Infants Of Thrash

Happy chocolate egg day to you all!

Rather than heading out to a religious establishment to celebrate this four day weekend for many people, I’m sitting at home reminiscing about a fantastic night of thrash metal last night and pondering next weekends metal tour de force and infusing my body with caffeine.

I’m always a bit sceptical about seeing Testament in recent years, as they seem to mess about a lot beforehand and their set usually sounds awful or is cut short. I’m pretty sure last nights show was shorter than recent nights, but I feared that when there was a 10pm curfew and allegedly doors were due to open at 5:30 and we were still in the pub next door after six and the queue was just about kicking into life, well the life of a sloth. Such a bad venue to get into with the mediocre pat downs administered by the security staff.

I didn’t get to see too much of Vader, but Annihilator were great again with their short set that had to be briefly interrupted while ambulance staff attended to a guy who people say broke a leg in the pit during Vader’s performance.

Tracks from the new Testament album were mixed in with some 80’s thrash metal classics and several songs dragged screaming and kicking from their ever expanding back catalogue. Low is a track I’ve not experienced live for almost 15 years. We only got in the region of 85 minutes and some tracks that seemed to be stalwarts in the set were missing (Rise Up), but why not sacrifice the three solos rather than actual songs? Yes, we know Steve, Alex and Eric can play their instruments, but do we really need the vanity demonstrations?

At least with an early curfew I easily caught my last train home and even had time to grab some food without having to break into a sweat.

Towards the start of the month I anticipated catching twelve shows in a four week period before today. That ended up being a pretty respectable seven in that time frame. A few shows fell through for various reasons and a few had to be shuffled around. This weekend I was originally seeing Testament in Manchester on Friday then back to the city on Saturday for Xentrix.

At one point I was expecting to have made the trip to London for the Reprisal album launch show on Friday and ended up sacrificing seeing Xentrix for Testament 24 hours later. In the end I couldn’t get Saturday off work and I didn’t fancy a train trip back up north and getting home at 2am then being in work by 6 (if I managed to get a sneaky lie in) then heading off to another show. As of yesterday though that won’t be too much of an issue. Yesterday was my last time working on a Saturday before we have a shake up of working hours and my week will now finish on a Friday afternoon.

Besides the kudos of being a part of Reprisal’s album launch I was looking forward to heading to London to catch Greek thrashers Domination. I missed them when they were over here a few years ago and I fear I will miss them yet again on this pretty extensive run. They play Wolverhampton on Wednesday night, but there is a severe lack of information from the venue and promoter about the gig. The Facebook event page states a 2350 finish. If that’s correct that’s me out of contention.

Nottingham’s show next Saturday appears to have been cancelled, but I’m in Scotland that weekend anyway and wouldn’t have made it even if it hadn’t been scrapped. The Wolverhampton show is sandwiched in between shows in Coventry and Leicester, both easy enough to drive to from home, but with work the next morning they are both non starters.

The final option would involve my first trip to Chesterfield for something that isn’t a football match. It’s an 80 minute drive away and on a Friday evening. Even though I’m not working on Saturday, I’m still up early as I will be cracking the whip and trying to get three other people and a dog to Crewe station for a train to Glasgow that leaves at 8am. Can I trust people to wake up early enough and not make us miss our transportation?

The Athenian band have been going for seven years now and formed when their members had an average age of 15. Their debut full length surfaced in 2015 and is another worthy addition to the fantastic thrash metal scene coming out of Hellas in recent years. The country is now very high up on places I’d like to experience a live show. How frenetic the bands I have seen on stage recently seem to be is how I imagine the kids at a show in Athens or Thessaloniki.

Have a listen to the album via their Bandcamp page.

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Brutal Decay

I should have posted this a few days ago, but I’ve had so much running about to do at home, the Life of Agony gig on Friday and generally just being let down at work yesterday that prevented me from getting an early finish. Better late than never anyway. 

I’m currently a few thousand feet in the air on a flight to Amsterdam for an evening of thrash metal. The flight seems to be full of people who’ve partaken in to much expensive lager at the departure point and now are a bit green around the gills with the brief spell of turbulence we experienced on take off. They’re also the ones who look like they’ll be trying their luck in Amsterdam’s red light district this evening and trying to find solace the hash  cafes. I’m glad I’m heading an hour north east by train to sleepy Zwolle for my fix of Euro thrash. 

Even though the trek is headlined by Bristolian’s Onslaught, the Thrash ‘Tll The Death tour isn’t hitting home soil. Hardly surprising after attending several of their shows over the last few years to pitiful crowds. Band wise the UK thrash scene is having a renaissance and is possibly at one of its highest ebbs since the thrash metal glory days of the late 80’s. Attendance wise British fans seem to very apathetic towards home grown talent. I saw Onslaught performing The Force in full in Chester last year to no more than 50 people. A friend saw the same tour with less than 30 in Banbury. 

Danish stalwarts Artillery are the main support. This will be the fourth time I’ve seen them in four years in a fourth different country after waiting decades to see them. They and Onslaught traversed the UK together in what was the Dane’s first experience of British crowds. The attendance in Glasgow and Birmingham a few days later were hardly stellar. Having experienced tonight’s venue previously I’m hoping for a cracking few hours. 

Opening up the tour are a pair of Greek bands. I was in Camden’s Underworld early in 2014 to see Exarsis play with Suicidal Angels, Lost Soceity and Fueled by Fire then did it all again in Munich two weeks later. 

