Pick Your Rock and Metal

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: Orange Goblin digs a metal groove in Belfast

RELIABILITY and consistency are words that are not normally associated with the musical exponents of so-called stoner rock that is too glibly applied. But reliability and consistency are what draws crowds to see Orange Goblin time and time again.

They have a powerful grace, deliver their music with a smile on their faces, reciprocated by a grinning audience.

Opening for them on their mini-Irish tour NI's Zlatanera are the perfect foil to warm up the Limelight2 crowd.

On only their second live outing with new singer Aaron Orr they prove as potent as ever, the Satanic codology and musical weight combine s well as always.

The nods to Sabbath and their influences come through strong, but with their own unique Northern Ireland take on it.

Despite a cramped stage they manage to captivate old and new fans alike. What is apparent is the sheer amount of concentration the band have to make sure they don't waste a single note on this opportunity to share a stage with the Goblin.

As soon as the strains of DC's 'It's A Long Way To The Top' roll across the Limelight the anticipation is like an electric charge and Ben Ward is cajoling the audience from the off as 'Scopionica' stings and stabs with metallic intent before all are flayed with 'The Devil's Whip'.

The sheer charisma of the entire band can sometimes be over-shadowed by Ward's presence, but Orange Goblin is a unit, a unit that works clear and true. Joe, Marty and Chris lay down a musical tsunami.

There is not a misstep and it isn't too long into the set before an impromptu pit breaks out while tracks like 'The Filthy and The Few' and 'The Fog' fuel the energy to earthquake proportions.

It may be an early show, owing to the usual transformation of the venue into dance shit, but that matters not as the Halloween weekend spells are cast in metal by Orange Goblin.

Yes, we do 'Stand for Something'. We stood for the delight that comes from seeing a reliable, consistent band return to Belfast brimming with bravado and battering the senses in the most welcoming manner.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh

NEWS: Hang on to your inner organs Black Label Society are coming to Belfast

YES! YES! And, all the YESES. Black Label Society are playing in Belfast.

The man mountain Zakk Wylde is bringing Black Label Society to Limelight 1 on April 8th.

Mark the date in your diaries in the blood of the innocents who have yet to revel in the delights in the sheer musical majesty of BLS.

Whether it is shredding, delicate passages or over-the-top solos Zakk Wylde stands head and shoulders above almost all.

Sell a kidney, rent out you house, set up a pledge page - just make you are there on April 8th.

Tickets are a measly £25 go on sale this Friday, November 3rd.

Monday, October 30, 2017

NEWS: Bloodstock announce four more acts as a Halloween treat

Just in time for Halloween, BLOODSTOCK is excited to announce four more spooktacular bands and add the 2018 Rock Society tickets to the ticket store. 

We’re excited to announce that WATAIN will bring their black metal ritual to headline Sunday’s Sophie Lancaster stage in a UK festival exclusive.  Frontman Erik Danielsson tells us, "Our last performance at BLOODSTOCK in 2012 was also the final date on the ‘Lawless Darkness’ tour.  The sun was setting while we played and the crowd was getting louder and wilder the darker it became. 

"A very charged atmosphere.  Eager now to return and see what the eventful years that have passed and the force accumulated since then has done to both us and the BLOODSTOCK crowd.  Furthermore, England is of course sacred ground when it comes to Metal in general, so when performing there, the stakes are always high.  May all those that doubt be impaled upon them."  Look out for the band’s long awaited sixth studio album arriving on 5th January 2018!

German power metallers, ORDEN OGAN also land a Ronnie James Dio main stage slot on Saturday.  The band released ‘Gunmen’, their fifth studio album, this summer via AFM Records.  Check out the video for ‘Gunman’ here and get a taster of what’s in store for their set in 2018 - https://youtu.be/JPm46Qgyn24.

Atlanta aggrotech outfit, COMBICHRIST also join the main stage bill for an early slot on Friday.  The band have been working on new music after the release of their eighth studio album, ‘This Is Where Death Begins’ which landed in 2016.  Check out the new track, ‘Broken:United’ at the following link - https://Combichrist.lnk.to/Bro kenUnited.

Also landing an early main stage slot on Friday are British death/grind four-piece, MEMORIAM.  Combining ex-members of Bolt Thrower and Benediction, MEMORIAM’s pedigree is high.  The band of scene veterans are hard at work on the follow up to their debut, ‘For The Fallen’ released via Nuclear Blast earlier this year.  Check out ‘Reduced To Zero’ taken from that opus here - https://youtu.be/Nmucoieg2Lc.

BLOODSTOCK’s Rock Society tickets become available in the store on Halloween morning, 31st October at 9.00am!  The ‘Rock Society’ is effectively the festival’s ‘Members Club’, offering not only a 10% discount on your weekend ticket (on top of the early bird discount if you purchase the Rock Society membership + ticket bundle option), but all sorts of other cool benefits like priority signing tent access, a Rock Society laminate, access to the VIP Serpents Lair bar, a tour of the backstage & production areas to see ‘behind the scenes’, the chance to meet with the festival organisers, a dedicated hangout area in the Rock Society tent on site, a Rock Society Facebook community where you can make friends and get to know your fellow RockSoc members and plenty more besides.  Full details can be found at http://www.bloodstock.uk.com/p ages/rock-society. 

Memberships are priced at £75, limited to 300 and sell out almost immediately, so don’t delay if you want to pick one up.

Also now in the store are tickets for our new VANAHEIM campervan field.  Due to increasing demand each year, we've made some site adjustments to allow for more pitches.  As such, the new VANAHEIM site is located across the road, directly adjacent to Serpents Lair VIP parking, allowing an increase in size to accommodate 240 campervans, as opposed to just 130.  Campervan pitches always sold through very rapidly, so this allows for more of our metal brethren to join the campervan club.  Tickets for campervan pitches will remain at this year's price of £60. 

With Friday night headliners, JUDAS PRIEST, Saturday night headliners, GOJIRA and Sunday headliners, NIGHTWISH already announced, along with EMPEROR, DEVILDRIVER and NAILS, 2018 is shaping up to be another stellar year for BLOODSTOCK. 

BLOODSTOCK’s first wave of Serpents Lair VIP tickets are now SOLD OUT!  The final allocation, the last batch of VIP deluxe packages and a limited amount of VIP upgrades priced at £145 (for those who’ve already bought ‘early bird’ tickets) will then become available on 16th December at 9am in the ticket store.  Mark your calendars and don't delay if you want to join us in 2018’s VIP Serpents Lair, as they’re moving faster than ever before!

Standard weekend tickets are currently available at ‘early bird’ prices (just £125 for four days of metal fun) so grab yours now at the ticket store if you want to save £20!  In order to keep up with inflation and extra costs in 2018, standard weekend tickets with camping will increase from last year's £139 to £145 once the ‘early bird’ allocation is gone. 

BLOODSTOCK will take place at Catton Park, Derbyshire on 9th-12th August 2018.  Get additional information over at www.bloodstock.uk.com.

EP REVIEW: Sinocence slam your senses into submission on No Gods, No Masters Vol. 3

BATTERED and delighted is the only way to describe the experience of listening to Sinocence's third volume in 'No Gods, No Masters' ep trilogy.

While the first two volumes were great, smart, well-executed releases this long anticipated conclusion to the trilogy is a thrashing, kicking, angry, angst-ridden exorcism of past demons allied with punishing musicianship.

Personal and political lyricism is matched with intense metal playing. Fom the opening bars of 'Full Spectral Dominance' you know that your aural tracts will be blasted and your brain numb in blissful delight.

What is immediately apparent is that Sinocence are not afraid to allow each track to breathe, lengthy explorations of the music and words. The playing is onomatopoeic, perfectly matching the sense of the themes such as the period on 'Bilateral' where it slows down to match the frustration at ideology before a riff and solo slam you down.

The lengthening of the songs shows confidence and courage. While many of Sinocence's contemporaries across Europe still keep to the three-to-four minute formula this is metal, strident, aware and chock full of thematic elements that you can lose a day re-listening and re-listening, discovering more and more subtleties.

Frankie McClay's production allow the songs to have both heft and delicacy within the maelstrom. There is no muddiness evident, separation allows the listener to assess each element and revel in it.

There is so much passion on each track - and no fear in singing about issues from political misdeeds through to the refugee crisis on the furious 'Mind Over Murder' Yeah, fuck you Daily Mail, Sinocence murder your lies here.

The titular 'No Gods, No Masters' just has to be heard. Awesome doesn't even come close. It is the culmination of the band's journey; a song that espouses who and what Sinocence is about.

But lest you think that amidst the whirl of the songs on display the assault is one-dimensional this EP shows that melody can be incorporated in singing and playing - deployed in the right ratio to delight.

What Sinocence have proved on 'No Gods, No Masters Vol 3' is that they have vitality in what they do, and how they do it.

To say it is essential listening is an understatement. It is a must listen release in 2017.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

ALBUM REVIEW: The Beast is back with a Berserker of an album

WHEN Anton Kabanen split from Battle Beast in 2015 no one was really sure if he would be back. But lo and behold he is. His new band Beast in Black was formed not too long after and quickly given a chance to prove themselves supporting Nightwish.

Now without further ado, let us present to you, Berserker…

The titular 'Beast in Black' blasts off the album with pure powerful metal and screaming lyrics. Heavy, fast, driving power beats faster than your heart. The chorus is very catchy with powerful riffs and the guitar solo is fast and furious.

This sets the tone for the rest of the album.

It certainly is a statement from Anton that the Beast really
is back!

Next up is 'Blind and Frozen'”, with a pure 80’s power metal feel. It’s like Stranger Things but for metallers. Again the driving power of this track pushes you along at breakneck speed.

Anton’s vocals superbly fit with the track switching from sublime angelic to raw demonic power.

'Blood of a Lion' is a brash anthemic track switching from what can only be described as cheesy euro sweetness rousing of the troops to storm the walls.

'Born Again' starts off light but soon pounds on the weight with heavy pound beats and riffs. A solid enough song to enjoy a good headbang to. And it even has ‘that’ noticeable key change part too. It also just screams an animé main theme song.

The hot and heavy 'Zodd the Immortal' assails your ears with power and rage. Another fast and furious delivery of pure metal. Its an excellent song that won’t fail to get you in the mood for a meal of pure metal and some Judas Priest as dessert.

'The Fifth Angel' lands with a heavy industrial feel that grabs you by your throat and just won’t let go until you have listened to the whole song.

'Crazy, Mad, Insane'. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Heavy power metal goes techno! A really odd choice that really should not work in any way whatsoever. What the hell is it doing on a metal album? But defying the natural order of things it’s actually a really good track that combines the feel and sound pure catchy euro techno and a bit of power metal. You will probably want to hate this track, more because it will become an earworm that will not leave your brain alone. But, don’t worry, no one will judge you if you suddenly find those glowsticks you forgot to throw out when you found real music and left techno behind.
Then we have 'The Final Count…..er…….Eternal Fire. Catchy with plenty to enjoy about this track. Anton’s vocals perfectly suit the song and the keyboard just fits beautifully. However, all you might, confusingly, see when you close your eyes is the full ensemble of Europe belting out their well-known classic.

Now, 'End of the World' starts off a bit Europe-y again, but then takes a massive detour into powerful driven metal. Fantastic, catchy and full on. 

'Ghost in the Rain' is a nice slow ballad that does its job and all but says ‘End Credits song’. Slow, luscious and ready to tug on your heart strings. But only if you have any of course.

Overall, it’s a symphonic album that seems to be a bit of power metal meets Anime. It would suit the likes of “Full Metal Alchemist” or “Black Butler” perfectly. In fact, you can’t leave out the manga/anime “Berserk” – which the band even credits in influencing 'Beast In Black', and 'Zodd The Immortal'.

Definitely a highly recommended album.

Review by Ivor Whtten

Berserker is out on 3rd November 2017.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

INTERVIEW: Michael from The Raven Age ahead of their Belfast date on Tuesday

RIGHTLY touted as one of the rising metal bands from the UK, conquering territories and with a stunning début album, 'Darkness Will Rise' out earlier this year.

