Friday, 22 August 2014

Godflesh - Decline & Fall EP (Review)



Album Type: EP
Date Released:2/6/2014
Label: Avalanche Recordings

Decline and Fall’ CD/LP/DD track listing

1). Ringer 06:23
2). Dogbite 03:52
3). Playing with Fire 06:02
4). Decline and Fall 04:17

The Band:

Justin Broadrick | Vocals, Guitars, Programming
G.C. Green | Bass

Review:

No one has quite managed to fill the industrial metal void that had been left by the 13 year absence of Godflesh, a band who have been a foundational influence on the industrial/post-metal genre. Making sporadic appearances since their reformation in 2010 at notable festivals such as Hellfest, Roadburn and Maryland Deathfest, fans have been chomping at the bit for new Godflesh material. ‘Decline and Fall’ marks the ‘about bloody time’ return of brummie duo Justin Broadrick and G.C Green, but as they say good things come to those that wait. ‘Decline and Fall’ is an undisputable return to form, and is only the appetizer to the full length titled ‘A World Lit Only By Fire’ which is due out September this year.

Sticking to what made them innovative and successful to begin with, ‘Decline and Fall’ utilizes the industrial churn reflected in their earlier material. The punishing guitar riff, pummelling bass lines and abrasive vocals in opening track ‘Ringer’ is quintessential Godflesh. They are back, and it’s like they never left. Godflesh have a real knack for being repetitious in their songs without being monotonous, ‘Ringer’ has a central riff that runs throughout and contains minimal variance yet the track is massively entrancing. ‘Dogbite’ is driven by its bouncy bass line, and alongside the chuggy distorted guitar riffs it almost has a Korn feel to it. ‘Playing With Fire’ incorporates doom and drone elements, with Broadrick’s vocals varying from relaxed to a belligerent bark as the lyrics ‘There’s no pain/There’s no gain’ alters the mood of the song. Final track ‘Decline and Fall’ is definitely the most aggressive track, with Broadricks vocals oozing hostility. A bit more pace to it than the previous tracks and a bouncy groove coming to light amongst the distortion, this is unrelenting brutality.   

What really stands out for me on this record and Godflesh generally, is the fluidity of their music, a mechanical force that flows through the beat. After such anticipation it’s a massive relief that ‘Decline and Fall’ showcases the sheer quality of Godflesh, which is sure to be reinforced with their new full length offering later this year. Godflesh are back and hopefully here to stay.

Words by: Heather Blewett

You can pick up a copy here



For more information:       
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Godflesh/11374368195

Bastard Sapling - Instinct Is Forever (Album Review)


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 26/8/2014
Label: Gilead Media/Forcefield Records
                      
“Instinct is Forever” CD/LP track listing:

01. My Spine Will Be My Noose
02. Subterranean Rivers Of Blood
03. The Opal Chamber
04. Elder
05. The Killer Is In Us All
06. Splintering Ouroboros
07. Lantern At The End Of Time [feat. Dorthia Cottrell]
08. Every Life Thrown To The Eclipse
09. Forbidden Sorrow

Bio:

After recording and releasing 2010’s V: A Sepulcher To Swallow The Sea 7” via Tension Head and 2012’s critically acclaimed Dragged From Our Restless Trance LP via Forcefield Records, Bastard Sapling has ventured to push their creation further into the shattered abyss. After spending years crafting new material, they put their songs in the capable hands of Kevin Bernsten (Triac, Mutilation Rites, Ilsa) at Developing Nations in Baltimore, MD. Simultaneously starker and more serene than their previous efforts, Instinct Is Forever is a step forward in terms of Bastard Sapling’s traditional Scandinavian influences being warped by their own geography and a new experimental approach. The new double LP to be co-released by Forcefield Records and Gilead Media on Agust 26, 2014. Armed with guest appearances by Windhand’s Dorthia Cottrell, Evoken's Don Zaros, and Inter Arma’s TJ Childers, Instinct Is Forever is sure to make a serious impact on North America’s contribution to the medium.
 
