Ignoble Blackmail

Gig wise February has been running much more smoothly than January seemed to! Last Saturday saw me back in Manchester in Satan’s Hollow for the first time in some years to catch the final night of the A Taste of Reaped Owl Custard tour that took in Liverpool and Derby the two nights previously. The venue looks like a huge prop from a Hellraiser movie with the stage in the round in some sort of demonic park band stand.

The tour slogan is a bit convoluted but it takes in to account the four bands making up the package. All the bands have been on the New Blood stage at Bloodstock in recent times, and it was good to see the camaraderie carrying on.

Killing time in the pub across the road my heart sank yet again when a Facebook post stated a later door opening time and a swap in the running order due to traffic issues. Once again I was on the last train home with only an expensive option of a taxi if I missed it.

Thankfully I managed to see all four bands – or parts there of – and leave at my expected time to make the short walk in the rain back to the station.

First up was Taste of Greed from Hamburg, half the reason I was there and the band who did the last minute switch. Their energetic death / thrash metal hybrid was well received by all and the dapper frontman Jens seemed suitably impressed. If the tour had been any longer I wonder how many consecutive shows he had in him as his voice was worse for wear after three.

Liverpool thrashers Reaper were the traffic casualties and as a result to keep within the strict venue curfew they only had time for three songs. A friend recommended this band and pronounced them as the next big thing in UK thrash. After the briefest of sets I was left wanting more and with their debut album imminent I can’t wait to see them again.

Derbyshire’s Raised by Owls were fun in a noisy uncompromising way. Taking influences from early Napalm Death and replacing their serious standpoint with Lawnmower Deth’s frivolity. Short songs, longer songs, a conger line and a wall of death based on your pronunciation of the word scone! I think you see where I’m coming from.

Headlining was local band (in the most part) Footprints in the Custard. The majority of the crowd were obviously there for these guys and they all knew the in jokes during the set. I was a bit dubious about the band, mainly based on their odd name and albums full of silly songs. Seeing them live though, they come across as fantastic musicians and their drummer Alex is an absolute beast behind his kit.

This weekend sees another return visit to a no doubt rainy Manchester for the Devangelic gig at Aatma, the scene of my disastrous Reprisal gig a few weeks back.

This post is the fourth in my Euro road trip piece, but not for the headlining band who hail from Rome, but for fellow Italians Adversor who are tasked with the unenviable job of opening the six band show at 6:15pm.

The Venetian thrashers were scheduled to be playing the city on the same night as part of their European tour that included four British shows, their debut performances in the country. The dates were announced seemingly months ago, but nothing for this Friday seemed to materialise in the social media ether. A quick electronic message to frontman Dado soon put things straight.

Apparently the promoter for their show disappeared (a worrying trend with Mancunian promoters lately!) and left the band hanging with nowhere else to play. In the end they were late additions to this death metal show, and in all honesty they will stick out like a sore thumb alongside Sodomized Cadaver and Cranial Discharge, but they get to play in the city and it doesn’t mess up the already printed shirts!

They’re only on stage for 20 minutes or so, and I’m only really paying out to see them. So I could have easily declined to go to the event and miss out. I really like their debut album Rise to Survive though, and 20 minutes is better than nothing. Also they are a highlight from a flourishing thrash metal scene in Italy 🇮🇹 right now and I don’t know if I’d get another chance to see them without hoping on a plane.

A couple of the Italian bands have already featured in this blog, namely Game Over and Ultra-Violence, two bands I’d really like to catch live. Throw Vexovoid, Burning Nitrum, Mass Execution and National Suicide on to the bucket list and I’d get to observe some great thrash metal live. If only British audiences lapped up retro thrash as much as the continent does and became more educated to bands outside of the media friendly pack, rather than waiting to be told what’s good and what’s not. Explore the web a bit and see what crops up.

Hopefully on Friday I’ll have the bands sophomore release The End of Mankind in my sweaty mits and have been blown away but some thrash metal from the land of the gladiators. Ignoble Blackmail is taken from that latest album and should be readily available through Punishment 18 Records in the next few weeks.