As they prepared to board a ferry for Ireland we grabbed a few minutes with lead vocalist Michael Burrough to hear where the band are at present.

Listen below:

Friday, October 27, 2017

NEWS: Canadian rock legends celebrate classic album's 40th anniversary with lavish expanded reissues on December 1st

ON December 1, UMe/Anthem/ole label group continues its Rush 40th anniversary album celebrations with a lavish new expanded edition of the band's landmark album A Farewell to Kings.

A Farewell to Kings, Rush's fifth studio album, was originally released in 1977, and played a major role in establishing Rush as an internationally popular and respected band.  A Farewell to Kings also introduced the trio's first successful radio hit "Closer To The Heart," album tracks “A Farewell To Kings,” “Madrigal,” “Cinderella Man,” as well as enduring fan favorites with "Xanadu” and "Cygnus X-1."

A Farewell to Kings—40th Anniversary will be available to fans in four distinct configurations including (1) Super Deluxe Edition, (2) three-CD Deluxe Edition, (3) four-LP Deluxe Edition, and (4) the Deluxe Digital Edition.

The Super Deluxe Edition includes three CDs, one Blu-ray Audio disc and four high-quality 180-gram vinyl LPs.

The set encompasses the Abbey Road Mastering Studios 2015 remastered edition of the album for the first time on CD; a complete Rush concert recorded in February 1978 at London's Hammersmith Odeon, newly mixed by longtime Rush engineer and original A Farewell to Kings producer Terry Brown from the multi-track live tapes; four newly-recorded cover versions of songs from the original album by Dream Theater, Big Wreck, The Trews and Alain Johannes; and an instrumental studio outtake of the spacey sound effects the band has creatively titled “Cygnus X-2 Eh.”  The Hammersmith show features, for the first-time ever, over 34 minutes of unreleased performances including a complete “2112” suite, “Lakeside Park,” a drum solo and “Closer To The Heart.” The Super Deluxe Edition's audio content on its CDs is duplicated on its vinyl discs.
Meanwhile, the Blu-ray Audio disc contains a brand new 5.1 surround mix of the album by four-time Grammy® nominated surround sound producer Steven Wilson, along with three original 1977 promo videos from a newly found 2-inch quad video master significantly improving the video quality for “Closer To The Heart.”  The Super Deluxe package also includes an elaborate new 40th anniversary cover treatment by longtime Rush creative director Hugh Syme, who has also created a new piece of artwork for each of the album's six songs, and an extensive 12,000-word liner notes by Grammy®-winning rock historian Rob Bowman.

The Super Deluxe Edition of A Farewell to Kings—40th Anniversary will also include several exclusive items, including a unique King's Ring, with custom velvet pouch and neck chain; two lithographs with original artwork by Hugh Syme; a special 12-inch turntable mat featuring distinctive artwork by Hugh Syme; and a reproduction of Rush's original 1978 A Farewell To Kings tour program.

A Farewell to Kings—40th Anniversary second configuration will be released in a three-CD Deluxe Edition, with the newly reasserted A Farewell to Kings album, the Hammersmith Odeon show, the four new cover songs, “Cygnus X-2 Eh” outtake, Hugh Syme's song-specific artwork and Rob Bowman's liner notes.

The third configuration will be offered as an audiophile 180-gram four-LP Deluxe Edition featuring the same audio content as the three-CD edition with double-gatefold packaging, 32-page vinyl-size booklet, the special 12-inch turntable mat, along with Syme's artwork and Bowman's liner notes.  The fourth configuration, the Deluxe Digital Edition, will feature the original album as disc 1, the complete Hammersmith concert unedited as disc 2, and the four covers songs plus the “Cygnus X-2 Eh” outtake as disc 3.

Additionally, on November 24, UMe will release a 7" vinyl single for Record Store Day's annual Black Friday event, featuring the beloved A Farewell to Kings hit "Closer to the Heart," with a custom large-hole adapter and new artwork by Hugh Syme.

In his liner notes, Bowman describes A Farewell to Kings as "the beginning of Chapter Two" for Rush.  "No longer was the majority of the record dominated by the sound of a power trio.  A more mature Rush now embraced a wider sound palette using synthesizers, Taurus bass pedals, classical guitar, tubular bells, temple blocks and orchestral bells to create greater contrast and color within their compositions. Yet, when desired, Rush continued to deploy the intensity, ferocity and power that they were justifiably known for."

Rush—bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer/lyricist Neil Peart—has won a large and passionate worldwide fan base for its unique, adventurous approach, which combines sterling musicianship, complex compositions and distinctive lyrical flights drawing upon science-fiction motifs and esoteric philosophical concepts. The band has sold more 25 million albums in the U.S. alone, with worldwide sales estimated at 45 million, and has been awarded 24 Gold, 14 Platinum, and three multi-platinum albums.  Rush has received seven Grammy nominations and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.


Original Album - Produced by Rush and Terry Brown
A Farewell to Kings
Closer to The Heart
Cinderella Man
Cygnus X-1

Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978

Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978

XANADU – Dream Theater*
MADRIGAL – Alain Johannes*

96kHz 24-bit 5.1 Surround Mix by Steven Wilson
96kHz 24-bit Original Stereo Analog 2015 Remaster
A Farewell to Kings
Closer to The Heart
Cinderella Man
Cygnus X-1

1977 Promo Videos:

Original Album - Produced by Rush and Terry Brown
A Farewell to Kings

Closer to The Heart
Cinderella Man
Cygnus X-1

Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978

Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978

Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978

Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978

Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978

XANADU – Dream Theater*
MADRIGAL – Alain Johannes*

Original Album - Produced by Rush and Terry Brown
A Farewell to Kings
Closer to The Heart
Cinderella Man
Cygnus X-1

Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978

XANADU – Dream Theater*
MADRIGAL – Alain Johannes*

* Previously unreleased

NEWS: Geoff Tate inks in January Belfast Empire date

LEGENDARY singer songwriter, Geoff Tate, is set to play The Belfast Empire on Friday 12 January as part of his world tour starting in December 2017 for the 30th Anniversary of his album Operation Mindcrime.

Special Guests for the tour are Till Death Do Us Part featuring Geoff's daughter, Emily, along with guitarist Kieran Robertson of Operation Mindcrime.

It was the third studio album of eleven that Geoff recorded with his progressive heavy metal band Queensryche.

The concept album follows the story of Nikki, a recovering drug addict, who becomes disillusioned with the corrupt society of his time and becomes involved in a revolutionary group, acting as an assassin of political leaders.

The certified platinum album is regularly included in the top 100 albums heavy metal albums. If you haven't got a copy, you need to have one in our collection..

Geoff has recorded 17 studio albums throughout his 35 year career and is regarded as one of the most skilled vocalists in the rock genre with hundreds of modern popular artists citing him as a major influence.

In addition to releasing seventeen studio albums as the original singer of Queensryche and as a solo artist Geoff has released several live albums and has been nominated for a grammy four times. He has sold over 25 million records and performed in more than 46 countries.

Geoff will release a new album in early January 2018 called, “The New Reality” with Frontiers records. The New Reality will be part 3 of a trilogy of records following his albums, “The Key” and “Resurrection” both on Frontiers.

These 3 albums comprise a story following the lead character called “H” through an epic journey accompanied by the heavy progressive music that Geoff is best known for.

Tickets priced £22.50 including B/F are on sale now from all usual Ticketmaster outlets including The Empire Bar and www.ticketmaster.ie // www.thebelfastempire.com

Sunday, October 22, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Hard hitting ferocity from Cannibal Corpse on Red Before The Black

IMAGINE being thrown into a gorilla enclosure. The gorilla is jacked up on steroids, has been on a three-day bender and has heard you’ve been talking shit. The only thing you have to defend yourself with is a plastic fork...

The resultant chaos of you being tossed around the place is the visual embodiment of ‘Red Before Black’, the new album by American death metal royalty Cannibal Corpse.

The opening track ‘Only One Will Die’ rips your head clean off and hurls it into a gory blender of sickeningly heavy riffs, insane basslines and drumming so heavy it’ll turn your bones to powder. The unmistakable bellowing roar of George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher cuts through the mix like a hot chainsaw through human flesh. The fretwork will have you swinging your head and the blasting drums will have you beating random strangers to a bloody pulp.

Pace yourself, the carnage has only just begun...

The title track ‘Red Before Black’ doesn’t let up either, with Rob Barrett and Pat O’Brien shredding up and down the fretboard at dizzying velocity. The basslines from Alex Webster are pulverising in every sense of the word and the supersonic skin work of human jackhammer Paul Mazurkiewicz will leave you gasping for air. Corpsegrinder’s guttural, heart attack inducing vocal assault only heightens the bloodlust. The solo will melt your face clean off.

The third track ‘Code of the Slashers’ starts of at a nasty grinding pace before death metal’s reigning kings hit the hyperdrive button and fire into a g-force flurry of demented guitar riffs, monstrous bass and drumming that will turn your insides into pink paste. Even at breakneck speed the nastiness is still retained. The vocals spew every dark impulse your dormant subconscious has ever had and the leadwork is absolutely frightening.

‘Shedding My Human Skin’ is up next and oh my... this is weapons grade riffing we’re talking about right here. The kind that would make North Korea more than a little nervous. It’s so unbelievably heavy and absolutely dripping in gore soaked groove you can’t help being sucked into a frenzy of headbanging. The drumming is decimating, the guitars ring with terrifying dissonance and the bass is like having ten tonnes of concrete poured into your early grave. The vocals are, again, sublime thanks to death metal’s most recognisable voice and the guitar solos just add to the maelstrom of chaos.

The fifth track ‘Remaimed’ is thunderous and ominous with big open riffs and a powerful bass sound. The drums rip through the vicious fretwork as Corpsegrinder screams out pure unrestrained malice. It is such a heavy track, more midpaced than the previous tracks but still prone to stabs of nausea causing speed at any given moment. The guitar solo is fantastic, fitting the pace of the song perfectly.

The sixth track ‘Firestorm Vengeance’ does exactly what the title suggests, wrapping you in a burning hurricane of razor sharp riffs, shattering bass and skull crushing drums. The vocal delivery is ferocious in the extreme and the leadwork just assaults you with twisted technical prowess. You will be wondering why you’re covered in blood and third degree burns after this one.

The next track ‘Heads Shovelled Off’ hits you with blastbeats and fretboard mayhem immediately and doesn’t slow down in any way, shape or form. It’s just pure eardrum pummelling madness from start to finish. Gruesome lyrics hurled out will turn you into a ravenous nutcase and the shredding leads will have you scouring your toolshed for implements of murder. Make sure you’ve got your alibi straight.

The eighth track ‘Corpus Delicti’ hammers you with earthquake causing drums and grinding, death metal fury. The riffs are inhuman in their heaviness and the leadwork is wild and unpredictable. The vocals are nothing short of monstrous, crushing you flat into the pavement. It’s just too heavy to describe. It is horrifying and glorious in equal measure.

The ninth track ‘Scavenger Consuming Death’ starts with a murky bassline that ushers in musical insanity. Pounding double kicks and filthy eviscerating guitars leave what was left of your mangled body in a broken heap. The leadwork is enough to turn your insides to jelly and the grim vocals depicting the consumption of human flesh will take your remaining shred of sanity and hurl it into the void.

The next track ‘In the Midst of Ruin’ will literally ruin you. Dominating in heaviness and ridiculous speed the song will hurl you through a woodchipper of chaotic riffs, abnormal bass and sickeningly brutal drums as Corpsegrinder roars bloody murder. Disgustingly awesome solos tear through your skin and right into your exposed grey matter with the force of a nuclear bomb.

The penultimate track ‘Destroyed Without a Trace’ much like the rest of the album, is brutal and unrelenting. Panicked, deranged riffing and machine gun drumming smash into each other with enormous force as the brain mashing vocals repeatedly batter you into a wall of destruction. The leadwork is completely mental. This is a track to send you to the nuthouse.

The final track ‘Hideous Ichor’ moves faster than the local alcho when last orders have been called. It is simply stunning in its speed and aggression. Every word hits you like a lead pipe and the drums shake you to your very core. The guitar work hits you with the force of a truck and the insidious leads snake through the track causing absolute devastation.

