Posts Tagged ‘Glasgow’

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.

Seeing Sabaton live reaffirms my love of good old fashioned heavy metal shows. I mean, I love a live ritual, a show that is more intense or savage, but there’s something incredibly life affirming about Sabaton in the live arean. The QMU in Glasgow was packed by the time we got there, and the queue outside led to me almost missing all of Tyr. Thankfully I caught the last two tracks which were well received by the crowd, particularly the horns in the air charm of ‘By the Sword in My Hand’.

Korpiklaani are normally somewhat of a party band. Invariably totally pished when playing, tonight they appeared to be relatively sober and thus somewhat disappointing. That’s not to say they weren’t good; leading the crowd in a rousing version of ‘Vodka’ and the always popular ‘Juden Vidaa’ the band were tight and entertaining. I just felt they missed some part of the spectacle (last time we saw them, the vocalist was so hammered he walked along the bar top while singing and promptly fell off!).

Sabaton however were better than off the scale. Racing on the stage with ‘Ghost Division’, the band are a whirlwind of anthemic power metal thunder. Led by the charismatic and banterful Joachim Broden, they play hit after hit, new songs like ‘Night Witches’ and ‘To Hell and Back’ fitting in perfectly with classic cuts like ‘The Art of War’ and ’40-1′. Offering to sing in Swedish rather than English for a rousing rendition of ‘Gott Mit Uns’ goes down well with a Scottish crowd, and between every song there are massive ‘SA-BA-TON’ chants. The band look genuinely taken aback by the reception, and we lap up every fist pumping chorus. Sabaton are energising, life affirming, brilliance. Pure heavy metal at its most electrifying.

Another day, another session of finding top quality underground bands for me to enjoy, and for me to promote. Yet another collection from the UK, which astounds me every time. Britain is the home of metal, and it is the home of metal’s future. We have a burgeoning underground just waiting for someone to discover the next gem, and you never know, you may hear it here first! Expect full reviews of some of these in the coming days.

First on my list, Wreodan Healh from the deep south of Cornwall. Atmospheric black metal, murky and dark. It’s very depressive, with raw vocals over wat at times feels quite pagan and medieval riffing. . Their EP ‘Læcig’ is available on their Bandcamp and is mesmerisingly dark.

Next up is brutal death/thrashers Severe Lacerations. Now, they only have one song available that I can find, entitled ‘Shadows of the Morgue Pit‘ on their Facebook page, but its a brutal if unpolished slab of death/thrash tastiness. They bring to mind early Entombed with a bit of a Celtic Frost vibe too. Looking forward to seeing more from them.

Another quality band from the deathier sound of things are progressive death metal destroyers Blood Thread from Glasgow. Their 3 track EP ‘The Tolerance is Over’ is available on their Bandcamp, and is a chunky riffathon full of massive groove and blastbeats. It is very professional recorded and has a song entitled ‘Bawbag’, which always wins the day for a man like myself.

White Hunter, a viciously raw black metal band from Cumbria, is next. Now they haven’t produced any new music in a number of years but ARE still active according to a source of mine and are in the process of writing new music. They have material available to listen to on their Myspace (Yeah, that’s almost trve kvlt in this modern age, still using Myspace), including two tracks from their 2005 demo ‘Live Off Your Land’. It is savagely raw, tremolo heavy and blasting black metal, and I’d love to hear more. ‘Three Wanderers of the Estuary’ is particularly nasty.

Finally, the thrashing groove metal of Carlisle’s Triverse Massacre. A five piece with some seriously catchy riffing patterns, and enough groove to slam a head through a wall with the banging and the such. Oy. You can get their ‘In the Jaws of Deceit’ release on Bandcamp for a mere £1 donation. For four tracks of aural violence and air drum inducing blasts, Triverse Massacre are the band for you.

There’s nothing quite like Black Sabbath live. I need to get that out to start. But rewind back to the start of the evening. This was a day I’d been waiting for for about seven months, when my lovely lady bought me Sabbath tickets for my birthday. I had to wait so long, so fucking long to see the originators, the progenitors of my most beloved music genre. But it turned out to be more than worth the wait. But first, to the support.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats were great, their fuzzed out proto-doom are the perfect warm up act for a band like Black Sabbath. Uncle Acid are what Sabbath could have become if they’d stayed stuck in ‘Master of Reality’ mode. Their songs are catchy, but with a malevolent element; something dark and occult lurks behind those melodies that worm their way into your brain.

But now to Sabbath. There’s always a fear when you go to see a favourite band that they won’t be as good as you hope. Especially one like Black Sabbath, whose influence on music is unfathomable, but whose members are all pushing 60. And Ozzy, oh Ozzy, how you are still alive nobody knows but we are all eternally grateful. Ozzy turned 65 just days before the gig, and with his quadbike accident and the years of abusing his body with all kinds of substances, you’ve got to cross your fingers and hope he’s gonna be ok. Luckily, he was better than ok.

Opening with ‘War Pigs’ probably was the best choice. Opening track of their most famous record, and epic slice of heavy metal history, it was a perfect start. The gig then became the hit parade, with ‘Into the Void’, ‘Snowblind’ and ‘Black Sabbath’ thrown into the first half. The new tracks from ’13’, like ‘Age of Reason’ and ‘God is Dead’ fit in perfectly with older material, and tracks like ‘Under the Sun’ and ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ were an unexpected surprise to me. I assumed it’d be the hits, but in fairness both those tracks are awesome. Highlights were the thunderous ‘Iron Man’, with the sold out crowd ‘whoa whoa’-ing along with the iconic main riff, and a grinding ‘Children of the Grave’. Iommi was staggering, Geezer’s bass was note perfect, and Ozzy’s voice was great. Ozzy is forever the showman, running around, jumping up and down and moving a lot more than a man of his age should be. His voice, while not able to hit the higher notes he used to be able to, has gained a darker tone that really cranked up the evilness of tracks like ‘Black Sabbath’. In fact, the eponymous track still, after 43 years, is the most sinister and evil piece of metal ever written.

It was a beautiful thing watching the men who started it all bring their A game 43 years later. Let’s hope ’13’ wasn’t their last record, because the godfathers still have plenty of life left in them. They are lords of this world

For my first gig in a long time, and long meaning that I can’t remember the last one (it was 2013, but what it was escapes me at this moment), I picked a doozy. Airbourne, the young, speed infused version of AC/DC, supported by the triumphant power of Orange Goblin? Life can be beautiful sometimes.

We arrived at the venue in time to catch the final two tracks by The Treatment, a young English rock and roll band who sounded pretty decent but hard to tell from just two tracks. Probably worth checking out, although their leather jacket-clad, tousled hair look felt a bit forced. You don’t need to look the part if your music is good lads, all I’m saying.

When Ben Ward, titanic frontman/monolith of rock of Orange Goblin strode on stage to huge cheers, my friends turned round to me and said, ‘aye, he does look like you!’ I had the fortune of meeting the man at the merch stand during Airbourne and he’s bigger than me. Like, I’m 6 foot 4 and I had to look up. He looked proud when I told him I’d be wearing my newly purchased Orange Goblin shirt to get me through what inevitably turned out to be a massive hangover. On stage, he’s engaging, blessed with a titan roar and loads of charisma. He’s smiling, waving his arms and encouraging everyone to party. The man seriously loves life. His band were excellent, from the barrelling ‘Scorpionica’ through the epic ‘Saruman’s Wish’. If you’re unfortunate enough to be unfamiliar with Orange Goblin, imagine Motorhead where Lemmy smoked weed instead of doing speed. When Ward dedicates their final track ‘Red Tide Rising’ to the victims of the Clutha disaster, it rounds off what has just been 30 minutes of pure class, rock and roll at its finest.

Airbourne had a lot to follow, but if there’s a band that personify the feeling of good old fashioned rock and roll, its them. Endlessly energetic, with a setlist packed with sing-a-long anthems that only the dead wouldn’t enjoy, they are a band to be appreciated in their live form. On record, I’ve always enjoyed them but live they are something else. Frontman Joel O’Keefe is a hyperactive Angus Young, bounding around stage, going for trips through the crowd on somebody’s shoulders, pulling off guitar solos while perched on the merch stand, smashing beer cans off his head and hurling them into the crowd, and just generally conducting rock and roll chaos. Airbourne are simply huge, and they deserve it. From fist pumping anthems like ‘Stand Up for Rock and Roll’ and ‘Running Wild’, to sleaze rockers like ‘Chewing the Fat’ and ‘Girls in Black’, not a single moment in their set is boring or cliche. Yeah, they sound like AC/DC, but since when was that a fucking problem? Airbourne slay, and that’s the end of the tale. We were ready to rock, and rock we did.

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After witnessing ‘People Power’ get Dying Fetus added to Download 2014 (still not enough to get me to go), I’ve decided that the kings of slam death metal are going to be my band of the day. They’ve always been a difficult band for me to explain to people why they’re so awesome. The band name doesn’t help, I mean there’s worse out there (Prostitute Disfigurement has gotta be up there) but as soon as there’s some kind of unborn child losing its battle with life involved, there’s always going to be problems.

If you can get past the name, their sound isn’t one of the more ear friendly of metal. But without them, we wouldn’t have a slew of brilliant slamming death metal bands (and conversely, terrible, floppy fringed, Day-Glo deathcore numpties). Dying Fetus combined death metal thickness with the raw hatred and brutality of grindcore and made it essential listening. I first heard them when I was recommended to buy ‘War of Attrition’ in 2007. Man, was that heavier than most things I’d heard by that point or what? It was superb, a fine chunky slab of brutal death metal full of blasting and guttural vocals. Since then, I have had the pleasure of watching them support Cannibal Corpse at the ABC in Glasgow (and sadly lost my Dying Fetus t-shirt while pissed in a Subway somewhere), and I’m a proud owner of a number of their records, including their latest ‘Reign Supreme’, which is yet another fine record from a band that rarely writes a bad song, let alone album. Their sound is showcased in its purest form on the devastating ‘Destroy the Opposition’, a must buy for anyone who likes death metal.

I hope #WhyNotDyingFetus can add more people to their crowd at Download, because those lucky enough to see them will be chewed up and spat out. Or emo Converse, whichever it is. Oh, they also have a song called Kill Your Mother/Rape Your Dog. That’s just genius