Friday, May 31, 2013

Beseiged - Victims Beyond All Help

Like Community's Pierce and his semi-mantra, "It just came up organically," (about banging Eartha Kitt in an airline bathroom, generally), most great forms of metal music, if not music outright, emerged as reactions to other music scenes: NWOBHM reacted to rock-- speed metal, like Motorhead, found NWOBHM too staid-- speed metal fucked hardcore acts like Gang Green and/or D.R.I., and begat thrash metal-- thrash metal popped out death metal--
et frackin' cetera....

Most recent "re-thrash" outfits (I'm looking at you, recent technically-accomplished yet overall-lacking re-thrash outfit whose name starts with "H") tend to seem like inspired covers of... Men From Long Ago. Problem is, those men-- they weren't playing in standard with lots of palm muting at high velocities that started and stopped on a dime and generally had political lyrics because That Was Where Life Had Put Their Music, but because They Loved Rocking Out... and at that time, Rocking Out meant playing thrash metal.

Do you see the difference?

Victims Beyond All Help seems like it arose (Sepultura cough! See Below!) organically, without commercial intention: the fine fellows in Beseiged seem angry and like they'd never heard metal at all before playing-- and somehow, perfectly randomly, they made protest music that sounds like something you and I have called "thrash metal" for over two decades.

Their ad copy cites Beneath the Remains and Darkness Descends (which, to this day, I still think of as being sounds heard from a green cassette, via Kevin in my Freshman Biology class)-- and is overall quite the accurate talking point....

Victims Beyond All Help is to be released July 9, 2013 (with an Ed Repka cover no less --and this a particularly-cool one, like Sepultura's Arise, though otherwise...? Generic name, logo, and what?!-type album cover... though to be fair, it looks like a tape I would've bought solely for said cool cover, this probably on Roadrunner Records circa 1989... not unlike Obituary's Cause of Death...).
So, anyway, there is in fact a review in here. It begins NOW.

First and foremost: great drummer! (He doubles the count... always! And this at rather high velocities!)... great drum sound overall: tasty, minimalist... sounds like someone using a cardboard box for a snare, but somehow this completely works and ends up sounding something like Neal Peart if he were homeless and just randomly drumming on shit around him versus playing in Rush.

Riffs? Clever; and this, for a thrash band (something not normally required for a good thrash album overall, where it's more important to have a clever arrangement (see Vio-Lence's Eternal Nightmare), versus a genre like stoner/doom/sludge, which lives and dies by a specific refrain, or "riffs")....
Nutshelled-- sounds like Beneath the Remains-type tunes, but (somehow) recorded during the Arise sessions; signer sounds a ton like Max Cavalera, ca. 1988....

Oh... opener "Internal Suffering," has no intro: no fucking acoustic intro, or a Goddamned ambient intro, or a swell-in, or what-fucking ever: at approximately 0.1 second in, the tune takes fucking off: fast as fuck and endorsing of no Bullshit....

FYI: they're from Winnipeg, Manitoba... I somehow picture them touring with non-nonsense Canadian metalheads like 3 Inches of Blood and Bison BC....


Thursday, May 30, 2013


Slayer's Tom Araya and Kerry King are very pleased to announce that Paul Bostaph has rejoined the band on a full-time basis.  Bostaph will be behind the drum kit beginning June 4 when Slayer kicks off the first leg of its 2013 international tour in Warsaw, Poland.  Gary Holt will continue to fill in for fallen guitarist Jeff Hanneman.

Slayer's 2013 itinerary will have the band playing 35 dates that will include headline shows as well as a number of major summer festivals in Europe, Eastern Europe and South America between June and October.  The complete itinerary is below.

"Paul's a great drummer and a good friend, and we're very happy that he's decided to rejoin the band," said Tom Araya.  "We're still pretty numb from the loss of Jeff, but we don't want to disappoint our European and South American fans, and we need to begin moving forward...having Paul back in the band makes that a whole lot easier."

"I'm very excited to be rejoining Slayer," added Bostaph.  "We spent a very intense ten years of our lives together, had a lot of fun, made a lot of great music, so for me,  this feels like coming home."

Bostaph was Slayer's drummer from 1992 until 2001 and recorded four albums with the band - the Gold certified Divine Intervention (1994), the 1996 punk covers album Undisputed Attitude, Diabolus in Musica, (1998), God Hates Us All (2001) that received a Grammy nomination for "Best Metal Performance,"  as well as the DVD War at the Warfield (2001), also certified Gold.  In addition to Slayer, Bostaph has been a member of Forbidden, Exodus, Systematic and Testament.

Slayer's 2013 international touring schedule is as follows:


 4         Impact Festival 2013, Warsaw, Poland
 6         Muziek Theatre, Enschede, Holland
 7         Rodahal, Kerkrade, Holland
 8         Sonisphere France, Amneville, France
10-11   The Academy, Dublin, Ireland
12        Limelight, Belfast, Ireland
14        Greenfield Festival, Interlaken, Switzerland
15        Geox Theatre, Padova, Italy
17        Antlantico, Rome, Italy
18        Obihall, Florence, Italy
19        Alcatraz, Milan, Italy
21        Metalfest Germany, St. Goarshausen, Germany
22        See-Rock Festival 2013, Graz, Austria
23        Culture Factory/Tvornica Kulture, Zagreb, Croatia
25        Kombank Arena, Belgrade, Serbiz
26        Hegyalja Festival, Tokaj, Hungary
27        With Full Force, Leipzig, Germany
29        Hi Voltage, Istanbul, Turkey


 1         Heavy By The Sea, Athens, Greece


 2         Resurrection Festival, Viviero, Spain
 6         Vega Main Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark
 7         Grona Lund Tivoli Outdoor, Stockholm, Sweden
 9         Jalomethallifestival 2013, Oulu, Finland
10        Oya Festival, Oslo, Norway
11        Bloodstock Open Air 2013, Derby, UK
15        Pukkelpop Festival, Kiweit Hasselt, Belgium
16        Low Lands Festival, Biddinghuizen, Holland
17        Elb-Riot Open Air Festival, Hamburg, Germany
18        X Rockfest, Herford, Germany


17        Foro Sol, Mexico City, Mexico
20        Jockey Club, Sao Paulo, Brazil
22        Rock In Rio 2013, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
24        Pedreira Paulo Leminski, Curitiba, Brazil
27        River Plate Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina
29        Jockey Club, Asuncion, Paraguay


 2         Estadio Nacional, Santiago, Chile

Twoferone: Sanctus Bellum - Return To Dust & The Shining Path

I first got to know about these Houston-hoodlums via Ben Yaker, Sanctus Bellum's affable bass player and photographer extraordinaire. We ran into each other at Days Of The Doomed I in Kenosha, WI in 2011. He gave me a copy of their self-released debut Return To Dust and I played it to dust and beyond on the way home from the fest. The following year, 2012, the band actually played at Days Of The Doomed II and they absolutely crushed it. To make things even better, they had their brand new self-released sophmore album The Shining Path available. Good stuff indeed folks. Having ended up playing both discs back to back on numerous occasions I felt that writing about only one of them wouldn't do. There's a strong connection between them prompting me to do my first twoferone...feature two releases in one review. So indulge a self-professed dingbat this pilot project about a damned great Texas band.

