Archive for the Live Category

Laurus Nobilis Music Famalicão 2017 – metal day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 5th August 2017 by Pieni

Holocausto Canibal, Amorphis, Heavenwood, Urban War, Final Mercy, In.Verno, Skinning, Stucker
Louro, Famalicão (PT)
28th July 2017

amorphislaurus

stuckerlaurusThe 3rd edition of Laurus Nobilis Music Famalicão experienced a few changes but having its metal day on Friday wasn’t one of them. And with the addition of a second stage, the number of heavy acts doubled. First one on the “breakthrough stage” was Stucker. It was around 5 p.m., the crowd wasn’t exactly massive, but when you’re in a thrash metal band playing in a metal fest, chances are that you’ll get a good feedback, no matter how scarce the number of people giving it. And Stucker have improved their posture quite a lot since I’ve last seen them, more committed. Musically they sound stronger too. They’re currently in studio, recording an EP which I was told it’s a “back to the thrash roots” ride; promising.

https://www.facebook.com/StuckerPT/

SKINNINGLAURUS

After two albums, Skinning’s death metal is quite praised among the national underground – therefore the feedback was more intense, even if the crowd was just a little larger than before. But a seven, maybe eight-year-old kid was eagerly headbanging, and for what I could gather, he was no relative of any member of the band – that alone was worth as much as a vicious mosh pit.

https://www.facebook.com/SkinningMetal/

invernolaurus

Then from Spain came the “dark metal” of In.Verno – meaning heavy melodies spiked with synths, with a beautiful female voice mingled with male growls. This was still part of the band’s Insanity Tour, promoting their second album “The Reasonable Choice Of Insanity”, and it was a pleasant and refreshing way of closing down the so-called first part of the day.

https://www.facebook.com/invernospain/

FINALMERCYLAURUSThe action moved to the bigger stage, with Final Mercy literally storming it. It had been about seven years since I’d last seen them and probably as many line-up changes since the first, a decade ago; and while some bands may look unstable after so many adjustments, this was probably the best that could have happened to Final Mercy. Guitarist Ricardo Ribeiro and bassist Arcélio’s technical skills made the music more mature, and singer Dan’s posture filled their live performance with much more vitality. A couple of days before the fest they released a video for the title-track of their latest album, “Revival” (June 2017), which I strongly recommend.

https://www.facebook.com/FinalMercy/

URBANWARLAURUS

Despite being announced on the fest website that Urban War would close the bill of the smaller stage, it seems the plan was for them to play on the prime one all along. Well, the energy of singer Márcio Pinto needed indeed a bigger space to be fully discharged and so there he was, jumping all over amidst smoke and strobe lights, promoting “Flesh Upon The Feelings”. Pretty vibrant groove metal, well-deserved of the main stage

https://www.facebook.com/urbanwar/

HEAVENWOODLAURUSI dare saying that Heavenwood were awaited just as eagerly as the headliners – and that eagerness was rewarded. In the 25 years they’ve been around, there’s close to nothing in their songwriting that one can finger-point; their live performances, however, have always been their weakness… until a couple of years ago. Don’t know if it was something about the conceptual latest album “The Tarot Of The Bohemians”, if it was the new line-up or simply the natural process of growing up… but who cares? They now kick ass on stage and that’s all that matters. I was just a bit disappointed that Equaleft-Miguel didn’t join them on stage. Due to his day job, there were a few shows that singer Ernesto was forced to miss and it was Miguel who replaced him. Given the difference in styles, I was really curious to see how that worked out. My curiosity wasn’t fulfilled, but still my satisfaction reached the top.

https://www.facebook.com/HeavenwoodOfficial/

AMORPHISLAURUSIIWhen Amorphis last played in Portugal, it had been in celebration of “Tales From A Thousand Lakes” 20th anniversary and about a month before “Under The Red Cloud” was out, so despite such release has occurred two years ago, the title-track, “Sacrifice” and “Death Of A King” were performed live for the first time in our country – and they were welcomed accordingly. But then again, all songs caused similar thrill. Always addressing us as “my friends”, Tomi Joutsen asked for our help in “House Of Sleep” and our opinion about playing “Into Hiding”, now that original bass player Olli-Pekka Laine was back. Without surprise – but obviously with loads of emotional feedback – the gig ended with “Black Winter Day”.

https://www.facebook.com/amorphis/

HOLOCAUSTOLAURUSDeath-grind isn’t for everybody’s ears, so having Holocausto Canibal closing the bill was the right decision – the ones who couldn’t endure such extreme sound could leave (and a lot did…) and those who enjoyed it had the chance of seeing a great band of the genre on a big stage. As singer Ricardo said himself, it doesn’t look like but they’ve been around for 20 years. They’ve released a vinyl re-recording of both their debut demo and album under the inkling title “Catalépsia Necrótica: Gonorreia Visceral Reanimada”, which is Portuguese for something like “necrotic catalepsy: reanimated visceral gonorrhea”. Musically and lyrically, the brutality prevails, but they’ve toned down the theatrics a bit – less blood and entrails, that is – focusing more on sound than image. Whether you like it or not, one must acknowledge the big act they are.

https://www.facebook.com/hcgore/

And so the metal day of Laurus 2017 came to an end. I tip my hat to everyone involved in this venture, not just from an event-promotion point of view but also for the support given to national metal, still so underestimated by many.

