Spill The Acid

For as long as I can remember I’ve based my musical acquisitions a lot on location. In my tape trading days I’d request something I wanted to hear and have the dubbed 90 minute tape filled with something seemingly more left field.

It’s weird how I remember this, but one of my earliest trades featured Helloween’s Walls of Jericho E.P. and an pre Abigail record from King Diamond. The rest of the tape included the 1987 demo Keep Fit, F**k More… by Death Power and I only requested that because it was from France, and one, if not the first, thing I had by a band from Europe’s third biggest country.

Ever since I’ve been intrigued in far flung places and their musical scenes. In the old paper fanzines I did I’d inevitably include a scene report or a band from a place most people couldn’t find on a map. I’d trawl the pen pal and advertising section of something like Metal Forces for the “weird” addresses. Now in the digital age if I see something pop up from somewhere that looks unexpected then I rarely pass it over. This way I’ve discovered amazing bands from Greece, Italy and Spain amongst others.

I think with me living on an island some of the fantastic European bands, whether they be hardcore or metal based, don’t get a following here unless it’s on a decent sized label with good distribution. On the mainland it seems different as a band in the Czech Republic for example can jump in their vehicle and in a matter of hours could be playing in Germany, Poland, Slovakia or Austria. If the same band wanted to play a gig in the UK it’s a long drive, a ferry then another drive or maybe four expensive flights. Unless they’re on a tour and are coming here for a number of days it’s not economically viable to head over here off their own back.

In light of my fondness for all things different I stared looking into other places that I have nothing from and last night I came up with the idea of posting something from every European country! It’s going to take a while to post something from all 55, and it’ll be an expensive experiment because of course I want a CD from as many regions as I can. Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube and the Metal Archives will also be invaluable.

If you Google a list of European sovereign states it’ll only give you 49. I’ve based my list on FIFA and UEFA’s idea of Europe. That way I can include the four countries that make up the United Kingdom and a couple of others that have representative teams qualifying for the next Euro tournament.

I want to keep as many of the 55 thrash metal, just to see how it translates over the various borders, but making a quick list last night that’s not going to be possible for some places and it might have to be a death metal or black metal outfit. Also many bands that pique my interest may not have a commercial release or a video readily available. I also foresee some tenuous connections for a few countries. My aim is 55 countries and 55 bands that aren’t established in the mainstream, but if some places make it hard to pick one there could be more bands (I’m looking at you Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Denmark in particular!)

So that’s the back ground done so on to the music. The band I’ve chosen to start the proceedings are Acid Force who hail from Banská Bystrica, pretty much slap bang in the middle of Slovakia. 🇸🇰

I was first made aware of these crossover thrashers when they were included on a list of the 100 new thrash metal albums that had been keeping the scene alive this century – or something like that, I can’t find the original list post at the moment. There were none of the big bands on there (Metallica, Slayer, Kreator etc) so it was mainly bands formed post 2000.

I have a thing for lists so I went through my library just out of curiosity to see how many of the century worth of albums I owned and it turned out to be not many. Every time I came across a band I hadn’t encountered it was a visit to the digital platforms to check them out. I loved what I was hearing from these guys on their Bandcamp page and I needed the CD. Three weekends ago my package from Slovakia arrived, the CD is great and the shirt (yes I had to buy another shirt) is something different to wear at gigs and impress people with regarding my global thrash metal knowledge.

Atrocity For The Lust was released back in March this year and can be sampled at their Bandcamp page . If you like it buy yourself a copy, Andrej is a great guy. Another band added to the long list of those I hope to catch on a stage one day!

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Talk Dirty To Me

Even though I had to slice the last 20 minutes or so from the Rocket From The Crypt show to get the last train home, I had a thoroughly good time. Oh the joys of working Saturdays!

Before this month is out I think I’ll be sick of the sight of Piccadilly station and its surrounding gridlocked roads, that’s why I try and take the train. I need to keep my blood pressure down and Mancunian roads don’t help. Before the palaver of Christmas Day hits I think I’m in the city another four times and my next encounter could be tomorrow.

