Tag Archives: Ringo Starr

Starr comes out against Pay-To-Play

Former Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr, famously described by John Lennon as being “not even the best drummer in The Beatles“, has come out against venue owners, promoters and managers who expect up-and-coming bands to pay to get on the bill with bigger bands.

In an interview in Bloomberg Businessweek, when asked about young bands face trying to get on tours with bigger bands, Starr stated:

“I go crazy, because if you want to open for a well-known band you have to pay; management makes you pay. Who is giving back? I did a Ringo tour once and had a local band at every gig open for us just to give them exposure. Nobody is helping anybody.”

He went on to express his anger about the way certain music streaming services treat artists citing an example of someone receiving a royalty check for just $5 when their music had picked up 12 million streaming listens.

Good to know that someone of the stature of Ringo Starr, one of the architects of modern music, is so against the way up-and-coming musicians are being treated by the industry.  He also stated he will do everything he can to help grassroots bands.  “Buy-ons” probably explain a lot of the bizarre touring bills that have been doing the rounds.  This sort of thing does no-one except whoever is receiving the “buy-on” money any favours.  It leaves the buyer out of pocket, needing to sell more merch to break even as well as not gaining many new fans.  Let’s have it right; if they’re too different to the rest of the bill, the audience are turned off and head for the bar.  That leaves them playing to a dwindling audience, and may even get them bad reviews from any media present, which again leads to a loss of audience.  I’ve seen this happen, and it’s turned me off bands who I probably would have come to love if I’d been introduced to them on a more appropriate bill.

So … what do you think?  Are buy-ons and pay-to-play a necessary evil to get your foot on the ladder, or are they just there to rip the bands off and stuff the pockets of unscrupulous venue owners, promoters and managers?

Let me know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

Phil Anselmo, Robb Flynn, Racism and Metal: does it matter if musicians are racist?

If you have an interest in Metal, you’ve more than likely by now seen, or at least heard about, the video showing Phil Anselmo’s actions at Dimebash last week:

You may also have seen Robb Flynn of Machine Head’s response video posted a few days later:

In the first video, Anselmo shouts “white power” accompanied by what is widely believed to be a “sieg heil” salute. In Flynn’s video, he points out that this is by no means the first time that Phil Anselmo has said or done something so inappropriate and that this latest incident is the straw that’s broken the camel’s back; Robb Flynn has had enough of Anselmo’s bullshit and bullying persona, and vows to never perform a Pantera song ever again.

Now this issue has seen tempers flare on opposing sides. We have fans of Phil Anselmo defending him saying that people shouldn’t be so sensitive, his personal actions are separate from his music and, even if he is a racist, Metal is all about being “extreme” and “offensive” and so you’re not really “Metal” if you have a problem with him. On the other hand, we have people more sympathetic to Robb Flynn’s view of things who declare that racism has no place in Metal and that, just because he’s very famous and popular, Anselmo’s actions should not be simply brushed under the carpet and ignored. Like Flynn, I’ve seen several other Metal fans, writers, DJs, etc. say they are now “done” with Anselmo and are boycotting Pantera, Superjoint Ritual, Down and any other band or project he’s been involved with. To be perfectly honest, while I am very sympathetic to Robb Flynn’s take on things, I can, to a degree, see where both sides are coming from here.

First of all, I am not going to debate whether or not Phil Anselmo is a racist. I don’t know if he said what he said with any element of seriousness or malice, I don’t know if he is genuinely prejudiced against people of other races and ethnicities, and I am not sufficiently experienced in racial politics (privileged white bloke speaking here) to discuss the ins and outs of what it actually means to be a racist. What is clear, however, is that regardless of intent, Anselmo’s actions were idiotic, divisive and exclusionary; even if he isn’t racist, he certainly appears to be one in this video. Moreover, even if he was “joking”, the language and symbols used here are so historically offensive that such excuses are irrelevant. Not that I’m in the business of telling people what they can or cannot make jokes about; I’m just saying that, when you attempt (poorly) to inject humour into a subject that is so hurtful to so many people on such a deep, fundamental level, don’t be surprised if not many people are laughing along with you.

The point is that the use of such language and symbols, regardless of context, will ALWAYS alienate a lot of people; to suggest otherwise is to misunderstand or ignore their historical context. But, what about the protestation (which many on Facebook, Twitter, etc. have voiced) that to criticise Anselmo for this is racist against white people? Why, they cry, is it ok for black people to say “black power”, but not ok for white people to say “white power”? Robb Flynn mentions in his video that to compare the two phrases implies a gross ignorance of (quite recent) history. “Black power” is used to fight oppression whereas “white power” is used to promote it. And yes, there have been racially-motivated crimes against white people, but to suggest that it’s anywhere near the level of persecution suffered by black people is preposterously moronic.

