Dream Warriors

   
Through various reasons I’m staying home tonight rather than heading to the Amon Amarth show tonight – that can edit to Saturday, so you lucky people get to have a third Halloween related instalment to finish off October 31st. 

This track by Dokken was an easy one for me to pick, but not necessarily an obvious choice to post. Heavy metal and the horror genre go hand in hand and it feels like it’s been that way for eternity. Maybe the metal community is an already made fan base for horror films? A lot of bands use the occult as themes and imagery so why wouldn’t a metal head like something The Omen?  

I reckon I could fill this blog on an almost daily basis of random words for a year just with songs featured in films or their soundtracks. There are so many I could use and a lot that aren’t exactly obvious choices, Saraya, Romeos Daughter and Dangerous Toys are just three that you wouldn’t expect to hear during a horror flick. 

The metal and horror film highway isn’t just one way traffic either. If I had the time today I’d probably just chill in front of the TV armed with Trick Or Treat and Strangeland on DVD which have significant roles for Gene Simmons, Ozzy Osbourne and Dee Snider rather than just a brief walk on cameo. Then again I might just binge watch the Elm Street films. It’s been such a long time since I watched any of the first six films, but I can easily say the same for the Jason Voorhees and Pinhead franchises. A Christmas time project maybe?   
  

Dream Warriors is the theme song from the third instalment of the Nightmare On Elm Street films, released in theatres in 1987. The song is also featured on Dokken’s fourth album Back For The Attack released in the same year. I’ve got a soft spot for this band and I’m very confident they will be featured again in the not to distant future. 

May the power of Don Dokken and George Lynch compel you…

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Ghost Busters

  

If you can’t beat them you might as well join them!!

As predicted, national and local radio got into the “spirit” of Hallowe’en by playing spectacularly spooky songs at regular intervals. I’m pretty sure the combination of radio stations I listen to in my van have to share the same disc as it only appeared to be 1962’s Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett – a song once banned by the BBC for over a decade during the 60’s for being too morbid, Michael Jackson’s Thriller or Ghostbusters by the one hit wonder Ray Parker Jr. 

Released in 1984 as the theme tune for the first film of the Ghostbusters franchise, it peaked at number two for three weeks in September of that year on the UK singles Top 40 chart, kept off the summit by I Just Called to Say I Love You. 

It’s  been covered by numerous artists over the years, but the glaring omission from the songs Wikipedia entry is from Preston thrashers Xentrix. Even though I’ve possessed a copy of the original song at some point in time – I don’t think I have now though – this cover is the only version I own and play on any kind of regular basis. 

  

Originally released in 1990 the single gained some notoriety thanks to the  above original art work that had to be withdrawn due to copyright infringement. The song featured prominently in the bands live set in one way or another up until the end of 2014. During their last run with Acid Reign last year the song was omitted, despite numerous chants from the crowds. 

Talking of Xentrix, when they played last year they asked people to stay behind in the venue for a few minutes to hear a track from their newly recorded album. That was October 2015, since then and with zero explanation, the album hasn’t surfaced and the band seem to have disappeared off the face of the planet. Maybe one day we’ll get to hear album number five. The track I heard in Manchester sounded great, as did the songs thrown into their set,  so it’d be a shame that it never saw the light of day, even posthumously via some cried funding scheme if that’s the case. 

Halloween

  

October 31st marks the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain which marks the ending of the harvest season and the beginning of the “darker half” of the year. 

The Christianised version is what we know as Hallowe’en – a festival for remembering the dead – which precedes All Saints’ Day and finishes with a day commemorating the faithful departed, usually relatives (All Souls’ Day). 

Like many festivals with religious connotations it has been “hijacked” and commercialised into something much more different than it was intended to be. Now people are out on the towns dressed as ghouls, zombies and weirdly Disney characters and paying over the odds to get into clubs with an abundance of spewing smoke machines and cobwebs, just to drink spookily named and coloured cocktails and dance the night away to “scary” songs. Hallowe’en and Mischief Night now feel like they are dragged out over a week or more depending on when the 31st falls. 

We’ve been in the States around this time of year a few times now, and even spent time in the horror attractions at Universal Studios. We’ve seen how big a deal it is over there and over the last decade or so it’s influences on UK shores has grown exponentially. I can’t remember exactly when the supermarkets here had an aisle dedicated to today, but I can remember when it never caused a blip in their store, apart from a much larger pile of pumpkins – the only decorations I can recall seeing as a kid. 

