Saturday, 29 November 2014

Fave power metal songs from 2014

Well 2014 ain't quite over but I made this play list for a bit of fun. It's a run down of my 20 fave power metal songs from this year. Only one song per band.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Threshold Live Report at the Islington Academy

I believe this is my second time seeing Threshold live. The first time with the wonderful singer Mac who sadly passed away of course and now the second time with the returning singer Damian Wilson. I had been looking forward to this gig quite a lot as I love the new album immensely and was dying to hear how the new songs sounded live and boy did they sound good. But more on Threshold later. There were two support bands to get through one of which I've never heard and the second only fleetingly on youtube.

First up were Greeks The Silent Wedding. They play a sort of slightly melancholy version of prog metal with crooning vocals and slow to mid paced songs with lots of keyboard flourishes. Obviously I didn't know their songs and it was hard to gauge how they went down but I guess they were ok but not really anything special. The best song of their set was actually a pretty cool and faithful cover of Savatage's Gutter Ballet. Very nicely done and any band that covers Savatage is cool although their own material needs a bit of work to make it more catchy as it tends to meander along without much excitement. Not too bad overall though.

Next up were Italian power metallers Overtures. I've heard a song or two on youtube from these guys and they were decent but nothing that made me go wow. However I must admit that they put on a very decent live show and have an engaging front man who interacts well with the crowd. His constant pleas for the crowd to boo Overtures and cheer Threshold was funny shit. The band sounded pretty spot on and maybe I should give them the time of day with their album to see if it can impress me. The singer definitely sounded very good live although somewhat accented. he did hit some seriously high notes throughout an the rest of his band mates were very impressive. In the end it's all about the songs and I'm not quite sure if Overtures have a brilliant and majestic enough arsenal to impress the power metal hordes out there but they sure made a decent fist of things last night and were a more more than able main support to Threshold although a different kind of style altogether.

Finally at 9.30 or so it was time for the English kings of Prog to take to the stage with a very live wire Damian Wilson at the helm. The guy was on acid all night it seems! He was literally everywhere and he spent a god portion of the set down on the main floor in the crowd. Speaking of the crowd the Islington Academy was probably only half full but that's still around 300 or so which is not too bad at all for an unfashionable prog metal band. The band started with the catchy Slipstream and straight away sound tighter than a chicken's backside. the sound was super crisp and Damian's clean vocals came booming out of the PA with great effect. This was a very supportive and partisan crowd with a lot of singing and it seems Threshold fans are a very loyal bunch and I was surprised how much adoration they actually receive after each song and the amount of singing that goes on as well.

The band continued with The Hours before we got to hear more of the newer songs which I had been hoping for. Ground Control was amazing and very melodic. Both guitarist Groom and Morton were riffing and soloing like bona fide stars of the metal underground. Unforgiven was the first new song aired and was awesome as I suspected it would be in the live setting. Damian's vocals were truly superb on that one. Couple of older songs were aired which I was less familiar with so personally there was a slight mid set lull before Coda, Lost in Your Memory and Watch Tower on the Moon brought things back up to date with brilliant melodic intent.

The epic Pilot in the Sky of Dreams was started by Damian on the main floor as can be seen in my video. Another epic followed that with the amazing song The Box from the new album one of my favourite tracks and was sung to perfection by Damian. Mission Profile ended the main set in catchier melodic fashion before the band returned for a final encore of Ashes having played a near enough 90 minute set and gone past the curfew even.

Even at the end Damian jumped over the ledge and into the crowd to accept the applause and back slaps and took photos with the fans. The guy really puts everything out for the fans and respects the people that come to see his band play. To be honest Threshold were amazing last night and even better than when I saw them with Mac who was a far more reserved and less enthusiastic guy than the madcap Damian. He stole the show with a wonderful performance from start to finish. His vocals were superbly clear and his overall sparks of enthusiasm make the Threshold live experience something to treasure and to look forward to again and again.

The Hours
Liberty, Complacency, Dependency
Ground Control
Siege of Baghdad
Part of the Chaos
Lost in Your Memory
Watchtower on the Moon
Pilot in the Sky of Dreams
Mission Profile
The Box


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Savage Messiah Live Report

A quick revisit to the Upstairs room at the Garage for a fun evening with UK melodic thrashers Savage Messiah was what lay in store for me on a wet Tuesday night. The room was far more packed for the Vega gig on Saturday just gone than it was for the Messiah boys. Maybe about 60-70 turned up. Not a disaster but not great by any means.

First up were London based Beneath Dead Waves from whom I actually bought my ticket saving me £3 on the door price. So cheers for that guys. Musically they are OK but the gruff grunting of the front man I can't really take to at all. The riffing is fine and dandy but the songs are pretty hard to follow. Also the volume of tonight's gig was astronomical. Are you trying to make us deaf sound man? Beneath Dead Waves is just not my cuppa.

Next up were unheralded UK melodic thrashers The More I See. I actually really like these guys. Their album from last year was good but the one before was even better. They play very well and in Gizz Butt they have a shredding lead guitarist able to match the best in the thrash field. I enjoyed their voluminous set, thanks again sound man, quite a lot and at least the vocals didn't defer to stupid growling/screaming. Musically they were a very able and suitable support to the headliners being a band made of similar ilk.

I've seen Savage Messiah a few times now and they never disappoint. This was the first time as a headliner though so I was expecting their best show yet. The Fateful Dark is their best album by far and the biggest hits all played to blistering affect. Cross of Babylon is my fave and Hellblazer of course never fails to get the adrenaline pumping and necks snapping.

Front man Dave Silver is an engaging dude whilst the lead guitarist Joff Bailey shreds and pulls mean faces galore. The best songs were all the new ones although they did play a few older ones as well. The sound was once again monster loud and I was getting blasted in the front row but it was fun to see the band cutting loose with thrashing melodic abandon right in your face. They played a new song as well which fitted right in to their current set so it all bodes well for their next effort which could be their best yet although they'll have their work cut out trying to top The Fateful Dark. Savage Messiah are one of the UK's best metal bands these days and they deserved a far bigger turn out than they got but I guess thrash on a cold Tuesday just didn't appeal - oh well their loss!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Vega/Newman Live Report

Time for some prime time British melodic rock on a horribly wet Saturday night. But hell it's not an outdoor gig so we're ok! A near enough full little room for the Vega and Newman boys as well so I'm sure they were very pleased with the turn out and I must admit I was a touch surprised but I guess it being a Saturday helped on that score.

Anyway first up were British newcomers Shaft of Steel. The name of the band has you thinking heavy true metal but instead they play a breezy twin guitar led melodic rock/aor with slick guitars and high pitched vocals. They only played five tracks four of which are also on their Ep. They sound good live but the singer's voice is a touch on the whiny side for my taste. I prefer a slightly less nasal delivery myself. Musically they are spot on with nice flurries of melodic twin guitar and crisp solos all over the shop. Song wise they are fine too but they need to get the songs a touch shorter in my opinion with more memorable choruses. A good but not great start and they were pretty well received by the crowd.

Next up were Newman who are of course ably led by Steve Newman who is a stalwart of the UK melodic rock scene for many years now. I've always been a bit so so on Newman but I was completely won over by the two albums The Art of Balance and lately the awesome CD, Siren. I was perhaps looking forward to their set a little more than Vega's even and boy were they on top form. The guitarist had a punchy guitar sound and really let rip a few tasty solos. Front man Steve has a great tone to his voice and sang perfectly all night. The band is heavied up by the powerhouse drumming of Pete Newdeck and his added backing vocals help harmonise the songs really well. I enjoyed their set very much although I don't think they played any songs from Siren which is a shame although they might have done so don't quote me on that. They did finish quite late though at around 9.15pm.

Speaking of set times, something went drastically wrong somewhere as Vega's set started at around 9.20 and ended at 9.50 as there was a very strict curfew. I am not quite sure what happened but obviously the headliner slot should play for more than 30 minutes and it was disappointing but I enjoyed their short and sweet set. They rushed through as many songs as physically possible and Nick said they'd play the songs at double speed just to get through them! I actually think Nick Workman's vocals work better live than they do on record if I'm honest  and he did a sterling job and the band sound tight as hell too. I like the right hand side guitarist's lead style a lot, very cool indeed. I would have loved to have heard some more songs from Stereo Messiah but it wasn't to be. The venue's strict 10pm curfew put paid to that.

What we did get was performed well and with gusto but I could tell the band wasn't so happy to have such a short stage time. This was my first time seeing Newman and second time with Vega and I hope to see both again soon. Newman won this battle but Vega's day will come!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Cannibal Corpse Live Report

If my memory is correct, this was only the second or third time I've seen the world's biggest death metal band in action. To be honest the last time they weren't all that great. They seemed to be going through the motions a bit but the support bill for this tour was to twist my arm into getting a ticket. That support consisted of Swedes Aeon and Americans Revocation who are both very good especially Revocation whose latest album is a real killer slab of tech death thrash mayhem.

The Forum is a large sized venue and the Halloween crowd filled out nicely by the end to over a 1000 I would guess. Some of the kids made an effort to dress up and the prize for dress of the night goes to the kid who came as an inflatable cock! Brave young man! The Teletubbies were also there and they came second..but I digress. There were plenty of ghoulish regular Halloween face paint jobs as well. In the end the serious matter of a death metal show was there to be witnessed and I decided to watch the show from the balcony as I'm carrying an injured foot at the minute and didn't fancy it getting trampled underneath the huge pits that were sure to start once the music was under way. There was lots of space in the balcony and I got a seat right at the front with a perfect view of the stage. Not great for taking photos but a few clear videos at least.

Firs up were Aeon the brutal God despising Swedes. I like their albums but this wasn't quite their night. They tried hard and got a fair response but the Forum sound mix rendered all their songs one big blurry mess to me. The final song of the set was awesome though and it's my fave of theirs. I forget the name now but it ruled.

Next up were Yanks, Revocation. Their new album Deathless is an awesome disk like I said earlier. The sound mix was much tighter and better for Revocation and speed they play at doesn't help but the tightness of the band is not to be sniffed at all. They also have an engaging front man who plays the music seemingly effortlessly whilst handling vocal duties as well. They were the most technical band of the night by far and played a very enjoyable set. The bass player was a headbanging mass of hair and spidery fingers as well - very cool to watch indeed.

The now fully pumped Halloween crowd was at fever pitch waiting for the 'Corpse to take to the stage and finally at 9.30 on the dot they did so with Corpsegrinder geeing everyone up before they launched into Staring Through The Eyes of the Dead with it's deadly groove bouncing along and the mad punters below already starting huge pits and in more than one place. The band sounded super tight and the sound was obviously the best it had been all night. The band sounds like a well oiled death metal machine as they are well into this European tour now so are playing these songs like they know their ABC. Corpsegrinder is one funny guy sometimes with some of the things he says. The way he windmills is something else as well. He challenged the crowd to a headbang war before one song and said to everyone "try to keep up! Even though you can't." and he declared himself gleefully the winner with a big "I win!!!" before roaring the first line of the song. Too funny!

One thing I noticed is that Alex the bass monster is headbanging a touch slower than I remember. He's still banging away but the tempo is a little slower I guess the old neck ain't as strong as it used to be. Corpsegrinder's neck, I can't even comment on. It's obviously made of steel!

My fave songs of the night were Sadistic Embodiment and Kill or Become from the new album. Make Them Suffer which is perhaps the catchiest song CC have ever written apart from THAT song of course! The Wretched Spawn had a monster groove with mass headbanging. I Cum Blood always get a god response and this was no different with a huge pit starting up. Of course the whole place went ape when Corpsegrinder announced it was time to play the song that everyone was gonna go mental for their biggest song Hammer Smashed Face. It segued into a blisteringly fast version of Devoured by Vermin and the night was over.

A suitable and fun night of death metal on an unseasonably mild Halloween night.

Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead
Fucked With a Knife
Stripped, Raped and Strangled
Kill or Become
Sadistic Embodiment
Icepick Lobotomy
Scourge of Iron
Demented Aggression
Evisceration Plague
Dormant Bodies Bursting
Addicted to Vaginal Skin
The Wretched Spawn
Pounded into Dust
I Cum Blood
Disposal of the Body
Make Them Suffer
A Skull Full of Maggots
Hammer Smashed Face
Devoured by Vermin