Saturday, 26 October 2013

Primitai - Rise Up - Review

Primitai - Rise Up
I must admit I have been a bit disparaging towards this band in the past. I always had them as some kind of average meat and potatoes kind of metal band destined to forever remain playing the support band slots in and around London. To my utter amazement their new album has completely knocked me out with a haymaker Mike Tyson would have been proud of! What a great effort this album is, from the singing to the playing and production. Of course what has improved the most is the song writing which is now stellar I must say. This album deserves to gain Primitai a lot more attention and on to bigger tours because it really is that good.

Let's start by talking about each song:
Fortune Favours The Brave clatters out of the speakers with a strong heavy metal fist in the face. Immediately you are taken on a galloping ride with a stomping riff and a melodic hook in the chorus that grabs you and won't let you go. A great start but the best is yet to come.

Scream When You See Us, the lead video single completely blew me away when I saw the video on youtube. I didn't fully understand the vid though but the song is pure magic. More galloping trad metal with masterful solos and tasty riffs galore. But it's the vocals that make the song what it is, which is just a big old eargasm and nothing else. A glorious and powerful song indeed.

Title track Rise Again is up next and the pace is relentless and features perhaps the most melodic riffs on the whole album which reminds me of Maiden quite a bit. The main verse is powerful before it leads to a slower paced uplifting chorus made to be sung along with. The tempo and pace of the song are like the bible for writing classic heavy metal. All the elements are linked perfectly to create a great memorable song.

Pound For Pound is my favourite song on the album with it's truly thumping vocal performance and the catchiest chorus on the album by far and it has a lot of competition! The pace of the song is a touch less speedy and allows the song to build with it's groovy riffs and choppy flow and then that truly epic chorus thunders into view and the urge to sing along and belt it out is irresistible. This is like a fighting song to me as the lyrics say, if you wanna fight I'm here and ready. This song puts hairs on your chest and makes you feel 10 feet tall. Awesome!

Driven Wild is up next and picks up the pace again with a thumping Maidenesque beat and riff leading to a powerful and catchy chorus. Very catchy indeed and so far it's hard to pick holes in any of the tunes. This song reminds me a little of Fear of The Dark is some of the riffs. A brilliant song in the end. Five songs in and no duffers to be seen.

The Cannibal sees the guys go slightly epic on us with a slower pounding Manowarish tune which is actually quite welcome as everything has been pretty fast so far. You've gotta have a bit of variety on a great album and The Cannibal provides it. The vocal performance is again magnificent. Very melodic and epic sounding. A slower tune but still very melodic and epic. The quality never wanes it's all a bit of a shock really!

Holy Defender is another stomping anthem like track pretty similar to The Cannibal but with a stronger and more aggressive vocal performance. When it comes to melody it's still very strong though and we reach a powerful but less melodically pleasing chorus. I like the song but it's not a fave of mine I must say. I do like the backing vocals a lot though.

Blink Of An Eye as the title somewhat suggests picks up the pace again with galloping thumping riffs, with the expected powerful vocal delivery which leads to an ok chorus. This is perhaps my least fave song on the album but it's still good. The chorus is perhaps not as catchy as others. Musically it's of the same quality.

The Huntress gets things back on track with it's thumping great start riff and bouncy gallop and great wooaah backing vocals. The melodic elements return strong on this song with a wonderfully catchy chorus about wanting The Huntress to enter in to your life. What a cool and catchy song tune. Reminds me a little of Megadeth's She Wolf in vibe not music exactly. It has a rock flavour which I like a lot. The solos are very melodic as well and some of the best on the album.

Finally we have an epic balladesque slow churner to round off this brilliant album. A powerful song with strong emotional vocals and nice powerful backing vocals once again. In fact it must be said that the harmony backing vocals add so much to the songs throughout the album. This is a moody and lighter waving end to the album. Not normally a type of song I really enjoy much but Primitai make it sound very good indeed. This one reminds me a little bit of Iced Earth's emotional ballads mixed with Maiden's epic sensibilities, especially when the riffing picks up towards the middle and end of the song. An awe inspiring end indeed!

So there we have it. What can I say this album has all the ingredients I love in my music. I can hardly find any fault with it. Ok some of the songs are not as quite as good as my faves but that's just a personal opinion on song writing style. Well done to the Primitai guys. You deserve huge success with this release.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Volbeat Live At Brixton Academy

Volbeat and Iced Earth sounded like a great jab and hook combination when I first heard about it a few months back so a ticket was a no brainer really. I have seen Volbeat live a couple of times before and they were very tight and cool with Michael being a great vocalist and front man for the band. Of course that was with their old guitarist. This time they were playing with the Anthrax guy and to be honest it made no real difference to the music at all. I'm not sure if he has any influence in making Volbeat's music more poppy this time but I think main man Michael Poulsen really wants his band to be more well known and get recognition from outside the metal world and he's sort of half way to getting there.

