Pick Your Rock and Metal

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

COMIN' ATCHA: Nothing to do? Bored? Well you won't be this week!

HOW many keyboard warriors does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer: None, they'd rather stay in the dark. By the same measurement we always hear from the key clicking bunch about there being nothing to do, no gigs etc etc etc.

How wrong they are. Take the next five days as an example...

Tonight NOLA stalwarts and stoner maestros EyeHateGod play Limelight2 with support from the mighty War Iron and Burden  of the Noose.

Come on! It's hump day so you can get a break from the drudge of the office with some righteous noise.

Thursday, however, is when the weekend unofficially starts...who works that hard on Friday anyway? So on Thursday night you can wend your way to Paradise City's 30th Birthday show in the Voodoo. Helping Paradise City blow out the candles will be Sinocence, St Hellfire and the last ever gig from Worldsend.

Last chance to see 'em folks so get along and raise a glass to them!

Friday....ahh the joy of walking out the door of the office/factory/coal mine (apologies to weekend workers...call in sick say you're suffering from metal deficiency!).

Not normally the preserve of rock venues, McHugh's Bar is hosting Pat 'The Professor' McManus. If you have ever seen Pat play you know he is an entertainer and the real deal when it comes to guitar heroes.

Speaking of heroes, 'Tallica always hailed NWOBHM act Diamond Head as their heroes. The question of whether we can ask 'Am I Evil' remains moot, but Diamond Head play Limelight2 on Saturday, with support from Rabid Bitch of the North and Conjuring Fate. Tasty!

When it comes to taste, your delicate taste buds should be wet with drooling saliva at the prospect of Mastodon playing in the Ulster Hall. Anyone who saw them last time knows just how good - no great they are live.

And, the fact that they were all 'killed' by White Walkers in Game of Thrones adds ever more to their kudos score.

Support from Bad Breeding.

And, if the prospect of Mastodon seems too much (get thee behind me!) there's always Lo Mejor at the Hudson.

Tickets for all these shows are available at the various doors.

Nothing to do? Bored? No shows in town? No gigs? These are five days when you can experience the varied delights of rock and metal in Belfast, where, as Mr Daly of CJ might say the eagles fly.

See y'all there!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

COMIN' ATCHA: Norway in Autumn? Well if you're talking Sabaton why not?

IF you didn't know it already, The Distortion Project in the shape of Mr Loveday, has booked Sabaton to play with Alestorm in March, but if you can't wait until then do you fancy going to Norway?

Because between the 1st and 3rd October in Trondheim Sabaton headline a festival jam packed with metallic delights.

They're joined with power Finnish metal legends Stratovarius...along with a host of others.

And, in terms if others...Primordial, Korpilanni, Between The Buried And Me, and quite a few others...

US progressive metal legends Between The Buried And Me, the absolutely fantastic Skálmöld, the hugely entertaining doomsters Sahg, Norwegian black metal crew Iskald, their fellow countrymen, doomsters Tombstones as well as a host of others. No serious, a host of others that we haven't the time to list!

To make matters even more tempting the sixth Trondheim metal fest is being held in the Scandic Lerkendal Hotel - the biggest conference hotel in Norway - and for Trondheim Metal Fest there will be three stages, a metal market area, meet and greets, quizzes, etc etc.

Oh, and did we mention Sabaton? And, Stratovrious? Or Skálmöld?

And, feck all that because Promordial are going to tear the hotel apart.

COMIN' ATCHA: Glenn Hughes books Belfast date in October (and Doug Aldrich will be slinging his axe with Hughes!)

HE may be one of the most revered vocalists, and he may be touring across the globe, but Glenn Hughes has managed to slot Belfast into his Autumn tour.

He will play The Limelight, Belfast on Thursday 22 October. Tickets are on sale now
Joining Hughes for his UK shows, will be Doug Aldrich (Revolution Saints; formerly Whitesnake, Dio) as guitar player and powerhouse Swedish drummer and longtime solo band member, Pontus Engborg , rounding out the Trio.
The set will showcase highlights from Glenn's colourful career: Trapeze, Deep Purple, Black Country Communion, California Breed along with his Solo material.
Commenting on the UK dates, Hughes says:
"It's always a great pleasure for me to play in the UK. I have lived in Los Angeles most of my life, but my career started back in the UK.
I love my fans, and personally interact with them online, or at venues on my travels. There is no greater high than performing and to reach out to my fanbase.
Joining my Band on Tour, will be Doug Aldrich, former Whitesnake and Dio Guitar player. Ronnie introduced me to Doug years ago, and I felt it was time to ask Doug to Rock with me.
It's gonna be E P I C…".
Support for the tour is Jared James Nichols who recently released his debut EP Old Glory & The Wild Revival.

Vocalist/bass guitarist/songwriter  Hughes is a true original. No other rock musician has carved such a distinctive style blending the finest elements of hard rock, soul and funk. That astonishing voice is Hughes' calling card.
He's known as a singer's singer. Stevie Wonder once called Hughes his favourite white singer.
Hughes, a native of Cannock, England, absorbed all kinds of influences, including early British hard rock, the Beatles and, most importantly, American soul and R&B. The sleek Motown sound from Detroit and the gritty Stax/Volt sound from Memphis left their mark on him.
The first important band Hughes was a member of that achieved notable success was Trapeze. The band's early '70s albums included MedusaTrapeze and You Are The Music... We're Just The Band.
In 1973, Hughes joined Deep Purple. The hard-rock legends had just weathered the departure of vocalist Ian Gillan and bass guitarist Roger Glover, but guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice continued with the addition of Hughes and David Coverdale.

