The Howl

October the 31st rumbles over the horizon and again regular people seem to embrace the spooky lifestyle for a “holiday” that now seems to be lasting a for a whole week in recent years. 

I used to have a pretty realistic looking skull on the windowsill staring out on to the street some years ago, for those interested it was the skull adorning the top of an unofficial Metallica box set. I believe it led to some disdain from a few neighbours. Roll on those years since and some of those same neighbours now decorate their windows with cobwebs, spiders, skeletons and bats. Oh and skulls! 

Our road doesn’t have too many kids living on it, so we don’t have to endure an endless steam of kids roaming the area for treats (or as my wife likes to put it begging). Having said that though we seem to be the 1313 Mockingbird Lane house that kids are told to steer clear of.  

Sometimes I feel slightly embarrassed at this time of year as it feels like I’m jumping on the spooky bandwagon for a bunch of days, but pick any particular day of the year and I’m undoubtedly clad in black (or green), wearing something adorned with a skull, a demon or some kind of monster. I’m also as likely to watch a horror show or film on Christmas Day or Easter as I am on Hallowe’en. 

Any way, to jump on the bandwagon and “celebrate” something for the day of ghosts, ghouls and pumpkins here’s a short blast of death rock from Samhain. 

For the uninitiated Samhain in the band that pretty much flew under the radar after the Misfits dissolved and frontman Glenn Danzig went mainstream with his eponymous band. Originally a side project for Glenn that turned full time they released three albums between 1984 and 1990, they eventually morphed into what is still actively known as Danzig. 

There was major label interest in Samhain fronted by James Hetfield and Cliff Burton. Samhain were signed to a major label, but the suits only really wanted Danzig as a solo artist, but he insisted in taking Eerie Von along for the ride. He was convinced to use the Danzig moniker to prevent any issues as and when members of the band left and were replaced. 

This video is a homemade video for the track The Howl taken from their 1984 debut album Initium released on Danzig’s independent label Plan 9. Even back then the Michael Golden designed horned skull that has became synonymous with Danzig the band was already in use. 

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Heavy Metal Month Listening Challenge 6/31

Day 6 – Female Vocal. 

Rather predictably I’ve gone with Warlock and the “metal queen” that is Doro Pesch. 

They were probably my introduction into a female fronted metal band when I first listened to them in 1987 (ish) when I got a copy of their Fight for Rock 12″ and never looked back. 

Hellion

Last Saturday Chris Holmes’ Mean Man played the Rigger, a local rock club that I probably don’t frequent anywhere near as much as I should do, mainly down to the venues lousy promotion. Their Facebook page seems to make me aware of an event on the same morning. Not good if you’ve arranged something else. 

For those not in the know of who Mr Holmes is, he was the guitarist for W.A.S.P. The first band I saw live and for nearly three decades one of my favourite bands. If nothing else we metal fans are loyal. 

The giant Californian was a founding member and appeared on the first four albums. He left after the Headless Children touring cycle and rejoined for a further three albums in 1997 before waving goodbye yet again. 

Ask anyone of a certain vintage about Chris and I’d stump up a fair amount that outside of the band he’ll be known for his assless chaps or more likely his infamous interview featured on the second instalment of the Decline of a Western Civilisation documentary. He’s absolutely wasted on vodka and floating around a swimming pool on a lilo whilst being interviewed. I’ve only seen the documentary once a long time ago and that is all I can recall from it myself! 

When the show at the Rigger was announced I was in two minds about going. I have an affinity with his old band and he’s appearing less than 7 miles from my house. But I’ve heard some of his solo stuff over the last couple of years and it’s not great. Obviously I went and it was much better than I anticipated. Live the solo stuff sounded great. There was also a smattering of W.AS.P. classics from those first four albums. Guitarist Thomas Cesario took the lead with the Blackie Lawless parts. 

As I was home alone last night and there was nothing to watch on TV I ended up beaming the Live at the Lyceum video from YouTube on to my TV (isn’t modern technology ace?). I haven’t seen that video for an age. I know I have a copy on VHS tape upstairs, but we haven’t had a working VHS player in the house for ages, and I’m pretty sure I’ve not viewed it since I’ve been married. It’s also the first time I’ve seen the complete hour long version as European cut was only six songs and half an hour long.  

The crowd over dubs get annoying very quickly though.  I’m pretty sure even back in 1984 London crowds didn’t whistle and cheer during every song for the entire sixty minutes. I’d love to travel back to the height of their debauchery and outright decadence.  

Watching it thirty plus years after its recording it is so un politically incorrect. British media would be in uproar over a tour like this now. The fake blood, a pair of guys with their rears on display, raw meat being thrown into the crowd and the topless, chained up lady who makes an “appearance” on the rack. At the time they were taking what someone like Alice Cooper was doing live and taking it to another level purely for the shock value and keeping with their shock rocker personas. 

This version of Hellion is taken from the Lyceum video (be daft not to really wouldn’t it) and like all the tracks performed on October 24th 1984 they are all from the bands debut album, which surfaced a mere two months before the London show, and the Animal single. Hellion also happens to be my favourite track by the band which I thought I’d posted previously. 

L.O.V.E. Machine 

I’m generally not a fan of cover bands or tribute bands. In all my time I’ve purposely seen three that I can think of – a Bon Jovi tribute in the early days of the wife and I, a Metallica tribute and a band who played rock covers. I think that’s it in twenty eight years! 

At a push you could say four when I saw Satan’s Lounge Band perform at the Best Buy Theatre in New York City in 2011, even though it was Anthrax members playing Anthrax songs in one of the worst kept secrets in the metal community during the Big 4 weekend in the city. 

Tomorrow I’m off to Eleven – just up the road – to take that tally to five. Whitesnake U.K. are performing there and ably supported by Electric Circus.  Not quite as self explanatory as the headliners but I’m intrigued to see a tribute to W.A.S.P., especially as I’ve never heard of a tribute to the said Los Angeles outfit. 

I’ve seen the bonafide versions of both bands on numerous occasions and as noted previously, W.A.S.P. were the first headline band I saw live and a further dozen times since. Mr Coverdale’s band a more modest three times. 

Coincidentally both bands were two of the first three 7″ singles I purchased back in 1987 from Mike Lloyds Music in Newcastle. Dio’s “I Could Have Been A Dreamer” was the gooseberry amongst this trio of pieces of plastic, along with Whitesnake’s re-release of Here I Go Again and W.A.S.P.’s notorious debut single Animal (F**k Like A Beast) – I was thirteen and rebellious. 

I’m not entirely sure what I expect to have seen by the culmination of the show; it could be stunning or a complete car crash of an evening. I’m hoping the vocals of the Whitesnake clones are better than the three times I’ve seen the genuine article. And in regards to W.A.S.P. I’m kind of hoping I’ll get to hear Animal played live for the first time in thirteen years since frontman Blackie Lawless “found god”. 

 W.A.S.P. are up there as one of my favourite bands and have only featured twice in the blog. L.O.V.E. Machine is taken from the band’s self titled debut (or in some territories it’s known as Winged Assassins) from 1984. For me, that album is amongst my favourite debut albums. It’s such a great slice of Hollywood sleaze with no fillers on the album in my humble opinion. This track was never released as a single in the U.K., but there was a 12″ released in Japan, and for collector geeks, there’s an American promotional 12″ release and a Spanish promo 7″. 

Siege & Dropdead – Leeds, Temple of Boom – 13.11.17

Yesterday involved a Sunday afternoon drive up the M6 and M62 to the Temple of Boom in Leeds. It was my first visit to this Lilliputian venue, but in a hindsight and suffering a tired zombie like haze the day after,  it was well worth it. 

After a slightly delayed departure, and a toilet emergency en route for one of the passengers, we arrived at the Temple shortly before proceedings should have kicked off. An hour later than we’d expected local trio Groak hit the “stage” and powered through a brief set of raw and fast hardcore (fast core), power violence, blastcore or however you want to define the genre. Leicestershire band Nothing Clean and travelling from the other end of the M62, Liverpudlian mob Horsebastard offered more of the same.

Tonight’s draw were undoubtedly the two band fleeing Donald Trump’s bizarre new world. 

Fronted by the enigmatic Bob Otis, Rhode Island band Dropdead offered a more polished and experienced version of what had preceded. On stage for close on to fourth minutes they played the longest set of the evening. I’m not sure if they’ve played the UK before (I’m pretty confident they have though but a long time ago) but they were embraced by the majority of the near capacity crowd line some long lost siblings by the assembled punks, rockers, hardcore kids and metal heads. With an unintelligible vocal style the songs were interspersed with brief synopses of the songs and the first of many rants against President Trump that I’m sure I’ll encounter over the next four years. 

Running over time – no surprise for a DIY punk show – Weymouth, Massachusetts hardcore punk legends Siege were playing their second ever show on British soil, the first of which happened to be on the very same stage less than twenty hours earlier. Clocking in at under thirty minutes, the slightly thinning crowd lapped up the  noisy and blistering performance. Things briefly descended into some Hawkwind kind of weirdness with the introduction of a saxophone and, unintentionally, a female fan swaying and dancing away to the side of the stage. 

Getting home an hour later than expected and my work alarms attempting to wake me three and a half hours later this morning and most of today has been hard work, but well worth it to see two bands as legendary in their genre as Dropdead and Siege on a British stage in such an intimate setting. In two weeks time I get to do it again in the same venue when Infest roll into the city to play a trio of shows there. 
  

Never heard of any of the above bands? Here’s a minute or so of headliners Siege with the aptly named track Drop Dead, which was originally released on cassette in 1984, but has been officially and unofficially unleashed on the public many times in the three decades since its release. 

  

Rats

  

In a matter of hours I’m off to see punk band SubHumAns play a show in Stoke. Not to be confused with the Canadian band of the same name that any self respecting  thrasher will have heard a song by – even if they don’t know it! You know that 1987 Overkill 12″ with the sweary title? Yeah, that’s the one. Well that song was originally released in 1979 on the bands self titled 7″. 

Anyway, I digress. The British anarcho punk band SubHumAns formed in Wiltshire back in 1980 and after releasing a bunch of EPs and albums on their own label Bluurg split half a decade later. There was a brief reunion in 1991, then something more permanent in 1998. As it stands three of the four members have been a part of the band since 1980 with the bass player being the new guy having been a part of Dick Lucas’ outfit since 1983! 

It has been mentioned before, the huge assorted pile of vinyl I borrowed from a school friend and spent the next few evenings dubbing onto TDK-90 cassettes. In amongst my introduction to all things Slayer and Kreator there was quite a bit of punk in there too. Doom, Conflict, Discharge and an album by this lot. 

I’m pretty certain it was 1983’s From the Cradle to the Grave. I listened to it as it was dubbing and for whatever reason I didn’t take to them. Once I started listening to a bit more punk and hardcore stuff post high school, and buying releases on DIY labels like Words of Warning, I gave them another go when I got a copy of Times Fly… But Aeroplanes Crash / Rats reissue CD and found them more appealing.  

This live version of Rats is taken from All Gone Live released by Cleopatra in 2005. I’m not sure if this is the visual version of the Live in a Dive album released through Fat Wreck Chords in 2004 or not. Live in a Dive was a series of seven live albums released through Fat Wreck, the only one I physically have in the house is the Sick Of It All release.  

This evening will be my first time seeing the band and as some one with no real social political leanings, it could be an hard coming evening when the politics angle comes into play, especially with everything going on in this country with the Brexit thing rearing its head again. 

  
  
 

We’re Not Gonna Take It

  
 

In a complete contrast to the preceding bands Friday nights headliners Twisted Sister are bringing the curtain down on a 34 year love affair with the United Kingdom as they put the band out to pasture after a four decade slog and a multitude of highs and as many lows.  

The British Isles were the first place to embrace the band outside of their native USA. Debut album Under The Blade came out on Secret Records – primarily a punk label based in London. Their debut show outside of North America was in Wrexham, a small town in North Wales, closely followed by a gig at the legendary Marquee Club in London. They even managed to find Stoke on Trent twice in 1983 and 1986 – alas I wasn’t at either. 

Since their resurgence as a live act in 2001 UK visits haven’t been as regular in the shires as people would have liked. A slew of dates supporting Alice Cooper in 2005 and a quartet of headline shows a year later have all been bookended by festival appearances. One final run in halls would have been nice, but ending their relationship with us Limeys headlining Bloodstock is the next best way they could bow out over here. 

I saw them say Au Revoir to France at Hellfest eight weeks ago. Alongside the other pair of headliners – Rammstein and Black Sabbath – people thought the New York boys were out of their depth, but 90 minutes later those people were proved wrong. They have such a great back catalogue of upbeat, sing a long tunes that people undoubtedly know and it is pretty surreal. Even the most straight laced of us managed to crack a grin and tap a foot. They came to put on a show and entertain the masses and their mission was accomplished with flying colours. 

If you are of that age to recall MTV showing actual music videos – yes, music is what the M in MTV stands for – then you’ve probably come across a pair of their videos those being I Wanna Rock and We’re Not Gonna Take It both taken from the Stay Hungry album. Both videos are more like a pair of mini movies and the familiar faces in them belong to Mark Metcalf as the father and Stephen Furst reprising the principals role, both from the college comedy films National Lampoons Animal House and its follow ups. 

Thank you for the memories and the tunes Dee, Jay Jay, Eddie A J and Mark – without a doubt you’ll be missed.