As much as I like the glam rock, hair metal, sleaze (call it what you will) genre, it’s probably the one that I’ve seen least bands from. The height of the back combed hair and leopard spandex was a bit too early for me to appreciate. Whether the audience wasn’t there I don’t know, but so few bands I listened to toured around the mid to late 90’s. I’ve probably seen more in the last decade at retro style festivals.

Tomorrow night I’m possibly off to see a pair of tribute bands of bands I’ve never seen live for one reason or another. Guns Or Roses and Poison take to the Ruby Lounge stage and a few hours of glam rock escapism is on the cards.

I never had to see what could be termed as a classic version of Axl Roses’ band. By the time I was going to gigs they’d already taken the world by storm. The club shows over here were well behind them and their Monsters of Rock appearance had seemingly propelled them to arenas, stadiums and outdoor solo and festival headlining events. There are very few UK shows between 1988 and 2006, and that’s when Axl’s band of hired hands and his own tardiness put me off shelling out money to see them.

Having said that though, reports from last years British shows were encouraging and with their participation at Download next year confirmed a reluctant trip could be on the cards to finally strike them off the list.

Bret Michaels and the rest of his Hollywood rogues that made up Poison are even more elusive on British soil. There had been no full electric performance here since 1993, as far as I can see. If the source material is accurate they have only played the island ten times since 1990. Their last foray was an unplugged session in the capital and that was over 17 years ago now.

When social media ask the tired old question of who would you like to see play festival x, y or z (and it’s not a really heavy festival) Poison always get a copious amount of mentions, but still they’ve never played. Do they cost too much? Do they not like the British weather? Or do these question setters just ignore their audience?

For the prices some of the second wave and lesser hair metal bands can charge at some of the more salubrious venues here, one of the 80’s originals could command a high ticket price and you’d have people fighting at 9am on a Friday morning to hand over wads of electronic cash to the ticket agencies. Unless the band really aren’t the big draw I have thought they were?

I can remember buying Look What the Cat Dragged In second hand from Mike Lloyd Music in Hanley. It was in a similar time frame that I purchased that one and Eaten Back to Life, the debut by Cannibal Corpse. The death metal album was from Lotus Records just up the road. With that one I was asked who wound I want to buy that offensive rubbish? It was a shop ran by a devout Christian at the time, so that was a pretty usual statement. They didn’t mind taking your money though.

When I took the Poison CD to the counter the shop assistant looked at the sleeve and as he was putting the disc in the tray he leant over and asked me if I was sure I wanted it. When I queried him his reply was “you know they’re guys and not girls with all that make up on?” I’ve still got the disc so it obviously didn’t cause me too much distress. I wonder what he’d make of some of the cross dressing acts of recent years?

Hopefully if I make it to the Ruby Lounge in 20 hours time, Talk Dirty to Me from the debut album will no doubt be in the set, and both bands will have a lot of songs that I forgot I liked. It’s been way too long since I listened to a Poison album in full, so that will be tomorrow mornings van sound track choice.

Sturdy Wrists

When I went back to work at 5am on Monday I only had four days off between then and finishing for Christmas. Make that five. As I’ve ended up with an unwelcome sick day today. I wait nearly two years for a day ill and I end up with three in a month or so. Oh well.

On Friday I will be adding Manchester’s Sound Control to a pretty prestigious looking list of venues. The Wheatsheaf, Stoke. JB’s, Dudley. The Foundry, Birmingham. Bradford Rios. Astoria, London. Jilly’s, Manchester. Some of the venues where I’ve spent many an hour in the last three decades. With the exception of the Wheatsheaf which was remodelled as a no music pub, all are now closed and several demolished.

My listing isn’t 100% accurate as I know there are dozens of shows missing from my list of Wheatsheaf gigs, but my top ten venues account for 474 sets witnessed (not actual gigs but the different performances by the bands seen). From those ten stages only four are places I can still look forward to seeing a band in. The tenth on the list is one I haven’t been to since 2001. It sporadically has gigs, but not by any bands I want to see.

