Accelerated Mutation

Once again Iron Maiden were stunning last night in Manchester. Unusually for them they were a bit sloppy in places, but nothing to serious to detract from the overall ambiance of the evening. Tonight sees a change in direction and aggression though. 

A quarter of a century after the first Campaign for Musical Destruction tour featuring Napalm Death, Obituary and Dismember, international grindcore “super group” Lock Up are opening up proceedings. Since their inception in 1998 it’s always been a Shane Embury and friends project. Over the years members of Terrorizer, Criminal, Cradle of Filth, Nuclear Assault, Hypocrisy, At The Gates, Brutal Truth and Carcass have all been involved with the band in some way.  

 

I thought I’d seen them live before, a long time ago, but apparently tonight will be my first time. I had a suspicion I’d seen them in Stoke, but I think I’m confusing that with another band with a bassist that appeared with Brujeria – Divine Heresy. I was also pretty sure they’d played Bloodstock but that is a negative too. 

They played the ‘kin hell fest in Leeds in 2014 which I was at but unfortunately I was at the wrong day of the three. They played on Friday and I was only in attendance for the Sunday. 

Looking trough the setlist.fm site they’ve only performed six times prior to this run (again assuming it’s accurate and up to date). I surprised myself to see that I wasn’t at the 2009 edition of the Damnation festival where they played alongside Destruction and Life of Agony, two bands I’ll travel to see. Maybe it was the majority of that years line up that put me off?

They are another band that have passed me by over the last eighteen years. Their debut album came out in 1999 when I was being a bit more adult by arranging and saving for my wedding the year later. There’s a bleak period in my gig timeline where shows completely tailed off for a number of years and it was definitely more quality over quantity to my gigging and purchasing. 

Friends raved about how good the Demonization album released this year was so I checked it out via Spotify with some trepidation, I think I was expecting not to like it as I’ve never been a fan of Brutal Truth’s vocals and Kevin Sharp from said band is supplying the vocal barrage for the album and subsequent tour. I’m glad I gave it a go as I was suitably enthralled. It just means i now have to be in Birmingham and Manchester early to catch them as doors open. 

Accelerated Mutation is from the Necropolis Transparent album from 2011. 

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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. 

The Great Pretender

  

The last time I saw PAIN (as they like it stylised) on stage was back in 2008 at the then Manchester Carling Apollo when I caught the back end of their set when they were support to Nightwish on their Dark Passion Play tour. 

The Swedes have been back a handful of times since but mainly they’ve been confined to London. They’re not a band I follow too closely but as I was supposed to be off work and trains to and from Wolverhampton are pretty easy to negotiate I might have a jaunt into the Black Country, even though I’m now due back into work at 5am the following morning. 

PAIN is the industrial metal project and hobby from the mind of Peter Tägtgren who is also the sole member of the outfit, it’s just fleshed out with hired hands for the live arena. He is probably better known as front man of death metal band Hypocrisy and producer extraordinaire at Abyss Studios which he handily owns. Abyss, much like Swedish studio Sunlight in the late 80’s, has also been involved with a veritable who’s who of post 1995 Scandinavian metal. 

Latest album Coming Home was released in September a little over five years since their last release You Only Live Twice – where you can find The Great Pretender (which isn’t a cover of the Freddie Mercury song!). The gaps between PAIN releases are a bit random, but I’m guessing he’s a busy man. 


  

Lullaby

  

I’m on a train home from Manchester after attending the Anvil show where I didn’t even stop to catch a single note from Anvil! German thrashers Rezet with their 40 minute set were more than worthy enough for two hours on a train and the entry fee. 

Tomorrow I’m taking a trip to Liverpool’s Echo Arena with my wife to revel in what could have been a second consecutive evening of Canadian music. We’re off to see Nickelback put on one of the most competent arena shows that you will have the privilege to witness.  By this time tomorrow the curtain will have fallen on my fifth live Nickelback experience and I’m in no doubt that I’ll be on my way home in a happy frame of mind. 

You might have gathered from this blog that has been going for nearly I year now I prefer my music fast and loud – which is a crying shame for those not inducted into the way of Nickelback. It’s amazing how many people dislike the group with a passion – many verging on pure hatred –  but usually they’ve only heard two songs which happen to be their biggest. But delve deeper into some of the album tracks and boy can they knock out some spectacularly heavy stuff. 

