Pick Your Rock and Metal

Friday, January 31, 2014

Killswitch Engaged by Battlecross and Menshevik in Belfast

AN AUDIENCE, pumped and primed by support acts Menshevik and Battlecross greeted headliners Killswitch Engage as returning heroes to a packed Limelight1 on Belfast's Ormeau Avenue on Thursday night (30th January). But that is only half the story.

While the sold out show always promised to be a stormer it carried a mix of styles - not least by the headliners - that managed to reach out to most present.

Menshivik - Let the revolution begin
Menshevik - presumably named after the early 20th Century Russia revolutionaries - brought a punk/hardcore flurry fighting for attention of the audience gradually making their way into the venue. 
A powerful vocal attack from Dempsey - complemented by his ventures off the stage - was only held in check with the solid performances of Pitcher (guitar), Hawcroft (bass) and MacDonald (drums).
Their politically driven hardcore/punk attitude might have been at odds with some of the metal fans in attendance, but it would be hard to fault their commitment and their desire to win over new followers.

If Menshevik were the hardcore in the metalcore of the headliners, there is no doubt that Battlecross brought the metal.

It was a searing set of swaggering thrash, sounding like the souls of a thousand thrash acts had been harnessed to showcase the Detroit crew's dedication.

Drawing from last year's release War of Will the quintet are clearly on a mission to win over fans across the UK and Europe.

Let the Battlecross
adulation begin
Force Fed Lies, My Vaccine, and Beast summed up their attack, as Kyle Gunther stalked the stage with his mannish facial hair shaming many a male present. And his growl had the right balance of menace and tunefulness to carry the crowd.

Indeed, while it was clear that many there already knew the band's material they certainly drew more into the Battlecross fold through the sheer exuberance they displayed in their craft.

Hiran (interview coming soon) and Tony kept things balanced in the twin guitar attack, while Dan was all exuberance on bass, yet locked into touring drummer Adam throughout the time changes.

As they exited with Push, Pull, Destroy it was clear this is a metal band that are destined to be very well received when they play Download later this year.

Dutkiewicz attempts to swallow mic
while undertaking backing vocals
Also scheduled for a Download slot are Killswitch Engage - a band that have emerged in recent years with a potency many might have felt had begun to fade. Not so. Disarm The Descent proved they are still a potent and leading force in what is an increasingly crowded metalcore scene.

Jesse Leach is clearly enjoying himself, reveling in the new material and delivering blistering interpretations of older songs.

Adam Dutkiewicz delivered his usual codology, belying the real talent he has in his arsenal, despite being more sartorially subdued than in previous years.

Always, In Due Time and The Turning Point sat comfortably with so-called classics; and it is apparent that the audience was here to hear all the songs new and old. The Disarm the Descent material already well known and lyrics were shouted back to Leach.

Leach giving it all to Belfast
Touchingly Always was introduced by Leach as a tribute to all those no longer with us, saying "I know there has been a lot of conflict here" as he raised a glass. That was all that was needed to be said and he put it in a fine...

It was Leach's first visit to Belfast (and indeed any part of Ireland north or south) but the rousing welcome was more to do with his onstage personality, oozing charisma as well as professionalism and passion.

That's not to say that Leach and Dutkiewicz were the only stars in the band.

Joel Stroetzl, Mike D'Antonio and Justin Foley, form the core of Killswitch; they are the power behind the hardcore and the rhythm of metal.

Rose of Sharyn, My Last Serenade and encore My Curse are now elevated by this line-up beyond crowd pleasers to classics for the children of the 90s and many older fans drawn to the Killswitch cause.

They are now a band assured of a fanbase; and a fanbase that may yet grow further. They represent the finest parts of what is labelled metalcore, yet they have evolved beyond mere labels.

All photos copyright Belfastmetalheadsreunited/Nadia Traynor

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Are Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake relevant?

AS we warm-up for tomorrow night's (Wednesday, 29th January) pop/ska punk celebratory evening with Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake in Limelight1 it is a fair point to ask whether the whole pop punk schtick is relevant in 2014.

For those of you who were watching the TV rock music channels time through your own choice or because your children were watching it these three bands were perennial favourites, with witty videos and downright catchy tunes. At the very least they were better watching than the chart shows...

In a brief period with major labels Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake produced a string of hits, from RBF's cover of 'Take On Me' through to LTJ's anthemic 'Gainesville Rock City'.

However, to a certain extent they were over-shadowed by label's attention spans and more aggressive marketing of West Coast pop punk in the shape of The Offspring and Blink 182.

