Devour

This week should have been the calm after the storm, but rather than recuperating from a bank holiday of excess it turned out to be only a single solitary show. This week I’ve only got a four day week at work then a week of heavy metal debauchery begins. Touch wood, I should be off work for nine consecutive days with a pair of Iron Maiden shows, a double blast of the Napalm Death tour and possibly an evening with Chariot, Sodom or Memoriam slotted in. 

After a run of the testosterone fuelled hardcore tunes on the blog from last week, here’s a change in pace and style and possibly a bit controversial but it’s a band that I really like. Controversial in the way that Nickelback seem to be. They are another one of those State side radio friendly bands that have sold a shed load of albums but surprisingly no one seems to like them. 

Going back to our Hard Rock Cafe days Shinedown were one of those bands on heavy rotation on the cafes multiple screens. To my knowledge they hadn’t really dented the mainstream music magazines at home. The two videos that grabbed my attention at the time were both from The Sound of Madness release – Devour and the ballad Second Chance. 

And to use the word controversial yet again, I’m posting up a track by the band as I have the possibility to see the band four times over the next twenty or so days. They’re opening up for Iron Maiden on the current leg of the heavy metal behemoths European jaunt.  

In the States this Floridian band could command a headline performance of their own in arenas of a similar size, but on this side of the Atlantic they seem to be much more of a mid card jobber, which is unfortunate. 

I’ve seen them four times prior to possibly seeing them take to the stage before Maiden, it all depends on how the ale is flowing beforehand, but I am determined to see them at least once on this run of shows. None of the previous quartet of gigs have been headlining shows, which I know I need to rectify at some point. Three have been at festivals (Download and Hellfest) and the other was sandwiched between Alter Bridge and Halestorm at the Arena in Manchester. 

My biggest gripe with a Shinedown live performance though is frontman Brent Smith’s ramblings in between songs, he’s usually preaching love and happiness, but it just feels to me the set doesn’t really flow as it’s so stop start and fractured. 

The politically charged track Devour is one of six singles lifted from 2008’s The Sound of Madness album, the band’s most successful release to date. The album is certified silver by the BPI (the British recorded music trade body) with over 60,000 sales, even though the record only peaked at 143 in the album chart on its release. In the States it’s double platinum with more than two million albums sold. 

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Age Of Panic

A bit of a curve ball on the HRH Metal line up comes on the shape of London political rap rockers Senser. From the bands that I am aware of on the line up they are the least “metal” band of the weekend that I can see. 

They’re a band I’ve seen three times before and I quite like some of their stuff. The last time I saw them was on the Hammerfest 2013 stage. Prior to that was back in the mid 1990’s and both times at Nottingham’s Rock City. November 1994 then a mere three months later along with Skunk Anansie. 

I can’t recall too much about the early shows, but one of them sticks in my mind for an infamous footballing situation. When there was a much more prevalent hooligan element to England’s football following the game in ’95 was the same evening as the second Rock City show. This was an era before constant communication flow to the brain, so the first I knew about it was in the papers the next morning on my way to work. Not the best time to be a football fan and English. From memory (as I’m sitting on a train with 3G at best) the match in Dublin was abandoned. 

I never followed the band in depth, it’s just that some of their big songs like this and Switch were popular in the circles I was moving in at that time, it was also the time where I had a soft spot for bands like Blaggers ITA, Compulsion, Dub War and AOS3. Between seeing them in 1995 and again eighteen years later I couldn’t tell you want happened to the band.

Cheating though and using google (now that I’m home), the original line up now appears to be back together as I’m sure there was a different female vocalist when I saw them last. I could be wrong. As there is no one else playing at the same time I have the desire to see I’ll probably be catching some light relief between the thrashings of Savage Messiah and the bleak noise of Raging Speedhorn and I’ll guarantee this track will get the Brummie crowd bobbing. 

It’s hard to believe that this track was released on their debut album Stacked Up twenty three years ago. 1994 was the year I finished my apprenticeship and also got made redundant for the first time. How time flies when you’re having fun. 

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. 

We Care A Lot

  

In a change of pace to the recent frenetic tones of the considerable amount of thrash metal that’s been forced upon you, here’s something from the early days of the back catalogue of Faith No More. A bit random some might say, but maybe it isn’t, so let me explain. 

Appearing later on stage at the Underground in Hanley is one Charles Henry Mosley III, or known to many as Chuck Mosley the original singer for Faith No More, even though he did replace the short lived Courtney Love of Hole notoriety. 

After being friends with FNM bass player Billy Gould since the late 70’s he eventually joined the band in 1985 and was involved with their first two albums before he left the band due to “creative differences” to be replaced by Mike Patton. And the rest, as they say, is history. 

Musically after leaving the band he went on to front New York hardcore punks Bad Brains for a few years, then formed his own band Cement. Since then there hasn’t been too much significant activity until his unplugged shows appeared on the radar. 

I can recall seeing the Chuck version of We Care A Lot on MTV and really liking it. I had that album and Introduce Yourself on some iffy cassettes that I purchased on a family holiday in either Malta or Rhodes. Pirated cassettes blatantly on sale in parts of Europe was big business a few decades ago.  

I later got hold of The Real Thing and the Live At Brixton Academy releases during my time at college when the band really blew up big time. After that though they seemed to be a bit too arty and experimental for my liking and I moved my attentions elsewhere. 

I think tonight is a cheap night and a few extra bodies always helps at local gigs. I’m not much into the acoustic, one man thing, and looking at his set list I know no songs he performs! My main pull for attending though would be the down tuned slow rumblings of local band Bleak Zero, who’s guitarist I’ve known since I was at college in 1990. He was on a plumbing course whilst I was enduring a heating engineers apprenticeship. We don’t know each other that well and only see each other a handful of times a year, but we always casually engage in conversation. 
  

This track has appeared on three different Faith No More albums. Originally on We Care a Lot released in 1985. An updated version with lyrics more in tune to that time was included on follow up Introduce Yourself and became the lead single and video from the album – which this version is – and the third can be found on the Brixton live album. After Epic this song is the most played track in their repertoire. 

  

Pretend We’re Dead

  

As I no longer have my season ticket for the football I’m attempting to do a higher percentage of gigs over the weekend rather than on a week night, especially if I’m working the next day. Old age finally catching up? For the rest of the month of September this ideology works extremely well, come October it’s looking very busy on the gig front. 

For tonight’s entertainment I’m debating a train ride up to Manchester to see Los Angeles rockers L7 for the first time. Formed in 1985 as a punk band, they ended up being quite a big deal in the 1990’s. They eventually split in 2001 but thirteen years later they reformed with a lineup that was together during the mid 80’s for a decade. 

When the media started picking up on the female quartet I was in the twilight years of a teenager and listening to more diverse things. Seattle was conquering the planet with plaid clad grunge bands. On the coattails of grunge was the riot grrrl movement. Even though L7 were at that time much more rockier than both genres. With their image of ripped jeans, multi coloured hair, more plaid shirts and a penchant for controversy and writing short catchy tunes they found a wide fan base spread over multiple scenes. Their first two albums were released on Sub Pop and Epitaph, labels at the time synonymous with grunge and pop punk bands respectively. 

Most of the bands controversial points seem to have occurred on this side of the Atlantic. Possibly the most infamous is guitarist and vocalist Donita Sparks dropping her jeans and performed nude from the waist down during a live performance of this track on The Word – a late night British TV show – in 1992. 

The Word was a magazine show and was quite groundbreaking with some of the musical acts it featured during its tenure, things like Nirvana’s first international TV appearance occurred on an episode of the programme. But the show was fronted by some really annoying and amateur presenters, and the chaotic format revelled in its self induced controversies and enjoyed the condemnation it received in the media. From a musical point of view it could have been a great programme but the rest of the chaff dragged it down, even though it ran for a surprising five years. 
  

Pretend We’re Dead is their breakthrough track and is taken from the groups third release Bricks Are Heavy, which became their most successful album in their career. 

 

  

My Name Is Ozymandias 

It’s been a pretty busy nine days since I last walked out of the gates at work for ten days leave. I spent the first four days over in the Netherlands with my wife, who’s birthday it was on Thursday. 

We landed back in Liverpool on Monday evening and walked into the furnace of a British Summer, which didn’t last as long as expected. Since I pulled on a pair of shorts in my Amsterdam hotel I haven’t worn any long trousers since – if it miraculously managed to snow tomorrow I’m determined to not wear trousers until Monday morning. 

Since Tuesday afternoon the rest of our time has been taken up with this reprobate…

  

Say hello to Ozymandias. 

He’s a nine week old Yorkshire terrier and he’s currently as mad as a box of frogs, when he’s not sleeping! He’s been a handful while he’s been getting acclimatised to his new surroundings, but he’s getting there slowly. 

So his name, Ozymandias. It can be a bit of a mouthful so it’s shortened to Oz or Ozzie for everyday use. There are a few connotations behind his name that my wife chose.  

