Sunday, 24 April 2011

Atheist / Exhumed LIve Report

This gig was downgraded to the far smalled Islington Academy 2 after originally being booked for the Garage so obviously ticket sales were not exactly great and so it showed as I entered the venue. The crowd numbered around 150 or so at best and Exhumed were already on stage blasting away like there's no tomorrow. I don't have any real connection with Exhumed as a band and have never really followed their albums or career. Some people like that style of take no prisoners brutal gore metal and I have been known to like the odd band of that style myself but Exhumed has never been one of them.

The sound was loud as fuck and not very clear at all unfortunately. About 10 or 20 diehards were into what Exhumed were doing and they got a reasonable response from those people, but all their songs sound exactly the same to me. Just relentless brutal battery, with screaming vocals and 100 mile an hour drum assault. Turns your brains into mush if you ask me though their fans would argue that's a good thing!

Oh well I waited for Atheist and at the very early hour of 8.30pm the guys were getting ready and played the slow intro to Unquestionable Presence. The sound was much cleaner, tighter and less noisy than for Exhumed which helped no end. The bass player which we later found out was new, was a 20 year old bearded kid with long blonde hair which he through round furiously on occasion. But man did he nail the all important Atheist bass chops. It was worth going to the gig just to see that dude alone. A fair chunk of Unquestionable Presence was played thankfully including Incarnation's Dream and the classic Mother Man and Your Life's Retribution no less. However they did omit The Formative Years as I recall which was a damn shame if you ask me.

Of course we got a couple of songs from Jupiter as well which sounded ok but again not as good as the old shit to use a boring cliche if you will excuse me. They were so tight as a band though and both guitarists and bass were in perfect intense unity. Kelly on the mic has never had a voice I cared much about and to be honest it's a bit strange to watch death metal with a lead singer who doesn't play an instrument.

From Elements they played Air and Mineral which actually were far better live than I remember them being on plastic which is pretty cool. I must come back to the bass player. That kid was just too awesome and on the money. He played so sharp and right on note for note like the albums and the sound mix allowed him to be heard perfectly.

After an hour or so the gig was over and it was time to head home at the early finish time of 9.30pm. I am glad I got the chance to see Atheist finally after all these years and it's another classic band to cross off of my list of bands to see. Cynic still remains at the head of the list of the tech death bands I need to witness along with Necrophagist. I must rectify this someday when they come calling next. For now I give the thumbs up to the Atheist live experience though I still say they should play the whole of Unquestionable Presence from start to end damn it!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Children of Bodom / Amon Amarth Live Report

Back to the Kentish Town Forum again after last week's rather average Paradise Lost gig and I was rather hoping for something more exciting and better but alas it wasn't to be. Either my ears are totally screwed or this venue just can't get the sound right at all. They just don't know how to mix the guitars properly. We come to metal shows to hear guitars Mr. Sound man. To be honest I really don't care about the bass and drums and as usual the bass and drums are hammering our ears into submission.

Anyway this was a way way sold out show and there was a rather large queue forming outside the venue though it was moving along well enough. I missed Machinae Supremacy altogether and they are just an OK band to me so no great loss. I had only managed to get a ticket for the upstairs seating and balcony standing for this gig and as I walked in I found the upstairs impossibly packed out already and Enisferum in full swing on stage. Luckily I managed to find a corner place to park my fat ass and start getting into these guys whom I've seen a couple of times before. I love them on record and live as well but the sound wasn't the best at all. As I've already bitched above I couldn't hear the guitars properly.

The Enisferum boys looked in good spirits and got a roaring response from the ultra packed downstairs from my vantage point. I caught about 4 songs from their set and they maybe played 7 or so. They were fun and the melodies from the guitars though hidden by mushy sound, just about shone through. Good effort but I think a smaller venue suits them much better.

Next up were the mighty Amon Amarth. They were the main draw for me attending tonight and I was eager to hear some new tunes from Surtur Rising in their set. These guys are seasoned pros but unfortunately the sound mix tonight rendered them completely devoid of the melodic aspect I was seeking. The songs were all played slickly and like a well oiled machine with their infamous unison headbangs in full effect which is a rather cool sight when you get to witness it from a high vantage point. However my enjoyment of their set was completely stifled by the muddy sonics which decreased the melodic riffing to sludge. They did however go down a storm with the kids downstairs and they have a rather large fan base in the metal community in London and basically they can do no wrong. On record I still love AA but this gig just didn't do it for me. I will have to think strongly about whether I will ever see them live again. Oh and one more thing, no Death in Fire! For shame lads, for bloody shame!

