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Wednesday, 23 May 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Foreigner (Live Review By Nick)

Foreigner, Joanne Shaw Taylor & John Parr, Birmingham Symphony Hall

After seeing Foreigner blow away the entire of what was the LG arena 5 years ago while supporting Journey, it was our mission to see these gents headline and do their thing live again. Missing a chance two years ago, with the added carrot of Joanne Shaw Taylor this time, we jumped on the opportunity and made the Journey up the M50 to Birmingham.

As we were distracted by a few pubs that offered us food and ale; Matt and I rocked up into the Symphony Hall at the end of opening act; an acoustic set from John Parr, just in time to hear him tell the story behind and perform the song that gained him his fame; St Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion) Clearly efficient on the guitar Parr was able to offer good layers to his performance that was unfortunately let down by his obviously wavering and strained voice, there was nothing wrong with the tune here as most notes were hit, however throughout the song it cracked on multiple occasions which was disappointing to hear. Nonetheless he left the stage to a solid applause from the half filled hall.

A brief break and soon we were treated to the wizardry of Joanne Shaw Taylor (8) and her crew. Having listened to a few of her albums I have always been impressed by what I've heard, being a staunch fan of the raspy vocals in general I have appreciated her from the second I heard her, this however was my first chance to see her perform live. Wandering onto the stage Taylor and her band dressed in their casuals proceeded to rattle through a six song set that at offered a plethora of rhythms, pace and range of vocals from Taylor. You would be forgiven to think that Taylors vocals came at a price of strain and effort at times when listening to her albums, but live it is clear to see that her voice is delivered with ease and passion.

Taylor clearly loves the music she sings and is on a mission to get her bluesy style out there for more people to behold, underlined by the staggering amount of touring she does. However there seemed to be something missing from this set, all apart from bassist superbly named Luigi Casanova were very much static throughout which gave me the feeling that as this wasn't a headline set there wasn't as much desire in the entire of the performance. As a result I struggled to get fully focused. All this aside, the voice of Taylor and here evident high quality skills on her guitar were obvious to see and a joy to behold at times; as she strangled the neck and frets to produce sounds that complimented her voice and style perfectly. I'd love to see this lady again headlining, possibly in a smaller venue where she can commit to the entire performance, as I could clearly see JST has it all despite not firing on all cylinders tonight.

As the light lit over a dark stage Kelly Hansen jumped down from the raised platform centre stage and immediately broke into Double Vision, showing the energy and enthusiasm that trade marks Hansen he buzzed about the stage energizing both the crowd and band mates alike, most people sat around us singing along, this was to be a night of hits presented from Foreigner (8). With little gap the band swept straight into Head Games and Cold As Ice; both delivered with great gusto and from the flawless vocals of Hansen, who in my eyes, is one of the finest vocalists around in any genre. Chris Fraizers drums also stood out for me here, his no holding back he hit every beat as hard as you can not matter the song, old school type drumming really added to the occasion. 

A brief break as Hansen warmed the crowd further, then a bit (maybe too much) back tapping, followed by a quick introduction/welcoming of the man that started the era of Foreigner: Mick Jones onto the stage (not sure where he'd been hiding, Matt and I had come to the conclusion he was ill at the beginning of the set) also to one of the band biggest hits Waiting For A Girl Like You. With the light keys from Michael Bluestien and the slow deep bass courtesy of Jeff Pilson, both complimenting the magical voice of Hansen that did not waver throughout the set, this was a pure beauty to behold. The entire room broke out in song and united to celebrate this piece of the bands history.

After a rapturous applause following this great hit the band showed no sign of slowing down with another two classics consisting of That Was Yesterday and Dirty White Boy, the band continues to buzz around the stage with great passion as if they hadn't been performing these songs for decades. During these songs, and many other's a gaggle of women all along the front row were constantly reaching out and grabbing Hansen's legs, thigh and bottom; at times I thought... what if that was the other way around? Anyway, this didn't seem to phase Hansen too much as he was able to shake off the majority of women with relative ease. 

Next my favourite Foreigner song and probably the most layered of them all. With bouncing drums, bass and guitar from the band and smooth Sax gifted to us from Tom Gimbel; Urgent lit up the stage, band and crowd alike... there has always been something about this song that has put a smile on my face and never fails to lift my spirits, it was clear to see everyone was of the same opinion. Urgent was delivered with the energy and effort which the song deserves, this was a cracker!

After the great set so far and the build to a perfect performance of Urgent, we were then hit in the nads with a very disappointing medley of keyboard drum and them keyboard/drum solos that completely ruined the pace of the set, lasting at least ten minutes these solos weren't even that impressive and represented a bit of a downer for me. Thankfully the band then broke out another bouncy hit in Juke Box Hero following these and were able to just about save the mood and energy of the crowd before it was too late... after briefly leaving the stage to return for an encore consisting of Long Long Way From Home, I Want To Know What Love Is and the sensational Hot Blooded; all of which were performed with the love and feeling we had come to expect in this set. Hansen's voice again showing how he is the ideal replacement for singer Lou Gramm while effortlessly singing I Want To Know What Love Is, with the backing of local school choir which I thought was a nice touch.

Overall I Foreigner were as good as I remember them form when I last saw them, the energy, passion and love for their music is unquestionable and that can be said for their fans too. I'm not sure you will get a poor performance from this band for many a year to come as this business just seems to run through their veins. With a front man of the quality of Kelly Hansen and the experience of Mick Jones too, I think they will be around for a fair time yet. Despite all this the two big marks on the evening that made it fall short of my previous experience were the medley of solos... as a rule these are not needed in any gig from any band, especially in the case of Foreigner. With such a bulging history of hits this time could easily have been used to offer at least two more songs, maybe even some of their more recent offerings such as In Pieces which is in my eyes one of their best and has right to be in a set with the above songs. It perplexes me as to why bands do this time after time. 

The second mark was the choice of venue, I am a massive fan of the Symphony Hall and the perfect acoustics it offers to the crowd. However, I couldn't help but feel that the crowd were shackled to their seats and were trapped at times. A band like Foreigner have so many hits that make you want to stand and move, break shapes... whatever you wish to call it, but we couldn't do that here. At times I sensed the frustration from some of the crowd at not being able to do this, and I also felt a little sorry for Hansen, he transfers do much energy to the crowd and they were unable to reciprocate on the same level. If they return... a standing venue would be much more suited to these rockers. I take nothing away from the performance of the band as it was almost flawless but if I'm considering the experience as a whole it reflects my score.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Reviews: The Damned, Jizzy Pearl, Aura Noir, Mother Trudy (Reviews By Paul H)

The Damned: Evil Spirits (Spinefarm)

I’ve only seen The Damned once live supporting Motörhead way back in 2009. My knowledge of the band was limited to their hits back in the 1980s; namely Eloise and Grimly Fiendish. However, at the recommendation of Krysthla vocalist Adi Mayes I picked up a copy of their 11th album and well, it is just superb. With original members Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible and bassist Paul Gray alongside longtime members Pinch and Monty Oxymoron, The Damned have released one of the albums of the year. A timeless album in so many senses, this release captures the original feel and power of the band whilst maintaining a fresh and current sound.

