Pick Your Rock and Metal

Friday, June 30, 2017

INTERVIEW: Trucker Tom ready to get the Big Truck rolling into momentous months ahead of new songs and touring

IT'S an exciting few months ahead for the Big Truck as Trucker Diablo gears up for festival dates and the release of their latest set of soaring songs on 'Fighting for Everything'.

A series of slots at some of the most respected festivals in the UK will gather the legions of fans together once more and an acoustic show is set with the legendary Ginger Wildheart at the Diamond Rock Club.

We caught up with Tom Harte to chat about the next six exciting months, starting off with how the new album is coming along with just over three months until release.

"After being locked away for a few month recording our new album, it's time to fill the tank and cast some riffs to the wind," he said.

"We are nearly ready to mix the album and its gonna be a non stop riff monster with the usual trucker stamp on it.

"We will be releasing a new single and video shortly and we are excited to get things underway."

As to playing Trucker have a hectic schedule ahead.

"On the live front we will be starting off at the excellent Amplified festival, which we can't wait for, after that we are playing FUEL in Cardiff, so that kicks thing off nicely before we return to the mountain of rock and the much loved Steelhouse festival before rounded things off at the epic Ramblin' Man Fair."

And, come August there is a wee bit of unfinished business...

"Keeping the foot down, but distortion off we will be joining Ginger Wildheart at the Diamond Rock Club," said Tom. "He is a hero of ours and an honour for us to support him, we were offered a tour last summer but couldn't do it for family  reasons, so we're thrilled to help kick things off, and delighted to open what will be a memorable night."

The rest of the year promises to keep the Big Truck rollin'.

"After the gig with Ginger we will be concentrating on getting the album done followed by a UK tour and festival shows at Planet Rockstock and Rock n Roll Circus.

"After that we will be concentrating on getting the album done followed by a UK tour and festival shows at Planet Rockstock and Rock n Roll Circus at the end of the year. We are looking forward to getting the big truck rolling again!"

Thursday, June 29, 2017

NEWS: Let darkness descend in October as Belphegor brings their Toten Ritual tour with a dark host accompanying them

IN the dark days of October, when the spirits of the damned roam across the land a glorious gloom is set to descend upon Belfast. The European Toten Ritual Tour is coming...

The Black Metal Crusade 2017 brings Belphegor, Destroyer 666, Enthroned, NervoChaos and Nordjevel to our city on October 12th, a Thursday set to be marked in infamy as the Dark Lord resides in the Limelight.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday 5th July. No need to sell your soul in advance, at a mere £25 you too can join the metal court of Beelzebub.

But beware offending He who of many names: The Adversary, Belial, Lucifer, The Serpent of Old or Mephistopheles for he is the Archfiend...Place this date in your diabolical diary lest you miss the opening symphony of discord as this is an early show... Doors are at 5:30pm and the first band conjures evil intent a mere 15 dark minutes later.

Come to the Mass of metal massacre, join the Toten Ritual, and maybe have some of the Devil's Buttermilk too.

Ohh and Belphegor are releasing their new album Toten Ritual on September 15th...


NEWS: Day tickets for Bloodstock released and details for RAM Gallery unveiled

BLOODSTOCK release their day tickets at 9am tomorrow, 30th June!  Tickets will be priced at £60 (plus booking fee) and are available at http://bloodstock.seetickets.c om.  Four-day ‘weekend tickets with camping’ are also still available, priced £139 (plus booking fee).

Children’s weekend tickets are just £35 (+ booking fee) and under 4’s go free!  Weekend tickets are selling faster than ever this year and may well sell out entirely before festival weekend, so don’t delay if you want to guarantee access to the UK’s best metal weekender!

One thing that sets BLOODSTOCK apart from other festivals is festival founder, Paul Raymond Gregory’s on-site RAM Gallery.

In addition to showing selections from his own world-renowned portfolio, Paul invites some of his favourite rock & metal-related artists to exhibit.  This year he welcomes Berlin-based artist and illustrator, Eliran Kantor, who’ll show six pieces of work.  Eliran has created sleeve art for numerous metal artists including Testament, Soulfly, Iced Earth, and Hatebreed.

Returning to the RAM Gallery in 2017 is Orange County artist, Christian Sloan Hall, who show a few of the many pieces of work he’s created for our Friday headliner, AMON AMARTH.  Christian will be in the gallery to sign limited edition prints, which will be available for sale, so come by, say hello and snap up something extra special for your wall.  Also exhibiting will be Daniel P. Carter; artist, musician, and presenter of the BBC Radio 1 Rock Show.  Dan studied at the prestigious St Martins School of Art and has created sleeves for many albums, most recently Me And That Man’s debut (Nergal from Behemoth’s side project), ‘Songs of Love And Death’.  On the photography side, the RAM Gallery is also thrilled to welcome celebrated rock photographer, Paul Harries, who’ll show six photographic pieces from his incredible portfolio.

