Merciless Death

I could really get used to doing a four day week at work! It only seems like three days ago since I started back at work and tomorrow morning there’s no lie in for me on my first non working Saturday in my job for twenty years, as I’ll be in a train to Glasgow for the Lords of the Land festival.

Back in March last year I was impatiently waiting for my chance to snag tickets to see Metallica in Europe. I’ve always wanted to see the band in Germany and grabbing tickets for Stuttgart was looking the best option as it was a Saturday and I could attend the show and only have to take the one day as a holiday.

Sometime later the Lords of the Land date was announced and when I put it in my calendar it clashed with Germany and I thought nothing more about it.

Some lower bands for the bill were announced (Lawnmower Deth, Vallenfyre and Cannabis Corpse) along with Demolition Hammer. It was a case of I’d like to see Demolition Hammer for a second time, but I’m committed to Stuttgart .

Then a “headliner” in the shape of UK / Swedish death metal band Bloodbath, who have bored me several times were added. Metallica was definitely looking like a better option. More Swede’s courtesy of Unleashed piqued my interest, but still only two from six bands were intriguing me.

Ten days before Christmas and this years headliners were announced. Dark Angel were playing. Well that was a game changer and had me trawling the fine print on the Ticketmaster Germany website. How could I turn down seeing Dark Angel for only a second time? Three years since their last UK appearance, 27 years since their last show over here with a roof on and their first Scottish gig in almost three decades.

Thankfully, and surprisingly, the ever efficient Germans offer a refund service and my pair of tickets are no doubt making someone else happy whilst I get to see Gene “The Atomic Clock” Hoglan for the second time in a week.

Stoke punks Discharge and Norwegian black metal band Carpathian Forest have since been added, so it makes it quite a diverse one day festival and now worth making the effort to travel to Scotland.

Last time I saw a Dark Angel at Bloodstock I brought myself a shirt which had been dropped and lost by the time I left the festival. I know I’m supposed to be cutting down on my band attire, but I’ll have to invest in a Dark Angel shirt on Saturday.

Merciless Death was oddly included on the bands first two albums We Have Arrived (1985) and Darkness Descends a year later. This live version is from their 3-Way Thrash video recorded at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in October 1989. Also on the Hammy O stage on that day were D.A.M. and Candlemas who both feature in the 3-Way Thrash release. Nuclear Assault also performed at the same show and their set ended up being released as the Live at the Hammersmith Odeon CD in 1992.

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Infants Of Thrash

Happy chocolate egg day to you all!

Rather than heading out to a religious establishment to celebrate this four day weekend for many people, I’m sitting at home reminiscing about a fantastic night of thrash metal last night and pondering next weekends metal tour de force and infusing my body with caffeine.

I’m always a bit sceptical about seeing Testament in recent years, as they seem to mess about a lot beforehand and their set usually sounds awful or is cut short. I’m pretty sure last nights show was shorter than recent nights, but I feared that when there was a 10pm curfew and allegedly doors were due to open at 5:30 and we were still in the pub next door after six and the queue was just about kicking into life, well the life of a sloth. Such a bad venue to get into with the mediocre pat downs administered by the security staff.

I didn’t get to see too much of Vader, but Annihilator were great again with their short set that had to be briefly interrupted while ambulance staff attended to a guy who people say broke a leg in the pit during Vader’s performance.

Tracks from the new Testament album were mixed in with some 80’s thrash metal classics and several songs dragged screaming and kicking from their ever expanding back catalogue. Low is a track I’ve not experienced live for almost 15 years. We only got in the region of 85 minutes and some tracks that seemed to be stalwarts in the set were missing (Rise Up), but why not sacrifice the three solos rather than actual songs? Yes, we know Steve, Alex and Eric can play their instruments, but do we really need the vanity demonstrations?

At least with an early curfew I easily caught my last train home and even had time to grab some food without having to break into a sweat.

Towards the start of the month I anticipated catching twelve shows in a four week period before today. That ended up being a pretty respectable seven in that time frame. A few shows fell through for various reasons and a few had to be shuffled around. This weekend I was originally seeing Testament in Manchester on Friday then back to the city on Saturday for Xentrix.

At one point I was expecting to have made the trip to London for the Reprisal album launch show on Friday and ended up sacrificing seeing Xentrix for Testament 24 hours later. In the end I couldn’t get Saturday off work and I didn’t fancy a train trip back up north and getting home at 2am then being in work by 6 (if I managed to get a sneaky lie in) then heading off to another show. As of yesterday though that won’t be too much of an issue. Yesterday was my last time working on a Saturday before we have a shake up of working hours and my week will now finish on a Friday afternoon.

Besides the kudos of being a part of Reprisal’s album launch I was looking forward to heading to London to catch Greek thrashers Domination. I missed them when they were over here a few years ago and I fear I will miss them yet again on this pretty extensive run. They play Wolverhampton on Wednesday night, but there is a severe lack of information from the venue and promoter about the gig. The Facebook event page states a 2350 finish. If that’s correct that’s me out of contention.

Nottingham’s show next Saturday appears to have been cancelled, but I’m in Scotland that weekend anyway and wouldn’t have made it even if it hadn’t been scrapped. The Wolverhampton show is sandwiched in between shows in Coventry and Leicester, both easy enough to drive to from home, but with work the next morning they are both non starters.

The final option would involve my first trip to Chesterfield for something that isn’t a football match. It’s an 80 minute drive away and on a Friday evening. Even though I’m not working on Saturday, I’m still up early as I will be cracking the whip and trying to get three other people and a dog to Crewe station for a train to Glasgow that leaves at 8am. Can I trust people to wake up early enough and not make us miss our transportation?

The Athenian band have been going for seven years now and formed when their members had an average age of 15. Their debut full length surfaced in 2015 and is another worthy addition to the fantastic thrash metal scene coming out of Hellas in recent years. The country is now very high up on places I’d like to experience a live show. How frenetic the bands I have seen on stage recently seem to be is how I imagine the kids at a show in Athens or Thessaloniki.

Have a listen to the album via their Bandcamp page.

Practice What You Preach

It’s been ten days since my last post and far from being lazy in the intervening week and a half I’ve been busy at the day job and then getting home and walloping the walls of our spare bedroom and trying to organise the chaos.

We’ve been in this house for two decades and in that time we’ve never really done anything with the front “bedrooms”. Over the years they’ve just become our (my) dumping ground. Need something storing out of sight? Stick it in the front bedroom for now. For now turns into aeons.

Last week we had a bit of a spring clean and threw out a load of rubbish that has been loitering around the house for far too long. The room I’m currently tarting up will eventually become my man cave. My better half has put a month long deadline on the process so I’ve had to knuckle down and stop procrastinating. I’m intrigued to see what happens after a month, but not brave enough to find out.

Four days in and there is a clear path through the room and I can see a sorry excuse for a carpet. A new bookcase and three CD storage towers built and just over half the walls disguised in a blue ocean hue. The bank holiday weekend involves a trip to that well known Swedish furniture store for a huge shelving unit which I was hoping to display all my vinyl. On reflection after moving box after box around the room to get to other parts of the room I fear my storage ideas will fall well short capacity wise and I’ll still have records and discs in boxes.

Some of the items upstairs have never been out on display whilst in my possession and I’m really excited to finally be able to sit back on the biggest chair I can get through the door and survey my thirty year collection of music.

The thing I’m not looking forward to is sorting through a ridiculous amount of shirts that I have acquired over the years. I think there’s approximately sixteen black bin bags (well actually red bags, but you’ll probably be able to visualise a black bag better) full of merchandise that needs to be sorted, culled (maybe), folded and stored. Any one want to help?

Before our outing to IKEA on Easter Sunday I’m taking a breather and heading off out for a few beers and some thrash metal. I wanted to pop down to London for the Reprisal album launch gig on Good Friday, but I can’t get Saturday off work so I’m going to have to bide my time until Saturday.

Finally rolling through the UK on a headline tour to promote their Brotherhood of the Snake album are Bay Area thrashers Testament, a band who are no strangers to this blog. They visited the country in 2016 as support to Amon Amarth and nine moths later they were at Bloodstock. The bunch of British dates that kick off in Bristol tonight are their first headlining dates for six years.

Saturday will be my twelfth time seeing Chuck Billy and his cohorts on stage and no doubt a dozen times walking through the exit feeling frustrated after a Testament gig. They’re one of those bands that always seems to suffer from an awful sound. It’s as if they decide to turn all the dials up to a heavy metal eleven and wing it. Everything always sounds distorted, yet I’ve been back multiple times.

At least it’ll get me away from the four walls of multicoloured paint, multiple styles of wall paper and the not to unpleasant smell of fresh paint, only to be replaced with stale beer and sweat. Hopefully less frustrated and my wife is no doubt hoping I come home wearing the shirt I walked out of the door several hours earlier. Now which bag has my Testament shirts in?

Smooth Up In Ya

Time to slow things down a bit and subject my ears to something where, as my mum would say, you can understand what they’re saying.

On Tuesday a trip up the road to Eleven is more than likely on the cards to partake in some late 80’s hard rockin’ all the way from Los Angeles. Marq Torien (the only constant member since the bands inception in 1986) brings the BulletBoys to Stoke on Trent.

I’m not the biggest fan of the band by a long shot, but they’re playing less than 2 miles up the road and and I’ve never seen them so it’s an opportunity I can’t really pass up. Some bands I’d considering travelling a decent distance to see, unfortunately some pretty much have to be on my doorstep to tempt me out.

I remember listening to the eponymous album and the follow record Freakshow back in my college days. Even though they rubbed shoulders with the hair bands that frequented the iconic Hollywood venues like the Rainbow Bar and Grill, Whisky A Go Go and the Troubador, the band probably owe more of their sound to Van Halen than Mötley Crüe.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t listen to anything again until I stumbled on their sixth album 10¢ Billionaire some time ago and I know I haven’t listened to any of their three albums released within the last decade. This evening has involved some binge listening of their back catalogue and the solitary track on Spotify that will be featured on their From Out of the Skies album that should be released anytime now via Frontiers Records.

They haven’t frequented these shores too often during their career. Their 2018 dates are the first in ten years, and if you had seen them on their first visit you’d have been waiting almost twenty years to see them second time around. I’m not really sure how popular they were over here. I’m guessing they got swallowed up by most of their more popular contemporaries, and odd songs here and there rose to the top in the rock clubs.

For a ticket price pushing nearly £20 I hope there is a decent crowd in the venue. Considering they’re sharing the stage with Enuff Z’Enuff, another band from the glam metal heyday, it’s pretty decent value for money in my eyes, and especially when you compare it to what I could’ve paid to see Skid Row last week. I’ve read a few negative comments online about poor crowds leading to an inferior performance and a seemingly shortened set. Let’s see what Tuesday brings.

From the self titled debut album, Smooth Up In Ya is one of the bands most well know tracks.

Make Them Suffer

Outside it’s blowing a gale in Pwllheli and we’re grabbing a bit of breakfast before we start the nearly three hour jaunt home, hopefully I’m not driving into a snow storm near home.

Even though it’s a ridiculously long drive to only cover 131 miles it’s usually always worth the effort. Today’s line up isn’t great, hence us heading home shortly. But yesterday was a fantastic day.

Kicking things off with Acid Reign who were superb to watch yet again. I don’t think I could ever get bored of watching H and his band live. Blaze Bayley is an equally superb frontman and had the crowd in the palm of his hand for an hour. I loved hearing his Maiden tunes live again.

The two new gems and finds of the day were Norway’s Critical Solution and Goatwhore from New Orleans. Both bands have featured in the blog last week and we’re above and beyond what I expected.

I’ve seen Obscura several times and always been left bored by them, regardless of how insanely technical they are as a band. Maybe a bit too sterile? And the mighty Sepultura finished off the crowd. It lulled a little in the middle, so I’m not convinced six new songs in the set works all that well. Live I also think their sound is a bit thin when Andreas goes on his solos, a second live guitarist would thicken out the sound immensely.

Next year New Jersey devils Overkill have been announced as headliners, so 2019 will see another trek along the A55 to the middle of nowhere!

At some point today I’ll be jumping in the car and heading to Nottingham for my first show in Rock City for more than 13 years. Tonight it’s more classic 90’s death metal from Buffalo who are now Florida residents, in the shape of Cannibal Corpse.

The controversial band surfaced to the record buying public in 1991, around the same time as Deicide, Suffocation, Obituary and the like, but they are the band of the time that I picked up on the least and haven’t really followed their career. Maybe it was their blatantly gory and comical lyrics and artwork that subconsciously put me off the band? And the reason why a defining genre band gave taken so long to pop up on the blog.

I brought the band’s debut CD second hand from Lotus Records in the early 90’s. The shop at the time was ran by a man if religion. I always remember buying the CD and the owner had altered the “this may offend” warning sticker on the front and put a tiny sticker over the “may” part so it read “this WILL offend”. I loved that shop and it became a second home. I’d be intrigued to see what the owner would make of some of the bands, lyrics and artwork of some stuff a quarter of a century later.

For a band I don’t really follow tonight will be my eighth time seeing them since 2000. Over recent years the band have grown on me more, maybe with my newly found acceptance of the death metal genre. Even their latest album Red Before Black became only the second album to make me part with cash for a physical copy.

Tonight should be “fun” and I’m looking forward to seeing the Black Dahlia Murder again. I’m just hoping the snow and ice threat steers clear.

