Pick Your Rock and Metal

Thursday, March 30, 2017

INTERVIEW: Virus chat away at Hammerfest 2017 about many things including The Defective Detetive

AHH there are some bands that just make you smile - on and off stage. Virus are such a band, and while we interviewed them prior to their appearance at Hard Rock Hell United 2017, we were either very disappointed or relieved that lead man Coke was absent...

Some of the other interviews we did overhear were, shall we say, interesting. But the rest of the band sat down to chat about the new album, Inspector Gadget, Scooby Doo and thrash.

Watch it below:

GALLERY: Hammerfest Day One Photo Gallery

AS the crowd built at Camp HRH Lizzie battled her way through the crowds to get into the photo pit and grab some images from Hammerfest's opening day. Below are just some of the images she captured...

(All Images (c) Lizzie Torbitt)



Bloodshot Dawn

Venom Inc

Armored Saint

LIVE REVIEW: Hammerfest 2017 kicked off in a Saintly fashion after a mad dash...

"OVER land and sea and foam..." may be the words from "Show Me To The Way To Go Home" and to some when it comes to Hard Rock Hell it seems that the journey to Camp HRH in Pwllheli is a trip that is coming home to a family of friends.  And, worth it all.

And, when it comes to Hard Rock Hell United for many metalheads, party animals and bearded, long-haired types it is travelling with purpose - the purpose being to rock out, and rock out harder and heavier than most...

A train, a bus, a flight, hire a car and a mad drive through road works, the mountains and valleys of Wales saw our team arrive with minutes to spare before our first interview with the relaxed Gonzo of Armored Saint who was extremely chilled out as sweat and adrenaline coursed through our veins...He even helped out setting up the gear!
Pic By Lizzie Torbitt

Interview done, Thursday at Hammerfest is held on one stage only and it is a time to kick back for many (reviewers included...) and chug a few beverages [Editor's note: even though it was the editor this is not approved!].

It being an HRH event, the headliners on Thursday are always a little special. Hammerfest 2017 was no different.

But the tone of the weekend was perhaps set by the first two acts to mount the stage. The delightfully named Sodomized Cadaver brought their Welsh brand of death metal to warmup/terrify the faint-hearted.

Truth be told many might find their take on brutal lyrical themes a little hard to swallow, but their energetic approach many made the effort to be there for Sodomized Cadaver's efforts as their set progressed.
Pic By Lizzie Torbitt

Despite being full-on heavy there is no mistaking the grins from RSJ and the audience. They may have been unfairly labelled metalcore at time they have heft and might to their appearance on the Hammerfest stage.

No strangers to HRH stages the band batter their 30-minutes - straightforward, no nonsense, heavy and extremely pleasurable.

Technical metal maestros Bloodshot Dawn fill the arena with fills that leave many in awe at the runs: death tech with melodies in every section of searing power.

Featuring many tracks from the 'Demons' album the hour-long set from the south coast crew proved that even when the heaviest comes to the Cove in Hafan Y Mor holiday camp a band can outdo expectations and entertain just through their prowess.
Pic By Lizzie Torbitt

The controversy stoked over Venom Inc through the keyboards of those who weren't born when Mantas and Abaddon first picked up their instruments in the Geordie blackened band. If there were any keyboard warriors at Camp HRH they were not in evidence.

Instead the crowd welcomed the band with open arms, horns aloft and even the occasional outbreak of headbanging...We walked through the 'Seven Gates Of Hell' and sated our 'Bloodlust' after we pledged 'In Nomine Satanas'.

To put it clearly this was a conjuration of the spirit of the mid-80s, when there was a minimum of fucks given in the pursuit of metal excellence.

With the witching hour past but a few minutes the beaming faces of Joey Vera, John Bush and mounted the stage at the Cove venue with the California thrashers kicking out any beer-addled confusion. 'Win Hands Down'? They did from the off, a genuine sense of a band enjoying their time back in the limelight.
Pic By Lizzie Torbitt

Coming just two days after a show on the other side of the Irish Sea in Belfast there is no evidence of weariness, and by the second track 'March of the Saint' the band were feeding off the energy of the band and vice versa.