Adding a new flavour to the gallery this year is Heathen Waxworks.  Their hand-carved 3D candleware in a range of unique designs are based on RAM Gallery-appropriate mythical and esoteric themes; Nordic Storm, Pagan Woodland, Native American, Hammered Horror and Satanic Majesty.
Lastly but not leastly, regular RAM Gallery contributor and luthier Cynosure, creator of hand-made guitars as art, will be exhibiting two brand new bespoke instruments.  One of the new instruments is Saxon-inspired and will sit on the ‘Saxon Wall’ beside pieces of Paul Gregory’s original artwork for the British metal stalwarts.  The other….well, that’ll be a surprise.

The finals for this year’s ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ campaign steamroll on and BLOODSTOCK can now reveal the next round of winners landing a slot on the New Blood stage.  Livening up proceedings on Saturday are Merseyside winners REAPER (www.facebook.com/OfficialReap erUK), Nottingham champions RAISED BY OWLS (www.facebook.com/RaisedByOwls ), Burnley victors WARD XVI (www.facebook.com/WardXVI) and DECREPIT MONOLITH (www.facebook.com/decrepitmono lith) who landed the top spot in Newcastle.  The heavy riffage of PROGNOSIS (www.facebook.com/Prognosis1) who took first prize in Manchester, are added to Sunday’s bill.  BLOODSTOCK has also decided to extend an invitation to three other exceptional bands, so performing on Friday, are Dorset’s sludge/groove metallers THUUM (https://youtu.be/tyJfpdbE9Vs) and Carlisle’s runners up, the prog/tech death BLOOD THREAD (https://youtu.be/73sYRntuB94) .  Dublin’s second-placed NA CRUITHNE (https://youtu.be/Q5QzFgZFMq0) also join the bill Sunday, bringing a unique blend of groove & black metal, but with influences from traditional Irish, Scottish, and Breton music.

Ach! Enough of the blurb - just get yer tickets and come along!

ALBUM REVIEW: Jorn excels again on new platter Life on Death Road

HARD on the heals of his 2016 release “Heavy Rock Radio”, an album of cover songs that influenced or made an impression on a young Jorn Lande he has released a brand new album ‘Life on Death Road’.

Mostly written and co-produced with the Frontiers labels’ in-house producer Alessandro Del Vecchio, who is a fine musician in his own right (Hardline, Voodoo Circle) it has taken a pain staking 2 years to write.
This time Jorn has put together a band not of session musicians but consisting of Primal Fear members Alex Beyrodt (guitars), Mat Sinner (bass), Francesco Jovino (drums) and Del Vecchio himself on keyboards.
With this line up you would expect a mixture of heavy hitting guitar work along with great melodies and hooks and a powerhouse rhythm section combined with Jorn’s outstanding vocal capabilities and some Whitesnake and Dio influences. You might think you’ll know what you’re going to get if you are a Jorn fan but this album lifts him to a whole new level. There are also a couple of surprise guests!

Album opener and title track ‘Life on Death Road’ is a searing, blistering attack on your eardrums and senses. Fast, heavy with some great riffs and powerful drumming from Jovino it’s a seven odd minutes belter with the guests appearing on the guitar solos featuring Craig Goldy (Dio and now Dio Disciples) and Gus G (Firewind, Ozzy Osbourne, Arch Enemy and Kamelot to name a few) as well as Beyrodt himself.

Several other songs on the album follow in the same vein including ‘Love is The Remedy’ (with another shredding solo from Gus G), The Slippery Slope (Hangman’s Rope) and ‘Insoluble Maze (Dreams in The Blindness)’, the later being very reminiscent of a Dio-era song with a mixture of his own material and his time with Black Sabbath but it’s definitely Jorn’s song in terms of the vocal delivery.

There are a few more heavy rock style songs on the album like ‘Hammered to The Cross (The Business)’ with its slower riff and classic steady bass and drum lines, ’Devil You Can Drive’, with a nice keyboard part from Del Vecchio and ‘Man From The 80’s’ which lyrically will resonate with those of a certain age!!

Of course there are a couple of ballads. ‘Dreamwalker’ with a piano intro that suggests a standard ballad but which explodes into something a lot more along the lines of a power metal ballad, melodic with strong vocals, great guitar solo and a nice three part harmony vocal to finish.

The real full on ballad on the album is the wonderful ‘The Optimist’. Co-written by Gus G it has a mixture of subtle guitar, bass, drums and keyboard lines and Jorn can’t help himself  dipping back into his last album with some lyrical nods to the likes of Kate Bush with the term cloud busting being used as one example (see if you can spot a few others…).

Finally we come to the David Coverdale/Whitesnake influenced songs. Again they are all Jorns and not a copy cat like say on The Snakes’ album. ‘Fire to The Sun’, however, could’ve been on Whitesnake’s 1987 album and not been out of place, with the whole band in full flow with hard kicking drums and a great melodic solo from Beyrodt. ‘I Walked Away’ is a more bluesy song in the style of the early Snake or Coverdale solo era with a solid rhythm section and Jorn showing off his vocal range from low end blues to higher end screams, again making it his own. A short but fantastic solo just makes the song work beautifully.

Album closer ‘Blackbirds’ is the last example of how early Whitesnake influenced Jorn with its opening vocal delivery and lyrics before morphing into something more from the late 80’s era with yet another great solo from Beyrodt.

In no way are any of these songs ‘tribute’ songs, they clearly show their influence but are delivered with passion and a more modern sound thanks to the great production from Lande and del Vecchio.