Text & photos by:

PRESS

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Blaze Bayley Interview

Posted in Festival, Interview with tags , , , on 4th August 2017 by mickbirchy

Mick had a little chat with Blaze Bayley (ex-Iron Maiden, Wolfsbane) before his show at SOS Festival. Here’s the interview:

Mick: The new album Endure and Survive – Infinite Entanglement Part II has dropped this year. How has it been releasing the second part to this massive concept?

 

Blaze: Oh it’s been fantastic. The whole tour of Endure and Survive has gone so much better than we could have hoped for really. All of the new songs [from the new Endure and Survive album] that we have put into the set have gone down really well and people have said this album is the best album I have ever done, in my entire career. So, it’s gone really well and as for something that is such a big concept, I think people are just ready for these kind of albums. It’s a narrative that carries over three albums, the “Infinite Entanglement” trilogy. The first part being Infinite Entanglement, the second being this new album and we’re currently working on the songs for the third album right now.  Those songs will be recorded in October/November time. It’s going really well.

 

Mick: I’ve been listening to the new album and I have been enjoying it. The one song that stood out to me was “Remember”. I think it stood out because it a bit more slowed down and had a lot of folk-y instrumentation. Could you tell a bit more about that song and what it means in context? As I have developed my own meaning and I wanted your thoughts on it.

 

Blaze: Well, in the scheme of the album, the whole theme is of a man has to decide whether he is human or not as his consciousness has been loaded into a machine body. So what he has left is the memory of being human. He has the consciousness, he thinks of himself as human but in fact he has a machine body. This song “Remember”, goes back to a time where there was happiness, a rare thing in the life of this central character, and that’s what they are remembering when someone says ‘You have to let go and sometimes you have to just live in the moment, you have to remember that this life is just a series of moments’. That’s why it’s called “Remember”, the character has had some great moments you had these things happen to them. They have to remember how it felt in that moment and then perhaps they can get that feeling back of being in this moment.

 

Mick: I think that’s why it stuck out to me. I took it out of context of the album and applied it to myself. I have been through some hard times in my life and I just remember being happy in myself. I just like how you can take a part of a grander story, such as a concept album, and it makes sense on it’s own. When it comes to songwriting is that something you have to take into account. Not just the album will work as a concept, but making every song make sense in themselves?

 

Blaze: I realise it’s quite a big thing that we set ourselves and it’s always a challenge. What we said was, if you know nothing about the story and don’t know it’s part of a trilogy of albums, you still have to listen to every song on their own. Without knowing the story and what should happen, is a similar thing that happened to you. A song will catch you and you’ll want to figure out what that song means in relation to the other songs of the story. I had to be a good album that you could listen to on it’s own and didn’t know it was connected to the others, but if you became more into it and got more interested in the lyrics then perhaps you would start to find the rest of the story. This journey that this person goes on.

 

Mick: So, in saying that are there any tips you could give a band or artist who maybe wants to make an album(s) like this one?

 

Blaze: I think in recent times, what I would say to any bands starting off or before making their first big records, is that the world has changed so much since I started. You can’t be in the mindset of, I play my guitar really well, that’s enough, it’s not. What you’ve got to do is get confident with recording yourself well. Get used to doing it yourself, the technology exists now where you can make your own album quality demos. So you have to do that. It’s your duty now. If you want freedom, true freedom as an artist, it can’t be just singing and playing well. You have to master recording that instrument, no matter what it is. The technology exists and it’s nowhere near as expensive as it was a few years ago. I didn’t exist when I started, we used cassette tapes but even so we tried to get good demos together. You can’t get bound up in the demo, I think what you have to is jam through the idea and live with that idea. Then put it away, walk away from it and come back to it. Everybody I’ve met who’s learnt to record themselves did so because they were pissed off by an engineer who didn’t have a clue how to make an electric guitar sound like an electric guitar. They’ve said how come I, with one guitar, and one microphone can make it sound right. But the guy in the £25 an hour studio makes it sound like it’s in a colander in a shed. It doesn’t make sense. Everyone I’ve met who’s now in production, did so because they had to because no one could make their instruments sound right.