Bastard Sapling coalesced in the summer of 2007 along the fertile banks of the James River in Richmond, VA, led by recent transplants Drew Goldy and Gregory Ernst (better known to most as“Elway"). After a handful of practices the two formed a musical bond and an undeniably shared vision for the project. Several months of songwriting later, the two progenitors began practicing with their friend Mike Paparo,vocalist of the local metal outfit Inter Arma, in early 2008. Shortly thereafter the three members found an organic fit by bringing fellow Inter Arma guitarist Steven Russell into the fold.  Current bassist Trey Dalton cemented the lineup by admirably filling in for their 2010 US Tour on short notice, and they’ve been steadily pushing their aggression forward ever since.

Review:

America loves to gorge itself. For much of the last several years a common meal has been post black metal and bands that blend hardcore and black metal influences together. A lot of those bands are excellent, and just because a style picks up popularity and gets greater coverage from bigger websites doesn’t mean it’s without merit. On the other side of the coin, it can and eventually will wear thin and people will begin to turn on it. It doesn’t seem like we’ve quite reached that point yet with American black metal as of yet, but it feels like we might be getting close. For everyone who got excited (like me) about Young and in the Way’s new album, there’s someone else who wonders when a higher percentage of American black metal bands won’t be influenced by Discharge or Weakling or My Bloody Valentine.

For that second group; your answer is Bastard Sapling. ‘Instinct is Forever’ worships at the altar of mid 90s European black metal. I’d believe you if you told me they were a Swedish band recorded at Studio Abyss, and that will always appeal to me. If all of this sounds a bit one dimensional; don’t worry. They pull from a wide range of influences, all the while managing to sound new. The album explodes out of the gate with “My Spine Will Be My Noose”, which storms full speed ahead like prime mid-90s Marduk before settling into something more akin to 12/8 Immortal from the late 90s. As the album continues you’ll hear countless other points of reference: “Subterranean Rivers of Blood” has all the majestic fury of Dawn’s ‘Slaughtersun’. “The Opal Chamber” has the icy, vertigo-inducing melodic descent of Gorgoroth at their most reserved in the 90’s. They revisit some of that same “At the Heart Of Winter” style feel on “Lantern at the End of Time”, though it’s to a much grander effect. The opening riff of that song is one of the great black metal riffs of all time, and I say that without reservation.

So, why do I continue to point out similarities to other bands? Wouldn’t that make them seem derivative or lazy? Not in the slightest. My larger point is that Bastard Sapling is a brilliant example of just how far a band can evolve a genre’s sound while staying within the confines of relative orthodoxy. They’ve found a way to improve upon established styles through additional technicality, variety, emotional depth and imagination. Each song is its own journey, whether it soars with grace or burrows into the molten center of the earth. ‘Instinct is Forever’ rages, soothes, depresses, empowers and it covers plenty of territory in between. In fact, I would consider it a minor miracle that they’ve been able to weave such a multitude of elements from European black metal’s past into such a cohesive sound.

While there are certainly fleeting moments in ‘Instinct is Forever’ that sound a bit more American—the opening of “The Killer In Us All” being one such example—but the album is a phenomenal remedy for people who are in need of something outside of the new American black metal norm. What’s old can be new again, and the result, in the case of Bastard Sapling, is one of the top albums of the year.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up this record here



For more information:


At Devil Dirt - Plan B: Sin Revolución no hay Evolución (Vinyl Release)


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: Out Now
Label: Bilocation Records/Kozmik-Artifactz


Plan B: Sin Revolución no hay Evolución" track Listing

A1. Don't see you Around 5:31
A2. Conscience 4:16
A3. People Raise Again 4:32
A4. Mommy 4:54
A5. Sin Revolución no hay Evolución 3:20

B1. There's not a God or a Devil 4:52
B2. The Caravan of Death 3:26
B3. The Marching Crowd 3:57
B4. I lost my Guide 5:40
B5. Time to flee 3:12

Total: 43:40

Bio:

This dynamic duo (just guitar and drums) hails from Chile and delivers ultimate heaviness excellently combined with great melodies. Some call it Beatles doom, some call it a mixture of Kyuss and Pink Floyd, some say fans of bands like Torche will love their music ... well, to get a real idea you'll have no other choice than browsing their full album below and listen for yourself. And always remember this sounds even more awesome on high quality 180g vinyl!
 