They can pretty much write anything from either end of the spectrum. You have some bands who just seem to churn out ballad after power ballad, but have nothing extra to offer. When you could play a teary track like Lullaby, head straight into the short sharp punk blast of Flat On The Floor and seamlessly flow into a cover of Metallica’s Master of Puppets and round it all off with the song everyone loves to hate, Rockstar, where the band don’t even have to sing it as the majority of the fifteen thousand crowd in attendance will inevitably sing it word perfectly, then you know you are doing something right. 

They’re very much aware of the jokes that they are the butt of, but they take it all in their stride and often play upon it during their concerts. What’s the point of getting upset over it when you’ve sold over fifty million albums all around the globe and you can play arenas worldwide? Someone must like your music, otherwise there’s a warehouse somewhere near Vancouver with forty-nine  million compact discs stored inside. 

  

Lullaby is taken from the bands seventh release Here And Now. The album cover features a photograph of the steam clock located in the Gastown area of Vancouver. When we were there a fair few years ago now we must have taken (well I rather than we) dozens of photos of that clock. In the UK this track wasn’t released as a single and the video used on music channels over here was different to this heart wrenching version. This version has only been streamed a measly 61 million times on YouTube. 

Ultra Thrash

 

Opening up proceedings with the first half hour of music tonight are Catalan thrashers Crisix – a bit of a bittersweet moment for me regarding the opening acts on this tour. 

I’m so pleased to get to see Crisix live again after I saw them in their own backyard nearly two years ago opening for Tankard in Barcelona, and tonight I will be witnessing their fist appearance on a British stage. The opening slot on the tour is split between these guys for the first seventeen shows, after Brescia they give way to Canadian’s Mortillery who I really, really want to see again – more about that in the next few days. It’s a shame it wasn’t a five band package for all thirty shows. 

Originally called Crysys and formed back in 2008, they released their debut album The Menace in 2011 (the album where Ultra Thrash is taken from) under the Crisix moniker after they were legally forced to change name due to the Crysis computer game. 

Their third album From Blue to Black was released earlier this year and all three have been very solid and competent slabs of revivalist thrash metal. They’ve reminded me of Anthrax in the past, and this was compounded when I saw them perform I’m The Man live, and a band like Gama Bomb where they can thrash hard but still have an element of tongue in cheek fun mixed in. 

I’m on a train from Stoke just after 3pm down to London and I’ll be on a train home as the headliners stroll on to the small Underworld stage, but when there are bands of the quality of Crisix and Evil Invaders preceding them the extra effort and cash out lay is well worth it. 

Unlike many of their European thrash metal brethren Crisix don’t seem to have had the breaks or opportunities some have had, but I’m sure their time will come for one of Europe’s best kept secrets and the first Spanish band to feature in this blog. 
 http://youtu.be/uq8zQIP5sxY

Storytime

Apart from the three vocalists that Nightwish have recruited the Kitee band have been pretty stable musician wise since 2002.

Original vocalist Tarja was let go in 2005 due to her diva like behaviour. In 2007 Swedish singer Anette Olzon joined and so began the second period of Nightwish’s career. In a five year stint Olzon recorded two albums with the band, Dark Passion Play and Imaginaerum.

I saw Anette live with the band three times. First time was in Manchester in 2008, to me the vocals didn’t seem as strong and lacked some of the range her predecessor had. In August of the same year Olzon looked and sounded more confident in her roll whilst performing at Bloodstock.

This is the edited radio version of Storytime and can be found on 2011’s Imaginaerum.

Cult

Main tour support for Sepultura’s UK dates are Huddersfield natives Evile. For many people Evile were at the forefront of the resurgence of the UK thrash metal scene.

It feels like they’ve been around a lot longer than 11 years or so, but I have been watching the band live since they supported Onslaught and Xentrix in Bradford in 2006. If memory serves me right I think Testament were also originally due to play but cancelled.

During that time they’ve released some great albums, recorded their debut offering with Flemming Rasmussen – a name familiar to all Metallica fans! They’ve also had way too much bad luck at the same time. Bass player Mike Alexander died whilst on tour in Sweden in 2009.

Shortly after their fourth album Skull was released in 2013 guitarist Ol Drake quit the band. In September of that year the band were due to play special album release shows for Skull. Those shows finally happened two years later when their new guitarist was suitably bedded in. That release show happened seven weeks ago in the same venue where I’ll be seeing them tomorrow.

Cult is taken from 2011’s Five Serpent Teeth and has firmly become a live fan favourite.