Thursday, 14 August 2014

Bloodstock Festival 2014!

Bloodstock Festival has become an annual pilgrimage for me, having not missed one since 2008. Unquestionably the best metal event of the year in this country, 2014's edition of the festival was brilliant as always. Boasting Emperor, Megadeth and Down as headliners, the festival continues to grow year on year attracting many bigger bands, but without losing sight of the unsigned and up and coming groups, which for me is part of what sets it apart from the bigger and noticeably soulless Download and Sonisphere.


For the 7th year in a row, I made my way to the festival site by train, then by cab rather than the usual shuttle bus, and arrived in the glorious sunshine on the Thursday, looking forward in particular to Monument and Jaldaboath that evening on the Sophie Stage, before the festival kicked off in full on the Friday. Alas, I didn't make it to the Sophie Stage at all that evening. Who knew that starting drinking with a breakfast can of Magners and drinking throughout the day with no food until it was already too late could make you ill? My evening ended with regurgitated ravioli being spewed over the majority of the left hand side of the Midgard campsite as you enter from the arena. I'll catch Monument and Jaldaboath somewhere, sometime though.

So Bloodstock musically really started for me on the Friday. I had intended to see Bloodshot Dawn open the main stage, but was a little late due to a hangover from the aforementioned ravioli spewing, but also was caught up walking through the arena by the sound of Gurt, who were playing the Sophie Lancaster tent at the same time. Their doomy/sludgy sound isn't something I'm overly familiar with so forgive my lack of any real knowledgable input here, but Gurt were a great discovery, check them out.

Entombed A.D (not Entombed) took to the main stage next, so called due to a dispute over who owns the band name, the same thing we saw with Gorgoroth a while back. Unfortunately I'm rather in the minority when it comes to Entombed, I prefer the later stuff to your Wolverine Blues or Left Hand Path, but for the majority I'm sure it went down as a really good, old school Entombed set. I'll have to save my enthusiasm for a later tour when they play the less popular new stuff.

Ireland's Primordial are up next, and they're one that myself and a lot of people I know were really looking forward to. The last time they played this festival, front man Nemtheanga overdid it and damaged his voice so badly that he couldn't continue the performance. This time, his voice is noticeably less visceral, but no less impressive. Primordial smash through pretty much everything you could hope for from them, the only slight disappointment for me was the lack of Gallows Hymn, which is by far my favourite song they have done. Still, good job, Primordial, good to see you guys back here again after so long.

A need for lunch and a total cock up in timekeeping meant that I missed the seriously impressive De Profundis, who have just supported Demonic Resurrection on their UK tour. I caught De Profundis at Out of the Ashes festival in 2013 and was seriously impressed by them, they're certainly a band to see if you get the chance.

Triptykon are pretty much the natural progression of Celtic Frost after they disbanded in unpleasant circumstances after the absolutely incredible Monotheist album. Slow and crushingly heavy, Tom Fischer's ensemble effortlessly create an incredible stage presence without actually really doing that much. Maybe it's the nature of the music, maybe it's the incredible respect that I and so many others have for Tom, but the fact that he is a genuine legend in our music almost doesn't register, such is the humble nature of the man. A real personal hero of mine, it's good to see him finally crack a smile to break his usual sullen appearance.


Once Triptykon finish crushing the main stage, it's time to check out England's very own black metal monolith – Winterfylleth. Unfortunately, the heavens open and the Sophie Stage tent is absolutely packed out, there's no way I could have got in without being packed in like a sardine. Disappointing not to be able to catch them this time, but they are playing in London with Ancient Ascendant and Ethereal very soon, so all is not lost!

The rain keeps coming meaning that I take refuge in the tent until it's time for Dimmu Borgir to take the stage. Anyone who knows me will know that I absolutely love this band, and anyone who was there will know that the sound team horrible let us down. When they finally did get the sound sorted out, they were fantastic, but it was so disappointing to see them unable to create their full symphonic black metal majesty because of the poor sound for the first half of their set.