I’m so tempted to jump on a train and see the band in London on Saturday, if only return trains went a few hours later to the north! If you’re Camden Town way go and visit the Devonshire Arms, the gig there is free.

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Black Star

Tonight sees my third consecutive evening at a gig, something I haven’t done for quite sometime and doesn’t my body know about it! Along with being laid up for the last week, I was now feeling a bit sore when I got out of bed this morning after standing around for nearly two and a half hours watching the Iron Maiden tribute band last night.

Besides Hi-On Maiden not playing anything from Killers, I still enjoyed their eclectic 22 song set. Nestled in between the expected fare we got treated to Judas Be My Guide and The Duellists, two tracks never played live by the band. They’re back in the city in the summer so no doubt I’ll be in attendance.

Tonight’s offering is a chunk of technical death metal all the way from Encino, Los Angeles. I’m not overly familiar with The Faceless at all and I stumbled over their most recent album In Becoming A Ghost at the end of last year.

They’ve released a trio of albums before In Becoming… which I’m yet to hear, so I hope they don’t play too much from those albums. I just saw their tour promotion popping up over the internet and from the artwork alone I thought that looks interesting. Having listened to the forty two minute album I fancied seeing them live and tonight’s Manchester show fitted in perfectly with my schedule. They remind of bands like Gorguts and Obscura with their progressive style tempo changes.

Delving a bit deeper into the band’s history they seem to be a bit on the unreliable side and have a trail of cancelled shows and tours in the past. I think a lot of people must have let out a huge sigh of relief when they posted a photo of them aboard a plane heading across the Atlantic.

They’ve played the UK quite s few times over the years, but before their opening show at Guilford on Thursday, it had been exactly five years since their last appearance over here. It’ll be something new and different and hopefully it’ll run to schedule better than my last two Mancunian shows.

Just as a brief side note, for anyone vaguely interested, I have had a few 120mm circular pieces of polycarbonate through my letter box in the last few weeks for my continued delve through every corner of Europe’s thrash metal scene and once I get the time to listen and write Spain, Finland, Israel, Greece, Germany and the Faroe Islands are now covered.

🇪🇸🇫🇮🇮🇱🇬🇷 🇩🇪 🇫🇴

Wrathchild

After nearly three decades of gig going I often wonder why I put myself through the wringer so much, time after time to attend a show. Maybe at my age I need to be more selective in who I see and where? But having said that it’s how I’d imagine being addicted to a drug is. If I don’t get to a show for a prolonged period of time I get grumpier than usual. As long as I’m enjoying it I’m sure I’ll persist with it.

Also after the recent debacles in January, and having to miss shows, it kind of leaves me jaded with the whole thing too. I enjoy the smaller shows more than festivals and arenas, but it seems to be the smaller show that (obviously) suffer more from scheduling problems and technical difficulties. You’re not going to get hundreds into somewhere like The Retro Bar or Peer Hat in Manchester and venues similar to them and they hold less than a hundred or so anyway. Some people have to travel to a different city to see a gig so the more people you can entice to your event the better.

In this day and age of modern technology set times and curfews posted up on social media are a god send as I can arrange travel accordingly. Depending on times I can pick from three different train stations or even drive if need be. When you make arrangements like I did the other week for a show based on a particular band and time which dictated my travel options, a casual “oh well we had to push the times back an hour” aren’t welcome to non locals. I know things can’t be helped, but surely there is a duty to have problems ironed out in plenty of time to let those paying in arrange whatever travel arrangements they need. At least with that one I had the option to save some of my money and head home without incurring extra costs. There have been a few shows where I’ve missed bands as the promoter (I’m assuming) listed bands in the wrong order. Having gone for a particular band only to find out yet again they’re on after a last train has departed.

Having said all that a gig like what I experienced in London last nigh restores most of my faith. Again I was on a tight schedule to get the last train back north, so when people were still not being let into the Underworld just before 7:30pm I was expecting the thing to finish nearer 11pm than the advertised 10:40.

