I Can

I’ve been a Helloween fan for as long as I can remember, but I let the membership of that club slip from my grasp in the early 90’s around the time that Chameleon and Pink Bubbles Go Ape surfaced. That’s also the stretch of albums where Kai Hansen, Michael Kiske and Ingo Schwichtenberg all departed.

I might have given Master of the Rings a listen at some point – the first album with Andi Deris taking the frontman’s spotlight – but it wasn’t on a par with the pair of Keeper albums or Walls of Jericho. Over the course of the next two decades and ten albums I never really gave the “new” line up a chance. I dipped in to the back catalogue every once in a while but nothing grabbed my attention. I have even seen them live four times since 2008 too. Three of those at festivals and the other in London purely due to the fact that Rage were supporting in a rare UK visit.

Actually a Helloween visit to these shores is a rarity in itself. My four live experiences of the band have been part of only seven in the same time period. None of those seven have been outside of London unless it’s been a festival stage that they have graced.

Needless to say, I’ve never been excited about an upcoming album release in the last two decades and hardly been expectant of a tour announcement, but all that changed some months ago and now I’m sitting at home with the winter sun streaming through the window on Armistice Day plotting.

Hansen and Kiske are rejoining the rest of the current line up to participate in a world tour with under the Pumpkins United banner and I really want to go, even more so since the first shows in South America when the setlist hit the internet and it’s a collection on Germanic power metal songs to die for. So many songs I’ve grown up with in the past thirty years and ones I’d never thought I’d see live and especially with Kiske on vocals.

So onto the dilemma. The only British appearance is on Tuesday in London (obviously). I’ve pretty much ran out of holidays at work so if I was to make the spectacle I’d have to head down to the big smoke on the train after work and either be on a train home by 10pm to make it home before 1230am Wednesday, or I can suck it up, see the full set and get the last train 90 minutes later and roll into bed less than two and a half hours before my alarms go off for work. If I went for the first option I’d get a pretty decent set list (longer than some bands I’ve seen lately) and plenty of the early stuff I’m craving to see. Their Stuttgart show last night clocked in at just under three hours long!

There’s a third alternative, but a bit of a long shot if I’m being honest. Next week I’m off work, talk about bad timing, and the band take to the 013 stage in Tilburg on Monday evening. Eight days in advance and the flight prices aren’t overly expensive (especially considering what a train might cost me) and I’m sure I can grab a bed to sleep in relatively cheaply. Watch this space.

In a response to my renewed vigour for the German troupe I’ve put all the back catalogue in my iTunes library and listened to the missing albums with a much more open mind and there’s been some really great hidden gems popping up over the course of the last few weeks. Taken from 1998’s Better Than Raw, I Can is one of those gems. It’s time I go and do something useful for the day before it suddenly turns into Monday, but I’ll still be running the pros and cons in my mind until Tuesday morning easily.

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A Drug Against War

I’ve been listening to KMFDM on and off since I started to discover the industrial metal scene via Nine Inch Nails, GGFH, Swamp Terrorists, Laibach and Ministry in the mid 90’s. Tonight the German band play the Ruby Lounge in Manchester and the Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton tomorrow whilst I’m otherwise engaged elsewhere. I’ve never seen them live, then again I don’t own any of their twenty albums, so I doubt I’d be changing my plans for the next two nights, but I’ve enjoyed relistening to them lately. 

I first stumbled upon the band through one of two industrial styles compilation discs. It was either their track Godlike on the Hot Wired Monstertrux album or the Terror – An Industrial Metal Compilation where a remixed version of Money was featured. They’ve also been on the soundtrack albums to several films including Hellraiser III, Mortal Kombat and Johnny Mnemonic. 

Formed in Hamburg in 1984 as a performance project by Sascha Konietzko, Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid (no pity for the majority) has gone through a lot of band members in their 33 year career. I initially liked their earlier output with a more angry metal edge to it. Listening to some of the more recent tracks with American singer Lucia Cifarelli it doesn’t sound quite a metallic as I recall, maybe be a bit more watered down. No doubt I’ll have a binge listen on Spotify over the weekend and regret not going to see them.  

For a long time I was under the impression KMFDM was as acronym for Kill Mother F*****g Depeche Mode. I didn’t find out until recently that was just something the band did with American journalists who weren’t well versed with the German language. Even though the band are considered German now there is only one German native in the band, whilst the rest of the line up is completed by an American singer and a trio of British musicians. 

A Drug Against War was released on the Angst album in 1993 and still keeps all of those elements from the Chicago industrial scene that originally caught my attention. 

Heavy Metal Month Listening Challenge 16/31


 
Day 16 – A song about the Devil.

Kreator – Satan is Real

Thirty one songs, thirty bands. You just knew Kreator were going to make an appearance at some point. 

They absolutely slayed the main stage at Bloodstock over the weekend, and for the life of me I don’t know why they weren’t one of the three headliners. 

Pleasure To Kill

This weekend marks my nineteenth visit to the Bloodstock festival, whether it’s at its inaugural Assembly Rooms home or located somewhere with in the confines of Catton Hall Park. Nineteen represents the total amount of festivals flying the Bloodstock banner, and I can say I’ve attended at least a day at every single one. There can’t be too many people who can claim that, as the first event was only fifteen hundred or so attendees.  

If anyone has read many of my 455 posts to date they might have seen Bloodstock mentioned on a pretty repetitive, and possibly boring, basis. I’ve seen about 280 different sets over those fifteen years, that’s more than double the amount of bands I’ve seen over thirteen Download Festivals.  

I’ve witnessed some stunning performances and I’ve also suffered some diabolical days, whether it be line ups, performances or weather. This weekend falls into the lower end of that equation. Over the two days I’m there I’m hoping to catch about sixteen bands if it all runs to plan. From those sixteen there is only one band I’ve never seen before. Nearly half of those bands I’ve also seen at the festival at some point too. If I took the main stage over the three days I’ve seen exactly half at Bloodstock already, and many of those multiple times. It’s fine if you go infrequently, but year after year with the same bands cropping up it makes you wonder why I keep going. 

More than a music event it’s a time to catch up with people you don’t necessarily see other than at the festival. The people I consider friends seem to be in many of the far flung corners of the UK and as we grow older, many have grown wiser and don’t necessarily go to as many gigs now they are used to. A few beers and much chat is higher on the agenda than most of the bands this year. 

The festival is only 44 miles from my house, so that’s one reason I go religiously. This year though I considered a trip to one of the two festivals in Belgium over the same weekend (Alcatraz and Ieper) or even the Brutal Assault event in the Czech Republic. I was even tempted with Chimpy Fest in London for an all out noise assault.  All because the line ups were offering me a better calibre of bands that I haven’t seen, or seen as much. Maybe next year? 

The one band that made my decision to go this year was a band I’ve seen more than twenty times, so sitting here writing that makes me sound like such a hypocrite after slating repeat performances, but the Teutonic thrashers Kreator are one of my top five bands and to see them again and again doesn’t get at all that stale to me. 

The thing that perplexes me most about their appearance this year is why aren’t they headlining? Over the six years since they last graced this stage they’ve headlined some of the biggest festivals throughout Europe and have a more than worthy stage show to go with their headline credentials. Without my rose tinted glasses on,  I personally feel they deserve it more than Amon Amarth and Ghost. Megadeth have the CV to close the weekend, but it’s something they did as recently as 2014. Maybe it’s not meant to be for them?

This video to Pleasure to Kill was released recently to coincide with the remastered versions of the bands first four offerings. As I’d already got them on CD I wasn’t too bothered about buying them for a second time (repeats again!!) but I listened to them on Spotify and just having a decent audio of the East Berlin show tempted me to part with my cash. 

To carry on with the repetitive theme, here’s Pleasure to Kill again for the second time since last October, but with a more imaginative and befitting video for the track. 

Heavy Metal Month Listening Challenge 6/31

Day 6 – Female Vocal. 

Rather predictably I’ve gone with Warlock and the “metal queen” that is Doro Pesch. 

They were probably my introduction into a female fronted metal band when I first listened to them in 1987 (ish) when I got a copy of their Fight for Rock 12″ and never looked back. 

Enlighten Me

How things have changed since the first outdoor version of the Bloodstock Festival. Due to the limited capacity of 2,500 or so in the Assembly Rooms and with the backing of the über festival Wacken, the British metalheads of the traditional variety had now got their own weekend in the rain. 

I didn’t attended the Friday half day with Sebastian Bach closing the night, I was probably working on the Saturday. I was there on the second day, but in hindsight I don’t know why. Every band playing on the day had played at the four indoor editions, with two playing back in September. Something that the organisers have sadly kept in place. 

The original layout of the site could accommodate ten thousand people, but I’m pretty sure it was nowhere near capacity. The car parking was within spitting distance of the single stage separated by a small plastic fence. I’m not sure if it was due to inclement weather or boredom, but I can recall sitting in my car at one point watching proceedings unfold to my left. Yes, it was that close. 

I’ve already posted about Paradise Lost performing in 2003. We had Evergrey yesterday and I’ve rambled about Children of Bodom previously, so that leaves Edguy, who at one point felt like the festivals own band in residency or fellow Germans Masterplan. 

So Masterplan it is then. They were formed by ex-Helloween members Roland Grapow and Uli Kusch when they were fired in 2001 for daring to want a side project. Apart from the fact that they were on two festival line ups I happened to be at I’ve not seen them since 2005, they haven’t even played the UK since a quartet of dates in 2007, and I own no music by them at all.  

Enlighten Me can be found on 2003’s self titled album.