Pick Your Rock and Metal

Friday, July 21, 2017

INTERVIEW: Hellbastard's Scruff opens up ahead of Belfast show - Let the rant commence!

HELLBASTARD -  a name many savour for it stands for in musical  - and political - terms. As they prepare for their show in Belfast's Voodoo on August 25th we caught up with self-confessed "ranter" Scruff Lewty to find out some more about the 'Bastard.

Having caught their impressive show at Hammerfest earlier this year they proved that they provide a tour de force set, loaded with vigour and virtue - something that seemed to stem from a DIY attitude, however as Scruff explained wasn't always the case.

"We haven't always taken that approach," he said. "We have been signed to record labels over the years and they more-often-than-not dictated to us - usually we would just do what we wanted to do anyway, having never been a fan of being told what to do, so fuck 'em.

"Of course too many bands don't want to put the WORK in, they think they can upload a few tracks to youtube and act like they know it all. It's a different generation now though - they have Internet and can record albums at home.  We had public telephone boxes and the mail service to conduct our affairs.

He continued: "Tape trading to spread out our music and typewriters and letraset to make our album sleeves. Analog recording in studios and getting busy with the razor blades when editing a 'mistake'. Kids these days don't even know they were fucking born!"

But in today's changing musical environment how do bands such as Hellbastard manage to survive, and is there an added benefit of no interference>

"I think 'interference' comes from so many different avenues its difficult to focus," said Scruff. "Life is hard enough and keeping a job ticking over and even day to day running of domesticity let alone getting together from hundreds of miles away to rehearse new songs.

"Let's face it. Music is fucked now more than ever. The 'DIY' culture as opposed to being Signed to a major label has many many benefits though. Some bands make a good go of being 'DIY' look at Clutch for example.

"Merch is usually a good way for bands to cover SOME expenses. If I go to see a band it's nice to see they 'personalise' things for their fan base.  It's not the only way to keep heads above water though."

When Hellbastard appeared in Wales at Hammerfest Scruff raged against the policy of the then Conservative Party leader Margaret Thatcher and the Tory policies that led to the destruction of the Welsh mining industry. With many punks and the current extreme metal acts making increasingly politicised songs we wanted to know was this one of the last places of real protest.

"Absolutely not. I'll give you a great example. I was in a supermarket some years ago. I was looking for something in particular and these 3 idiots started saying "kill the nigger, kill the jungle bunny" to a security guard IN the store," he said.

"Naturally this caught my attention so I walked up to the biggest of the three and said to him '.......are you fucking mental ? That guy is here working shitty hours in a shitty paid job and all he wants to do is feed his family or pay his way and you shout that kind of xenophobic crap at him ? Are you totally fucking blind as well as an insouciant omnipotent jarhead ? " one of the three said 'let's go he's not right". (Meaning me).

"I admit I was crapping my pants because I thought they would jump me when I left the supermarket (Sainsburys) but they didn't. Three or four days later I was parking my motorbike at the same store and one of the lads who was there that day came and told me he thought the lad doing the shouting was an idiot.

"Case proven.

"Sometimes it takes ONE person to stand up and it can affect the outcome. I still see him now and he's even got me to take a look at his carburettor in his motorcycle because it's not running right. Go figure !  He's also got non uk citizen friends. Moral of the story - fuck xenophobia.

"A statement can be made ANYWHERE at ANYTIME. ITS CALLED "supporting what is RIGHT". And speaking out against something that you see or feel is wrong.

Scruff went on: "Music is one avenue for political commentary. Supermarkets are another. I was on a plane journey once sitting next to a conservative meat eater. By the time we landed in Minneapolis he was an ardent vegetarian and class war thug. Fucking awesome! Hahaha. True story.

And, after Jeremy Corbyn appearing like a cult leader at Glastonbury the middle class and aspiring hippies coming all peace, love and shit music they draw Scruffs ire.

"I live very close to Glastonbury, Jesus Christ - have you seen the mess after the festival is over. The messy dirty litter dropping fuckers. I bet they don't leave THAT kind of mess in their gardens or houses. Fucking trash humans. Wankers. All of the cunts. Fuck that mindset. We hear about a 'housing shortage' - what effing housing shortage ? There's too many people."

With the longevity of Hellbastard how long can the band keep going?

"I'm not so sure. It's a hard slog. It always has been," said Scruff. "Members have left because they want to be mollycoddled by the press, by fans, by record labels and by the stupid fact they are 'in a band that is famous'. That's the perfect way to get me on edge.

"I have zero tolerance for that kind of attitude. Even after 38 years of being actively 'involved' within music.

"We struggle. Like most bands do these days. It's getting harder and harder to stay afloat. We shall just have to see.

"Right now we have great personnel. Jon the drummer, a vegan chef and a very cool guy. Dougy the guitar player, a Geordie like me, absolutely lovely chap - and Dave the bass player- an encyclopaedia of metal. And me, still trying to sing and play guitar. I'm getting there -slowly."

Given Scruff's experience we wanted to know what any fan  - young or old - should check out
"In hindsight you shouldn't listen to anything you don't want to. But I'll try and answer this in a sensible way - or maybe an 'educational' way (?) my musical taste is pretty eclectic so the 'list' would go like this:

"Crass/ rudimentary peni/ conflict / the apostles / Amebix/ Hellhammer / Celtic frost / Discharge / Slayer / Melvins / Bad Brains / Antisect / Type O Negative / Carnivore / Swans/ 16 Horsepower / Katzenjammer / Sleaford mods/ Calexico / Trailer Hitch / Elvis Hitler / Genocide SS / Sex Pistols / Raped / The Outcasts / Henry Rollins Band / Kyuss / Hermano / Slo -Burn / Che / Fishbone / X Ray Spex / Svetlanas / PanzerBastard / Clutch / Oi Polloi / death ss / The Rezillos / Woody Guthrie / Mel Torme / The Insane / Demob/ Coven / Birth Control / Albertoylostriosparanios/ Killing Joke / Trailer Hitch / and a million more that I will not mention cos that's surely enough."

