Dittohead

This time tomorrow I’ll be shuffling around the 3Arena in Dublin killing time while Lamb of God are still churning out some noise on the stage and eagerly anticipating what will probably be the last time I see thrash behemoths Slayer on Irish soil.

Today was my last day at work for hopefully eleven whole days, but you never can tell with my place at the moment! I was asked this morning if I needed the days off. Just let me think on that for a fraction of a millisecond. No was the reply.

Around 3pm tomorrow I’ll be on a plane out of Birmingham heading to the Emerald Isle and fingers crossed we’ll make it to the arena in time for Obituary who hit the stage at 6:30, please RyanAir, no huge delays. As much as I’d hate to miss them at least I have another two opportunities to see them in the next week or so. But tomorrow is all about Slayer.

Seeing as it’s November tomorrow too, I’ve cut this years visit to Ireland a bit fine. I’ve been to Dublin for at least one concert in consecutive years since 2013 and I’ve made the short hop on and off since my first visit back in 1999 when I went over with Stampin’ Ground.

Tomorrow kicks off a hectic stint of gigs. Not long after I’m back on English turf I could be heading up the A34 to Manchester to see Anti-Flag, but that depends if it sells out in advance and we suffer no major delay on the return leg. A day in Leeds beckons on Saturday for the Damnation Festival and a LIK gig in Birmingham could be an outside bet on Sunday, and that’s just the first four days. No rest for the wicked and all that.

Dittohead is taken from the band’s 1994 album Divine Intervention and it’s been a decade since I last experienced it live during the Unholy Alliance III jaunt. Well, assuming that they haven’t dropped it from the setlist for the European leg.

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(I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles

Yet again it’s been a while. I was meaning to post something from local NWOBHM band Demon a week ago as I saw them play to a near capacity crowd at Eleven, but by the time the gig had been and gone it felt too late to post. Maybe I’ll do it in time for their 2019 gathering?

I’m currently somewhere approaching Hadrian’s Wall as the wife and I (and the fur baby obviously) are heading to Alba for the week. We’ve now procured seats and are currently heading towards Dundee via Edinburgh for the first two days.

We thought we’d get the long trip out of the way sooner rather than later. It seemed a good idea on paper until the realisation of a near six hour journey after a full day a work finally began. I’m starting to feel tired now and we’ve still got another three hours to go.

Over the week we’ll be hitting five different cities (and a copious amount of Brewdogs) and if I was driving I’d be hitting approximately 850 miles and that’s before the days trips we want to do get added into the equation. I’m pretty glad I’m not behind a steering wheel for nine days truth being told.

Now I’ve added it up it kind of makes the song attached to this post a bit obsolete, but I like this version and originally it was done The Proclaimers, a band from Scotland (born in Leith near Edinburgh) so it’s still quite relevant to this and the forthcoming week.

As I have a lot of time to kill and a distinct lack of gigs over the next nine days I’m also going to try an post daily, or bi-daily on our travel days. I also want to see how many songs I can listen to over the trip so I might do some semi random posts, or at the very least the first song I play on the day. The count will continue until the iPhone decide to give up the ghost and start from number one again.

Down By Law are an American punk band (or what the Americans pass as a punk band compared to this side of the Atlantic). They formed back in 1989 by Dave Smalley who’s also been in DYS, ALL and Dag Nasty over his 35 year career.

I got to see Down By Law three times in the 90’s. Twice in 1995 (Leicester and Birmingham) and the last time I saw them was at the Reading Festival in 1997. That was also the year that I last heard anything by the band with the release of their Last of the Sharpshooters album.

I though they’d called it a day but there are another four albums after …Sharpshooters and not so long a go I saw a few European dates with a solitary UK date in London. If it hadn’t been a Monday evening I could’ve been tempted to see the band again after a 21 year gap.

This version of 500 Miles was released on their fantastic punkrockacademyfightsong album from 1994. It’s also highlighted the fact that I have no Down by Law on my iPhone. Something that’ll be rectified when I’m back in Albion.

Soulless

I’m not designed for this bleedin’ hot weather. I couldn’t wait to get home and take off my work stuff. So uncomfortable to wear in this heat. My shorts are now on. I have my Euro’s for tomorrow’s jaunt and my newly purchased chair is in place in my room. Now all I have to do now is pack a bag then wait for a friend to get here and hope we don’t make ourselves late for the plane tomorrow morning. Not anxious much at all!!

Another one of the many highlights at Stonehenge tomorrow is getting to see Swedish death metal stalwarts Grave for only the second time, but hopefully this time with a much more appreciative crowd.

The only other time I have seen the Visby band was at the ill fated Ritual Festival held in Leeds in 2016. They headlined over bands including a fledgling Venom Prison, Conan, Ingested, Bong Cauldron and Full of Hell. Quite an eclectic mix of bands overall, which is nice to see. But when the festival over runs and people have to leave before the headliner takes to the stage or part way through. It must have been thoroughly depressing looking down on an empty floor from the stage. Ever likely it took them six years to venture outside of London.

Hopefully in 24 hours time the rain and thunderstorms, if they arrive, will be well and truly gone and Ola Lindgren will crush Steenwijk, assuming there is anything left to destroy after the trio of bands playing before them (Thanatos, Gruesome and DRI).

Soulless is taken from the bands third album of the same name. It’s shocking to think how old some of these records are. This one was released 24 years ago.

Age Of Panic

A bit of a curve ball on the HRH Metal line up comes on the shape of London political rap rockers Senser. From the bands that I am aware of on the line up they are the least “metal” band of the weekend that I can see. 

They’re a band I’ve seen three times before and I quite like some of their stuff. The last time I saw them was on the Hammerfest 2013 stage. Prior to that was back in the mid 1990’s and both times at Nottingham’s Rock City. November 1994 then a mere three months later along with Skunk Anansie. 

I can’t recall too much about the early shows, but one of them sticks in my mind for an infamous footballing situation. When there was a much more prevalent hooligan element to England’s football following the game in ’95 was the same evening as the second Rock City show. This was an era before constant communication flow to the brain, so the first I knew about it was in the papers the next morning on my way to work. Not the best time to be a football fan and English. From memory (as I’m sitting on a train with 3G at best) the match in Dublin was abandoned. 

I never followed the band in depth, it’s just that some of their big songs like this and Switch were popular in the circles I was moving in at that time, it was also the time where I had a soft spot for bands like Blaggers ITA, Compulsion, Dub War and AOS3. Between seeing them in 1995 and again eighteen years later I couldn’t tell you want happened to the band.

Cheating though and using google (now that I’m home), the original line up now appears to be back together as I’m sure there was a different female vocalist when I saw them last. I could be wrong. As there is no one else playing at the same time I have the desire to see I’ll probably be catching some light relief between the thrashings of Savage Messiah and the bleak noise of Raging Speedhorn and I’ll guarantee this track will get the Brummie crowd bobbing. 

It’s hard to believe that this track was released on their debut album Stacked Up twenty three years ago. 1994 was the year I finished my apprenticeship and also got made redundant for the first time. How time flies when you’re having fun. 

Don’t Care

  

The icing on top of this weekends extreme metal cake is by way of Tampa Bay and the mighty death metal God fathers Obituary. 

By the time this run has come to an end (and assuming Setlist FM is accurate resource) the band will be agonisingly one performance short of a half century of shows in the United Kingdom. For a band I’ve been listening to since Roadrunner sent my fanzine at the time a promo cassette of Slowly We Rot I’ve never taken the opportunity to see many of those UK shows. 

Obviously the shows around 1990, 1991 and 1992 would have been missed due to a lack of transport. I’m surprised I never took in the following World Demise tour at some point in 1994 when Pitchshifter shared a stage with them. 

After their hiatus the bulk of their British dates centred around London, with occasional shows in far flung areas like Glasgow and Newcastle upon Tyne – nice and easy for a Wednesday evening! 

My first, and second, experiences occurred upon the Bloodstock stage in 2010 and again four years later. My first indoor show was their roof raising performance in London’s Electric Ballroom last February. Also last year they were equally as devastating when they were part of the Deathcrusher package, pretty much twelve months to the day, where they blew headliners Carcass off the stage. 

Friday and Saturday will be my second and third aural and visual assault this year as they were a late replacement on the Dynamo Metal Festival bill. 

The core of the band – John and Donald Tardy along with Trevor Peres – has remained pretty stable since 1984. For a band as successful as Obituary in their given field it will still be odd to me to see the band themselves ambling on to the stage after Exodus, setting up most of their own gear then (fingers crossed) launch into a full throttle version of Redneck Stomp. Before frontman John joins in, wearing what should be his trademark long sleeved tee shirt and shorts – regardless of the exterior weather conditions. 

For a band with song titles like Chopped in Half, Internal Bleeding and Bloodsoaked, Don’t Care is a protest song about man made pollution harming the planet. Quite a departure from the usual gore obsessed lyrics, but horror on another level. See, death metal bands can carry a social political message. 

 

   

  

Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck 

  

Prong were formed in the New York City area in 1986 by two employees from the famous CBGB’s club – sound guy Tommy Victor and doorman Mike Kirkland. Originally more of a hardcore band they eventually evolved into a much more industrial metal outfit. Three decades and a hiatus later Victor is the only remaining member and has shared the stage and studio with a plethora of musicians. 

I got into the band at the start of the 90’s when Force Fed and Beg to Differ were both college lunch times, second hand purchases from Lotus records. I stuck with the band until 1994’s Cleansing and I didn’t really listen to much else by them until the release of their covers album Songs From the Blackhole and latest studio release X from 2015 and 2016 respectively. 

For a band I’ve liked on and off for so long I’ve only seen them live once when they were on the main stage at Bloodstock 2014. Surprisingly this appears to be Prong’s only appearance at a UK festival. If they have performed elsewhere I have no recollections of it. I have no idea either how I’ve managed to miss them so may times over the years, but that tally gets improved upon this weekend. 

Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck is taken from the bands 1994 album Cleaning – their most successful release, if only on a modest scale. 

Prong are a great addition to this tour and will give a bit of calm before the storm brought hence by the brutality of Exodus and Obituary. 
  

 

Through And Through

Well falling asleep this afternoon for four hours hasn’t helped to map out the rest of my day very well at all. So it’s now after 9pm and I’m wide awake. There’s nothing worth watching on the TV and no shows to go to. I ended up doing that “man” thing of flicking through the satellite channels and I’ve come across a documentary about John Ritchie, better known as Sid Vicious. Sid! By Those Who Really Knew Him is almost two hours long, so during the adverts I’ll reminisce about some of the hardcore and punk bands I caught at Hellfest.

On the Saturday a lot of my  time was spent buzzing around the Warzone stage. After catching the end of some Scandinavian brutality supplied by Entrails it was followed by my first band on the Warzone stage, Los Angeles based Strife.

As mentioned a lot of posts back Sick Of It All in Dudley back in January ’95 was one of my earliest hardcore gigs. I think Strife, as the new kids, opened the show and Understand sandwiched inbetween. I’d never heard of them until that day and I was blown away by them. They impressed me so much I went off and brought their debut album One Truth on vinyl after their set.

At the time I was immersing myself more into the hardcore scene and when they were announced as support for Sepultura in 1996 I went on the strength of that announcement. I’m glad I went as it also turned out to be Max Cavalera’s penultimate shows with Sepultura. Two days later I drove up to a rainy Bradford to see Strife do an off tour headline show at the 1 in 12 club.

During the Manchester show I was accosted by a kid asking if I was with the band whilst I was roaming the venue between bands as I had my Strife bowling shirt on (once a merch whore, always a merch whore!) Obviously I couldn’t tell a lie and said no, but my response might have been a bit different 20 years on.

After that it’d be another 15 years until I saw them again in Manchester’s Alter Ego, only been there that one time and it was tiny, slightly bigger than my living room at home. A nice sweaty, intimate gig. I noticed a bald guy with a huge beard on the streets outside and thought he was familiar. It turned out to be vocalist Rick Rodney. In my mind he was a clean shaven bald headed guy.

Roll on to 2016 and he’s still hairless and the beard is there,maybe a bit greyer in places now though. In front of a few thousand fans at 1:30 in the afternoon they put in a faultless, angst ridden performance and was one of many highlights of the weekend. As soon as Rick’s on stage duties were done the microphone was dropped and stage exited to the right. Not wanting to bask in the crowds adulation is the way to leave the stage. Fantastic stuff.