Sunday, 26 March 2017

Battle Beast Live Report

My third time seeing the mighty Battle Beast but the first as headliner. Of course they were here to promote their fantastic new album, bringer of Pain. Sadly I missed them last time they came due to gig overload as I recall but I wasn't going to make that mistake again. Seeing the great Majesty listed as supported also proved another draw as if I needed one.

Initial support was provided by Japanese 3 piece Gyze. I hadn't really heard of them but new that they were described as a shreddy melodeath act. And yes they lived up to that billing. They were also the thinnest band I have ever seen. Each member had barely an extra ounce on them, You notice these things when you're trying to lose weight yourself!

Anyway these guys played neo-classical melodic shred with raspy high pitched vocals with a strong Japanese accent. The guitarist is a wiry little dude and played a mean solo or 6! They sounded like very early Bodom but with more neo-classical leanings. Vocals sounded like Alexi but even higher pitched. They were ok and the crowd seemed to enjoy them but all their songs sounded pretty them same. Once you've heard one you've heard them all basically. Might check their album out when it's finally released.

There was a 10pm curfew on the Underworld as it's a club night at 11 so everything was shifted forward an hour. The turn around between bands was some of the fastest I have seen. Barely 15 minutes between Gyze's 30 minute set and Majesty's 50 or so minutes.

Last time Majesty played here the gig was a bit of a shambles. Tarek was very sick, they arrived late and played to barely 30 people! This time around it was much better in every way. The Friday night crowd was filling up nicely past the 300 mark I would guess. The true metallers were out in force and it helped no end that Rebels is probably the best Majesty album every released. Tarek is a funny true metal front man. He may not have the best and most amazing voice ever but just like Joakim does with Sabaton, he knows how to lead a band and make them sound convincing. Majesty sounded epic and the new songs were mighty and glorious with huge sing along anthem after anthem bellowed back at Tarek by those at the front. They must've been genuinely happy after the disaster gig last time they played.

The new songs sound fantastic too and are blessed with majestic goose bump choruses galore. Special mention for the great Manowaresque ballad Across the Lightning. Sung perfectly by Tarek and everyone else. the galloping true metal parts were also fun as always. Special mention for Yolo HM, the funniest and by far cheesiest song of the night with mass singalong by near enough everyone. Manowar maybe dust but never fear we still have Majesty! Hail!

Path to Freedom
Die Like Kings
Hail to Majesty
The Final War
Yolo Hm
Across the Lightning
Metal Law
Heroes in the Night
Thunder Rider
Rebels of Our Time
Fighting Till the End

Finally at 8.30pm on the dot the Battle Beast crew took to their spots as the intro played and we awaited the Battle Bitch herself to lay waste. The crowd had reached it's maximum of probably around 350 and the excitement was obvious on the faces of many as the band launched fiercely into opener Straight to the Heart. Noora looked and sounded magnificent with her battle bitch make up and gear on. The chorus of that song is just superb and was sung back at Noora as loud as possible. You could see by the faces of the band that they were a bit shocked how fervent the support was from the floor.

They wasted no time in launching into the heavy title track Bringer of Pain and Noora once again was screaming her lungs out like a banshee. Her live vocals are something else. You think she's good on record? Well you ain't see nothing until you hear her live. She's truly one of the best powerhouse singers in all of metal today. The gal has a feisty attitude as well as she prowls the stage like a howling leather skinned temptress stalking her prey!

The rest of the band are also full of smiles and give the horns as they head bang away. The bassist is a funny guy and leads the cheerleading a fair bit on stage. Sometimes some Finnish based humour as well which maybe doesn't quite travel that well! He thanked the Brits for giving the world Maiden and Priest but then said we're also responsible for Asking Alexandria so fuck us!

The awesome Into The Heart of danger sounded fantastic as did the powerhouse Let It Roar with it's monster stomp. Black Ninja is a staple of their set as Noora did her best karate moves whilst singing flawlessly. The ballad far From heaven was sung flawlessly again and it really showed her magnificent live vocal abilities to perfection.

Bastard Son of Odin was another massive highlight from the new album before the main set ended with Out of Control. A great main set but more followed with the encore which featured a hilarious mass sing along to Last Xmas from Wham. The bassist instigated that one again and it was hilarious indeed. King for a Day again induced near hysteria from the floor with it's wonderful funky riffs and monster chorus. The set ended with the powerful Beyond the Burning Skies after which the crowd was truly pumped as was the band as they were cheered to the rafters.

As Noora said this was a proper heavy metal party and then some. Everyone had a smile on their face and was enjoying the bands on stage and singing along as much as they could. Noora proved that she is the Queen of true metal vocals and maybe one day someone will try and poach her to sing in a bigger band who knows. She can do literally any kind of metal vocals and sound amazing. If you get a chance to see Battle Beast one day, make sure you do it or you'll be missing out on a hell of a party!

Straight to the Heart
Bringer of Pain
Familiar Hell
Into the Heart of Danger
We Will Fight
Let It Roar
Black Ninja
Far from Heaven
Lost in Wars
Iron Hand
Touch in the Night
Bastard Son of Odin
Enter the Metal World
Out of Control

Last Christmas
(Wham! cover) (Eero and audience on vocals)
King for a Day
Beyond the Burning Skies

Top Gun Anthem
(Harold Faltermeyer song)

As Lions Live Report

As Lions is the new vehicle for Austin Dickinson, yes his dad is Bruce in case any one reading this didn't know. His previous band was Rise To Remain and they were a melodic metalcore band. They've fully abandoned that style for a streamlined melodic modern rock motif and they are all the better for it. Of course you might lose the metalcore kids but you'll gain a whole heap of new fans that need melodic hooks in their music. Their new album has some excellent melodic song writing and very solid vocals from Austin himself although he does sound a bit boyish at times.

Two support bands were billed. First was Shadows Into Light. never heard of them obviously. The singer was on the main floor the whole time whilst singing. Sometimes rolling around on the floor in anguish as the band remained on stage. Not knowing their songs proved a bit difficult enjoyment wise but this kind of post grunge angst isn't really my cup of tea.

Main support were Brutai. They've been making a few waves in the underground with their brand of melodic modern metal. They mix vocals from screams to cleans and use stop start djenty riffs and dreamy keyboard swathes as well. They went down a bit better but still this is not the kind of music and old man like me can get into. I need stronger vocal melodies and memorability and was waiting for As Lions to provide that for me.

Finally Austin and the boys came on and launched into opening cut from their new album Selfish Age. The crowd had filled out a little more to a respectable 100 or so by now and so the As Lions fan club was in full show and effect as they sang all the words back at Austin. Of course they played the whole of their debut album in random order plus the EP. The set wasn't long but the album is not long as a whole as most of their songs are radio friendly lengths. Austin sounded very good for the most part but he was sick apparently. The band sounds good but not as amazing as they do on the cd.

Austin himself can't quite capture the perfect melodic vibe that he does on record but the crowd was loving it anyway and Austin has quite a few of his dad's mannerisms with his animated stage presence. He's definitely a confident lad. Selfish Age is a great start for the band too and the next album should be something even bigger and grander. best songs were Aftermath, White Flags, World on Fire and Selfish Age.

One thing I will say though is that Austin needs to cut out the OTT swearing on stage. It's not that cool to drop regular F Bombs like it's going out of style. The album is great but live they have room for improvement but I'll still be playing these songs come the end of the year, they are that good.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Kreator/Sepultura Live Report

A big four band line up for this tour. Dutch brutalisers Aborted up first, Melodeath monsters Soilwork after, Messiahs of Brazillian metal Sepultura as main support followed by the legendary teutonic thrash warriors Kreator. A pretty diverse and interesting bill.

I was half thinking that I would miss Aborted. I was planning on getting something to eat before the show and I checked Aborted's stage times and it was listed as 5.45pm so pretty early but in fact as I walked in the venue at around 6.15 they hadn't even started yet. I had a seat in the balcony for this show as I wanted a good view of the stage and I found a nice spot to view the brutality on offer.

Aborted strode on a few minutes later and the reasonably sized downstairs crowd started up a decent pit straight away as Aborted blasted away as you do in brutal death metal circles. I enjoyed the drummers blast beats quite a bit. The baldy singer does a good job of getting everyone pumped. The sound was actually pretty clean for a band first up. I've really gone off recent Aborted material and I'm an old school fan of theirs. They started incorporating deathcore or modern elements in to their brutality and that turned me right off. They were pretty solid live I must admit. You can't tell one song from the next but that's brutal death for you. The kids just want something to pump the up ready for what's to come.

Next up were Soilwork, perhaps the most melodic band on the bill. Well not perhaps definitely the most melodic on wax at least. I have seen them before but I don't recall when but they sounded much better then now I'm sad to report. I think they were trying to hard to sound brutal and stripped away all the big melodic aspects of their sound. I don't think they should try to compete with heavier bands just 'cause they're on a bill with some heavyweights. Speed Strid's melodic vocals which are normally pretty cool were hard to make out as the guitarist bashed away. I guess they don't really play the ultra melodic Depeche Mode era Soilwork tunes anymore either. They still have nice solos though. They went down ok with the crowd but I personally was a bit disappointed in them. Maybe they are just not used to being third on the bill.

This is the first time I have seen Sepultura since 96. In fact that was the last ever show with Max when everything went pear shaped after. I lost interest in Seps slowly as they drifted further and further away from the Arise and Chaos AD sound even. The new album Machine Messiah is probably their best ever with Derrick Green but I still don't really like it but it has it's moments that's for sure. I was looking forward to seeing how they sound live with Green. To my honest surprised I thought they sounded very good indeed. Green stomps around the stage like a super heavyweight lumbering from side to side doing hand movements with the beats. The band of course played a lot of songs from Machine Messiah. They sounded ok and more brutal live. In fact that band makes an almighty racket considering they are a one guitar band now.

I've never liked Green's recorded vocals, I think he sounds annoying but live he sounds a bit different. His voice sounds more brutal and almost death metal. He loses the character that Max had when singing the old Seps songs especially. Also the way he pronounces loses that famous Max twang and makes the old classics sound much more brutal. Still it was amazing to hear savage versions of Desperate Cry and Inner Self. Chaos AD classics like Refuse/Resist saw monster pits starting. I think the fans showed so mcuh respect to the current Seps as they ever have. DG has fully been accepted in the sepultribe that's for sure. I am still not a fan of their musical output since Max left but their hour long set was pretty excellent and saw the crowd going ape all over the place down below. Special mention to the sinewy and lean drummer Eloy Casagrande. That guy was a rapid fire drum duty. He never stopped to catch breath even once and prepelled the band's percussive sections like the old days of Igor. I didn't think it would happen but Sepultura were better than Soilwork.

I Am the Enemy
Phantom Self
Desperate Cry
Sworn Oath
Inner Self
Resistant Parasites
Roots Bloody Roots

Finally at just before 9.30 the German Titans took their places and the tension reached fever pitch. With a monster new album under their collective bullets, these hairy old warriors looked in mean and inspired form as they tore through opener Hordes of Chaos. The band sounded mean with a crystal clear sound mix and Mille's penetrating rasp cutting through the slashing riffs superbly well. I was mainly looking forward to the new material and see how it would sit next to the older material. I'm happy to report it sits very well indeed. Of course the album is much more melodic than the old days and this suits me fine. Mille sounds immense and his band mates are on sonic fire so to speak. Gods of Violence was fantastic with it's soothing intro before cutting loose with jabbing riffs everywhere. A few older classics like Phantom Antichrist and Enemy of God were great and fitted well with the new material. I must admit I am not a Kreator aficionado so their old material doesn't really mean that much to me. Sacrilege maybe to some old school thrashers but I always found Kreator to be quite an abrasive and overly brutal thrash incarnation and I prefer their more polished albums. Extreme Aggression is always good though for getting the blood pumping and the floor was a sea of bodies on that one!

These guys were worthy headliners of this four band bill and performed fantastically well and Mille led his troops like the great front man that he is. Kreator are as strong as they have ever been in my eyes and probably as big as they've ever been. I'd argue that Sepultura were by the far the bigger band world wide in their heyday with Max but maybe things have changed and Kreator are arguably bigger and better than the Seps now and musically they've been punching way harder than they get credit for. A Good gig overall and good to see Seps fighting hard after all these years. Meanwhile Kreator were a machine of molten thrash metal. Soilwork will have better days. Aborted is just brutal destruction haha and nothing more.

Choir Of The Damned
Hordes of Chaos (A Necrologue for the Elite)
Satan Is Real
Gods of Violence
People of the Lie
Total Death
Mars Mantra
Phantom Antichrist
Fallen Brother
Enemy of God
From Flood into Fire
World War Now
Hail to the Hordes
Extreme Aggression
Civilization Collapse

The Patriarch
Violent Revolution
Flag of Hate / Under the Guillotine
Pleasure to Kill