Pick Your Rock and Metal

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

NEWS: UFO take The Last Orders as Mogg bows out - including Belfast show

PHIL Mogg announced recently that 2019 will be the end of the road for his stint as chief chanter for UFO - and the band has confirmed a Belfast date as part of 'The Last Orders - 50th Anniversary Tour' on 20th March 2019.

Full details are below in the official press release:

UK rock band UFO have announced their ‘Last Orders - 50th Anniversary Tour’ is coming to Belfast’s Limelight 1 on Wednesday 20th March 2019.

Next year marks UFO’s 50th anniversary and the band have announced several shows across the UK and Ireland to celebrate. Tickets on sale NOW from www.limelightbelfast.com, www.ticketmaster.ie and Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. Northern Ireland customers 0844 277 44 55 & Republic of Ireland customers 0818 719 300.

Phil Mogg has confirmed that next year’s 50th anniversary tour with UFO will be his last as the frontman of the long-running hard rock band. Consequently, it seems almost certain that at that point they will cease to exist. UFO were formed in London in 1968 and Mogg is their only ever-present member, performing on all of the group’s 22 studio albums.

“This decision has been a long time coming, I’ve considered stepping down at the end of UFO’s previous two tours,”Mogg explains. “I don’t want to call this a farewell tour as I hate that word, but next year’s gigs will represent my final tap-dancing appearances with the band.”

“2018 marks UFO’s 50th anniversary, so the timing feels right,” he continues. “There will be a final tour of the UK and we will also play some shows in selected other cities that the band has a strong connection with. But outside of the UK this won’t be a long tour. Being out on the road isn’t always tremendously luxurious and although the playing is as great as it ever was, the stuff that surrounds it becomes very tiresome. I always told myself that when I reached that stage I would step down, and that’s what I’m going to do. This is the right time for me to quit.”

Mogg turned 70 back in April and although his voice remains strong, he admits that age played its part in his conclusion.

“I’m a big reader of obituaries, and my finger always goes down to: ‘I wonder how old they were…’,” he chuckles. “The last few years have been tough, losing Lemmy was awful and I was sad that Jimmy Bain passed on a cruise ship. That distressed me quite a lot.”

While many veteran bands in such a position simply cease playing live and continue to record, UFO will no longer be releasing new music. "A Conspiracy Of Stars" in 2015 and last year’s covers collection ‘The Salentino Cuts’ are set to become a signing-off point, though Mogg insists that however unlikely the prospect might seem – the singer is a lone strand of consistency throughout a 50-year history – he would have no problem with UFO continuing with a replacement.

The band’s current line-up – completed by keyboard player/second guitarist Paul Raymond, guitarist Vinnie Moore, drummer Andy Parker and bassist Rob Le Luca – have of course been informed of Mogg’s decision.

“I’ve told the guys that this is how it is,” he says. “They know it’s my time to go and they know that they can do whatever they want to do without me but I don’t want to play live or make records anymore, though having said that I might go on and do an album of my own. I’ll have to see how I feel about that.”

Of course UFO have either split up, retired or gone on hiatus several times before but Mogg is keen to make the distinction that next year’s dates don’t just mark the end of his touring commitments with UFO – for Phil, there will be no further concerts of any kind.

“For me, this is the end of my stint with UFO,” he clarifies. “This is a line in the sand. I’m suggesting we call the tour ‘Last Orders.

You’ll have gathered that Mogg is not about to slash his wrists anytime soon. Of course he is sad that the finishing line is now within slight but has had sufficient time to live with and process such a massive personal decision.

“Maybe the best word to use is ‘bittersweet’,” he concludes. “But my time has arrived and all that remains is to make sure that we have a good tour.”

Rok band UFO

Friday, August 24, 2018

NEWS: Dead Daisies add November Belfast date 'by popular demand'

THE Dead Daisies have added a November Limelight date "by popular demand" as the revolving line-up supergroup concludes another massive year for the band.

They will play the Ormeau Road venue on November 22nd, in what promises to be a very special night as part of their 'Welcome to Disneyland' tour.

But make sure to get in the queue early - the first 50 people in the line may have the opportunity to witness a 50-minute acoustic 'Disneyland' set before the doors officially open.

For those who can't make that the Dead Daisies will play a two-hour show.

“We’re extremely excited to get back to our friends and fans in Europe and the U.K. to close out an AMAZING year, and our 2018 Burn It Down Tour!

"We’re also excited about finally getting back to Belfast Northern Ireland and Frankfurt Germany to feel that good old fashioned rock and roll enthusiasm once again!!!!

"We can’t thank you all enough for the love and support you’ve given us, so what better way to end the year, than being back again with you playing music!!!! See you in November”, said singer John Corabi.

Guitarist Doug Aldrich added: “Hi guys just wanted to say hi! We are super happy that we are returning to Europe in November! It’s an honour to rock and party with you! We’re going to be wrapping up the tour actually in Frankfurt and that’s gonna be an insane party.

"Also very excited to go to Belfast Northern Ireland on this tour. It’s such an amazing place I can’t wait. See you in the fall ROCKERS!!"

