Mayhem Underground is under way and The Vale, Glasgow is a lot less packed than the first Mayhem night. The crowd are reasonably reserved to begin with and only half an hour into the night, I’m worried about how the rest of this much-anticipated night will go.
Let’s Play God are not disheartened by the crowd’s lack of enthusiasm and they actually seem to see this as a challenge. Vocalist Rob Grinch constantly encourages the crowd to get on their feet and enjoy the set as much as he clearly is.
After around three songs, Let’s Play God finally have the attention they were looking for. People are headbanging, cheering and some are even singing along. The crowd has finally come to life and the fantastic atmosphere from the first Mayhem night seems to have re-appeared.
Along with Let’s Play God's consistently tight set, flawless musicianship and fantastic songs, there is a lot of chemistry between this band, a lot of confidence which helps grab the audience's attention. Let’s Play God are a band that work hard and play hard at every single show, they joke around, Grinch’s flirtation with his audience is undeniable, but they never put a foot wrong and that is exactly the kind of criteria needed for an upcoming band.
Let’s Play God were the perfect band to kick off tonight’s show and to get this audience enthusiastic about the night ahead of them.
Insomniac are so dynamite that they are impossible to miss.
Due to their almost robotic-like stage presence, I can only comment on their musical talent, of which there is an absolute abundance. Insomniac are a force not to be reckoned with. They play a set that is gnarly and they are compared to the likes of Lamb of God, Devildriver and early Ramones.
Their solos are fantastic, the drumming is perfect and the vocals are, of course, absolutely ballsy. Every song comes with an intense amount of attitude and venom.
A true metal band that should go far, my only problem was their lack of crowd communication.
Devour are the final band to take the stage. By this point, spirits are at an absolute high in The Vale, the Friday Night Feeling has finally settled in and everybody is right in the mood for some dirty rock ‘n’ roll beats which are exactly Devour’s forte, it’s the absolute core of their sound and they’re the band that I’ve been looking forward to most.
Devour themselves seem to be in high spirits themselves, and frontman Marc McGregor’s Glaswegian sense of humour is one that the crowd can obviously relate to, before they’ve even played, Devour have this tough crowd’s affections.
Devour are demanding, catchy and so much fun to watch. Their sound is completely likeable, it’s sleazy rock ‘n’ roll riffs mixed with a dose of heavy metal attitude.
While I though Devour were slightly rough, they have a lot of ambition and a lot of promise. I look forward to their future gigs and would encourage everybody to go see them.
Tonight got off to a bad start but finished on a great high with exactly the kind of atmosphere that is hoped for at Mayhem Underground nights. Every band played fantastically and there didn’t seem to be an unimpressed person in the building.
I’ll keep you readers informed of the next night and I hope to see many more people there next time… Are you ready to cause mayhem?
La Cheetah is a small basement venue located under a cocktail bar on Queen Street in Glasgow city centre. Event organised by Neil Thomas of DeadDeadDead Music.
First band of the night are As Autumn Falls- who are reminiscent of scene/punk rock band Attack Attack. Usually I am averse to music of this type, and I do not generally enjoy it, but I’ll give it anything it’s due here. It begins energetically and remains so throughout, the material is catchy and song structure is varied, often with a pop-punk sensibility. Lyrically, I cannot comment a great deal, due to the frontman’s incomprehensible “teenage-angst” style harsh vocal, it’s certainly angry, though about what? I’m not exactly sure. When the screaming subsides, the vocals become the cliched and put-on voice of countless scene bands (regardless of their place of origin). The backing vocals are drowned out. The lead guitar lines are catchy and melodic but often do not cut through the mix. Riffs rear up in places that are clever, but they often descend into shoulder-strummed mush and exaggerated stage moves by the time the chorus arrives in each song. This band’s highlight was the drummer; his enjoyment and confidence was clear and obvious, and the use of trigger synth samples was very effective. Overall:- Seem somewhat preoccupied with “the look.” Strong in places, but quite frankly, I’ve "scene" it all before.
Next up, Winters take to the stage, with a notably heavier sound. Also noticeable is a definite reaction from the crowd. Each instrument is clear and tonally distinguishable. The band have somewhat of a shaky start, but their confidence and comfort grows as the set continues. The material is well executed, with this band’s drummer also making use of a synth sampling pad to flesh out sections and add introductions to songs (however one seemed to be a guitar line, which I feel could have easily just as well have been played live.) Vocally there are a few shaky points too but the frontman is charismatic and takes on some adventurous notes. The band are largely disinterested in the crowd, most of the time facing the drums and backline (aside from the vocalist) and I’m beginning to think I’m sitting in on a studio session rather than a live gig. The setlist culminates in a very strong song that they seem very much at ease playing, and employs an impressive split-second pause; a testament that they have over time become tighter. I was disappointed to see them leaving the venue promptly after their set- I find this practice disrespectful to the other bands playing and unprofessional. Overall:- I did enjoy this set, and would be interested in their progression from here as I do see definite potential. The songs are well written and performed well, but a step up in stage presence would be of great benefit.