Essentially, dismissing the use of racist language and gestures as something that’s no big deal suggests a distinct lack of empathy. A lot of people treat the Metal community as if it’s just them and a few of their mates; everyone looks the same, acts the same and has the same opinions and attitudes about everything, so there’s no need to worry about offending or excluding anyone ever. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have been a Metal fan since my mid-teens, nearly 15 years now, and the Rock/Metal community is by far the most beautifully diverse group of people I have ever known; I have met people of countless nationalities, genders, races, sexualities, religions and socio-political backgrounds. The idea that none of them should have a problem with Anselmo’s actions is ridiculous; maybe you don’t find it offensive, but what about black, Asian, or Hispanic Metal fans? Maybe, for example, there’s a bunch of kids right now in India, Peru or Tunisia who have recently got into metal, are excited about maybe starting a band of their own, and then they see this video of Phil Anselmo: how do you expect they would react? Do you think they’d just laugh it off as a joke? Maybe they would, but what’s more likely is that they’d get the impression that Metal is not meant for them; it’s made by white people, for white people.

This of course is just not true, and you don’t even need to dig that deep to see that Metal is enjoyed by all kinds of people. Black Sabbath, Metallica, Dio, Slayer, Guns N’ Roses, X-Japan, Sepultura, Suffocation, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Dream Theater, Rage Against the Machine, KorRn, Orphaned Land, Deftones, ChthoniC, Lacuna Coil, Opeth, System of a Down, Dragonforce, Skindred, God Forbid, Killswitch Engage: all big-name Metal bands that have had members who don’t conform to the W.A.S.P./Aryan ideal, and there are countless more besides. If the point of Metal was to freely spout racist bile, then you can wave goodbye to these bands ever existing. Metal is of course an alternative, non-mainstream subculture but that doesn’t mean it’s an exclusive club, only open to a select few. There is nothing “extreme” or “alternative” about being racist; if you look throughout human history, it’s just about the most pro-establishment, conservative thing you can be! Mainstream culture often excludes and alienates many people, and Metal is an “alternative” to that. As Rob Zombie said in the documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey: “Metal is all the weird kids in one place”. If Metal is not an inclusive place where people from all walks of life can feel accepted, then what on earth is the point? Ignoring racism is not “Metal”; fighting it and welcoming victims of it certainly is.

As I said at the beginning though, I can to an extent see where both sides are coming from here. Looking at the people who wish to ignore Phil Anselmo’s actions, they are invariably going to be big fans of his music, and it can be hard to accept that your idols are sometimes much less than perfect human beings. Especially with music, it is something that is often enjoyed as a total escape from the world and thus many people would rather not pay attention to its context (i.e. they’d rather concentrate on appreciating the music for its own sake). So, if such people are confronted with unpleasant contextual information (such as a musician’s offensive personal views or actions), they choose to ignore it, deeming it irrelevant in determining how good the music itself is. On the other hand, given that we have people saying they are turning their backs on Anselmo’s music as a result of his actions, it looks like the reverse is true too; that is, we have people refusing to listen to, if not outright disliking, music because of negative contextual factors. My personal position is somewhere in the middle though and, to explain why, I’ll need to recall something I learned at university several years ago…

I have Bachelor and Master’s degrees in philosophy, and one subject I studied was aesthetics: the philosophy of art. A central topic in this area of philosophy is the question of what it means for a piece of art to have value. We learned that a piece of art (be it a song, film, book, painting, etc.) can be said to have both “aesthetic” and “non-aesthetic” value. The aesthetic value of a Metal song or artist, for example, would be found in its composition, style, musicianship and anything else that makes it good from a technical standpoint. Non-aesthetic value however comes from external factors; moral, social and political considerations for example (i.e. anything that is separate from how good a song is on a technical level, but which can still affect how it is critically perceived). Aesthetic and non-aesthetic considerations can often conflict and contrast, so that we may find ourselves struggling to determine how valuable a piece of art is. A key example of this that I looked at during my studies was the film Triumph of the Will by Leni Riefenstahl.download

Aesthetically, it is considered a work of brilliance due to its ground-breaking cinematography. Non-aesthetically, it’s, well, a Nazi propaganda film; regardless of how technically good it is, the controversy of the subject matter invariably affects many people’s opinions of it. So, you might say the film is “good” if you place more importance on aesthetic factors, but “bad” if you place more importance on non-aesthetic factors. In either case, your overall view of the film is limited. Both aesthetic and non-aesthetic factors are necessary in order to determine how good or valuable a piece of art is; if we just focus on one or the other, we don’t see the full picture.