Sensible’s guitar work is fabulous, his riffing on Devil In Disguise, the angst driven soloing on the title track and the subtle undertones on the opening Standing On The Edge Of Tomorrow cannot be ignored. Oxymoron’s lush keyboards add depth and warmth whilst Vanian’s dark vocals are just imperious. Apparently, the album has been the band’s highest ever placed in the UK chart, and fully deserved it is. There is not a poor track on this release, but stand out tracks for me include Shadow Evocation, with its gothic feel and dramatic increase in pace as the track develops and the politically charged Look Left. This will feature in my top 20 without a doubt. It’s simply brilliant and I’ll finally get around to checking out more of the band’s back catalogue. 9/10

Jizzy Pearl: All You Need Is Soul (Frontiers Music)

Sleaze fans will be acutely aware of the band Love/Hate who pulled up a few trees in the early 1990s. The lead singer of Love/Hate, Jizzy Pearl returns with a new solo album All You Need Is Soul. Utilising the big drum sound of Dave Moreno (Puddle Of Mudd) and guitars from Love/Hate guitarist Darren Housholder, this is an impressive release. I can’t stand sleaze and even I found it perfectly listenable. Pearl goes a bit further mind you; “In my opinion this is the best record I’ve done since ‘Blackout In The Red Room.’ Now I’m not schooled sufficiently in this ghastly genre to make such sweeping and grandiose statements, but this record is fresh, contemporary and if you like a combination of raw vocal delivery and trashy guitar work then is no doubt most interesting.

The album kicks off at high tempo with You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone, a hard-edged groove underpinning Pearl’s high-pitched drawl. Householder’s guitar work throughout is notable, and completely effortless. The sleaze remains, with tracks like Comin’ Home To The Bone leaving little to the imagination and yours truly shaking his head; such is the typical filthy style and content expected. All You Need Is Soul has swagger and poise and at times it is effortlessly cool, such as the funk-fused title track and album closer Mr Jimmy. 7/10

Aura Noir: Aura Noire (Indie Recordings)

It’s been six years since the legendary black thrash of Norwegians Aura Noir released their last album. The band, whose seminal 1996 debut Black Thrash Attack remains a masterpiece of the genre. Aura Noir of course have links with many other cult outfits including Mayhem, Immortal, Satyricon, Dödheimsgard and Ulver and were the first band to join the Tyrant Syndicate Promotions label run by the Darkthrone duo Nocturno Culto and Fenriz in 2004.

The band remain the tight trio of Aggressor, Apollyon and Blasphemer. Aura Noire is a sharp, 32-minute ride, full of the dark brooding anger and rage that has long stoked the literary fires of the band’s themes. Throat ripping guitar work, battering drumming and guttural roaring vocals combine to provide an ominous reminder that in the world of blackened thrash, Aura Noir maintain the standard for a genre which is too often sloppy and disappointing. This release is neither of those. 8/10

Mother Trudy: Self Titled (Stickman Records)

Named after a Brothers Grimm German fairy tale, albeit one with a rather gruesome ending, Mother Trudy hail from Oslo and deliver 70s and 80s style hard rock with a modern twist. So, what’s the modern twist I hear you cry. Well, I suppose it is the fresh approach which allows a sparkle to a sound that is now embedded in the rock world. The four-piece don’t hold back, crashing their way through 35 minutes of heads down boogie and rock ‘n’ roll which is pleasantly enjoyable.

Andreas Restad has a solid, clear vocal whilst the twin guitars of Restad and Henrik Antonsson ensure that the driving pace never slows. It’s not original and it’s not mind-blowing but it is raucous and rowdy and sufficiently impressive to sit on the car stereo on a hot day whilst driving at high speed. Sometimes, that is all you need. 7/10

Monday, 21 May 2018

Reviews: Doomsday Outlaw, Monument, Primitai, Petrichor

Doomsday Outlaw: Hard Times (Frontier)

Rockers Doomsday Outlaw made an impression on us back in 2016, their debut was filled with 15 tracks that walked a fine line blues rocking and AOR ballads, it was a little too long to be really impressive as I do think quality always proceeds quantity so I was relieved when I saw their follow up record was only 12 songs long. Opening with the swaggering title track it's a bluesy hard riffing number to start with Steve Broughton and Gavin Mills bringing the distorted dirty riffs to this, Over And Over and Spirit That Made Me with Indy Chanda (bas and John Willis (drums) locked into deep set grooves.

The three opening tracks that I've mentioned here show you that the Derbyshire band deserve much of the hype that surrounds them, since their debut they have doggedly toured the country honing their performances into the blues rock machine you hear here. Much of their appeal is due to the tough riffs being matched by the excellent vocals of Phil Poole who reminds me a lot of Glenn Hughes when he's in rock god mode but he also dips into some Myles Kennedy when they slow the record down on the number of ballads that do appear (they are a Frontiers band after all) Into The Light is the epitome of a ballad featuring just sentiment, a piano and some strings. The riffs are brought back with Bring It Home and Days Since I Saw The Sun both of which have the melodic streak that this band balance with the heavier rocking.

Just take a song like Will You Wait it's a ramped up Free track with a chorus to die for or Break You which has a funk coda bringing back the Glenn Hughes comparisons. No Hard Times here just proper British rock music from a band that are slightly grittier than your traditional Frontiers fayre but that's no bad thing. 8/10

Monument: Hellhound (Rock Of Angels Records)

Monument are one of the bands that formed as an offshoot from White Wizzard, as the line up of that band changed musicians involved formed their own acts. The two most notable are American speed metal act Holy Grail and British NWOBHM band Monument, the latter now on their third album have returned again to bring leather and studded metal back to the British scene with a vengeance, with so many American and European (mainly Swedish) acts muscling in on those NWOBHM gallops that came from the back streets of England in the early 1980’s Monument grab the genre by the horns and bring it back to the isles of Avalon. Exploding straight out of the stereo William Kidd takes to the high seas with loud bass riffs from Dan Bate, the twin axe attack from Dan Baune and Lewis Stephens its classic Maiden style from the get go.

