Sunday, 19 December 2010

Top 50 albums of the year.

So here it is again. My top 50 albums of the year in reverse order.

50. Fear Factory – Mechanize
Great come back album. Could be my fave FF of all time and Burton sounds the best he has ever done in my opinion.

49. Kiske & Somerville - st
Love anything Kiske does these days apart from his shitty solo albums. Great chemistry between the two for me although I have read this chemistry questioned by some but for me it's a delightful album.

48. First Signal – st
Harry Hess of Harem Scarem fame fronts a typical Frontiers melodic rock project. Works out just great for me.

47. Gamma Ray - To The Metal!
To be honest the Rays delivered just a solid melodic power metal album of the likes which Kai can probably write in his sleep. Helloween has you beat Kai I'm sorry to say. Still even an average GR album is enjoyable enough.

46. Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier
Almost included by default. I don't like the raw production much but some of these songs are very good and I'm sure will sound a 1000 times better live. The Talisman is almost worth the admission price alone.

45. Reckless Love - st
Super cleanly produced glammy AOR with cheese montor dial set to eleven. But when you have the tunes to back it up who can resist?

44. Overkill - Ironbound
I think this is the first Overkill album I have liked from start to finish. Possibly their finest hour. Never been a fan of Bobby Blitz's vocals which is probably why this isn't higher in my list cause the music wrecks necks no doubt about it.

43. Virgin Steele - The Black Light Bacchanalia
I count myself as a bit of a VS fanboy. I liked Visions of Eden song wise but the production was cheap. This time the production is much clearer and better but not perfect by any means. The songs are regular VS fare however as many have noted Mr. Defeis does tend to under sing a little, he doesn't really belt it out like in the old days. Maybe his voice is shot who knows. Anyway I enjoyed this album.

42. Halford - Made Of Metal
The love it or hate it Halford album. The only complaint I have is with the production which really is not up to standard for this day and age. The songs are very fun and melodic metal with Mr. H in very good form.

41. Bonded By Blood - Exiled To Earth
A top quality thrash metal throwback with only the vocals being a bit painful but the dude has left now so we will see how the next one turns out. Musically they are on the money!

40. Magic Kingdom - Symphony Of War
Dushan Petrossi's other band finally released and it was worth the wait. I am not quite sure if I like it as much as his other band Iron Mask but this album is top quality melodic neo-classical metal.

39. Helstar - Glory of Chaos
I didn't like their previous album but the new one hit it out of the park with me. Great thrashy power with sizzling vocals from the main man James Rivera.

38. Human Temple - Murder of Crows
Typical Finnish melodic rock merchants deliver wonderfully catchy songs in the main, with lush production and sweet vocals. If you like the style, you'll love Human Temple, it's that simple really.

37. ReinXeed - Majestic
I have liked all the ReinXeed releases so far to differing degrees but Majestic is far and away the best. Lightning fast, airy melodic speed metal, with swashbuckling keys and high as a kite vocals from main man Tommy. Some would call it cheesy as hell but I just call it a whole heap of happy!

36. Wuthering Heights - Salt
The last two WH have been magical and Salt is more of the same from the band. The vocal performance of Patrik Johansson is of course teh main draw for me. The music is so dazzling and melodic that it takes a few plays to fully cement itself in your brain but once it does your in for a hell of a ride!

35. Rhapsody of Fire - The Frozen Tears of Angels
Finally they are back and with two releases this year no less! I think Luca finally realised that Rhapsody of Fire is a heavy metal band first and foremost which is what makes this comeback so good. The band were lost in the Joey created dark abyss but now they are fully back on track. Oh to one day catch them live - tis but a dream of mine! Oh and Luca please make that Keeper 3 album you promised us many moons ago with Olaf Hayer doing his best Kiske impression - you owe it to us!

34. H.E.A.T - Freedom Rock
The kings of AOR currently deliver a strong follow up to the stand out debut. The singer Kenny has gone now but the new guy promises to be just as good. They are due to release an ep with him with some new songs and re-records of early songs with his new vocals. We will see how it turns out but Kenny is mighty big shoes to fill as he delivers a stellar performance on these tunes.

33. InnerWish - No Turning Back
These guys were missing for year and years but they came back with a huge band this year. This is a real solid melodic power metal album with plenty of balls and memorable songs with plenty of fat choruses to get stuck into. Nice one by the Greeks!

32. Edenbridge - Solitaire
Been loving Sabine and co since the Shine album now and Solitaire is yet another fantastic release. The production on this album is just incredible being heavy as lead and yet crystal clear. I love Sabine's style of singing and the songs are very good for the most part. I know some have claimed the album is 'boring' but I hear only the opposite so I'm very happy with this album.

31. Issa - Sign Of Angels
Another one of those manufactured Frontiers releases, but when the quality of songwriting is this good then who can bith? Issa is a gal going places make no mistake, she can really sing and looks the part. Whether she makes it in melodic rock music is open to question but she could be really quite big in Europe if they tone down the guitars for her. However for the sake of us rockers let's hope they don't do that and she comes back with another top quality follow up. I'm sure the Frontiers team have a follow up in mind, they are not stupid, they know when they have a hit on their hands.

30. Wicked Sensation - Crystallized
Another melodic rock come back gem, this time from our Deutsch friends. The production on this album is near enough flawless. The songs are memorable and the vocals are super clear. Again if you enjoy melodic rock/metal you can't go wrong with Wicked Sensation.

29. Grand Magus - Hammer Of The North
This is grand indeed. Pounding true heavy metal to be sung loud and proud from cliff tops with wind in your hair etc. These guys have moved away from the real doomy stuff and remind me a little bit of Amon Amarth musically speaking only of course with those chest beating pounding riffs and magical calls to Valhalla reflected in the pwoerful vocals. Epic!

28. Volbeat - Beyond Hell Above Heaven
Sure the wonder of Volbeat has worn off and they've been making similar albums for a while now but it seems there is a slight change in the air this time. The songs sound much more melodic than before not that they weren't melodic then, but it somehow sounds even catchier now. One of those bands that's quite hard to put down to be honest and almost a guilty pleasure though there's nothing to be guilty about in loving da 'beat!

27. Degreed - Life Love Loss
A melodic pop/rock debut full of wonderfully catchy material. They are very young and sound it on record, but they are also very professional and when you have a debut of this much quality, it really bodes well for the future.

26. Suicidal Angels - Dead Again
Old school thrash doesn't get any better than this for me. A rip roaring, short, sharp ride through Slayer infested waters, made for people who like to bang their heads - a lot!

25. Sinbreed - When Worlds Collide
Another top class German band this time at the heavy end of the power metal spectrum. Carrying the torch where bands like Running Wild and Grave Digger to a lesser extent have left it behind.

24. Firewind - Days of Defiance
Been a Gussy fanboy for years now. Firewind have slowly evolved from a straight up heavy power band to more of a melodic rock direction which suits me fine as I love both styles. However this album sees a toning down of the melodic elements and a return to more of a heavy power metal sound. I don't think it's as good as The Premonition but it's a really good album in it's own right. Apollo sounds totally amazing as always.

23. Masterplan - Time to be King
Yet another really great come back although I guess some people will have other views. I for one think Jorn needed to sing for Masterplan and they did the best they could do. The songs were there and the sound was really heavy. I've read complaints about the production but I don't hear any major flaws myself. A very enjoyable platter and any time Jorn sings I'm listening!

22. Vega - Kiss Of Life
Another debut from the UK this time and it's pretty much flawless as you would expect from a Frontiers release. The production is tip top as are the songs. I am not a huge huge fan of the vocals which can be a touch thin on occasion but that's such a minor complaint as song wise the album can hold it's head up high with the best of them.

21. Versailles - Jubilee
An acquired taste in power metal circles shall we say, but the band never ceases to amaze with their music skills. The vocals will always be a major stumbling block for most but I must admit I have got used to the warbling buzzard with time and the music is always enough of a draw, especially the sumptious production values and spectacular playing ability.

20. Dark Moor – Ancestral Romance
Massive fan of the last Dark Moor and I looked forward to this follow up with baited breath and at first I wasn't so sure but then after more plays I realised this is a wonderful release in it's own right. It's majestic, has many troughs and valleys and a crystal clear production. The symphonic elements and the ambition of the band is also pretty breath taking at times. This one needs plays galore but you will be rewarded in time.

19. Galneryus – Resurrection
With a new singer on board I wasn't sure how the new Galneryus will sound, but I shouldn't have worried cause it sounds bloody great! The music is always sweeping melodic power with top notch sonics and the new guy on the mic has a much mroe pleasant voice to listen to and sounds less 'Japanese' hehe!

18. Stone Sour - Audio Secrecy
A shock entry from this modern rock Slipknot spin off band. I hadn't liked a single song from the band before the little that I had heard of them, but when i first heard the single Say You'll Haunt Me, I was haunted alright! The vocals for Corey are really good, the guitars, rock and the songs stay in your head for days. Only the production was a touch muddy for my tastes. Songwise it had it all as far as modern rock goes.

17. Signum Regis - The Eyes of Power
A recent entry but what an album from a little known guy from Slovakia who does everything by himself and has Goran Edman and a couple of guests do the vocals. This album is just pure pleasure to listen to let me tell you. Melodic power metal with a slight melodic rock edge and also a shred angle all topped off with Goran's crystal clear vocals. For someone with my taste this really is a no brainer.

16. Allen Lande - The Showdown
Well we've been waiting for the third Allen lande instalment from the songwriting sword of Magnus Karlsson and it doesn't disappoint one jot. Sure it goes over tried and tested ground but when you can listen through without feeling the urge to hit the skip button then your in melodic heaven with two of the finest voices in rock at the helm to boot. I have never been a big Allen fan but always a huge Jorn fan but this album made me an Allen fan.

15. Accept - Blood Of The Nations
Holy Shit this is good! I am not a fan of Udo's vox but I know his place in Accept is almost sacrosanct according to some, but damn this guy does a tip top job. The production courtesy of Sneap is what you would expect of course, being massively heavy and in your face, but you still need the tunes and Accept have outdone themselves. I would say it's the best Accept album ever by far personally speaking, having no great allegiance to the early days with Udo. I will catch them on the UK tour in early 2011 you betcha!

14. Pretty Maids - Pandemonium
Another band that I've never had a love affair with in the past that really shocked with the quality of their album. This is melodic heavy metal at it's very best and make no mistake. I haven't been into Pretty Maids much in the past but if they ever make it over to our shores, I'll be there in a flash judging by this album.

13. Helloween - 7 Sinners
Gambling with the Devil was awesome and 7 Sinners follows suit. Andi Deris is now at the heart of everything great about modern day Helloween and belongs as the lead singer of the band. The quality in this album remains at a high standard all the way. The production is very heavy and perhaps could have been a touch clearer if I'm being extra picky. Songwise the band is in great form though I am not sure if I like the album as much as it's predecessor.

12. Aeon Zen – The Face Of The Unknown
This young boy really has some amazing chops and is a top class songwriter to boot. This album is not perfect from beginning to end especially vocally as too many different people sing with various levels of success including Rich Binks himself. It would be wise to find one singer next time. Musically almost flawless in my eyes.

11. Astral Doors - Requiem Of Time
The band that can do no wrong. Album after album sounds exactly the same. Do I care? The hell do I! They just have the knack for writing cool tunes and when you have one of the best rock singers in the world on the mic you can't really go far wrong in my eyes. Hopefully they are working on a follow up quickly as I know these guys work pretty fast.

10. Grand Illusion - Brand New World
Wonderfully produced Svensk melodc pomp rock comeback. These guys had some cool albums under their belts in the past but nothing that I would go gaga over, but the new album did send me over the top when I first heard it. Some of it has worn off over time but it deserves it's position due to the number of times I played it earlier on in the year. The production on this thing is literally a million dollars. A joyous listen.

09. Dream Evil - In The Night
The most fun heavy metal band out there. Some don't get it but I think most metal fans have a soft spot for da 'Evil in their hearts. In The Night was almost as good as United but maybe a touch below. That still gives it easy top ten status for me. They rock live too!

08. Axel Rudi Pell - The Crest
Love Axel's style and album after album he delivers the same high standard of melodic metal. The Crest is an all round solid record and with Johnny Gioeli in top form on the mic.

07. Rage - Strings to a web
Loved Carved in Stone the rpevious effort but I know many didn't but Strings to a Web is even better in my eyes. I love the guitar play from Viktor Smolski and Peavy is his usual "cool as hell frontman" self. The song writing is very good all round and the album is just a great ride. Love it to death!

06. Pathfinder - Beyond The Space Beyond The Time
Holy crap these guys have created one of the most spectacular symphonic power metal debuts of all time. These Poles have really honed their style to perfection. They've been around quite a while and have created quite a buzz here and there with the odd song, but the album as a whole is just a magnificent record in my eyes.

05. Treat - Coup De Grace
Great comeback time! I've said that a few times in this run down haven't I! Well this time it really is true. These Swedes have completely bowled me over with this release. The songs, the sound, the good time feel, everything is more or less perfect. The only thing which is slightly below what I would call perfect are the vocals which whilst very good are not technically perfect always but that's basically really splitting hairs as a criticism. Amazing album!

04. Alter Bridge - AB III
That three great albums in a row from these giants of US modern hard rock. Blackbird was just an amazing record but by the Gods of Rock they've actually managed to equal if not better it! The vocal performance from Myles Kennedy is truly a wonder for the ears. The songwriting is consistently strong as strong as an ox and it makes you wonder how they keep churning out these wonderfully strong melodies song after song. Perhaps the album that hits strongest on an emotional level this year.

03. Sabaton - Coat Of Arms
When I first heard Coat of Arms I was almost a touch disappointed. I thought it was quite a step down from The Art of War and whilst I still think that album is unbeatable, I have now grown to adore Coat of Arms almost just as much. The band just has this addictive sense of melody and free flowing melodic power metal that I find very hard to resist.

02. Seventh Wonder - The Great Escape
When I first heard this album my mouth was literally nailed to the floor. I thought damn these guys have gone and topped Mercy Falls which I thought was an impossible task. But heck, they've somehow managed it. The production on this record is phenomenal and cannot be bettered ever. This is how melodic metal should sound in my book. In general prog metal is not a genre which Iam a major fan of however with a band like Seventh Wonder the melodic quotient is set so high that it immediately grabs and never lets go. It's also one of those albums that reveals further charms the more you play it. The vocals are also one of the best in the business. His tone and melody is really pure aural ambrosia for the ears.

01. Instanzia - Ghost
So I arrive at the number one disk of the year for me and it to be honest it is a complete surprise. This disk has completey bowled me over. Imagine that some unknowns from Canada on their debut album deliver something so spectacularly good that it floors everything else I've heard this year. Ok this is very high praise indeed and perhaps a little over the top, but put the praise in context that this is their debut effort and most bands need time but these guys have immediately made their name. I'm sure many people won't probably hear them and ignore them as a noob band, but goddamn these boys have it all. Their songwriting skills are really something to be hold. There is not one weak moment in this album that I can hear. The choruses swirl around your head like a swarm of bees and embed themselves long after the songs have finished. The replaybility of this disk is just through the roof for me. The lead vocals could perhaps be a touch more powerful, hwoever this is nit picking in the extreme. The choir back ups are wonderful and pure sugar for the ears and even the lyrical matter intrigues me at times and normally I could care less about lyrics but I listen quite closely to the words this time. They even give Sabaton a run for their money with a lyrically sympathetic song about Field Marshall Rommell. I'm not sure about the accuracy of it and about Rommell being a "good guy" on the "dark side" but anyway the song itself is completely amazing. So well done guys you deserve my number one spot. There's not an original note to be heard here but with songs of this magnitude you just can't go wrong. Brilliant!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Top 40 death metal albums of 2010

Yes it's that time again. This year's death metal has been rather so so I must say. I always find albums to like though and I have found 40 worthy of my time though of course not everyone's!

40. Decimation - Anthems Of An Empyreal Dominion
Cool death metal with intricate riffing.

39. Diluvian – Epidemic
Tight and clinical tech death blastathon.

38. Made of Hate - Pathogen
Great riffed up melodeath with slightly raw production but tons of riffs to enjoy.

37. Revolting - The Terror Threshold
Old school death metal is king.

36. Heaving Earth - Diabolic Prophecies
Morbid Angel worship is king.

35. A Loathing Requiem - Psalms Of Misanthropy
Necrophagist worship is win but production is lose.

34. Synperium - Elemental Disharmony
Aussie staccato tech death but not quite as good as the best but solid nevertheless.

33. Ichor - Benthic Horizon
Brutality and death metal music with songs fixated with the sea.

32. The Absence - Enemy Unbound
Top quality melodic death metal a genre which I have slowly fallen out of love with but when it's done properly well who can resist.

31. Solerrain - Fighting The Illusion
Super dooper Bodom worship from the icy Russian wastes. Fast, melodic and well produced.

30. Cerberus - Redemption Of Demigod
Clinical and tight brutal death from our Chilean amigos. Comprende?

29. Overoth - Kingdom Of Shadows
Morbid Angel worship is king and then some as far as this band's concerned.

28. Fleshwrought – Dementia-Dyslexia
Well played tech death.

27. Sarcolytic - Thee Arcane Progeny
Super brutal and tight tech death.

26. Demiurg - Slakthus Gamleby
Classic old school death with Dan Swano and the man man Rogga Johannson

25. Inherit Disease - Visceral Transcendence
The most brutal album by far in my list. Not for the weak of will or heart. I know everyone hates it.

24. Sothoros - Flood The Stone
Again well played tech death with some melody as well.

23. Fleshrot – Traumatic_Reconfiguration
Standard cool death metal like Cannibal Corpse but faster.

22. Element - The Energy
Sci-fi tech death with clean sound. Like Detachment or Psyferia or bands of that ilk.

21. Atheist - Jupiter
I have very mixed views on this come back. The production sounds good but the arrangements sound very messy and disjointed to me. There's not much flow. I have never liked the vocals in Atheist and I continue to dislike them in fact I think he completely sucks as a "death metal growler singer or whatever". Having said that there are some amazing riffs on the album so all is not lost but for my ears this album could have been so much better if the songs were more catchy and focused.

20. Dawn Of Demise - A Force Unstoppable
Cool and heavy riffing death metal plain and simple.

19. Dark Tranquillity - We Are The Void
The kings of the genre gets darker and more blackened but still have class in spades.

18. Arsis - Starve for the Devil
Good solid melodic death metal with pristine production. I'll take them over Arch Enemy any day.

17. Zilla - Pragmatic Evolution
Melodic and tech death with slightly bad vocals but nice music. I'll get over the vox.

16. Entrails - Tales From The Morgue
Hahahaha! (that was supposed to be an evil laugh by the way!) Killer old school death with Sunlight guitar sound and all round catchy, deathly, ghostly, gravely, evilness.

15. Diskreet - Engage The Mechanicality
Brutal and tech death guys with much more tech sound than before with a cleaner production. Like it cerebral? Listen to Diskreet!

14. Flesh Consumed - Ecliptic Dimensions of Suffering
Brutal and tech death machine, very well played.

13. Hideous Deformity - Defoulment Of Human Purity
Really solid brutal tech death with great separation in the production and really solid all round.

12. Kalmah - 12 Gauge
The best melodeath album of the year with ease. Kalmah are real stalwarts of this genre now.

11. Severe Torture - Slaughtered
The European Corpse Worship Machine as I like to tag them. They know what the fuck they are doing and deliver brutality and hig precision level death metal.

10. Annotations Of An Autopsy - The Reign Of Darkness
Ex UK deathcore merchants leave that bullshit behind and deliver solid and heavy pounding death metal with strong Morbid Angel licks and slowish groove riffs.

09. King Of Asgard – Fi'mbulvintr
The new Amon Amarth so to speak.

08. Arkaik - Reflections Within Dissonance
Brutal and high quality tech death from this underground band. A brilliant and well played album with cool intuitive riffs.

07. Colonize the Rotting - Composing the Masticated
One of the best productions I have ever heard on a brutal death metal album. the sound is totally monstrously massive and yet crystal clear. The songs are short groovy and to the point with high precision level drums and riffing.

06. Aeon - Path Of Fire
Swedish uber satanists deliver their usual catchy death metal with stomps, grooves and cool vocals with lyrics which to me seem slightly tongue in cheek.

05. Stigmatized - Whispers of the Dead
German mob return after great first album and do not disappoint. The production is fabulous and there are some totally brilliant passages here. The vocals are a bit too mixed up and I wish they would stick with the Chuck/Tardy mix of the first album. Musically these guys can hold their head with the best that death metal has to offer.

04. Jack Slater - Extinction Aftermath
One more for our Deutsch friends in Jack Slater. Clean riffed heavy tech death with quality sound. What more can you ask for as a fan of death metal I say.

03. Decrepit Birth – Polarity
Not sure if Polarity is as good as the previous album but it sure as hell kicks ass in it's own right. These guys have the most amazing solos I've heard all year.

02. Soreption - Deterioration Of Minds
Wow what top quality Decapitated worship this is. If you like stop start clincal riffathons then this band is for you. The songs are very catchy to boot.

01. Son of Aurelius - The Farthest Reaches
This is just a stupendous album of death metal magic. Yes it has links to the deathcore scene and I will say that the vocals took a damn lot of getting used to from my perspective (and i still don't like them by the way), however the music in this band is just amazing to say the least. Free flowing not overly busy or brain damaging but with superb musicianship. I just love the flow and the melodies these guys use in their riffs. It all seems so effortless though I'm sure it's as complex as hell. I also like the fact that they don't try to be too brutal and just let the music flow so well so that it doesn't sound disjointed like in many death metal bands.

So that's it for death metal in 2010. Cannibal Corpse will release in 2011. Let's hope it rips face!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Taste of Chaos Tour @ Wembley Arena Live Report

Wasn’t planning on going to this tour by any means but when you can nab a ticket for half price you have to give it a go don’t you and the thing is I’ve wanted to see Disturbed for a good while now having become a fan from the Believe album onwards. Of course 3 other bands were on this bill as well, namely female fronted rockers Halestorm, glamsters Buckcherry and melodic nu-metallers Papa Roach.

Luckily the guy I got the ticket off had bought a seat that was perfectly situated to the right of the stage and close enough to see the stage clearly but without being able to see the whites of their eyes but with a great view. The venue is not really set out to be a music venue as the seats face the main floor and the stage is at one end so you end up swivelling in your seat a little towards the stage.

Anyway as I sat down Halestorm were just starting their second or third song. They sounded quite good and they have quite a feisty lady fronting them whose hair used to be blonde as I recall but it was dyed brunette this time. The band sounded fine and so did she. It wasn’t that exciting but it was a good enough warm up. The last song Get Off is their most famous and best tune and got the biggest response from the crowd.

A little word about the crowd actually. This audience was not one which I usually recognise as my fellow gig goers. I’d say the majority of the crowd would be classed as casual metal fans. In the sense that these were normal people who happened to like or heard some Disturbed or Papa roach and though it was cool. Of course there were a lot of youngsters at the show who obviously are only into nu-school or jump da fuck up metal and also a lot of what we call “Chavs” or what you Yanks would call “white trash” at the show. These bands just seem to attract this type of fan for some reason though of course Disturbed seem to attract all types of people who are transfixed by their unity under metal mantra.

Anyway it was time for Buckcherry. I know zilch about them aprt from seeing a few pics and interviews in rock mags and knowing that they are glammy. And glammy they were in spades! They sounded like AC/DC gone glam or sleazy. That All Night Long song got the crowd going which was filling up nicely by now. I’d guess the final attendance to be around 6-7000 or so. The seats weren’t full by any means but the floor was heavily packed. Back to Buckcherry and soon the very energetic frontman took his top off to reveal a lean multicoloured torso full of tatts and started doing his dancing madcap whirling dervish routine. Can’t say I will ever be a Buckcherry fan but they entertain no doubt.

Next up were Paparoach whose only song I know is of course Last Resort with the Maiden riff steal in it. It seems a lot of their songs have melodic metal motifs in them one other example being The Enemy and plenty of others too. Paparoach is one of those bands that the kids go apeshit for and I mean really fucking apeshit. There were huge pits breaking out all over the place and it was quite a sight watching a sea of kids being swept around the floor like a rowdy human sea or something. The front man for Paparoach whose name escapes me was very good at inciting a near enough riot during the the final song which was of course their number one anthem, Last Resort. Look I’m not rushing out to get Paparoach cds after this but you can’t deny they put on a spectacle of melodic nu-metal posturing and slam dancing which was a real sight to be hold from my vantage point. I’ll pass on the music though!

And finally at 9.45pm we arrived at Disturbed and my only real reason for being there. The stage set was much more interesting to look at with large video screens behind the band which sometimes show the band and other times videos of the song the band happen to be playing. The sound was very crisp although I noticed that the guitar was a bit low in the mix and didn’t sound as good as Paparoach’s did by far. However David Draiman’s voice was mixed stupendously loud compared with the other instruments and I think I know why. He has a lot of problems with his voice and I think he is mixed super loud so he doesn’t have to sing himself hoarse in order to be heard above the rest of the music.

The band is very tight once they hit their stride with their booming brand of powerful metal, which sounds very empowering so to speak. My fave songs were Prayer and Inside the Fire but the whole set was played tight and very well. The only this I would say is that Draiman sometimes changes vocal melodies very slightly when compared to the albums, which could be another problem that has arisen from his vocal problems. Not that it makes that much difference and it’s even quite cool to hear it in a different way sometimes. The vocal acrobatics that he does were done flawlessly and he seemed to be singing within himself and not busting his balls with emotion or anything, yet another sign of the vocal situation that he has.

The crowd response for them was not as huge and immense as it was for Paparoach but it was close. Multiple crazy pits were breaking out and of course the “unity in metal” that Draiman never ceases to go an about is quite cool to witness though possibly a little bit cheesy. They are a very powerful band and with the songs to back it up although I must admit I think I prefer them on record than live personally speaking.
The final song of the night is their anthem Down With The Sickness and finally saw the Wembley Arena floor going literally bananas with mega amounts of pits breaking out and a fitting end to the night it was.

The Game
Land of Confusion
The Animal
Inside the Fire
Another Way to Die
Ten Thousand Fists

Down with the Sickness

Monday, 6 December 2010

Helloween and Stratovarius Live Report

On a perishingly cold Sunday night the London power metal throngs gathered at the HMV Forum for two of the giants of the game to show us what they can do to warm us up. First of all, as I walked in the venue a third and unexpected band were on stage doing the actual warming up so to speak. I didn't have any idea about the presence of this band who were in fact Trick or Treat from Spain. I actually know these guys quite well and they are quite fun. I only caught 3 songs from the band and they sounded quite happy and fun but the singer had an extremely high voice with a rather thick Spanish accent which is a bit funny but power metal is supposed to be fun is it not? ToT were that indeed for three songs..

It is my first time in this venue and I found it to be a really nice place to hold a gig of this size. The upstairs was actually shut off completely as the attendance obviously did not warrant said opening. The crowd slowly built in anticipation for Stratovarius and finally at 8pm they took to the stage with an 800 or so crowd ready to welcome them to London once again. I must admit the sound was pretty excellent all night although I had trouble hearing Timo's vocals on occasion. It was rather strange to see only two long term Strato members on stage - namely Timo and Jens of course. However the new guitarist is really a top notch player and nailed his parts to perfection although he's not the most expressive guy facially.

Timo tried hard to get the crowd going and to begin with it was a bit of a struggle but slowly the crowd was warming to the task. Timo announced that Jorg Michael was ill and would rejoin the band in January but they had a very suitable replacement by the name of Alex something or other I forget what. Anyway the band is very tight indeed replacement drummer or not. I must admit I don't recognise quite a lot of the set list although I've heard them in the past, I'm just not enough of a Strato fanboy to be singing along to the tunes but there were plenty of people present who were obviously! My favourite song of the night was Speed of Light which was played lightning last and sounded very good indeed. Kiss of Judas was also a recognisable highlight. Winter Skies was also excellently played and sung. The song of the set however was the furiously catchy Hunting High and Low. The last song was Black Diamond of course one of theie most famous. I actually don't like this song much oddly enough but people loved it of course. At 9pm Stratovarius finally left the stage to long applause. They pleased me but I wasn't overly excited by them to be honest but like I said I am not a huge huge Strato fan or anything but I respect them as one of the power metal biggies in Europe. I sometimes wonder how Stratovarius would sound if they were a twin guitar band but that's for another day. The only thing I would repeat is that it's rather odd for the founder of the band to not be up there on stage with them not that I care or anything though. I guess it's better for the band that he's not though as the new album Elysium could be very special..hopefully!

  1. Phoenix
  2. Legions
  3. Darkest Hours
  4. The Kiss of Judas
  5. Against the Wind
  6. Winter Skies
  7. Speed of Light
  8. Deep Unknown
  9. Paradise
  10. Hunting High and Low
  11. Black Diamond
Finally at around 9.40pm Helloween took to the stage with a blisteringly heavy version of Are You Metal? blaring out of the speakers. The song sounded much better live than it does on record as well. The band looked and sounded on tip top form by all reckoning and this after just one song. The sound was crystal clear more or less instantly which I am not used to happening in London gigs, as normally it takes the sound guys a couple of songs to sort things out but this time there was no such problems.

Andi Deris was really into it in a rather big way I must say and got the crowd well pumped who were much more vociferous than they were for Stratovarius. Eagle Fly Free saw full crowd participation on the chorus and most of the song actually and Andi often turned the mic to the crowd and was met with loud singing. Andi's vocals were top notch all night and he nailed the highs even though he did make one funny quip before one song with rather too many high notes! He said something to the affect that he has his "predecessor to thank for that!" referring to Kiske of course.

I must admit I had seen recent helloween setlists which were personally speaking much better for me , featuring newer songs which are more in line with my personal taste. However what they did perform, they did with flawless abandon. Markus' bass playing was awesome to say the least and he sounded crystal clear in the sound mix which helped no end. I was hoping to hear World of Fantasy from the new album or If I Could Fly which I have seen on recent set lists as I said but it wasn't to be. The Keeper medley of their longest songs was rapturously received although I must admit that part dragged a touch for me although I should say I was probably alone in that respect in the whole crowd hehe!

The end of the set saw the band play songs that they obviously must play otherwise they'd be lynched probably! The songs being the usual suspects that you can see below in the set list. I beat a hasty retreat after the first encore and missed Dr. Stein but I've heard it enough now I think don't you? :-)

My overall feeling is that Helloween really are the grandfathers of this genre now and most bands look up to them as reaching the pinnacle of European power metal and although the set list did not quite meet with my expectations personally speaking, I can't deny that they are probably stronger as a band than they've ever been. The songs I did hear were executed flawlessly and with great enthusiasm by all on stage even Weiky who is not the happiest of fellows on stage at the best of times, looked to be having lots of fun. The funniest guy was definitely Markus though and he's actually a very talented bass player and I think people sometimes forget that. More new songs next time guys!

  1. Are You Metal?
  2. Eagle Fly Free
  3. March of Time
  4. Guitar Solo
  5. Where the Sinners Go
  6. Steel Tormentor
  7. Drum Solo
  8. I'm Alive
  9. Handful Of Pain
  10. Keeper/The King for A 1000 Years /Halloween Medley
  11. I Want Out
  1. Ride the Sky
  2. Future World
2nd Encore
  1. Dr. Stein

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Alter Bridge @ the Hammersmith Apollo

For the life of me I can't remember if I've ever been to the Apollo but as I arrived outside Hammersmith tube, the place had a very familiar look about it. There was already a queue outside but it was far too early to join then so I went for a stroll round Hammersmith which was very busy indeed, stopping off at this Charcoal Grill place where Chicken Shish and Chips was definitely the order of the day! Before long I was heading back to the venue at 7pm or so with belly full and ready for a night's pounding heavy rock. The excitement was starting to build slow and there was a huge, though moving queue building up as I joined the back of it. I was looking forward to seeing Alter Bridge immensely as I have all three of their albums and each of them is spectacular in it's own way. The band can do very little wrong as far as I'm concerned.

Luckily I had managed to nab a ticket on ebay although it was in the "Gods" I wasn't that worried as I had a decent view of the stage and a fairly comfortable seat. The Apollo was pretty much packed to the rafters I would say with probably around 6000 or so people attending the show at a guess. It's interesting to see what kind of people attend an Alter Bridge show. It's not the usual type of metalhead or hard rocker crowd that I am used to. You get people from all walks of life attending. Old people in their 60s who are nostalgic rockers to emo teenagers in My Chemical Romance shirts and all types in between. The band really does attract a wide variety and I guess it just boils down to the fact that their song writing has such wide ranging appeal.

First band on at 8pm were Slaves to Gravity. I listened to them on myspace and they weren't that bad or anything but their tunes didn't excite live. They were like an Alter Bridge-lite band without the melodic tunes or the really amazing vocals. They got an OK response but people were just waiting impatiently for Alter Bridge now.

Finally at 9.15 sharp the lights went down and AB took to the stage although the spotlight was solely on Myles Kennedy as the opening strains of the opening cut off the new album AB III started things off nicely with Myles crooning and then the full band launching earnestly into the song. The sound was immediately much better than it was for the support band being heavy sharp and crystal clear with a rumbling cutting bass sound. This can sometimes overpower the other instruments but it was not the case this time as Tremonti's guitar was sharp as a razor.

After the opener, we were straight into one of the best and catchiest tunes off of Blackbird, namely Buried Alive with it's mighty riffs and hugely infectious chorus which the whole of the Hammy Apollo was belting out with Myles. What a song! The set continued with beefed up heavy guitars and the amazing vocals of Myles shining out like a beacon although on many occasions the crowd was drowning him out such was the sing-along and adulation levels. Metalingus from the debut album was just awesomely played and sung by the band with trademark Tremonti licks burning the house down. Personally I prefer the two latest albums to the debut but all the tunes played fitted in with each other seamlessly.

It sometimes amazes me how good bands effortlessly play their songs and deliver it with as much passion as Alter Bridge does. Myles was very thankful of the crowd throughout the gig and said that it was a dream come true to play to such a crowd and it was an evening he would cherish for a long time and the feeling was mutual within the crowd. Finally we arrived at one of the most mesmeric and epic tunes in their repertoire, the monumental title track of their second album Blackbird, which was played and sung like it's the last time it's ever going to be sung. A spine tingling moment that one! Once again the whole crowd joined in on the chorus and were struggling to hear the band over the crowd which was an epic feat in itself.

