Thursday, 7 November 2013

Moving house

So I moved my blog over here: in order to have something a bit more professional looking.  If you're still interested click the link blah blah blah you know the drill.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Live Review: Black Spiders w/ Hawk Eyes and Baby Godzilla at the Cathouse Glasgow 7/10/2013

So ending my week of great gigs was Black Spiders at the Cathouse last night.  Now this was yet another incredible bill jam packed with extraordinary British talent.  You will notice that I've included pictures of all three bands which I haven't done in the past but I felt like some of this was too good an opportunity to pass up on. 

Baby Godzilla at the Cathouse

Baby Godzilla at the Cathouse
 So up first was Baby Godzilla who are a name I've been hearing a lot of because of their amazing live shows.  They actually supported The Wildhearts when I went to see them but I was too late to catch them and god is that something I regret.  This was one of the most incredible support slots I have ever seen.  Musically these guys sound like Biffy Clyro at their most insane but with added Dillinger and my god is it one hell of a racket (in a good way).  Where they really shine however is in there live performance which see's their lead singer and guitarist literally (and I mean literally, not it's new definition) never standing still and covering more of the venue than I've seen anyone do.  One of them literally dragged a mic stand into the crowd while the other one they don't have their various roles in the band on Facebook so if you know their names let me know) decided the mic stands are shit and just got members of the audience to hold onto his mic for him, a role I took up for a while.  One of my favourite moments of the night was someone who had obviously just turned up and the look of shock on their face as they realised that the two people had just ran past them were carrying guitars.  All in all this is one of the best things I've seen in god knows how long so if you can get out and see them do it now.  (10/10)

Hawk Eyes at The Cathouse
Left with the impossible task of following that is Hawk Eyes a band who are gaining a reputation of being one of the UK's best modern rock bands.  Now I'm going to be honest following the insanity that came beforehand makes this feel a little flat but the reality of it is this is still a great reassured performance from these guys.  Their lead singer is instantly likeable and has a self deprecating (just as a note I'm glad I read this over as I'd originally wrote defecating there, very different thing) charm as he admits that one day he'll learn the solo from one of their songs but today's not that day.  Despite that glitch the musicianship on show is still in general fantastic and it's clear these guys know what they are doing.  (8/10)

Black Spiders at the Cathouse
Following all that it kind of makes you wonder what the hell Black Spiders were thinking.  Are they attempting to get themselves blown off the stage?  If they were they didn't quite succeed because as these guys walk out and launch into new track "Knock You Out" and you are reminded that this is a band that makes rock and roll sound exciting and young again.  When they follow that with "Stay Down" you remember why you fell in love with it in the first place and as they roar through "Kiss Tried to Kill Me" you're not even thinking that much.  These guys are the best British rock band on the go at the moment and last night they showed exactly why.  They look and sound like a band ten times bigger and they act like they are too, something that with some bands would be a reason to hate them but with these guys just continues to add to their charm.  

It's also clear these guys have a lot of faith in their new material with a set that contains no fewer than 7 tracks off the new album, including their rather different sounding love song "Put Love In Its Place", not that, that means they've lost their swagger as they quickly follow it up with "Just Like a Woman".  While "Balls" can't fail to become anything but the anthem it deserves to be treated as.  There is no denying that tonight will ultimately be remembered by most people for the insanity of Baby Godzilla but that doesn't take away from the fact that you also have two of the best rock bands Britain have to offer on display as well.  These are all bands set to take our world by storm and it was fucking awesome watching them do it.

10 out of 10


Live Review: Heights w/ Black Dogs and The Catharsis at Ivory Blacks 4/10/13

It's no secret Heights are one of my favourite young bands on the planet at the moment and a quick scroll down will show you that their newest album continued that trend.  Therefore, it was a shame to go through to Glasgow last Friday night and see them playing in a not even half full Ivory Blacks.  This kind of gig always puts even more pressure on the bands in my opinion as getting any kind of atmosphere out of an near empty room is an achievement.  Luckily Heights brought along a rather great set of bands.

Heights at Ivory Blacks

Heights at Ivory Blacks
Opening up proceedings is The Catharsis a bands who's name has been coming up a lot recently but I haven't got round to checking out.  To be honest that is my own mistake though as they show that they are a band to be keeping an eye on in the future.  Although the small crowd never really do give the band exactly what they are looking for in terms of a response it doesn't stop them and they rip through a set of hardcore tracks that are equal to many bigger bands in the game at the moment.  Lead singer Morgan Tedd never once stops moving and this energetic performance shows that these guys need to be watched.  I picked up their album as well so keep an eye out and I shall review it soon.  (8/10)

Up next is Black Dogs who you may remember I was a bit harsh on after seeing them support Hatebreed but then had a rethink about it after seeing them at Download.  Tonight they continue to prove that I was talking absolute bullshit by putting on a great performance.  In a hardcore scene that is currently stupidly healthy these guys stand out just for the amount of groove they have in their songs.  It turns these hardcore songs into something a little bit more special and will be what eventually makes sure these guys get invited to the game.  Also in frontman Gollo they've got someone who even if the crowd isn't responding isn't afraid to get up close and personal with them to make sure they respond in someway or another.  (9/10)

Heights have changed a lot since their debut album, in particular the stepping up of Alex Monty to vocal duties, a move that split  fans.  Well whatever you think about how he sounds, tonight he shows that he has very much grown into his role in the live environment, as from start to finish he throws everything into his performance.  From the opening seconds where he grabs a pipe hanging from the the ceiling to swing himself up and kick a roof tile out to the very end, when he is just hanging from said pipe, he is a whirlwind of energy and emotion.  It's also clear that Heights, possibly more so than any of their contemporaries, have songs.  Whether it be the stomping sing along of "Dead Ends", the more metalcore "Eleven Eyes" or the straight up hardcore of "Stray Rats" these guys seem to be able to do it all and they are doing it damn well as well.  

As the set finishes with "The Lost and Alone" there are so many bodies on stage from the various bands that played tonight that I'm not entirely sure exactly who was up there.  This is yet another night that makes it clear that the UK hardcore scene isn't planning on rolling over and dying yet.  It's also clear that despite tonight's small attendance Heights should really be standing at the front of it.  Apart from maybe Feed the Rhino no other band has rewritten the rule book as many times as these guys and had the balls to experiment in the ways that they are.  Next time these guys are in town make sure you get along because they should be playing to much more than this.

10 out of 10


Live Review: Bury Tomorrow w/ Feed the Rhino and Empress at Glasgow Garage 1/10/2013

So last week I was back through in Glasgow to see a fantastic bill of three young hungry British bands headlined by Bury Tomorrow.  I apologise for how bad the photos is but I think I am getting better (you will see this with the photos from later in the week).

Bury Tomorrow
I actually missed the opening band because doors opened at half 6 rather than 7 like the ticket claimed.  I also started walking to Cathouse for some reason despite the fact the gig was at Garage.  Was a dumb moment.  I did however see Empress who are popping up on loads of bills at the moment.  Despite that this was actually the first time I've seen them and I didn't really know anything about them.  They stood out on this bill however as they play down tuned proggy metal that leaves quite a few people in the crowd looking a little bit confused.  Despite that it's an impressive set and there is plenty of groove to their songs meaning they don't become the sludgey mess that a lot of bands like this can do when playing live.  If they can keep making there way onto bills like this it's not going to be long until people begin to pay attention.  (7/10)

The next band hardly need to be reviewed.  Feed the Rhino once again doing a support band slot and you have to ask why bands keep taking them out.  They are just a phenomenal live act and right from the start tonight they prove that nothing has changed with Lee Tobin heading into the crowd within seconds and spending a fair portion of the set there.  With two albums under there belt now these guys have got to the point where they have a setlist just full of cracking songs and as they rip through first album tracks like "Mr. Red Eye" and the newer more adventurous material like "Tides" you can't help but think they shouldn't be staying as a support band much longer.  (9/10)

Bury Tomorrow nearly called it quits not that long ago but with the release of Union of Crowns their popularity has shot through the roof.  It's an album full of crunching metalcore tracks that have enough melody and huge choruses to make sure they aren't only attracting your diehard metalfans.  Simply put the world is these guys oyster and it's up to them how far they go.  That's an opinion that is confirmed by tonight's appearance.  From the opening chords of "Redeemer" right through to "Lionheart" this is a triumph.  Frontman Davyd Winter Bates may not be the force of nature of a Lee Tobin but he's constantly moving and the crowd are in the palm of his hand for the entire show.  While I actually ended up carrying a man dressed as Spiderman to the front door of the venue (I believe he was the guys merch guy) with a group of people as they go beyond the line of duty (literally in the merch guys case) to keep the crowd entertained.

The best thing about tonight however is that the songs this band have written are just that good.  Whether it be the aforementioned "Lionheart" or the controversial (or at least the music video was) "Knight Life" these are songs that are made to have whole rooms of people singing along while simultaneously going mental.  Bury Tomorrow could well be the next big thing in British heavy metal and if they keep these kind of performances up they will 100% deserve it.

9 out of 10


Live Review: Beans on Toast w/ Billy Liar and Sean McGowan at Voodoo Rooms 25/9/2013

This review is pretty late.  For that I apologise, I just kept not getting a chance to finish it off. 

So I've been back to attending gigs in the last few weeks and actually got to go to one in Edinburgh which is always a nice experience as it means I don't have to take any trains.  It was down at the Voodoo Rooms where I was checking out Beans on Toast who were on the first few dates of a mammoth UK tour.  A tour where they've actually gone to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen something very few people do so big up to them for that.  Anyway lets have a look at what went down.  I actually completely forgot to attempt to take a photo.  I may have got a little bit drunk which is my excuse for that.  So you'll just have to read words instead.

It's kind of hard to talk about support acts when it is just guys taking to the stage with their acoustic guitars but I personally thought they were both great and were the perfect acts to warm the audience up.  First up was local boy Billy Liar who played a set that contained quite a few songs that were very much Edinburgh centric.  It was a nice way to start the show and he seemed to go down well with the local crowd.  Following that was Southampton's Sean McGowan who continues the theme with another great set of acoustic folk tracks.  He finished by going even more minimalist as he even ditches the guitar.  Even more interesting is he has decided to sell his CDs on a pay what you can basis which I've seen with online downloading but never with an actual physical CD.  It seemed to do alright for him as at least a few people picked up copies which is unusual for a support band like this.

The main event of the evening is of course Beans on Toast themselves with Jay taking to the stage shoeless to pick up his acoustic guitar.  It's part a musical set part comedy part just Jay being Jay.  Opening with "Harry in a Helicopter" it's clear where Beans on Toast lie when it comes to political opinions and it's a viewpoint that underlines all of his songs.  That and his love of drugs although the introduction of "Children of Bedford" shows the flipside of that view point as he adds the worry that he is maybe influencing people a bit too much in that direction.  Alongside that there is "Microwave Popcorn" just an incredibly sweet song about being in love and the always fantastic "Old Grunge" which is all about the wonderful world of music.

This was just a fantastic gig to be honest.  While Beans on Toast may not be an amazing musician or a wordsmith to rival the greats he does write songs that are instantly relatable to people and while you're sitting in the crowd and he's taking requests it makes you feel like you are not just watching him play a gig but are actually an intrinsic part of it.  That alone is one hell of a skill.  If anything the simplicity and easy going nature of his music is exactly what has helped this guy become more than just 'Frank Turner's mate' (which is at least how I was introduced to him) and gather a cult following of his own.  It's unlikely he'll ever obtain the heights of his friend but he certainly got this audience onside and you can't ask for more than that.

9 out of 10


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Album Review: Black Sabbath - 13

Black Sabbath and heavy metal go together like cheese on toast and Jack Daniels and coke.  It doesn't matter what kind of heavy music you listen to it at some point came through Black Sabbath.  At some point either the band themselves or the band that inspired them sat in awe at the riffs that come from the not quite full hands of Tony Iommi.  Therefore the release of 13 earlier this year, which is the first album to see Ozzy and Tony on the same recording since Never Say Die! (1978) and the first with Geezer Butler since Cross Purposes (1994), unsurprisingly came with a shit load of hype.  So is this classic Sabbath or is this a flop?  Lets find out.  Have a song.

The second "End is the Beginning" opens you instantly know who this is and thousands of metal fans around the world sat back with a sigh of relief.  Cancer or no cancer Tony Iommi is still the god-father of everything that we hold dear and god does he sound good as he reels out a classic Sabbath sounding riff.  Ozzy's vocals come in and he sounds just how you want Ozzy to sound, demented and creepy and like the scary guy that lives under the bed.  It's a fantastic start that will remind you just how heavy and crushing you can be while also being slow and bluesy, modern bands could learn a lot from this.

Up next is lead single "God is Dead" which probably has the biggest chorus of anything on the album.  It's a big chorus that the rest of it builds up to masterfully and it shows just how good these guys are at crafting a song.  It's easy to forget in amongst the fantastic riffs and Ozzys howling but what really holds these songs together is just how well they are written.  One Black Sabbath song has more fantastic riffs than many other bands craft in their entire life.  Oh and they have the always reliable Geezer Butler who continues to prove that he deserves a spot on any of your top ten bassists of all time lists.

Not that this is all classic Sabbath.  The obvious point being the hole left behind by Bill Ward and the position of Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine) in the band.  Does he get the Jason Newsted treatment and put at the bottom of the mix or is he allowed to shine?  Well he is indeed allowed to shine and on tracks like the much faster and immediate "Loner" where he really comes to the fore.  Meanwhile tracks like "Zeitgeist" still show that Sabbath have the ability to mix it up with it's creepy country, blues vibe that has Ozzy's vocals sounding very spacey over the top.  It's one of the lightest Black Sabbath songs I can think of and it shows these guys still have the ability to reinvent themselves.

As this album fades out to the iconic sound of bells and rain there is a definite feeling that Black Sabbath are back.  Now is this is a perfect album?  No.  Some of it still drags and if you were to compare it to classics like Black Sabbath then it probably doesn't have quite the impact.  What it is however is a fantastic comeback from a band that if you look at there history shouldn't still be making music this great.  When you remember that Ozzy has had more contact with drugs than your average pharmacist and that Tony Iommi is still going through treatment for cancer then it's a miracle they are still alive never mind releasing an album this good.  In a year where heavy metal is beginning to push itself back into the mainstream the masters of the genre are still going strong and we can all be thankful for that.

9 out of 10


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Album Review: Dillinger Escape Plan - One of us is the Killer

The Dillinger Escape Plan are one of the most exciting, vital and just absolutely bonkers bands on the planet.  So with the release of their fifth album One of Us Is the Killer it's understandable that many people will be looking to it for shock and awe as whether it's shitting in a bag or just releasing insane music blending everything from jazz to metal and then back again together you can always be sure Dillinger will give us something to talk about.  Have a song.

From the opening seconds of "Prancer" you are reminded just what makes Dillinger so different and exciting.  With those jarring riffs and Ben Weinman's howled vocals in writing it sounds like noise, but in the middle of it all there is a chorus that it is perfectly possible to could sing along too.  It's a reminder of just what you are dealing with here, one of the best bands on the planet.  Following that is "When I Lost My Bet" which starts with some very jazz sounding drums with Ben doing his thing over the top.  This fantastic drumming display will continue throughout and is one of the earliest signs of the absolute shift that Billy Rymer puts in on this album.  The man must be part machine as he smashes through song after song and makes a stake to be considered one of the best drummers in the world.  It's also a testament to his ability that he stands out on an album that is chock full of fantastic musicianship.

Where this album really stands out however is in what Dillinger have done to change up their sound.  This is probably the most easily accesable album they have ever made with tracks like "One of us is the Killer" sounding almost reigned back and controlled at times.  If you're hearing that and panicking that your favourite band has done the dreaded selling out don't worry.  Because amongst songs like "Nothing's Funny" which sounds like Tim Burton melded with Trent Reznor and then shoved through the DEP mincing machine there are still moments that are so completely Dillinger that even with them being reigned back they still have that insane jazz filled edge that makes them so unique in the first place.  Dillenger are just always that bit different and always special and it's what makes them such a fantastic band.

Dillinger have created an album that feels like their biggest yet.  They are still insane but even more so than usual they now have songs that you can see crowds lapping up all around the world.  It's a triumph because of that and it shows just why these guys are one of the greatest bands on the planet.  Long may it continue.

9 out of 10