A Drug Against War

I’ve been listening to KMFDM on and off since I started to discover the industrial metal scene via Nine Inch Nails, GGFH, Swamp Terrorists, Laibach and Ministry in the mid 90’s. Tonight the German band play the Ruby Lounge in Manchester and the Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton tomorrow whilst I’m otherwise engaged elsewhere. I’ve never seen them live, then again I don’t own any of their twenty albums, so I doubt I’d be changing my plans for the next two nights, but I’ve enjoyed relistening to them lately. 

I first stumbled upon the band through one of two industrial styles compilation discs. It was either their track Godlike on the Hot Wired Monstertrux album or the Terror – An Industrial Metal Compilation where a remixed version of Money was featured. They’ve also been on the soundtrack albums to several films including Hellraiser III, Mortal Kombat and Johnny Mnemonic. 

Formed in Hamburg in 1984 as a performance project by Sascha Konietzko, Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid (no pity for the majority) has gone through a lot of band members in their 33 year career. I initially liked their earlier output with a more angry metal edge to it. Listening to some of the more recent tracks with American singer Lucia Cifarelli it doesn’t sound quite a metallic as I recall, maybe be a bit more watered down. No doubt I’ll have a binge listen on Spotify over the weekend and regret not going to see them.  

For a long time I was under the impression KMFDM was as acronym for Kill Mother F*****g Depeche Mode. I didn’t find out until recently that was just something the band did with American journalists who weren’t well versed with the German language. Even though the band are considered German now there is only one German native in the band, whilst the rest of the line up is completed by an American singer and a trio of British musicians. 

A Drug Against War was released on the Angst album in 1993 and still keeps all of those elements from the Chicago industrial scene that originally caught my attention. 

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Hollowman

You just can’t beat that buzzsaw sound with your Scandinavian death metal. It’s just so unique and instantaneously recognisable. 

The death metal representative at the Dynamo Metal Festival is left in the capable hands of Swedish masters Entombed A.D. If you think the name sounds a tad familiar then that’s because it’s basically long standing Entombed frontman LG Petrov with most of the Entombed contingent who were there before the splintering of the band. 

Founding members Nicke Anderson, Uffe Cederlund and Alex Hellid are together with the name Entombed, but this line up haven’t released an album yet. The last Entombed disc was a decade ago, where as the Petrov incarnation have two albums under their bullet belts in the last three years. 

I first heard material that would be later be released under the Entombed logo when every tape trader seemed to enjoy pushing one of the several demos by Nihilist. When they renamed themselves and ended up being signed by Earache Records the first two albums, Left Hand Path and Clandestine, later became death metal classics. Album three, Wolverine Blues, veered away from the straight death metal sound to what was later pigeonholed as death ‘n’ roll – adding a bit more rock and groove into the death metal mix. 

I saw the band a hell of a lot in the mid 90’s. They seemed to be over here every few weeks, or so it felt. Since 1997 I drifted away from the band, but still played the first triumvirate of albums on heavy rotation in the years since. I saw them sporadically in the intervening years, but never purchased any new material. 

Saturday will be my second viewing of the A.D. version after I saw them at Bloodstock in 2014. As you might have guessed the majority of the set was taken from the early albums. I’ve not encountered the other version yet, but for me this possibly supersedes them as this one has the distinctive vocals that I grew up with to back it up. 

I’m really surprised how many bands, and especially those from the death metal genre I like, and in 427 posts I still haven’t featured the likes of Deicide, Cannibal Corpse or Morbid Angel, three stalwarts and supremely influential bands in this particular scene. That will be rectified imminently. 

I’ve probably played Wolverine Blues a bit more over the years than the first two albums, so hence the choice of Hollowman to represent Entombed and Entombed A.D. I really enjoy that hammer like into and the much more groove orientated sound and still retaining some the distinct buzzsaw sound. 


Refuse / Resist

This week marks my twelfth and thirteenth time seeing Brazilian / American thrashers Sepultura. Even though the sixty minute set list I’ll be seeing twice in three days leans heavily towards this years Machine Messiah release I keep going back to the classic era of the band, that’s why the video for Refuse / Resist is below. This is the opening track from Chaos A.D., the album that will be a quarter of a century old next year. 

I should have already reached the dozen mark with my last trip to Holland, but I had to miss their show at Liverpool’s Royal Court with Paradise Lost on December 4th 1993 because I fractured my leg in a drunken stupor after a local gig by The Almighty. 

I was celebrating my birthday with friends at the rearranged show at the Victoria Hall. I drove to my friends house and we all caught the bus up to town. We were swigging from a half bottle of rum on the way there, so it was never going to end well.  The Almighty, The Wildhearts and Kerbdog all played well, then it was off for last orders in the Borough Exchange. That was the one and only time I ventured into that place and I think it’s now a gay club called Gossip!

A taxi back to my friends, but we all thought it’d be “fun” to kick an inanimate object in the shape of a metal garage door. It was just some drunken high jinx. I ended up on the floor and thought noting more of it. 

Roll on a few hours when I woke up abd the alcohol was wearing off, the pain in my ankle was agonising and it was the size of a football (maybe a slight exaggeration). After hobbling the gauntlet to the bathroom then to the front door all overseen by a hungry looking Rottweiler, I don’t know how, but I managed to drive home. 

It was my birthday on the Sunday, but that morning heralded a trip up to A&E in my uncles car for X-rays and eventually a plaster cast up to my knee. It wasn’t my first cast, but touch wood it has been my last. Back home at my parents modest terraced house my grandmother was living with us at the time.  Less than an hour of getting home she’d stumbled past my overhanging leg and knocked it hard. I may have swore!! On the upside though I missed three or four weeks of work and college. 

Triad

  

Today is a bank holiday in England – the last one for almost four months. No work, even though a high percentage of my customers are working today so it would have suited me to be in work, and it’ll prevent the chaos that I will be greeted with on Tuesday. 

So as my alarms usually go off from 3:40am that means today I can have a long lie in right? It’s just gone 7am and I’ve been up nearly an hour already, so a lie in of sorts. I haven’t got a great deal of things to do at this time of the day, I might take Ozymandias for a short walk – but first a little bit of me time. 

Carrying on with the industrial metal theme for a few more posts say hello to Nottingham oiks Pitchshifter. Formed in 1989 the original trio and their drum machine found a home on Peaceville Records for their debut album Industrial. 

Their next three releases were handled by Earache Records the label that Birmingham duo and their drum machine, better known as Godflesh, also called home. Both bands are considered to be innovators of this genre of music. 

Originally their dirge of down tuned guitars and programmed drum beats was a pretty bleak affair. In later years with the addition of a real breathing drummer and mainstream  attention they got much more melodic and eventually a lot of the metal influences dissipated and they were almost a drum and bass outfit. 

They’re a band I saw nowhere near enough over the years. My first encounter was at the Wheatsheaf here in Stoke in 1993. I remember them still having the drum machine when they played, but I can’t recall if anything from Desensitized – especially this track – was played live. The album surfaced in December of that year and I saw them in April, so maybe not. 

The last time I saw them was in Leeds during the annual Damnation Festival in 2008, their penultimate on stage performance. This was as part of a brief comeback, but they have been on hiatus for the last seven years. 

I did have a ticket to see them when they played second fiddle to Bad Religion in Manchester, but for various reasons I never made it. Hopefully there will be a chance in the future to see them as there are rumours of live shows early in 2018 which could mark the twentieth anniversary of Pitchshifter.com. Watch this space in 18 months time then.  

Desenstitized was still a harsh and dissonant affair and especially with tracks like Triad and (A Higher Form of) Killing they are still very menacing, but unlike its predecessor this album is much easier to listen to. A much improved and polished production helped with that though. 

This video looks remarkably similar to March of the Pigs by Nine Inch Nails, the band playing in a minimalistic white room and trashing their gear, but Mr. Reznor’s video was issued the following year. 

Thinking Allowed

  

Rewind back to May 28th 2001 – a bank holiday Monday in the UK. There never seems to be much going on during bank holidays that doesn’t usually involve large traffic queues or masses of people filling town centres and frequenting pub beer gardens. 

Just over 15 years ago I was in Derby attending the inaugural Bloodstock Festival with about 700 other people. I don’t know what the organisers had in mind for the festival this far along the line, but I doubt they could have imagined it being as successful and as big as it is right now. By European festival standards and even near neighbours Download it is minuscule with its capacity around the 15,000 mark – on a par with an arena – but over the years they’ve dragged bands to the UK for their debut appearance and gone from strength to strength without seemingly loosing their family run integrity. 

  

For me, the later stages of the debut lineup was pretty hit and miss for me. I’m not the world’s greatest Saxon fan and had no idea who Glen Hughes was. I’ve never really been taken to Blaze’s post Wolfsbane output. A dose of German power metal in the form of Primal Fear on what I believe was their first time here was a draw, but I recall them getting boring very quickly.  I knew members of Freebase and Underule at the time which was an added bonus. I’d never seen Sabbat during their original run, so this was my first (and I though only) opportunity to see them live. Also around that time ex-Sabbat frontman Martin Walkyier was in one of my favourite bands of the moment namely Skyclad. 

Prior to this day in Derby I’d seen the band twice (I think) at the Wheatsheaf in Stoke and a year earlier at their tenth anniversary show held in the Mapperley Social Club in Nottingham. Even though the band are still a going concern they are without Walkyier and from the snippets I’ve heard they’re are less metal and much more folk. 

Before folk-metal became popular throughout Europe and, in comparison, household names like Turisas, Ensiferum and Týr were conceived, Skyclad were the archetypal folk metal band. Skyclad weren’t too dissimilar to what he was doing with Sabbat on their two albums, they just embraced the pagan aesthetics a bit more and eventually added a violin player to the rosta. 

Martin Walkyier has always been a superb wordsmith and many titles have been puns and a play on words. Good time drinking songs sat well on the early release and rubbed shoulders with environmental and social topics.

Thinking Allowed is the opening track to the bands third album Jonah’s Ark. I think it was this record that came with a voucher where you could send of fir a VHS video of live footage. I can remember sending off for it and it taking and absolute age to arrive. I know I still have it upstairs, but I actually don’t think I’ve watched it.  

Independent

  

Down to the final three bands appearing in Eindhoven this weekend. Moving up the line up slightly due to Life of Agony’s misfortune are Arizona’s political thrashers Sacred Reich. 

Like London buses you wait forever and two turn up together. Before Hellfest I’d only seen them once and that was in London four years ago. Now in the space of 30 days I will have seen Phil Rind, Greg Hall, Jason Rainey and Wiley Arnett twice. 

That solitary show at the Underworld actually means I have seen one third of their shows on UK soil since 1991. Three British gigs in a quarter of a century isn’t exactly prolific, but in the three years between 1989 and 1991 they played in excess of twenty shows over here. Hopefully in the very near future they’ll play Britain – and not just London. 

They would go down a storm in Manchester’s Sound Control venue and I’d even hazard a guess that the crowd would be hanging from the rafters and be more appreciative than some of the apathetic crowds I have encountered in our nations capital. Quite a lot of London crowds seem very spoilt by the sheer amount of bands that roll into the city and it seems that they are prepared to give a show a wide berth as they know they’ll potentially be back next time they tour.  

Current Machine Head drummer Dave McClain was a member of the band for a few years and was involved with the album Independent that this track is taken from, along with the bands fourth and final release Heal. 


  

This Time

The band of the moment for me this week are Life Of Agony from Brooklyn. It’s been twelve long years since I last saw the band in the tent during 2004’s Download Festival. For some reason I missed their short run the following year and previous to their London show on Thursday night their only other UK show was in Leeds back in 2009 as part of the Damnation Festival, which I also missed.

I’m really surprised it’s taken me this long to post about the band here, so you lucky people will get a few videos of the band over the next few days!

When I was an aspiring journalist – well a kid at school who badly typed up a DIY fanzine – I somehow got on to the Roadrunner mailing list and I received a cornucopia of releases from the label over three or four years. River Runs Red was one I received for reviewing purposes and I’m pretty sure I received it as a 12″ vinyl.

I was absolutely mesmerised by the album, 23 years later I’d still include it on any top ten list I’d have to compile (ah, the “list”. The antithesis of this blog!!)

With such a bleak and depressing theme of depression and isolation running through the loose concept album it shouldn’t really rank so highly, but it is so damn catchy. There is an abundance of styles thrown in over the albums original 50 minute running time. Brooklyn contemporaries Type O Negative will always be mentioned, but for me there is much more depth and diversity on offer. They also manage to mix in NYC hardcore and crossover (which is how I first became aware of the band through a pen pal from Queens, NY) and they even veer off into grunge territory. In places they could also be a modern day successor to Black Sabbath. Keith Caputo’s (as it was in 1993) unique vocals are a real highlight of the record, such a versatile range throughout and filled with so much emotion.

Seeing the band in the confines of the Wheatsheaf in little old Stoke in 1994 is a definite highlight for me for that venue, and I saw a lot of bands in there.

My mission before Friday evening is to hunt down my genuine Blue Grape (the company that was responsible for the majority of the Roadrunner rosters merchandise) Life Of Agony shirt from ‘back in the day’ and see if it’s suitable to see the light of day over the weekend.