Institutionalized 2014

A few weeks go I though any shows further than the Greater Manchester area were on the back burner, pretty much until the Iron Maiden show in July. Last weekend saw me make the trek over the Pennines to Leeds to catch another stunning and rather sweaty Suffocation gig and a week today I could make the same trip for the Outbreak Festival.

Depending on the weather I might be making my first appearance at the Download Festival since 2014. I’d been every year since its inception, but the whole thing started to feel like a drag. I wasn’t intending on going in 2014, but with Quicksand appearing I had to go.

The whole event always seems to be cursed with bad weather. I have never been as wet as I have been at Donington in some years. The deluges of 2010 and 2011 were horrendous. Even my belt was saturated and I couldn’t wait to get home and have a warm shower. I was going to head there a few years ago when Iron Maiden graced the stage, but again it hammered it down and I stayed home in the dry.

The line ups haven’t been great for my tastes either. I know it’s me getting old, and as my slippers state, grumpy. There are also way too many bands over the four stages and way to much traversing between those stages to see bands and ultimately missing large chunks by either getting there too late or having to leave part way though due to clashes. I don’t know why they don’t keep genres together on some of the stages and cut down on some of the mass movement.

On Sunday there are about 40 bands playing and around ten of those I’d pay to see, or have a curiosity to view. Almost half of those bands clash with each other. At one point in the day there are three bands I’d like to see on different stages at the same time!

Back in 2016 I attended Hellfest in France. It’s on a similar scale in relation to punters and artists to Download, but has two more stages and the whole arena area seems smaller. The main stages are side by side and three other stages are all close to each other. Moving around was extremely easy and over the three days I caught around forty acts.

There weren’t too many bands that I am aware of that played less than thirty minute sets, where as some of Downloads opening acts get a measly 25 minute slot. A trio of tomorrows bands that I’m interested in, and these are established bands with long histories, are only getting a paltry half an hour. It’s definitely a festival with its ideology in quantity over quality. Hellfest also starts earlier and ends much later. The days seemed like they would be a massive slog, but time passed quickly for most of the day as you were constantly watching bands rather that hiking backwards and forwards through ankle deep mud to catch snippets of bands.

Even prior to the festival the continental organisers do things better. We had the stage times for weeks beforehand and were constantly looking and comparing and generally getting excited about who we were seeing and bemoaning the odd clashes here and there (Deicide and King Diamond on the last day was my biggest concern.) Download decided to release their times to an app on Monday afternoon, less than 48 hours before those who are camping descended onto the Castle Donington site. This could purely be a money making exercise to force people to part with their cash and purchase the overpriced running time laminates. Hellfest even had the stage times up at the entrance to every stage for all to view.

Having ran down the the festival I’m hoping in 25 hours time I’m there in time to catch either Hatebreed or Dead Cross (Dave Lombardo and Mike Patton might win out on that clash!), Kreator, Body Count then either Shinedown, Myrkur or Messhugah (or parts of) before heading back up the A50 home. There are a few later bands I’d gladly stand and watch, but with a 3:40am alarm call on Monday for work I have to draw the line somewhere.

Body Count is the rap rock, almost a crossover thrash metal band, fronted by actor and rapper Ice T. The band were formed in 1990 and instantly gained notoriety due to their track Cop Killer that was on their debut album.

They’ve played quite a few UK shows over the years, but nothing here since 1997 that didn’t involve a festival. They could’ve had more shows here but several got cancelled due to the backlash of Cop Killer, quite ironic for an actor that had played a NYPD detective in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for 18 years. If I remember correctly, one of those “banned” concerts should have taken place at the Students Union in Keele University, 7 miles up the road for me and one that I probably would have attended.

In 2014 Body Count released their Manslaughter album and it features a modern reworking of Suicidal Tendencies’ Institutionalized. When Mike Muir wrote it back in 1982 I don’t think Xbox was a thing!


Age Of Panic

A bit of a curve ball on the HRH Metal line up comes on the shape of London political rap rockers Senser. From the bands that I am aware of on the line up they are the least “metal” band of the weekend that I can see. 

They’re a band I’ve seen three times before and I quite like some of their stuff. The last time I saw them was on the Hammerfest 2013 stage. Prior to that was back in the mid 1990’s and both times at Nottingham’s Rock City. November 1994 then a mere three months later along with Skunk Anansie. 

I can’t recall too much about the early shows, but one of them sticks in my mind for an infamous footballing situation. When there was a much more prevalent hooligan element to England’s football following the game in ’95 was the same evening as the second Rock City show. This was an era before constant communication flow to the brain, so the first I knew about it was in the papers the next morning on my way to work. Not the best time to be a football fan and English. From memory (as I’m sitting on a train with 3G at best) the match in Dublin was abandoned. 