 

Mick: Do you see an advantage of being independent rather than being on a big record label?

 

Blaze: As an artist I’m completely independent, I don’t have a big label, I am the label. The reason I can do what I do is because people pre-order my albums without knowing what it’s going to be like. They send the money for it, I’m then able to make the album and then send it to them. So far that’s worked. I have this incredible support from hugely loyal fans that enables me to make the music that I want to make and tour in the place I want to tour. So I can come here and play this great festival, SOS, where it’s all independent and original bands. Then I can play smaller venues across Europe, I can do bigger festivals. The luxury of it is that I don’t go back to anywhere I don’t like. So anywhere they don’t care about the sound, anywhere that doesn’t treat fans with respect, I don’t go back.

 

Mick: You’ve have a career that has spanned a long, long time now. What is the one piece of work that you are particularly proud of. Be it a gig or a song or an album. What sticks in your head about your career?

 

Blaze: Well, I think having a song that went into the top 10, around the world. When I was in Iron Maiden, Madonna was at the top of the charts. The X Factor, knocked Madonna off the top of the charts in some countries. “Man on the Edge” was a song I wrote with Janick Gears in Iron Maiden. That song went to the top 10 in many countries around the world and actually hit number 1 in some countries as well. That was such a huge achievement for someone who comes from a working class family and had a dream. I used to work in a hotel, working nights, cleaning the hotel, cleaning the toilets such and such. I’ve had all manner of jobs and the reason I do what I do is because I love to sing and now 30 odd years after I started, I’m independent doing my own thing.

 

Mick: How do you feel like you’ve evolved as an artist over the years, if at all?

Blaze: I think I really found my voice in Iron Maiden. You know, in Wolfsbane, I loved doing that and we’re still together and we have a reunion coming up in December. But my voice back then didn’t really have the range that I would later develop. I had the enthusiasm and the emotion but I didn’t have the range nor the soul. In Iron Maiden, when recorded the  The X Factor and Virtual XI being in that studio I really found that other part of my voice. After Maiden that’s when I started using my voice in a new way so I think as I got to my acoustic album Russian Holiday that’s when I really felt like I had a really good control of my voice. As I came to these most recent album I felt like now I have the tools, now I can have a lyric and I can say what tone, what breadth, what texture do I need to create so that the emotion shines through to the listener. My ultimate goal is, if English is not your first language you still know what the song is about.

 

Mick: My final question is one I always love ending on. What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

 

Blaze: That’s a really good question and I don’t know what the answer is really. However, I suffer with nerves and people are very disappointed when they ask, ‘What kind of rituals do you have backstage’ and I know they’re expecting me to be jumping and getting hyped. You know swigging Jack Daniels and doing lines of coke. It’s the complete opposite for me, I get nervous about going out on stage and I have to put myself into a place of complete calm. When you come into the Blaze Bayley dressing room, it’s most boring place you have ever seen at any gig. You’d probably think to yourself ‘How are they going to bring the roof down, when they’re this boring’. Just no excitement in the dressing, because all of that get’s in the way of the thought process that brings lyric to the place where my voice will connect with it. To bring this fresh feeling and emotion to the lyric.

It’s a thing that I’ve learned over the years. There have been times where I got over excited. Then I’ve forgotten the word to the song. The worst thing that ever happened was when we supported Helloween, and I went on and thought ‘god the band sounds shit’, then I realised that I was singing the words and melody to a totally different song. That’s what happens when I get over excited. So the biggest thing I’ve had to overcome is nerves really and the way I cope with it is to remain calm and keep focused on those first few songs.

 

Mick: Fantastic, thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

http://www.blazebayley.net/

https://www.facebook.com/officialblazebayley

SOS Festival, Day 3 Review

Posted in Festival, Live, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 30th July 2017 by mickbirchy

SOS Festival, Longfield Suite, Prestwich, UK

16th July 2017

Resin, Faith In Glory, Eternal Breath, The Deep, Harriet!, Dorja, Chris Appleton, Fire Red Empress, Fahran, Triaxis & Power Quest.

Day three of a festival is always going to be a slower one. Everyone is worn out and it’s usually the day where the crowd winds down a little. Yeah, the same is true here. Even I was trying to take it a little easier. What wasn’t going easier, was the bands. Once again every band really brought it to the stage. Even if I might not have enjoyed every moment, I can still respect the effort that they put into it. I was once again in and out of the press room so I may miss some bands here and there. Yet, I think the Sunday was still a pretty strong day.

The day kicked off with a hard rock band, Resin. Wow, the feedback. From the get go the set was bogged down with technical issues. The sound was muddy and there was feedback so piercing I think everyone was feeling it. The production was muddy and I felt like the sound was really over cluttered. Even as the production issues were resolved, I just couldn’t get over the songs. It was just bland tunes and over kill on the instrumentation. There was just too much going on in the songs. So nothing felt right. There are too many string instruments into the band and it felt like a calamity. It certainly wasn’t best way to start the day. There maybe a fan-base for this but I’m not in it.

After that disheartening start of the day, salvation came in the form of Faith In Glory. I really loved this set. Their presentation was excellent. Big riffs and a big booming vocal performance from lead vocalist, Jack Collins. It was really impressive. They were a very dynamic band with lots of grooves and lots of tones to keep the audience captivated. All of them were very energetic in their delivery, they looked so enthusiastic when up on the stage. Big smiles on their faces throughout the whole set. They were clearly enjoying themselves and the audience was right their with them. Adding in a cover of Black Stone Cherry’s “Blame It On The Boom Boom” was enough to sell me on them. Let me tell you, anyone that can convincingly cover Black Stone Cherry (one of my favourite bands) then I know they’re doing something right. Keep on rocking lads, that was awesome.

The next act I managed to catch only a little bit of were, Belgium power metal band, Eternal Breath. Like I said I only caught a bit of them but they was spectacular. There was just a great sense of command and power to them. The guitars chugged away and the vocal performance soared over the production. The whole thing reminded me of the real old school metal acts of yesteryear. They paid their respects to the late Philippe Beauprez, from Wizz Wizzard, which got a big ovation from the crowd. Everything about their set was technically perfect. The band was tight, the music was cranked up loud and there was a lot of enthusiasm to go around in the venue. I really liked them. The same can be said for the next band The Deep. It was, once again, a classic type of sound. This was one really fun set. I was standing there with them and  I enjoyed every moment .They brought awesome old style grooves to the table. It was sharp and crisp and the solos blew me away. It was just that real pumping classic rock sound that I grew up with. It got me up and moving. It was loose and fun and and they didn’t look like they taking themselves too seriously. They just worked well. Again not too much to say about them, I just had a really good time.

I think I’ll cover the acoustic stage now as I didn’t really get around to watching much of it. First of all acoustic artist, Harriet!. She was absolutely fabulous. Almost a country style of music, she had a beautiful and soulful voice that was excellent to listen. It was simple and elegant. She threw in a cover of Evanescence’s “Bring Me To Life” which actually sounds great acoustic. She had this incredible sound that was so pure and emotional to listen to. This is someone you should check out immediately. The talent parade continued with, Dorja. These girls can really play. I mean really play. The technique on display was impressive. The stripped back set sounded really nice and I would be really interested in hearing them in a cranked up set. The vocal harmonies were absolutely beautiful and the instrumentation was superb. The guitar solos were really nice to listen to and in this more relaxed set the girls just really put on a spectacular show. This was a really nice discovery for me, five really talented musicians playing some really great music.

The last band I want to talk about from the acoustic stage is Chris Appleton. A day removed from playing the headline set with Blaze Bayley, Chris was back at SOS Festival bringing his songs to the acoustic stage with his brother Luke Appleton. The chemistry was excellent and the songs flowed from the stage. Being the final act on this stage for the weekend they really brought it and showed off exactly what they were all about. They had a great chemistry with the audience that made their set feel electric. It was a superb way to end the day, and the weekend on this stage.

Next on the main stage was my MVP’s of the whole weekend, Fire Red Empress. All I can Say is freaking WOW. They just blew me away. I’ve not seen these guys in a while so getting the chance to hear them live again was freaking excellent. Armed with new lead vocalist, Jennifer Diehl they’re a totally different beast now. The bass boom, the guitars roared and the vocal performance was simply incredible! The new songs sounded wonderful and it has just made me really hyped for a new album from them. The band had this vibrant energy to them that looked great and the room filled with enthusiasm for them. The sound was big and impressive and I’m just stoked to hear and see more from them.

The fun didn’t stop because after that we had Nottingham rockers, Fahran. A few years ago I discovered these guys in a small bar in Manchester and every time I see them or hear anything from them they just get better with time. They were full of life and really brought a great show to SOS Festival. Their song have these huge choruses and these really hard hitting riffs. They used this show to debut some new material. The new songs were “Pyre” and “Some Kind of Family”. Which were bursting with riffs and melodies that sound great. I am really excited for new music from them.  They had an instant connection to the crowd. Their classic sound is instantly recognisable and likeable which I think is the secret to their success as a band. They’re just a younger version of the classic rock band we all grew up with. They play with passion and great technique. Genuinely an awesome band.

