All posts by CatA

American Head Charge/ Liv Sin/ In Death/ Reptil/ Mastiff – September 2017

American Head Charge
Liv Sin
In Death
Reptil
Mastiff (Scunthorpe Only)

Club Academy – Manchester, 13th September 2017

The Lincoln Imp – Scunthorpe, 16th September 2017

Review by Cat A
All photos reproduced with permission from Steven Potter @ Scunthorpe Nights

Settle down Wyrd ones, it has been a while!

Of course, I couldn’t make my first live review in years a simple one, so this is an amalgamated review of the two shows I made it to in this Europe and UK run by the mighty American HeadCharge.

The cast of this tour is trans-oceanic, but first up in Scunthorpe at the Lincoln Imp were a local opener, Mastiff, who brought loud and dirty sludgy hardcore Metal to the early birds who lapped it up in anticipation of the feast to come.  A good solid performance from the locals.

The first of the main lineup came from a little further afield.  Hailing from Germany, Reptil.  At first glance, their theatrical makeup and stage props including IV blood bags, did not appear to be something that I would enjoy… and then they started playing. For a band with only one album on the discography, Reptil are a refreshing blend of Metal genres with theatrics that could probably have done with slightly larger stages than were on offer on this tour (next time guys!).  The frontman’s vocals had a wonderful range between growls and melodic that won over a skeptical crowd and gained more than a few fans, myself included (not least when our cries for tea were heeded in the Scunthorpe rain, thanks again, you absolute hero!).  Who would have thought this cacophonic mix of beats that work so well together?

Special bonus points go to Reptil for the first observed use of a dance floor and tap shoes for percussion!

The most miles award has to go to In Death, all the way from sunny Brisbane to the glorious UK autumnal weather. I have one word about In Death – brutal!

From the off, they filled the stage with energy and started the pits early on. Again, I wouldn’t normally go for anything classed as Death Metal with an illegible logo, but there is a catchy groove that drags listeners into the music screaming and kicking. Thunderous percussion delivered with boundless, contagious energy. If you want clean vocals then you won’t find them here, but you will find beer kegs being used as instruments!

Liv Sin. If that sounds vaguely familiar and you can’t quite put your finger on it, think Sister Sin. In all honesty I hadn’t bothered to do my homework before these shows and with there being such a packed bill I expected to be quite impatient for the main event by the time Liv Sin appeared on the stage.

I was so happy to be proven wrong for the third time of the night in Manchester, and in Scunthorpe I was waiting with anticipation of the set ahead.  The years of stage experience were obvious and Liv herself was a powerful presence on stage, cheering on the crowd into a frenzy with horrendously catchy Metal anthems that got stuck in my head and have been appearing as random earworms since.

This is real Metalhead feel good music at its finest.

The main event.  American Head Charge. I apologise to the other bands for not knowing their music, but the headline was the reason for my presence. I will do better next time!

If you don’t know who American Head Charge are then please see here.  Since that was written there have been some line-up changes, and some familiar names have returned to fill the gaps. Sadly Justin Fowler and Chad Hanks could not make it across the pond this time.

See you next time guys!

Taking over the guitar strings was old favourite Benji Helberg, Jeremiah “Trauma” Stratton of hed(PE) fame was the beast behind the drum kit and Michael Dwyer handled the bass for the run through Europe and the UK.

There was real anticipation at both venues for the return of a band who were lumped in to the Nu-Metal label despite being far more Industrial leaning.   Looking around there was a real sense of nostalgia from the crowd. These were the Nu-Metal kids of the late nineties and early noughties, nearly two decades later who had to grow up, get jobs and the associated sensible haircut.

That doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten how to mosh though.

From the first industrial notes of Let All The World Believe, through the well loved classics of All Wrapped Up, Dirty and the source of their latest video (you can see it below) Drowning Under Everything the crowd went absolutely insane! I would comment further on the crowd behaviour but being wedged up against the barrier for both shows I didn’t get a good look.

Old songs and new, there were cheers and yells for every single one, and for a band who have had such a drastic change to the line up the playing tight and the chemistry between them evident in a high energy set that barely paused for breath. Of course Just So You Know brought the house(s) down, particularly at Scunthorpe where it was played as an encore and dedicated to the life of a regular at the venue who had recently passed away.