There was one band on that list that we've taken out, because the tongue was firmly in the mischievous cheek of Scruff - and that was Skewdriver...

"When I mentioned 'SKREWDRIVER' in the list of bands I did so because anyone that has never
HEARD that shit needs to hear it to see that there once existed a bunch of jarhead apes that actually had such TERRIBLE - vile - lyrics.

"ALSO - When Ian Stuart died we all went and had a pint to celebrate!"

Yeah - Hellbastard stand for what is right in what they play, how they play and what they say!

Hellbastard play with Panzerbastard and Scimitar in the Voodoo on August 25th

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

INTERVIEW: Maverick - they haven't gone away! Tour dates and plans for new album

THINGS have been a little quiet on the Maverick front of late - so, being the curious types we grabbed front man David Balfour and quizzed him on what the feck was going on. Turns out, it's quite a lot!

"This is a lull period for Maverick in terms of gigging but behind the scenes the wheels are very much in motion," he said.
Pic by Darren McVeigh

"We hope to do our first Belfast gig in months over the summer period."

But that's not all...

"behind the scenes we are in the thick of writing our third full length album, hoping to hit the studio to record during the first two weeks of September," said David.

However, they are a band that can't resist a show...

"We'll be celebrating our planned return by performing a double header in Europe, starting with Tennwill Rocknacht in Switzerland along side Eclipse on Saturday the 23rd of September and then followed by our first ever International headline show spearheading the Metalapolis label fest in Ludwigsburg, Germany the following night," he said.

"This is a big moment for us, especially to go back to the fantastic Rock Farbrik venue where we enjoyed our largest crowd and warmest reception to date just a year earlier."

And, never ones to pass up an opportunity...
"A matter of weeks later we have the honour to open the much respected Rockingham festival in Nottingham, England on Friday the 20th of October alongside the likes of KIX, John Parr, Vince Neill and Loverboy."

From there the serious work of the next Maverick release is already being worked on.

"After this the PR push for the album release in early 2018 begins, Woking closely with our fantastic management and label to put together some shows and hopefully another European tour to support the release of Maverick III (strictly a working title! Haha!)"

Mmmm, seems the boys haven't been quiet after all!

INTERVIEW: Keith from Panzerbastard chats ahead off their August 25th Voodoo show

FOR some the thought of bringing two bastards together is a plot line from Game of Thrones - the only show with more metalheads than a Slayer gig. But come August 25th two other bastards are descending on Belfast: Hellbastard and Panzerbastard.

With just over a month to the show in Voodoo we corralled Bostonian - Keith from the aforementioned Panzerbastard for a wee chat...

And, first things, first - as well as being grateful they are making the journey here, what in the name of all ungodly brings these metal/punks all the way across the Atlantic to this place?

"Life is short and we want to play everywhere and anywhere we can," said Keith. "Never saw the point in spinning  your wheels, being content to play the same two dives in town over and over.

"To me the whole point of doing this is to see the world & have as many adventures as humanly possible."

And, with that the work ethic seems to be something the band take very seriously

"You gotta prove your worth as band. if you can't back it up live you might as well pack it in," he said.

"It's definitely a struggle but you can't expect things to just fall in your lap, you gotta work hard!"

For some it's hard to believe that any band can really make ends meet and afford to get up on stage when very few shows make anyone any money.

"This is what I do, this is what makes me happy," said Keith. "Rock & Roll has kept me alive and never betrayed me.

"It's an honour & a privilege to be able to do this and I will do it til I die."

As with all 'underground' bands Panzerbastard keep going and going, but if they could go further and score a label deal would they?

"There's obviously only so far a band like PB can go in terms of  'commercial success' but if we gave a fuck about that rat race we sure as hell wouldn't be playing this racket!" he said. "If there was a label out there who would work hard for us, be able to help keep us on the road all year ? Sure.  No shame in that & god help any cunt who'd try to change us."

Being stuck on this side of the Atlantic we wanted some names of US bands that Keith would recommend we check out - and they are worth checking out!


Panzerbastard play with Hellbastard and Scimitar on August 25th. Tickets are £15.40

Thursday, July 13, 2017

INTERVIEW: Shrouded get set for Bloodstock and gear up for new release

BLACKENED Northern Ireland death metal is descending on Bloodstock when Shrouded hit the Hobgoblin Stage.

It's a festival the band are familiar with given they have attended Bloodstock for several years as fans, and they are excited at the opportunity to play in front of thousands of devoted metal devotees.

Shane Hughes of the band relayed what it means that they won the Northern Ireland heat of Metal2TheMasses.

"Being given the opportunity to play in England is a big deal for any band in Northern Ireland," he said. "But when your first time going to play across the water is at one of the UK’s biggest metal festivals then it’s really something incredible!"

"Being given the opportunity to play Bloodstock back in May was easily the highlight of our musical career thus far, especially since the talent display in this country right now is phenomenal. We couldn’t be more excited for it, in fact it’s safe to say we are all counting down the days!"

And this isn't the only big event in Shrouded's immediate future.

"As it happens, we have a new EP coming out just before the festival which is very timely, so we are very excited to take our new material to English shores!"

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

INTERVIEW: Terminus set for assaulting Scandanavia and France and working as they work on new material

METAL warriors of the outer-reaches, Terminus, are set to hit to festivals in Europe this year, as they work towards another stunning collection of hard edged metal.

We caught up with bassist David McCallum as they knuckled down to piece together their next release.

"Terminus have been busy working on new material," he said. "But we will be coming out to play to two shows in mainland Europe in September and October."

The first one is in Torreilles in France on September 9th as part of a nine band line-up.

"The band had to cancel the scheduled appearance last year at this great festival in France and are honoured to be asked to play this year on what is a sterling bill for metal maniacs everywhere," David said.

Having conquered France Terminus will be heading deep into the frozen north for the massive Heavy Metal Cauldron in Helsinki, Finland.

"Yes, as we head into winter our next festival slot will be at the Heavy Metal Cauldron, which is headlined by Venom Inc and Exciter.

"It's fair to say that the band is looking forward to playing these dates!"

Monday, July 10, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: The Soap Girls kick it up on impressive début Socitety's Rejects

WHEN punk hit the music scene in the Seventies like a grenade, it differed from rock and metal in that it encouraged women to join a band, go to gigs and otherwise participate as equals.

That led to the formation of bands such as The Slits and X-Ray Specs (fronted by the inimitable Poly Styrene), which then filtered into goth (Siouxie Sioux and the Banshees), rock (Hole) and even the darker side of pop (The Pretenders), with metal lagging behind but no2 finally starting to catch up.

The 'Riot Grrrl' underground feminist punk movement of the nineties added another layer, with women becoming even more free to express themselves however they damn well pleased.

Punk in the 21st century, although almost unrecognisable from its humble beginnings, is still the best platform for talented female musicians to continue this freedom of expression.

Take the subject of today's review, The SoapGirls. French-born but raised in South Africa, the sisters - Ca(Millie), vocals and guitar, and Noe(MIE), vocals and bass - derive their name from their childhood activities of selling soap and performing on the street. Somewhere along the line they became fell under the spell of punk rock, and decided to kick their performance up several notches.

The resulting sound is what they like to call 'revolt rock', described as “a kick in the face followed by a kiss”. They dress provocatively (“society tells you to cover up and be decent, so in true SoapGirls fashion we weren't gonna do that”), sing about politics and ex boyfriends with equal vitriol, and, with début album 'Society's Rejects', have created an album that will simultaneously kick your ass and blow you away.

The simple punk backbone of the titular opening track barely indicates what's to come: catchy and mouthy, it's the Riot Grrrl sound updated, yet would sit comfortably on the soundtrack of any classic bitch movie (Heathers, etc). The brash and bolshy 'Jonny Rotten' is next, and proves that these women can actually sing, fluctuating between a sound reminiscent of Australian duo The Veronicas during the verses and Courtney Love's Hole in the chorus.

Not content with drawing together influences such as the aforementioned Hole, Joan Jett and Gwen Stefani (a 'seriously fucked off and seeking revenge' Stefani, that is), there's also a plethora of other musical nods here, too.

Several songs contain a slinky, basstastic Seventies groove (such as 'Step Outside'), while elsewhere there's the pure radio rock of 'Bury Me'; a perky Fifties bounce ('Party In  Hell'); reggae and ska (ballad of sorts 'You Hate Losing' and 'Drag You Down', respectively); and even metal: check out the screams and wall of sound in 'Break You', whose “You fucking asshole!” intro immediately pegs it as a furious break up song.

They also cleverly combine sweet, saccharine sounding vocals with dark lyrics and punk fury ('Party In Hell' and 'Rather B Dead', another break up tune whose snarling riff and angelic Voice of the Beehive harmonies (remember them?) clash magnificently with the awesome “fuck you” flavour of the lyrics).

There's even a hefty dollop of grunge rock in album highlight 'Original Sin', which sounds like a defiant Joan Jett singing over an Audioslave track: all distorted, heavy and sexy at the same time.

Far from being 'just' a punk band, The SoapGirls prove on their debut that there are hidden depths – and certainly a wealth of talent – beneath their simple Riot Grrrl premise. Fantastically varied, hugely enjoyable and brilliantly catchy, Society's Rejects is an album firmly standing in the present, but with roots delving into the past and an eye on the future. Consider the torch well and truly passed on.

Review by Melanie Brehaut

Saturday, July 08, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Wintersun return with four-track album 'The Forest Seasons'

FOUR-tracks, 54 minutes and several years later Wintersun are back. Have they been missed? What was all that crowdfunding studio nonsense? And, have Jari and co finally disappeared up their own asses?

On first listen 'Forest Seasons' is a well played and well written album with all tbe bells and whistles one would expect from Wintersun, but taken to the extreme. For example with it blithely blaring on your hi fi or on the car CD deck it tends to wash over the listener.

Moments briefly engage, such as Jari's varied vocals on 'The Forest That Weeps (Summer)' or some of Kai's drum lines, but it all seems too much of an effort. That is until you lie back relaxed and play it over a good set of headphones. Then it all seems to make sense.

Sure there is a tendency to overdo the programmed keys, but it is overall an immersive experience, journeying through epic metal territory deep in Nordic mythology and Wintersun's own mythos.

All four tracks fit well together, despite the, at times, tortured shoe-horning of the lyrics. The opening of the afore-mentioned  'Summer' is a nicely balanced build-up,

With only four-tracks, and their mirroring of each other it is hard to pick a stand-out, but if forced, 'Eternal Darkness (Autumn)' is the one. Menacing and melancholic, black and starkly observed. Orchestral and black metal married, depressing and relentless.

It really only is when one sits down for a second listen (over headphones or an a stereo set to ear roasting volume that the 'Forest Seasons' really grabs and engages. And, that effort is worth it.

Released with companion live release 'Live At Tuska Open Air 2013' fans will be listening to each intonation and guitar line before their 2017 summer dates, which includes a slot at Bloodstock on the 13th August.

How it will all go down in the balmy heat of Catton Park...

Review by Jonathan Traynor

INTERVIEW: Miserable bastards come out into the sunshine - The Crawling in the daylight...

THE adjective 'happy' is not one you could apply to the music of The Crawling. Denizens of the darker reaches of humanity, a place where doom sounds cheerful in comparison to the palette of dread and death they paint from...

So what do the miserable trio do when faced with the prospect of sunshine, bright days and everyone smiling with "taps aff", barbecues, and cold beers...Andy Clarke offers one answer..

"Summer plans? We just want to hide until the dark winter months!"