Finally it was time for Alexi's Finnish hatecrew to amble up and serve the kids up what they'd been waiting for. I think CoB is a bit of a polarising band in metal circles these days. They have a lot off fans and a lot of haters as well. The thing is a lot of the haters probably like them a bit in their heart of hearts as well however begrudgingly. They are just a fan band that makes you tap your toe and play air guitar however much you try to resist. Unfortunately I lost my seat due to attending a call of nature and on my return I had literally nowhere to sit, so I ended up in the gods of the Kentish Town Forum standing up, which was an area pretty packed out itself. For the first few numbers I was just listening to the music and not even looking as there was no hope, but luckily a few people left and I found myself right at the barrier on the balcony with a good view of the stage.

I am not a big enough Bodom fan to recognise individual songs but I remembered a few of their biggest hits such as Needled 24/7. The sound was much better than it was for AA with Alexi's guitar much cleaner though not perfect by any means. When the band plays fast songs at full blast it all turns a bit messy and you lose some of the songwriting sense. Still the band is shit hot tight after all these years and Alexi knows how to work the crowd alright, though his cursing gets tedious to say the least. I guess I'm just too old for CoB though and they are a youngster's band although there were people there who were far older than me so they do have a very wide appeal. Keyboardist Janne Warman had two keyboard risers with a set of keys on each and he swapped around between the two which was a bit epic hehe!

I can't say much about the songs, they were played well and melodic and the band went down a storm and even the haters probably enjoyed it a little bit.

To sum up the night:
Enisferum - Good
Amon Amarth - Disappointing
Children of Bodom - Professional

Overall it was an ok gig but nothing I will be waxing lyrical about in years to come. Accept is the best live band I've seen this year by far. They blew the fucking roof off the old bastards!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Foo Fighters - Wasting Light - Review

What a surprise this is for me. I've never been a fan of Mr. Nirvana drummer's alternative rock but this album is rather good. It's not magnificent but it's very melodic which suits me down to the ground. I also love the clean sound on the guitars and the standard of riffing is way up there with grooves and melodies everywhere you look. His vocals have improved a lot as well in my opinion with a more melodic and less angsty tone which suits me better. This album sounds quite close to Stone Sour's Audio Secrecy from last year but a little less heavy and more melodic even.

The first two tracks rock your socks off with cool heavy riffs and vocal melodies, especially opener Burning Bridge which is just an awesome way to start and hooked me right in to wanting to hear the rest of the album. I love the 3rd track Dear Rosemary with it's massive melodic hook which is possibly my fave track off the album. The following track White Limo has heavy metal influences with it's distorted vocals but very cool riffs though it does sound odd compared to the more melodic songs all round it. Arlandria has quiet verses before a melodic upbeat chorus comes into view. Not a brilliant song but catchy enough almost too sugary in fact and it reminds me of Weezer somehow.

These Days has quiet verses again before the chorus springs into life with heavy riffs and Mr. Grohl doing his more angsty vocals but still keeping the melody intact. This is in fact a great melodic song. Sounds like a softer Alter Bridge. Back & Forth is a midpaced rocking song with rocking riffs and a cool chorus. Perhaps one of the weaker tracks though it has a Nirvanaish feel to it especially the vocals. By the way Nevermind fans should really like this album, it's choc full of the same hooks and the guitar sound is very similar too. A Matter of Time uses the quiet verse/louder chorus formula. This one doesn't do a lot for me but it's still quite listenable. This one reminds me of Queens of the stone age being more melodic.

Miss The Misery is a slow stomping heavy song with a thundering riff. I get an Alice in Chains vibe from this one. The verses are once again sung quietky with minimal musical backing before the chorus is backed with heavy beats and the main heavy AIC sounding riff. This one is a little less melodic though features Grohl doing wooahh aaaahhhhs to the melody which usually makes it catchy but it doesn't seem to fit on this song IMO. The songs end on a heavy note with dirty solos and crunching riffage. An angsty tune as the title would suggest. Maybe needs more plays to grow.

I should Have Known is a ballad of sorts. This one reminds me of Oasis for some reason. No Dave doesn't sound like Liam but the vibe is Oasisy cause it's not heavy although the song soon builds to a heavier crescendo with a more aggressive end with very passionate vocals. To be honest this is not the kind of song I'm into. Too much passion and grit in the delivery. Oh and this song features a very prominent and loud bass line. Maybe my least fave song.

Finally Walk is back to what made me give this album the time of day. the vocals are very melodic with a quiet undistorted guitar playing a simple melody before the distorted riffing kicks into mid tempo in typical FF fashion. I like the double time drumming in this on the end of some lines. the song builds in intensity with Grohl cutting loose vocally and going shouty. This song will be a big hot for them no doubt though I don't really love it bit it's enjoyable.

Overall I would rate the album at 7.5/10 which for me is a very high rating speaking as a non fan bar the odd song. Mr. Grohl and his cohorts have come up with a cool set of melodic alternative rock tunes this time and if you're an existing fan, you're sure to be very happy and even if you're not, you may still find a few tunes to like here if you enjoy melodic rock music in general. If you've hated the Foos since the beginning then there's not a lot here for you, move along!

Listen to the whole album below if you are curious.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Paradise Lost / Ghost Live Review

Well I so very nearly didn't make it to this gig with my fitness taking a turn for the worse. Even at the last minute I was close to giving it a miss but a sudden upturn in physical health and I somehow made it to the gig. Was it worth the effort? Well probably in the end no is the answer. Don't get me wrong though it was OK as a night out and at least I didn't let my ticket go to waste but the gig was merely alright in my opinion.

First up were the mysterious Ghost who keep getting rave reviews everywhere but have yet to convince me. Maybe the live setting would help them. Unfortunately it didn't me. Don't get me wrong they are cool to watch and the evil pope front man is very evil looking though slightly comical. The be-masked backing musicians are all fairly pedestrian and this band in general is very serene and fun to look at.

Unfortunately the sound at the Kentish Town Forum did not help them one jot. I could barely hear any guitars at all during the beginning and the vocals were delivered effortlessly but in an almost whisper making it hard to pick up the words. I don't know the album well apart from what I heard on youtube and it has moments of quirky melody that interest and is catchy to a point but I'm just not feeling it with Ghost. I think they could be quite good if they had more dynamic sweeps of sound. At the moment it all sounds so one paced and comically satanoramic and it doesn't do a lot for me.

By the way not one word is spoken by the Evil Pope in between songs which is quite cool and his hand gestures and sways in time with the music are quite cool and fun to watch. So my final thoughts on Ghost are that they are an amusing band to watch but the music is merely average to me but I'm glad to have seen them at least and seen what the fuss is all about.

Finally it was time for Bradford's miserable bastards of gloomy heavy metal Paradise Lost to play though perhaps their best album along with a few fan faves afterwards. This show was being filmed for a DVD and there were various cameramen dotted around the Forum along with a roving overhead crowdcam which swooped in and out. The sound was a little odd shall we say. The guitars for the whole gig sounded very high pitched and it lacked crunch and bottom end. It did improve as the gig went on but I'm sure this has something to do with the live recording of the DVD. They probably didn't want it to sound too bassy. I actually don't mind that cause normally metal gigs have way to much bass and drums but this was too much in the opposite direction. Also Nick's vocals were completely drowned out at times by the crowd singing the lyrics being far too low in the mix on many occasions. I'm all for crowd participation but I'd rather hear the lead singer's voice above every else thanks!

Anyway I must stop with the bitching and say a little about the gig. They started off with Enchantment of course the lead track from Draconian and like I said the sold out packed crowd was singing the words louder than Nick! It's been an age since I heard said album and it was good to hear those beautiful moody keyboard strains as the main riff kicks in. Nick was his usual sarcastic self with his between song banter from the stage. He sounded in fine voice when I could hear him. One of my favourite PL songs of all time Forever Failure was brilliantly played and sung followed by Once Solemn one of the heaviest and most upbeat songs from the album which got quite a pit going. Actually the Friday night neanderthals were in town and it got a bit rougher than you'd expect for a PL gig to be honest but I guess this is what pissed up metalheads do!

Finally they reached the final song of the album Jaded, which is quite a moody and cool song with which to end the main part of the set to rapturous applause. After a three or four minute break the band returned for the first encore with a few hits. True Belief is one of my fave PL songs ever if not THE best summation of the band's talents. The crowd loved this one with it's depressing dark atmosphere and epic chorus. One Second and Say Just Words both went down a storm too being two of the band's biggest hits and poppiest moments.

A second encore then followed which of course ended with As I Die which is now like the band's Enter Sandman of sorts. It seems the band just has to play it. It is a cool and catchy tune but to be honest it doesn't do a great deal for me but of course if the fans don't hear it they won't let them get out alive probably!

So in the end an OK gig but nothing that will live that long in the memory banks. PL are a hugely popular band amongst all kinds of metalheads from black metallers to gothsters and it showed by the vast array band shirts on view in the crowd and pretty much all of 'em went home pretty happy I would guess. I look forward to see how this DVD will turn out and at least I can say I was there even if it wasn't THAT great personally speaking of course!

  1. Encore:

  2. Encore 2: