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. 

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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.

Strike It

Well another evening of the Euros 2016 and tonight is the first semi final between Portugal and Britain, like Andy Murray in the tennis they’ll both be British until they lose and then it’ll revert to Welsh and Scottish.

I’ve been wracking my brain for what seems like days for these two countries and like a flash of inspiration I came up with today’s picks whilst driving my van at work.

Representing Y Dreigiau are the innovators of the Newport helicopter. If your attended a gig or a festival where Benji Webbe has been on stage with current day job Skindred then no doubt you will have watched on in awe as the crowd take off a piece of clothing and spin it above their heads. Quite a sight when it’s in full effect.

Before Skindred though in the mid 90’s Mr Webbe fronted a band called Dub War who mixed punk, metal and reggae – an amalgamation of The Clash being fronted by H.R. from Bad Brains.

Their early releases found a home on Words of Warning records before Earache took a liking to them and signed them up. The band left The Nottingham label under a cloud just before the turn of the millennium and Dub War was no more.

I got to see the band quite a few times locally as they were semi regular visitors to the Wheatsheaf. I think the last time I saw them was way back in 1994 at the Victoria Hall supporting PWEI, with Blaggers ITA and Compulsion also on the bill.

One Wheatsheaf gig sticks in my mind mainly due to what you could now call a wardrobe failure. One of the early songs has an air raid siren intro which they did live. Benji’s string vest got caught up in the mechanism and messed the intro up. Small things.

I much preferred the earlier stuff over their later Earache output. It had much more of the rasping punk edge rather than the more gabba leanings. Strike It is taken from their Earache debut Pain released in 1994.

Five Blocks To The Subway

I haven’t done a post for an iPod shuffle for sometime, so instead of me going to bed and trying to get shot of a head cold, I’m gonna throw a few random letters onto a screen and see if anything cohesive comes from it!

Five Blocks to the Subway is taken from Brooklyn band BioHazard’s third album and debut major release State of the World Address.

At one point this band were probably my favourite band for a bunch of years. Not strictly a hardcore band they managed to fuse the hardcore sound and attitude with groove metal and managed to bridge multiple scenes with ease. They’d pop up on a hardcore matinee bill with the likes if Cro-Mags, Sick Of It All or Agnostic Front then end up opening for thrash Titans Kreator. In time they’d be just as comfortable playing on a bill with funk rockers Fishbone or rap band Onyx.

The first time I got to see them was in 1994 when they were promoting the State of the World Address album at the Wulfren Hall in Wolverhampton. They were supported by two other favourites of mine at the time – Dog Eat Dog and Downset. That Saturday afternoon in June was my only time loitering around a stage door waiting for autographs. I don’t think I got everyone from the three bands, but I got a few from each and yes, I still have the CD’s!

For me they’ve never really matched their first three releases and with their internal conflicts I drifted away from the band. I’ve seen them nearly a dozen times but there’s a huge hole between 2002 and 2011. In recent weeks bass player and vocalist for the last five years has departed. Maybe original member Evan Seinfeld is making another return?

Liar

Friday is my first visit to the Town Hall in Birmingham and my debut experience of the Henry Rollins spoken word phenomenon. The book that spawned his whole spoken word career, Get In The Van, was (still is) a book that I wanted when it first surfaced in 1994, but as soon as you found out the disto you used had in stock, you compiled an order, write it down and sent it off through the mail with a cheque (or postal order), for me it was always out of stock again. How did we survive without the internet?

Rollins will forever be connected with Washington, D.C. band Black Flag, where he was the third vocalist – after Keith Morris and Ron Reyes – but during the initial lifespan of the band (1976 to 1986) he was Greg Ginn’s longest serving vocalist, putting five years into the band.

When Black Flag disbanded in 1986 Henry went pretty much solo and fronting a varying bunch of musicians all under the Rollins Band banner.

Post Flag he’s also presented shows on TV. Appeared in Hollywood movies like Johnny Mnemonic, Heat, Lost Highway and Bad Boys II. Hosted radio shows, appeared in TV shows line Sons of Anarchy, wrote more books and performed lots of stand up. Never a man to get bored from the looks of things.

There’s no music (I’m assuming) in his performance tomorrow, but as this is a music blog here’s some music. Liar is taken from 1994’s Weight.

 

Here’s an eight minute snippet from the audio book of Get In The Van, recalling Black Flag’s first trip to the UK.