Watch The Children Pray


Last nights ill fated Gorguts show went ahead after a string of mishaps between Belgium and Manchester. We arrived at Sound Control around 7:15, just as the first band should have been going on, perfect timing. This ended up being almost an hour before the bands had even reached the venue. Due to the storm ravaging the UK yesterday the four band touring party had been held up on the ferry for six hours, the crossing itself is generally an hour. That delay was further compounded by excessive bank holiday traffic and the inevitable motorway accidents. The show went off well with all bands playing ultimately shortened sets and going over curfew. Regrettably tonight’s show in Glasgow had to be cancelled thanks to a local moron smashing a window on the touring bus.

On the way back I gave XI, the latest release from Metal Church a spin in the car. I don’t know why, but they are a band that has seemingly passed me by – apart from the classic sophomore album The Dark.  Since their inception in 1980 they have released 11 studio albums, but I have never waited with anticipation for any release by them.

In that time though they’ve had two dozen members through their ranks and called it quits twice. Their history is a very muddled mess. Jumping forward to 2016 their latest album was recorded with Mike Howe on vocals for the first time in 23 years.

The band have had many ties with Metallica over the years. Drummer Lars Ulrich had an audition with a formative Metal Church line up. Ulrich and James Hetfield helped the band to get signed to their label at the time Elektra. John Marshall was their guitarist for a decade, he has also been Kirk Hammett’s guitar tech and replaced Hetfield twice when he was injured through a skateboarding accident and when he received burns on stage in Montreal. Jason Newstead’s first Metallica gig was supporting Metal Church in Reseda in 1986.

Famously they played London’s Marquee Club in 1990 and had a band called Vertigo opening for them. Apparently there were a few excited murmurings in the crowd when people noticed a small Danish flag protruding from the drum kit. The nine song Metallica set was a warm up show for an eight date European arena run.

I’ve only seen the band once, ten years ago at the Bloodstock Festival – their first appearance here since 1991. They are on a European tour in May which includes a solitary London date on a Tuesday evening, so for me that looks highly unlikely. Fortunately though they are playing the Dynamo Metal Festival in July, which I have a ticket for.


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The Line Always Snaps

In this modern world of sourcing music it makes things so much easier to listen to a new band or song for whatever reason you need, just like me now checking out Dysrhythmia – a band I have never heard of, let alone heard anything by them.

As music gets easier to listen to and for many much more accessible, it often takes the fun out of it. Bands will stream a full album on their website before release, usually leading to it being stuck on illegal sites for free. You can but the physical CD from Amazon and have delivered to your mobile device as an MP3 before you are up for breakfast and listen to it on your early morning commute to work on its day of release or search YouTube. There’s no wait or anticipation for things now.

Also it makes recording and releasing music easier for the unsuspecting fan base you are aiming for. Write it. Learn it. Record it and play around with it all through your PC then flood social media with it. There now seems to be far more quantity over quality than I can ever remember, which leads to you missing things.

As mentioned earlier I’m off to see Gorguts tonight. I thought I’d have a quick listen of Dysrhythmia and what I’m letting myself in for. What I heard isn’t what I expected.

As their name suggests it has a very disjointed rhythm throughout as the instrumental trio plough through a quite outstanding technical jazz metal amalgamation. It sounds like a less frenetic Atheist, mid era Voivod or Cynic to me, but knowing how disconnected I can be to things modern there’s probably a whole slew of bands doing this in 2016.

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing these guys perform later. Let’s hope the guy behind the mixing desk tonight is on top form, this is something I can imagine sounding horrible with a bad sound. And the look on the other people there who, like me, were expecting a straight ahead death metal band will be priceless.

Forgotten Arrows

 

It’s a bank holiday Monday here in the UK which means it will inevitably rain and I get a lie in, only problem being is that I’ve been awake since 6am as all the early work alarms weren’t turned of and the opening to Metallica’s Fuel has been on a loop for half an hour. At least I got a couple of hours extra in bed.

Later today in braving storm Katie and I’m taking in a death metal gig of international proportions. First band due on stage are Nero Di Marte from Bologna, Italy, followed by Philadelphians Dysrhythmia. I’ve not heard of either of those bands so a crash course Spotify session is due at some point today.

Psycroptic hailing from Tasmania are main support on this tour and are a band that I should have seen by now. They played Manchester at the tail end of last year with Luxembourg thrashers Scarred, but I never went as the venue had a ridiculously late curfew and I would have missed most of the bands I wanted to see.

That brings me neatly to Quebec’s long running technical death metal band Gorguts. They’ve been knocking around since 1989 and their first album Considered Dead from 1991 was another Roadrunner release that I was sent for review. After they released The Erosion of Sanity album a few years later they were dropped by Roadrunner and went on a half decade hiatus.

This also coincided with the fact that I drifted away from death metal and started listening to more hardcore punk and its many sub genres. Once I had a mode of transport that was reliable I was hooked on the enjoyment and excitement of the live show. More of the hardcore bands I listened to were playing live more often so their shows took my cash and thrash and death metal gigs seemed few and far between. Now it’s more like a complete 360° turn. I still like the hardcore music, but I’m not getting enjoyment from the vast majority of shows due to the bizarre crowd interaction and dancing – in its loosest term.