Sunday, August 05, 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: U.D.O. captures the beating metal heart on Steelfactory

ON U.D.O.'s new album, 'Steelfactory' you would expect it to carr you along the expected metal journey, but the veteran singer also invites us into something else - not just the passion, but the introspection of being a rock 'n' roll veteran on the closing tack 'The Way'.

Mr Dirkschneider has such a venerable career that another album would have been received with accolades, no matte what. And, while 'Steelfactory' contains no surprises you wouldn't want UDO to deliver a fucking nu-metal album.

What you get is a straightforward, no nonsense, heavy metal album, tempered by the revelatory 'ballad' of 'The Way'.

In many ways this AFM Records/Soulfood Music release captures the essence of what makes a great 'classic' metal album. All bar two of the 15 tracks clock in at around four minutes: the majority have a mid-tempo menace; and, for all the power there is an inherent melody.

The self-styled 'German Metal Tank' has the ability to deliver effortlessly on songs such as 'Rose In The Desert' and the frenetic 'Eraser'.

Of course, these days U.D.O. have a settled line-up: from his son Sven on drums - ably aided by Fitty Wienhold on bass - through to the excellence of Andry Smirnov' guitar work.

On the second song, 'Make The Move', in particular Smirnov's work jousts with UDO's words, playing each note in an almost lyrical fashion.

And, Smirnov's contribution is a key facet that producer Jacob Hansen has developed. Yes, UDO has the sort of voice that was designed for heavy metal, but the entire record's aesthetic stands with.

True, 'Steelfactory' isn't going to re-define the genre, nor will it change the future of metal - but you know what? We don't give a single flying fuck. Just listen to 'In The Heat Of The Night' and revel in its delivery and excellence - even the FX are restrained.

But the subsequent track 'Raise The Game' should have a trademark on it!

However, the core of this album is 'Hungry And Angry'. Sure, non-metal people may scoff, but yes "we are still hungry and angry'. That said, 'One Heart, One Soul' is almost the epitome of what UDO does.

All the tracks are as close to the alchemist's stone that can be achieved in metal.

Maybe it is an age-thing, but 'Steelfactory' seems to us to have that bit of class that dictates it shall be on repeat for a long, long time to come. And, the doubters can fuck away off because UDO is one of that rare breed that just does it and does it fucking well. This really is 'The Way'...

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Steelfactory is released on AFM Records and Soulfood Music on August 31st.

Friday, August 03, 2018

LIVE REVIEW: Simply the Best - Iron Maiden leave Belfast slack-jawed in amazement

THERE are stage shows, there are great stage shows, and then there are amazing mélange of songs and stage shows. And then there is Iron Maiden. Surpassing all, not just hyperbole - but an acknowledgement that they are simply the best.

The Maiden machine's descent upon Belfast's SSE on August 2nd was a masterclass on how to do an arena show. Other acts will be scratching their heads on how to even come close, never mind match this show.

The choice of Killswitch Engage as support may have had some people wondering, given their status as metalcore pioneers. However, the age range of Maiden fans is such that they appealed to many.

And, Jesse Leach was well aware that they had to engage the building audience from the off. Sure, the tomfoolery of Adam Dutkiewcz was an interesting aside, but the band used every second of their support slot to pack in songs sure to have horns raised.

Both Leach and Howard Jones songs were deployed, but Jesse's voice has a commanding presence, with opener 'Strength of Mind', 'Hate By Design' and 'My Last Serenade'.

Much more effective when headliners in their own right Leach committed the supporting act faux pas, reminding everyone that they were there to see Iron Maiden - yeah we all knew that!

Concluding with a crowd-pleasing, and affectionate, cover of Dio's Holy Diver a return to Belfast will be most welcomed by most.

For those who have watched the documentary 'Belly of the Beast' the level of detail, consideration and rehearsals that Iron Maiden and their team put into every tour comes as no surprise.

Regimented, disciplined, well-oiled etc etc. For many bands this could result in a stilted performance. Not Maiden. They take professionalism to another level. If they were to stand in front of long-time manager Rod Smallwood for their annual job evaluation they would exceed all expectations.

And, on this 'Legacy Of The Beast' show previous Maiden shows were well exceeded...

Presented as a metal opera in four acts - war, religion, hell and damnation - this was not only well constructed but thought through in its conception and execution.

From the military-garbed crew unveiling the camo netting as the strains of 'Doctor, Doctor' echoed around the SSE through to the final wail of 'Run To The Hills' not a foot or moment was wasted.

In the carefully coordinated moments of Churchill's Speech anticipation within the sold-out venue was perhaps higher than ever before. And, there was a fucking Spitfire. A 90% lifesize replica of a Spitfire from 302 Squadron - a Polish squadron - flew above the stage as 'Aces High' had 90% of the audience bellowing along. A vocal nod to the 100th anniversary of the RAF and noting that young men a third of his age went off to fight Nazism was just and apt.

'Where Eagles Dare' - with Bruce in mountaineering garb - and an outstanding 'Two Minutes to Midnight' had the audience slack-jawed in amazement.

Turning to the Bayley-era 'The Clansman' Dickinson took the time to speak about 'Freedom'  and in response the SSE joined in during the track.

'The Trooper' concluded the 'War' section with Bruce duelling with a 12 foot Eddie; the track only diminished by Bruce waving a Legacy of the Beast flag instead of the Union Flag the rest of the tour will see. It's a song about the Crimean War, based on a poem, not a political statement. Fuck sake Northern Ireland is disappearing up its own arsehole when this happens.

A sign that Maiden know how to play their audience was the tracks 'Revelations' and 'For The Greater Good of God'. As the backdrop changed to a cathedral like illumination (with saints replaced by the various incarnations of Eddie in the stained glass) these were tracks for aficionados not those for the hits. Thankfully most there were aficionados.

'The Wicker Man' and 'Sign Of The Cross' - with Bruce in demented monk mode - kept it all moving along.

Steve Harris grinning like it was his first show machine-gunning the audience with his bass, the entire band were not only 'on form' but were revelling in what they were doing.

Murray and Smith trading licks and riffs, while Gers was rivalling Bruce in the Energizer Bunny stakes and hamming up at every opportunity.

As if a theatrical performance all hit their 'marks' while anchoring all was an exuberant performance from the grinning Nicko. Every time the stage cameras captured him his smile was radiant. One bass drum, no drum triggers, a plethora of toms, his work rate might seem as you watch relaxed but the man exudes class.

Now many bands have pyros. Flames and all that. Bruce had his own fucking flamethrower. Threatening band mates a vast Icarus' wings fell to ashes.

To give an insight to the level of professionalism a photographer revealed that prior to the show beginning a Maiden PR person briefed all the togs where Bruce would leap on the opening number...in order that all in the photo pit could get the best possible shot. Equal that!

Adorned with a plague mask 'Fear of the Dark' saw the Belfast choir chanting and signing on command, while 'Number of the Beast was, well 'Number of the Beast'.

With the main set closing with a hyper-speed 'Iron Maiden' the trio of tracks for the encore had the audience both rapt and using every last ounce of energy. 'The Evil That Men Do' merged seamlessly into 'Hallowed by thy Name'  complete with cell and swaying noose.

As 'Run To The Hills' had yet more fists, horns and strained vocal chords there was no doubt the audience left as 'Always Look On The Bright Side of Life' played they were not only sated, but delighted.

As per each show on this tour Iron Maiden came on at precisely the same time, and departed at the same time. Contrived? No professional. But being professional, and executing the same set night after night does mot mean that the band does not deliver anything other than pure heavy metal excellence. The enthusiasm was evident, not just a set of men doing their jobs.

The only niggle across the entire evening was the massed ranks of phones. Watch the gig - you're tiny screen will never capture the majesty of Maiden.

What next for the Irons? Another album, tour to support that and a farewell greatest hits tour? That'll do nicely.

Review by Jonathan Taynor

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: The Spirit conjure deathly mysticism on Sounds From The Vortex

HAILING from Germany's Saarland, The Spirit, have landed what must seem like a dream - their self-released and very limited edition début 'Sounds From The Vortex' has been snapped up by Nuclear Blast, and will be released on August 10th.

What enticed Nuclear Blast - well simply a damn fine album of melodic death metal. On the first listen it has enough elements to capture the imagination - and on subsequent spins it reveals much, much more.

The pairing of 'The Clouds of Damnation' and 'Cross The Bridge To Eternity' would stand proud on many an iconic black/death metal acts releases.

And, 'The Great Mortality' has an icy insistence that recalls some of their epic Scandinavian predecessors.

Therein lies the key - The Spirit have studied hard their influences. They have not slavishly copied them; rather they have plucked the elements they love and given them a twist.

The one niggle is who the fuck are they? The accompanying blurb has them identified the members only by initials, yet enigmatically says they are young but "by means inexperienced band". Well 'MT's vocals and guitar majesty with 'AK' is well executed, and 'AT' (bass) and 'MS' (Drums) clearly know what they are about, no matter who they are.

While throughout there is tremendous musicianship what stands out is there understanding of what they are about. Instrumental passages aren't mere things to showcase in a "look at us" manner their accomplished playing, but are integral to each songs structure.

Equally when solos are used they match the mood and power of the songs - deployed when necessary but not over-used.

The whole mysticism and icy tales from the lyrics may be a bit samey, but they're hardly going to call for revolution...

Previously The Spirit created a buzz in some fanzines and online 'underground' sites - with the re-release of 'Sounds From The Vortex' they will gain a wider audience and a platform for their next release - maybe by then they'll be able to tell us who the fuck they are!

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Sounds From The Vortex is released on Nuclear Blast on August 10th

NEWS: Madball ink in Belfast and Dublin shows in December

NYC hardcore heroes Madball will include Belfast and Dublin show's in their December 'For The Cause' tour.

We reviewed the album in June and we have to say it is up there with some of their finest - dripping invective and railing against a fucked up world (read the review here).

Madball play Dublin's Voodoo Lounge on Monday, December 3rd, and the following night at The Foundry, Belfast.

Support in Belfast comes from By Any Means, Lawfucker and Barrick Buster.

Tickets for the Belfast show are priced £22.50 and are available from wegottickets.com.