What else can I say? I wish instead of writing this I was down in Milton Keynes for round 3. On a personal and completely fangirl note they were emotional evenings, and I will not deny and am not ashamed of crying like a Wand Erection fan in the front row.

If you’ve made it this far I salute you. I have broken my voice and I would do it again in a flash. See you at the next AHC show? I’ll be down the front dancing like a dork.

Rating 9/10

The latest American Head Charge video for Drowning Under Everything

Resin – Persecution Complex

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Review by: Cat A

It’s been a while since I wrote a review, so when I put a call out on social media for a review suggestion I got my hands on Resin’s upcoming EP Persecution Complex.

You may have heard of Resin from the 2014 Metal 2 the Masses competition to play that year’s Bloodstock, and for very good reason as they won the thing and treated the New Blood Stage to a fantastic show, then went and totally owned the Jagermeister stage with an acoustic set. With tea and biscuits. There was a single release, there were some gigs, and then there was an awful announcement that the band was to be no more, even following all the success of the year.

But you’re writing about a new EP!” I hear you cry, and yes indeed I am. The vacancies were filled and a new look Resin were announced in February. More gigs, festivals and then the eagerly-awaited new music from the revamped band followed.

Okay, okay I’ll talk about the music now.  Persecution Complex opens with an irritatingly catchy riff (ie it’s got stuck in my head) as the introduction to Open Heart Trauma. It’s bluesy, it’s grungy, it’s one you can actually dance to. There is something about this track that gives me goosebumps with harmonies that get right to the heart (no pun intended). In fact I have just put it on again. For the fourth time in a row. You can have a listen to a bit of it yourself in the teaser below.

Following that is something of a darker feel . Printing Money sounds to me like something that should be played over a melancholic movie montage, when everything has gone awry for the protagonist and they’re sat in a bar wallowing.  Angel, the final track of Persecution Complex, is powerful. If you want a description, it’s like the best of 90s grunge. Again there are shivers and goosebumps as the lyrics “what have you turned me into?” are sung out in a gravelly tone that takes me right back to my college years. There’s a dark beauty to the song that can stir up emotion, so maybe it’s not one to listen to before a night out, but it sure as hell is one that I want to hear live.

Should you buy this EP? Well I would. Then I would make sure I’m at the front for one of their gigs, and then I’d go and buy a shirt or two. Music doesn’t have to be melt-your-face brutal to totally rock, and Resin in their latest incarnation are stepping up to the plate to show the rock and metal world that great things can come from what seems to be a dreadful situation. It’s difficult to believe that in the space of 6 months a lineup can come together and create an EP with as much power as Persecution Complex. Well played Resin, keep it up.

****/5

Reign of Fury – Death Be Thy Shepherd

Reign-Of-Fury-Death-Be-Thy-Shepherd

Mosh Tuneage

Review by Cat A

amazon_badgeI remember that I once said to someone in a bar that I haven’t heard any good new Thrash in an age, and that was mostly because a lot of people who attempt it think that mashing guitar strings as quickly as possible is what makes something Thrash.  Reign of Fury have something of a reputation on the Metal scene for putting on a stonking live show, but have they got what it takes to put together a decent album?

If you want the simple answer, skip to the bottom of this review, but for those who want to know more about what they’re getting in for then read on…

It all starts off sounding a little bit doomy and distorted as Faustian Mastery sets the initial atmosphere and I can’t help myself here, I’m anticipating the moment that the tempo heats up.  Boy, I am not disappointed as the layers blend over each other to make a brilliantly crafted, well balanced and highly driven track, interspersed with sections that are just crying out for a crowd to be filling in the gaps at the tops of their lungs with fists in the air. Melodic chorus, heavy guitars, thundering drum track and tight-as-hell instrumentals; this track has it all and we’re still only on number 1! All 9 minutes and 22 seconds of track one, but at no point am I tempted to press the spin on button, which is something of a miracle for someone with my attention span.

Bonus points there boys!

Can the next one live up to the now heightened expectations?  Without a doubt yes.  If at all possible Harbinger of Decay is even catchier.  It’s filled with cleverly written harmonies and breakdowns, which had me completely undecided whether I wanted to headbang, throw my arms in the air or dance around the kitchen grinning from ear to ear (on my first listen through I *was* dancing round the kitchen… there is photographic evidence).