Next up is The Chalice which sounds more like more recent Maiden and is the obvious single, the video features a number of British wrestlers as frontman Peter Ellis creates pro wrestling title belts for a number of promotions including the WWE. The Chalice is a more melodic track and as I said wouldn’t be amiss on anything from Brave New World to Book Of Souls with the theme continuing on Death Avenue a song that does sound a little like Rainmaker until it moves into the groovy middle eight and Baune and Stephens let rip. In fact quite a bit of this album is similar to the big hitters of that original scene. It’s an unashamed celebration of the classic British metal bands, the grind of Nightrider is pure Priest (even using their song titles as lyrics) and it showcases the vocal prowess of Ellis who switches between Halford and Dickinson fluidly.

Keeping the pace is Gio Durst who locks in with Bate for a thick rhythm section that’s highlighted by Tommy Newton’s natural production meaning this is the best sounding Monument record of their trio. They are still the flag bearers for the new breed of NWOBHM and this Hellhound is unstoppable! 8/10

Primitai: The Calling (Dissonance)

It’s only been 2 years since Primitai’s last album The Night Brings Insanity but the London metal warriors have returned with their fifth full length. They are still led by lead guitarist Srdjan Bilic and singer Guy Miller their slightly modern heavy metal sound has found them fans from a broad spectrum of the metal community as the band have tread the boards with Saxon, Edguy, Warbringer and even Crashdiet, they combine intense riffs, massive melodies and progressive touch that makes them a stand out band in a crowded scene. 

You could lump them in with bands such as Monument etc but Prmitai’s musical style is more akin to Avenged Sevenfold with the thrash/traditional metal influences merging with more modern sounds and Guy’s muscular voice sounds a lot like M Shadows on Demons Inside as the album progresses you get many more scything riffs and double kick drums. The Calling is a record full of modern melodic metal that has some progressive subtly to it on Into The Light/Into The Dark and the title track it’s a another strong showing from this always impressive metal band. 7/10

Petrichor: No Silver Lining - A Return To Rain (Self Released)

Warning do not listen to this record if you’ve had a bad day. There must be something in the water in Yorkshire as so many of the most miserable bands come from there , maybe it’s the desolate vistas and heavy industry but perennial miserablists Paradise Lost hail from Halifax, My Dying Bride from Bradford, Solstice are from Huddersfield and Leeds where Petrichor come from boast Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and countless others who bring a black cloud to any gathering. No Silver Lining is a re-release , re-recorded, reimagining of Petrichor’s 2016 debut Rain its only five songs long but they are all long, slow funeral dirges from a three piece that have had a good go at mixing black metal fury with occult doom metal. 

The duality of low booming clean and nasty harsh vocals suit well especially when there is also some ghostly female vocals on This Too Must Die, add to this furious drums underpinning the creeping, dissonant guitars and you get a recipe for a thick mix of extreme metal. The production is quite raw and the instruments are quite low in the mix but fans of My Dying Bride or Celtic Frost would be wise to track this record down Petrichor have returned to the rain and it’s heavy storm indeed. 7/10

Sunday, 20 May 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Machine Head (Live Review By Paul)

Machine Head, Catharsis Tour, Cardiff University & O2 Academy Bristol 2018

Cast your mind back to 2007. Oakland power house Machine Head released arguably the album of the decade, The Blackening. The band toured incessantly for nearly three years, filling arenas across Europe. Talk of them becoming the next Download headliners was rife. The band kicked things off with a slot supporting Metallica at Wembley, one of the most astonishing gigs I’ve ever had the privilege to attend. Their appearance at Sonisphere in 2009 wasn’t without controversy, but the sight of 21 circle pits across that field was amazing. The Machine Head sun was in the ascendency. The Black Crusade rolled into Cardiff and the Motorpoint was filled with circle pits and headbanging as the band raged. 2011’s Unto The Locust was followed by a smaller venue tour and the subsequent departure of founder Adam Duce, after which MFH dipped from sight. 2014’s Bloodstone And Diamonds, with the arrival of Jared MacEachern, saw the band embark on the Killer And Kings tour, once again hitting smaller places across the country including a frenzied night at The Great Hall in Cardiff University which was full to bursting.

And then Catharsis arrived earlier this year. The social media response was astonishing with its vitriol towards the band. I didn’t enjoy it on first listen, as you will be able to confirm by review in this August journal, but repeated listens have unearthed some decent tracks over time. So, when the band announced their European tour, albeit prior to the release of their latest album, it seemed reasonable to snap up tickets for consecutive dates on the tour as MFH hit Cardiff and Bristol, and to notch up gigs 13 and 14 in the Machine Head inventory.

First up was the Great Hall at Cardiff University on 14th May. Upgraded from Y Plas due to demand, but just as likely because of poor planning in the first place, the Head Cases descended in good numbers for a Monday night. The gig was not sold out which was quite welcome as a Machine Head gigs tends to generate substantial heat from the constant action in front of the stage, so a bit of space on the floor was more comfortable. As Diary Of A Madman concluded, Robb Flynn and co arrived on stage to the opening strains of nothing less than Imperium, a track that is guaranteed to get the crowd moving. And so it proved, with Cardiff demonstrating that the Welsh can pit as well as any other nation throughout the evening. Standing well back from the intense action, there was a constant stream of bodies emerging from the pit in various states, whilst old school pit beasts contended themselves with the occasional foray to the front lines for the likes of Bulldozer, Ten Ton Hammer and From This Day.

By the time Machine Head arrived on our shores they had already completed over a month through Europe and it was evident in their sharpness on stage. Robb Flynn kept the patter to a minimum, although for those of us playing Machine Head Bingo, there was sufficient to claim a full house as the words “stoked”, “circle pit”, “head bang muthafucker” and “show me what you’ve got” all duly arrived. Whilst Flynn maintains the centre ground, focus switched across to stage left and right as trusty lieutenant and lead guitarist Phil Demmell cut some mean lead guitar work whilst MacEachern now looks significantly more comfortable with his place in this cutting machine. Demmell’s lead work was slightly marred by a fuzzy sound which meant that towards the right of the stage it was Flynn’s guitar work that dominated. Behind the front men, powerhouse drummer Dave McClain continued to make everything look incredibly easy.