The Band:

Néstor "Gato" Ayala | Guitar/Vocals
Francisco "Hongo" Alvarado | Drums

Review:

Available now on vinyl the 3rd album by At Devil Dirt explodes out of your speakers with a fully realized and unique sound. A difficult band to describe in words, At Devil Dirt can sorta be summed as John Lennon fronting a self titled era Queens of the Stone age but with a significantly heavier guitar tone. Speaking of tone, WHAT TONE! Néstor "Gato" Ayala's guitar is absolutely raging all over the place and is one of the best recorded fuzz tones I've ever heard. The distortion level is much heavier then the bands they list as their influences and reminds me of some of Boris' and Floor's stuff but a bit cleaner and you can still pick out all the notes nicely. In some parts he's bringing almost Electric Wizard level distortion without the JNCO jeans and greasy hair.

The coolest thing about "Plan B: Sin Revolución no hay Evolución" is how well they've integrated everything into a cohesive and coherent sound. Running the gamut from some stomping doom to tripped out Beatles-esque psych nothing ever feels forced as At Devil Dirt's trip moves smoothly over the decades of rock n roll history. The production is also extremely well done and maintains a retro vibe without having any of the irritating parts of a retro production (namely the mix sounding off at parts and using little compression making some elements of the kit fall out at times).

My favourite tracks are “Mommy” and “I lost my Guide” both of which are the trippiest songs on the album. “I lost my Guide” begins with a nice trippy deep groove under dreamscape vocals and takes me back to the time in my life where me and my friends used to hang out in someone's garage drinking and just shooting the shit. “Mommy” opens with some nice Floor style riffing until the psych vocals hit and weirds out the track in the best way possible. Shuffling between a solid verse/chorus into a nice building bridge the song writing on “Mommy” is pretty damn solid and keeps a very simply laid out song very interesting.

At Devil Dirt has given us a very entertaining and well written album for fans of simple powerful groove-rock. I was not familiar with these guys before being sent this for review, but definitely a hugely impressive effort. I suggest everyone check out their back catalog too some really great stuff.


Words by: Chris Tedor

Available digitally or on CD here and on vinyl here

VINYL FACTZ

- 100x clear with purple haze (EXCLUSIVE MAILORDER version) 
- 200x solid purple
- all high-quality heavy 180g vinyl pressed in Germany
- matt laquered 300gsm gatefold cover 
- handnumbered

Thursday, 21 August 2014

South Of The Earth: An Interview with Alfred Morris III


Summertime is always a fine time to catch a band who’s on the road. Touring bands and show-goers alike enjoy moving from one hot box to another, all in the name of live music. On a hazy summer night here in North Carolina, I went to one of my favorite hot boxes, a local metal dive on Maywood Avenue aptly named, “The Maywood.” The Maywood was hosting the classic Maryland doom band, Iron Man, whom I had never seen before. For a lot of us, Iron Man was a band who was more heard-of than actually heard, so I was happy to finally check them out. Biker-sized frontman, “Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun, joked about the band being composed of “two brothers and two crackers”, (meaning himself and drummer, Jason “Mot” Waldmann, as the representative white southerners, and bassist Louis Strachan and guitarist, Alfred Morris III, as the African American quotient). Iron Man started as a Black Sabbath tribute band in 1988, but soon after began writing their own brand of Sabbath-influenced material, quickly joining the ranks of world renowned Maryland heaviness. The band’s lineup has changed many times throughout the years, but there has been one steady constant. Guitarist, Alfred Morris III.

That night in Raleigh Alfred was donned all in black. A tall, thin man with a proud, silent presence. For most of the downtime before their performance Alfred kept to himself, seeming perfectly happy to leave most of the talking to Dee and Louis. However, once he climbed onto the stage and plugged his Gibson SG into a chain of vintage guitar pedals and a 1979 Sunn Beta Lead, all eyes were immediately on him. Out of all the Sabbath clones in and around the metal scene, both locally and worldwide, I had never heard such an authentic, Iommi-esque guitar tone, (and that includes the time I saw Black Sabbath in the early ‘2000s during an Ozzfest). Alfred lit the stage ablaze with the doomiest guitar sound this side of “Master of Reality,” bringing all the Sabbath lovers into a headbanging frenzy, while still adding his own flavor to the Iommi formula. The band charged through a pounding set of classic Iron Man material, like “Black Night” and “The Fury,” as well as newer songs from their comeback record, “South of the Earth.” In short, they blew the roof off the joint.

I called Al a few days after their show. He was in the middle of looking up classic Sabbath footage on YouTube, a favorite pastime of his, (the Don Kirshner footage was the choice selection during the time of the call). Alfred was affable, mellow, and more than happy to share stories of his early days as a young guitarist when he began to learn the secrets of the masters. He was a young Maryland kid who knew something special was happening, not only in the burgeoning hard rock scene throughout the world, but also in his own backyard. Alfred continues to embrace the music he loved as a kid in the ‘70s, and if Iron Man’s recent performance in Raleigh is any indication, there is little to no chance that we’ll be hearing an end to their classic doom sound anytime soon.



ES: So after seeing your recent performance here in Raleigh, it’s obvious you’re a guitarist who’s well schooled in the great heavy bands of yesteryear.  Who were your favorite bands growing up? Obviously Sabbath?

AM: Well, Sabbath came later. Cream, Yardbirds, Steppenwolf, Mountain, the Amboy Dukes, that was the kind of stuff that was first hitting it with me in Maryland, but once I came upon the “Master of Reality” album, that was it! Especially when I heard the song, “Into the Void,” like when he breaks down into that solo. I was like, “Man, that cat sounds like Hendrix!” I was just like, “Wow.” And then I started backtracking. I was like, “Well, which album is this?” Everyone was like it, “It’s the new one, the third one!”  “Well, then I need to hear those other two!” Haha.

ES: So you liked a lot of heavy psych. Were you also a Blue Cheer fan?

AM: Yeah. All that stuff that was out back then, you know? 1964 was the Beatles and the Stones. Then that whole period there between ‘64 and ‘70, those were my growing years right there. That’s when I was first started grabbing the guitar, kind of figuring stuff out. It was kind of a prime time to learn guitar because you had all the masters right there: Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Leslie West. It was a sound explosion and I was right there soaking it up like a sponge. I think the advantage for me with Hendrix and Iommi was that they were left handed and I was right handed. So when I watched them on TV it was like looking into a mirror and figuring out where to put your hands, and I was kind of picking up on that. I was like, “Cool! Okay, it looks like he’s going right here!” Unfortunately, the way technology was back then, you had to grab the needle on your record player and keep putting it back, haha. That was a blessing later on, but for that time I had to pick that needle up and keep putting it back, going, “What was that part?!” haha. I would just play on my little amp until it sounded close to what they were doing, and I was like, “Okay, I think I got it.” I had to wait for the radio to play the song sometimes. I’d grab my guitar real quick and play in unison with it. That’s how I taught myself.

ES: Like I was telling you the other night at your show, I have never seen or heard a player who has Tony Iommi’s sound dialed in as well as you.  Mind giving us a breakdown of your equipment?

AM: Yeah, the whole chain starts with a 1973 Gibson Standard. That was as close as I could get to the old Monkey SG that Tony used. That goes into the Crying Tone wah-wah pedal, which is made by Electro Harmonix, and I picked that because when I saw Sabbath I was right in front of Tony’s feet. He had the sky blue, Tychobrahe wah-wah, and it was big. It had a bigger, wider sweep. And I said, “I’m not getting a Crybaby. I’m getting something else!” The years went by and I used Crybabies and the Vox wahs, but Electro Harmonix has this wah-wah pedal called The Crying Tone. I looked at it and said, “Oh, man! This is that wah-wah just like Iommi’s! I’ve gotta get it!” It has a lot of different features on it, you know, a lot of different tones. It has the exact sound that I wanted, especially for playing “A National Acrobat” or “Electric Funeral,” something like that. So it goes from the SG into the wah, and then into a Boss seven-band EQ. The EQ goes into the Uni-Fuzz, and the Uni-Fuzz goes into the Electric Mistress flanger. And the flanger goes into–well, I have two Electo Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man pedals, but they’re both down. Luckily, Beheringer makes a copy of that called the Time Machine. It’s an exact copy of the Deluxe Memory Man. So that’s the last piece of the chain, and I split it out into the amplifier, (a 1979 Sunn Beta Lead).



ES: It was a wonderful guitar tone, man. I could have listened to you play all night with that tone, I swear.

AM: Ha! Thanks a lot, man.

ES: So, Iron Man is now considered to be a classic doom metal band, often mentioned in the great company of bands like Pentagram, Trouble, and Saint Vitus. The doom sound has evolved a lot throughout the years, with guitars being tuned way down to C, guttural vocals, that kind of thing.  Are there any doom bands around these days that stand out to you?

AM: Well, besides those, you had the ones from across the pond, like Cathedral and Electric Wizard, stuff like that. They’re all great bands to me. Of course, at the top of the heap you have Sabbath, haha. And they’re not really a doom band, but they have a couple of doomy songs. That British band, Budgie, was a great influence on me also. A lot of different moods with Budgie.

ES: I really like that you guys are from Maryland, because Maryland is home to a lot of great heavy bands. You have Wino’s bands, like The Obsessed and Spirit Caravan, but also a lot of stoner rock groups like Clutch, Earthride, and Sixty Watt Shaman. Any thoughts as to how there ended up being so much talent out of that area?

AM: I don’t know, man. I guess it’s just like it was for San Francisco back in the ‘60s. I think it’s just the angel of rock flies over these places and stuff starts happening. It’s like how you had a lot of stuff coming out of Seattle, and then you had a lot stuff coming out of New Orleans, then Maryland and New York. I don’t know what it was. One thing for sure is that we were in the touring track for all major bands. We had the Capital Center which caught every major thing coming through, you know. They would come in from overseas, land in New York, hit the Garden or the Civic Arena, the Philadelphia Spectrum and then come down. The next one was the Capital Center right there in Maryland, you know? Boom, and they’re on. They’d swing on over to the west coast. I think that had a lot to do with it. We were just so exposed to the people who made that music. That was the place where everybody hung out, the Capital Center, and I was right there. My first show there was February 19th, 1974, which was Iommi’s birthday, and I stood right in front of him because it was general admission. No seats on the floor. I was right there hugging the stage! Haha!



ES: Sounds like you guys had it all right there, and that you all fed off one another. So much great music coming out of there.

AM: Oh, man. It was great.

ES: Baltimore is kind of looked upon as being a central city up there in the Maryland scene, even though not all the bands are from Baltimore proper. One thing I always thought was interesting is that Baltimore is typically thought of as being a tough, gritty city.  And with Sabbath, they were from Birmingham, and a lot of folks always had the theory that Birmingham, as an industrial city, was a big influence on Sabbath’s sound.  Or like Detroit. Detroit was a tough, blue collar city and it had a lot of influence on bands like the Stooges and Alice Cooper.

AM: And the MC5!

ES: Yeah, the MC5 of course. My favorite!

AM: Oh, my god. I tell you what, man. When people starting seeing the MC5, everyone was like, “Damn!” If you’ve never seen any footage of them, they were on fire, man! Yeah, Detroit had some stuff coming out of there in the ‘60s. But Baltimore and Birmingham? I guess they are similar cities. I think it might have been a little tougher in Birmingham. But yeah, I think you’re right. I think the mood and the atmosphere makes things conducive to the writing. Slower, plodding, stuff like that. I guess Maryland would be like a multi flavored ice cream cone. You’ve got a piece that tastes a certain way from Baltimore. You’ve got another piece that tastes a certain way from Frederick. You’ve got another piece that tastes a certain way from Rockville. I think it’s just a multi flavored area.

