Miserable Failure 

  
Later today I’m hoping to be partaking in another Star & Garter sweat box meeting where I’ll be reunited with Iron Reagan in the Manchester venue for the second time in a little over 13 months. Assuming that I don’t have the expected post bank holiday chaos throwing a huge spanner in the works. 

Last August these Virginian crossover thrashers decimated the place with a half hour blast of noise to what seemed like a well over capacity room. On that day it was my second show of the day and by far the sweatiest with the most enthusiastic crowd – and quite a few who had the same idea. 

For a band that only formed in 2012 their fan base is much bigger than you’d expect. The majority of this is due to the pedigree of the other bands that Iron Reagan are assembled from. Even though they have two albums out via A389 and Relapse Records and a few EP’s they are very much a side project of Municipal Waste, Darkest Hour and Cannabis Corpse – who themselves are yet another off shoot of Municipal Waste. 

For a Manchester show I have little information on who else is playing and there generally seems to have been a lack of information out there. They do have that cult diehard following and Manchester appears to have a better reputation for attendances than most other UK cities, so hopefully the bank holiday hangover doesn’t detract from the general attendance. 

Miserable Failure is lifted from the most recent disc The Tyranny of Will released in 2014. Clocking in at a massive two minutes and fourteen seconds in length this is the second longest track on the record. Twenty four tracks all done and dusted in under thirty two minutes. Their on stage time might be short again but they will cram in more songs in the same amount of time that a prog rock band takes to play two songs. 

  

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Stigmata

   

My original plan was to write a few words about Californian industrial duo G.G.F.H. but I’ve not been able to find a video for them, just some audio rips. Expect something by them later in the year, let’s pencil in October 31st? 

I can’t really do a run of industrial metal and skip over Ministry. They’ve been featured once already in this blog, but with something from their new wave synth-pop era. In 1992 they hit the mainstream with their breakthrough album Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs to give the record its full title. 

They reinvented themselves between the new wave era and hitting the limelight and there were three previous albums that – in a gloating kind of way – I was listening to well before Psalm 69 hit the stores. They’re one of those bands though where I can’t really recall how I got into them. I’m thinking it was probably a recommendation from local industrial band Hatemonger who’s frontman I knew. 

It wasn’t until the 2000’s until I got to see the band live, from what I recall a pretty inebriated Al Jourgensen was on stage in blazing afternoon sunlight at the 2003 Download Festival. My next, and currently last, time seeing them was in 2008 on the Wolverhampton stop on their C U LaTour – touted as their final tour. I was one of many people who came away pretty disappointed from the show as the main bulk of the set was made up from more recent releases and we had to wait for the encore to get a pair of songs from Psalm 69 and The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste. 

I’ve had the live video In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up for more than a quarter of a century now, but it’s been such a long time since I last viewed it, mainly because it’s a VHS cassette and we have no video player in the house and I’m not sure if it surfaced on DVD at any point in the intervening years. I would have loved to have seen the band in their most dangerous heyday, ensconced behind the chain mail barrier between the band and their rabid audiences. My only two experiences have been rather lacklustre affairs, which is why I declined to see them a few weeks ago. 
  

Stigmata is taken from the band’s third album The Land of Rape and Honey their first with a more metal edge. The album title is lifted from the motto on a coffee mug seen in Canadian town Tisdale, Saskatchewan, who’s local agricultural heritage is based in rapeseed and honey.  

Triad

  

Today is a bank holiday in England – the last one for almost four months. No work, even though a high percentage of my customers are working today so it would have suited me to be in work, and it’ll prevent the chaos that I will be greeted with on Tuesday. 

So as my alarms usually go off from 3:40am that means today I can have a long lie in right? It’s just gone 7am and I’ve been up nearly an hour already, so a lie in of sorts. I haven’t got a great deal of things to do at this time of the day, I might take Ozymandias for a short walk – but first a little bit of me time. 