At the end of the set they took their bows and left the stage though of course the show was not over the "Alter Bridge! Alter Bridge!" cries and slowly ascending hand claps soon started and before long we saw Myles sitting on a stool in the spotlight with acoustic guitar in hand. The next two songs were sung acoustically. the first of which was Myles on his own singing Watch Over You with amazing passion. It was at this point that you realise what a great voice the guy really has as you could hear it more clearly when not backed by heavy distorted guitars. The second song saw Mark Tremonti join Myles for an acoustic version of the amazing new ballad Wonderful Life off the new record which was once again mesmerisingly beautiful and I'm sure a few tears were shed around the crowd at that one.

After that Myles donned his electric once again and announced that your normal programming is now resumed as the band launched into a monstrously heavy version of Isolation the massive hit single from AB III which was for me perhaps the best sing along moment of the night with all and sundry once again belting out that chorus like there's no tomorrow. Classic!

Finally we arrived at the last song of the night, the totally anthemic Rise Today from Blackbird with it's stirring challenging chorus which was once again boomed out by the crowd right along with Myles and co. Looking at the set list I would have loved to have heard Life Must Go On personally speaking as it's just an immense tune but maybe next time eh. Unfortunately I was just sitting too far away to get any sort of decent pictures as a memento of the show but the music will live long in the memory in any case. All in all a great night of melodic modern hard rock was had by all. If you get the chance to see Alter Bridge at all then don't miss it as I nearly did cause you will be in for a right treat!

Set list:

Slip to the Void
Buried Alive
Before Tomorrow Comes
Still Remains
Brand New Start
White Knuckles
All Hope Is Gone
Broken Wings
Ghost of Days Gone By
Ties That Bind
One Day Remains
I Know It Hurts
Open Your Eyes
Come To Life

Watch Over You (Acoustic)
Wonderful Life (Acoustic)
Rise Today

Friday, 15 October 2010

Sabaton Live Report

I had been looking forward to this gig for months and months and finally after an eternity of waiting, it's finally come and gone, but boy was it worth the wait and leaves me with great memories. This is the 4th time I am seeing the Saba war machine in action and probably their best gig yet. On this occasion they were playing the Electric Ballroom which is a huge upgrade for them from their previous jaunts across the UK as a headline act. The place was jam packed and ready for a night of power metal magic and believe they weren't going to be leaving the hall disappointed one iota!

First band of the night was newcomers Thaurorod who themselves have a very nifty power metal debut under their belts. They played well but their material suffered from lack of memorability for most of the crowd whose response overall was not as enthusiastic as it might have been had they been more familiar with the material. The best song they played was Shadows and Rain which was a beautifully melodic mid paced song with more accessibility and easily got the best response compared to the other songs. This was not Thaurorod's night but their time will come. The singer also needs to work a little bit on his live vocals.

Next up were the True Scottish Pirate Metal troop, Alestorm. I had been looking forward to see the Scots for the first time and they didn't fail me. What I didn't quite expect was the response from the crowd. The place went absolutely apeshit for these guys and then some. I was near the front and to the side but the pit was non stop mental for these guys. I didn't actually realise that the front man plays keytar until he ran out with one. You don't see too many of those at metal gigs.

Their set list consisted of songs from both their album which I am very familiar with. At some points the crowd was going completely doolally! There was even a huge wall of death which saw bodies getting totally mauled and battered. The fancy dress pirates were there in force and there was even a dude dressed as a ninja believe it or not. I was trying to take his picture but I couldn't get a clear shot so you'll have to imagine the dude was cloaked in black and you could only see his eyes! After 45 minutes of pure unadulterated fun it was time for them to leave. They did play one new song for us called Rum which was absolutely hilarious and a rollicking great tune. These guys may not be everyone's cuppa but live they are unstoppable!

And finally for the main event and one of the best power metal shows I have ever witnessed ever and I've seen a few. Sabaton is one of those bands that speaks to my heart now and I adore everything they do. Tonight I was looking forward to hearing many new songs as well as the killer hits of earlier albums. Any song that they played was played to perfection and enthusiasm. The crowd treats them with complete adulation all night and it's impossible not to be taken in by this band. Joakim is one hell of a front man and whips the crowd into a riot soon enough although it must be said this crowd didn't need any help when it came to causing absolute mayhem - they could do that without geeing up all night.

After the intro of The Final Countdown which everyone sang along with and enjoyed the gig proper started with a storming version of Ghost Division which is always a great and ultra energetic start before diving headlong into the first new track, Uprising with it's fist pumping, anthemic feel. The sound was immediately much tighter and crisper than for the other bands and you new who the headliners were alright. The crowd was jam packed at the front but the gig was completely sold out.

Next up was one of my favourite new songs Aces in Exile with it's wonderful fast free flowing tempo and glorious sing along chorus. Great stuff and played to perfection. Next two songs were Cliffs of Gallipoli which is nothing less than one of the most emotional songs ever followed by 40:1 which is one of the catchiest. The following song was the mesmeric The Final Solution with it's awesome keyboard parts. The song was dedicated by Joakim to those that died. He also said that they didn't play the song before this tour as the subject matter was too morose but since the UK fans had specifically asked for it the band had to play it. the rendition was again very emotional and perfect in every way.

Next up was the upbeat and more jolly Attero Dominatus which the whole crowd sang along with drowning out Joakim at times. Next came Wolfpack, which is not a fave song of mine but it's ok. It was notable for a rendition of happy birthday for drummer Daniel. Next came another newie, Saboteurs which Joakim dedicated to the Norwegians which aided the allies in the war and which are the subject of this song. A brilliant song make no mistake.

Next up was The Price of a Mile which was also very emotional and brilliant sung and played with it's thudding almost desperate melody. The final song of the main set followed which as Back in Control about the Brits regaining the Falkland's again. Another of their great rapid fire catchy tunes that everyone just has to sing along with. They took their bows and left after however the Sabaton chants soon started from the packed crowd and grew louder and ever louder meaning their return was not long in coming.

The first song in the encore was the the title track of the new album, Coat of Arms which was with a near enough riot of a moshpit at the front. Next up was huge fan fave, Primo Victoria which got the whole place bouncing to it's military beat and not a single voice was not raised for the chorus. And finally we arrived at their ode to metal, namely Metal Machine which is just a great way to end any gig with it's happy feel to counter some of the more emotional songs played earlier.

So yes the gig was immense and will live long in the memory of everyone who witnessed it. Sabaton are a well oiled power metal machine these days with enough musical ammo to last for countless wars ahead. This battle was one they could not lose and so it proved to be a massacre on all levels. Hail Sabaton!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Jorn Live

A dull and barren Monday night was wonderfully lit up when I finally got to see one of my favourite singers in the world today, Jorn Lande. I have 3 favourite singers of which Jorn is one with the other two being Nils Patrik Johansson and Johnny Gioeli. When I found out that Jorn was playing a gig at the Underworld it was a complete no-brainer to nab a ticket to see this legend of the mic. I looked forward to last night immensely and now that it has come and gone I realise that Jorn is just an amazing singer with great power and emotion.

However before Jorn took to the stage, the support band Crimes of Passion played an energetic if one dimensional melodic rock set with guitar shredding aplenty. I have come across these Brit melodic rock merchants before and have quite enjoyed their material whilst not loving it. In a live setting they played pretty well but didn't really get the juices flowing so to speak. Their front man is an energetic dude and has a few nifty one liners for the gathered crowd which draws a few laughs. The sound didn't help them being rather loud and muddy but Crimes of Passion did their best and had one or two cool headbanging tunes to enjoy.

Finally at around 9.15 or so it was time for the main event. I was wondering what sort of setlist Jorn had prepared for us and was hoping for a couple of older songs from Worldchanger and possibly a couple of non Jorn solo songs from Masterplan or his Dio tribute album but the whole setlist was plundered from his more recent albums. I would have loved to have heard Sunset Station or World Changer but alas it wasn't to be so I didn't let it worry me too much as song after heavy song was played to the half full Underworld. Actually the turn out was probably around 250, not too bad considering there was a tube strike and it was a shitty Monday night.

Anyway let me tell you Jorn's band is shit hot tight. His two guitarists never missed a note all night. The sound in the Underworld was incendiary too. I had my usual home made ear protectors in and the sound was super clear but bludgeoningly loud but very crisp like I said. In fact Jorn's vocals were at times a little difficult to hear over the crunching guitars and super clear bass but that was remedied after a song or two.

Now what about the man's live vocals. The guy is just a monster powerhouse of a singer. His live voice is much more raspier and angrier than what you hear on record. He used to be more of a Coverdale type of singer, smooth yet rough, but now he uses his angrier waspish voice much were he sounds very mean and angry like some one spilled his pint or something. I must admit I absolutely loved this slightly more aggressive live approach. It made the songs sound meatier and darker, not that they aren't mean and moody to begin with. The setlist was in the main culled from his latest albums with a few older songs thrown in. I cannot remember the setlist exactly but I have it listed below though not in this order. I think I am missing 2-3 songs as well which I cannot recall.

The best songs were the monstrous Road of the Cross, the catchy Lonely Are the Brave and the most evil pounding and heavy version of Tungur Knivur which wrecked ears badly! Blacksong was also amazing and Jorn took the roof off with his vocals on that song. Throughout the show the band was getting an amazing reaction from crowd and Jorn had them eating out of his hand. He's actually a much smaller guy than he looks in photos and I thought he would be more imposing but in fact he's more like a modern day Dio. In time the guy could go on to as many great things as the great little man himself but there's a long way to go yet as we all know. During the encore Jorn gave a very empassioned speech about the great little man before introducing Song For Ronnie James which was just savagely heavy and sung with more vigour and power by Jorn than he does on record.

After the final song and a 90 minute set finally the band took their ovations and I think everyone in the whole crowd got to high five Jorn even yours truly. I hope to see Mr. Lande again one day maybe with Masterplan this time but I ain't holding my breath for that one, No sirree! Any how next time Jorn plays local, I'll be there again like a shot. The man is a vocal GOD!

Spirit Black
Road of the Cross
Rock and Roll Angel
Are you ready (thin lizzy cover)
Lonely are the brave
Man of the Dark
Shadow People
Tungur Knivur

Song for Ronnie James
War of the World

I took my camera to a gig for the first time in a long time and managed to get a few decent photos for a change.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Alter Bridge - AB III - Review

I've been waiting very impatiently for this record and finally it's here and what can I say this band just amazes me every single time. Just when you think they can't surely get any better they go on to deliver magic song after soaring, magic song on their new platter. I'm fast running out of superlatives for this band and they deserve even more praise than I can heap on them. I am not certain yet as to my ranking for the album in comparison with Blackbird because I completely adore that album, but the new one is just fresh and I'm still absorbing whilst still being blown away. I didn't think it would be possible to top the last album but they might have just gone and bloody done it! Here is my song by song review.

Slip of the Void - A brooding start before the song proper starts with slow and grinding melodic riffs that let Myles do his thing over the top with his epic soaring melodies. The song is not that immediate but grows quickly to a huge riff and vocal fest. 8.5/10

Isolation - The lead and superbly catchy lead single off the album. It's not for reason that it was chosen as the single as the song is just wondrously catchy. Blessed by thumping mid tempo riffs and lead embellishments from Tremonti before the song breaks into a hugely catchy and goose bump inducing. The solo in the second part is just brilliant although a little too short for my taste. Just a brilliant and flawless melodic tune from start to finish. 10/10

Ghost of Days Gone By - Just when you thought things couldn't get any better they do! This is a less heavy and more melodic tune with wonderful mid tempo before the chorus bridge goes into typical AB style melodic epic song writing. The lyrics in this song are very melancholic as well reminiscing about better days. The song is just beautifully paced and emotional with great instrumental and vocals which build to quite a heavy tune. The "I don't wanna die" line from Myles sends shivers up the spine as does the following solos and vocal melodies. Can one give more that 10/10?

All Hope is Gone - A fairly slow and brooding start before the awesome Myles Kennedy melodies soon start to surface paced alongside the heavy Tremonti atmospherics. The chorus in this song is not so immediate but as a whole the song is a typically enjoyable AB song. The song goes into a heavy groove riff section in the second part which sounds very cool before another one of those great Tremonti solos kicks in this time with greater length which makes the song sound much more epic and better. 9/10

Still Remains - The song starts with a heavy and grooving riff which sounds very cool indeed before Myles' vocals kick in with awesome melodies and so we reach the chorus which is just killer it has to be said. You would thing there would a lull of some kind somewhere along the line but no just when you think they can't top or even equal the previous tuneage, they go and prove you wrong. This song has great rolling intricate riffs for guitar enthusiasts with big thundering riffs whilst never losing the melody which is truly phenomenal from Myles. 10/10

Make it Right - Starts off acoustically with steady pace and Myles singing his usual wonderful melody before the main guitars kick in once again with a crisp and beautiful melody. Less heavy and sitting nicely after the bludgeoning of the previous track to give you a little respite from heavy riffing but not from killer melodies which are still there in abundance. The song soars vocally and gradually gets a little heavier with Myles providing "wooooahhs" behind his own vocals in the chorus which sound very catchy indeed. The solo once again is spine tingling and I'm slowly running out if words to say without sounding completely gushing in praise. 9.5/10

Wonderful Life - A soaring ballad with an amazing vocal from Myles once again. The music is very atmospheric and wonderfully lush and semi orchestrated sounding. This song is all about huge vocal melody and not so much in the way of guitar acrobatics. Nevertheless it is just a gorgeous and uplifting song and very heart rending. Incredible song after incredible song. 10/10.

I Know it Hurts - After the previous ballad you would expect a heavier tune and this song starts in that vein with the opening thumping riff but the main verses are backed without the heaviness which of course returns in time for the chorus again. The vocal performance is again without flaw from Myles. The melody is one big giant sized hook guaranteed to pull the hardest hearted listener. the mid section of the song has a monstrously heavy riff which grinds away before Myles' soaring vocals again pierce the air with shattering precision and glorious melody. One of the catchiest songs on the album. 10/10

Show Me a Sign - The song starts off with a typical Tremonti heavy lick before slowing down to the opening verse and allowing Myles to once again delve into his box of vocal tricks. The melody in this song is more morose and not so upbeat but no less enticing in any way. The song is heavy and rocks pretty hard with big crunching grooves in the back and Myles wowing the listener in the front. The first solo in the song is a bit different being quite minimal but musically the song is one of the best and most intriguing with lots to devour for the ear. A brooding and moody song with a dark atmosphere. 9.5/10

Fallout - Starts off in typical AB fashion with a thoughtful and non-heavy beginning with jingly, acoustic guitars before the pre chorus whilst the main heavy guitars join Myles in one of his regular great melodies. Once again the song is a vehicle for Myles to spin his web of magic round your ears with a huge melody. The chorus is truly spine-tinglingly awesome. The mood of the song is a bit desperate and downbeat before the midsection goes into one of the best riffs on the whole album with it's great big hulking groove and stomp feel. The solo is once again earth shattering perfect for the song. Could be my fave song on the whole album but how can I say that after so many 10/10's already! 10/10 hehe

Breathe Again - The usual AB formula. Slow acoustic opening before heavy guitars join the chorus. Ok you can say the band is very formulaic but the formula in question is unbeatable so why change it eh. The vocal melody is very memorable and soaring from Myles in this song and hits the skies. Mid song the song improves even further when it goes into a heavier section before once again Myles' vocals reach the stratosphere one one particular note. I'm thinking he might have trouble replicating that live if they play this song. The song is just beautiful. 9.5/10

Coeur D'Alene - A moody opening and sinister start before a great big crunching thunders into view but is soon enough stripped back as Myles enters the fray with his usual bombast. The main crunching riff returns once again to give the song it's heavy backbone during the pleasing and catchy chorus before reigning back again during the second verses. The song is once again flawless in every possible way. At the heavier end of the AB spectrum but nevertheless with melodies that will stick like super glue. 10/10 How many is it now?

Life Must Go On - A soaring ballad after the heavy previous song. What else can I say about Myles Kennedy. The guy is just something else. Once again he's floored me with his vocal melodies in this emotional ballad. It is acoustic in feel but they are backed by electric guitars during certain parts and of course the chorus which is just brilliant once again. Do they ever run out of epic emotional melodies? It seems not. 9.5/10

Words Darker Than Their Words - The second song that was released early from the album and perhaps the only song that really didn't catch me yet. I was hoping for an epic of Blackbird proportions to end the album with but whilst it's a great stab at it, it cannot match Blackbird for greatness. However the song in itself is very emotional and deep lyrically and builds well acoustically allowing the song to breathe before setting down to the usual guitar groove that Tremonti is the master at. The vocal melody in the chorus is merely great rather than the amazing things we've heard in the previous songs. A slightly disappointing end but for anyone else this is a work of genius but AB have already performed miracles earlier in the album so all is forgiven. 8.5/10

So there you have it. A band unparalleled in modern rock circles. An almost flawless album.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Reckless Love Live!

Last night saw a pretty much packed Relentless Garage play hosts to Finnish melodic rock glamsters Reckless Love on the London date of their first full UK tour. These guys have been making a name for themselves in melodic rock circles with their hellishly fun debut album getting rave reviews all round, so I had to be there or be square as they say.

First up was some band whose name I didn't quite catch. They were a hard rock band with old school leanings but they lacked the songs to get the crowd going. Speaking of the crowd, let me say I have never seen so many hot chicks at a metal or rock gig. Damn there was some flesh on view last night! Of course it's not that surprising since the band is pretty much built around 80s sexual innuendo and sleaze and this gets the chicks to dress up or shall we say dress down!

Second band of the night was Jettblack and they were bloody good. They are similar to Reckless Love in many ways but with a slight harder edge to the guitars with more shredding solos. These guys have some cool tunes which are lyrically very similar to Reckless Love with song about chicks, rocking and more chicks! They got a great response from the packed crowd and were the perfect warm up band for Reckless Love.

Finally at around 9.20 or so it was time for a bit of reckless loving from the Finnish chaps. Oli Herman the frontman is one energetic dude it has to be said. They immediately launched into Feel My Heat, the opening cut from their debut and they never looked back after. Having only the one album out renders the set length rather inadequate but we got the whole album played in various order and also the electric version of Def Leppard's Hysteria which Oli told the crowd was played acoustically at Download Festival earlier in the summer, but we got the full version and it was spot on. Oli is a great frontman make no mistake, the dude is one energetic little powerhouse with his high kicks which makes him look like a very young version of David Lee Roth. He's not blessed with an amazing voice or anything but he gets the job done and has the ladies in particular getting all hot and bothered.

The best songs were Romance, Wild Touch, Badass and Beautiful Bomb of course which had all the hot ladies swooning and singing along let me tell you! A very well attended night and just a great feel good gig with super catchy tunes which ended rather quickly with a set which was barely an hour long but like I said they ran out of songs. I just hope they bring their next record out pretty soon and capitalise on the success they've already had and play a longer set next time. Thanks for the great show lads, you guys know how to rock!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Muse at Wembley!

In a huge turn up for the books, I have just returned from the sold out Wembley Stadium show! Things looked decidedly dicey as far as getting a ticket. I posted a "wanted" item on Gumtree a personal free ad site here in the UK. I upped my payscale up to face value. Luckily I live pretty close to Wembley so I left my ad and just wandered down to the local vicinity to hang out in the bookies and wait for any offers to come in. Soon I started getting a few texts and 1 call. Unfortunately all these fell through for various reasons and a ticket could not be snagged. Just when I thought all is lost, I get a call from some girl saying she was willing to sell her ticket for face value. She explained she had a migraine coming on and didn't feel up to going. She lived in Highbury which is not that close to Wembley but not a million miles away either. Luckily for me she agreed to come to the venue to exchange. Yeah she was pretty as well, damn and I got her number on my phone hehe and she even touched my arm as she left!

Anyway ticket was in hand, 40 cash was handed over to ease her throbbing temple, the damsel happier somewhat but not "bad head" free was back on the train to Highbury with my "there there's" ringing in her ear and I went back to the bookie again and then got some fish and chips down me and finally off to Wembley.

Missed the first band.
2nd band was called White Lies. Jingly jangly pop rock. Not horrible.
3rd band was Biffy Clyro. Last time I looked the singer had all brown hair and beard, now he's got all blonde hair and beard. Damn they are one energetic band. They were running round like whirling dervishes all through their set. I only liked 2 songs from them, well I only KNOW 2 songs. One is Mountains which I know the title of, the other one I don't know the title of but know how it goes. The Scottish Biffy were OK!

Finally it was Muse. Basically they had the massive crowd eating out of their hands the whole night. Not for nothing are they labelled perhaps the best live band in the world. I think on record I can safely bypass Muse. I've got too many bands and albums that I'd rather play but the live experience was something else and it was a bloody experience. I think I can sum up their sound as being a conglomerate of dancy epic U2, touch of pompous Queen, little bit of The Who swagger, and a smattering of Led Zep rock and roll and some Pink Floyesque introspection. I think that encapsulates their sound very well. The stage set was pretty damn amazing. Like an angular pointed 3d building with big screens on it for projecting bits and pieces. There were lots of gimmicks as well with the band members going in front and out front on floating bases, a spaceship with dangling alien, bouncy eyeballs thrown over the audience etc. They played nigh on 2 hours and I think every single person in the house was singing most of the words apart from stupid old me cause I ain't gotta a clue!

The songs I liked best were the opener not sure of the title chorus says "we will be victorious". Also liked this song that sounds a bit like Queen's We Will Rock You in the drumming anyway. I liked some of the heavier grooving as well. Some of the overblown ambient piano sections got a touch tiresome. Overall I am glad I went at least once to see this band that almost everyone in the UK loves - it was worth it!

Monday, 30 August 2010

Bank Holiday Monday

A fourth and final day off work. It's been good but it's been quick. No more holidays now until christmas and already it's getting colder in the nights and mornings. Where did the summer go? Flew by!

Anyway I thought I would post my top 15 albums of the year as it stands in reverse order. Maybe something else will be released later in the year with hopes of denting that 15 who knows eh!

15 ReinXeed - Majestic
14. First Signal - st
13. Sinbreed - When Worlds Collide
12. Axel Rudi Pell - The Crest
11. Wuthering Heights - Salt
10. Masterplan - Time to be King
09. Wicked Sensation - Crystallized
08. InnerWish - No Turning Back
07. Astral Doors - Requiem Of Time
06. Grand Illusion - Brand New World
05. Treat - Coup De Grace
04. Dream Evil - In The Night
03. Pathfinder - Beyond The Space Beyond The Time
02. Rage - Strings To A Web
01. Sabaton - Coat Of Arms

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Community Shield

United win the season curtain raiser 3-1 against Chelsea. A good performance to start the season in what is the most open Premier league season probably ever seen. City spending massively big and if they don't deliver a trophy the arabs will ask plenty of questions. PersonallyI have been in the doldrums lately. My ongoing foot problems have recently got much much worse. Of course it's all a curse brought about by being overweight but damn the pain is actually getting me down badly to the point where I feel things are coming to ahead.

Musically speaking I haven't been to any gigs and still stuck in a job going nowhere bloody fast. Life ain't that good at the moment though my chin is usually not down for long. Best album heard lately is an unknown symphonic power metal band from Poland called Pathfinder. I have been waiting for them to finally get their debut out after discovering them on youtube and loving their demo. They finally made it to album number one called Beyond The Space Beyond The Time and it was truly worth the wait. The best thing to come out of Poland since Decapitated!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Hurricane blows out

Alex Higgins died. In my snooker loving youth I used to watch the Hurricane blowing people out on the green baize but he has blown his last. I was never a fan of his though, I liked Davis and Jimmy White but I used to admire the way Higgins flew round the table when at his best. The fact that he lasted till his 61st birthday is a bit of a miracle in itself in my opinion with the booze, drugs and finally the cancer to deal with. So long Hurricane!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

yeah well we're...

shit and we know we are! we're shit and we know we are! The ball was miles over the line at 2-1 down but the second half was one of the most atrocious displays of football ever witnessed. It was truly abysmal. Mind, if it goes 2-2 who knows what can happen. Anyway I don't really give much of a hoot about England but this performance was just the pits. The absolute pits!

England v Germany

Well it's baking hot and it's D-Day in South Africa. I am not normally a massive England fan but I make an exception to that rule when playing the Krauts teehee! Come on Wazza put your striking boots on for once will ya. Let's give these Germans a beating they'll never forget!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Fave 16 songs of the year so far

I always like to make a cd-r of fave songs every now and then so I can put it on the old death deck and blast it forth for all the neighbours to enjoy my awesome melodic metal. Here are my current faves. 1 song per band and I managed to fit 16 on the cd. You can download the whole thing below and burn and the blast!

Axel Rudi Pell - 01 - Too Late
Grand Illusion - 02 - 157th Breakdown
Dream Evil - 03 -See The Light
Rage - 04 - The Beggar's Last Dime
Shining Line - 05 - Highway Of Love
Poets of the Fall - 06 - Dreaming Wide Awake
Inner Wish - 07 - Minas Tirith
Reckless Love - 08 - Wild Touch
Sedona - 09 - California Ballad
Human Temple - 10 - Ghost Of You
Astral Doors - 11 - Anthem of the Dark
Sabaton - 12 - White Death
Asia - 13 - Holy War
FM - 14 - Unbreakable
H.E.A.T - 15 - Nobody Loves You (Like I Do)
Treat - 16 - Roar

Download the songs

On another note the World Cup has got off to a terrible start for me. Can't buy a win at the moment and the matches have been rather tame and boring to say the least. It can only improve from here whilst the bookie's satchels are fit to bursting point after England failed to even beat the Americans after a monumnetal mother of all keeping howlers. I hope I get a win soon cause my betting ammo has been taking a hammering so far.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Going to 2020 for a laugh

Hope it don't piss down tomorrow cause i'm going to my first ever 20/20 match at Lord's. Should be laugh if that blasted rain keeps away. At the moment it looks like it's going to be a dodgy day of mixed weather tomorrow. Hopefully by the evening it will be pleasant. Getting some World Cup fever as well as is the whole country as you would suspect. Gonna have a biggish bet on England. By my usual standards anyway! No gigs on the horizon although amazingly the Japanese band Versailles is actually playing here late June. The tickets are an eye watering £25 plus add ons. I love Versailles and I'm sure it will be a spectacular show but that's a heft dent in my wallet and lately that damn thing has been taking a pounding!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The golden voice of metal is no more...

It's been 2 days now that the metal community took one of the biggest hits since Chuck Schuldiner's passing nearly 10 years ago now. Ronnie was the ultimate voice of metal and although in recent years I can't say I wise a massive fan of his output, I can safely say his title as the greatest voice metal music has ever seen can never be taken away from him. RIP Mr. Dio, we miss you and mourn your passing. There will never be another Ronnie James Dio and your magical voice will echo in all metal fan's hearts till the end of time.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Kiss LIve - I wanted the best and I got the best!

I didn't really have a major plan to go and see Kiss but a trip to ebay left me scoring a late ticket for the Thursday night gig after they had already played the previous night. Having never seen them before and not being a fan of the band at all apart from a few songs here and there, I wasn't that sure what to expect, well up to a point anyway.

On entering the Arena I saw the many 100s of Kiss Army fans getting in the mood for the show with lots of people with Kiss face paint which was pretty cool. Kiss fans are very much into their band and it seems Kiss attracts fans of many other bands be it rock fans who like bands like Led Zeppelin or The Who up to metal fans who like bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden. The atmosphere was quite joyous and very united indeed. Everyone was there to have a great time and what better way than seeing the greatest rock 'n roll band the world has ever seen as they would say!

First up was Taking Dawn whose album is pretty enjoyable. Live they were very energetic and tried to get the crowd going but I would say they never really quite managed to win the Kiss Army over. They tried really hard to get a positive response but alas they got mostly a lukewarm response in the main. These young boys sure have a lot of fire in their bellies, but their song material is so so. They definitely have a few cool tunes no doubt about it, but I think the sound was just a little bit muddy and this hindered them a touch. A decent warm up nevertheless.

Finally at 9pm and 15 minutes later than Schedule finally the legendary Kiss took to the stage launching straight into Modern Day Delilah from Sonic Boom. The sound was immediately a whole load better than it was for Taking Dawn, not unexpectedly! The packed Wembley Arena was singing and dancing to the chorus and the band was quickly into their stride. Not being a major fan of the band I don't even hardly recognise their classic material. The only songs that i knew well were Crazy Crazy Nights and God Gave Rock'n Roll to You from the make up free mid 80s. I didn't hardly know anything else, but alas the Kiss live experience is not cemented by having knowledge of the songs at all thankfully.You can easily enjoy the tunes as they are with the immediate groovy catchiness and a band in top form. I must say Paul Stanley's vocals are not my favourite and he tends to whine a good bit but the crowd was singing so loud that you could barely hear Paul anyway!

The songs that Gene sung were OK but again Gene's voice is nothing to write home about. Watching Kiss live is really an experience and a half. There is a sort of energy coming off from the stage that is hard to resist even if you are not a big fan of the band. The stage set and banks of video screens behind the band was very impressive indeed. The sound was amazing all night from my fairly close vantage point and I had no complaints at all on that score. They played until almost 11.15 which is not bad for an old timer band now is it! At one point Paul flew over the crowd on a pulley onto a small platform near the sound desk all the way at the back of the arena which was pretty damn cool. Gene also had his blood gurgling moment which I've seen on youtube before and he flew up to the top of the arena as well to play his dirty bass solo and singing the following song.

As Paul said, they are going to play one of the longest encores in history and he wasn't wrong as it was probably about 30 minutes or so long. To be honest I left the Wembley Arena amazed at what I'd witnessed. I still don't count myself a fully paid up member of the Kiss Army but hell, all these legions of devoted Kiss fans can't be wrong can they now!

1. Modern Day Delilah
2. Cold Gin
3. Let Me Go, Rock n Roll
4. Firehouse
5. Say Yeah
6. Deuce
7. Crazy, Crazy Nights
8. Calling Dr. Love
9. Shock Me
10. Tommy Thayer & Eric Singer Solos
11. Animal
12. 100,000 Years
13. Gene Simmons's solo
14. I Love It Loud
15. Love Gun
16. Black Diamond
17. Detroit Rock City
18. Lick It Up
19. Paul Stanley's solo
20. Whole Lotta Love
21. I Was Made For Lovin' You
22. God Gave Rock n Roll To You
23. Rock 'n' Roll All Nite

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Fat lady well and truly....

belting it out!!! 1-0 after 5 minutes and then Wigan had a penalty given against and a man sent off. Finally 8-0 as a scoreline. United won 4-0 and did their bit but alas it's not enough this year. A valiant effort to gain our 4th title in a row but it wasn't to be this year as we dropped too many bad points and didn't really deserve to win the title. Had we done so it would have been daylight robbery really. Roll on the World Cup!

Title Decider

Well after three years of being the best in the land it seems that we will finally relinquish our crown as champions on the Premier League. The lads have made a valiant attempt winning the title for the fourth year in a row and some how after a topsy turvy season we've managed to take it to the last game although the odds of victory are now firmly stacked against us. We need the mother of all miracles from Wigan in order to help us retain our crown. Well you have to live in hope as Wigan have already beaten Chelsea once this year at their own ground, but it's a huge ask for them to hold Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Still it's a little bit exciting until Chelsea take the lead and then all our dreams will fade and die as the song about blowing bubbles goes. Let's just do our job and make sure Stoke are beaten and let's see if the Gods are red or blue for the day eh?

It's been a difficult season for United and we only have what seems like a measly Carling Cup to show for it, but we've been very close in the Champions League again and unluckily lost to Bayern and made Chelsea fight all the way for this League till the last game. The proverbial fat lady isn't singing just yet but she's definitely clearing her throat! Come on Wigan! Make her choke!!!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Hammerfall Live Report

Well it was election night but you know what metallers are like - they don't really give a toss when there's metal to be played and heard! Haven't been in the Electric Ballroom for a while and it's quite a nice cavernous venue truth be told with plenty of room to move roam around soaking up the pre-gig atmosphere.

First up was some band called Tribe who were from the North as I found out later from a chap I was talking to. They played regular bog standard mid paced heavy metal with rather average vocals I'm afraid. Not completely offensive but when you lack tunes which stick in the head like the two main bands on show, well you aren't going to win too many friends are you now.

Next up was the awesomely brilliant Dream Evil. These guys are just fun as hell live. The sound was very clear but a little quiet which I didn't mind actually as normally we get blasted with the wall of sound approach but this time ear plugs were not necessary at all. This band are just great at what they do, no doubt about it, and in Niclas they have a plain awesome singer in their ranks. Musically they play a tad heavier and slower than their counterparts in hammerfall but no less catchy. They started the show with Immortal off the new album with the choral parts sounding totally immense. Hit after hit followed with the best moments for me being The Book of Heavy Metal and Bang Your Head from the new CD. They played for roughly 45 minutes which was a little short for me but still they were damn great and you just can't go wrong with da Evil if you're after a fun heavy metal time with tunes galore.

Soon enough the stage was ready and Joacim and co took to the stage and burst straight into the pounder Punish and Enslave from their latest CD which is now over a year old. In fact it's not long since I saw Hammerfall so the show was more or less a repeat of that one however they seemed to be slightly better tonight if anything. Joacim was in good voice, Oscar and Pontus were on top form on the guitars and the bass and drums were solid as you would expect. The set consisted of the cliches of true metal that you would expect. Three way synchronized guitar riffing and head banging, gang vocals, double bass drums and more wooooahhh woooahhhhs than you can shake a stick at! My favourite song of the night were all the songs from the mighty Legacy of Kings album that got an airing. Heeding the Call was awesome as usual as was Let The Hammer Fall. The crowd was lapping it up all day and night as well and everyone had big shit eating grins draped across their faces. Hammerfall are seasoned pros at this power metal game now and it's not hard to see why at all. An enjoyable and fun night of pure melodic heavy metal!