Reclaiming The Crown

Sunday sees the Persistence tour bringing the curtain down on its 2018 run with a nearly sold out show at the Forum in Kentish Town – an area in northwest London. 2017 marked my first experience of this touring hardcore juggernaut in the capital, but it had been the first time it was back on UK soil since 2012 when I caught it in Manchester.

I’ll be leaving the house around noon on Sunday to make the 180 mile journey to the capital got the first time this week – more to come in the city on Thursday! And as I’m trying to be frugal with my holidays and saving them for other things (Slayer farewell shows?) I’ll be back home before 11pm ready for work at 5am Monday. Unfortunately I’ll have to miss at least the headlining band, if not the one beforehand too.

I’m more interested in seeing the first five bands than all seven on the day. I adore Hatebreed and Madball and between the hardcore heavyweights I’ve seen them at least 27 times combined – 18 of those were Hatebreed shows! The opening five acts are less than ten shows between them, but I might have to disputed that in my head.

I’ve seen all seven bands over the years and all but one in the last 24 months. It’s been almost 16 years since I last saw Dutch bruisers Born From Pain on a stage. My excursion to see the Resistance 2002 tour in Sheffield is my only catalogued event for the band on SetlistFM and none of their other UK shows ring a bell in the memory bank.

I know that list is incomplete as I’m aware of the band playing Stoke many years ago at the Stage as it was then and unfortunately I couldn’t make it. I’m pretty sure though I must have seen them a few times pre 2002 as they seemed to be one of those bands that had the connections with the touring bands and promoters, and it felt like they opened up a load of shows – unless my memory is playing tricks on me? They also had a UK connection during a large swathe of the 2000’s when ex Canvas, Unborn and Thirty Seconds to Armageddon guitarist Karl Fieldhouse was in the ranks.

I’m quite looking forward to seeing Born From Pain’s half hour set purely because it’s been such a long time between shows. To be honest though, they’re a band I’ve not listened to for such a long time until recently when I had to refill my iPhone . I used to listen to Reclaiming the Crown relentlessly at the turn of the century and the last album I know I have by them is War from 2006, so there’s a gap in my knowledge of the band covering more than a decade.


Thorn In My Side

Back up to Manchester tomorrow to catch Quicksand, the post hardcore band with the impressive CV and a band I’ve been in awe of for more than two decades since I was first exposed to Omission on their self titled debut 7″ from 1990. Even though Quicksand and Broken Teeth albums would be found in the hardcore section at your local record shop, they won’t be anywhere as near as aggressive as last nights fare, but they’ll be just as intense none the less.

Ex members of bands live Gorilla Biscuits, Bold, Burn and Collapse will provide the soundtrack at my penultimate visit to the cities Sound Control venue (but more about its demise when I visit for the last time next month).

As far as I’m aware I have a 100% attendance for Quicksand Manchester shows as I believe this is only their third time here. My first encounter was in April 1995 immediately before The Offspring took to the stage at the Academy just down the road. I saw that tour twice and I was in Nottingham a couple of days beforehand. I was in two minds about going to their show in Nottingham tonight and I could say the same about that city too, but I’ve been a bit under the weather this afternoon.

My second Quicksand in Manchester show was a mere two months later when they played the now defunct Boardwalk with Stanford Prison Experiment in tow. That was the only time I visited that venue and I’m not quite sure where it was situated. I’m thinking it was in the Deansgate area near to Rebellion.

It would be a short nineteen years until I got to see them live again. I missed their Reading and Leeds Festival appearances in 2013 so it had to wait until Download the year after. I ventured down to London for their “warm up” show the night before at the Electric Ballroom, mainly because I knew I’d get a much longer set in London. They were on pretty early on the Friday at Download and I got into the tent they were playing only a few minutes before they took to the stage. I’m glad I didn’t miss them as I was only there for the day and there wasn’t much else on to keep me sated.

In the intervening three years their third album Interiors surfaced a few week ago after a 22 year wait. It hasn’t felt as instantly accessible as Slip or Manic Compression, but in the time I’ve had it, the album has received multiple plays and it’s growing on me now. I’m pretty sure I can find 40 minutes spare tomorrow to have another run through it.