  • I’m not too proud to admit that behind this heavy metal exterior I quite like a musical, and one of my favourites is The Wizard of Oz. 
  • It can be loosely attested to my slight liking of heavy metal music and a link to Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne. That’ll be the biggest assumption even though I’m not really a Sabbath fan. 
  • If I wanted to be cool and in the know we could have said he’s named after the DC comics character that appears in the Watchmen mini series, but other than one viewing of the film a long time ago I’m not aware of the Adrian Alexander Veidt character. 

He’s actually named from a poem written in 1818 by Percy Shelley – the husband of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley – about the third Egyptian pharaoh of the nineteenth dynasty Ramasses II using the Greek interpretation of his name. 

    I met a traveller from an antique land, 

Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone 

Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand, 

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown, 

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, 

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read 

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, 

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; 

And on the pedestal, these words appear: 

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; 

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! 

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay 

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare 

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Source: Shelley’s Poetry and Prose (1977)

 

   

We’re both fans of Egyptology and Ancient Egypt so it does seem a fitting choice. 

For our honeymoon almost 16 years ago we went to Egypt. We had a week on a Nile cruise, a few days back up in Cairo and then finished it off with a beach like stay at a resort near Luxor. 

  

As impressive as the great pyramids look they pale into insignificance when you visit the site of Abu Simbel on the bank of Lake Nasser, near the border of what is now Sudan. The iconic rock reliefs commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh in 1274BC and sat at the border to ward away marauding armies from other nations. It was as much an ego trip for Ramasses II as it was as a deterrent to Hittites, Canaanites and Assyrians. 

   

The 30m high structure, with four imposing 19m tall seated pharaohs, took nearly a quarter of a century to carve out of a cliff face and it was so precise that twice a year in February and October rays from the sun would penetrate through to the inner sanctuary and illuminate the sculptures on the back wall, apart from that of Ptah who is connected with the underworld and remains in the dark. 

  

Due to the building of the Aswan High Dam and a risk of losing the temples again, this time to water rather than centuries of sand, the temples were cut up into gigantic blocks and reassemble on a man made dome 200m further back and 65m higher between 1964 and 1968. 

When you turn the corner and look at the main temple head on for the first time it is such a breath taking sight.   

  

In a vague attempt to link a song to the post I was going to use the Motörhead song King Of Kings that was used as the entrance theme of WWE wrestler Triple H, but I came across a few other songs with Ozymandias in the title, but as I’ve not heard any of those either I plumped on this track is by a band called Gatsbys American Dream, an indie rock band out of Seattle. The song is taken from their 2006 self titled album released on Fearless Records – a label I’ve always associated with the pop punk and emo hardcore scene. 

  

You’re A Germ

London indie rockers Wolf Alice aren’t necessarily my cup of coffee (I don’t drink tea) but they’re playing a local gig and the one and only other time I saw them I quite liked them.

Their name seemed to crop up in the Twitter-verse on a pretty regular basis around the time that they were due appear at last years Leeds and Reading festivals. Fortunately they played Leeds on the same day as Metallica played, and as they clashed with nobody else I went to check them out.  I think they were the first band I saw on the day in the NME / Radio 1 tent. They actually weren’t all that bad at all, combining some folky elements into the indie rock sound.  Live Ellie’s vocals come across a lot more harsher than on album, almost Courtney Love or Kat Bjelland like to these old ears.

Tonight the gig it being held at the Students Union building on the Keele University campus, a venue I have only frequented a couple of times beforehand.  The last time was in November 1995 to see Stiff Little Fingers and the first time was earlier in the same year to see  Pop Will Eat Itself, I think that was mainly due to friends wanting to see opening band Sidi Bou Said (and there may have been free tickets via the Reverse camp). I’ve seen PWEI twice in the past and was bored by them twice.  The other time I saw them was at the Victoria Hall in Hanley the year before where they had Compulsion, Blaggers ITA and Dub War as their opening acts, so I wouldn’t have gone eight months later unless it was down to the support bands – or free.

Wolf Alice have played Stoke a few times before and must have a sizeable following, so that’s why I’m thinking it’s being held at the university – it’s our cities mid sized venue with a capacity of around 1,000.

You’re A Germ, with it’s Shining inspired video, is taken from their only album to date, My Love Is Cool, released last year to critical acclaim. The single was released on 7″ vinyl with four different covers of each of the band members.  Surprisingly the Ellie sleeve is the most in demand version on the Discogs site.  There’s a copy on the site as low as £45.50 for you collectors.