One of the main reasons to see MFH on this tour was to hear how the new material stood against the hardcore old school material. Placing Volatile straight after Imperium worked well, feeding off the crowd energy. Kaleidoscope remains an enigma to me with its Slipknot feel, whilst Triple Beam, buried in Cardiff between None But My Own and Aesthetics Of Hate remains a real challenge. However, in the title track of the album, the band have unleashed an absolute monster. Both nights saw the crowds losing their minds to this track, which was superbly delivered. The subtle combination of melody and aggression, with the harmonies of MacEachern and Demmell enhancing the tune substantially, and I would wager that this will become a staple for years to come.

Dripping with emotion, it was fabulous to see the huge reaction it received. In addition to these newies, Cardiff’s crowd were treated to a blistering Beyond The Pale which also worked fantastically well. Meanwhile in Bristol, the band slipped in Bastards instead of Beyond The Pale. Cardiff’s gain I would say as Bastards was one of the few tracks that went down like a fart in a space suit, the momentum noticeably slowing. It’s also just not that good as a song. However, that aside, as the night progressed it was clear that the band were intent on giving the middle finger to all the doubters and delivering a show which provided almost too much value for money. Guitar and drum solos provided some valuable recovery time for the crowd, which was probably just as well as the remainder of the set list, apart from Darkness Within, was designed and delivered to crush all before it.

A welcome return to the set, Clenching The Fists Of Dissent was one of four from The Blackening which arrived in Cardiff and was stunning. Sometimes you forget what a great song it is and remains as cutting edge in its political observation today as it did back 11 years ago. Meanwhile, the reception for the two tracks from The Burning Red, The Blood The Sweat The Tears and From This Day completely belied its reputation. The latter got Cardiff bouncing ferociously and that was repeated with even greater intensity the following night. In an evening of numerous highlights, the inclusion of Old probably received the biggest Welsh cheer and the choruses of “Jesus Wept” must have cracked the girders holding the roof on. With the band visibly slicker and tighter than for many years, the Machine Head show remains a steam roller of power and visceral energy. Whatever your views on this band, they work damn hard and give 100% night after night.

In Bristol the following night, with the advantage of the balcony to obtain a better vantage point, and with a superior sound, Machine Head were if anything, even better. Possibly the crammed mass meant there was little opportunity for getting to the bar, unlike Cardiff where a good few punters were going for it like it was a Saturday night, not a Monday. That’s Wales though; heavy drinking as standard. In Bristol, it was gruesome on the floor and the heaving mass of bodies in the sold-out venue meant there was little room for the constantly demanded circle pits. Kudos to the pit warriors who demonstrated admirable pit etiquette, even before Flynn’s reminder about what had happened in Southampton two nights earlier. The pit was, in Flynn’s words, “raging”.

A confident assured speech about the negative response to Catharsis was well delivered and received, although it was hard not to have a wry smile as one recalled the reaction of Flynn to one particularly negative review at the time. Still, the band and many of the fans are past all that now and the bone crunching pit action didn’t let up throughout the evening. Demmell seemed more at ease, smiling broadly at the crowd, and with his sound crystal clear, it was a joy to watch the ease at which he and Flynn shredded through another mighty set list. With the inclusion of old school tracks A Nation On Fire and Blood For Blood replacing the previous night’s None But My Own and Old, it was also pleasing to see that even with such a mammoth set, Machine Head were willing to mix it up a bit. Full marks to a band that have drawn more than their fair share of critics in recent months. Where they go in the next few years is open to debate, but in the live arena, Machine Head remain a magnificent metal force. 10/10

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Reviews: Feral Chaos, Perfect Plan, Coltsblood, Svalbard (Reviews By Rich & Paul S)

Feral Chaos: Mankind In Ruin (Self Released) [Review By Rich]

Mankind In Ruin is the debut album by Finnish grinders Feral Chaos. Although not known for it there is some quality grindcore to be found in Finland with Rotten Sound being the prime example and Feral Chaos are another great band to add to the list. Mankind In Ruin is as to be expected an absolutely furious album with 15 songs spread over 30 minutes all of which are chaotically violent and heavy.

The songs range from  straight up grindcore to those which have a more crust punk leaning to those which veer almost into death metal territory. The HM-2 pedal is utilised on the album giving the guitars an ultra filthy sound. Whoever started using the HM-2 pedal with grindcore is a genius as the filthy guitar distortion totally suits the music. This is a bit of a repetitive album but as with nearly all grindcore albums it doesn't outstay its welcome and whilst nothing special is a very nice album of dirty grinding madness. 7/10

Perfect Plan: All Rise (Frontiers Records) [Review By Rich]

All Rise is the debut album from Swedish melodic rockers Perfect Plan and another in a long line of AOR and melodic rock bands with albums being released by Frontiers Records. Perfect Plan don't deviate from the tried and trusted AOR/melodic rock formula utilised by countless other bands but Perfect Plan demonstrate great songwriting, magnificent performances and bags of energy.  Nearly all the songs on All Rise are on the harder side of the AOR/melodic rock spectrum which means we don't have any irritatingly sappy ballads dragging the album down.

Songs such as Bad City Woman, Stone Cold Lover, Too Late and 1985 are hard rocking earworms which demonstrate the talent of the band and the amazing voice of frontman Kent Hilli. All Rise is for all intents and purposes another AOR/melodic rock album released by Frontiers Records but what Perfect Plan lack in originality they make up for in passion and integrity.  This isn't gonna change your mind if you cannot stand AOR but if you are a fan of the genre you will find much to love in this album.

Coltsblood: Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness (Black Bow Records) [Review By Paul Scoble]

Coltsblood’s second album Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness, is a massive slab of oppressive, nasty funeral doom / sludge. The Liverpool based band, describe their sound as being ‘unfathomable doom’ which fits very nicely. The 5 tracks on this album all fit into slow, menacing, extreme doom format that is a little reminiscent of Lycos or Void Meditation Cult. In places it also feels like Asphyx’s slowest material, but with a more black metal feel to the production.

The album does have some faster parts to it, which are pure nasty black metal. Intense, claustrophobic tremolo picked riffs and blast-beats, which reminded me of a looser, less dense Abyssal. This album is heavier than a million elephants stepping on your foot all at the same time, it is not for the faint hearted. But, if you like an album to beat the living crap out of you, then you need this in your life. Wonderfully viscous. 8/10

Svalbard: It’s Hard To Have Hope (Holy Roar Records) [Review By Paul Scoble]

Svalbard are a Bristol based post metal band, It’s Hard To Have Hope is their second album. The title of the album is unfortunately very apt. It features 8 tracks of rather poor Deafhaven style post metal. Part of the problem with this album is the production. Most of the rhythm guitar is drowned out by a continual tremolo picked melody guitar track, that never lives up to it’s prominent place in the mix. The riffs, when you can hear them, are a little staid and hackneyed. The drumming is also a problem. The blastbeats, when they use them, are a little weak, but the biggest problem is that they don’t really fit with the music. The time signatures are right, but stylistically the drumming feels more like hardcore drumming. Massive overuse of the snare drum starts to grate after a couple of songs, and when the songs slow down the drumming is lumpen and unimaginative.