Since 1992, Hughes has toured extensively in Europe, Japan and South America in support of solo albums, but more recently has been involved with award winning supergroups', Black Country Communion with guitar star Joe Bonamassa, keyboard player Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater) and drummer Jason Bonham, son of the late Led Zeppelin legend John Bonham and just last year, California Breed, who also featured both Hughes and drummer Jason Bonham along with newcomer guitarist Andrew Watt.
In between his hectic schedule, Hughes also found time to publish a book, "Glenn Hughes : The Autobiography - From Deep Purple To Black Country Communion", the Number 1 best seller is available in both hard and soft cover editions from all good retailers.
As it says in the blurb "Make no mistake. The Voice of Rock never left the building".

Saturday, June 20, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Aussie rockers Palace of the King deliver funktastic hard rock on White Bird/Burn The Sky

FUNK me! Another Aussie hard rock act lets loose with a stormer. From DC, to Rose Tattoo all the way up to Jet and Airbourne our colonial cousin must be bringing their children up the right way.

Latest to raise the hard rockin’ standard aloft are Palace of the King, and act that sound so steeped in the blues infused hard rocking that their début release sounds as if they’ve been plying their trade for decades.

‘White Bird/Burn The Sky’ however, is not a one-dimensional album of rock re-treads. They are willing to expand beyond the template.

‘Burn My Bridges’ brings the blues with funk elements, and lead-off single ‘Another Thing Coming’ has psychedelic leanings.

But, they are not flitting around genres for the sake of trying to appeal to a wider audience because they never lose sight of the fact that you need the power of the rock riff.

Tim Henwood’s vocals have both high pitched groove and silky smooth selections of intonation, all woven around Leigh Madden and Matthew Harrison’s guitars and Sean Johnston’s keyboards.

‘White Bird (Bring Your Armies To Me’) is an immense exposition of hard rock, with Hendwood veering between sounding like a young Robert Plant and Jack White. It has insistent riifs rolling as this mid-paced songs builds more and more elements across its six-minute span.

Johnston’s keyboards on the intro to ‘Ain’t Got Nobody To Blame But Myself’ gives way to a soulful take on the blues with funk-tastic and metallic moments.

Throughout the album Andrew Gilpin’s bass and Anthony Troiano’s drums do more than just lay down the rhythm. Like the rest of the band (Henwood also provides percussion) they seem determined to add atmosphere to each track.

Topped with Henwoods’ vocals ‘Devil’s Daughter’ sounds like ZZ Top want to sound like today and Arlo Guthrie sounded like when he was still a kid at Woodstock

And, ‘Get Back Up (Burn The Sky)’ even has harmonica heaven for old school rockers...

This is an album that has such rich rock textures and is rooted in a thought process that says we’ll write what we are happy with and just enjoy.

The only fear is that Palace of The King deliver on rock with so many additional texture is that the feckin’ scenesters and hipsters on mainstream radio will pick up on them and the planned UK October dates will see us plagued by men is stupidly square shaped beards...But, hell even if they are there us real fans of Aussie hard rock will still be lining up to Burn the Sky.


Palace of the King’s White Bird/Burn The Sky is out now on Listenable Records.
This review first appeared on our partner site Devils Gate Media - head along to read news, reviews and stories from the world of rock and metal.
Review by Jonny

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

NEWS: More acts announced for Bloodstock with just seven weekends to go!

SEVEN weekends to go, 52 days until Bloodstock and the announcements keep coming!

We all remember that Overoth won through the Metal 2 The Masses heat here in Belfast, we can now confirm that they will be playing the New Blood stage on Saturday. Winners of the RoI heat, thrashers Animator play the same stage on Sunday.

We all love Oaf and Friend, and as an added bonus 'Friend', a.k.a. metal journo Dom Lawson will be performing a DJ set, as will The Vicious Breed, Mordred's DJ Aaron 'Pause' Vaughn, the legendary Krusher Joule and Desertfest's Rich Harris.

As if that wasn't enough there's added laughs. Andrew O'Neill will perform his outstanding 'History of Heavy Metal' comedy show (and anyone who saw it in Belfast last year knows it is a hoot). Big C will bring his 'heavy metal spoken word and Jesus-a-like Gordy Jebus from the infamous 'Jesus Is A Cunt t-shirt festival snap will also be doing a stand-up routine.

With an already packed line-up (many expressing how honoured they are to be on the same bill as By Any Means) you have no excuse not to be there. Fer Feck's Sake - there's Sabaton, Opeth, Rob Zombie, Black Label Society, Orange Goblin, Armored Saint, Nuclear Assault, Cannibal Corpse, Overkill, Dark Angel, Napalm Death etc etc etc over the four days. There's even Trivium and Within Temptation...

Tickets are still available on the 24-hour ticket line at 0871 230 5584 or on the tinterweb here. See y'all at Catton Park, Derbyshire 6th to 9th August.

Monday, June 15, 2015

COMNI ATCHA: Ex-MCR and Leathermouth man Iero returns with Frnkiero and the Cellabration for a Belfast date

REMEMBER My Chemical Romance? You know the pop punk 'emo' band, who were never really emo and then re-invented themselves as a rock band and produced a concept album and punkish final release before calling it a day in 2013. You do? Good, now settle down.

One of the main men in MCR was Frank Iero. As well as his role in MCR he was frontman for hardcore act Learthermouth.

