R.I.P. Malcolm Young

I like many other metal heads and rockers will be cranking out some AC/DC over the next few days in tribute to rhythm guitarist and founding member Malcom Young who passed away earlier today aged 64.

The Glaswegian was the driving force behind the band with his much more visible younger brother Angus. Due to ongoing health issues he stepped down from the ‘DC line up in 2014 to get treatment for dementia – the brain disease that took him three years later.

Reading through Twitter and Facebook his band and he were huge influences on many of today’s contemporary bands which has been highlighted by the slew of heartfelt tributes paid throughout the day.

As a youngling I never paid much attention to the band. They were another one of those bands that I knew the history and hits of without owning an album. I was into things of a more heavy nature at the time and it took a while to appreciate the more rock ‘n’ roll and blues tinged artists that were such huge influences on those bands I idolised at the time.

I was fortunate enough to see the band twice. Once surrounded by a plethora of flashing devil horns at Wembley Stadium in 2015 and my debut experience was in 2010 when they brought their own stage to the Download Festival. They played their set on the Friday evening and the carcass of their own set up overshadowed the main stage for the following 48 hours. It overshadowed the other bands over the weekend in an intimidating way and reminding the likes of Deftones, Lamb of God and Five Finger Death Punch that they were light years behind them as entertainers.

Their Download appearance was the only time I got to see Malcolm on stage as his nephew Stevie Young was filling in for him.

I attempted to get tickets to see them the year before on an earlier leg of the Black Ice tour but we were on holiday in Florida when tickets went on sale. By the time I got around to getting online with the patchy hotel internet and the five hour time difference all the venues had sold out in minutes.

Last year I had tickets for their show at the Olympic Park in London – less than twelve months after playing Wembley. When the departure of Brian Johnson was announced and the rumoured replacement of Axl Rose was confirmed I requested a refund on my tickets as to me that wasn’t what I’d originally signed up for. In hindsight and from what friends I knew who went said, he did the material justice. One of those missed opportunities I’ll have to live with.

If You Want Blood… is taken from 1979’s Highway to Hell, the final album to feature Bon Scott on vocals who was found dead in a car in February of the following year.

Advertisements

Joy Through Death

Yet again my week hasn’t gone anywhere near as expected after the first two days of the week. I’ve ended up being off work ill for two days, which is highly unlike me. At least it’s given me a bit more time to catch up on Damnation bands and hopefully whatever I have is all done and dusted and out if my system before Saturday. 

Today’s listening club has been supplied by the fourth stage closers Grave Pleasures. Not being aware of the band other than the name and that they were from Finland I was expecting some dark corpse painted black metal or something death metal at the very least to be blasting through the earphones. What I experienced when Infatuation Overkill was a million miles from the mark. Death Roll – as it seems to be called – isn’t what I was expecting. I got the sense of a more rockier Sisters of Mercy and not to dissimilar to the Hardcore Superstar if they cranked up their sound.

As they clash with death metal supergroup Bloodbath on the main stage, who I’ve seen gracing the Bloodstock stage back in 2010 when they had Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt on vocals for them. They bored me rigid then and now with Paradise Lost frontman Nick Holmes pulling double duty on the day, I can’t see my attention span for them being any more welcoming. 

Then again the way things are going lately we could be heading back to the Potteries after Agoraphobic Nosebleed maybe even Sodom! I have an irrational sense that work will have messed up my holiday and I’ll be in work between 6am and noon before heading to Leeds. Or some of my group are getting too old for this stuff now and an eleven hour stint of heavy music and relatively decently priced alcohol soon takes its toll. 

Until I started researching I didn’t realise Grave Pleasures were completed by Beastmilk members after their demise. I never saw that Helsinki band either, but I nearly did. 

I was handed a copy of their promo CD A Delicious Sample of Beastmilk on my way out of the Sonisphere festival at Knebworth in 2014 and I listened to it in the car in the way back to the hotel and I was pretty intrigued with it. They were scheduled to play mid afternoon on a smaller stage and they didn’t clash with any one I particularly wanted to see, but they were delayed coming over from Europe. I think they played a set late on after the stage headliner had finished, but by that time we were heading out of the arena in the crush after Metallica had played. 

