We Are The Others 

Later today I should be making the relatively short trip north into Lancashire for Sancfest, a one day festival organised by Burnley’s Sanctuary Rock Bar and headlined by Acid Reign.  

Last night though I spent the evening at home, just me and Ozymandias, whilst my wife had a night of drunken debauchery (probably) at her friends house. With no interruptions and prying eyes I made the most of the empty house and finally got around to watching the harrowing BBC drama Murdered for Being Different. It was such a hard watch, even though you know the ultimate outcome of the films subject. As someone who has been deemed as different for more than three decades now I’m kind of relieved I’ve not discovered the metal subculture as a teenager in recent years and had to put up with so much more venomous hatred than there seemed to be in the 80’s. 

On August 11th 2007 Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend were attacked by a blood thirsty mob in a park in Bacup. Robert Maltby eventually recovered, to some extent, from his injuries. Thirteen days later Sophie’s parents took the difficult choice to turn off her life support system as she was never going to regain consciousness. Over the course of time five teenagers were charged and eventually jailed for varying lengths between sixteen years down to four years and four months. It’s pretty horrid to think three of the five are now out and living their lives after being involved with the brutal attack. 

When varying mainstream trends in clothing and music have come and gone in the thirty odd years I’ve been a “metal head” I have pretty much dressed the same way throughout those decades once the restraints and confines of uniforms have been left behind. I’ve had the taunts of greaser, sweaty, headbanger and weirdo verbally thrown at me for a long while, but nothing ever got to a point where violence was directed my way. As recently as May this year I had an egg thrown at me after a gig in Birmingham from a moving car and I can only assume it was because I was dressed differently. 

Across the road from one of the local rock clubs there used to be a nightclub that was frequented mainly by people into the more popular music genres of the time, needless to say now it’s been stood derelict for more years than I can remember, whilst the rock club has thrived and welcomed newer and younger patrons with open arms. 

I’ve stood out on the street in front of the Rigger on several occasions where there’s been a police presence due to drunken rowdiness and it’s all been on the nightclub’s side of the road where their attentions have been focused rather than those nasty rockers! Even with modern day festivals there seems to be more trust within the metal scene. Attendance wise two recent festivals within 40 miles of my house are chalk and cheese. The V Festival was held last weekend with somewhere in the region of 90,000 attendees. Apparently it’s been stated on the radio that it’s the safest festival around with something in the region of 300 arrests and an armed police presence. Less than 20,000 at Bloodstock a few weekends previously but I can’t recall seeing one police officer and I’ve heard of no arrests. Strange that. 

Anyway I digress. It’s been a long time since I was last in Burnley, and I feel I will see some signage as I get closer to my destination pointing me to Bacup as there is less than eight miles between the two ex-milling towns. Tomorrow’s headliners Acid Reign also paid the best tribute that I saw to Sophie on social media a few days ago to mark the tenth “anniversary” of her murder, so tomorrow could get a little emotional at some point.  

“This girl has done more through her death than most of us will ever manage in our lives. Love you Sophie” 

In the aftermath of her death her parents went on to create the S.O.P.H.I.E. foundation (Stamp Out Prejudice Hatred and Intolerance) to try and educate people about the alternative sub cultures, and they are regular attendees at many festivals and events. The second stage at Bloodstock has been named in her honour since 2009. Also offences against the alternative sub culture have since been recorded as hate crimes by many police forces.  

This track by Delain from their 2012 release We Are the Others is included in this post as the Dutch band dedicated the release to Sophie’s memory. 

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Amalgamation

I’ve been listening to From The Ashes of Eden on constant rotation since I managed to find it a few days ago.  Im guessing the Dutch band X-Tinxion will be a new name for most people, but if you have a spare hour and a Spotify account I highly recommend you give it a blast. 

I first came across the name when I saw a flyer for the Death Angel show happening at Rotterdam’s Baroeg in August. I’m fully aware of three of the four bands on the line up, but “X-Tinxion NL thrash” piqued my interest. Then I kind of forgot about them. 

Over the weekend at the Dynamo Metal Fest I noticed several shirts with the bands logo emblazoned across the front. Thinking they must be pretty popular in their native land I made a more concerted effort to check the band out. Assessing the festival from the comfort of my house, it appeared that all the members of the band were in attendance during the event.  

I’m starting to think that I’m a bit slow to the party for this Dordrecht outfit after a bit more research. Even though last years From The Ashes of Eden is their debut album they’ve been together for a staggering thirteen years and previously released a pair of EP’s in 2010 and 2015.  

Trawling Facebook for more information I was initially shocked to see front woman Monica Janssen celebrating five years and one month since her live debut with the band. She’s also in Downcast Collision – so another band I’ll have to check out.  I was expecting the band to have been together for three or four years, let alone the vocalist celebrating five. 