Return To Dust

Shoggoth's Ascent initiates Return To Dust with a slow creepy bass line, followed by real doomy drumming before the guitar joins in and the band brings up the speed to mosh pit frenzy, even when Justin Waggoner starts to sing they keep it this way. About halfway in they slow it down to dreamy doom levels allowing guitarist Jan Kimmel excel with a beautiful solo. The songs ends with a bang and Dagon's Bride takes over. It has more classic metal undertones with a pinch of doom although Waggoner's singing is more akin to punk and Mark Lanegan. And like a bottomless treasure chest Sanctus Bellum pulls gem after gem of pure excellence from it. Oozing class their fantastic debut continues with Curwen. It starts almost trippy and oriental before picking up pace although it weaves back and forth between faster and slower parts. It ends real heavy...

God's Own Warrior follows and is kind of mid-tempo where Jan takes the centre stage with some fantastic guitar playing. Although the song never really veers out of tempo it somehow builds up and seem faster at the end. Don't know how they created it, maybe it's Ben's deep thundering bass guitar and Cory Cousins' varied and earthshattering drumming I don't know. What I do know is they created something amazing here. Waving their magic wand The Reddening West ups the ante even more. A little faster it just keeps pummeling me in it's kind of Maidenesque structure. White Cat brings on more psychedelic undertones than the other songs in all it's doomishness. Since it's a fast track that combination is to me totally unheard of and very refreshing to hear.

The Shining Path

The title track sets off the proceedings and it is creepy initially, almost trippy before kicking into heavier gear. Halfway through it's good ole heavy metal where guitarist Jan Kimmel and newcomer Maurice Eggenschwiler are shredding like there's no tomorrow trading licks left, right and centre. An excellent opener that really puts pressure on the band to deliver throughout. Spiral Jacobs follows and although it slows things down a tad it is fantastic. Like The Shining Path it starts off kind of psychedelic courtesy mainly of the rhythm section who in their solidness allows the two guitarists to jam, solo and riff back and forth, basically they know they can let loose and do whatever. I have spoken of this before but when a band is as confident and talented as Sanctus Bellum are whatever they do will come out great. Vessel is a heavy metal riff-o-rama of the highest level. Still keeping it kind of at mid-tempo they do hit bulldozing mode and I love it! While Jan and Maurice are riffing their fingers to bloody pulps Ben's thumping bass shatters my head while Cory pounds my remains to dust. And what can I say about Justin's voice? Nothing apart from amazing...this is a great great song.

Dumb Luck Divinity I believe is the song on The Shining Path that actually represent all the songs on the album. What I mean is that it has parts of each track in it making Sanctus Bellum what they really are. A fantastic musical beast! Bringing up the pace a little bit Beautiful Swimmers is their most straight up metal track on this release. Driving hard the band ripps it up making me headbang my already messed up neck to pieces. Ending with Ephaniah is a great choice. Starting out as an awesome doom song, again kind of trippy, halfway through they switch to piledriving me with full force heavy metal á la Maiden making that poor suffering neck of mine take another beating. Reverting back to a slower pace the song and the album eventually ends leaving me yearning for more.

In the beginning I said there's a strong connection between the two albums. First and foremost they are like chapters of a novel. Return To Dust is obviously chapter 1 opening up the storytelling for the listener, sending us on the way. The Shining Path continues the narrative but is tweaking it a little bit more. What appeals to me, apart from the fantastic songs and the excellent playing, is the fact that even though played back to back both albums have the same sound. But Sanctus Bellum has managed to step it up on The Shining Path making sure it's not a repetition but a natural continuation and that's excellence dear waveriders.
Embrace this band because their take on doom and classic heavy metal is fresh, honest and absolutely amazing! They have taken all their influences and all their own ideas, stirred them around in a crock pot and let it simmer for a few years. Once cooked to perfection they unleashed it on the public and it is delicious. To quote my good friend Mercyful Mike, he said they have created a new sub-genre "shred doom" and I think that's very fitting. Go the band's website and order both albums and you'll get to taste this Texan stew of el grande metal and doom. Served best with beer while headbanging and thrashing madly!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

UNDERSMILE Premier New Video For The Track ‘Soil’ On The Sleeping Shaman

UNDERSMILE and director M. Arthur Wickson are very happy to present the music video for the song “Soil” taken from the band’s recent split EP ‘Wood & Wire’, released on beautiful transparent purple 12” vinyl by Shaman Recordings.

The video was filmed in the spring of 2013 at various locations, but primarily in and around Shaken Oak Farm where the band recorded their half of the split with acoustic alter-egos COMA WALL. Directed and edited by M. Arthur Wickson (who also produced the band’s previous music video for “Milk”), the “Soil” video attempts to capture more of the band’s live energy – apt for a song that has recently become a staple of their live set. Check out the premier over on The Sleeping Shaman at

The limited 12” is available to purchase direct from Shaman Recordings at

In other news, UNDERSMILE are also extremely pleased to announce that a limited edition CD of ‘Wood & Wire‘ is to be released in June/July on Future Noise Recordings, the label which also released last year’s ‘Narwhal‘. The CD will feature an exclusive bonus track in the form of COMA WALL’s take on UNDERSMILE’s “Big Wow,” as well as more artwork (the original concept sketches) from the talented Craig Bryant. Pre-orders will be available soon via Future Noise Recordings.

The CD tracklisting is:

1. Coma Wall – Summer
2. Coma Wall – You Are My Death
3. Coma Wall – Big Wow (bonus track)
4. Coma Wall – Cutter’s Choice
5. Undersmile – Soil
6. Undersmile – Killer Bob
7. Undersmile – Hives

UNDERSMILE and COMA WALL only have a handful of live dates left in 2013 as both bands will be taking a break, with UNDERSMILE soon to be recording a song for a 12” split with Nottingham’s titanic duo Bismuth and COMA WALL beginning to make plans for their next release. Their upcoming dates are as follows:

1st June – Gullivers in Manchester – Undersmile with Ishmael, Grimpen Mire and Bastard of the Skies *this may be Ishmael’s last ever gig
29th June – Summer Sizzler all-dayer @ the Windmill, Brixton – Undersmile & Coma Wall will be performing with a great line-up of other bands *Undersmile’s final gig of the year
21st July – The Racehorse, Northampton – Coma Wall with M E R R I N and Nick Hudson – a night of music and improvised video
9th – 11th August – SUPERNORMAL FESTIVAL @ Brazier’s Park, Oxford – Coma Wall.

‘Wood & Wire’ will be available on vinyl at all of the above dates, and the CD will hopefully be available from the Summer Sizzler onwards.

