Heavy Metal Month Listening Challenge 27/31

Day 27 – A band that has had multiple singers. 

Nightwish – Wish I Had An Angel 

Possibly due to the longevity of artists within the metal scene, many bands have had several different vocalists for one reason or another. 

These Finn’s are now on their third front woman and they are one of the few bands where I’ve been able to see the band fronted by every different vocalist. 

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Ghost Riders In The Sky

Fire & Ice in Manchester last night was another failure. I woke up yesterday for my first day back at work with a sore throat (not the band I hasten to add!). I’ve been expecting to come down with a bout of man flu all of last week with late nights and early morning along with some aeroplane recycled air. I’ve got four days to exorcise it from my body, I don’t really fancy sniffling and my throat hurting when I gulp my pints of Trooper over the weekend.  

Continuing with random iPod shuffling, today’s gold medal goes to a Finnish melodic death metal band who haven’t been featured in the blog since November 2015 and not long after I started this collection of inane ramblings. I almost spun on to the silver track, but I didn’t fancy listening to U2 either. 

I think I have four versions of this 1948 Stan Jones country and western song in my iTunes library, but today gave me the Children of Bodom version, which appeared as a bonus track on the Japanese release of the band’s 2008 album Blooddrunk, not their finest thirty seven minutes. 

I’ve never knowingly heard the original and it has been covered over fifty times in its almost seventy year history. I’m more familiar with versions by Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s on their country inspired album, a cover by Australian rockers Spiderbait that featured in the Ghost Rider film from 2007 and finally the Johnny Cash interpretation from his 1979 album Silver. 

Never released as a single, but on YouTube there are several live versions to pick from. Hopefully I’ve chosen a half decent video for your perusal. This version was filmed during their performance at the Tuska Festival last year. 

Strike!

  

In a change to today’s planned schedule I’m probably going to jump on a train and spend the majority of the day up in Manchester.

I’d much rather have been seeing Exumer and bands of a more thrash metal orientation, but alas that isn’t in the runes today. Alternatively I’m going to be indulging in some melodic death metal with some Japanese Samurai Bushido influences from a band based in Tampere, Finland, an odd combination if ever there was one. 

I caught the last half of their set on the second stage at Bloodstock a month or so ago and I went to see them on the strength of the Oriental and melodic death metal mash up. I’d checked out a couple of songs from their latest release Metsutan – Songs from the Void out of curiosity beforehand and was pretty impressed. The melodi-death sound of the band isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel within the genre, but the use of the Japanese folk instruments overlaid in the mix makes it stand out a bit more than your average Scandinavian band in the same vein. Even the imagery of the group performing live all clad in kimonos makes them something a little bit left field of the pack. 

I’m sure I read that last months appearance in the Bloodstock dōjō was their first time performing in this country (I also could have imagined that fact) so when this run of UK dates popped up it was one show I had to experience in full, especially as my weekend was now unexpectedly free. The gig is only going to cost a fiver to get in so a cheap night to be had under the Star & Garter roof yet again with a glass of saki held aloft. 

Strike! can be located on the aforementioned Metsutan release from May of this year. 

Arigatōgozaimashita.

  

Hard Rock Hallelujah

Well it’s that time of year again.  Another Saturday evening where us on this little island think the rest of Europe is out to get us, but then again we do put forward some truly awful songs.  Yes, it’s Eurovision time!  For the most part the musical aspect to the competition doesn’t appeal to me, but you just have to watch in disbelief when ex-Eastern Block states and the Nordics all keep the voting between themselves, regardless of how good or bad their particular entries are.

We once used to be good at this competition, but when the gigantic USSR was dismantled we don’t appear to have done as well, strange that.

Last time we won the thing was way back in 2007 when Katrina and the Waves won with Love Shine A Light.  This only sticks in my memory as I was in Belgium with Stampin’ Ground over that particular weekend and we were staying with Ed, the owner of Goodlife Records, who informed us that our country had won.  We probably didn’t even realise it was happening anyway, so it was all news to us.

For a metal head the best entry and indeed best winner of the competition has to be Finland’s 2006 entry in the shape of the latex mask wearing metal band Lordi, who won with an impressive 292 points with their ditty Hard Rock Hallelujah.  They remain the only “hard rock” act to win the event.  I’d hazard a guess that a lot of the votes came from people from the metal sub culture who ‘s vote was more a protest than anything else.

Lordi have been around since 1992, but their win in Eurovision undoubtedly propelled their career to a much higher plain than they could have imagined. I know they would never entertain the idea of entering, but it would be interesting to see established bands like Iron Maiden or Rammstein representing their countries to see if the metal protest vote worked again.

Norwegian band Keep Of Kalessin auditioned in 2010, but they never made it through to represent their country. In 2000 Nightwish even tried out for it with their track Sleepwalker  They did come first in their televote try out, but the decision was overruled by a jury vote.  All complicated stuff!

 

Beautiful Bomb

The HRH United event will see me, hopefully, catching quite a few bands I haven’t seen before and some I wouldn’t necessarily part myself from my cash for.  At the end of the day, to me,  seeing bands you wouldn’t normally see or those bands that don’t tour very often is the beauty of festivals.  But on the other hand the gigantic festivals are pretty off putting for me now due to the time taken to traverse the site, often though the mud.

Once the  day splits and set times are announced there is great fun to be taken in working out who you want to see, then figuring out what time said bands are on and prioritising who to view and who will slide back under the radar as they clash time wise. Then ultimate disappointment when it all goes against the meticulously worked out planner, mainly due to alcoholic lethargy.

Last weekends jaunt to Holland was great as the majority of the bands were on two stages housed under the same roof. This coming weekend could be a bit more tricky as there is a bit of a distance between the two main arenas. For an open air event Bloodstock is usually pretty easy to navigate between it’s two main stages, but when you get to the realms of the Download festival with 90,000 people milling around it’s five different stages then your planning gets left in the bin.

Taking in the lighter side of proceedings at some point after Acid Reign have played on Friday I have a choice between the voice of Rainbow, Joe Lynn Turner, or Scandinavian sleaze rockers Reckless Love.

Originally a Guns ‘N’ Roses tribute act called Reckless Life, these Finn’s announced their arrival of their Los Angeles styled sleaze rock with the track Beautiful Bomb taken form their 2010 self titled debut album.

Six years and four albums later I will probably get a chance to see them.  They aren’t a band I’ve listened to a great deal, so thanks again to Spotify I gave their newest album, InVader, which was released last Friday a listen whilst I was doing the dishes this morning.  It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting.  It still had that LA Cathouse swagger in places, but the Synth pop  and pop rock stuff didn’t sit well.

It might be a case of watching the start or Reckless Love, stroll (if strolling is still possible at midnight Friday) over to the main stage with a jack Daniels in hand and watch the end of the Joe Lynn Turner set. But as I said earlier, all the best plans go awry by that time of night.

 

I Am The Antidote 

Thursday night sees me venturing down the M6 to Birmingham to catch the first night of Exodus’ 2016 European tour. Seventeen dates within the British Isles and I’ve got my eye on attending five of them! I’d be surprised if I do, but stranger things have happened.

Most of the shows have a local band opening up proceedings, but main support comes from Jyväskylä thrashers Lost Society. Their addition to the touring party is reason enough to endure the hell that will be the M6 during rush hour, if any encouragement was needed with Exodus in attendance.

These young Finns are part of a fantastic crop of young up and coming thrash bands from the European continent. Their on stage enthusiasm is infectious through out the venue. They only formed in 2010 and with their latest album Braindead hitting the racks a few weeks ago they’ve now released three full lengths in just four years, just like bands used to do!

I saw their debut British show at the Camden Underworld back in January 2014 when they were part of the Conquering Europe tour headlined by Greeks Suicidal Angels with country men Exarsis and Fueled By Fire from California. I had to catch a train before the headline act came on but Lost Society and Exarsis were the draw on that night.

Less than two weeks later I caught the tour again in Munich when these four bands combined for a mini festival and joined up with the Sepultura tour for one night. It was great seeing Lost Society again, but that day belonged to Flotsam & Jetsam – my first time seeing them, which is why I went to Germany.

The third, and currently final time I saw them, was in Manchester and again in 2014 supporting Germany’s Destruction. Let’s hope frontman Samy doesn’t break too many guitars from thrashing too hard like he did that day.

I Am The Antidote is taken from the aforementioned Braindead album. Considering the short time span between releases they’ve shown a great deal of maturity between debut release Fast Loud Death and their most recent.

Roll on Thursday.

Twilight Tavern

In a change to this evenings schedule I ended up in Manchester watching Helsinki folk metal band Ensiferum ably supported by Estonian’s Metsatöll.

The M6 to our original destination had become its usual Friday evening car park and catching the train south to Nuneaton would have been nearly £30 each. A quick look on Facebook and alternative plans were hastily arranged. The train to Manchester cost a bargain £7.50 each and it was a 10pm curfew. Two added bonuses

I’m not an ardent fan of the folk metal genre (a slice of the metal genre – whether it be death metal, power metal, black metal – mixed  with ethnic music from the bands homeland), but through festivals I’ve seen my fare share of one of Europe’s biggest musical exports. Folk metal, Viking metal or Battle metal as some magazines have dubbed it, appears to have a huge fan base and churns out numerous bands from Europes Northern reaches, especially Scandinavia, but variants can be found even from the Middle East.

Ensiferum have played the UK a couple of dozen times and twice at Bloodstock, but tonight was the first time I’ve witnessed them. To me this music sounds better when it is played in a venue with a roof and four walls. All the little intricacies come across better of the native instruments that get used. Tonight Ensiferum employed the use of an accordion and Metsatöll featured a type of bagpipe.

Taken from 2009’s From Afar album, it’s time to grab your drinking horn and head into the Twilight Tavern.