Rage (The Cost)

At times I feel the path in my near future is mapped well in advance. Take last weekend as an example. Metallica tickets were purchased probably the best part of twelve months ago. This week was booked off work as a holiday at the start of the year, so I’ve had a long time to prepare. I booked, cancelled and rebooked a hotel within the last month and train tickets a few weeks back. Everything from 11:45am on Sunday until 1410 yesterday has been (seemingly) pre determined for a while, even down to the conundrum of what shirts I was going to wear and buy. 

Sometimes I like the spontaneity of what the music world throws up. I’m off for the rest of this week and on the train home I perused Facebook to find shows to go to on the days I didn’t have anything planned. At noon yesterday I was planning on heading to the Star and Garter in Manchester to see The Raven Age. As noted previously in this blog I saw the band in Canada supporting Iron Maiden in the cavernous Air Canada Centre, so seeing them in the intimate surroundings of a ramshackle pub standing in the shadows of Piccadilly train station sounded like fun. 

That possibly changed late yesterday evening after ploughing through half a days worth of tweets. I saw several people mention the Make Them Suffer gig in London last night and how brutal opening band Cursed Earth were. A quick search on Spotify and YouTube piqued my interest for a band I’d never heard of previously. That was followed up with a Facebook search and low and behold the tour hits Manchester tonight. Well I was intending to head to the city today anyway, so why not experience Cursed Earth then head back towards Piccadilly and see The Raven Age? Sounds perfectly feasible to me. 

So what have I learnt from the inter web in the last twelve hours or so about the band? They hail from Perth, Australia. Formed in 2013 and they play ferocious, pummelling hardcore with a huge injection of metal. I’ve seen comparisons in remarks and reviews to Code Orange and Nails (bands I’m not overly familiar with so I can’t really agree or disagree) and Venom Prison, who to me are more death metal orientated than Cursed Earth, but I can see the comparisons. My first thoughts when I listened to War March via YouTube last night was it reminded me of Power Trip.  

Who ever they are comparable to, Jazmine Lunders venomous, rasping vocals are ably supported by the rest of her band with their metallic stomp and copious amounts of break downs, so no doubt the legion of Manchester’s “finest” kick boxing dancers will be in the Rebellion club early tonight. For me that is one of the negatives for this evening, mainly because the venues layout offers little respite for those there to see a band or three and wanting to stand and enjoy an alcoholic beverage without a sized 11 Vans clad foot heading towards an unsuspecting chest or head. 

I’ve made an opinion on fellow Australian headliners Make Them Suffer based on half a song on YouTube, so I’m unlikely to be there for the duration, but I have all day to discover them and the third band on the bill, Novelists from Paris then I can decide which venue the bulk of my time will be spent in. 

Rage (The Cost) is taken from the all too brief release Cycles of Grief, Vol 2: Decay released last month. Six songs clocking in around the fourteen minute mark, so it’s flashed by before you know it. Well worth a listen if you like you metal tinged beatdown hardcore. 

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Moth Into Flame

The morning after W.A.S.P. in Manchester sees me have a relatively early wake up call to jump on a train and head to London Town to see Metallica on the opening night of their five date UK tour. 

I’ll be at two of the five dates, but things could change. I was hoping to have seen them at a couple more but at £100 a ticket it was way out of my price range to see many more than the two. I’m in London on Sunday with friends and the following Saturday I’m in Manchester with my wife. I was hoping to have gone north of the wall to see them in Glasgow too, but that (so far) hasn’t materialised! 

I haven’t seen as many of the bands European dates as I’d have hoped for, but I’ve had a few adventures and I have a night in Stuttgart to look forward to next year. My first time seeing the band in what many consider to be their European home of Germany. 

Before the main event it’ll be straight off the train and a dash to central east London (is that a thing?) to join one of the many queues for the day and have a peruse inside the pop up shop. Having experienced the Copenhagen store back in February it’s a great money making scheme for the band. Hopefully I’ll be able to grab something British specific from there as I’m pretty sure the ones on sale in the arenas will be snapped up and several will be on sale on eBay before the final strains of Enter Sandman have died away in the rafters. 

Once I’ve finally dumped my stuff off in the hotel it’s off to Greenwich to visit the O2 Arena for a second time. The only other visit I’ve paid to this soulless hanger was back in 2010 when Bon Jovi took residency there for a staggering twelve nights. 

With the tragic event at the Manchester Arena some months ago and artists finally (but unsuccessfully) trying to do something to combat ticket touts I foresee another long and arduous wait whilst people who’ve bought their tickets at an inflated price on the secondary market for the event get unceremoniously turned away. Once those lucky enough to posses the right ticket with matching photo ID it’ll be time to queue inside the venue for just about anything you’ll need in there, over priced food and drink, toilets and merchandise. 

Let’s hope, because it’s Britain, that the people in front of the queue aren’t like the last ones I encountered at a big show on foreign soil. What’s with the desire to try on every piece of clothing you think you want to buy? Check the little piece of material in the back of the garments you are wearing. If they fit ask for the equal size. If they’re to big or small amend accordingly. The only thing you need to know is the make of the clothing. From my misfortune, if it’s Fruit of the Loom go a size up. 

It’s going to be an expensive weekend with W.A.S.P. the night before and Manchester six days later, but at least I’m only away from my own bed for one evening and even if it’s taking me three hours to travel to the capital my train ticket has been dirt cheap, costing me less than £20 there and back. More money available for merch, not that I’m desperate for anymore. 

I was hoping this years arena run would have seen me break the barrier of seeing the band for the 40th time. I was really hoping I’d have made Paris earlier this year and maybe another two of the five UK shows. If I’d have made the Moscow show that I had tickets for back in 2010 then I’d gave only needed two more, but Eyjafjallajökull erupting in Iceland at the same time scuppered flights, along with the exorbitant price of a Russian visa so close to travelling also didn’t help matters. I’ll break the 40 mark in time, there’s no rush. They’re going nowhere just yet. 

As all the tracks from the latest album had videos made for them here’s another one that has been a main stay of the band’s set list for the fifty odd shows currently played on the Worldwired Tour. 

The Idol

This time last week I was sitting in a caravan on the Lincolnshire coast after feeling unwell for most of the previous day. Unfortunately I can’t equate my weekend illness to alcoholic intake. This weekend has been akin to a sloth so far. Next week that changes gears quite considerably. 

Almost twenty five years to the day (well twenty five years and ten days) I’ll be seeing W.A.S.P. on the Crimson Idol tour again. In total Saturday will be my fourteenth time seeing the Blackie Lawless show on the stage. This year celebrates the The Crimson Idol album that was released a quarter of a century ago, and its being played in full on this tour – just like he did on its fifteenth anniversary. 

It’s been well documented on here that I’m a huge W.A.S.P. fan. They’re one of the first bands that made an impression on the teenage me (and the first band I saw live) and the dedication has stuck with me over the years. I slacked a bit in the late 90’s during their KFD era, but live you’re usually guaranteed a short greatest hits set, apart from “that song”. The Re-idolized tour consists of the ten tracks from the concept album followed up with an encore of anywhere between three and five back catalogue tracks. Done and dusted in a modest (measly?) ninety minutes.  Originally there was murmurings of the full album being played with the inclusion of other songs that should’ve been on the release, a couple of which surfaced on the last album Golgotha, but that hasn’t materialised since the initial announcement. 

There seems to be some kind of furore over the length and quality of the bands recent live output. Checking back on previous tours I attended, my first experience lasted for thirteen songs on the Headless Children run in 1989. Show two for me twenty five years and ten days ago in Wolverhampton was also thirteen. I’ve experienced a few shows with a staggering fifteen track (one of which was a drum solo!) but I’ve also witnessed several with as few as ten songs in total. 

Their headline set at Hard Rock Hell 2009 was one of the reduced sets. I’m pretty sure they came on stage late and chopped five or six numbers from the evening. For a band with a great history during the 80’s and into the 90’s and a proven track record in recent years their tardiness has always seemed to be a faltering factor for them, that along side Mr Duren’s well documented ego. The night after I’ll be seeing one of W.A.S.P.’s contemporaries in London Town who’ll be playing a much bigger venue for a lot longer and will have a visual display to die for, but more on that later. 

Going back to what was allegedly going to be a Blackie solo album here’s The Idol. I thought I’d posted this track previously, but checking back nothing from the band in 1992 has made the blog. The Crimson Idol makes it into my play lists on a very regular basis and is up there as a favourite all these years later. They’ve always written a good power ballad since their debut in 1984 and The Idol is one of several ballads on this album and moved them a bit further away from the shock rocker personas from the previous decade that would resurface before the end of the decade with the return of Chris Holmes. 

Sheer Heart Attack

I’ve finally finished work for the week, only four days later than expected though. Tomorrow we’re off to the seaside for an elongated weekend and I have the misfortune of attending my first ever Queen convention over in Mablethorpe. 

The wife and I have experienced a few Doctor Who gatherings over the last few years, but I feel this weekend is going to be something completely different. Wall to wall Queen geeks who, in the main, will know their Day at the Races and a Night at the Opera inside out. 

All fans have their diehards and some of that fanbase will be of the über fan variety. Geekiness in all fandoms is on a sliding scale of casual through to obsessive, and without a doubt there will be a massive dose of one up man-ship throughout the duration. Whether it’s from that obscure tour shirt from ’76 someone is adorned in or some piece of useless information offered up as an answer in the inevitable quiz, fans always try to impress, intentionally or subliminally is another question though. 

Every fan of every band claims their fans are the best in the world, it’s hard to disagree with them as that’s the way they perceive their musical world from within their rose tinted bubble. Having said that though I think I’m a fan of bands with some of the most rabid and reverent followers on the planet. 

Metallica and Iron Maiden announce tours and bookings and flights from every corner of the world descend upon every city on the tour. I’ve travelled over Europe to see both bands over the years, I’ve even hopped over to North America to see them both. Bars around the arenas are heaving with black clad metal heads wearing a plethora of tour merch form all over the world and spanning the decades. I used to assume I was the only person in a crowd in Toronto for a show then you overhear dozens of British accents amongst the buzz of the Canadian drawl. 

One of the first forays on to foreign shores for the reluctant wife and I was to Paris to see Iron Maiden at the Bercy. Pretty much a day there in a coach and a day back with nothing but Maiden fans. And what was played through the buses sound system during the trip? An assortment of Maiden tunes from varying live releases and studio albums. Definitely three days of Iron Maiden overkill, but most people wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I have no doubt a Queen fan, or a fanatic of any other artist from all genres is as fanatical, but I do think metal fans have that edge in fanaticism. I’ve never seen a Queen fan carve the bands name into their skin outside a venue. Slayer on the other hand… Metallica’s imminent British tour sold out in minutes of some of the countries biggest sheds and that’s with a ticket price leaving peanuts from a £100 note if such a thing was legal tender. 

Even if it’s not the high priced ticket at the arenas of the world, the fans that traverse the country week after week to catch the up and coming act (or in some cases the fading star of yesterday) are just as, if not more, of a fan. It takes much more effort and will power to drag yourself to the venues in the middle of nowhere to see that band play a half hour set to you, one man and his dog on a snowy January evening then head off home. You just know one day that night with a handful of people will be one of those shows that all in sundry will we talking about when the band breaks into the big time. 

To kick off what might be a Queen themed weekend on this blog (internet permitting – but I’m not hopefully) here’s something from Queen. Quel surprise! 

October 28th marks the forty year anniversary of the bands sixth album News of the World, and from the bite size pieces of information I have seen in relation to this years convention it is based around this album. Confusingly the track Sheer Heart Attack featured on this album rather than the album of the same name released three years earlier. This live version of the track is taken from the live album Queen Rock Montreal (recorded in 1981). Without consulting iTunes I’ve probably played this track more than most of their tracks. 


 

Blindspot 

It’s been a while (well eight days) since I was last inside a concert venue and this weekend I was feeling a bit stir crazy. I was debating atenfing the on, off and back on again Today Is The Day show in Manchester this evening, but I’m thinking it’ll be a show without my attendance tonight. 

The only time I’ve seen Steve Austin and his noisemongers for an evening of pummelling filthy noise was back in 1999 when they played in Dudley with Neurosis and Voi-Vod. Definitely no ballads played that night. 

Today’s show is one of four British shows on this tour to celebrate two decades of the Temple of the Morning Star album. I should have been off work this week but I’m working until Thursday now, so a late train home isn’t conducive to my situation now. When the gig was rearranged to Rebellion from the Ruby Lounge only main support act Fashion Week were advertised. Within the last few days though two more bands have been added to the bill, so what might have been a reasonable finish time will now be stretched to the 11pm curfew. I’d make my last train easily, but I wouldn’t be stepping on to the return platform at Crewe until after midnight with a 5am start later on Tuesday. Never say never and all that, but it looks highly unlikely. 

Blindspot, a satirical look at cable TV news and very prominent all these years later, is taken from the album having its anniversary this year. I’d read that the band were playing the album in full to celebrate, but looking at the few set listings posted  online from their North American trek the set is heavily in favour of the release, but by no means played in full.   

Brutal Decay

I should have posted this a few days ago, but I’ve had so much running about to do at home, the Life of Agony gig on Friday and generally just being let down at work yesterday that prevented me from getting an early finish. Better late than never anyway. 

I’m currently a few thousand feet in the air on a flight to Amsterdam for an evening of thrash metal. The flight seems to be full of people who’ve partaken in to much expensive lager at the departure point and now are a bit green around the gills with the brief spell of turbulence we experienced on take off. They’re also the ones who look like they’ll be trying their luck in Amsterdam’s red light district this evening and trying to find solace the hash  cafes. I’m glad I’m heading an hour north east by train to sleepy Zwolle for my fix of Euro thrash. 

Even though the trek is headlined by Bristolian’s Onslaught, the Thrash ‘Tll The Death tour isn’t hitting home soil. Hardly surprising after attending several of their shows over the last few years to pitiful crowds. Band wise the UK thrash scene is having a renaissance and is possibly at one of its highest ebbs since the thrash metal glory days of the late 80’s. Attendance wise British fans seem to very apathetic towards home grown talent. I saw Onslaught performing The Force in full in Chester last year to no more than 50 people. A friend saw the same tour with less than 30 in Banbury. 

Danish stalwarts Artillery are the main support. This will be the fourth time I’ve seen them in four years in a fourth different country after waiting decades to see them. They and Onslaught traversed the UK together in what was the Dane’s first experience of British crowds. The attendance in Glasgow and Birmingham a few days later were hardly stellar. Having experienced tonight’s venue previously I’m hoping for a cracking few hours. 

Opening up the tour are a pair of Greek bands. I was in Camden’s Underworld early in 2014 to see Exarsis play with Suicidal Angels, Lost Soceity and Fueled by Fire then did it all again in Munich two weeks later. 

Athenian thrashers Chronosphere are a new band to add to my hefty list of bands seen, but a band I’ve been listening to since their debut album Envirusment surfaced in 2012. Several mainland European tours and two albums later I finally get to experience them live. With the way Britain seems to be going with all the Brexit uncertainty I’ll be surprised if they ever get to Blighty under their own steam, unless they drop on a support slot like their country men Exarsis have done. Now I need to find a way to cross off Game Over, Final Depravity, Ultra-Violence and Panikk (amongst a slew of others) from the European thrash bucket list. 

Over the years attending gigs this way had increased sharply, but I think this is due you our lax nature in booking the important bits of the equation and leaving it too late to snag the bargain flight prices. Considering Zwolle is nearly 600 miles from home I can’t really complain at paying £20 more than it could cost me to do the 170 mile trip to London by train. 

On to the last leg of the journey now, until we have reverse our steps at 6am Monday morning for a 9 o’clock flight, an hour now on the train to Zwolle. We’ll have left the cannabis tourists 80 miles behind us and heading to more sedate and tranquil surroundings, well until 6pm when the Greeks make the stage rumble. 

Brutal Decay is taken from the middle album of Chronosphere’s current trio of albums Embracing Oblivion from 2014.  

World Gone Mad

It’s been eighteen months since I last saw Life of Agony inside a British venue, not too bad a wait considering it took 23 years between Wolverhampton last year and the previous show I attended by them. They have also released their latest album after a wait of a dozen years.   

A Place Where There’s No More Pain came out on Austrian label Napalm Records back in July. I never got around to pre ordering the album, but I was pretty excited to hear their first collection of new material in so long. I ended up streaming it via Spotify as soon as I woke up on the Friday morning and had listened to most of it whilst getting ready for work and on the nine mile journey there in the car. 

On the first listen I wasn’t overly impressed with it. Maybe I wasn’t giving it the full attention it deserves? Debut album River Runs Red is held in such high esteem by me I could possibly be doing the latest release, and on reflection the trio of albums in between, a disservice by trying to compare them to such a high benchmark.  

I walked into the two shows I attended last year not really knowing their 1995 to 2005 output and only being there for the River Runs Red cuts. After watching the original line up bang out what I wanted to hear, interspersed with tracks from the other albums I dusted off the hidden gems from that missing decade and rekindled my affinity with the Brooklyn band. 

After saying all that it’s more disturbing why I’ve not attempted to listen to A Place… for at least a second time in full since April 28th (if I’m being exact!) until this weekend just gone. The band kicked off their UK tour in Norwich last Friday and I had a peak at Saturday’s Manchester setlist the morning after. There are three tracks from this years album in the set so I though it was time to give it a blast considering the fact that I’m off to see them in Birmingham on Friday. 

On second, third and fourth listen it’s a great album. Still angst ridden, but more focused and not as harsh as their debut. Friday night can’t come quick enough for me now.