Things ran bang on time and all three bands started on their scheduled dot. The thing that restored some faith in my gig going was the superb and professional way the Swedish masked men went about pummelling the venue. The crowd was pretty sparse, no doubt none of the mainstream printed press have picked up on the band so the metal heads with the sheep herd mentality of only going to things that they are told is good didn’t make an appearance. There was less than 100 in there, but it was by and large an enthusiastic 100 who really wanted to be there to celebrate Dr Living Dead! finally making it on to our island.

I’m still a bit surprised by the turn out considering both opening bands had support slots with pretty decent headliners in the same city within the last fifteen months. Rezet were opening up for Anvil at the tail end of 2016 and Swiss band Comaniac supported Metal Church last summer.

The performances from all three bands were superb and all for under a dozen English pounds. It was well worth making the effort. Yesterday started at 4:30am with a 9 hour stint at work. A brief 90 minutes at home before I ventured out on a five hour round trip culminating in me getting home just before 1am this morning. That was actually earlier than anticipated as the train was 40 minutes early into Stoke. The Swede’s could have easily taken to the stage and played a shortened lacklustre set, but already after four shows this year that is a contender for gig of the year.

Moving on to today, Iron Maiden’s sophomore release Killers celebrates its 37th birthday. I won’t delve into that too much as I wrote about it exactly 365 days ago. It’s one of the albums I’ve I had in my possession for the longest and probably takes the bronze medal out of the entire Maiden back catalogue.

In a weird twist of fate Hi-On Maiden are playing just up the road at Eleven, and as I have no work tomorrow it’d be rude not to attend. A few people I know have said how good they are and I need to see them and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to catch them that hasn’t clashed with anything else.

Happy birthday to Killers and to celebrate here’s a live version of Wrathchild taken from their Live at the Rainbow VHS release. The cover above is from the double sided 7” with the non album track Twilight Zone on the A side.

Terror Vision

This time tomorrow I’ll be on a train (again) heading down to London (yet again) to catch the first ever British gig by Dr Living Dead!, the crossover thrash quartet from Sweden.

The masked band formed just over a decade ago in Stockholm and Dr Rad and Dr Toxic are the remaining “doctors” from the original incarnation. They haven’t been through an obscene amount of members, it just seems to have been the drum stool that has been the problem. Over the years doctors Ape, Dawn and New Drummer all preceded Dr Slam. A couple of those drummers have also served time with Dismember and Negative Self over the years.

The band’s fourth album was released in October last year and is another slab of Suicidal Tendencies and Slayer infused crossover thrash with a newly added dose of punk. The Suicidal comparisons, more so from their earlier output, and penchant for wearing bandannas, is always going to be lazily present, so it’s going to be interesting to see if the band feel more relevant and intense than the last few times I crossed paths with the Venice Beach innovators.

Most of today though I’ve been driving around at work, with a few Dr Living Dead! tracks thrown in for good measure, thinking to myself are there any bands that wear masks that I actually like?

Possibly the biggest mask wearing metal band are the eighteen legged Iowan’s Slipknot, who apart from an odd song here and there in their 23 year career I can do without. From Linköping, 125 miles down the E4, are fellow masked Swedes Ghost. Even though they are the current flavour of the month with the metal press I don’t like anything I’ve encountered by them.

“Mexican gangsters” turned grind band Brujeria, who I saw a trio of times last year, leave me bored. The bands associated with the Nu-Metal spectrum (Mushroom Head, Hollywood Undead, Insane Clown Posse) have never floated my boat either.

I’ve seen Gwar a single solitary time. Their live show was extremely entertaining but I don’t posses any of their fourteen albums, so I guess that’s a negative too. Another latex clad band are Eurovision winners Lordi, but I’m only aware of a couple of their songs.

