A bunch of new bands have already been added to the bill on this year’s Download UK Festival. The new acts include Alter Bridge, Bowling For Soup, The Darkness, The Distillers, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Mastodon, Funeral For A Friend, The Menzingers, Employed To Serve, 3 Doors Down, Milk Teeth, Motionless In White, Holding Absence, Lacuna Coil, Loathe, Sepultura, Amaranthe, Cemetery Sun, Fire From The Gods, Gender Roles, Haken, Hatari, Heavy Lungs, Higher Power, JJ Wilde, Kill The Lights, Modern Error, Northlane, Press Club, Polyphia| The Raven Age, Renounced, Shvpes, Sleep Token, SULLII, The Glorious Sons, The Hara, The Skints, Tempt, Twin Temple, Thy Art Is Murder, Wage War, and Will Haven! Also announced are the Day And Stage Splits, WWE NXT UK returns, and Kerrang! Radio Hosts the Finding Fresh Blood contest for a chance to perform on The Avalanche Stage. 2020 Download headliners Iron Maiden (Legacy Of The Beast Tour), Kiss and System Of A Down this summer and takes place on 12 – 14 June 2020 at the spiritual home of rock in Donington Park, Leicestershire. Continue reading
A bevy of bands have been added to Download 2020! New on the bill are Volbeat, Killswitch Engage, Babymetal,The Pretty Reckless, Airbourne, Skillet, Baroness, Lit, Bush, Wednesday 13, British Lion, Electric Wizard, Periphery, Obituary, Pup, Dying Fetus, Bleed From Within, Dead Label, Stone Broken, Blues Pills, Puppy, P.O.D., Wayward Sons, Wargasm, Dead Posey Blackout Problems, Bleed From Within, Cellar Door Moon Crow, Chelsea Grin, Dead Label, Dead Posey, Lotus Eater, Marianas Trench, Powerwolf, Puppy, Theory, The Last Internationale, The Wildhearts, and Uncured.and more to be announecd. They join headliners Iron Maiden (Legacy of the Beast Tour), Kiss and System Of A Down next year. The world’s premier rock event takes place 12 – 14 June 2020 at the spiritual home of rock in Donington Park, Leicestershire. Tickets are on sale now at the link below. Check out Ghost Cult’s 2019 Download coverage here! Continue reading
It would seem that this is Scandinavian ‘Drenched Riffs’ Week, but to pigeonhole Swedish quartet The Riven as mere seventies Rock does them no justice whatsoever. Their bass-heavy groove machine is positively electric and eponymous debut album The Riven (The Sign Records) drips The Blues while shooting fire from both hips. Continue reading
The world of Psychedelic Rock has enjoyed a population resurgence over the past couple of years, with all manner of newcomers coating their grooves in a warm, oscillating fuzz. In such a world it helps to gain patronage from a respected name and French sunshine crew Komodor have done just that: debut mini-album Komodor (Soulseller Records) carrying contributions and production work from Swedish Psych rulers Blues Pills. Continue reading
Nearly twenty years into this twenty first century of ours, and retro is once again the chicest tone in town. Fuzzed, bluesy guitars, seventies licks and threads, and an aching earnestness for a sound of yesteryear is where the coolest of cats are chilling. And down such alleyways we find Belgian quartet Black Mirrors and their impressive full length debut Look Into The Black Mirror (Napalm). Continue reading
Like Earache, Nuclear Blast was initially known for their roster of heavier metal, but have widened their net in recent years to include vintage rock acts like Black Star Riders, Tax The Heat, The Night Flight Orchestra, Blues Pills and the focus of this review, The Vintage Caravan. From Iceland, they formed in 2006 and have their fourth album Gateways, which is forty-eight minutes of bluesy Hard Rock straight from the annals of the late sixties and seventies. Continue reading
Our goal is to bring the latest genre-pushing work from heavy and underground music’s most innovative artists directly to you, and the end of year “Album of the Year” list is a time-honored tradition that enables us to do just that. Added to the fact that we’re a big bunch of geeks who love a list, the Ghost Cult countdown also helps us highlight the bands and albums that have not only made the biggest impact on us this calendar year, but showcase the releases that have stirred something deeper and more visceral in the hearts of the Ghost Cult team. Continue reading
On a chilly Sunday evening, the small venue of the 013 in Tilburg is slowly filling up with Hard Rock lovers looking for a nice evening of musicianship and fun. Continue reading
Formed in 2011, Blues Pills are blues based rockers with a love of all things psychedelic. They released their eponymous début album in 2014, and it is an impressive one at that. It’s mix of 60s blues and psychedelia with a 70s rock outlook complete with raw and authentic production works very well. They are back with their second album Lady in Gold (Nuclear Blast) and producer Don Alsterberg has returned to man the desk. Marijke Koger-Dunham has also been lured back to create another psychedelic, far out album sleeve.
It continues the bluesy psychedelic vibe of their début but it has been beefed up by bigger, more polished production. It is melodious and very catchy rock, more multi layered but with the same Hendrix inspired 60s and 70s spirit running through it’s veins. The title track is a gem, with an infectious melody and a thrumming piano backbone – a song about a female grim reaper has no right being this upbeat! ‘Little Boy Preacher’ and ‘Bad Talkers’ are some more great examples of this record’s knack for multi-layered earworms. They are delightfully snappy foot tappers, with Elin Larsson’s vocals supported by choir like backing singers throughout. Their most adventurous step and the biggest surprise is the heartfelt ‘I Felt a Change’, a beautifully mournful track led solely by mellow keys and emotive strings.
The second half of the record holds true to the heady blues and dirty early ZZ Top-esque groove of their debut, with the trio ‘You Gotta Try’, ‘Won’t Go Back’ and ‘Rejection’ snugly fitting in side by side. The latter song is the rockiest moment here, an energetic track propelled forward by the thrusting guitar work of Dorrian Sorriaux. Similar to their self titled début, Lady in Gold has a cover version. The first one was Chubby Checker’s ‘Gypsy’, this time Tony Joe White’s ‘Elements and Things’ gets the Blues Pills treatment. It is a rocker, which ultimately stays faithful to the original, ending with an oddly captivating organ blast.
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After the glorious weather of the Saturday, Sunday at Ramblin’ Man greets us with rain. Lots and lots of rain and some dampened (chortle chortle) moods. As a result the arena certainly seems noticeably emptier than yesterday; but alas, duty calls. Even Sweden’s Blues Pills and their brand of psychedelic, 60s rock can’t perturb the downpour. Despite their suiting to sunnier climes however they go down a storm (!), as Elin Larsson showcases her massive, Janis Joplin-esque voice.
Despite the grim weather, Icelandic rockers Solstifir have a sizable turnout. Their presence on the main stage and the warm welcome they receive is incredibly gratifying. In spite of their short set, their performances of what has become their signature song, ‘Otta’ will hopefully elevate them further into the rock arena. Which, judging by today’s performance, they will most definitely deserve.
The rain proves a problem for the Prog Stage particularly as its shallow shelter fails to protect equipment (and band members) from the downpour. For Knifeworld sound problems would prove very detrimental as many of their instruments (and backing vocals) seemingly fail to come out of the PA at all. Kavus Torabi’s drawling, quirky vocals are always clear, but their complex and diverse structures are damaged severely, such as on ‘Send Him Seaworthy’ where its prominent Bassoon sections sounded completely nonexistent.
The Blues Tent enjoys a significant audience for the day, bolstered by those seeking shelter from the rain; as a result catching Aaron Keylock proves impossible, but from the outside he sounds on fine form. Over at the Prog Stage, The Pineapple Thief play a triumphant set which balances between their more delicate songs such as ‘Magnolia’ and their rockier kin of the likes of ‘Alone At Sea’ with great fluidity, showing their dexterity and understated diversity, proving a highlight of the entire weekend.
There’s a lot of love for Polish lads Riverside, and with good reason. Since the release of Shrine of New Generation Slaves (InsideOut) they have worked their way into the hearts of countless devotees. Their set today is nothing less than triumphant, seemingly able to bring the sunshine despite the clouds, lifting the spirits and smiles of the now rather soggy crowd. Their delight at the live setting is obvious, playing with gusto and passion compositions such as ‘Hyperactive’, ‘O2 Panic Room’ and ending with an immaculate rendition of ‘We Got Used To This’. This has to be one of the performances of the weekend.
Finally the rain eases and the sun shines through, creating a beautiful and apt scene for Alcest and their melancholic but gorgeous shoe-gazing take on prog. Despite his very reserved, even shy nature, Niege grows each time into his role as the band’s centerpiece, talking at greater lengths and showing genuine appreciation to the crowd. Mixing their earlier black metal orientated songs with the latter, softer elements, their set is one of pure majesty and hypnotic beauty that completely draws everyone in. Closing with a mesmerizing “Deliverance”, the band gradually leave the stage, finally with Niege as he turns, humbled by the rapturous response.
Possibly one of the most anticipated performances from the weekend comes from Seasick Steve. He arrives on stage dressed in garb that you wouldn’t find out of place on a lumberjack, and unassuming persona makes him even more endearing to the huge crowd in front of him. He regales tales of the origins of his many handmade instruments to the amused crowd, who are seemingly baffled that he can produce such music from such rickety creations. Songs like ‘Thunderbird’ and ‘Walkin’ Man’ transform the ordinary to the extraordinary.
Very few people are as iconic and instrumental in the world of Prog rock as Ian Anderson, and, while his legacy needs not reiterating, today his performance is certainly enjoyable but far from perfect. Brimming with an ever present enthusiasm and his quirky sense of humour and personality, Anderson is a joyous presence with sadly but expectedly some signs of wear and tear setting in. What really detracts however is the ill fitting, over the top style of guitarist Florian Ophale which doesn’t seem to make sense. Given a spot to show off, Ophale certainly has skill but his virtuoso performance does not match to the rest of the set at all, as if a last minute addition. Songs like ‘Agualung’ are simply timeless and can never fail, but the presence of Ophale leaves too sour a taste.
Marillion are one of those bands that seem to have always been there. It would be difficult to imagine the progressive rock scene without them, as they are the reason why many in the crowd are here today. Opening with the fifteen minute marvel that is ‘Gaza’, Steve Hogarth and co prove their longevity. Their set is filled with relatively new tomes, the post pre-1995 entry being ‘Sugar Mice’ but to the delight of the crowd. Steve Hogarth’s stage-based eccentricities and his unique vocal style (apparently unaffected by time) are on top form. Much of the set comes from their latest release, ‘Sounds That Can’t Be Made’, arguably their best yet. The crowd sings ‘Power’ as though it was their last breath, and as they close all too soon with ‘The Invisible Man’; it is clear that Marillion reach stretches beyond the progressive world.
WORDS: CHRIS TIPPELL & SARAH WORSLEY