But the music is only the start of this albums issues. The vocals are just terrible. Most of the vocals on here are supposed to be harsh, but are in fact subpar screamo style vocals, that set my teeth on edge. It sounds like a petulant teenager screaming in your face about not getting enough pocket money. The song titles suggest the band have a left wing / liberal stance (which I would usually like, being a left wing commie type), but trying to concentrate on the lyrics is so hard when the voice is this bad. The only places where this isn’t a problem are on a few passages where the vocals are clean, and these are the only places where the album works. The track For The Sake Of The Breed is a great example of where clean singing really helps the album. It’s probably the only standout track on offer here, if they can try to develop what they got right on this song, then they might have a future. A small amount of promise, in an otherwise disappointing album. 4 /10

Thursday, 17 May 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics

Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

There are a few bands that you will never turn up the chance to see and Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics are becoming one of those bands. The former Heaven's Basement singer has hit his stride with this band, we all saw his capability in his previous band but the too much, too young, too fast curse reared its ugly head and now outside of the arenas the reinvigorated Buchanan along with the band called The Cult Classics are tearing up smaller, sweatier venue across Europe. Having played the same venue on their previous tour there was sense of deja vu but that didn't matter, when the fire in this band burns so bright you could see them 20 times and still tap your feet, nod your head and by the fifth time be singing along.

Arriving late for both support bands the noises V0id made were acceptable enough having a radio friendly radio rock sound they were an act I could definitely see again however I didn't really catch enough of them to give them a score. Still maybe next time.

A short changeover led to a truncated set, due to the post gig club night, but with so much still to prove they Cult Classics took to the stage and kicked things off with their CD perfect versions of their own brand of hard rock. Again mixing Cult Classic material with Heaven's Basement works this time it was the Cult Classic songs that struck more of a chord with audience, possibly due to some high profile support slots for the band, highlights included Left Me For Dead, Dancing Down Below, the single All These Things I've Said And Done, my personal favourite Fire In The Fields Of Mayhem and the always astonishing Man With The Stars On His Knees.

After some revolving membership (something that is encouraged, due to the band's collaborative nature) the honed rhythm section of Mart Trail (bass) and Paul White (drums) were the pace setters for the evening imbuing grooves and percussive power to the storming riffs of Laurie Buchanan and Tom McCarthy, the two switching between lead and rhythm but McCarthy taking the lion's share. The small but highly energetic crowd sang their hearts out and Aaron was on fine form his vocals are staggeringly good, he's built for stadia but in small venues he really tears the house down. As they were on strict time limit there was very little chit chat just time for a few thank yous and it was onto the next one leaving the set striding along well. A brilliant performance all round and yet another solid but criminally overlooked booking from Pity My Brain, when they come round again don't miss it! 9/10

Editors Note: I just want to make it known that I really don't like club nights that follow gigs, it means everything seems a little rushed and there is no time for the band to mingle, or sell merch after the event, before the security march in and start shouting for everyone to leave, either venues shouldn't put gigs on before clubnights or much like Fuel does offset the start time to the club night after a gig.   

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Reviews: Shinedown, Amorphis, Witchsorrow, Big Boy Bloater (Reviews By Paul)

Shinedown: Attention Attention (Atlantic Records)

Huge in the USA, becoming increasingly big in the UK and Europe, there is no doubt that Jacksonville quartet Shinedown have worked incredibly hard since their formation back in 2001. Their sound has been categorised as alt-metal, alt-rock, post-grunge and nu-metal. I think it would be fair to say that the band are a hard rock band, touching on some if not all the above. Attention Attention is the band’s sixth album and has a darker, heavier tone and feel than 2015’s Threat To Survival. The album has a conceptual theme which depicts a human overcoming their negativity through personal struggles to be reborn as a new person.

Crammed full of the arena rock that the band has crafted as their own, there are few decent tracks, including Devil, Pyro and Monsters, all which contain enough despair and gloom to make them feel a bit uncomfortable. Brent Smith’s distinctive vocal is as prominent as ever and Shinedown’s sound is of course, instantly recognisable, so it’s a challenge to listen to this release without dismissing it as “typical Shinedown.” Shinedown don't do a lot for me, and their lighter elements on tracks like Darkside fail to ignite the spark, but overall, the band, who I’ve seen several times over the years, have produced another polished and impressive release which sits comfortably alongside their outstanding Sound Of Madness release, a decade ago. 7/10

Amorphis: Queen Of Time (Nuclear Blast)

Few albums were as impressive in 2015 as Amorphis’ 12th full length release, Under The Red Cloud. An absolute masterpiece, it remained on repeat for many months. Three years on and the Finns may have just pushed the envelope even higher. Queen Of Time is a stunning piece of work. 24 years since their sophomore release, the legendary Tales From A Thousand Lakes, the mix of metal, folklore, oriental fusion and rock continues to surprise. Queen Of Time contains a mix of prophetic storytelling which provides a dramatic, cinematic feel from beginning to end. Guest musicians including Eluveitie's Chrigel Glanzmann, laryngeal singer Albert Kuvezin and saxophonist JØrgen Munkeby add depth and quality to the songs. The already classic opener The Bee starts the album in typical Amorphis manner, melodies flow seamlessly with the contrast of raw harshness, grandeur, elaborate orchestration and melancholy combining perfectly.

The voice of Tomi Joutsen nestles comfortably, his growls and clean vocals adding elements of light and shadow. The inclusion of orchestra and choir merely enhances the compositions. The black metal growling during Daughter Of Hate challenges the oriental melodies whilst Wrong Direction is deliberately gentle and reduced by comparison. Heart Of The Giant is a massive song, bursting with power, choral backing, Eastern styles and a blistering pace whilst penultimate track Amongst The Stars sees Anneke Van Giersbergen make a textbook contribution. Lucky 13? It really should be. Queen Of Time is flawless. 10/10

Witchsorrow: Hexhammer (Candlelight Records)

With a mission to celebrate the traditions of doom as practiced by such legends as Black Sabbath, Cathedral, Saint Vitus, Trouble and Candlemass, Hampshire’s Witchsorrow have delivered three albums of doom metal which has placed them amongst such illustrious company. The Hampshire outfit, formed by frontman Necroskull and bassist Emily Witch over a decade ago (later completed by drummer Wilbrahammer) deliver another doom obsessed offering, with a new collection of hymns. The Hexenhammer, the alternative name of the Malleus Maleficarum, the dreaded book by fifteenth-century Catholic clergyman Henricus Institoris that detailed and endorsed the torture and extermination of witches by violent means.