So what does this mean for Phil Anselmo and the large quantity of music that he’s produced?  It means that it’s understandable to criticise or boycott it as his actions arguably affect the non-aesthetic value of his music. Conversely, his actions do not necessarily affect the aesthetic value of his music, and thus many people remain happy to listen to it. I personally think it’s important to try and balance the two though. I am not the biggest Pantera fan but I’ll generally bang my head and so forth if Cowboys from Hell or 5 Minutes Alone comes on in a club. Will I stop doing that now? I don’t know, but I do know that it will perhaps affect my overall enjoyment of the music. Similarly, I think Ted Nugent has written some decent songs, but his Right-Wing views leave a bit of a sour taste in my mouth when I’m listening to them. Art does not exist in a cultural vacuum; how it relates to cultural norms and sensibilities is certainly going to affect many people’s opinions of it as it is just one little piece in the jigsaw of a person’s life. Personally, as well as being a proud Metalhead, I also identify as being English, Irish, bisexual, an atheist, a humanist, a liberal, a social democrat, and a feminist: I don’t stop being any of those things when I put my headphones in or attend a gig, and so they all feed into how I interpret and appreciate my music. 100 people may each recognise the technical brilliance or raw power of a great Metal song but a multitude of factors can affect how non-aesthetically valuable they each judge it to be.

To conclude, racism should not be accepted within Metal as it threatens the community’s inclusivity; we are a family, where no one should be made to feel unwelcome. Does that mean we should all stop listening to Phil Anselmo’s music? I personally think it’s understandable whichever decision you make there. Pantera’s influence and legacy are undeniable and if you are such a big fan of their music (or of Superjoint Ritual or Down), you might very well find it impossible to stop listening to it. But, don’t give people a hard time if, like Robb Flynn, they have decided to turn their back on it. The unacceptable nature of Anselmo’s actions means that, for many people, his music is now irreparably tainted. It may not be bad technically, but it is really hard to enjoy something if it offends, excludes or alienates you. For Metal to survive as a thriving community, it requires us to ultimately be respectful of the differences we have; Metal can make you feel free and liberated from the often oppressive nature of mainstream society and no one should be denied this.

Robb Flynn weighs in on Anselmo debate

The Machine Head main-man posted the following video, providing an alternative to the Anselmo account of the events surrounding the former Pantera frontman’s Nazi salute and shouts of “White power” at the end of Dimebash 2016.

Head over to Wyrdness Abounds for more on this story.

Wyrd Ways Rock Show CCCXXV – The Behemoth

So then… the first show of 2016 is The Behemoth. Over 6 hours of quality music. Yes, you did read that correctly – OVER SIX HOURS. That’s one in the eye (or should that be “ear”?) for the moaning-minis who bang on and on about “Metal isn’t as good as it was in the 80’s/90’s”. Sit them down and force them to listen to this one. It’s subdivided into chapters over on Mixcloud, so you can show the recalcitrants the error of their ways by playing them stuff from their favourite genre.

The next show, by the way, is the first of the Top Ten Albums of 2015, which will include Dr Jim’s contribution. By the time this show topped five hours, and was still going strong, I thought it wise to delay the Hammer Of Retribution for the next show.

UFO – Devil’s In The Details
Black Star Riders – Killer Instinct
Romeo’s Daughter – Touch
Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock – Bulletproof
Hollywood Vampires – Raise The Dead
Europe – Nothin’ To Ya
Michael Monroe – This Ain’t No Love Song
Ghost – From The Pinnacle To The Pit
Knock Out Kaine – 16 Grams Of Heart Attack
Devil City Angels – Boneyard
Santa Cruz – Bonafide Heroes
Von Hertzen Brothers – You Don’t Know My Name
Motor Sister – Beg Borrow Steal
RAM – Return Of The Iron Tyrant

Slayer – Repentless
Reign Of Fury – Death Be Thy Shepherd
Gama Bomb – Tuck Your T-Shirt In
Fallen Angels – Fire At Eden’s Gate
Armored Saint – With A Full Head Of Steam

Clutch – Firebirds
Motörhead – Electricity
Iron Maiden – Death Or Glory
Raven – Malice In Geordieland
Saxon – Stand Your Ground
W.A.S.P – Slaves Of The New World Order
Enforcer – Undying Evil
Triaxis – Death Machine
Absolva – Killer Within
I.C.O.N. – Grindin’ Wheel
Tysondog – Shadow Of The Beast
Venom – From The Very Depths
U.D.O. – Under Your Skin
Chastain – We Bleed Metal
Huntress – Four Blood Moons
Vamps – Lips
Black Tide – No Guidelines
Wednesday 13 – Astro Psycho-Galactic Blood Drive
Turbowolf – Twelve Houses

Killing Joke – I Am The Virus
36 Crazyfists – Swing The Noose
Skindred – Shut Ya Mouth
Shining – The Last Stand

Fear Factory – Soul Hacker
New Year’s Day – Scream
Devil You Know – Shattered Silence
Butcher Babies – Never Go Back
Five Finger Death Punch – No Sudden Movement
The Agonist – Danse Macabre
Trivium – The Thing That’s Killing Me
Lamb Of God – Engage The Fear Machine
Atreyu – I Would Kill/Lie/Die For You
Octanic – Aeturnus Imperium

Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Kataklysm – Thy Serpent’s Tongue
Battlecross – Not Your Slave
Enslaved – Nauthir Bleeding

Ensiferum – Two Of Spades
Tengger Cavalry – Tengger Cavalry
Korpiklaani – Pili On Pajusta Tehty
Manegarm – Call Of The Runes

Witchsorrow – Made Of The Void
Paradise Lost – Punishment Through Time
Orchid – Sign Of The Witch

Powerwolf – Armata Strigoi
Tad Morose – Bow To The Reaper’s Blade
Blind Guardian – Twilight Of The Gods
Jørn Lande & Trond Holter – Queen Of The Dead
Queensrÿche – Arrow Of Time
Symphony X – To Hell And Back
Kamelot – Fallen Star
Helloween – Living On The Edge
Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody – One Ring To Rule Them All
Battlebeast – I Want The World… And Everything In It
Nightwish – The Greatest Show On Earth

Abbath – Abbath

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Season of Mist

Review by Tom Mead

amazon_badgeitunes_logo03-300x112The future of Immortal, everyone’s favourite meme-generating Norwegian Panda Metal band, appears uncertain since the departure of frontman/guitarist Abbath Doom Occulta last year.  Fortunately though, if the remaining Immortal band members struggle to continue without him, Abbath has shown with this new band and album that bear his name that his former band’s legacy of icy Black Metal is at least safe in his hands.

Accompanied by go-to Norwegian Metal sideman King Ov Hell on bass and French session drummer Creature (aka Kevin Foley) on drums, Abbath has crafted 8 excellent tracks of varying degrees of Extreme Metal ferocity. To War! kicks things off nicely, doing exactly what it says on the tin; it’s a pounding, anthemic call-to-arms that recalls the thrash/black crossover sound of latter-day Immortal.  Winterbane follows with a rhythm that some purists may feel is a bit too upbeat for Black Metal, but this does nothing to diminish the cold atmosphere that the title implies (and the doom-laden, semi-acoustic midsection is brilliant).

It’s a shame that Creature has since left the band, as his Death Metal origins (he’s previously played with Benighted and Sepultura amongst others) add an interesting dimension to the band’s sound, leading to similarities with the Blackened Death Metal of Behemoth. This is most notably heard on Ashes of the Damned, which, like Behemoth’s music, includes horns to enhance the atmosphere.

Immortal didn’t just rely on high speeds to create the right mood, and neither does Abbath. Ocean of Wounds is a great mid-paced number, as is Root of the Mountain, which I would say is the album’s standout track.  Taking cues from the likes of Enslaved and Amon Amarth, the band’s conjured up a great Viking atmosphere here, with King in particular delivering a superb galloping bassline that would have even Steve Harris himself nodding along in approval.

Don’t worry if you think this all means Abbath has abandoned his true, grim Black Metal roots. Fenrir Hunts and Endless are more traditional Black Metal fare, with blastbeats and howling guitars aplenty. Moreover, the thrashy Count the Dead is full of crushing riffs and blistering solos, with Abbath trading licks nicely with session player Ole André Farstad. The sonic diversity and clear production on show here might ultimately disappoint some old school Immortal and general Black Metal fans (though they probably haven’t liked any Black Metal albums released in the last 20 years, so it’s a largely insignificant point!)

Following all the tragic deaths that the rock world has suffered over the past month (I’m typing this having only heard of the passing of Rainbow and Dio bassist Jimmy Bain a few hours ago), we need to remind ourselves that there is still plenty of great music being created by many great musicians. Whether Abbath is someone with “legendary” status or not is a controversial debate topic, but one thing’s for certain; he’s made the first great Metal album of 2016.  This is an album to be played loudly and proudly, and should hopefully satisfy most long-term Immortal fans, whilst also appealing to Metal fans in general.  Don’t let the memes fool you, there’s much more to Abbath than wearing odd makeup and running around forests in the snow.

Verdict: 9/10

P.S. Make sure you get the special edition to hear a cracking cover of Judas Priest’s Riding on the Wind.

Witchcraft – Nucleus

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Nuclear Blast

Review by Rick Ossian

amazon_badgeitunes_logo03-300x112Doom and gloom enthusiasts will be happy (or will they?) to know that Orebro, Sweden’s Witchcraft are up to their new tricks again.  These purveyors of pessimism may seem bleak at first, but there is some considerably good musicianship and writing and arranging going on here, particularly considering that they are a three-piece combo.  But Rick, you say – isn’t the history of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal loaded with wicked three-piece combos?  Yes, indeed, dear reader – they are.  We’ve always had Taste or Cream or Rush or the Jimi Hendrix Experience to look to.  That’s not my point here.  What we need to address is the quality AND the quantity of noise – music, if you prefer.  Both are finer points of Witchcraft‘s attack.  Though they may indeed be arbiters of anger (you want more? I got lots more!), they can also really jam.

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Take the first track, for example.  In opener Malstroem, (Maelstrom is the way I thought it was spelled- who knew), the boys do some seriously disturbing stuff.  The vocals are at once thoughtful, haunting, creepy, even apocalyptic at times.  You will hear me say this again.  Magnus Pelander (vocals, guitar)’s vocals are eerily wobbly.  Try to say THAT one five times fast, tongue twister aficionados!  His cohorts, Tobias Anger on bass and Rage Widerberg on drums, are in-the-pocket when it comes to a good rhythm section.  More than once was I reminded of the engine room(s) of such stalwarts as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep whilst listening to these gents.

But I digress. Malstroem is about as intense as it gets.  It starts off with a doomy fingerpicking intro.  It will make you feel as if something ominous is about to enter your stratosphere.  Yes, its that creepy.  Some nice guitar work, though, with a building intensity about it.  At just past the minute in mark they kick into classic doom and gloom Sabbath-style riffing, stopping briefly to take on some Metallica-esque ‘metal marching’, if you will.  At 2:15 they shift to an even slower beat.  At three minutes the riffs are heavy as fuck and plodding like the proverbial plesiosaurs.  At 3:40 the vocals came in, and I must confess to being as surprised as anyone.  I thought for sure this track would be an instrumental!  Some slow and deliberate jamming here.  At 5:40 they go up a step, then back (5:50) to another slow plod.  At about seven-and-a-half minutes in they decide to shift an even heavier, slower plod.  Then they go up a step and close with some solitary riffing.  Truly a monster track.  This one is worth the ride by itself!  An 8 1/2 minute track for the opening song?? What were they thinking?  I don’t know, but it certainly worked for me!

The next track, Theory of Consequence, is the same sort of thing only much, MUCH smaller.  At just under two-and-a-half minutes, we get feedback and heavy riffs right from the intro.  Classic dinosaur-ish metal.  Magnus proclaims “stupid and dumb/your favorite words” to his nemesis.  There is shifting speeds again, sort of like the previous track only in microcosm.

The Outcast is back into the bizarre world of retro rock again, and they kick us in the face first off with a drum intro and some heavy riffing.  This is an upbeat temp, more ‘regular’ Heavy Metal/Hard Rock, if you will.  Is that a flute I hear in there?  Why, yes, I believe it is.  But only briefly, dear reader…you wouldn’t even probably have noticed it had I not been kind enough to mention it!  At 2:35 there is a major shift into some feedback, then midtempo, then introspective fingerpicking again.  The vocals slowly begin to rant and rage, and then at the four-minute mark we get a lead guitar solo!  Hooray for leads!  At 4:35 proceedings turn into a squalling beehive of wah/crybaby FX.  This goes right up to the close of the track and is just beautiful.. At just shy of six minutes it is another doomy, proggy masterpiece.

The title track, meanwhile, could most likely stand on its own.  It is at least half of an EP, at just over fourteen minutes, it is a Metal monster.  The ominous intro on guitar should clue you in, we’re in for another long and winding ride!  At two minutes in the vocals start, and they are super creepy.  Magnus gets extra points for overall creepiness.  At three minutes in, we are back in Riff City, with some powerful vocals to boot.  These vocals are plaintive and painful at the same time.  Angry, even (4 minutes in).  At 4:35 there is a screaming guitar solo, and at 6:20 we get a shift back to slow acoustics.  This seems to be a pattern with these boys, but I didn’t think it was overdone.  At seven-and-a-half minutes in they throw the chanting monks into the mix (dirge-like with drums).  Then, at 9:50, we get a lead guitar solo on top of this! Keeping up?  I thought so!  At eleven-and-a-half minutes in, a wailing witch is added to the mix, then we have the final section, which I would confess is a bit boring – spooky, but repetitive.  I wouldn’t let it detract you from the overall bleak nature of the tune.  If bleak is your thing, then this is your road map, baby!

An Exorcism of Doubts is up next.  It is another longer track, but only half the length of its predecessor.  It is more of the Sabbath-style doom-and-gloom concoction, but you will get used to it if you just let the music be your master!  This is a heavy blues, with heavy-as-fuck riffing to boot.  At the 3:20 mark we get a Bluesy lead guitar solo.  At the four-minute mark, however, we get a new movement – a shift to uptempo beat with heavy-as-hell riffing AGAIN.  Lots of riffs here, good ones for the most part.  It is also very, very Sabbath-y.  Did I mention that?  At the 5:20 mark there are more of the angry vocals.  At 6 minute in we go back to the plodding blues with a lead guitar spot on top of it.  At 6:40 they shift yet again back to the introspective acoustic guitar strumming.  A band’s got to have a place to go at the end, after all.  Another 7.5 minute masterpiece!

The Obsessed has more in the same vein; a nice drum intro, some heavy Sabbath-style riffing.  This time out, however, they use one of my favorite words in their lyrical scheme of things.  Just see if you can spot it, reader!  The vocals seem to be almost shrouded in the mix at times, but I think that’s just one of the myriad FX these blokes have in their arsenal.  There are clouds and wind on here, too – go figure!  There are also a couple of fine guitar pieces, one at 2:20 and another at the four-minute mark.  This is NOT just another plodding blues.  But it sort of is.  There is some Uriah Heep influence going on in here too, methinks.

To Transcend Bitterness features another Heavy Metal riff-happy intro.  The vocals are painful, even angry again.  The riffing is mainly uptempo, and there is another shift at the two-minute mark.  Some feedback, riffs, and more angry vocals later, and we have another four-minute number in the bag!

Helpless is about six-and-a-half minutes (wow), and begins AGAIN with an  introspective creepy fingerpicking intro.  This time they throw in some keys for good measure.  The vocals are intensely creepy, and plaintive – just like before.  As I said before, sometimes a pattern can be a good thing.  Sometimes, not so much.  I mention it only in passing.

Breakdown, the closer, is the longest grandaddy of them all.  This bugger is just shy of 16 minutes, and is another Witchcraft EP all by itself in the works.  Figuratively speaking, that is.  I’m not sure what they had in mind, but I’m sure this track could stand alone if it needed to.  I will say this – it is a lot more interesting at the beginning than it is at the end.  There is some bogging down and some repetitive aspects of the track that will probably bore a few metal mavens out there.  We shall see, and time will tell.  I listened to this track twice and was still enthralled till the last few minutes or so.

It starts out life with the obligatory FX (waves, I think), then some guitar and bells (??) and things.  It sounds a bit bass-y at first, but then it could just be the lower end of the guitar spectrum.  The vocals are eerily wobbly again, but I like the intensity of it.  It is very creepy, even the lyrics can get to you: ‘how deep is this?/ how shallow can we be?‘  Some strumming and vocals at the 3-minute mark slowly fade into some guitar FX at around 5:35.  The bells serve a sinister purpose, I just KNOW they do – not sure what, though.  Not yet.  They do go on a bit longer.  The poetry snippet at 7 minutes in kind of surprised me – briefly.  Some serious feedback and heavy, HEAVY riffs later, I noted that there was some really sad stuff going on here.  Thematically, lyrically, that is.  At 10 and 1/2 minutes in Magnus is literally howling his delivery, and things get pretty depressing.  It is a harrowing tale, after all.  The FX are almost ghostly.  At twelve minutes in, we get some wind FX.  There is evidently a storm a brewing.  The vocal/radio FX plus the feedback towards the close is where they start to lose me.  At fourteen minutes in they add witches and warlocks moaning, and it gets sort of long and boring and repetitive.  But other than that, a truly captivating track.  The whole recording is well done, especially if you like your metal on the slightly unhappy side!

Verdict: 8/10

Cauldron – In Ruin

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The End Records

Review by Tom Mead

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In this strange post-Lemmy world that we now sadly find ourselves in, a lot of people’s hunger for traditional, uncompromising rock and heavy metal has been greatly renewed. Not that anyone could adequately replace Motörhead, but any band that can satisfactorily live up to the example shown by the likes of Lemmy and co is greatly appreciated right now.

Sadly, judging by In Ruin (their fourth album), Cauldron fall somewhat short of this mark. The Canadian 3-piece are generally considered to be part of the so-called “New Wave of Trad Metal” that emerged 5 to 10 years ago; alongside contemporaries such as Enforcer, White Wizzard and Wolf, Cauldron helped to reinvigorate classic early-80s sounding metal, acting as a welcome contrast to Metalcore, Post-Hardcore, and everything else-core.  They first came to my attention with the catchy and brilliantly titled song Chained up in Chains from their debut album Chained to the Nite, but In Ruin unfortunately does not reach the same heights.

Cauldron being what you might call a “retro” Metal band, you wouldn’t expect to find much in their music that you’d consider to be original or innovative. Personally, I have nothing against young bands that wear their influences proudly on their sleeves and simply want to have a good time making music that sounds an awful lot like that of their idols.  The main problem with Cauldron though is that they don’t sound like they are having a good time.  Much of the performances on In Ruin sound laboured and forced, as if making this album was some sort of unpleasant chore as punishment for not eating all their vegetables.  Jason Decay and Ian Chains are respectively perhaps the most boring singer and guitarist I’ve ever heard; they both sound half asleep and distinctly uninterested.

Credit where credit’s due though, Cauldron do actually have some talent as songwriters, though this is only shown sparingly on In Ruin.  Opening track No Return/In Ruin has a good beat with a steady driving rhythm and shows that they have a particular knack for writing a strong vocal melody that you’ll be humming for hours afterwards.  This is followed up by Empress which is one of the few proper fist-pumping Metal songs here; an intricate folk guitar intro reminiscent of the In Flames instrumental track Dialogue with the Stars leads into a Melodic Metal anthem that Hammerfall and Gamma Ray fans will certainly appreciate.  Apart from that, it’s really only closing track Outrance, with its chugging Speed Metal riff that reminds me of Dio’s We Rock, that really hits the mark here.  The remaining 6 tracks are varying shades of generic blandness that attempt to pay tribute to ’80s Metal heroes. Hold Your Fire is like a Ratt B-side with none of the sleaze and snarl, and instrumental Delusive Serenade sounds like a poor man’s Orion, a weak attempt to sound deep and serious. And I’ll never forget Santa Mira with its embarrassingly bad chorus lyrics: “Santa Mira/drawing nearer/sign in the mirror/face getting clearer”.

All in all, Cauldron could perhaps make a good album if they tried to sound a bit more excitable and full of life. This kind of Heavy Metal is best enjoyed with a pint in your hand and a smile on your face, but if Cauldron were the house band at a party I attended, I’d probably leave early.  Moreover, in a world where bands that have clearly been a big influence on Cauldron, like Iron Maiden and Saxon, are still making great music, they need a lot more of an effort to be properly noticed and appreciated.  Moments of good songwriting and some half-decent vocal melodies do not stop In Ruin from being an overwhelmingly dull album.

Verdict: 5/10

Lemmy – A Personal Tribute

 

Back-in-the-saddle-lemmy

I’m writing this just after watching the stream of Lemmy‘s memorial on YouTube.  Still doesn’t seem real.  The thought that there’s never going to be another Motörhead album… never going to be another new interview to read… never going to be at another gig and hear THAT voice growl, “We are Motörhead and we play Rock and Roll”, before launching into the first song.

The man we all know as Lemmy was born in Stoke-On-Trent on 24th December 1945 as Ian Fraser Kilmister.  Over his lifetime he was a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, bass player in Hawkwind (from which he was fired for being on the wrong kind of drugs!), then he started Motörhead, sealing his place in Valhalla.  He could always be relied upon for a quote, and as a raconteur, he was unsurpassed.  If you want to find out what I mean, read White Line Fever, his autobiography.  Yes, it was written by someone who wasn’t Lemmy, but it was obviously verbatim.  You can hear his voice when you read it.

From a personal, semi-professional standpoint, there’s now something that I’ll have to cross off my bucket list as something that is now impossible.  I’ll never meet and/or interview Lemmy.

Let me wind things back to my teenage years, taking my faltering first steps into appreciation of Metal.  A compilation album called Metal Killers Kollection III.  Nestled in amongst the likes of Accept‘s Burning and Judas Priest‘s Freewheel Burning, was a track by the name of We Are The Road Crew by a band called Motörhead.  Like most of the bands on there, that I’d grow to love over the next few decades, they were a band I’d never heard of.

I think my next exposure to the band was on a repeat of the Bambi episode of The Young Ones.  Lemmy with his head tilted back, shades on, playing the bass, Pete Gill on drums, and Würzel and Phil Campbell on guitars.  That was the first time they’d really made a proper impact on me.

Over the next few years, I bought several of their albums, including Ace Of Spades, Bomber and No Sleep Til Hammersmith.  I finally got to see them for the first time in 1991 at St George’s Hall in Bradford during the 1916 tour.  The line-up at the time featured Lemmy (of course), Würzel, Phil Campbell and Philthy Animal Taylor.  For me, that’s the classic line-up.  They recorded my favourite ‘Head albums: 1916 and Bastards.  One of the abiding memories of the show is Lemmy asking the assembled throng if we liked his suntan (he’d just recently moved out to Los Angeles at the time).  It was really that moment that turned me into a true Motörhead (and especially Lemmy) fan.  I’d been to a few gigs before.  I’d seen the likes of Metallica, Anthrax, Faith No More, Prong, Kings X… but I’d never seen a frontman so relaxed and personable, so obviously enjoying himself as on that night.  OK, the sound that night was pretty awful.  Muddy as anything, so much so that it was hard to tell what songs they were playing, but it was my first Motörhead show.  I was now a TRUE Metal fan!

Over the next couple of decades, I bought every album and went to multiple shows.  They never let me down once.  OK, some of the albums weren’t as good as other ones, but when Lemmy himself expresses disappointment with one or two of them, not being so impressed is fine.

My final live encounter was at the O2 Academy in Leeds in late 2010.  They were being supported by Michael Monroe‘s band (which at the time included Ginger Wildheart).  That was when I got to hear my favourite Motörhead song played live – Born To Raise Hell, with Michael Monroe and Lemmy duetting on vocals.

They were playing at Bloodstock in 2011, but seeing as I’d only seen them a few months before, and reports feeding back from Wacken weren’t good (the beginnings of the ill health that haunted the band right up to the end)… so I left before the headline slot.  I’m glad I did.  As it stands, my last memory of a Motörhead show is the Leeds gig.  Which was awesome (just like it had been the year before).

During 2014 and 2015, Lemmy‘s health slowly deteriorated.  The photos of him showed him looking more and more his age.  He started to look like an old man of nearly 70.  Some gigs were cancelled and rebooked for 2016.

Then, on the 28th of December 2015, only four days after his 70th birthday, Lemmy died of an aggressive form of cancer.

To say that Lemmy embodied what Rock and Metal are all about is something of a cliché.  But he did.  He still does.  His death doesn’t change that.  If anything, it just strengthens the legend of The Last True Rock Star.  He died a few days after his 70th birthday, less than three weeks after finishing 2015’s touring cycle, with dates already booked for 2016.  This was a man who lived completely by his own rules.  Unlike most of us who just pay lip-service to rebellion, Lemmy lived it.

Like it said on the tattoo on his arm.  “Born to lose, live to win”.

And he did.

God has gone home.

 

Rest In Peace

Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister (24/12/1945 – 28/12/2015)

 

Other members of the Wyrd Ways Rock Show team have also written their own tributes:

When I was about 14, I found a book in my school library about the history of heavy metal. On the cover, alongside pictures of Slash and Iron Maiden‘s Steve Harris, was a big picture of Lemmy; Rickenbacker bass in hand, warts-and-all. I barely knew who he or Motörhead were, but I was intrigued enough to buy a Motörhead compilation CD that I saw in my local supermarket shortly after.

I was struck dumb by this furious, hedonistic wall of noise that did not seem of this world (certainly was far removed from my quiet Westcountry upbringing!)

As the years have gone by, my musical tastes have spread in several directions but I have always returned to Motörhead at times when nothing but unpretentious, to-the-point and LOUD rock and roll will do.  A reliable constant in an ever-changing rock music landscape, it is hard to believe that Lemmy is no longer with us. His legend and music will live on though; hopefully future generations will find him as much of an inspiring figure as I did.  Tom Mead

To me Lemmy was iconic. Period. Not just because of the ‘Head. Let us not forget his work with Hawkwind. Anybody into Prog or space rock would no doubt echo my words there. Something tells me Silver Machine would have sounded quite different, for one thing!!  Rick Ossian

Hawkwind was my first Lemmy Love too. I grew up with Hawkwind, and it was much, much later I discovered Motörhead.  The first song I properly listened to was Killed by Death, and I remember both laughing and musing that yeah, whatever kills you, kills you… you’re dead, either way!  Later, when more familiar with Mr Kilmister, it made me realise that it would probably take Death himself to come and take the crazy rocker away. He went swiftly, while playing a video game- enjoying himself to the last. I doubt he’ll ever stop.  Mabh Savage

 

Wyrd Ways Rock Show CCCXX

What have we got for you this week, then? A quick look at Logan Mader’s new project, a taster from Devil You Know’s new album as well as new stuff from Killing Joke and Avatarium. There’s also an interview with Conan’s new boy, recorded at Bloodstock 2015, and also an interview recorded at SOS 2015 with members of a band that has been called “Britain’s answer to Metallica”, Die No More. Talking of Bloodstock, you’ll also find out which bands have been added to the bill for 2016.

New Year’s Day – I’m About To Break You
Devil You Know – The Way We Die
Once Human – The Life I Remember
Covered: Venom – Hellbent For Metal (Judas Priest)
From Ashes To New – Downfall
Spotlight 1: Huntress – Eight Of Swords
Die No More Interview (SOS 2015)
Die No More – Council Of War
Record Of The Week 1: Five Finger Death Punch – Got Your Six
Record Of The Week 2: Five Finger Death Punch – Wash It All Away
Record Of The Week 3: Five Finger Death Punch – Hell To Pay
Killing Joke – Euphoria
Spotlight 2: Huntress – Starbound Beast
Conan Interview (Bloodstock 2015)
Conan – Crown Of Talons
Paradise Lost – Punishment Through Time
DragonForce – The Game
Spotlight 3: Huntress – Sorrow
Avatarium – Hypnotized
New Device – Hollywood Radio
Queensrÿche – Guardian

Wyrd Ways Rock Show CCCXIX

I’m just going show you a word: Slayer. Here’s a few more: Record Of The Week. What else? An interview with Seidemann from 1349 recorded at Bloodstock 2015, and also interviews recorded at SOS 2015 with members of The Raven Age and Skarlett Riot. Talking of Bloodstock, you’ll also find out which bands are headlining the Friday and Saturday nights at Bloodstock 2016.

Children Of Bodom – Suicide Bomber
The Heretic Order – Death Ride Blues
RAM – The Usurper
Covered: Machine Head – Fucking Hostile (Pantera)
Macbeth – Inferno
Spotlight 1: Absolva – Flames Of Justice
1349 Interview (Bloodstock)
1349 – Godslayer
Record Of The Week 1: Slayer – Implode
Record Of The Week 2: Slayer – Pride In Prejudice
Record Of The Week 3: Slayer – Repentless
Spotlight 2: Absolva – Taste The Blood
The Raven Age – Interview (SOS Festival)
The Raven Age – Eyes Among The Blind
Skarlett Riot Interview (SOS Festival)
Skarlett Riot – Wake Up
Spotlight 3: Absolva – No Tomorrow
Chastain – We Bleed Metal
Queensrÿche – Toxic Remedy
Mastodon – The Motherload
Twisted Sister – We’re Not Gonna Take It