The Sadist Nation

Gig wise this weekend has all gone to pot. I couldn’t get a power nap on Friday and I was in bed before 8pm, pretty much the same time that I should’ve been in Manchester viewing Black Spiders or locally at the Freebird watching Iron Maiden tribute band Iron Ed. 

Yesterday went pretty much along the same lines. A late finish at work then unable to get some sleep before I departed for Leeds. Another stumbling block was the fee for a hardcore show where I was only going to be see four or five bands. It was £35 in advance so I reckon closer to £40 on the door. 

The weekend in Norwich for Thrashersarus, in hindsight, was the better option – £15 for the weekend. I spent a while weighing up taking to the road, or rails, for today’s instalment. Yet again costs have made the decision for me. Train was going to cost me the best part of a hundred quid but on top of either option a hotel close to the venue was in excess of £100. Something cheaper by half was the other side of the city and the taxis I’ve had over the last two years there haven’t been cheap. 

So onto this evening. The only gig I’ve actually paid out money for is the Darkest Hour doss in Birmingham this evening. 

This Washington DC melodic death metal band have been going for over twenty years and released nine albums to date. I first heard the band when they were on a Victory Records sampler CD in 2003 with Freya. I only got that disc was due to Freya having Earth Crisis members within their ranks. The only two albums I’ve heard have been Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation – also from 2003 – and this years offering (and the award for strangest album title of 2017 goes to…) Godless Prophet and the Migrant Flora. 

They’ve played an absolute slew of British shows with the likes of Machine Head and Bleeding Through going right back to 2004, but this will be my first time seeing them. Five of those nine albums were released via Victory Records but it was at a time where the label seemed to be experimenting a bit too much in my eyes and distancing themselves from the hardcore sound that ultimately put them on the map.  

The biggest draw for tonight has to be one of Britain’s brightest lights in the death metal scene Venom Prison from South Wales. I think I’ll be on the train later with the last one home just before 11pm, but hopefully I’ll get a decent slice of Darkest Hour before I have to bid auf wiedersehen. 

The video for The Sadist Nation was originally on their 2003 album and at a time when they were a melting pot of all their influences. Pick it apart and you’ll hear some death metal, thrash and hardcore thrown together. 


Humanity’s Nightmare

The more I keep looking at that Sunday lineup at the Outbreak Festival the more I keep thinking to myself I need to be there. The final three bands on their own would be a worthy road trip as a stand alone show. Cro-Mags, Broken Teeth and London stalwarts Knuckledust sandwiched in between. 

Ray, Wema, Nic and Pierre forged their legacy back in North East London suburbs in 1996 and twenty one years later the same four guys – now definitely older and hopefully wiser – are still the respected flag bearers for the UK hardcore scene. 

Over the years I’ve seen them in excess of twenty times – not bad going as they’ve never played locally to me (unless I missed it). The majority of those shows were all in the mid to late 90’s. There was a long gap of nearly a decade until I caught up with them again in 2010 when they played Manchester with Sick of it All and Madball. In the seven years since I’ve not had the opportunity to see them perform. I think their lax approach towards touring has probably helped with their longevity. 

The first time I saw them as young whipper snappers was in Sheffield in 1996, I believe it was their first excursion outside of the nations capital. They opened a bill that also saw Unborn, Schmuck (who later became Canvas), Blood Green and Vengeance of Gaia play a feisty show, eventually filled with ill feeling at Morrisey’s Riverside in Sheffield.  

I knew the bass player of Blood Green – Foster, and got invited up to the Steel City for the gig. As I had a car I was tasked with picking up one of the bands from the bus station. It turned out to be the young Londoners, who’d made the journey up to South Yorkshire with all their gear on coach. 

They should of played the Rigger in Stoke on Trent in 2000 when I tried to arrange them and Freebase to play the venue the day before my wedding as a kind of unofficial stag do. There were problems on the motorway (nothing changes) for both bands, some members made it to the Potteries some didn’t. Needless to say the show never happened. 

I’ve seen them all over England at a time where the UK scene seemed to have a lot more camaraderie and in general felt like a much more welcoming place for people to attend. Almost all of those early bands disbanded at a similar time and new blood came through. More divisions and cliques seemed to appear and I just drifted away. I still enjoy the music but as an ageing guy I don’t necessarily enjoy the atmosphere generated at many hardcore shows that I’ve attended in the last half a dozen years or so. Crowd killing. What is that all about? 

