I have an hour or so to kill before I have to head out of the house for errands (and inevitably a beer somewhere!) In the meantime then I’ll start watching Iron Maiden’s Death on the Road concert DVD filmed in front of a rabid German audience in Dortmund’s Westenfallenhalle back in 2003. Nearly fourteen years ago I caught this tour in Manchester and Birmingham. 

The DVD had been in the public domain since 2005 and I probably had it in my sweaty hands on or near it’s release date, but I’m pretty certain this is the first time it has seen the inside of my DVD player. It didn’t  take me long into opening track Wildest Dreams to remember why I’m not to keen on watching Maiden videos on my TV screen. It seems to be a case of we’ve got a load of cameras at our disposal so we’re going to use as much footage from each camera as often as we can. There are so many cuts that you don’t seem to get the full effect of the show and at times the chopping and changing feels a bit nauseous. 

The main reason for watching this today is due to the centenary of the start of the three month long Third Battle of Ypres or the Battle of Passchendaele. Somewhere in the region of a combined half a million lives were lost in the thirteen weeks it took the allied forces to gain five miles in the mud. 

I’ve visited a couple of war grave sites in years past located in Malta and Crete and they are such eerie places to be. The Maltese one especially seems like a million miles removed from the dusty roadside where you entered the site minutes before. From a pretty busting high street not too far from the islands capital Valletta, to an almost silent and sacred graveyard. 

I need to visit the National Arboretum just around the corner from the Bloodstock Festival site sometime, especially as it’s so close to home. I’d also like to pay my respects at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing and Tyne Cot cemetery, both in the Flanders region of Belgium. 

I’ve probably said it before, but so much of the historical things that interest me now have mainly come from my interest in heavy music, whether it’s the war inspired lyrics or Egyptian mythology offered up by Iron Maiden or the darker side of humanity that Slayer are so pertinent with. Most of my share of the bookcase in the house is a reflection of influences garnered from my musical exploits. 

I’d completely forgotten how reminiscent the start of Paschendale was on this tour to the more modern intro Metallica now use for One now that they seem to have veered away from the pyrotechnics. Since the tour to promote Dance of Death this song hasn’t been played much at all and the only two times I’ve seen it live we’re the two aforementioned dates in 2003. I know it would make a welcome addition to any setlist in the future if the band ever went through the motions of a best of tour. 

Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? 

      — Only the monstrous anger of the guns. 

      Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle 

Can patter out their hasty orisons. 

No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells; 

      Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,— 

The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; 

      And bugles calling for them from sad shires. 
What candles may be held to speed them all? 

      Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes 

Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes. 

      The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall; 

Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, 

And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

By Wilfred Owen



This evening I’m off to Birmingham to catch Sacred Reich on their current tour of the British Isles and Europe. It will be my fourth time seeing the band. I caught them twice last year at festivals in France and Holland. Prior to that my first experience of the band was in London 2012, so it’s been five years since their last incursion on British soil and a staggering 26 years since their last visit to Birmingham. 

Since their American Way tour back in 1991 Phil Rind has dragged his cohorts to these shores half a dozen times, but from the shows since ’91 they’ve only ventured outside of the capital twice to play Glasgow and Nottingham. When this European run was announced it was a surprise to see five British and Irish shows, so a rare chance to see the Arizonans outside of London. 

I think age and senility is rapidly catching up with me though. Looking back on previous Sacred Reich posts I was adamant that I’d featured the band twice already. I can only find a solitary post that was published shortly after last years Hellfest trip. In the previous post I even stated The American Way would be the first of two quick appearances for the band and I was sure I’d already scribbled about Independent. Unless I completely forgot to write it or post it or mistakenly deleted it there’s nothing else amongst these 435 pieces of ramblings. You watch it mysteriously appear moments after this has been published.  