Ex Norwegian - Crack


So a new year and a new Ex Norwegian album “Crack” or the difficult fourth album, came out of nowhere in a week of diligent work. It was picked up by Limited Fanfare Records who put it out April second digitally, and it features some leftover tracks and some new things which really were tweaked up demos.

Ex Norwegian was founded in 2008 in Miami Beach by Roger Houdaille, disbanded in March 2011, and restarted by Houdaille in late 2011. Founding members Roger Houdaille (guitar, vocals) and Michelle Grand (vocals) are joined by Giuseppe Rodriguez (bass) to make up the core of the group. Live, they are augmented with a little help from their friends.

“Your Own Swing” starts the proceedings with an upbeat and catchy guitar filled rocking pop song that has a bit of a nice edge to it and I loved the harmonious vocals. “Bibi Kan Werk It” has a lot of WEEZER overtones, especially in the vocals, and this mid-paced song also had a mid ‘90s sound, but it threw me for a loop when just over two minutes in, the song had a slowing down effect like when you stop a turntable that made me check my player. “Aventura” has soaring guitar playing with great leads, it’s kind of like a classic rock song with more pop and a hint of ‘70s keyboards that work together really well and is a highlight on the album. “I’m A Fighter, Not A Lover” has Grand taking over lead vocals and she has a fantastic voice, it has a sweetness that gives the song a new level of energy, the drumming and guitar playing really were outstanding on this song as well. “Page To” is a slower song that has some of the most inspired guitar playing on the album.

The band really shows that they are capable of taking these tweaked up demos and giving them a life that just breathes and grows and has the maturity of a band that knows how to treat them. The playing has been stellar and the production has been clear, but not antiseptic, it still has a bit of a roughness and it keeps the pop from being sugary. “Say What You Want” is a very peppy and rocking duet that deserves to be played to death. “Some Misery” brings the feel and sound of the classics ‘70s power pop bands to mind and the memorable hook will keep you coming back for more, it was my favorite on the album. “The Faces Demo Heads” has an incessant beat and is a song that will get stuck in your head.

Sometimes you get music sent to you that you hate, sometimes like, but I got lucky, I love this album. They really hit all of the buttons to make an outstanding album without caving in to anything trendy, but kept things at their own standards and made an album that needs to be in your collection.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pagan Altar and the 30 year journey to America

Our dedicated scribe, Rys, had a personal inside journey with Pagan Altar as they came to America for their first time ever.

Part I – Satan's Henchmen

“Some people complain because it takes then them six hours to get to Baltimore.  It's taken us 30 years! But we're 'ere! Let's have a little bit of reverence....”

Things did not start off well for Pagan Altar's maiden voyage to the US.  Friday morning, the boys got stuck on the highway en route to Heathrow because of a huge accident, thereby missing their flight to the US by about a half hour.  Then, in a completely unrelated incident, a British Airways flight caught fire as it was taking off.  No one was hurt but the runways were closed for a few hours, which resulted in flights being delayed or canceled.  This in turn effected the band when trying to find a hotel close to the airport so they'd be on time for their newly booked flights Saturday morning.  Guitarist Vince Hempstead, who had been logging the bands misfortunes on Facebook, was so frustrated he posted, “It gets worse. Not only missed the flight to Baltimore due to a 4 hour traffic jam all hotels are fully booked and we have nowhere to sleep.”  True to the spirit of metal brotherhood, fans local to the area blitzed the bands in-boxes with links to hotels close to the airports, and various travel sites, and a few hours later Vince happily posted that they had found a room for the night.
    As of Saturday am. Vince “checked in” from Heathrow and said the band were waiting to board their plane.  Then the inevitable bad luck happened late Saturday ngith when the band got to their hotel in Baltimore and posted this to Facebook, “After 14 hours arrived in Baltimore and our hotel has been overbooked. When's it gonna end.”  Frustrated, the band went down to the Fest to check out the band Down and knock back a few beers to forget their troubles.  They were fortunate enough to find a few empty rooms at a hotel just two blocks away from the fest.

Vince checked in on facebook saying the airline wrecked the neck of his guitar.  He spent the morning looking for an  open hardware store and manages to glue the neck back together in time for the gig.

My buddy Blaise Daly (not his real name) and I headed out of Brooklyn a little after noon.  I was a nervous wreck, constantly doing the math in my head and wondering if we were going to get there in time for Pagan Altar's 5 p.m. slot.  I had read horror stories on the net about the ridiculous lines to get in and the hard ass security going through people's shit.  I figured add an extra hour onto our ETA for that and finding a parking garage with vacancies!!
    I needn't have worried.  Even with multiple stops for caffeine and the call of nature (which I suppose go hand-in hand), according to the text I sent PA's drummer Dean Alexander, we were on the queue to get in by 3:46.  He told me the band were coming to get us so we shouldn't have any trouble getting in.
    The line went very smoothly, even the intense search of my messenger bag wasn't stressful at all – maybe the feminine  hygiene products I was carrying helped curtail the search (“She's on the rag – I'm not messing with her...” the guard could have been thinking.
    Still no sign of the band, so Blaise and I went up to the metal table that had “Will call” “buy tickets” or “Guest list” lines and approached the girl working the Guest List line.  “Hi, we're on Pagan Altar's list.”  I chirped happily.
    The girl went through her papers and her face was blank.  “I'm sorry, which band did you say?”
    “Pagan Altar?” I repeated, a little less cheerfully.
    Again, I was met with a blank stare.  “They're,” I explained, “On the 2nd Stage, in about an hour...???”
    “I'm sorry,” the girl sighed, “Um...I have to ask someone, do you mind waiting?”
    “How about if I call one of the band members to come get us?” I asked, trying to sound like I thought who the hell I was.
    The girl smiled, “or that,”

  Then followed a series of comical bad timing.  Blaise disappeared to join the endless line that was the wait for the the porto-potty.  I called Dean (which probably cost about $3) to tell him we couldn't get in. He was very apologetic and said they had come down to get us, didn't see us, and had to go back to the stage to do a soundcheck and would come back for us in about 20 minutes.  After I hung up with him, I looked up and there's singer Terry Jones's silver head of hair about twenty feet away from where I'm standing, heading away.  I started jumping up and down, flailing my arms like a fool and yelling “TERRY!!  TERRY!” Of course, there was a band playing at full volume not far away, and I later found out Terry's hearing is not  the greatest as it is so of course he didn't see me. 
    Blaise came  back and I explained our situation and we watched the crowd happily walking inside the festival grounds. 
    Then a blonde woman with a “band” laminate around her neck and a puzzled look on her face appeared next to me.  Something clicked in my brain and I turned to her, “Excuse me, are you Terry Jones's wife?” oh the magic of Facebook photos.
    The puzzled look turned into one of relief, “RYS?” She smiled.  Within seconds Blaise and I had wristbands on and were following Mrs. Jones – Lynn – to the stage where Pagan Altar were sound checking.
    During the sound check, I walked into the photo pit and snapped some shots.  I didn't want to have to fumble for my phone during the set, and I didn't want to be “that person” holding a camera up while everyone behind them was trying to enjoy the show.  I started talking to some of the people in the front row and they were all just as amped as I was to see the bands first ever American gig. 
    I took my photos then got out of the way for fear security would realize I didn't have a photo pass, or even a halfway decent camera! I found a spot on the side of the stage so I would get the on-stage sound – which isn't always the best but at least I had a clear viewing spot and no worries about the people behind me spilling their beer on my head!