Before being written off both bands shook themselves down and re-emerged with a series of recordings that stand strong in comparison with earlier recordings from the Fish's Candy Coated Fury to Jake's See The Light; both of which show the bands have matured as songwriter's without losing the 'fun with a slap' which should be at the core of pop punk.

But why are these acts worthy of lines in a blog/RRNI article which is avowedly metal, rock and punk?

For a start those who recall the heady days of early punk in Northern Ireland may note that the punk of those days was more Ramones than Pistols. From The Undertones pure pop infused 'punk' through to Stiff Little Finger's cover of Bob Marley's Johnny Was, The Specials' Doesn't Make It  All Right and the horn section on Silver Lining there has been a ska punk overtone to Northern Ireland's punk scene. And, that is only to mention the two best known bands from that era.

So, in many ways Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake are not so much playing in Belfast, but coming to the spiritual home of pop/ska punk. All of which makes them relevant to a Northern Ireland audience and to fans who are prepared to take the blinkers off...

Tickets, priced £23, are still available for tomorrow night's show. Doors open at 8.00pm

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lamb of God documentary set for Belfast screening at QFT

LAMB of God's documentary, As The Palaces Burn, is to be screened at Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast as part of a nationwide screening in 70 theatres in UK and Ireland.

As The Palaces Burn was conceived to be a documentary focused on the power of music and its impact on cultures around the world and its ability to bring people together of all nationalities regardless of religious and political differences.

But as filming was about to be completed Randy Blythe was arrested in the Czech Republic and charged with the murder of a fan, which he was later acquitted of. With exclusive access, the filmmakers got to see inside the singer's 38-day imprisonment, his release and the band's return to the stage.

Watch the trailer and get tickets visit http://asthepalacesburn.com.

Cacophony of creative chaos from Behemoth on monster album 'The Satanist'

WHEN the term Extreme Metal is bandied about one band's name always springs to mind - Behemoth.And despite various tribulations, not least Nergal's battle with leukaemia, they have emerged with quite simply one of the best examples of the genre in a tremendous new album.

The Satanist is the band's tenth album, and it is a beast of a platter - filled with the brutality of death metal and the complexity of black metal; a brilliant concoction of the essence of Behemoth.

More measured and mature in this case does not mean a mellowing in the Behemoth vision. The ominous opener, Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel bristles with evil intent, Nergal growling as Inferno pounds as Orion (bass) and Seth (guitar) weave dark spells.

Indeed it is Inferno that is an anchor amidst the cacophony of creative chaos throughout the album.

In the fires of creation Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer is a remarkable testament to the blackened metal that Behemoth have produced.

Title track The Satanist is a menacing ode to the dark side, but Nergal is clear when he says that each fan can take what they wish from his metaphors of evil - but is the literary nature of such dark imagingings pretentious?

"To me it's not pretentious at all," said Nergal. "It's very straight up, very sincere and a devastating conquering statement. There's no compromise or bullshit or gimmicks.

"What I love about it is that it just speaks for itself. On one hand it's a very black and white title: 'The Satanist; is like a fucking nail through the hand of Jesus Christ, period. No more, no less. But then again as with everything else you put a hundred people together and ask them what the name 'The Satanist means t them and you're going to hear a hundred different opinions which thay can discuss and fight over."

For a tenth album from the Polish quaret it bristles with creativity, with all parts knitted together, no less than on Beh Sahar. But what does it all mean?

"There’s a lot of symbolism and reflections and impressions in there, and it’s using millions of metaphors to express a certain very sinister and very captivating atmosphere, but there are no answers," said Nergal People always like to have a deeper insight into what we do, but that’s not what we want to give with this record.

"The way I see it is that between us we can make a huge fucking pyre and set the world on fire, but what we’re doing is just giving you the matches, giving you the spark, what you want to do with it is up to you. Personally, if I sat down with the lyrics in front of me I too would probably come up with a lot of different interpretations and concepts, it’s a never ending process, and that’s exciting to me.”

To emerge with such a tremendous album after Nergal's illness is a statement of the band's unity and purpose, but the future was in doubt for a long time as the front man fought leukaemia.

With the search for a bone marrow donor ultimately successful Nergal underwent a transplant, leaving the hospital after six months and beginning down the long road to rehabilitation.

“I knew I was pretty much fucked and there was a battle to be won, and I had no fucking idea if it was going to take six months or twelve months or maybe four years, because with cancer you never know," he said.  

