R.I.P. Malcolm Young

I like many other metal heads and rockers will be cranking out some AC/DC over the next few days in tribute to rhythm guitarist and founding member Malcom Young who passed away earlier today aged 64.

The Glaswegian was the driving force behind the band with his much more visible younger brother Angus. Due to ongoing health issues he stepped down from the ‘DC line up in 2014 to get treatment for dementia – the brain disease that took him three years later.

Reading through Twitter and Facebook his band and he were huge influences on many of today’s contemporary bands which has been highlighted by the slew of heartfelt tributes paid throughout the day.

As a youngling I never paid much attention to the band. They were another one of those bands that I knew the history and hits of without owning an album. I was into things of a more heavy nature at the time and it took a while to appreciate the more rock ‘n’ roll and blues tinged artists that were such huge influences on those bands I idolised at the time.

I was fortunate enough to see the band twice. Once surrounded by a plethora of flashing devil horns at Wembley Stadium in 2015 and my debut experience was in 2010 when they brought their own stage to the Download Festival. They played their set on the Friday evening and the carcass of their own set up overshadowed the main stage for the following 48 hours. It overshadowed the other bands over the weekend in an intimidating way and reminding the likes of Deftones, Lamb of God and Five Finger Death Punch that they were light years behind them as entertainers.

Their Download appearance was the only time I got to see Malcolm on stage as his nephew Stevie Young was filling in for him.

I attempted to get tickets to see them the year before on an earlier leg of the Black Ice tour but we were on holiday in Florida when tickets went on sale. By the time I got around to getting online with the patchy hotel internet and the five hour time difference all the venues had sold out in minutes.

Last year I had tickets for their show at the Olympic Park in London – less than twelve months after playing Wembley. When the departure of Brian Johnson was announced and the rumoured replacement of Axl Rose was confirmed I requested a refund on my tickets as to me that wasn’t what I’d originally signed up for. In hindsight and from what friends I knew who went said, he did the material justice. One of those missed opportunities I’ll have to live with.

If You Want Blood… is taken from 1979’s Highway to Hell, the final album to feature Bon Scott on vocals who was found dead in a car in February of the following year.

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King Parrot

Radio silence post Damnation has been broken! I can’t even say I’ve been too busy in the last few days to post anything I’ve just been way too lazy. 

The winter touring cycle of the UK and Europe is in full effect right now and my calendar is chock a block of gigs I’d really like to get along to and see, but finances and time is not allowing me to commit to everything I’d like to achieve, so at the moment I’m being a bit more selective. 

This weekend I’m staying in the local area for a pair of shows of contrasting styles. First up this evening is a trip to the Sugarmill to see King Parrot take to the stage. 

The last time I saw these demented Australians was a little over twelve months ago when they opened up for Exodus and Obituary. I’m led to believe from friends who have seen the band more than I have that the Melbourne band were a bit restrained, probably at the wishes of the Academy group who owned the venues that the tour steamrollered through last October. Tonight I don’t think they’ll be as subdued and I’m expecting chaos to ensue. 

Originally King Parrot were scheduled to play the same venue on Monday, not that a Friday night or Monday makes that much difference to me when I have to be up and out of the house by 5am the following morning regardless. 

Polish death metal veterans Decapitated were due to play at the Sugarmill in 72 hours time with the Australians, another band from Poland who’s name escapes me and the crushing Venom Prison. I’ve never been a fan of Decapitated, they’ve just never appealed to me and all of their seven album back catalogue has passed me by. I’ve seen them twice – once at Bloodstock (obviously) and again at the tail end of 2014 supporting Behemoth. They’ve played in excess of 100 shows in the UK in the 17 years they’ve been coming over here, so they’re another band I’ve managed to miss more than I’ve seen over the years. I’m more aware of them from their tumultuous off stage misfortunes. In 2007 drummer Vitek died aged only 23 after a bus crash on the Belarus / Russian border. 

In October of this year after their show in Santa Ana, California things took a turn for the worse and all the members of the band were arrested initially for kidnapping after a show a week or so earlier. This allegation has now turned into a sexual assault allegation and the band are being detained in Spokane. Obviously the European tour was cancelled and they’ve been removed from Kreator’s next Euro jaunt in January. 

I’m assuming King Parrot had already had their flights from Down Under booked and paid for so I’m guessing rather than lose out on their money they managed to rearrange shows in the same time slot. Not to be too blasé about the situation in Spokane, I now get a full King Parrot set to look forward to in Stoke and even though Venom Prison aren’t doing a local show on their hastily rescheduled dates I still have an opportunity to see them in Manchester next weekend. 

At work I’ve inherited a newer van than what I’ve been driving for the last few years. It’s nothing special, still a bag of nails, but I’m quite sated with the audio system in the van. I can now Bluetooth my iPhone to the radio and play my own music to my hearts content while at work without having to constantly plug in then remove the phone at each one of my forty stops. Later today I know I’ll be pulling up at calls with the bands latest album Ugly Produce being blasted out at an obscenely loud volume.

Rage (The Cost)

At times I feel the path in my near future is mapped well in advance. Take last weekend as an example. Metallica tickets were purchased probably the best part of twelve months ago. This week was booked off work as a holiday at the start of the year, so I’ve had a long time to prepare. I booked, cancelled and rebooked a hotel within the last month and train tickets a few weeks back. Everything from 11:45am on Sunday until 1410 yesterday has been (seemingly) pre determined for a while, even down to the conundrum of what shirts I was going to wear and buy. 

Sometimes I like the spontaneity of what the music world throws up. I’m off for the rest of this week and on the train home I perused Facebook to find shows to go to on the days I didn’t have anything planned. At noon yesterday I was planning on heading to the Star and Garter in Manchester to see The Raven Age. As noted previously in this blog I saw the band in Canada supporting Iron Maiden in the cavernous Air Canada Centre, so seeing them in the intimate surroundings of a ramshackle pub standing in the shadows of Piccadilly train station sounded like fun. 

That possibly changed late yesterday evening after ploughing through half a days worth of tweets. I saw several people mention the Make Them Suffer gig in London last night and how brutal opening band Cursed Earth were. A quick search on Spotify and YouTube piqued my interest for a band I’d never heard of previously. That was followed up with a Facebook search and low and behold the tour hits Manchester tonight. Well I was intending to head to the city today anyway, so why not experience Cursed Earth then head back towards Piccadilly and see The Raven Age? Sounds perfectly feasible to me. 

So what have I learnt from the inter web in the last twelve hours or so about the band? They hail from Perth, Australia. Formed in 2013 and they play ferocious, pummelling hardcore with a huge injection of metal. I’ve seen comparisons in remarks and reviews to Code Orange and Nails (bands I’m not overly familiar with so I can’t really agree or disagree) and Venom Prison, who to me are more death metal orientated than Cursed Earth, but I can see the comparisons. My first thoughts when I listened to War March via YouTube last night was it reminded me of Power Trip.  

Who ever they are comparable to, Jazmine Lunders venomous, rasping vocals are ably supported by the rest of her band with their metallic stomp and copious amounts of break downs, so no doubt the legion of Manchester’s “finest” kick boxing dancers will be in the Rebellion club early tonight. For me that is one of the negatives for this evening, mainly because the venues layout offers little respite for those there to see a band or three and wanting to stand and enjoy an alcoholic beverage without a sized 11 Vans clad foot heading towards an unsuspecting chest or head. 

I’ve made an opinion on fellow Australian headliners Make Them Suffer based on half a song on YouTube, so I’m unlikely to be there for the duration, but I have all day to discover them and the third band on the bill, Novelists from Paris then I can decide which venue the bulk of my time will be spent in. 

Rage (The Cost) is taken from the all too brief release Cycles of Grief, Vol 2: Decay released last month. Six songs clocking in around the fourteen minute mark, so it’s flashed by before you know it. Well worth a listen if you like you metal tinged beatdown hardcore. 

Tears Of Tragedy

  

I’m just watching this video out of curiosity more than anything at the moment. With a slice of luck I’m hoping to see this band tomorrow evening when they warm up the crowd for Annihilator in Manchester, but I have a few things to do after work that could impact on my attendance to the show. 

Until Mason were announced as tour support for the Ottawa thrashers I wasn’t aware of the band, let alone heard anything by them. Due to sheer laziness, or incompetence, I’ve left it with less than 24 hours before they hit the stage to even listen to them. 

The Annihilator tour is the second leg in Europe covering mainly cities that they omitted last year. Twelve months ago I caught the tour in Birmingham with fellow Australian thrashers Harlott and much like Mason I’d never heard anything by them until they were announced. This year Manchester is one of a trio of English shows, with only London being a repeat city. 

Besides knowing that Mason are a thrash band from Melbourne I knew nothing else about them without doing some research. They released their debut album Warhead in 2013 and a pair of EP’s either side of that. In March 2015 they split up, but soon regrouped two months later. 

Tears Of Tragedy will be featured on the bands sophomore album Impervious that will be released sometime in 2017, and judging by this four minute rip snorter it will be worth getting hold of it. 

Australia seems to be unleashing some cracking thrash metal bands upon the world lately who are finally coming out from the shadows of Mortal Sin. It’s also nice to see some of the bands reaching the European landmass. Harlott were out last year with Annihilator, Desecrator are currently ripping up stages in Europe with Venom, Inc then straight onto the Overkill tour (it’s just a shame they’ve not reached British shores) and obviously King Parrot opening up the Battle of the Bays shindig. The one I’m now waiting for to get a chance to traverse The continent is In Malice’s Wake, if you like the modern sound of Testament then you’ll lap up that lot. 


  
 

Like A Rat

  

On Tuesday the Battle of the Bays tour rolls onto British soil to demolish five venues before they head back into Europe. For those of you not in the know Australian’s King Parrot will be opening up this four band bill ahead of Prong, Exodus and Obituary. Easily one of the most eagerly anticipated packages seen over here this year. 

King Parrot will be a new revelation to me. They’ve been recommended to me by friends and as I’m catching the tour twice on Friday and Saturday I’ll most definitely see them at least once. 

Formed in Melbourne half a dozen years ago, and played about as many shows over here,  I should have seen these guys on the Soulfly tour earlier this year but it clashed with a Discharge gig, and I’m actually a bit loathe to waste my time and money with Max Cavalera when he never projects any interest in being on the stage the last few times I’ve seen him. 

Described as a “mixture of thrash metal, grindcore, sludge metal and early hardcore punk” and as “an intense live act” I’m quite looking forward to being within an academy venue shortly after the doors have opened. 

The Like A Rat video features a cameo by Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo, who owns Housecore Records who handled the release of the bands Dead Set album in the United States. 

  

I Am Immortal

  
Carrying on with the international thrash feast today we’re gonna fly down to Sydney to enjoy a bit of sun to give us some respite from Britain’s dreary grey and wet winter. Say “G’Day” to defunct Antipodean thrashers Mortal Sin. 

There’s nothing scientific with this statement, but they’re probably the country’s best and most popular thrash metal band. They’ve shared the stage with Metallica, Anthrax, Kreator and Overkill amongst others on home soil. Undertaken numerous tours in mainland Europe over the years and played the huge Wacken festival and even had legendary metal producer Randy Burns behind the desk for the bands second release Face of Despair. 

Not long after they released the superb Psychology of Death album in 2011 and participated in the Thrash Fest Classics tour they imploded as a band and called it quits for a fourth and final time. 

Mortal Sin are a band I’ve liked since I read about them in Metal Forces magazine and brought the aforementioned Face of Despair album on cassette tape! They’ve only played a handful of UK dates and as far as I’m aware they were back in 1990 supporting an up and coming Faith No More, and a London show with Xentrix. 

Luckily though I had the chance to see the band live at the Markethalle in Hamburg during the Thrash Fest jaunt. If the mountain isn’t coming to me then I’ll go to the mountain!

In 2010 I ventured to Berlin for the first instalment (Kreator, Exodus, Death Angel and Suicidal Angels) and had a blast. When the following years edition was being assembled and announced a 90 minute flight to Germany was a no brainier. Exodus again, Destruction and Heathen were all good enough, then there was addition of headliners Sepulture and all with the stipulation of all the bands playing only songs from their early and classic back catalogue. The final band confirmed were the openers Mortal Sin. I had to go. 
  

Leaving a snowy, cold Birmingham airport behind me I arrived in a cold but rather sunny Hamburg. I undertook a bit of the touristy thing, visited the cities Hard Rock Cafe and had a stroll through the St. Pauli area where the infamous Reeperbahn is situated. Then back to the hotel for the early start of the gig. 

The Markethalle is in spitting distance of my hotel and the train station, so it didn’t take long to stroll there. I was outside before doors opened, mingling with fellow German thrashers. Once inside I loaded up on a bit of merch and took my place inside the fabulous venue ready for the Sinners. A short six song set (and the only band to stray from the classics brief) to a relatively sparse crowd, but it was well worth the anticipation and trouble. Heathen, Destruction and Exodus who followed were all superb. It was getting late by the time Sepultura emerged and I was going to call it a night after a few songs, but their Arise heavy set blew the roof off the venue and I was there to the bitter end.  

  

I’m thinking this live recording of I Am Immortal is taken from the bands Face of Mayhem – Live VHS video (VHS and cassette tapes mentioned in the same post!). I have it upstairs, gathering dust and unable to play it, I need to look into a DVD version (if it exists) or a conversion some time. 

 

Systematic Reduction


Harlott hail from Melbourne, Australia, and have released one of the best unadulterated, pure thrash metal releases of the year with Proliferation. Proper heads down, fast metal. No ballads, no over long solo’s, no death metal screams and grunts.  Thrash metal how it used to be played at it’s height. Comparisons can be made to modern era Slayer with a nod to recent Exodus, but these lights will fade sooner rather than later and some bands will need to carry the torch, and Harlott are doing a mighty fine job with their sophomore effort.

Seen on stages over on this continent when they opened up for Canadian heavyweights Annihilator on their mammoth five week European tour earlier in the year. It was good seeing an opening band have a proper 45 minute set rather than a brief 20 minutes and off they go, and it made it really worth while getting to Birmingham early to see them.

Australian thrash metal is now more than just Hobb’s Angel of Death and Mortal Sin.  There appears to be a cracking scene developing Down Under with some of the most exciting bands I’ve heard for a long time.  Check out fellow Melbourne band In Malice’s Wake some time! Actually, thrash metal is alive and kicking worldwide, so a new school thrash metal thread is most definitely on the cards with this blog next year.