Carrying on with the industrial metal theme for a few more posts say hello to Nottingham oiks Pitchshifter. Formed in 1989 the original trio and their drum machine found a home on Peaceville Records for their debut album Industrial. 

Their next three releases were handled by Earache Records the label that Birmingham duo and their drum machine, better known as Godflesh, also called home. Both bands are considered to be innovators of this genre of music. 

Originally their dirge of down tuned guitars and programmed drum beats was a pretty bleak affair. In later years with the addition of a real breathing drummer and mainstream  attention they got much more melodic and eventually a lot of the metal influences dissipated and they were almost a drum and bass outfit. 

They’re a band I saw nowhere near enough over the years. My first encounter was at the Wheatsheaf here in Stoke in 1993. I remember them still having the drum machine when they played, but I can’t recall if anything from Desensitized – especially this track – was played live. The album surfaced in December of that year and I saw them in April, so maybe not. 

The last time I saw them was in Leeds during the annual Damnation Festival in 2008, their penultimate on stage performance. This was as part of a brief comeback, but they have been on hiatus for the last seven years. 

I did have a ticket to see them when they played second fiddle to Bad Religion in Manchester, but for various reasons I never made it. Hopefully there will be a chance in the future to see them as there are rumours of live shows early in 2018 which could mark the twentieth anniversary of Pitchshifter.com. Watch this space in 18 months time then.  

Desenstitized was still a harsh and dissonant affair and especially with tracks like Triad and (A Higher Form of) Killing they are still very menacing, but unlike its predecessor this album is much easier to listen to. A much improved and polished production helped with that though. 

This video looks remarkably similar to March of the Pigs by Nine Inch Nails, the band playing in a minimalistic white room and trashing their gear, but Mr. Reznor’s video was issued the following year. 

Truth Or Dare

  

As a Brit it is well within my portfolio to complain about the weather. Some people might not agree, but I consider my job to be semi

outdoors so I revel in cold and dry frosty mornings. Snow and ice I detest as a driver, rain is frustrating as I’m in and out of a vehicle on a regular basis and once I’m wet I stay wet. This blast of heat we are currently enduring is OK as long as I’m not working and being as sedentary as possible, as I’m not I really don’t enjoy this weather – it makes me grumpier than usual, mainly due to little sleep during the humid nights. 

Anyway, back to the music. 

When I wrote about Misery Loves Co. a few weeks back who were playing at Bloodstock (and thanks to roadworks I managed to miss), then there was the possibility of the Ministry show last weekend, I’ve wanted to post a batch of industrial noise that I have a penchant for. 

First up and hailing from Switzerland are the electro-industrial duo that consisted of Ane-H on vocals and programmer STR – collectively known as Swamp Terrorists. Not a name that will be familiar with many people I’m guessing – I certainly don’t know anyone else who knows of the band. 

When I was experimenting with the industrial scene on the back of Ministry and Nine Inch Nails I picked up a compilation CD entitled Terror – An Industrial Metal Compilation. Amongst the 15 tracks on offer were bands like Die Krupps, Godflesh, KMFDM and Einstürzende Neubauten. But the track that grabbed my attention over everything else was Braintrash from Swamp Terrorists. As the title of the album suggests it is music from the electronic industrial scene with that bit of a metal influence with guitar riffs intertwined with the rhythmic beats. 

I managed to get a local record shop to source me a copy of the band’s debut album Grim – Stroke – Disease released on Machinery Records. As it was an import I recall it costing more than it should have, but it was worth it. 

This was around the time that I was attempting to produce a very basic printed fanzine, and as I wanted to cover all of my eclectic bases I managed to get an interview back from the band. In the days before internet and me owning a computer it involved me typing up a set of questions, mailing them off to a band or record label then impatiently waiting for it to wing its way back to me. I think the band or label did me proud with a few extras and I think I had a couple of vinyl test presses in the return package. 

Somewhere littered around the house I have copies of most zines that I created – glue sticks and scissors all the way! – so I’m now intrigued to see what was said in an interview conducted through the mail more than 25 years ago. Well that’s my inquisitive side piqued now and too much time will be lost in the search for this most basic of fanzines. 

Reading up on Wikipedia there were a few releases after Combat Shock so that will be another chunk of time lost seeing if I can track down anything post 1994. They were only an entity for a decade with a combination of line iOS and they have long been dispatched to the EBM graveyard. 

Truth Or Dare is the lead off track from the album, and until half an hour ago I’d never seen this video. I just stuck their name into YouTube and just expected a few audio rips. An actual promotional video is an added bonus. When I get chance to fire up the PC this album and it’s follow ups Grow – Speed – Injection and Combat Shock will be getting an airing at excessive volume. 

Bring Out Your Dead

  

It’s the last bank holiday weekend in the UK until the Christmas festivities are up on us (Christmas mentioned in consecutive posts and its only August!) and as it’s usually a pretty dull and damp squib of a weekend I am (or more so was) tempted to have a drive down to London to catch Strung Out at the Camden Underworld. I’m saying drive as I’ve not looked yet, but undoubtedly there will be next to no public transport running to the north of this country much after 9pm which is rather unhelpful for a gig due to finish around 11pm. 

I adore their first two albums – Another Day in Paradise and Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues released in 1994 and 1996 respectively. I think I took a liking a bit more instantaneously to these guys over some other stuff on the Fat Wreck Chords rosta due to them incorporating a few heavy metal hooks into their primarily melodic punk sound. An added bonus for a transitioning metal head. 

The only time I’ve seen the band live are a brace shows back in January 1997 in Leeds and Birmingham with Diesel Boy – I think. I’m pretty sure they were amongst their first UK shows too. 

Three fifths of the band have been a constant since day one and they have released new music on a pretty regular basis since their formation in California’s Simi Valley back in 1989. They’ve played over here on regular intervals ever since but as I drifted away from the lighter pop punk side of things to a more brooding and heavier sub genre I’ve missed seeing them in the intervening 19 years. I was a “buying” fan up to their third album Twisted By Design and from the other five releases I think I’ve only partially listened to Blackhawks Over Los Angeles. 

As per usual the London show appears to be a one off appearance tagged on the end of their mainland European jaunt. From the online posters I’ve seen London and Norwich seem to have a date announced with free days either side. I’m hoping I don’t wake up on Tuesday morning to find out that they played Manchester or somewhere close the evening before when I do my time consuming overnight social media catch up prior to leaving for work. 
  

With the addition of the fur ball known as Ozymandias to the household and potentially gigs either side of Strung Out this 330 mile round trip will regrettably be put in the pipe dreams folder and unfortunately my presence around the house will be required. Family time and all that apparently. 

The most official video for this track seems to be a live version interspersed with snowboarding and stuff with a bit of a ropey sound. Instead here’s a fan made video for the song. As soon as I hear that distorted riff kicking in to start the song my hand immediately reaches for the volume control and crank it up several notches. It is such an ominous start to a song. 

Eyes Of A Stranger

  
 
Since my last (outdoor) festival of 2016 is now a long forgotten memory – it was only a week ago but it seems like so much longer – and my ageing and aching body has semi recovered its now time to get to work on this blog again and start to look forward to a slew of shows in the lead up to Christmas – all with a roof over my head!!

I’ve already done one since Bloodstock turned off the lights. Vektor in the intimate sweat box of Manchester’s Star & Garter were absolutely sublime for the second time in four days. It could so have easily been three, I decided against young British thrash upstarts Detoxen and regretfully Ministry. Both in Manchester on consecutive evenings. I say Ministry regretfully as I’ve since seen their set list and it included a lot of the earlier stuff I’d like to have witnessed again. Maybe next time?