Nah - they are on a mission to bring the night into the day. Last year they stormed the Hobgoblin Stage at Bloodstock, conjuring creative gloom amidst the Derbyshire summer. That performance was the springboard to launch their critically acclaimed album 'Anatomy of Loss' (review here) and earn them key 2017 dates.

"Actually the summer has turned out even better than we hoped," said Clarke. "Next up when have the honour of playing METAL DAYS in Slovenia, which is just unreal.
"This is our 3rd large European festival, and we are super excited about it!"

If you are in Slovenia perchance they play on Monday 24th July – 16:15 on the Boško Bursać Stage.

Never missing a chance to bring wretchedness to the happy people, The Crawling are off again to Tubby's Farm in Hillsborough...

"We’ll only be back from Metal Days, and then we hit Sunflowerfest in Northern Ireland for the second year in a row," said Clarke.

In an unusually upbeat comment he said: "It’s a really cool weekend of music, arts, crafts, fine food, camping, and of course – beer: lots of it! We are thrilled to be invited back, and it’s great to see more metal bands this year as we share the stage with Zlatanera, Cursed Sun and heavy metal tyrants Stormzone!"

With that out of the way The Crawling will be preaching despair over the country.

"August sees our first trip over to mainland UK since Bloodstock 2016, as we accompany Strangle Wire playing Wales and London; it is guaranteed to be a heavy weekend."

Heavy? The Large Hadron Collider in Cern would collapse under such heaviness...

And, in case you are feeling chirpy this July have this slice of anti-cheerful slice of 'The Right To Crawl'

Friday, July 07, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: TEN score with dark Gothica for their 13th album

It’s hard to believe that British Melodic Hard Rock act TEN have been treading the boards for 22 years now.

Having gone through various line up changes through the years they are about to release their 13th studio album ‘Gothica’ on 7th July, and the third with current line up Gary Hughes (vocals, BGV, Guitar, bass and programming ), Dann Rosingana (Guitar), Steve Grocott (Guitar), John Halliwell (Guitar), Steve McKenna (Bass), Darrel Treece-Birch (Keyboards and a helluva name) and Max Yates (Drums) with additional vocals coming from Karen Fell.

Dennis Ward joins Hughes on the mixing and mastering duties with Hughes promising, as it’s their 13th album, something a bit more sinister than on their previous output whilst still holding true to the traditional traits of a TEN album.

He promises to embrace history, romance and erotic horror and in part has done this by using an original piece of artwork for the cover by Stan W. Decker which shows a beautiful enchantress reading incantations from a book whilst summoning shadowy characters from its pages mirroring what Hughes is trying to do with the characters on the albums’ songs. All very “Arty” but will listeners take this on board?

We don’t have to wait long as track one ‘The Grail’ is an eight minute opener based on King Arthur’s Crusaders quest to find the Holy Grail. With sweeping heavier guitar riffs , big hooks, monk like chanting on the choruses and Hughes story telling vocal delivery you are instantly transported back to that time. The stunning guitar work on this opener is a trait which runs throughout the album (hard not to think of Monty Python though if you’re a certain age though).

‘Jekyll and Hyde’ is a darker themed song but with quite a heavy riff throughout, a bit more up tempo and catchy sound to it with some nice guitar pieces it ends with a simple piano outro which is in stark contrast to the overall feel of the song. The guitar work is slightly reminiscent of Zakk Wylde’s playing during his time with Ozzy Osbourne..

Third song ‘Travellers’ starts with the chiming of a grandfather clock followed by a beautiful underlying keyboard intro which continues nicely in the background throughout the song and again has a great hard rock soaring guitar sound. Hughes’ vocal delivery is very poetic and the guitar solos majestic and melodic. Beautifully written piece of AOR.

‘A Man For All seasons’ is another piece of historical lyric writing. Starting with a medieval composition the guitars suddenly kick into action, with some great runs and fills throughout accompanied by equally accomplished keyboards and rhythmic rhythm section with the soloing again coming to the fore. This is a clever piece of writing about the Tudor ascension to the throne, the reformation of the Church and Henry VIII’s eventual mental deterioration. A piece of history all told in seven minutes!

Track five ‘In My Dreams’ is a more commercial, radio friendly song but with quite a heavy opening riff. A song about a shy, geeky young man’s fantasies of finding that perfect girl, his real life imperfections meaning they only meet in his dreams. A song a lot of angst ridden teenagers will relate to (and some older ones too). The solo is sublime to say the least.

‘The Wild King of Winter’ has a slow mournful start featuring keyboards and guitar  before a fast paced heavy riff, that goes on through the whole song, turns it into a really modern rock song with some nice Prog rock keyboards. Tortured lyrics about love are the theme and again the solos are fantastic, being heavy and melodic at the same time.

‘Paragon’ was the first release from the album and is a bit of a grower to be honest. A simple piano and keyboard opening and a nice guitar riff basically makes it a ballad with the subject matter about fantasies and eroticism as Hughes had promised. It’s not quite up to what came before it but the melodic guitar solos adds something to it which lifts it and stops it from becoming a bit of an album filler.

‘Welcome To The Freak Show’ continues the erotica theme and is dark, sexy and mature. Starting with a fairground music intro the guitar work soon lifts the song into a nice mid to up tempo number which includes Hughes’ description of a girl who sounds well worth meeting!

Penultimate track ‘La Luna Dra-Cu-La’ has a cracking opening riff with a strong Celtic feel to it. The drumming is excellent employing a bit of bodhram drum in parts. The lyrics are as dark as the title would suggest. It has a great rhythm to it with the Celtic feel taking full effect about three mins in sounding like Gary Moore in his prime. There is a great guitar battle solo and Hughes’ delivery is again spot on. This will more than likely become an album favourite.

Final song ‘Into Darkness’ starts with an old school cinema reel rolling before a nice keyboard and bass line kicks in. This is a slow melodic song to end the album with and there is yet another nice guitar solo in a song berating the movie industry (of old maybe) and how young starlets got swallowed up by an unforgiving industry. A great heavy riff is thrown in at the death for good measure.