Phil Anselmo's Down then take to the main stage, but they aren't my thing, so it's back to the Sophie tent to see Rotting Christ. One of those bands that I've always heard of but never listened to, Rotting Christ are impressive in their stage presence and in musically, and the tent is well pleased by the set as a whole. A good end to the night.

On Saturday morning, a massive crowd is assembled for the mighty, mighty Evil Scarecrow. Bloodstock loves these guys, they are absolutely bloody ridiculous, and at the same time are an excellent band, and they've always gone down well here over the years. The crowd for them opening the main stage on Saturday morning is probably bigger than the crowd for Dimmu Borgir the night before, and everyone gets involved in a mass scuttling during Crabulon, drawing their own perfect robot square in Robototron, marching in whatever song it is that goes “I'm looking for war, have you seen her?” and, my highlight, improvised party poppers by throwing grass into the air. They've just achieved their goal in a kickstarter for their second album, which I'm sure will be equally silly. Evil Scarecrow are just one of those bands you HAVE to see at least once. Unless you don't like fun of course.

The searing heat unfortunately meant that I didn't catch all of Decapitated's set, although opinion was pretty much unanimous that they played an absolute blinder of a show. Again, I'm not too familiar with their music, but you know when you see a band at a festival and you know you have to check them out when you get home? Yeah, they're one of them. Absolutely brilliant.

Lacuna Coil are a strange one for me, not a band I would have thought I would have liked, but having had a Bloodstock playlist going for the past couple of days before the festival, I realised that actually, they're pretty good. Live, they really know what they're doing. They even played Our Truth, which is the only song I know about them, apologies to the bloke in front of me for having to put up with my singing along.

Children of Bodom then produced what was for me one of the best shows of the weekend. A real mixed bag going through pretty much every album (though nothing from Blooddrunk if I recall correctly), Bodom have really sorted their shit out. The last couple of times I've seen them they've been pissed on stage, forgetting how the songs are meant to go, Alexi blaming Janne for cock-ups etc. But this time, Bodom are absolutely incredible. Alexi proves just how good a guitarist and frontman he really is, as Bodom power through Lake Bodom, Angels Don't Kill and Hate Me. I forget the exact setlist because honestly, I was going a little bit over the top with the old headbanging/air guitar. But Christ, Children of Bodom, thank you for that. I still love you.

You know how earlier I said about you have to see Evil Scarecrow unless you don't like fun? Well Jeff from Carcass doesn't seem to like fun. “The trouble with festivals is you have to wait for all the shit bands to finish before you can play” he says. That's not a fun thing to say, that's a bit of a knobby thing to say really. Anyway, Carcass are okay, they cover a fair amount of their old grindy stuff, but for me, they get a bit boring after a while. Sorry.
Emperor are headlining tonight with the 20th anniversary of the In The Nightside Eclipse album show. “We are now complete again” says Ihsahn, the vocalist, referring to the band being re-joined by their infamous drummer Faust, who has been released from prison after serving his time for the murder of a gay man in Norway in the 90s. It's a little uneasy watching Emperor, and the crowd's reaction seems decidedly mixed towards the return of Faust. Still, overall Emperor go down a storm with the Bloodstock crowd and even throw in a Bathory cover for good measure.

Sunday starts with an absolute deluge falling on our heads. Emerging from a leaky, wet tent, I eventually managed to get into the Sophie Stage for the splendid Haerken. Their brand of medieval themed thrashy death metal has the tent absolutely heaving, and a full scale inflatable war breaks out after the band throw out dozens of inflatable maces and swords, which kept rearing their heads for the rest of the weekends. It was Haerken's last show with their current drummer, I did speak to the singer (apologies, I can't for the life of me remember his name) and he handed me some flyers to give out about them seeking a drummer. If I handed one to you, please do get in touch with them, they're an absolutely brilliant band. If I didn't hand you one, find them on Facebook and give them a shout. They're based in the midlands though so do keep that in mind. Anyway, I'm babbling. Haerken were fantastic as always.


