Hero

Next week sees a possible slew of shows, but as it has been recently demonstrated I may end up at one or five. Who knows?

Next Sunday’s Persistence gathering in London is the only one I have an entry ticket for and three train tickets! Don’t ask – but no doubt I’ll tell you at some point later I the week.

Thursday evening sees me hopefully making a trip to Manchester for some UK thrash and death metal supplied by Bloodshot Dawn and Reprisal, but that is dependant upon the stage times being announced and fitting in with trains leaving my home town rather than driving to a larger hub and getting home after the witching hour.

A couple of outside bets are ex Misfits frontman Michael Graves kicking off a pretty extensive British tour. He plays close to home the week after in Stafford, but I’m in London yet again that night. If I fancy seeing him dust off some of his solo stuff and his Misfits era tunes an easy train trip to Chester on Tuesday could be on the cards, and no doubt a cheeky trip to the Deva Tap just along the road.

Tomorrow could have seen a trip to Sheffield to catch German heavy metal band Rage play. It’s a joint headliner tour with Firewind who I have no interest in. I’m guessing it’s a rotating headliner and knowing my luck if I go Rage will close out the show and it’ll be a drive home over the dark and winding Peak District hills with a risk of snow, or I’ll go on train and have to suffer the Greek power metal band. If I sit at home it’s guaranteed Peter Wagner’s band will be the second band on and I could have made it there and back with the help of East Midlands Trains.

I also have the option of a couple of local shows. Friday night the Rigger welcomes All The Best Tapes. A local band with an odd moniker who I’ve only seen once several years ago and never had the opportunity since. They play with a couple of stoner rock bands, so that’ll be an early return home.

Milton Keynes blues / garage / alternative rock band RavenEye grace the Sugarmill stage on Wednesday. They’re not a band I’ve heard much by but I have read a lot of decent reviews from some of their shows. They’ve played pretty extensively over the globe in the last few years and last year supported Aerosmith and KISS in Europe besides playing most of the big Euro festivals and some of the newer events in North America in recent times.

Whether the band break into the big time on the back of the support slots they’ve gained, this could be the last time they play a venue as intimate as the Sugarmill and the other rooms on this fifteen date UK tour before heading off to the European mainland.

As I’m not aware of the band at all, I’ve just seen a lot of glowing reviews from a lot of people, it might be worth a few hours of my time and a handful of British pounds to see someone who could be the next big thing.

Hero is taken from the bands 2016 debut album Nova released by Frontiers Records from Italy, a label I’ve always associated more with the AOR and hair metal genre over the years. It’s also an album I’ll have queued up on Spotify for multiple plays in the next 36 hours.

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The Broken Law

I hate committing myself on here to gigs as they inevitability fall through like the Dawn Ray’d show did on Monday! It was my first day back at work after a week off and a distinct lack of quality sleep on Sunday night, combined with a 3:45am alarm call on Monday meant I was fast asleep at home when I should’ve been otherwise engaged.

Friday, fingers crossed, I should be seeing local leg-ends Discharge tear a massive hole in the Rebellion Club in Manchester. This post could as easily have been written a month ago as one of the first bands I’m seeing in 2018 ended up being the last band I saw in 2017.

It could be the first gig of a Manchester double (or even quadruple) header over the weekend. It’s payday tomorrow so if I commit to buying tickets for Friday and Saturday then there is a higher probability of me making the journeys to the rainy state of Mancunia.

Whenever my next exposure to Discharge’s ferocious noise blasts occurs it will put the number of shows I’ve seen by the band into double figures. It’s nothing to be overly proud of though as it should have happened much sooner. From the nine aural assaults I’ve endured so far, four have been in the Potteries, one each in London, Manchester and the ever so exotic Crewe and the final two in Holland and France. Unfortunately though none of those were first (or even second) time around and have all been since their 2006 reincarnation with the now departed Varukers screamer Rat on “vocals”.

Since their signing to Nuclear Blast Records a few years back and the release of End of Days with JJ replacing Rat, the bands shows seemed much more frequent and a bit more high profile. Their hometown show a month ago could be considered a warm up for the prestigious slot they played just before New Year.

They opened up the show at the Los Angeles Forum for the Glen Danzig fronted Misfits, touted as the original Misfits even though they have Dave Lombardo of Slayer fame occupying the drum stool. It seems quite bizarre that a band who played in front of a 150 or so people for a tenner a short bus ride from their parental homes two days before Christmas then played a sold out venue 5,300 miles away that holds 17,500 people with tickets costing ten times more just over a week later.

Most of today and tomorrow will be spent blasting out some of the finest and most aggressive music to come from the mean streets of Stoke on Trent by an unlikely band that had a huge hand in moulding the extreme metal scene as it is now, more than four decades after their tentative steps. It was most definitely angry music for an angry and frustrated generation and all these years on it still remains the same. Stoke tends to do that to people!

Show No Mercy

Sometimes I do wonder if I have some kind of dementia setting in as I get older. Today I give you a slice of, in my opinion, possibly the best hardcore band in the UK at this moment in time, Broken Teeth. And the dementia? I could have sworn I’d posted about this band before now, probably back in August, but apparently I hadn’t.

Tonight northern powerhouse Broken Teeth play the Star and Garter in Manchester to celebrate their decade as a band, in this day and age of throw away convenience music it’s no mean feat to reach that landmark. More often now I read about bands calling it a day after a handful of years. Less than thirty minutes ago I read a Facebook statement from a Serbian thrash band who’ve packed it in after 4 years.

With the British bands the more punk and metal orientated scenes seem to have the edge on longevity compared to the hardcore set. There are a couple of glaring exceptions to that rule in the shape of Knuckledust (21 continuous years with the same four members) and fellow Londoners NineBar celebrating two decades this year.

As mentioned yesterday, I’m not too au fait on the more modern hardcore bands, so many more could be in excess of a decade, but going back to an era I knew better, reading through some of the names from a compilation CD like UKHC – A Compilation released by Household Names in 1997 the majority of those bands didn’t over stay their welcome on their initial run. Some split and disappeared completely, others morphed into different bands along the way, and a couple have hit the comeback trail in recent years.

Longevity in the hardcore scene outside of the British Isles, and more specifically North America, doesn’t seem to be as much an issue. From the top of my head Hatebreed, Sick Of It All, Madball, Integrity, Slapshot and many more all formed over twenty years ago and currently going strong. Granted some have taken a hiatus and reformed, but the passion has rekindled at some point.

I’m guessing the fanbase these bands can muster on home turf helps, enabling many of them to garner a reputation and ultimately a greater record deal. This in turn allows these bands to be a bigger draw in foreign territories and makes them the big deal on a tour. When the tour packages like Persistence roll through Europe it’s more often than not headlined by Americans. The top three slots in next years edition are taken by Hatebreed, Madball and Terror. I can’t recall any British band ever being a headlining attraction on a big package.

Not that the four London guys would complain and as much as we take pride in our countries flag bearing band, Knuckledust were the third band on stage out of 21 bands during the Sound of Revolution festival in Eindhoven earlier this month with a slew of North Americans following them.

It’s not just a hardcore thing though. In many genres our island seems incapable of breaking into the higher echelons, especially with the new breed of bands. Even with a seemingly grassroots festival like Bloodstock you have to go back to 2011 for their last British headliner when Motörhead closed proceedings.

Anyway, ramble over and back to the case in hand. I’ve seen Broken Teeth about half a dozen times in the last few years. My last encounter was when they opened the main stage at Bloodstock on the third and final day back in August to a mass of blurry eyed and hungover metallers. Perhaps not the biggest or most enthusiastic crowd they could’ve expected, but I think UK festivals and majority of attendees are light years behind their European counterparts. Tonight is going to be chalk and cheese in contrast to the last time I saw them.

Now with a home on Nuclear Blast Records this track can be found on their label debut album At Peace Amongst Chaos from last year.

Disdain

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m nowhere near as knowledgable about UK hardcore (or even the global hardcore scene) in 2017 as I was in 1997, but I just fell “out of love” with the genre some time ago.

As stated within this blog on several occasions over the past two years I just feel it lacks the camaraderie of two decades ago and all the faces I knew back then have moved on. I’m still in touch with a fair few from that period in my musical life, but not many of those people are still active on stages up and down the country.

Muttering a few words to someone back then led to an introduction to someone else which turned into a welcoming handshake from others who recognised your face and it just snowballed from there. Some of those faces from that forgotten decade, whether they were in bands or just punters like me, are still friends now and scarily I’ve known some longer than I’ve known my wife!

Maybe it’s just me heading rapidly towards 44 years old and still visiting the sweat boxes of yesteryear, but this old man doesn’t really need a random body flying through the air at a rapid rate of knots to enjoy a show. For those reasons though I haven’t been to as many hardcore shows in the last decade or so in comparison to the 24 year old me. For an accepting scene within the extreme music genre the grind and power violence crowds seem much more encompassing.

Most of my newer discoveries have been via recommendations from those in the know or generally just stumbled upon. One of the bands that blew me away in the not so distant past grace the minuscule stage upstairs in Manchester’s Star and Garter tomorrow which happens to be the same venue where I first encountered Guilt Trip.

I first put a tentative step into that unassuming and dilapidated building in the mid 1990’s and I’ve seen a plethora of bands spanning three different decades and the stage at both ends of the room! Three things still amaze me after all these years.

One, it’s still standing! It’s looked like it’s about to crumble into a pile of rubble since my first visit. That and the fact that it’s been earmarked for demolition for years makes it even more surprising.

Two, I’m sill going there. I had a pretty long gap from attending shows there, but in recent years the gig count has shoot up considerably.

Three, I’m still discovering new bands. Almost 44 years roaming this land and more than thirty years of those being immersed in music and I’m surprised I haven’t fallen by the wayside like many of my compatriots and disowned the “metal” scene (just as a term to encompass everything I listen to) or just keeping themselves within their “things were better back then” mindset.

The only other time I’ve had the pleasure to experience Guilt Trip was nearly twelve months when they were one of opening bands for Madball. Their beatdown hardcore and some guitar work that wouldn’t look out of place on a Slayer or Pantera album was simply jaw dropping.

Their most recent EP Unrelenting Force surfaced in November last year and as this 14 minute blast is available for free at their Bandcamp page, I suggest you head on over and grab a copy if you haven’t already. New material is in the pipeline.

This track is taken from that EP and in a way it’s a bit of an oxymoron for me concerning the hardcore scene at present. I still love that metallic chug and the impassioned vocals. It’s always been a movement where you’ve not necessarily had to be the most proficient musician or vocalist. Adequate used to cut it if the passion and desire was there. But on the other hand watching some of the crowd interaction leaves me cold. It doesn’t look like the semi aggressive fun we used to have. It just looks like an aggression overload.

C’est la vie.

You Will Never Be One Of Us

 
Yet again my week of gigs didn’t go accordingly. I made it to the grinding madness of Famine and Groak in StokeThursday  night and later today I have the same band who I saw last Sunday in London! The three gigs couldn’t be much more apart. Metallica broke the attendance record within the O2 Arena twice over the two shows. Tuesdays slightly surpassed the first night with an official figure of 22,211. A few nights back the Pilgrim’s Pit was undoubtedly beyond capacity with approximately 40 in attendance! Today with be another show in excess of 21,000 in the UK’s biggest arena. 

After Metallica later, if I can’t snag a Birmingham ticket, my next appointment could be in London for a version of the Cro-Mags and a reunited Battery – but more on that show later. Next Saturday sees me return to the Damnation Festival in Leeds after I missed the last two years due to my wallet not thinking the line ups were all that exciting. This years is far from stellar, but worthy of the £40 tickets. So over the next few days I’ll have a look at some of the bands I hope to see, or need to revise on to make sure I don’t miss a hidden gem. 

Making a rare appearance in the north of the country are South Californian hardcore / power violence trio Nails. As far as I can see this will surprisingly be their first show in Leeds and they’ve not ventured further north than Manchester since 2013, they’ve seen plenty of Lindon and Bristol though.  

I name dropped the band in the last post deposited here and I have been told how intense they are up on the stage, so just after 6pm I’ll be patiently waiting around the second stage to experience the Oxnard natives and form my own opinions. 

They’ve been together as a band for a decade now and released three albums with their most recent offering surfacing via Nuclear Blast. They released a split 7″ with Full of Hell last year. I’m sure I should’ve seen them somewhere last year? Maybe Ritual Festival also in Leeds, where Full of Hell also played, but for some reason they never played. 

I played this track via YouTube and immediately blew my speakers in the car when the track really kicked in. A quick look on Spotify and a blast through the 21 minutes and I’m wondering how I hadn’t picked up on this band earlier, maybe it’s down to my new found enthusiasm for the power violence and fast core scene? 

Ten tracks in under 22 minutes with the final track, They Come Crawling Back, clocking in at eight minutes plus, it tells you how brutal and uncompromising the remaining 17 minutes will be. I’m checking out the rest of the back catalogue over the next few days and I’ll be eagerly anticipating their arrival on the second stage next weekend.  If I like what I see I only have to wait until August 2018 to see them again as they’re amongst the first six bands announced for Bloodstock next year. I have a feeling that stage will  demolished in nine months. 

Moth Into Flame

The morning after W.A.S.P. in Manchester sees me have a relatively early wake up call to jump on a train and head to London Town to see Metallica on the opening night of their five date UK tour. 

I’ll be at two of the five dates, but things could change. I was hoping to have seen them at a couple more but at £100 a ticket it was way out of my price range to see many more than the two. I’m in London on Sunday with friends and the following Saturday I’m in Manchester with my wife. I was hoping to have gone north of the wall to see them in Glasgow too, but that (so far) hasn’t materialised! 

I haven’t seen as many of the bands European dates as I’d have hoped for, but I’ve had a few adventures and I have a night in Stuttgart to look forward to next year. My first time seeing the band in what many consider to be their European home of Germany. 

Before the main event it’ll be straight off the train and a dash to central east London (is that a thing?) to join one of the many queues for the day and have a peruse inside the pop up shop. Having experienced the Copenhagen store back in February it’s a great money making scheme for the band. Hopefully I’ll be able to grab something British specific from there as I’m pretty sure the ones on sale in the arenas will be snapped up and several will be on sale on eBay before the final strains of Enter Sandman have died away in the rafters. 

Once I’ve finally dumped my stuff off in the hotel it’s off to Greenwich to visit the O2 Arena for a second time. The only other visit I’ve paid to this soulless hanger was back in 2010 when Bon Jovi took residency there for a staggering twelve nights. 

With the tragic event at the Manchester Arena some months ago and artists finally (but unsuccessfully) trying to do something to combat ticket touts I foresee another long and arduous wait whilst people who’ve bought their tickets at an inflated price on the secondary market for the event get unceremoniously turned away. Once those lucky enough to posses the right ticket with matching photo ID it’ll be time to queue inside the venue for just about anything you’ll need in there, over priced food and drink, toilets and merchandise. 

Let’s hope, because it’s Britain, that the people in front of the queue aren’t like the last ones I encountered at a big show on foreign soil. What’s with the desire to try on every piece of clothing you think you want to buy? Check the little piece of material in the back of the garments you are wearing. If they fit ask for the equal size. If they’re to big or small amend accordingly. The only thing you need to know is the make of the clothing. From my misfortune, if it’s Fruit of the Loom go a size up. 

It’s going to be an expensive weekend with W.A.S.P. the night before and Manchester six days later, but at least I’m only away from my own bed for one evening and even if it’s taking me three hours to travel to the capital my train ticket has been dirt cheap, costing me less than £20 there and back. More money available for merch, not that I’m desperate for anymore. 

I was hoping this years arena run would have seen me break the barrier of seeing the band for the 40th time. I was really hoping I’d have made Paris earlier this year and maybe another two of the five UK shows. If I’d have made the Moscow show that I had tickets for back in 2010 then I’d gave only needed two more, but Eyjafjallajökull erupting in Iceland at the same time scuppered flights, along with the exorbitant price of a Russian visa so close to travelling also didn’t help matters. I’ll break the 40 mark in time, there’s no rush. They’re going nowhere just yet. 

As all the tracks from the latest album had videos made for them here’s another one that has been a main stay of the band’s set list for the fifty odd shows currently played on the Worldwired Tour. 

Lost

What better way is there to warm up for two days in a saturated field watching some heavy bands than heading out of the Shire to watch even more heavy bands play?

Bay Area thrashers Death Angel are wrapping up their twenty eight date European trek and are finally bring their Evil Divide tour to British crowds as they play four shows here in the lead up to Bloodstock. There was much speculation (and multiple fingers crossed and luck rabbits feet rubbed) hoping that they would tread the boards at Catton Hall, but alas no. They played there in 2013 at some god forsaken time that wasn’t becoming a band of their stature, so it is time they returned. 

I’ve still got my fingers crossed that they will cross the channel again before the end of the year when they support Testament and Annihilator on the mainland. It’s all political with festivals and tours who share bands. As all of those three are in the UK and two at Bloodstock I’d like an announcement of added dates first thing Monday. It’ll make the pain of missing Testament on Friday after their Dynamo Metal Fest debacle that bit easierto take. Otherwise it’s “Munich here I come!”

I’m already off to Wolverhampton on Tuesday to get my thrash metal fix and I’ve had that ticket in the house for what feels like forever. As I didn’t buy into the whole social media campaign of Bloodstock will “sell out” before the gates open I was too slow buying my tickets – and it “sold out” (of weekend passes anyway.) I currently have a Saturday ticket with my aim of buying a Sunday entry on the day. As I’m off work on Friday anyway I think I might treat myself to a jaunt down to London to see them and Warbringer destroy venues twice in three days. Be a shame to waste a days holiday from work. 

Since The Art of Dying album, their reformation release in 2004, each of the four albums since have got better every time. The Evil Divide was up there in the top ten of last year easily. I’ve only seen them six times up until this week, the first time was in Wolverhampton back in 2008, one of their first English shows outside of London since 1990. 

Lost is the albums most melodic track and slows down the relentless intensity of the rest of the album for five minutes. The most heavy metal track that Mark Osegueda and the band have recorded?