For a dyed in a he wool metal fan it seems all very perplexing that the straight laced people we might work with week in week out all of a sudden joins our clan, and gets an interest in fake blood, horror films, wearing black head to toe and having that three day love affair with reanimated dead bodies. By the Monday after All Hallows’ Eve it’s a case of “can we have our sub culture back now please, you’re embarrassing us”, as people and venues now move onto planning their overpriced Christmas and New Year events. 

So happy Hallowe’en and what better band is there to “celebrate” it with that German band Helloween. You don’t know how hard it’s been to type this out and write Hallowe’en without using three E’s!!

Brotherhood Of The Snake

  

How fast does Sunday morning seem to come back around again? And this morning was with an bonus hour in bed thanks to the clocks going back with British summer time ending – an oxymoron if ever I saw one. Well these old bones are thoroughly aching this morning after almost twenty hours out of the house over the last two days catching a brace of Obituary, Exodus, Prong and King Parrot performances and some folk metal japery with Skyforger and Skiltron. I’m really not looking forward to my 3:40am alarm call tomorrow morning. 

When Monday rolls around though it’s another work day closer to another gig – if I can get myself motivated on a dank Monday evening in October (plus my football team are being shown on TV at the same time!). Tomorrow night is my first of two opportunities to catch Testament supporting Amon Amarth on their European jaunt. 

I finally got chance to listen to the full 46 minutes of Brotherhood of the Snake yesterday in the car down to the Second City. I’d heard some of the album in fits and starts whilst I was running errands on Friday, and it seemed a bit underwhelming – possibly due to me not being able to give it my full attention. 

In its first full run through it came across as a much more coherent release. The dual guitars riffs are there, the Atomic Clock is on form behind the drum kit and Chuck Billy’s guttural roars are supreme. I think I need to rediscover this albums two predecessors, as in comparison to this they felt like a hard slog to listen to. It doesn’t recapture the raw ferocity and youthful exuberance of The Legacy or The New Order, but it is a more refined incarnation for the Bay Area thrashers and another band still able to knock it out of the park 29 years after that stunning debut. 

As it stands on Sunday morning I’m 75/25 in favour of going tomorrow night, but as Monday unfolds and my mood deepens having to deal with pompous customers that will undoubtedly decrease. A second consecutive Saturday in Birmingham is looking much more likely. 

This lyric video is taken from their latest album, and no doubt there will be more Testament if, or when, I end up at Birmingham next weekend. 

 

  

Don’t Care

  

The icing on top of this weekends extreme metal cake is by way of Tampa Bay and the mighty death metal God fathers Obituary. 

By the time this run has come to an end (and assuming Setlist FM is accurate resource) the band will be agonisingly one performance short of a half century of shows in the United Kingdom. For a band I’ve been listening to since Roadrunner sent my fanzine at the time a promo cassette of Slowly We Rot I’ve never taken the opportunity to see many of those UK shows. 

Obviously the shows around 1990, 1991 and 1992 would have been missed due to a lack of transport. I’m surprised I never took in the following World Demise tour at some point in 1994 when Pitchshifter shared a stage with them. 

After their hiatus the bulk of their British dates centred around London, with occasional shows in far flung areas like Glasgow and Newcastle upon Tyne – nice and easy for a Wednesday evening! 

My first, and second, experiences occurred upon the Bloodstock stage in 2010 and again four years later. My first indoor show was their roof raising performance in London’s Electric Ballroom last February. Also last year they were equally as devastating when they were part of the Deathcrusher package, pretty much twelve months to the day, where they blew headliners Carcass off the stage. 

Friday and Saturday will be my second and third aural and visual assault this year as they were a late replacement on the Dynamo Metal Festival bill. 

The core of the band – John and Donald Tardy along with Trevor Peres – has remained pretty stable since 1984. For a band as successful as Obituary in their given field it will still be odd to me to see the band themselves ambling on to the stage after Exodus, setting up most of their own gear then (fingers crossed) launch into a full throttle version of Redneck Stomp. Before frontman John joins in, wearing what should be his trademark long sleeved tee shirt and shorts – regardless of the exterior weather conditions. 

For a band with song titles like Chopped in Half, Internal Bleeding and Bloodsoaked, Don’t Care is a protest song about man made pollution harming the planet. Quite a departure from the usual gore obsessed lyrics, but horror on another level. See, death metal bands can carry a social political message. 

 

   

  

Blood In, Blood Out

  

Co-headlining the Battle of the Bays tour are thrash pioneers Exodus – one of my top bands in that genre – and probably my favourite death metal band and scene innovators Obituary. 

Earlier this year Californians Exodus hit British and Irish soil for a staggering seventeen shows. I can’t recall many other visiting bands playing so many venues on a tour for a long time. Towards the end of the run I read snippets of an interview with frontman Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza about a touring package that was hitting Europe in the fall. 

Usually if a band does some extensive UK touring the likelihood of that band returning here in the same year is slim to none. When mega packages like this get announced its just a quick scan through to see how many dates are in Germany and maybe, just maybe, a single solitary London date, probably on a Sunday or Monday. How refreshing that this tour is hitting five British cities. Obviously someone is going to be antsy as its not in their back yard, but I’ll take something closer to Stoke over London anytime. Manchester and Birmingham is just a delightful bonus for me. 

I judge packages like this on how many of the bands I’d pay to see at a stand alone show and how far I’d consider travelling. As I’ve travelled a significant amount of miles to see both headliners – and last year I saw both in London and already this year both in the Netherlands – I’d define it as a strong line up. Prong and opening band King Parrot are also bands I’d look at travelling for an hour or so to if our schedules allowed. 

That’s the same reason why I get annoyed when people moan about the price of something like this. Tickets for this cost £25 in advance by the time “service charges” have been loaded on, £5 more if you risk the door. Both headliners could do their own shows for a similar price. A Prong gig would be around the £20 mark and in the current climate King Parrot would be a tenner. That’s the best part of £80 on their own – £25 is an absolute steal. 

Or with Exodus, there’s always the No Holt No Exodus excuse. He’s being paid handsomely (I’d imagine) by Slayer and I’m sure some of those dollars will be ploughed back into the band he once was a roadie for and current longest serving member.  

So far I’ve included two Exodus tracks – one early classic and one from the Rob Dukes era. Now it’s time to view something much more up to date. Released in 2014 here’s the title track of the album Blood In, Blood Out – a majestic return to form from these Richmond veterans who are fast approaching their fourth decade. 


  

Melnás Buras

  

As an added bonus after the Battle of the Bays show at Manchester’s Academy 2 venue we get to indulge in a late night stumble up to the Rebellion Bar to catch some of the bands performing at the Viking Feast. This gig has now turned into an all night affair with five bands performing between 9pm and concluding at 2:30am Saturday. I’d imagine at some point it was going to be a regular timed show, but the lure of Exodus and Obituary would have had some impact. Before the bands those who paid a fiver extra for VIP get to indulge in an all you can eat hog roast. So tempted myself. 

The headliners Skyforger are due to hit the stage at 1am. What state their audience will be in and what numbers are going to be there will be very intriguing to witness. As far as I’m aware this will be only their second appearance in this country, their first being in London back in 2008 and to my knowledge the first Latvian band I’ve encountered! 

Yet another band I don’t know anything from, so a little research reveals that they are of the folk metal persuasion. If I’d have to have guessed a genre then that would of been it. They released their sixth album last year and as all the album titles and tracks are written in Latvian I’m guessing all the vocals are in their native tongue. 

Reading a bit more about the band they appear to have been steeped in controversy over the years. Their third album Pērkonkalve (Thunderforge) apparently featured some ancient symbols, one of those being the Latvian thunder cross, or Ugunskrusts. It’s a gammadion cross,or basically what we now refer to as a swastika. Even though that symbol has been in existence for over 11,000 years in the Hindi and Buddhist faiths and found in excavations of Neolithic sites, it has been hijacked by what it represented by the Nazi party from the 1920’s onwards. 

In its time the cross has had many uses all over the world. It was an aviation good luck charm and one was painted inside the nose cone of the Spirit of St. Louis monoplane. Author Rudyard Kipling used it as an emblem on his books. Denmark’s brewing company Carlsberg had it carved into stone elephants outside of their factory until it gained notoriety. It was the name and logo of two ice hockey teams along with a community in Ontario. Even on these shores the emblem has been used in a multitude of places. It was at one point during the First World War used by our own government on the stamps used for the British National War Savings Committee, and by the Boy Scouts as a badge of merit. 

Anyway back to Skyforger. Melnás Buras (or Black Sails) is about a plague that swept from central Asia via what we now call Turkey and into the Baltic states and Poland during the Great Northern War of 1700 to 1721. This twenty one year conflict was between a coalition force lead by eventual victors Russia against the Swedish Empire. One third of the Eastern Prussian population was killed off by plague or famine and lead to the demise of the Old Prussian nation and their traditions. 

One of the many things I’ve enjoyed from my love of music is discovering some fascinating historical events that I would never have looked into. As pointed out before, Iron Maiden’s Powerslave album got me hooked on Egyptology all those years ago. 

If you can understand the Latvian dialect and you’d like to hear more about Old Prussia track down the Senprūsija album from last year. It does what it says on the tin, Senprūsija – Old Prussia.