Tag Archives: Heavy Metal

Metal Hammer Razor Tour II, Glasgow Cathouse

Heart of a Coward
Heart of a Coward (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[Pics of three of the bands on Flickr via these links: Devil Sold His Soul / Heights / Heart of a Coward]

Four bands, eight quid, beer for £2 a pint and t-shirts at a tenner. Can’t turn that kind of an offer down. Especially when one of them is Heights.

As ever, I managed to miss the opening band (Steak Number Eight). I guess they hit the stage very shortly after the doors opened as I got there at around 7:45. A teething baby is a little more important, though!

The first band I saw were Heart of a Coward, who I’d never heard of before. Their t-shirts made them look like a US hardcore band, but they’re very definitely from the south of England and very definitely a (very) heavy metal act. With a lead singer who looks like he could punch you through a brick wall (ex-Sylosis front man Jamie Graham), the only South Asian I can recall ever seeing in a metal band (Vishal Ketia) and synchronised from-the-waist headbanging, they’re an incredibly powerful live act.

With maybe half an hour to fill, they pummelled through a good number of tracks whilst trying their best to get the small crowd to join in the fun. Despite only a couple of dozen people bothering to hover near the stage, they performed as if they were in front of a full house.

A great performance from a band I would happily go and see again.

Next up were the band I had paid my money to see – Heights. I first saw them when they supported Biohazard earlier this year and they seriously impressed me.

Heights
Heights (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

Well, you know how you come away from a gig telling people how good it was and then when you see the band again, they’re a shadow of that one night? Not the case with Heights. They’ve got better. My apologies for the lack of decent photographs, but they wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to focus. I swear they must have been raised on e-numbers.

Within a minute of the opening track, the singer (sorry, no idea of the guys’ names) was up on the barrier passing the microphone to fans who knew the words. Not to be bested, one of the guitarists joined him – somehow balancing on the metalwork while banging out riffs.

Barely stopping between tracks, they battered the living hell out of the crowd. Facing the same problem as HOAC in that a large portion of the growing crowd preferred to stay near the bar, our intrepid vocalist clambered off the stage and onto the dancefloor. Shoving people around while singing (microphone cable trailing back onto the stage), he managed to start a small but violent pit before the end of the final track.

Guitars were thrown around, mikes dropped and cheers erupted as the most energetic band I’ve seen in years stomped off to cries of “one more tune!” – which we didn’t get. Boo.

Heights are an angry bunch. Loud and aggressive, you get the feeling that if they weren’t battering out ear-crushing riffs on their instruments they’d be using them to commit genocide. Watching them must be like watching the Sex Pistols back in the day before they made it big. They’re a breath of fresh air, a wake-up call. Hugely entertaining and seemingly constantly on tour. I’m hoping I have the chance to see them in February again when they tour with Your Demise.

Devil Sold His Soul
Devil Sold His Soul (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

Last band of the night were Devil Sold His Soul, I think the only act who could lay claim to having more than one album available. They seemed to have brought half of Blackpool Illuminations with them, along with their own lighting guy who was on stage tapping buttons so that everything was in sync.

All very impressive visually, but musically… well, I guess I was in the minority as they certainly seemed to be the band the crowd were waiting for. They weren’t bad, but they just didn’t grab me the way that Heights of HOAC had done. They weren’t helped by the fact that someone decided that the headliners should be louder than everyone else to the point where half of one song sounded to me like Rolf Harris playing the world’s largest stylophone with the bass and reverb turned up full. In a wind tunnel.

Still, can’t complain for £10 (including booking fees). It’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for tours like these. Back to grass roots, bands manning their own merchandise stalls and carrying their own kit – and with the cash they raise going into their own pockets.

Roll on Metal Hammer Razor Tour III!

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EP review – Seed of Sadness

I received a random email through my blog a few weeks ago from Mike G, who’s bassist with Greek metal band Seed of Sadness. He offered me a digital copy of their first professionally-recorded 5-track EP in exchange for a review. I’ve not had an offer like this in years, since the old “Mosher’s Music Page” which is mothballed somewhere. So, obviously I replied in the positive.

Then found myself working a 70-hour week, away for a fortnight for our wedding/honeymoon and buried in work once again upon my return. Whoops.

I spotted his email again earlier today and promised myself I’d get it done before I went out this evening – to see a handful of other unsigned bands, as it happens.

I’ve only had a chance to listen to the tracks three or four times each and overall I am very impressed. Not just at the quality (song-writing, musicianship and production), but as they’re also very much my kind of thing. The sound could be classed as “melodic rock”, but that seems to be a general term for any metal with a keyboard in it for some reason. The lead vocalist is female and has the awesome name Stellaria. As far as I can tell, this is actually her name and not some stage identity. I have decided that Greek people have cool names.

She also has a hell of a voice, easily as good as anyone involved with the bigger female-fronted bands such as Nightwish, Evanescense and Within Temptation. I know there are many other bands out there, such as Lacuna Coil and Arch Enemy, but Seed of Sadness are definitely more in tune with the first three.

The other three chaps in the band, along with Stellaria, are pretty well trained musicians and their bio lists the people who taught them and the music schools they went to. Nowhere I’ve heard of, but it does tell you that this quartet are serious about what they’re doing.

OK, the songs. There are five on the EP and the quality is high. There’s good variety in the songs, while the band still manage to keep a sound of their own in there. No pandering to genres in the hopes of covering their bases. Opener “Remnant of a Dying Smile” is probably the best insofar as being quite catchy. If I have an issue with it, it’s the keyboards. The melody is fine, but I find the actual sound of them quite distracting in places. I’m not sure how to describe this as a non-musician, but you know you can make a keyboard play different types of sounds when you press a key? The notes in this song are a sound which hits, goes down in volume and then comes up again. It really messes with my ears.

Anyway, this little issue aside it’s a great song. I genuinely heard myself saying “This… is pretty fucking good” to myself during the first listen.

The other tracks, especially number 2 (“King of Loss”), took a little longer to grow on me. But four/five listens down the line (I’m listening through the EP again as I write this) and I’m suitably impressed.

Their bio mentions that they have ten songs written, with these first five the only ones recorded so far. On the strength of what I’ve heard, I wish them all the luck they deserve and hope to see them popping up in support slots in coming months.

Thanks to Mike for spotting my blog and giving me the chance to find out about the band. More info can be found on their facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/SeedofSadness

And, even better than that, the EP is available for download at the cracking cost of nothing at all from:

http://seedofsadness.bandcamp.com

If you prefer to pay them for a copy (€4 or more), then you get pre-order advance notices for the forthcoming album, discounts on merchandise and so on.

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Why I love heavy metal. By Mosh, aged 37 (just)

I got dragged out to Ivory Black’s in Glasgow after the Taste of Chaos tour on Saturday night. I gather it’s cheaper than the Classic Grand and full of less kiddies than the Cathouse. It was also flipping near empty! A shame as the music was excellent.

The point of this post, though. As I sat, helping drink the bar dry of tequila (why? I hate the stuff) there were two TVs on the wall in front of me. One was showing Penelope SpheerisThe Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. The other had last year’s Sonisphere “Big 4” video recorded in Sophia, Bulgaria.

The girls in our group seemed focussed on what Poison looked like in 1988. I was wishing the sound was up so I could hear Anthrax’ set.

However, as the older film approached its end, the final band featured playing live was Megadeth – featuring a very baby-faced and sneary Dave Mustaine. The band were on a small stage with no security. Fans were clambering up and launching themselves off with wild abandon – I can’t remember the last time I saw a stagediver at a gig. Seriously.

At the exact same moment on the other screen, Megadeth were finishing their set (in the lashing rain) in an arena or football ground in Bulgaria. A huge pit in front of them keeping them maybe 10m from the nearest fan. A huge sound setup. A crowd of maybe 50,000 or more.

It was just one of those coincidental moments, and it made me wonder… back in that first video did Mustaine have even the slightest inkling he’d be playing such a different environment around twenty years later? And who else would have believed that such a niche band would go on to such things.

Not just them, obviously. Metallica were also featured in both films. It just so happened that both Megadeths finished their songs/sets at the same time in front of me.

I can’t recall who, but apparently some tosspot on Radio 1 recently said that rock and metal is dead. Again. People like that obviously have no clue what they’re talking about and live in an little world of their own. All it takes is one glance at the gig listings in a magazine, or a check online to find the countless tours and festivals taking place.

The Download festival has arisen from the ashes of the old Donington Monsters of Rock. It now runs for four days. Sonisphere has appeared from nowhere and is adding new countries to its touring festival each year. Bloodstock. Hard Rock Hell. Damnation. High Voltage. That’s just the tip of the iceberg – and that’s only the UK.

Bands that didn’t even hit the heights of the likes of Metallica are still touring. Some are making comebacks, some never went away. In the last few weeks I’ve seen Annihilator and Exodus, to name but two.

Despite a continued lack of radio support (come on, Radio 1 – one show a week… at midnight?) heavy metal has continued to live and breathe for decades. It’s constantly being written off, but it has the most dedicated fans of any genre of music.

The internet has definitely helped – as it has with other types of music – allowing new bands a cheap outlet for their demos. This has without a doubt made a huge difference, especially around the late 90’s when thing were a little sparce in the metal field.

But now we have bands like Poison selling out arenas in the US. Lawnmower Deth, at the other end of the scale, are playing a couple of gigs a year after 15 years or so in retirement. Judas Priest are still going despite the band being old enough to have grandfathered a huge proportion of their fans.

You can have your own opinions about the music, but there’s no denying it. Heavy metal is here to stay.

Just deal with it.

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Who the hell is…?

Dimebag Darrell
Would kick Eminem’s ass any day

Well, after being out of the country for a couple of years and (happily) ignoring television, radio and the tabloids I find myself drowning in a sea of recently famous people. Now, whether they’ll be Beatles-famous or one-album-then-ditched famous, who knows.

One thing that’s getting me are the names they’re using. I know you have to make a name for yourself, and in some cases people take this literally. The stuff they’re coming up with these days is just pants, though.

I mean, who the hell is Lady Gaga? I don’t need to check out the radio stations to know I’d loathe her stuff. Assuming it’s a “she” and not a group?

Going through the charts we have Shakira – sounds like a dodgy bit of Manga; Dizzee Rascal – made that one up in the playground at school; Beyonce – I bet there are a million of those being born in council estates every day now; Mr Hudson – wasn’t that a character in Grange Hill?; Jeremih – inspired by Pearl Jam but unable to spell; Booty Luv – oh, come on

What happened to the good old days when people had really ace nicknames? All the best ones being from the world of metal, of course. Come on – you can’t beat any of these lot with your namby-pamby radio-friendly claptrap:

Care to argue? Well don’t bother – you’re wrong. Metal has the best nicknames and pseudonyms. End of. I’m not narrow-minded. I’m just right.

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Vocal metal!

Came across this lot through a random posting on the Metal Hammer news pages. Van Canto are from Germany. They consist of 5 vocalists (1 hot female, four men – you judge if they’re hot or not, I don’t swing that way) and a drummer.

They’re a metal band.

With no bass, guitars, keyboards… They’ve done a cover of Metallica’s “Battery” (below), while the (better) video for “The Mission” is on their web page. And it’s superb.

Who’d-a thunk it? Rank them up there with Apocalyptica as “it shouldn’t work… but bloody hell, it does”.