Merciless Death

I could really get used to doing a four day week at work! It only seems like three days ago since I started back at work and tomorrow morning there’s no lie in for me on my first non working Saturday in my job for twenty years, as I’ll be in a train to Glasgow for the Lords of the Land festival.

Back in March last year I was impatiently waiting for my chance to snag tickets to see Metallica in Europe. I’ve always wanted to see the band in Germany and grabbing tickets for Stuttgart was looking the best option as it was a Saturday and I could attend the show and only have to take the one day as a holiday.

Sometime later the Lords of the Land date was announced and when I put it in my calendar it clashed with Germany and I thought nothing more about it.

Some lower bands for the bill were announced (Lawnmower Deth, Vallenfyre and Cannabis Corpse) along with Demolition Hammer. It was a case of I’d like to see Demolition Hammer for a second time, but I’m committed to Stuttgart .

Then a “headliner” in the shape of UK / Swedish death metal band Bloodbath, who have bored me several times were added. Metallica was definitely looking like a better option. More Swede’s courtesy of Unleashed piqued my interest, but still only two from six bands were intriguing me.

Ten days before Christmas and this years headliners were announced. Dark Angel were playing. Well that was a game changer and had me trawling the fine print on the Ticketmaster Germany website. How could I turn down seeing Dark Angel for only a second time? Three years since their last UK appearance, 27 years since their last show over here with a roof on and their first Scottish gig in almost three decades.

Thankfully, and surprisingly, the ever efficient Germans offer a refund service and my pair of tickets are no doubt making someone else happy whilst I get to see Gene “The Atomic Clock” Hoglan for the second time in a week.

Stoke punks Discharge and Norwegian black metal band Carpathian Forest have since been added, so it makes it quite a diverse one day festival and now worth making the effort to travel to Scotland.

Last time I saw a Dark Angel at Bloodstock I brought myself a shirt which had been dropped and lost by the time I left the festival. I know I’m supposed to be cutting down on my band attire, but I’ll have to invest in a Dark Angel shirt on Saturday.

Merciless Death was oddly included on the bands first two albums We Have Arrived (1985) and Darkness Descends a year later. This live version is from their 3-Way Thrash video recorded at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in October 1989. Also on the Hammy O stage on that day were D.A.M. and Candlemas who both feature in the 3-Way Thrash release. Nuclear Assault also performed at the same show and their set ended up being released as the Live at the Hammersmith Odeon CD in 1992.

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Heavy Metal Month Listening Challenge 20/31

Day 20 – A song about death. 

Dark Angel – Death is Certain (Life is Not)

Another staple subject within the heavy metal genre. Dark Angel put it best though as death is the only thing guaranteed for any body on this planet. How long between life beginning and the grim reaper arriving is a variable. 

Top 10 Gigs of 2015

Now that was hard work trying to narrow down a top ten of shows I attended this year from over 70 shows.  In front of me now I have a list scrawled out of 17 memorable shows for one reason or another and enough scribble on the page to fill a small diary.

 

Some of the shows that I had to cut included debut UK shows form Belgium’s Bloodrocuted and Vektor from the United States. AC/DC rocking the foundations of Wembley Arena.  The mega line up of Carcass, Obituary, Napalm Death and Voivod on the Deathcrusher tour.  Intimate shows by Anthrax in Brighton and Iron Reagan in Manchester. And the merging of my teenage years and some of the newest bands on the Slam Dunk Festival (PVRIS, Beartooth, H2O and Millencolin).  Finally, a honourable mention to Discharge, the inovators of D-Beat, playing a home town show to a packed venue with their new vocalist JJ.

So here it goes…

10 – Bloodstock Festival (Catton Hall 7-9th August)

I was going to steer clear of lumping a festival as one, but there were some superb performances this year.  Finally seeing Dark Angel was a huge plus. Nuclear Assault’s last UK appearance.  Sepultura, Overkill and Re-Animator showing everyone the old bands still have it, and overlooking the technical difficulties, Within Temptation’s headline slot had everything you wanted.

  
9 – Overkill and Sanctuary (Hedon, Zwolle 17th March)

A flying trip to Holland to catch the Killfest tour.  The second time I’d seen Sanctuary, but the first time with a roof.  They were flawless and Overkill were as solid as ever.  An added bonus of the Hedon venue being so good.


8 – Hirax (Manchester, Sound Control 16th March)

I could have picked their debut show at Hammerfest a few days earlier, but after the initial disappointment of seeing what part of the venue they were playing, it was so pleasing viewing a band playing in such a small space with so much enthusiasm.


7 – Xentrix and Acid Reign (Dublin, Voodoo Lounge 16th October)

I could have picked anyone of the three shows I attended on this tour, but by the time they sailed into Dublin they had all hit their stride, especially the returning Acid Reign after a quarter of a century away from the stage, who were as much fun that night as they were in 1990.


6 – Obituary (Camden, Electric Ballroom 1st February)

The reason I didn’t include Deathcrusher on the list is thanks to this headline set from Florida’s finest. I had reservations about it being upgraded to the much bigger Ballroom from the comparatively tiny Underworld. By the start of their set any misgivings were put aside as the place was pretty much full.  They were on top form that night, plus there was the added bonus of seeing German thrashers Dust Bolt on the same night.


5 – Flotsam & Jetsam (Nuneaton, Queens Hall 19th May)

Another disappointing turn out in Nuneaton, but that didn’t deter the legendary Arizona thrashers.  Tonight was a complete master class of thrash metal. Such a tight performance and compared to when I saw them last year the live vocals were much better.


4- Metallica (Gothenburg, Ullevi Stadium 22nd August)

Metallica are my favourite band and can really do no wrong in my book (well maybe LuLu!), but they couldn’t make my top three this year.  This tour didn’t have to may surprises in the set list, but I got to see Frayed Ends of Sanity performed live and I had tickets for the Golden Circle so we managed to get pretty close and ended up with a few off stage souvenirs.


3- Slayer and Anthrax (Brixton, Academy 30th November)

Again, I could have picked either date of the tour that I saw, but with the added size of the stage in Brixton you got more bang for your buck. Two bands who are most definitely getting better with age. Slayer were just Slayer, no banter, no jokes, no roller coasters, no prolonged solos – just pure, unadulterated, evil, thrash metal (and dancing inverted crosses!)  What more could you want?


2- Tankard and Crisix (Barcelona, Razzmatazz II 25th January)

Finally the missing piece for me from the German Teutonic Big Four. If Tankard won’t come to me then I’d better go to them!  After Kreator these Frankfurt beer swilling maniacs are my next favourite band of the four.  Much like Anthrax or Acid Reign, they are often classed as the clowns of the bunch.  That night in January they were on top form.  The track (Empty) Tankard was superb sing-a-long, and seeing Gerre singing from on top of the bar right in front of me is something I won’t forget in a hurry. They were so much fun to watch.


1 – Nightwish (Wembley, Arena 19th December)

So my favourite gig of the year happened to be the last gig I attended.  Nightwish owned the cavernous Wembley Arena that evening.  We were promised the full European stage show and that’s what they delivered.  Metal fans have a weird preoccupation with fire in all forms and we had it all tonight! We also had smoke, ticker tape and giant video screens.  The visuals were well and truly backed up with some stunning songs performed to perfection by Floor Jansen who breathed life into tracks from the departed vocalists before her. Fantastic sound too in a place so enormous, and it only cost £25.  A real bargain. A truly superb evening.