A Touch Of Blessing


It’s that time of year again where I’d best get looking at some of the bands that I’ll be seeing at Catton Hall next weekend, but before that here’s something from 2004 in a retrospective look at the festival from day one that I started this time last year. 

The first weekend in September 2004 saw another denim and leather clad gathering of the metal masses at the Assembly Rooms. 

Only four years in there were already repeat bands on the line up, but this year was my first time seeing Children of Bodom. It wasn’t a classic year for my liking as it’s when the event was much more orientated towards the power metal section of the metal fraternity. I’m pretty certain I was siting in the KFC in Derby before Bodom had finished their set waiting to take my passenger home. 

Looking at the poster again after all these years I don’t think any of the bands who played in the Darwin Suite (second stage) really broke through into the mainstream. 

2004 was, I believe, the first time Swedes Evergrey had set foot on British soil. Since then they haven’t been regular visitors here and have played less than twenty shows in the country, and I’m pretty sure most of those shows have been playing second fiddle to a headline act. 

They were formed by mainstay Tom S Englund in Gothenburg in 1995. In their twenty two year career they’ve released ten albums, but I think I only own two if their albums, In Seatch of Truth and Recreation Day, that I more than likely purchased in the run up to Bloodstock. I probably haven’t listened to them much at all since 2004 either. Odd songs may have popped up in shuffle mode over the years but I certainly haven’t played a full album. Listening to snippets of their songs on YouTube today though I think they might be worthy of a chunk of my time to reinvestigate the band. They haven’t been as much power metal, swords and dragons as I (wrongly) remember them. 

This was the first of my two times seeing the band live with the second arriving within ten months when they played at the inaugural outdoor event in 2005 whilst still promoting The Inner Circle album where A Touch of Blessing is taken from. 

Hollowman

You just can’t beat that buzzsaw sound with your Scandinavian death metal. It’s just so unique and instantaneously recognisable. 

The death metal representative at the Dynamo Metal Festival is left in the capable hands of Swedish masters Entombed A.D. If you think the name sounds a tad familiar then that’s because it’s basically long standing Entombed frontman LG Petrov with most of the Entombed contingent who were there before the splintering of the band. 

Founding members Nicke Anderson, Uffe Cederlund and Alex Hellid are together with the name Entombed, but this line up haven’t released an album yet. The last Entombed disc was a decade ago, where as the Petrov incarnation have two albums under their bullet belts in the last three years. 

I first heard material that would be later be released under the Entombed logo when every tape trader seemed to enjoy pushing one of the several demos by Nihilist. When they renamed themselves and ended up being signed by Earache Records the first two albums, Left Hand Path and Clandestine, later became death metal classics. Album three, Wolverine Blues, veered away from the straight death metal sound to what was later pigeonholed as death ‘n’ roll – adding a bit more rock and groove into the death metal mix. 

I saw the band a hell of a lot in the mid 90’s. They seemed to be over here every few weeks, or so it felt. Since 1997 I drifted away from the band, but still played the first triumvirate of albums on heavy rotation in the years since. I saw them sporadically in the intervening years, but never purchased any new material. 

Saturday will be my second viewing of the A.D. version after I saw them at Bloodstock in 2014. As you might have guessed the majority of the set was taken from the early albums. I’ve not encountered the other version yet, but for me this possibly supersedes them as this one has the distinctive vocals that I grew up with to back it up. 

I’m really surprised how many bands, and especially those from the death metal genre I like, and in 427 posts I still haven’t featured the likes of Deicide, Cannibal Corpse or Morbid Angel, three stalwarts and supremely influential bands in this particular scene. That will be rectified imminently. 

I’ve probably played Wolverine Blues a bit more over the years than the first two albums, so hence the choice of Hollowman to represent Entombed and Entombed A.D. I really enjoy that hammer like into and the much more groove orientated sound and still retaining some the distinct buzzsaw sound. 


Glorification Of The Black God

In the current climate this could be perceived as a controversial post. 

It will be my second time overall, and both within the last year, seeing the Norrköping  natives Marduk on stage when they perform a special twentieth anniversary set for their 1996 album Heaven Shall Burn… When We Are Gathered (to give the record its full title) at Lords of the Land on Saturday.  I’m assuming they’ve been doing a twenty year set on their current tour considering it’s officially 21, unless the promoter wanted something more unique considering they played in the city last May. 

They’ve recently completed a two week stint in the United States followed by some Antipodean shows. All appear to have passed without major controversy apart from their date in Oakland, California back in February. 