I say this because a Volbeat show is not attended by the usual metal clientele as such. You get your hardened metalheads but you get a lot of goth types, a lot punky boys and a few country rocker redneck types as well. All sorts basically as the band's music seems to have quite a wide pulling power with it's catchy infectious melodies winning out over the band's louder metallic elements. Of course at the start of the band's career they were pretty heavy but like I said the gradual move into poppier waters seems to be a calculated move. Not that I'm a sell out crying bitch cause I love the songs even more now than on the earlier albums. Any way enough with crappy talk on with the report!

As I entered the already packed Brixton Academy, which would fill out to near enough full capacity by the time Volbeat came on, a band was already playing. They were called The Howling. They had a wolf theme going on hence the name. They were a sort of rough and ready hard rock band. I must admit it I didn't pay attention to them much at all as I was milling round and looking for a closer spot to get ready for Iced Earth. Anyway these guys played for about half an hour and went down like the proverbial lead balloon. No one cared guys, try to write some songs next time.

Next up were the well oiled power metal machine aka Iced Earth. I've seen the icy ones quite a lot recently and they have proven to be a very tight live unit. I guess that's what constantly touring does for you. New boy Stu kills it on the mic and fits the band like a glove now. They played a new song If I Could See You which was a ballad and it was fairly average I must say. Burning Times was great as usual though. Stu tried had to get people excited but this was not Iced Earth's night at all. This crowd adores Volbeat and the true power metal diehards will be out in force in January when da 'Earth comes calling on their Plagues of Babylon European Tour. Oh and the sound was pretty bad once again. Guitars didn't sound good. Stu did his best though with a very solid vocal display but this was a really average performance by the guys and to be honest Schaffer looked bored shitless at times and he was just going through the motions it seemed. The best song was the last one, the band's namesake. Always love that song no matter what. There will be better nights for them, this was a night to forget.

At 9.15pm or so the house lights went down and Motorhead's Born To Raise Hell started out over the PA and it's conclusion the band took to the stage with big smiles and big cheers from the near 4,000 strong crowd. Immediately the sound was much tighter and sharper for the Volbeat boys than either previous band. The band has so much strong material now in their back catalogue that it's hard to pinpoint a song that wasn't well received. I was a bit surprised by how rowdy the crowd got down the front. Of course with this being a Saturday night there were a lot of stupid drunkards around as well which meant there was a lot of crazy moshing and shoving going on. I guess I'm too old for that kind of business. Mind you Michael encourage plenty of pits from the stage as well. It's hard to pick out highlights from the set that stood cause I must admit every song was enjoyable. The melodies are infectious and Michael sings so damn well that it's hard not to have a big grin on your face whilst listening. Of course Volbeat is one of those band that attracts the chicks and every gal in the place was doing plenty of dirty dancing to the bouncy grooves let me tell ya. The problem is you always get a few drunk pervs leering and trying it on and you always get a few angry exchanges which spoils things a bit. However on this occasion I think the smiles outweighed the scowls by far.

Of the main set songs Dead But Rising was a fave of mine and also The Nameless One is a great heavy and melodic track. 16 Dollars with it's spat out vocals was awesome too. The melodic tracks every one just dances to and has a good time on were great as well such Maybelene Hofteholder. Like I said before Volbeat seems to have a uniting power amongst metalheads and rockers and people from outside the scene. You can never second guess who might and might not be a Volbeat fan. Hence their route to super stardom is set. Funnily enough a couple of guys next to me where discussing how big Volbeat might ever get and they came to the conclusion that they had probably reached the maximum exposure. The only way to get bigger would be to ditch heavy guitars completely which would obviously cop them a big old load of flak from the true metalheads. Mind you the Chick to guys ratio would increase at the gigs so there's always a plus side..

This was a very enjoyable performance from the guys. They play with smiles on their faces and the crowd adores them pretty much. I didn't adore them myself hehe but I had fun and the Volbeat live experience has never really disappointed me yet. I don't know if I will go to see them live again though as I tend to be a been there seen that kind of guy when it comes to gigs apart from certain fave bands which I will always wanna see live. Volbeat have great energy, put in sterling performances and have a great singer/songwriter front man. Better than staying home on a Saturday night!

Set List:

Hallelujah Goat
Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
Radio Girl
The Nameless One
Sad Man's Tongue
Lola Montez
Heaven nor Hell
16 Dollars
Dead but Rising
The Mirror and the Ripper
My Body
Maybellene I Hofteholder
The Hangman's Body Count
Still Counting

Doc Holliday
I Only Want to Be with You
Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Alter Bridge Live at Wembley Arena

Time for some hard hitting modern rock to shake the foundations at Wembley Arena last night. Alter Bridge must be getting big 'cause last time they came they played Hammesmith which is a 5,000 venue and last night the Arena was more or less packed with a 12,000 sell out. The Alter Bridge bandwagon keeps gaining momentum although I must admit that new album Fortress has been slow to weave it's magic on me, it's slowly slowly getting there though I doubt I will love it as much as ABIII and Blackbird.

I had rather an odd view and when I took my seat I was almost dead level with the stage at the side. It was like watching the gig as if you're a roadie or stage hand from the side. Rather weird but at least the view was clear with no obstructions and you could also look on the packed floor. I sat down in my seat as Halestorm had already started playing the first song or two. They did ok. Lzzy Hale is a hell of a hot chick front woman these days and her band are pretty tight. The sound was a touch muddy for them and to be honest I have heard their albums I am not familiar enough to know songs quickly. They did do some covers though from their new ep which is pretty cool especially the Priest classic Dissident Aggressor. Good effort and the crowd accepted them with ease. Lzzy choice of footwear was a touch precarious to say the least! She had on a pair of like 6 inch platform heels - the kind on which ankles are broken!

Next up were the powerhouse rockers Shinedown. I was a bit disappointed with them the first time I saw them live. Frontman Brent Smith's vocals didn't seem as powerful live as they were on plastic. However he totally changed that perception last night as his vocals were nigh on perfect. Plus they had a much better sound than Halestorm as well. The only thing that's a little strange about the band is the rather long pauses between songs and the over the top unity talk and speech making of frontman Brent. Of course he means well but boy does he go on and on sometimes about how strong the music is how and united a family we all are. Maybe I'm being a bit mean spirited but Shinedown is about the only band I've ever heard that went on and on like it's a sermon of praise or something. Other than that they were awesome especially the ballads which were sung absolutely brilliantly by Brent, he really nailed those big time. A perfect support slot and compliment to the main act it must be said.

At 9.10pm it was time for the heavy hitting powerhouse of rock that is Alter Bridge to lay waste to the Arena and boy did they do that. Of course they were going to play a lot of new songs and to start off with Addicted to Pain was a great way to introduce new music as it's one of the best cuts on the new CD. Very fast and heavy and almost thrashy sounding with the first few rows going apeshit. The sound was actually slightly worse for AB than it was for Shinedown for me as the bass was so loud and tuned so low that it had quite a grating grinding sound which made Myles' voice less audible. Everytime I've been to the Arena this problem seems to persist with loud bass and drums to drown out guitars and vocals. Will they never learn?

Anyway slowly my ears got accustomed to the sonics on offer and I began to enjoy the show more from rather odd vantage point. Myles was sounding on hellishly good form vocally and soon some of my favourite AB tracks were played such as the rapid and heavy Ties That Bind and the best AB song in existence, Blackbird, with it's hugely rollercoaster emotional quality shining to the fore. Very very surprisingly the acoustic Watch Over You was the highlight of the night for me as it was sung Magnificently by Myles alone with his acoustic guitar. A truly mesmerising performance on that song. The main set ended with the anthemic crowd pleasers Rise Today and Open Your Eyes which are two of the best AB songs in my opinion.

They left to rapturous applause but of course returned for a two song encore of songs from ABIII with the churning Slip To The Void and the catchy Isolation to round things of nicely. Alter Bridge is one band whose future looks bright in the rock world make no mistake seeing as they are selling out Arenas and have the crowd eating out of their hands with ease. I forgot to mention Tremonti. The guy is a guitar wiz and churns out riff after heavy riff and spine tingling solos to top it all off. If they had slightly better live sound the show would have been even better but I'm not blaming the band for that of course. As it stands the AB live experience is solid as all hell and can be enjoyed by any fan of heavy music in the world today.

Set list:
Addicted to Pain
White Knuckles
Come to Life
Before Tomorrow Comes
Farther Than the Sun
Brand New Start
Cry of Achilles
Ghost of Days Gone By
The Uninvited
Ties That Bind
Broken Wings
Watch Over You (Acoustic)
Rise Today
Open Your Eyes
Slip to the Void

Thursday, 3 October 2013

GloryHammer Live Report

I almost didn't make it to this gig but being a stalwart of all things metal I couldn't bring myself not to go however much it cost me, physically speaking of course. It came so soon after the amazing Powerwolf show but I just wasn't gonna miss GloryHammer however much it cost my health and boy was it painful at times but I think it was all worth it in the end thanks to the amazing performance of the guys in GloryHammer.

We had some support bands to get through before the mighty warriors of Dundee would take to the stage, namely Death Valley Knights, Dendera and Darkest Era. First up were local band DVK as I'll call them for short. These guys were pretty good. Not amazing but reasonable. The singer's voice was a bit average but their regular heavy metal tunes were ok. Some nice trad guitar riffs and a few good histrionic solos. Not a bad start. The crowd was a bit thin for these guys maybe 50 or so but would slowly fill out as each band played.

Next up were Melodic thrash/power crew Dendera. I think their debut is a really solid slab of metal somewhere between Megadeth and Maiden so they are certainly aiming for the right crowd and set the bill up perfectly. The sound for these guys was nigh on perfect. Very clear guitars and a bright punchy sound. Their songs were very strong as I already knew especially Senlac Hill which is just an awesome song. The vocals were high pitched and pretty good but I wouldn't say the singing was the strong point of the band. More so the twin guitars chugging away and the fantastic dual guitar melodies they created. A very good job indeed and Dendera are going places given a few breaks. They certainly deserve more attention and maybe on their follow up album they will gain the momentum they need to move to the next level. I look forward to seeing them again as they are a very strong live unit indeed.

Next up were Northern Irish mob Darkest Era. A band who I've fleetingly come across before. They play a brand of melodic dark metal with clean vocals. Something akin to Slough Feg but with a darker heavier feel with twin guitars ala Maiden. This is the type of band that is always destined to remain cult and that's probably when they put on their best shows in a low key gig with the 'real' fans so to speak. These guys weren't exactly my cup of tea but I was won over a little by the end. Their music is very dark but the twin guitar riffing and fast headbanging pace made them fun to watch. The tubby frontman was a cool and funny guy with a few Irish wisecracks for the smiling crowd which was filling out much better now though the venue was still only probably half full at around 200 or so. The darkness and moody parts of the music made it rather morose but when they pick up the pace and rank up the melody Darkest Era are seen at their best IMO. A good effort by the guys and gal!

After Darkest Era's set ended and the roadies started getting the stage ready, the PA started playing a pre-recorded tape of a fictitious Tay FM radio station. I've never seen a band do such a thing where they make their own long intro tape! The tape played a few metal songs and also some rock and pop songs with talk and funny jingles inbetween. Typical crazy stuff that I guess band leader Chris Bowes of Alestorm would come up with!

Finally it was time for the GloryHammer guys to strut their stuff and show us what they were made of. Boy do they not do things by halves these guys. If you're gonna do power metal you might as well go the whole hog in terms of looks and regalia! one guitarist in warrior chainmail. One in court jester type jersey. Singer in armour. Bowes in dark shawl, drummer in medieval hood. The Scottish angle of the band is also verty funny and make the whole thing rather fun indeed and so OTT that it's almost impossible to believe how OTT it actually all is. Like I said they don't pull any punches when it comes to power metal cheese! Of course with only one album under their belt we would hear the whole damn thing over an hour's worth of music.

Starting things of with the superbly fast and catchy The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee with the first few rows rocking out to the fast chorus and warpspeed riffs. Vocalist Angus McFife lol was a funny dude all night and knew how to get the crowd going alright but it's his vocals that are most mpressive indeed. He was on shit hot form and belted out the songs with glee and with some nice stage moves to get the crowd fully pumped. Not that we needed cause the band had us eating out of their hand. The anthem Angus McFife followed with full crowd singalong almost louder than the man himself.

I was struggling to hear Chris Bowes' keys at times but the sound was pretty much perfect. The solos were very tight too and highly melodic indeed. A beautiful damsel came on to sing the female parts required on the album as you can see in the photos. Magic Dragon was a pure highlight of the show with it's awesome singalong chorus. Literally everyone was singing that one! Amulet of Justice was totally blistering as well and it's probably my fave song on the whole album with it's monumentally powerful chorus biting through like a sharp blade.

The Epic Rage of Furious Thunder ended the main set with an epic bang with the crowd in joyous rapture at the melodies and power of the chorus. The encore followed with the song Wizards! which I guess is a new song and it was pretty much along the same lines before the band left to rapturous applause. I wish I had recorded some of the banter between the tunes cause it was totally hilarious at times with much talk of warriors of London town talk which always makes me piss myself with laughter it's so cheesy!

I can't imagine were the band goes from here on the next album but it's probably gonna be even more over the top than this one. GloryHammer chants began near enough after every song and the band wowed us with a spectacular power metal show. Next time I see them, they'll hopefully have another album of power metal magic under their belts and a longer set!