Possessed By Shredding Demons

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My third visit on the European metal trip makes a stop at the continents fourth smallest country Liechtenstein 🇱🇮 (and possibly the hardest one to spell?) .  The 62 square mile Alpine principality is sandwiched in-between Austria and Switzerland.  In the FIFA rankings for European teams they’re also fourth from bottom there, having recently surpassed Malta.

When I looked up the country on the Metal Archives site it only threw up twelve bands from the country and Shotgun from Schaan were the only one to be listed as a thrash metal band.  I managed to find the bands only release to date on Spotify, but you need to look for Shotgun Blast on the streaming site.  I was pleasantly surprised with what I was hearing, retro thrash with a very Slayer and Exodus sound, one of the guitar riffs on Possessed by Shredding Demons could almost be something the late Jeff Hanneman could have written. 

With modern technology I had already contacted vocalist Bruno via Facebook and sent my Euros via PayPal for a physical copy of the CD within 24 hours of deciding to do this 55 band task.  I made the conscious decision to try and buy something from every band I want to include in this list, so this could take a while to complete.

I though this was the first band from Liechtenstein to be included in my iTunes library, even after reading the list of a dozen bands.  For Christmas my wife was more than generous enough to buy me an iMac as I got frustrated with the old and slow PC that I’ve been using for far too long.  This meant that my whole music library had to be switched from one computer to the other.  Thats a task I really despise as it’s so time consuming after I’ve switched machines.  I lose all my playlists and song counts and the transfer messes with a lot of the artwork.  Some of the artwork that iTunes replaces the correct stuff with is often hilarious too.  Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime II album was replaced with Wolf Eyes by Paul Winter, definitely something I’ve never heard of!

Any time I had spare between Christmas Day evening and up to last weekend was spent painstakingly going through how many thousands of artists and albums I have and replacing as much artwork as I could find had gone errant.  Twenty days on, and a week after I thought I’d got it all, I’m still seeing white gaps.

One of the bands I needed artwork for was an album called Griefshire by a gothic metal band called Elis (a substandard Nightwish clone) who I found out a few days ago were from Liechtenstein’s capital city Vaduz.  So Shotgun weren’t the first band I heard from the country, but I can safely say it was the first piece of mail that I received from there, and over the years I’ve received a lot of envelopes from many different countries.

Have a listen to these guys if you’re into the whole retro thrash revival thing.  All their music is readily available on Spotify, YouTube and if you like it get in touch with them via Facebook and put your money where your thrash metal loving mouth is and purchase the disc.  I hope the band get a break in the future as I’d love to get the chance to see the band live sometime so all I need to do now is persuade my wife that a holiday to Switzerland and the surrounding areas is a good idea.

 

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Here Comes The Tank

Hello WordPress, it’s been a while! I’m currently en route to a hastily arranged trip to Eindhoven to catch some of the bands at this years Eindhoven Metal Meeting, my first time at this particular festival and my first time within the Effenaar venue.

Last weekend was spent battling plummeting temperatures and snow fall trying to getting to a couple of shows. Friday evening was spent in the Rebellion Club in Manchester reliving the early 90’s halcyon days of the UK thrash metal scene. Late additions Xentrix opened up the show just to give their new frontman another workout, only his second show with the band I think. Yorkshire thrashers Re-Animator followed, their first show for some time after their guitarist beat cancer for a second time. Closing the show were Acid Reign and as usual they were superb.

Twenty four hours later I was in Manchester again at the much bigger Academy as I got press ganged into seeing sludge behemoths Mastodon. I’ve caught the band on several occasions over the years, but this was my first experience of a headline show. They were good at what they did. The stage set up gave you something visual to look at, it’s just that I personally found them dull and there was nothing memorable for the casual fan. The songs I know from radio airplay were all absent.

Due to the inclement weather and deteriorating conditions the third show of the weekends trio was cancelled. I was only going to see Scottish thrashers Disposable and they would’ve been the second entry on my European road trip entries. That auspicious accolade now moves from Scotland to Austria and coincidentally the first band I should be seeing in Eindhoven this afternoon.