"I learned from being in the hospital that there are things in life that you can control and things that you can’t control. The sooner you realize which is which it’s going to make your life so much easier, and since then I started to «focus on the right things. I could be determined, I could have discipline, I could have faith, but everything else is not under my control, and it really was a case of just crossing fingers for the best possible outcome. I was fortunate enough that that recovery period was relatively fast, and that I was really strong and very determined to get back into shape made a real difference.” 

What exactly Behemoth have achieved on The Satanist is weirdly life affirming for a band with such dark intent. The playing is peerless, the mood black and the lyrics powerful: in the context of what can be seen as at times jaded and hackneyed scene Behemoth have achieved a remarkable album.

They are Behemoth and they are from the Pagan Vastlands, and for that we should be thankful.

The Satanist is released on Nuclear Blast on January 31st.

Additional editorial input on this review from Zakk T. 

The Answer awe Ahoghill with searing Screaming Eagles

THE Answer are a product of their environment, and that environment is in front of a live, awestruck audience, and there is no more an adulation than they receive in Ahoghill's Diamond Rock Club.

Last night (Saturday 25th January) the quartet of hard rockin' troubadors were on stage kicking the kinks out of their set before heading out on a lengthy 'Road Less Travelled Tour',  which as Cormac explains in the interview below will see them play venues that many bands miss out on tour schedules across the UK and Ireland.

He also explains how they are mixing things up, trying new interpretations of songs. Click the man's name to go to the Soundcloud file and hear all the frontman's thoughts ahead of the tour and six-string slinger Paul's thoughts: Cormac

Part of the plans for the tour as Cormac explained is to give local bands exposure and throughout the tour in Northern Ireland and Ireland will see a different support act every night.

Tonight at the Diamond Rock the Screaming Eagles hit the stage as if they had a point to prove - a point that many of the audience know all too well. A commitment to hard rocking blues infused power that has seen them win through on the Highway to Hell challenge which has earned them a prestigious slot at Hard Rock Hell. (Next week the Northern Ireland winners and contestants - The Screaming Eagles, Sinocence, Maverick and Baleful Creed will play at RockD in Limelight 2.)

With début album From the Flames well known to most of the audience, those not already fans of the 'Screagles' were quicky won over. Fight the Fire, Devil in the Dust, and Rock 'n' Roll Soul stood out in a well balanced set.

The key to real hard rock success is to play as if you are in front of a stadium crowd, no matter which stage you are on. The intimate Diamond setting saw Chris's dominant vocals and stage presence soar with Adrian's licks and moves showing a real winning attitude. Nailed down with Ryan and Kyle's rhythm section this was a simply searing show.

Playing to a sold out crowd is nothing new to The Answer, but when it is in a venue such as the Diamond there is a vibrant atmosphere, almost alive with an electric charge reeling across the heads of the crowd as they were awed by Cormac and his fellow rockers.

Kicking off with a surprise version of The Road Less Travelled the set quickly kicked into a high gear with the title track of the album New Horizon, a life affirming piece of excellence that sees almost the entire crowd singing along/.

While this shows was to road test new arrangements and the pace of the set, it also once again showed that the County Down have a lengthy set of material to draw upon, its breadth not diminshing the quality of the material.

However, no matter how great The Answer are on recordings (and they consistently are) they are a band that explode with a beautiful alchemy when they tread the boards. And with a cover of Rory Gallagher's Cradle Rock thrown in it was a night of celebrating the craft that is in all good rock.

With Cormac a cross between a yeti, tigger and the emobdiment of every great singer brought into one superb package, Paul and Micky traded rhythms and licks, with Paul's soloing and freedom to explore new approaches a feature of the show.

James's drums have always been pounding, and as Cormac explained before the show their (see interview above) 'heaviest song' Concrete kicked off with a well-timed drum solo before this slab of heavy rock theatened to shake the Diamond to its foundations as well as most of the village.

A new slower paced Nowhere Highway, the ode to youth that is Spectacular, Under the Sky and Dead of Night all raising the temperature, Memphis Blues was akin to a jam session to allow a short breather for the audience..

But as with everything on a warm-up show something inevitably goes awry - a missing slide for Paul's guitar meant the band's first attempt at Preaching was aborted - but with a storming version of Demon Eyes Cormac's trademark crouch on the floor with the audience still went ahead.

When it seemed the show was all but over, the slide was discovered and Preaching got underway, and every vocal chord in the Diamomd strained to join Cormac as he once again joined the audience in the middle of the floor to round off what was simply a demonstration of just how far The Answer have come. Great people, great musicians, a great performance - the audiences on the 'Road Less Travelled Tour are in for a hard rock treat.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Motörhead Cancels Spring European Tour.