The Metro Opera House should have been hosting the show, but the faceless keyboard warriors that this era is rife with and Antifa (Anti Fascist Action) activists made threats against the venue proclaiming Marduk to be NSBM band (National Socialist Black Metal). Sure, they have an interest in World War II. There’s even a family connection within the band with the SS, but it doesn’t make them a facist band. 

I remember Slayer getting some similarly  unwanted attention in the past, but that all blew over and people found other things to whine about. Motörhead’s late frontman Lemmy was a renowned artefacts collector, but I can never recall boycotts, death threats or cancellations with them. Likewise with Bolt Thrower, Sabaton and Hail of Bullets who also have an affinity with a very intriguing period in history. 

The venue even ploughed through interviews spanning two decades and found no references, indications or statements referring to white supremacy, immigrants or nationalism. In the end the show was scrapped on police advise and more for the safety of the staff. 

Earlier in the week Stoke punk icons Discharge were announced to play along side Marduk at the Blackest of the Black festival in California in a couple of months time. The festival is curated by and features Danzing, with a whole host of bands performing live including Suicidal Tendencies, Ministry, Suicide Silence and Venom, Inc. 

Reading the mainly congratulatory posts you get smacked in the face with this
 

Sharing a stage with a NSBM band Marduk? How very punk


You know what they say about mud sticking. The author was called out on it and asked to show some evidence to the fact. Surprisingly though, three days later there has been no response. 

It seems to be something happening a lot lately when bands or individuals don’t appear to adhere to what some attention seeking keyboard warriors deem acceptable in their simple little mind. I’ve seen bands kicked off bills or removing themselves all on some unfounded, hear say accusations that just snowball out of control all over the World Wide Web. 

Anyway, rant over. If you’re not going to feel tainted listening to Marduk here’s Glorification of the Black God taken from the album celebrating its anniversary. If you’re wondering the music is an adaptation of Night on Bald Mountain by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky, and the lyrics are inspired by Bald Mountains theme. 

Hearts On Fire

After an earlier than expected alarm call, apparently there was an erroneous knock to the front door at 7:30am. Followed by a pathetic two hours sitting at the PC attempting to unsuccessfully purchase a trio of Metallica tickets, it’s time to prepare and head of to Pwllheli (or more precisely Chwilog) for Hammerfest. 

It’s a picturesque jaunt once we’ve left the English motorways, along the North Wales coast road and the winding road along the edge of the Snowdonia national park. When we’ve gone in the past and it’s been snowing there is an urge to jump out of the car and strike some black metal poses on the frozen tundra. 

Rather than shell out for the onsite caravan accommodation we decamp just down the road in Porthmadog. Not too far away and better amenities once we are outside. 

Today sees Skyclad, Napalm Death, Destruction and HammerFall gracing the stage within the caravan park’s ballroom. 

I’m not really a fan of the Gothenburg power metal band HammerFall, but in this house it’s was a bit of a standing joke regarding one of my wife’s work colleagues. 

I have a bit of a mental blank when it comes to names. Early on with her employers we were invited to a fancy dress company birthday party. As I couldn’t take in the names most people ever since have been referred to as Neo, Frankenstein and Marsellus. Hammerfall (the man) didn’t inspire a pseudonym at the time, until that one morning in casual dress Friday and there he was, resplendent in a HammerFall (the band) shirt. 

They’re a band I first saw in 2005 at the indoor version of Bloodstock for their second visit to the country, and twice since. They’re competent at what they do, but they just don’t seem to do anything for me and I get bored quickly. 

Hearts on Fire was released in 2002 on their Crimson Thunder album. 

Kreator – Tilburg, O13 – 2.3.17

My first chance of the year to spend plastic coins at Tilburg’s 013 venue and my first chance to catch the thrash metal juggernaut that is Kreator as they begin their assault through Europe taking no prisoners.

A relatively early start saw Belgian death metal stalwarts Aborted kicking off proceedings with a half hour visceral assault on those who bothered to turn up early. For an opening band they had a great sound afforded to them – and probably the best shirt on sale tonight with their Ghostbusters inspired attire. But I just can’t get into this band. Musically they’re exceptional, but the high pitch screechy whistling thing isn’t for me.

This venue is pretty impressive size wise – great views from all over the hall floor and it’s tiered standing, and the back stage area must be almost as big again. Each band used their own drum kits and with them set up out of sight there was the briefest of change overs before Swedish heavy weights Soilwork stormed the stage. Another fantastic bunch of musicians giving it their all, but as usual with me I was left bored rigid after their 40 minute set concluded. For me they just don’t seem to have that one anthem to get things going or look forward to.

One of Brazil’s finest exports graced the ever expanding Dutch hordes with an hour to impress. Their latest collection of songs is a pretty solid affair so I’d have expected them to kick off with something new and throw in another one, maybe two. Four new songs in the first six was a bit of a hard slog and the crowd didn’t really embrace them until Desperate Cry rumbled out of the PA. A few more Machine Messiah tracks were thrown in for good measure and before I knew it Territory, Refuse/Resist and Roots Bloody Roots drew their time to an end. It was a bit of a disappointing end as I was probably expecting a more classics set with the time constraints they had.

It’s The Teutonic Terrors were afforded a half hour change over and as per usual with modern day Kreator the stage set was pretty impressive especially for what you’d usually expect for a thrash metal band. There was so much attention to detail that time was taken to remotely align the on stage spot lights for optimum effect.

German precision was not met tonight with their shoddy time keeping – the Choir of the Damned intro tape rolled a minute early by my watch – and a deafening Hordes of Chaos kicked off proceeding to a hall filled with thrashers many covered in ticker tape from the get go. Crowd favourite Phobia followed before a pair of new songs – Satan is Real and Gods of Violence. An omission from recent sets in the shape of People of the Lie proceeded Total Death from their debt album for all the original die hards, a song that hasn’t been played live in thirty years.

A mix of new tracks, some from their more recent past and their 80’s heyday rounded out the main set before Civilisation Collapse closed the first 70 minutes. Flames, smoke and streamers were all in an abundance. At one point though it looked like some flames leapt from the stage unannounced. The glare frontman Millie Petroza gave to the side of stage could have killed, or caused serious damage at the very least.

A four song encore of Violent Revolution, Flag of Hate, Under the Guillotine and the punishing Pleasure to Kill left the 013 a fiery wreck and the hordes left suitably impressed.

The first three hours or so of the evening were a bit of a let down but Kreator more than made the admission price worth it. The five new tracks slotted in to the live area a seamlessly as if they’ve been there for years and some will be in future Kreator productions for as long as these road warriors continue. The Manchester Academy show can’t come quick enough. Only six hours until the next adventure begins.

Pursuit Of Vikings

  

Back home from the rather good SubHumAns gig featuring lots of short sharp blasts of punk rock and not overly preachy. Plus it’s the first time I’ve seen local band Destination Venus for quite a considerable time. Now to look forward to Saturday’s entertainment. 

Formed in 1992 and taking their name from a volcano featured in Tolkien’s fictional Middle Earth sagas, these Tumba Viking obsessives play melodic death metal and are one of my many anomalous bands. 

Since I first encountered the band in Bradford in 1998 with Deicide and Brutal Truth, tomorrow will be the ninth time I’ve caught the band live – and I’m not really a fan of theirs! There’s no denying they are fantastic as a band and put on a show, but for some reason I tend to get bored of them quickly as they often musically they seem pretty bland and sound similar song after song. Controversial! 

They’ve graced the stage at four festivals I’ve attended, supported Carcass and Slayer in the past and in January of last year they undertook a UK tour where they played some intimate venues and when a band like this hits the boards in Stoke then of course a gig junkie has to go. 

Obviously my main reason for another trip to Birmingham is wholly to see Testament, but I’ll be able to catch fifty minutes of the Swedes before I have to head off for a train. Last week trying to get out of the city centre was like an episode of Wacky Races and I can do without that hassle so soon. My favourite track by the band is The Pursuit of Vikings, and as they open up with that I’m more than happy with departing early. 

The song is featured in the bands fifth album Fate of Norns released twelve years ago. Taken from Norse mythology a Norn were female deities who influenced the destiny of men and Gods, and in other cultures they are referred to as Fates. 


  

The Great Pretender

  

The last time I saw PAIN (as they like it stylised) on stage was back in 2008 at the then Manchester Carling Apollo when I caught the back end of their set when they were support to Nightwish on their Dark Passion Play tour. 

The Swedes have been back a handful of times since but mainly they’ve been confined to London. They’re not a band I follow too closely but as I was supposed to be off work and trains to and from Wolverhampton are pretty easy to negotiate I might have a jaunt into the Black Country, even though I’m now due back into work at 5am the following morning. 

PAIN is the industrial metal project and hobby from the mind of Peter Tägtgren who is also the sole member of the outfit, it’s just fleshed out with hired hands for the live arena. He is probably better known as front man of death metal band Hypocrisy and producer extraordinaire at Abyss Studios which he handily owns. Abyss, much like Swedish studio Sunlight in the late 80’s, has also been involved with a veritable who’s who of post 1995 Scandinavian metal. 

Latest album Coming Home was released in September a little over five years since their last release You Only Live Twice – where you can find The Great Pretender (which isn’t a cover of the Freddie Mercury song!). The gaps between PAIN releases are a bit random, but I’m guessing he’s a busy man.