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.

🇪🇸🇫🇮🇮🇱🇬🇷 🇩🇪 🇫🇴

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Atomic Tectonics

Hopefully on Thursday evening I aim to be on a train and heading up to The Peer Hat in Manchester to catch a few representatives of the UK metal scene.

My main draw is to see Reprisal for what may or may not be the second time. The Home Counties quartet are on a dozen date jaunt of the UK and Ireland with south coast death metal band Bloodshot Dawn – who have a new album out that I need to check out.

Their debut E.P. Ichneumanity surfaced way back in 2013 and it seems like a mighty long time since those five tracks of technical death metal tinged thrash were unleashed upon the world. If I ever get around to my intended run of posts revolving around the artist who created some of metals finest covers Dan Seagrave who painted the piece above will feature heavily in it. His artwork has adorned dozens of albums that have been displayed in countless record stores since 1989 and he’s still going strong nearly thirty years later.

Reprisal are a band that I might have caught at Bloodstock over the last few years, they played their in 2014, but I can’t remember anything about them if I did see them. I may have missed them completely or I briefly caught a few songs whilst flitting between stages. There has been one missed opportunity recently of seeing them live when I was due to go to Oxford last October for the weekend and they were supporting Divine Chaos. Unfortunately things fell through and the Oxford trip had to be postponed.

I’ve seen several shows advertised in the southern portion of the country but I can’t recall seeing any shows in this neck of the woods until the dates for the Reanimation trek were announced. Hopefully I shouldn’t have to wait too long to see them again as I’m hoping to make the ridiculous drive to Norwich again for Thrashersarus in May where they have recently been added to the already stellar bill.

I’m not sure if the E.P. is still available physically to purchase but it’s on most of the digital platforms, but if you want to line the pockets of the band with a hefty £4 (and hopefully help to get a new release out without a Metallica length wait) then have a browse of their Bandcamp page.

Dark Age

vader-the-ultimate-incantation-lp

 

Even though we’re thirteen days into 2018 is it too late to say Happy New Year? If it isn’t then I wish you a “Happy New Year”, if it is then I’m sorry and please don’t take offence!

It’s been another long lay off on the blog since mid December, once again trying to be a responsible adult and that Christmas thing has got in the way.  The run up to Christmas is a busy time at work for me and the days over the festive period are a hassle as I’m the sole driver in a family of nine, so muggins here has to don his chauffeur’s cap for three days.  I was fortunate enough to wrangle the days off work between Boxing Day and New Years Day so the wife and I took off to Chester and Conwy for a well deserved break from the rest of the family and the car.

I’m back in the the groove (rut?) now and those few days away seem so far behind us!  At least I didn’t have to wait too long for my first gig of the year and with that debut show of 2018 being headlined by those rowdy Germans Kreator I couldn’t have wished for a better start to this years time consuming hobby.

Kreator are a band I’ve seen in excess of twenty times now over the last 23 years, six of those shows were in 2017 alone, yes I got a bit obsessed with them last year.  Their Gods of Violence album was my number one pick for the year and slightly nudged Power Trip’s Nightmare Logic to the silver medal.

Originally Polish death metal band Decapitated should have been the main support on Kreator’s current run, but with all of the unpleasantness surrounding them in America last year they were ultimately pulled from the tour.  It’s pleasing to see that the band have seemingly had all charges dropped and are free to go about their own business freely and try to restart their career after last years promising Anticult album surfaced.

The main support slot was handed to fellow Poles in the form of the long standing band Vader from Olsztyn.  Guitarist Piotr Paweł Wiwczarek (Peter) is in his 50’s now and has been fronting the death metal band since 1983 and sharing the stage with an impressive thirty other band members over the 35 years.

From a band I’ve seen over 20 times to one I’ve only seen a handful of times then. Thursday was only my third time, maybe the fourth, time seeing them since 1998. I might have seen them at Hellfest 2016 but I don’t recall them – I had to be reminded that they were there!  My last confirmed sighting was in Manchester at what was the called NQ Live in 2013.  I think I only went along to that show as thrashers Bonded By Blood were also on the bill and when I first saw Vader in Dudley fifteen years earlier I wasn’t over impressed with them.  I also missed them supporting Overkill in Manchester in 2016 as we got caught up in horrendous traffic trying to get to the train station due to a major closure of the M6 motorway which gridlocked the local roads where I reside.  We pretty much got to Sound Control as the Imperial March theme was fading away from the PA.

