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

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Apartment 213

Finally I’m on my way to Bloodstock. First a train trip to Burton on Trent to dump my bag at the hotel and meet up with the other half cut reprobates for a twelve hour stint of metal in a field. 

After tonight’s main stage headliners Ghost have competed their set, Illinois band Macabre bring the curtain down on Saturday’s proceedings with a dose of murder metal. They also have the dubious honour of being the only band I’m scheduled to see this weekend that I have never seen, so it should be worth the wait to still be there until midnight today.  I think it’s a very rare visit to the country and the only other appearance I can see is back in 2010. 

The trio of Nefarious, Dennis the Menace and Corporate Death have been together since 1984 and are considered one of the purveyors of the early death metal and grindcore scene. They haven’t been overly productive in their 33 year career only releasing five full length albums. 

I’m surprised I’ve not been into Macabre much more than I am considering their lyrical content is right up my alley and is based around the majority of the books that I have on my shelf on the bookcase. Yes, they like to write songs about serial killers. 

Their Dahmer album from 2000 is an inspired concept album tracing the life and events of the Milwaukee Cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer in chronological order. Their most recent opus Grim Scary Tales surfaced in 2011 and is inspired by a bunch of more historical murderers. 

I owned a copy of their Grim Reality EP a long time ago, possibly while I was still in school. I’d already got a bit of a burgeoning obsession with the serial killer phenomenon, so a record with songs about Albert Fish and Ed Gein was something I had to buy, and the art work was pretty killer. 

There’s no promotional video that I can find for any of their tracks, so here’s the audio for  Apartment 213 from the aforementioned Dahmer album. It’s the second song I know of with its title taken from the Dahmer’s apartment number, the other being by GGFH – another band I need to feature. I’ve also gone for this album as I haven’t featured a track from an album released in the year 2000, not the greatest of years in music for me I must say. 


The Heretic

After a late finish on Saturday at a time when some people used to attend church on Sunday morning for some divine inspiration, I’ll be on my way to an altar of steel to see one of the surprise packages of the festival open up proceedings on the main stage – Manchester hardcore band Broken Teeth.  

As much as I like Megadeth on record and I’ve seen them many times since my first experience of them twenty six years ago, I unfortunately won’t be in attendance for Mr Mustaine’s performance on Sunday. Modern Megadeth live bores me rigid, I’m an old fan (fader?) and I want to see them do more from the first five releases, not a plethora of songs from the latest album. Arch Enemy sends me to sleep too, and Skindred just adds to the Download Festival Lite version it seems to be morphing into. After Chilean band Criminal have departed I shall be heading to the train station also. 

I am only interested in four of the first five main stage sermons offered up on the Sabbath, and a few Psalms from the second stage. From all the bands I’m hoping to catch over the weekend I think there’s only one I’ve never seen, all the others I’ve seen with varying frequency.  

Californian Bay Area band Possessed have the honour of the death metal genre being labelled after one of their songs, surprisingly called Death Metal from their 1984 demo of the same name, then later the closing track in their debut album Seven Churches. 

In 1989 gutteral sounding frontman Jeff Becerra was involved in an armed robbery and shot at twice, one bullet went through his chest and got stuck in his spine. As a result he is now paralysed from the chest down and confined to a wheel chair, shortly afterwards they disbanded. There had been several reformations without him, until 2007 when Becerra performed at Wacken with a backing band made up of Sadistic Intent members. Now with a stable line up Possessed have recently been signed to Nuclear Blast records and their first new album for thirty two years hits stores next year. 

I’ve only seen the band once at the Garage in London 2014, their first British show since the mid 80’s. They were back last year to play London again along with a jaunt up to Glasgow, but I had already committed myself to seeing Madball on the same night as their capital show. Their set on Sunday is a highly anticipated 45 minutes for me in a pretty poor line up in general. 

The Heretic is the second track on their Beyond the Gates album from 1986. It wasn’t the most polished album ever released, but it seemed like one most kids owned at some point due to it’s rather unique sleeve. The vinyl had a fold out cover that basically opened the gate into hell. I had it, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of the ones that got away from me and unfortunately no longer gathering dust upstairs. 

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.