The winter gathering of the EMM is now in its ninth cycle. Over the years they have put together some stunning line ups and quite often they’ve had multiple tours crisscrossing the continent joining up on the same weekend. When I caught the ThrashFest tour in Berlin 2010 and Hamburg 2011 a more death metal orientated package bolstered the Dutch line up on both occasions.

Highlights for me today are Swiss avant-garde thrashers Coroner, German beer obsessive Tankard – two bands I’ve been listening to for three decades and only seen once previously. Sandwiched between the thrash metal is Swedish death metal band Merciless who I’m intrigued to see. I have a few of their albums from back in the early 90’s, but I’ve not listened to them for a very long time and never seen them live.

Extreme metal pioneers Venom are headlining tonight. I saw them earlier in the year at Bloodstock and they weren’t too impressive. Maybe it was the daylight surroundings, so maybe an indoor setting might be more suitable.

If fatigue doesn’t set in Czech black band Master’s Hammer close the main stage – a weird European festival thing where there are usually bands performing after the main draw. The whole thing goes on until the metal hordes are kicked out into the winter night at 2:30am!

On the second stage prior to Tankard and company I’m hoping there’s room inside for me to squeeze in and see Dutch thrashers Distillator and from Vienna Mortal Strike. 🇦🇹

I have the bands one and only album so far, For the Loud and Aggressive, and it’s a pretty decent 45 minutes of thrash metal. It’s definitely retro thrash, hardly reinventing the wheel, but are many bands doing anything much different in 2017? The album finishes with a cover of Tankard’s Zombie Attack and with the Germans playing later in the day will there be a guest vocal slot if they decide to give it an airing?

Spill The Acid

For as long as I can remember I’ve based my musical acquisitions a lot on location. In my tape trading days I’d request something I wanted to hear and have the dubbed 90 minute tape filled with something seemingly more left field.

It’s weird how I remember this, but one of my earliest trades featured Helloween’s Walls of Jericho E.P. and an pre Abigail record from King Diamond. The rest of the tape included the 1987 demo Keep Fit, F**k More… by Death Power and I only requested that because it was from France, and one, if not the first, thing I had by a band from Europe’s third biggest country.

Ever since I’ve been intrigued in far flung places and their musical scenes. In the old paper fanzines I did I’d inevitably include a scene report or a band from a place most people couldn’t find on a map. I’d trawl the pen pal and advertising section of something like Metal Forces for the “weird” addresses. Now in the digital age if I see something pop up from somewhere that looks unexpected then I rarely pass it over. This way I’ve discovered amazing bands from Greece, Italy and Spain amongst others.

I think with me living on an island some of the fantastic European bands, whether they be hardcore or metal based, don’t get a following here unless it’s on a decent sized label with good distribution. On the mainland it seems different as a band in the Czech Republic for example can jump in their vehicle and in a matter of hours could be playing in Germany, Poland, Slovakia or Austria. If the same band wanted to play a gig in the UK it’s a long drive, a ferry then another drive or maybe four expensive flights. Unless they’re on a tour and are coming here for a number of days it’s not economically viable to head over here off their own back.

In light of my fondness for all things different I stared looking into other places that I have nothing from and last night I came up with the idea of posting something from every European country! It’s going to take a while to post something from all 55, and it’ll be an expensive experiment because of course I want a CD from as many regions as I can. Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube and the Metal Archives will also be invaluable.

If you Google a list of European sovereign states it’ll only give you 49. I’ve based my list on FIFA and UEFA’s idea of Europe. That way I can include the four countries that make up the United Kingdom and a couple of others that have representative teams qualifying for the next Euro tournament.

I want to keep as many of the 55 thrash metal, just to see how it translates over the various borders, but making a quick list last night that’s not going to be possible for some places and it might have to be a death metal or black metal outfit. Also many bands that pique my interest may not have a commercial release or a video readily available. I also foresee some tenuous connections for a few countries. My aim is 55 countries and 55 bands that aren’t established in the mainstream, but if some places make it hard to pick one there could be more bands (I’m looking at you Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Denmark in particular!)