It’s straight on to more classic Thrash sounds with Hypnotise The Masses – though there’s something of a punky feel to the chorus of this one which is never a bad thing in my book.

The pace just keeps on, and it’s finally All Is Lost that calms it down with a very Metallica-esque effort that has managed to get a lump in my throat every single time that I’ve listened to it (I think the count is currently 8).

The Love of a Dying God brings back the heavy as hell that never really goes away until the CD runs out at the end of the title track.  Speaking of which, Death Be Thy Shepherd comes as a spectacular finale.  If I had to pick just one song from this album to introduce someone to Reign of Fury then the title track from this very album would be the one. It’s a monster of a song, and not just because it’s ten and a half minutes long. It’s catchy, it’s driving, and its over all too soon.

I think that it’s safe to say that Reign of Fury are here to stay, and if they keep up the energy then when someone asks that awful question of “who will be headlining the big festivals in a decade?” (normally right after James Hetfield‘s age comes up) then in my opinion you couldn’t be a million miles away from the mark if you were to mention these guys as a possibility. Death Be Thy Shepherd is a true classic Thrash record which just happens to have been made three decades after the start of that movement.  There are all the key elements that a Thrash Metal fan expects from an album without any of it feeling forced or that it has been put in simply to satisfy the equation (one of my pet hates).  There is enough originality that you won’t be left feeling as though it’s a straight off imitation of so much music gone before. There’s also plenty of hooks and melodic sections that will serve to bring a new generation to the genre.

The short answer you were looking for? Undoubtedly Reign of Fury know their business, and their business is Thrash.  If you find yourself getting excited by the words “Big Four” then give this part of the new breed a chance and you won’t be disappointed.

I’ll just be over here, hitting Repeat All.

Rating: ****½

Evil Scarecrow – Galactic Hunt

Self Released

Buy the CD HERE and the MP3 HERE

Review by Cat A

There are people who state, quite easily, that Evil Scarecrow are a comedy band. OK, so to look at their website and promo photos it could be easy to come to that conclusion. Comprised of Dr Rabid Hell on vocals and rhythm guitar, Brother Dimitri Pain on lead guitar, Kraven Morrdeth on bass, Princess Luxury handling keyboards and Ringmaster Monty Blitzfist on drums, this is line-up version 5.0 and as soon as you listen to the musical background to the humour it is apparent that this is not just a group of people arsing about on a stage for shits and giggles with instruments in their hands.

Galactic Hunt may have lyrics that had me creased up crying with laughter on the bus to work the morning it was released, but if you were to take away that aspect you would still be left with a technically excellent instrumental that wouldn’t sound out of place on a fair few Death Metal albums and get rave reviews to boot.

If you’re not interested in  the track-by track breakdown, then all I am going to say is I dare you to listen to Galactic Hunt without your head automatically starting to bang, and laughing out loud. If you manage that then I swear you are not human.

Excelsior Mali Formidi sets an eerie tone of orchestral creepiness before Rise kicks in with thundering kicks and some technically excellent death/doom undertones. If anyone out there still thinks that Evil Scarecrow are a joke band, then they should stick this song on and listen to the composition as it crescendos through a powerful solo to a thunderous climax.

Space Dementia tells a tale of a man left drifting in space with a dead body going steadily more crazy as time goes by, which flows into the carefully harmonised, clean introduction of Galacticus before the electric and distortion tears a new one. Add in some clever synths, a catchy riff and a chorus of ‘Galacticus, devourer of worlds’ and you have a song that is far too catchy than you would ever imagine from the individual parts. Up to this point the humourous parts have been left on the back burner, and the music stands up for itself.

That is until Crabulon starts.

I can’t even begin to explain in coherent words as Dr Hell tells the tale of an army of genetically engineered Crabuloids that are going to destroy the human race, and the process of robo-insemination. It will get stuck in your head, it’s best not to fight it. Frankingstein’s Mirror is a somewhat odd but strangely compelling take on the famous crazed scientist making a monster.

Possibly my favourite track on Galactic Hunt is The Book of Doom; not only is it full of those riffs that keep the head nodding, but the lyrics have me in stitches every time I hear it. I’m not going to quote any here, but the third verse I’m sure will resonate with quite a few listeners!

