Posts Tagged ‘Glasgow’

II: Birth & Slaughter cover art

I reviewed the debut tape EP from Necrocracy, cunningly titled ‘I’, recently and was so impressed I jumped straight out to get a copy of their second tape, entitled ‘II: Birth and Slaughter’. This is a band who are really growing on me as a unit, with their particular brand of savage black/death metal mixing the best parts of both genres.

Take opener ‘Ignorant’ for example. It has the propulsive low end of death metal, with a visceral black metal shriek gurgling over the top and a gloomy atmosphere that seeps into every decaying riff and icy passage. Hints of melodies peek through cracks in the murk, teasing respite from the cold, merciless assault. You’re battered relentlessly by the blackened fury of ‘The Broken Limbs of Hope’, until a righteous Bolt Thrower chug appears in the middle and crushes all in its wake.

There’s a more classic black metal influence on ‘II’ than on ‘I’, as if the guys have been spinning some Gorgoroth or Marduk while writing. This is mostly evident on ‘The Lie Within the Truth’, which has some excellent second wave riffs and a bleak, nasty atmosphere about it. The glacial thrash riffs of ‘Reject Them’ leads to the killer closer ‘The Fairground of Birth and Slaughter’, a malevolent tour de force that spins frosty riffs out into a spiralling web of raging Mayhem worship.

Necrocracy make more use of their black metal influences here, and ‘II: Birth and Slaughter’ matches their first demo for quality and surpasses it in songwriting. The last track is particularly good, and I cannot recommend getting a hold of these two releases enough. Necrocracy look to be a band that will be worth keeping a close eye on in the future, and you heard it here first!

I am one of the biggest Blind Gurdian marks EVER. I waited almost 10 years after discovering them for the first time, and travelled to Slovenia to see them live for the first time. The German legends have NEVER played in Scotland in their 30 year existence, and you’re damn straight that the frankly too small QMU was packed for this momentous event.

But first, the tongue in cheek and fist raising power of homeland heroes Gloryhammer. As gloriously OTT as you’d expect, singalong anthems about undead unicorns assaulting Dundee and the like went down a stomr with the waiting crowd. My wonderful wife-to-be was hooked as soon as she saw she could get said zombie unicorns on a t-shirt. Safe to say, the band got two new fans tonight. The songs were great, the performance was full of energy, and they were the perfect opener.

But now, for the main course. Most bands would not stride onto stage before a rapturous welcome and break straight into a nine minute epic from their new record. But Blind Guardian don’t need to give a fuck what other bands would do. ‘The Ninth Wave’ and everything that followed was received like water in the desert. For a band that have been doing this for thirty plus years, Blind Guardian show no sign of slowing down. From modern favourites like ‘Fly’ through vintage prog classics like ‘Nightfall’ and the gloriously epic ‘Imaginations from the Other Side’, the Guardians of power metal majesty have no bad songs in their set.

We got ‘Majesty’ itself, a haunting rendition of ‘Lord of the Rings’, the speedy ‘A Journey Through the Dark’ and of course the iconic ‘Bards Song’, which raised hairs on the back of the neck. The crowd demanded ‘Valhalla’ and we got it. The crowd demanded ‘Mirror Mirror’ and we got it. In fact, I think this was the first time I’ve ever seen the traditional ‘one more tune’ chant actually result in one extra song at the end, a rocking ‘Barbara Ann’ to send us all home happy.

I didn’t think it would happen, at least not for a long time, but Blind Guardian unseated last year’s Judas Priest concert as the best live show I’ve ever been too. A spell binding example of how metal can galvanise, inspire, empower and thrill to the last. You might have told us repeatedly we were amazing Hansi, but we were nothing compared with you.

Necrocracy - I

Glaswegian black/death metallers Necrocracy came to my attention through head honcho of Northern Darkness distro Luke, who told me that if I liked properly nast death metal, I needed to get a copy of these guys’ demo cassette ‘I’. So, since he had some copies, I purchased, and damn if he wasn’t right!

