Phantom Self

It’s Friday and today that means it’s Sepultura day!

I saw the band a bunch of times early last year when they supported Kreator and it’s been easily twelve months since I last listened to their Machine Messiah album. Surprisingly they played quite a bit from the record on their support slot and it wasn’t overly memorable at the time, but I was there for the Germans and the Brazilian tribe was just an added bonus. Now I’m geared up for a Sep’s show I’ll be more embracing of the newer material.

Once again the band are on a UK tour and yet again the “no Max and Igor no Sepultura” brigade are raising their heads from the woodwork like clockwork.

Max walked out on the band in 1996 – more than two decades ago. His brother followed in his footsteps ten years later, so it couldn’t have been all that bad. In a new interview online l saw last week, Max is still bitter about the split and wishes he’d kept the name. I’m still a bit curious how some one who leaves a band can lay claim to the name.

All this rubbish about it still can’t be the band if certain members or founding members are no longer in the band really frustrates me.

Last week heavy metal legends Judas Priest released probably their strongest record since Painkiller surfaced in 1990 to critical acclaim. From the five members who recorded Firepower only bass player Ian Hill is still in the band from the original 1960’s line up. From the line up that released the 1974 debut album Rocka Rolla three of the five are on the latest album. By the time I next see the band in an East Midlands field in August that three will be a pair with the recent announcement of guitarist Glen Tipton stepping down from live duties.

That’s one original member in Judas Priest, the same as Iron Maiden. Slayer, another band who suffer from this garbage, have half their original members the same as Metallica who don’t have the calls to quit based on band members, just plenty of people who don’t recognise anything released post Cliff, or depending on their age Jason.

Grind innovators Napalm Death have a new album on the horizon and like Sepultura it will feature not a single original member, but much like Firepower I’m sure that release (if it’s any good) will be lauded by the press and fans alike and many a blind eye will be turned regarding the line up.

Granted, Sepultura haven’t released an album of the calibre of Arise or Beneath the Remains during the Derrick Green era, but the Cleveland native has done more justice to those classic tracks in his stint with the band since his arrival. Having seeing Max Cavalera on stage several times in the past two decades doing some of his Sepultura history, Derrick does it much better.

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Barbara The Witch

So much stuff to listen to and seemingly so little time! Tomorrow is my last day at work before an elongated weekend, which sees me driving about 400 miles for an impressive ten bands or so over two gigs.

First up sees our annual pilgrimage to Cymru for this years Hammerfest. This year marks the festivals tenth anniversary. It’s a shame the line up didn’t offer something a bit more remarkable for its decade of existence. For that reason I’m only going for the Friday bands. Four of which are stopping off on their UK trek, so hardly something exciting or exclusive to make people travel.

Having said that though I’ll get to see at least seven decent bands and all for a measly ten quid. There isn’t a band on Friday’s line up that I would pay to see where a ten pound note would gain me entry to their show. The four band Sepultura tour would set me back £25. Ex Iron Maiden frontman Blaze Bayley is another £15 minimum. Last year when I saw Acid Reign who have just been added to Friday’s proceedings cost me £17. So yes, I’d say £10 is an absolute steal.

The band I want to see most though takes to the second stage around 9pm and is one of two bands playing that I’ve never seen live before. All the way from Norway is highly melodic thrash band Critical Solution, who will take to a British stage for the first time in almost five years, and possibly only their second ever show on this lump of rock.

Needless to say I’ve been brushing up on my horror thrash (a term I saw in an advert for their last album) quite a lot lately. I’m an avid King Diamond fan and amongst their nod to bands like Metallica and Maiden, there’s a definite influence there from the Great Dane.

They both like a concept album and have multiple characters running throughout the album. Christer Slettebø doesn’t have the falsetto range that King has, but that might make the latest album, Barbara the Witch, slightly more accessible to metal heads than hearing the shrill vocal delivery on something like Abigail.

They’re a band I’ve been listening to for quite a few years now, probably just prior to their second album Sleepwalker which was released in 2015, and easily one of the main reasons I’ll be driving for nearly three hours on Friday through the winding and often picturesque country roads of North Wales.

Black Star

Tonight sees my third consecutive evening at a gig, something I haven’t done for quite sometime and doesn’t my body know about it! Along with being laid up for the last week, I was now feeling a bit sore when I got out of bed this morning after standing around for nearly two and a half hours watching the Iron Maiden tribute band last night.

Besides Hi-On Maiden not playing anything from Killers, I still enjoyed their eclectic 22 song set. Nestled in between the expected fare we got treated to Judas Be My Guide and The Duellists, two tracks never played live by the band. They’re back in the city in the summer so no doubt I’ll be in attendance.

Tonight’s offering is a chunk of technical death metal all the way from Encino, Los Angeles. I’m not overly familiar with The Faceless at all and I stumbled over their most recent album In Becoming A Ghost at the end of last year.

They’ve released a trio of albums before In Becoming… which I’m yet to hear, so I hope they don’t play too much from those albums. I just saw their tour promotion popping up over the internet and from the artwork alone I thought that looks interesting. Having listened to the forty two minute album I fancied seeing them live and tonight’s Manchester show fitted in perfectly with my schedule. They remind of bands like Gorguts and Obscura with their progressive style tempo changes.

Delving a bit deeper into the band’s history they seem to be a bit on the unreliable side and have a trail of cancelled shows and tours in the past. I think a lot of people must have let out a huge sigh of relief when they posted a photo of them aboard a plane heading across the Atlantic.

They’ve played the UK quite s few times over the years, but before their opening show at Guilford on Thursday, it had been exactly five years since their last appearance over here. It’ll be something new and different and hopefully it’ll run to schedule better than my last two Mancunian shows.

Just as a brief side note, for anyone vaguely interested, I have had a few 120mm circular pieces of polycarbonate through my letter box in the last few weeks for my continued delve through every corner of Europe’s thrash metal scene and once I get the time to listen and write Spain, Finland, Israel, Greece, Germany and the Faroe Islands are now covered.

🇪🇸🇫🇮🇮🇱🇬🇷 🇩🇪 🇫🇴

Terror Vision

This time tomorrow I’ll be on a train (again) heading down to London (yet again) to catch the first ever British gig by Dr Living Dead!, the crossover thrash quartet from Sweden.

The masked band formed just over a decade ago in Stockholm and Dr Rad and Dr Toxic are the remaining “doctors” from the original incarnation. They haven’t been through an obscene amount of members, it just seems to have been the drum stool that has been the problem. Over the years doctors Ape, Dawn and New Drummer all preceded Dr Slam. A couple of those drummers have also served time with Dismember and Negative Self over the years.

The band’s fourth album was released in October last year and is another slab of Suicidal Tendencies and Slayer infused crossover thrash with a newly added dose of punk. The Suicidal comparisons, more so from their earlier output, and penchant for wearing bandannas, is always going to be lazily present, so it’s going to be interesting to see if the band feel more relevant and intense than the last few times I crossed paths with the Venice Beach innovators.

Most of today though I’ve been driving around at work, with a few Dr Living Dead! tracks thrown in for good measure, thinking to myself are there any bands that wear masks that I actually like?

Possibly the biggest mask wearing metal band are the eighteen legged Iowan’s Slipknot, who apart from an odd song here and there in their 23 year career I can do without. From Linköping, 125 miles down the E4, are fellow masked Swedes Ghost. Even though they are the current flavour of the month with the metal press I don’t like anything I’ve encountered by them.

“Mexican gangsters” turned grind band Brujeria, who I saw a trio of times last year, leave me bored. The bands associated with the Nu-Metal spectrum (Mushroom Head, Hollywood Undead, Insane Clown Posse) have never floated my boat either.

I’ve seen Gwar a single solitary time. Their live show was extremely entertaining but I don’t posses any of their fourteen albums, so I guess that’s a negative too. Another latex clad band are Eurovision winners Lordi, but I’m only aware of a couple of their songs.

Not really masked bands, more extravagant makeup, so for the purpose of this blog, the two bands I’ve probably listened to most from the “masked genre” in my library are KISS who I can tolerate and one of my favourite bands King Diamond, yet another Nordic offering. So in conclusion maybe not every band who wears a mask is all that bad, especially if they’re from Scandinavia!

I’m pretty gutted I’m missing Dutch death metal band Pestilence in Manchester, a band I’m yet to see live, but I’m very much looking forward to experienced Dr Rad and his crew. It’s going to be a hell of a long day – up at 4am for work, on a train twelve hours later and I might roll into bed by 2am Friday! – but I should be worth it. And I’m so glad I had the foresight to book Friday and Saturday off work.

Terror Vision is taken from last years Cosmic Conqueror album.

Minority Erazer

Twenty four hours ago I wound up my gigs for the first month of 2018. My tally was a disappointing three shows (actually more so two and a half!), but should’ve and could’ve been more, but there were some excellent performances throughout January.

Kicking off the month with the ever excellent Kreator was a tough act to follow, but yesterday Texans Power Trip proved once again why they are one of the best bands around at this moment in time. They are an opening band on Trivium’s European tour so I can guarantee a few things at a couple of their UK dates.

1) I’ll be there

2) I’ll be heading home early!

From openers Insanity Alert to my final band of the night Terror, this years Persistence Tour was a blast. Unsurprisingly Manchester upstarts got the first pit maelstrom of the evening – no surprise there. I’d be interested to know how they went down with the European crowds compared to their home fans. I’m still slightly miffed I had to miss Hatebreed, but needs must, and Hatebreed and Kreator were announced for Download last week. Fingers crossed the two bands along with Body Count, L7 and Powerflo all appear on the same day to justify buying a day ticket.

Moving into February the shortest month could see me beating last months tally before Sunday’s page gets turned in the diary. Saturday I’m hoping to catch The Faceless in Manchester. Earlier in the day Red Eye Revival play the city as part of an all dayer. The night before Iron Maiden tribute band Hi-On Maiden play just up the road.

Kicking off the trio of shows for me is another trip to the capital to see Dr Living Dead lay waste to the Underworld on their debut and only British show on this tour. They are supported by Swiss thrashers Comaniac and Rezet from Germany. You can see where this blog is heading for the next few days!

The Schleswig quartet have been featured previously I n this blog back in October 2016 when they opened up for Canadians Anvil. This time though I won’t be hot footing it from the venue as soon as the band have played.

Fifteen months ago I arrived at the Rebellion Club a few minutes before they were scheduled to go on. They were the only band I wanted to see and nearly missed the start due to some drunken patrons trying to get in and holding the line up. I saw my 40 minutes or so of the Germans and snagged my self a shirt then made the mile long walk back to Piccadilly station and I was back home by 10:30pm.

I can see myself doing that more regularly in the coming months. So many shows have been announced with, in my eyes, far superior supports than the headliners. Thankfully most of the shows aren’t overly expensive so missing a portion isn’t too much of a travesty.

Yesterday was a prime example. I saw five of the seven bands. Nearly two and a half hours of music for £30, £6 per band. I’m never going to see any of those bands for six quid. It was also slightly longer than my slew of Metallica and Maiden shows last year and at a fraction of the price.

Minority Erazer was released as a digital single back in August last year, nearly a year and a half after their latest album Reality Is A Lie came out. This track is also the opening number on last years EP You Asked For It, which I hope to pick up on CD on Thursday. Maybe it’ll find a place on the next Rezet record?

Possessed By Shredding Demons

shotgub2

My third visit on the European metal trip makes a stop at the continents fourth smallest country Liechtenstein 🇱🇮 (and possibly the hardest one to spell?) .  The 62 square mile Alpine principality is sandwiched in-between Austria and Switzerland.  In the FIFA rankings for European teams they’re also fourth from bottom there, having recently surpassed Malta.

When I looked up the country on the Metal Archives site it only threw up twelve bands from the country and Shotgun from Schaan were the only one to be listed as a thrash metal band.  I managed to find the bands only release to date on Spotify, but you need to look for Shotgun Blast on the streaming site.  I was pleasantly surprised with what I was hearing, retro thrash with a very Slayer and Exodus sound, one of the guitar riffs on Possessed by Shredding Demons could almost be something the late Jeff Hanneman could have written. 

With modern technology I had already contacted vocalist Bruno via Facebook and sent my Euros via PayPal for a physical copy of the CD within 24 hours of deciding to do this 55 band task.  I made the conscious decision to try and buy something from every band I want to include in this list, so this could take a while to complete.

I though this was the first band from Liechtenstein to be included in my iTunes library, even after reading the list of a dozen bands.  For Christmas my wife was more than generous enough to buy me an iMac as I got frustrated with the old and slow PC that I’ve been using for far too long.  This meant that my whole music library had to be switched from one computer to the other.  Thats a task I really despise as it’s so time consuming after I’ve switched machines.  I lose all my playlists and song counts and the transfer messes with a lot of the artwork.  Some of the artwork that iTunes replaces the correct stuff with is often hilarious too.  Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime II album was replaced with Wolf Eyes by Paul Winter, definitely something I’ve never heard of!