My next gig is going to be Seattle prog metalers Queensryche, probably in Bilston – one of the more unlikely towns to host a metal show. The Robin 2 has had a fair few decent shows over the years, but I haven’t been here as much as I’d have liked. Usually the gigs I want to attend seem to be on a school night and they often have a later curfew than I’d like, or the bands are playing other shows marginally further away but seemingly much easier to get to rather than enduring the M6 southbound – my biggest concern for this, a southern show on a Friday! 

Their West Midlands appearance is one of three UK shows for the band, take London out of the equation and I’m 50 miles away from the remaining pair. Sheffield on the Saturday is a nice drive through parts of the Peak District during daylight hours, but those winding roads on cliff edges are a bit unnerving in the dark if you’ve not experienced them for a while and I’ve not been to the Steel City for a long time now. 

I’ve been a fan of Queensryche since I picked up Operation: Mindcrime maybe a year after its 1988 release. Since then it’s been a firm favourite of mine along with follow up album Empire. I remember buying the Operation: Livecrime box set when I was in college. I must have worn out the VHS cassette in the first few months, I just couldn’t get enough of it. I was so thankful when a reissue surfaced on a shiny DVD disc!
  

I’ve only seen the band half a dozen times over the years, the last couple of times with Geoff Tate were pretty painful if I’m being honest – the set lists were just filled with odd choices and with massive omissions to the show and generally an air of not really wanting to be there and just going through the motions – but we know how that ended. The “new guy” Todd La Torre has rejuvenated the band to no end. And for those fans who can let go of the past, he has most definitely reinvigorated the fan base. 

I’ve seen a review from a recent Swiss show. There was an air of disdain about a 14 song, 70 minute set. I’d guess that most of their shows before and after this UK run are due to be on festival stages where they’ve got 45 minutes to an hour, so there provably isn’t the necessity to rehearse for a two hour extravaganza for a handful of shows. I could be wrong though. Plus there’s the usual “why play this song, I much prefer this one” in the comments – a band with fourteen releases is never going to keep 100% of the crowd happy. 

Here’s a classic cut from the aforementioned Operation: Mindcrime release and one of those songs a band just can’t drop from a set list. Without looking in depth at the set lists available on the internet I don’t think there are many concerts goers that have gone home without hearing Eyes Of A Stranger in 27 years. It’d be interesting to know if the talk during band meetings ever considered the idea? 

  

Hardwired

  

So I was just sitting around on this fine Thursday evening,  showing little interest in the Olympics on the goggle  box and flicking through social media I start to turn my attention to a relatively early night. Then out of the blue the social media universe explodes, implodes and explodes a bit more. 

Metallica have finished their new album, their first in eight years. It will be released later this year.  There is a new track available to download and probably stream somewhere. Apple Store – take my wife’s 99p and give it to me immediately! 

Apparently Hardwired… To Self-Destruct will be available worldwide on November 18th (that deluxe box would make a neat birthday present 10 days later wife of mine!). Bringing release dates into line worldwide has been a good move for music buyers, no need to hunt down a foreign version months before your domestic version is issued. But as someone who’s been brought up on a Monday release Friday still takes a bit of getting used to though. 

Anyway, back on topic. The new album has a running time in the region of 80 minutes over two discs. The first track – Hardwired, here for your aural pleasure – is a sub four minute belter. With a total of 12 tracks there are going to be some tunes of an epic length. It’s going to be interesting to see if the currently unheard 76 minutes stands up to scrutiny next to superb releases in the last calendar year from Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax – the self confessed Big 4. 

After a few listens it still has that Death Magnetic vibe to it, but it just bombs along and is over before you know it without over staying its welcome. Easily one of the shortest album tracks since the Load / Reload era in the mid 90’s, I’d even hazard a guess that it’s the shortest song of theirs to be featured on an album. 

All we need now is some tour announcements. Fingers crossed they don’t plump for the festival circuit again. I wouldn’t mind a mini vacation to the States. Germany would be nice too. Maybe Italy?  Holland?

Enjoy.