Next to perform are hardcore outfit Search Party, and I am informed that sadly, this is their last show, because a member of the band is relocating to Northampton. Each member takes to the stage in fancy dress and/or facepaint. The left stage guitarist is particularly amusing in his oversized moustache, 118-118 wig and shorts. The crowd is clearly keen to party as when they start playing, there is strong stirring which later led to movement and moshing. Sound-wise, it’s similar to Cancer Bats, complete with angry snarling guitars and in your face vocal. The bass cuts out early on and cannot be revived, as such a replacement is brought on. Next to go a few songs in, is the microphone, due to over active crowd action. The songs in the latter half of the set are very strong, despite the crowd becoming overly intrusive of the band and one individual commandeering the mic and also mounting the vocalist. the same individual tried to play the bass and time wasting ensued. Still, the party charged on! In a way its rather a shame that they are disbanding. Overall:- You cannot argue with a rabid crowd- Search Party played well and their swansong was well received. Regardless of how out of control the whole affair was, those present last night will miss them.
Finally, it’s Breaking The Day's turn. I am assured, during the lengthy setting up and ironing out of technical problems with the elaborate synthesiser rig, that they are an altogether different beast than the fare so far. They were not wrong, as a dramatic opening fades in, and the crowd are transfixed as the first track comes thundering in, accompanied by a music timed strobe effect. The vocalist is truly in his element as he moves with the music, which manifests as a dark, trundling brutal presence. The songs are driven by a recurring idea on the guitars layered on powerful and tasteful beats, washed over by the synth which fits each arrangement beautifully (as out of place a word as that may seem here) and makes each sound utterly massive. Each band member is passionate, and makes their unique, experimental and ambient style look effortless. There is also some clear exotic influences in some of the material, which kept me among the enraptured listeners. The set grinds to a halt in spectacular fashion and the crowd plead for an encore, something which the band clearly did not expect. They agreed, but had to repeat a previously played song as all material had been used. Nevertheless, the crowd positively erupted in response, chanting and clapping enthusiastically, and during that final song moshed like it was their dying act. Overall:- Couldn’t fault them. Every song was an atmospheric and epic triumph. Did not become stale despite all material being slow and deliberate as a ten-ton hammer. Intense.
(Oh and PS readers:- expect a full review of Breaking The Day's album Survived By None over the coming week!!)
Perhaps unsurprisingly, GaGa is top of my most listened to since the beginning of the itunes countdown for recent release Born This Way. After purchasing the special 2 disc edition on Monday it has been the soundtrack of my week, especially in the car! Often described as marmite, I don’t think everyone gives GaGa a chance because of the huge hype surrounding her and her slightly unconventional wardrobe.
She’s bringing proper pop music back to the masses and in style and all though her own talent.
Songs I’d recommend:The Fame, Bad Romance, You and I, Edge Of Glory.
The Mayfield Four
A huge fan of Alter Bridge and with the knowledge that Mark, Brian and Scott were all former members of Creed, I once took it upon myself to see what had come before for lead singer Myles Kennedy. This discovery was the Mayfield Four. Full of powerful riffs, lyrical melodies and strong, emotional lyrics, the Mayfield Four never got the credit they deserved, a crime in my mind.
Songs I’d recommend:Always, Eden (Turn The Page), White Flag, Backslide.
With only 2 weeks left until Download Festival and the promise of a bigger, more explosive show than his recent UK tour, Rob Zombie has been near the top of my playlist. Headlining the 2nd stage on the Sunday, the group, featuring John 5 on guitar, Piggy D on bass and the recent change of Ginger Fish on drums, are sure to be one of the must see groups for the weekend.
Thanks to a subscription to Classic Rock Magazine, I am now in possession of CD’s from Rival Sons and Vintage Trouble. Both two brilliant up-coming bands with the latter being the pick for this month. Returning to gritty, blues driven rock n roll, they are a throwback to the 60’s but with a modern twist. Singer Ty Taylor, has a broad musical background which is evident in his rich and powerful voice. As previously mentioned, definitely worth a listen and ones to watch out for!
Songs I’d recommend:Nancy Lee, Blues Hand Me Down, Nobody Told Me.
A progressive metal four-piece from the West of Scotland, Lost Persona have recently taken a break from beasting the Glasgow small venue circuit, entering battles and playing a number of shows. And at each show they entrance the crowds with their precise and melodic style.
Their well-earned break is to work on new material for a forthcoming EP. However, Lost Persona Have a debut self-produced album under their belt, which is what I turn my attention to in this article.
As the word “Progressive” often suggests, the songs are not exactly understated, with three tracks clocking in at over the 10-minute mark. However, let not those with a touch of an Attention-deficit approach to music turn away just yet. These songs are full of thought, with numerous issues are tapped into- Including recession, distrust of government, religion, and environment to name only the obvious- some are more candid, such as the echo of self-dissatisfaction and regret heard in the enigmatic lyrics of Rear View Disorder. Frontman Tony Dunn has a voice which helps to set this band apart from other Glasgow acts: The harsher vocals have a genuine presence and angst to them, But the clean vocals really soar. His guitar collaborator- brother Chris- assists in provision of the driving riffs and soulful clean sections, and also takes the brunt of the lead sections. The intricate yet solid basslines and technical drumming (of Gareth Dunion and Connor Anderson respectively) make this band one not to miss.
Musically it is a sound effort. In addition to the more intricate parts in the longer songs, it does venture slightly from the progressive in shorter efforts, to a more melodic metal driven sound. A good example of this is in the first part (titled Alternate Intentions) of four-part epic The Awakening. In addition, this track contains a guest vocal from none other than our fellow LTMDTT writer Tom McConnell, which contrasts Tony’s parts well.
That said, it does have areas where I have to criticise (constructively of course) The one main bugbear for me on this record is the lead distorted guitar tone, which is a little over-saturated with distortion and as a result sounds thin. This can be a difficult thing to gauge when recording, but is unfortunately recurrent throughout the album. The clean lines are beautifully polished in stark contrast, and going from a harp-like picked section, or one subtly accented with flanger and delay- to the “Grizzly-Adams” fuzz is a bit of a jump. This can be a bit of a detriment to the song’s flow.
Do not let this discourage you from going to see them live- this record does not give them full justice. Since recording this they have honed their skills more, and in addition there are usually no tonal issues at gigs whatsoever. The fuzz is confined to the cd itself, but it is still well worth picking up at a show.
Standout Track- Blood on your Hands. This song has, for me, the most replay value- if it comes on, I cannot skip it. The theme for this song is a distrust in politics- something a vast majority of us can relate to! The song builds and layers itself in intensity up to a bass solo, catchy breakdown, climactic solo and powerful harmony section that really resonated with me. You can really imagine bigger crowds getting involved in the final repeats of “There’s Blood on your Haaaaa-yands” and I can only hope that such a bright future is in store for them.
In Conclusion:- The only thing understated about this band is their name reputation as yet. I hope that in the months and years to come, Lost Persona may become a more prominent name in Scotland and furthermore in UK Prog. Metal as a whole. They certainly have the ability. They certainly have the hooks, they certainly have the songwriting potential. If they continue to polish themselves and spread their banner as wide and as far as they can, they will draw in the volume of listeners they crave; and dare I say deserve. They have already converted us, so reader, let your own ears do the walking while this music does the talking, listen to the record. But see them live, and you may find- To borrow lyrically from 5th track “A Fool and His Money”- that they have you by the balls.
So its that time of year again….festival season is upon us and this year there is a multitude of bands to suit all tastes playing festivals up and down the country. The hardest part is choosing which to go to?? Well here is our mini guide of top fests this year to help you out!
First up is Download festival, now in its 8th year at Donnington. Big boss Andy Copping caused a bit of controversy this year with his choice of headliners Def Leppard, Linkin Park and System of a Down, but dig a little deeper and there is something for everyone. Other top names heading to Download 2011 are Alter Bridge, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and of course the much anticipated return of The Darkness. Taking place from the 10th-12th June its only a few weeks away but tickets are still available and you can find out all you need to know right here!
Sonisphere is a somewhat recent addition to British festival scene, and this year it really pulled out all the stops by announcing that it will be bringing the ‘Big Four’ to the UK for the first time. For those not in know, the ‘Big Four’ being Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeath. As if that wasn’t enough they will also be hosting the return of Slipknot, back over here for the first time following the death of Paul Gray aswell as Biffy Clyro, Motorhead, The Mars Volta and The Sisters of Mercy. Held at Knebworth from the 8th-10th July, it is definitely one not to be missed. All info on tickets and full line up can be found here!
T in the Park
Scotlands biggest music festival returns in July from 8th -10th. Usually the line up can be a slight hit or miss but this year they have really broadened their horizons and truly booked something for everyone. Headliners include Foo Fighters, Beyonce, The Strokes and the return of ‘Briotpop’ pioneers Pulp, not to mention Slash, Primal Scream, Manic Street Preachers, Deadmau5, Tom bloody Jones and loads more acts spanning all the genres playing over the weekend in Kinross. If you like a bit of everything then T is perfect for you. For more info, tickets etc go here!
Graspop Metal Meeting
Lastly if you are sick of the UK and what our festivals have to offer why not try a festival abroad? This year we will be attending Graspop Metal Meeting for the first time and with a line up this killer we think you should be too! Taking place in Dessel in Belgium from 24th-26th June, Graspop this year is playing host to some of the biggst names in rock and metal with headliners in the shape of Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions and Slipknot. Appearances from Whitesnake, Judas Priest, Duff McKagans Loaded and Avenged Sevenfold complete a fantastic line up and what looks set to be an amazing weekend! Again it is only a few weeks away, but tickets are still available and if you can get a flight then it will be well worth the travelling! Full info on Graspop can be found here!
Of course there are many many more festivals in the UK and around the globe this Summer with line ups just as brilliant. For more information on all of the above and anything else you may fancy check out http://www.efestivals.co.uk/
Lady GaGa is one of the most recognisable names in the world today and her influence over the younger generation is well noted. With one of the most anticipated albums of the year, Born This Way has had one of the biggest build ups the music world has ever seen.
Title track Born This Way burst on to the scene back in February followed by the premier performance at the Grammy’s with the bizarre egg entrance. The song received a mixed reception but the message of self acceptance was clear.
GaGa has slowly been unleashing tracks for her eager monster fanbase with her itunes countdown of a new track every week and the novel idea of Gagaville.
First track Marry The Night gives the impression of a fairly mellow start to the album before the synths kick in just before the chorus introducing a catchy backbeat.
Born This Way is sandwiched inbetween followed by Government Hooker. This track was used for GaGa’s appearance at the Mugler fashion show in Paris in the form of a remix. The lyrics feature GaGa’s more risqué side with the line ‘Put your hands on me, John F Kennedy.’
Second single Judas is before Americano which had been performed towards the end of GaGa’s record breaking Monster Ball Tour and her headline appearance atRadio 1’s Big Weekend last week. With a strong latin influence and Spanish lyrics, it shows GaGa’s ability to write more than just a catchy pop tune.
Next is perhaps one of the most anticipated tracks due to GaGa’s admission that it was most listeners favourite. Hair has the underlying message is of GaGa’schildhood and how her parents forced her to change her clothing so chose to represent herself through her a hair. It is without doubt one of the catchiest songs on the record.
With the opening lyric ‘I don’t speak German but I can if you like,’ Schiße once again showcases her bilingual talents accompanied by what can only be described as a ‘dirty’ beat.
Possibly the weakest track of the album comes in the form of Bloody Mary and the reason is that it seems to lack in character, probably the equivalent of The Fame Monsters So Happy I Could Die.
Bad Kids and Highway Unicorn (Road 2 Love) are both solid tracks before the trance sounding Heavy Metal Lover and Electric Chapel.
Yoü And I is the ballad of the album and one of the highlights. The backing is simple, with a contribution from Queen guitarist Brian May, showcasing GaGa’s impressive vocals.
The album ends with The Edge Of Glory, a track released as a teaser for the album in the itunes countdown which flew to the top of the charts around the world. Written about the passing of her Grandfather the track also features a saxophone solo from Clarence Clemons.
So was the hype and anticipation worth it? I would go for yes. Born This Way as a collective hole is brilliant to listen to and not just full of track after to track of club hits but an album of strong messages and different influences.
Songs I’d recommend: Judas, Bad Kids, Yoü And I, The Edge Of Glory.
On a dreary Friday 13th in Sheffield, Heaven’s Basement and Jettblack provided some much needed brightening to a miserable day.
Supported by an energetic Liberty Lies, the gig got off to a great start with their powerful riffs and sheer enthusiasm.
They were a great choice to compliment the joint headliners and get the crowd warmed up.
Jettblack were second on accompanied by some rather rude joke pictures in aid of guitarist Jon Dow’s birthday. Taking the glam metal scene by storm over the past year they certainly did not disappoint.
Opening with fan favourite Two Hot Girls, they instantly had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands. After wetting the crowds appetite with tracks from their debut such as the brilliant Slip It On and When It Comes To Lovin’, they took the opportunity to play a song from their upcoming album named Raining Rock. With an uncanny resemblance to AC/DC’sThunderstruck, if the rest of the album follows on the same lines it is sure to be a great album. Joined by Liberty Lies, Jettblack ripped through Get Your Hands Dirty with plenty of audience participation.
With the time constraint of 50 minutes, they closed with another new song in the form of a cover of Kenny Loggin’sDanger Zone, much to the crowds delight.
A well executed and extremely enjoyable set from the self-confessed cock rockers.
Tonight’s headliners were Heaven’s Basement on their first tour with new singer Aaron Buchanan. Kicking off with Unbreakable, Heaven’s Basement played a solid set, greeted with much enthusiasm from the fans. Tracks such as Tear Your Heart Out and Reign On My Parade and Misunderstood are other set highlights, many becoming one huge sing a long.
Still currently unsigned, I can’t see that being the situation for much longer!
Included in our pick of gigs for the month, we certainly weren’t let down!
A quick introduction to this competition I feel is needed to get the full effect for the potential it holds to the acts involved. After 4 rounds of regional competition, the final showcase featuring unsigned acts from all over the UK and Barcelona (with new territories being drafted in for next year) will take place as a glamorous showcase at London’s Indigo2 with the prizes at stake nothing short of a gift from the Heaven’s themselves. Full backline, lighting rigs, top end recording process with a full on digital and physical promotional campaign with a professional marketing company directing, promotional video, merchandise, a tour of the UK (with the bus/driver included), and a slot at Budapest’s Sziget Festival; and that’s just first place. There is a real hunger for the acts to break through and fight for this mammoth haul. However, what I credit Surface Festival for the most is its innovative voting system. Each round works much on the “battle of the bands” concept, but instead of just being down to audience votes, or a couple of judges- everyone has their say. Text votes, audience votes, fellow band votes and industry professionals all have a say (1 point, 5 points, 20 points and 30 points respectively). This is quite refreshing as it does not leave the decision of which progresses to one factor alone- haven’t brought fans? Rely on other bands enjoying your set. The industry professionals hated you? Let your fans push you through. Anyway, with you all now hopefully clued in, let’s get down to business.
My own band (PLUG!) What’s The Damage?! were fortunate enough to make it through to the Scottish 2nd round, which took place on the 14th May. We were joined with the acts successful from our first round heat, Lets Play God, ForeverVoid and Final Silence as well as The Rare Breed, Core and Momentus. Now you would think, with 7 bands on the bill, this is going to be a long night; however each band is limited to a 20minute set list. Bring your strongest songs; make it count, because you haven’t got long. On the other hand, I’ve found this will stop acts from becoming stale and dragging on into background noise (not to say any of these bands are guilty of that, but we’ve all seen it happen).
We kicked the night off with ForeverVoid, having seen these guys before I know they deserve a fired up crowd to play to, that will react and they will perhaps not be happy going on first, but it’s a job someone has to do and their confidence and tightness will provide a solid and electrifying start to the night. With people still coming through the door, ForeverVoid are providing a schooling performance and setting the bar for the rest of the night. A wireless guitarist seems to always come in useful as he leaves the stage (there is a blue velvet robe instead of a barricade- more on that later) to mingle with the crowd mid-song, really firing everyone up. A wonderfully talented vocalist that gives David Draiman a serious run for his money is charismatic with a low stance and it pays off by closer “Vision” which has the audience interacting with the chorus.
Next up we have The Rare Breed. A band I know personally very well. Now, to make it through to this round, every band has had to show some form of pedigree from a very competitive first round. The Rare Breed, I have watched developed from their very early gigs and while the confidence has always been there, I feel there is a little bit more development yet needed. Sean McKay on drums undoubtedly puts in a good shift, but I notice a couple of moments where timing is perhaps a little out. Jason Harris, the vocalist, shows he has the confidence of a front man, but there are times when an awkward stance with legs together shows perhaps he can use the stage a bit better. There are however moments where he does show this required skill, throwing himself around in amongst the bassist and new guitarist. This is another thing I wish to touch on, the new guitarist has without a doubt helped The Rare Breed’s sound and I note a couple of solos that show real potential- but instead of being attached to an amp at the back of the stage, his talent needs to be shown off. This may still be because the latest addition is still fitting into the band and finding his feet amongst an established line-up- in which case, prove to the audience why you’re there.
After The Rare Breed, we have Lets Play God. Most of the collective audience know what to expect here and the boys do not let us down. As a 4 piece, they show amazing understanding of each other and if ForeverVoid raised the bar, Lets Play God have stolen the bar and put it on a shelf out of reach. DTA, SMHP and Spineless all have the crowd enthralled and completely at vocalist Rob’s mercy. This is well deserved too, their lively and confident performance comes with a real feeling that Lets Play God are here to make sure the audience above all have a good time. To the point, that robe acting as a barrier pointed out earlier- long gone. Audience and band interact with each other, vocalist Rob and bassist Chris making frequent trips into the midst of the front row. Surface Fest Round 2 is now officially on.
Final Silence has one hell of an act to follow, but if there was ever a band on this bill to match their energy and love for a rampant crowd, it will be this act. Unfortunately due to my own commitments of playing I only manage to fully intake the last 2 songs, but as I take my place by the side of the stage mid way through their 3rd last song, I notice the severe lack of a vocalist on stage, but I can hear him. Suddenly, the phantom vocalist strolls past me back into his rightful position. Turns out he’s just made full use of his wireless microphone and went for a quick lap around the venue. The crowd’s going nuts, one more step forward and the stage is invaded. They blast into crowd favourite “Jon Kandi” and the place has erupted. A new song closes their set and it’s a good while before the presenter can introduce the next band due to a “one more song” chant that does not help your humble author calm any nerves before going on stage.
Now I know these guys were playing Glasgow the night before too, I don’t know if they went out partying afterwards, but if they did, you most definitely won’t be able to tell. The crowd has started to dwindle, but Core is still going to grab you by the balls. As a 3 piece, I am in awe as to how full they sound. It has that stripped back, gritty feel to it- but damn does it work for them! I love Brian Murphy’s vocals; you can nearly see the venom being spat onto the microphone through truly pissed off lyrics and it is this factor that makes Core an act to be seen as it will not let up throughout the full set. “Hollow Inside” I think is the song of the night for me; it is that chorus I still have etched in my mind.
Momentus take to the stage in the dreaded last slot of the evening. This is the only band I’ve not seen before, but despite their apparent younger age to the majority of the rest of the bands, they are not fazed. I am reminded of Bullet For My Valentine from their sound and they work their way through their set with an undying defiance of the ever smaller crowd. Those that have stayed are being served well here as the band has clearly put time into their song-writing for well structured songs with variation. I am most definitely going to be looking out for future gigs with a longer set time to really form an informed opinion of this act as this allocated 20minutes has either just given me a preview of what can be accomplished with a longer set, if not what they will go onto achieve with a few more years development.
As mentioned previously, all acts have proven themselves by getting through the 1st round, and overall, the 2nd round has proved harder to judge as I know in my mind, I wasn’t sure if What’s The Damage?! would make it through. I think I would have made the call and put money on ForeverVoid, Lets Play God and Final Silence, but as for the other 2 available slots, they were anyone’s. As it turns out, we and Momentus grabbed them. It’s this moment in such a night that while I’m happy to have progressed, bands that haven’t that fully deserved to taint such news. We knew entering such a competition, this is part and parcel- yet it does not make it any sweeter. Surface Festival Round 2 put on a phenomenal bill, an all metal bill- and I’ll put money on it was one of the most intense nights of all 2nd round heats. Bring on round 3.
A new form of heavy music has in recent years reared its head. Previously unclassified, it was pioneered, and given its namesake by Swedish Technical/ progressive/experimental metallers Meshuggah.
What i’m of course talking about, is Djent.
Pronounced “Gent” and first coined by Meshuggah Guitarist Frederik Thorendal, the word is onomatopoeic- For the characteristic sound of a heavily palm muted chord, especially on 7 or 8 string guitars, which have a much lower and deeper tonal range. Listen to the intro track their song Soul Burn - Such is Djent.
If you can call this a genre (I’d say its more of a style within a genre), a band who find themselves as part of it, are British band TesseracT. They have been newly signed to Century Media Records, who are massive in the Metal world. This new chapter has also heralded their debut album, minimalistically titled One. (Minimalistic cover too, has to be said)
It is far from easy listening. The trouble with Djent is that it can alienate listeners not suited to prog/exp music- a la Dream Theater/ Tool etc. That, and the lyrics have a more poetic sensibility to them than the standard fare of music designed to be “catchy”. TesseracT are fusing all of this, and the result is an ethereal and strange soundscape- even abstract perhaps?. It has somewhat of an Enya-like quality to it in places and it has an unprecedented effect on you. Is it music to headbang to? Or is this for relaxing to? It’s hard to tell in places to be honest, and sudden changes in mood can catch you off guard if you’re not accustomed to that sort of thing. However it’s not just for the musical equivalent of Salvador Dali aficionados .
This album could be an eye-opener for someone who has never encountered music with odd time signatures. Counting beats isn’t just "One-Two-Three-Four" here, and- as is customary in Djent- when it is in 4/4 time, the guitar rhythm over top of it sounds like it only *just* fits; a “nearly impossible” groove. However everything in TesseracT’s record is delivered extremely tightly and to a high standard. Contrary to an outsider thinking that what I’ve described here sounds like music that is coming apart at the seams, and toeing the line between music and “noise,” the result could not be farther from the truth.
Standout Track- Deception (Concealing Fate pt.2) - I considered it, but I feel it would have been a bit cheeky to choose Concealing Fate in its entirety for this section. It comes in six parts, and clocks in at 26 minutes 19 seconds. Part Two is one of the strongest sections among this symphony, and indeed the whole album (again, as always, it was a tough choice, had a few in mind. The vocals soar over the complex ebb and flow of the rhythm, and the structure is full of surprises as you tumble down this musical rabbit hole.
This is a thoroughly strange beast. But since buying it I have listened to it often. I find it is best enjoyed in one go- beginning to end. That way you get the full experience, because this album is truly designed to flow, and surely that is one of the main points in having an album at all, is it not? You should be able to listen to it from start to finish, and enjoy it all the way, not skipping tracks cause you’re not “feelin it.” Every track skip I make on an album I’m listening to, is a nail in it’s coffin, because if you skip it once, chances are you’ll skip it forever. This consistency is, in my eyes, the mark of a good record. I’ll concede, it’s not for everyone, but if you fancy something different, check out these extraordinary Djentlemen. They may just open you up to a whole new musical world.
Based in Glasgow, The Girobabies are on their way up into the forefront of the music scene, gaining celebrity fans such as Rhys Ifans along the way.
Having recently supported Proud Mary (founded by Noel Gallagher) and earning themselves air time on the BBC, they have a big underground following.
Countdown to Tinnitus follows their mini-debut album Socially Not Working and is the first single off their upcoming album Bus Stop Apocalypse.
This track screams alternative with a psychedelic edge. There is heavy use of distortion, both in guitar and vocal. Whilst the track is fairly repetitive, its not necessarily a bad thing as it is far from boring.
Sure to only grow in popularity, keep The Girobabies in mind. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on them!
For more information and to listen to the track, here is their website.
When I first caught the scent from Amaranthe- who hail from various corners of Scandinavia- My first thoughts were:- "Oh, Glory be! A female fronted, symphonic melodic metal band! Have we ever heard the like?!" *sigh* "Oh yeah, there’s Nightwish. And Delain. And Within Temptation. And Lacuna Coil. And Sirenia. And Evanescence (…sort of). I’d carry on with Unsun and a few others but we’d be here all day. So the point is, we have had it before- a lot of it- and unfortunately with this kind of band there is a serious problem I have. I needn’t really say it, but largely, there are 2 sounds; you either get the epic orchestral stuff, or the ones that are more band driven, and unfortunately end up sounding like average Eurovision entries. Sad, and a little cynical- but true! So where exactly do Amaranthe fit in then?
The answer is, although they even LOOK like your typical FFSMB (that’s Female Fronted Symphonic Metal Band, by the way) they do not exactly fit in as such, at least not easily. While some such groups make the vocal the focus point of the whole outfit, and everything else seems a bit rushed, bland and lazy (*cough*’vanescence) almost as if it’s an afterthought, Amaranthe really do feel and sound like a band. The riffs, licks and synths used have real thought and taste behind them, and they mange to achieve this with how many singers? Three!
Thats right. Elize (centre) Jake (Far right) and Andy (Far Left) are all dedicated vocalists. Delivering Female clean, Male Clean and Screams respectively. That’s one step further than the others purely on the lineup, but what about the music itself?
Some of it- despite the plethora of vocal available here, does toe the Eurovision line a little bit. Amaranthe forsake the orchestral side slightly to offer a more electro-synthesised sound backing up their instruments, and in the more stripped back sections with female vocal, the result can occasionally sound like *Insert nameless, forgettable female dance music singer* from *insert well known female dance song title.* There is also an inevitable comparison with Lacuna Coil with male and female clean vocals together, although the previously mentioned synth’ style seems to negate that slightly. This of course produces a double edge effect. On the one hand, you have a style that bridges a gap; more people will be able to instantly identify with Elize’s singing. On the other hand, it can leave a funny taste in the mouth at times, the lyrics are not exactly grand and metaphoric- and you sometimes find yourself asking if this is really a melodic metal record at all. All this said, it still had enough guitar excitement for me (there are actually solos! finally, a FFSMB lead player with some ‘chops’), the fact that they only have the single guitarist is forgotten as the rhythm and leads are arranged so well, with the synth’ and bass filling any gaps that would occur otherwise. I did harbour some concern that the guitarist is also the synth’ player; which begs the question “how do they achieve that live?” Either they use a lot of pre-recorded loops, or he collapses into a broken heap at the end of each set, and has to be revived by arranging a runestone circle around him at dawn.
Standout Track - HungerEasily. I’m glad they picked this one to release as a standalone single. It’s so strong it could be a gig closer. A little cheesy, I concede, but you can let it slide, based upon the fare you’re used to hearing from FFSMB’s. It’s refreshing to hear a band of this type maintaining this level of memorability in a song and not make it too predictable either, when a band like this opts for “catchy” you can almost conduct it yourself from your chair. The entire song is tight (but not lifeless), introducing a breakdown and the solo (of sorts), which is short and sweet but, above all, you’ll be singing that chorus under your breath after a few listens, Guaranteed. In Conclusion-Amaranthe smells sweet. Sure, it’s a little different, but that is really what the FFSMB’s of today really need to be. This genre needs shaking up big time, and I daresay we’re feeling a few tremors with this release. Check out the Hunger video, directed by high profile music video director Patric Ullaeus- who has done videos for Dimmu Borgir In Flames and Kamelot. You’ll see that this record is worth a few of your beans, and I hope we see a little more in future, after this decent maiden voyage.
Houston and Crashdïet @ Nottingham Rock City 30.04.11
It appears the UK has undergone a heavy invasion from Scandinavia recently. Just as the Dark Decadence tour was over, one of my personal favourites – Crashdïet – came back for round two and to give us another ball busting performance along with buddies Houston.
After a successful opening night in Grimsby the previous evening, the co-headline tour set the ball rolling for six consecutive days of cracking rock ‘n’ roll entertainment. Opening the evening were joint support acts Miss Behaviour and Serpentine, the latter being proudly ecstatic that they were the only English group on the lineup, which managed to get a rowdy cheer from the Brits. Both acts were pretty much AOR centered; a lot of power metal with that eighties movie soundtrack feel. The only disappointing part was that both bands had a very similar sound, meaning when half the audience were already filled with the contents of a small brewery it was difficult to differentiate between the two groups. Especially combined with blurred vision. But nonetheless this didn’t make their performances any less worthy of a rowdy applause. They were finely in tune and able to pull off the straight-from-the-CD sound.
Houston impressed that night, mainly because I wasn’t keen on their recorded stuff. Whilst I enjoy a bit of AOR I felt they were too much, and disliked a lot of the really heavy keyboards and synths. But live their sound is a world away – which personally is a positive and pleasing experience. Whether this be because their keyboard monitors just weren’t up to par, or because they’d lain off them a little bit, it didn’t matter. Strolling onstage to the Rocky theme, Hank Erix adorning a personalized boxing gown, there was something about this that said Houston were going to deliver a stunner. And they did. They played a selection of songs off their debut, including “1000 Songs”, “She’s A Mystery”, and my favourite “Hold On”, and presented an energetic and feel good vibe through their shattering high notes and squealing guitars. Fantastic tunes to dance and get drunk – or drunker – to.
Last billed were Crashdïet. After witnessing the previous three groups it’s an enigma as to why the Kings of Swedish Sleaze have been booked onto the same tour. The theme of the night thus far has been tame, cheesy AOR. And then comes Crashdïet. Although in all honesty it makes a nice change to get some heavy, filthy guitar licks and vocals. They played an array of songs stretching their entire discography, with fan favourites “Breakin’ The Chainz”, “Queen Obscene” and “Riot In Everyone”, a splash from The Unattractive Revolution with “In The Raw” and “Like A Sin”, and then the rest of the night was filled with material from their latest release. After a rather calming atmosphere the place really comes alive, their loud, aggressive attitude smashing through the monitors and winding up the rowdy, drunken crowd. Once again, Crashdïet prove themselves to be just as good as any high flying rock band, their stage persona, attitude, and perfectly crafted musical performance make for a riotous end to a brilliant night.
And then it’s onto The Rig to party the night away.
After the huge success of 2007’s The Heroin Diaries, Nikki Sixx has once again assumed the role of author with his recent release of This Is Gonna Hurt. Following in the formers footsteps it comes complete with a new album.
The title track is the first of 11 and sets the tone for the whole album. This Is Gonna Hurt contains a heavy opening and big riff before a demanding vocal from James Michael, truly the perfect way to start the album. First single Lies Of The Beautiful People follows and is a strong, brilliant track and sums up the meaning of the whole project. With the music and pictures influencing each other, This is Gonna Hurt stands for true beauty and not always judging a book by it’s cover.
Deadlihood, another hard hitting song with a mysterious, distorted vocal opening followed by Smile, a much softer song show the bands all round talent.
Last track Skin showcases Michael’s delicate vocals, accompanied only by piano. A beautiful way to finish the album and a song that really gets you thinking.
After initially only intending to accompany The Heroin Diaries, Sixx: AM have shown they are so much more than a 1 album band.
Songs I’d recommend: This Is Gonna Hurt, Deadlihood, Oh My God, Skin.
Having just finished a tour of the UK with the Michael Monroe band, Ginger is back on the road for a little acoustic tour. We went along to the York show to check it out…
Tonight looks to be a good night, having seen a setlist from a previous show i was on a promise we would get a good mix of solo Ginger, some Wildhearts classics and a few surprises thrown in. I went along with the impression it wouldn’t be you’re typical acoustic show, and it really wasn’t, i was not disappointed. Joining Ginger for this tour is ‘Random’ Jon Poole and Wolfsbane guitarist Jase Edwards, who even treated us to a song aswell, supported also by Willie Dowling.
The set began, weirdly i thought, with Geordie in Wonderland. An absolute anthem, one i thought Ginger would have played a bit further into the set, but it was incredible. Got the night off to a blinding start with the whole of Fibbers singing along, clapping and stamping their feet. Ginger deemed York his drunkest crowd only one song in, and the smile on his face said it all.
Carrying on the drunken theme, after each song Ginger would decide if it was a ‘Magners’ or a ‘JD’ song, with much jibes from the crowd. The banter of which kept him on his toes, and was incredibly entertaining. It didn’t feel like a gig, much more like a gathering of old friends, which was really refreshing.
As i had mentioned, we expected a few little surprises thrown into the set tonight, and these came in the form of the theme from the tv show ‘Cheers’, which was absolutely brilliant! A little touch of ‘Summer Loving’ from Grease in the middle of ‘Miles Away Girl’ and a fantastic cover of ‘Answering Machine’ by The Replacements. Another little treat was a guest spot from Wildhearts drummer Ritch Battersby with a little rendition of ‘The Duck Song’. Priceless.
Ginger is such a massively entertaining character onstage. Tonight is not just about the music, but about the man. How funny and chatty he is with the crowd. Adding to this is the genius of Jon Poole, he gives the night that extra something, and his facial expressions on stage are not to be rivalled.
For me the best was saved till last though. A Wildhearts medley of ‘Loveshit’, ‘29xThePain’ and ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’ were massive crowdpleasers and brought the night to a crashing end, in a good way.
Truly brilliant night. One of my first experiences of a fully acoustic gig and not your average at all, but why would you want it to be? I urge you if you can make it to any of the remaining gigs please do, guaranteed awesome night.
Co-headlining this tour, it is sure to be full of downright sleazy rock. Having both supported some of the biggest names in rock such as Ozzy Osbourne and Papa Roach, and receiving rave reviews, both bands look set to have a big year in 2011. We highly recommend it!
Being heavily tipped as one of the artists of the year and a highly anticipated new album, Frank Turner has a string of dates across the UK which should not be missed.
Truly passionate about the blues, Joe Bonamassa is slowly gaining a reputation as one of the best guitar players out there to accompany his charismatic voice and stage presence. After being awarded Classic Rock Magazines breakthrough artist of the year in 2009, it is definitely worth giving him a listen!
Yep thats right Slash will be back in the UK this July with his band featuring Myles Kennedy, Todd Kerns, Brent Fitz and Bobby Schneck. They will play four shows including a homecoming gig in Stoke, aswell as their spot at High Voltage festival in London. Tickets are on sale on Friday 6th May!! We promise this is a show not to be missed!
Birmingham Academy (July 20) Manchester Apollo (21) Stoke Victoria Hall (24) Leeds Academy (25)
Now and again a band comes along, and just blows my mind; you all know the feeling I’m sure. A few years back I encountered Scar Symmetry, then a melodic metal 5 piece from Avesta, Sweden. and the love affair began.After the release of 3rd album Holographic Universe, it was announced that lead vocalist Christian Älvestam had left the band due to creative differences.To be honest- at that point- I kind of thought the tale was over, but I was wrong. So wrong! They recruited two new vocalists, Lars Palmqvist ( lead clean vocals) and Roberth Karlsson (lead growl vocals), and went on to release Dark Matter Dimensions in Oct 2009. Unlike symphonic metal band Nightwish- who became a quite different beast on replacing singer Tarja Turunen with Annette Olzen- Scar Symmetry retained a very similar sound and -much to my relief- did not undergo any detriment to songwriting prowess. Dark Matter Dimensions was quite frankly a tour de force from beginning to end. In honesty of analysis, I do prefer Christian’s clean vocal to Lars’, purely for reason that he had more range, But now that this duo is in place, it has opened new doors of vocal possibility to these melodic metallers. New record The Unseen Empire is a concept album, focused on the the subject of the shadowy, legendary organisation The Illuminati- speculated to be pulling the strings behind the civilised world- according to conspiracy theorists. But, is this album a Master of Puppets, or a Pastor of Muppets?
Difficult to say initially. Lyrically of course, it is a narrower subject matter, and this can be a pitfall with concept albums. But here, the songs do seem more descriptive and easier to relate to than some of Scar Symmetry’s more usual “sciency” prose. There are less flashy acrobatic tech-fests when it comes to the instruments too, with the whole outfit seeming a litle more refined and dare i say, subdued; but the sound is still massive. Jonas Kjellgren and Per Nilsson’s 7 string guitars churn an atmosphere layered with tasteful synth lines and precise rhythm, and the vocals soar and rumble with equal intensity. Most of the songs have less pace than the previous records, but as always with Scar Symmetry there are some truly stellar moments, whether it be the guitars in perfect harmony, furious solo, the catchy yet heavy beats, or the split second vocal changeovers- there is always something to grab your attention here. Standout track:- Rise of The Reptilian Regime. This was a difficult choice, as I was adamant to only choose the one track for this section. However this song got through, due to the mildly unusual song structure that kept me listening intently, and of course- because of THAT intro. It starts softly, and when the harmony just “waltzed” in after the opening bars, my neck hair stood up. Thankfully the idea is reprised in the latter half of the song before a solo that is expertly delivered and not excessive. This song also really showcases Lars’ and Roberth’s ability to tradeoff vocal parts, the overlap of the two vocals the finish on this well executed, memorable track.
In Conclusion. Although this as a fine example of what this excellent band are capable of, it is a slight departure from their usual fare, and as a result- at least in my case- it takes a little more time to grow on the listener. It is not a negative point, by any manner of means- give it a thorough listen. I would however advise listening to Dark Matter Dimensions before this record. The Unseen Empire is very good, but I would have to place it under that dubious category of "For Fans Of.” That said, whatever route you take after reading this review, do not let Scar Symmetry go Unseen, or more importantly Unheard.