My intention was to link the video to Independent to these words as it’s probably my favourite track of theirs, but as it’s the pearl anniversary of Ignorance I thought it’d be more appropriate to stick with the anniversary celebrations. I’ve not seen any set lists yet so I don’t know if it’s heavily in favour of the debut album or just a romp through their classic thrash tunes. 

In this money orientated world its refreshing to see bands not taking their fans for granted and making access to them only available to the richest percentage of their fan base. Prior to all club shows the whole band will be loitering around the merch stall offering autographs, selfies and handshakes to those who want them. I’m not really into that kind of thing, but I might shove a CD cover into a pocket and see what transpires later. I just know my Facebook timeline will be full of Sacred Reich “selfies” over the next week. 

I was really tempted to hop over a body of water to catch the tour again in Belfast this weekend or at the Dynamo Club the following weekend, but with Bloodstock and a few more shows on the horizon I thought one show would suffice. I know I’ll regret that come Friday morning. 

Slave To The Grind

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the urge to listen to the first two Skid Row relentlessly and during the entirety of this blog I’ve only posted about the band once. So in a change of pace from yesterday’s post here’s something still heavy, but very much removed from the evilness of Deicide. 

Skid Row and Guns ‘N’ Roses always used to go hand in hand together, so this post is going to be no different. Last week I posted how Appetite For Destruction was pretty much a perfect album as it celebrated thirty years. Unlike their touring partners back in the day, the New Jersey quintet managed to follow up their debut with an equally as strong sophomore offering. For me (and you know what people say about opinions) the dozen tracks on offer on the 1991 release has no weak links.  

Reading back the last Skid Row post from the dying days of December 2015, it came on the back of Tony Harnell departing the band and the internet flurry of Sebastian Bach returning to the fold. There were also rumours, or expectations, of an imminent global tour with the Gunners. So everyone was wrong on both accounts. 

The Not in this Lifetime tour is nearing its conclusion and Skid Row were not amongst the long list of opening acts during 130 worldwide performances on its nineteen month long trek. 

Harnell has been replaced with vocalist ZP Theart. Not really a household name, unless you are a DragonForce fan. South African ZP took over live duties and became a permanent addition to the band in January of this year. I’ve only seen a poorly recorded version of his first performance on YouTube and I wasn’t overly impressed, but I may be tempted to check out his inaugural British shows when they land here early in 2018.  

Released in 1991, Slave to the Grind would have been another college purchase and I know it was played to death at the time. The band had moved on a bit from the more glam orientated self titled release and were more of a straight ahead heavy metal band. There’s some really heavy stuff on this second record. Both albums have been heavily played in the twenty six years since they’ve been in my collection, but after those two I’ve hardly listened to anything else that has been released. 

Dead By Dawn

Time for some satanic death metal on this fine sunny afternoon. This mornings dank and gloomy weather was much more palatable for Glen Benton’s guttural roar, but I doubt my customers would’ve appreciated the rumblings of the now departed Hoffman brothers. 

The self titled debut album from 1990 was considered the second best selling death metal album by the sales tracking company SoundScan behind Morbid Angel’s Covenant album. Those figures didn’t start until 1991 though and there were some influential releases prior to that and most definitely some better selling albums since. 

I’ve only seen the band three times. The most recent one was last year as the closing band on the Altar stage at Hellfest. Before that I’d not seen them since Bradford in 1998. I should’ve seen them a few more times in the interim, but they were down to the band cancelling shows. One was a late cancellation of their Bloodstock appearance in 2012 and a club show I should’ve been attending was axed at short notice. I’m not sure when or where now – 2013 I think and Manchester or Birmingham no doubt. Their last UK show was London in 2014 and not a peep over here since. 

My first live experience was December 1992 on their Legion tour at the now defunct International II in Manchester. The touring package consisted of Cancer and the German version of Atrocity. I’m pretty sure I have the long sleeved shirt I brought that night bagged up in the loft, a Bluegrape original, not the best merchandising firm but their labels standard company at that time. The night was more memorable to me for two other things. Firstly the mass evacuation of the venue due to a bomb scare due to a suspicious package allegedly from the animal liberation front. 