Dance of the Cyclops takes a different route again, and there’s some guest accordion thrown in there for good measure, while End Level Boss will amuse those whose youth was misspent on scrolling 2D platform games complete with 8-bit game music. Flight of the Dragons I would almost call Symphonic Death Metal, it’s brutal yet the chorus has a beautifully haunting quality that makes me listen over and over. When Moses Goes Wrong is a take on the biblical plagues with a slight hint of Middle Eastern influences in the riffs and Enter the Knightmare is a proper nostalgia-fest for me – yes THAT Knightmare! – and features the real voice of Tregard on the track (and on a few others to that point).

So, should you go and buy Galactic Hunt? Do you like technically excellent, well composed music with influences from many various sub genres of extreme metal overlaid with lyrics that are thought provoking and humorous in equal measure? Then yes, you really should.

Then you should go and see them live, and join the army of Crabuloids as they scuttle to devour Earth.

Hammer4Hammer half

Machine Head – Bloodstone and Diamonds

Bloodstone_&_Diamonds_album_cover

Nuclear Blast

Review by: Cat A

Buy the CD HERE and the MP3 HERE

There is one question that surfaced the moment Machine Head released news of their last two albums – “can it match up to The Blackening?” Leaked tracks by one retailer and the subsequent release on the official Nuclear Blast site gave us an early insight into what we were likely to expect. Now I feel that I must write a disclaimer here; I am a massive Machine Head fan and was at one of those intimate shows that sold out in about twenty minutes back in August. I have even been known to listen to Supercharger of my own free will, though I don’t say that too loudly. Needless to say, when I got my hands on  this eagerly anticipated eighth full length studio album I was more than a little bit eager.

In a nutshell for those who don’t feel like reading to the bottom of the track by track breakdown, Bloodstone and Diamonds is like all of the previous Machine Head albums had their signature elements plucked out and mashed together to try and define the band’s signature sound after the high profile line-up change. Jahred MacEachern does seem to have added a new energy to the mixture on bass, and Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel are tighter than ever with the guitar work and the extra time and money spent on production shows, though some may feel that they are stepping away from their roots and overproducing some of the vocals in particular. It’s not perfect, but there are added dimensions from the addition of strings, pianos and backing vocals of styles not normally seen in Metal.

On to the track by track:

Now We Die – the well chosen opener that has been available for a few weeks soothes you in to the latest offering with some beautifully arranged strings.  I close my eyes and I can feel myself at the front of one of their shows, horns in the air as I scream along to the chorus.  There are all the elements that one would expect when listening to the Bay Area Metallers; heavy as hell breakdown, Flynn’s yells before a solo that wouldn’t sound out of order on The Blackening, and those guitar harmonies between Flynn and Demmel, who then throw a powerful, goosebump raising section where the strings layer on the emotion before a final power through the chorus.

Killers and Kings picks up the pace further, and it sounds as if it could have come straight from their debut with those guitar squeals (listen to it and you’ll know exactly what I mean) that scream Machine Fuckin’ Head. It’s not my favourite track on the album by far, but it’s solid and could almost be an entry in the textbook of how to write a Metal song. Keep a listen out for how many different tarot cards are named in this one…

Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones follows; Think the introduction to Imperium with less distortion and an almost electronic sound, then add in some of the dirty bass from Through The Ashes of Empires and the haunting vocal style that is heard on The Burning Red and end it with the anger from Days Turn Blue To Gray and you’re approaching what you hear from this. Many people will disagree with me, but this is one of the top three for me on this offering.

Of all the tracks on Bloodstone and Diamonds, Night of the Long Knives is the one that I am unsure about, mostly because the introduction does nothing for me. It’s not a bad song, but I don’t feel like its anything special. There’s always one like that for me. Chop the intro and outtro from it and I’d probably feel differently but it is very easy to sing along with the disturbing lyrics.

Low vocal droning with some stunning melodies are overlaid by a single line before an acoustic guitar and piano pick up the pace of Sail Into The Black. It’s not unusual to get a song that isn’t easily labelled as Metal on a Machine Head album, and at first this appears to be the song that doesn’t fit for three minutes, but then just as you think that the song is over, electric guitar blares from nowhere and takes the intensity to a whole different level, though the first chords do manage to sound an awful lot like a Limp Bizkit song (*shudder* – Ed).

