Monday, 30 March 2015

Evile live at the Underworld

It must be a couple of years since I've seen Evile play and the last time was crazy and so it proved to be again on Saturday night as they lay sieged to the Underworld. Speaking of laying Siege, that also happened to be the name of the opening band on the 3 band bill. Now the lame has me thinking cool thrashy things but the reality is somewhat different. These youngsters are from the djentcore scene. Their riffs are fat and djentrified in that typical stop starty feel whilst the singer bellows like a demon over the top. People seemed to enjoy them but they were not my cup oif tea at all. It's just not the type of metal an "older" fogie like me is into. Notice I didn't say old! Lay Siege finished their 30 minute set of pulverising, grooving metal and got a fair reception but I was like whatever let's see what the next band Reverted can do.

I had actually gone to the trouble of checking Reverted out on youtube beforehand so I had some idea how they sounded but I wasn't overly impressed with them to be honest so I was waiting for them to fail again. I was wrong actually. They sounded very tight live with their slightly technical brand of groovy metal coming across very well. They don't really ever speed up too much, preferring to punch you in the face with jack hammer grooves led ably by the very animated drummer. That guy was literally awash with sweat by the end of their set. Their front man had a very super cool poser haircut but we'll forgive him his wonderful locks this time. He was engaging well with the crowd. Definitely an interesting band with a lot of guitar and drum chops and a little bit different than the average band thanks to quirkier song writing. At least way better than Lay Siege anyway for my tastes.

Finally at 8.40pm on the dot, for a curfew of 10pm existed for tonight, the Evile boys took to the stage and soon the Underworld floor was bedlam. I was pretty close to the stage but there was no hope for me in that position if I wanted to take a few photos. I just had to beat a hasty retreat to the side and let the youngsters have their fun. The Evile guys sounded super tight and the usual fantastic Underworld sound was in full force and effect as the band including new guitarist Piers sounded on shit hot form. The rather large 300 strong Saturday night crowd was lapping up every single note from the guys with numerous stage divers raining down on the front rows. The band played songs from all their albums but concentrating in the main on latest album Skull which was fine by me. The track Underworld with it's awesome break riff had the place going nuts as did the title track. From the old tunes Enter The Grave from the first album always gets a massive response.

They finished at 9.55pm with just five minutes before the curfew before the lights went up and the Underworld floor could be seen and let me tell you it was the wettest I have ever seen it. The place was awash with sweat and beer and God knows what else! Lol gotta love thrash shows and the energy people leave behind. Evile are probably the Uk's best thrash band and never disappoint live that's for sure. Roll on the next album I say!

Words of the Dead
Enter the Grave
What You Become
Head Of The Demon
The Naked Sun
Infected Nation

New Truths Old Lies

Lay Siege



Friday, 20 March 2015

Hirax - Live at Our Black Heart

Hirax are one of those old timer thrash bands I've never really been able to get into. They always seemed so average in both musical ability and the acquired taste vocals of front man Katon. The guy is definitely a huge character though so I've always sort of admired him for being a veteran of the thrash scene. I didn't actually know the guitarist and bassist are brothers so you learn something new all the time. Their previous albums always left me cold but it all changed pretty much with the release of Immortal Legacy last year. Whilst not an amazing thrash record it more than held it's own with my thrash listening habits. When I saw that they were playing here in London, I thought that would be cool though I was slightly taken aback by the tiny venue they were listed to play but anyway it didn't stop me nabbing a ticket.

The venue Our Black Heart is a room above a pub basically and fits 150 before it's packed. The stage is literally 3 or 4 sq metres. It is the tiniest stage in all of London no doubt. I didn't actually know who the support bands were for this gig until I arrived at the pub and saw the advertised set times for each band on the door. First up were Bristolian death metallers Seprevation, then thrashers Virus and then Necroriser followed by an hour long set from Hirax.

Seprevation were up first and I must admit I was happy to see them as I'm a big fan of their album from last year. These young guys didn't disappoint live at all. Their riffs are semi technical and special mention must be made of bass player/vocalist who had amazing bass chops. He played awesome tech bass which is very audible in the crisp sound mix. Their songs sounded catchy and tight. Excellent start to the night by these youngsters.

Next up were Virus a band who I've heard but never really got into. However I must admit that they were very impressive indeed. The front man is a crazy looking dude with a massive beard stuck on the end of his chin whilst churning out huge riffs and ripping lead work as well. Pretty damn cool set by these guys. Two really cool bands so far.

Main support to Hirax were Necroriser whom I've actually never heard of. They played a mix of thrash and death metal with nice breakdown riffs and growly vocals. Not bad at all but not something that exciting for my tastes. It was good to hear their short sharp and savage songs though and I will check them out further in youtube.

Finally at 10pm or so with the venue pretty full the Hirax took their positions and started the instrumental 100,000 strong before bursting into the mental opening riff of Hellion Rising and Katon burst on to that tiny stage and started going nuts as this the first few rows. This venue is so intimate that when the band stands on the monitors they are basically in your face playing and singing relentless thrash metal just the way the rabid fans like it! Katon is an amazingly invigorated dude the way he gets into the music and soon the sweat starts dripping from all and sundry. This is the way thrash was meant to be played, fast aggressive and mental. Played by a bunch of crazy lunatics and loved by a bunch of crazy lunatics.

The band was relentless and even the older shorter songs sounded much better than I ever remembered them from the past. The hour was over in a flash as Katon announced the last song and it was a last chance for the diehards to bang like there's no tomorrow. If you want an energetic show performed by stalwarts of the scene and a mental dude who pulls more faces than the winner in a face pulling contest then do yourself a favour and go and see Hirax. It's fun as hell!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Night Ranger Live at the Islington Academy

Night Ranger are one of those old time rock bands which I've always heard as a name but never been able to fully get into any time I've tried their music. That all changed recently when they released their latest album High Road. That disk had some real happy go lucky rock tunes on it that really put a smile on my face. There were still some songs that didn't excite but they finally won me over with their brand of good time melodic rock. This show was a one off pre-festival gig for the Hard Rock Hell festival that they would go on to play in a couple of days. This was kind of a warm up show for their set in Wales so there was no support listed and it allowed the band to be very creative with the set list and be looser and have more fun basically.

Although they did take to the stage about 40 minutes later than billed which left us old bastards thinking is Axl Rose playing or something but they did eventually saunter on to the stage and starp on their guitars and pick up their drumsticks and set headlong into the NR back catalogue. Not being familiar with old 'Ranger is a slight hindrance to ones enjoyment of the songs but the enthusiasm of the band cannot be faulted one iota. The singer Jack Blades was one fine wisecracking form with plenty of in between song banter both between the crowd and his band mates Gillis, Keagy and the new guitarist Kelly or Keely or something not exactly sure of his name. Anyhow the sound was excellent in the Islington Academy and every note they played was crisp and precise with lead and harmony vocals in most songs perfectly audible and played.

Of course I was most looking forward to the newer songs of which a couple were played the best being of course the super catchy title track High Road with loud sing-a-longs during the yeahh yeahhs by the sell out crowd. Actually I should mention that I've seen some packed shows in Islington but this gig was rammed to the rafters. Who would believe Night Ranger would actually be so big in 2015? They played the same venue a couple of years ago but I don't think it was nowhere near as packed as the other night. I would guess the crowd as being close to a 1000 with ease. I managed to sneak up along the side to be about 4-5 metres from the stage right and slowly got a little closer as people moved, however taking photos was a bit hard but I did manage a few videos at least. The band played with much enthusiasm as I said, with a lot of smiles on their faces. Brad Gillis is an engaging guitarist as well and knows a shred licks having been with Ozzy of course. Actually I must be honest I didn't actually even know he was in Ozzy's band for awhile, but I was informed by a friend who attended with me, that that was in the case and to expect an Ozzy cover, namely Crazy Train. That was actually one of the highlights of the night for me.

The other guitarist has also been in a few bands, one being Alice Cooper, so we got a fun little rendition of School's Out, a song I've never heard live having never seen Alice Cooper live of course. The band's own song continued to impress though the sappy ballads sung by drummer Kelly weren't really my cup of tea. I prefer straight ahead catchy melodic rock and when they played those songs I was happy. I doubt I'll ever be a huge Night Ranger fan but their live prowess can't be denied really with a wealth of experience under their belts to call upon.

I doubt I will see them live again should they come calling but at least I have seen these stalwarts of melodic rock at least once before they call it quits although it seems they are very happy to continue what they are doing and business pretty good. The set was just over two long and I left just before the ballad Sister Christian was aired as I don't like that song and there would have been a huge crush trying to get out of that place through a small set of double doors. A fine evening with the Ranger old timers all in all so thumbs to these old boys for keeping going and flying the flag for melodic rock.

Growin' Up in California
Sing Me Away
Can't Find Me a Thrill
School's Out
(Alice Cooper cover)
Four in the Morning
Coming of Age
(Damn Yankees cover)
St. Bartholomew
Sentimental Street
Night Ranger
Crazy Train
(Ozzy Osbourne cover)
High Road
Don’t Live Here Anymore
Eddie's Comin' Out Tonight
High Enough
(Damn Yankees cover)
The Boys of Summer
(Don Henley cover)
When You Close Your Eyes
Don't Tell Me You Love Me
Sister Christian
(You Can Still) Rock in America

Eclipse Live at the Underworld

Back in May of last year Eclipse came to London for the first time and of course I was in attendance to pay my respects to Erik and co. This latest venture to our shores was a no- brainer really when it came to my attendance as you would suspect since my love for this band is currently endless. Their brand spanking new beast of a record is fresh in the mind still and the lads are here to make hay whilst the going is good. A Tuesday night turn of about 150 or a bit more was probably slightly below par but there's been a lot of gigs lately so people pick and choose I guess. However it's their loss as Eclipse are the real deal when it comes to melodic rock. I was looking forward to a night of pure melodic madness and boy did we get it. Three support bands on the bill so a fair wait before the Swedish kings would take to the stage and usually I prefer two support bands as I find it cuts into the headline slot a little too much.

In any case we had Kinkade, fellow Swede youngsters Reach, Uk hard nuts Tainted Nation to warm us up before the main event listed to start at 9.50pm sharp.

Kinkade is a band I've seen 3 times now. They are like the Underworld house band it seems when it comes to rock gigs here. I haven't heard them on record in the studio version but live they just seem destined forever to be the support band that plays to 10 people at the start of the night. They are not awful by any means and have some decent riffing going on at times. Nice little rock n' roll flavour if you like but it's just mildly entertaining for me and not something I actively look forward to. I always think "oh ok.. Kinkade is playing first ...usual story.." I'll watch it and wait for the other bands..

Next up were a bunch handsome youngsters from Sweden by the name of Reach. I think I've heard one or two songs from these boys on youtube that have yet to penetrate my listening habits. So it proved in the live setting as well. Their songs are ok don't get me wrong but I didn't hear anything special happening. I must point out that the young guitarist is actually really very good with some nice riffs and solos throughout. He has a lot of potential but they need to hone the songs to be a bit sharper. They do have well defined choruses but I guess the delivery of the front man just didn't quite cut the mustard for me. A lot of hope for the future though so we'll see how the band turns out.

Next up were UK heavy rockers Tainted Nation led by the imposing Pete Newdeck. They seemed to have changed bassist since last time as the last guy was a bald dude and now they've got a long haired headbanger in. The "Nation" sounded in fine form as they broke into the first couple of songs from the debut album F.E.A.R before playing a couple of new songs from their yet o be released follow up. I must admit the new songs sounded much meaner and heavier than the earlier songs played whilst still maintaining the melodic aspect that I so enjoyed from the debut. I love the song Your Only Friend from the debut which was duly played before the set ended with the catchy Loser. Looking forward to their new album in the coming months.

And then it was time for the mighty Eclipse to take to the stage and start ramming the front rows with those meaty riffs and magnificent anthems that they possess! Boy did they do just that with an almighty one-two punch to the guts with the opening two cuts from Armageddonize blowing away the crowd with power, precision and most of all melody. Erik sounded mighty and the choruses just went right through you especially on Stand On Your Feet with it's hammering pounder of a riff shaking the ground beneath our feet. Oh of course the guys didn't rest there, this was just the start of the melodic madness.

The songs continued to flow thick and fast with lots of grinning from Erik and geeing up of the front rows. They concentrated on their two latest albums of course with in fact most of the new album being aired as well as choice cuts from Bleed and Scream. How to Mend a Broken Heart from Are You Ready To Rock was a bone-fide high point before the band settled into playing the newer songs as powerfully as possible and for a one guitar band they didn't half create a mean sound. Guitarist Magnus is an understated lead player but he drags out every lick and note with as much emotion as possible.

Eclipse is a band you have to witness from the front row which is something I've done twice now. This show was a little short at only 60 minutes but they left you wanting more and and isn't that always a good thing? The first time I saw them it was good but the second time blew it away completely. This band deserves to be seriously huge, though whether they'll make it big is pretty doubtful but as long as they keep making albums like Armageddonize the diehards will keep supporting. Make no mistake - this band is energised melodic rock at it's very very best!

I Don't Wanna Say I'm Sorry
Stand On Your Feet
Wake Me Up
The Storm
About to Break
Blood Enemies
Wide Open
To Mend a Broken Heart
Bleed & Scream
All Died Young

Breaking My Heart Again