It’s hard to summarise an album roughly 70 minutes in length in a few words but for the King of Norwegian Heavy / Power metal vocals this may well be his crowning glory. Buy it, you won’t regret a minute of it.

Review by Andy Gillen

Life on Death Road is out now on Frontiers Music srl

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

NEWS: Wayward Sons set for album release - video released

FROM being solo artist, band member and producer Toby Jepson has moved on to his next project, and it's a pretty exciting one for lover of hard rock...here's the blurb:

Wayward Sons are delighted to announce the release of their debut album “Ghosts Of Yet To Come” on the 15th September through Frontiers Music Srl.

 Wayward Sons is a UK guitar act made up of Toby Jepson (Vocals/Guitar), Sam Wood (Guitar), Nic Wastell (Bass), Dave Kemp (Keys) and Phil Martini (Drums). They have an impressive resume of groups they have previously worked with – Little Angels, Gun, Spear Of Destiny, Treason Kings and Chrome Molly to name a few - which is reassuring in terms of the band as players, but doesn’t really hint at their sound. Wayward Sons sound nothing like the sum of their parts. The music is hard rock but mixed with a vitality and energy – both musically and lyrically.

The band is set to release four videos to support single releases. The videos together will make one short film. You can see the first video (for debut single 'Until The End') below.

'Ghosts Of Yet To Come' is a hugely accomplished debut album – as might be expected. From the staccato riffing of 'Give It Away' to the melodic intro of first single 'Until The End', from the hard rock of 'Ghosts' to 4/4 rock of 'Don’t Wanna Go', the album sounds familiar yet of its own.

Toby Jepson had the basis of songs written when the band formed. Together they then took these rough song ideas and forged their own sound. Lyrically the album sees Jepson treading a far more personal line than some of his previous output.

“I feel I have unfinished business, stories still left to tell, points to make, noise to create, all of the above... besides, it wasn't a choice, more of a need. My intention is very simple. I want to write about what makes me tick; about what I believe in. Hopefully you will believe in it too. It will be warts and all,” says Jepson.

The album was produced by Wayward Sons (Toby Jepson’s previous credits as a songwriter and producer include the likes of Katie Melua, The Virgin Marys, The Answer and Toseland) and Chris D’Adda (Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds).

“Ghosts Of Yet To Come” will at turns surprise, beguile and inspire…

Monday, June 26, 2017

NEWS: Black Star Riders re-sign with Nuclear Blast ahead of Warwick/Johnson Diamond show and Ramblin Man slot

Well - as you should know by now Black Star Riders' duo Ricky Warwkick and Damon Johnson are playing the Diamond Rock Club in Ahoghill on July 5th, and BSR will then have a series of shows including a main stage slot at Ramblin Man Fair.

Seems that it is a busy time for the guys on and off stage as they have announced a new worldwide deal with Nuclear Blast Entertainment.
 Back in 2012, Black Star Riders signed their first contract with Nuclear Blast Entertainment in the same year. Under the banner of the independent label, the band released three critically acclaimed albums: “All Hell Breaks Loose”, “The Killer Instinct” and “Heavy Fire”. [We can say that as we liked 'em too.]

Black Star Riders latest album “Heavy Fire” gained worldwide success reaching: #6 UK in the National chart, #11 in the German National chart, #91 in the USA Current Top Albums.

The band had the following to say about re-signing to Nuclear Blast Entertainment:

“Nuclear Blast have been there since the inception of Black Star Riders...believing in the band and most importantly the songs...after three very successful albums it's a no brainer for the band to stay where we belong.” – Ricky Warwick

 “NBE are one of the best labels I have ever worked with.  I am thrilled to continue Black Star Riders relationship with this great group of people!” – Scott Gorham

"What a pleasure working with the entire team at Nuclear Blast over the past five years. We look forward to the next five and beyond." – Damon Johnson

"So thankful to be apart of the Nuclear Blast family! Looking forward to our future together." – Robert Crane

Sunday, June 25, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Rabid Bitch of the North leave sweet sensations on the palette on Nothing But A Bitter Taste

AHH the heady days of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal - our formative years when the Friday Rock Show was gospel and a myriad of bands infused musicality with punk attitude. Even for the younger generation - weaned on the bands, or simply introduced by friends it was an era that cemented the future of metal.

Thus, every time Rabid Bitch of the North take to the stage - cut-offs (or battle jackets as they are now called...), bullet belts and associated apparel they invoke that special time in the history of hard rockin' metal music.

With the imminent release of their latest assault of on aural tracts across the land 'Nothing But A Bitter Taste' they have a lot to live up to.

Across all eight tracks they pummel the listener with clear intent to do sweet glorious damage to all - a three-piece that pulls out all the weapons in their armoury.

While the comparisons with the classic era of NWOBHM are evident, this is just not an exercise in re-treading the riffs of old. Rather they take their influences and wear them on their sleeves.

The likes of 'Chance' and the title track meld melody - in both guitar and vocals - with muscle. The slightly unorthodox approach to arrangements and changes of tone mess with the memories and transform them into a new, fresh interpretation. They are self-confessed NWOBHM, but this is simply great metal.