Overall this is a wonderfully written, performed nad produced album. Poetic, intelligent and informational. A must have for all TEN fans.
Review by Andy Gillen

Thursday, July 06, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Ye Banished PrIvateers have the pirate party in full flow as they sail back to port...

Move over Alestorm – there’s a new bunch of swashbucklers in town! And yes, they are here to drink your beer and steal your wenches!

Ye Banished Privateers have assembled a crew large enough to sail the seven seas and play the largest of stages -with over 30 buccaneers aboard in total, all of which take turns to go on tour!

With rumbling sound effects and an atmospheric soundscapes, 'A Declaration Of Independence' develops into a full arm-swinging sea shanty wherein you can almost hear the clinking of the tankards on deck.

'Mermaid's Kiss' is a magical slow burning duet sure to melt even the darkest of hearts and let’s just say the gang do indeed have mouths like sailors when it comes to 'Rinagaroo At Coopr’s'.

Although at points 'First Night Back At Port' borders on sounding like the latest Disney soundtrack their songs actually tell wretched tales of life at sea and therefore their music invokes a feel good ‘paaaarty me hearty’ vibe to help overcome these woes...

Think if Andrew WK were a pirate. Although this album won’t blow the man down, it equally doesn’t deserve to be resigned to Davy Jones’ locker either.

Even if you’re not a pirate metal fan, you’ll find yourself stomping your feet and spilling your beer to at least one of these tracks.

Review by Lynn Carberry

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

NEWS: Cradle of Filth to release first single off new album on July 11th

COME the 11th July in Northern Ireland we burn shit, piss off each other and maybe get ready for some recreational rioting...Situation normal, all fucked up.

But for those of us who couldn't care less about the tribal blaming as it all being 'them uns' fault we have another reason to celebrate the 11th...and no need for bonfires and flags!

Cradle of Filth have changed the release date of the first single off their eagerly awaited 12th album, ‘Cryptoriana - The Seductiveness Of Decay’.

Debut single 'Heartbreak And Seance' will now be released on July 11th, and the pre-orders for the album will go live on the same day.

The band recently shot a music video for 'Heartbreak And Séance’, which will also be released on July 11th. Find some photos from the shoot below.

"Working with such an artistic director as Artūrs Bērziņš was indeed an honour, as the video shoot was very extensively planned, involving a myriad of extras and crew, make-up girls and set builders, a crow, some well-behaved snakes and a considerable amount of snow, candles, water, trees, naked bodies, lamentable mourners, as well as all being submerged in suitably gothic landscapes and vistas", said Dani Filth.

"And the fact that we travelled to Riga in Latvia to film it was also very unique and interesting. The video itself is fantastic, drawing from the darkly erotic imagery of the album artwork and bringing it to richly technicoloured classical life. We had such a blast shooting it, as the accompanying photos attest to..."

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

Oh, and don't forget that Cradle of Filth play Belfast on 30th October...we'll see ya there!

NEWS: Vardis re-issue and re-master classic albums

HARD Rock/NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) band Vardis will have their classics albums '100 MPH', The World’s Insane, and Quo Vardis remastered & re-released on CD & Vinyl via Dissonance Productions and Back On Black Records!

And, we have to say that when we saw them play at Hard Rock Hell Ibiza Road Trip in 2016 it was a if all the memories of their heyday flooded back, as potent as ever.

Steve Zodiac said about the re-issued and re-mastered albums:
 "It’s a thrill to finally hear these records as I remember them sounding in the studio. Dissonance Productions and Back On Black Records have done a fantastic job and produced the definitive editions of these albums."

The CD digipaks – featuring exclusive bonus tracks – are to be released on September 22nd with Vinyl copies due for release on October 20th 2017.

Preoder is open now:
100 MPH: http://bit.ly/DISS067CDD
The World’s Insane: http://bit.ly/DISS068CDD
Quo Vardis: http://bit.ly/DISS069CDD

The Vardis comeback album, Red Eye, was released in 2016 via SPV/Steamhammer.

The blurb about Vardis reads as follows, and for once it‌ isn't hyperbole...

'Forged out of glam, punk, heavy metal, blues and rock ‘n’ roll in the crucible of 1970s northern England.

'They are a product of rock music across three generations: inspired by the great rockers and electric bluesmen of the ’50s and ’60s, learning their trade rubbing shoulders with the young guns of hard rock and punk in the ’70s and achieving prominence in the ’80s as part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.

'The hard, ferocious attack of their sound directly influenced the development of thrash and speed metal across North America and Europe, cited by metal giants such as Metallica and Megadeth. Never losing sight of the melodic, boogie sensibilities of their earliest influences, Vardis’ brand of hard rock retains a unique heavy groove and has endured as something truly original.'

ALBUM REVIEW: Prong batter the senses with pure intensity on new release Zero Days

WHATEVER Prong are drinking we want several pints of it! Over the last five years they have released a series of albums that has had everyone sitting up and, well snapping their necks.

How they could follow up 'X-No Absolute' would have daunted many bands, but Tommy Victor rallied his troops and has unleashed on an unsuspecting world what is a contender for album of the year.

'Zero Days' is a belter of intense metal, delivered with powerful panache, measured fury and a collection of songs that harness ferociousness into a potent package.

The title track alone is enough to blow the hinges off the doors and raise the roof of the Voodoo in Belfast when they play on 19th July.

But it is also an album with subtlety, such as on 'Blood Out Of Stone' a tune that will have many hitting the repeat button. However, as a complete album this one deserves to be played over and over.

Victor's vocals sound as visceral as always, his playing locked into Mike Longworth's bass as if linked by a tractor beam, while Art Cruz balances solid playing with enough flourishes to punctuate each track.

For Victor it was a labour of love...

“I must say a lot of effort was put into this new 'Zero Days' recording," he said. "From the minute I would get off tour, I would consolidate ideas from the road and form new ones.