I have to admit though, after seeing their set on Thursday I was mightily impressed, maybe not impressed enough to purchase a shirt on the night but impressed enough to listen to their back catalogue that I have in my iTunes library when I got home on Friday.  If it was a physical collection of their works I would be blowing the proverbial dust from the CD cases as I rediscover the band. 

As Vader’s jaunt throughout Europe is under the banner World Incantation Tour it only seems fitting that the video presented here is taken from their debut album The Ultimate Incantation that was released back in 1992.  Their celebratory touring cycle began last year when the album turned a quarter of a century old.  I know I missed them in Manchester last year, a show i was in two minds about attending but obviously didn’t, but it’s not a mistake I’ll make again when the Poles return to British shores.

 

 

Chapel Of Ghouls

I keep scrolling through my calendar on my phone to see what shows I could possibly be attending in the latter half of this week and my eye keeps getting drawn towards the two large red X’s which I use to denote a cancellation. On Wednesday I should have been going to see a version of Floridian death metal stalwarts Morbid Angel.

Due to passport issues the band are unable to travel to Europe and all their shows have been cancelled and hopefully to be rearranged for 2018. I was unsure if I was going as this version of the band are refusing to play anything from the first few albums and are solely concentrating on albums F, G and H!

Longstanding guitarist and only original member Trey Azagthoth is calling the shots and two years ago let vocalist and bass player David Vincent and drummer Tim Yeung go and drafted back into the fold on off bassist and vocalist Steve Tucker. He was the voice of Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, Gateways to Annihilation and Heretic (hence F, G and H).

It could’ve been an interesting evening experiencing album cuts that have rarely been played on British soil, but I just think letting fans miss out on hearing something like Chapel of Ghouls is a kick in the teeth. I’m pretty sure in previous Tucker incarnations of the band tracks from the first four albums were included.

For what ever the reasoning is behind the bizarre setlist choices and currently the two “versions” of the babd in existence, if you want to hear tracks from A, B, C and D then you need to keep your eyes peeled for I Am Morbid which features Vincent and Yeung. Technically a cover act, but I’m sure they can smash out some classic death metal with aplomb. I Am Morbid have been announced for the Dynamo Festival in Holland next July, so I’ll be able to make my own conclusions.

I was reluctant to post another Morbid Angel track, who needs two from the band throughout these 502 posts, then I realised I haven’t put anything by the band in here at all, so time for that to be rectified immediately.

Released back in 1989 via Earache Records in the UK, the bands debut album Altars of Madness spawned Chapel of Ghouls amongst its other nine bludgeoning death metal tracks. It also ticks the necessary boxes for any self respecting release bursting out of the Sunshine State during that era. Recorded at Morrisound Studios in Tampa (with Tom Morris rather than Scott Burns) and a stunning piece of artwork by Dan Seagrave. Twenty eight years on from Altars album number 9, Kingdoms Disdained, will be in our sweaty palms in a little over a week.

Rage (The Cost)

At times I feel the path in my near future is mapped well in advance. Take last weekend as an example. Metallica tickets were purchased probably the best part of twelve months ago. This week was booked off work as a holiday at the start of the year, so I’ve had a long time to prepare. I booked, cancelled and rebooked a hotel within the last month and train tickets a few weeks back. Everything from 11:45am on Sunday until 1410 yesterday has been (seemingly) pre determined for a while, even down to the conundrum of what shirts I was going to wear and buy. 

Sometimes I like the spontaneity of what the music world throws up. I’m off for the rest of this week and on the train home I perused Facebook to find shows to go to on the days I didn’t have anything planned. At noon yesterday I was planning on heading to the Star and Garter in Manchester to see The Raven Age. As noted previously in this blog I saw the band in Canada supporting Iron Maiden in the cavernous Air Canada Centre, so seeing them in the intimate surroundings of a ramshackle pub standing in the shadows of Piccadilly train station sounded like fun. 

