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.

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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. 

World Gone Mad

It’s been eighteen months since I last saw Life of Agony inside a British venue, not too bad a wait considering it took 23 years between Wolverhampton last year and the previous show I attended by them. They have also released their latest album after a wait of a dozen years.   

A Place Where There’s No More Pain came out on Austrian label Napalm Records back in July. I never got around to pre ordering the album, but I was pretty excited to hear their first collection of new material in so long. I ended up streaming it via Spotify as soon as I woke up on the Friday morning and had listened to most of it whilst getting ready for work and on the nine mile journey there in the car. 

On the first listen I wasn’t overly impressed with it. Maybe I wasn’t giving it the full attention it deserves? Debut album River Runs Red is held in such high esteem by me I could possibly be doing the latest release, and on reflection the trio of albums in between, a disservice by trying to compare them to such a high benchmark.  

I walked into the two shows I attended last year not really knowing their 1995 to 2005 output and only being there for the River Runs Red cuts. After watching the original line up bang out what I wanted to hear, interspersed with tracks from the other albums I dusted off the hidden gems from that missing decade and rekindled my affinity with the Brooklyn band. 

After saying all that it’s more disturbing why I’ve not attempted to listen to A Place… for at least a second time in full since April 28th (if I’m being exact!) until this weekend just gone. The band kicked off their UK tour in Norwich last Friday and I had a peak at Saturday’s Manchester setlist the morning after. There are three tracks from this years album in the set so I though it was time to give it a blast considering the fact that I’m off to see them in Birmingham on Friday. 

On second, third and fourth listen it’s a great album. Still angst ridden, but more focused and not as harsh as their debut. Friday night can’t come quick enough for me now. 

Monday Is Cancelled

If I make it to Eindhoven by 7pm tonight then I have to say I’m pretty excited to catch another new band to me in the shape of Antwerp’s Toxic Shock. 

Sounds easy enough, but first of all I need a flight that leaves Manchester to the Netherlands on time. You’d think the easy option would be a flight direct to the cities facilities. Technically that is correct, but when that flight is way over budget and when I last looked it’s also full to alleged capacity. It would’ve been a Ryan Air flight so it’s probably littered with empty seats due to their customers refusing to pay an extortionate fee to sit together. Yeah, sure, they’re randomly selected. 

Instead I’ll be arriving into the country at their major airport hub Schiphol eighty miles away from where I need to be. Thankfully the train station is within the airport and services are extremely decent and reasonably priced. Plus I love the double decker trains they have on the continent. 

Then you’d think we’d have a room for two nights in the same city as the two shows we’re attending. Well I did, but something went wrong and it was cancelled erroneously. As there’s nothing suitable and reasonably priced locally we opted to stay at a pub twenty two miles away in Tilburg. At least the trains are pretty cheap and run late. 

When I saw the announcements for the pre party show I was pretty happy with Toxic Shock. I’ve been listening to them for years now and their Change from Reality album is alright. I didn’t know it was the band from Belgium we’d be seeing with the same name. Not the Germans I’d been listening to for ages who have actually split up! 

Now I have that piece of the puzzle I’ll have a quick listen on Spotify to them. Again easier said than done. No German band this time, but the music streaming site has lumped the Belgians with the American thrash band and yet another one with the same name who are no way metallic in any shape or form. Late on Wednesday evening  I finally got to listen to 2013’s Daily Demons release. 

They remind me a lot of the band I saw nearly a month ago, Insanity Alert. Maybe not as brash as the Austrians and the Belgians have a slightly more hardcore edge to their sound upon my first listen. If you like recent bands like Iron Reagan (who they did a split 7″ single with), Municipal Waste or Power Trip then you’ll probably show some admiration for them. I’m hoping they’re going to nail it in the Dynamo club tonight and kick off my eleven performances in 26 hours perfectly. If not there’s a bar and muntens to be spent.  

A lot of the Dutch venues I’ve visited seem to operate a token system to purchase drinks. Insert cash into a machine on the wall and walk away with plastic coins (muntens) and blindly spend them all. And repeat. It’s all good until you work out how much one coin costs and how many you spent on Jupiler. 

Monday is Cancelled is from the Iron Reagan split 7″ that was released in 2015. 

Let The Truth Speak

Hopefully tonight I should be off to see reactivated and rejuvenated punk band Warwound support Icons of Filth on the outskirts of Manchester. Originally it was to be held at the Retro Bar, right on the doorstep of Piccadilly train station. Since the venues demise a few weeks ago it’s now somewhere in Levenshulme. Jumping on a train looks like too much hard work. There’s a long wait in Piccadilly to head back south to Crewe so I might as well drive and be home in half the time. 

Warwound were a short lived band back in the early 1980’s for a few years. Various members splintered into other groups like the Varukers and Sacrilege. Then bassist, now guitarist, Damien resurrected the name with a trio of musicians well respected within the punk and hardcore scene to blast out some old Warwound songs alongside a smattering of Sacrilege and Varukers standards. The original demos got an updated release and a few days ago an album of new material, Burning the Blindfolds of Bigots, surfaced. I heard snippets of the album when I saw the band in Leeds back in March, so I can’t wait to get my grubby hands on a proper copy. 

The bass player of the rejuvenated outfit is Ian Glasper who I’ve known for more than twenty years since I first met him at a Stampin’ Ground gig in a youth club in Rugeley in 1996. Throughout all the bands I’ve seen in the last 28 years this guy is probably the one I’ve seen on stage the most. He’s been in quite a few bands and besides Stampin’ Ground who are the band I’ve seen more than any other, I’ve also witnessed him with Decadence Within, Suicide Watch, Freebase and Thirty Six Strategies. 

A throw away comment at an Earth Crisis show in Dudley many moons ago led me to my first shows abroad where I was offered a space in a van for a few shows in Belgium. Since that weekend I’ve had the bug to travel overseas for gigs. 

If you like your D-beat punk with huge chunky swathes of metallic hardcore then Burning the Blindfolds of Bigots is probably the album that you’ve been waiting for this year. 

End Action


Yesterday saw the forth and final (?) Iron Maiden show for 2017. Besides motorway complications on three of the four drives between Manchester then birmingham, and an absolutely sweltering Barclaycard Arena last night they’ve been a fantastic culmination to eight hours worth of music from my joint favourite band. I’m running out of superlatives of how good Maiden have been over the last fourteen months and six shows in four countries. I’m sorely tempted to look into a London show over the upcoming weekend, but I don’t know if I could deal with the wife’s wrath at such short notice. 

This bank holiday weekend already already has a few shows marked in the diary using the imaginary pencil. Dub War play their only UK show of 2017, and only their third in the last two years, in Manchester on Friday. Martyr Defiled play locally on the same evening. 

Saturday could be a trip to Liverpool for the second Saturday running for some noisy rumblings and a dose of equine blast core! Or I could head over to the East Midlands to catch, amongst others, Onslaught and Divine Chaos at Uprising 2017 in the legendary De Montfort Hall. I’ve also seen a matinee show in Stoke for Saturday too, so I’ll have to see what fits in with work. 

On the alleged day of rest there’s a beat down hardcore doss in Manchester with Sheffield’s Malevolence and Arizona’s No Zodiac on the bill. Sunday also sees Acid Reign closing out the Breaking Bands festival which I’d hoped to have gone to for the day, but it sold out quicker than I expected. 

Until earlier today I had nothing expected gig wise until Friday. I toyed with the idea of seeing Regulate and Blind Justice – two stateside hardcore bands – with Mancunian band Guilt Trip. They play Birmingham on Wednesday, but I didn’t fancy another southbound M6 trip on a school night. The Manchester show never seemed to be confirmed for the evening after either. 

I was pretty resigned to not attending, until the Manchester show was cancelled and the Bare Necessities promoters have dragged the tour to Stoke at the last minute. For a fiver I can’t refuse. 

I just hope it goes better than the previous last minute show relocated to Stoke. New York’s Merauder and touring partners from France, Providence, played the short lived Tech Noir venue to no more than a dozen paying customers. All very embarrassing, but with forty eight hours notice I was still expecting a few more. 

End Action is from the Long Island, NY, straight band Regulate and taken from their 2014 release Corrupt / Correct which you can purchase digitally for $5 or stream from their Band Camp page and check out their other stuff while you’re there.