Joe's voice reaches registers that terrifies the Metal Mansion's dog - he ran out with his tail between his legs while 'Trapped in 1999' was playing. And, yes the comparisons with Halford do occasionally surface, but it is no slavish copy of the Priest frontman, even if the band do confess to that being a big part of the fare they chose to work upon.

With Joe's bass and Chris's drums they make a solid base for Gerry's explorations across the fret board, with the notable Lizzy/Celtic doff of the cap on 'Gilded Man' surfacing to complete a manic track.

There are two tracks well familiar to fans already, live and on recorded output. 'Defending Two Castles' and 'Trapped in 1999'. These retain their power and round off the album. However, one gets the sense that the other six tracks will get their place in the hearts of the growing number of those appreciating what Rabid Bitch of the North are set to achieve.

Across all the songs there is a sense that the band's honest approach, combined with wit and earnest lyricism has been finally been captured on what is not yet the complete definitive collection of Rabid Bitch of the North recorded material.

That day will come in due course, but for now the three guys have carved out an album that will stand the test of time; an album that is fun to listen to, fun to singalong with, and one - if you have any sort of metal heart - will have those neck muscles getting a damn good work out banging your fucking head.

Rabid Bitch of the North has us all getting a little frothy around the lips at how good this is!

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Nothing But A Bitter Taste is released on August 18th. It is available for pre-order now, with shipping from 10th August, here.

Listen to The Missionary, lead track from Nothing But A Bitter Taste here:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Goatwhore gore the aural tracts on album number 7 - Vengeful Ascension

GOATWHORE some five or six years ago seemed to be stuck in a rut, they're blackened metal somewhat re-treading their own sound a little too much. However, on 2014's 'Constricting The Rage of the Merciless' there was more than a hint they were shaking themselves up.

Now, with 'Vengeful Ascension' the NOLA men have matured their sound, taken a risk and produced a finely balanced album full of musical and lyrical layers.

Whether it was the decision to record reel-to-reel, use a different producer, or just a band sensing it was time to shake things up a bit matters not because Goatwhore have unleashed their finest to date.

More nuanced, matching their instinct to riff in a BM style, but with subtle notes - like a fine well rounded red wine, Vengeful Ascension is a triumph.

Even the tribal tom tom runs that open the album on 'Forsaken' are the drumbeat announcing the arrival of a band wanting and needing to demonstrate that they are an extreme metal force to be reckoned with.

The atonality of the playing is counter-balanced with further incorporation of more classic metal progressions and melodies is further enhanced throughout as exemplified on 'Under the Flesh and Into The Soul' opening riffs and pacey passages.

Pace is an issue in terms of album's arrangement many bands struggle with, but Goatwhore pull it off magnificently halfway through with the slow menace of 'Where The Sun Is Silent' - true atmospheric metal...

Sammy Duet's workouts are impressive throughout, often displaying more deft touches, while L.Ben Falgoust's vocals have refreshing variety.

It is also an album that touches on many themes, from the Luciferean metaphor on the title track for the struggles to achieve success through to the imminent human self-destruction on 'Mankind Will Have No Mercy'.

'Chaos Arcane' rage and pace is sheer delight, apparently based on an HP Lovecraft story, reeks of all humanity's deep fears and Duet pummels along with Simmons and Harvey propelling the track along at breakneck speed, punctuating a slowed down section with finely balanced fills an runs.

This standout track showcases the evolution of Goatwhore - their ability to blend black metal, thrash, elements of death and tradition metal is now more clearly to be seen. Don't, however, think of this as some sort of crossover.

Instead regard this as a band recording an album not afraid to show off their influences without any slavish doffs of the cap, but producing their own vision.

And, it is a darkly wondrous vision.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Vengeful Ascension is out now on Metal Blade

LIVE REVIEW: Alter Bridge deliver elegant power in Belfast

ALTER Bridge's stock has never been so high, with their last release 'The Last Hero' solidifying an already high estimation. Yet, the live arena seems, on the evidence of the show in Belfast's Ulster Hall on June 21st this is where they excel.

But on the longest day of the year it felt like an eternity, rather than 30 minutes, listening to the openers Red Sun Rising.

There is nothing wrong with their music, it has melody and AOR hooks aplenty, but doesn't seem to fit well in a sweaty venue. At times it is almost insipid and seems almost aimed at American soft rock radio stations.

The evidence was clear by the amount of people populating the bar and smoking areas at the end of their set. Having said that the couple of dozens who did remain at the front were seeming to enjoy the set and the apparent congeniality of the band.

There was nothing insipid or middle of the road about Alter Bridge's arrival on stage - full of intent, striding tall but never appearing arrogant and musically kicking out the proverbial jams.

Shit - three of these guys were in Creed! How did they get so good? No need to wonder, because after the rampant opener 'Come To Life' the iconic hall's walls were reverberating with roars of approbation.

With 'Writing on the Wall' from last year's release the acclaim from the audience was a wave of energy reverberating from each corner and the packed front.

Feeding off that the band seemingly wanted to push the whole affair up to another lever. Kennedy was beaming, Tremonti was throwing all the shapes and the entire unit was gelled tight.

In lesser hands the lead work of Tremonti could seem extravagant to the extreme, but every lick and run is measured to match the tone and sentiment of the track, especially on 'Blackbird' and 'Open Your Eyes'.

Kennedy is commanding and the between song banter doesn't seem forced, even if like every major touring band it is largely the same spiel each night.

What is notable is that the relatively unsung heroes of Marshall and Phillips are such a mighty force. It is they that maintain the momentum throughout the muscle behind the melodies, the power for the axe trickery.

By the time the regular set ended with 'Metalingus' the audience were exhausted and ecstatic after witnessing a band that delivered a set worthy of arenas.

The trio of tracks for the encore was measured to maul avid fans with delight. 'Fortress' from the album of the same name, 'Show Me A Leader' from 'The Last Hero' and 'Rise' from 'Blackbird' encapsulated what this set was about - a band that know how to balance the new and old, treat the fans to what they want and more.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

NEWS: Just 51 days until Bloodstock!

WITH the countdown well underway the clock is ticking until we all gather at the sacred grounds of Catton Park - and to mark the 51 days to go this is the official statement that should keep everyone happy:

Not long now before the BLOODSTOCK faithful thunder onto the hallowed turf of Catton Park!  While you’re dusting off that tent and getting those cases of beer in, BLOODSTOCK HQ is announcing even more bands!!

Joining Saturday’s Ronnie James Dio main stage bill are Denver-based thrash animals HAVOK.  The band recently released their fourth studio album, ‘Conformicide’ via Century Media.  Warm up your necks in anticipation to ‘Claiming Certainty’, taken from that CD - https://youtu.be/Hc9JYLOCyG4. 

Also landing the opening slot on Saturday’s main stage are San Francisco tech death outfit, FALLUJAH.  Check out the video for ‘Abandon’, taken from their recently released Nuclear Blast album, ‘Dreamless’ - https://youtu.be/_uBXmb1TVxk.

Fleshing out the Sophie bill over the weekend are seven awesome bands.  Joining us on Friday will be Norwich thrashers SHRAPNEL (www.facebook.com/ShrapnelOffi cial), Leicester metal five-piece INTERNAL CONFLICT (www.facebook.com/internalconf lict), Yorkshire’s stoner blues squad, IRONRAT (www.facebook.com/ironrattheba nd) and London extremists, CORPSING (www.facebook.com/corpsingmeta l) who feature members of Akercocke and Aghast.  Bringing their critically acclaimed noises on Saturday are heavy prog beasts OHHMS (www.facebook.com/OHHMStheband ) and rounding out Sunday’s line up are British/Chilean thrash/death outfit, CRIMINAL (www.facebook.com/Criminal.Ban d) and purveyors of mammoth metal grooves, GRAVIL (www.facebook.com/gravil).

Phase two of our ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ finalists are also locked down.  These lucky winners of regional heats land a slot on the Hobgoblin New Blood stage...  On Friday, fans of Lamb of God, Fear Factory, & Whitechapel should be sure to catch Carlisle champions, SEEK SOLACE IN RUIN (https://www.youtube.com/watch ?v=3PYN-3cNtq0).  If Sylosis, Trivium, & Children of Bodom are more your thing, look out for Saltash heroes MANTRA (https://youtu.be/sk7_JuwS5v).   Also celebrating on Friday, are Leicester victors BLOODOATH (https://youtu.be/4_P0rG37WtE) and Wolverhampton top dogs ASHEN CROWN (http://www.facebook.com/ashen crown.uk), who are one for fans of Bolt Thrower & At The Gates.  Saturday brings Southern metal riffers TITAN BREED (https://www.youtube.com/watch ?v=KiT_OMkzmlA), who clinched first place in Glasgow, Gravesend winners INFECTED DEAD (https://youtu.be/hq0bMAFN3Io) with their polished blend of modern death metal and visceral brutality, and three-piece progsters SOLAR SONS (https://www.facebook.com/sola rsonsofficial) who won the Inverness heat with their Rush/Budgie influences!  Joining them will be Cardiff conquerors MALUM SKY (https://www.youtube.com/watch ?v=tFcEjrqDw3g), with their mix of progressive styles - think Periphery & Karnivool, but with a twist.  The kings of the Norwegian M2TM final are VORBID (https://www.youtube.com/watch ?v=yemzlO_R8n8), and BLOODSTOCK is delighted to welcome their melodic/hard prog sounds to Sunday’s bill, sure to please everyone who digs a bit of Megadeth, Testament, & Annihilator, through to King Crimson, Rush, & Camel!
 Already announced for 2017 are our three headliners AMON AMARTH, GHOST, and MEGADETH, plus ARCH ENEMY, KREATOR, BLIND GUARDIAN, HATEBREED, TESTAMENT, OBITUARY, KING 810, BRUJERIA, WHITECHAPEL, SKINDRED, POSSESSED, ANNIHILATOR, MUNICIPAL WASTE, HELL, DECAPITATED, SOILWORK, CHELSEA GRIN, MACABRE, INQUISITION, SCARAB, WINTERSUN, ONI, DENDERA, KROH, ABHORRENT DECIMATION, PUPPY, THE ONE HUNDRED, BOSSK, WINTERFYLLETH, LIONIZE, BLIND HAZE, ARTHEMIS, DEVILMENT and many more. For the full list, visit http://www.bloodstock.uk.com - even more bands are still be announced! Stay tuned to BLOODSTOCK’s social media at https://www.facebook.com/blood stock and https://twitter.com/bloodstock fest for the latest!

Monday, June 19, 2017

NEWS: Morbid Angel announce November Belfast show

DEATH metal pioneers Morbid Angel are set to bring their dark music to Belfast for a Limelight2 show on Saturday, 18th November.

The Floridian monsters are set to release an album later in the year, it's hoped to be available prior to their autumn tour schedule, with Steve Tucker last month saying it was "almost done".

One song from it 'Warped' has been aired live on the opening night of their US tour in Orlando.

Many already rank the band as one of the most influential in shaping death and extreme metal, taking the legacy of Chuck Schuldiner and the original Death, and together with Cannibal Corpse, bringing more and more people to the dark side.

While Trey Azagoth may be the only member from the 1984 beginnings, the return of Steve Tucker to the fold just under two years ago gives the vocal heritage from the late 90s a solid base.

Tickets, priced £20 (plus booking fee) go on sale this Friday, 23rd June from all the usual outlets.

ALBUM REVIEW: 17 albums in and Tankard just keep getting better

IT's a long way from 1982 through to 2017, and for any band with that longevity one could reasonably expect that for their 17th album could be jaded and without much development. However, when it comes to Tankard that's definitely not the case on 'One Foot In The Grave'.

Instead they have elevated their own creativity that bit further. How? Tackling societal issues through humour is one aspect. The production of Martin Buchwalter is another.

The German thrashers have taken their familiar template, well worn over 35 years of "alcoholic thrash", and upped it a notch.

As always the music is full faced thrash, balls out and bursting with energy. There is nothing particularly new about it, but this time Tankard seem to have focussed on the power than just stringing riffs together, such as 'Don't Bullshit Us', which goes along like a rhino charging a rival.

The lyrical theme of that track, together with 'Syrian Nightmare' 'Pay To Pray' (the line about Jesus's back stage pass...), 'Arena of the True Lies' and the title track tackle a society so fucked up that the only way to confront it is with anger, humour and throwing the absurdity of ideology back in its face.

Gerre sounds like one angry man throughout, although measured in his fury, such as on 'One Foot In The Grave' that builds quickly into a rage filled track.

Andi, Frank and Olaf seem to be ever more tightly linked rather than has been the occasion once or twice before more akin to ploughing their own paths. Andi in particular sounds as if he wished to use the guitar lines to mirror the lyrical rage.

There are times that the songs have an element of brooding menace such as on 'Northern Crown (Lament of the Undead King)'. But, of course there had to be a song about beer...

'Secret Order 1516' may have an orchestral introduction, with choral chants and horns, but this seven minute plus epic has the appropriate pompousness of a song about drinking. "Fight for our liquid gold" indeed.

What keeps 'One Foot In The Grave' working throughout all 10 tracks is within the thrash assault there are always little surprises in approach. No more a cult band Tankard's 17th effort is a triumph that should see them finally achieve the acclaim from the more mainstream listeners.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

'One Foot In The Grave' is out now on Nuclear Blast

Friday, June 16, 2017

NEWS: QOTSA announce November date in Dublin

NO Belfast date this time, but Queens Of The Stone Age have announced their Iris
h return as part of the Villains World Tour at 3Arena, Dublin on Friday 24th November 2017.

Tickets priced from €50.65 including booking & facility fees go on sale next Thursday 22nd June at 9am via Ticketmaster outlets and www.ticketmaster.ie

“The title Villains isn’t a political statement. It has nothing to do with Trump or any of that shit. It’s simply 1) a word that looks fantastic and 2) a comment on the three versions of every scenario: yours, mine and what actually happened… Everyone needs someone or something to rail against—their villain—same as it ever was. You can’t control that. The only thing you can really control is when you let go," said Joshua Homme

Hundreds of epic shows, memory lapses, unexplained injuries, one yearlong detour with Iggy Pop and multiple Grammy nominations later, Queens Of The Stone Age re-emerge from the desert newly scarred and somehow strangely prettier with lucky seventh album, Villains, out 25th August on Matador Records.

It's now available for preorder on deluxe vinyl, standard vinyl, CD and digital (all formats include an instant download of first single “The Way You Used To Do”),  Villains consists of the following songs:

             1. Feet Don’t Fail Me
             2. The Way You Used To Do
             3. Domesticated Animals
             4. Fortress
             5. Head Like A Haunted House
             6. Un-Reborn Again
             7. Hideaway
             8. The Evil Has Landed
             9. Villains Of Circumstance

Produced by Mark Ronson and co-produced by Mark Rankin and mixed by Alan Moulder, Villains is the first full album offering from Queens Of The Stone Age since 2013’s …Like Clockwork  gave the band its first #1 album in the U.S. (and #1s in Australia, Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, #2s in the UK, Canada, Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand, Finland… but really, who’s counting?). Like the stunning artwork of returning illustrator Boneface, the sonic signatures of the line-up that took …Like Clockwork  around the world and back—Founder/guitarist/vocalist/lyricist Joshua Homme, Troy Van Leeuwen (guitar, keys), Michael Shuman (bass), Dean Fertita (keys, guitar), Jon Theodore (drums)—are as unmistakable as ever, though coexisting with sufficient new twists to induce recurring double takes.

As Homme himself puts it, “The most important aspect of making this record was redefining our sound, asking and answering the question 'what do we sound like now?' If you can’t make a great first record, you should just stop—but if you can make a great record but you keep making records and your sound doesn’t evolve, you become a parody of that original sound."
Of his role working within such a closed and confident ecosystem as Queens Of The Stone Age, Ronson says, "Queens are and have always been my favourite rock n roll band ever since I walked into Tower on Sunset and bought Rated R in the summer of 2000, so it was incredibly surreal to be welcomed into their secret, pirate clan—or the ‘jacuzzi’ as Josh likes to call it.

"I also knew that my super fandom alone would not keep me in the jacuzzi. There were moments during the making of the album in which i was aware i was watching my musical heroes craft something that was sure to become one of my favourite moments on any Queens album. And to have some part in that felt like being in a dream--a very heavy, dark, wonderful dream.”
Longtime Queens cohort co-producer Mark Rankin added, "After the baptism of fire that was …Like Clockwork, I was excited to get into the studio again with the challenge of pushing the sound for this record, especially with the addition of Ronson into the creative mix. We wanted to evolve the production to be processed in a modern way yet be totally organic and still performed fully live, like lifting a veil and what you thought was electronic is actually live and things are not as they first appear… What we’ve made is forward looking yet unmistakably Queens."

LIVE REVIEW: Clutch once again stand head and shoulders above most in Limelight

THE Limelight has had quite a few gigs in the last few weeks and so far all of them great, and Clutch took that high level up several notches on Wednesday, June 14th.

First to grace the stage was Duelists with their brand of hard rock that touched on metal at times. They played with intensity that few bands have.

All played extremely well and had everyone in a good mood. This was a good start to the night. The only problem was that at times vocals were a bit weak. Whether this was as a result of the air, atmosphere or other factors didn’t detract from a good set. The whole band where impressive and played well.

Soon after the mighty Clutch came onto the stage and set Belfast alight.

They had one hell of a set - few bands can rival them.

One of the best performances seen in a long time.

They started off with ‘Crucial Velocity’ which was incredible and a great way to start the set off.

They then went onto play crowd favorites like ‘Firebirds’ and ‘Sucker for the Witch’.

The whole night was one to be remembered. The whole band was tight and they continued with the same fire they had coming onto the stage until the end. A great feat for any band!

They finished off with ‘X-ray Vision’ which was the best song of the night and signaled the end of the night topping off what was a great evening by all accounts.

Every time Clutch play here they sell out the Llimelight and you can see why, the show live is incredible and not like any other.

You can't get much better than this. There is no better way to spend a late Wednesday night with some great music from the mighty Clutch.

Review by Zakk Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh

NEWS: Cradle of Filth to open Cryptoriana tour in Belfast

OUR favourite dark creatures Cradle of Filth are set to open up its Cryptoriana tour in Belfast on 30th October.

The tour is named after the band's upcoming 12th full-length album.

‘Cryptoriana - The Seductiveness Of Decay’ will be released on September 22nd via Nuclear Blast.

You can view the stunning cover artwork by Artūrs Bērziņš below.

Bērziņš is the mastermind behind the new record’s artwork, photography and videography – best known for his defiant neo-symbolism raster graphics and oil paintings; postmodern interpretations of classic myths. He has been proclaimed as a “sacred monster of Latvian postmodernism”.

Dani Filth said: "The album is deeply infused with Victorian gothic horror and thus the title is a reflection of that. 'Cryptoriana' implies the Victorian's infatuation with the supernatural, the grave and the ghoulish.

"And the subtitle 'The Seductiveness Of Decay' further cements this attraction to death and the glittering lengthy process of self-annihilation."

The first single off ‘Cryptoriana - The Seductiveness Of Decay’ will be released on July 5th, the same day that the album pre-order will become available.

Tickets, priced £12.50, will be available from Monday - all the usual outlets.

As Mr Loveday said when announcing this: "Ave Satanas".

Thursday, June 15, 2017

NEWS: Kreator release video for classic Pleasure to Kill

KREATOR are set to re-release a series of their Noise era records - and as part of that they have released a video of their 1986 'Pleasure to Kill'. Watch it below.

“This video is a tribute to eighties slasher movie culture. We have kept this very simple and the idea is, to take you back on a trip to the eighties to celebrate the re-release of our first four albums. Enjoy!”  - Mille Petrozza

Kreator’s second album ‘Pleasure To Kill’ is still revered as a benchmark album in thrash metal circles. Often uttered in the same breath as such masterpieces as ‘Master Of Puppets’ and ‘Reign In Blood’, it firmly put German thrash on the map and has rippled out its influence over the past four decades to many thrash and death metal contemporaries.

Released on November 1st 1986 on the, then fledgling Noise records it never had a promo video made for it so the band would have to wait a couple of years before their debut video was shot in form of the track ‘Betrayer’.

Now, some 31 years later Kreator are proud to premiere this video for the title track of this seminal album. Working with classic 80’s era footage of the band in both the studio and live environment, with an added narrative full of sadistic intent - think ‘Stranger Things’ meets Wes Craven in a machete fight with Jason Vorhees! This video goes for the throat and leaves you in a pool of blood. Pleasure to kill!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

NEWS: Annual tribute to Rory Gallagher at Belfast City Blues Festival

THE Belfast City Blues Festival will be paying its annual tribute to Rory Gallagher, the guitarist who made Belfast his second musical home, at the Black Box on the afternoon of June 24th at 1pm.

Gallagher was a frequent visitor to Belfast, first with Taste and then with his own band, throughout the 70s and 80s.

This year’s tribute to Gallagher, ‘A Taste of Rory’ will feature The Pat McManus Band, The Willie Byrne Band and Blackwood.

McManus said he looked forward to paying his own personal tribute to Gallagher.

"Over the years and all through my career, Belfast has been a city that welcomes me,” he said. “Likewise with Rory Gallagher, as the people of Belfast welcomed him in, supported his style of music and gave him room to grow musically, Rory never forgot that.

“He always came back to Belfast and the wider Northern Irish community even through the dark days. For me it’s still an immense pleasure to play to the people in my home land of Northern Ireland."

Rory Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, he was brought up in Cork where his musical development started. To date there are more than 30 million sales of Gallagher’s albums.

He was an almost annual visitor to Belfast, where his Ulster Hall shows are the stuff of legend.
Gallagher died on June 14th, 1995 aged 47.

The festival which is celebrating its ninth year with 50 gigs across 22 venues from June 23-25 has once again been sponsored by American Holidays.

For more information and a full schedule for the Belfast City Blues Festival which runs from June 23-25 log onto www.belfastcityblues.com

Tickets for ‘A Taste of Rory’ are priced £12, including booking fee, are available from www.blackboxbelfast.com

Saturday, June 10, 2017

INTERVIEW: Devilskin speak out about their independent roots, success and a family affaIr....

AFTER a UK set of appearances over the past few months Devilskin managed to make it to Belfast ahead of their Download appearance.

And, on stage they delivered a set that had the audience enthralled from start to finish.

But before they walked on to the Belfast stage we caught up with the New Zealand crew told us a little bit about how these Antiopean metal crew knocked Ed Sheeran off the top of the NZ charts...and how the band is very much a family affair.

LIVE REVIEW: Wednesday 13's all too brief excellence with the SLUTS

COME festival season bands want to fill up as many dates as they can around their shows. Already this week Airbourne and Devilskin played Belfast ahead of their Download slots, and next week Clutch and The Devin Townsend Project will follow their slots with shows.

With that in mind Wednesday 13 appeared on stage at Limelight2 the day before (9th June) appearing on the Dogtooth Stage at Download. And, despite the excellence on display it was very much tailored in length for a festival slot not a headline show. All too brief...

Belfast's own schlock horror act So Long Until The Séance (SLUTS) were on stage not long after doors, fresh from opening for Wednesday 13 the night before in Dublin.

That show and their run in the Metal2TheMasses showdowns has honed an already fine act into a solid, improving band. Unlike the fate of many a support across the world they were afforded excellent sound separation, and managed to perform in the cramped space in front of W13's shrouded drum kit.

Songs such as 'Bride of Frankenstein' and 'Burn the Witch' are already becoming favourites with elements of the Belfast audience. While there are superficial similarities with Wednesday 13 (make-up, and themes) they have their own take on the genre -although a few more Belfast references might darken the tone... Mike was in great form at the front, and despite sounding a little strained halfway through he recovered well and finished, like the whole band on a high.

Wednesday 13's reputation is firmly established. Joseph Poole has many guises and more side-projects and previous incarnations than most people could manage in three lives. He also has as many costume changes than Cher in the show.

But that does not diminish the quality he delivers - it is appropriate window dressing for the lyrical themes, a little like a Hammer Horror film writ large via metal.

Make, no mistake, while many reference works like 'I Walked With A Zombie' and Morgue Than Words' this was a metal show. Such almost pop punk were discarded.

Instead this was a more muscular outing with guitars buzzing, drums and bass pounding.

Despite the confines of the Limelight2 stage the band use it well, with risers put to good effect to project themselves out there. While such an obvious use works in a festival setting in a more confined environment it serves to make the show, and the band member, larger than life.

This tour for Wednesday 13 is on the back of the release a few short days ago of 'Condolences', the title track of which was one of the highlights of the show, Wednesday appearing, bible in hand, like a zombie preacher, top hat and dark glasses as he intoned "Sorry for your loss".

The macabre lyrics, pleas to "Kill Me" were matched by every iteration of the main man's stage attire. From butcher's smock to a face on the back of the head, through to devil's horns it proved that sometimes the effort more than adds to the music.

Amongst the many highlights 'Keep Watching The Skies' and 'Scream Baby Scream' stood out.

When they disappeared off stage briefly shortly after 9:10 there was an expectation that they would appear for a number of other encore tracks....

With single fingers in the air for 'I Love to say Fuck' there was a clear sense of disappointment amongst many. It was clear that was that. While Wednesday 13 did not, in any way, disappoint and was 'value-for-money' one or two added tracks would have sated a fan base that has waited for more than a decade for his return.

That aside - he is, with his band, providers of schlock horror excellence.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh