Pick Your Rock and Metal

Sunday, April 23, 2017

INTERVIEW: Welcome to the Massive Wagons world...

AS Massive Wagons prepared for their return to the Diamond Rock Club stage we grabbed a few minutes to chat about the band's progress and influences.

With their charity single tribute to Rick Parfitt coming out on Monday, we also managed to hear some of the reasons to buy 'Back to the Stack'.

Watch and listen below...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

NEWS: Accept to release latest album - The Rise of Chaos - in August

TEUTONIC mighty metal crew Accept just finished an extensive European tour - and have announced that they are immediately back in the game with a new studio album.

The record entitled 'The Rise Of Chaos', will be unleashed on August 4th, 2017. The band's fourth studio release through Nuclear Blast will continue the tradition of its three predecessors - 'Blood Of The Nations', 'Stalingrad', and 'Blind Rage' - with grandeur and precision.

And if this wasn't enough, Accept will celebrate the album's live premiere exclusively on August 3rd, on the day before its release, as a part of a special show at Wacken Open Air, Germany. The set will consist of three parts, which represent the band's creative power:

Part 1 will bring fans a classic Accept set, packed with new and old hits.
Part 2 will present another premiere: Wolf Hoffmann will be playing tracks from his solo album 'Headbangers Symphony', released in 2016, with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra for the very first time.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

NEWS: The Crawling announced as overall winners of Bloodstock 2016 Metal2TheMasses - snag big fest sot

FOR those with memories of last year's Metal2TheMasses The Crawling won the NI heats and snagged a slot at Bloodstock 2016.

They wowed the HobGoblin New Blood stage and as a result of their stunning set they have been declared overall winners of M2TM 2016.
The Crawling with Simon hall of
Bloodstock when they won M2TM
in May 2016

That's right, their miserably delightful, dark melancholy crushed all in their path, leaving English, Norwegian, Scottish and Welsh contenders in their wake.

Their prize includes a prestigious slot at the Slovenian Metaldays Festival.

With their album already achieving the sort of critical acclaim many long-established acts would love, and live performances that are destructive and jaw loosening, it's well deserved. Beware Slovenia, The Crawling are coming.

And, don't forget the 2017 Metal2TheMasses battle in NI continues with the second semi-final coming up on Friday, 5th May at the Voodoo and the final on May 12th. Get along on May 5th and have your say.

NEWS: Bloodstock announce yet more bands

BLOODSTOCK has six more bands lined up for the Sophie Lancaster stage and four lucky bands win slots on the New Blood stage to celebrate the start of the ‘Metal To The Masses’ finals.

Landing slots on the Sophie Lancaster stage are Leeds metal trio BLIND HAZE (www.facebook.com/Blindhazeban d), Italian power/classic metal outfit, ARTHEMIS (www.facebook.com/arthemis.off icial/), sludgy groove beasts GODS (www.facebook.com/therealgods) , symphonic goth outfit SEASON’S END (www.facebook.com/seasons.end) , Bristol progressive rockers ENDEAVOUR (www.facebook.com/EndeavourMet al) and classic rock n’ rollers, BLIND RIVER (www.facebook.com/pg/BlindRive rUK).

Bloodstock is also thrilled to welcome back Last.fm as sponsors of the Sophie Lancaster stage for 2017. Check out their Spotify playlist of bands on the Sophie stage and get excited for August!  https://play.spotify.com/user /lastfmofficial/playlist/2mbVU 7viKYgRh5CPhhOwl8

BLOODSTOCK’s ever tenacious search for the best breaking bands culminates soon with the kick off of the ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ finals on 22nd April.  The festival’s incentive to give up-and-coming acts a break by offering slots on the bill at Catton Park has helped give many acts a career launchpad and the finals see the M2TM team narrowing it down and picking their winners for 2017.  This year, M2TM ran in 29 UK regions, plus events in Ireland and Norway to find bands for the New Blood Stage.  Attendees at the finals can also win weekend festival tickets or prizes from our sponsors, Kraken rum and Hobgoblin ale.  The lucky bands winning a slot on the New Blood stage will also be in with a chance of landing extra goodies from our friends at Gibson Guitars, Studiomaster & Carlsbro or recording time with Russ Russell at his Parlour Studios in Northampton (http://www.parlourstudios.co. uk/).