Anyway, back to Gorguts. After the hiatus two more albums were released, but the band split in 2005 after drummer Steve MacDonald committed suicide.

I actually thought they’d split up way before that anyway so when I came across Colored Sands whilst trawling my newly installed Spotify app I thought it was from the 90’s. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was a new release from 2013. I really liked what I was hearing and eventually went back to explore the earlier albums. Colored Sands is still a death metal album, but compared to their Roadrunner output it is much more progressive and experimental than what got them signed over 20 years ago.

As with the other three bands in this package I’ve never seen Gorguts. They played a pair of shows here in 2012, but the only other UK show I can find according to SetlistFM is way back in 1994 at Derby’s Werehouse. There must have been more here as just playing Derby is odd or it’s an erroneous entry. Either way, I’ll be seeing them just after 9:30 tonight.


Live Arena 2016.13

After a quiet few weeks the next fortnight gets rather hectic, on paper anyway. 

Monday – Manchester, Sound Control

First up the closest show to home, Quebec death metal veterans Gorguts on a rare UK visit. Tasmanian devils Psycroptic are in tow. 
  

Friday – Toronto, The Rivoli

Sticking with the Canadian theme, I’m hoping to catch some of the action in the Wacken Metal Battle. Basically a battle of the bands to see what up and coming talents get to play the legendary German festival. 

  

Saturday – Toronto, Hard Luck Bar 

or Velvet Underground

We have a choice of three shows tonight, but these two are currently head to head. It’s either French death metal band Gorod at the Hard Luck Bar or home town hardcore heroes No Warning. Watch this space! 

   
 

Sunday – Toronto, Air Canada Centre

And the reason we’re travelling nearly 3,500 miles one way – Iron Maiden. No need to say any more. 

  

The Death March

Around this time next Sunday myself and two friends should be ensconced inside the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs having partaken in our VIP Trooper beers and spent too many dollars on merchandise.

Opening up for Iron Maiden on the entirety of their Book of Souls world tour is little known London band The Raven Age. As I’ve never heard anything by this young five piece, so I thought I’d see what they had on offer via Spotify and I am currently listening to their self titled EP released almost two years ago now.

Their own websites describes them as a band that combines contemporary heavy music with powerful melodic vocals to create a dramatic and unique sound. From listening to the 18 minutes currently on offer I’d agree with part of that statement. Unique? Not at all. They come across more like the cleanly sung parts of later era Trivium or very similar to Bullet For My Valentine. They do appear to be very competent though and I will most definitely be checking the band out before next weeks main course.

New Noise

Drum roll please….(If you can’t already tell from the title and photo above)

The winning gig that was graced by my presence was… Refused.

Once again another stunning performance by the Umeå quintet with one of punk rocks most charismatic frontmen Dennis Lyxzén leading from the front, in his now trademark tight pants and jacket. His yo-yo like tricks with his microphone really are something to behold.

During the superb Rather Be Dead he ventured through the sold out crowd to the mixing desk without missing any of his lyrics. Opening track Elektra saw the beers flying high through the air and there was no let up in the ensuing 80 minutes. Yet again their notorious debut UK show in Stoke was greeted by jeers, but if you were there two decades ago you couldn’t disagree with Dennis on the abysmal crowd that night.

Penultimate track of the night, New Noise, is the bands anthem and the sing along volume was cranked up several more notches before proceedings were brought to an end with Tannhäuser / Derivè.

The Swedes are playing a few UK festivals later in the year, so hopefully I can catch them again this year.

The Prisoner

The Number of the Beast is a term used in Chapter 13 in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. According to that story the number of the beast is 666.

Or it could well be the breakthrough album released on this day in 1982 by British heavyweights Iron Maiden and the debut release for the band with Bruce Dickinson at the helm. This album is an essential release for anyone getting into the heavy metal scene, even now 34 years later.

This was the bands first album to reach the number 1 slot on the UK album chart and was again wrapped in another stunning piece of Derek Riggs artwork, this and it’s title gained the band a bit of notoriety in the United States for being satanists and lead to their releases being burnt in public by religious zealots, or later smashed as they feared inhaling the blasphemous fumes.

I don’t really need an excuse to post Maiden videos and as I see them in roughly 288 hours I’m in a pre gig binge listening session.

Hallowed Be Thy Name, Run To The Hills and The Number Of The Beast, with Barry Clayton’s spoken intro, are all firm fan favourites and still in the bands live set on a regular basis. Two of those tracks along with Children Of The Damned are currently ensconced in their current Book Of Souls tour.

Like everything else with me, my favourite songs chop and change daily, and my current favourite track from the album is The Prisoner inspired by the psychological spy drama of the same name, and the first of two songs inspired by the show. During the Hammerfest weekend we were about four miles away from Portmeirion where the series was filmed. We were going to visit, but real life got in the way.

This live version of The Prisoner is taken from their live video and CD combo Maiden England recorded at Birmingham’s NEC Arena on my birthday – November 28th – in 1988