Whether it was songs from their most recent two releases, or older material here was a clarity of the sense of purpose behind Armored Saint. No way are they on the 'Last Train Home', reaching younger audience members and those that reach back to when the Saints were proving that thrash wasn't one dimensional.

This was a balanced set, and by the time they left the stage well after 1pm there was no doubt that the appetite for more and more Armored Saint new material, as well as their latest live release 'Carpe Noctrum'.

There is no doubt that Armored Saint deserve every accolade heaped upon them on this relatively short UK and Irish visit.
Pic By Lizzie Torbitt

And, such accolades are also to be heaped upon Hard Rock Hell - how did the HRH team manage to organise such good weather!

While it was mild on day one, by Saturday temperatures were nudging 20c. In March! What alchemy was this?

Over the entire weekend some of the coolest places were in the venues before night fell.

Throughout, however, what was clear as always was the organisation behind getting 6,500 people in one place aimed at having metal fun. And, they all did have heavy metal fun.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by LIzzie Torbitt

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

INTERVIEW: Hammerfall had a mad jouney to get to HRH - Frederick explains

YOUR gear is in Amsterdam, your stuck in a traffic jam for several hours on the M6, but you still play a tremendous show. You must be Hammerfall then!

Hammers held high, Frederick explains:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

INTERVIEW: Frederick from Hammerfall on the trials and tribulations of getting to Camp HRH for Hammerfest 2017

TO say that Hammerfall had a troubled travel experience to appear at Hammerfest 2017...but still they rocked Camp HRH.

To find out why they had to borrow gear watch what Ferderick said below..

INTERVIEW: Helhorse speak about their plans at Hammerfest 2017

TASKED with opening the Hammerfest 2017 main stage on Friday afternoon Helhorse laid on a super start to the day's proceedings.

But before they took to the stage we caught a few moments with the affable Danes. Watch it below:

Monday, March 27, 2017

INTERVIEW: Armored Saint's Gonzo at Hammerfest 2017 chats about the future ahead for their live album

ONE train, one bus, one flight; hire a car and dash from Birmingham through roadworks, the hills and valleys of Wales and we arrived at Camp HRH close to Pwllheli near the Irish Sea with less than five minutes to spare...

The gentleman who is Gonzo of Armored Saint was waiting patiently as we grabbed him ahead of the band's headline slot on the opening night (23rd March).

He chatted about the new live album 'Carpe Noctum', what they have in store for it, and all things our exhausted minds could cover.

Watch and listen...

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Aaron Buchanan and The Cult Classics nail it with

Former Heaven’s Basement vocalist is back with his new and interestingly named band The Cult Classics. Featuring sister Laurie on guitar, Tom McCarthy (guitars), Chris Guyant(bass) and Kev Hickman (drums, formerly of Raveneye).

Promising a 90’s sounding album with influences such as Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell, Scott Weiland and Queen it sounded an interesting project and with festival appearances at Download , HRH, and Ramblin’ Man Fair among others their live performances thus far seem to have backed up that promise. But could the album “The Man With Stars on His Knees” live up to the hype?

The answer is a resounding YES!!

The thunderous (if very short) opener ‘Show me What You’re Made Of’ hits you straight between the ears with its bass and drum into and heavy guitar riff.

The first single off the album ‘All The Things You’ve Said and Done’ follows. It’s autobiographical and at times an angry song but it’s got a great melodic fast tempo to it. A bit Alterbridge in sound with a catchy chorus, nice guitar solo it’s a great first release and well worth a hit on youtube.

Third track ‘Dancin’ Down Below’ again has a great melodic tempo to it with big hooks and effective guitar fills accompanying Buchanans’ powerful vocal you are already drawn right into this album.

‘The Devil That Needs You’ is a slightly catchier number considering its subject being about addiction. There is a solid heavy riff throughout whilst staying true to the melody and the middle to end section really gives you the feel of anguish and pain. Bit of a strange ending to it but it doesn’t detract from the overall tune.

At this point you get to take a breather with the mellow ‘Journey Out’. It has an overall more subdued sound both on vocal and guitar which is complemented by the tight rhythm section. A conflicting louder and deeper chorus is perfect as is the extended outro of atmospheric vocals over the guitar line.