If you like your old school thrash metal intertwined with some modern Swedish death metal elements and a vocalist capable of switching from clean vocals to a growled delivery, very much influenced by Arch Enemy, then this could be a new discovery for you too. 

I’m off to track down a CD version of the debut album where Amalgamation is the opening track. I’ll also bee on the look out for a shirt and ultimately experiencing the band live. I’m not adverse to travelling to see bands and their native Holland is a country I’ve visited numerous times for gigs, so I think that will be my best route to see them on stage. 

Days Go By – London

Second band on stage at the Dynamo Metal Festival in five days is another new band to me, and to be fair, a new band to pretty much the majority of those who will be in attendance within the Ijssportcentrum at 12:25pm. 

VUUR will be a new and unfamiliar name to many, but for the last twenty three years or so front woman Anneke van Giersbergen has been involved with numerous bands and for almost half of that time she fronted The Gathering. She has also appeared alongside Ayreon, Napalm Death, Within Temptation, Anathema and pretty regularly with Devin Townsend, who is also on the bill so I’m guessing a collaboration is in the offing at some point. 

I’ve never seen The Gathering live and they’ve never been a band that I’ve indulged in too much over the years either. I’ve got a couple of albums upstairs (2000’s if_then_else and How to Measure a Planet? from 1998) both of which were the start of their more shoe gaze / experimental period, and I’d be surprised if I have much more than that digitally. 

They’ve not been a band that have played these shores many times in their career either. According to Setlist.fm their last dates here were way back in 2003 in support of the Souvenirs release. 

The Eindhoven performance will only be their fourth show from what I can see. I’m guessing there won’t be too much in the way of new material so I’m anticipating a fair amount of The Gathering’s and The Gentle Storms’ back catalogue and maybe a few from some of her other guest appearances. 

Out of the days nine bands on offer two of them I’ve never seen, which is always a bonus at festivals. Having a look online for more VUUR info, their debut album is released in October and they are playing some European dates at the tail end of the year most with Epica and a handful with Scar Symmetry which includes a sole British date in London. If their fifty minute set impresses at the weekend a trip south could be possible.  

So far this is the only track released from the forthcoming In This Moment We Are Free – Cities album. All the tracks are named after a city, and this particular track is about the Great Fire of London from 1666 from the perspective of the fire. Sounds an intriguing concept and the track itself is much more entrenched in the metal genre in comparison to her last few outings with The Gathering. 



Double Vision

This time next week I should be hauling my hopefully not too broken body back home after a day standing around in Eindhoven’s Ijssportcentrum and fingers crossed I’m not whining about being wet during the festival on the return trip (please no rain). 

I missed out on the iconic Dynamo Open Air Festival held between 1986 and 2008 in various locations and guises. Like many festival of the time – take the evolution of Monster of Rock as an example, for better or worse – it went from a one day one stage event to multiple stages eventually spread over numerous days. 

Now Dynamo Metal Festival has been back at it’s iconic ice rink venue with eight or nine bands on a single stage. No fear of clashes, no hikes between stages and all for the lowly sum of €20. I think I can see Toxik and Prong during their respective UK headline shows in a couple of weeks for less or a similar price, but from the other bands I’d pay to see they’re the only ones that would sneak under the £17 equivalent. An absolute bargain. 

I missed the inaugural event in 2015, mainly because I’d already made the decision to trot off to Dublin with my wife over the same weekend, Nuclear Assault, who were allegedly on their last European trek, played the come back festival alongside Bio-Hazard and Death Angel (they also played Ireland’s capital city the day after. What a coincidence!) Monday morning straight after the debut weekend had finished and the Jupiler induced hangovers had barely subsided, Sacred Reich were announced and early bird tickets went on sale for €15 and I snagged a trio of tickets from my Dublin hotel room. 

Last year I took my wife to Amsterdam for a few days to celebrate her birthday. Due to the fact that we were holed up more than 80 miles from the festival and two thirds of the travelling party like to sleep in on the weekend, we unfortunate missed the first couple of bands. I think we may have caught the end of Audrey Horne or Textures, but we were definitely in there for Phil Rind’s Arizonan troupe. 

This year we are down to two and again flying into Schiphol airport, but a day earlier, so after the pre party shenanigans with Toxik in the Dynamo Club (my first gig in the iconic Dutch venue) the evening before we’ll only have a short train trip from Tilburg to Eindhoven and this year the shuttle bus location won’t throw us off our game, and with a bit of luck we should be there to see the battle of the bands winner White Boy Wasted. 

I knew nothing about these North Brabant natives until I checked them out on Facebook. Speedrock seems to be the musical tag designated to them and listening to the two tracks I found on YouTube of course they’re from Eindhoven RockCity and have a healthy injection of the recently departed Eindhoven band Peter Pan Speedrock (which I recently found out is no bad thing) and Motörhead in their sound. 

They haven’t been together for long and have supported a mixed array of bands from Wednesday 13 to Suicidal Angels in their short lifetime. This coming weekend marks the releases of the debut single Double Vision (limited to 200 copies on clear vinyl via Light Town Fidelity) which definitely isn’t a cover version of the Forigner track, and we’re all invited to their record release party! 

Thousand Faces

  
On Friday I’m off to Holland for four days. Originally it was meant to be a quick trip to catch the Dynamo Metal Festival (DMF) in Eindhoven, but as it is my better half’s birthday later in the week I’m heading out for an extra day either side of the original plans. 

The DMF is held within the confines of the Ijssportcentrum Eindhoven – the cities ice hockey venue. 2016 marks the second edition of the festival, last years included Bio-Hazard, Nuclear Assault, Death Angel and overseen by Arch Enemy. 

Four of the first five bands I’ve had no dealings with so the next few days are going to be a novelty trip for myself also. I originally purchased two early bird tickets the Monday after the first festival finished whilst sitting in a hotel room in Dublin after seeing Nuclear Assault playing the evening prior. Only Sacred Reich were announced, but at €10 for a ticket how could I go wrong? One stage nine bands – now that’s an old school festival!

The privilege of opening up proceeding is local band Extremities who won a battle of the bands contest for this opportunity. They describe themselves on Facebook as a progressive groove metal band. Their debut EP will be released on the day of the festival which is a shame as it would have been nice to hear a few more tracks beforehand. Judging from the one track I have heard they seem to be a very competent bunch of kids, this sounds really good for a band that have been together for a little over a year. Hopefully we’ll make it to the Ijssportcentrum in time to see them hit the stage just before noon, but as we are based in Amsterdam for the weekend it’ll be a bit hit and miss. 

A 7 minute version of Thousand Faces is taken from the Rakshasa EP that surfaces on July 16th. At the very least look for it on streaming sites and check out their Facebook page.

  

Crank Up The Everything

Well I seem to have neglected the blog since my return from my foray to the Netherlands, so here’s something quick as a stop gap.

The Netherlands Deathfest was superb, if a bit tiring. Some great performances, especially a European firsts for Gruesome and Morpheus Descends. Superb sets by stalwarts Asphyx, Autopsy, Thanatos and Entrails. And finally getting to see Canadian old school thrashers Razor was a definite highlight – just a pity they had no merch with them!

The venue, Tilburg’s 013, was one of the best venues I’ve been inside and like the Hedon in Zwolle apparently randomly placed in a sleepy European town. Apart from the 7 foot tall Dutch in front, the views all over the place were unobscured and no real queues at the multiple bars or even the toilets. The token system employed is, well, different. Easy enough to use but you do tend to lose track on how much you’ve spent.

Punctual public transport, once we’d left England, and relativity cheap and very clean. Eindhoven mid Monday morning was odd as the city was still sleeping in at noon. None of the shops opened much earlier, which left us at a loose end for a couple of hours. The only people besides us (and the other black clad metal heads from the gig) frequenting the streets of Eindhoven were all manner of people on bicycles. So many bikes.

All in all a good weekend.

A band I was introduced to over the weekend by a friend and partial to a drop of absinthe, were native Eindhoveans Peter Pan Speedrock. They’ve only been knocking around for two decades and November this year sees them bowing out of the music world in their retirement year. See how I have my finger on the pulse?

I can safely say with music I do tend to judge a book by its cover. Either by a musical description or band name alone, I may shy away from a hidden gem, and unfortunately this Dutch rock ‘n’ roll band are one such act. Very much in the Motörhead vein with some psychobilly traits, thanks to Spotify, I’ve been listening to their back catalogue relentlessly since I got home on Monday.

With a bit of luck, even though nothing has been announced yet, I hope I get to see them on these fair shores at least once before they call it quits.

Crank Up The Everything is taken from the 2010 album We Want Blood!

Guerrilla Insurgency

Another weekend another trip to London! I’ve been to more gigs in London than I have in Stoke this year, mainly because hardly anyone has visited the area that has interested me. After Sunday’s show I still have one more in London to round out the year.

Sunday’s show see’s a thrash triple bill finishing off their European tour. The task of opening the shows on the First Contact Tour goes to Dutch thrashers Distillator.

I’m pretty certain this is their first trip to the UK, I could be wrong so apologies if I am. Being blunt the Enschede trio are nothing original with their crunching Destruction inspired thrash metal, but what they do they do extremely well.

For a band who will only reach their third anniversary in January 2016 they appear to be as highly polished as their numerous bullet belts. A debut album in the bag, two European tours done and support slots with heavy weights such as Anthrax, W.A.S.P., Suicidal Tendencies and Gojira. This is one band I’m really looking forward to seeing.

http://distillator.eu