In 48 hours the final curtain for me in Sound Control comes down when San Diegan’s Rocket From The Crypt play the venue. At some point in the near future the building will be demolished to make way for student accommodation for the huge university campus less than a mile down Oxford Road. The university grounds are also the first place where I saw the band play in 1996 and I haven’t seen the band in the intervening 21 years either.

Guitarist and vocalist Speedo (John Reis to his parents) and his band of well dressed merry-men formed in 1990. Their early albums are great pieces of melodic punk rock, but their big break in the UK came with the success of album number four Scream, Dracula, Scream! in 1995 which spawned their biggest UK chart hit On A Rope reaching the dizzy heights of number 12. A decade and three albums later the band split bar a one off show until a full reformation in 2013.

Almost four years ago to the day was the last time I should’ve seen the band, again in Manchester, but I was under the weather and didn’t make the show. Fingers crossed that isn’t the case come Friday.

As I found out last time I wrote about the sextet, the official RFTC videos are notoriously hard to find on YouTube, unless I’m looking in the wrong places? Sturdy Wrists is linked here from the Daily Motion site, so I hope it plays OK. The track was released on the 1992 album Circa: Now!

Thorn In My Side

Back up to Manchester tomorrow to catch Quicksand, the post hardcore band with the impressive CV and a band I’ve been in awe of for more than two decades since I was first exposed to Omission on their self titled debut 7″ from 1990. Even though Quicksand and Broken Teeth albums would be found in the hardcore section at your local record shop, they won’t be anywhere as near as aggressive as last nights fare, but they’ll be just as intense none the less.

Ex members of bands live Gorilla Biscuits, Bold, Burn and Collapse will provide the soundtrack at my penultimate visit to the cities Sound Control venue (but more about its demise when I visit for the last time next month).

As far as I’m aware I have a 100% attendance for Quicksand Manchester shows as I believe this is only their third time here. My first encounter was in April 1995 immediately before The Offspring took to the stage at the Academy just down the road. I saw that tour twice and I was in Nottingham a couple of days beforehand. I was in two minds about going to their show in Nottingham tonight and I could say the same about that city too, but I’ve been a bit under the weather this afternoon.

My second Quicksand in Manchester show was a mere two months later when they played the now defunct Boardwalk with Stanford Prison Experiment in tow. That was the only time I visited that venue and I’m not quite sure where it was situated. I’m thinking it was in the Deansgate area near to Rebellion.

It would be a short nineteen years until I got to see them live again. I missed their Reading and Leeds Festival appearances in 2013 so it had to wait until Download the year after. I ventured down to London for their “warm up” show the night before at the Electric Ballroom, mainly because I knew I’d get a much longer set in London. They were on pretty early on the Friday at Download and I got into the tent they were playing only a few minutes before they took to the stage. I’m glad I didn’t miss them as I was only there for the day and there wasn’t much else on to keep me sated.

In the intervening three years their third album Interiors surfaced a few week ago after a 22 year wait. It hasn’t felt as instantly accessible as Slip or Manic Compression, but in the time I’ve had it, the album has received multiple plays and it’s growing on me now. I’m pretty sure I can find 40 minutes spare tomorrow to have another run through it.

Last month when Metallica played Manchester they performed a snippet of an Oasis track to placate the locals. I’m not a fan of The Smiths by any stretch of the imagination, but the band covered How Soon Is Now on their debut album and I have a sneaky feeling they’ll blow the cobwebs off it and give it an airing tomorrow. Then again I could be completely wrong.

For your aural and visual perusal today is the quirky Thorn In My Side from their sophomore release Manic Compression. A highly influential band in their time and a very underrated band at the same time (if that’s possible?). The biggest bulk of their back catalogue is very heavy in emotion so it’s good to see they can have a fun too. I’m also intrigued to see how the new songs sit live with the anthems that the undoubtedly mainly older contingent in the crowd are there to hear again.

Show No Mercy

Sometimes I do wonder if I have some kind of dementia setting in as I get older. Today I give you a slice of, in my opinion, possibly the best hardcore band in the UK at this moment in time, Broken Teeth. And the dementia? I could have sworn I’d posted about this band before now, probably back in August, but apparently I hadn’t.