Title track “The Man With Stars on His Knees” is next and is another mellow song giving Buchanan a chance to showcase the more soulful side of his vocal range, at least to start with as it dramatically builds into a driving, melodic riff laden song with a huge chorus and commanding vocal. It chills out again with a great Queen style harmonic guitar play off. Seriously well crafted song.

Track seven ‘A God Is No Friend’ is another atmospheric tune with strong and passionate vocals. It’s a song about keeping an open mind about life, yourself and the path you eventually follow.

‘Left Me For Dead’ with its slightly Hendrix guitar opening is a mid to fast paced song in tempo with a very strong guitar and rhythm section. Again theres a bit of an Alterbridge feel to it but other ears may pick up something different.

This was track eight and so far there is no filler at all.

To emphasise that point penultimate track ‘Mind of a Mute’ is a mean and dirty tune about self destruction and judgement. A stoner rock vibe to it fits the lyrical content perfectly and in terms of heavy it’s the heaviest song on the album.

The album finishes with what the bands PR guys described as “the incredibly elegant ‘Morals’. A showpiece song, stacked harmonies that closes the album in the best possible way”

Hard to disagree with that so if you can’t say it any better.....  

“The Man With Stars on His Knees” is a provocative album that deserves careful consideration. There’s a lot going on and one listen just doesn’t do it justice even if it does grab you from track one.

Buchanan himself said “the album is about struggle brought on by surrounding yourself with the wrong people at the wrong time”

Think they pretty much nailed it.

Review by Andy Gillen

NEWS: Ramblin Man adds UFO, Toseland, Stone Broken and Scorpion Child to an already burgeoning bill

RAMBLIN Man Fair has an already packed line-up for the festival at the end of July in Maidstone, Kent - think Saxon, ZZ Top, Extreme, Kansas, Dokken, Magnum, Black Star Riders, Glenn Hughes and many more.

But, not ones to rest on their laurels they've now added UFO - yes UF, fucking O, to the main stage.#

Also added to the already burgeoning bill are Toseland, Stone Broken and Scorpion Child...

And Trucker Diablo and Screaming Eagles are there too!

Here's the line-up...

Friday 28th July
Planet Rock Main Stage
Saxon (Main Stage Headliner)
Last in Line
Graham Bonnet Band
Saturday 29th / Sunday 30th July

Planet Rock Main Stage
ZZ Top (Main Stage Headliner / UK Festival exclusive)
Extreme (Main Stage Headliner / UK Festival exclusive)
Black Star Riders (Special Guests)
U.F.O (Special Guests / UK Festival exclusive)
Dokken (UK Exclusive)
Supersonic Blues Machine (First Ever UK Show)
Glenn Hughes
Blues Pills
Monster Truck
Danny Worsnop
British Lion
Jared James Nichols
Stone Broken

Prog in the Park Stage
Kansas (Prog in the Park Stage Headliner)
Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash
I Am The Morning
The Gift

Blues Stage
Joanne Shaw Taylor (Blues Stage Headliner)
The Quireboys (Blues set)
Tyler Bryant
Aaron Keylock
Big Boy Bloater

Outlaw Country Stage
The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band (Headliner)
Dan Baird & Homemade Sin
Steve “N” Seagulls
Whiskey Dick
Jessica Lynn
Caitlin Koch

Grooverider Stage
Rival Sons (Headliner)
Vintage Caravan
The Kyle Gass Band
The Picture Books
Scorpion Child
Dirty Thrills

LIVE REVIEW: Armored Saint precise pounding batters Belfast's Limelight into glorious submission

FOR more than 30 years Armored Saint have carved a sometimes lonely path as one of those acts that were in the thrash vanguardthat swept all in its path in the mid-80s, a style of music that combined with the pure metal thrust with the pulse of a punk-like attitude.

And, in 2017 as they undertake a mini-tour backing their live release 'Carpe Noctrum' the energy and drive of the band is undiminished, showing sheer joy at being on the stage.

Before they took to the stage Northern Ireland's Sinocence battered the growing audience with 40-plus minutes with a set that displayed considerable weight and balance from the moment 'Long Way Down' opened the evening.

Noticeable was the heavy nature of the songs, some of the older tracks given slight tweaks live and benefiting from a rhythm section in the shape of Ben and Jim that had more heft than many so-called headline acts can manage - something John Bush mentioned later.

Moro and Anto were in top form as they weaved their way through guitar lines that were punchy and almost telepathic in the delivery. 'A Coda To Self Slaughter' and 'Ascension Code' were among the highlights with the speedy and mighty 'Metalbox' melting all in its path.

Armored Saint declare at the end of their set that we will get a 'Left Hook From Right Field' but it was the one two combination of 'Win Hands Down' and 'March of the Saint' that set the tone for their 90-minute set.

John Bush a bundle of smiles, cajoling all to join in with every chorus, wiping sweat from his head as Joey prowled pounding out basslines as if his life depended on it.

Plundering songs from the start of their career to their latest release this was a precise pounding from a happy band to a happy audience. Whether it was 'An Exercise in Debauchery' or 'Can U Deliver' the energy was contagious.

Jeff and Phil manoeuvre axes and stage presence with a deft touch of a battering ram with a silk tip to the tonnage thrusting from the stage.

Their work on 'Aftermath' and 'In An Instant' was remarkable, which given the circumstances was pure mastery. Those circumstances were explained by Bush when he revealed that the Dublin and Belfast shows would not have happened without Sinocence lending Armored Saint their backline; dedicating a song to them and saying the Saint was "a mess" and Belfast must back the Sinners.

That statement of them being a mess was part of the self-deprecating humour the band displayed, with a knowing wink.

'Last Train Home' induced a mass-singalong that was matched by 'Reign In Fire' before Bush declared that under normal circumstances they wouldn't be going back to their changing area for the crowd to chant as there was only dirty clothes in the curtained area. Nevertheless the crowd chanted...

The final blows of 'Left Hook From The Right Field' concluded their second visit to Belfast...a visit that we can but hope will be repeated soon...

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh

ALBUM REVIEW: Monumentum out Eclipses Eclipse!

Swedish melodic hard rockers Eclipse released what many regarded as album of the year Armageddonize in 2015.
To equal or even top that was going to be difficult but in new release “Monumentum” not only have they done that, they may have blown it out of the water...it’s that good! Eclipse have developed a melodic, hard and heavy sound that grabs you by the balls from the start and doesn’t let go of its grip.

Fast tempo opener ‘Vertigo’ is broken up with solid riffs and has a nice lyrical play on words comparing the world as having vertigo spinning round and round.

“Never Look Back” has a heavy driving riff with a massive hook and chorus. A slower middle section adds to the song as it picks up the pace again.

A number of songs on the album have darker and painful lyrics, ’Never Look Back’ being one of them but it’s more noticeable on ‘Killing Me’. A slightly slower tempo song initially it switches between fast and slow tempo and the vocal delivery from Erik is in a slightly lower register. A great underlying riff and harmonised background vocals make this a killer song with a nice solo from Magnus.

“The Downfall of Eden”  continues the darker theme. A serious song about the Earths plight with lines such as ‘let the children be our judge’ gives you the general idea. A mid to fast tempo number with Celtic sound in places it has with most Eclipse songs that powerful bass and drum combination from Magnus Ulfstedt and Philip Crusner.

‘Hurt’ is next up and is a power ballad with a difference as it’s about a break up. It fills out from about 1min 30s in and features a powerful, moodier vocal delivery filled with pain with a melodic solo that is pure gold.

‘Jaded’ has a guitar/vocal intro that builds into a good old fashioned rocker with a great heavy riff throughout. Again there are deeper lyrics to this song.

A typical Eclipse song has power combined with melody, huge hooks and choruses and a driving rhythm section and this is well demonstrated on ‘Born to Lead’ which features a cracking solo.

Before you know it you are at track 8 ‘For Better or For Worse’. A slightly more modern sounding song. It’s basically a love song but a fast paced one with more great guitar work.

The heavier ‘No Way Back’ follows. A fast paced guitar intro leads to that heavier sound which is driven along with a great bridge into the excellent solo. The abrupt end just adds to its impact.

‘Night Comes Crawling’ continues in the same vein but is a slightly catchier song but still a typical Eclipse tune full of power, rhythm and great lead and background vocals.

The whole album has been building to the climactic ‘Black Rain’. The heaviest song on the album which has a classic bass and drum section. With its killer chorus, guitar solo and a nice keyboard outro it’s possibly the best track on the album.

With the ‘Armageddonize’ sound coupled with the darker, moodier lyrics “Monumentum” has raised the bar for this genre of music and with Martensson and Henricksson becoming a writing force to be reckoned with this album should see Eclipse playing higher up festival gigs than they currently are and hopefully gain a wider audience outside of Europe. They certainly deserve it, a pre-order must!!!

Review by Andy Gillen

Eclipse are :

Erik MÃ¥rtensson – lead vocals, guitars

Magnus Henricksson – guitars

Philip Crusner – drums

Magnus Ulfstedt – bass

LIVE REVIEW: Limelight pummelled by Napalm Death abetted by Black Skies Burn, Warpath and War Iron

Although Sunday night's gig in the Limelight was ostensibly simply part of grindcore legends Napalm Death's 'Apex Predator – Easy Meat' tour, it may as well have been subtitled “Pummel Your Fucking Face Off”, such was the ferocity of the four bands on the bill.

First up, grindcore stalwarts Black Skies Burn took to the task of warming up the growing crowd with glee, firing out their short, sharp and furiously profane songs like a big, dirty flame thrower.
Describing themselves as “deathcore disco”, they certainly tick all of the required boxes, with riffs that could saw through walls, bass that sets the furniture trembling and all but indecipherable lyrics.

That their set contains a song called 'Ashes to Ashes, Turd to Turd', about “shitting on dead people”, tells you all you need to know about the band...

By the time local doom/sludge metallers War Iron take to the stage the room is filling up nicely
Front man Baggy is imposing in both stature and voice, with a clawing vocal style that is laden with menace. Accurately (and wittily) describing themselves as “the heavy in a grind sandwich”, they tackle their ponderous and wrecking ball-heavy tunes with aplomb, much to the delight of the crowd.

Unlike the previous act, their songs ebb, flow and meander in absolutely no rush at all, resulting in a set that consists of three or four songs at most – not that anyone seems to mind in the slightest.

Warpath are next, again showing just how varied the acts are on tonight's bill: this time, it's a wee bit of “brutal” death metal to really clear out your eardrums

With both and high and low pitched shredding vocals over relentlessly paced death metal, they're as heavy as a sledgehammer and about as subtle, too – intricacies be damned! The crowd respond in appropriately raucous fashion, with headbanging aplenty and even a small moshpit.

Their set flies by seemingly in a minute; always a sign of a talented and entertaining band.

At approximately ten minutes to ten, Napalm Death manage to surprise everyone – including the sound guy, no doubt – by appearing onstage early (unheard of at a rock gig!).

After beginning in relatively calm fashion with their intro track and the title track vocal from their latest album, they then launch headlong into a rambunctious and blizzard-like set with 'Evolved As One'.

Latest album Apex Predator – Easy Meat gets a hefty airing tonight, with no less than seven tracks woven throughout their ninety minute long set, along with favourites such as 'The Code Is Red...Long Live the Code', 'Scum' and of course, the ubiquitous and record breaking 'You Suffer', after which vocalist Mark 'Barney' Greenaway smirks “keep up!”.

Greenaway himself is in fine fettle, covering every inch of the stage in his usual “toddler throwing a tantrum” style, complete with stamping feet and flailing head.

The crowd, who expect absolutely no less from their legendary front man, respond rapturously and in kind – truly, it's hard to tell who is having more fun.

Bassist Shane Embury is mysteriously absent, however, with Greenaway referring to a monumental cock-up and announcing his temporary replacement in the form of long time friend Jasper.

The band barely pause to take a breath during their entire set, much to the crowd's delight: a Napalm Death set is nothing if not value for money. Each song is met with delirious applause; each is like a hammer blow to the head. They wrap up with a trio of covers: 'Face Down In the Dirt', originally by the Offenders; Hirax's 'Hate, Fear and Power'; and a punchy version of the Dead Kennedy's 'Nazi Punks Fuck Off', now more relevant than ever in today's political climate.

Another new track, 'Adversarial/Copulating Snakes' brings the night's proceedings to a close, leaving both band and audience spent, sweaty and satisfied; truly, you'll never see a group of people so pleased to have had their faces pummelled and ears permanently damaged.

Review by Melanie Brehaut
Photography by Darren McVeigh