"Again the focus was on creating good songs. We wanted this record to be modern as well as holding justice to all the previous releases. Again and maybe even more than normally I went crazy meticulous with the lyrics. I had built up a lot to say and I wanted to articulate them in the most intelligent way possible. I firmly believe the mission was accomplished all around."

His reflective views on societal issues permeate the album, with tracks like 'The Whispers' and 'Ruler of the Collective' layered and powerful. Together with challenges such as on the awesome 'Forced Into Tolerance' this is thoughtful anger.

It is also a collection of tracks that refuse to be forced into one style - in typical Prong style they vary from thrash to groove, to almost doom (e.g. on 'Self Righteous Indignation') in a contrary and almost curmudgeonly defiance to be boxed in. And, that's exactly what makes Victor and co such a great band.

Potent Prong prove once again they are leading not following, bucking trends and critical bents to produce another special album!

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Zero Days is released on July 28th
Tickets for Prong's Belfast show at the Voodoo on July 19th are still available. 

NEWS: Switchfoot pencil in Limelight date

Californian rockers Switchfoot will play Limelight 1 on 28th October 2017.

The San Diego band's 10th album release 'Where the Light Shines Through’ sees them return to the indie world after a lengthy major-label run and makes it clear that, two decades into their remarkable career, the quintet remains as compelling and uplifting as ever, delivering inspired, infectious songs that resonate with passion, insight and melodic craft.

Tickets, priced £20 (+ booking fee) go on sale Friday July 07th at 9am from www.limelightbelfast.com, www.ticketmaster.ie, Katy's Bar & Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.

Labelled as Christian rockers, something that they often play down, Switchfoot has been on the go since their 1997 debut The Legend of Chin, steadily expanding reputation through such releases as New Way to Be Human (1999), Learning to Breathe (2000), the multi-platinum breakthrough The Beautiful Letdown (2003),Nothing Is Sound (2005), Oh! Gravity (2006), the Grammy award-winning Hello Hurricane (2009), Vice Verses (2011) and Fading West (2014).

Along the way, Switchfoot established itself through touring and US radio hits including "Meant to Live," "Dare You to Move," "Stars" and "Mess of Me".

ALBUM REVIEW: Abrasive melodic punk from Barb Wire Dolls on Rub My Mind

WITH a host of accolades from the late Lemmy amongst a host of others Barb Wire Dolls have had quite a boost in their punk tinged rock attack.

With the release of 'Rub My Mind' the question lingering with many is can the early hype be justified. And, the answer is a most definite yes.

The five women from Crete have produced an album that ranges from the tender 'Fade Away' through to the abrasive 'Call Me'

It is 13-tracks that fly in the face of everything that pop punk represented in the noughties, taut and poised.

Isis Queen has a vocal ability that rages and sneers at its most aggressive and thoughtful tones when  needed, with Pyn Doll's lead work ripping through the rhythm section with all the high notes that late 70s and early 80s punk revelled in.

And, while it sounds like an album rooted in its day, the reflection of those heady days of punk sets it apart from many pretenders. With songs like 'Where The Mountains Drink The Wine' they seem uncannily aware that the likes of SLF, The Clash, Buzzcocks et al had tunes on their album every bit as strong as the hits familiar to all.

They also mix the political with the traditional 'boy meets girl' with opener 'Back In The U.S.S.A.' and the delicate 'Fire To Burn'.

That is perhaps why Barb Wire Dolls have a complete collection on Rub My Mind. This is not just a punk album, it works as a rock album too. Punk rock? Who would have thought you can still stumble upon such class, abrasive joy.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Rub My Mind is out now on Motorhead Music

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Stereo Nasty lay down classic chops on Twisting The Blade

IN just three short years Stereo Nasty have managed through some magic elixir to conjure through some strange alchemy the Philosopher's Stone of pure metal joy.

On this their second full length release 'Twisting The Blade' the Irish four-piece have managed to produce no-frills metal - and that lack of frills is the strength of this album.

It harkens back to what the band themselves refer to as "the golden era of 80s heavy metal". However, this is not a slavish interpretation of the past. This is a take on what metal was as it emerged from the trauma of punk, the verbose mid to late-70s rock while absorbing the lessons NWOBHM learned the hard way.

Sure you can pick out the influences -  early Maiden on 'Reflections of Madness'; Priest on 'Near Dark' and WASP on 'Through The Void' but that doesn't matter at all.

What Stereo Nasty have achieved is a release that makes any fan of pure classic metal smile and want to don their cut off, pour themselves into skin tight jeans, strap on a bullet belt and start banging their heads.

The only issue is that the era of the early 80s saw producers such as Martin Birch take particular attention with engineers to enable clear separation of all the instruments and patterns. It's not that there isn't separation in the mix, it's just a little more definition across the instruments would have helped.

For example, on the superb title track 'Twisting The Blade' at times the bass and guitar aren't distinctive enough. That being said it is a great song, with a nod to the edgier side Twisted Sister, naturally, but with a sneer and smile, and a tasty measured solo from Adrian.

And, while some may focus on Mick's great vocal work it is the band's tightness that stands out. Unadulterated work as Adrian, Fran and Rud work as a unit to deliver metal.

The only blips is on the instrumental 'Vengeance' - to put it kindly it's unnecessary, and sounds like an intro to a track that has been thrown away as unnecessary.

Set that aside and what you have are eight tracks that are delivered with poise and precision, with closer 'Becoming A Beast' an absolutely - if you excuse the pun - a beast of a track.

Stereo Nasty have pulled out of the bag a superb album, that with a few tweaks is within reach of being a classic.

What excites us most is that the songs on here will translate to the live environment, where the inherent power will sear audiences aural tracts. Catch them on their summer tour!

Review by Jonathan Traynor

ALBUM REVIEW: Decapitated tip a nod to their influences and stick the middle finger to the doubters on Anticult

It's always strange when a band starts sounding like those they influenced. It happened with Machine Head. It's arguably happened with Sepultura whose latest offering would fit more comfortably alongside Soulfly's back catalogue than their own and it seems to be happening to Decapitated.

Keeping everyone happy in the wake of the much maligned 'Blood Mantra' was going to be no mean feat but thankfully it doesn't seem to have been on the agenda for the Polish (ex?) death metal titans.

Opener 'Impulse' starts with the standard clichéd clean intro that seems to be plaguing so many modern metal releases. From there it rips through a whole host of influences that make repeated appearances on the album such as Pantera, Strapping Young Lad and maybe even some modern American hardcore.

'Deathvaluation' would sit perfectly on any of the last three Lamb Of God records with its ridiculous, over the top groove while 'Kill The Cult' bursts out of the gates with a solid double kick section from Michal Lysejko that is exactly what any long haired metalhead grew their locks for in the first place. Some very tasty lead work from Vogg helps keep this as one of the more memorable tracks on the album.

'One Eyed Nation' brings us into more familiar Decapitated territory with its flat out blasts and almost Meshuggah-like rhythms and is a welcome break to the NWOAHM style grooves we've been treated to up to this point.

'Anger Line' also gives one of the more classic death metal sounding sections of the album in its introduction but has some great open sections that really allow Rafal Piotrowski to stretch those vocal chords.

'Earth Scar' delivers a solid, pummelling slab of modern sounding heftiness before drifting into territory not dissimilar to local hardcore heroes By Any Means (cheque in the post) in the bridge and 'Never' delivers a great mix of that Gothenburg sound mixed with the upbeat Americanised metal sounds explored so frequently on this release.

Closer 'Amen' would be the only real piece of filler on the album which just serves to slow the pace down after such a consistently flat out album. Even at that, it's not bad but just seems a tad unnecessary.

All in all this doesn't make for a bad album. It wears its influences on its sleeve and is unashamedly sticking the fingers up to the purists out there, even if at times it is a tad predictable and derivative. If you want 'Nihility' part 2 you'd do best to look elsewhere but if you want a high octane, heavier alternative to most of the bands name checked here then this will be right up your street.

Review by Steve Martin

Anticult is released on Nuclear Blast Records on 7th July

NEWS: 37 Days to go ti Bloodstock - more bands and comedy nights announced

ARE you counting down the days yet to BLOODSTOCK 2017?  There’s just 37 days to go - that’s a mere 5 weekends!! Maybe you’re making plans which campsite you’re going to stay in? Perhaps the brand new Ragnarök campsite, named by you, the fans? Or maybe you’ve just picked up your day ticket?

Did you know that Bloodstock's online 'click & collect' service allows you to pre-order your 2017 merch for on site collection?  Festival attendees can snap up their faves now without fear of their size/design being already sold out on the day.  Just pre-order anything with a click & collect logo at https://bmerch.com/store/ bloodstock/ and collect at the merch stall in the arena at any point over the weekend, knowing your item is guaranteed and paid for! You can pre-order until Monday 7th August.

Want to win lots of Bloodstock goodies, plus a chance to meet bands, get your ticket upgraded, watch from side of stage, or just snap up some free tickets? Sure you do! You can win every week between now and the festival. Lots of prizes to be won just by sharing your fave Bloodstock YouTube video on your social media! Get all the info on how to enter at:  www.bloodstock.uk.com/news/ share-youtube-videos-and-win- tickets-to-bloodstock-2017.

As for bands, Bloodstock can now reveal that opening the Ronnie James Dio main stage on Friday will be hotly-tipped Danish rockers FOREVER STILL. Signed to Nuclear Blast for the release of their debut album ‘Tied Down’, get familiar with the video for epic single ‘Scars’ at https://youtu.be/-GrcVsgj8UU then learn more via www.facebook.com/Foreverstill/ .

Bloodstock is also pleased to announce the return of the Jagermeister Stage. Grab your mates and some shots, and get ready to watch all these! Appearing on Friday, are groove-infused rockers ELECTRIC MOTHER (www.facebook.com/ electricmotherband) who hail from the Viking isles of Orkney, Nottingham thrash n’ rollers HUNG DADDY (www.facebook.com/ hungdaddyband), underground groove thrashers TRENDKILL (www.facebook.com/trendkilluk) , the aptly-named BIGGUS RIFFUS (www.facebook.com/biggusriffus ), and metal warriors HANOWAR (www.facebook.com/ Hanowartruemetal). Livening up Saturday are SPYDERBYTE (www.facebook.com/ spyderbyteband) - think AC/DC, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, & Motorhead in a blender, thrash metal Londoners BANGOVER (www.facebook.com/pg/ BangoverUK), Brighton rockers TALES OF AUTUMN (www.facebook.com/ TalesOfAutumn), unique Mancunian progsters TWISTED ILLUSION (www.facebook.com/pg/ OfficialTIband), and classic rock road dogs DEPARTED (www.facebook.com/pg/ departedbanduk), who count The Treatment’s ex-guitarist amongst their ranks. Sunday brings prog metal sludgers EVEREST QUEEN (www.facebook.com/ everestqueenband) from Stevenage, Edinburgh doomsters ATRAGON (www.facebook.com/AtragonDoom) , the classic/blues rock sounds of Stoke’s SILVERCHILD (www.facebook.com/ silverchildband), and a ballsy blues riot from Manchester’s VOODOO BLOOD (www.facebook.com/ VBloodofficial). If there’s any Jagermeister left, BLOODSTOCK may yet add a couple more bands to the fray.

When the metal finishes in the Hobgoblin New Blood tent each evening, a different set of howls take centre stage with Bloodstock's comedy bill.  The laughs continue through the evening and wrap up before the headliners take to the main stage.  Friday’s gag-filled line up is compere’d by everyone’s favourite Ginger Viking comic, Chris Brooker, and welcomes razor-sharp one-liner king, Gary Delaney and the award-winning queen of comic observation, Debra Jane Appleby.  Saturday evening’s bill is compere’d by David Jordan who brings his hilarious, edgy musical approach to comedy, we also welcome The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre!  One that has to be seen to be believed and leaves everyone crying with laughter!  Also bringing the laughs is award-winning stand-up, Quincy.  You may recognise him from ‘off the telly’!  On Sunday, Chris Brooker returns to compere once again and we welcome the dark and deliciously different jokes of Bethany Black and the maddest, silliest, stupidest pairing on the circuit, The Raymond And Mr Timpkins Revue.