Any time I had spare between Christmas Day evening and up to last weekend was spent painstakingly going through how many thousands of artists and albums I have and replacing as much artwork as I could find had gone errant.  Twenty days on, and a week after I thought I’d got it all, I’m still seeing white gaps.

One of the bands I needed artwork for was an album called Griefshire by a gothic metal band called Elis (a substandard Nightwish clone) who I found out a few days ago were from Liechtenstein’s capital city Vaduz.  So Shotgun weren’t the first band I heard from the country, but I can safely say it was the first piece of mail that I received from there, and over the years I’ve received a lot of envelopes from many different countries.

Have a listen to these guys if you’re into the whole retro thrash revival thing.  All their music is readily available on Spotify, YouTube and if you like it get in touch with them via Facebook and put your money where your thrash metal loving mouth is and purchase the disc.  I hope the band get a break in the future as I’d love to get the chance to see the band live sometime so all I need to do now is persuade my wife that a holiday to Switzerland and the surrounding areas is a good idea.

 

Spill The Acid

For as long as I can remember I’ve based my musical acquisitions a lot on location. In my tape trading days I’d request something I wanted to hear and have the dubbed 90 minute tape filled with something seemingly more left field.

It’s weird how I remember this, but one of my earliest trades featured Helloween’s Walls of Jericho E.P. and an pre Abigail record from King Diamond. The rest of the tape included the 1987 demo Keep Fit, F**k More… by Death Power and I only requested that because it was from France, and one, if not the first, thing I had by a band from Europe’s third biggest country.

Ever since I’ve been intrigued in far flung places and their musical scenes. In the old paper fanzines I did I’d inevitably include a scene report or a band from a place most people couldn’t find on a map. I’d trawl the pen pal and advertising section of something like Metal Forces for the “weird” addresses. Now in the digital age if I see something pop up from somewhere that looks unexpected then I rarely pass it over. This way I’ve discovered amazing bands from Greece, Italy and Spain amongst others.

I think with me living on an island some of the fantastic European bands, whether they be hardcore or metal based, don’t get a following here unless it’s on a decent sized label with good distribution. On the mainland it seems different as a band in the Czech Republic for example can jump in their vehicle and in a matter of hours could be playing in Germany, Poland, Slovakia or Austria. If the same band wanted to play a gig in the UK it’s a long drive, a ferry then another drive or maybe four expensive flights. Unless they’re on a tour and are coming here for a number of days it’s not economically viable to head over here off their own back.

In light of my fondness for all things different I stared looking into other places that I have nothing from and last night I came up with the idea of posting something from every European country! It’s going to take a while to post something from all 55, and it’ll be an expensive experiment because of course I want a CD from as many regions as I can. Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube and the Metal Archives will also be invaluable.

If you Google a list of European sovereign states it’ll only give you 49. I’ve based my list on FIFA and UEFA’s idea of Europe. That way I can include the four countries that make up the United Kingdom and a couple of others that have representative teams qualifying for the next Euro tournament.

I want to keep as many of the 55 thrash metal, just to see how it translates over the various borders, but making a quick list last night that’s not going to be possible for some places and it might have to be a death metal or black metal outfit. Also many bands that pique my interest may not have a commercial release or a video readily available. I also foresee some tenuous connections for a few countries. My aim is 55 countries and 55 bands that aren’t established in the mainstream, but if some places make it hard to pick one there could be more bands (I’m looking at you Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Denmark in particular!)

So that’s the back ground done so on to the music. The band I’ve chosen to start the proceedings are Acid Force who hail from Banská Bystrica, pretty much slap bang in the middle of Slovakia. 🇸🇰

I was first made aware of these crossover thrashers when they were included on a list of the 100 new thrash metal albums that had been keeping the scene alive this century – or something like that, I can’t find the original list post at the moment. There were none of the big bands on there (Metallica, Slayer, Kreator etc) so it was mainly bands formed post 2000.

I have a thing for lists so I went through my library just out of curiosity to see how many of the century worth of albums I owned and it turned out to be not many. Every time I came across a band I hadn’t encountered it was a visit to the digital platforms to check them out. I loved what I was hearing from these guys on their Bandcamp page and I needed the CD. Three weekends ago my package from Slovakia arrived, the CD is great and the shirt (yes I had to buy another shirt) is something different to wear at gigs and impress people with regarding my global thrash metal knowledge.

Atrocity For The Lust was released back in March this year and can be sampled at their Bandcamp page . If you like it buy yourself a copy, Andrej is a great guy. Another band added to the long list of those I hope to catch on a stage one day!

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