Circle pit. That’s the first thought that comes into my head as Eyes of the Dead kicks in, though it does in places remind me of Pearls Before The Swine, though the chorus is a completely different feel, and I have to say… groovy. Beneath the Silt starts dirty, and the bassline continues beneath the somewhat odd vocals, and the chorus is anything but Metal, but it sure as hell is catchy even if the solo is one of those that feel forced into the song and it ends with some of Flynn’s heavy breathing.

The politics becomes blatant in Here Comes the Flood, which appears to be a direct attack at the banking and economic system in America. There’s an amusing play on words with the line ‘Moneytheistic religion” and direct calls for their country to wake up. It’s a decent song, but despite the usual Machine Head signatures, it feels just a bit too mainstream and poppy. There then follows some more lamentation as Damage Inside lets you take a quick breather.

Did you ever expect to hear any Punk on a Machine Head album?  Well, the chorus of Game Over had me wanting to break out the baggy trousers and start skanking, but it doesn’t feel out of place.  There’s some very clever riffs that keep it “Metal enough” to fit, even during those slow breakdown sections that force the focus onto the lyrics. The politic vibe continues with the soundbytes over the top of Imaginal Cells, speaking of climate change, social disorder, religion and many more issues, over the top of an instrumental that more than any other song on Bloodstone and Diamonds could have come straight from Unto the Locust, in fact very much like Locust itself. I suspect that this will be the intermission track on the album release tour.

The finale of Take Me Through the Fire is a good send off to an album, and it’s a classic Machine Head song to take us full circle through the more experimental sections of this album. In answer to my question at the top of this review, no Bloodstone and Diamonds is very much not The Blackening, but that isn’t to say that it is not a good Machine Head album.  There are going, as ever, to be cries of selling out and going mainstream, but I think the fans will turn out at shows and scream these lyrics with as much fervour as Locust and Old. Technically excellent, I disagree with Flynn’s proclamation that this is their most heavy and brutal offering, but it’s still a solid album and had it come from a band without an album like The Blackening behind them, it would have been far more impressive, but as a Machine Head fan I can’t help  but feel that they’re not quite there, or they’re trying a little too hard to be different. Still, it’s one of my albums of 2014, and will be given a lot of play time in my ears.

Rating: ****/5

Reverted – Sputtering Worms!

Reverted, a four-piece UK metal band have just released their debut album, Sputter the Worms.  They have been compared to the likes of Metallica, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden and are about to support American Head Charge and Kill Devil Hill in London.

Cat had an email chat with Ozzy Preciado, the man behind the kit.

Cat: Say I had never heard of you and were wondering whether to buy the CD, why should I listen to Reverted?

Ozzy: If you are thinking whether to buy our album it means somehow we’ve already grabbed you, so first of all we need to establish that our sound is compatible with your music taste, right?  Were this to be the case, I would assume you’ve probably heard one or two songs maybe a few times on the internet or you’ve just seen Reverted live for the first time or maybe a friend was playing our music and it caught your attention, in either of these scenarios you are only getting a small portion of what this band is really all about.

Sputter The Worms is a fearless-seduction-attempt from start to end.

Apart from that, I think we all know that buying an album automatically makes it more special because you give it the love and appreciation it deserves for what it represents, needn’t I mention you get the real thing!!  I mean would you rather download porn or perform it?  If that makes any sense… anyhow, you get the awesome artwork and if you’re lucky we might even sign it for you! 

Cat:  Where do your main influences come from?

Ozzy: Probably America, although in style of life definitely England which had a massive impact in the crafting of our music. 

Cat: The title of your album is Sputter the Worms, which conjures up some rather shudder inducing mental images. Where did the title come from?

Ozzy: Simple, It’s our first song in the album and we all felt it summed up about right the over all feel and attitude of this album. Like Tony Vega, our front man likes to say “it will expose those dark thoughts that breed in the deepest well of every man”.  Hence the title Sputter The Worms.

Cat: You’re about to battle it out in  the Metal 2 The Masses Semi-Final, how is it being so close to playing at Bloodstock?

Ozzy: It is as exciting as it is humbling for all these bands are incredibly good and at this stage I’d say about any of them have what it takes to offer a level of performance you can expect to see in a festival like Bloodstock.

Having said that, winning would not suck!!  By all means,  I mean this could be our first big festival and I have no doubt we would fucking smash it!! 

Cat: You’re also supporting American Head Charge.  How psyched are you for that show?

