children destined for careers as trainee hairdressers and fast food servers that there is more to life? How do we convince them that there is an amazing thing that anyone can learn...it's called reading.

Where music was once social commentary the mainstream now convinces the youth that a dance move and a pro-tooled mime is 'success'.

Hard rock is an affirmation of life, a party led by the combined pied pipers of guitars, bass and drums. Heavy metal is also a release as it expresses the inner man/woman: and when it is at its best it challenges your views, it casts a jaundiced, cynical eye at the diseased world. And at the heart of every cynic and every doom-laden, drop-tuned, long-haired asshole there is a heart that understands romance is to see the decaying world we live on and still love the life and people on it.

Bill Hicks concluded most of her perfornances with one word: "Peace." Not to sound like a hippy, to you, faithfu, readers...Peace! Now I'm away to get Hammered to Fuck!

Widdly guitar bits, swigging beer and ample rum in support!

THEY play guitar epics in the manner of Euro power metal, they are fond of widdly, long solos and even longer songs, and they are no strangers to Belfast!

Yep, Dragonforce are making a return visit to the city as they tour backing their fifth album, "The Power Within"

Also on the bill for September 27th at the Mandella Hall are Alestorm, The Defiled and Cavorts...and all for the measly sum of £19.50 (+booking fee).

Last time the 'Force were in Belfast it was backing Iron Maiden, the first time we had a look at new singer Marc Hudson. And if you want to see this line-up then get in early!  With the October 2008 show selling out well in advance fans are advised to get tickets early for Dragonforce’s eagerly anticipated return! Tickets go on sale Wednesday 4th April from www.shine.net, online at Ticketmaster and Ticketmaster Outlets and The Kitten Bar! [NB this is an over 14s show]
DragonForce guitarist Herman Li said,“The last two years have been the most fun we ever had making an album. Through writing, jamming and touring together, we have built this incredible energy and it has been fully captured on the new album.This time around we’ve really brought our metal side to the surface and made some of the best music of our career. From the fastest song we’ve ever recorded to the slower songs, and some things you would never expect from us, this is by far the most diverse DragonForce album yet.”
“The Power Within” will be released on April 15th 2012 via the band’s own Electric Generation Recordings, distributed by Essential Music (UK), Roadrunner Records (North America), 3Wise (Australia) and JVC Victor (Japan).

Li added, “This is an exciting new era for DragonForce with Marc joining the band, so we figured this was an ideal time to take full control of our own destiny and establish our own record label for Europe. It’s all hands on deck running it, but a great buzz!”

Looks like another bonkers night. In 2008 the band looked tired and a little bit jaded, perhaps through lengthy touring or the usual personality issues that crop up; however, we have a feeling that they now have something to prove and with a healthy support bill including Alestorm they will be at the top of their game!