I never followed the band in depth, it’s just that some of their big songs like this and Switch were popular in the circles I was moving in at that time, it was also the time where I had a soft spot for bands like Blaggers ITA, Compulsion, Dub War and AOS3. Between seeing them in 1995 and again eighteen years later I couldn’t tell you want happened to the band.

Cheating though and using google (now that I’m home), the original line up now appears to be back together as I’m sure there was a different female vocalist when I saw them last. I could be wrong. As there is no one else playing at the same time I have the desire to see I’ll probably be catching some light relief between the thrashings of Savage Messiah and the bleak noise of Raging Speedhorn and I’ll guarantee this track will get the Brummie crowd bobbing. 

It’s hard to believe that this track was released on their debut album Stacked Up twenty three years ago. 1994 was the year I finished my apprenticeship and also got made redundant for the first time. How time flies when you’re having fun. 

No Sleep Till Brooklyn


November 15th marks the thirty year anniversary of Licensed To Ill by New York hip hop band Beastie Boys. Back in 1986 I was aware of the band but probably not knowingly heard them. 

Originally two of what would later morph into Beastie Boys were part of a hardcore punk band called Young Aborigines back in 1978. When they became a fully blown hip hop band after the departure of drummer Kate Schellenbach left this was their debut release for Def Jam, predominantly a hip hop label but home to thrash titans Slayer at the time. 

I don’t really know when I started appreciating the band, but I would have been drawn to the video for this track that features a cameo from Slayer’s Kerry King and the video for the previous single (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) which features the raucous house party with members of Murphy’s Law in attendance. They were possibly one of the forerunners of the nu-metal scene that was on the horizon with their brand of hip hop mixed with rock music and guitars. 

I was aware of the band via the media and their controversial fans. They made the national papers and their fans were branded a disgrace as they were removing the round metal VW logos from Volkswagen cars because they’d seen Mike D wearing one as a necklace. Very far removed from the black metal fans that would surface a decade or so later with their church burnings and murders. 

I’m not the biggest fan of the band and didn’t really listen to much more than the singles that were released prior to Adam Yauch’s death in 2012. I think I only own a copy of this CD that I brought cheap from a liquidation sale in a store. I did get to see them live once, and that was only four songs, when they played Wembley Stadium in 2007 as part of the Live Earth London event. The wife and I only had tickets for that because Metallica played a trio of songs and they were playing the stadium the following day. We ended up leaving early, possibly after the Foo Fighters finished, and watched the end of the show on the TV in the hotel bar that was within the shadow of Wembley’s giant arch. 

It’s nice to break up the noise every once and a while and that’s pretty easy to achieve with my pretty eclectic musical tastes. 


Moving back into the here and now with Bloodstock, here’s some rap metal from Atlanta supplied by Stuck Mojo. 

Yet another band who’ve split and reformed and their Friday slot is the first time playing over here for at least eight years. 

It feels like I’ve been listening to the band on and off for days via Spotify and YouTube trying to brush up on my Mojo knowledge. Unfortunately though nothing seems to be sinking in with me! I asked friends for recommendations and gave all received suggestions a whirl but I’m just not getting into them. 

I know I’ve seen the band – they were supporting Type O Negative with Entombed in Wolverhampton in 1997. I’m also confident in saying I have a CD of at least one album tucked away upstairs somewhere as one of their old labels, Century Media, used to be pretty forthcoming with promo discs when I did my physical fanzine. 

They just don’t seem to have a hook for me to hang my coat on. None of the suggested tracks fire my imagination and I’d rather drag out a CD by Dog Eat Dog, Shootyz Groove or even Downset who are all in a similar vein. Guitarist Rich Ward and whatever line up he has are very competent at their blend of Pantera heavy metal, a rapping vocalist and overlaid with turntable wizardry, but there’s nothing memorable for these old ears. I was expecting the “Oh, this is Stuck Mojo” revelation, but it didn’t materialise. 

I’d hazard a guess that most people attending Bloodstock, or any festival, will know songs by a high percentage of the main stage acts regardless of if they are a fan or not. There will undoubtedly be an elbow into a friends rib cage with that tell tale look of “Oh, I know this song”, I just don’t think there will be much of that happening during Stuck Mojo’s 45 minute set. 

Incase you’re interested, this track is taken from their third album and allegedly most commercially successful release. The track was used on WCW wrestling TV programming and the video features professional wrestlers Diamond Dallas Page and Raven.