By the end of this album you’re going to need an ambulance, a therapist and a police officer to tape your sadistic confessions. ‘Red Before Black’ is a primal, visceral slab of extreme and totally unrelenting death metal that showcase why Cannibal Corpse have been the king’s of the death metal hill for nearly thirty years.

With truckloads of demonic riffs, frantic basslines, maniacal drumming and skull shattering vocals this album is a must have for fans of extreme music. Just make sure you have your straight jacket nice and tight and your padded cell locked before listening so you don’t hurt yourself... or anyone else for that matter.

Review by Phil Noonan.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Samarkind ooze blues and soul on their southern tinged début

WHAT happens when an Irishmen, a Polish man and a South African man walk into a bar? They form a band of course! And, while we're not sure where the bar comes into it Samarkind have produced a début that oozes class.

While there are straight up rockers here, this is an album that taps into the heart and soul of the blues roots of rock 'n' roll.

Opener 'Black Rain' has you about to kick back with a bourbon about to touch your lips before launching into a full-on, rock 'n' blues - shit-kicking good.

And, this is where the essence of the band plays out -in that unholy marriage of hard rock and blues.

Singer, David Paul Byrne, may be a name a few people in Ireland will remember from his days in Assassin, but here his voice shows versatility and maturity. 'Skinny Rivers' has him stretching his larynx out without losing the essence.

Guitarist Michal Kulbaka has the sensibility of a six-stringer who knows when to fly and when to build atmosphere.

'Good Man Call' slithers from the speakers, replete with real angst and the band keep that angst in check, narrating a tale of remorse and regret. You can imagine yourself sitting on a porch in the Deep South, a jar of moonshine in your hand, gazing long into the setting amber sun, considering your choices in life...

The balance of Mark Dempsey's bass and Marius Appelgryn's drums is accentuated by Alwyn Walker's production so that the flare is well placed, and the necessary 4/4 timing is aided with changes in the mix.

While 'Thru That Door' brings us back up to 'speed', the following track 'Fire and Blood' sneers in barely contained rock anger as Byrne trades off with Kulbaka, their ire directed at the haters and those burdened by negativity before a delicious middle-eight.

Samarkind have managed to produce an album  - albeit a short one - that touches directly on the heart of where hard rock emerged from, yet gives it a 2017 kick up the arse.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Samarkind is released on 24th November

Friday, October 20, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: French black metallers Aosoth deliver the darkness by the truckload with ‘V: The Inside Scriptures’.

In the now burgeoning French black metal scene it’s hard to stand out from the crowd.

With bands like Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega putting French black metal firmly on the map you have to do something truly special to get yourself noticed.

Parisian chaos demons Aosoth have done just that with ‘V: The Inside Scriptures’, an album overflowing with insane riffs, phenomenal drumming and seriously impressive song writing.

The first track ‘A Heart to Judge’ begins in ferocious style. Double kicks and grinding fretwork will send you into a fit of headbanging as the snarling vocals creep into the mix. The music is raw and dense, the guitars fire out chaos and some seriously catchy riffs as the drums assault you with blastbeats and at times and old school death metal style of drumming. A very strong, very dark opener.

The second track ‘Her Feet Upon the Earth, Blooming the Fruits’ is a cyclone of madness from the word ‘go’. Evil, manic riffs and drumming as heavy as granite smash into each other with force. The vocal work just adds to the nastiness, beating you into the corner with a demonic wall of noise. This one will have you banging your head and hailing the devil all day long.

‘The Inside Scriptures’ starts off with an ominous riff that’ll make you feel more than a little uneasy. The drums come crashing down and the bass rumbles along creating a sinister sound which the rasping vocals fit perfectly. Dissonant riffs and blastbeats soon pick up the pace. There are some absolutely filthy riffs in this one.

The nastiness oozes out of this song like an infected wound.

‘Premises of a Miracle’ is up next, and it doesn’t ease you in at all. A demonic miasma of blasts and grating riffs smacks you in the face immediately. The vocal work adds to the chaos, the tone is superb. There are some extremely catchy moments in this track, riffs that get their hooks deep into you and insane double kick drumming that’ll keep your brain rattling around in your head for the entire duration. A definite favourite.

The fifth track ‘Contaminating All Tongues’ is a midpaced behemoth that crushes you into the dirt with heavy drumming and gritty, punishing fretwork. It’s a real slow headbanger that’ll have you putting the horns in the air. Off beat vocals just add to the creep factor as the track heads into doomy territory with a slow drum pattern accentuated by eerie guitar work before blasting into double kick blastbeat madness and a great shredding riff of pure ugliness.

Closer ‘Silver Dagger and the Breathless Smile’ is so mired in groove you can’t help moving to the devilish cacophony. The riffs are all over the place, the drumming intense and dynamic and the vocals are absolutely sinister. The sound is almost suffocating, holding you down and squeezing the breath out of you with black sludgy noise. It’ll make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, with the guitars ringing out pure evil and the drums terrorising you with blastbeats at any given moment.

A very strong final track.

Fans of the murky nastiness of black metal should give this a good few spins. It’s chock-full of monstrous goodness that Satan himself would approve of.

Review by Phil Noonan.

V: The Inside Scriptures is released on 17th November on Agonia Records

LIVE REVIEW: W.A.S.P. celebrate 25th Anniversary of Crimson Idol

GIVEN the 25 years since its release, 'The Crimson Idol's is as much as seminal release from W.A.S.P., but is also a moment captured in many fans minds as a moment in their personal lives, making the 'Re-Idolized' date in Belfast a guaranteed sell-out.

There was the expected buzz around the October 18th event at Limelight 1, which unfortunately for support act, The Cruel Knives, meant concentration was not in any way focussed towards the stage.

While they were energetic and engaging at times they were struggling to keep attention away from the bar. There songs were on occasion well executed on the strength of this show it was at times too generic.

With the introduction to The Crimson Idol, 'The Titanic Overture', there was almost feverish in the packed venue as all urged forward. From the off it was clear that the band intended to reproduce each note, each sample and each word as faithfully as the original album release.