THE following is a statement released today by the band's PR representatives on behalf of the band at 11:30am announcing that Motorhead have cancelled their Spring Tour.

'It is with great regret that Motorhead has to announce the cancellation of their European tour, scheduled to start February 2014. Many concerted, dilligent and focused efforts were made by the founding member, and international icon, Lemmy Kilmister to deal with a range of health issues relating to diabetes.

'While there gas been undoubted progress, Lemmy and the band were advised by doctorrs that it was still to soon to resume full touring activities, and so for the good of the future, the band and Lemmy reluctantly agreed to cancel.

'No-one is hrting more over this than Lemmy, and he feels the aggravation and inconvenience of every ticket, and every method of transportation, already paid for by loyal fans in anticipation of the tour. Being a road warrior of 50 dedicated, non-stop years, it is equally distressing for him to be unable to occupy the top louge of the trust tour bus, but Lemmy recognises that his long term health must win.

'It goes without saying that Lemmy profusely apologises for inconvenience caused, but he does want everyone to know that he is continuing on the roiad to a full recovery, and that the prognosis long term is very good.

'Fans have shown tremendous support for Lemmy, and it has meant so much to him. As he told Rolling Stone: "Oh, man, the fans weer unbelievable when I got sick," he said. "No bitching. It was all 'Talke your time, get better. Don't worry, we'll wait for you. Get well".'

Rome was not built in a day...like Lemmy's health. But there is some strong light at the end of the tunnel here...we thank you so much for your continued love, support and understanding.'

End of Statement

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

DevilDriver announce Belfast date!

SOUTHERN groove metal maestros DevilDriver today have confirmed a Belfast date on their European tour.

Dez Fafara and his merry band of metal monsters have confirmed a date on April 7th at Ormeau Avenue's Limelight complex, with tour buddies Sylosis and Bleed From Within.

Earlier this week we talked to Dez about his passions, lyrics and circle pits.

Below he reveals how he sacrificed a day off to make sure he played Belfast again

Dez - Dd. 20 01 14

Tickets, priced £18.50 (+booking fee) go on sale this coming Friday at all usual outlets

Monday, January 20, 2014

Devildriver's awesome frontman Dez Fafara apeaks ahead of Euro tour

DEVILDRIVER'S Dez Fafara spoke today to Belfastmetalheadsreunited and RockRadioNI about the band's forthcoming European tour, pits and how the lyrics are personal amidst the Southern Groove metallic assault.

Listen below.

De Fafara interview Pt 1

Devildriver - Dez Fafara centre

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pleasant surprise through the letterbox from Monster Jaw

SOMETIMES the postman delivers pleasant surprises rather than bills and junk mail - and when unsigned Monster Jaw's three track ep dropped on to the doormat we confess we weren't expecting much, after all unsigned is not always a portent of undiscovered talent.

But this three-piece post-punk act from the Yorkshire towns of Leeds and Bradford have produced three songs that are engaging and catchy.

Our interest was sparked by the trios support slots for Belfast punk legends SLF, and a recent slot on the BBC. And the interest proved justified.

Opening with the grunge like track 'Get a Tattoo' frontman Mik Davis keeps it all downbeat but engaging, in a song worthy of more than one listen.

The glory days of the early 80s punk from the likes of Buzzcocks and early Boomtown Rats are captured in the defiance of 'We Don't Care About Anything' with bassist Neil Short and drummer John Bradford tight behind Davis in this sparky track that clocks in at less than two minutes.

There is an inevitable comparison with Ash on closer 'Summer Girl', but that comparison belies the catchy piece of pop punk that is contained in this track.

Produced by Wes Maebe overall this is an enjoyable three tracker which shows that there are still musicians who defy the people who want to just put music in boxes for marketing.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

When death came to town - Kataklysm, Krisiun and Fleshgod draw down potency to Belfast

FROM across the globe they came, purveyors of technical death metal - Canada, Brazil and Italian acts producing a devastating tour de force of precise execution of the art of death on 16th January in Belfast's Limelight2.

Kataklysm, Krisiun and Fleshgod Apocalypse are on an extended UK and European tour - and they all seem out to prove a point: that point being that they can deliver no matter where and when they play and despite the distances involved in bringing this tour together.

Fleshgod Apocalypse emerged like revenants of a baroque orchestra reborn into the 21st Century, playing backing to a demented opera of rabid young fans.

Replete with a backing, masked opera singer, matching guitars and basses with faux violin like scrollwork and a mysterious Francesco Ferrinni on an upright piano style keyboard they were quick to make an impression.

Drawing material from their back catalogue and new album Layrinth, Minotaur and The Elegy stood out in their brief set. With so many of the younger fans clearly devoted to the band the evidence was there that Fleshgod could have developed into a potentially big time act.

Playing on a cramped stage as openers the  sound was at times messy with so much going on, but there is no doubt of the muscianship, with Cristiano Trionfera's playing particularly notable.

From the six-piece extravaganza of Fleshgod, Krisiun brought a triple dose of mayhem as the three members produced a monstrous sound.

Clearly rooted in the post-NWOBHM harder sound, the Brazilians may not have had an album out lately, but that didn't stop them from delivering as if they were fresh young pups rather than a seasoned act.

Alex Camargo growled like Tom Araya with throatache as he played his bass like a man possessed by the ghosts of gigs gone by, locked into Max Kolense's drum terror.

The familial relationsip may be a factor in their technical precision, with Moyses Kolense's guitar playing showing exceptional dexterity as well as pound upon pound of riffage.

From opener Ominous to closer Kings of Killing this was a heady progression of metal, interspersed with a brief drum solo and a rather excellent cover of Venom's Black Metal, Krisiun may be relatively unknown to some of the audience despite releasing almost 10 albums, but they quicky gained new fans with Blood of Lions and Vicious Wrath stand out songe on the night.

Kataklysm have carved out a name for themselves amongst the death metal intelligenstia, and new album Waiting For The End To Come (review here) seemingly raising the bar yet further. Reports from those present at the soundcheck were promising, and that promise was quickly delivered in a potent set from the Canucks and Quebois.

After the headlong opening the sheer power came through with Like Angels Weeping and the tremendous Like Animals, as Maurizio Lacono harangued the crowd into action.

Like a healty proportion of death metal artists Kataklysm are overtly political in their world view, no less when the crowd were given a lesson in the screwed up nature of the global economic crisis before launching into Kill The Elite.

Iron Will and Elevate were simply death metal delivered by a band at the top of the game - Jean-Francois Dagenais shredding with Stephane Barbe's bass a sledgehammer backed by the pneumatic drill like drumming of Oli Beaudoin.

Kataklysm have been implicitly promising fans a step-up in their self-styled Northern Hyperbeat and the evidence of this Distortion Project presentation in Limelight2 they have now delivered - they were quite simply the epitome of a band rooted in their chosen genre but prepared to evolve within that genre.

Killswitch Engage winner drawn

THE results are in and the winner of a pair of tickets to see Killswitch Engage at Limelight1 on January 30th. has been drawn.

After an exhaustive process involing allocating each of the many entries a random number, putting them into the trusted baseball cap and having an independent entity pick a number (the dog was helpful...) we can announce the lucky entry to this Belfastmetalheadsreunited, Rockradioni competition backed by our friends at Limelight.

And the winner is Jason Burke - congratulations to you sir and we'll see you there!

As to the rest of you - get down, purchase your ticket and get ready for a mega night of metal.

And as if KSE wasn't enough to get you salivating, there will also be Motor City metal masters, the highly rated Battlecross, who have been getting heads banging across the pond for the past four years.

Check out our review of their release War of Will here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Canadian, Brazilian and Italian death metal extravganza presented by The Distortion Project

TOMORROW night (Thursday, 16th January) The Distortion Project is delivering to us unworthy, unwashed fans of all things dark and dangerous, an international extravaganza of deadly death metal, filled with technical thrills and ingenious ways to twist the soul.

Kataklysm (Canada), Krisiun (Brazil) and Fleshgod Apocalypse (Italy) all have differing and unique interpretations of how to inject darkness directly into your heart.

We could wax lyrical endlessly about these bands - and we probably will in the review - but ultimately come along and judge for yourself (tickets are a measly £16 and available on the door).

In the meantime, if you have not encountered these bands before look them up on  Facebook and Wikipedia and check out these video tasters.

Fleshgod Apocalypse:



Convinced now - see you tomorrow night!

Stage times:

Doors. 20.00
Fleshgod Apocalpyse. 20.30-21.10
Krisiun. 21.40-22.20
Kataklysm. 22.50 - 0.00

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Energy in the song as Toby Jepson wraps up solo acoustic tour at Diamond Rock Club

ENERGY, dynamism and banter were the order of the day as songwriter, producer and former Little Angels frontman Toby Jepson delivered a consummate performance bristling with intensity despite only being equipped with a microphone and a guitar - and that was all it needed to enthrall the audience in Ahoghill.

Jepson may have shared stages with likes of Bon Jovi and Van Halen, but in the intimacy of a smaller venue in the depths of January (11/01/14) the character and talent of the man shines through.

Opening up proceedings was Stefan Murray, who warmed up the audience with a mixture of covers and his own material, of which Silver and Gold was notable. Despite a few equipment hiccoughs Murray showed potential that could be developed by a more judicious choice of covers and a greater use of his own material.

Sometimes volume can make up for a lot of things, but there are other times the volume is not so much the reading on the decibel meter, but the energy, thoughtfulness of the performer.

With a voice to fill an auditorium, and material that translates as well acoustically as it ever did with a full band, Toby Jepson brought to the Diamond Rock Club a scale of performance that can show lesser mortals just how to deliver 'songs'.

Earlier when we caught up with the genial rocker he spoke about how important the actual song is to him, whether he is performing, lyric writing, producing or just being on stage. And the evidence of that personal commitment to the song was more than evident.

This was the last date in Jepson's solo acoustic tour backing his album Raising My Own Hell and was a mixture of songs and answering some frankly weird questions.and stunning performances of classic Little Angels tracks and solo material.

Indeed, many of the tracks aired live had as much power delivered acoustically as they do on record with a full band.

Little Angels tracks The Way That I Live and Back Door Man grew acoustically while Shadow Boxing and the title track of the recent release raised the bar through the passion and wit with which they were delivered.

But this was also an opportunity for the audience to hear a little more about the man behind the songs. Prior to the gig attendees had the chance to pen a few questions for Jepson, which were put to the man by 'Phil'.

Those there heard how Jepson's superhero of choice was The Hulk, how Jon Bon Jovi had always been a gentleman to Little Angels, the awe a performer feels in front of 110,000 people, why Katie Meluah is a strong person, how record labels 'own' artists - and for comic devotees why Marvel is better than DC.

Following a Facebook comment about the 'tragedy' of reality TV shows, Jepson gave an impassioned answer about the talentless numpties who fulfil Warhol's prediction about everybody having their 15 minutes of fame. As Jepson explained to universal acclaim they neither deserve those minutes nor deserve to crowd out TV screens with their useless lives.

Entertaining as the Q and A session was, Jepson's command of the material was outstanding; controlled guitar power and devilishly delightful singing.

Drawing from Raising My Own Hell and Guitar, Bass and Drums solo releases, as well as Little Angels songs, Jepson showed that there is a diversity in his songwriting that reflects personal feelings and personal issues of interest.

Four Letter Word - a song originally penned for Meluah - came across as a passionate poem to the sense of loss and sense of betrayal that comes only when real emotions are caught up in a maelstrom, while Small Talk was huge on the stage.

Crowd pleasers from the Little Angels back catalogue such as Young Gods and Too Much Too Young were greeted like old buddies and worn on stage by Jepson like a pair of favourite, comfortable old jeans - truly excellent, and truly well suited to the venue.

At 46 Jepson self-disparagingly refers to himself as a "grumpy old man" but what his performance at the Diamond Rock Club proved is that he has matured as a person and matured as a multi-talented muso.

And so long as he can hold a guitar, pen a song or sit behind a production desk then rest assured his talent will continue to grow and mature.

Toby Jepson speaks about rock 'n' roll, Katie Meluah, Little Angels and the importance of the 'song' as he concludes his solo tour

TOBY Jepson has emerged as an in-demand producer, singer-songwriter and a solo artist. As he prepared to wrap up his winger acoustic tour backing the wonderful Raising My Own Hell at Diamond Rock Club, we caught up with Toby to hear his views on lyrics, songwriting, producing The Answer and the importance of the song.

In the interview below he also chats about working as a songwriter for Katie Meluah and why John Lennon has been an inspiration in terms of making political, with a small 'p' points in his work.

Toby Jepson interview 11th January 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014

Kataklysm chaotic excellence on Waiting for The EndTo Come...and now they're Belfast bound

CANUCK death metal creators of chaotic pure alchemy Kataklysm are set to hit Belfast this coming Thursday (January 16th) as part of a tour backing their excellent 12th album, Waiting For The End To Come.

Forget all the clichéd descriptions of Northern Hyperblast, the four-piece Montral and Québécois creative machine has turned in an album that sits firmly in the death metal camp, but at the same time fearlessly adapts and subsumes a range of styles.

The pure alchemy Kataklysm turn in on this album is a vicious styling of melodic death metal, merged in a melting pot of metallic elixir stirred with classic metal riffs, varied beats, and influences as wide ranging as Cradle, Amon, Death, Anthrax and Satyricon. There's even a riff on Under Lawless Skies that could grace a nu-metal recording - but nu-metal was never this vicious!

Overall this is an album that paints a bleak, dystopian world view, redeemed by musicianship that is plotted and designed not as a showy display of 'talent' but rather all the parts coming together to form a solid whole of unholy mayhem.

Kicking off with a melodic guitar intro on Fire the pace is unrelenting as If I Was God - I'd Burn It All tears into a set of sublime excellence. Kill The Elite and The Darkest Days of Slumber feature in the honourable mentions column, with album closer and recent single release Elevate and the pacy fury of Real Blood - Real Scars stand out as sheering sheets of slathering suspense amid the noise and chaos.

 Guitarist JF Degenais co-produced clarity in the Krakken-like enormity of the soundscape with producer/engineer Zeuss. And it is perhaps Zeuss's previous recording experience with the likes of Hatebreed and Chimaira that has added yet more to Kataklysm's already impressive sound.

Vocalist Maurisio Iacono, in reflecting on this, commented:

"It was time for KATAKLYSM to make a change and challenge ourselves a bit more when it comes trying out new sounds. I think it's healthy to explore other avenues at this stage in our career, and Zeuss has worked with some bands we really like such as HATEBREED and SUFFOCATION.

"When it comes to full-blown power and making each instrument flow together in harmony, Zeuss is one of the top producers out there."

With an impressive cover art package (Eliran Kantor on the vinyl and digipack) and Peter Sallai (on CD jewel case and limited edition casette) Waiting For The End To Come is an overall album package that deserves respect for not only stretching the band themselves, but stretching the death metal definitions that corner too many bands into lifeless monochromatic clichéd chops - not Kataklysm. They have produced a special take in a special album, which is available now on Nuclear Blast.

Kataklysm play Belfast's Limelight2 on Thursday 16th January on a bill with Krisiun and Fleshgod Apocalypse. Tickets, priced at a very reasonable £16 for this stellar line-up of molten metal are still available. See y'all there. 

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Bury Tomorrow booked for Belfast's Oh Yeah Centre

AS if the good folks at Shine weren't being good enough to delight us with the melodic metalcore mayhem of Killswitch Engage on January 30th, they've just gone and booked another act of  similar genre in the shape of Southampton's Bury Tomorrow.

With their latest album Runes due to be released on Nuclear Blast on May 26th, six days prior to that the five-piece will play a show in Belfast's Oh Yeah Centre (May 17th).

While their previous releases Portraits and The Union of Crowns have hinted at a more melodic death metal influence as well as the trademark metalcore chops, Runes promises a more technical approach, that doffs a metallic hat to the likes of KsE.

And as a bonus to all you with younger metalheads in the family, or readers who cannot yet get into 18+ venues Shine have made this a 14+ show - no excuse not to get your headbanging hat ready then!

Tickets - priced at a measly £12.50 - are available from all usual outlets (and if you don't know by now where to get your metal tickets there is now hope, but try these two links).

Support to be confirmed.

Win tickets to see Killswitch Engage in Belfast's Limelight

YES, you lucky people - we here at Belfastmetalheadsreunited and our brothers and sisters in rock at rockradioni have teamed up with the wonderful people at the Limelight to offer you the chance to win a pair of tickets to see Massachusetts finest metallers Killswitch Engage.

The band who single-handedly gave so-called metalcore real credibility are playing at Limelight1 on 30th January, and you can win a pair of tickets to see KsE tear Ormeau Avenue apart, on a bill that also includes hot Detroit metal act Battlecross.

Killswitch Engage recently reunited with original singer Jesse Leach and produced a stormer of a comeback album Disarm the Descent.

Now all you need to win a ticket for you and a mate is to answer this simple question:

Name the Killswitch Engage bassist?

Send your entries here before 17th January. Usual terms and conditions apply - including the essential rule: if you're not in you can't win!

Friday, January 03, 2014

Bleak, beautiful textures from Iskald on Nedem Og Nord

MELODIC death metal - groans all round already when those words are uttered. Images of overly serious corpse painted types, triply complicated structures etc etc. And when it is Norwegian Melodic Death Metal....

But Iskald have gone beyond the clichés and the ridiculous copyists on Nedem Og Nord, producing an album of depth and ferocity that is more notable for its textures and icy lyrical and musical rhetoric than many of similar ilk.

Perhaps it is the subject matter - the Arctic wastes of Norways Nordland. Perhaps it is the attitude that produces no mere short snaps of music - the shortest track, opener A Fading Horizon, clocks in at seven minutes and four seconds.

Whatever the reason Iskald's fourth full release has helped the band evolve beyond previous releases towards an album that feels like a complete epic rather than bits and pieces .

Half of the six tracks lyrics are in Norwegian, half in English, but neither approach dims the fierce cold light shone upon a landscape with weirdly aurora borealis and days in darkness or full light.

Self-titled track, Iskald is a revelatory song, changing pace and tone in just the right amounts, while the 10-minute plus closer - Nedem Og Nord - is truly a black metal epic.

The band is the brainchild of Simon Larsen and Aage Krekling. And with more than two years passing since their last release, The Sun I Carried Alone, Krekling is well aware of the effort that it took to get Nedem Og Nord.

"It has been a long and hard working process to get this record realised," he said. "But in the end it turned out as we hoped for. We are extremely satisfied with 'Nedem Og Nord' and believe it is our best album to date.

Iskald's Simon Larsen and
Aage Krekling
"After the last album we talked about trying something new, both music and production wise. We wanted to focus more on feeling and mood in our songs, without losing our defined expression, We did not focus too much on the technical elements and wrote longer and more atmospheric songs."

It is that atmosphere that really comes through on Nedem Og Nord's six tracks. On first listen ears perk up to the dynamics, but on further plays it is easy to get caught in the dense soundscapes, which really do conjure up the ethos of the people and the culture of Nordland.

Krekling explained: "I believe these six tracks contain more soul and character than before. At the same time the songs can be described as more complex and studied."

However 'studied' they may be there is no sense of a pre-ordained path; if anything this is an organic listen. Well worth a listen.

Nedem Og Nord is released worldwide on Indie Recordings on January 13th.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Rockin’ out in aid of cancer with Dancing In The Moonlight

NORTHERN Ireland's rock and metal community has a proud history of raising money for charitable causes, and the latest effort will see at least a dozen of the country's top bands coming together to raise money for Cancer Research.

'Dancing In The Moonlight' is planned as a compilation album featuring bands that are making a real noise on the international scene as well as winning more and more local fans.

Among the bands lining up to take part are Stormzone, No Hot Ashes and Trucker Diablo. These are bands that are on radio playlists from Australia to America. And, more and more bands are lining up to take part.

'Dancing In The Moonlight' is the brainchild of our colleague in rock and metal journalism, Mark Ashby of Paradise City fame and correspondent for PlanetMosh and UberRock. Mark was inspired to bring the bands together for such a mammoth fundraising project - which he describes as "possibly the most ambitious project of its kind in the history of the Northern Ireland rock and metal scene" - after his partner was diagnosed with cancer for fourth time.

Mark told Belfastmetalheadsreunited: "Last September my partner, Carolyn, was told that the cancer she has fought on several occasions in the past had returned: fortunately, the diagnosis was made early and Carolyn underwent eight weeks of radiotherapy at the Royal Victoria Hospital to beat this horrible disease.

"Early in her treatment, we were both struck by one thing: the support and solidarity shown by our countless friends in the rock and metal community, not only here in Belfast but across Northern Ireland and further afield.

"Even at that early stage I made myself a promise - to do something to celebrate not only Carolyn's triumph over the disease, but that of every survivor - and at the same time celebrate the spirit and strength of our own beloved rock and metal community.

"Discussions were held with many friends...until someone asked - 'why don't you ask loads of bands to put songs on a compilation CD, which we could sell and raise money for Cancer Research?'.

"In the weeks since the idea was mooted, both Carolyn and I have talked to many bands, and many people within the scene and the strength and support, which I referred to earlier, has continued, as everyone we have talked to has expressed their willingness to be involved in some shape or form.

"So far we have almost a dozen bands involved. Some of them are contributing songs from their back catalogue, some have offered to record new songs exclusively for this album. We can promise there will be quite a few surprises thrown in!

"It is a project that is very precious to us...because of the inspiration behind it, and we hope that it will become just as precious to the local rock and metal community, as it will be an album that showcases the breadth and depth of the NI scene, and hopefully will have something to appeal to everyone who loves the local scene."

More details of 'Dancing In The Moonlight' will be available when we have it, and you can also keep up to date on the dedicated Facebook page.