Athenian thrashers Chronosphere are a new band to add to my hefty list of bands seen, but a band I’ve been listening to since their debut album Envirusment surfaced in 2012. Several mainland European tours and two albums later I finally get to experience them live. With the way Britain seems to be going with all the Brexit uncertainty I’ll be surprised if they ever get to Blighty under their own steam, unless they drop on a support slot like their country men Exarsis have done. Now I need to find a way to cross off Game Over, Final Depravity, Ultra-Violence and Panikk (amongst a slew of others) from the European thrash bucket list. 

Over the years attending gigs this way had increased sharply, but I think this is due you our lax nature in booking the important bits of the equation and leaving it too late to snag the bargain flight prices. Considering Zwolle is nearly 600 miles from home I can’t really complain at paying £20 more than it could cost me to do the 170 mile trip to London by train. 

On to the last leg of the journey now, until we have reverse our steps at 6am Monday morning for a 9 o’clock flight, an hour now on the train to Zwolle. We’ll have left the cannabis tourists 80 miles behind us and heading to more sedate and tranquil surroundings, well until 6pm when the Greeks make the stage rumble. 

Brutal Decay is taken from the middle album of Chronosphere’s current trio of albums Embracing Oblivion from 2014.  

Division Of Blood

  

Off down to that there Londinium again on Sunday for some thrash metal. Just incase I get withdrawal symptoms when I return to the frozen northern wastelands I get to do it all again five days later!

Just like the last time Suicidal Angels toured their sole British date was in the sweaty Underworld – and unfortunately like last time I’ll will have to bid adieu before the Athenian thrashers hit the stage  (thank you train companies for thinking people might not want to leave the nations capital for the north earlier than 9pm) and much like last time I’m hoping to catch the tour a bit further down the line  in Europe somewhere. 

I’ve missed them more times than I’ve seen them, but every show they were billed on has had a fantastic line up. London 2014 they headlined over fellow Greeks Exarsis, Lost Society from Finland and Fueled by Fire from California. I believe they were debut UK shows for those bands. I missed them earlier this year when they played the pre party gig for the Dynamo Metal festival. Originally we should have been staying over on the Friday in Eindhoven, but circumstances dictated we commuted there from Amsterdam. 

My pair of Suicidal Angel’s gigs have both been in Deutschland. The last time I saw them was a few weeks later on from the above London show when their tour joined forces with the Sepultura tour for a mini festival in Munich where the Brazilians headlined and Legion of the Damned, Flotsam & Jetsam and Mortillery were added to the bill. 

  

My debut viewing was in Berlin when they were the opening act on the Thrash Fest 2010 jaunt. This is amongst my most memorable shows, with Death Angel and Exodus following on, then the night was brought to a crushing finale by Kreator. 

  

Division of Blood was unleashed upon the thrash world earlier this year through NoiseArt Records. 


  

Bulletproof

On Monday afternoon I’ll be jumping on a Manchester bound train to catch the Marduk tour that is rolling into the city.

I’m not really a fan of the Swedish black metal headliners, but the other three bands that complete the touring quartet are of more interest to me, especially the opening band Bio-Cancer, hence the earlier than usual train, who I can not wait to see live.

These Athens thrashers will have half an hour to warm up the crowd that have bothered to arrive early. No doubt that will be a pretty sparse crowd at 6:30pm as all I’ve read so far is “I’ve never heard of them“. Well make the effort to get there early!

There have been some great thrash bands coming out of Hellenic Republic over the last few years and Bio-Cancer are one of those. If you like your aggressive thrash metal with precise musicianship and blistering speed then this is a band for you. The definite love / hate angle to the band will be the vocals. Well it’s more a high pitched screech than singing, so not exactly conventional for a thrash band, but it does work well.

I’ve managed to catch fellow Greek thrashers Suicidal Angels a handful of times now and last time they were touring they had country men Exarsis in tow. Now if only someone would bring Chronosphere over, or they play a European show in a city I can fly into easily, then that would be great.

Bulletproof is taken from the bands sophomore album, Tormenting The Innocent, released last year.

Blade Runner Theme

January 8th 2016 we say Happy Birthday to Roy Batty (or happy activation day). Less than four years from now you and your Nexus-6 replicant renegades will be the scourge of an extremely grim Los Angeles, where it seems like it rains all day, every day. Just a hint though, if you really want to extend your lifespan I suggest you steer clear of LAPD’s special agent Rick Deckard.

When I started tagging the countries of origin in this blog I honestly didn’t envisage the first entry from Greece, especially with it’s current batch of fantastic thrash metal bands, would be Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, but to his friends we all know him as Vangelis.

Vangelis composed and performed the dark and brooding futuristic score for Ridley Scott’s 1982 neo-noir sci-fi classic Blade Runner, based on the Phillip K. Dick book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? A dystopian vision of 2019 Los Angeles sees an almost retired blade runner (Deckard) reluctantly taking on one last assignment by hunting down and “retiring” Batty’s gang of genetically engineered replicants.

If you like science fiction and want to see what the future has to offer us in three years, along with a spare two hours, I highly recommend watching Blade Runner. A bit of a slower burner, but such a visually stunning watch and often thought provoking. Oh, and Harrison Ford and Daryl Hannah might be a draw for some people.