Secondly it’s fondly remembered for the journey home. I hadn’t been driving long and the people I took assured me they knew the way there and back. This was the days before sat navs and smart phones. Surprisingly they didn’t know the way back and it felt like it took forever to get home and I ended up traversing some proper dodgy twisty and winding roads with snow covering done of the higher routes.  Knowing what I know now I went miles out of the way. 

The Deicide album was another album I received in promotional form for my fanzine at the time from Roadrunner Records. I’m pretty sure I also did a postal interview with the Glen at the same time. I need to look for all my old surviving issues and do something digitally with them for active purposes. For a death metal band from Florida – the death metal epicentre of the universe at the time – it’s no surprise to know it was recorded at Morrisound Studios under the guidance of Scott Burns. 

I gave the album a blast – loudly – in the early hours of Sunday morning when we came back from celebrating the wife’s birthday. The next door neighbours were also suitably inebriated and playing their techno dance music nonsense at volume so we gave them an gnarly death metal blast. I think we must’ve won that battle as they soon closed their window and departed. Oh how we chortled. 

Dead By Dawn is one of the lesser satanic tracks from the debut as it’s loosely about the original Evil Dead film. No promotional video for the track was made and this live version is from the When London Burns DVD from 2006. 

Out Ta Get Me

Besides today being my wife’s birthday (happy birthday wife of mine), thirty years ago saw the release of (in my opinion) one of the strongest debut albums ever released. From track one through to twelve there’s not a duff song in its 54 minute running time. 

There are odd songs, mainly the two biggest hits from the album, that I don’t really need to listen to for the billionth time, but I don’t think I’ve ever skipped a track when I’ve been in the mood to listen to it in its entirety. 

I’m pretty sure I somehow heard “second album” G N’ R Lies first. But I recall the day that I was introduced to Appetite For Destruction. 

I remember being in the field behind a friends house kicking a football about badly when a pair of the local metal heads with a much more glam metal leaning came around to loan my friend the slab of vinyl. I had myself a copy dubbed onto a TDK D-90 and I was hooked and the rest is history. 

I’ve always been comfortable with the hair metal genre sitting in my vinyl collection, even though at that time I was heavily into the heavy metal and thrash stuff. I’ve never owned a pair of cowboy boots, tight stonewashed jeans, a tasseled leather jacket or purchased an amount of flouncy multi coloured scarfs and eye liner has definitely never touched my face. But I could listen to Skid Row, Ratt, Cinderella or Poison all day long, and I often do. 

I occasionally wonder what expectations bands have when they get together in a parents basement or garage? In this day of manufactured chart bands the winner of The X Factor or whatever TV programme is expected to hit the top of the mountain in the singles chart, then ride the crest of a wave for a few months until the next big thing wins the following year. How could a bunch of twenty something’s write and record an album like this and three decades later have sold thirty million copies of their debut, and handle all of the attention? 

Most people in bands I know are chuffed to pieces to have a professional looking CD or piece of vinyl in their possession and hopefully perform on the same stage as a favourite band at some point, even if they are on that stage ten hours before the headliners step on and probably still in a state of slumber in a five star hotel miles away. A few thousand copies shifted is a pipe dream on day one, let alone thirty million. 

There’s no official video for this track and this live (and uncensored) version was recorded at the New York Ritz in 1988. 


I’ve been listening to From The Ashes of Eden on constant rotation since I managed to find it a few days ago.  Im guessing the Dutch band X-Tinxion will be a new name for most people, but if you have a spare hour and a Spotify account I highly recommend you give it a blast. 

I first came across the name when I saw a flyer for the Death Angel show happening at Rotterdam’s Baroeg in August. I’m fully aware of three of the four bands on the line up, but “X-Tinxion NL thrash” piqued my interest. Then I kind of forgot about them. 

