I’m sitting on my train just as its pulling away from Euston station for the second time in five days. Next stop Stoke on Trent in 80 minutes. Home half an hour later then at a push maybe five hours sleep before my alarms are blasting out a snippet of classic D-Beat to entice me out of my slumber for another day at work. Lucky me eh?

The last two evenings have been an exhilarating eight hours of thrash metal. Unfortunately, we’ll expectedly, we were there late yesterday and missed Nervosa – thank you M6 roadworks – and tonight I had to cut Destruction short by half an hour – thanks Virgin rail! I have ended up seeing every band at least once which was my ultimate aim and spent some time with friends – always an added bonus compared to the solitary existence I usually endure for my live music fix. 

I have to say Nervosa were superb tonight and much like headliners Destruction, they make an almighty racket for a three piece. Enforcer, as expected, bored me into submission last night (they do a great cover  version of I Turned into a Martian originally by Misfits though) so tonight was spent congregated around the bar and briefly chatting to the Acid Reign vocalist. German Teutonic heavy weights Destruction brought the curtain down in their professional way. Their set was a nice mix of new and classic tracks and was received warmly. 

My main reason for the double dose of thrash was thanks to Phoenix  band  Flotsam & Jetsam who in their brief 45 minute set stole the show. Twice. These thrash innovators  were on top form yet again and delivered a crushing master class in metal. The vocals were a little lost in London at times but that didn’t detract from the superb performances overall. 

Both nights opened up with new track Seventh Seal then into the nostalgia rush of Dreams of Death and Hammerhead. For me their finest four minutes in the form of Desecrator was sandwiched in between two more new tracks. Twenty four hours ago they were stripped of some time due to late doors and finished with Me and the stunning No Place For Disgrace. Running to a strict schedule tonight and on time the set was rounded off with Iron Maiden from the latest release and Hard On You teleased back in 1988 and once again the predictable set closer No Place For Disgrace. 

So on the day that marks a thrash metal landmark with the release of Slayer’s classic Reign In Blood thirty years ago, the band that gave Metallica Cliff Burton’s replacement tore the roof off the Underworld in London Town. 

One bittersweet comment I overheard leaving the floor after Flotsam had decimated the place was they wished Metallica and Slayer hadn’t made it to the big league so that they could see them in the inmate 450 capacity venues like this. I’ve often thought that about a lot of bands, but if they hadn’t hit the big time I wonder if we’d still have all those early bands and the second wave performing some thirty years later? I highly doubt it, but that just my opinion. 

This live version of Desecrator was filmed at the Queens Hall in Nuneaton last May when they did a short headlining tour of the the UK. They were on top form that evening to and they just played well past the venues curfew time, it was just a crying shame so few people decide to come out and pay tribute to one of the original US thrash bands. It was one of those gigs I’m glad I decided to drive to rather than be restricted by the rail time table. 


Iron Maiden

A bit misleading for you as this Iron Maiden isn’t by Iron Maiden, nor is it a cover version.

The month of May has been a stupendous month for new albums from some of thrash metals stalwarts and a few up and coming bands. Actually it’s been a cracking calendar year if you take into account For All Kings, begrudgingly Dystopia and from the end of last year Repentless, and that’s just three of the “Big 4.”

Last week saw the new one from Destruction delivered in the mail. This morning my drive to work will probably be the new self titled Flotsam & Jetsam album via Spotify, but it could so easily have been more Teutonic thrash from Assassin. Next Friday sees a new albums from Mortillery and Bay Area veterans Death Angel drop through the letter box.

This band from sunny Phoenix, Arizona are probably more famous for an ex member in the form of Jason Newstead, who went on to enjoy a 15 year tenure with Metallica after Cliff Burton’s tragic death in 1986.

Flotsam & Jetsam are a band I only got to see live for the first time in 2014. In February of that year they were on a four band package headlined by Sepultura along with Legion of the Damned and opened up by the aforementioned Mortillery. The Munich show was a mini festival where the Suicidal Angels tour added another four bands. That Saturday afternoon and evening under the Backstage roof was fantastic. Later that year they played Bloodstock, their first British date for 26 years. And just like buses they were back on UK soil less than nine months later and I saw them deliver a thrash metal master class to the sparse crowd in the Nuneaton Queens Hall.

What seems to be all the rage in this day and age, here’s the lyric video for their track Iron Maiden. I’m guessing it’s a cheap and easy way to get something interesting onto YouTube and social media.

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.