Unfortunately I missed a lot of Triaxis’s set. It’s a shame too, as Triaxis are on their way out and this maybe the last time I get to see them live. From what I saw they were really good. Like I said I can’t comment on much but I did see that the crowd was really into it.  A well put together band with a really tight sound. Just really nice metal music. The vocal performance was really good and the vocals just floated on top of the production. The metal was fast pace and had a lot of energy to it. Just absolutely intoxicating. As I said I didn’t catch much of the set but I enjoyed what I saw. 

Finishing off the weekend where power metal champions, Power Quest. Everything just sounded so glorious. Every element of the band worked really well and the production came through loud and clear. From the synth and keys to the powerful guitars the booming rhythm it all just hit home. Songs that lept out for me were songs like “For Evermore”, “Better Days” and of course the self-titled songs “Power Quest”. They beamed with confidence and you can tell that the crowd were really into the performance. Vocalist, Ashley Edison really showed off some amazing ability that completely blew me out of my socks. They were a really enjoyable end to an incredible weekend.

Words: Mick Birchall

Photos: Rich Price and Holly Price (Rich Price – Photographer & Music Journalist)

 

SOS Festival, Day 2 Review

Posted in Festival, Live, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 29th July 2017 by mickbirchy

SOS Festival, Longfield Suite, Prestwich, UK

15th July 2017

Crowsaw, Core of Nation, Vice, Damaj, Sister Rose, Luke Appleton, Primitai, Die No More, Gemma Fox, Pythia, Bad Pollyanna & Blaze Bayley

Day two kicked off a little earlier and a killer line up lay ahead. I was excited for a few of the names and in terms of quality this had to be the strongest day. Saturday was a really busy day because I was in and out of the press room, doing interviews and getting into the main hall for the bands. There were too many highlights to count  for me and I discovered some great bands that I took home some of their music. There’s plenty to talk about so let’s get on with the day two review.

First things first on main stage was, Crowsaw. They were pretty decent three piece heavy metal act and played an all around entertaining set. The music had some excellent blues riffs that carried the set beautifully. The impressive part for me were the three part harmonies. All three members sung together so well and it fitted into the music so nicely. It just added something to their set. The riffs were good and meaty, they had a real groove to them and the bass locked in the drums to create a nice rhythm. I did like them but I don’t really have a lot to say they were a good band with some solid tunes. For me, Core of Nation were one of the biggest surprises of the weekend for me. They were simply stunning. Their sound was bold and atmospheric. Their songs were a doom style sound with thick riffs and a well produced tone. Every moment was packed with great songs and the outstanding musicianship. Core of Nation sparked with precision music, great riffs, well done solos and frontman, Rolf Berg’s vocals were simply breathtaking. Everything was nicely mixed and sounded great. I definitely came away from this set completely in love with their sound.

Local lads, Vice were up next on the stage. Their set was pure fire with lots of energy and tonnes of passion thrown into it. The guitar tone was crisp and the solos were coming through fast and thick. The production was clear cut and it really hit hard. Every member really brought the passion to the stage with them and the band making for a fun set that everyone was getting into. Being the hometown lads they certainly got the punters in the door and the room felt like it had that vibrant energy to it. The new album tracks went down a storm. They filled the stage and boasted an impressive stage presence. They felt so impressive and I hope they have a good future ahead. They are an excellent live and with the tunes to back it up. After a short break and turn around, we had Damaj take the stage and for the first time this weekend I was a little disappointed. OK, they’re not bad per say, but it was a little bland. The music was simply ok. From a technical standpoint they were really good. Great guitars, great flow, amazing vocals. However talent is not the same thing as quality and I just don’t think the songs were there. I’ll say this for them they had passion and were really into their songs. Yet, I just could not get into them. It all felt very generic. There wasn’t much of a bite to their sound and it left me a little cold. I’m sure there is a market for them, however, I could not get into this.

Meanwhile, on the acoustic stage. Instead of Regulus, who were unable to make it. We had Iced Earth’s, Luke Appleton performing an acoustic set. His set was beautifully put together. Luke’s vocals were really nice and he sounded great. He was very humble and his personality shone through. It made me enjoy his music even more. The sound was almost country with all the emotion in his vocals. His vocals are amazing and has a lot of power to his voice. The guitar was very simplistic but effective all of the same. A powerful set for something that was put on in such short notice. After that we were treated to the glam rock stylings of Sister Rose. I have to say the thing that caught my eye straight away was their merchandise. Bright and colourful and I think they were the only band of the weekend with something other than just t-shirts and CD’s. How was their set though? In a word… Solid. They had this fantastic glam rock sound that filled the room. The songs flowed really nicely into each other with that sleaze rock style that they make. Every tunes had this real grittiness to it, every twang of the guitar and every pulsating beat of the bass had a lot of drama in there. They definitely had a classic rock meets sleazy punk thing going on. Every second they were on stage the they just sold themselves. Somehow though, it just didn’t work for me. I don’t know, maybe because the market for this type of music has been completely oversaturated over the years and if you’re going to make this style of music you have to do something to really stand out. Unfortunately, nothing did. They were just another band. They were kind of unique for this weekend, but as for the genre in general, they’re not exactly pushing boundaries. Like I said, really good set and strong performance but I’ve just heard this type of music way too much.

