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.

Barbara The Witch

So much stuff to listen to and seemingly so little time! Tomorrow is my last day at work before an elongated weekend, which sees me driving about 400 miles for an impressive ten bands or so over two gigs.

First up sees our annual pilgrimage to Cymru for this years Hammerfest. This year marks the festivals tenth anniversary. It’s a shame the line up didn’t offer something a bit more remarkable for its decade of existence. For that reason I’m only going for the Friday bands. Four of which are stopping off on their UK trek, so hardly something exciting or exclusive to make people travel.

Having said that though I’ll get to see at least seven decent bands and all for a measly ten quid. There isn’t a band on Friday’s line up that I would pay to see where a ten pound note would gain me entry to their show. The four band Sepultura tour would set me back £25. Ex Iron Maiden frontman Blaze Bayley is another £15 minimum. Last year when I saw Acid Reign who have just been added to Friday’s proceedings cost me £17. So yes, I’d say £10 is an absolute steal.

The band I want to see most though takes to the second stage around 9pm and is one of two bands playing that I’ve never seen live before. All the way from Norway is highly melodic thrash band Critical Solution, who will take to a British stage for the first time in almost five years, and possibly only their second ever show on this lump of rock.

Needless to say I’ve been brushing up on my horror thrash (a term I saw in an advert for their last album) quite a lot lately. I’m an avid King Diamond fan and amongst their nod to bands like Metallica and Maiden, there’s a definite influence there from the Great Dane.

They both like a concept album and have multiple characters running throughout the album. Christer Slettebø doesn’t have the falsetto range that King has, but that might make the latest album, Barbara the Witch, slightly more accessible to metal heads than hearing the shrill vocal delivery on something like Abigail.

They’re a band I’ve been listening to for quite a few years now, probably just prior to their second album Sleepwalker which was released in 2015, and easily one of the main reasons I’ll be driving for nearly three hours on Friday through the winding and often picturesque country roads of North Wales.

Quicksand Jesus

Last night didn’t see me in Birmingham for Suicidal Angels which would have been my forth show in six days, but missing that forth hurdle still leaves me with plenty to look forward to for the remainder of March.

The two shows I attended over the evenings of Friday and Saturday were both superb. Obituary never fail to impress and they were ably supported by Californian thrashers Exmortus, who were fantastic and it’s nice to see a support act afforded a decent amount of time on stage. They played for close on 50 minutes, but the headliners only did an hour or so, but with death metal that’s all you need!

A long evening in Manchester on Saturday began at 5pm with Maltese death metal band Bound to Prevail, a band I’d never heard of before I saw them and they were very impressive. Brazilian female thrash trio Nervosa were stunning yet again but the icing on the cake was a 60 minute death metal masterclass from Suffocation. Absolutely brutal stuff and they gave Obituary a run for their money 24 hours earlier, and might have just edged it over their southern counterparts. Nobody was following that blistering performance and we left before headliners Venom, Inc set foot on the Rebellion stage.

I have nothing before Friday’s annual pilgrimage to North Wales but I’m partially tempted with yet another jaunt to Manchester to see Skid Row with yet another frontman. I don’t need an excuse to give the bands first two albums a blast whether a show is on the horizon or not. My only issues are the vocalist the price tag.

Ex-Dragonforce vocalist ZP Theart is now filling the shoes recently (well I say recent, almost three years ago now) vacated by Tony Harnell. I wasn’t too impressed with Theart’s vocals in Dragonforce, a bit to high pitched for my liking, but it was also a band I had no great affinity with either.

Watching a few clips on YouTube from the bands recent Belfast show he sounds alright, but my wife who was doing something else in the room asked if I was listening to a tribute band! And that’s where the price comes into play.

I’d essentially be paying north of £25 to see them and I fully get the tribute act comparisons. I begrudgingly shelled out £25 for Saturday’s entertainment. I balked a bit at the price, then I thought it through logically and I was able to see five bands from five different countries. Three I’ve never seen before and the other two only a few times each. For a fiver a band it was good value.

I’ll see how I feel on Wednesday. Cannibal Corpse play Manchester on The same night too so I could pop up at the Ritz. I the meantime here’s Quicksand Jesus from Skid Row’s sophomore release Slave to the Grind.

Blind, Torture, Kill

Well I’ve had my power nap and I’m on a train again for night two of some iconic death metal. Hailing from a generally more grim climate compared to the sunny temperatures afforded to last nights band, ever present guitarist Terrance Hobbs’ Suffocation call New York State home. And they have been yet another huge omission in the blog over the last couple of years.

Suffocation release their first album, Effigy of the Forgotten, back in 1991. Released by Roadrunner, recorded in Morrisound Studios, Tampa with artwork by Dan Seagrave. What more does an iconic 90’s death metal release need? I’m pretty sure I was sent a promo tape of 1993’s follow up effort Breeding the Spawn through the mail by their label when I was first doing my printed fanzine way back when.

For a band I’ve been loosely following for over a quarter of a century tonight will only be my third time seeing them. All three shows have been in Manchester and the first was in 2013 with Havok supporting, and they’ve all come at three year intervals. I missed them at Bloodstock 2010, from memory I think they were first band in at an ungodly hour and I like my bed too much to have made it there so early.

Their latest album …Of the Dark Light was released last year with ever presents Hobbs and Frank Mullen in front of the microphone, but Frank doesn’t like to tour too far away from home now and live vocal duties are usually passed to someone else. I’m not sure who is fronting for this tour, but in the past we’ve had Dying Fetus and Decrepit Birth growlers taking the helm.

The NYDM sound, and most of the death metal bands from the North Eastern part of the States always seemed to have a much more grittier sound then their southern counterparts. Both branches were ridiculously technical, but the NY bands (intentionally?) seemed to have some of the CBGB’s hardcore fire in their belly and didn’t seem quite as polished.

I’m nearly in Manchester now, so I’m at the mercy of 4G to get this loaded. Blind, Torture, Kill is taken from the bands self titled release from 2006.