Opener ‘Mental Annihilation’ is a rabid assault, guitar work laced with a Swedeath buzzing and vocals that sound like gargling with acid. A rattling, primitive death metal attack with a raspy black metal coating, Necrocracy bludgeon you relentlessly while a primordial evil seeps into every fetid riff. ‘The Secret Dark’ and ‘Legacy of a Parasite’ have more overt black metal influences, where icy blasting meets guttural vocals in a perfect storm of extremity. The latter is particularly good, but it’s nudged out by the chameleonic ‘A Time to Sleep’, that mixes in dashes of gloomy doom to the cauldron.

‘I’ has been a revelation. Necrocracy are a gem of a band, and their scathing black/death metal savagery should not be missed! Ensure you seek them out, as this demo promises much in the future for this band. I’m looking forward to their next cassette dropping through my door in the next few days!

Baroness have become a band that I’ve spent a lot of time with since their bus crash in 2012. I’d never seen them live until this night, and had only really got into them in a big way on ‘Yellow and Green’. I liked ‘Red Album’ and ‘Blue Record’, but ‘Yellow and Green’ was the point where they became a band that I REALLY wanted to see. Finally my time came this year, on the back of their stunning new record, ‘Purple’.

Unlike my normal self, I was too busy catching up with old friends and missed the support band which was a bummer. However I arrived just in time to get myself a Lemmy and a good spot for the moment when John Baizley and crew strode onto stage, triumphant in return. This was a truly transcendant set, with all facets of their expansive, progressive sludge doom coming to the fore at different times. There was the gloriously singalong ‘Shock Me’, the rumbling beauty of ‘March to the Sea’ and the grinding sludge pop of ‘Board Up the House’. Sure, there wasn’t a huge amount from ‘Red’ or ‘Blue’, but with the strength of material available to them, it almost doesn’t matter what they had played.

If you’ve never seen Baroness live, then you need to take this opportunity as soon as possible. By the end of the night, the band held the Garage in the palm of their hand, and each song was rapturously received. A band whose music is so painfully honest and emotional, Baroness were spellbinding, and certainly worth the wait.

A shame upon my metal character is the fact that until Tuesday night, I’d never seen Judas Priest live. There, I said it. But FUCK did I make up for it!?

First up though was Michael Schenker and his Temple of Rock. Now, being more of an extreme music fan, I wasn’t overly familiar with a lot of his material. Until the Temple cranked out ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’ (written 8 years after Schenker left the Scorpions) and UFO classic ‘Rock Bottom’, to which I was then sold completely on the stunning fretwork the man is capable. Stalking that stage, guitar in hand and fingers moving faster than the bedsprings on a rabbit’s honeymoon, this was my first real taste of the Schenk, and it won’t be my last.

But fuck it, I was here for Priest and Priest only. Striding onto the stage, the Metal Gods were on staggering form. Metal classic after metal classic flowed from the speakers, from ‘Metal Gods’, through ‘Breaking the Law’ and lost gem ‘Desert Plains’. They played a few new ones from ‘Redeemer of Souls’, which fit in well with Priest classics. Sadly, nothing from ‘Angel of Retribution’, and they missed out ‘The Ripper’ which is my own favourite Priest song, but you can’t really argue with a setlist this strong. ‘Hellbent for Leather’, You’ve Got Another Thing Coming’, ‘Electric Eye’ ‘Screaming for Vengeance’, ‘Turbo Lover’ and even ‘The Rage’ make an appearance, and Rob Halford had a different outfit for every song. From heavy metal silver dressing gown, to classic leathers on his motorbike, we were treated to the full greatest hits performance

Closing with the devastating ‘Painkiller’ (dedicated to the late Philthy Phil Taylor) and singalong classic ‘Living After Midnight’, Judas Priest show that, even without half of the greatest guitar duo in metal, they are a stunning live prospect. Halford can still hit every high note, and his voice seems to have improved with age. If you don’t see them on this tour, you’ll be missing one of metal’s most important bands do it better than everyone else.

Originally published here:

Glaswegian doomsters Headless Kross first broke down my door with their colossal riffs on 2012’s ‘Demises’, two tracks of monolithic crush tinged with psychedelica. After a heavier than hell split with Lazarus Blackstar in 2013, their new record ‘Volumes’ is ready to steamroll anything in its path in 2015.

Split into three massive tracks, ‘Volumes’ is a statement of intent. A crushing riff cleaves the sky in the opening seconds of ‘Rural Juror’, before settling into a hypnotic, rumbling leviathan of a track. Almost like a much heavier Kyuss, ‘Rural Juror’ has the droning quality that ebbs and flows, swirling you in psychedelic haze, glimpsing vast unknown lands in front of you. It takes a full eight minutes before any vocals appear, and the echoing howl comes from deep within the temple of riff.

There is a greatness about Headless Kross that you only come to appreciate the longer this record progresses. To write a 20 plus minute opening track on a doom record is laudable, but has been done before and done well. It is a calculation, running the risk of monotony and boredom. You never feel that here. There’s a heady atmosphere, and let’s be honest, with riffs this fucking huge, how could you ever get bored? When it finally winds down to a deathly crawl, squealing feedback and all, you’ll be mentally drained, but ready for more.

‘Who Is This Who Is Coming’ has a menacing intro, a humming tone of imminent doom. As cymbals crash, the crescendo builds and the riffs emerge from smoking voids in time. Bursts of crusty freakouts merge with monolithic riffing and tribal drumming to create a disturbing sonic experience. It then matures into a rocking doom workout, complete with a soulful solo, before coming back to the crushing doom with which they began. Yet, even with all these different elements playing their roles, ‘Volumes’ is never disjointed, never jarringly out of place. Even when they up the pace, Headless Kross still pummel you into the ground with riff based destruction.

‘Even The Destroyed Things Have Been Destroyed’ ends the release on a more sombre note. There’s an infusion of melancholy in each thundering riff, and a hint of desperation in each howled scream. It’s a testament to the band that they can create something that is still based in such Cro-Magnon riffage, but give it that feeling of vulnerability. ‘Volumes’ has that all the way through, a combination of emotion evocation and crushing riff punishment. This is a doom record that is going to be essential after each listen. Buy it, buy it now!

I remember the first moment I saw this line up I thought, ‘holy shit, I HAVE to go to that.’ I’d never seen Behemoth until that night, which was an eternal stain on my credentials that I was more than happy to remove. Getting to the ABC early was an excellent call, making sure I got Winterfylleth’s set. It was short but the slowly growing crowd was receptive to their vast, windswept black metal majesty. They are the UK’s equivalent of Emperor or Drudkh, a black metal act with a great understanding of scale and atmosphere.

Grand Magus seemed like the odd ones out on this bill; their raucous heavy metal thunder is much less extreme but nonetheless welcome. With riffs hewn from granite and hooks the size of fjords, the Swedes barrel through some brilliant anthems, including the rousing ‘Triumph and Power’ and the ever singalong-able ‘As the Oar Strikes the Water’. Decapitated, on the other hand, bring all the death metal fury and tech death wizardry you could ever want. It is bludgeoning, relentless and startingly complex. A band that I saw a few years back in a tiny sweatbox venue that seemed totally at home on a bigger stage. My brain physically hurt after their set. That’s a mighty compliment.

Onto the headliners. First of all I can say, NO ONE I have ever seen live brings the feeling of ritual, of atmosphere and fury quite like Behemoth. Well, maybe Watain but it’s very close. The band were astounding live, channelling the full hurricane force of both their death and black metal incarnations, splicing classics like ‘Christians to the Lions’ and the devastating ‘Slaves Shall Serve’ with newer cuts from this year’s masterpiece ‘The Satanist’. Drummer Inferno is one of the most talented I’ve ever seen, and Nergal commands his crowd like a dark priest of Satan. When the gig ends with the band dressed in hoods with horns protruding, the feeling of the blasphemous is complete. Only a slight technical problem with the drums at one point slowed the assault, and this was probably one of the best live performances I’ve borne witness to. Behemoth are true giants of extremity, sacrificing none of their ethos while still putting on a hell of a show.