Wrathchild

After nearly three decades of gig going I often wonder why I put myself through the wringer so much, time after time to attend a show. Maybe at my age I need to be more selective in who I see and where? But having said that it’s how I’d imagine being addicted to a drug is. If I don’t get to a show for a prolonged period of time I get grumpier than usual. As long as I’m enjoying it I’m sure I’ll persist with it.

Also after the recent debacles in January, and having to miss shows, it kind of leaves me jaded with the whole thing too. I enjoy the smaller shows more than festivals and arenas, but it seems to be the smaller show that (obviously) suffer more from scheduling problems and technical difficulties. You’re not going to get hundreds into somewhere like The Retro Bar or Peer Hat in Manchester and venues similar to them and they hold less than a hundred or so anyway. Some people have to travel to a different city to see a gig so the more people you can entice to your event the better.

In this day and age of modern technology set times and curfews posted up on social media are a god send as I can arrange travel accordingly. Depending on times I can pick from three different train stations or even drive if need be. When you make arrangements like I did the other week for a show based on a particular band and time which dictated my travel options, a casual “oh well we had to push the times back an hour” aren’t welcome to non locals. I know things can’t be helped, but surely there is a duty to have problems ironed out in plenty of time to let those paying in arrange whatever travel arrangements they need. At least with that one I had the option to save some of my money and head home without incurring extra costs. There have been a few shows where I’ve missed bands as the promoter (I’m assuming) listed bands in the wrong order. Having gone for a particular band only to find out yet again they’re on after a last train has departed.

Having said all that a gig like what I experienced in London last nigh restores most of my faith. Again I was on a tight schedule to get the last train back north, so when people were still not being let into the Underworld just before 7:30pm I was expecting the thing to finish nearer 11pm than the advertised 10:40.

Things ran bang on time and all three bands started on their scheduled dot. The thing that restored some faith in my gig going was the superb and professional way the Swedish masked men went about pummelling the venue. The crowd was pretty sparse, no doubt none of the mainstream printed press have picked up on the band so the metal heads with the sheep herd mentality of only going to things that they are told is good didn’t make an appearance. There was less than 100 in there, but it was by and large an enthusiastic 100 who really wanted to be there to celebrate Dr Living Dead! finally making it on to our island.

I’m still a bit surprised by the turn out considering both opening bands had support slots with pretty decent headliners in the same city within the last fifteen months. Rezet were opening up for Anvil at the tail end of 2016 and Swiss band Comaniac supported Metal Church last summer.

The performances from all three bands were superb and all for under a dozen English pounds. It was well worth making the effort. Yesterday started at 4:30am with a 9 hour stint at work. A brief 90 minutes at home before I ventured out on a five hour round trip culminating in me getting home just before 1am this morning. That was actually earlier than anticipated as the train was 40 minutes early into Stoke. The Swede’s could have easily taken to the stage and played a shortened lacklustre set, but already after four shows this year that is a contender for gig of the year.

Moving on to today, Iron Maiden’s sophomore release Killers celebrates its 37th birthday. I won’t delve into that too much as I wrote about it exactly 365 days ago. It’s one of the albums I’ve I had in my possession for the longest and probably takes the bronze medal out of the entire Maiden back catalogue.

In a weird twist of fate Hi-On Maiden are playing just up the road at Eleven, and as I have no work tomorrow it’d be rude not to attend. A few people I know have said how good they are and I need to see them and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to catch them that hasn’t clashed with anything else.

Happy birthday to Killers and to celebrate here’s a live version of Wrathchild taken from their Live at the Rainbow VHS release. The cover above is from the double sided 7” with the non album track Twilight Zone on the A side.

Advertisements

Bad Luck

What an absolute stinker of a day today has turned out to be! I need to check to see if I’ve inadvertently smashed a mirror, or crossed a black cat somewhere? Maybe I accidentally refused some lucky heather from a gypsy?

Things were fine when I found a record store come cafe on my route at work and I ended up purchasing an Xentrix 12” that I’ve been after for some time for a decent price. It’s when I left work where things went awry.

I was pushing my luck with the fuel in my car on the way to work but with no petrol stations open at 4:45am – even though the local one has a facility to pay at the pump but is “closed” between midnight and 6am – it’s a risk I had to take. Fortunately I got to work 9 miles away. Coming home not so lucky.

I was less than 400m away from the petrol station when my car came to a juddering halt. Luckily I managed to coast it into a lay by and proceeded to walk to get fuel and at the same time the heavens took pity on me and proceeded to dump a load of rain in my location! Four quid for a shiny new plastic jerry can and 20 minutes later I was off and running again.

It didn’t spoil my afternoon too much I managed to get home at a decent time and grab a 90 minute power nap before it was off to the local train station for my Reprisal gig in Manchester. Considering I needed a return ticket I managed to press the wrong button on the automated machine. Instead of a £13.50 return I ended up with a £12.70 single. Great! Now the relatively inexpensive journey has no doubled in price.

At the start of my journey there the venue had been altered, but it was basically upstairs above the original venue, so no biggie with that one. Fifty minutes later I’m Manchester and I’m not too sure where the venue is so I bring up the iPhones maps to check the route and get the unwelcome news that tonight’s show has been pushed back by an hour. My last train home was at 2146. I only really wanted to see two of the four bands and was more than happy to hand over my £13 cash on the door for Cryptic Shift and Reprisal and have half an hour to amble back for my train.

Reprisal – the only bloody band I really wanted so see – are now scheduled to hit the stage at 2145!

I was debating whether to go and see the first two bands or not and even ventured up to the venue and got myself a quick drink to drown my sorrows in, but I suddenly thought “I really can’t be bothered” (putting it politely) and scooted off for the next train.

Less than three hours later and nearly £24 poorer, I’m sitting at home slurping a coffee wondering why do I bother to make the effort to see shows when promoters or venues seem to think that changing times at the drop of a hat is justified. I get that there can be issues, but they all seem so blasé towards their customer base. That’s a pair of shows in five days in Manchester that have been messed up beyond belief time wise. Not everyone lives ten minutes from a venue or is able to potentially drive to a venue. But that’s a rant for another day.

Sitting on the train home thinking about my bad luck today just got this song stuck in my head and is the only reason I’m posting something by FM. Coincidentally though I did buy this nearly thirty years ago as a single, I’m sure the 7″ came in it’s own box with an exclusive patch or a pin.

Today can do one!

Atomic Tectonics

Hopefully on Thursday evening I aim to be on a train and heading up to The Peer Hat in Manchester to catch a few representatives of the UK metal scene.

My main draw is to see Reprisal for what may or may not be the second time. The Home Counties quartet are on a dozen date jaunt of the UK and Ireland with south coast death metal band Bloodshot Dawn – who have a new album out that I need to check out.

Their debut E.P. Ichneumanity surfaced way back in 2013 and it seems like a mighty long time since those five tracks of technical death metal tinged thrash were unleashed upon the world. If I ever get around to my intended run of posts revolving around the artist who created some of metals finest covers Dan Seagrave who painted the piece above will feature heavily in it. His artwork has adorned dozens of albums that have been displayed in countless record stores since 1989 and he’s still going strong nearly thirty years later.

Reprisal are a band that I might have caught at Bloodstock over the last few years, they played their in 2014, but I can’t remember anything about them if I did see them. I may have missed them completely or I briefly caught a few songs whilst flitting between stages. There has been one missed opportunity recently of seeing them live when I was due to go to Oxford last October for the weekend and they were supporting Divine Chaos. Unfortunately things fell through and the Oxford trip had to be postponed.

I’ve seen several shows advertised in the southern portion of the country but I can’t recall seeing any shows in this neck of the woods until the dates for the Reanimation trek were announced. Hopefully I shouldn’t have to wait too long to see them again as I’m hoping to make the ridiculous drive to Norwich again for Thrashersarus in May where they have recently been added to the already stellar bill.

I’m not sure if the E.P. is still available physically to purchase but it’s on most of the digital platforms, but if you want to line the pockets of the band with a hefty £4 (and hopefully help to get a new release out without a Metallica length wait) then have a browse of their Bandcamp page.

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.

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!

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.

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.