Coming soon.. Part II - “Armageddon”


Woe – Withdrawal

Woah.  I try not to read press releases, I try to listen to these albums as they come to me with as few preconceived notions as possible.  I had heard of this band and heard some good things about this release.  But I guess because of the name of the band I was expecting something really slow and sludgy and doomy.  Wrong!! 

This is black metal of the fire breathing variety.  The album opens up firing on all cylinders from the first second of the first song.  And this is an engine that has about 32 cylinders.  There are some death flourishes, and a song or two edges along the black and roll style that you hear from Darkthrone these days.  Buy yeah, if you like black metal that grabs you by the balls and drags you along for one hell of a ride, this is your shit right here.

Woe started out in that fine black metal tradition of the one man band.  The first release was well received, necessitating that a band be put together for live performances, and they have been a band since.  “Withdrawal” is their 3rd release and the first that was written and performed as a full band. 

There is a lot of good music here.  Chris Grigg, the man behind the band, knows how to put together some killer riffs and songs.  I'd love to have a lyric sheet to know what the songs are really about, because even though I listen to a ton of metal and can decipher most of the grunts and growls I hear, these are incoherent to me.  But the music is awesome and pummeling and certain sets a mood.  A mood like, “let's go rip shit up”, or “hey, that church has been around long enough, let's burn it down”.  There are plenty of nods to old school black metal but at the same time there are a lot of good fresh ideas on display.

I think the coolest thing to me is that this is an American band, but if you didn't know that you would think they hail from the land of the Vikings.  A lot of this music sounds like it was written as the soundtrack to a raid, when the longboats were pulling up to the shore and a boat load of berserkers jumped out to wreak havoc on your pitiful village.  “Carried By Waves To Remorseless Shores” is an awesome example of this and the song title even fits.  I thoroughly enjoyed “All Bridges Burned” and “Ceaseless Jaws” as well.  Those are my favorites but all of the tracks on offer here are good, good stuff.

This is black metal that doesn't stray too far from the path and too far away from what you would expect when you hear “black metal”.  There is some very tasty guitar playing, though, that you don't usually find in this genre.  There is also some nice variety in the vocal approaches, almost making me think that a couple different folks had their hand with the vocals.  If you need some black metal that mixes things up a bit but is still traditional enough that you won't wonder what the hell you are listening to, Woe just might be your jam for the summer of 2013.

- Odin

Monday, May 27, 2013

We All Want To - Sally Can't See

Really, I had no idea what to expect.

Hanging out in Brisbane, Australia before a good friend's wedding (cheers Mat) we were invited to a show by local indie rockers, We All Want To.  Now, Joe, who invited us, has great musical taste, and I have full faith in his management company (Alien Lane) that also represents Ripple favorites, Grand Atlantic -- but this wasn't a typical show.  This performance, called "Take the Lead" and performed at the Judith Wright Performance Center (not a grimy, beer-splattered pub), found a sold-out theater celebrating with the band the release of their latest album, Come Up Invisible.  But here's the twist; joining the band on each of the 18 songs was a guest vocalist from somewhere within the pantheon of the Indy Aussie rock scene; reinterpreting the songs or re-imagining them in one form or another.

So let me get this straight.  We're going to see a show from a band we don't know, where each song is sung by a guest singer we don't know, re-interpreting songs we don't know.

Really, I had no idea what to expect.

Nor, could I ever have imagined what I received.  Playing their hearts out before an adoring audience, We All Want To delivered a rousing, sometimes gentle, sometimes pummeling, performance of mood and atmosphere, melody and craft. It was a stunning triumph for the music and an ordained testament to the strength of the musicians and the songs.  Joining band members, Tim Steward, Skye Staniford, Dan McNaulty, Melissa Fraser and Darek Mudge (plus guest keyboardist Morgan Hahn from Grand Atlantic on the Wurlitzer) were an array of diverse singers such as Danny Widdicombe (The Wilson Pickers), Sue Ray, Jeremy Neale (Velociraptor) Dom Miller (The Rocketsmiths), Chris Dale, and Seja Vogel (Regurgitator), amongst others.  Some of the performances were charmingly sloppy, some exhilarating, some riveting (such as spoken word poet Ghostboy's beatnik rendition of "Ramp Up the Bleeding") and some simply brilliant and moving - most notably Helen Franzmann's haunting performance of "Japan."

Never having heard any of these songs before, I was entranced.  Tim Steward created a gravitational field of charisma around him, strumming with abandon and passion; a being in perpetual motion.  Skye's vocals lilted in from some celestial heaven as the perfect compliment while Melissa, either lending her voice or swaying on the bass, was simply captivating.  Darek filled the space with tasty fills and bending leads while Dan triumphed behind the skins, most notably when he performed the entirety of "Japan" with mallets on the snare and floor tom.  As the show roared to a conclusion behind the rousing, full-ensemble encore of "Streets of Your Town," by the legendary Brisbane band The Go-Between's, I was standing in full-appreciative amazement with the rest of the crowd -- enthralled by the performers, enraptured by the band, cocooned in their warmth, in love with the songs.

But one nagging question remained.  How could an indie band, with only a couple of albums to their credit, pull off such a show?  How do 18 "guest-vocalists" simply find time in their hectic lives, sacrificing a Friday night, to lend their talents to re-interpreting songs that couldn't yet be considered classics?  That seemed like an honor reserved for the Kinks or Stones or at the very least Aussie legends like The Church or the fore-mentioned Go-Betweens.  At the after party in the pub up the street, I asked that question to many, and the answer was simple and unanimous.

Tim Steward.

Having previously led the underground, post-grunge punk rockers, Screamfeeder, Tim is adored in the Brisbane music scene.   And his songwriting is so respected, that all he had to do was place a few phone calls and the response from his fellow Aussie musicians was emphatic. They jumped at the chance to sing his songs. As Morgan Hahn put it after the show, "The songs seem so simple, then as you get into them you really realize the genius of the craft."  Having heard them performed in this manner, I can attest to that.

All of which brings us to "Sally Can't See," the debut American release from We All Want To, a rapturous slice of indy rock.  Although, it's a lazy comparison, the closest band I can compare We All Want To, is Brisbane's own, The Go-Betweens. They both ply a quasi-acoustic vibe and relaxed song-writing and harmonies of male and female vocals.  But they're The Go-Betweens with an edge. Perhaps this comes from Tim's work with Screamfeeder, but We All Want To isn't afraid to mess things up. Spontaneity and unpredictability always lie underneath the surface, never tilting its hand as to when a song may erupt into a cacophony of dissonance or punky aggression.  Beautiful melodies aren't afraid to crash into walls of sound. And it all works.

Comprised of songs from the band's prior Australian releases, the album is nearly a greatest hits introduction.  "Back to the Car," is one standout track with its light-floating harmonies and melody. Tim's vocal style and phrasing here remind me of fellow Australian, Paul Kelly, and when Skye joins in, their voices blend perfectly, lifting the song to the addictive.  And then there's the still hauntingly beautiful, "Japan."  Against a seemingly simple lyric, Tim reveals a song of love and comfort as he calms the fears of a loved one about his leaving for another tour.  Amidst a gorgeous refrain, he sings of his impending return home.  How the the stamps in his passport show "as many come backs as going aways."  A moment of love so simply and effectively captured.

Already racing up the indy charts in the US, Sally Can't See is a perfect a welcome hello to a band already adored in their hometown, and soon, no doubt, to be adored everywhere.   Keep your eyes and ears open for them, they'll definitely be a band to watch.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mount Fuji - S/T

When Sepultura’s Arise was released in 1991 it was the culmination of practicing years of death/thrash and blew up the scene with an urgent sound that hinted at the band to come. For some fans this is the last album they would tolerate from a band that would delve deeper into tribal rhythms and even heavier sound.
Now Mount Fuji, from Leipzig and Chile, might not have three albums to fall back on but they have released seventy minutes and I suspect they might have a few twists and turns in their future. It’s because I sense this that I like this album. I feel like we are on the ground floor of something great here if they are willing to cut their own creative path.

I hear riffing guitars on the track Just Human, slow into jam out sweetness and the gruff vocals chill into Eddie Vedder territory. Countering this is scads of pinch harmonics to remind us this is heavy metal, not grunge. By the end the singer is really starting me to feel something when he finishes the track off with a curse word, insuring no radio airplay. Though doom and grunge isn’t too far apart, neither is heavy metal and grunge, Temple Of The Dog is an example. Mount fuji hits these notes but with an even cleaner guitars and snappy drum production.

On the other side of their sound is say early Sepultura or later Pantera. Maybe it’s the constant muting and the near constant squeal of pinch harmonics that is always reminding me of more dramatic metal bands. With the shoulders of Accept and Helloween to stand on I can hardly blame them.

The album starts off strong with Vier. A wall of sound breaks down into a slightly doom feel and maybe that’s a good definition of this sound “breakdown doom”.  The vocalist is screaming loud at the void and the sincerity that cuts through the thick german accent, might even coax the swirling nothingness to tell it’s secret. Before it can though it kicks into the second track Neun with chugging guitar riffs that scream 90’s groove metal. I would probably use this album to wake me up on a late night drive because it smooth enough to not test my nerves while still as powerful as trucker speed.

Even with over an hour of music, I find myself looking to the future of this band, hoping it will be epic heights of genre bending madness and not just noodling around.

--Plague Rat

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Big Wheel Stunt Show - Wonderful Life

I have been instructed to hide the physical CD and sleeve of Big Wheel Stunt Show's 2012 eleven track album, Wonderful Life, from my oldest daughter. It is not that she loves it so much that I would lose it or that she hates it so much that she would destroy it.  In fact, I'm quite certain she enjoys the music, at least most of it.  The problem is the CD is imprinted with a clown puppet that could be a relative of Chucky and the cover has mutant alien and jester faces above and on the walls of an ascending stairway to the heavens.

My daughter has Coulrophobia.  I've have always thought that odd since she is a costume designer and also works part time at Magowan's Infinite Mirror Maze on San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. That's like being an accessory to a carny. You would think that she would embrace the odd make-up and dress, not to mention the silly pratfalls and humor of clown society.  Instead, it scares and horrifies her.

If you put aside the fear of the photos and, though you may find parts of the album unsettling and, at times, haunting, you will be treated to some of the most compelling modern psychedelic electric blues and space rock in recent memory. Big Wheel Stunt Show is a Tacoma, Washington-based power trio comprised of guitarist Evan Nagle, bassist Jake Melius and drummer Justin Gimse.  For the album they added a "Fourth Wheel," keyboardist Andy Basinger.  

If you were just to play the first, title track, "Wonderful Life," in all likelihood you would write the band off as a poor folk alternative rock wannabe band.  In truth, the title track sucks as a piece of music, but is perfect prologue to the concept behind the album.  According to the band:

"Wonderful Life tells the story of an ordinary American teenager whose normal, boring life takes a turn for the weird after a paranormal experience."

The only thing I would add after listening to the album is it sounds as if that "ordinary American teenager" was born in 1953. Tracks rely heavily on the transition from the late 1950's rock n' roll of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis to the harder-edged psychedelic electric rock blues and music of Led Zeppelin, Cream, Deep Purple, Robin Trower and the Jefferson Airplane.  Nagle is a hell of a good guitarist and Gimse's stick work puts him in an elite category of musicians.  Melius provides a heavy bottom that bubbles up from all over the electric bass fretboard.  The band's promo puts it this way, and you will get no argument from me:

"From T. Rex to Little Richard, the Who to Sly and the Family Stone, Sabbath to Metallica, Big Wheel Stunt Show is like the culmination of 5 decades of American fused together into an immediate sound that anyone can enjoy."

Check out this "B movie rock opera about a young person whose average existence is spun on its axis."  It is rocking, raucous and great ear candy.  Just hide the cover if you're creeped out by carnival folk.

- Old School

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fishbone - Crazy Glue EP

Thanks for joining me waveriders.  I’d like to tell you about an EP that has been rocking my world quite a bit recently.  That EP is the latest release from the band Fishbone, and it is entitled Crazy Glue.  It was released in October, 2001 and my boss Racer X was kind enough to send me a copy back in the early part of 2012.  Before you ask, yes I am aware that we are almost halfway through the year 2013 at the time of this writing.  So what’s my excuse for only informing you all about this musical greatness now, long after it was released and received?  I can’t explain it any better than offering up the fact that I’m a weird guy (those of you who have read any of my previous posts should be well aware of this), and my listening life follows a weird trajectory.  Now…on with the review!

Fishbone, for those unaware, has been around in one form or another since 1979.  Musically the band is a bit of a chameleon.  They play ska.  They play funk.  They play punk.  They play hard rock.  They play soul.  They play music that puts all of these genres and more into a blender and creates something amazing.  To put it mildly Fishbone should forever be classified as an original in the musical sea of soundalikes.  The band released their first EP back in 1985.  Counting the Crazy Glue EP, eleven more releases followed suit leading up to present day.  For someone like me who up till now failed to check into this killer band, that’s a lot of catching up to do.  Fear not however waveriders.  I assure you that I’m up to the task!  I think you will be too once I explain why this EP is so exciting and you hear what this band has to offer.  So let’s get to it.