Tonight northern powerhouse Broken Teeth play the Star and Garter in Manchester to celebrate their decade as a band, in this day and age of throw away convenience music it’s no mean feat to reach that landmark. More often now I read about bands calling it a day after a handful of years. Less than thirty minutes ago I read a Facebook statement from a Serbian thrash band who’ve packed it in after 4 years.

With the British bands the more punk and metal orientated scenes seem to have the edge on longevity compared to the hardcore set. There are a couple of glaring exceptions to that rule in the shape of Knuckledust (21 continuous years with the same four members) and fellow Londoners NineBar celebrating two decades this year.

As mentioned yesterday, I’m not too au fait on the more modern hardcore bands, so many more could be in excess of a decade, but going back to an era I knew better, reading through some of the names from a compilation CD like UKHC – A Compilation released by Household Names in 1997 the majority of those bands didn’t over stay their welcome on their initial run. Some split and disappeared completely, others morphed into different bands along the way, and a couple have hit the comeback trail in recent years.

Longevity in the hardcore scene outside of the British Isles, and more specifically North America, doesn’t seem to be as much an issue. From the top of my head Hatebreed, Sick Of It All, Madball, Integrity, Slapshot and many more all formed over twenty years ago and currently going strong. Granted some have taken a hiatus and reformed, but the passion has rekindled at some point.

I’m guessing the fanbase these bands can muster on home turf helps, enabling many of them to garner a reputation and ultimately a greater record deal. This in turn allows these bands to be a bigger draw in foreign territories and makes them the big deal on a tour. When the tour packages like Persistence roll through Europe it’s more often than not headlined by Americans. The top three slots in next years edition are taken by Hatebreed, Madball and Terror. I can’t recall any British band ever being a headlining attraction on a big package.

Not that the four London guys would complain and as much as we take pride in our countries flag bearing band, Knuckledust were the third band on stage out of 21 bands during the Sound of Revolution festival in Eindhoven earlier this month with a slew of North Americans following them.

It’s not just a hardcore thing though. In many genres our island seems incapable of breaking into the higher echelons, especially with the new breed of bands. Even with a seemingly grassroots festival like Bloodstock you have to go back to 2011 for their last British headliner when Motörhead closed proceedings.

Anyway, ramble over and back to the case in hand. I’ve seen Broken Teeth about half a dozen times in the last few years. My last encounter was when they opened the main stage at Bloodstock on the third and final day back in August to a mass of blurry eyed and hungover metallers. Perhaps not the biggest or most enthusiastic crowd they could’ve expected, but I think UK festivals and majority of attendees are light years behind their European counterparts. Tonight is going to be chalk and cheese in contrast to the last time I saw them.

Now with a home on Nuclear Blast Records this track can be found on their label debut album At Peace Amongst Chaos from last year.

Disdain

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m nowhere near as knowledgable about UK hardcore (or even the global hardcore scene) in 2017 as I was in 1997, but I just fell “out of love” with the genre some time ago.

As stated within this blog on several occasions over the past two years I just feel it lacks the camaraderie of two decades ago and all the faces I knew back then have moved on. I’m still in touch with a fair few from that period in my musical life, but not many of those people are still active on stages up and down the country.

Muttering a few words to someone back then led to an introduction to someone else which turned into a welcoming handshake from others who recognised your face and it just snowballed from there. Some of those faces from that forgotten decade, whether they were in bands or just punters like me, are still friends now and scarily I’ve known some longer than I’ve known my wife!

Maybe it’s just me heading rapidly towards 44 years old and still visiting the sweat boxes of yesteryear, but this old man doesn’t really need a random body flying through the air at a rapid rate of knots to enjoy a show. For those reasons though I haven’t been to as many hardcore shows in the last decade or so in comparison to the 24 year old me. For an accepting scene within the extreme music genre the grind and power violence crowds seem much more encompassing.