Blackie was as commanding on stage as always. He may no longer be the demonic presence at the front, but for a man of his age still stands proud at the front. However, he does step to the back to allow Doug Blair on guitars and Mike Duda (bass) to take their rightful moments in the spotlight.

'Chainsaw Charlie' had the gang vocals of the chorus reciprocated by the audience chanting out "Murders In The New Morgue'.

Playing out the descent of Jonathan across the album 'Hold On To My Heart' was almost achingly close to the original.

The encore opened with a storming cover of The Who's 'The Real Me', invoking another mass singalong, quickly followed by 'L.O.V.E. Machine'  Despite some questionable vocals all were engrossed.

Newer track 'Golgotha', reflecting Blackie's more recent Biblical story telling, is already familiar to all, but the closer 'I Wanna Be Somebody' is the song that has all roaring out ever word, pummelling fists and horns held aloft.

After just shy of 90 minutes an exhausted audience streamed out into the chilly October air, reflecting on the performance and wondering when W.A.S.P. will return, if ever.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Thursday, October 19, 2017

INTERVIEW: Concept album, violinist, special guests - surely this isn't Acid Age - well it is!

WITH violinists, stellar contributors and a concept, what the hell is going on with Acid Age?

Confused by the reports emerging from County Tyrone we seized Jude from the band, put him in a darkened room (well upon request he sent us an email…) and demanded answers.

First of all, who are these people who will pop up on this forthcoming release?

“We have an awesome list of special guests on our next release,” Jude explained. “It includes guys like Jeff Young (ex-Megadeth) Bones (Discharge) Mark Caro (Abbatoir) Adie Bailey (ex-English Dogs) Ross Oliver (Risen Prophecy) Ryan Sebastian Balfour (Maverick).

"We are waiting to hear from a few more so I can't say too much right now on that. We just contacted them through Facebook.

“They've all expressed that they genuinely enjoy what we are doing so it kind of makes sense just to have a bunch of cool names on our new album. We have done straight ahead balls out thrash metal albums before, typical Razor worship. Songs about guns and sharks and stuff like that so we decided to try something different this time.”

As for silly titles the last Acid Age album had the wonderful title of ‘Like A Combine Harvester In A Field Of Crippled Rabbits’. Not exactly catchy but certainly memorable.

“It's no secret that we always have ridiculous, zany titles for our releases, the last album was no exception,” said Jude. “The whole combine harvester thing was partially a joke about how the band was from Cookstown and thus ‘culchies’ but it was just a title we all liked.

“It's a bit long-winded but it's original.”

For a band known for producing full on-thrashers it was attention grabbing when it emerged that Acid Age were working on a concept album.

“We knew we wanted to do a full concept album with a fluent theme and we had talked about it before so in order to make this work in thrash metal it has to be epic sounding.

“It's very interesting, kind of like writing a score for a film. It has to be dramatic and have peaks and valleys, fast bits, slow bits and even some more mellow stuff than we are used to.

“That being said it's our most technically ferocious material to date so we knew we needed a second guitarist and that's why we asked Matty who is a good friend and an excellent player.”

As if this wasn’t enough to cope with the band have also added a violinist to their ranks…

“The violinist thing started out as a joke originally because me and Jake like jazz violinists like Jean Luc Ponty and Stephan Grapelli and we like bands that expand their sound within the genre without radically altering their core sound.

“Eddie (our vocalist) mentioned that he had a friend who was a grade 8 classical violinist called Anna so we asked her for the craic.

“Next thing is we are practicing with her and she's running her violin through a distortion pedal and playing insane thrash riffs.

“It's kind of like having three guitarists in the band, you have to arrange each instrument in sections rather than just blazing through songs in a typical verse/chorus fashion.”

With work progressing on the album it is only fitting that they produce a stage set to reflect its ambition.

“We plan to tour this new concept album in its entirety with a super-pretentious stage show to go along with it,” said Jude. “We're trying to keep ourselves interested more so than being original or fresh or whatever.

“In two years the album will have been out and we hope we will have a string of tour dates under our belts.

“Even if it never leaves the island at the very least we will have something insane for all our friends to see.”

Whether they ever take the planned extravagant show to wider audiences is a moot point for Jude.

“It's hard to secure cross-water gigs because the stage show is much more extravagant than the typical lights and smoke machine and as a result it costs more to transport but those who see it will understand why.

“It's not like some dodgy rock opera but it is thematic and because of the size of the stage show and the fact that there are now six members in the band we need bigger stages to play on, which adds to the problem on a financial scale but it's going to be fun.

With such ambition one would expect Acid Age to be aiming for the stars, but the band remain very grounded.

“Magazines such as Metal Hammer and Terrorizer and the people that follow those types of magazines probably aren't our kind of crowd and that's fine with us,” said Jude

“That being said you'd be surprised at some of the people that have expressed their interest in the band over the years.

“Truth be told we do want a larger audience but that's just because it's becoming harder to do this, some of us have kids and jobs and houses and shit like everyone else so to take time off and do a tour it costs money, rent needs paid, kids need fed etc...

“Getting T-shirts and merch is expensive and there's no point if no one is coming to the gigs and to get people to come to the gigs you have to expand on the sound and add more to your live show with each release.

“It's the same either way, if you make a really nasty sounding album with shitty production the mainstream audience hate it, then if you make a really glossy and precise sounding album the underground accuses you of "selling-out" when ultimately it's just a case of taste being subjective.

“The underground has real value in a sense that it's incredibly loyal... Until you start making a wage.”

We can only hope that Acid Age's ambitious recording plans means that they will indeed start earning more than the minimum thrasher wage.

Interiew by Jonathan Traynor

ALBUM REVIEW: Polish black metal juggernauts Blaze of Perdition pull you into the murky depths of madness with Conscious Darkness.

POLAND is a country that needs no introduction when it comes to producing some of the most extreme music on this planet, and Blaze of Perdition are no exception to this.

Their innovative and oppressive style is wonderfully showcased throughout the duration of ‘Conscious Darkness’, an album that contains four very lengthy songs ranging from eight to fifteen minutes in length.

This isn’t an album for the casual listener but rather an album to immerse yourself in, boldly exploring its complexities.