That possibly changed late yesterday evening after ploughing through half a days worth of tweets. I saw several people mention the Make Them Suffer gig in London last night and how brutal opening band Cursed Earth were. A quick search on Spotify and YouTube piqued my interest for a band I’d never heard of previously. That was followed up with a Facebook search and low and behold the tour hits Manchester tonight. Well I was intending to head to the city today anyway, so why not experience Cursed Earth then head back towards Piccadilly and see The Raven Age? Sounds perfectly feasible to me. 

So what have I learnt from the inter web in the last twelve hours or so about the band? They hail from Perth, Australia. Formed in 2013 and they play ferocious, pummelling hardcore with a huge injection of metal. I’ve seen comparisons in remarks and reviews to Code Orange and Nails (bands I’m not overly familiar with so I can’t really agree or disagree) and Venom Prison, who to me are more death metal orientated than Cursed Earth, but I can see the comparisons. My first thoughts when I listened to War March via YouTube last night was it reminded me of Power Trip.  

Who ever they are comparable to, Jazmine Lunders venomous, rasping vocals are ably supported by the rest of her band with their metallic stomp and copious amounts of break downs, so no doubt the legion of Manchester’s “finest” kick boxing dancers will be in the Rebellion club early tonight. For me that is one of the negatives for this evening, mainly because the venues layout offers little respite for those there to see a band or three and wanting to stand and enjoy an alcoholic beverage without a sized 11 Vans clad foot heading towards an unsuspecting chest or head. 

I’ve made an opinion on fellow Australian headliners Make Them Suffer based on half a song on YouTube, so I’m unlikely to be there for the duration, but I have all day to discover them and the third band on the bill, Novelists from Paris then I can decide which venue the bulk of my time will be spent in. 

Rage (The Cost) is taken from the all too brief release Cycles of Grief, Vol 2: Decay released last month. Six songs clocking in around the fourteen minute mark, so it’s flashed by before you know it. Well worth a listen if you like you metal tinged beatdown hardcore. 

Cosmic Dreams

After last weekends jaunt into deepest, darkest  Essex for a wedding it’s now time to get back into inane rambling mode. I’ve been off work for a week now and I’ve got three days to go. Time to finish of the holiday with a few bands I think?

The blueprints in my head consists of three small and cheap shows in as many days, but we all know how that seems to work just lately. Friday night should be my first gig in Shrewsbury and also my first in a prison! W.A.S.P. tribute band Electric Circus UK are playing a rock night at the HM Prison Shrewsbury. Thankfully it closed to inmates in 2013, so we won’t feel like the new fish in there. Whether the metal heads will be allowed out afterwards is another question. 

Saturday sees another tribute band grace the stage at the local venue Eleven. Metallica kicked off their European tour last Saturday in Copenhagen. They played a pair of shows in Amsterdam at the start of the week and finish it with a brace of Paris gigs. I was hoping to snag tickets for a show or two, the whole reason why I had this week off. Alas I didn’t score entry to any, so instead I’ll save myself £95 alone on entrance fees and see the Metallica tribute act Metal Militia for a fiver.  

Fingers crossed, it all kicks off tonight with Leeds science fiction obsessed death / thrash metal quartet Cryptic Shift who have a free shindig at Grand Central in Manchester. I don’t have to be up for work at stupid o’clock Friday morning, so I can finally check out one of the venues free Thursday night showcases. 

This evening is a bit of a reinvention of the free Thursday night gigs the venue had been putting on for a long time now but the ones I wanted to go to have fallen on work days and seemed to have a post 11pm finish. The band I want to see (and the only one I’ve heard of) hit the stage at 9:30pm if things run like clockwork, so I have a few train options to get myself there and home comfortably.  

Cryptic Shift are another one of those bands I seem to miss on a regular basis since I first encountered them with their cover of Sepultura’s Arise a few years ago. I managed to see them in Manchester twice last year, the last time was with their participation on the Vektor show at the Star and Garter last August. Their technical approach to the genre mixes the trash of Voi-Vod and Vektor together with the technical death metal of Gorguts and latter day Death. Fans are still waiting for a full length release after seven years, but there have been a few singles and an EP. in the interim.  Cosmic Dreams, a new track, surfaced from the other side of the Pennines earlier this year and can be found with the rest of their back catalogue at their Bandcamp page