Tag Archives: Guns N Roses

Download 2016

Message from The Editor:
So there I was, going through the spam box of the mail@ account on the Wyrd Ways Rock Show email system.  Somewhere near the bottom, I found the following.  To preserve the authenticity, I have copied and pasted directly from the original document.

Ali, whoever you are, wherever you are, may the Gods of Metal smile upon you…

Review of Babymetal:
Sky: RAIN
Crowd: ? ALWAYS LOOK ON THR BRIIIIGHT SSSIDE OF LIIIIFE
Babymetal: BOUNCE ON STAGE LIKE BOUNCY THINGS KAAAAWAAAAAAIIII
Babymetal backing band: MELTS ALL FACES
Babymetal backing band bassist: PLAYS JACO PASTORIUS LEVEL TAPPED SOLO THAT EVEN SOMEONE LIKE FLEA COULD NEVER HOPE TO DO
Babymetal guitarist: PLAYS STEVE VAI LEVEL SOLO
Babymetal Singer: makemecircle (twirls fingers round) I SAY MAKE ME CIRCLE
Crowd: MAKES BIGGEST CIRCLE PIT I HAVE EVER SEEN.
Babymetal backing band: MELTS ALL FACES
BabyMetal: YATATATATATATITITITITITITYATATATATATTTTOOOTITITITIT CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE TITITITYATATATATA
Crowd: GOES MENTAL
BabyMetal singer: Gimmeee WOOOOAAAAAAAYYYAAAAAOOOOOOO
Crowd: (responds to call and response as if it were Freddie himself calling it)
WOOOOAAAAAAAYYYAAAAAOOOOOOO
Sky: RAINS LIKE FUCK ON EVERYONE
Crowd: DOESNT CARE BECAUSE BABYMETAL ARE FUCKING AWESOME AND THEIR FACES ARE MELTED OFF BY THE BACKING BAND AND HEARTS FILLED WITH TEH UBERKAWAIIII
Babymetal: FANKOOO DONNINTOOON SEEEYAAAAA
Babymetal backing band: MELTS MOAR FACES
Crowd: PIT PIT PIT MOSH MOSH MOSH FUCK WE’RE ALL SOOO FUCKING WET BUT FUCKING HELL THAT WAS AN EPIC SET FROM WHAT WE ALL THOUGHT WERE A FAKE GIMMICK BAND

Wildhearts Review:
Crowd: is wet and grateful for under cover gig
Wildhearts: have less hair and less hairspray and less spandex and looser clothes in general than when I last saw them a few times in the nineties
Crowd: ❤️
Wildhearts: play some great songs that were minor hits in the 90s
Crowd: ❤️
Wildhearts: play Motörhead song
Crowd: ❤️❤️❤️
Ginger: Banters
Crowd: ❤️❤️❤️

Review of Korn:
Sky: FUCK YOU ALL AHAHAHAHA
Crowd: FUCK YOU RIGHT BACK WE HAVE PONCHOS
Korn: be 50 year old zillionaires having teenage angst
Crowd: Bounce a little bit
Korn: BOWWOWZIGAZIGAOOOGEYBOOGEY?
crowd: bounce a tiny bit
Korn: I SAID ‘JABBERWOOCKEYSCOOOBYDOOWAKKAWAKKABIBBITYBOBBITYBOO’
Crowd: some bouncing
Korn: WOKKAWOKKAIZZYWIZZY?
Crowd: bouncing reduces
Korn: BOOPBOOPDEDOO?
Ali: meh
Korn: DOOTDOOT?
Ali: wanders off for nachos

Review of Rammstein‘s first song:
Til: I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE
Arthur Brown: er…. Excuse me, I think you’ll find actually that…
Rammstein: FUCK YOU OLD MAN THIS IS OUR CENTURY MOAR FIYAH AND EXPLOSIONS AND SEXY SEXY MUSCLES AND BOOOOOOOOOM

Review of Ranmstein:
Sky: HAHAHAHFUCK YOU WE WILL RAIN ON YOU
Crowd: NO FUCK YOUBWE HAVE PONCHOS AND WELLIES
Rammstein: it’s okay guys, we’ll warm you up with SO MUCH FUCKING FIRE
Crowd: we love you sexy sexy Nazi men
Rammstein: DONT CALL US THAT! WE’RE THE NICE GERMANS
Crowd: BUT YOU BLOW EVERYTHING UP AND HAVE SEXY OUTFITS AND MUST HAVE BEEN SOME SORT OF EUGENICS EXPERIMENT RAISED BY KRAFTWERK AND LEFT TO PLAY WITH MATCHES IN THE KITKATCLUB AS KINDER
Rammstein: NO, WE’RE NICE GERMANS AND TO PROVE IT WE WILL ONLY BE SLIGHTLY UBERMENSCHEN AND BLITZKRIEGY AND WILL SING A NICE SONG ABOUT OUR MOMMY
Crowd: WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH BLOW MORE SHIT UP INCLUDING THE GIMP KEYBOARD PLAYER AND THE STAGE
Rammstein: JA! AND VE VILL FLY ABOUT ON FLAMING ROCKET SHOOTING ANGEL WINGS
Crowd: WE LOVE YOU SRSLY FOR REALS
Rammstein: HAVE MORE FUCKING AWESOME MUSIC AND ROCKETS AND SMOKE JETS AND FIRE THEN
Crowd: SPAFFS DRY OF TEH AWESUM
Rammstein: You’re velcum.

Review is Sixx AM:
Nikki Sixx: HELLO DONNINGTON
Crowd: HOW THE FUCK ARE YOU STILL ALIVE?
NIKKI SIXX: LETS RAAAAAAAAAAAAAWK
Crowd: No, seriously, how are you still alive? (Starts to bounce)
NIKKI SIXX: I HAVE HAD SEXUAL SEX WITH MORE PEOPLE THAN THERE ARE IN THIS ENTIRE AUDIENCE
Crowd: WE KNOW, SPEAK TO US OF YOUR WISDOM OF THE WAYS OF RAWKSECKS
Nikki Sixx: YOU ALWAYS LOVED THIS COCK ROCK SHIT REALLY EVEN THOSE OF YOU MISERABLE FUCKERS WHO CLAIM TRUE METAL IS THE ONLY TRUE RELIGION
Crowd: YOU SPEAK TRUTH (does RAWK hands and bounces more)
Nikki Sixx: GIRLS SHOW ME YOUR BOOBIES
Crowd: hmm maybe… Not right now though, it’s cold
NIKKI SIXX: SINGS EPIC POWER BALLAD ABOUT BEING A DEPRAVED RAWKSTAR WHO GOT CLEAN
Crowd: NAH THANKS SING ABOUT DEPRAVED SEX SHIT PLS
Nikki Sixx: OKAY!
Crowd: NO BUT SERIOUSLY HOW ARE YOU EVEN ALIVE?
Nikki Sixx: I WROTE ABOUT IT IN SOME BOOKS YOU CAN ORDER AVAILABLE IN ALL GOOD BOOKSHOPS AND ON AMAZON
Crowd: YOUR PLAN TO HAVE A SECOND PHASE OF YOUR CAREER IS WORKING AND YOURE SORT OF COOL AND THE SONGS ARE DECENT ENOUGH AND YOU ACTUALLY OFFER SOME INTERESTING INSIGHT ABOUT ALL THAT DEPRAVED CRUE RAWK SHIT
Nikki Sixx: OH THANK FUCK IM NOT TURNING INTO A TOTAL CUNTY WANKER LIKE GENE SIMMONS THEN
Crowd: RAISES FISTS AND GETS INTO IT EVEN MORE
Ali: yeah, alright, but you’re no Zodiac Mindwarp

Lawnmower Deth review:
Crowd: ?❤️❤️
Lawnmower Deth: HAHAHAHHOLYFUCK THERE ARE A LOT OF YOU HAVE SOME CLOWNS AND SILLY STRING AND BALLS ANS RAISE YOUR HANDS AND DO MEXICAN WAVES AND BOUNCE
Crowd: ????❤️❤️❤️❤️????
Lawnmower Deth: HOLY FUCK WE’RE OLD AND WERE ONLY TAKING THE PISS IN THE FIRST PLACE HOW THE FUCK ARE WE PLAYING DONNINGTON AT THIS AGE STILL
Crowd: ???❤️❤️❤️???
Lawnmower Deth: WE HAVE A SPECIAL GUEST
Kim Wilde: ITS ACTUALLY REALLY ME NO SERIOUSLY
Crowd: WOOOO
Lawnmower Deth: OKAY WERE GOING TO DONA SONG WITH KIM WILDE
Crowd: FUCK YEAH
Kim Wilde and Lawnmower Deth: EGG SANDWICH EGG SANDWICH EGG SANDWICH
Crowd: hahahahawtf
KIM WILDE AND LAWNMOWERDETH: PSYCHE!!
Crowd: HAAHAHAHAH NO SERIOUSLY JIST PLAY IT THAT WAS FUNNY BUT GO ON
Kim Wilde: OKAY – KIDS IN AMERICA KIDS IN AMERICA KIDS IN AMERICA
Crowd: NAAAA NA NAAAA NAAA NAAAAAAAAAAAH
Kim Wilde: WERE THR KIDS WERETHE KIDS WERE THE KIDS IN AMEEEEERICCCA
Creowd: NAAAAAAAAAAA NAAAAAA NAAAAANAAAAAA NAAAAAAA
Lawnmower Deth; we can’t fucking believe she agreed to that but I suppose she must have for a few royalties out of us over the years so cheers Kim mwah mwah mwah
CRowd: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️???❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Review of The Megadeths:
The Megadeths: RAAAARAAA WIDDLE WIDDDLE WIDDDLE HELLLLO DONNNINGTOOON RAAAAAARAAAAWIDDDDLEEWIDDLE
Crowd: We quite like this actually
Ali: doesn’t like this actually. Wanders off to find AntiFlag to see if they put the drums in the circle pit again like they did at Rebellion last year
Ali: is also quite dunk so apologises if quality levels dop

AntiFlag review:
Antiflag: WE ARE ANT EYE FLAG
CROWD: speak properly please
Antiflag: PITTSBURGH PENNSYLVANIA
CROWD: wotever
Antiflag: POLITICS POLICE BRUTALITY RELIGION
CROWD: wotever
Antiflag: starts to be interesting and good
Crowd: hmm wait actually
Antiflag; MAKE FRIENDS WITH PEOPLE AROUND YOU AND BE FRIENDLY AND SHIT
crowd: OKAY
ANTIFLAG: MAKE MORE NOISE THAN THE MEGADETHS
CRROWD: OKAY RAAAAAAAAAARGH
ANtiflag: sing some stuff back to us
Crowd: OKAY
Antiflag: STARTS TO KILL IT NOW THEYRE NOT TALKING ABOUT POLITICS OR FUCKING PITTSBURG PENNSYLVANIA
crowd: FUCK THEYRE ACTUSLLY KILLING IT
Antiflag: IF SOMEONE FALLS DOWN PICK THEM UP LOOK AFTER EQCH OTHER WHILST WE’RE FUCKING KILLING IT
Crowd: HOLY FUCK THEYRE DEFIJITELY KILLIJG IT.
crowd: RAISES HANDS AND BOUNCES AND SHIT
ANtiflag: PLAYS CLASH SONG
CROWD- TOTALLY LOSES IT AND THE PIT IS FUCKIJG HARDCORE BUT AS DIREXTED EBERYONE THAT FALLS DOWN GETS PICKED UP
Antiflag: PLAYS SONG WITH LOVELY MELODIC CHORUS
Crowd: TOTALLY SINGS IT ALL ALONG AND FUCK YOU THE MEGADETHS
Antiflag: PLAYS SONG AND STARTS CIRCLE PIT
CROWD: DOES EPIC CIRCLE PIT
Antiflag: DISASSEMBLES DRUMKIT AND MOVE IT TO THE FUCKING PIT AND THE SINGER CLIMBS ON IT AND THE crowd: IS LIKE ??????YOURE SEPPOS THAT ARE BORING ABOUT POLITICS BUT FUCKING HELL YOU BROUGHT IT TODAY

Review of Skindred:
Crowd: WE’RE ALL FUCKING METALHEADS WHO LIKE METAL AMD METAL IS DEPRESSED WHITE BOY BLUES AND ANGST BUT HEY WAIT A SECOND THATS A BLACK GUY?
Skindred: YES IM A BLACK GUY
Crowd: BUT YOU SING LIKE TOM JONES. WAIT. SHIT. NO. YOU SING LIKE ROB HALFORD. WAIT. SHIT. NO. YOU SING LIKE EDDY GRANT.
Skindred: HAHAHA I CAN DO ALL THAT SHIT AND RAGGAZAGGGA TOASTIN TOASTING
Crowd: fucking hell…
SKINDRED: MELTS ALL FACES ABD MAKES CROWD BOUNCE BOUNCE
crowd: BOUNCES BOUNCES
Skindred: MAKES CROWD SING
crowd: SINGY SINGY SING
SKindred: YOU CUNTS (he calls the crowd cunts a lot but that’s okay because that just means best mate if you’re from Wales, which the singerist is) ARENT SINGING LOUD ENOUGH. MY KIDS ARE HERE, DONT EMBARASS ME IN FRONT OF MY KIDS YOU CUNTS
Crowd: SINGY SINGY SINGY FUCKING ALL THE SINGY SING
Skindred: MORE LIKE IT BUT BOUNCE AND SING
Crowd: BOUNCES AND SINGS AND DOES A LITTLE SEX WEE ABOUT HOW FUXKING AWESOME SKINDRED ARE
Skindred; OKAY HERE’S A NEW SONG
crowd: FUCK ME THATS AN INSTANT CLASSIC CAN WE ALL GO ONLINE TO BUY A COPY NOW?
Skindred: NO YOU FUCKING CANT YOU CUNTS BECAUSE YOU NEED TO FUCKING BOUNCE AND MOSH SOME MORE
Crowd: OKAY IF WE SKANK AND BOGLE A BIT TOO?
Skindred: TOO FUCKING RIGHT YOU CAN YOU CUNTS
Crowd: WE’RE NOT SURE WHEN THE COMMITTEE THAT RUNS METAL STARTED LETTING BLACK DUDES WITH PROPER DREADS AND SHIT BE FRONTMEN INSTEAD OF JUST THE OCCASIONAL BASS PLAYER IF NO ONE ELSE WAS AVAILABLE BUT THANK FUCK THEY DID BECAUSE THIS IS FUCKING EPIC
Skindred: HAHAHAHAHA TOASTIN TOASTIN MEEEETTAAAAAAL SCCCCCREEEEEEEAAAAAAM TOOASTIN TOOOASTIN
Crowd: THIS IS SO GOOD
Skindred: does Nobody Gets Out Alive
Crowd: WE CANT EVEN HANDLE THIS ITS SO FUCKING GOOD
Skindred: NOW TAKE YOUR CLOTHES OF AND WHIRL THEM ABOVE YOUR HEAD
Crowd: NEWPORT HELICOPTER IN FULL EFFEXT EVEN IN THE PISSING RAIN
Skinded: NAILED IT
crowd: YOU DID. KEEP DOING THIS SHIT AND YOULL BE PROPER HEADLINING IN A FEW YEARS
Ali: you know what? Beavis and Butthead giving cred to Cypress Hill is probably how we got here and what convinced the committee to let black dudes in. Shame we had to get through The Limp Biscuits to make it here though. But damn, that was some fine stuff.

Review of The Temperance Movement:
Temperance Movement: plays lame MOR
Ali: yawns and wanders off in search of coffee

Interlude:
Ali’s attempt to pull Sexy Rawk Girlie:
Ali: Hey Sexy Rawk Girlie how’s it going?
Sexy Rawk Girlie: oh hey, yeah having a great time how’re you and what bands have you seen and are you having a great time and is your tent dry and where are you from and what sort of music are you into and bounce bounce happy happy chatty friendly talk talk
Ali: realises he cannot communicate with humans. Only cats and the people that live in his phone. And also has a horrific moment of self awareness about the state of his personal hygiene and breath that could fuel Rammstein’s flamethrower and nutsack fluff that Sarah Pickles could make the evilest of felt dragons out of and may need solvents to remove his socks.
Sexy Rawk Girlie: oh, hey, you look a bit ill, you feeling okay, I’ve got some paracetamol in my bag if you need it and I can get you some water and
Ali: I’ll leave you alone forever
Sexy Rawk Girlie: oh. Okay, well, hope you feel better soon and have a great rest of Download
Ali: ….

Review of Jane’s Addiction:
Jane’s Addiction: Hey Ali, would you like to be right at the front of the stage
Ali: yes please
Jane’s: oh, and would you like some dancers suspended by hooks in their back swinging above your head?
Ali: yes please
Girls in crowd: would you like us to get our boobies out?
Ali: um… Okay, sure… If you want to, that would be cool
Jane’s: and would you like us to play all your favourite songs?
Ali: yes please
Jane’s: No problem
Ali: Squee
Jane’s: and is it okay is we do a tribute to Bowie and get everyone to sing along to Rebel Rebel?
Ali: fine
Jane’s: and we can finish with Jane Says, which is one of the loveliest songs ever, yeah?
Ali: oh fucking thank you I love you and have such a burst of teh happies
Jane’s: you’re welcome Ali we clearly love you too as we’ve done all this for you
Ali: ?

Review of Iron Maiden:
Ali: it’s still stupid o’clock and I’ve got a long day ahead packing up and getting home but let’s do this. Iron Maiden have for a really long time now been a core part of what being British and slightly angsty and needing some escapism is. They used to be really serious and needed to position themselves as something that was against the establishment and had a lot to prove. But they won that battle and became the establishment. Or rather the establishment of the alternative to the mainstream. They very cleverly gamed having a number one hit single in the same way that Bill Drummond and the KLF did, which broke them right through to the mainstream, and offered horror and fantasy and history as ways to personify and manage difficult emotions. Just like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Somewhere along the line two things happened. First – They stopped being just for white male adolescents. Some of those guys grew up and kept loving Maiden for the music and some of the shit maiden helped them with never went away anyway. But that Teenage Dirtbag song made the point that Maiden didn’t just work for those guys but girls feeling some of the same things too. And not just for British people but the shared experience of growing up worldwide. And South America especially loved them. In just one other important example I can think of their importance in another culture is shown in Persepolis – an autobiographical story about a girl growing up in and then escaping from post-revolution Iran of the Ayatollahs where she talked about how black market Iron Maiden cassettes changed her life. Second – somewhere down the line Maiden stopped taking themselves seriously and maybe saw Spinal Tap and got the joke, or realised what they were really offering with all this horror and history and decided that dealing with emotions and issues didn’t have to be all serious and could be fun too. That’s when I started liking them.
Maiden: thank you for that, Ali, but we’re now going to play some of those songs about horror and history and fantasy and everyone is going to raise their horns and sing along
Crowd: awwwww yiiiisssssss
Eddie: oh hai
Crowd: FUCK YEAH EDDIE
Brucie: Guys, I have some bad fucking news, maybe some of you out here haven’t heard, but some wanker shot a whole load of people who were just out dancing and having fun. And a load of politicians are already jumping on it and being arseholes. Fuck that. Those gay dudes who were out dancing were our brothers and fuck those murdering arseholes of all persuasions and the politicians who’re making it worse with their agendas. It’s all more important than ever that we all have to live and love and sing and dance. So I’m changing the set and all eighty five thousand of us are gonna sing a song called Blood Brothers, for each other and for those people that were killed.
Crowd: respect. And yes. Let’s live and love and sing and dance.
Maiden: BLOOD BROOOTHHHERS. WHOOOAAAAAH OOOOOHHH AAAAOOOOH.
Crowd: BLOOD BROOOTHHHERS. WHOOOAAAAAH OOOOOHHH AAAAOOOOH.
Brucie: Yes. That. Be good to each other.

Sixx AM Release New Single

Sixx AM, featuring bassist Nikki Sixx (ex-Mötley Crüe, Brides Of Destruction), guitarist DJ Ashba (ex-Guns N’ Roses, Beautiful Creatures) and vocalist James Michael, are releasing the title track of their current album, Prayers For The Damned as their new single.

This is what the vocalist had to say about the song and the album:

Graspop Metal Meeting Day 1 – Friday 17th June 2016

This year for my annual dose of Metal festival awesomeness I headed to that most Metal of countries, Belgium, for a festival called the most metal of names, Graspop.  It was a festival which had come highly recommended from those I knew who had been before, and despite the long day I had getting there, the layout and organisation (and actually clean toilets) of the festival alone suggested that these recommendations were not without foundation.  And that’s without even mentioning the line-up!

Gus G giving it plenty
Gus G giving it plenty

So despite the lack of sleep and high levels of stress from the day before, I was up bright and early on Friday morning to head down to the Main Stages for the festival openers Firewind.  Friday opening slot is one which I doubt a lot of bands look upon favourably, but Firewind rose admirably to the task of waking up a very sleepy and mostly hungover Graspop.  Gus G and co were able to up the energy and deliver a dynamic performance which was clearly able to convert even those who turned up not really caring about them.  It wasn’t just the dynamism which deserves praise, but the musicianship too.  Most Metalheads don’t need convincing about lead guitarist Gus G’s prowess, but the rest of the band were clearly able to hold their own too and in Henning Basse, they have a frontman who can hold the audience’s attention when he has to, but also is humble enough not to upstage his band-mates when they’re showing off. 7/10

Southern Rock from... Canada?!
Southern Rock from… Canada?!

Up next were Canadian Southern Rock outfit Monster Truck. I went in knowing absolutely nothing about them (save for the fact that they’re clearly Southern Rock because they’re called Monster Truck), but they certainly did a good job of winning me over.  They encapsulated everything good about the genre with catchy riffs, big choruses and a powerful rhythm section which lent itself perfectly to a festival setting and they were able to get us involved singing along to the easier parts of their songs.  The only slight trouble with them was that when these choral parts weren’t present, they didn’t offer anything original enough to prevent people’s attentions from wandering.  Still, as a relatively unheard of act, they certainly exceeded my expectations. 7/10

Graspop 2016 Soilwork
Soilwork

Melodic Death Metal veterans Soilwork provided the next instalment and continued on the already high standard which had been set for the start of the day. The six members made full use of the stage and got the first pits of the day started in no time. Somehow Soilwork were another band missing off of my radar before going to Graspop, which is a shame because they’re the sort of band whose songs do all sound very similar if you’re not familiar with them, which probably prevented me from enjoying them as much as I potentially could have done. Soilwork’s nine song set-list did lose novelty quickly, but thankfully the band were more than able to compensate through their terrific sound. They definitely cemented themselves in the “go away, listen to them properly and go see them again” category. 7/10

Graspop 2016 Winery Dogs
Winery Dogs’ Billy Sheehan to Ritchie Kotzen: “See? Told you this thing only had four strings!”

The first band of the day I actually knew well, were sadly the first disappointment.  As a lover of all things arsey and technical, I made sure I got myself a very good spot for The Winery Dogs; but sadly they weren’t really worth the effort. It wasn’t really their fault though, to be fair. The supergroup trio of Ritchie Kotzen, Billy Shehan and Mike Portnoy were as ridiculous with their respective instruments as ever, but the sound configuration killed their set. The vocals of all three members were inexplicably inaudible throughout and even more inexplicable was that no-one managed to fix it in the 40 minutes they were on-stage. This wasn’t helped by the fact that most people were probably only there because they’d heard of the band members and didn’t actually know any of their songs, so the crowd had absolutely no hope of saving the set either. The fact that their songs involve such a high ratio of instrumental parts helped, but still it was a real shame that The Winery Dogs were held back by something so utterly avoidable. 5/10

Graspop 2016 Sixx AM
Sixx AM – Nikki Sixx: “Blimey Mick!  You’ve perked up a bit!”

I decided to watch Sixx:AM from the other side of the central barrier, and I’m glad I did because they weren’t a huge amount better either.  Nikki Sixx, the former Mötley Crüe bassplayer’s side-project-turned-main-project didn’t even have technical problems as an excuse though, which was the troubling thing.  As a live act there isn’t actually an awful lot wrong with Sixx:AM. in fairness.  They’ve got decent experienced musicians and a frontman who clearly knows what he’s doing, plus all the ridiculous wardrobe and make-up that you would expect from someone who found fame in the 80’s and wasn’t in a Thrash band.  The problem is, their songs just aren’t very good.  It’s almost as if a really famous band decided to cover songs from bands who never made it and it shows in a festival setting especially when half the crowd need to be won over and just aren’t.  It really is a shame because again, it really was only the one thing but it massively held them back. 6/10

Graspop 2016 Bad Religion
Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin: “Did anyone else feel that? Is it just me or is it starting to rain?”

Not changing stages meant that I had a prime spot for a band I’ve been wanting to see for years.  Bad Religion were a big factor in choosing Graspop over other festivals, as I never got the chance to see them during my angry students days so I thought I really had better make sure I see them before my equally angry graduate days are done. “We are the least theatrical band here”, announced lead singer Greg Graffin to the crowd.  I was apprehensive at first as to how a punk band would be received at a very Metal-orientated festival; but the fact is Bad Religion really didn’t need to be at a festival catered for them, nor did they need to be theatrical.  They just needed to do what they’ve been doing for over 30 years and play good music very well, and it turns out it really doesn’t matter if you have a lead singer who looks like a middle-class dad filling in in his son’s band.  Bad Religion used their time well and powered through 21 songs in total drawing from all of their rich back catalogue, winning over the people I was worried would react badly to them.  If they can put in that kind of show with a largely indifferent crowd, I’d love to see what a show in front of die-hard fans would be like. 8/10

Heaven Shall Burn
Heaven Shall Burn: “So I says to our lass…”

Heaven Shall Burn were the unfortunate band I had to watch mostly from a distance because food is a necessary requirement for human beings to survive, and because I knew basically nothing about them before the festival.  They seemed to be pretty good at what they did however, being the first band to bring a real stage show to proceedings, which was good to watch if nothing else.  Sadly, they really do not suit long-distance viewing, as their intense style and reliance solely on guttural vocals meant that they very much struggled to get any of the crowd past the main bulk of fans into anything they were doing.  They were probably great if you were one of those who got close, but for me they ended up leaving me fairly cold.  Not only that, but I’d waited ages for my noodles and it turned out they weren’t even the ones I’d actually bloody ordered!  That’s not Heaven Shall Burn‘s fault of course….but I was still annoyed! 6/10

Graspop 2016 Foreigner
Foreigner – We’re 75 y’know!

I know it may come as a shock to some that Foreigner have actually a very good back catalogue, but having done my research into this band beforehand I was actually very much looking forward to the non-obvious parts of the set-list that were to come.  Unfortunately, this is where Foreigner proved to be a disappointment as their seven members did so much faffing about between songs and their lead singer liked the sound of his own voice way too much that they only managed to fit nine songs into an hour-long set.  That’s fine if you’re a Prog band, but not if you’re a Classic Rock band. The songs they played were done well, but I just wish they’d taken a more Bad Religion approach to things and gotten on with it.  It didn’t help that several members were clearly past their best as well, but that was more to be expected from a band who are celebrating their 40th anniversary. I just wish that somebody could have reminded them beforehand that this wasn’t actually their own gig! They even managed to have an encore, despite the fact that they weren’t even close to being the headliners. Bloody Foreigner6/10

Disturbed's David Draiman asks to go to the toilet
Disturbed’s David Draiman asks to go to the toilet

I certainly wish that the slightly longer set-list had been given to Disturbed, because quite frankly they were excellent and the one thing which unfortunately prevented them from being exceptional was the fact that they had to rush through things slightly and miss out a fair few killer songs.  It had been five whole years since I had seen one of my favourite Nu-Metal bands (yes, I like Nu-Metal, deal with it!) and I had forgotten just how many great songs they have and judging by the massive levels of participation from the crowd, I wasn’t the only one in that boat.  I was particularly pleased too, because the only time I had seen Disturbed before they were awful; so I was relieved to see that it was just a bad day at the office and they can deliver the kind of performance their songs deserve.  Although it took a little while to set-up which ate into their precious time, I was so glad they chose to do their version of The Sound of Silence because it was far and away the highlight of the day, sending shivers down my spine all the way through.  Getting Nikki Sixx on to do  Shout At The Devil was a less expected cover, but definitely one I’m glad I was there to witness as well.  Much as I love Disturbed though, I do wish they hadn’t played Down With The Sickness, because is there anyone in the Metal world who isn’t thoroughly sick of that song? 8/10

Megadeth's Megadave - "Mumble mumble"
Megadeth’s Megadave – “Mumble mumble”

My failure to get the Graspop crowd chanting “Megadave! Megadave!” as we were waiting for Megadeth‘s arrival was pretty disappointing, but this was nothing compared with the disappointment that Megadeth themselves actually were.  They blundered into their opener Hangar 18 which should have gotten the crowd going pretty much instantly but it was so badly done that it was actually pretty unrecognisable for much of the intro.  Really the only thing resembling a saving grace for Megadeth was that they played Megadeth songs which people like, but even this was ruined somewhat thanks to them playing four songs from their most recent album Dystopia; which I guess you can’t really blame them for, but in all honesty it isn’t a great album and it was clear that most of the audience didn’t know the songs.  Plus, there was no way the band’s performance was going to make up for this as none of them looked especially bothered by proceedings and Megadave himself was particularly poor, especially with his vocals which were just mumbled incoherently throughout.  It looks as though years of people telling him to keep his mouth shut have taken their toll and he’s become physically incapable of opening it so he can actually sing properly. 5/10

Graspop 2016 Zakk Wylde
Zakk Wylde wonders if he’s left the gas on

After spending all day at the main stages, I finally departed the open air and headed into a tent to see the man with beard, Zakk Wylde. I must say, I was interested to see what kind of set he would put on because I imagine I was one of the few there who actually owns a (totally legal, I might add) copy of his latest solo album, but I do love pretty much everything he’s done and I felt he may revert back to some Black Label Society stuff rather than try to win over a Metal crowd with acoustic songs from two albums no-one’s heard of.  To my delight, he did go for songs from the two Book of Shadows albums, but he made a big mistake in my view of making them much heavier than they sound on record, clearly in an attempt to appease the Graspop faithful.  It worked great for the opening song Sold My Soul, as it’s already fairly heavy to begin with and it gave Zakk an opportunity to show off his utterly ridiculous guitar skills, but it didn’t work for the others because as good as the songs are, they were never written to be heavy.  The songs were played very well, and Zakk was clearly on form, but to someone who knows the recorded versions of the songs well, it just sounded like he was doing a whole set of poorly considered covers. 6/10

Amon Amarth - Nathan has no taste. The Vikings are awesome!
Amon Amarth – Nathan has no taste. The Vikings are awesome!

I managed to catch the last song of Amon Amarth’s set from the other side of the main stage as I rushed over to get as good a spot for Sabbath as was possible, but thankfully it was their song I actually like, so that’s something.  They had a cool stage show set up and they seemed like they would be a really fun band to see, despite the fact that I don’t actually think much of their music.  I can’t exactly give them a rating based on one song viewed from miles away though.  I should also mention that after Sabbath I didn’t stick around for the only post-midnight act on that evening, King Diamond, because quite frankly I have no wish to stand around on a cold evening listening to someone who sounds like a cat being neutered without an anaesthetic.

Graspop 2016 Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath – Glad it’s The End?

Now Black Sabbath have been one of my favourite bands for years and definitely the top one on this line-up for me, but I don’t think I’ve ever been happier that a band is on their final tour.  When I saw them at Download in 2012 it was one of the best live experiences of my life, but they’ve fallen a long way since then and really should have called it a day before now.  They can’t do it anymore!  Or perhaps, more accurately, Ozzy just can’t do it anymore!  The man could barely string two words together and it was so obvious that they had tailored the set to make things easier for him, playing slower songs with larger instrumental sections which would almost certainly never have made it onto a Black Sabbath set otherwise.  Everything was very noticeably slowed down as well (which, for Sabbath is really saying something).  I’m sorry but if you can’t actually play your own songs live then don’t.  The audience somewhat saved the show for them on this occasion making sure they responded as they should to the last Belgian show of Black Sabbath’s career. Thankfully this still made it worth seeing, but for Black Sabbath, The End really cannot come quickly enough. 5/10

Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls

Released 04 September 2015

Parlophone UK

Review by Suzi Horsley and Rick Ossian

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Right.

Iron Maiden.

I *love* Iron Maiden. Probably more than any other band ever- seeing them at Sonisphere last year was one of the highlights of my life, and the picture of me screaming my head off to Fear of The Dark remains one of my most loved pictures of me everThey were my gateway into Heavy Metal. When I was 17 or thereabouts, (I’ve told this story way too many times on here) I nicked my housemate’s copy of Best of the Beast (It might have been Number of The Beast, I can’t remember these days) and was enthralled. I walked around the house snarling “666! The Number of The Beaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaast” for months. From then on, it was a slow descent to my current eclectic tastes which are slowly widening to include Metal of the Black and Death variety. Anyway, Iron Maiden hold a very, very special place in my heart for a multitude of reasons, and I am rather firmly of the belief that it is actually impossible for them to put out a bad album.

However, that being said I didn’t think was possible for Linkin Park to put out a bad album (remember that horror?  Or this one?) or for Lacuna Coil to put out a bad album or…well you get the idea. In the last few years I’ve been let down by some of my trusty favourites, so before I gave The Book of Souls (announced on my birthday this year don’tcha know – thanks for the present, guys!) it’s inaugural listening in the southern tower of Castle Wyrd Ways I was somewhat apprehensive.  Could a band who have been steadily churning out killer albums for the last 40 years do it again? It’s been five years since we had an Iron Maiden release – what if they’d all forgotten how to play, or something?

Well, I’m very pleased to say that is not the case. I’ll spare you the summation of my feelings and give you a track by track breakdown and as a Wyrd Ways Rocks Show Special and (to save fights) my colleague, the esteemed Rick Ossian, also known as WWRS’s King Of Prog And AOR and Senior Reviewer will be joining me.

Hello Maiden fans and freaks worldwide – Rick here, your favorite Fish-Man, with a few words (or so) to add to my fellow WWRS cohort Suzi’s.  Apparently, track listing(s) vary from one continent to the next, so what we shall have here is a Transcontinental Twisted Review with a shared authorship of sorts.  Now, normally when I do a review I do a pretty technical breakdown and try to map things out for the listener.  I will try to refrain from that to a certain extent here and just get down to brass tacks.  Like Suzi, I have become an ardent admirer of the Irons (Up the Irons!) since they appeared in my musical orbit — only difference being that I may have become more aware of them much earlier than Suzi.  Then again, the only REAL reason for that is because I am much older.  Also, there isn’t going to be a lot of objectivity involved here…let us be clear, this is a completely biased review.

When I first began listening to Maiden, I was a MUCH younger man than I am now.  I also have one concert experience to covet, and I can’t even begin to tell you about it, because the memories just aren’t there.  I DO recall that Guns N’ Roses bowed out as the support band (supposedly because their star was on the rise and Axl didn’t think it ‘proper’ that G N’ R should open for somebody else at the time). Another American outfit, Hurricane, did the honours instead, and I remember not much else except for Dickinson‘s regular requests for us to “SCREAM FOR ME, OMAHA!!”

Since I’m the boss (or T’Gaffer, to use Yorkshire slang), and Maiden were the band that single-handedly got me into this whole Heavy Metal thing, if you two think you’ll get away without at least the odd interjection, you’ve got another thing coming!

So let’s get to it.  Damn straight.

The album is Maiden’s first studio double album (though I have a digital copy from Groove Music) and comes in at a whopping 92 minutes. It has  their longest ever track on it, which comes in at 18.01 minutes long and knocks Rime of The Ancient Mariner down to being Maiden‘s second longest track. It is *not* a concept album, although I rather feel it should be, but it quite thematic on the subjects of death and hell and other cheerful things like that.

If Eternity Should Fail  is our introduction which kicks off with some weird Spaghetti Western-esque “do-do-dooooooo” stuff before Bruce gives the most beautiful, ethereal standalone kick off to a vocal introduction to an album I think I’ve ever heard. What you then get is gloriously classic Maiden – all the things that make Maiden great – with something that’s new.  It’s old Maiden enough that no one is going to be upset, but new Maiden enough that it isn’t boring either.  And the lyrics are mind blowing.  It’s also instantly catchy.  I’m only on my third listening and singing along already.  At the end it has some really creepy spoken word stuff which gives you some flavour (and freaks you out).

As an opening track, this one sets the stall out well.  The intro is a bit… interesting.  Very 80’s synths (remember this band telling us in their sleeve notes that Metal and keyboards should never mix?  How times have changed!) backing a mournful verse, with Bruce showing another, Blues-y, side to his voice.  Then the rest of the band comes in and we’re in familiar territory.  This is Maiden.  A good one to start with.

If Eternity Should Fail follows The Red and The Black (more on that later) as track 5 in the States, and I was agog at the intro, a purely spacey, Egyptian-style intro that recalled some of the tracks from Powerslave, for me at least.  The requisite galloping and guitar-soloing are there, and at the five-minute mark there is a brief bass/drum takeover, of all things.  Bruce‘s vocal power is just that, an extraordinary display of an extraordinary man’s talents.  The voicing(s) at the end may be these blokes’ way of getting all philosophical on us, but who cares?  It SOUNDS cool!

Track 2 here in the UK is the previously released single Speed of Light which is *deep breath* the closest I think Maiden have ever come to releasing a Pop Song. It’s not bad, please do not misunderstand me for a single second, it’s just a bit poppy in a way I can’t put my finger on. It’s my least favourite track from the album, but it’s still good. From any other band I’d think it was perfectly acceptable. Anyway, it’s a bit boppy, and I want Maiden to make me scream and then displace bits of my spinal column head-banging. This track doesn’t do that. I do still find myself bouncing along in my desk chair signing the chorus though so, yeah…

Oh, give over, Elfie!  This one’s a cracker!  The song gallops along on sheer joy and showcases a band that are enjoying themselves.  After the last couple of albums, I’d begun to fear that Maiden had lost the ability to write quick songs.  This one proves me wrong, and does it in fine style.  Nicko even uses his cowbell!

Speed of Light, the track that first became available to us, is the last track to appear, ironically enough, on the US version.  Though it may sound tepid by some standards, it is a truly remarkable piece of work as well.  

The Great Unknown starts with all the guitars doing cunning understated things, and is almost stripped back for a Maiden guitar line. The Bruce comes in with some restrained vocals and then you get some keyboards I think, and the track just slowly builds up for well over a minute until finally around the 1 and a half minute mark Nicko gets unleashed on the drums and then the guitars kick into Maiden style and you get hit full on in the face with the glories of a full Maiden line up doing what they do best, while Bruce shows off all that opera singer training he had. Also, epic guitar solos.  I can see the crowds going nuts, with horns up screaming this one back in the middle of a festival already.

This one is an example of what Iron Maiden have been experts at for the last thirty years.  Slowburning, epic songs that build from quiet and thoughtful to full speed gallops, before returning to quiet, without feeling forced.  One thing that you can’t help but notice is the sheer quality of the guitar work from original member Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers (the former White Spirit and Gillan six-stringer who has now been with Maiden for something like a quarter of a century, but still feels like the new boy!), all underpinned and anchored by Steve Harris’s throbbing, galloping bass.

The Great Unknown comes in as the second track on this side of The Pond, and Steve begins this number in rather regal bass fashion.  The urgency is there, the in-your-face delivery is there – in fact, it’s ALL there, folks.  All we need to do is listen!  It occurred to me during my first listen of this track that NOBODY screams/yells at you/us like Bruce.  About 5 minutes in there is a contemplative shift of sorts, and …Unknown begins to sound like a different song, hell, even a different band, up to the fade-out. “And the world has fallen/And we stand alone” – kind of prophetic lyrics, but then they do that occasionally, don’t they?

Up next is my favourite track from the album – The Red and The Black. Kicks off with Spanish-style guitars and then kicks into a high octane, thumping, thrumming wall of glorious, multi-coloured sound. Seriously, it is an aural orgasm. You know how Maiden have a back catalogue full of songs that you can just jump and down to, singing “woaoh ah ohhh oh!” along with a slamming guitar line and drums that are just right where it’s at (Lars Ulrich can piss off, Nicko is king FOREVER) THIS IS THAT TRACK. It’s just perfection. I can’t even begin to tell you how perfect it is – it jumps to being my number three favourite Maiden track (Fear of the Dark and Number of The Beast are at 1 and 2. Incidentally Can I Play With Madness is fourth). It’s also a glorious 13 minutes long. There’s always a risk with long tracks that they’ll get boring halfway through. Not so, with this one. It’s 13.33 minutes of sheer perfection.

The Red and the Black is up fourth here in the expanse that is Nebraska too, and I don’t know that a bigger track has been heard (at least not to these ears) in quite some time.  Steve begins the proceedings again, I believe, though these ears MAY be a bit untrained.  Any bass players out there that would be willing to express their opinion(s) would be more than welcome!  Emotions and guitar solos are running high on this track as well, and at about the ten-minute mark things shift to a more uptempo rendering.  At ten-and-a-half the repetition, though oh-so-subtle, is the only thing that takes away from the track.  Repetition CAN be cool, methinks.  Perhaps in another world, repetition is all the rage!  At twelve minutes in we do another shift to that world-famous, globe-trotting gallop, and then Steve ends things, kind of like he did at the beginning – you remember, back at the beginning of this track?

There’s some very interesting guitar work on this one, acting as a mirror to Bruce’s melody line, playing along to his singing, matching him note-for-note.  The wash of keyboards in the background adds colour and depth without overwhelming anything else.  Probably the most striking thing is that, four songs in, with nothing clocking in at less than five minutes (most either pushing or exceeding 10 minutes) none of these have overstayed their welcome or sounded forced.  It’s really looking like Iron Maiden have completed their transformation from meat-and-potatoes NWOBHM to a fully-fledged Prog Metal band of the type the likes of Dream Theater can only dream of being.  The Red And The Black is just one of the tracks that reinforces that.  Then there’s the gear shift at around nine minutes in that just makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

When The River Runs Deep should then be an instant disappointment, following such an epic little adventure. However it isn’t. The Red and The Black has a peaceful finish to it and then When The River Runs Deep slams right into your face with a full-on start, and no build up. It’s “only” 5:52 long (there’s only one track shorter than 5 minutes on the whole album and it comes in at 4:58), and I’m sure there’s some cowbell in it. Just the right amount, it doesn’t need more. We’ve got Her Majesty’s Right Royal Air Raid Siren, Bruce Dickinson after all.

When The River Runs Deep is one of those classic Iron Maiden songs.  Unmistakeable.  Riffs, vocals and solos… all perfectly weighted and placed.

I found myself immensely enjoying US track 7, When the River Runs Deep, which in Maiden World is short but sweet at only about six minutes, but still an excellent track, with a super fucking bad-ass main riff and some soloing featuring one of those wah/crybaby pedals (I’m thinking probably Janick there).  The solos abound on this and all of the tracks.

The Book of Souls is the last track of Disc One for those with a physical copy here in the UK and track 6 for those with a digital version. It’s a 10 minute long epic, and it’s best listened to by sitting back and closing your eyes and letting it wash over you.  While you headbang, obviously.

Now then.  The title track.  The Book Of Souls.  Is it epic?  Yes.  Somewhat surprisingly, the keyboards are a lot further forward in the mix than you’d expect.  Again, that raises a wry smile, but it turns the song into something huge.  Then the pedal goes down at the halfway point and the goosebumps are back.  The soloing again is incredible.  Guitar afficianados bang on about Vai, Satriani, Friedman and Malmsteen… but if you want guitar heroics that actually serve the song, you really can’t do any better than Murray, Smith and Gers.  The energy and imagination in this track alone put bands twenty years younger to shame.  THIS is how you do Prog Metal.  Yes, you can do all the Proggy twiddly bits, but you remember the Metal.  

The title track, which you will find in penultimate position Stateside, begins life as it ends, with some positively heavenly acoustic guitar work.  Since when do these guys deploy such subtle weaponry?  I haven’t heard it on any tracks since, oh, say the last album?  All kidding aside, dear readers, The Book of Souls is a piece of work that needs to be heard to be believed.  It is incredible – it is fantastic.  It is, as Bruce intones, the “food of all the gods“.  Their are many sweet solos, and the crybaby pedal is broken out again.

Disc 2 kicks off with Death Or Glory and is an instantly upbeat faster paced (and shorter) track than The Book of Souls. It’s fairly punchy, with memorable lyrics, and is again, bound to be a crowd pleaser, but I got distracted listening to it and forgot to write anything. (Elfie! – T’Gaffer)

Death or Glory, which occupies the eighth slot here, features another big rock intro, complete with more wicked vocals and even a couple of paradiddles (getting a bit technical there, Rick! – T’Gaffer) from Nicko.  We get the full package here, folks, with no less than three guitar solos to boot!

Now this is what an album opener should sound like.  Yet Death Or Glory could be classed as the opener for “Side 2”.  This one’s got the Maiden swagger all over it.  This really is the sound of Iron Maiden in full flight, and it is truly majestic.  The goosebumps are back again as soon as they get to the bridge.  If you don’t get the urge to get out your air guitar about three minutes in, you have no soul.  On any other album, this would be the highlight track… but as my colleagues have already mentioned, this album is something special…

Shadows Of The Valley follows Death Or Glory in the UK, and again it’s fairly fast paced. Disc One may be all slow build up songs that then smack you in the face, Disc Two is full of boiling over tracks who have already reached a full head of steam by the time they start. I can’t put my finger on which previous release this track puts me in mind of, but whichever one it is, they’ve done it before. This seems to be a subtle re-working than an entirely new track. Still, bloody good though.

Unlike the UK version,  Shadows of the Valley is the album opener on the Stateside version.  I can hear Steve REALLY well, and of course that classic Maiden gallop is there.  Nicko’s drumwork is wonderful, I might add, and I can hear that beautiful ting ting ting of his cymbal(s).  Bruce is in wonderful form, considering his recent bout (Bruce wins!) with cancer, and there are plenty of guitar solos to go around.  “Into the valley of death“, Bruce intones, which we should realize takes on a completely different perspective, again considering Dickinson’s brush with the Reaper.

They’re at it again on Shadows Of The Valley!  Another slab of classic Maiden.  Bruce is singing out of his skin… which is truly amazing when you consider that, when this was recorded, he had a tumour “the size of a golfball” on his tongue.  There’s the hint of an Eastern influence on the riffing.  Those solos… as I type this, the song is playing and the hairs on the back of my neck are standing on end.  This one is going to go down a storm at the live shows.

Tears of a Clown is the albums shortest track coming in at a mere 4.58. It’s also (apparently) based on Robin Williams’ death in 2014. The opening guitars don’t quite ring right for me – they’re a little off beat somehow, but then it improves.  The opening lyrics:

All along in a crowded room
He tries to force a smile
The smile it beamed or so it seemed
But never reached the eyes, disguise
Masquerading as the funny man do they despise

…are absolutely heartbreaking and a very poignant reminder of the complexities of mental health. It is, a solid tribute both to Robin Williams (assuming the story is true) and to those battling mental health stigma everywhere. Never let it be said that Maiden are scared to tackle the hard subjects. And unlike a lot of bands they manage to do it in a non-sensationalist way as well.

It’s absolutely spot-on.  Despite the somewhat cliched title, the song itself is pretty much perfect.  Lyrically poignant… and that guitar work.  I know, I keep coming back to it, but this triple attack from Messrs Gers, Murray and Smith is truly awe inspiring, and there’s no hyperbole in that.  Each and every time, the soloing is incredible.

Tears of a Clown is the shortest track on board here, at just under five minutes, but it is no less cooler than the remainder of the tracks.  It features a wickedly cool intro, and is probably a perfect example of the stop-start, proggy time signature freak-outs that our parents warned us would screw up our ears and the rhythm of our hearts!  More of the wah-pedal being stepped on, which I ALWAYS enjoy, as well.

The Man of Sorrows isn’t any more cheerful and is the penultimate track of the album which also is seemingly based on a mental health theme. It’s probably the most haunting track on the album, and has  slower paced verses and vocals that really let Bruce’s range go to work. Like all Maiden tracks there’s a fairly long vocal free intermission in the middle. Always a pleasure to listen to musicians who are skilled at what they do making some melodies work their asses off.

The Man of Sorrows has a sweet guitar opening, weighing in as track 6 in the US, and an extremely cool ending as well, with a slamming pounder of a riff (1:30), more galloping (2:00), and more guitar solos (4:00/4:30).

Finally, the album comes ot a glorious close with The Empire Of The Clouds. Written solely by Bruce (as was If Eternity Should Fail), it boots Rime of The Ancient Mariner from the longest Maiden track slot, being as Rime is a mere 13 minutes long, and Clouds comes in at 18.01. It also features Bruce on the piano and begins with a distinctly unMaidenish piano intro. This is not a headbanger, this a Lie Back And Enjoy It. And it’s beautiful. There’s even a violin. Or something with strings at any rate. Anyway, it’s a gloriously fitting closer to an album that has been a long time in the making.

Empire of the Clouds (US track 3!) pretty much sums up the definition of epic, and even when faced with other standard side-long prog tracks, it does NOT lack whatsoever.  There is plenty of pomp and circumstance, Stürm und Drang, as it were, and you know it’s going to be an absolute monster when there are keys and strings involved!  The introduction features a beautiful piano piece, and about a minute in we get some gorgeous violin work.  Two minutes in, we get some powerful vocals.  You don’t really hear your first taste of guitar until about three-and-a-half minutes in!  At the four-minute mark, things get decidedly heavier.  This one is positively hair-raising – I literally had gooseflesh during my first listening to it!  Again, plenty of lead guitar work to go around, and the big Nicko shift (7 minutes in) is interesting to say the least.  If one were to look in Webster’s (or the Oxford English Dictionary for those of us on this side of The Pond! – T’Gaffer) under ‘vocal prowess’, then there would be a big picture of Bruce there with this track!  There are transitions a-plenty as well, and at fifteen minutes in, you would swear we were listening to a different track again!  Towards the end, at about 17 minutes in, as the track begins to fade out, we get more of that ‘grand’ piano stuff.  This track in particular kind of says it all, and could even be indicative of a Maiden ‘formula’, if there were one!

So after 1600-odd words of my waffling at you, what do I think of The Book of Souls? Well, frankly I think it’s a continuation of a 40 year long career standard. There’s not many bands who can consistently turn out excellent albums. Iron Maiden are one of those bands. Longterm fans won’t be disappointed and new fans will be left wanting more. I’m rating this album 5/5 but only because Carl won’t let me rate it as an 11. (Just this once, I might let you do that, Suzi – T’Gaffer)

It’s been five years since The Final Frontier (which I have to admit was something of a disappointment).  The question that has to be asked is, “Has it been worth the wait?”  The answer has to be, and can only be in the affirmative.  If you’re going to call this a “comeback” album, it’s been the best return since Osiris.  This is a band that, even after nearly 40 years, are capable of working magic.  Not content with nostalgia trips, this is a band that is pushing forward and pushing forward hard.  It’s likely we will never see the like of Iron Maiden again, and the credit for that lies firmly in the hands of Steve “Bomber” Harris.  He put this band together.  He’s the lynchpin that holds this band together.  His drive, determination and sheer ability to pick exactly the right musicians to fit his vision have absolutely come to full fruition with The Book Of Souls.  Every single note played on this incredible record just proves that Iron Maiden are the greatest Heavy Metal band in the world.  Ever.

If you disagree, you’re wrong.  It’s as simple as that.  Full marks.  Album of the fucking DECADE.  UP THE IRONS!

For those of you whose musical orbit does not land in Maiden Land, this may NOT be for you.  However, for those of you who are about to Rock, as we all do from time to time, this is the stuff right here!  I am in complete agreement with my cohort, Suzi – at the very least, highest marks with two thumbs straight the hell up!

(P.S Maiden for Bloodstock 2016 alright? Please don’t let them Download, I don’t want to deal with the tweenagers)

ironmaidenbookofsoulsgroupshot

*****(******)/5

Avenged Sevenfold part ways with drummer

Avenged Sevenfold

In a surprise post on their website, Californian Metal band, Avenged Sevenfold have decided to part ways with their drummer, Arin Ilejay.

Hello Everyone –
We are writing this to inform you all that we will be moving forward without Arin IIejay as our drummer. Arin has been nothing but a positive energy and monster drummer for us over the past 4 years. We love the guy and always will. We are and will always be grateful to him for helping us to move forward through some very dark times. Creatively though, we felt we needed to move in a different direction. While we can’t say more at this time, we are excited for the future and looking forward to sharing our plans soon with the greatest fans in the world. As always we appreciate your understanding and unwavering support.

With Love –
Matt, Zack, Brian, Johnny

Ilejay had joined the band as an official member in 2013, following two years as a touring member of the band. He is also the former drummer of American metalcore band Confide.

Dellacoma – South Of Everything

Shock Records

Buy the CD HERE

Review by Dave Smiles

This is an album that grabs you from the start and doesn’t let up until the end of the final track. Ten songs from a band that means business, but have kept in mind that this is meant to be fun. Rock n roll the way it was meant to be – tight, yet raw. Hard, fast and straight to the point with a sense of groove and enjoyment. With all but one song barely exceeding three and a half minutes, this gets the job done without too much polish or production.

After the disbandment of his previous band, Sunset Riot, Dellacoma Rio set about picking up the pieces and formed a new band consisting of Australian Rick Reynolds on bass, and Texans Art Stuck and Matt Cook on guitar and drums respectively.

Those who have heard the recent EP, The Dead Will Rise, (with guest musicians) will be familiar with the songs Under My Skin and Change. These songs appear on South Of Everything, rerecorded with this band.  They’re now faster and more energetic while maintaining the dynamics and raw energy of the previous versions. This shows a band on fire! A rock ‘n’ roll avalanche that’ll gather up everything in its path. Jump on board or you’ll be left behind. Change clocks in twelve seconds shorter than the EP version.

The album opener, My Kinda Woman is infectious, catchy and powerful. Bloodsucker is an enjoyable head banger in the dirty old school style of Guns N’ Roses. Straight up rockers with an upbeat, energetic feel, Movin’ On To Something New, Walk The Plank and Lesson Learned have killer riffs and performances from the band. There’s no over producing or studio trickery, just four guys making music together – vocals, guitar, bass, and drums.

The longest song on the album is Time Falls Away. It’s a great example of the song craft these guys use when putting songs together. The music and the vocals work brilliantly together and the melodic dirty riff has a very seventies feel. This is sure to draw you in. On the final track, Fame Slaves Gold, the band really gets some time to show what they can do. It’s easy to imagine that this one could be expanded into a jam during live shows.

South Of Everything is the kind of album that has durability. An album that you’d recommend to your mates, and you’ll keep going back to. Ten great songs that’ll work in both pubs and stadiums. Furthermore with a debut of this quality, it’s one of those albums that just feels important, like it will be a landmark in the future classics of rock ‘n’ roll. The artwork and the sequencing order of the songs reminds me of how important those things were in times past, and how they’re taken for granted in the downloading era.

If you miss the days of old when bands built their careers from the ground up, then this is a band to follow. It’ll be great to watch Dellacoma grow in the coming years.

*****/5

Massive – Full Throttle

 

MassiveFullThrottle

Earache Records

Review by Dave Smiles

Buy the CD HERE or the MP3 HERE

Massive are one of those bands that seem to come out of nowhere and release a killer debut. They formed in Melbourne in Australia in 2012 and the speed at which this has all come together is equalled only by the lifestyles of the band members and the playing on the album. They’re doing it the old school way. They’re not going on a reality TV game show, they’re going to travel long distances for a single gig, they’re going to play to an audience of twenty like it was twenty thousand, they’re going to ride rampant over every town, city and state to bring people the old school rock n roll that’s been missing for far too long.

The world is starving for a new rock band that can shake things up. Being from Melbourne myself, I have to say it’s awesome that it’s a bunch of guys from my home town that are taking the initiate and aiming high. If you’re a fan of old school hard rock and enjoy life then you’re going to love this album. Massive are set for greatness and have already earned a nomination for best new band in Classic Rock Magazine.

Full Throttle’s opener Burn The Sun kicks off in true hard rock fashion with a killer guitar riff and the album doesn’t let up for the space of eleven tracks. Hollywood brings with it a need to crank the volume up and just forget about everything. A damn catchy song if I ever heard one.

The single, One By One has that infectious riff that classic rock was built on. It’s old-school, but no one has done it this well in a long time.

Anthem chorus tracks like Big Trend Setter and Now or Never are perfect for the live setting and for listening to while you’re driving. This is music to get your blood pumping. The former is a great example of the various parts within their songs flowing seamlessly together; the rock n rolling shipwreck holds itself together against the currant.

When the opening riff to Lacey kicks in you know it’s party time and this is followed by the, at first, unusual opening feel of DanceFloor, which kicks off like a rock version of a dance song, an aptly named track. Basically it’s about taking back the live music scene.

Ghost – For me this is a highlight of the album. A laid back track that builds up to a grand finale, and gives Brad Marr a chance to shine vocally.

The album closer, Full Throttle, as the title states is all out balls to the wall hard rock with killer riffs, driving rhythm, shredding solo and awesome vocals.

It’s easy to describe new bands by saying they sound like so and so, but while Massive are taking the basic rock n roll approach, they are without a doubt unique in their sound. There’s skilled performances on this album without being too structured and overly thought out. Its rock n roll at it most primal. A great album that just gets better with subsequent listens.

For fans of AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith.

Rating: *****

New Guns N' Roses Material In The Works?!

Richard Fortus

Here’s one for the “I’ll believe it when I hear it” file:

According to guitarist Richard Fortus, Guns N’ Roses will release new music within the next year.

According to Team Rock, Fortus has said that fans should expect new material “soon” as they will be recording during down time throughout their Las Vegas residency at the Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel.

Fortus says: “We are working on stuff and hopefully very soon we’re going to have new stuff out. Well, in the next year. We’re going to be in Vegas all together, so hopefully during that time we’re going to be able to get in a room and start laying down some more stuff.”

Fellow GN’R guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal said last year that there was music ready to go for a follow-up to 2008 album Chinese Democracy, which took 13 years to produce.

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Venrez, Hardcore Superstar and Buckcherry at KoKo, London, 22 November 2013

Recently I’ve started to fear for the state of Rock. Not metal mind you – aside from being plagued with an overabundance of elitist twats Metal is doing just fine. But the state of ROCK, à la Alice Cooper, Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi and Guns N’ Roses has been looking a little sorry of late. Gone, it seems, are the days of men (and women) with gorgeously wavy hair shredding their guitars soulfully whilst wailing about the lack/abundance or drugs/sex/money/women/men/fast cars.

Given that I cut my teeth on all of the aforementioned bands and whilst I love me some metal, I also love me a damn good power ballad, I’ve been a bit depressed lately at the seeming lack of good ROCK. It’s all been a bit lacklustre…… until Friday, when I set foot in the former Camden Palace, now KoKo and had my socks quite literally blown off by the combined power of three different Rock bands who between them have got the LA School, The Old School and the Heavily Covered In Tattoos and Looking Awesome School covered. Due to a set of circumstances too complex to explain I spent the night right at the back by the Merch stands, so my photos did not work, but if you really want  you can go and look at pictures of the bands and imagine it.

Starting at the beginning with the mighty Venrez my ears were assaulted by a curious combination of Alice in Chains meets every band in the 70’s with some extra political lyrics. I love Venrez – and have thought they were excellent ever since I reviewed their album American Illusion. In person they do not disappoint. Not only are Ven and Alex (Frontman and Guitarist respectively) both utterly nice blokes, Alex has been on my ‘Heroes of Music’ list since I was 18, and the whole band bring an energetic and original show. They don’t leap around the stage – they’re a bit more chilled than that but Alex shreds frantically and Ven just growls away and then  the drums are totally on point and don’t even get me started on the harmonies. Anyway, if you like your rock to be Old School but original you’ll like these guys and you should check them out.

I have to have a little whinge at this point – whilst Venrez did an excellent job of warming the crowd up I do feel bad for them. Koko has a 10pm curfew on a Friday night, and so subsequently, the Venrez set was scheduled 15 minutes after doors, and was only 30 minutes long. This means that not even a third of the crowd was in at the point they started playing – Koko is a biggish venue and it was totally sold out. A huge chunk of the crowd didn’t get to see them and this does both the crowd (who have paid for three bands) and the band (who have to try and whip up the same level of frenzy from a teeny crowd) a huge disservice. They will be touring the UK again next year  though and I do urge you to go give them a try, as they’re rather good.

Now, you know a support act is good, when the OTHER support act spend ten minutes of your interview slot raving about how good they are! Both Ven and Alex made a point of telling me to make sure I watched the whole Hardcore Superstar set. I didn’t give it that much credence – I’d never listened to them and really I wasn’t expecting much.

Well that was just TOTALLY STUPID of me. Honestly, they tore the place apart. Tore. It. Down. I can tell you that this morning when I put their album on for my walk to the office I was DISAPPOINTED, because it wasn’t as good as seeing them live. The crowd agreed – they were going absolutely crazy and there were as many people there to see HCSS as there were Buckcherry. Their set was punchy, it was fast, it was energetic and they had the crowd screaming, and they’ve earned themselves another fan- I will be following these guys with great interest now. They remind me of what would happen if Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi and Alice Cooper somehow had a baby – an angry, long-haired, harmonic pit of rock, screaming about women and booze and leading their followers in Jägermeister toasts.

The only problem with having two great support acts is that they are then very hard to follow. And this proved to be the case for Buckcherry. I love Buckcherry. I’ve loved them since I very first heard Crazy Bitch, and I was first in line to see them a few years back when they toured with Papa Roach (playing in my hometown on my birthday no less!). That night they were incredible – the crowd collapsed three times, and everyone was a hot sweaty and slightly bloody mess by the end.

On Friday they were….. good. But that’s it. There were a couple of songs where Josh was slightly off key, and the crowd interaction was just a bit lacking. I still danced my ass off, but there was something from the stage show just missing. I was also disappointed by the lack of newer material played – don’t get me wrong I was thrilled to hear the likes of Lit Up, Sorry and Crazy Bitch but I wanted to hear a lot of the Confessions album and it didn’t see much play. I suspect that to be honest, the problem was that they were somewhat eclipsed by HCSS – had they had a good, but not amazing support act I’d probably have a totally different perspective on the set.

Either way it was a show that was well worth the £25 ticket price. The venue was absolutely jam packed, and it was a great atmosphere. It’s just a shame that I got more out of the support acts (both of whom I hope to see headlining in the next couple of years) than I did the main act. I’d still go see Buckcherry again though……..

The Dead Daisies – The Dead Daisies

deaddaisies

Spitfire Music

Review by Rick Ossian

I went to the mailbox the other day to sort through the assorted dross (bills, adverts, etc.) when to what did my weary eyes appear? Lo and behold, a new issue of Classic Rock Magazine.  Of course, I was excited, because it was a 40th Anniversary special on AC/DC.   Also contained within were two CD‘s of new music! Reason to celebrate, indeed.  One of these CD’s just happens to be the eponymous debut from rock ‘collective’/supergroup The Dead Daisies.  Now, when I say supergroup, please understand I don’t use this tag lightly.  Their line-up includes Jon Stevens (Noiseworks, INXS) on vocals, Richard Fortus (formerly of Guns N’ Roses) on guitar, Darryl Jones (The Rolling Stones) on bass, Charley Drayton (Divinyls/Cold Chisel) on drums, Dizzy Reed (also of GN’R) on keys, and David Lowy (Red Phoenix/Mink/The Angels) also on guitar.  Past members have included Alan Mansfield, Marco Mendoza, Alex Carapetis, Clayton Doley, Frank Ferrer and the mighty Brian Tichy.

Not much here for us metal-heads, but there are a couple of punchy numbers.  This is more along the lines of hard rock (with a touch of Southern Rock) or ‘classic rock’ than it is heavy metal.  It’s Gonna Take Time is sort of a medium-tempo country-rock tune, somewhere along the lines of The Black Crowes.   Jon Stevens sounds like he could be the ghost of the vocalist from The Hatters – or maybe even a world-weary Lenny Kravitz.  Some nice guitar work here, but a bit on the tame side.

daisiesbandshot

Lock N’ Load (featuring Slash) should be killer but it’s sort of lackluster.   It does rock, but there is an introspective acoustic section about 3:30, then they rock some more.  The final solo is great but inevitably predictable.  Washington is more of an uptempo boogie number, that Southern groove again with the Kravitz-style vocals, just not the sum of all of it’s parts.

Yeah Yeah Yeah is more of the same.  Clean and good, yet I feel cheated somehow.  I love the traditional Southern-style grooves, though, and there is a tasty country picking solo about 2 minutes in.  Yesterday is a bluesy guitar ballad with another tasteful solo.  Writing On the Wall features yet another Southern rock guitar figure in the intro, and again reminds me of the Hatters, and even, vocally, Dave Wyndorf of the mighty Monster Magnet.

Miles In Front of Me features an uptempo intro jam.  Not sure what they’re shooting for here, but it just falls short. There is another guitar solo, again predictable but seems to fit the tune.  Bible Row is a standout of sorts, featuring a drum intro with some cool guitar chords and a monster riff.  I found myself wanting to bang my head and holler “hallelujah”, but refrained.  The lyrics are a bit cheesy, but typical of the genre: ‘Chasin’ down a rainbow and a pot of gold/All I wanna do is play rock and roll‘.

Man Overboard is a cool blues number with some good guitar, and that inevitable blues cliche in the lyrics, ‘woke up this morning‘.  Tomorrow includes a funky cool intro and some good riffing, and also includes positive lyrics about ‘true love (being) hard to find‘, and how tomorrow is a ‘brand new day‘ and ‘baby we can start again‘. Really? Ultimate lyrical cheese award here!

Can’t Fight This Feeling actually surprised me a bit.  I was fully prepared to hear a cover version of the old R.E.O. Speedwagon tune, but instead was treated to another lovely blues ballad with another guitar solo at the end.  Talk to Me, the closer, is a heavy-duty rocker (it’s about time, lads!), but unfortunately a case of too little too late.  As mentioned above, if you are a fan of the Southern/classic rock genres, then you may find these cats uplifting.  Hell, you may even enjoy their tunes.  But metal it is NOT.  So be forewarned!

***/5