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. 

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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. 

Breathe

Well that’s pretty much my week off finished, and for the first time in a long time an actual run of eight days away without dipping into work for a day or three. Six gigs attended over four cities in two countries and twelve band viewed. I’ll be glad to get back to work for a rest!! 

I have a ticket for a show in Manchester tomorrow, but I also have other things to attend to after work that may stop me heading out. Tuesday is Ozzie’s first birthday and we’re off out to spoil him (for a change!). Realistically then my next gigs will be another pair of Iron Maiden shows when I see them back to back in Liverpool and Birmingham next weekend. 

Just incase I can take advantage of my £8 ticket for Monday, then you could find me in what I’m predicting will be a packed, hot and sweaty Star and Garter experiencing some hardcore beatdowns. 

Fire & Ice from Richmond, Virginia close their European tour with a pair of English shows. Tonight sees them gracing the stage in the Garage down in London Town before bringing the Euro jaunt to a climax in Manchester. 

I hadn’t heard anything from the band until I saw this show announced. In my mind, if I didn’t like what I heard via Spotify it’s worth snagging a ticket just to see Broken Teeth again. I’ve seen the Mancunian band four times in the last year and a half, and probably missed them many more times over the same time span. 

As a fan of Cro-Mags, Leeway and that more thrash metal orientated and groove laden hardcore I instantly liked what I was hearing. It’s a pretty mid paced affair, but there are none of the breakdowns that the king-fu Ken’s seem to use as an excuse for some random pit violence. 

Crowd killing, as it seems to be called, is the main thing that has put me off attending as many hardcore shows as I used to. Maybe I’m a wuss, but at 43 years of age I don’t need to be watching for feet, fists and bodies flying randomly into the crowd from all angles from cowardly kids who slip into the shadows if they push the wrong buttons on the wrong person.  

Breathe was originally featured on the Grim 7″ released in 2010. Digitally you can find it on the Collections release, which brings together their two 7″ singles and compilation tracks. 

Humanity’s Nightmare

The more I keep looking at that Sunday lineup at the Outbreak Festival the more I keep thinking to myself I need to be there. The final three bands on their own would be a worthy road trip as a stand alone show. Cro-Mags, Broken Teeth and London stalwarts Knuckledust sandwiched in between. 

Ray, Wema, Nic and Pierre forged their legacy back in North East London suburbs in 1996 and twenty one years later the same four guys – now definitely older and hopefully wiser – are still the respected flag bearers for the UK hardcore scene. 

Over the years I’ve seen them in excess of twenty times – not bad going as they’ve never played locally to me (unless I missed it). The majority of those shows were all in the mid to late 90’s. There was a long gap of nearly a decade until I caught up with them again in 2010 when they played Manchester with Sick of it All and Madball. In the seven years since I’ve not had the opportunity to see them perform. I think their lax approach towards touring has probably helped with their longevity. 

The first time I saw them as young whipper snappers was in Sheffield in 1996, I believe it was their first excursion outside of the nations capital. They opened a bill that also saw Unborn, Schmuck (who later became Canvas), Blood Green and Vengeance of Gaia play a feisty show, eventually filled with ill feeling at Morrisey’s Riverside in Sheffield.  

I knew the bass player of Blood Green – Foster, and got invited up to the Steel City for the gig. As I had a car I was tasked with picking up one of the bands from the bus station. It turned out to be the young Londoners, who’d made the journey up to South Yorkshire with all their gear on coach. 

They should of played the Rigger in Stoke on Trent in 2000 when I tried to arrange them and Freebase to play the venue the day before my wedding as a kind of unofficial stag do. There were problems on the motorway (nothing changes) for both bands, some members made it to the Potteries some didn’t. Needless to say the show never happened. 

I’ve seen them all over England at a time where the UK scene seemed to have a lot more camaraderie and in general felt like a much more welcoming place for people to attend. Almost all of those early bands disbanded at a similar time and new blood came through. More divisions and cliques seemed to appear and I just drifted away. I still enjoy the music but as an ageing guy I don’t necessarily enjoy the atmosphere generated at many hardcore shows that I’ve attended in the last half a dozen years or so. Crowd killing. What is that all about? 

A bit of a quick trivia question for those who’ve read this far. Can you name any other bands who’ve been going for a length of time with their original line up intact? I can think of one band with out researching it. When you do think of a band you’d be surprised how many people appear in the alumni section. 

Humanity’s Nightmare was released last year on their sixth album Songs of Sacrifice by their long time Dutch record label GSR. Well worth checking out. 


We Gotta Know

As much as I like the Cro-Mags, and considering I’ve not seen them many times on stage, I think I’m going to have to give them a swerve on Sunday at this years edition of the Outbreak Festival. They’ve now been bumped up to headliners as Turning Point had to pull the plug on all their European shows last week. 

I’ve only seen them live twice in all my time of gig going. The first time was in Holland where they headlined the European Hardcore Festival III in Eindhoven. I was lucky enough to attend the previous festival in 1999 with Stampin’ Ground. That year NYC’s Skahead closed the show.  The year after I blagged a space in the van with Freebase. 

The second time I saw them I think was in Birmingham, possibly at the Foundry. I’m not sure when this was at all. I believe they played the venue in 2001 and that was the last year I went there, so it must have been then, unless it was a different venue.  

They’ve been knocking around their native New York City as a band since 1981 and were one of the earliest bands to fuse together the cities burgeoning hardcore punk scene with the up and coming thrash metal movement. 

Their career has been quite a tumultuous affair. Frontman John Joseph quit then rejoined. An album was written then they split up. Harley Flanagan appeared to keep the flame burning, but after the band’s last album (2000’s Revenge), the strain was too much and tempers have been frayed ever since. 

Like a few bands that have gone before them in this blog there are currently two versions of the band doing the rounds. Saturday sees Joseph’s version rolling into the UK. This interpretation of the band have been together since 2008 with Joseph being backed up by guitarist AJ Novello from Leeway, Sick of it All’s Craig Setari on bass and Fun Lovin’ Criminals drummer Mackie Jayson. 

Ironically Flanagan’s hybrid of the band play in London mid May, I’m not sure who else is making up the numbers here, I’m guessing it’s the band who recorded the eponymous album with him last year. Too be honest I’ve not looked into that show all that much once I saw it was a Wednesday night and I’m rapidly running out of holidays at work. 

The thing putting me off seeing the bands in Leeds on consecutive evenings is the though of traversing the M62 four times in two days. It’s always a 90 mile run fraught with incidents and a horrendously long stretch of roadworks that feel like they’ve been there forever now and have easily overstayed their welcome. I’ve looked into lodgings somewhere within the Yorkshire city, but unless I’m prepared to pay a minimum of £140 for a single night that’s a non starter. 

You never know, I could change my mind when I get out of bed on Sunday morning, or friends I know in attendance might offer me a space. In the meantime I’m going to console myself with a few plays of their first trio of albums. 

We Gotta Know was featured on their 1986 debut The Age of Quarrel. It might sound familiar to some even if you’ve not heard the crossover original, as it’s been covered numerous times with the most well known probably being by Sepultura on their Under A Pale Grey Sky live album.