Well Frank's latest project is Frnkiero and the Cellabration, and they are set to play the Bar Sub ib QUB SU on September 1st.

For Frank's fans we won't re-tread the story of how his digestive problems led to this side project that is now a full-fledged touring act on the back of last year's 'Stomachaches' album release on Staples Records.
Formerm MCR touring drummer Jarrod Alexander helped Iero on the release, on which Frank recorded all the parts himself.
Tickets, priced £14.50 (+ booking fee) for this 14+ show go on sale this Friday, 19th June.

ALBUM REVIEW: Doomsday Outlaw get the groove on in Black River

INDEPENDENT act, Derbyshire-based Doomsday Outlaw, caught us by surprise when we slipped it on to listen. We read so much PR blurb that we are now born skeptics - but this time the blurb is justified.

Their album 'Black River' is a slab of groove based southern-influenced heaviness. From the stomp 'Bed of Lies' to the brooding 'New Salvation' they manage to tick all the boxes as Carl Batten growls his way through the tracks.

Opener and title track 'Black River' rolls like a tank over the listener, as Steve Broughton and Gavin Mills weave guitar strands around the song's structure.

'Down' has a riff-laden swagger and battle sensibility, while 'Mountain Men' snarls like a backwoods bastard of heavy blues. (Are there any mountains in Derbyshire?)

Throughout the release there are hints of BLS, a smidgeon of Down and CoC and similar, but there is no sense that this is derivative. Instead Doomsday Outlaw have their own sense of purpose.

Indy's bass keeps the whole thing rolling along, while John 'Ironfoot' Willis stars with his unfussy battering of the kit - proof that you don't need to be copying Neal Peart to lay down impressive drumming, you just have to deliver what is needed for the song. Very impressive.

'Thin Line', 'Never Train' and the title track really caught our attention, and this album deserves to catch even more people's attention.

Review by Jonny

Sunday, June 14, 2015

COMIN' ATCHA! - A week of rock and metal chaos lie ahead

SO, you didn't get out this weekend, but then again you might have been saving yourself for the week ahead - and what a week it promises to be!

Monday is a day when work seems such shit and the day drags on, and on, and on. But feck all that because The Distortion Project is making sure your Monday is gonna groove with serious intent when Mr Loveday brings Corrosion of Conformity, fresh from a soggy Download, to Limelight1.

With support from County Antrim's Skypilot it promises to be a shockingly good start to the week.

Now we all know that Tuesday is the worst day of the week, but after CoC think of it more as a wee chance to catch your breath because Wednesday - hump day - sees the awesome Black Stone Cherry bring back their bluesy, southern tinged rock to the Ulster Hall.

Since they started coming to Northern Ireland each time they've played bigger and bigger venues (as headliners) and after last time they played the Mandella Hall its going to be a cracker.

Come Friday, Midnight Transmission play the Voodoo, with Thieves of Ennui, On Parole and Serpent.

Don't even think of pausing for breath because Saturday sees even more rock....

The Distortion Project never rests - and on Saturday (June 20th) they present a diverse bill, headed by The Organ Grinders and support from Cadaver Club, Cavehill and Tragedy Vampires.

For those wanting to get yer hard core rocks off then the beer bus and various modes of transport will be heading to Ahoghill Rock City, and the Diamond Rock Club. There the Gasoline Outlaws launch their album No Rules, No Laws, No Regrets, (review here) with support from Conjuring Fate.

Had enough? Nah -  sure you'll want to round off the week with The Who at the Odyssey. Never mind the fact that there will be mods in attendance because even they know in their hearts that The Who are a heavy rock band not some pussy followers of fashion piece of disposable music - after all have you heard 'Live At Leeds'?

Tickets for all these shows are available at the doors - we'll see you there!


ALBUM REVIEW: House of Lords - can be lively and sleepy in the Indestrutible chamber

IN Westminster the House of Lords contains members that are lively, skilled debaters with stongly held political views; and it also contains those who rarely show up and rarely contribute. And, by the same token there are some songs on House of Lords new album that don't really contribute.

'Indestructible' is not a bad album by any means, but there are songs such as 'Pillar of Salt' and 'We Will Always Be One' that sound derivative and on the vanilla side of bland.

With the negative out of the way most of the rest is a heady mix of heaviness and melody. Jimi Bell's guitars are the perfect foil for James Christians rich tones with the titles track and 'Die To Tell' being the perfect examples.

The overall feel of the album is much more rounded than some of the middle period House of Lords, which to some extent must be due to this current line-up being in place since 2006. Only Christian is left from the original 1989 line-up, but Bell, Chris McCarvill (bass) and BJ Zampa (drums) are clearly contributing as much to the overall sound.

“The name Indestructible was chosen because we all felt that we have been through a lot in our long careers and what better way to say 'hey, I'm still here' than by giving the cd a 'bold' title,” said Christian.

“The album is heavier in the beginning, but we love songs that are both Melodic and Heavy” added Christian, “and the idea was to fill the best of both on one cd without sounding like two different bands. I think we have accomplished that."

Christian cites 'Pillar of Salt' as one of his favourites, but there are many stronger tracks. 'Another Dawn', the delicate 'Eye of the Storm' and the stomper 'Ain't Suicidal' are all belters. A perfect example that bands and reviewers are subjective creatures.

But what cannot be denied is the strength of having this line-up being together for 10 years: "...the four of us are musically in sync," said Christian.

Ultimately 'Indestructible' breaks no ground, but it is a good album which, although flawed, had several songs added to rotation long beyond the 'allotted' review hours.

The combination of stadia choruses, echoes of power metal and some tasty riffing (for example album closer 'Stand and Deliver') make it worth listening to.

Review by Jonny

Saturday, June 13, 2015

NEWS: The Black Dahlia Murder prepare for release of Abysmal

OUR death/black metal correspondent, Zakk, went the north side of ape shit in anticipation of the new release from The Black Dahlia Murder on September 18th...and we can't blame him if their last release is anything to go by.

'Abysmal' is the name of what the band and their PR promise to be a "vicious slab of unrelenting aggression'. Well it's The Black Dahlia Murder, we expect nothing less!

Pre-orders for 'Abysmal' open on June 24th at the band's new official website.

"The new album 'Abysmal' is true to The Black Dahlia Murder formula but further down the evolutionary path we began with our 'Ritual' release," said vocalist Trevor Strnad. "It has a bigger, more dynamic and developed songs.

"It sees the band in a darker, faster and more melancholic place than anything we've done to date. It is an album wrought [with] emotion on a scale that we haven't reached with our previous attempts. It's dripping with an urgency, and an undeniable sincere life and death purpose.

"It has moments of triumph and moments of utter abandon and defeat. It runs the gamut."

Well that sounds good...

As if that wasn't enough Strnad has launched a new column called 'The Obituarist' on one of the other websites...in which he picks what he considers to be the best of the death metal underground.

Well he should make his wee way over to check out some of Northern Ireland's bands!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

NEWS: Mustaine and Napalm Death and the Golden Gods...

FOR the first time in the history of The Metal Hammer Golden Gods an award recipient is being named upfront of the night. The Golden God Award (Sponsored By Orange Amplification) on Monday June 15th will be presented to the legendary Dave Mustaine.
It just had to be Mustaine...the editor of this site has a wee bit of a grudge against Mutsaine [riot at show in Antrim Northern Ireland, and he's an Arsenal fan].
But that aside he has produced some good albums...the first four. Tomorrow (June 12th) is the 30th anniversary of Megadeth's 'Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good.
I am truly humbled to receive this award, and to be recognized by your peers for your accomplishments, is almost as gratifying as not being recognized by the police for your accomplices," said Mustaine.

"The Metal Hammer Golden God awards are a 21-gun salute to all that is great in our world" said Alexander Milas, Metal Hammer editor-in-chief. "Dave Mustaine is nothing less than the living embodiment of dedication to the craft, and it's an absolute honour to celebrate 30 years of Megadeth's earth-shaking debut with one of metal's greatest guitar heroes."
His words, not ours!
Also announced are the band's opening proceedings on HMS Hammer. They are:
  • Napalm Death;
  • Upon A Burning Body;
  • Butcher Babies; and,
  • Code Orange
 “Napalm Death is independent of thought and independent of action," said frontman Barney Greenway of Napalm Death's nomination for Best British Band in this year's awards.

"In some ways, competing against other bands for something nice and shiny undoubtedly gives a certain warm feeling inside, but we promise we won't be filled with hate if somebody else scoops it. Thanks though for your considerations - you're just too kind and we're just (deliberately) too fucking noisy.”

 The Golden Gods are being hosted by Scott Ian and features performances from:
Killing Joke;
At The Gates;
Baby Metal (featuring Dragonforce);
We Are Harlot; and,
Suicidal Tendencies.

No doubt the event will be coming to a screen near you soon...

NEWS: Lamb of God unleashes New Track “512” ahead of Donload slot

WITH new album 'Sturm Und Drang' just weeks away (July 24th) Lamb of God have released the track '512' via Spotify and the band's Youtube page.

And, as usual it is almost five minutes of fury and an official music video directed by Jorge Torres-Torres will be released soon

The Richmond, VA act are getting set for a US tour as well as Sunday's appearance at Download.

'512' was the cell singer Randy Blythe was detained in for a month and the song deals with Blythe's emotional journey while detained in the Czech Republic, which he revealed in an interview with RollingStone.com here.
VII: Sturm Und Drang is now available for pre-order via Amazon and iTunes, as well as via the following links: 

For the latest on LAMB OF GOD:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Tremonti tears it up on Cauteize

REVIEWERS tend to be relatively hard workers, given most put in a shift in front of their computers after they punch in the hours in another job to pay the bills and earn beer tokens. But, compared to Mark Tremonti we're a bunch of lazy wasters. The man's picture is in the dictionary next to 'workaholic'.

For those not familiar with Mr Tremonti, he is the guitarist for Alter Bridge and former main man in Creed. After releasing his solo debut 'All I Was' in 20121 and recording and touring on Alter Bridge's 'Fortress' he has Tremonti back in gear with the first of two - yes two - releases of hard rock that at times borders on metal.

'Cauterize' is out now on Fret12 Records, and is soon to be followed by companion album 'Dust'.

The album kicks off with 'Radical Change' a frentic up-tempo blast that will pin your ears back right away; double bass blasts from Garrett Whitlock's drumming and Tremonti and Eric Friedman (also of Creed) tearing through riffs and solos.

None other than Wolfgang Van Halen - yes that Wolfgang Van Halen of Van Halen fame - provides bass duties and to a large extent fills out the sound.

To say that this is a hard rock album misses out on the heavier elements such as on title 'Cauterize' which owes a lot of speedier metal songs, without sacrificing melody.

Throughout the album that balancing act is carried off with aplomb.

The 10 tracks have a real sense of Tremonti and his collegues playing what they enjoy and thrusting a middle finger towards any doubters. If you get a chance to catch them this coming weekend at Download take it!

With 25 songs written when Tremonti began the process behind 'Cauterize' and the forthcoming 'Dust' in early 2014 and subsequent multiple sessions.

"We wanted to do a ton of songs," said Tremonti. "I decided to take me entire catalog [sic] of material, get everything out, and purge it."

And, the extra time put in for pre-production has payed off.

The album is packed with stand out tracks such as the metallic groove of 'Arm Yourself' and the stadia-packing chorus of 'Sympathy'.

One gets a sense that Tremonti wanted to flex muscles that were at times under-used in Creed and Alter Bridge. The chest is pumped out, the band ready for anything and delivering everything they can, such as on the lead-off single 'Another Heart' which stomps and bellows with a catchy as hell melody.

Of course, it would be easy too over-eulogize this release. It is by no means perfect, as many listeners may find it tricky to balance the thrashier elements, the dark moments on 'Dark Trip' and the title track with the more familiar Tremonti choruses.

But, for those that put the effort in it is a rewarding journey through the 10 songs. Cauterize is a release well worth more than a couple of listens, and we guarantee that you'll soon have picked out several favourites.

And we have 'Dust' to look forward to!

Cauterize is out now on Fret12 Records
Tremonti play Download on Sunday, 14th June

Review by Jonny


Monday, June 08, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Trixter rock on with Human Era

OKAY! Hands up, who remembers Trixter?

Yes? No? The name rings a bell?

Well, Trixter were one of a plethora of hair metal bands who appeared on the scene in the late 80's,early 90's before those unborn children of Grunge hit the scene and buggered everything up. They released 2 albums before disappearing as quickly as they appeared.
They reformed in 2008 with the line-up of Peter Loran (lead voals, rhythm guitar); Steve Brown (lead guitar/backing vocals); PJ Farley (bass/backing vocals); and, Gus Scott (drums/backing vocals). That is by any definition a lot of vocals!

And they have just released their latest album 'Human Era'.

Starting with a bang the first two songs,'Rockin' to the Edge of the Night' and 'Crash the Party' see the band, indeed, in full on party mode with big riffs and choruses that could have been lifted off any Def Leppard album, with even a hint of Motley Crue (but we won't hold that against them!) The drums and guitar drive these tunes on and there's a real sense of fun about them.

That is in stark contrast to third track 'Not like all the Rest'. Most likely aimed at the radio and a larger demographic this song just doesn't seem to fit with the rest. A bit too commercial for this reviewers' taste with a pop/rock riff and chorus (count the na,na's),it might get a run out on Glee, but maybe needs' must.

Thankfully, 'For You' cranks the pace up again with a fast paced guitar and drum heavy intro Van Halen used to be famous for. Something which continues throughout the song. Nice solo by Brown on this one.

Ballads feature as the next two songs with 'Every Second counts' up first followed by 'Beats me Up'. The former being more of an up tempo, stadium anthem. The latter has, again, a Def Leppard influenced intro, and a vocal style Jon Bon Jovi would deliver. Lyrically it's a bit lame but its not a bad song.

'Good times Now', 'Midnight in your Eyes' and 'All Night Long' gradually up the tempo, each song having strong vocal combinations which are a highlight of this album. 'Good times Now' lacks in the lyric department again but 'Midnight' is much better with a catchy, if obvious, chorus. Good guitar work on this again.

'All Night Long' belts along nicely with a solid rhythm section and chugging riff. This would probably get decent airplay on Classic Rock radio stations.

Penultimate tune 'Soul of a Lovin' Man'  is a straight up rocker with a more bluesy feel, which will have you nodding along to it. This is probably the strongest song on the album with a great solo again by Brown.

Finally we have 'Human Era'. A retrospective of the bands musical journey thus far. A good bass line from Farley and a more subdued vocal performance by Loran make this a fairly strong finish to the album.

All in all this is a decent recording which good have been better if they hadn't played quite so safe in places but it's definitely worth a listen.
Review by Andy Gillen

ALBUM REVIEW: Helloween ascert their rights on new release My God Given Right

POWER metal. Euro Metal. Battle metal. Call it whatever you want, but the masters of it are the Germanic masters, Helloween.

Long gone are the days when the British press referred to them as the German Iron Maiden in the days of 'Walls of Jericho', and now, on their latest release 'My God-Given Right' they have stood up with their identity intact, their sound cemented and with a single finger thrust to those that cock their metal snobbery nose to power metal.

It is now 30 years since the Hamburg headers emerged on to the scene, but they have released an album that sounds fresh, sounds vital and most importantly is immensely enjoyable: huge riffs, massive choruses and exemplary playing.

You may, at times want your metal all serious, with frown lines. But this release will have you grinning from ear-to-ear. From the hilarious 'If God Loves Rock 'n Roll' through to channelling Edguy on 'Stay Crazy' this is simply fun.

That's not to say there is anything sloppy on display here. Opening pair of 'Heroes' and 'Battle's Won' have intent stamped on every riff, every bass line and every drum fill.

'Swing of a Fallen World' has the mid-paced menace that echoes some of their earlier work as Dani's drums and Markus' bass ease back (a little) from the madcap speed on the rest of the album.

That framework allows 'Weik' and Gerstner's guitars to flow throughout the album. The quality of their work is flawless, rolling with riffs and solos that capture melody and the madness of Helloween.

Andi Deris vocals are perfect for the sense of the songs, whether they are whimsical - 'Lost in America' - or more straightforward such as 'Creatures In Heaven'.

To a certain extent the album is not messing with the Helloween formula.

Andi said there was a simple motto when they recorded the album:

"Back to the roots - but with new songs," he said. "More than ever out fans want to sing and rock out along with us. This simply works best with the use of distinctive choruses and eighties hooklines!"

But this is not a one-dimensional release, with songs such as 'Like Everybody Else' this is not a re-tread.

Weik said: "It is not our mission to just relive the eighties at all costs. To our own surprise, the whole dynamic of this working concept took on a life of its own."

And, with that in mind they take a swipe at those who miss the point of the joy in this type of metal.

"Surely there'll be haters again that will presume that we have nothing better to do than to keep recycling the past instead of moving on into the 21st Century," said Weik. "But critics have followed us all along and never impressed us.

"We've always had a liberal attitude towards heavy metal: to do anything we want, and not follow the directions the know-it-alls would have pushed on us."

And, that is what makes this album so good. Helloween just don't give a fuck. They are as much fans as a band 30 years on from the start of their career.

'My God-Given Right' is simply a fun metal romp. If you are a hater, just go away and don't bother. The rest of us will just enjoy the hell out of this!
Review by Jonny
My God-Given Right is out now on Nuclear Blast

Saturday, June 06, 2015

EP REVIEW: Donum Dei rise with three-track Justice Fails

IT is always a delight as a reviewer to see a band develop, learn from their mistakes, observe others and enhance what they can do and the potential that lurks in their early incarnation.

The four young men of Donum Dei have over the past year plus cut their metal teeth on the live circuit, gradually growing into songs and performances. And, now they have taken the next step and laid down three tracks in their début release 'Justice Fails'.

The title track is already a live favourite with its 'Tallica style riffage and call outs. Thomas Marshall strains at the proverbial leash vocally, sometimes trying a little too hard to replicate his live output. It is a minor niggle amidst the joyous noise.

Stuart McLoughlin's lead work as always melds with Marshall's rhythm - as is evident on second track 'Redemption'. But the scaffolding all the recorded - and indeed the live renditions - are based on is the work of Alastair Marshall's drums and Dean Kane's manic bass work.

'Redemption' sees the band showcase a more contemporary take on the thrash sound; they have learned their lessons well at the feet of the bands they have supported without slavishly copying them.

EP closer 'No Escape' is the stand-out of the three, with Marshall adopting a more raucous roar as the track's relentless pace leads into a chorus that catches the unwary listener before a solo leads into some tremendous melodic twin guitar work that has Marshall and McLaughlin locked into a guitar mind meld.

As a first release this once more demonstrates the sheer potential that oozes from Donum Dei. In places the production and mix are - as one would expect from any start-up - a little rough and ready. Developing that will require more time understanding how to work in  a studio, understanding how to adopt the power and passion from the live setting to the confines of the sound room.

As a first time out of the recording blocks what this demonstrates is that Donum Dei are on the cusp of developing into something special. With the ep, their live shows, being a recent finalist in Metal2TheMasses and having the right attitude to learning we cannot wait until the next stage of DD's development.

Justice Fails will be launched in July.
The first opportunity to buy a copy will be tonight (Saturday 6th June) when Donum Dei support NWOBHM band Chariot in the Diamond Rock Club in Ahoghill Rock City

Review by Jonny  

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

INTERVIEW: Abaddon Incarnate prepare for Monsters of Rot...by drinking and the eternal war with slam pornogrind

COME August 1st Monsters of Rot will once again see metal rise from the mists, a beast of a festival slobbering and dragging its primal body rising from the bogs, its roar shaking the forests and terrifying residents across the land.

Emerging from the land called Letterbreen in the County of Fermanagh, a land steeped in mystery and myth the Monsters of Rot enters its fifth incarnation - and amongst the bands set to send tsunamis across Loch Erne are Abaddon Incarnate, a ferocious extreme metal act that have been tearing up cities and laying waste to unsuspecting souls from the early 90s.

But way back then, did the band actually still expect to be playing midway through the second decade of the 21st Century?

"Yeah," said Stephen of AI.  "It was totally consuming on many levels and I could never see it not existing, just as now, it will always exist, its a institution now."

But like all institutions the band draws those that want to attach a label to them - a lazy, shorthand description. AI have been dubbed by some as 'deathgrind.

"All labels hinder bands, anti cosmic black metal people wont go to shoegaze post black metal gigs and slam pornogrind people avoid cavernous death metal metal gigs," said Stephen.

"In the 90s in Ireland, metal was metal and all these bands would be on the same bill. Its so segregated now. Which is why I like festivals like Monsters of Rot, their is a rich variety of stuff there to cater to everybody's needs.

"I don't think we are a death metal band or wholly a grind core band, but somewhere in the middle, but you know back in the day there is little difference between death and grind, check out the grind crusher compilations for example. or in crust in we trust, all death metal bands and grind bands under the one banner, fucking 'A'"

Recently we caught Abaddon Incarnate with Basement Torture Killings lay waste to Belfast's Warzone Centre and we wanted to know what sort of preparation they put in for tours and festivals.
"We just play the same as always, we jam once or twice before a tour because everyones so busy," said Stephen

"Johnny plays in several bands now, Altars of Plagues, Malthusian, Dread Sovereign, and I live in the UK so its hard to do anything extra other than work out a setlist over emails and meet up twice to nail the set.

"Its handy we're all good musicians we can pull that shit off. Playing live is the best part of being in the band, especially touring."

In terms of touring Stephen reckons that Russia and Peru have the "most insane fans", but we were curious as to whether Abaddon Incarnate prepared any different for festivals....and Stephen spilled forth.

