I Can

I’ve been a Helloween fan for as long as I can remember, but I let the membership of that club slip from my grasp in the early 90’s around the time that Chameleon and Pink Bubbles Go Ape surfaced. That’s also the stretch of albums where Kai Hansen, Michael Kiske and Ingo Schwichtenberg all departed.

I might have given Master of the Rings a listen at some point – the first album with Andi Deris taking the frontman’s spotlight – but it wasn’t on a par with the pair of Keeper albums or Walls of Jericho. Over the course of the next two decades and ten albums I never really gave the “new” line up a chance. I dipped in to the back catalogue every once in a while but nothing grabbed my attention. I have even seen them live four times since 2008 too. Three of those at festivals and the other in London purely due to the fact that Rage were supporting in a rare UK visit.

Actually a Helloween visit to these shores is a rarity in itself. My four live experiences of the band have been part of only seven in the same time period. None of those seven have been outside of London unless it’s been a festival stage that they have graced.

Needless to say, I’ve never been excited about an upcoming album release in the last two decades and hardly been expectant of a tour announcement, but all that changed some months ago and now I’m sitting at home with the winter sun streaming through the window on Armistice Day plotting.

Hansen and Kiske are rejoining the rest of the current line up to participate in a world tour with under the Pumpkins United banner and I really want to go, even more so since the first shows in South America when the setlist hit the internet and it’s a collection on Germanic power metal songs to die for. So many songs I’ve grown up with in the past thirty years and ones I’d never thought I’d see live and especially with Kiske on vocals.

So onto the dilemma. The only British appearance is on Tuesday in London (obviously). I’ve pretty much ran out of holidays at work so if I was to make the spectacle I’d have to head down to the big smoke on the train after work and either be on a train home by 10pm to make it home before 1230am Wednesday, or I can suck it up, see the full set and get the last train 90 minutes later and roll into bed less than two and a half hours before my alarms go off for work. If I went for the first option I’d get a pretty decent set list (longer than some bands I’ve seen lately) and plenty of the early stuff I’m craving to see. Their Stuttgart show last night clocked in at just under three hours long!

There’s a third alternative, but a bit of a long shot if I’m being honest. Next week I’m off work, talk about bad timing, and the band take to the 013 stage in Tilburg on Monday evening. Eight days in advance and the flight prices aren’t overly expensive (especially considering what a train might cost me) and I’m sure I can grab a bed to sleep in relatively cheaply. Watch this space.

In a response to my renewed vigour for the German troupe I’ve put all the back catalogue in my iTunes library and listened to the missing albums with a much more open mind and there’s been some really great hidden gems popping up over the course of the last few weeks. Taken from 1998’s Better Than Raw, I Can is one of those gems. It’s time I go and do something useful for the day before it suddenly turns into Monday, but I’ll still be running the pros and cons in my mind until Tuesday morning easily.

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Rising

    
Moving back into the here and now with Bloodstock, here’s some rap metal from Atlanta supplied by Stuck Mojo. 

Yet another band who’ve split and reformed and their Friday slot is the first time playing over here for at least eight years. 

It feels like I’ve been listening to the band on and off for days via Spotify and YouTube trying to brush up on my Mojo knowledge. Unfortunately though nothing seems to be sinking in with me! I asked friends for recommendations and gave all received suggestions a whirl but I’m just not getting into them. 

I know I’ve seen the band – they were supporting Type O Negative with Entombed in Wolverhampton in 1997. I’m also confident in saying I have a CD of at least one album tucked away upstairs somewhere as one of their old labels, Century Media, used to be pretty forthcoming with promo discs when I did my physical fanzine. 

They just don’t seem to have a hook for me to hang my coat on. None of the suggested tracks fire my imagination and I’d rather drag out a CD by Dog Eat Dog, Shootyz Groove or even Downset who are all in a similar vein. Guitarist Rich Ward and whatever line up he has are very competent at their blend of Pantera heavy metal, a rapping vocalist and overlaid with turntable wizardry, but there’s nothing memorable for these old ears. I was expecting the “Oh, this is Stuck Mojo” revelation, but it didn’t materialise. 

I’d hazard a guess that most people attending Bloodstock, or any festival, will know songs by a high percentage of the main stage acts regardless of if they are a fan or not. There will undoubtedly be an elbow into a friends rib cage with that tell tale look of “Oh, I know this song”, I just don’t think there will be much of that happening during Stuck Mojo’s 45 minute set. 

Incase you’re interested, this track is taken from their third album and allegedly most commercially successful release. The track was used on WCW wrestling TV programming and the video features professional wrestlers Diamond Dallas Page and Raven.  

New Noise

Drum roll please….(If you can’t already tell from the title and photo above)

The winning gig that was graced by my presence was… Refused.

Once again another stunning performance by the Umeå quintet with one of punk rocks most charismatic frontmen Dennis Lyxzén leading from the front, in his now trademark tight pants and jacket. His yo-yo like tricks with his microphone really are something to behold.

During the superb Rather Be Dead he ventured through the sold out crowd to the mixing desk without missing any of his lyrics. Opening track Elektra saw the beers flying high through the air and there was no let up in the ensuing 80 minutes. Yet again their notorious debut UK show in Stoke was greeted by jeers, but if you were there two decades ago you couldn’t disagree with Dennis on the abysmal crowd that night.

Penultimate track of the night, New Noise, is the bands anthem and the sing along volume was cranked up several more notches before proceedings were brought to an end with Tannhäuser / Derivè.

The Swedes are playing a few UK festivals later in the year, so hopefully I can catch them again this year.