Archive for August, 2011

Interview: Obsessive Compulsive [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags on 25th August 2011 by Hannah

11/08/2011

Hannah sits down for a chat with Obsessive Compulsive at Bloodstock Festival 2011

Hannah- Hello guys! Cheers for chatting with me. So, obviously you are playing on Saturday; but, this time, you’re playing the Jaegermeister stage, which is acoustic!
Pete- Yeah, and it’s not even a stage!
Hannah- Oh, so should we call it the Jaegermeister piece of ground?
Kelii- The Jaegermeister yard.
Pete- Really, we’re just going to take over the whole arena.
Hannah- Quite right, just jump on! How do you think you’re going to translate into acoustic?
Giz- Well, we played an acoustic set at Download Festival, which was the first time we’d ever done acoustic.
Hannah- How was that?
Dani- Daunting.
Kelii- It won’t be quite as terrifying this time, will it?
Giz- It is kinda different, because obviously we aren’t an acoustic band, but we’ll just get up there and do our thing, and it’ll be cool.
Pete- We’re the heaviest acoustic thing you’ll ever hear!
Hannah- Well, I was going to say, actually, because your music is quite high energy, and acoustic tends to be really laid back and trippy.
Kelii- Yeah, our music is quite high energy, but we are quite eclectic; the whole album is very eclectic. It is quite different. We have a lot of slow songs that we don’t really want to play live, ‘cos we don’t really want to bring the mood down in the middle of a punky set, so it’s really good that we get to do something different.
Hannah- It gives you a chance to spread your wings.
Kelii- Yeah!
Pete- It translates surprisingly well; you’ve got the highs and the lows.
Giz- It’s really nice to do something like this as well, because people get to come and see a different thing, a different side to us.
Hannah- I guess what’s also different with acoustic is that everyone is so much closer, as well.
Kelii- This one will be really intimate, yeah. We can see their ugly mugs…
Giz- They can see our ugly mugs, too!
Hannah- So, your album has lots of different influences; would you say that you as a band have a particular sound?
Pete-  As said, it’s very eclectic. We have lots of different influences between all of us. It comes in from every different area and different genres.
Kelii- We all like really vastly different things. Between us all, we all like lots of different  styles. I’m not saying that we’re some kind of crazy band that sounds like nothing you’ve heard before!
Pete- We’re not trying to do everything in one go.
Kelii- Yeah, we don’t go out of our way to write really crazy shit, we just write what comes out. Sometimes it might take a grungey sort of sound, sometimes it might be more metal or punk, or even a bit of glam rock! We don’t really think about it too much.
Giz- Whatever comes out, comes out. We’re not trying to put any pressure on it, we’re just making our music; we’re just being creative.
Hannah- You can really hear that, because it all sounds really natural. Sometimes when bands try and do a different sound, it sounds really forced, but yours doesn’t, it all flows really well.
Kelii- Thank you! It all just sounds like us.
Giz- It’s ‘cos we’re all really rubbish at playing our instruments! Apart from Dani, Dani pulls it all together for us.
Hannah- So, how different is it then playing live than playing in the comfort of a studio, where it doesn’t matter if you get it wrong!?
Giz- Live’s always different because you’ve got the audience in front of you, and you’re feeding back off them.
Kelii- And you’ve only got one shot.
Giz- It’s all there in the moment, whatever happens happens. But playing live is what we’re all about. We love being on the road, touring and playing shows.
Hannah- Are festivals different yet again?
Pete- Yeah, you don’t have to go outside to smoke.
Giz- Festivals are really good fun, we really do enjoy playing festivals. If we can, we always love to come down and have a few beers with people.
Kelii- It’s especially nice to get out of Manchester where there are a bunch of knobheads being knobheads.
Hannah- A good thing about festivals like Download and Bloodstock is that you get heard by people who wouldn’t normally pick up your CD in a shop.
Giz- Yeah, it’s really important for us to get new people listening to our music.
Kelii- We’re still a tiny band.
Giz- Yeah, we still want to hand out flyers and talk to people, get them to come and check us out.
Pete- Everything’s so over-saturated in the media, there’s so much going on. So to actually get face to face with people and to get to show them what we’re made of.
Giz- It’s really great because we get to hang out with people. We’re here all weekend- if people want to come down and see us, then great. If people want to come and have a drink with us, then even better!
Pete- If people want to buy us beer, then ever better still!
Kelii- There are bands that are our size who are only here for the one day, and I don’t understand it! I will be there for as long as I possibly can.
Hannah- Exactly. Well, thanks very much for taking the time to talk to me, guys! I look forward to watching your set.

www.obsessivecompulsiveband.com

Debut album, Dreams Of Death And The Death Of Dreams out now, via Vociferous Records.