The album opener ‘A Glimpse of God’ starts with great dynamic drumming and wonderfully structured atmospheric riffing. The density of the song pulls you in like quicksand as Sonneillon’s aggressive and thought provoking growls batter you into submission.

At one second shy of eleven minutes the track jumps seamlessly from ethereal post black atmospheres to grinding blastbeat ridden darkness, pulling you deeper into the suffocating void.

There are glimpses of light through the blackness however, in the form of beautiful melodies that puncture and permeate the bleak landscape of the song. A truly bleak, beautiful and tortured foray into an unhinged mind.

The second track ‘Ashes Remain’ just pummels you with blastbeats and chainsaw like guitar work from the opening note. The mood is dark and oppressive throughout this fifteen minute epic. It is absolutely crushing, the guitars ring out horrifying dissonance, the drums are bone breaking, the bass powerful in every sense. The tortured vocals on top just make for a track that is dripping with melancholy and despair.

The guitar melodies at times do try to lift you out of the obsidian wasteland and into the light before you’re thrown back down into the bowels of darkness. There’s a great spoken word part in there too that sounds like it was written by the legendary Tom G Warrior of Celtic Frost. This track really does seem to have it all.

The third track ‘Weight of the Shadow’ is a groove ridden wall of sound that will devastate your ears within seconds. Starting off with a slower crushing pace it soon explodes into vicious black metal mania.

Blastbeats upon blastbeats and a guitar riff that would give Chuck Norris tendonitis rip through the song. The deranged and emotive vocal work fills you with a sense of pure dread as the song shifts from lofty heights and unforgiving lows.

The final track ‘Detachment Brings Serenity’ is absolutely stunning in its composition. Amazing guitar work and superb drumming bring an unearthly beauty to a song so drenched in black metal it wouldn’t seem possible. The anguished vocals mix with melodic riff work and carefully crafted guitar leads as the drums and bass hammer down a rhythm that oozes groove.

The switch from the more midpaced musicianship into full blown madness is completely seamless. One moment you’re swaying to the melody, the next you’re trying to break the bones in your neck by windmilling your head into the stratosphere. This is an insanely strong end to a wonderfully and cleverly written album.

Blaze of Perdition have certainly outdone themselves on ‘Conscious Darkness’. The musicianship is so strong, the songwriting is fantastic and the album flows perfectly from the first track to the last.

Fans of melancholic black metal draped in a thick fog of atmosphere and, at times, serene beauty
would do well to pick this dark gem up and give it a good old spin. An absolutely rock solid effort.

Review by Phil Noonan.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Annihilator's 16th release For The Demented may be their best yet

ANYONE who witnessed Annihilator at Bloodstock 2017 knows what a special (and humourous) band they are. But while all fans harken back to the days of 'Alice in Hell' and 'Never, Neverland' there has been a development in what Waters and co have delivered.

Everyone expects a high standard from Annihilator, but with the November 3rd release of 'For The Demented' they have taken the bar, stuck it up the ass of any doubters higher than anyone could expect.

In one sense this is an album that harkens back to the so-called glory days: but in another sense feels fresher, vibrant an alive.

Sure, the hats are tipped to the 'classic' Annihilator style, and their familiar influences touchstones (one direct word lift from 'Tallica - spot it youself!) but this is a collection of 10 tracks that deserve to be savoured.

From the headlong race of opener 'Twisted Lobotomy' to the weird jazz shit on closer 'Not All There' this is a release to revel in.

But those expecting the classic thrash themes it is also a collection to delve much deeper into, in terms of the music and lyrics.

Waters has confessed that he has moved from his insular writing process - when we interviewed him a few years back he talked about sitting with software listening to drum sounds to get what he wanted. Taken away from the self-imposed confines and having bassist Rich Hinks Annihilator have risen to another level.

Sure, the melodic shredding on the likes of  'One For The Kill' and 'Altering the Altar' - as well on every song - is exemplary, but it feels like it is better balanced out within the arrangements.

The title tracks is a perfect example of this, from its brooding introduction to an almost atonal riff and deliberately forced melodies it pushes thrash to its musical limits, but still has moments that stun.

For those of a certain vintage 'Pieces Of You' would sit as the last track on side one of some vinyl  Metallica releases, but takes that 'model' and develops it with soulful playing overlaid with dark. cannibalistic lyrics (apparently mayonnaise, pepper and a little salt work well...)

And, here within lies the secret of why Annihialtor stand above many - their dark Canuck humour and adaptability sees them above many pretenders. They are the genuine article.

'The Demon You Know' out-Musataines Mustaine's Peace Sells with a knowing nod and a twisted smile.

Many will comment that this is a little derivative, but sit them down - fuck it tie them down - and make them listen to 'For The Demented' until they 'get it'.

What Annihilator have produced is a unique product, something that gives thrash (and indeed NWOBHM fans) a glimpse into the  days when music excited, and brings a collection of songs that still feel fresh.

Waters has achieved much on this - and by the Lord Baphomet there are so-called hard rock/sleaze bands that would sell their soul, clothes and drugs to have written and recorded 'The Way'.

Does all this seem to effusive? Frankly we don't care, because this is the real deal in terms of a metal record - no flummery, no fancy OTT shit and a deep lyrical thematic.

We perhaps could have done without the atmospheric instrumental 'The Dark' this is an otherwise flawless Annihilator release.

And, even before we hear these songs live the hairs on the back of our necks are standing rigid in anticipation.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

For The Demented is released on November 3rd on Neverland Music Inc

NEWS: Massive Wagons sign worldwide deal with Earache Records and plan next album

WITH an ever-growing fanbase, and many loyal devotees here in Northern Ireland we're pleased that Massive Wagons are taking the next step in their career by signing a worldwide deal with Earache Records.

Formed in Lancashire by brothers Adam (guitar) and Alex (drums) Thistlethwaite, both in their 20s, MW are the newest rock 'n' roll hopefuls to sign to Earache.  Rounded out by Barry "Baz" Mills (vocals) and Adam Bouskill (bass), and as the press release says Massve Wagons "play straight-up, feel-good rock 'n' roll in the English tradition - no gimmicks, no agenda."

The band have been nurtured and developed by Off Yer Rocka for several years - and have expressed their thanks to the label for enabling them to develop to this point in their rock 'n' roll journey.

And, good news for fans is that Massive Wagons hope to release their latest album early in 2018

"You always hear people talk about 'making it'; rock fans chatting about who they think will 'make it' or who they'd like to see 'make it'," said frontman Baz.

"I've never really known what that truly means to be honest - I suppose everyone has a different take on what it means to them - but if you ask me, I'd say 'making it' means being lucky enough to reach a platform where our music is taken seriously, recognised and respected; where our music will be cemented in history, referenced in the future maybe by our peers as a band that did something; remembered by rock fans.

"I wanna leave a legacy - however big or small that is, I want to leave our mark, and although I want to take this thing much further, I firmly believe through signing with Earache that we have achieved this.

"I'm so proud to sign this deal; to be able to work with such a huge label like Earache is a dream come true.  The new Wagons album is just about written, next is the studio, then the biggest, baddest release yet.  Bring it on!  I just wanna thank the people at Earache for having faith in what we do and giving a group of guys from the street an opportunity to stand out.  Much love and rock on."

"We're mega excited to have signed to the world's toughest and truest hard rock and metal label, Earache Records," adds lead guitarist Adam.

"We have always been impressed by their artists and are extremely confident that the best material we're writing has found its rightful home in Earache for many years to come.  We are straining at the leash to get stuck into 2018 and beyond."

NEWS: The Stranglers set for Belfast return after stunning set with SLF at Custom House Square - Therapy? support

THE Stranglers will headline Belfast show at the Ulster Hall, Belfast with very special guests Therapy? on Saturday 03rd March 2018.

And, for those who saw them with SLF earlier in the summer at Custom House Square show know this will be a special show.

The Stranglers are one of the most continuously successful bands to have emerged from the UK punk rock scene. Expect to hear hits such as Golden Brown, No More Heroes, Peaches and Always the Sun and more recent tracks.

Headed up by Sunderland-born singer Baz Warne, the tour is set to coincide with the planned re-release of their first seven albums (six studio and one live) originally issued on the UA and EMI/Liberty labels.

For the 2018 UK tour, Therapy? will be their special guests.

The group are expecting to release their 15th album in early 2018 and have spent much of the past year performing a series of critically-acclaimed acoustic dates.

Tickets, priced £33.50 go on sale on, Friday, October 20th at 10am from www.ulsterhall.co.uk, www.ticketmaster.ie, Katy's Bar & Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. Northern Ireland customers 0844 277 44 55 & Republic of Ireland customers 0818 719 300.

NEWS: Belfast once again announced to host the Northern Ireland Metal2TheMasses heats

BLOODSTOCK’s annual, hugely popular ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ initiative offers unsigned and DIY bands the chance of being part of the Bloodstock festival experience and once again Belfast is hosting the Northern Ireland heat.

For 2018, your band could be playing on the bill alongside the likes of JUDAS PRIEST, GOJIRA, NIGHTWISH and many more amazing bands.
The Distortion Project is once again organising M2TM - and applications are open now. Email DP here if you’re in a self-signed or unsigned band and want to try out for a slot on the Bloodstock bill.

One winner from each event will win a slot on Bloodstock's ‘New Blood’ stage, with many more additional prizes to be announced.  In August 2018, your band or your favourite local act could be one of the lucky bands stepping on stage at Bloodstock.

For further details on M2TM, check out https://www.facebook.com/group s/m2tmofficial or for bands wishing to submit applications outside Metal2TheMasses, please email Simon here.

Standard weekend tickets for Bloodstock are currently available at ‘early bird’ prices (just £125 for four days of metal fun) so grab yours now at the ticket store if you want to save £20!  In order to keep up with inflation and extra costs in 2018, standard weekend tickets with camping will increase from last year's £139 to £145 once the ‘early bird’ allocation is gone. 

Bloodstock takes place at Catton Park, Derbyshire on 9th-12th August 2018.  Get additional information over at www.bloodstock.uk.com.

Monday, October 16, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: Belphegor, Enthroned and Nervochaos bring Satanic worship to Belfast in a hail of riffs.

SATAN was in the house and there was three bands to hail Lucifer's arrival in the Limelight.

First to welcome the Fallen angel wee Brazilian black death metal maniacs NervoChaos.

Grinding death influenced guitars and ferocious drumming set the tone for the next thirty minutes.

The bellowed vocals of Lauro Nightrealm thundered through the venue. The high energy set had everyone paying utmost attention. Heads were banging and horns were in the air.

The performance was tight, thoroughly entertaining and a strong start to the madness that followed.

Next to hail the Lord of Light were Belgian black metal heavyweights Enthroned. The blistering guitars, blastbeats and rumbling bass fired everyone into a headbanging frenzy, orchestrated by the ominous presence of man mountain Nornagest.

The dark imagery, corpse paint and eerie lighting  only intensified the evil spewing out of the amplifiers. Enthroned showed over the course of forty minutes why they have been a driving force in black metal for nearly 25 years.

Every eye was transfixed by the dark Satanic madness conspiring on stage. The powerful vocals, razor sharp musicianship and a certain flair for the dramatic held the room captive from start to finish.

As the lights then dimmed to a creepy blue and crosses made of bones and goat skulls adorned the stage the ravenous congregation edged their way closer to witness what was to come.

Austrian blackened death metal giants Belphegor tore the Limelight to pieces in support of their absolute beast of a new album, ‘Totenritual’.

The stage presence was absolutely fear inducing, as a heavily corpsepainted Helmuth Lehner and his morbid band of madmen caused aural carnage and mayhem in its rawest form.

The monstrous bass, crushing blastbeat drumming and shredding fretwork turned the place into a nightmarish warzone.

The Limelight was now a place of evil, and Helmuth made sure nobody forgot it with demonic roars, inhuman shrieks and rasping eerie monologues throughout the performance.

It was a night of pure darkness in Belfast. A night that those in attendance will not soon forget.

Despite the lineup being plagued by Deströyer 666 and Nordjevel dropping out at relatively short notice NervoChaos, Enthroned and Belphegor put on a show that shook the Limelight to its very core.

Review by Phil Noonan
Pictures by Darren McVeigh