This odd video clip for Joy Through Death is taken from their third album Motherblood released just over a month ago. If we’re still there at 11pm I know who I’ll be watching. 


Sheer Heart Attack

I’ve finally finished work for the week, only four days later than expected though. Tomorrow we’re off to the seaside for an elongated weekend and I have the misfortune of attending my first ever Queen convention over in Mablethorpe. 

The wife and I have experienced a few Doctor Who gatherings over the last few years, but I feel this weekend is going to be something completely different. Wall to wall Queen geeks who, in the main, will know their Day at the Races and a Night at the Opera inside out. 

All fans have their diehards and some of that fanbase will be of the über fan variety. Geekiness in all fandoms is on a sliding scale of casual through to obsessive, and without a doubt there will be a massive dose of one up man-ship throughout the duration. Whether it’s from that obscure tour shirt from ’76 someone is adorned in or some piece of useless information offered up as an answer in the inevitable quiz, fans always try to impress, intentionally or subliminally is another question though. 

Every fan of every band claims their fans are the best in the world, it’s hard to disagree with them as that’s the way they perceive their musical world from within their rose tinted bubble. Having said that though I think I’m a fan of bands with some of the most rabid and reverent followers on the planet. 

Metallica and Iron Maiden announce tours and bookings and flights from every corner of the world descend upon every city on the tour. I’ve travelled over Europe to see both bands over the years, I’ve even hopped over to North America to see them both. Bars around the arenas are heaving with black clad metal heads wearing a plethora of tour merch form all over the world and spanning the decades. I used to assume I was the only person in a crowd in Toronto for a show then you overhear dozens of British accents amongst the buzz of the Canadian drawl. 

One of the first forays on to foreign shores for the reluctant wife and I was to Paris to see Iron Maiden at the Bercy. Pretty much a day there in a coach and a day back with nothing but Maiden fans. And what was played through the buses sound system during the trip? An assortment of Maiden tunes from varying live releases and studio albums. Definitely three days of Iron Maiden overkill, but most people wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I have no doubt a Queen fan, or a fanatic of any other artist from all genres is as fanatical, but I do think metal fans have that edge in fanaticism. I’ve never seen a Queen fan carve the bands name into their skin outside a venue. Slayer on the other hand… Metallica’s imminent British tour sold out in minutes of some of the countries biggest sheds and that’s with a ticket price leaving peanuts from a £100 note if such a thing was legal tender. 

Even if it’s not the high priced ticket at the arenas of the world, the fans that traverse the country week after week to catch the up and coming act (or in some cases the fading star of yesterday) are just as, if not more, of a fan. It takes much more effort and will power to drag yourself to the venues in the middle of nowhere to see that band play a half hour set to you, one man and his dog on a snowy January evening then head off home. You just know one day that night with a handful of people will be one of those shows that all in sundry will we talking about when the band breaks into the big time. 

To kick off what might be a Queen themed weekend on this blog (internet permitting – but I’m not hopefully) here’s something from Queen. Quel surprise! 

October 28th marks the forty year anniversary of the bands sixth album News of the World, and from the bite size pieces of information I have seen in relation to this years convention it is based around this album. Confusingly the track Sheer Heart Attack featured on this album rather than the album of the same name released three years earlier. This live version of the track is taken from the live album Queen Rock Montreal (recorded in 1981). Without consulting iTunes I’ve probably played this track more than most of their tracks. 


 

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. 

Lullaby

  

I’m on a train home from Manchester after attending the Anvil show where I didn’t even stop to catch a single note from Anvil! German thrashers Rezet with their 40 minute set were more than worthy enough for two hours on a train and the entry fee. 

Tomorrow I’m taking a trip to Liverpool’s Echo Arena with my wife to revel in what could have been a second consecutive evening of Canadian music. We’re off to see Nickelback put on one of the most competent arena shows that you will have the privilege to witness.  By this time tomorrow the curtain will have fallen on my fifth live Nickelback experience and I’m in no doubt that I’ll be on my way home in a happy frame of mind. 

You might have gathered from this blog that has been going for nearly I year now I prefer my music fast and loud – which is a crying shame for those not inducted into the way of Nickelback. It’s amazing how many people dislike the group with a passion – many verging on pure hatred –  but usually they’ve only heard two songs which happen to be their biggest. But delve deeper into some of the album tracks and boy can they knock out some spectacularly heavy stuff. 