Having won a slot on BLOODSTOCK’s New Blood stage in 2016, the Northern Irish band, THE CRAWLING are announced as winners of Metal 2 The Masses’ prize of a slot at the Slovenian festival, Metaldays.  Congratulations to them!
BLOODSTOCK is also proud to announce the first bands landing a slot on the Hobgoblin New Blood stage, hand picked from CD and online applications.  Hailing from Beirut, Lebanon are BLAAKYUM (www.facebook.com/blaakyum).  The band’s blend of thrash & groove metal is infused with crushing Middle Eastern percussion and oriental guitars.  Check out ‘Baal Adon’ live - https://youtu.be/6KwsoLIHKVE.

British power-proggers DAKESIS (www.facebook.com/dakesis) also land a slot.  The band’s sound ranges from powerful metal anthems to expansive, progressive instrumental and orchestral soundscapes.  Check out ‘The Great Insurrection’ here - https://youtu.be/a_rcIORrxFo.
Norway’s NORDJEVEL (www.facebook.com/nordjeveloff icial) will bring some black metal to the New Blood bill.  Featuring ex-Ragnarok and Marduk members in their ranks, their pedigree is second to none.  Check out their video for ‘Djevelen I Nord’ here - https://youtu.be/zS1YAM7KdvQ.
Lastly, British groove metal animals, TORQUED (www.facebook.com/Torquedband) also win a slot.  They claim they’re here to ‘rip faces and blow gauges’.  Decide for yourself by checking out their set at in August!

Bands still wanting to throw their hat in the ring for a New Blood slot can apply via the Hobgoblin video upload platform - https://www.wychwood.co.uk, or by contacting simon@bloodstock.uk.com for further details.


BLOODSTOCK takes place at Catton Park, Derbyshire on 10th-13th August 2017.  Standard weekend camping tix are on sale at £139 (+ booking fee) and car parking tickets (at a cheaper price than ‘on the day’ purchase) from http://bloodstock.seetickets.c om.  Children’s weekend tickets are also available, priced £35 (+ booking fee) and under 4’s go free!  All VIP tickets and camper van packages are now SOLD OUT!

ALBUM REVIEW: Dead Daisies capture the energy on Live and Louder

THE problem reviewing live albums when you are “of a certain age” is the temptation to draw comparisons with the classics like UFO’s Strangers In The Night, MSG’s Live at Budokan and Iron Maiden's Live After Death.

A live album has to capture the energy of the crowd and transport you there to see the musicians sweat, smell the pyro and get the buzz you only get at live gigs. When you’ve been lucky enough to see the band playing on the tour during which the album was recorded you have a fair idea what to expect.

With the Dead Daisies you have charismatic front man John Corabi, you know, the guy who sang on Motley Crue’s ‘best’ album, steady and original member David Lowry on rhythm guitar, the powerhouse duo of Marco Mendoza (bass) and Brian Tichy (drums) and Dee Snyder’s mate Doug Aldrich on lead guitar, a player who just seems to get better and better, so you know that it’s going to rock and most of all.... be fun! Something that seems to have been replaced by the mundane reality of social media.
And 'Live and Louder' is a fun album.

‘Long Way To Go’ kicks off proceedings with a bang. Its AC/DC style riff and thunderous playing of Tichy and Mendoza gives the show a high energy start. Corabi is already in fine fettle on the mic and Aldrich’s fills and solo already drag you in to vibe.

Moving straight into ‘Mexico’, a mid tempo rocker that keeps the energy high with Corabi quickly getting the crowd involved. Clearly the band are a well oiled machine and Aldrich produces the first of many blistering solo’s.

Recorded in various European venues ‘Make Some Noise’ from Vienna really does. Starting with a bit of Shredding from Aldrich and Tichy pounding the skins as if his life depended on it the crowd are fully engaged. It has a great riff throughout and produces that fun and enjoyment mentioned earlier.

‘Song and a Prayer’ is a solid, steady rocker with a great mix of riffs, hooks, Aldrich fills with Mendoza and Tichy as solid as ever. Mix in Corabi’s vocals and quickly becomes a crowd favourite.
Dead Daises like to throw in a cover or two of songs that influenced them when they were growing up and the brilliant version of Creedance Clearwater Revivals ‘Fortunate Son’ is the first one they play. Corabi is on top form on vocals.

‘We All Fall Down’ follows and has all the hallmarks of a classic rock song. Good solid riff, rhythm section complimented by the rhythm guitar, obligatory subtle key change and Aldrich knocking another one out of the park!

So far all the songs are from their second and third albums, “Revolución” and “Make Some Noise” but their first self titled album gets a run out with ‘Lock ‘n ‘ Load’. It’s a slower tempo song with Aldrich taking over the role originally played by Slash which he does with aplomb. A much more melodic sound to this song that breaks the set up nicely.

That slower tempo continues with the start of ‘Something I Said’ with Corabi in his element with the background vocals complimenting perfectly. However it soon turns into a bit more of a rocker mid way through it though with a sublime solo from Aldrich.

‘The Last Time I Saw The Sun’ is a song about being on the road and has a great slide guitar intro from Aldrich before a full on up tempo rocker takes over. Tichy and Mendoza are tighter than an err, tight thing and there’s bit of cowbell (there’s no such thing as too much cowbell!) There’s no doubt Aldrich is enjoying playing in this band.

The Who’s ‘Join Together’ is next to get the cover treatment. With a voice box used to good effect to open and Corabi doing a great job on Daltry’s vocals which at their Belfast gig was a personal favourite of the Rock Radio N.I. legend that is Davy Warren! This is the song where Corabi whips the crowd up with Tichy keeping the beat going and Aldrich deploying the voice box again. You really get a feel for the atmosphere on this one.

‘With You and I’ follows with Corabi telling the now totally enthralled audience to pay special attention to the lyrics as there’s so much shit going on all over the world. There’s a great groove to this song with the band really laying it down.

Band introductions are next with wee snippets of AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith and Judas Priest thrown in to keep the crowd fully involved!

‘Mainline’ is jokingly introduced as a ballad as it’s far from it and is the fastest and heaviest song in the set. With its slightly punky feel to it, it is pure raw energy from start to finish with a tip of the hat to Mendoza for a great bass line.

Three more cover songs follow starting with the Beatles song ‘Helter Skelter’ (originally on their Face I Love ep). Having been covered by bands like Motley Crue, Gillan, Aerosmith and Guns ‘n’ Roses this is probably one of the better versions, especially live!

This is followed up with an up tempo, hard hitting version of the Grand Funk Railroad song ‘American Band’ and the Dead Daisies do indeed “come to your town to help you party it down”

Amazingly we are at the final song and after a bit of banter with the crowd they unleash the full on riff attack that is ‘Midnight Moses’, originally by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.  Driven by Mendoza and Tichy, a nice rhythm guitar line from Lowry and Corabi still singing at full throttle Aldrich lets rip again on the lead and it’s a great ending to the album.

If you saw them on their recent tour this will take you right back to that night as it’s total in your face Rock’n’Roll that few bands in this genre are capable of. If you missed them you NEED this album, actually you need it even if you were there!

Review by Andy Gillen

NEWS: Queen & Adam Lambert to play Belfast in November

QUEEN with Adam Lambert will play Belfast's SSE Arena on November 26th, promising a state-of-the-art show.
Tickets priced, ah hem, at the 'reasonable' price from £74 (inc. booking fee) are on sale this Friday 21 April at 9am.

Venue pre-sale on-sale from Wednesday from 9am, and Queen and Adam Lambert Fan club pre-sales on-sale available at the same time. VIP Packages available include an on-stage seating package!

For their 2017 tour, the band will unveil a brand new show including a specially designed state-of-the-art production. The choice of performance material will no doubt acknowledge this year’s 40th anniversary of Queen’s biggest-selling studio album to date, News of the World from 1977, which yielded the immortal anthems ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are the Champions’.

Queen drummer and co-founder Roger Taylor insists the 2017 tour “will look entirely different to the show we took around before. Production has really changed a lot, the things you can do now, you have a much broader palette, the technology has really come along.

“But we don’t use it all. We don’t play to click track. It’s 100% live. We're planning on doing stuff we either haven't done before or haven't done for a long time. We started as an albums band, that's what we were. The fact that we had hits was just a byproduct.”

Guitarist Brian May confirms Queen’s 2017 shows will have a more ambitious musical agenda:

“The general public knows the hits, so you've got to cater for that,” he said, “but we can chuck in a few things that people really don't expect. We’ll do quite a bit more of that this time around. There are so many dimensions to Adam, which of course fits with our music. He can get down and do the rock stuff really dirty, and you have all those dimensions, and we can explore that even more.”

Adam Lambert welcomes the challenge of digging deeper into the band’s canon of classics.

“What people should know if they came to the shows a couple of years back, is obviously we will still be playing the big hit songs you know and love from Queen, but we thought it would be good to challenge ourselves a bit,” he explains.

“Change it up a little bit, change the visuals, change all the technology, change the set list to some degree. We will probably be pulling some other songs out of the Queen catalogue which we haven’t done before, which I am very excited about.”

Queen + Adam Lambert’s 2017 touring show has been custom tailored for the band by some of the world’s most cutting-edge creative talents. Responsible for design and production is Ric Lipson from Entertainment Architects Stufish Productions, renowned worldwide for their innovative work with artists such as Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, and U2, as well the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Making use of over 300 moving lights during the show is the highly acclaimed lighting designer Rob Sinclair, who has illuminated tours for major artists including Adele, Peter Gabriel and Kylie Minogue. The production’s genuinely eye-popping laser elements are the work of ER Productions, behind both the opening and closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics and seen by over 900 million people worldwide. On the musical side, the Queen + Adam Lambert touring band also features Spike Edney on keyboards, Neil Fairclough on bass, and Tyler Warren on percussion.

Since first sharing the stage for the American Idol final in May 2009, Queen + Adam Lambert have proved to be a hugely successful global partnership, having now played more than 90 shows in every corner of the world. In summer 2012 they played their first full live shows across Europe, making their spectacular official debut in front of half a million people in Kiev.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Axel Rudi Pell pulls out another collection for Ballads V including three new tracks

GERMAN virtuoso guitarist Axel Rudi Pell has been plying his trade for over 30 years now. Originally in German metal outfit Steeler in 1989 he decided to go solo, producing no less than 23 studio albums in the process, including several compilations.

Fans of ARP will know his albums follow a standard formula. Fast paced rockers where he can show off his shredding ability, sweeping epic tracks, the odd cover version and ballads, and it’s the ballads that have proven popular amongst fans.

To that extent he released the first compilation Ballads in 1993.

In 1997 Pell hired ex (and now current) Hardline vocalist Johnny Gioelli who has one of the best voices in rock and the band have gone from strength to strength.

2017 sees the release of “Ballads V” on April 21st. Again these albums follow a standard formula, previously released tracks mixed with some new ones. Ballads V, weighing in at a whopping 73 minutes has three brand new songs and seven songs available on other albums (listed below) including a previously unreleased live version of one of them.

The album opens with the three new tunes starting with first single ‘Love’s Holding On’, featuring Bonnie Tyler on guest vocals. It’s a duet with Johnny Gioeli, and it works really well. Tyler not being quite as raspy as in her youth and Gioelli blending nicely without overshadowing her. As usual Pell’s subtle guitar playing and tone shines brightly. As duets go it’s a pretty good song and start to the album.

Second song is a cover version of Ed Sheehan’s ‘I See Fire’. Yes, you read that correctly....Ed bloody Sheeran! Probably best known by fans of the film The Hobbit the band replaces the acoustic guitar with a nice piano part and add a sublime solo to the end. Gioelli’s passionate delivery and the always reliable rhythm section of Volker Krawczak on bass and Bobby Rondinelli on drums give the song the ARP treatment and really adds to the song.

The third new song is ‘On The Edge of Time’ which quite frankly is a classic already. A slow tempo start with a slightly Eastern feel to it builds into a searing ballad with Gioelli sounding as good as he ever has. Pell has been compared at times to Ritchie Blackmore and the solo on this has Blackmore’s stamp all over it, melodic and mesmerising in equal measures.

The next five songs are all from previous albums and are ‘Hey Hey My My’, ‘Lived Our Lives Before’, ‘When Truth Hurts’,  ‘Forever Free’ and ‘ Lost in Love’.

‘Hey Hey, My My’ is a great new take of the Neil Young’s original and this version was apparently inspired by TV show Sons of Anarchy.

‘Lived our Lives Before’ is a powerful ballad with the whole band on top form, melodic with a sweet guitar tone from Pell, great hooks and Gioelli again showing his prowess as a singer.

‘’When Truth Hurts’ opens with Gioelli’s vocals layered over a nice piano intro. A slow tempo song with some majestic, melodic playing by Pell: a song about a love lost conveyed perfectly by the vocal and guitar arrangements.

Track seven ‘Forever Free’ continues in the same vein but with a grittier guitar sound and haunting keyboards in the background. A slightly heavier sound almost takes it out of the ballad category, but not quite. Great solo on it too.

‘Lost in Love’ is up next. Another slow haunting opening focusing on Gioelli, it seems to be about being in love but the line “But the truth really lies” suggests a darker, one-sided affair with an element of pain to it. A beautifully written and performed song.

The final two tracks also feature on other albums but the penultimate track ‘The Line’ is a previously unreleased live version recorded at ARP’s co-headlining Rock Of Ages festival in 2016. It’s a great live version of the original 17 year old song with a heavier guitar sound and sublime solo from Pell.

Last track ‘Mistreated’ is a cover of the Deep Purple classic featuring Doogie White (Michael Schenker’s Temple of Doom) on lead vocals and erstwhile Rainbow keyboardist Toney Carey. There’s been many versions of this song but few will match this as Pell’s Blackmore comparison is never more evident than it is on here, he totally nails it!

There is a bit more emphasis on the new tunes as fans of ARP will already know the other ones but if you are relatively new to the band then ‘Ballads V’ is a good a place as any to start as its one of the best of the series and guaranteed to have you delving into his back catalogue.

Review by Andy Gillen

The band-

Axel Rudi Pell – Guitars

Johnny Gioelli – vocals

Volker Krawczak – bass

Ferdy Doernberg – keyboards/piano

Bobby Rondinelli – drums

Track listing :

Love’s Holding On ( feat. Bonnie Tyler)

I See The Fire (Ed Sheeran cover)

On The Edge of Time

Hey Hey My My (Into The Storm 2014)

Lived our Lives Before (Circle of The Oath 2012)

When Truth Hurts (Into The Storm 2014)

Forever Free (Games of Sins 2016)

Lost in Love (Games of Sins 2016)

The Line (The Masquerade Ball 2000)

10.Mistreated (25th Anniversary Special show)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

INTERVIEW: Last Great Dreamers chat as they settle down in the Diamond for their support slot with The Quireboys

ON the second evening of a two-date slot supporting The Quireboys we grabbed some time to catch up with the Last Great Dreamers as they prepare for the next stage in their ongoing revival.

This is what they had to say:

NEWS: Stranglewire to launch The Games They Play as 7" in June

STRANGLEWIRE launched their first track 'The Games They Play' as a band in February, collecting, as they say, a clatter of views in hours, 10,000 people checking out the first outing of the experienced musician's psychological death metal.

What do you mean you haven't heard it! Well the video is below, but in more exciting news they are to do that old fashioned thing by releasing the track on 7" vinyl , paired with song 'The Narcissist'.

Set to be released on June 16th the pre-Order link is here: https://grindscene.myshopify.com/collections/vinyl/products/strangle-wire-narcissism-7-pre-order-release-date-17-06-2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: Too Much Of A Good Thing? Not when The Qurieboys play The Diamond Rock Club

AUDIENCE drunk, band half-cut, PA booming out - all boxes ticked for The Quireboys playing the Diamond Rock Club - 'This Is Rock 'n' Roll' and this was rock 'n' rill in its finest, glorious excess.

There is always a sense of occasion when Spike and co play, and the camaraderie between the band and the audience is no forced shenanigan, but is rather an intimacy that comes not from excessive adoration, but from a forged friendship rather than over familiarity.

Getting the party started were the Last Great Dreamers. Since the resurrection of the band three years ago there is a sense of reclaiming lost time, a determination to stun once more.

With their latest release 'Last Transmission From Oblivion' receiving acclaim their set on Saturday (8th April) captures their diverse soundscape.

Tracks such as 'Crash Landing in Teenage Heaven' and 'No 1 Wonderboy' receive a warm welcome from a crowd that isn't half as dapper looking as the Last Great Dreamers.

With this the second night of The Quireboys two night stand in the Diamond the band seem relaxed as they mingle beforehand and chat amiably.

But any sense that they were not going to rip it up on stage disappears the moment they mount the stage. 'Too Much Of A Good Thing'? Nah, never enough of the good things that The Quireboys provide.

Guy and Paul trade smooth licks as Keith provides the texture from the keys - and while the band could always rely on the hits from the 80s, the fact that they have released an album a year from 2013 to 2016 means they have as many new(ish) tracks to air.

'Twisted Love' and 'Mona Lisa Smiled' are among the many highlights as the vagabond gypsy rockers keep it all in the right mood.

The melancholia of  lost love is matched by the music of triumph, emerging from real heartbreak through to passion re-discovered.

Sure 'Hey You' is aired, but the newer tracks are those that capture the aural tracts, ensnare the senses and urge you to enjoy another quaff of alcohol bliss.

Being joined on stage Last Great Dreamers just adds to the sense of a party that could have went on all night.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Lizzie Torbitt




Saturday, April 08, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: Metal2TheMasses first semi final pumps out the jams in the Voodoo

WITH five bands vying for a slot in the final of Northern Ireland's Metal2TheMasses, and a chance to play at Bloodstock, Belfast's Voodoo was given a sound thrashing with acts, all with their eyes set on the prize.

Indeed the competition was fierce for the three places in the May final, with many bringing friends and family along to bolster their chances in the audience vote (votes are 50% judges, 50% audience).

First to grace the stage were A Little Bitter, who were among those to début a new track amidst their set. With familiar melodic metal punch, reminiscent of mid-80s heft, but taking on board contemporary vibes they maintained a punchy effort throughout.

Within a few tracks the floor filled up - partly with Seamy wandering around, bass in hand. Among their heavier tracks Genghis was inflammatory with its mix of attack and soft threatening words. vastly underrated this outing proves there is an appetite for more releases from A Little Bitter.

Rosco's Riot version of the heavier end of the rock spectrum had their fans to the fore as they rolled out their riffage.

Tim's towering presence gives the act much stage presence as the band performed a solid set, with only the curious presence of an albeit brief drum solo questionable. Overall a sound that tries to combine the 90s with earlier periods of rock.

When you experience a technical fault mid-set, and have your guitarist holding his head in his hands many an act would have thrown in the towel. Not so for So Long Until The Séance (SLUTS). They took it in their stride (including the bass line of Grease's Summer Loving to alleviate the silence).

The schlock horror metal, including dark pop, had a real edge of humour. Great tunes with a nod and a wink to the crowd about the absurdist nature of the lyrical content. Sure, some may compare them a little to the Murderdolls but there is something uniquely Northern Irish about their take on the murderous laughter within.

With energy in abundance Lock Horns brought complex rhythms, full on wall of sound and windmill headbanging that had their set list levitating.

There is a primal sense of metal within their progressive bent, with an awesome sense of power pounding throughout their set. That said they are not afraid to add in some softer vocal moments as part of their musical tapestry. Within the overall heft there are some deft touches.

The emergence of Shrouded over the last 18 months has been phenomenal in terms of stage craft and musical dexterity. Melodic death metal is not the easiest genre for anyone to pull off with the intertwined lead lines from Dani and Shane as Jordy and Scott lay down an aural volcano of rhythm.

While many struggle to lay down their deathly mark on this genre across Europe and beyond this iteration of Shrouded have moved from bantam weight contenders to heavyweight bruisers vying for the belt.

With the five acts giving their all James Loveday was tasked with the enviable task of totting up the votes on his trusty abacus...many an accountant would have struggled with the complexity of the scoring system that applies to Metal2TheMasses.

As the weary crowd wandered home along Fountain Street the final calculation was complete. And, the three making their way to the final now have to muster up their best in front of Bloodstock's Simon Hall in four weeks time.

Proceeding to the final are:
SLUTS, Lock Horns and Shrouded

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

INTERVIEW: Chaotic interview? That'll be with Alestorm then at Hammerfest!

ALESTORM always put on a good show. When it comes to interviews things can be a little different - the word shambolic might come to mind.

We sat down with Gazz and Pete, who may have been pre-occupied with where to find Buckfast as Waylander wandered by...watch below.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

EP REVIEW: Neamhni nail their blackened sound down on Vermin

FROM the depth of Dante's hell - well the general Belfast area - Neamhni have been resurrected and are providing a storm of intense extreme blackened death on stages over the past several months. Can they translate this to a recording?

Given their development in the live arena harnessing that on to a three-track EP was a considerable challenge, given that this is a self-released production, and their chosen style.

However, it is a collection of tracks that packs a considerable punch, and stays away from the clichés that often devil the outré areas of extreme metal.

Across all the tracks there is a melding of black metal and death metal, but with a sensibility of that which went before the Norwegian and Floridian roots.

Opener 'Carmun' is a swift kick in face with a persistent riffing that tips a hat towards the likes of Immortal but is distinctly Neamnhi's own sound. There is enough within the track to show that there is nothing slavish about how the band are carving out a sound all of their own.

'Life Abandoned' has something nastily melodic within its attack: and that melody doesn't overpower or diminish the wall of sound within.

Indeed it is this balance that makes all the tracks on Vermin stand out. They are very aware that any release in the 'extreme' category can't be predictable; it must have the character of the band shining through.

This is evident on the stunning closer 'Entities Unknown'. Fury swung like a scythe and cutting like a scalpel. With a musical reference to traditional metal and enough snarl to frighten off the casual listener this is a track that encapsulates the ambition of Neamhni.

Sure, there are minor issues with the EP. The mix, occasionally, doesn't bring the best out from the sound. The lyrics are a little bit at times too steeped in others reference frames. However these are very minor quibbles.

What Vermin proves is that Neamhni are continuously emerging as a force to be reckoned with, a band screaming with potential, promise and worthy of taking this EP as a launching pad towards an album and more live excellence.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

LIVE REVIEW: Thunder push through the time barrier to deliver smooth rock excellence

FOR some time Thunder have been the go to band for AOR music, with a back catalogue that stirs many a heart of those that recall their halcyon days of the band ass chart masters. And, they are still churning out albums chock full of songs with their trademark sound.

Before Thunder took the stage on Friday (March 31st) there was the small matter of local heroes Trucker Diablo. However, whoever in their wisdom thought it was a good idea to open the doors as late as 8pm and then have the Big Truck start at 8:15 seems to have missed a trick.

That meant that Trucker were playing their first few tracks to a Mandella Hall that was at best half full as the queue for the sold-out show was snaking well beyond the length of the QUB Students' Union.

Undaunted Trucker Diablo ripped through an all-too brief slot. Raucous and melodic with more hooks than a fisherman on crack songs such as 'Party Like It's The End of the World' and 'Drive' for those already familiar were quick to join in.

'Drink Beer, Destroy' may have been a little too fast paced for the older audience members, but it was greeted by the Trucker fans as the anthem to excess that it is.

Concluding with 'Rebel' the Big truck is rolling well; and with a new album and UK festival dates it is clear that this rock 'n' roll 'Juggernaut' is going to crush all in its path.

The last time Thunder played in Belfast they were openers in the cavernous SSE Arena, and were denied the full PA and light show. Still that night they nearly stole all the plaudits.

With new album 'Rip It Up' receiving plaudits the band took the bold step of opening with two tracks from it, namely 'No One Gets Out Alive' and 'The Enemy Inside'.

With it being the last night of this leg of the tour to support 'Rip It Up' Danny Bowes make a point of encouraging ever louder responses from the crowd, through spoken words and gestures.

While this worked well for the first half of the show, it did become a little predictable and tiresome after a while to a crowd that was devoted to the band anyway. It was not needed in Belfast. The welcome was warm enough.

That aside there is no doubting the quality of the band's performance and the strength of the set.

Of course, the biggest roars were for the likes of 'Backstreet Symphony', Love Walked In' and closer 'Dirty Love', but that is not the whole story. The band have real presence in the live setting.

Danny's voice is as strong as ever, resonant and with a sweet tone like the finest of honey. Luke Morley's work on the guitar was as strong as ever. His solo slot had enough chops, runs and style that many a shredder would envy.

What, however, is clear that this is a band, not a collection of individuals. They have been together long enough to be comfortable on stage and the moves are not so much choreographed but instinctive awareness of what needs to be done to entertain.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Jamie Hunter