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.

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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. 

 

Cosmic Dreams

After last weekends jaunt into deepest, darkest  Essex for a wedding it’s now time to get back into inane rambling mode. I’ve been off work for a week now and I’ve got three days to go. Time to finish of the holiday with a few bands I think?

The blueprints in my head consists of three small and cheap shows in as many days, but we all know how that seems to work just lately. Friday night should be my first gig in Shrewsbury and also my first in a prison! W.A.S.P. tribute band Electric Circus UK are playing a rock night at the HM Prison Shrewsbury. Thankfully it closed to inmates in 2013, so we won’t feel like the new fish in there. Whether the metal heads will be allowed out afterwards is another question. 

Saturday sees another tribute band grace the stage at the local venue Eleven. Metallica kicked off their European tour last Saturday in Copenhagen. They played a pair of shows in Amsterdam at the start of the week and finish it with a brace of Paris gigs. I was hoping to snag tickets for a show or two, the whole reason why I had this week off. Alas I didn’t score entry to any, so instead I’ll save myself £95 alone on entrance fees and see the Metallica tribute act Metal Militia for a fiver.  

Fingers crossed, it all kicks off tonight with Leeds science fiction obsessed death / thrash metal quartet Cryptic Shift who have a free shindig at Grand Central in Manchester. I don’t have to be up for work at stupid o’clock Friday morning, so I can finally check out one of the venues free Thursday night showcases. 

This evening is a bit of a reinvention of the free Thursday night gigs the venue had been putting on for a long time now but the ones I wanted to go to have fallen on work days and seemed to have a post 11pm finish. The band I want to see (and the only one I’ve heard of) hit the stage at 9:30pm if things run like clockwork, so I have a few train options to get myself there and home comfortably.  

Cryptic Shift are another one of those bands I seem to miss on a regular basis since I first encountered them with their cover of Sepultura’s Arise a few years ago. I managed to see them in Manchester twice last year, the last time was with their participation on the Vektor show at the Star and Garter last August. Their technical approach to the genre mixes the trash of Voi-Vod and Vektor together with the technical death metal of Gorguts and latter day Death. Fans are still waiting for a full length release after seven years, but there have been a few singles and an EP. in the interim.  Cosmic Dreams, a new track, surfaced from the other side of the Pennines earlier this year and can be found with the rest of their back catalogue at their Bandcamp page

Heavy Metal Month Listening Challenge 31/31

Day 31 – A song about insanity. 

Annihilator – Alison Hell 

And now, the end is near; 

And so I face the final curtain.

My friend, I’ll say it clear, 

I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.

Regrets, I’ve had a few; 

But then again, too few to mention.

I did what I had to do

And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course; 

Each careful step along the byway, 

And more, much more than this, 

I did it my way.

I’ve had fun with these 31 tracks and I think Ol’ Blue Eyes sums up the last month where I’ve managed to post something everyday for a whole month (and some). It’s the first time that’s happened, and originally the plan for this blog. Maybe I’ll incorporate more short blocks of text in the future. 

Nineteen bands have been from the United States, four from England, three Germans and one each from Switzerland, Canada, Denmark and Finland, and only one band repeated. Maybe a bit lopsided towards the thrash metal genre and the 1980’s, but it’s the ones I like most. I could have easily done all 28 with Metallica tracks, with some slight interpretations of the original questions. There were so many bands I wanted to do and I could do all 31 questions multiple times without repeating tracks or bands – apart from the specific artist questions. 

Thanks for reading everyday for a month. 

Heavy Metal Month Listening Challenge 30/31

Day 30 – A song featuring a mythical creature. 

Heathen – Goblin’s Blade

Before I decided to share the tracks between as many different artists as I could this penultimate choice was nailed on to be The Call of Ktulu by Metallica. As that Bay Area band have been featured twice already I have passed the mythical creature torch to fellow Bay Area band Heathen.