They can pretty much write anything from either end of the spectrum. You have some bands who just seem to churn out ballad after power ballad, but have nothing extra to offer. When you could play a teary track like Lullaby, head straight into the short sharp punk blast of Flat On The Floor and seamlessly flow into a cover of Metallica’s Master of Puppets and round it all off with the song everyone loves to hate, Rockstar, where the band don’t even have to sing it as the majority of the fifteen thousand crowd in attendance will inevitably sing it word perfectly, then you know you are doing something right. 

They’re very much aware of the jokes that they are the butt of, but they take it all in their stride and often play upon it during their concerts. What’s the point of getting upset over it when you’ve sold over fifty million albums all around the globe and you can play arenas worldwide? Someone must like your music, otherwise there’s a warehouse somewhere near Vancouver with forty-nine  million compact discs stored inside. 

  

Lullaby is taken from the bands seventh release Here And Now. The album cover features a photograph of the steam clock located in the Gastown area of Vancouver. When we were there a fair few years ago now we must have taken (well I rather than we) dozens of photos of that clock. In the UK this track wasn’t released as a single and the video used on music channels over here was different to this heart wrenching version. This version has only been streamed a measly 61 million times on YouTube. 

In The Army Now

  

On the same day that I brought Welcome to the Pleasuredome with my paper round money I also brought a copy of In the Army Now by British institution and three chord wonders Status Quo. 

That was in the autumn of 1986, and in the three decades since it has been the only Quo album I have physically owned. With the popularity and relative ease of downloads I’ve picked up odd tracks here and there that I have liked, the majority of them have all been prior to this release. 

This piece of vinyl has been long lost. Once I got into that heavy metal malarkey I ended up lending it to some one and I have never seen it since. No great loss, but it’s a piece of my history that I now don’t have (cue dramatic music). 

This was their first album released after the success that was Live Aid the year before. It is their seventeenth studio release, but I can’t recall another single track from the album – even after I’ve googled the track listing. Maybe it’s something I need to go back and listen to? 

I never knew until fairly recently it was a cover of a Bolland & Bolland song who were apparently a Dutch duo originally from Port Elizabeth in South Africa who’d released the track four years earlier. I’ve never heard that original version – and don’t  really have any desire to listen to it. Talking of cover versions I enjoy the Laibach version that can be found on their NATO release. Sabaton also covered it for their 2012 album Carolus Rex release, but I’ve not heard that either. 

Out Of The City

  
Well you know what they say about judging a book by its cover, that’s something that I should have learnt with music after all this time! 

Norway’s Audrey Horne are one such book. They’ve been about for some time now and I’ve seen their logo pop up here and there, but never had the urge to listen to them. For some weird reason I thought they’d be some variant on the metal core sound. Wrong. 

As, up until an hour ago, I’d never heard them I thought I’d do some research as they just happen to be on stage at the DMF (read the last post to see what that means) on Saturday. Ah, a super group formed by members of Norwegian black metal bands. Yeah, I was right I won’t like them. And twice wrong. 

The few reviews and biographies of the band – named after a Twin Peaks character, just incase it sounded familiar – all seem to start with variations of the same theme. “Contains / featured members of Sahg, Enslaved, God Seed, Gorgoroth BUT sound nothing like them.” 

Now I’m intrigued to some point, so let’s switch to my now non premium Spotify account. After the adverts something that to me didn’t sound too dissimilar to Shinedown kicks in. Obviously my first assumption is that Spotify has randomly switched artist. No, it still says Audrey Horne and from the Le Fol album. Song two is up and with its Hammond organ in the background sounds like a modern take on Deep Purple. 

So after half an hour or so of listening to them they don’t sound half bad. If moody, mid paced melancholy with addictive sing a long choruses is how you like your rock then you probably would like this. Obviously listening on shuffle I had album tracks thrown at me and I didn’t come across that big anthem, but I’m sure there’ll be one in there somewhere. 

Out Of The City has a very Blackstar Riders, or a slower VolBeat feel to it, and looks like the video could have been lifted straight out of Avenue Q. It is taken from their latest album Pure Heavy released a couple of years ago. I think I’ll be listening to more of these Scandinavians later.