Infants Of Thrash

Happy chocolate egg day to you all!

Rather than heading out to a religious establishment to celebrate this four day weekend for many people, I’m sitting at home reminiscing about a fantastic night of thrash metal last night and pondering next weekends metal tour de force and infusing my body with caffeine.

I’m always a bit sceptical about seeing Testament in recent years, as they seem to mess about a lot beforehand and their set usually sounds awful or is cut short. I’m pretty sure last nights show was shorter than recent nights, but I feared that when there was a 10pm curfew and allegedly doors were due to open at 5:30 and we were still in the pub next door after six and the queue was just about kicking into life, well the life of a sloth. Such a bad venue to get into with the mediocre pat downs administered by the security staff.

I didn’t get to see too much of Vader, but Annihilator were great again with their short set that had to be briefly interrupted while ambulance staff attended to a guy who people say broke a leg in the pit during Vader’s performance.

Tracks from the new Testament album were mixed in with some 80’s thrash metal classics and several songs dragged screaming and kicking from their ever expanding back catalogue. Low is a track I’ve not experienced live for almost 15 years. We only got in the region of 85 minutes and some tracks that seemed to be stalwarts in the set were missing (Rise Up), but why not sacrifice the three solos rather than actual songs? Yes, we know Steve, Alex and Eric can play their instruments, but do we really need the vanity demonstrations?

At least with an early curfew I easily caught my last train home and even had time to grab some food without having to break into a sweat.

Towards the start of the month I anticipated catching twelve shows in a four week period before today. That ended up being a pretty respectable seven in that time frame. A few shows fell through for various reasons and a few had to be shuffled around. This weekend I was originally seeing Testament in Manchester on Friday then back to the city on Saturday for Xentrix.

At one point I was expecting to have made the trip to London for the Reprisal album launch show on Friday and ended up sacrificing seeing Xentrix for Testament 24 hours later. In the end I couldn’t get Saturday off work and I didn’t fancy a train trip back up north and getting home at 2am then being in work by 6 (if I managed to get a sneaky lie in) then heading off to another show. As of yesterday though that won’t be too much of an issue. Yesterday was my last time working on a Saturday before we have a shake up of working hours and my week will now finish on a Friday afternoon.

Besides the kudos of being a part of Reprisal’s album launch I was looking forward to heading to London to catch Greek thrashers Domination. I missed them when they were over here a few years ago and I fear I will miss them yet again on this pretty extensive run. They play Wolverhampton on Wednesday night, but there is a severe lack of information from the venue and promoter about the gig. The Facebook event page states a 2350 finish. If that’s correct that’s me out of contention.

Nottingham’s show next Saturday appears to have been cancelled, but I’m in Scotland that weekend anyway and wouldn’t have made it even if it hadn’t been scrapped. The Wolverhampton show is sandwiched in between shows in Coventry and Leicester, both easy enough to drive to from home, but with work the next morning they are both non starters.

The final option would involve my first trip to Chesterfield for something that isn’t a football match. It’s an 80 minute drive away and on a Friday evening. Even though I’m not working on Saturday, I’m still up early as I will be cracking the whip and trying to get three other people and a dog to Crewe station for a train to Glasgow that leaves at 8am. Can I trust people to wake up early enough and not make us miss our transportation?

The Athenian band have been going for seven years now and formed when their members had an average age of 15. Their debut full length surfaced in 2015 and is another worthy addition to the fantastic thrash metal scene coming out of Hellas in recent years. The country is now very high up on places I’d like to experience a live show. How frenetic the bands I have seen on stage recently seem to be is how I imagine the kids at a show in Athens or Thessaloniki.

Have a listen to the album via their Bandcamp page.

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Black Cloth

For a long time the first gig of 2018 for me had been pencilled in as tonight’s gathering at the Pilgrim’s Pit down in Stoke town.

I have only been aware of Krupskaya’s grinding menace and the out of town bands are both new to me. I’m trying to use Bandcamp a lot more lately, especially if I’m buying a physical item. It seems a more ethical option especially to the smaller artists, rather than ordering through a faceless giant like Amazon or Spotify. The platform is also handy to let you listen before buying without wasting money on something you don’t like. I know all streaming sites have a bad reputation in regards their royalties, but until better options are introduced then I can’t see much change any time soon.

This is the last date on the pairs seven date UK tour. Belfast’s Unyielding Love, described by tonight’s promoter as “Irish blackened noise blasts” and Dawn Ray’d – “vegan anarchist black metal” from Liverpool (though I’ve seen one flyer saying they are from Leeds) are both bands I’m not familiar with and wouldn’t usually attend a gig by either if it was out of the local vicinity. But as it’s only £4 to get into a DIY performance space smaller than some peoples living rooms in their houses, I have nothing to lose. Plus it stops me sitting in front of the TV watching my football team take yet another humiliating hammering in from of the Worlds population!

I picked up some older releases for free by both bands from their respective Bandcamp pages and they were actually two of the first things that I put onto the new Mac when it was up and running. Unyielding Love’s 2015 Demo release is probably just as much influenced by the black metal scene as Dawn Ray’d are.

The Liverpool band seem to play their atmospheric black metal without the corpse paint and satanic imagery and try to spread positivity through their performances, whereas the majority of black metal I’m aware of revels in the negativity. It’s going to be an intriguing evening, so I can’t really make any concrete judgements on a handful of recordings that were both bands first tentative steps and three years old now.

Black Cloth is the opening salvo from the Dawn Ray’d EP A Thorn, A Blight released in 2015 via the German label Moment of Collapse Records, and is freely available on their Bandcamp page, where you can also listen to their latest offering The Unlawful Assembly and grab merchandise if you’re that way inclined.

And just for impartiality, go and listen to something from Unyielding Love here. And if you like anything from either band give them some of your hard earned cash if you can.

Heavy Metal Month Listening Challenge 24/31

Day 24 – A cover tune. 

Prong – Doomsday

Again another hard choice because there are so many fantastic cover versions within the heavy metal genre. I could have picked a cover tune from virtually every one of the 30 bands I’ve featured. 

I’ve got to miss out Metallica paying homage to Misfits, Queen, Bob Seger, Discharge and the Anti-Nowhere League. Anthrax covering Joe Jackson, Thin Lizzzy, AC/DC or Trust. Slayer and Steppenwolf. Laaz Rockit thrashing up the Dead Kennedy’s. Nightwish turning Gary Moore symphonic. Queensryche covering  Dalbello (which for a long time I didn’t realise was a cover). W.A.S.P. paying tribute to Deep Purple or The Who. The list is endless.  

If I haven’t changed my mind in the next few days I’ve gone for Prong so I can sneak local legends Discharge onto this list. And it’s a mighty fine rendition of the song that graced the B side of Discharge’s State Violence State Control 7″ from 1983. It was originally on the release as Dooms’ Day, but over time changed to Doomsday. 

Heavy Metal Month Listening Challenge 18/31

Day 18 – A song about vehicles / ships.

Iron Maiden – Empire of the Clouds

An airship answers the question, so why not the epic culmination of Maiden’s last album The Book of Souls? 

This 18 minute epic is one song that I’d really love to see live at some point. If they ever perform it I think it’ll be at something special rather than a run of the mill tour date. 

Monday Is Cancelled

If I make it to Eindhoven by 7pm tonight then I have to say I’m pretty excited to catch another new band to me in the shape of Antwerp’s Toxic Shock. 

Sounds easy enough, but first of all I need a flight that leaves Manchester to the Netherlands on time. You’d think the easy option would be a flight direct to the cities facilities. Technically that is correct, but when that flight is way over budget and when I last looked it’s also full to alleged capacity. It would’ve been a Ryan Air flight so it’s probably littered with empty seats due to their customers refusing to pay an extortionate fee to sit together. Yeah, sure, they’re randomly selected. 

Instead I’ll be arriving into the country at their major airport hub Schiphol eighty miles away from where I need to be. Thankfully the train station is within the airport and services are extremely decent and reasonably priced. Plus I love the double decker trains they have on the continent. 

Then you’d think we’d have a room for two nights in the same city as the two shows we’re attending. Well I did, but something went wrong and it was cancelled erroneously. As there’s nothing suitable and reasonably priced locally we opted to stay at a pub twenty two miles away in Tilburg. At least the trains are pretty cheap and run late. 

When I saw the announcements for the pre party show I was pretty happy with Toxic Shock. I’ve been listening to them for years now and their Change from Reality album is alright. I didn’t know it was the band from Belgium we’d be seeing with the same name. Not the Germans I’d been listening to for ages who have actually split up! 

Now I have that piece of the puzzle I’ll have a quick listen on Spotify to them. Again easier said than done. No German band this time, but the music streaming site has lumped the Belgians with the American thrash band and yet another one with the same name who are no way metallic in any shape or form. Late on Wednesday evening  I finally got to listen to 2013’s Daily Demons release. 

They remind me a lot of the band I saw nearly a month ago, Insanity Alert. Maybe not as brash as the Austrians and the Belgians have a slightly more hardcore edge to their sound upon my first listen. If you like recent bands like Iron Reagan (who they did a split 7″ single with), Municipal Waste or Power Trip then you’ll probably show some admiration for them. I’m hoping they’re going to nail it in the Dynamo club tonight and kick off my eleven performances in 26 hours perfectly. If not there’s a bar and muntens to be spent.  

A lot of the Dutch venues I’ve visited seem to operate a token system to purchase drinks. Insert cash into a machine on the wall and walk away with plastic coins (muntens) and blindly spend them all. And repeat. It’s all good until you work out how much one coin costs and how many you spent on Jupiler. 

Monday is Cancelled is from the Iron Reagan split 7″ that was released in 2015. 

For The Horde

Back home and south of Hadrian’s Wall, the crazy extended weekend continues and ultimately ends with a triple assault of American thrash metal, with a side order of French death metal. 

Monday night should see me making a tired trip down to Birmingham to indulge myself on the second European date of the Havok tour with Warbringer, Exmortus and Gorod in tow. Originally I was hoping to have been back from Glasgow in time to keep it all confined into a weekend and watch it unfold in Manchester. Unfortunately there is engineering works on the train lines and out expected hasty departure out of Alba has been delayed until the late afternoon. 

I’ve seen the second half of the line up previously and the first half of the line up in new territory fir me, it’s also a new venue to explore too when I eventually find Mama Roux’s. It should have coincidentally have been my second time seeing Gorod as they were playing in Toronto when I was there exactly a year ago. Originally I was going to be at the Hard Luck Bar, but I fell ill earlier in the day and had to miss it to make sure I was semi fit for the main event the following day. 

I’m not sure on my transportation schedule yet but I know I have to be there for the opening salvo delivered by Californian technical thrash metal band (with a dose of melodic death metal thrown in for good measure) Exmortus. Monday evening will be their second British show and by default their second European show, it would have been nice to have been at their debut show but things happen. 

They’ve definitely paid their dues on the live circuit on the other side of the pond. Following them on social media it seemed like they were constantly on the road last year on some prestigious tours with the likes of Children of Bodom, Entombed AD, Amon Amarth and Abbath. 

They formed in 2002 and have got through a lot of band members in that time. Four battle inspired albums have seen the light of day with album four, Ride Fourth, surfacing at the start of last year on Prosthetic Records. 

I can’t wait to finally see them live, even if it’s only going to be for a fleeting thirty minutes, and I’m intrigued to see how their technical prowess carries over from the stage to the audience. 

For the Horde was issued as a 7″‘ single, limited to 300 or so copies, back in 2015 and was later included on the most recent album. 


Tornekatt

Well I’m finally on my “week” off work, only three days late. It’s been a hectic few days at work and at home, but now Hammerfest is insight. I haven’t had time to dedicate to writing about music over the last few days, but after browsing early morning TV I decided to put the remote control down and have a peruse of some of this weekends festival bands via YouTube. 

One of Saturday’s bands that I’m not familiar with, but one of our travelling party needs to experience is Norwegian black metal band Kampfar, and those five words are all I know about the outfit. So from the annals of Wikipedia…

They formed twenty three years ago in Fredrikstad. Like many of the Scandinavian bands they are heavily inspired and influenced by native mythology and folklore. There was a hiatus within their two decades, but they returned and in 2015 won a Spellemannprisen award for services to metal after the release of their latest album Profan (where Tornekratt rounds off the release.) The recognition is comparable to receiving a Grammy award if they were presented in Norway. 

After listening to a few of what appear to be more modern tracks they aren’t one of the shrieking black metal bands that I can’t stand. I’m getting more of a Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir or Satyricon vibe. 

For some reason I had ideas of them being more war inspired like Marduk as I imagined the name to have some World War II connotation.  It might have reminded me of a combat formation from the Luftwaffe, Kampfgruppe. Apparently though it’s a ancient Norse battle cry to Odin. 

On Saturday they clash with Beyond the Black who I’m also unfamiliar with, so I can check out the Norwegians and if I’m not getting it I can stroll across the pathway and experience another new band – one of the best things you can do at a multiple stage festival.