Band Of The Month [September – Voting]

Posted in Band Of The Month on 25th August 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

It’s that time of the month, where you get to vote for the next Band Of The Month!

Voting will last for one week [25th August – 31st August].

The nominees are:

Ziyos
Blodravn
Aonia
Ravenage
Entity

Bloodstock Open Air 2011 [Live Review]

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , on 21st August 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Bands: Wasp, Therion, Motorhead and more
Location: Catton Hall, Walton-Upon-Trent
Date: 12-14th August, 2011

It’s August again – and time for the Metal Militia to mobilise, monster-like, and materialise in the munificent meadows of Catton Hall, Derby for another magnificent Bloodstock Festival.

Bloodstock is a festival ‘by the fans, for the fans’ and the organisers genuinely cater for this by running active online forums and IRC chatrooms (in which they participate), taking into account the festival-goers’ suggestions each year to improve the event. Having attended four previous Bloodstocks (2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010), Bloodstock 2011 was, by 12 parsecs, the best Bloodstock I have attended.

Disclaimer – I attended this festival as a fan and a punter rather than as official press. I was not able to see every band due to conflicting stage times, hangovers and basic human needs such as food, water and ale.  Additionally, while this review does cover bands in the black / death / grindcore genres, due to my personal preferences in music, I saw many more power / melodic metal acts, so the review will tend toward these bands.

Overall organisation

Having queued in the past for – literally – hours to enter, I was pleasantly surprised at the efficiency and organisation of the door staff. Arriving approximately half an hour after the gates opened, we were through the entrance and pitching our tents within 15 minutes.

The layout of Bloodstock was well thought-out, with the camping areas clustered around the main arena and festively named ‘Valhalla’, ‘Asgard’, ‘Midgard’ and ‘Hel’. ‘Hel’ was the quiet camp and provided a positive environment for families and others who did not wish to be disturbed by revellers late into the night.  A small fairground was set far enough back that the noise from the rides did not disturb the enjoyment of bands on the Ronnie James Dio (main) stage and a market brimming with music stalls and alternative clothing and jewellery offered a variety of products that can be difficult to find out in the mundane real world.

The only negative aspect of the layout is that, for the past two festivals, the New Blood stage is at the side, beyond the Ronnie James Dio stage and near the Bloodstock Arms bar. In 2008, the stage was placed between the arena entrance and the main stage, which meant that many bands drew in a crowd due to simply overhearing something they were interested in listening to. Its current placement meant that crowd members had to make a conscious effort to go and check out unsigned talent and this meant that some acts which could have had bigger crowds simply didn’t.

Four stages offered a variety of acts, with the Jaegermeister stage and Ronnie James Dio stage alternating showtimes, which meant that, without moving from a vantage point just behind and to the right of the sound desk, patrons could enjoy eight hours of almost interrupted music – without even venturing to the Sophie Lancaster tent (second stage) or the New Blood stage (which housed unsigned acts).  In general, as well, acts on Sophie and New Blood stages were of a different genre to the Ronnie James Dio stage, which meant that there was always something of interest to watch, catering for the wide variety of tastes that rockers have cultivated.

Security at the arena entrance was tight as they searched bags / pockets for weapons and alcohol (got to protect the beer sales in the arena!). Showsec staff, mostly, were pleasant, friendly and joked with the crowd as they filtered through. The proximity of the campsite and the efficiency of the Showsec staff meant that it was easy to move quickly between the camping areas and the main arenas. The festival cloakroom also provided a secure place to store bags, phones, coats and purchases from the market stalls – my husband and I purchased a weekend ticket at £16 and found the service invaluable for keeping our goods protected while he went to play in the circle pits for…pretty much the entire weekend.

Toilets, while offensive to the olfactory sense, were generally clean and well-stocked, especially in comparison to Download, Sonisphere and previous years.  Showers were available in the Midgard camp for £3.00, though a ‘no time limit’ policy meant that queues were longer than the M1. (I did not partake. I don’t have to smell myself.)

Jaegermeister stage

The Jaegermeister stage provided an acoustic venue and offered the opportunity to see bands in a different light and in what felt like an intimate environment.

Alternative Carpark – Mark (vocals) started the gig with a good crowd rapport, offering good-natured abuse to festival-goers as they walked past the stage following Coroner’s set. His clear baritone voice and easy nature drew in an audience, who appreciated friendly banter and the band’s distinctive, eclectic style. The mixture of metal and blues with a funk-style slapping bass got the audience grooving and created a feel-good atmosphere.

Rannoch – Unfortunately, I was not able to see this band ‘plugged in’ but their acoustic set showed their strength as musicians, with interplay and harmonies between the guitars and bass. The vocals oscillated between an accomplished death metal growl and occasional, contrasting clean vocals. The band seemed at ease on stage and the addition of an Irish drum (and drummer) borrowed from Middle Age-inspired death metal band ‘Haerken’ added a folk element that gave the music a unique dimension.

Obsessive Compulsive – Energetic and driving, Obsessive Compulsive’s set comprised dark, anthemic tunes complimented by Kelli’s powerful, gravelly, alto vocals. A confident frontwoman, she genuinely appreciated the audience’s enthusiastic response and expressed her gratitude to the festival for their work with unsigned musicians. As the bass pulsated, driving riffs and intricate guitar work got the crowd’s heads banging

Guardians of Andromeda – This band is one of my favourite finds of the weekend. An easy nature and sense of humour go a long way in a cosy environment like the Jaegermeister stage – and frontman Mikael has both in spades, along with a tenor voice that is reminiscent of Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian fame. Confident guitar work and haunting melodies with a tribal undertone further sustain the fantasy-world feeling of being transported to realm of mystery, honour and valour.  Layers of vocals gave a more orchestral feeling to the acoustic set. Joined by Sarah, of Zocolo fame for the last songs, intertwining tenor and alto vocals wrote a story which was supported by inter-band interactions reminiscent of powerful, classic musical theatre duets. Guardians of Andromeda’s music is a gourmet recipe, drawing ingredients from the whole world of music, rather than simply metal and the final product is nothing short of extraordinary.

New Blood Stage

The New Blood stage showcased some of the best unsigned metal acts that the UK – and Europe – have to offer. Venues across the nation and in Norway hosted ‘Metal 2 the Masses’ heats and the winners of these competitions were handpicked by Bloodstock organisers and the founder, Simon Hall.

Entro-P – Jake’s dark, driving bass pushes Entro-P’s songs forward and several tempo changes into Meshuggah-like non-standard time signatures are ably managed by Sean, giving Entro-P’s music a sensation that takes them out of the realm of normal run-of-the-mill death metal bands. Expert tremolo picking by the guitarists, along with several complex articulations combined to create a bed of nails upon which the growling vocals can rest. All elements merged to create a gritty, doom-laden sound that is heavy as a two-tonne weight in a black hole.

Training Icarus – Vacillating between dark, heavy songs and lighter, happier tracks, Training Icarus showed a breadth and depth to their repertoire and musical talent. Frontwoman Leigh displayed a strong passion throughout the entire set. Enchanting mezzo/alto/belter vocals rested comfortably on top of Maidenesque guitars and metronone-like, driving drums. Infectious, anthemic choruses became brainworms that refused to leave. (I found myself humming ‘Nightmares’ days after the performance.)  Orchestral accompaniments provided atmosphere between the songs. The backing track also sat low enough in the mix to add a subconscious feeling of fullness while sampled harmonised vocals emphasised key phrases and gave Leigh the opportunity to provide soaring descant ad-libs over repeated choruses. In a day when metal bands often never find their way out of minor keys, the bouncy, quick-tempo, major-key tracks provided a welcome contrast that left a happy, lively feeling.

Brezno – ‘Innovative, exciting and stunning’ are the three best adjectives to describe this band. Hailing from Slovenia, the seven-piece band’s half hour set on the New Blood stage took the crowd by surprise and by storm. Keyboards, violins, wind instruments and four vocalists, ably led by Sara wove a tribal blanket of sound that was comfortably worn by everyone in the New Blood tent. A traditional Irish folk feeling haunts Brezno’s music and the lilting melodies call forth images of warriors fighting for honour, justice and truth.

Soulsphere – Despite their vocalist being unable to attend, atmospheric doom metallers Soulsphere pulled off an energetic performance with ably ad-libbed lyrics provided by stand-in Gary from the band Fallen Few. Brutal, heart-pounding riffs overdriven by a thumping bassline and jackhammer-like drums offered a suitably aggressive base for Gary’s throaty growls. Soulsphere’s brand of in-your-face metal is like a left hook to the jugular – swift, brutal and leaves you gasping for breath.

Sacred Illusion – If Iron Maiden ever decide to retire and create a reality TV programme where the younger generation audition to replace them, these guys are it. The frontman – Bruce – beyond being the namesake of one of the best voices in metal, shares with Dickinson a stunning tenor voice with an operatic tone found in the very best power metal bands. A driving rhythm section created a strong foundation, which face-melting lead work uses as a launch pad into the heavens with spiralling riffs and anthemic melodies. Tighter than many signed bands, if Sacred Illusion carry on delivering blistering performances as they did on Sunday, they will skyrocket to the top of the metal mountain in no time.

Twilight’s Embrace – Dark doom metal with some floating melodies over the top comprised Twilight’s Embrace’s set. Frontman Dee effortlessly switches between clean vocals and a powerful, death metal-inspired growl. Clean guitar behind chugging power chords creates an ethereal sensation and lonely distorted lead creates echoes of emptiness reminiscent of some Opeth tracks.

Sophie Lancaster Stage

A new addition last year, the Sophie stage this year was much more effectively used to showcase a range of bands, giving crowdgoers an alternative to the music on the Ronnie James Dio stage.

Evil Scarecrow – Parody black metal is a risky style of music. Black metal in itself is quite obscure and oftentimes black metal fans can be somewhat elitist about the genre, rejecting what could be seen as an attempt at poking fun. However, Evil Scarecrow have persevered through being ignored by metal record labels and have, grass roots style, cultivated a massive fan base who packed out the Sophie tent (capacity approximately 3,000) on Sunday. Post-gig Facebook updates have also hinted that the band members themselves handle all merchandise sales – they are the very definition of a DIY metal band. Tight as a watch spring, the five-headed, ten-legged monster appeared overwhelmed and humbled by the response of the crowd, including several crowd members who came decked out in full robot regalia for the band’s signature tune ‘Robototron’. Tracks with interweaving melodies such as ‘Blacken the Everything’ and challenging changes between time signatures such as ‘Vampyre Trousers’ affirmed that the best way to parody any sort of music is to be accomplished musicians who write good music – then add in satirical lyrics and a ‘bloody’ good stage show! Doctor Hell’s sung introduction to the most metal cover of all – ‘The Final Countdown’ –  in a clean, strong baritone voice also proved what black / death / thrash metal fans have known for years: to be a good growler, you must first be a good vocalist! True fans of metal, the band members could be seen throughout the festival not just on the Sunday but throughout the weekend – and despite the overwhelming response to their music they were still humble, down to earth and genuinely thankful to the crowd.

Powerquest – With soaring, screaming guitar riffs that flew fast as lighting from the fingers of Andy Midgley and Gav Owen, melodic and atmospheric keys from Steve Williams and some frenetically fast drumming from Rich Smith, melodic metallers Powerquest unleashed a tsunami of sound that reverberated throughout the Sophie tent. Elevated over the top of this frenzied orchestration were supreme vocals from Chitral Somapala that cut through the music like a hot knife through butter. Reminiscent of Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire) and ZP Theart (ex-Dragonforce), Chitral’s operatic tenor voice and passionate performance provided the icing on the cake (an extremely powerful cake) of a musically accomplished band.

Amaranthe – An unusual blend of three vocals – a male growler, a clean tenor and a mezzo / belter female – Amaranthe has a very unique sound. With thundering bass and melodic guitars providing a scaffolding for these three to climb to the stars, the mixture of vocals was novel. I was disappointed to say that the sound during this set was of less quality than previous performances (at one point the left speaker stack cut out completely) so at times it was difficult to differentiate between Elize (female vocals) and Jake’s (clean male) vocals. Animated interactions between the vocalists onstage made the band fun to watch as well as listen to – a strong performance from all involved.

Ronnie James Dio Stage

Named after the fallen legend, the RJD stage was the main stage in the arena, housing the very best of metal talent from all over the world.

Wolf – Classic metallers Wolf, hailing from Sweden, put in a solid performance that was full of fun and life. Niklas and Simon’s lead and backing vocals intertwined like ivy and the guitars and bass provided a thrumming support that was like a magnetic draw to headbang. The band draws clear influences from 70s and 80s metal bands such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest which could be heard in their galloping riffs and seen in their enthusiastic stage show.

Forbidden – Circle pits erupted almost instantly during Forbidden’s set as Matt Camacho’s gritty bass thundered. Craig Locicero and Steve Smyth provided sweeping, face-melting accompaniment on the guitars with brutal, in-your-face riffs. Forbidden is a band grounded firmly in American early 90s thrash –reminiscent of very early Metallica – and these guys have stuck to this overall feeling in their music. Russ Anderson’s vocals – almost a scream, almost a shout and almost sung – add to the aggressive and brutal tone, building a 45 minute wall of anger that swept over the cloud like a thunderstorm.

Triptykon – Arising, phoenix-like, from the ashes of Celtic Frost, Triptykon’s heavy, doom-laden sound slowed down the pace of the day and provided a welcome rest from the circle pits and frenzied pace from earlier. Tom Gabriel Warrior’s part whispered, part growled, part sung vocals created a sense of intimacy in an open field designed for 10,000 people – not an easy task! Slow, heavy guitars painted a backdrop of darkness for the anger-fuelled lyrics and created a sense of trepidation in the crowd. Solos drifted over the top like a murder of crows, hanging heavy in the air.

Coroner – With a slow, melodic, acoustic introduction, Coroner misled audience members unfamiliar with their work to believe that their set would be a laid back one – this was definitely not the case! Self described as ‘technical thrash metal’, Ron Broder (bass) and Tommy Vetterli (guitars) illustrated this expertly, alternately juxtaposing intricate melodies and layering complex, galloping riffs that ploughed forward like a steam train. Marky Edelmann’s drums drove the music forward while never drawing emphasis from the melody at hand. Ron’s vocals were strong, a gravelly tone – almost a scream – and they rested comfortably on top of the guitars.

Wasp – Enthusiastic crowd interactions from front man Blackie Lawless created a feeling of togetherness in the crowd. The band seemed genuinely pleased to play the festival and they involved the crowd by running competitions and even pulling a fan from the crowd to sing ‘I Wanna Be Somebody’. Catchy songs and natural showmanship left the audience calling for more. Their choice of a ballad encore was unusual but finished off the day quite nicely, in a peaceful and happy ambience.

Tarot – Marco Hietala, of Nightwish fame, fronts this classic style metal band that were widely requested on the Bloodstock forums. Marco’s voice is incredibly unique – a gravelly baritone that often spirals into a higher, distorted tenor. Contrasted with Tommi Salmela’s classic rock style falsetto, the two men’s voices criss-crossed into a tapestry of pure energy. Zachary Hietala’s melodic guitar and Janne Tolsa’s keys similarly supported each other, alternating lead that floated above Marco’s metronome-like bass. Despite tripping over Tommi and one point and falling down backward onto the stage, Marco’s playing was solid and his frontmanship is second to none with humorous stories between songs and enthusiastic interaction with the crowd. The members are all clearly at ease and comfortable with each other, laughing their way through the set and genuinely enjoying each other’s company onstage, interacting effortlessly and occasionally poking fun at each other in a light-hearted way. Tarot appeared to really enjoy playing Bloodstock and the overwhelming sensation of happiness swept over the crowd, who eagerly chanted for them to return.

Finntroll – Black folk metallers Finntroll are repeatedly one of the most requested bands on the Bloodstock forum. With two keyboardists and three guitarists (‘Trollhorn’ doubles), intricately intertwining melodies rolled forth at the speed of light, evoking images of Middle Earth or of days long gone by. Catchy melodies flowed easily over heavy guitars and several pits erupted at once when they played their signature tune ‘Trollhammaren’ with several crowd members dancing Irish jig-style. Windmilling instrumentalists added to the spectacle and Vreth’s growling vocals fit easily into the mix, loud enough to be heard but not so loud as to distract from the melodies cascading from the keys and guitars. While it would have been nice to see the band in full regalia (fake troll ears and all), they put in an exciting and energetic show.

Ihsahn – Black / progressive metal, Ihsahn (from Emperor stock) provided – at times – screaming, blistering riffs that exploded off the stage, with aggressive, growling vocals and melodic keyboards. The machine gun-like staccato of the drums carried the melody forward in these tracks. Contrasting, slower songs carried a sense of trepidation, supported by the rasping black metal inspired vocals.

Wintersun – Hotly anticipated by fans who feared that the band would pull out of the festival, as they have in the past, Finnish folk metallers Wintersun did not disappoint. Switching between lightning-fast, syncopated, tremolo-picked, euphoric riffs that burst from the stage and slower, sweeter melodies that evoked a sense of peace and sorrow, Wintersun truly showed their range as musicians. Enthusiastic frontmanship accompanied a tight set. Jari Mäenpää’s vocals provided a rougher contrast to the smoothness of the music; his clear enunciation meant that his lyrics could be easily understood. Solid double kick drumming from Kai Hahto added to the frenetic feeling of the faster songs, while providing articulation and accompaniment to the slower tunes. The melody lines are infectious and memorable, providing a testimonial to the fans that their pleas for Wintersun’s appearance have not been in vain.

Therion – If Wagner had Marshalls, he would have written this. Combining the very best elements from classic opera and heavy metal, Therion is the most innovative band I saw throughout the weekend. Each song told a story, ably pantomimed and staged by four talented vocalists. Samples added to the orchestral, operatic feeling of the music, in addition to a melodic flute solo. The set started off slowly with ballads, and the band’s new mezzo soprano vocalist (Linnéa Vikström – Thomas Vikström’s daughter) was introduced. Lori Lewis’ coloratura soprano easily soared over the top of the other three vocalists, providing descants that spiralled into the stratosphere in a clear, piercing tone that would make Sarah Brightman jealous. As the band moved to heavier songs, the instrumentalists struck traditional metal poses, headbanging and interacting with each other, which juxtaposed effectively with the vocalists’ theatrical performances. The pent-up energy of the crowd exploded. The best way to describe this performance would be as a Gothic rainbow of energy and sound – eclectic, powerful and amazing.

Rhapsody of Fire – Possibly the most technically accomplished guitarist in the metal scene (if not the world), Luca Turilli’s fingers of flame did not disappoint the thronging crowd. With such an accomplished musician in a band, it can happen that other musicians become overshadowed – however, this was distinctly not the case! Patrice Guers’ jackhammer-like bass seemed glued with industrial strength adhesive to Alex Holzwarth’s drums, over which the guitars could leapfrog. Fabio Lione’s vocals were strong and clear, like golden laser beam shooting over the crowd. Christopher Lee’s voice provided a suitably epic introduction. The inclusion of the Italian language ballad ‘Lamento Erocio’, while a strange choice, was a fantastic performance, delivered with sentiment and intensity that brought a tear to the eye. Finishing strong with the frenetic, harmonised ‘Emerald Sword’, Rhapsody of Fire’s performance lifted the mood in the audience to euphoric levels and left them begging for more.

Hammerfall – With a slightly odd set list that left out a number of old classics (‘Renegade’ for one), Hammerfall, nevertheless, gave an enthusiastic performance with a number of songs that got the audience singing along, including the Quiet Riot cover ‘Bang Your Head’. Joacim Cans’ voice was on top form and his easy nature with the audience created a lively, fun atmosphere of celebration. Changing between slower, heavier songs (‘Last Man Standing) and technical, intricate songs that sped faster than a speeding bullet, Hammerfall clearly demonstrated their range as musicians. As they ended with the anthemic ‘Let the Hammer Fall’, the 45 minute set seemed far too short.

Motorhead – A statement released after Bloodstock explained that the three-piece hard rock band had been suffering from a virus which explains why their performance was not up to the standard expected by their fans. Firebreathing girls added some spectacle and guitarist Phil Campbell did his best to take over frontman duties, offering an extended guitar solo. Drummer Mikkey Dee had to leave the stage at one point but returned to perform a phenomenal drum solo from his perch high above the stage. Disappointingly, the band finished 20 minutes early after a somewhat lacklustre performance – while this was explained in retrospect on the Bloodstock forums, it would have been preferable to have that explanation on the night because, after the quality of music heard all weekend, the disappointing act of the final headliner left the festival on a bit of a down note. If there had been an official explanation before or just after Motorhead’s performance, the crowd would have been grateful to the band for making the effort to come on and play, despite less than ideal circumstances, rather than disappointed and annoyed.

Overall, Bloodstock this year was the best Bloodstock I have attended in terms of organisation, variety of bands and atmosphere. Well done to the organisers and roll on BOA 2012!

Melissa Adams

Home From Home Festival [Live Review]

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , on 21st August 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Bands: Shadows Chasing Ghosts, Tides Of Virtue, The Demoraliser, The Colour Line, Sea Of Giants, The Departed, Forever And A Day, Hey! Alaska, Not Another Code Red
Location: Shades Night Club, Bridlington
Dates: 20th August 2011

Home From Home Fest, the second annual DIY festival, hosted by the East Coast Collective, was already off to a bumpy start as Swedish hardcore outfit Saving Joshua had dropped off the bill last minute – Not that this prevented all those in attendance from having a good time. The first band on stage were Bridlington’s own “Sea Of Giants”. They performed a good, solid set and were very active on stage. They received a good reaction from the crowd. Towards the end of the set, they performed an immense cover of “Pure F**king Hate” by Annotations Of An Autopsy. Sea Of Giants were a great choice to open the festival with, it was just a shame about the small numbers in attendance for their set.

The second band to perform were Hull-based “The Colour Line”. The entire band had brilliant showmanship and clearly a lot of energy to have remain active through out their entire set, especially their front man who moved in and around the crowd. Their set was tight and brilliantly played. The highlight of their set had to be “Glitter, Spandex And Egos”. Forever And A Day took the stage afterwards. Their set was energetic and tight and the frontman demonstrated great showmanship and crowd interaction. They played brilliant songs such as “If It Pleases You Darling (Pretend I’m Saying It)” and “We See Everything, So Play Nice” [Which can be found on their album “Last Orders”]. Forever and a Day’s set was great though lacking as their bassist was absent.

Hey! Alaska put on a good show, with the frontman interacting with the crowd between songs. Like the other bands, they played a good, heavy set which beamed with energy. Not Another Code Red had a heavy start to their set. They performed a brilliant hardcore rendition of Black And Yellow as well as some of their own songs such as All Or Nothing and Foundations. The Departed brought a great stage presence and positive attitude with them to the stage as they performed a very hyper set in which the crowd began a mosh pit to it. The Demoraliser performed an amazing, brutalising set which sounded raw and violent. they were one of the best bands of the night, which says a lot due to the immense quality of all the bands who played.

Tides Of Virtue performed a very active set, virtually bouncing all around the stage. They received positive feedback from the crowd for their violent and skull-crushing set. The headliners “Shadows Chasing Ghosts” finally took the stage, only to be greeted by a small crowd, which must have been upsetting for the band members though they still performed an awesome set which was very heavy, very tight and pleased the crowd.

Home From Home Fest was clearly an enjoyable experience for all those who performed and those who attended. Fans of hardcore and metalcore missed on a truly great festival. Hopefully, the next Home From Home Festival will be just as great, if not better.

Nico Davidson

Cerebral Bore – Manical Miscreation [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 20th August 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Cerebral Bore
Album: Manical Miscreation
Release year: 2011 [Re-release]
Genre: Death Metal/Grind


Glaswegian’s Cerebral Core are certainly doing nothing to rid the city of its hard man image, especially with their first full length album ‘Manical Miscreation’, re-released this April on Earache Records.

The album kicks off with the aptly name ‘Epileptic Strobe Entrapment’ with violently catchy riffs and drumming that makes you feel as if might fall into said epileptic fit at any moment. The riffing slides in perfectly alongside the rest of the instruments to create an odd sense of unease but in a very pleasant way.

The whole album exudes this frantic and energetic pace but with an underlying groove and holds not only the album together but makes it difficult to tear your ears away. It is violent, brutal and yet addictive listening.

Something very present in this album is a tongue planted firmly in cheek, which is very evident in the lyrics such as “Dead people taste good, just like chicken” from ‘Entombed in Butchered Bodies’. And of course, how can you not laugh at ‘24 Year Party Dungeon’ a song about Joseph Fritzl that has lines like “Joseph Fritzl, Fritzl, he is nice, Joe, Fritzl, 24 years of fun” and “She’ll see his evil pee pee.” They they don’t take themselves too seriously gives this album a fun atmosphere and makes it even more enjoyable
Cerebral Bore are certainly very talented musicians and manage to create something very catchy amongst the violent mayhem. The bass brings a groove that you don’t always hear in death metal nor grind and the guitars are vibrant and well written for. The drumming too is very well paced and uses more unusual rhythms rather sticking with the tried and tested.

Having a female vocalist adds another level to this band that works very well, her style is as savage as the rest of the band, if not more so. On ‘Flesh Reflects the Madness’ her vocals as vicious as a wolf attack and her pig squeals are very well performed.

There is also plenty of variation on this album, with the track ‘Manical Miscreation’ pulling back from the face crushing to slow down a little and allow the album breathing room. Many things on this album could drift easily into the generic and forgettable but is saved by clever writing and choosing their riffs and rhythms very carefully, helping this album to stand out from a crowd of faceless noise.

The flow of this album works extremely well, something that is helped by being very sharp, the right side of clean and very well executed. Cerebral Bore have all the right ingredients here to become huge.

4.5/5

Jade Hunter

Diamond Plate – Generation Why? [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 20th August 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Diamond Plate
Album: Generation Why?
Release year: 2011
Genre: Thrash Metal


Diamond Plate, hailing from the US, made their debut on the scene at in ‘04 with perfect timing as thrash metal was once again becoming popular. They established themselves as a top band in the newly emerging American Thrash Metal scene despite being a young band. Their first EP [Mountains Of Madness] was released when they were only 15 and now Diamond Plate are making a bigger name for themselves with the release of their debut album “Generation Why”.

The album begins with a mixture of radio skits and various other sound effects and voiceovers in the form of “Entertainment Today”. The radio skits and voiceovers are replaced towards the end by a face melting guitar riff mixed with powerful drums. The riff and drums carry on into the title track “Generation Why”. The vocals are somewhere between death metal sounding and metalcore sounding, to as whether this is a good or bad thing remains to be seen for the time being. The riffs and drum are passionately played with that good ol’ fashioned thrash-styled angst. “Pull The Trigger” brings about more thrash oriented aggression. The vocals are raw and the guitars are violent sounding, working well with the precise-to-beat drums. The guitar solo is very melodic with some brilliant composition whilst the drums in parts don’t seem to work with the solo.

“Tomb With A View” blasts next with more emphasis on a brutal, chugging riff mixed with the strong and rough vocals. There is some use of slightly melodic riffs as well adding a bit of flavour to the song as it seems to de dominated by the chugging riffs and death metal & metalcore sounding vocals. The drums would have to be the most impressive thing about this song though. “Fool’s Paradise” pulls no punches with thrash-orientated violent riffs though does to seem to lack a certain level of aggression and passion compared to the previous songs. The vocals are okay but don’t really mix well with the semi-heaviness of the song. The guitar solo seems half-composed and choppy in sections. The drum-dominated introduction of “Relativity” comes next. The riffs come crashing down on the listener’s ears like a tidal wave, full of passion and hostility. The foray of drums add emphasis to the driving force of the song as well. The guitars play some partially melodic sections, though most of the riffs are very thrash metal sounding.

”Waste Of Life” is a very brutalising track. The riffs are well composed, oozing with passion, energy and violence whilst have some melodic points to them as well. The vocals are sounding stronger, a great rebound from one of the previously mentioned tracks. The drums are precise and the riffs are mind blowing, just like the solo. “Causality Of War” begins with a heavy version of an old-skool sounding into which leads into a face-melting guitars-and-drums section. The vocals sound very primal that just adds extra bite to the both the song and the album. The drums are savage, barbaric and intelligently played. “More Than Words” takes a more chilled approach to the music, which in all honesty, was bound to happen somewhere on the album. The track does go partially heavy with what sounds to be some effects on the guitars every now and then. There are no vocals as the track is more like one long guitar solo – One amazing solo to be exact.

“At The Mountains Of Madness” brings the barrage of thrash back onto the album. The vocals are bloodthirsty and savage, blending well with the hurricane-like riffs and pounding drums. The use of gang vocals are great, adding a new sound to the song. The bass-only section about halfway through  is genius but very surprising though the guitar solo that shortly follows is the track’s highlight. The album finishes with the lengthy song “Empire Tomorrow” which begins in typical thrash metal style. The vocals are beastly and rage-fuelled, much like the guitar riffs. The music changes several times though still keeping the thrash elements assaulting the listeners’ ears. One thing that really does stand out about this song is some of the fancy bass work in sections. “Empire Tomorrow” is best song on the album, hands down.

”Generation Why?” is a clear sign of things to come from the American Metal Scene for a while and by the sounds of it… It’s going to be some majorly great stuff. Diamond Plate really do raise the bar for other bands to try reach and no doubt Diamond Plate will carry on raising that bar in years to come. If anything, “Generation Why?” is the first step in a long and successful run for this young band, who have the potential to become the Iron Maiden of thrash metal.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

White Wizzard – Flying Tigers [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 19th August 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: White Wizzard
Album: Flying Tigers
Release year: 2011
Genre: Classic Heavy metal


Though being a long time listener to Heavy Metal the album „Flying Tigers“ (released via Earache) is my first contact to White Wizzard which was founded in 2007 in Los Angeles. Before listening to the music I’ve tried to get some information about the band it’s history and it´s current members. My first attempt led me to the band’s homepage (http://whitewizzard.net/) and (surprise) there is almost not a single information to be found. So I followed the MySpace link that is placed on the homepage and (surprise again) the last update of the band’s MySpace-Site was made in October 2010. No further information wherever you look. Next I checked out Google and (why am I not surprised anymore?): no relevant hints.

Only Wikipedia knows little about the band, but I don’t want to bore you with it because it is hardly worth mentioning.
So finally I came to the conclusion, that White Wizzard is not the most lively band in the world.

But now let us take a closer look at the music now. After first listening to the album I thought it was a little boring. But being a great fan of fair play I decided, to give White Wizzard a few more listening sessions. And after one day of heavy rotation I knew it´s a little boring. White Wizzard play classic Heavy Metal. The songs are always melodic, some are faster, some are not. Thirty years ago they would have been exciting but nowadays they are only one among millions. Please do not misunderstand: The music is not bad, the songs contain a lot of sing-along tunes, the arrangements sound professional, the production is powerful (yet a little too polished), the musicians know how to play their instruments and the singer is really good. They play their music in the tradition of early Iron Maiden, Tygers of Pan Tang, etc., unfortunately without the rough and aggressive attitude that characterized those pioneer bands. And even the classic Heavy Metal has undergone some changes and developments (see Hammerfall, Edguy or Sabaton) and these influences seem not to have touched White Wizzard. If you asked me about any outstanding song on this album you could see me shrug. Sure, “Starchild”, “Demons and diamonds” (more than 9 minutes long), “Dark alien overture” (jazzy influences and great guitar works) and “War of the worlds” with a slightly oriental touch (by the way: the second half of the album is definitely the better one) are remarkable pieces of hard rock music but all songs lack the special something that makes them being a classic song.

So who should buy this album? I think it´s an album for all those who liked the early metal albums, especially those that were released during NWOBHM. If you don’t expect to discover a new “Frost and fire”, a yet unknown “Melissa” or another “Angel witch” you’ll probably be satisfied.

All other friends or pure Heavy Metal: At first try the originals.

3/5

Thorsten