First time at FAC 251 and it was a little strange. First impressions, it’s a strange little venue, steeped in Manchester history. This is the building that New Order famously built, and the Happy Mondays infamously destroyed. Being largely at the heart of the Manchester party scene it’s not exactly noted for hosting many metal gigs, but with Manchester still in the process of re-opening some of the regular places aren’t quite open yet. Continue reading
I think it goes without saying at this point that Finish melodeath collective Insomnium is one of the most respected and consistent names in their genre. While Scandinavia is no stranger to exports of high-quality melodic death metal, many of the genre’s biggest names like In Flames and Children of Bodom have either compromised their distinctive sound in favour of more accessible elements, or in some cases, no longer exist. Insomnium however, has continued to fine-tune the gloomy atmosphere they first presented almost two decades ago in 2002’s In The Halls of Awaiting. Now, boasting a total of eight melancholic yet undeniably gorgeous releases under their belt, the band has done the UK and Ireland the honour of a nationwide tour in support of their latest opus, Heart Like a Grave (Century Media). An album that is less sprawling and proggy than Winter’s Gate (Century Media), but is an equally if not more epic and melodic record, packed with more guitar leads and solos than anything they have released to date. Certainly, it is the kind of material that you would expect to excel in the live environment, and so on a bleak Monday night in winter, I ventured out to Manchester Academy 3 for a necessary dose of metalised depression.Continue reading
2019 see’s the third installment of what’s becoming an important event in the calendar for the discerning Heavy Metal connoisseur, BadgerFest. The brainchild of the undeniably hardest working man in the Manchester metal scene John Badger, If any qualification of that were needed, aside from it being reiterated by every band of the weekend, as well as their gratitude as to the smooth running, he’s also running the Drumming up Change in November whereby he’ll be playing the drums for the full sets of all ten bands. There’s hard-working and then there’s John Badger. Continue reading
Parkway Drive has had to deal with their fair share of grief. In the last few years their close friends in The Ghost Inside were involved in a life-altering bus crash that claimed the lives of two drivers. Their good friends and Metalcore cohorts, Architects, lost a brother and founding member, Tom Searle, and Parkway frontman, Winston McCall lost his best friend and faithful companion Monty, his beloved dog who died in his arms. Grief is a powerful motivator, and goes some way to explaining the stylistic shift seen on Parkway’s latest album, Reverence (Epitaph).Continue reading
A 500+ mile powertrip to see Monster Magnet for the first time might seem a touch much, but a sole UK date in London meant it was needs must time. The mighty Magnet are still touring in support of last year’s release, Mindfucker (Napalm Records), rolling back through the UK again, this time bringing along London-based trio Puppy, celebrating their debut release the previous week, as a bit of extra delight for the gig.
So, Puppy take to the stage, minus their intro music which messes up, though they try to cheerfully re-enact it between drums and vocals. The London three-piece have just released their debut full-length and it’s clear that a few in the venue, like myself, are already aware of the band, with more getting into it as the crowd continues to grow, with the vocals/guitarist Jock Norton introducing the first single, ‘Black Hole’ (Spinefarm), when they play it a few songs into the set.
There are very few breaks between tracks, as Puppy seek to maximise their stage and set time, proudly letting their music do the talking, which works well as many around me seem to be either nodding their head or shifting their feet. They keep more to the rockier end of their music, rather than some of the softer, more melodious side that I’ve previously seen live.
The messed-up intro apart, the band is tight and on their game, with their signature vocal harmonies on-point, Jock even breaking out some gratuitous shredding for the set closer. A worthy performance from a band that should have a very bright future, Puppy seem to pick up a number of new fans tonight, rightfully so after such a good forty-minute set.
Time for Monster Magnet then and, man, are they on form tonight! Their set has been shortened from their usual to an hour and twenty, missing out some of the more psychedelic numbers they often include, providing a more in your face, attitude-riddled ensemble for our collective aural delights. The busy crowd are up for it from the very start, showing plenty of energy and lung capacity as they scream relentlessly along to the sonic landscape driven into, and through us by Dave Wyndorf and co.
The band launch straight into ‘Dopes To Infinity’ before heading into the new territory of ‘Rocket Freak’, which garners as much zeal from the crowd as the previous song, dealing a true sonic attack into our eardrums. ‘Crop Circle’ and ‘Radiation Day’ follow just behind, whilst I seem to be dealing self-induced whiplash upon myself as I’m unable to resist the sheer ferocity of the set.
Magnet are playing at a breakneck pace, barely pausing between songs, if at all, at times, following the admirable lead Puppy had earlier given us, maximising the time spent on smashing our eardrums asunder.
The set continues as it started, with the psychedelic edge of Monster Magnet’s usual live shows being somewhat cast aside for the evening with a feeling of pure anger and malevolence pervading the atmosphere, in the best possible way, as the boisterous crowd continue to sing along at the tops of their voices to the Heavy Rock rantings.
Things continue with ‘Melt’ and ‘Ego The Living Planet’, amongst others, before approaching the end of the main body of their set. What two could they finish with but ‘Negasonic Teenage Warhead’ and ‘Spacelord’ – the finale being the only time we really get into Monster Magnet’s Psych Rockside on the night. They briefly leave the stage for Dave to have a brief rest, though he remains off while the rest of the band comes back on to start off the encores with ‘CNN War Theme’, which the guys perform with the utmost precision and feeling. We have time for ‘Dinosaur Vacuum’ and ‘Powertrip’ to finish the set, with the crowd all but drowning out the band, leaving it a glorious way to finish an excellent evening of music.
A 21 hour day was worth it thanks to everything taken in tonight and a performance that will live on in my mind for a while yet.
People so often complain that a band isn’t playing their town on a tour. Every announcement is met with requests to play Billy from Stoke’s bedroom – though that would be sweet – and never satiates the audience size. Spare a thought for the people of Norwich who have had to go for years without seeing the glory of Mastodon in their city. As such, tonight’s event is packed out from the moment doors open, and anticipation is at an extreme high.Continue reading
A four band bill on a cold Tuesday evening seems like the perfect antidote to the winter blues, so with Skid Row bringing the heat… sorry, bringing along H.E.A.T. alongside Vega and Backyard Babies on support on their latest tour, it seemed like the perfect evening. A quick trip across to Manchester later and it was time for the rather early doors. Continue reading
A first gig of the year after a couple of abortive attempts were blocked by train strikes and I finally get to take in The Subhumans in the annual Punk festival in The 100 Club – the scene of a number of good gigs I’ve enjoyed before. A long trip beckoned, but a hopefully worthwhile one nonetheless to finally see a band I’ve quite liked for a number of years now, complete with You and Knock Off in support duty.Continue reading
In the face of trying financial times for bands and gig-bookers alike, the fact that Damnation Festival still pulled off another sell-out edition is both impressive and heartening. Despite their own admissions about a couple of missed opportunities this year, Damnation always manage to bring an unmissable line-up that caters for a wide fan base, be it lovers of Extreme or the more Progressive, and once more they have done so with love and more than a few surprise additions!Continue reading
It’s a sell-out. This won’t come as any surprise to those who have followed the rapid, upward trajectory of Brighton’s Black Peaks but this is, as they say, a bit of a “moment” for a band that many have got justifiably excited about. This current tour, a showcase for their second album, the widely admired All That Divides (Rise Records), will see the band traverse the UK, but this stop off in the capital, on the same day that Marmozets are playing up the road and Crossfaith playing down the road still has touts asking (and getting) silly amounts of money outside the tube station is proof positive that this band have engineered more than a little bit of excitement about them.Continue reading