Recorded at Skyhammer studio with long-time co-conspirator Chris Fielding (Conan, Primordial, Electric Wizard), the songs on Hexhammer crush completely, with tracks such as The Devil’s Throne and the fantastic Eternal exploding the darkest doom with blisteringly strong heavy metal, contrasting with the macabre funeral pace of the title track and Demons Of The Mind. Focusing on the extinction of humanity, the album is bleak, dark and swamped in gloom. As Necroskull commented, “I’ve always been obsessed with the end of the world. On previous albums I’ve been wanting it to happen, because I was caught in a very dark place. On No Light..., I was almost angry that it hadn’t happened. This time, it’s a massively confusing time where we’re basically staring at it and waiting for it. I have no solutions. There are none to be had”. If you haven’t tasted the soundtrack to 2018, Hexenhammer may well be it. 8/10

Big Boy Bloater And The LiMiTs: Pills (Provogue)

As a change from the usual grinding chainsaw action we tend to focus on, the latest album from the blues maestro Big Boy Bloater is as welcome as the brief blast of summer sun we experienced recently. Pills reflects the Surrey born guitarist and singer refocusing. As he stated reflecting on the 2016 Luxury Hobo tour “I guess a lot of stuff happened on the Luxury Hobo tour. Maybe after the depression, my minds a bit more open and turned on to things, so I have observed more.” Pills was recorded in December 2017 with producer Adam Whalley, the band trimmed down to a power trio of Big Boy Bloater (Vocals/Guitar), Matt Cowley (Drums) and Steven Oates (Bass). With the fabulous title track kicking off proceedings, it highlights the constant need for pills today with a sinister edge. From there on it’s a composite of quality tunes which can’t fail to raise a smile and get the foot tapping. The autobiographical Friday Night’s Alright For Drinkin, the poppy Stop Stringing Me Along through to the sinister tales that weave themselves into place on the beautifully juxtaposed Oops Sorry and the Tom Waits style Mouse Organ.

What’s most impressive is how the band effortlessly flit through styles and pace, creating an album full of depth, emotion, humour, anger and sheer fun. “I always used to like the Portmanteau horror films where they have 3 or 4 different stories in the film. So you’ve always got this constant change and you never really got bored of one story and then there this theme tying it all together” said the Big Boy. With a packed recent history of top quality gigs under their belt, included Camden Rocks Festival and Ramblin’ Man Fair in 2017, there is an air of quiet confidence and a quality that is rare, especially in the saturated blues market. Pills is well worth checking out, with an anthology style making this album such an engaging proposition. 9/10

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Reviews: Maiden UniteD, Hercules Morse, Circle Of Silence, Petyr

Maiden UniteD: Empire Of The Clouds (Self Released)

Bassist Joey Bruers was asked by the Dutch Iron Maiden fanclub to do something special for a live show back in 2006. Born out of this was Maiden UniteD an unconventional Maiden tribute that sees popular Maiden songs re-interpreted for acoustic and classical instruments. The latest offering is their take on Maiden’s most recent opus The Empire Of The Clouds probably the longest Maiden song in existence I’ll be dammed if you will ever here the band play it live so this four part acoustically led version will have to suffice. Of course it’s not just any old cover the mix of acoustic instrumentation from bassist Joey Bruers (Up The Irons), guitarist Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation, For All We Know) drummer Mike Coolen (Within Temptation) and pianist Huub van Loon (The Ultraverse) some beautiful cello from Perttu Kivilaakso (Apocalyptica), bubbling Hammond from Thijs Schrijnemakers (Orgel Vreten) and excellent emotive vocals from Wudstik (For All We Know, Ayreon).

This mostly Dutch band have done the Irons proud with additional news reel audio and narration from Edward Reekers (Kayak, Ayreon) bringing you into the story of His Majesty’s Airship R101 in marvellous full bodied passion, the electric instrumentation is not missed as Maiden UniteD have the talent to pull off the same epic feel of the original. It also stands a tribute to the songwriting prowess of Iron Maiden (Bruce especially) as even without the full power of heavy metal behind it this song still has depth. This is two part EP with the studio version of the track on disc 1 while disc 2 contains the live recording from January 27th 2018 when the band performed at the Royal Theatre of Amsterdam: Carre, the live performance has as much brilliance as the studio version but is just a bit more raw it closes out with an almost balladic version of Killers which would make Paul Di’Anno hurl, but I think its adds a new edge to a oft-forgotten Maiden track. Empire Of The Clouds is a wonderful album for any Maiden fan that goes against the normal tribute boundaries. Up the Irons! 8/10

Hercules Morse: Hercules Morse (Self Released)

“Hercules Morse is the narcissistic bodybuilding younger brother of fictional Detective Endeavour Morse, he was lined up for his own book series but there are only so many books one can write about bodybuilding in rural Oxfordshire” Colin Dexter said this once in an interview and clearly this is where the Southampton band got their name from. This of course is a lie however there is a children’s book about an Old English Mastiff of the same name that is ‘as big as a horse' , if this was the inspiration for their name then it’s probably only slightly less weird than my flight of fancy. I’ve had to stretch the review of this record out a little as I could have easily said “sounds like Foo Fighters and QOTSA” which is probably the most honest statement so far, the foursome have taken most of their cues out of the more accessible combined efforts Dave Grohl and Josh Homme, the songs are zippy, musically muscular but rely much too heavily on repetitive choruses that do get a little boring as the album progresses.