 

I was slightly blown away by the technical stylings of Primitai. Every moment of their set was filled with impressive, riffs, licks, solos and powerhouse choruses. The sheer energy and intensity from them was simply brilliant. Primitai weave in and out of metal stylings like it was nothing. It was really impressive how they went from style to style like it was nothing. Every part of this performance was excellent. From the technical ability on display to their enjoyment that was blatantly apparent through their set. Again they were another one of these bands were I didn’t take notes and enjoyed the music and yeah this is great. It was amazing to watch these just show off what they can do. Songs like “Black Rider” and “Power Surge” just flowed so well out of the speakers and I loved it. Primitai were really enjoyable, just a brilliant band that have really great on stage chemistry and presence. One to check out for sure. Nothing got my blood pumping more than the heavy metal stylings of Die No More. There was so much to the set and the sound. Every song just crackled and popped with excitement and had a real power to it. They had a command of the stage and the music was tight with sharp guitar tones and a crashing beat. It was aggressive yet clean. It’s really sad that is the last show from them as I would be interested to see them again and I would recommended them. If you can, definitely check them out. They were very different from what expected and I don’t think they were explained to me quite right. They were far more heavy than I expected, which was a good thing. With a booming set of drums and well executed guitars. I really did enjoy this one. Not much to say here. Just a really fun band.

 

Over on the acoustic stage Collibus frontwoman, Gemma Fox. She played a bunch of covers from “Feels Like Making Love” by Bad Company to “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus. As you can tell there quite the range of songs in the set. Gemma is known for having an amazing voice. I have heard her before with her band and I have always been blown away by her voice. Once again there was no difference here. She is absolutely stunning. Also a stripped back performance was really nice. Just and acoustic guitar and her voice and it sounded beautiful. It was simple yet effective. It was such a passionate and pure set set from Gemma. Just a nice small set from her and that was all that was needed. Up next, was a superb treat. Pythia, was incredibly impressive. It was something a little different. Having a symphonic metal band in the middle of all of the thrash, glam and NWOBHM was so refreshing for my ears. The sound was big and bold, and frontwoman, Sophie Dorman’s voice was absolutely pitch perfect. The crowd was 100% behind them and they belted out tune after tune. Songs like “Betray My Heart” were real crowd pleasers. Every element of the band just clicked and the synth and keys created this atmosphere that the metal was overlaid onto. They are a very technically gifted band and they had bundles of chemistry that you could just see click on stage. They also debuted a new song “Ancient Soul” which sounded really nice and made me excited for a new album. Pythia worked so well on this stage a I really want to see them again.


Finally on the acoustic stage today was one of my absolute favourite bands, Bad Pollyanna. I’ve heard them a few time but always in a full band. In this more stripped down acoustic performance they really stepped up to the plate. I am very familiar with there songs but usually in this loud confident style. Here these songs almost took on new meanings. This more exposed subtle sound really fitted them. Vocalist, Olivia Hyde’s voice was incredible. Such power and emotion behind her voice. The sheer passion was clear and it was matched by the harmonising vocals of Nikki Kontinen. The acoustic guitar sounded really nice and it all came together so beautifully. I loved the way they transformed their songs like “Awake Now” and “Define Me” into these deep and powerful ballads by stripping the production back. It really worked and it just made think, damn I want more Bad Pollyanna music.

 

Finishing off the day was a legend of the industry. Blaze Bayley, was so captivating. It’s clear that he’s been doing this for so long. The calm control he had on the crowd was amazing. Just the way he held himself on that stage was awesome. His voice was excellent. His band played a blinder too with Chris Appleton manning the guitar duty. He belted out riffs and solos like it was nothing. The thick tones and imposing presence,  it all felt so huge. Then you have Karl Schramm on bass and Martin McNee on drums. The two locked in together and created some amazing grooves and rhythms that got the place jamming and moving along. It was so awesome to see the connection that Blaze has to his fans and he was clearly enjoying himself as he did what he does best.

Overall it was an incredible set that blew me away. The music was great, the atmosphere was awesome and the band were relaxed and looked like they were enjoying themselves. It was a great way to end a Saturday at a festival. Bravo.

Words: Mick Birchall

Photos: Laura Piggford (LorathNahhr Photography)

SOS Festival, Day 1 Review

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , on 28th July 2017 by mickbirchy

SOS Festival, Longfield Suite, Prestwich, UK

14th July 2017

I Saw The World Burn, Amethyst, Prognosis, Prometheum, Go Primitive, A Jokers Rage & Kill II This

 

SOS Festival celebrated 10 years this year and did so in style. The line up was killer and I was immediately interested in coming. The headliners looked great, and the under-card was immaculate. This was my first year attending this festival but I have always heard good things about it. I was definitely excited to check things out. The weekend was broken down between two stages: the main stage, where all the bands played at full blast and the acoustic stage, where things went slower. So there was a nice mix over the weekend. Not just in style but also in genre, with a wide range of rock and metal to please any fan. I had a busy weekend, running around between the two stages and also conducting interviews on top of that. I will say that I had a lot of fun. I mean, I’m completely knackered, but I loved every moment.

Friday night, was a pretty damn heavy one. With all the bands meeting the intensity and power of headliners, Kill II This. I didn’t know what to expect from any of the bands playing on the day. Yet, I remained optimistic for what was to come. Opening it up proceedings was UK metallers I Saw The World Burn. Wow, I was completely blown away! They were loud and impressive. They had complete control of the stage. In particularly the front-woman, Katie Cairns who had a real stage presence. Her voice was really powerful and roared above the music. The riffs were large and the early crowd of SOS Festival were really into it. The music was quite consistent. With the vocals being even more impressive with every song. They weren’t the most dynamic of band with every song hitting the same notes all of the time. Yet, it worked somehow. Like Hatebreed or Darkest Hour they had the intensity and energy to make this kind of set work.

Following that performance was the always enjoyable Amethyst. The thrash metal band exploded with big riffs and big solos resulting in big ass tunes. Their sound is classic thrash with sharp tones and a tight production. They brought the fire with this set. They had an almost instant connection with the crowd. As they played, the people kept funnelling in and the atmosphere just got better from there. The guitars screeched and the bass was thundering down on the Manchester crowd. Everything just felt massive. The songs were really well written and I think that really came across to the audience. Although thrash metal isn’t 100% my thing, they definitely impressed and they worked well for a Friday evening.

In quick succession, we had Manchester based progressive metal band, Prognosis. They were as interesting as they were talented. The technical skill was actually mesmerising. With sweeping guitar solos and complex riffs they sounded great. The songs were filled with broken riff patterns and winding melodies. It made for an interesting listening experience. They had a groove to them and the bass was laid on thick. Definitely an interesting sound. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but I got into it more and more as the set went on. There was a lot of passion to the music but their stage presence might need some work. Even though they had the tunes, they didn’t really feel like they were owning the stage. I would like to see some more energy and intensity from their sets. They need to really take command and show their personalities more. Their music is good, I recommend it, if you’re into heavy, doom style prog music.

The acoustic stage boasted some impressive acts as well. First of all we had Prometheum. They had a simply lovely sound. Simple music and beautiful vocals they were captivating in every moment with both of their 15 minute sets. I also got the opportunity to watch a bit of Go Primitive, they were fun and hit some incredible vocal harmonies. They had some real personality to them and I enjoyed their sets as well. Overall the acoustic stage was strong on the day and it was only going to get better as the weekend went on.

 

Next in store was my biggest shock of the weekend. A Joker’s Rage, won me over in a heartbeat. Their music was really enjoyable matched by the band’s personality. There was an energetic vibe throughout the venue. The production was tight and the band just completely dominated the stage. I loved songs like “Bounce” and “Temptress”, and yes I was definitely having a dance and a boogie to them. It always says something when I immediately buy a band’s music as soon as the set has finished. Yet, I enjoyed them way too much not to. The riffs were good, the solos were well executed and ending the set strong with a tribute the late Chris Cornell. They played a cover of “Cochise” by Audioslave, which got my nostalgia senses tingling. Just like me, the crowd went nuts for it. Ending the day of were headliners, Kill II This. This was my first experience of them and I have to say they were interesting. Although, I don’t feel like I could get fully into them. After the set from A Joker’s Rage this was a bit more of a tamer set.

 That’s not to say they weren’t entertaining, they really were, but it was just a totally different set. They had a very urban style production to they songs, the music was very ominous and primal with an intense groove to the bass and drums. The guitar was roaring and vocalist was belting out his words. It was a blunt and hard hitting set and a great way to cap off a brilliant first day of a festival.

 

Words: Mick Birchall

Photos: Laura Piggford (LorathNahhr Photography)

 

Hordes Of Belial – The Burning H8: Final line-up

Posted in Festival, Live, Metal, Misc., News with tags , on 18th July 2017 by Paul Macmillan

Organisers of Scottish hard rock and extreme metal showcase, Hordes Of Belial, have announced the full line-up for their 8th yearly edition of the event. Sub-titled “The Burning H8”, it again fills two stages with veterans and newcomers from across the underground spectrum. Travelling from classic thrash with Virus to brand new filthy doom with Dolour, the HOB battle train stops off at some of the best, secret beauty spots of death, trad, black, crossover, and just straight up metal along the way.

13 bands in all will take to the two stages this September 30th, two less than the 15 which have featured in recent years. The quality is convincing, though, especially when looking back at the event’s history. HOB is one of the places where Scottish bands such as Dog Tired, Ramage Inc, and Party Cannon started rubbing shoulders with bigger names, and where the likes of De Profundis and Diesel King based their first forays north of the border. There may be bigger shows, but few are as focused on diving into the depths to retrieve the treasures which grace the Hordes Of Belial stages each and every year. Even if you hadn’t heard of any of the bands, you can still be sure there are some priceless gems within.

 

Event Details:

Hordes Of Belial – The Burning H8

Beat Generator Live, 70 N. Lindsay St., Dundee

Saturday September 30th 2017

Doors: 15:25

Ages 14+

Virus, Dog Tired, Damaj, Overoth, Rabid Bitch Of The North, Drekavac, Perpetua, Catalysis, Drive By Killer, Somaesthesia, Multistorey Lover, Dolour, Volcano X

Advance tickets now £10 from www.wegottickets.com

Sepultura w/ Equaleft – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , on 8th July 2017 by Pieni

Sepultura, Equaleft
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
4th July 2017
Promoted by Prime Artists

derrick1

Drummer Marquito left Equaleft last October but when your former band is invited to open for Sepultura, you must return for (another) last gig.
Everybody came out of the shadows, apparently – media included. So we were divided in groups and each shot one of the first three songs. My only concern was regarding the exchange between songs but the situation was handled smoothly. So kudos to Prime Artists and the Hard Club staff – thanks to them, we all had a shot at covering such memorable show.

marquitoIt was the closing of a chapter in Equaleft’s book, marking the last gig promoting “Adapt & Survive”. If memory serves me well, they’d said that already a few months ago, but just like Marquito, they couldn’t say no to Sepultura. I believe this time it was really the last one, though, as I know a new record is taking a solid shape, with a new drummer who will be announced soon. But that night was still just for what are already considered classics among the national underground – the intrepid “Invigorate” (featuring the mandatory Star Wars lightsabre), the groovy “Tremble”, the eccentric “Maniac” or the classy “Uncover The Masks”. And in the end, “their trademark” box of cookies was distributed by the fans.

JEDIMIG

www.facebook.com/equaleft

derrick2There were a lot of Equaleft t-shirts in the crowd, but when Derrick Green himself goes on stage wearing one… damn, even I felt proud – hence the need of mentioning this little detail. Regarding what really matters: when you’ve been in a band for over 30 years and “big” for almost as long, one hour and half always seems awfully short, especially after the release of another album. The trick is finding the right balance between new and old and, of course, performing both like there was no tomorrow. Guess who were able to do just that? (Okay, I confess I’d rather watching them play “Troops Of Doom” than “Inner Self”, but we can’t always have our way, and the near sold-out venue went bananas screaming along “nonconformity in my inner self / only I guide my inner self”, so who am I to complain?). Also, if you’ve read my live reports before, you probably know how I disapprove of solos; Sepultura seem to share this opinion as Andreas Kisser proved his skills – as if he still needed to – by playing the instrumental “Iceberg Dances”, out of the latest “Machine Messiah” the band’s currently promoting.
JUNIOR“I Am The Enemy” kicked it off, “Roots Bloody Roots” (what else?) finished it up, in-between Derrick told us “this is your fucking territory” and that he wanted to see us all arise, and Andreas dedicated “Sepultura Under My Skin” to Moonspell and F.C.Porto – the first for being good friends and representing Portugal’s metal throughout the world, the same way Sepultura do with Brazil’s; the latter… well, we all know how football is big in Brazil.
It was such a brutal show that no one even took offense when Derrick mistook Porto for Lisboa. Of course he was booed loudly, but his apologies were so immediate and genuine – plus, he’d said Porto several times during the evening – that it turned out more of a funny moment than an actual fail. Therefore, a perfect night.

KISSER

www.facebook.com/sepultura

Gallery at our Facebook page here.

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino