The Sisters of Mercyhave bookedheadline gigsatThe Roundhouse London on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 September 2019. They did a brief tour last summer, and have already been booked to headline a stage at this summer’s Hellfest. The band has been especially active lately on social media and their last full-length original album, 1990’s Vision Thing (East West/Elektra) was just released on streaming platforms for the first time last week. Tickets for the London shows go on sale this Friday 18th January 10 am local time at the link below. Continue reading →
Up and coming UK gothic metal band Her Despair is releasing their new EP this summer, the amazingly titled ‘Mournography.’ The EP drops on July 20th, and we’ll bring you more news soon about this exciting band. In the meantime, Ghost Cult has teamed up with the band to debut their new music video for the track ‘Blaspheme With Me, so check it out! Continue reading →
Thirty-five years, and now fourteen albums, of railing against the establishment and providing regular, biting social commentary and Spear of Destiny mainstay Kirk Brandon could have been forgiven for dialling it down on Tontine, a fan-funded album released on Brandon’s own Eastersnow imprint, and just appeasing the masses with re-recordings, or watered down versions, of hits of yesteryear. Instead, the lack of giving a fuck that comes with such longevity and belligerence of vision fuels an interesting and diversely poetic selection of tracks. Continue reading →
In a story Ghost Cult broke and has tracked for several months, the band Ghost has been hit with a major lawsuit in the bands’ original home town Linköping, Sweden over the dismissal of the previous lineup.Continue reading →
Oh, Jesus. Richmond, Virginia has proved a fertile ground for the heavier end of metal over the last two or three years, but the cheesy 80s synth and tinny-sounding drums that overshadow Silaluk (6131), the début three-track EP from quartet Shadow Age, sadly give me all the wrong kind of chills.
Changing their name from Colony some months ago, their ethos has remained post-Punk yet the feel loses some of that intensity. The rapid bass of the opening title track underpins coldly mellow strings, while lacklustre yet melodic vocals, a cross between Barney Sumner and Morrissey, enforce the pervading Mancunian air. Sadly, save for the lead shimmers and slightly more urgent delivery of ‘A Portrait of a Young Man Drowning’, the first two tracks have more of the Indie / Pop of New Order than the angular, piercing swagger of forefathers Joy Division.
It’s the booming drums and Post-rock leadwork of the moody, balladic closer ‘Innocence’ that finally give this outing a bit of steel. The building swathes of pensive atmospherics take the listener into Shoegaze territory, that Smiths vocal link ever more apparent and lightly dusted over the emotive instrumentals which are evocative of the heady days when both U2 and The Sisters of Mercy were both capable of appealing to the harder rockers among us. The sound that Shadow Age are peddling is indeed an attractive one in many respects, but overall it’s missing a row of teeth which would generate real interest outside the NME readership.
Having started off like so many Swedish death metal bands by worshipping at the putrid altar of Entombed on debut album The Horror (Pulverised), Arvika upstarts Tribulation clearly weren’t content to merely rehash the work of the elders, as demonstrated by sophomore record The Formulas of Death (Invictus), a lengthy concept piece that won them many admirers despite not straying too far from established templates. All that has changed now with third effort The Children of the Night (Century Media), which save for snarled vocals and horror themed lyrics, is a classic heavy metal record, far more interested in melody and catchy songs than aggression and violence.
Aided by a lo-fi, vintage production which isn’t a million miles away from the kind of vibe Opeth have been cultivating on their past two albums, the music on The Children of the Night rarely gets above mid-paced; those who came here expecting blastbeats and tremolo picking will be sorely disappointed. Instead we get some fantastic guitar interplay between Adam Zaars and JonathanHulten that dart and weave amidst each other like a pair of bats dancing at twilight.
A lot of influence appears to have been taken from both Watain’s Lawless Darkness (Century Media), and last year’s final In Solitude record Sister (Metal Blade), especially on the vaguely groovy gothisms of ‘In the Dreams of the Dead’, while the sinister melodies and big stomping riffs of ‘Winds’ is like Iron Maiden if Steve Harris was forced to watch repeated showings of The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.
There’s also a strong yet subtle Sisters of Mercy feel to the album, noticeably on the achingly hip ‘The Motherhood of God’ with its irresistibly danceable rhythms and morose, melodic verses. The songwriting throughout the record is full of surprises, from the catchy chugging riffs of opener ‘Strange Gateways Beckon’ to the mysterious doomy refrains of closing track ‘The Motherhood of God.’ One gripe is that the record is ten minutes too long and where instrumentals should be used to build atmosphere, the two tracks here go nowhere and should have been culled. That said, The Children of the Night is a brave record from an exceedingly talented set of musicians who are just that more subtle when it comes to what style of darkness works best.
Sunday sees the sun come out again, and the weekend rapidly coming to an end. To ease the pain of Sonisphere being over for another year, ska-punk legends Reel Big Fish run riot on the Bohemia stage with a setlist made up of happy-go-lucky, bouncy ska hits. Disappointingly, the sound cut out for ‘Where Have You Been’, causing the audience to flit between chanting to get the sound back on as soon as possible, to helping the band out singing along word for word when the chorus kicks in. The ever notorious ‘S.R’ (‘Suburban Rhythm’) and the bands penchant for playing parts of the song in varying genres throughout the duration gives fans a chance to skank, mosh and any other form of dance that tickles their fancy.
Boston-Irish punks Dropkick Murphys are next, their whisky soaked bar room anthems in full swing today, kicking off with the well suited ‘The Boys Are Back’ before following it up with raucous renditions of ‘Black Velvet Band’, ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya’ and ‘Shipping Up To Boston’. Despite a hefty collection of songs from previous albums, the Celtic boys opt for playing a fair few from their 2013 album Signed & Sealed In Blood, and it’s a credit to the guys that these tracks are as well received as ones that have been around for years, ‘Rose Tattoo’ being a notable favourite of the crowd.
Over at the Apollo stage, grunge legends Alice In Chains are in full swing, singer William DuVall once again proving his worth as he throws himself around the stage, his vocals mixing perfectly with guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s harmonies. ‘Dam That River’, ‘Man in the Box’ and ‘Stone’ all make obvious appearances in the set, sounding as good now as they ever did back in the day. After their comeback five years ago, Alice In Chains certainly set the record straight for any disbelievers whose opinons may have ever swayed towards their comeback being an unsuccessful one.
Finally, Metallica bring the weekend to a blinding close, the songs they perform chosen entirely by Sonisphere attendees and fans who’ve spent the last few months casting their votes in the run up to the festival, some of whom were invited on-stage to announce them to the audience. Obviously, there were the odd grumble here and there as some songs are cut from their usual set list, but in all honesty, it’s hard to argue with the likes of ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘One’, ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and all the other hits they cram into their two hour performance. It’s a shame that the screens at each side of the stage were unfortunately hindered by the lack of backdrop due to some issues earlier on in the day, meaning that it wasn’t until dark that those of us vertically challenged and/or stood further to the back were able to watch the performance properly. Striding back on stage for their encore of ‘Whiskey In The Jar’, James Hetfield announces ‘…And Justice For All’ as the song that had won the vote from the ongoing polls, before ‘Seek and Destroy’ brings the main stage to a close for another year.
With just enough left in our vocal chords to have a sing along to some classic 90’s grunge, The Defiled top off the weekend with their ‘Nirvana Defiled’ set. Playing Kurt Cobain, singer Stitch pays homage and does justice to the raspy, gravelly vocals that Cobain was notorious for, as well as pulling off a performance whilst seemingly a little bit too tipsy. Playing the part of Courtney Love, The AvD wanders the stage in a skimpy dress as his band members crash their way through ‘Rape Me’, ‘Lithium’, ‘Heart Shaped Box’ before ending with the obvious choice ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
With the dawn of Saturday morning comes the rain, but if ever there was a band to provide an antidote to the grey skies, it’s British classics Chas & Dave. Though somewhat hard to grasp that the Cockney legends are sharing the stage with the likes of Slayer and Carcass, there’s no doubt that Chas & Dave’s back catalogue of hits such as ‘Gertcha’, ‘Rabbit’ and ‘The Sideboard Song’ is the perfect way to ease those hangovers and build you up for the rest of the days music.
On the opposing Apollo stage, Ghost take to the stage. A band notoriously ridiculed for their ghoulish garb, they’ve still drawn a large crowd to watch their own brand of heavy doom metal. With a set list severely lacking in any major stand out hits, Papa Emeritus and his Nameless Ghouls still manage to keep the attention of the crowd, the grim grey skies providing the perfect backdrop to witness this Swedish six piece at their best.
Over in the Bohemia tent, Finnish glam metallers Reckless Love welcome an eager crowd in out of the rain, singer Olli Herman sending the girls insane with his leather clad hips thrusting and gyrating as he belts out ‘Animal Attraction’, ‘On The Radio’ and ‘Beautiful Bomb’. Akin to an ever so slightly more serious Steel Panther, Reckless Love certainly know how to fill a tent with both a huge audience and blistering, ear splitting hair metal.
Frank Turner makes his Sonisphere debut, and he clearly couldn’t be any happier that he’s got the chance to coincide this with performing on the same stage as his idols Iron Maiden, a fact that he makes no attempt at hiding throughout his set. It’s a shame then, that he plays to a disappointingly uninterested crowd, save for a handful of die hard fans down the front. Thankfully, it turns out that Frank and his Sleeping Souls put on a rip roaring performance regardless; from opening track ‘Photosynthesise’ to the ever poignant ‘Long Live The Queen’, right until set closer ‘Four Simple Words’.
Despite only playing their last ever gig barely a year and a half ago, Hundred Reasons regroup to play their rescheduled Sonisphere show after the last one was cancelled along with the whole festival back in 2012, with none other than ‘Ideas Above Our Station’ in it’s entirety. The album, released back in ’02, is wonderfully nostalgic; ageless songs such as ‘Answers’, ‘Falter’ and climactic closing song ‘Avalanche’ cause widespread sing-alongs across the entire crowd. It’s hard to walk away from the Saturn stage after watching such a performance knowing that there’ll be nothing from the Hundred Reasons camp any time soon, but it does instil hope in the hearts of their fans that this might not necessarily be a one-off show.
It’s Deftones time back over at the Apollo, and despite there being a good few moshpits and circle pits opening up nearer to the front of the stage, I find myself willing the band to end their fourteen song set by the time they’re only just halfway through. Whether it’s a combination of not knowing much of the material they played or a general lull in the afternoons atmosphere, the Californian five piece failed to entertain not only myself, but a good chunk of the audience who were stood further to the back.
Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Saturday night at Sonisphere 2014 plays host to the final date of an epic three year tour by Iron Maiden, and what better way to end it than for it to coincide with Knebworth’s 40th anniversary of hosting live music. Pulling out the big guns with plenty of fire canons, smoke and other pyro, their setlist is a triumph; crammed with all the hits from their forty year repertoire. With his unmistakeable ‘Scream for me Knebworth!’, Bruce Dickinson tells us we’re a ‘rowdy and thirsty bunch’ before launching into classics such as ‘Moonchild’, ‘Can I Play With Madness’, ‘The Trooper’, ‘Run To The Hills’, the list is endless. Even the ever changing backdrops and various versions of mascot Eddie are overshadowed by the blazing performance that Iron Maiden put on. Even for someone who might not be their biggest fan, it’s hard not to get caught up in the show. Welcomed back onstage for their encore by a recording of a Winston Churchill speech, the band hint towards a new album in the near future, before ending the evening on ‘Sanctuary’.
July has felt somewhat empty since Sonisphere went on a two year hiatus after the disappointing line up of 2012 caused it to be cancelled, and completely left off the festival circuit in 2013. 2014, however, sees its triumphant return to the fields of Knebworth Park July 4th-6th, coincidentally celebrating its 40th anniversary of live music held in its legendary grounds.
To honour such an occasion, Sonisphere really has pulled out the big guns headliner-wise; Friday welcomes The Prodigy to the Apollo stage for the first time, with the likes of Limp Bizkit, Band Of Skulls, Gary Numan, Anti-Flag and The Defiled playing beforehand to get you in the mood. Across other stages on Friday, there’s Electric Wizard, Bam Margera’s Fuckface Unstoppable, Lostalone, Brutality Will Prevail, Black Spiders, Glamour Of The Kill amongst so many more.
Throughout the Saturday, there’s The Sisters Of Mercy, New Model Army, Reckless Love, The Virginmarys, Bleed From Within, Alestorm, Chas & Dave, Ghost, Frank Turner and Deftones to look forward to, before you’re faced with the impossible challenge of having to choose who to watch between Slayer and legends Iron Maiden headlining the Saturn and Apollo stages respectively. But wait; what’s that? There’s no need for tough decisions, you say? Thankfully, no, as Sonisphere UK is sticking with its age old tradition of alternate stage times, so no pesky clashes between the main and second stage!
Bringing the weekend to a close on Sunday evening is none other than Metallica (By Request!). With the exception of their final song, the band have left it entirely up to festival goers to vote and decide what their setlist will be. Is there one song you’ve spent years desperate to hear them play live, and never had the chance? Well, now’s the time. Head over to http://www.metallica.com/ and cast your votes! But before the weekend is over, there’s of course Dream Theatre, Alice in Chains, Mastodon, Reel Big Fish, Dropkick Murphys, Gojira, Therapy? (playing Infernal Love in its entirety), the list just goes on and on.
Sonisphere is renowned for its diverse line ups, bringing many genres across the metal/rock/alt scene to one festival. It’s been sorely missed the last two years, so make sure you don’t miss out on what will surely prove to be one hell of a welcome home party.