"This will be our current bass player's Steven Finnerty's final gig with us so it will be special and a sad occasion no matter what," said Stephen. "We will play some tunes from every album, we should have the 'Pessemist' vinyl to sell at it, but preparations for festivals usually involves drinking a lot the night before travel, drinking during travel, losing an instrument or two, mislaying the odd passport, but as this is in Ireland and we are rehearsing the night before the gig we will probably drink before travel, drink during travel and lose a bass player so yeah always the six 'P's.

"These are piss poor preparation prevents proper performance, or proper piss up prior to performance prevents vinyl sales...or something. I don't know, but I'm sure it'll be grand.

"Anyway we're looking forward to seeing Jobseekers, Okus and Gutwrench...it'll be a blast!"


ALBUM REVIEW: Kamelot carve out real power on Haven

TRUTH be told, I approached the latest release from Kamelot not wanting to like it. The slow march of symphonic metal with its grandiose keyboard sweeps has begun to make me wary of the latest layered song, the latest pomposity that plagued the latter days of prog rocks dominance in the 70s.

However, having lived with the textures and tones of 'Haven' for a few days now I cheerily confess to loving this release. Why? Well perhaps it is the fact that they have balanced the metal with the keyboard sweeps.

There is enough grunt on display to offset any flourishes of pretentiousness that nuzzle alongside the metal. Just check out the track 'Liar, Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)' which teeters at times between metallic muscle and the symphonic interludes. What makes it stand out even more is a tasty solo from Thomas Youngblood.

Of course, to a large extent Kamelot is Yongblood's baby. He and Sean Tibbetts (bass) are the only ones who were there at the start - although Tibbets took a break from the band until rejoining in 2009.

Youngblood's vision for the band is fulfilled on this release, and after seeing them rip the place apart at Hammerfest earlier in the year there is a clear sense that many of the tracks will translate seamlessly in a live setting.

The power of 'Citizen Zero' is another track that sees Youngblood's work maintain the credibility - there's even pinch harmonics. But it is Casey Grillo's drums and Tibbetts bass line that propel the track along.

Vocally Tommy Karevik now sounds as if he's been there forever, easily lilting the lyrics that could seem slightly ridiculous in lesser hands ('Veil of Elysium' for example).

But what about my reservations over the keyboard sweeps? Oliver Palotai's work, it has to be admitted, is tasteful and tricked out enough not to over-burden the tracks.

Take the almost industrial sounding opening to 'Revolution' and you can hear how symphonic metal should be done before it gets down to the meat of the track.

And, that is why this album appeals. Kamelot are not symphonic metal really. They have a range of stylistic elements - and to label them in one genre or another would be lazy. Yes, there are elements of symphonic metal, prog metal and industrial metal, but above all there is metal.

Sascha Paeth's production and guest appearances from Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), Troy Donockley (Nightwish) and Charlotte Wessels (Delain) give the album that extra depth that helps to give it the right amount of diversity.

What could have been a car crash has instead shown many pretenders how to integrate a soundscape; how to balance precarious elements and maintain credibility in the face of the tides of fashion.

Review by Jonny

NEWS: Monsters of Rot confirms final line-up as Xerath join Abaddon Incarnate and a host of others

ENTERING its fifth year Monsters of Rot is delivering what is arguably its strongest line-up for the August 1st Fermanagh fest with English act Xerath announced as headliners today (June 2nd).

Also announced today are Fermanagh based progsters 100 Forest and Gourd described by the organisers as the "bastard doom child of Wreck of The Hesperus and On Pain of Death".

They will take the Letterbreen stage along with an already top-notch line-up.

Just think about this lot:
  • Abaddon Incarnate;
  • Guttrench;
  • the impossible to pronounce Austrian band VxPxOxAxAxWxAxMxC,;
  • Okus;
  • Jobseekers;
  • Altus;
  • Hollow Truth;
  • Axecatcher;
  • Bad Boat; and,
  • Attack the Day.

All this is taking place in one day - you may never be the same afterwards. This is music that is not for the faint-hearted -  this is the very definition of a brutal day-out. So brutal that this site's editor broke both his wrists last year!

And, should you head down there are camping packages, loads of nearby accommodation and a return bus from Belfast (with a stop in Portadown).

NEWS: Armored Saint video and album stream

YOU may remember a few weeks back that we raved about the new Armored Saint release 'Win Hands Down'.

Before you get your greedy paws on a copy (if you haven't bought/ordered one - do it now. And, that's a command!) you can watch the band's latest music video at the band's Metal Blade home page where you can also listen to a stream of the album!

And, you can buy the array of bundles available including a double vinyl release.

And, on top of that that there's a new 'behind the scenes' short about the new AS video now available.

That's just spoiling us!

NEWS: Big Truck rolls on with single release date, and Off Yer Rocka release to have added acoustic tracks

WE previously brought you the news that Trucker Diablo had been signed to Off Yer Rocka Recordings for the release of the previously Pledge Music album 'Rise Above the Noise' and now more details are emerging of what that will entail.

The first single from the label release will be “Where Angels Fly” on the 8th of June, which will also contain newly recorded acoustic songs.

The band have recently finished recording the video for the single and are lining up for a series of UK festival appearances as well as the Bash At The Bridge in Fermanagh on July 4th.

They will be performing at three UK Festivals, Pentrich Rock n Blues, Hard Rock Hell and Steelhouse, appearing alongside the likes of UFO, Dee Snider, Y&T and SAXON.

Rise above the Noise will be available via all good record stores n platforms late June with a teaser EP out shortly before. More details and links to buy are below.

iTunes - http://smarturl.it/TruckerDiablo-iTunes
Amazon - http://smarturl.it/TruckerDiablo-Amazon
Google Play - http://smarturl.it/TruckerDiablo-GP

Monday, June 01, 2015

LIVE REVIEW: Roth rocks the Diamond revisiting Scorpions classics

IF you wanted a masterclass in how to play guitar you should have been at the Diamond Rock Club on Saturday, 30th May. If you wanted a masterclass in how to re-interpret classic songs you should have been at the Diamond Rock Club on Saturday, 30th May. If you were, you know what we're talking about.

Uli Jon Roth brought his band to County Antrim and brought a set that left many usually reserved people agog during the songs and roaring in acclaim between songs.

Sure, we were impressed when we reviewed the album that set the scene for this gig but live the songs attain an almost spiritual dimension.

It is a fine line to draw, but being tight and loose enough to allow improvisation is an art form in and of itself.

Roth may be the star, but Nathan's vocals manage to tackle the classic Scorpions songs without any attempt at slavish re-workings of Meine.

Textures of songs are worked out with Corvin Bahn's keyboards, but it is the interplay between Roth and Niklas Turmann and David Klosinski on guitars that makes the sound so lush.

Songs so familiar to Scorpions fans were given new life, new breath and the likes of 'In Trance' and 'Polar Nights' sounded fresh and dynamic.

That drummer Jamie Little and bassist Ule W. Ritgen were having so much fun belied their tightness as a unit.

But - this was billed as Uli Jon Roth show and that was entirely appropriate. Roth's talent has always been apparent and on Saturday he showcased that talent to a degree few masters of the axe could emulate.

Melody, shredding, delicate musical abandon and an ease in his playing combined in a performance which has us struggling with superlatives.

This was the second show in a lengthy Scorpions Revisited trek - and if you are a guitar fan or a classic (think Tokyo Tapes) Scorpions fan then you will not want to miss this.

Review by Jonny
Video interview courtesy of Gary Grattan

LIVE REVIEW: Potrait portray what metal is about

We dug into the vaults for this review of Portrait's Belfast gig in the Voodoo in February - why? Well it was our tog Darren's first attempt at reviewing (and he says it will be his last...) and the label wants the link. So here you are...

SOMETIMES there is no need to rationalise anything - it's just metal, and it's glorious. When Portrait played the Voodoo in Belfast on February 3rd there was even less need, as the Swedish act were backed by two of Northern Ireland's finest.

Opening up were Terminus, whose sci-fi inspired metal rocks like a bastard on all the best drugs - Centaurean stands out amidst a metal blur of righteous noise.

Rabid Bitch of the North have been getting better and better over the past 18 months and when they took to the stage that improvement was evident. What's more they have the songs to back up their improvement.

From 'Your Misery' opening the set, through to closer 'Us Against Them' they epitomise what metal is about - power and passion. The faultless 'Trapped in 1999' is the anthem many bands wish they had written as Joe's vocals reach a register that is so high the dogs in the street begin howling along with it.

Before turning to Portrait's set it has to be said that it was way too short. With such exuberance and talent to see less than an hour of the band is almost criminal.

Nevertheless what they played was pure, classic metal. The twin guitar attack of Christian Lindell and David Olofsson works throughout the set with serious intent and interaction. There is a definite homage to Judas Priest in their work.

But many bands deliver this type of shredding and melody without reaching the sublime soulful quality. 

It is vocalist Per Lengstedt's presence that brings the additional factor that separates Portrait from many pretenders - not to mention a drum and bass combo that simply overpowers the audience.

Portait have so many strings to their classic metal sound that more people should turned out for this; and Portait could have played a longer set.

Having said that what they did display was a set of excellence; a set that encompassed what is great about this thing we call metal. Given that they derive their name from King Diamond's début album we'd expect no less!

Review and pix by Darren McVeigh - MetalplanetBelfast


NEWS: Danko Jones releases 100th podcast ahead of Belfast date

DANKO JONES has announced the centennial episode of the ‘Official Danko Jones Podcast!’

The first episode of the podcast aired May 16, 2011 and since then, DANKO has covered an impressive range of topics and featured a number of prestigious guests. His friend, the comedian, writer, and punk/rock singer Nick Flanagan, started as his co-host in the podcast's early days and has returned for almost every episode since.

During the last four years, the podcast has evolved into a low-key, often fascinating and funny conversation between DANKO and Nick concerning just about anything and everything, from rock music, Chipotle, and metal, to Lady Gaga, and children’s books - and often accompanied by a guest. Some of the podcast's visitors have included Phil Campbell (Motörhead), Henry Rollins, Dizzy Reed & Richard Fortus (Guns N’ Roses), Jim Breuer, Brendan Canning (Broken Social Scene), Ron Sexsmith, Leslie Feist, Damien Abraham (Fucked Up), and Scott Thompson (Kids in the Hall), amongst many more.

In the 100th episode DANKO revisits some of the high-points from the previous 99 episodes and also talks about why he first started the podcast and why he continues to do it.

He said: “Whether people know it or not, I’m not the most outgoing gregarious fellow. I like to save it all, and spurt it out on stage. After that, I keep to myself.

“So, I’ve used the podcast to deliberately put myself in social situations. Of course the lure is, I get to be personal and social with people I admire, and they always yield some pretty great stories.”

You can listen to the podcast episodes at: 

Danko Jones plays Belfast on September 19th.