Cuckoo is probably the best (worst) example of this with the title work taking up probably 70% of the lyrics. It’s not through laziness I don’t think, Hercules Morse are trying to write sing along anthems such as Monkey Wrench or No One Knows but what makes these songs so good is that they are the exception to the rule for the most part, Hercules Morse’s debut album is an entire record of these radio baiting rockers. I seem overly critical but I’m not, I saw the stoner/desert rock tag and I expected something a little more experimental. This is a little too safe for me. 6/10
Circle Of Silence: The Crimson Throne (Massacre Records)

German band Circle Of Silence return to the metal scene with their first album of heavy power metal since 2013. The Crimson Throne is a solid power metal record it's got the normal intro track to build the drama before Race To The Sky jumps out of your speakers with galloping rhythms and higher register vocals, it's an insight into what Circle Of Silence can do as a band with thick, tasty muscular riffs, a hint of thrash here and there with the solos coming from the speed metal school. It's a record that is competent and full of quality power metal tunes, don't come expecting to have your head blown off however if you're after some decent metal tunes like Into The Fire or Endgame check out The Crimson Throne. 7/10

Petyr: Smolyk (Outer Battery Records)

When you live in California the kind of psych-heavy proto-metal that Petyr play has always been associated with bearded, long hair skater dudes. It's the sort of music that begs for fat joints and half-pipes as the fuzzy rocking vibes pump out of your stereo. Petyr probably have closer links to the skateboarding community than other bands as they fronted by renowned street skater Riley Hawk who is the son of the the legendary Tony Hawk. When he's not shredding up a storm on the streets of Cali he's the frontman of Petyr his voice reverebing over the the stoner rock riffs brought by him and the band.

The echoes of Sabbath and Cali godfathers Earthless are clear to see with the songs full of elongated jams, swirling feedback, shamanic chants and guitar solo freak outs, Smolyk fully encapsulates the Cali skate scene through it's musical expression and a commitment to the stoner rock scene in general. Pair this album with the new offering from The Sword and you'll have the ultimate soundtrack to your next session (be it on the halfpipe or the hash pipe). 7/10 

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Reviews: Son Of Kush, Pungent Stench, Skin Deep, Heartwind, Crystal Ball (Reviews By Paul H)

Son Of Kush: Pathfinder (Sky Hammer Records)

One of several musical outlets that involve Thoth Atlantean (others include Sanctum, Atlantis and Thunderhoof), this release under the Son Of Kush moniker is a bludgeoning serving of death and doom metal. Think Amon Amarth meets Arch Enemy and then throw the massive riffs of Candlemass into the mix and you’ll be on the right track. It’s a meaty seven-track release, which will get heads nodding and necks stretching. Thunderous bass and drums combine to envelope the tracks with a thunderclap worthy of Thor’s hammer, although I’m mixing my mythology here as Thoth Atlantean was an immortal Egyptian magician.

Taking all the mythology out of the picture, Pathfinder is a blisteringly good listen, with some stunning guitar work, masses of death growls and sufficient hooks to grab you by the lapels. Stand out tracks are the two lengthier beasts; the dark and brooding Doomed To Stone and the Nicko McBrain drumming style of Eternal Sacred Pyres. I’m not usually a fan of the multi-instrumentalist who churns it all out, but this is one savage beast of a release. 8/10

Pungent Stench: Smut Kingdom (Dissonance Productions)

Confusion reigned as to whether legendary Austrian death metal outfit Pungent Stench were active. Their last release, Ampeauty, arrived over 14 years ago but suddenly the band’s Facebook page, run by vocalist and guitarist El Cochino, sprung into life and Smut Kingdom has now appeared. From what I understand, and I may be wrong, Smut Kingdom may not be a “new” album but rather unreleased recordings from as far back as 2007.

Whatever the case, for fans of the band, who obviously have been out of focus for many years, this is a pleasing release, full of gnarly death metal that made the band such icons. From the first riffs of Aztec Holiday to the grinding pulsing doom of final song Planet Of The Dead, Smut Kingdom should make most death metal fans very happy. 7/10

Skin Deep: New Life (Self Released)

Hailing from the South West of England, Skin Deep is a four-piece hard rock outfit whose sound is based almost on entirely on Metallica, with elements of more melodic rock outfits like Godsmack and even Shinedown thrown in. New Life is a perfectly competent release, with some decent songs but there is little here to spark the interest for any length of time. The chunky riffs will be welcomed by those who like their rock delivered in a straightforward manner.

Listening to New Life I was reminded of fellow South West outfit King Creature, a band that really do possess an excitement that is sadly absent here.  The seven-minute centrepiece Hollow starts well but becomes rather routine by midway, and other tracks, for example Blood On My Hands and Hard To Get are just too close to Hetfield and Co to stimulate. Unfortunately, rather unremarkable. 5/10

Heartwind: Higher And Higher (AOR Heaven)

More melodic rock from the AOR Heaven label. This time it is Swedish outfit Heartwind, which comprises members of Constansia, Token, Essence Of Sorrow and Narnia amongst others. The album is the brainchild of guitarist Goran Engvall and keyboardist Mikael Rosengren who after 15 years of friendship began developing songs in the vein that they wanted to hear. Sourcing their inspiration from some of the classic AOR of the 1980s, Whitesnake and Def Leppard amongst others, they invited numerous guests to help complete the project. What you get is absolute typical melodic rock which would get you burnt at the stake at Bloodstock but would be an absolute success at HRH AOR and the likes.

Every AOR cliché and style is delivered in bombastic style, huge production from Frederick Folkare and mastered by Erik Martensson (Eclipse, WET and Ammunition) ensuring that every song is completely overblown and polished to within an inch of its life. Ballads, such as the awful One Night Away From You are in plentiful supply. It’s about as limp wristed as you would expect, conjuring up images of poodle perms and posturing which belongs on 1988 MTV. Still, if you like your rock weaker than a kitten, you might just find this particularly endearing. 5/10

Crystal Ball: Crystallizer (Massacre Records)

Switzerland: home of dubious bank accounts, cuckoo clocks, Toblerone and world war neutrality. We can add that the home of some really dodgy hard rock and I can add to that pile with this offering from Crystal Ball. This really is a pile of steaming horse shit, and I think that is unfair on the equine output. I should have known when I read that they were initially known as Cherry Pie that I was in for a Warrant sized eye fucking but nothing could quite prepare for the diarrhoea splatter that confronted me. Gentleman’s Agreement, the astonishingly abysmal ballad Let Her Go With Love and the laughable Beauty In The Beast should all be confined to the bowels of hell.

Routinely written, dull as a magnolia painted wall and about as inspiring as a Conservative party broadcast, it was no surprise to find Tony Castell, ex-Krokus involved. The real stinker though is vocalist Steven Magney, whose singing is horrible, an inability to hold a note and blessed with a croak that sounds like Mark Tornillo’s worst bottom burps. This is utterly insipid and the only question I have left is how the fuck has this band persuaded Stefan Kauffmann (ex-Accept) to produce more than one of their releases. Utter drivel and in pole position for the crock of shit award of the year. 1/10

Saturday, 12 May 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Desertfest 2018 - Friday (Live Review By Paul S)

Desertfest 2018 - Friday, Camden, London

I should start this review with a confession. When I went to Desertfest, I wasn’t aware that I was going to be writing a review of the day. I was asked to review it whilst watching Napalm Death (My bad - Ed). If I’d known I was going to be reviewing Friday at Desertfest, I would have made notes, planned to see as many bands as possible and been aware of who I was watching. So, as doing a proper professional sounding review isn’t really an option, I’m going to try and do a Hunter S Thompson gonzo style review of my day (although without the drug and alcohol fuelled lunacy, bit skint this month) .

My Friday started early with a bus to London. I could only afford a one day ticket to Desertfest (bit skint this month), so I chose the Friday as there were 4 bands I really wanted to see, one of which I considered to be essential. Once I’d got to Camden and turned my ticket into a wrist band, I popped into the Underworld to see Old Man Lizard (7). They played a nice set of relaxed, groovy stoner doom to an appreciative audience. It was a nice start, but I left a little early so I could get over to The Electric Ballroom to see Winterfylleth (one of the 4 bands I was down there to see).

Winterfylleth had had to move their early evening slot to the opening slot, so they could get a ferry to France for another festival. The Electric Ballroom was packed, considering it was 3 O’clock on a Friday afternoon. Winterfylleth (9) played a storming set of their brand of melancholy atmospheric black metal. The setlist was culled from their entire career, but without anything from their new acoustic album The Hallowing Of Heirdom. For obvious reasons they avoided that material as they were doing an electric set, but using one of the tracks as an intro track was a nice move. They played a great set, and seemed genuinely moved that so many people had come out to see them.

Next, I went back to the Underworld to see Black Moth (8). A lot of other people had also had the same idea, and the Underworld was rammed. It was one of those situations where no matter where you stand you are constantly in someones way. The 3 songs I saw were great. Tuneful, melodic doom with great vocals. The audience really enjoyed what I saw of the set, however the heat in the venue, combined with the fact that I hadn’t eaten since I left home combined to make me feel quite lightheaded, so I left to get some air and some food.

After sorting myself out with a Beanburger meal, I had a look at what was going on at The Black Heart. I saw a band playing instrumental stoner doom. I’d love to tell you who they were, but I don’t know. I stayed for about 10 minutes before being driven out by the heat. Whilst cooling down on a flight of steps near the Black Heart, I spent about 30 minutes talking to a Camden resident, who wanted to know what was going on. She described herself as an old punk, so was looking for information, rather than complaining. Had a pleasant break from hot venues, talking about music.

Next I went back to The Electric Ballroom, as the rest of the bands I’d bought the ticket for were playing at that venue. It was lucky that I did that as I managed to catch the second half of Five The Hierophant’s set. Five The Hierophant (8) are a name I’ve been aware of for several years, but have never heard. They played a set of heavy, groovy instrumental doom, where a saxophone took the place of lead vocals (which worked really well). The band were in monks robes, with a video of Fire being played behind them, giving their set a real feeling of a ritual, or religious ceremony. I really enjoyed their set, and am now keen to check out some of their albums. Love discovering new bands at festivals, and Five The Hierophants are a great discovery.

Next up, were Eyehategod (9), another of the 4 bands I was at the festival to see. I was there early, so I got a place right up against the crowd control barriers. By the time Eyehategod exploded onto the stage, The Electric Ballroom was pretty much full, and the audience went nuts. The set was incredibly chaotic and intense. A huge moshpit erupted as soon as the first song started, and I was crushed into the barriers. Unfortunately for me I was next to a check shirt and trucker cap wearing moron, who wanted to occupy my space as well as the space he already had. Once I started to get the urge to elbow him in the throat, I decided to move back and to the side, as I didn’t want to get into a fight with a dickhead (if you allow yourself to be goaded into fight by a dickhead, you have automatically lost). I watched the second half of the set from further back, and really enjoyed it. The band were on form, Mike (who was looking really healthy) had lots of banter with the audience, and they sounded huge. I had such a great time, I bought a T-shirt! (Truly been there and done that then - Ed)

Before Warning (10), this was the band I considered essential, I popped out to the Burger Bar next door for a nice, and considering it was London, quite cheap (bit skint this month) veggie burger. I went straight back in so I could get a spot up the front for Warning and saw their sound check. Warning’s set was their seminal 2006 album Watching From A Distance. The album has been incredibly influential, and is one of my favourite albums. It’s an album that tends to have an effect on people, I’ve never met anyone who thought it was OK, you either love it, or don’t get it. There was a decent number of people in the audience, and the love they had for Warning was palpable. I sang every word of the album back at the band, and I think just most of the other people in the audience did the same.

This is the second to last performance Warning will be doing (one more set at Hellfest, then they are calling it a day), and you could feel that this was something special, in particular Bridges was sublime, not a dry eye in the place. We made so much noise at the end of each song, the band seemed to be taken aback at the reaction they received. No other metal band are loved the way Warning are loved. At the end of their set the crowd stayed in front of the stage, rather than heading off to see other bands (as had happened at the end of all the other bands I saw), we didn’t want it to end, no-one left until the band had all left the stage. Although, Warning's set was beautiful and emotionally charged, although I enjoyed it immensely, I felt like crying as I knew I would never see them live again. The only consolation, is that we still have 40 Watt Sun, and can continue to hear Patrick Walker’s amazing, beautiful songs. I’m so glad I made the effort to see this band, one of the best live sets I have ever seen. 

Next up were the last the band I’d gone down to see; Napalm Death (9). I’ve seen Napalm Death many times before, and I’ve never seen them do a bad set. Friday at Desertfest was no different. They blew the roof off The Electric Ballroom. Savage, blistering grindcore played by a band that are in their element live. Barney was in great form, joking about finding slow songs to fit in with the Desertfest ethos “a little tricky”. Their set was culled from all over their 30 year plus career. Several tracks from their new rarities compilation Coded Smears And More Uncommon Slurs, 3 tracks from their fist album Scum, and even an Anti Cimex cover.

The band had an immense amount of energy, which in turn energised the audience into forming a massive pit. Really loved this set, I think it was the best set I’ve seen Napalm Death play. An absolutely perfect end to the day. After Napalm Death, I caught the tube to Victoria, for my 4 and a half hour bus journey (couldn’t afford the train, bit skint this month) back to Cardiff (the battery on my iPod lasted all the way home as well!). I had a great time at the Friday at Desertfest. Hopefully I’ll get to go for the whole weekend next year.