Most of my newer discoveries have been via recommendations from those in the know or generally just stumbled upon. One of the bands that blew me away in the not so distant past grace the minuscule stage upstairs in Manchester’s Star and Garter tomorrow which happens to be the same venue where I first encountered Guilt Trip.

I first put a tentative step into that unassuming and dilapidated building in the mid 1990’s and I’ve seen a plethora of bands spanning three different decades and the stage at both ends of the room! Three things still amaze me after all these years.

One, it’s still standing! It’s looked like it’s about to crumble into a pile of rubble since my first visit. That and the fact that it’s been earmarked for demolition for years makes it even more surprising.

Two, I’m sill going there. I had a pretty long gap from attending shows there, but in recent years the gig count has shoot up considerably.

Three, I’m still discovering new bands. Almost 44 years roaming this land and more than thirty years of those being immersed in music and I’m surprised I haven’t fallen by the wayside like many of my compatriots and disowned the “metal” scene (just as a term to encompass everything I listen to) or just keeping themselves within their “things were better back then” mindset.

The only other time I’ve had the pleasure to experience Guilt Trip was nearly twelve months when they were one of opening bands for Madball. Their beatdown hardcore and some guitar work that wouldn’t look out of place on a Slayer or Pantera album was simply jaw dropping.

Their most recent EP Unrelenting Force surfaced in November last year and as this 14 minute blast is available for free at their Bandcamp page, I suggest you head on over and grab a copy if you haven’t already. New material is in the pipeline.

This track is taken from that EP and in a way it’s a bit of an oxymoron for me concerning the hardcore scene at present. I still love that metallic chug and the impassioned vocals. It’s always been a movement where you’ve not necessarily had to be the most proficient musician or vocalist. Adequate used to cut it if the passion and desire was there. But on the other hand watching some of the crowd interaction leaves me cold. It doesn’t look like the semi aggressive fun we used to have. It just looks like an aggression overload.

C’est la vie.

Chapel Of Ghouls

I keep scrolling through my calendar on my phone to see what shows I could possibly be attending in the latter half of this week and my eye keeps getting drawn towards the two large red X’s which I use to denote a cancellation. On Wednesday I should have been going to see a version of Floridian death metal stalwarts Morbid Angel.

Due to passport issues the band are unable to travel to Europe and all their shows have been cancelled and hopefully to be rearranged for 2018. I was unsure if I was going as this version of the band are refusing to play anything from the first few albums and are solely concentrating on albums F, G and H!

Longstanding guitarist and only original member Trey Azagthoth is calling the shots and two years ago let vocalist and bass player David Vincent and drummer Tim Yeung go and drafted back into the fold on off bassist and vocalist Steve Tucker. He was the voice of Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, Gateways to Annihilation and Heretic (hence F, G and H).

It could’ve been an interesting evening experiencing album cuts that have rarely been played on British soil, but I just think letting fans miss out on hearing something like Chapel of Ghouls is a kick in the teeth. I’m pretty sure in previous Tucker incarnations of the band tracks from the first four albums were included.

For what ever the reasoning is behind the bizarre setlist choices and currently the two “versions” of the babd in existence, if you want to hear tracks from A, B, C and D then you need to keep your eyes peeled for I Am Morbid which features Vincent and Yeung. Technically a cover act, but I’m sure they can smash out some classic death metal with aplomb. I Am Morbid have been announced for the Dynamo Festival in Holland next July, so I’ll be able to make my own conclusions.

I was reluctant to post another Morbid Angel track, who needs two from the band throughout these 502 posts, then I realised I haven’t put anything by the band in here at all, so time for that to be rectified immediately.

Released back in 1989 via Earache Records in the UK, the bands debut album Altars of Madness spawned Chapel of Ghouls amongst its other nine bludgeoning death metal tracks. It also ticks the necessary boxes for any self respecting release bursting out of the Sunshine State during that era. Recorded at Morrisound Studios in Tampa (with Tom Morris rather than Scott Burns) and a stunning piece of artwork by Dan Seagrave. Twenty eight years on from Altars album number 9, Kingdoms Disdained, will be in our sweaty palms in a little over a week.