A bit of a quick trivia question for those who’ve read this far. Can you name any other bands who’ve been going for a length of time with their original line up intact? I can think of one band with out researching it. When you do think of a band you’d be surprised how many people appear in the alumni section. 

Humanity’s Nightmare was released last year on their sixth album Songs of Sacrifice by their long time Dutch record label GSR. Well worth checking out. 

We Gotta Know

As much as I like the Cro-Mags, and considering I’ve not seen them many times on stage, I think I’m going to have to give them a swerve on Sunday at this years edition of the Outbreak Festival. They’ve now been bumped up to headliners as Turning Point had to pull the plug on all their European shows last week. 

I’ve only seen them live twice in all my time of gig going. The first time was in Holland where they headlined the European Hardcore Festival III in Eindhoven. I was lucky enough to attend the previous festival in 1999 with Stampin’ Ground. That year NYC’s Skahead closed the show.  The year after I blagged a space in the van with Freebase. 

The second time I saw them I think was in Birmingham, possibly at the Foundry. I’m not sure when this was at all. I believe they played the venue in 2001 and that was the last year I went there, so it must have been then, unless it was a different venue.  

They’ve been knocking around their native New York City as a band since 1981 and were one of the earliest bands to fuse together the cities burgeoning hardcore punk scene with the up and coming thrash metal movement. 

Their career has been quite a tumultuous affair. Frontman John Joseph quit then rejoined. An album was written then they split up. Harley Flanagan appeared to keep the flame burning, but after the band’s last album (2000’s Revenge), the strain was too much and tempers have been frayed ever since. 

Like a few bands that have gone before them in this blog there are currently two versions of the band doing the rounds. Saturday sees Joseph’s version rolling into the UK. This interpretation of the band have been together since 2008 with Joseph being backed up by guitarist AJ Novello from Leeway, Sick of it All’s Craig Setari on bass and Fun Lovin’ Criminals drummer Mackie Jayson. 

Ironically Flanagan’s hybrid of the band play in London mid May, I’m not sure who else is making up the numbers here, I’m guessing it’s the band who recorded the eponymous album with him last year. Too be honest I’ve not looked into that show all that much once I saw it was a Wednesday night and I’m rapidly running out of holidays at work. 

The thing putting me off seeing the bands in Leeds on consecutive evenings is the though of traversing the M62 four times in two days. It’s always a 90 mile run fraught with incidents and a horrendously long stretch of roadworks that feel like they’ve been there forever now and have easily overstayed their welcome. I’ve looked into lodgings somewhere within the Yorkshire city, but unless I’m prepared to pay a minimum of £140 for a single night that’s a non starter. 

You never know, I could change my mind when I get out of bed on Sunday morning, or friends I know in attendance might offer me a space. In the meantime I’m going to console myself with a few plays of their first trio of albums. 

We Gotta Know was featured on their 1986 debut The Age of Quarrel. It might sound familiar to some even if you’ve not heard the crossover original, as it’s been covered numerous times with the most well known probably being by Sepultura on their Under A Pale Grey Sky live album. 

Dissed And Dismissed

After my last two years attending the thrash shindig over in Norwich it’s been hard to completely blank it in favour of a trip to Leeds for some hardcore sounds. 

I was half tempted to attend the Outbreak Festival last year as we bailed on the Sunday of Thrashersarus but ended up heading to London to catch SNFU and Walls of Jericho. I’m glad we did in hindsight as headliners Terror had to cancel. 

Even though I’m not 100% committed to Outbreak yet, it is a line up that I’d really like to see. It’s been almost a decade since I last saw headliners Gorilla Biscuits. Title Fight, Freedom and Fury are a trio of bands I’m not overly familiar with, so I foresee a binge listening session on Spotify prior to Saturday. The rest of the line up is filled with up and coming British bands. 

The band I’m really interested in seeing on Saturday is Yonkers, New York band Breakdown. They are a band I was introduced by a pen pal from Queens NY. I had dozens of tapes in the early to mid 90’s with some cool 7″ releases and demos of established bands from the Big Apple alongside some of the new breed of bands. The Runnin’ Scared demo was one of the releases dubbed onto a cassette for me. 

They seemed to have split after a while, only to resurface in the mid 90’s (or their music at least) when the Blacklisted EP and the Plus Minus album surfaced with many of the songs that I first heard through the demo. Battle Hymns For An Angry Planet was released in 2000 and as far as I’m aware that was the last Breakdown album. 

As far as I’m aware Saturday will be the first time they’ve played in the United Kingdom and it’s a pretty rare European excursion in their almost thirty year, on off career. Yet another hardcore band playing Leeds as an exclusive. 

The track Dissed and Dismissed was originally released on the Runnin’ Scared tape back in 1989 and has surfaced on numerous compilation albums and bonus tracks on their own albums. The CD of the same name was released by German label Lost and Found in 1995, which, with that labels checkered history, was probably an unofficial release. 

KISS Tried To Kill Me

Twenty days and counting since I last saw an original band play live. I had plenty of opportunities to break the cycle, but I still haven’t bothered to see a band since the third day in April. Sitting in front of the TV and scrolling through my social media time line I’m massively regretting not making an effort to attend one of the trio of possible shows I had lined up last night. 

Since the Havok show I’ve only seen sixty minutes of an Iron Maiden tribute band. I’ve missed Vader with Immolation, Elm Street, Blood Red Throne and Cockoroch all before yesterday. 

Yesterday I was torn between three shows and obviously ended up at none. When the Integrity UK exclusive show in London was announced that was the one I wanted to be at most. It has to have been the best part of twenty years since my only time is seeing them live in Birmingham, even though they played a handful of shows here six years ago. As per usual Saturday was derailed by poor transport options getting home. 

The gig I’ve known about the longest was the punk gathering in Moseley, just outside of the Birmingham city centre. Discharge, Antisect, Deviated Instinct and Anti-System all on the same night. Quite a few people I know were there and are now regaling social media with how good the night was. My feeble excuse? Well nothing really. If I’d gone to bed earlier for a few hours straight from work I could’ve easily made it. 

When I decided to go and grab a few hours the easiest and cheapest of the three was some death metal in Manchester. Drive to Crewe, jump on a train and a five minute walk from the station I’d be at the Retro Bar handing over a new plastic five pound note. Last train home was just after eleven. Easy. I tried to go to get a power nap a few hours before I needed to depart, but I couldn’t settle so an hour later I was shuffling around the house. 

The wife and I did end up in a local watering hole, so not a complete wash out, but easily the fourth choice of the day. 

Next weekend sees another three day weekend for normal workers, I’m at work till noon on Saturday before I can ditch the tie. Next weeks options begin on Friday evening. 

I can stay local and head off out to see Iron Ed – a local Iron Maiden tribute band – at the Freebird. Black Spiders also play their last ever Manchester show on the same evening. 

Saturday sees a pair of great festivals kicking off for two days. Up in Leeds is the Outbreak Festival, two days of hardcore greatness. New York legends Gorilla Biscuits and a version of Cro-Mags headline the event. Meanwhile over in Norwich we have the trash metal shenanigans of the last ever Thrashersarus Festival. Onslaught bring proceedings to an end on Sunday. I could be tempted with the 400 mile round trip there on the Sunday – if I gain some confidence with my car and finally get the overdue MOT sorted this week. 

The only show I have a ticket for as I sit here and tap away is for Darkest Hour with support from the current buzz band Venom Prison in Birmingham on Sunday evening. 

I’ll post some stuff from some of the possible bands I could be seeing over the May Day bank holiday and today I’ll start with possibly the one that I’ll least likely attend. 

Sheffield band Black Spiders are calling it a day after nine years and two albums. I’ve seen them twice over the years. The first time was supporting Danzig in Wolverhampton in 2013 then again in 2015 at Hard Rock Hell. 

KISS Tried to Kill Me is lifted from the band’s debut album Sons of the North. 

Denim And Leather

Good morning and welcome back to this blog on what looks to be a sunny St. George’s day morning. 

Yes, you read that right. April 23rd is St. George’s day here in England, not that you’d have any idea it was if you sit in front of the TV, read some newspapers, listen to the radio and so far I’ve seen no mention of the day in any of the Facebook, Instagram or Twitter posts that I’ve seen in the last couple of hours.  

I’m not sure how the Welsh and Scots celebrate St David or St Andrew respectively, but the whole world seems to know when every one seems to find that little percentage of Irish DNA in them to help to celebrate St Patrick. 

George, the man, has links with Cappadocia in what is now central Turkey and Lydda in what was Palestine. His parents were both from Greek noble families and they both died when he was a teenager. 
He joined the Roman army and his veneration was instilled when in the year 303 Christian soldiers were to be rounded up and sacrificed to the Roman gods. George, as a much renowned soldier, objected to this and claimed to be a Christian. On April 23rd 303 George was executed by decapitation by the city walls of Nicomedia, what is now İzmit in Turkey.   

The slaying of Ascalon the dragon is a purely medieval romance story. The dragon seems to be more of an analogy for marauding armies of the time and George being the saviour. 

There seems to be a complete lack of recognition to the date as the whole concept of flying the cross of St George has been tarnished by the notoriety of football hooligans abroad following the national team since the 70’s and a rallying symbol for racist organisations at a similar time. Even now, and with the impending break from the European Union, the English flag seems even more derided as a racist symbol. 

To celebrate the day musically here’s something from Saxon, what many people view as the quintessential English heavy metal band. Denim and Leather is the closing track on the album of the same name and was released in 1981. The title is a reference to the unofficial uniform of the heavy metal army at the time. Spin on three decades I wonder what the modern equivalent would be? Hoodies and combats? Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. 

Can I Play With Madness

Well heading out to Manchester to catch the brutal death metal double header of Vader and Immolation tonight failed miserably. 

At one point today I was ahead of myself thanks to a distinct lack of parents taking their prima donna kids to the school just around the corner from their house. Shortly after that it took me a good ninety minutes to make four deliveries. That was the point I knew I’d be confined to the house. 

I got home just before 4pm, the gig didn’t start for at least another three hours or so. All fine and dandy if you have gainful employment that starts at a decent time of day. When I’ve already been up for a dozen hours with less than two hours before I had to get a train I had no time for a power nap. Yes, I’m getting old and decrepit! 

I’ve been a bear with a sore head as it is this evening – as my significant other can attest too – with out the added burden of a couple of train trips and some death metal thrown in to the mix. I’d just get frustrated, over tired and wouldn’t enjoy myself. And a knock on effect would be carrying over my dark mood into another day. 

As a consolation prize I’m giving Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album a spin. Today (or probably yesterday by the time anyone reads this) marked the twenty ninth anniversary of one of the band’s finest hours. 

By the time this rolled out in 1988 I’d been listening to them for a little while and already gathered their back catalogue. Seventh Son was the first release that I actually purchased myself as close to its release date as I could. I’m not going to go all egotistical and say I was first in line at Lotus Records, obviously as a fourteen year old I was probably in school on that particular Monday morning. For some reason though I’m thinking it still could have been the Easter holidays. 

I have it secreted I my mind that I snagged my copy of the 12″ picture disc vinyl, with the wall banner, and I can recall opening it and playing it at my grandparents house and they lived a good ten miles away and we always had to travel their on bus. I don’t know why things like that are lodged in my brain, but I have a fair few memories of them both surrounded by some of my musical landmarks. Having to swap buses just over half way in the town where Lotus Records, Mike Lloyds Music and Our Price was on my way there could have been a factor too. 

Can I Play With Madness was the debut single from the album and reached number three in the UK charts. When this came out you knew it wouldn’t be long until the album was in your sweaty palms. The video to this was filmed on location at Tintern Abbey on the Welsh side of the River Wye. It also features Monty Python man Graham Chapman as the unlucky teacher in what was to be one of his last TV appearances (he passed away in 1989). 

I don’t think the band ever went on chart flagship programme Top of the Pops to promote it and I distinctly remember the video being show, mainly because they cut a fair chunk off the end of it. It’s always the small things!

The glorious Derek Riggs single artwork was also the design on my very first Iron Maiden shirt. I might have it tucked away somewhere, but now it is more holes in ratio to material. 

Roll on May for some live Maiden worship.