So that’s the back ground done so on to the music. The band I’ve chosen to start the proceedings are Acid Force who hail from Banská Bystrica, pretty much slap bang in the middle of Slovakia. 🇸🇰

I was first made aware of these crossover thrashers when they were included on a list of the 100 new thrash metal albums that had been keeping the scene alive this century – or something like that, I can’t find the original list post at the moment. There were none of the big bands on there (Metallica, Slayer, Kreator etc) so it was mainly bands formed post 2000.

I have a thing for lists so I went through my library just out of curiosity to see how many of the century worth of albums I owned and it turned out to be not many. Every time I came across a band I hadn’t encountered it was a visit to the digital platforms to check them out. I loved what I was hearing from these guys on their Bandcamp page and I needed the CD. Three weekends ago my package from Slovakia arrived, the CD is great and the shirt (yes I had to buy another shirt) is something different to wear at gigs and impress people with regarding my global thrash metal knowledge.

Atrocity For The Lust was released back in March this year and can be sampled at their Bandcamp page . If you like it buy yourself a copy, Andrej is a great guy. Another band added to the long list of those I hope to catch on a stage one day!

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Last Before The End

What an odd week this has turned out to be. I ended up missing Helloween completely in London earlier in the week. I had an extremely busy day at work on Tuesday and got home a few hours later than expected and just didn’t have the urge to head down to London on a whim.

For the exact same reason I missed Venom Prison in Manchester on Thursday. Another long day and no desire to stay awake any longer than I had to.

Yesterday I was intending to spend a few hours up in Eleven watching Demon perform the Unexpected Guest in full as they celebrated the one year anniversary of the venue’s opening. I had yet another unfeasibly late finish, but I had plenty of time to grab a power nap before we headed out. I thought I’d check up on Facebook before I dozed and the first post on my feed is the poster saying the show was now sold out! Let’s see if the same fate befalls me later when I might make the short journey to Eleven to catch NWOBHM pioneers Tygers of Pan Tang.

Yesterday should also have been the start of an eight day stint off work. But the recurring theme of staff shortages means I’m working the first three days of the week. The Tygers show is a possible replacement for a gig I really wanted to be at in Holland tonight, but due to leaving it late to buy a seat on a plane and now committing to extra work means I had to miss Italian thrashers Game Over in the intimate Little Devil bar in Tilburg.

When I saw the date announced and the added bonuses of it being free entry and a matinee show got me excited to finally see one of my favourite European thrash metal bands live. I was on the precipice of buying tickets for the Thrash or be Thrashed festival they were announced for last year along with Exumer in Belgium (I think), but that got cancelled.

There is such a rich vein of retro thrash across Europe it’s a crying shame that history is repeating itself yet again and the UK seems to be lagging way behind the European mainland in terms of quality and fanbase for this scene. In the last three days alone I have had three CDs delivered from bands within the Euro zone. Acid Force from the Czech Republic and hailing from Italy National Suicide and the latest offering from Game Over.

So later this evening rather than getting drenched in a combination of sweat and Jupiler and vying to gain a vantage point and enjoying an hour of Azzurri thrash I’ll have to reluctantly make do with blasting out the Claiming Supremacy album again.

I doubt I’ll get chance to see Game Over on British shores anytime soon, unless they get an invite like Bloodrocuted, Distillator or Exarsis in recent years and snag a place on a pretty significant tour. But with the amount of European festivals and the still relatively easy access to the continent, fingers crossed, one day my path will cross with as many of these fantastic bands as possible.

Last Before The End is the third track from their fourth and most recent album officially release last Friday. It’s so much easier now to sample new music before you commit to buying and all four albums are readily available on Spotify. Go and have a listen and see what you think.

Moth Into Flame

The morning after W.A.S.P. in Manchester sees me have a relatively early wake up call to jump on a train and head to London Town to see Metallica on the opening night of their five date UK tour. 

I’ll be at two of the five dates, but things could change. I was hoping to have seen them at a couple more but at £100 a ticket it was way out of my price range to see many more than the two. I’m in London on Sunday with friends and the following Saturday I’m in Manchester with my wife. I was hoping to have gone north of the wall to see them in Glasgow too, but that (so far) hasn’t materialised! 

I haven’t seen as many of the bands European dates as I’d have hoped for, but I’ve had a few adventures and I have a night in Stuttgart to look forward to next year. My first time seeing the band in what many consider to be their European home of Germany. 

Before the main event it’ll be straight off the train and a dash to central east London (is that a thing?) to join one of the many queues for the day and have a peruse inside the pop up shop. Having experienced the Copenhagen store back in February it’s a great money making scheme for the band. Hopefully I’ll be able to grab something British specific from there as I’m pretty sure the ones on sale in the arenas will be snapped up and several will be on sale on eBay before the final strains of Enter Sandman have died away in the rafters. 

Once I’ve finally dumped my stuff off in the hotel it’s off to Greenwich to visit the O2 Arena for a second time. The only other visit I’ve paid to this soulless hanger was back in 2010 when Bon Jovi took residency there for a staggering twelve nights. 

With the tragic event at the Manchester Arena some months ago and artists finally (but unsuccessfully) trying to do something to combat ticket touts I foresee another long and arduous wait whilst people who’ve bought their tickets at an inflated price on the secondary market for the event get unceremoniously turned away. Once those lucky enough to posses the right ticket with matching photo ID it’ll be time to queue inside the venue for just about anything you’ll need in there, over priced food and drink, toilets and merchandise. 

Let’s hope, because it’s Britain, that the people in front of the queue aren’t like the last ones I encountered at a big show on foreign soil. What’s with the desire to try on every piece of clothing you think you want to buy? Check the little piece of material in the back of the garments you are wearing. If they fit ask for the equal size. If they’re to big or small amend accordingly. The only thing you need to know is the make of the clothing. From my misfortune, if it’s Fruit of the Loom go a size up. 

It’s going to be an expensive weekend with W.A.S.P. the night before and Manchester six days later, but at least I’m only away from my own bed for one evening and even if it’s taking me three hours to travel to the capital my train ticket has been dirt cheap, costing me less than £20 there and back. More money available for merch, not that I’m desperate for anymore. 

I was hoping this years arena run would have seen me break the barrier of seeing the band for the 40th time. I was really hoping I’d have made Paris earlier this year and maybe another two of the five UK shows. If I’d have made the Moscow show that I had tickets for back in 2010 then I’d gave only needed two more, but Eyjafjallajökull erupting in Iceland at the same time scuppered flights, along with the exorbitant price of a Russian visa so close to travelling also didn’t help matters. I’ll break the 40 mark in time, there’s no rush. They’re going nowhere just yet. 

As all the tracks from the latest album had videos made for them here’s another one that has been a main stay of the band’s set list for the fifty odd shows currently played on the Worldwired Tour. 

Brutal Decay

I should have posted this a few days ago, but I’ve had so much running about to do at home, the Life of Agony gig on Friday and generally just being let down at work yesterday that prevented me from getting an early finish. Better late than never anyway. 

I’m currently a few thousand feet in the air on a flight to Amsterdam for an evening of thrash metal. The flight seems to be full of people who’ve partaken in to much expensive lager at the departure point and now are a bit green around the gills with the brief spell of turbulence we experienced on take off. They’re also the ones who look like they’ll be trying their luck in Amsterdam’s red light district this evening and trying to find solace the hash  cafes. I’m glad I’m heading an hour north east by train to sleepy Zwolle for my fix of Euro thrash. 

Even though the trek is headlined by Bristolian’s Onslaught, the Thrash ‘Tll The Death tour isn’t hitting home soil. Hardly surprising after attending several of their shows over the last few years to pitiful crowds. Band wise the UK thrash scene is having a renaissance and is possibly at one of its highest ebbs since the thrash metal glory days of the late 80’s. Attendance wise British fans seem to very apathetic towards home grown talent. I saw Onslaught performing The Force in full in Chester last year to no more than 50 people. A friend saw the same tour with less than 30 in Banbury. 

Danish stalwarts Artillery are the main support. This will be the fourth time I’ve seen them in four years in a fourth different country after waiting decades to see them. They and Onslaught traversed the UK together in what was the Dane’s first experience of British crowds. The attendance in Glasgow and Birmingham a few days later were hardly stellar. Having experienced tonight’s venue previously I’m hoping for a cracking few hours. 

Opening up the tour are a pair of Greek bands. I was in Camden’s Underworld early in 2014 to see Exarsis play with Suicidal Angels, Lost Soceity and Fueled by Fire then did it all again in Munich two weeks later. 

Athenian thrashers Chronosphere are a new band to add to my hefty list of bands seen, but a band I’ve been listening to since their debut album Envirusment surfaced in 2012. Several mainland European tours and two albums later I finally get to experience them live. With the way Britain seems to be going with all the Brexit uncertainty I’ll be surprised if they ever get to Blighty under their own steam, unless they drop on a support slot like their country men Exarsis have done. Now I need to find a way to cross off Game Over, Final Depravity, Ultra-Violence and Panikk (amongst a slew of others) from the European thrash bucket list. 

Over the years attending gigs this way had increased sharply, but I think this is due you our lax nature in booking the important bits of the equation and leaving it too late to snag the bargain flight prices. Considering Zwolle is nearly 600 miles from home I can’t really complain at paying £20 more than it could cost me to do the 170 mile trip to London by train. 

On to the last leg of the journey now, until we have reverse our steps at 6am Monday morning for a 9 o’clock flight, an hour now on the train to Zwolle. We’ll have left the cannabis tourists 80 miles behind us and heading to more sedate and tranquil surroundings, well until 6pm when the Greeks make the stage rumble. 

Brutal Decay is taken from the middle album of Chronosphere’s current trio of albums Embracing Oblivion from 2014.  

Messenger Of God

Last week I though gigs couldn’t get much weirder when I went to see a W.A.S.P. tribute band belt out a 90 minute greatest hits set in the hallway of an out of use prison. On Saturday I’m of to see a Mexican thrash metal band play in a pub in Macclesfield! 

For those who don’t know, the market town of Macclesfield used to be renowned for its silk trade in the 1800’s. Two centuries later it’s more associated as a stop on the train for those people travelling north from Stoke on Trent to Manchester. 

Much like Shrewsbury a week ago it will be my first gig in the town. I think it should have been my second there as I’m pretty sure I drove there twenty odd years ago to see Skunk Anansie play somewhere but it was sold out and we were turned away. Or we were turned away from a Manchester venue where the band were playing and attempted to attend an alternative show in Macc but couldn’t find the venue, pre sat nav days obviously. One of those statements  is correct! 

On Saturday Mexican thrashers Piraña play what should be their fourth British show, assuming none of the previous three have been scrapped. Their nine date trek is with touring partners Past The Fall from London. I’m not to knowledgeable with either band, but put “thrash metal” and “Mexico” in a sentence appearing in a town less than 15 minutes away by train then I’m obviously interested!

According to the Metal Archives the Querétaro quartet formed in 2003 and have released two full length albums, with 2012’s Corruption being the most recent release, (also the album where Messenger of God can be found.) I have both albums and an EP queued up on Spotify to have a listen to before the weekend and I’ve investigated a few tracks via YouTube, though I have a sneaky suspicion some of the Piraña tracks there could be by a different band? If I’m suitably impressed enough on Saturday I have two further opportunities to see the band within an hours drive next week, but both on a weekday night. 

Over the years I’ve found some gems within the thrash metal scene and well off the beaten track, but virtually every band was from Europe, Australia, Canada or the United States. The underground thrash metal scene from Central and South America has completely passed me by. 

I’ve delved into a few bands here and there, and mainly from Brazil or Mexico (Nuclear, Deathraiser, Commando, Blackning and Drunk in Violence to name check five) but I’ve seen a shed load of  bands online from some far flung territories like Peru, Argentina and Chile and never gave them the time of day and went on to something from Eastern Europe. Piraña are also going to be a much more realistic and authentic Mexican band than the other band from the country that I have seen on stage this year. Brujeria anyone? 

Piraña, and Past the Fall actually, are both bands I’d hoped to have seen somewhere in mainland Europe back in 2015 when they along with Australian band Desecrator, supported Hirax on a Euro trek. Hirax made it to these shores for a handful of dates after the mainland dates finished, but unfortunately none of the three support acts made it over. For as many tours that traverse the British Isles, it’s the ones that don’t arrive on these shores, or the ones that disband the package before they hit the ferry over the channel and we end up with the same names opening up the British leg of the tour.