Morgue Orgy are a band I've managed to see a few times. At Beermageddon last year, they gave me a copy of their album “Murder's Most Foul” on the condition that I elbow dropped another CD, and at Out of the Ashes this year, they gave my brother an award for having the most fun during their set. This time, my brother took frankfurters into the stage with him and they eventually ended up on stage with the band, before being hurled into the audience again. Morgue Orgy are tremendous fun, but again, like Evil Scarecrow, they don't use fun to compensate for a lack in quality, they are fun and at the same time they are absolutely brilliant. The stage was again full for their set because of the stormy weather outside, but surely they must have won plenty of people over who came in to avoid the weather. Absolutely brilliant band, and certainly one of the most fun bands I've ever seen. With Evil Scarecrow, people know they're silly, they're expected to be silly. With Morgue Orgy they're not expected to be silly really, unless you've seen them before. A truly excellent band and I hope they can be given a main stage slot in the future.

Next, and still on the same stage, are Voices. I liked Akercocke as much as the next man, but it does seem like Voices are only on the bill because of that connection. Maybe I'm missing something with their brand of blackened death metal, but there's no stage presence, and nothing particularly interesting in the music for me. I'm sure there are plenty of people who will disagree and that's absolutely fair enough. Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know that I don't like to mention bands that I don't enjoy. Any band that isn't to my taste doesn't deserve to be badmouthed by me because I know full well that others will like them.

Obituary are next on the main stage, but the wind really doesn't do them any favours. Of course there's nothing anyone can really do to combat the weather, and Obituary are a fantastic band, but the poor sound meant that I went to the New Blood stage for the first time, to catch one of the bands I'm most looking forward to seeing – Scordatura.

OH MY GOOD GOD SCORDATURA. You know when you see a band for the first time and they just do everything right? These Scots are a band I've been aware of for a long while, they seem to play with Cancerous Womb a fair bit, that's certainly how I first became aware of them anyway. With a little help on the bass from Unfathomable Ruination, Scordatura absolutely smash the living shit out of the New Blood Stage. With a huge amount of people coming in from the main stage, the vocalist calls everyone bastards for having had the chance to see Obituary. Honestly without even the slightest hint of exaggeration, I was more impressed with Scordatura at Bloodstock than I was with Obituary at the Garage in London when they played a couple of years ago. Seriously, if you get the chance, go and see Scordatura. Also, they have their album and t shirts for sale on their bigcartel for £5 each. Go and buy their stuff, but leave one of each for me, I can't order mine until payday. Absolutely my band of the weekend.

Back to the main stage having had my mind blown by Scordatura for Saxon. I wouldn't say I'm a massive Saxon fan by any stretch of the imagination, but they're decent enough and their setlist is solid enough to keep me interested for the duration. Dave Mustaine even makes an appearance on Demin and Leather, after Saxon have powered their way through 747 (Strangers in the Night), Wheels of Steel and And the Bands Played on, but I can't recall any of their other tracks that they played. They were decent enough, but I was still getting myself together after the onslaught I'd just received on the New Blood Stage.

After that, it's Amon Amarth, who are the headliners for me as I'm not a fan of Megadeth or Satan. Not a bad way to sign off for the weekend though as they come out with giant dragon heads shooting smoke out of their mouths and more fireworks than you can shake a Mjollnir at. A good mix of old and new tracks from the Vikings, with tracks from Deceiver of the Gods, the Fate of Norns, With Odin On Our Side and a bunch of others. There's no Without Fear in the setlist which is a little disappointing, and I can not wait for the day I see them play Under The Northern Star live. Johann is his usual jolly massive Viking guy self and visibly enjoys every minute of the show. A great way to sign off from Bloodstock 2014.

Weirdly, no announcement of next years headliner as we've become accustomed to over the past few years, but we're told that an announcement is coming soon! My money is firmly on Judas Priest.

Also, you can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bigmetalbastard


Cheers!


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Saccage - Vorace - French Canadian Crust/Grind

Saccage have been about since 2007 and are following up "Death Crust Satanique" from 2012 with this years "Vorace". The album itself is still yet to become available in physical form, but you can get a free download of it from their Bandcamp page, and it is well worth getting.



Very much in the same ballpark as the likes of Toxic Holocaust and Fukpig, these guys blend your regular d-beat, crusty-as-anything grind with death growls, black metal rasps and a shitload of riffage. The vocals though tend to vary a lot more track-to-track than you would get with the likes of Fukpig. It does have the harsh rasping you would expect from grind, but that sprinkling of chanting on "Musique Malsaine Pour Monde A Problemes" (which according to Google translates as 'Unhealthy Music For A World Problems', which probably isn't too far off) gives Saccage something else, as well as the growls and shrieks to be found throughout the release.

It is only a four track release, hence this blog being maybe not as long as they usually are, but it is completely free to download from their Bandcamp page and I really enjoy it.

Definitely one to check out, and if you do fancy a bit of a speculative spend, give "Death Crust Satanique" a go too.

You know the drill for the rest of this. Follow me on Twitter with @bigmetalbastard

And click on www.londonwebmaps.co.uk - the site I work on for my job.

More blog stuff coming soon, not sure what it'll be looking at but there are some cracking releases I've got hold of recently. Keep your eyes peeled!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Evilheart - Selective Extermination

I stumbled across these guys completely by chance this morning, but that was a very happy stumble to make. Evilheart have been running since 1999 and have released one demo and two full length albums during that time. Their third, "Quinquaginta" is due for release soon (unfortunately I can't find a release date, but they're putting samplers on Youtube so it must be close, right?) and the band have recently played as support to Hypocrisy and Necropsy on a date in Sonora, Mexico.



With a more death metal sound on Quinquaginta than on their previous "Dark In Glory" album, Evilheart have certainly changed significantly, with everything from production to vocal style having come on in leaps and bounds. That's not to say that Dark In Glory isn't a great album, but Quinquaginta promises to be even better. Their video for 'Selective Extermination' which has been released on Youtube recently shows that, and now has hints of Dying Fetus, Nile etc. without being any sort of a rip off. evilheart certainly have their own sound, and I think it could well propel them to the next level.



Check out the video for 'Selective Extermination' from their forthcoming 'Quinquaginta' album here :









Also, be sure to give them a like on their Facebook page



Whilst you're at it, follow me on Twitter 



And please check out the website that I work on for my day job - www.londonwebmaps.co.uk

Monday, 12 May 2014

Seprevation - Consumed - Debut Album 2014

Seprevation's debut album is one that I had been waiting to hear for a long time. Having found their music a little while before seeing them at the Unicorn in Camden with Flayed Disciple and Wretched Soul, they were a band that instantly grabbed my interest, you could tell there was going to be something big from them. They commanded the Unicorn that night with the presence of a far more experienced group, and with their first full length album 'Consumed', the follow up to the crushing 'Ritual Abuse' EP, Seprevation have their chance to step up and attain the status that they richly deserve.



The album starts off actually pretty quietly, with a reasonably long intro to the opening track 'Divine Devastation' which I found quite surprising, I guess that from previous stuff from the band it's been a more visceral, in-at-the-deep-end kind of thing, but having the intro there to bring the album in really works well, sort of as an extra-suspense builder in the long wait it has been for a full album from these Bristolians. At just over one minute in though, they can't hold it back any longer. Like a dam breaking and flood water coming bursting through, the quiet gives way to that brutality that we know Seprevation for. It's a blistering start to the album that does not let up, Lluc's vocals were incredible the first time I saw them, but he's become something of a beast.

As something of a grind fan, I tend to be drawn to shorter songs on albums, they tend to be either slow and filler-y, or a short, sharp blast to the face. 'Ascension of Agony' comes in at one minute and fifty-two seconds of absolute rip-your-face-off blasting death metal. The album as a whole does carry a feel of a Morbid Angel/Deicide style of things, but this is track is something else. Trying to find the words to do it justice is a bit difficult to be honest, perhaps it's something that needs to be heard to really show you what I mean, and by the time you get to 'Sarcophagal Chamber' you know that this album is an incredibly strong debut from Bristol's finest.

Also worth listening out for is the album version of 'Sea Of Thoughts'. This version seems to have divided opinion a little bit, but honestly, maybe it's just the flow of the whole of 'Consumed' as an album together, but I honestly think I prefer this version to the previous version that was on 'Ritual Abuse'. It'll be interesting to see which version comes out when they play live, but either one will suit me fine.

'Consumed' is one album you definitely need to get hold of in 2014, you can find Seprevations merch and get a copy of the album at their Bigcartel page here: http://www.seprevation.bigcartel.com/

And you can catch them on tour in May with Bonded By Blood and Flayed Disciple!

Give me a follow on Twitter too, www.twitter.com/bigmetalbastard

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Out Of The Ashes 2014 Preview - Aeris

I'm a huge fan of festivals, and, with ticket prices rising for Bloodstock and the like, cheaper, smaller festivals are more than welcome. Beermageddon is a fantastic one that I've done for the last couple of years and will be returning to this year, and Out Of The Ashes is another of those.

I went last year for the first time, a long, long trek from London up to just outside of Liverpool. On the site of Vauxhall Motors Football Club in Ellesmere Port, Out Of The Ashes gives you 3 stages, more bands than some of the larger festivals can put on, and a truly great weekend for £18.




This is the first in a series of blogs I'll be doing in the runup to Out Of The Ashes Festival 2014, which is in July this year.

Aeris are a 4 piece metalcore outfit from Crewe in the North West of England, and their EP 'Become My Breather' was released only a few days ago, according to their Bandcamp page (link at the end of this post). Honestly, metalcore isn't my thing generally, but having downloaded the EP and put it on, by track four 'Revelations' this band had really grown on me. Maybe there's something about the rawness of vocalist Tom's vocals that does enough to put them apart from so many other bands that attempt to do the same thing. Aeris have found a wonderful blend of powerful, heavy, crushing tracks interspersed with really rather serene moments throughout the album, with a vocal line that at this moment I can only really compare with Bloodsimple, that is perfectly suited to providing a massive onslaught of harsh, pissed off, screaming over the top of the heavy parts, or as a heavy, loud contrast to those more peaceful moments in the EP. Aeris are a young band that will definitely be going places soon, they're certainly worth checking out live if the EP is anything to go by. I'll be doing my best to see them at Out Of The Ashes 2014, if you're from the North West though, you may well find that you get the chance to see them before then.



You can download Aeris's EP for free from here : http://aerismusic.bandcamp.com/releases
Give them a 'like' on Facebook at : https://www.facebook.com/AerisOFFICIAL

And come over and follow me on twitter : www.twitter.com/bigmetalbastard

Christ, just as I was about to clock 'publish', the track 'Portugal' has just come on on my media player. Go and download this bands EP, if you're into your metalcore, you'll dig it.

Oh, also, as a footnote, please check out the website I work on for my day job: www.londonwebmaps.co.uk and follow me on my work Twitter www.twitter.com/londonwebmaps.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Kraptor - Night Of The Living Dead



South America seems to be getting a bit of a reputation of being a hotbed of completely insane thrash metal fans. Whilst it may not be the first place you think of when it comes to metal, you only have to hear Iron Maiden's Live in Rio set, or see the reception Kreator get out there to see that actually, yeah, those guys love their metal. And they LOVE their thrash.

Venezuela, going through a bit of a rough time at the moment politically, and known for Angel Falls, has also produced a monolith of a thrash band in the shape of Kraptor. Their album 'Night of the Living Dead' is a free download at the moment, which is how yours truly came across them, but I haven't looked back since. This is hard thrash, crunching bass lines, ripping solos and really, truly angry vocals from the South American outfit. Definitely check out 'Murder King', it has everything a great thrash track should have in it, and christ, you can't help but imagine how it would sound to see it live. Having never been (as far as I can tell) to Europe to play, the album was put out in Europe by a Greek label named Chainsaw Distro, and they continue to tour with upcoming dates in Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia. It can only be a matter of time before the Kraptor guys are playing live shows in the UK. I'll be there.

You can download Kraptor's album 'Night of the Living Dead' along with 'Fucking Liar' here: http://www.kraptorband.com/music.html

And follow them on Twitter here : https://twitter.com/kraptorband

And I'm on twitter at www.twitter.com/bigmetalbastard


Also, as a quick footnote, I'm currently working on a website listing over 300 free things to see and do in London, England. This is what I do as my day job, with music on the side. Please check it out and tweet me what you think of it. www.londonwebmaps.co.uk

Check back soon for more from Big Metal Bastard!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Gig Review! Gorgoroth, Vital Remains, Ageless Oblivion and Ethereal - The Garage, London - 6/04/2014



This was my first trip to the Garage in a long time, having last been there for Obituary and Macabre in December 2012. It has stuck in my memory as one of the warmest venues I've ever been to. I mean it gets ludicrously hot in that place. But here I was again, this time for the mighty Gorgoroth.

Doors opened at 7, but having been in the pub around the corner and slightly lost track of time, I didn't get there until 7.20-ish, one song into Ethereal's set. I have never regretted being 5 minutes late more. Ethereal are absolutely incredible. Possibly the best opening act I have ever seen, and I do not say that lightly, they are the raw black metal powerhouse that Gorgoroth could have been shown up by. The energy, the darkness and the visceral power of the whole band, not least the near-perfect blackened shrieking vocals, really tied the set together perfectly. A real discovery for me personally, I'll be seeing them again on the 19th at the Unicorn in London, and I'd encourage anyone and everyone who can to go along and check them out.

Next up were Ageless Oblivion. I personally don't like to review bands that I don't like so just a quick word on these guys. Just because it's not my thing doesn't mean that someone else would have been as enthusiastic about them as I am about Ethereal. They didn't do anything for me musically, but they had excellent stage presence and they were clearly going down well with some of the crowd.

Third up, a band that I had heard of for years, but had never seen or even listened to : Vital Remains. Absolutely unbelievable. I knew there was some connection with Glenn Benton and that Corpsegrinder wears Vital Remains shirts pretty much every time I see Cannibal Corpse, but these guys take all the best elements of Deicide and Cannibal Corpse, and turn it up to maximum. I don't know how some of those growl/shreiks could even be made to be so high pitched by human lungs, but they managed it, and mixed with the most gutteral, bowel-rupturing death-gurgles you have ever heard, Vital Remains absolutely blew me away. I can't believe I hadn't heard them or seen them before, but I'll definitely be seeing them again. Incredible stuff from an amazing band. AND for them to be doing shirts for £15!? Excellent, so I bagged myself a t-shirt. Vital Remains tore the place to pieces.


Headlining were Gorgoroth, who I hadn't seen since Bloodstock in 2010, who then had Pest on vocals and were very much there to play a bunch of songs and clear off. I guess it's just the black metal way sometimes to have pretty limited interaction with the audience. This time, Hoest of Taake was guest vocalist, and he absolutely slayed it. Taake are due to play the same venue in May at Incineration Festival alongside Anaal Nathrakh, Carach Angren, Eastern Front and Nargaroth amongst others, and the Garage was given a taster of how intense that night is going to be. Gorgoroth came out and smashed it, with enormous nails dangling from a heavily corpsepainted lineup of musicians peering through the fog of sweat and dry ice. Incipit Satan, Destroyer and Krig bring the Garage to its knees. Again little interaction with the crowd, which might just be a personal thing, but I quite enjoy at least a little acknowledgement from a band I've seen, but let that take nothing away from the intensity of Gorgoroth, proving that Gaahl or no Gaahl, they are still monoliths of black metal.

Finally, please go and check out Aeon Promotions. They were the guys who put this night on and who are doing Incineration Fest too. They know how to put on an absolute beast of a night.

Find me on Twitter : @bigmetalbastard