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, FALLUJAH, HAVOK, MACABRE, INQUISITION, DEVILMENT, SCARAB, WINTERSUN, ONI, DENDERA, KROH, ABHORRENT DECIMATION, PUPPY, THE ONE HUNDRED, BOSSK, WINTERFYLLETH, LIONIZE, BLIND HAZE, ARTHEMIS 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/ bloodstock and https://twitter.com/ bloodstockfest for the latest!

BLOODSTOCK will take place at Catton Park, Derbyshire on 10th-13th August 2017.  Pick up weekend or day tickets at http://bloodstock.seetickets. com. Bring your mates or the whole family - if they’re under 4 years old, they can come for free!

NEWS: Skid Row and Toseland set for March '18 Belfast show

JEEZ -  we're only getting to grip with the clatter of gigs for the rest of 2017 and already the 2018 announcements are starting to come in with Limelight Belfast announcing a March 3rd date for Skid Row and Toseland.

The Saturday show will see the Belfast début of Skid Row's new singer, a name familiar to the city, former Dragonforce front man ZP Theart.

After two plus years shuffling of singers having ZP at the mic stand may be the perfect foil for the band's core of guitarists Dave 'The Snake' Sabo, and Scotti Hill plus the irrepressible man on bass, Rachel Bolan, to keep the Row's intensity going.

It's hard to think for us older rockers that Skid Row have been going, with a brief hiatus, since the late '80s when they smashed the charts and became MTV darlings with classics like '18 and Life' and that ballad 'I Remember You'.

Tickets are priced £18 (+booking fee).

They may no longer be youths, but we suspect they will still go wild in Belfast

INTERVIEW: Screaming Eagles set for summer festivals, a live album and prepare for next release

WITH a series of festival appearances set for the summer Northern Ireland rockers Screaming Eagles have a busy schedule for the rest of the year. We caught up with axeman Adrian McAleenan to check on what lies ahead.

As we enter July the band are gearing up for a series of shows.

"We've got SOS Fest, Ramblin' Man Fair and Rockwich coming up over the summer along with some local performances at Sunflowerfest and Linenfields," said Adrian.

Never ones to let up Sreaming Eagles will be heading to the studio

"We'll be back in writing mode to finish off the album, we've got about 4 tracks so far which are absolutely rockin', so a bit more hard graft and we should get there by the end of the year with a 2018 release," he said.

And for anyone who has witnessed the high energy show the 'Screagles' lay on there is exciting news ahead.

"We've also got a live album coming out after the summer, I've heard some of the mixes this past week and it's sounding really good, plenty to look forward to."

And, let's be honest we look forward to it to! Until then here's a Screaming Eagles classic!

Sunday, July 02, 2017

INTERVIEW: Blackwater Conspiracy's Phil tells us about the band's ongoing progress after the release of 'Shootin' The Breeze

NORTHERN Ireland blues rockers Blackwater Conspiracy have enjoyed success many would envy since they formed from members of Million$Reload and Swanee River. With début album 'Shootin' The Breeze scoring chart success we asked Phil Conalane about the album and gigging.

The album has scored success in the official UK Jazz and Blues chart and the Independent Breakers Chart, but were the band surprised by the charting and the acclaim from critics and fans alike. (Watch the video for 'Shoot The Breeze' at the end of this post.)

"To be honest we were hoping for decent reviews and that the listeners would enjoy it, but we have been totally overwhelmed by the reaction from both," said Phil.

"The magazines and online webzines have been fantastic...with features, 10/10 reviews ,great interview features and so on.

"The feedback from the public has been ridiculously good...thats been reflected in the sales figures we received, and the chart positions we got. The support from radio especially Planet Rock radio, who playlisted `The Monday Club` has been one of the main factors the album has done so well this far. It's been a bit crazy really, but we are chuffed to bits with it all.

One of the highlights has been the band's appearance at the massive Download festival, where the appeared on one of the largest stages at the legendary Derbyshire Castle Donington venue.

"It was great, we had an unbelievable audience for our set with many, many thousands turning out to see us," he said.. "We got a great buzz out of it and the songs went down great with the audience, thankfully."

And, later in July the band travel to Maidestone to play at Ramblin Man Fair, a Kent festival that attracts a diverse range of acts and has an attendance of more than 23,000. But Blackwater Conspiracy are not just counting on festival shows.

"Our plans for the rest of the year is to play a few more N.Ireland/southern Ireland gigs, do a UK tour , keep writing songs - we never stop writing anyways," said Phil.

"We`ll see what happens...we have no hard, fast plans as such...things change very quickly most of the time, so who knows!"

Fans of the previous bands have stayed local and Phil, and his bandmates Brian, Kie, Kevin and Fionn, are delighted with that loyalty.

"We are happy that they did come along with us and hopefully we will pick up a few more friends along the way."

With the diverse influences the band are attracting both blues, chilled rockers and hard rock fans, something that was never in their plans

"This is thing , we didnt sit down to write anything it particular , in any particular style , genre , or anything of that nature," he said. "We just wrote a bunch of songs and they turned out the way they turned out.

"We just didnt want to be writing anything to ferocious or too `in your face` hard rock. I think we got lucky to find our own sound so quickly. We did want to have a more laid back guitar sound

"The songs were easy to write..no pressure and a lot more relaxed that our previous band."

And, future recording?

"We've no plans to record a new album for a while, but plenty of plans to keep writing new songs!"

If you can catch them at gigs or festivals, just make sure you do!

The official album launch of 'Shootin' The Breeze' takes place at Belfast's Pavillion on August 19th.