Not really masked bands, more extravagant makeup, so for the purpose of this blog, the two bands I’ve probably listened to most from the “masked genre” in my library are KISS who I can tolerate and one of my favourite bands King Diamond, yet another Nordic offering. So in conclusion maybe not every band who wears a mask is all that bad, especially if they’re from Scandinavia!

I’m pretty gutted I’m missing Dutch death metal band Pestilence in Manchester, a band I’m yet to see live, but I’m very much looking forward to experienced Dr Rad and his crew. It’s going to be a hell of a long day – up at 4am for work, on a train twelve hours later and I might roll into bed by 2am Friday! – but I should be worth it. And I’m so glad I had the foresight to book Friday and Saturday off work.

Terror Vision is taken from last years Cosmic Conqueror album.

Minority Erazer

Twenty four hours ago I wound up my gigs for the first month of 2018. My tally was a disappointing three shows (actually more so two and a half!), but should’ve and could’ve been more, but there were some excellent performances throughout January.

Kicking off the month with the ever excellent Kreator was a tough act to follow, but yesterday Texans Power Trip proved once again why they are one of the best bands around at this moment in time. They are an opening band on Trivium’s European tour so I can guarantee a few things at a couple of their UK dates.

1) I’ll be there

2) I’ll be heading home early!

From openers Insanity Alert to my final band of the night Terror, this years Persistence Tour was a blast. Unsurprisingly Manchester upstarts got the first pit maelstrom of the evening – no surprise there. I’d be interested to know how they went down with the European crowds compared to their home fans. I’m still slightly miffed I had to miss Hatebreed, but needs must, and Hatebreed and Kreator were announced for Download last week. Fingers crossed the two bands along with Body Count, L7 and Powerflo all appear on the same day to justify buying a day ticket.

Moving into February the shortest month could see me beating last months tally before Sunday’s page gets turned in the diary. Saturday I’m hoping to catch The Faceless in Manchester. Earlier in the day Red Eye Revival play the city as part of an all dayer. The night before Iron Maiden tribute band Hi-On Maiden play just up the road.

Kicking off the trio of shows for me is another trip to the capital to see Dr Living Dead lay waste to the Underworld on their debut and only British show on this tour. They are supported by Swiss thrashers Comaniac and Rezet from Germany. You can see where this blog is heading for the next few days!

The Schleswig quartet have been featured previously I n this blog back in October 2016 when they opened up for Canadians Anvil. This time though I won’t be hot footing it from the venue as soon as the band have played.

Fifteen months ago I arrived at the Rebellion Club a few minutes before they were scheduled to go on. They were the only band I wanted to see and nearly missed the start due to some drunken patrons trying to get in and holding the line up. I saw my 40 minutes or so of the Germans and snagged my self a shirt then made the mile long walk back to Piccadilly station and I was back home by 10:30pm.

I can see myself doing that more regularly in the coming months. So many shows have been announced with, in my eyes, far superior supports than the headliners. Thankfully most of the shows aren’t overly expensive so missing a portion isn’t too much of a travesty.

Yesterday was a prime example. I saw five of the seven bands. Nearly two and a half hours of music for £30, £6 per band. I’m never going to see any of those bands for six quid. It was also slightly longer than my slew of Metallica and Maiden shows last year and at a fraction of the price.

Minority Erazer was released as a digital single back in August last year, nearly a year and a half after their latest album Reality Is A Lie came out. This track is also the opening number on last years EP You Asked For It, which I hope to pick up on CD on Thursday. Maybe it’ll find a place on the next Rezet record?

Run To The Pit

Happy Power Trip – Insanity Alert – Broken Teeth – Terror day!

Today I’m on quite a tight schedule to get down to London and back and see five bands I’ve shelled out £30 to see. With the going ons of my last two disastrous Manchester gigs I’m approaching my ten hours out of the house with a huge amount of trepidation.

As I said in the Born From Pain post, I haven’t seen these opening bands all them many times and I’ve especially been looking forward to seeing Insanity Alert and Power Trip since the last time I saw both bands last year. Not exactly a lifetime ago, but they are two of the best and most exciting bands I saw last year.

To cover myself I’ve ended up with three seats on two trains. I originally purchased my return tickets and estimated what time I presumed Terror would be done and dusted and added a bit of time on to negotiate the tube ride from Kentish Town to Euston.

I overestimated and originally booked a ticket for a train leaving the capital at 2125 which gets me back to my house just before midnight. Once the official times were announced Terror depart the stage at 8pm and I just about have time to get on a train that gets me into my bed nearly 90 minutes earlier. At least if things over run then I now have a plan ‘B’.

On the southbound journey I arrive at Euston two hours before Austrians Insanity Alert take to the stage. Due to the ridiculous prices that the O2 Forum charges a few lubricating beverages will be required away from the venue. The doors open at 4pm and the band appear half an hour later. All fine and good until you remember how notoriously slow the door guys are at the venue. The first time I went to the building we heard the opening band from outside as we snaked around the building in a sloth like queue. Six years further on though O2 customers have the perks of a fast access entrance, so we’ll give that a go later.

Run To The Pit is the closing track of the band’s self titled debut album from 2014. The track itself sounds vaguely familiar but I’m not quite sure where I recognise it from…*

* sarcasm. Of course I know it’s Judas Priest.

Bad Luck

What an absolute stinker of a day today has turned out to be! I need to check to see if I’ve inadvertently smashed a mirror, or crossed a black cat somewhere? Maybe I accidentally refused some lucky heather from a gypsy?

Things were fine when I found a record store come cafe on my route at work and I ended up purchasing an Xentrix 12” that I’ve been after for some time for a decent price. It’s when I left work where things went awry.

I was pushing my luck with the fuel in my car on the way to work but with no petrol stations open at 4:45am – even though the local one has a facility to pay at the pump but is “closed” between midnight and 6am – it’s a risk I had to take. Fortunately I got to work 9 miles away. Coming home not so lucky.

I was less than 400m away from the petrol station when my car came to a juddering halt. Luckily I managed to coast it into a lay by and proceeded to walk to get fuel and at the same time the heavens took pity on me and proceeded to dump a load of rain in my location! Four quid for a shiny new plastic jerry can and 20 minutes later I was off and running again.

It didn’t spoil my afternoon too much I managed to get home at a decent time and grab a 90 minute power nap before it was off to the local train station for my Reprisal gig in Manchester. Considering I needed a return ticket I managed to press the wrong button on the automated machine. Instead of a £13.50 return I ended up with a £12.70 single. Great! Now the relatively inexpensive journey has no doubled in price.

At the start of my journey there the venue had been altered, but it was basically upstairs above the original venue, so no biggie with that one. Fifty minutes later I’m Manchester and I’m not too sure where the venue is so I bring up the iPhones maps to check the route and get the unwelcome news that tonight’s show has been pushed back by an hour. My last train home was at 2146. I only really wanted to see two of the four bands and was more than happy to hand over my £13 cash on the door for Cryptic Shift and Reprisal and have half an hour to amble back for my train.

Reprisal – the only bloody band I really wanted so see – are now scheduled to hit the stage at 2145!

I was debating whether to go and see the first two bands or not and even ventured up to the venue and got myself a quick drink to drown my sorrows in, but I suddenly thought “I really can’t be bothered” (putting it politely) and scooted off for the next train.

Less than three hours later and nearly £24 poorer, I’m sitting at home slurping a coffee wondering why do I bother to make the effort to see shows when promoters or venues seem to think that changing times at the drop of a hat is justified. I get that there can be issues, but they all seem so blasé towards their customer base. That’s a pair of shows in five days in Manchester that have been messed up beyond belief time wise. Not everyone lives ten minutes from a venue or is able to potentially drive to a venue. But that’s a rant for another day.

Sitting on the train home thinking about my bad luck today just got this song stuck in my head and is the only reason I’m posting something by FM. Coincidentally though I did buy this nearly thirty years ago as a single, I’m sure the 7″ came in it’s own box with an exclusive patch or a pin.

Today can do one!