Over the weekend at the Dynamo Metal Fest I noticed several shirts with the bands logo emblazoned across the front. Thinking they must be pretty popular in their native land I made a more concerted effort to check the band out. Assessing the festival from the comfort of my house, it appeared that all the members of the band were in attendance during the event.  

I’m starting to think that I’m a bit slow to the party for this Dordrecht outfit after a bit more research. Even though last years From The Ashes of Eden is their debut album they’ve been together for a staggering thirteen years and previously released a pair of EP’s in 2010 and 2015.  

Trawling Facebook for more information I was initially shocked to see front woman Monica Janssen celebrating five years and one month since her live debut with the band. She’s also in Downcast Collision – so another band I’ll have to check out.  I was expecting the band to have been together for three or four years, let alone the vocalist celebrating five. 

If you like your old school thrash metal intertwined with some modern Swedish death metal elements and a vocalist capable of switching from clean vocals to a growled delivery, very much influenced by Arch Enemy, then this could be a new discovery for you too. 

I’m off to track down a CD version of the debut album where Amalgamation is the opening track. I’ll also bee on the look out for a shirt and ultimately experiencing the band live. I’m not adverse to travelling to see bands and their native Holland is a country I’ve visited numerous times for gigs, so I think that will be my best route to see them on stage. 

Monday Is Cancelled

If I make it to Eindhoven by 7pm tonight then I have to say I’m pretty excited to catch another new band to me in the shape of Antwerp’s Toxic Shock. 

Sounds easy enough, but first of all I need a flight that leaves Manchester to the Netherlands on time. You’d think the easy option would be a flight direct to the cities facilities. Technically that is correct, but when that flight is way over budget and when I last looked it’s also full to alleged capacity. It would’ve been a Ryan Air flight so it’s probably littered with empty seats due to their customers refusing to pay an extortionate fee to sit together. Yeah, sure, they’re randomly selected. 

Instead I’ll be arriving into the country at their major airport hub Schiphol eighty miles away from where I need to be. Thankfully the train station is within the airport and services are extremely decent and reasonably priced. Plus I love the double decker trains they have on the continent. 

Then you’d think we’d have a room for two nights in the same city as the two shows we’re attending. Well I did, but something went wrong and it was cancelled erroneously. As there’s nothing suitable and reasonably priced locally we opted to stay at a pub twenty two miles away in Tilburg. At least the trains are pretty cheap and run late. 

When I saw the announcements for the pre party show I was pretty happy with Toxic Shock. I’ve been listening to them for years now and their Change from Reality album is alright. I didn’t know it was the band from Belgium we’d be seeing with the same name. Not the Germans I’d been listening to for ages who have actually split up! 

Now I have that piece of the puzzle I’ll have a quick listen on Spotify to them. Again easier said than done. No German band this time, but the music streaming site has lumped the Belgians with the American thrash band and yet another one with the same name who are no way metallic in any shape or form. Late on Wednesday evening  I finally got to listen to 2013’s Daily Demons release. 

They remind me a lot of the band I saw nearly a month ago, Insanity Alert. Maybe not as brash as the Austrians and the Belgians have a slightly more hardcore edge to their sound upon my first listen. If you like recent bands like Iron Reagan (who they did a split 7″ single with), Municipal Waste or Power Trip then you’ll probably show some admiration for them. I’m hoping they’re going to nail it in the Dynamo club tonight and kick off my eleven performances in 26 hours perfectly. If not there’s a bar and muntens to be spent.  

A lot of the Dutch venues I’ve visited seem to operate a token system to purchase drinks. Insert cash into a machine on the wall and walk away with plastic coins (muntens) and blindly spend them all. And repeat. It’s all good until you work out how much one coin costs and how many you spent on Jupiler. 

Monday is Cancelled is from the Iron Reagan split 7″ that was released in 2015.