The EP begins with the pleasantly funky title track “Crazy Glue”.  What is really cool about this song is how it is constructed sonically.  Put on some headphones and you can hear different vocals and instrumentation, especially the horns, come at you from every which way.  I like to think of this studio trickery as the band’s way of mimicking schizophrenia.  Also, the ending of the song devolves into maddening disharmony.  “Flutterbutter” picks up the tempo and has a much harder rock edge.  This track really focuses on its fat, pulsating bassline that drives everything layered on top of it.  “Deep Shit Backstroke” feels like an ever-so-slightly-slowed-up hardcore punk song.  Angelo Moore’s lead vocals positively soar here.  “DUI Friday” is a withering attack upon drunk driving.  “Akkafoo” and “Gittin’ In That Ass” keep the funky/punk/hard rock party going.  I dare you not to bounce around in your seat during the bass/guitar refrains in “Gittin’…”.  They are so energetic that involuntary movement is guaranteed to result.  Finally, EP closer “Weed, Beer, Cigarettes” somewhat mirrors EP opener “Crazy Glue”.  While more aggressive than “Crazy…”, “Weed…” has a much happier overall tonality than the five songs sandwiched in the middle.  That’s not to say that the message being conveyed in “Weed…” is all fun and games, but the socially conscious message is conveyed with a smile thanks in large part to the horn arrangement.

Well waveriders, I rest my case.  Hopefully I convinced you to check out this fantastic EP.  If words won’t do it for you however I’d like to say that I understand.  I know many people need to hear music to be convinced of its inherent goodness.  Heck, I’m one of those people myself!  If you fall into that category I’d like to point you to the two videos attached to this review.  You’re going to like what you hear.  I guarantee it!



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Interview with Christopher Bowes from GloryHammer, Alestorm

I had the unique pleasure of interviewing keyboardist extraordinaire, Christopher Bowes from GloryHammer and Alestorm fame. His keen insight into the state of Pirate metal, Theatrics, and all things metal in general was eye opening.  We touched on a lot of topics in our brief phone call. 

First let me say that Gloryhammer is a very well produced catchy album. What is the percentage of writing that you do versus everyone else in the band?

     "Everyone writes. I write about 75% of the music. I let the guitarist make the riffs. I know what a power chord is but that is about it as far as guitar goes. "

So you allow each musician to input what he can.

     " It's not an ego driven solo project where I can show off my keyboard skills. The music comes first."

How do you approach a new tour? 

    "I try to do very little. Try to forget about until the night before the tour starts. Then I just shove a couple of socks and pants into a bag and get on the bus. I've done so many tours it's second nature to me now."

And the band?

    " This band has never toured together before so it's a little more stressful. But at the same time it is exciting. We might do a little more prep work than usual."

GloryHammer has such a catchy power chord driven how to its sound. How do you plan on transferring that style and audio to the stage?

     "Really want to take the story from the album and give it a full theatrical production on stage. Crazy lights, sword fights onstage. That sort of thing."

This album captures a kind of knight and sword concept in both visual and sound. You other band, Alestorm, created a pirate metal vibe. Where do you see the next album going in terms of direction?

     "Probably the same style for the next album. This one was more medieval fantasy, knights, dragons and wizards. The next album will be set in the distant future, spaceships, aliens and also wizards. We have a concept mapped out for at least seven albums. The story with recurring main characters will travel thru time."

Any plans to play the states?

     " We would love to play the states. No reason that it's not gonna happen. Should be doing some festival tours, maybe a UK headlining tour by the end of the year. I want to tour this band a lot."

Any place you have not played but would like to?

    " Been to a lot of places around the world. Japan would be cool."
     Gloryhammer has a unique power metal sound and their passion for creating a metal vision is apparent in Christopher's responses. He shares his vision of what metal should encompass with the world. Any fans of catchy, power chord driven, metal should check out his band GloryHammer and also Alestorm.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

GLORYHAMMER - Tales from the Kingdom of Fife

Very rarely in an industry over crowded with false metal bands, does a new band rise and raise its metal flag high into the air. Atmospheric and epic in nature, Gloryhammer has set a course for metal destiny. Long have we labored under the false collar of fake metal. Here, there is a true sound. A truly powerful sword and shield response to all contenders to the throne of metal.

 I find my favorite track is "Anstruther's Dark Prophecy", and "Angus McFife". The musicianship is complete. All parts channel together to create a fire of metal power. But truly this whole album is one of the best I have heard in a while. The production, the orchestration, the songcrafting....amazing.

     The keyboards dominate through each song but in a way that this guitarist doesn't seem to mind. It is rare that I appreciate the influence of such a keyboard driven song. But this is epic in its form. The band swells around the keys as they hoist their sails high and drive this metal ship of symphonic orchestration into the heart of all who doubt. All the instruments from the voice to the drums are superior and well played but I think I would like to hear just a little more guitar solo work.
"Magic Dragon, and "The Unicorn Invasion Of Dundee" have this insane hook that just wraps you in and squeezes your mind. This is powerful potion driven power precision.

 "Silent Tears Of Frozen Princess" is the ballad and it's beauty and artistry takes your breath away. I found myself swept across distant glens and could almost smell the cold, blackened waters of the ancient loch below me.

 "amulet of Justice", simply a headlong power anthem complete with this incredible interplay between the drums and keys.  Dragonforce and Hammerfall fans rejoice for more friends have now entered the battle. Let us stand together and face our foes on this bloody, sonic battlefield.  The ten minute dynasty that is "The Epic Rage Of Furious Thunder" shall be the music our forces ride out into the mist driven dawn hearing. The sound of pounding hooves and whistling steel shall mix with the awesome power of Gloryhammer. Hail! You don't listen to this band, you embrace it, you inhale it, you become a knight of the armies of the Gloryhammer. My sword is yours?

10 horns up (Stay tuned for an interview with the band tomorrow!)


A Letter to Trevor - In Memory of Trevor Bolder

When I volunteered to write this little piece I underestimated the difficulty I would have in doing so.  It's never easy when a musician you look up to passes away.  We mourn for the great loss to the  music community, and ultimately we mourn for the loss of a part of ourselves – the music in our lives.  When  Elvis died, thousands of people lined the streets outside Graceland.  They were grieving  for the symbolic death of their extended childhoods as much as for the death of the multimillionaire who was a complete stranger to them.

But that's just it – we don't see these musicians as strangers.  We listen to them on our stereos,  mp3 players, watch their videos on YouTube, see them in concert, and sometimes are lucky enough to get to shake their hands after a show (or in my case give them a peck on the cheek).  We think of musicians as being a part of our lives, as some  sort of extended family.  In the last few years, with the popularity of social networking, we are even privy to the most intimate of details from those that choose to share their lives with us: to their thoughts right after getting offstage, to what they're having for dinner.

Is that why I'm so upset that bassist Trevor Bolder passed away? I only met the man once,   I was hammered and may have babbled like an idiot (which he dealt with in a very gentlemanly fashion). From what I remember of that encounter, he handed me a pick (even though he was from the old school of finger pickers) and  PROMISED he would be back in NY very soon.  “I won't miss you,” he said, as we stood outside the club on a crowded New York city street, “I'll be back with Heep next year and I'll see you then,”   As I type this, I'm trawling through songs on Spotify from Trevor's varied career, and what are some of my favorite “bass moments”.  Please bear in mind I am not a bass player, I just play one on Facebook.

With David Bowie:
Queen Bitch (From Hunky Dory)
The song starts off with a breathy count off by Bowie, then an acoustic guitar before going into the first verse with Trevor's thunderous Gibson EB-3 laying the foundation down, counteracting the vocal melody.  The song escalates as Mick Ronson's metallic guitar comes blasting through, but Trevor's holding it down, steady, with a few sweet runs thrown in but never losing the groove with drummer Woody Woodmansey.

Moonage Daydream (From the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars)
The song starts off with a thunderous riff from Ronson, then the chorus is  a bit more mellow but still there's that fat, unmistakable sound of Trevor's melodic bass.  You kind of get the impression he was told what to play, but every once in awhile pulled out a tasty little run as if saying “screw you, I’m showing off my chops” And I don't mean the famous muttonchops he was known for at the time!

Panic in Detroit (From Aladdin Sane)
I've tried to keep it to just 3 Bowie songs, but it wasn't easy.  I had to include this song. I was obsessed with it years ago when they used to play it at a now defunct bar in NYC called the “Continental” in between bands.  There's so much going on in this song, the multilayered vocals, the different types of percussion, but all I hear is Trevor's driving bass

With Uriah Heep
Sympathy (From Firefly).
Picking only 3 Heep songs is proving to be a lot more difficult than 3 Bowie songs, as I much more enjoy this type of music.  Firefly was the first album Trevor recorded with Heep. It was also the band's first with singer John Lawton.  There was a deliberate shift in sound, to me the band is more aggressive.  On this track, keyboardist Ken Hensley plays dueling lead guitars with Mick Box.  But even with the beautiful Thin Lizzy like harmonies, there's Trevor, who by now switched to a Fender P-bass.  There's a lot of “galloping” in this song, and Steve Harris would be lying if he didn't say Trevor was an influence on his playing – even down to the model of bass

Free and Easy (From Innocent Victim)
To this day, when the band play this song live, Mick Box introduces it as “ranked as one of the greatest heavy metal songs” . This song is up here for personal reasons.  At shows the band invites females to come up onstage and “head-bang”.  When I saw them in NY I was unwillingly dragged onstage by a few girls I had just met.  I hid behind Trevor for the entire song, and when it was over, seeing my red faced mortification, he quietly thanked me for coming up onstage.  I never forgot that. 

Nail on the Head (From Into the Wild)
I had to include something from the most recent album, and sadly Trevor's last with the band.  This track has been maligned by Heep purists, but it's my favorite on the album.  It's a straight froward AC/DC style 4/4 song but with the trademark Heep harmony vocals and omnipresent keyboards.  Trevor’s bass really kicks in at the first chorus and DOMINATES for the rest of the track.  His playing during the verses is sparse but you know he's there driving the whole track.  During the bridges and guitar solo he lets loose.

Well there it is.  I'm sure people more qualified than I would have a different, more thorough list. I left out the tracks he did with Wishbone Ash, the Cybernauts and the Spiders from Mars because I'm not familiar with them.  I don't know technical terms for what notes he played, what chords he used, I barely know bass guitar makes and models.  But that's my imperfect little tribute to the late Trevor Bolder, the pride of Hull, Northern England.


Louder than Bombs - What Resonates

Beautiful and yet clashing, this is punk at its core with some extremely catchy moments sandwiched between some noise chords.  The album starts with a semi-generic punk rock song in Haunted.  In fact, when I first started spinning the record, I almost didn’t review the guys.  It’s not that the song isn’t good, it just wasn’t particularly unique. 

However, the band follows it up with No News is Good News, which hooked me immediately.  From the unique guitar rhythm and drumming to the awesome vocals, (which remind me of Lower than Atlantis) this song opens up an amazing album. 

Very moody and consistently moving forward, this album encompasses all that is good about punk music.  While there isn’t really any screaming, the singing is angry, and the vocals push right to the edge, like they’re about to break.  They never do, and the whole sound comes together.  The chunky punk bass and frantic guitar work add a sense of chaos to the whole workings.  This is a raw sounding band, with beautiful parts strung together in a chaotic and raw way. 

My favorite cut on the entire album is the song Tense.  It’s driving and the energy stays up for the entire duration of the piece. 

This is the type of music that translates really well live.  On the album, it tends to fall into a category of tedium that usually keeps me from reviewing a band.  There is very little in terms of variety here, and the band lacks dynamics.  It’s pretty much a one-trick pony.  It’s a great trick, and they perform this genre of punk/pop very well. 

That’s not a damning statement by any means.  They are very consistent with their work.  With excellent and passionate vocals leading the way, What Resonates is worth a listen if you’re into solid punk in the vein of Lower than Atlantis, Dropkick Murphys, or Bad Religion, with a little twist of Thrice or Thursday. 

The professor grades this out to a solid B+. 

--The Professor

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

DOOM IN JUNE III MUSIC FESTIVAL - Manilla Road, The Skull, Karma to Burn and more

Saturday, June 1st, 2013
The Cheyenne Saloon in Las Vegas

DOOM IN JUNE MUSIC FESTIVAL returns for the third time on Saturday, June 1st, 2013 with some of the coolest names in Doom, Stoner Rock and Metal. Thirteen bands are confirmed for over twelve hours of live music at The Cheyenne Saloon (3103 N Rancho Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada 89130).

Performances include THE SKULL featuring former TROUBLE vocalist Eric Wagner and bass player Ron Holzner offering the best of Trouble; legendary ‘80s cult favorites MANILLA ROAD; instrumental power trio KARMA TO BURN, ANCESTORS, New Mexico’s LAS CRUCES, CASTLE, SNAIL; Monster Magnet guitarist’s Ed Mundell’s new band ULTRA ELECTRIC MEGA GALACTIC; Las Vegas' female-fronted doom four-piece DEMON LUNG -- who will celebrate the event as a record release show for their highly anticipated debut album on Candlelight Records; a couple San Diego area bands DALI’S LLAMA and ALBATROSS OVERDRIVE and two promising locals opening the day - MEGATON and SPIRITUAL SHEPHERD.

Doors are at 1:00 pm. Pre-purchase tickets at ; Rooms are available at The Fiesta Rancho Hotel/Casino which is located very close to the Cheyenne Saloon and offers affordable accommodations.

For more information email or visit Doom In June III on Facebook at Event sponsors include Fly PR, Heavy Planet, Planet Fuzz, Doom Metal Alliance, All That Is Heavy Shop and Hellride Music.

WEAREOFF - Objects In Motion

Becoming a teenager in the early 1980s was a cool time, lots of different styles of music on the radio, if you lived in or near a large city, and luckily I did. That helped to influence and shapes my tastes that still hold to this day. New wave, I love it.

WEAREOFF bring me right back to the days of my youth with their take on new wave that has none of the cheesiness and insipidness that a lot of people think of when they think of new wave. This band plays the early style of music that reminds me of Danse Society and the early gothic / synth styles that had a lot of texture and emotion.  The ability to play that style and make it sound fresh and interesting and not a copy of that style is a very hard thing to do and they pull it off masterfully.

The songs flow together to become a cohesive whole that get a smile on my face as soon as I put the first song on, and carried it right to the end of the album. The songs have the emotion and atmospherics that drew me in and swirled around me, taking me back to the good times that I had way back when I was younger and made me wonder why more bands don’t play this style anymore, then it hit me, most turn it into parody or a cheap imitation of a certain band and don’t put their own touch into their music, these guys do.

The songs range from faster and dancey to slower and more melancholic, but they all have one thing in common, a sense of love and excitement that pushes the songs into the realm of great. The band takes the new wave sound and gives it the push that makes it sound interesting and new again. The gothic type new wave stays on the more new wave side and doesn’t have much to do with modern gothic music and for that I’m glad, no morose, obtuse lyrics and no pretentions either. Every song on this album was a winner and there isn’t one that I could recommend more than another, that’s the sign of a great album.

I’m so thankful that I got a chance to hear this band from Hamburg, Germany, and now I’ve got a new favorite band because of this album. Take a chance, give it a listen and enjoy ten songs that just get better with each listen.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Black Star Riders - All Hell Breaks Loose

I've lost count on how many times I've had to change my opinion on Thin Lizzy over the years. When I was in high school I would only listen to the kick ass songs on their albums like "Warriors," "Suicide," "Emerald" and so on. I'd complain loudly about the not heavy jams as sounding like "fuckin' Springsteen." (I did the same thing with UFO). That's why Live And Dangerous (and Strangers In The Night) were the ones I liked the most. I made mix tapes from their albums deleting all the songs I didn't like so I could rock out non-stop. Later on when their albums were reissued on CD I started listening to them in their entirety and I realized that the non-heavy rock songs were pretty good! Even better was that they weren't Springsteeny at all! For awhile I wasn't that into the first 3 or 4 albums that much, but then they grew on me, too. Same with the last 2 or 3 albums. Before I knew it I had just about everything and liked it all except for a handful of songs. Not bad for a band with a dozen studio albums.

When it was announced that Thin Lizzy's touring line up was going to start recording new music I wasn't really sure I wanted to hear it. Mainman Phil Lynott's been gone for a long, long time and has achieved full on legendary status. Guitarist Scott Gorham's done a great job of re-establishing the name Thin Lizzy and reminding everyone they deserve a place up there among the very best classic rock bands. Unfortunately, classic rock radio only ever plays "The Boys Are Back In Town" but that's another story. When they decided to not release new music as Thin Lizzy but as Black Star Riders that got my attention. I became much more interested in hearing it, while trying to avoid the new records by Black Sabbath, The Stooges and Black Flag. What really sealed the deal was meeting singer Ricky Warwick and guitarist Damon Johnson for an interview with New Jersey free paper The Aquarian. Not only are they really cool guys but they're the two biggest Thin Lizzy fans I've ever met. Damon saw them in Alabama in 1979 opening for Ted Nugent. One of the few shows they did as a three piece on the Black Rose tour after Gary Moore quit and before Midge Ure filled in. Pretty fuckin cool!

Anyway, All Hell Breaks Loose is a solid hard rock album that will make most Thin Lizzy fans happy. The title track opens the album and picks up where they left off 30 years ago on albums like Thunder & Lightning and Renegade. Heavier than their classic 70's albums but not full on heavy metal. Scott and Damon are a great guitar duo and there are plenty of trademark harmony lines to let you know who wrote the book on this kind of playing. Ricky's vocals are definitely Phil influenced but he's not trying to imitate him. He's from Belfast, which gives him a lot of extra credibility. "Bound For Glory," "Kingdom Of The Lost" and "Bloodshot" have a strong Celtic rock vibe that would have fit in on Black Rose. They even use the same kind of vibraslap percussion effect on "Kissin' the Ground" that was used on "Ballad Of A Hard Man" from 1975's Fighting album. Very cool. But my favorite song is the last one on the album called "Blues Ain't Bad." It has a killer groove like "It's Only Money" or "Johnny The Fox" and some great solos from Damon that remind me of Snowy White's work with Thin Lizzy.

I've done it the hard way. I'm here to tell you that if you're a Thin Lizzy fan, give Black Star Riders a chance.


"Bound For Glory"

interview with Scott Gorham and Ricky Warwick

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Stonebirds/Stangala - Double Feature: Kreiz-Breizh Sessions

StoneBirds - Game Over is a track of straight forward stoner rock riffs with a lot of screaming vocals which I like quite a bit. There is some nice layering of fuzz on the guitar sound that once it hits stays at a constant thrum along with a slower, driving drum beat. The vocals are pleading and coarse and the call and answer effect is quite epic. It stays thick and dirty even in the jam parts. I look forward to hearing what they have to offer in the extended space an LP. I’m pretty sure it’s a single’s job to pique interest and it accomplishes just that.

Stangala -Konk Kerne starts out a fairly punk driven rock track, dirty as hell and sort of uptempo and plays out with urgent shouted vocals for a few minutes until the bridge which unleashes SAXOPHONE and normally this is where I would go running but these guys manage to make it sound necessary and not at all eighties, maybe more of late seventies punk. Not that this is a punk track necessarily. It stays heavy enough throughout to stick this somewhere in the stoner rock genre, just on a more chipper jazzy side of the ledger. A lot of fun, this would be really good live. All in all it’s a nice taste of what’s to come from these french rockers.

--Plague Rat

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Reissue of Corsair's debut EP Alpha Centauri Drops July 8th on Shadow Kingdom Record

Another magnificent CORSAIR reissue, Alpha Centauri, is scheduled for release through Shadow Kingdom Records on July 8th. 

Quietly arriving onto the scene in 2010, Alpha Centauri is CORSAIR's first EP and constitutes the foundation of what would be in the coming years a classic Progressive Rock / Heavy Metal band. Heavily rooted in the sounds of classic 70's Rock and Metal, the EP has splashes of just about every 70's band you can imagine, from Kiss, Led Zeppelin, and David Bowie to Black Sabbath. CORSAIR didn't really lather up on the Thin Lizzy sound until later, but the debut EP is a unique and quality product in its own right, attributes upon which Shadow Kingdom Records always places the highest value. 

Stream Alpha Centauri at

1. Skykrakken 
2. Black Ships 
3. Last Night on Earth 
4. Space is a Lonely Place 
5. Starcophagus

Born out of the hot embers of Charlottesville, VA's Black Sabbath annual tribute band, Mass Sabbath, Corsair formed in early 2008 with the purpose of writing progressive rock that would transcend space and time. Having endured the intensive training of of Mass Sabbath and most recently, Spinal Tap, Corsair has emerged with calloused fingers and a united, unbending will to unleash new found guitharmony powers onto the world of rock. Think Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden and King Crimson.

Paul Sebring
Jordan Brunk 
Marie Landragin 
Aaron Lipscombe
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