Last month when Metallica played Manchester they performed a snippet of an Oasis track to placate the locals. I’m not a fan of The Smiths by any stretch of the imagination, but the band covered How Soon Is Now on their debut album and I have a sneaky feeling they’ll blow the cobwebs off it and give it an airing tomorrow. Then again I could be completely wrong.

For your aural and visual perusal today is the quirky Thorn In My Side from their sophomore release Manic Compression. A highly influential band in their time and a very underrated band at the same time (if that’s possible?). The biggest bulk of their back catalogue is very heavy in emotion so it’s good to see they can have a fun too. I’m also intrigued to see how the new songs sit live with the anthems that the undoubtedly mainly older contingent in the crowd are there to hear again.

Show No Mercy

Sometimes I do wonder if I have some kind of dementia setting in as I get older. Today I give you a slice of, in my opinion, possibly the best hardcore band in the UK at this moment in time, Broken Teeth. And the dementia? I could have sworn I’d posted about this band before now, probably back in August, but apparently I hadn’t.

Tonight northern powerhouse Broken Teeth play the Star and Garter in Manchester to celebrate their decade as a band, in this day and age of throw away convenience music it’s no mean feat to reach that landmark. More often now I read about bands calling it a day after a handful of years. Less than thirty minutes ago I read a Facebook statement from a Serbian thrash band who’ve packed it in after 4 years.

With the British bands the more punk and metal orientated scenes seem to have the edge on longevity compared to the hardcore set. There are a couple of glaring exceptions to that rule in the shape of Knuckledust (21 continuous years with the same four members) and fellow Londoners NineBar celebrating two decades this year.

As mentioned yesterday, I’m not too au fait on the more modern hardcore bands, so many more could be in excess of a decade, but going back to an era I knew better, reading through some of the names from a compilation CD like UKHC – A Compilation released by Household Names in 1997 the majority of those bands didn’t over stay their welcome on their initial run. Some split and disappeared completely, others morphed into different bands along the way, and a couple have hit the comeback trail in recent years.

Longevity in the hardcore scene outside of the British Isles, and more specifically North America, doesn’t seem to be as much an issue. From the top of my head Hatebreed, Sick Of It All, Madball, Integrity, Slapshot and many more all formed over twenty years ago and currently going strong. Granted some have taken a hiatus and reformed, but the passion has rekindled at some point.

I’m guessing the fanbase these bands can muster on home turf helps, enabling many of them to garner a reputation and ultimately a greater record deal. This in turn allows these bands to be a bigger draw in foreign territories and makes them the big deal on a tour. When the tour packages like Persistence roll through Europe it’s more often than not headlined by Americans. The top three slots in next years edition are taken by Hatebreed, Madball and Terror. I can’t recall any British band ever being a headlining attraction on a big package.

Not that the four London guys would complain and as much as we take pride in our countries flag bearing band, Knuckledust were the third band on stage out of 21 bands during the Sound of Revolution festival in Eindhoven earlier this month with a slew of North Americans following them.

It’s not just a hardcore thing though. In many genres our island seems incapable of breaking into the higher echelons, especially with the new breed of bands. Even with a seemingly grassroots festival like Bloodstock you have to go back to 2011 for their last British headliner when Motörhead closed proceedings.

Anyway, ramble over and back to the case in hand. I’ve seen Broken Teeth about half a dozen times in the last few years. My last encounter was when they opened the main stage at Bloodstock on the third and final day back in August to a mass of blurry eyed and hungover metallers. Perhaps not the biggest or most enthusiastic crowd they could’ve expected, but I think UK festivals and majority of attendees are light years behind their European counterparts. Tonight is going to be chalk and cheese in contrast to the last time I saw them.

Now with a home on Nuclear Blast Records this track can be found on their label debut album At Peace Amongst Chaos from last year.


I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m nowhere near as knowledgable about UK hardcore (or even the global hardcore scene) in 2017 as I was in 1997, but I just fell “out of love” with the genre some time ago.

As stated within this blog on several occasions over the past two years I just feel it lacks the camaraderie of two decades ago and all the faces I knew back then have moved on. I’m still in touch with a fair few from that period in my musical life, but not many of those people are still active on stages up and down the country.

Muttering a few words to someone back then led to an introduction to someone else which turned into a welcoming handshake from others who recognised your face and it just snowballed from there. Some of those faces from that forgotten decade, whether they were in bands or just punters like me, are still friends now and scarily I’ve known some longer than I’ve known my wife!

Maybe it’s just me heading rapidly towards 44 years old and still visiting the sweat boxes of yesteryear, but this old man doesn’t really need a random body flying through the air at a rapid rate of knots to enjoy a show. For those reasons though I haven’t been to as many hardcore shows in the last decade or so in comparison to the 24 year old me. For an accepting scene within the extreme music genre the grind and power violence crowds seem much more encompassing.

Most of my newer discoveries have been via recommendations from those in the know or generally just stumbled upon. One of the bands that blew me away in the not so distant past grace the minuscule stage upstairs in Manchester’s Star and Garter tomorrow which happens to be the same venue where I first encountered Guilt Trip.

I first put a tentative step into that unassuming and dilapidated building in the mid 1990’s and I’ve seen a plethora of bands spanning three different decades and the stage at both ends of the room! Three things still amaze me after all these years.

One, it’s still standing! It’s looked like it’s about to crumble into a pile of rubble since my first visit. That and the fact that it’s been earmarked for demolition for years makes it even more surprising.

Two, I’m sill going there. I had a pretty long gap from attending shows there, but in recent years the gig count has shoot up considerably.

Three, I’m still discovering new bands. Almost 44 years roaming this land and more than thirty years of those being immersed in music and I’m surprised I haven’t fallen by the wayside like many of my compatriots and disowned the “metal” scene (just as a term to encompass everything I listen to) or just keeping themselves within their “things were better back then” mindset.

The only other time I’ve had the pleasure to experience Guilt Trip was nearly twelve months when they were one of opening bands for Madball. Their beatdown hardcore and some guitar work that wouldn’t look out of place on a Slayer or Pantera album was simply jaw dropping.

Their most recent EP Unrelenting Force surfaced in November last year and as this 14 minute blast is available for free at their Bandcamp page, I suggest you head on over and grab a copy if you haven’t already. New material is in the pipeline.

This track is taken from that EP and in a way it’s a bit of an oxymoron for me concerning the hardcore scene at present. I still love that metallic chug and the impassioned vocals. It’s always been a movement where you’ve not necessarily had to be the most proficient musician or vocalist. Adequate used to cut it if the passion and desire was there. But on the other hand watching some of the crowd interaction leaves me cold. It doesn’t look like the semi aggressive fun we used to have. It just looks like an aggression overload.

C’est la vie.

King Parrot

Radio silence post Damnation has been broken! I can’t even say I’ve been too busy in the last few days to post anything I’ve just been way too lazy. 

The winter touring cycle of the UK and Europe is in full effect right now and my calendar is chock a block of gigs I’d really like to get along to and see, but finances and time is not allowing me to commit to everything I’d like to achieve, so at the moment I’m being a bit more selective. 

This weekend I’m staying in the local area for a pair of shows of contrasting styles. First up this evening is a trip to the Sugarmill to see King Parrot take to the stage. 

The last time I saw these demented Australians was a little over twelve months ago when they opened up for Exodus and Obituary. I’m led to believe from friends who have seen the band more than I have that the Melbourne band were a bit restrained, probably at the wishes of the Academy group who owned the venues that the tour steamrollered through last October. Tonight I don’t think they’ll be as subdued and I’m expecting chaos to ensue. 

Originally King Parrot were scheduled to play the same venue on Monday, not that a Friday night or Monday makes that much difference to me when I have to be up and out of the house by 5am the following morning regardless. 

Polish death metal veterans Decapitated were due to play at the Sugarmill in 72 hours time with the Australians, another band from Poland who’s name escapes me and the crushing Venom Prison. I’ve never been a fan of Decapitated, they’ve just never appealed to me and all of their seven album back catalogue has passed me by. I’ve seen them twice – once at Bloodstock (obviously) and again at the tail end of 2014 supporting Behemoth. They’ve played in excess of 100 shows in the UK in the 17 years they’ve been coming over here, so they’re another band I’ve managed to miss more than I’ve seen over the years. I’m more aware of them from their tumultuous off stage misfortunes. In 2007 drummer Vitek died aged only 23 after a bus crash on the Belarus / Russian border. 

In October of this year after their show in Santa Ana, California things took a turn for the worse and all the members of the band were arrested initially for kidnapping after a show a week or so earlier. This allegation has now turned into a sexual assault allegation and the band are being detained in Spokane. Obviously the European tour was cancelled and they’ve been removed from Kreator’s next Euro jaunt in January. 

I’m assuming King Parrot had already had their flights from Down Under booked and paid for so I’m guessing rather than lose out on their money they managed to rearrange shows in the same time slot. Not to be too blasé about the situation in Spokane, I now get a full King Parrot set to look forward to in Stoke and even though Venom Prison aren’t doing a local show on their hastily rescheduled dates I still have an opportunity to see them in Manchester next weekend. 

At work I’ve inherited a newer van than what I’ve been driving for the last few years. It’s nothing special, still a bag of nails, but I’m quite sated with the audio system in the van. I can now Bluetooth my iPhone to the radio and play my own music to my hearts content while at work without having to constantly plug in then remove the phone at each one of my forty stops. Later today I know I’ll be pulling up at calls with the bands latest album Ugly Produce being blasted out at an obscenely loud volume.

You Will Never Be One Of Us

Yet again my week of gigs didn’t go accordingly. I made it to the grinding madness of Famine and Groak in StokeThursday  night and later today I have the same band who I saw last Sunday in London! The three gigs couldn’t be much more apart. Metallica broke the attendance record within the O2 Arena twice over the two shows. Tuesdays slightly surpassed the first night with an official figure of 22,211. A few nights back the Pilgrim’s Pit was undoubtedly beyond capacity with approximately 40 in attendance! Today with be another show in excess of 21,000 in the UK’s biggest arena. 

After Metallica later, if I can’t snag a Birmingham ticket, my next appointment could be in London for a version of the Cro-Mags and a reunited Battery – but more on that show later. Next Saturday sees me return to the Damnation Festival in Leeds after I missed the last two years due to my wallet not thinking the line ups were all that exciting. This years is far from stellar, but worthy of the £40 tickets. So over the next few days I’ll have a look at some of the bands I hope to see, or need to revise on to make sure I don’t miss a hidden gem. 

Making a rare appearance in the north of the country are South Californian hardcore / power violence trio Nails. As far as I can see this will surprisingly be their first show in Leeds and they’ve not ventured further north than Manchester since 2013, they’ve seen plenty of Lindon and Bristol though.  

I name dropped the band in the last post deposited here and I have been told how intense they are up on the stage, so just after 6pm I’ll be patiently waiting around the second stage to experience the Oxnard natives and form my own opinions. 

They’ve been together as a band for a decade now and released three albums with their most recent offering surfacing via Nuclear Blast. They released a split 7″ with Full of Hell last year. I’m sure I should’ve seen them somewhere last year? Maybe Ritual Festival also in Leeds, where Full of Hell also played, but for some reason they never played. 

I played this track via YouTube and immediately blew my speakers in the car when the track really kicked in. A quick look on Spotify and a blast through the 21 minutes and I’m wondering how I hadn’t picked up on this band earlier, maybe it’s down to my new found enthusiasm for the power violence and fast core scene? 

Ten tracks in under 22 minutes with the final track, They Come Crawling Back, clocking in at eight minutes plus, it tells you how brutal and uncompromising the remaining 17 minutes will be. I’m checking out the rest of the back catalogue over the next few days and I’ll be eagerly anticipating their arrival on the second stage next weekend.  If I like what I see I only have to wait until August 2018 to see them again as they’re amongst the first six bands announced for Bloodstock next year. I have a feeling that stage will  demolished in nine months. 

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.