Ozzy: Are you kidding me?? American Head Charge is a band we not only like but respect and admire. We cannot wait to be the best support they’ve ever had then go straight in the mosh-pit for their set!

Cat: If you had to pick one British festival to go to this year, which would it be?

Ozzy: The one that brings so many good memories for all of us, I had one of the best shows of my career with my ex-band Breed 77 in Download 2010 and I was lucky enough to have my brothers from Reverted supporting me on the audience side, little did I know we`d eventually end up creating this together and hopefully one day playing our favourite festival in the whole fucking world, it has to be Download!

Cat: What’s next for Reverted? Anything interesting on the agenda?

Ozzy: OK take note: We have a exclusive release of our first videoclip Die My Saint through a new Music program on SKY TV with some people from Total Rock, BBC and BloodStock Radio, date and channel soon to be announced.  Also lined up is the release of a cover song from a band that has been one big influence for this band, of course with our own original twist.  Other than that there are some Tour news also about to be revealed!

Cat: You’re stuck on a desert island (which magically has means to play DVDs and CDs) and you can have one album, one book and one film. Which do you choose?

Ozzy: This is quite personal so I’ll answer for myself……

I haven’t got a clue!!!  I’d rather someone pick these for me because I honestly wouldn’t know what to choose.  I think I’d have to give this quite some thought.  I don’t think I would go for any of my all time favourites because after abusing them over and over again it won’t be long until I start getting bored and hatting them or just ignoring them.  This situation really sucks I have to say, stuck in the desert I’d rather pick some water and a GPS to get me back home!

Cat: If you could listen to any five songs right now, what would they be?

Ozzy: Literally the next 5 songs taken from my iTunes Shuffle, believe it or not:

Catch Reverted live on 17th June, at the Underworld, Camden supporting American Head Charge

Their album, Sputter the Worms can be bought from their website http://www.reverted.co.uk or from Amazon.

Shini's pick of the festivals part I – DOWNLOAD

Untitled

So festival season is upon us yet again, and with it comes not only the dilemma of which weekends are going to be spent in particular fields but once that choice has been made, who to go and see when you’re there? It’s June, you already have your tickets (hopefully), so I’m going to go through and do my pick of who to see at each of the bigger festivals this summer.

linkin-park

It needs no introduction. It’s also one of the first of the festival season and its a BIG one. The main attraction (at least among my age group, entering their fourth decade on the planet) has to be Linkin Park playing Hybrid Theory in full. None of their rubbishy dubstep mixes or violations of all that was good with their early stuff. Just the music that got them famous. Got to be worth a watch.

Rob Zombie. If you are there and choose to see anyone else over Rob Zombie, what are you thinking? I saw him the last time I was at Download and he blew it away.

rob_zombie_band_2010

Aside from those two, I’m going to look at the smaller stages, and the bottom of the lineups. To me this is the beauty of a festival; you pay to go an see your favourites but then get to go and see a fucktonne of new to you music.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say that the unmissable of the unmissable is the astounding American Head Charge, who are hitting the Pepsi Max stage on Saturday at 8:00pm. I am SO jealous that I am not going to be there, and with their new album just around the corner you might even get to hear a new Head Charge song before most of their Deathsquad promotion team. I will stop fangirling now, though if you want to see what I thought when they last hit the UK in November, you can find my review here.

American+Head+Charge

Another band who have been part of the soundtrack to my last 12 months is the mighty Battlecross, who were supporting Killswitch Engage and Trivium (also both worth seeing if you can, they’re on the bill) on their tour early in the year (review here). They’re some wonderfully brutal thrash who put on a killer show, and earned more than a few fans on their “First Thrash Across Europe”. Definitely ones to watch.

Someone else that have made a mark on a massive support slot are Upon a Burning Body, who hit a goldmine when they toured with Five Finger Death Punch. The show we saw them on, the entire lighting rig blew and they didn’t bat an eyelid, keeping the place bouncing. I’ll admit they don’t necessarily look the part, but if you like hardcore along the lines of Hatebreed then you definitely need to give these guys a listen.

Thy Art is Murder are going to be massive. They’re not someone I would choose to buy a CD from, but their reputation for their utterly insane live show precedes them, and for that reason alone I’d be there to see them. Kill Devil Hill (who incidentally are supporting American Head Charge in the post Download show) are one of those “supergroups”, but not one that leaves you rolling your eyes at the description as it comprises of former members of Dio, Down and Pissing Razors. Do your ears a favour and be there.

Sepultura, Sabaton, Alter Bridge, Within Temptation… I could be here all day, but now I challenge you to tell me who you’re really looking forward to.

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American Head Who?

So who exactly are this “American Head Charge” that the Wyrd Ways Rock Show’s Terror Twins keep plastering over social media?

(left to right: Karma Cheema, Justin Fowler, Cameron Heacock, Chad Hanks, Ted Hallows and Chris Emery. Photo credit to come!)

They are in fact the band who refuse to stay down. As this is being written, their crowdfunding campaign has recently surpassed the original target for the recording and promotion of a new full length album, and it is two weeks until they return to Donington for their first Download Festival appearance since reforming. You probably already know at least one of their songs, but you just don’t know who sings it.

It has not been an easy road for them, and after a multitude of lineup changes and tweaks the founding members of Chad Hanks (bass) and Cameron Heacock (vocals) are surrounded by long term Headcharge members Chris Emery (drums), Justin Fowler (keyboards) and Karma Cheema (guitar) with the latest addition to the lineup Ted Hallows (guitar) joining in 2013.

The song that everyone will know, is Just So You Know, from their 250,000 selling breakthrough album The War of Art. This was the album that got them noticed, and landed them support slots for names as large as Slipknot, Slayer and Rammstein. It was a sign of the times that American Head Charge were placed under the umbrella of “Nu Metal” despite their industrial and heavy rock sound.

For a band who were conceived in rehab, the touring cycle was always going to take its toll, and the tumultuous time culminated in a departure from their recording contract prior to laying down their follow up album The Feeding. It is during the tour for this album supporting Mudvayne that guitarist Bryan Ottoson passed away on April 19th 2005. The rest of the band continued, releasing a DVD/CD entitled Can’t Stop the Machine in 2007, which was to be their last release before disbanding officially in 2009.

Wait? Didn’t I just say they refused to die?

Yes. Yes I did.

They’re back, in perhaps one of the most spectacular comebacks in industrial metal. Teasing myspace and twitter hints, a new facebook page, and a self released EP called Shoot later, American Head Charge embarked on a massive tour, including the UK (see the review here). They’re refusing to sign to record labels and are committed again to make the music they want to. The end of the indiegogo campaign saw a demo teaser released for the upcoming album due September 2014.

If you want to know what they sound like, it’s a strange and amazing combination of industrial, hard rock, and alternative metal. There are violent shouts and growls with gentle melodies that will have you singing along.

The tracks you need to check out are:

Loyalty

Song For The Suspect

To Be Me

All Wrapped Up

Writhe

and of course… Just So You Know.

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Sabaton – Heroes

Sabaton - Heroes - Artwork

Nuclear Blast

Release Date:  19th May 2014 (UK)

BUY CD or MP3.

Review by: Cat A

Sabaton.

Where to begin the introduction to the Swedish masters of Power Metal?  That the BOA signing tent, aware of their reputation, put them in last because they would not leave before they had met every single person who had queued up. If you’re new to their unique brand of Metal then you may notice that the themes to the lyrics revolve around historical events, namely historical battles and wars, and they do their research. Their choice of subject matter has gotten them in to trouble on more than one occasion, with a misunderstanding causing them to be almost banned from Russia after someone declared them a “Nazi” band (see this).

The numpty.

Heroes is their eagerly-anticipated seventh (released) studio album, and as the title suggests the lyrics focus on those heroic acts that are perhaps go relatively unnoticed in the grand scheme of the World War II history books.

Operatic overtones above heavy guitars are the tone for the opener that instantly gets the energy pumping. Night Witches is about the female Soviet bombing crews. It’s a great choice of opener, and would do just as well at the start of a live set. If you have seen them play before, you will probably have mental images of the way in which Joakim Brodén throws himself around the stage like a five year old who’s had too much sugar. If the opener was the song that makes you jump, then No Bullets Fly is a more melodic, though no less powerful track, laced with moments that make you want to clench your fist and make grandiose arm gestures. Sabaton are power metal, after all.