ES: Definitely some great music from there. You were talking about that dark, plodding sound. Generally speaking, most heavy, dark bands enjoy non musical influences like horror movies, pulp novels, trashy pop culture type things.  I’ve noticed there’s a track on your new record, “South of Earth,” that mentions H.P. Lovecraft’s classic demon, Cthulhu.  Do horror culture things influence your songwriting at all, or do you like to leave lyrical things up to your vocalist, Dee Calhoun?

AM: Yeah, that’s what we do. We leave the lyric writing up to the vocalist. My influences are purely musical, like I said, from ‘64 and on. For moods and stuff like that, that would be more translated into the lyrical side of it. For most of our material, we’ll make a riff and that will inspire the vocalist to write in a certain way. The riffs will inspire Dee to write whatever is inside of his heart and inside of his head, and if it happens to trigger some Lovecraft or any well known writers like Stephen King, it will come out in his lyrics. He’ll be inspired to write in that vein. Of course we’ll also add on life experiences and stuff like that.

ES: At your show the other night Dee announced that it was the band’s one year anniversary of signing with Rise Above Records for European releases and Metal Blade Records for America.  I’d imagine it feels pretty good being back in action.  What’s your fondest memory of the past year?

AM: Well, you caught us right after a great memory because we played the Castle of Doom in Italy!



ES: Dee had mentioned that to me. It sounded amazing.

AM: Oh, man. It was incredible. I’ll tell you. They treated us like we were kings, man. It was fantastic. I’m at a loss of words, really. But the best and greatest thing about being signed to a proper label like that is you’re flying here and you’re flying there. We did the 25th anniversary show of Rise Above in London, England. We were there for like four days. It was a two day show. So yeah, we’re doing a lot traveling, reaching out to a lot of fans, hearing from different countries. It’s just incredible. We can’t wait to get over to Turkey and Greece, or India. We’ve been hearing from everybody. Japan, we got to play with our labelmates, Church of Misery. They said, “Man, we’ve got to tour Japan together.” We’re all labelmates, buddies. We all respect each other.

ES: That would be so many doom lovers’ dream to see that tour. I look forward to that myself.

AM: Yeah, right around the corner! It’s coming.

ES: Regardless of all the line up changes throughout the years, Iron Man has been going strong for several decades now. Do you remember the first show the band played where you felt you had a good thing going on? Do you remember where and when that was?

AM: Well, it depends on which one because Iron Man started as a Black Sabbath tribute. Are you talking about that, or as a recording artist?

ES: Either way. I’ve played in cover bands where I’ve had just as glorious of an experience as I’ve had with my original bands. So whatever your first favorite live memory is from the start of this band.

AM: I think just getting it off the ground and playing an actual show, which was in August of ‘88. That was a good feeling. We walked in, and I think there was an opener. But when we came on there was about 75 or 100 people there. It was a good feeling. They had never seen us or heard us, but because we were a Black Sabbath tribute, they came out and showed up and we played pretty good that night. But during that time also, I was always thinking that we’d write original music, you know? We weren’t just going to go out and headline as a Sabbath tribute. We were going to write our own stuff and see if we could get signed. It always seemed like a good way to do it, you know, do the tribute and then write your originals. We were into the Sabbath vein, and also the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, you know? I like music that moves sometimes too, moves at a quick pace and lets people rock a little, and then add it with the heavier stuff. That’s what we were going for. So yeah, I guess just remembering the first show we did getting the band off the ground, and then this recent show we did in Italy. It was just incredible.



ES: Thanks for sharing those memories. Whenever I see a guy who plays guitar like you, I like to ask do you prefer recording in the studio where you’re given the chance to tinker around and experiment, or do you prefer playing live and raw?

AM: They’re both rewarding. It’s cool in the studio because you can create that piece of art. But then it’s cool too to go out and play live and get that response from human beings. You bounce off them and they give it back to you, you know? They’re both golden opportunities.

ES: Anything we can expect from Iron Man in the coming year?

AM: Right now we’re probably three quarters done with new material for the next thing, 10 or 11 songs. Then we just wanna practice the hell out of it and ingrain it, and then when we go to the studio we’ll get that power. The thing starts to become a monster after you put all those parts together. A lot of touring things have been thrown at us. We’ll probably go through Canada, and I anticipate the west coast coming at some point. Never been there. I’ve been as close as Las Vegas and that’s it!

ES: I think they’ll love you out on the west coast. Lots of metalheads out there!

AM: Haha, yeah. And they’ve been waiting a long time!

ES: Anything else you want to add or mention?


AM: We love our fans. They’re the best. They treat us like gold. We love talking with them and going over history with them, and we love it when they talk about our songs with us. It’s just a fantastic experience. I can’t wait to record the new CD, and I can’t wait to see you on tour!

Words & Interview by: Erik Sugg

Live Review: HARK, Conan, High On Fire. The Camden Underworld, London, UK 09/08/2014



The night is heavy with anticipation. A sold out show at the Underworld Camden means absolute madness in most cases and this is no exception. Stopping off in London for a special one off show, High On Fire take on one of Camden’s most intimate venues for an evening of audible delight and beer fuelled debauchery. Starting off the evening as it means to go on, Welsh sludgers HARK bought the noise as they powered through a heavy, technical set. Destructive vocals and powerful riffs were on the menu tonight, but unfortunately their sound may have been just too brutal for the venue as a bit of the technicality they manage so well on record was lost to the highly reflective Underworld. A fantastic performance with lots of energy however completely made up for this, as did their signing of a super sweet trans-orange 7" for me. Cheers lads, I’ll be sure to catch you again!

Next up, the show was slowed down 300% as doom monoliths Conan took to the stage. Drawn out phrases of earth shattering distortion laid down by Liverpool's finest absolutely demolished my expectations (in a positive way). I found great pleasure in pressing my back up against the rear wall of the venue to feel the oscillating of those beautiful MATAMP's working, my whole body vibrating to the crazy thunder of guitar and bass. Conan have that beautiful quality of their name being an accurate description of their sound. Almost like an onomatopoeia, just saying their name conjures images of desolation and brutality, an perfect representation of their sound.

After a short change over, finally Oakland’s premier power trio were on. At this point I had drank enough beer to sedate a rhino, while trying to stand on a practically broken ankle, so I couldn't go as mental as the music demanded of me. Rocking a sweet Lemmy style handlebar moustache, guitar legend Matt Pike announced the first song to an instantaneous explosion of energy. The crowd erupted into a frenzied mosh of bodies as the aptly named 'Fury Whip' whipped up a fury! This music just fills you with exuberance, every fibre of your being tingling with excitement and the need to move. Powering on, riff after riff, something occurred to me. This may just be an opinion but having seen Motorhead fairly recently, High On Fire really feel like what they could have been if they formed (nearly) 25 years later. It's the whole vibe of the music and the relentless rock and roll attitude, or maybe it was just the tache that made me think it! Their sound was great too, with great clarity and balance to the EQ. Songs like the closer 'Snakes For The Divine'  where emotive journeys through metal making the camaraderie and kinship of music palpable as friends and strangers alike banded together for the love of one of metals finest bands. As the show drew to a close, the lack of encore left a slightly anti climactic feeling in the air, something that only another High on Fire show could cure! I can't wait until next time.

Check the set list bellow and sound out about how jealous you are that you missed it! Thanks for reading Y'all!

1.Fury Whip
2.Fertile Green
3.Madness of an Architect
4.Comets Down Hessian
5.Frost Hammer
6.Baghdad
7.Devilution
8.Serums Of Liao
9.Rumours Of War
10.Surrounded By Thieves
11.Snakes For The Divine


Words by: Asher G. Alexander

Bleak Zero - S/T EP (Review)


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 21/7/2014
Label: Bandcamp

“BLEAK ZERO” DD track listing:

1)    Arbitrary System Whore 04:27
2)    Less Of A Reason 07:18
3)    Misophonic Petulance 03:07
4)    Madman Possesed 06:30
5)    The Spectator – Part 1 11:31

Bio:

Hailing from the post industrial city of Stoke-on-Trent in the UK. Ferocious, but tempered with elements of quiet introspection, difficult to pinpoint, hard to ignore. Angular post-modern doom rock.

The Band:

Morph | vocals
Lorna Dean | drums
Rob Hunt | guitar
Mike Davies | bass  

Review:

Every day there seems to be a new sub genre of a sub genre that appears on the music scene that I presume is designed to help you choose from the mass of music on offer, and if only one of the words match your musical tastes then it is possibly worth a listen.

Bleak Zero describe themselves as Angular post-modern doom rock and it describes the music well even though the doom part is not high on the agenda.

‘Arbitrary System Whore’ starts off with the angular part of the description with the riff jerking around in your head with vocalist ‘Morph’ putting his heart and soul into a growl/roar that is bleak and fits the track to perfection.

‘Less of A Reason’ starts off slow and quiet before the vocals kick in and Morph seems to be in pain and you feel he is suffering before the riff starts to speed up into a pounding trudge to the end of the track.

‘Misophonic Petulance’ is shorter with an almost punk like quality “you wont fucking listen” screamed at you ending abruptly bouncing into ‘Madman Possesed’ which is the track on the album that is the most angular and all over the place,  but in a good way.

The Final track on the album is the longest and builds up slowly, with the first 5 minutes a very gentle guitar that finally bursts into life and screams and screeches its way to a abrupt end.

I really enjoyed this album and at just over 30 minutes it does leave you wanting more. Bleak Zero say that they are hard to pinpoint but if you are fans of Neurosis and Gojira, this band is very much worth a listen.

Words by: Garry Nicol

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Live Review: Tax The Heat, Black Star Riders. Birmingham Asylum, UK, 7/8/2014



Show openers Tax The Heat took to the stage like a band that has been around the block a few times despite their obviously young age. With their 60s-influenced stomp and retro blues swagger, the pop-rockers delivered a blinding set of upbeat numbers to an increasingly cheerful audience. Sonically, the band produced a blend of Muse-style grandiosity to complement a vocalist reminiscent of Alterbridge’s Myles Kennedy in his more melodic moods. Whilst the band could be considered a leftfield choice to open for classic rockers Black Star Riders, the audience baying for the headline act lapped up their twin-guitar style. A Telecaster’s infamous twang balanced out the gruff low-end of the Les Paul whilst accompanied by the steady rattle of a Precision Bass. By the end of their set, Tax the Heat had demonstrated exactly why they were invited to perform by briefly touching on different elements of classic rock; their rhythm and blues roots were evident and could easily be compared to a young ‘The Who’, in their popular mod-rock era.

Headline act Black Star Riders made their entrance with the kind of swagger you would expect from musicians with such a long and varied history; Scott Gorham (guitar) had the audience eating out of his hand and front man Ricky Warwick took command of the crowd with his powerful stage presence. The band’s set list featured a welcome mix of the band’s own songs and Thin Lizzy anthems. What is particularly special about Black Star Riders is that they do not merely sound like a Thin Lizzy tribute act, but an unequivocally relevant force in modern rock music.

Ricky Warwick, the former front man of ‘The Almighty’, demonstrates his worth time after time. He could hardly be blamed for basking triumphantly, arms aloft, in the spotlight after delivering anthems like ‘Bad Reputation’ and ‘Jailbreak’.  Thin Lizzy stalwart Scott Gorham, whilst visibly aged, shows why he is considered one of rock’s greatest axe men; he can give guitarists half his age a run for their money any day of the week.

The stage show evokes the spirit of rock n’ roll excess and decadence of the hedonistic 1970's but the band take time to balance this with a more serious mood; the pace is hastened to reflect on the continuing war and political struggles taking place in other parts of the world before delivering a rousing rendition of ‘Emerald’. This was the sort of performance that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, where every word the Northern Irishman sings sounds sincere.

Black Star Riders have developed their own signature tunes, the legendary sing-along anthems that will be remembered for generations – the contemplative ‘Hey Judas’ and the stirring ‘Bound for Glory’ to name but two. Essentially Black Star Riders do not just continue the Thin Lizzy legacy, but build upon it and forge their own place in rock history.

Words by: Jay Ackerman