Phantom Self

It’s Friday and today that means it’s Sepultura day!

I saw the band a bunch of times early last year when they supported Kreator and it’s been easily twelve months since I last listened to their Machine Messiah album. Surprisingly they played quite a bit from the record on their support slot and it wasn’t overly memorable at the time, but I was there for the Germans and the Brazilian tribe was just an added bonus. Now I’m geared up for a Sep’s show I’ll be more embracing of the newer material.

Once again the band are on a UK tour and yet again the “no Max and Igor no Sepultura” brigade are raising their heads from the woodwork like clockwork.

Max walked out on the band in 1996 – more than two decades ago. His brother followed in his footsteps ten years later, so it couldn’t have been all that bad. In a new interview online l saw last week, Max is still bitter about the split and wishes he’d kept the name. I’m still a bit curious how some one who leaves a band can lay claim to the name.

All this rubbish about it still can’t be the band if certain members or founding members are no longer in the band really frustrates me.

Last week heavy metal legends Judas Priest released probably their strongest record since Painkiller surfaced in 1990 to critical acclaim. From the five members who recorded Firepower only bass player Ian Hill is still in the band from the original 1960’s line up. From the line up that released the 1974 debut album Rocka Rolla three of the five are on the latest album. By the time I next see the band in an East Midlands field in August that three will be a pair with the recent announcement of guitarist Glen Tipton stepping down from live duties.

That’s one original member in Judas Priest, the same as Iron Maiden. Slayer, another band who suffer from this garbage, have half their original members the same as Metallica who don’t have the calls to quit based on band members, just plenty of people who don’t recognise anything released post Cliff, or depending on their age Jason.

Grind innovators Napalm Death have a new album on the horizon and like Sepultura it will feature not a single original member, but much like Firepower I’m sure that release (if it’s any good) will be lauded by the press and fans alike and many a blind eye will be turned regarding the line up.

Granted, Sepultura haven’t released an album of the calibre of Arise or Beneath the Remains during the Derrick Green era, but the Cleveland native has done more justice to those classic tracks in his stint with the band since his arrival. Having seeing Max Cavalera on stage several times in the past two decades doing some of his Sepultura history, Derrick does it much better.

Death To The Architects Of Heaven

And my weekend has already begun. That’s it. The alarms are of and there’s no work until 5am Monday. This time tomorrow my single day at Hammerfest should be well underway. A few bands will have been viewed and several beers sank and probably making inroads on the Hafan-y-Mor caravan parks stock of Jack Daniels.

This afternoon has been spent clearing more rubbish out of the mother in laws house and discovering Goatwhore, who coincidentally will be hitting the Hammerfest stage in pretty much 24 hours time of me writing this.

The NOLA quartet are a band that have evaded me since their inception back in 1997. I’ve seen the name in advertising bumff, but I’ve never taken time to listen to the band. The name alone just makes me think screeching black metal, even some of the imagery used on their albums turns me away.

I saw someone post in a friend’s Facebook group how good Sepultura were, but the touring package was in the wrong order as Goatwhore were head and shoulders above the main support band Obscura. I though I might as well give them a try and searched for them on Spotify and started listening to the latest release Vengeful Ascension and prepared myself for the ensuing disappointment.

Once again I was proved wrong. Essentially a thrash metal band with death and black metal influences and a huge slice of New Orleans style groove.

Trawling though their releases the cover to 2012’s Blood for the Master looks familiar but I wasn’t sure if I was getting the skull cover mixed up with Beastmilk’s Climax album. I have a sneaky feeling that I even have that album in my iPhone library.

Based on that hunch I had a look to see if I had actually seen the band live. After a bit of investigation I’m pretty surprised I haven’t crossed paths with them in the last half a dozen years or so. They’ve played Manchester three times in Sound Control and MOHO. They were on the same bill as Dying Fetus and a year later with Skeletonwitch. I’m pretty sure I had a ticket for the latter show, but never went.

Their debut Mancunian show was back in 2012 on a show that I’m pretty sure I went to, if I didn’t I’m kicking myself six years later on. Thrashers Havok and Angelus Apatrida were on the Long Live Heavy Metal Tour package completed by 3 Inches of Blood. I know I’ve seen Havok in Manchester at least once, but I don’t think I’ve seen the Spaniards in the city, so I’m guessing I missed that stellar line up.

Goatwhore are one of the two bands playing tomorrow I’ve not experienced live and I’m really looking forward to catching them live based on what I’ve been hearing today. They’ll definitely be getting much more of my attention in the weeks ahead and I foresee several Amazon purchases in the very near future.