I cannot review this album without giving an honourable mention to Inmate 4859. Now me being me, I had to go and Google the song titles to find out what they were singing about, and this one struck me. The actual “Inmate 4859” was Witold Pileki, a soldier and a member of the Polish resistance who voluntarily got himself arrested and subsequently sent to Auschwitz before escaping three years later. The song is just as powerful as you might expect.

As the name may suggest, The Ballad of Bull is a different vein entirely. Led by pianos with a liberal helping of string section Brodén shows that he can really, truly sing as the tempo is slowed right down. It’s another I can just envision being played live to an enthusiastic response. Resist and Bite starts off sounding strangely like AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. It works. You can listen to it by clicking here, and it is back to foot-stomping, hand-clapping, bass drum-driven sound that screams of Sabaton. The finale comes with Hearts of Iron, and in all honesty it doesn’t feel like it is the end of the album; I was left wondering just when the next song was going to start.

If you don’t like Power Metal that talks of battles, then you won’t like this. If you’ve listened to Sabaton and remained unimpressed then Heroes is not a groundbreaking leap into unknown territory by the camouflage-draped Swedes that will convince you otherwise. What Heroes is is a fantastic Sabaton album that goes down well, even if it does end a little abruptly.

Now please excuse me, I am trapped in a Wiki loop looking up battles and regiments.

Thanks for making education so fun Sabaton!

Rating: ****/5

 

If you like this, you’ll also like these:

Sabaton – Carolus Rex

Civil War – The Killer Angels

Powerwolf – Preachers Of The Night

Edguy – Space Police – Defenders Of The Crown

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Edguy – Space Police – Defenders of the Crown

Edguy - Space Police - Defenders Of The Crown - Artwork

Nuclear Blast Records

Released 21 April 2014

Review by: Cat A

They call themselves European Metal, over here they’re known as the German Power Metal crew that have obtained quite a cult following in the UK. Famously not taking themselves too seriously with track titles such as Lavatory Love MachineEdguy are still able to strike an emotional note with the likes of the heartfelt Save me. In my house they’re on the playlist frequently, normally accompanied by my resident Viking running around in his boxers and socks, throwing the horns and yelling along in comic fashion.

Yes, that is what passes for normal around here (Lancashire… nuff said! – Ed).

The opener Sabre and Torch is a whirlwind headbanging anthem, riddled with catchy breaks and a singalong vibe that has you joining in before you quite realise what’s going on as you’re battered round the ears with a thrashy riff and solo, then you blink and it’s on to the first of the two tracks that make up the album title, Space Police that has a lot more keyboards and a more epic feel to it. Of course it’s followed by Defenders of the Crown to complete the title, and it’s simple chorus conjures images of a tight trousered Tobias stomping his foot and pumping his fist on stage as you’re dragged in by melodic hooks.

On the glam rock side of things, Love Tyger has a sound of Kiss to it and is so sickeningly catchy, bouncy and feel good that I dare you to not at least start tapping your foot. Cue the next song and there’s a more thrash influence in The Realms of Baba Yaga with a screaming guitar riff and soaring vocals. Rock Me Amadeus (yes, that one!) has a Faith No More kind of feel, it’s a well arranged cover and quite frankly I’m having trouble typing this because I’m dancing in my seat. I can’t help it.

Do Me Like a Caveman is the classic Edguy singalong sound, and a showcase for Sammett’s vocal talents when he’s not running around like a lunatic, and I’m still not sure if it’s a serious song or tongue in cheek, but you know, that’s part of the games that Edguy like to play with their fans.

Shadow Eaters goes back to the more up tempo stuff again, but once more listen to the lyrics before air-guitaring your way through the solo and into Alone in Myself which does happen to be one of the more serious offerings with an easy addition of a bit of groove to the mix. In the 80s this would have been the lighters in the air tune, and all too soon we’ve hit the finale of The Eternal Wayfarer. The only way I can describe the power behind the ending is to throw in a comparision to the almighty Dio on the vocal side.

Space Police… Defenders of the Crown is honestly a new height for Edguy; the tracks flow together well with not a single one feeling out of place. The artwork might be something from a cheesy 80s sci-fi film but don’t judge songs on their cover! This is a piece of proper power metal with all the hair whipping, fist clenching and foot stomping that comes with it. Go listen, and just be sure to remember that this is Edguy; don’t take them too seriously but don’t underestimate them!

Rating: *****/5

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