According to a published report (see below) The United Kingdom will begin allowing indoor performances with socially distanced audiences next month. British prime minister Boris Johnson said at a press conference on Friday: “From 1 August, we will restart live indoor performances to a live audience subject to the success of pilots, and we will pilot larger gatherings, with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn… From October, we intend to bring back audiences in stadia and to allow conferences and other business events to recommence. These changes have to be made in a covid-secure way subject to pilots.”Continue reading
Photo by Derek Soto
Machine Head already announced the North American leg of their 2018 “Catharsis” world tour, and today they’ve revealed the dates for Europe and the UK. Continue reading
Slipknot, Judas Priest, Five Finger Death Punch and Black Stone Cherry are the first four acts were announced for the 2015 edition of the Download Festival, announced Monday morning UK time (November 17, 2014). More acts will be announced will be announced at 8 am UK time tomorrow.
Tickets will available for sale this Thursday, November 20, 2014 here.
The annual festival is once again held on June 12-14, 2015 at Donnington Park in England.
That this gig even went ahead, given the steady stream of disaster befalling so many of its protagonists, was a miracle. Some weeks before the event, rising Liverpool-based doom trio Coltsblood had agreed to step in for the original headliners; while on the eve of the onslaught, Huddersfield swamp monsters Wort were forced to withdraw also.
A sequencer arrived as if from nowhere, and Peter Callaghan soon began to add his psychedelic bleeps and squiggles to the heavy as hell, occasionally funereal sludge of Stoke’s Space Witch. Bassist Ian Hickton, a less hirsute version of Lord of the Rings’ grumpy dwarf Gimley, rumbled his weapon so deeply I was fooled into thinking I was shitting myself: doubtless aided by the venue, around eighteen inches taller than me and about twice the size of my living room. Initmate? You betcha. At times the sound and weight felt like a train crash but despite the bleeding horror there’s a languid bliss in the audience, mirroring the brutal ease with which Dan Mansfield abused his kit.
The hypnotic, groove-laden sludge of Blackburn’s Bastard Of The Skies led to myriad knees and hips being displaced during an incendiary set. A Punch in the Fucking Lungs saw front man Matt Richardson roar his usual spoken verse and begin to flush like Rooney at a World Cup: his scathingly sarcastic lyrics delivered with a malevolence which belied the ease the trio undertook its task. Despite Matt Aldred breaking sticks to the apron, he and bassist Claire Horrocks laid waste on the pounding Yarn and the brooding, darkly portentous Bao Fu, both from their recent split with tonight’s original co-headliners Grimpen Mire; whilst the explosion from the lull within …Dicknose? was executed with the synchronised violence of a band at one with each other.
Sadly the night ended prematurely, due to Coltsblood guitarist Jemma McNulty needing hospital treatment after an allergic reaction. Hence four were reduced to two and focus therefore remained on Bastard Of The Skies: arguably the coolest band in the world right now, despite their friendly and unassuming demeanour, this lot demand your whole attention.
WORDS: PAUL QUINN
Since its birth in 2006, there can’t have been many harder-working bands than Lancastrian sludge-groove monster Bastard Of The Skies. After three full-lengths, an EP, and a ‘split’ album, long-time guitarist Rob Beesley stunned its dedicated and growing fanbase by departing the fold earlier this year. Prior to their recent gig with Space Witch, I asked about the effect this had had on the band, plus their recent, incendiary split with fellow Brit sludgers Grimpen Mire. Over the next forty minutes they proved themselves affable, open and disarmingly self-deprecating.
I began by asking how a band from Blackburn, with not much of a metal scene to speak of, were garnering such a name for themselves? The humour is evident straightaway: “When I came for an audition’, says bassist Claire Horrocks, ‘Matt and [Rob] Beesley were sat there with a clipboard and a book entitled ‘How To Be A Successful Rock Band’!!” Rather shame-facedly, vocalist / guitarist and founder member Matt Richardson affirms this fact with a nod. “It’s everything you need’, he jokes. ‘I think my first gig was in Blackburn”, continues Claire, “but the venue closed soon afterwards.”‘I think Blackburn closed!’, replies Richardson. So how get noticed enough to break out of there? “Despite a couple of early tours in the Midlands I’ve always followed what’s gone on in Manchester, which is now a home-from-home for us”, continues Richardson. ‘I knew a couple of guys here, and had seen a few gigs that Dave at Future Noise (the band’s record label) had put on there, so I hooked up with him.’ Youthful-looking powerhouse drummer Matt Aldred joined later: ‘Matt [Richardson] knew my elder brother and asked me to come down. He initially rejected me the first time around, but I came back successfully a year later. They’d obviously tried all other options!” The thing that sets BotS apart from the majority of sludge bands out there, aside from Richardson’s terrifying roar, is a huge element of groove amidst the ferocity. It’s something the rest of the trio are willing to lay at Aldred’s feet: ‘I’m from a pop-punk background’… ‘but listen to a lot of Tool, Mastodon, Russian Circles, and I find their kind of flow sneaks in to my playing.’
Attention turned to their blisteringly heavy, hostile, and rather magnificent new ‘split’ with Birmingham (UK) trio Grimpen Mire, which I seemed to recall being ‘plugged’ at a phenomenal night both bands played in Manchester a year earlier. ‘I’d actually already recorded the Grimps’ side of the ‘split’ before that gig!’, Richardson states matter-of-factly. ‘I’d spoken to Ian (Davis, Grimpen Mire drummer) about the possibility, and Future Noise agreed to fund it. I recorded their part in about three days, and our four tracks in about eight months! Our last album, ‘Tarnation’, had pushed my old desk to its absolute limits: this has been finished on a new desk.’ I opine that their contribution is a slight return to a more pacy, groove-laden nastiness, after an occasional dalliance with drone on ‘Tarnation’: ‘When we set out writing’ begins Aldred, ‘we don’t really have an aim. It kind of…develops. ‘That’s one reason why it took us so long!’ continues Richardson. ‘Nothing ever ends as you think it’s going to. It takes its own little journey and usually goes somewhere else.’ ‘Something will just spark something off’, continues Claire, ‘and before you know it half a song’s re-written. It’s happened to us so many times.’
I wondered, with the preponderance of bands doing splits these days, what the attraction is from a band’s point of view? “It’s just a better way of getting your stuff out there”, says Horrocks. “It’s economical”, Richardson adds, “and good in a geographical sense as people from a different area, the home of the other band involved at least, will hear your stuff. We did a split a couple of years ago with a band called Catatomic. They’re from Wisconsin and, although it didn’t do much for the bank balance, it got us heard in the US”. “In fact, we know we’ve some kind of following in Brazil as we get quite a few downloads of our stuff from there, and we’ve heard that some guys in Afghanistan were playing Tarnation in the humvees as they were out on patrol!”, reveals Aldred. “Yeah: I’m not really sure how I felt about that one…” jokes Richardson.
So does this, and the fact that Tarnation received airplay on some US online stations, mean that things are on the rise internationally for BotS? ‘I don’t know’ sighs Horrocks, ‘we’ll go where it takes us. To be honest we just do what we do, and don’t really expect anything out of it. You can’t get an ego about it: quite often, if you do, the rug gets pulled out from under your feet.’ ‘We got PR in North America for the split’ continues Richardson, “and if you look at their client list, Neurosis are on it, which was like ‘Oh my God!’. But, small fish, big pond. That’s the way we see it. Dave knew the PR guys from other occasions and they actually contacted us to do it, so it’s nice. It’s not like we can get over there anytime soon but it’s fantastic if we go down well over there.”
So how’s the split been received? “Well Terrorizer gave us a great review,” Claire positively enthuses, “so that was a real “t-shirt over the head” moment! It’s generally been really good, and at the moment that’s probably been the highlight.” Some reviews haven’t been so kind in the past, with one rather huffy reviewer taking issue purely because of the many tongue-in-cheek song titles the band produce. This, it seems, is largely the work of Mr. Richardson: ‘Take ‘Bao Fu’ from the split, for instance’ states Horrocks. “There’s no spiritual meaning; it’s the name of a chinese takeaway! I quite like the idea of some people wondering if there’s a deeper meaning behind a song named after a local chippy! We have discovered since that it’s also the name of a film character.’ ‘Also, ‘What Are You Looking At, Dicknose?!’ (from ‘Tarnation’) is taken from a t-shirt in the film ‘Teen Wolf” states Richardson, in no way ashamed of this rather cheesy link.
Actors and actresses do crop up with alarming regularity. I asked what the influence was. “Simple. I watch shit films. I love ’em! I suggest these things and they just stick.’ ‘There’s a new song we’ve written called ‘Tehachapi’, states Horrocks, “which comes from ‘Critters 2.’ ‘Debbie Rochon, the horror film actress, actually had our track named after her (from second album ‘Ichor! Ichor!’) as the theme on her website for a time!’, affirms Aldred. So are the songs about the people? ‘Largely, no!’ confirms Richardson. “They’re more often than not based on scenarios. The titles are just random suggestions that seem like an idea at the time!”
Richardson also has a steadily-growing resumé as a producer. Is word getting around about this string on his bow? I produce anyone who asks! But I’m between premises at present. I’ve had a studio for the last ten years but, at Christmas, I got a call saying it was to be pulled down. So the gear’s in my back room at the moment! ‘He’ll record anything though’, states Horrocks, ‘some bloke across the way chanting Muslim prayers, the Elvis impersonator down the road…anything. But there’s a lot of doom also: The Human Condition, Arkham Witch, Black Magician’...it’s an expanding list which is growing ever-more impressive.
The split is the first product the band have released without the beloved guitarist Beesley. I asked the reason for his departure, and how he’s missed: the response ‘Well, Claire now has to drive!…’ immediately dispels any suspicion of a fallout, and shows the band still love their absent colleague. ‘One of us may have to learn now’…continues Aldred. ‘Basically, he now has family responsibilities, and can’t commit to the band.’ ‘We miss that big grin’ laments Horrocks, ‘and the fact that, when ‘the dictator’ [Richardson] got going in the past, he’d go over and rub himself up against him, which diffused any situations.’ ‘So he had to go!’ declares Richardson in mock-tyrannical fashion. The teasing of Richardson’s status as leader reaffirms how well they get on with each other. Horrocks later opines that this is the most important thing about being in a band, whilst Aldred suggests that not living in each others’ pockets, a mistake that results in so many bands losing members these days, creates the breathing space necessary to reinforce the bond between them.
One of the most unassuming, funny, approachable units I’ve ever met, it’s almost paradoxical that the violent noise Bastard of the Skies creates is so brutal, crater-creating and downright irresistible. With their portion of the new split sounding as vital and powerful as ever, they are surely one of the greatest, coolest outfits around right now. You know what to do…
Bastard Of The Skies Facebook
Picture Bastard Of The Skies
The worst kept, non-secret of the heavy music world this year was that Godflesh was going to release a new album in 2014, their first in 13 years. A World Lit Only By Fire is coming out on the bands own Avalanche Recordings label on October 6th. This highly anticipated album marks the full on collaborative return of industrial/post-metal pioneers Justin Broadrick and GC Green. The band plans a lot of touring behind this release, the first dates of which will be in the UK this December.
You can hear the preposterously heavy debut track ‘New Dark Ages’ on the Godflesh Soundcloud page:
On the strength of the powerful Decline and Fall EP, the fan base of the pioneers of several forms of music were offering us just a glimpse of what was to come on this new album from the sound of New Dark Ages. From our review of the Decline and Fall EP, Ghost Cult Magazine Senior Editor Ross Baker wrote:
“Visceral, focussed and harrowing the eerie harmonies compliment the driving rhythms and wounded vocals. As bleak as anything the band has ever recorded with scant regard for any musical evolution other than their own, ‘Decline And Fall’ is a more than worthy taster for any upcoming full length for which expectations have now been raised even higher!”
A World Lit Only By Fire Track List
1. New Dark Ages
3. Shut Me Down
4. Life Giver Life Taker
6. Curse Us All
9. Towers of Emptiness
10. Forgive Our Fathers
A World Lit Only By Fire December Uk Tour Dates
Tue 09.12.14 The Haunt Brighton
Wed 10.12.14 Garage London
Thu 11.12.14 Rescue Rooms Nottingham
Fri 12.12.14 Sound Control Manchester
Sat 13.12.14 Art School Glasgow
Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Due to issues with their van, The Ocean’s arrival to the venue is delayed. Having been travelling for 36 hours since their set at With Full Force festival one could forgive the German/Swiss outfit if they were less than one hundred percent.
After nearly an hour we are yet into the venue to be greeted by a set from local act Hieroglyph who boast ex-Fragments Of Faith singer Valentina Reptile in their ranks. Crammed onto the small stage the sextet belt out their dual vocal djent metal with gusto. Co-vocalist Mark Howes harsh growls provide contrast with Val’s Gothic diva presence. Numbers like ‘Parasitus’ still bare many hallmarks of acts like TesseracT but considering the group have been together only since December 2012 they show enough prowess to be considered ones to watch in the future.
Wasting no time the headliners take to the stage and launch into the title track of ‘Pelagial’. Bathed in blue light, any thoughts of tiredness are immediately forgotten as you are caught in the current of this all-consuming noise which blends post metal, jazz overtones and classical textures of mesmerizing effect.
The backdrop of visuals is certainly a key to the presentation, being connected so completely with the songs it accompanies, yet the five musicians onstage are hardly static particularly livewire vocalist Loic Rossetti who is hurling himself around the stage one moment then sat cross-legged on a monitor the next.
Creative hub Robin Staps nurtures shimmering harmonics and tidal waves of distortion from his instrument at will. His intense concentration reciprocated by the audience who are transfixed by his band’s every move. Playing your new opus in its entirety is a bold endeavour but one which is carried off with such masterful ease.
The encore sees the band sign off with ‘Origin Of The Species’ to an ecstatic response. They were up against it tonight, but like a force of nature they were unstoppable.
WORDS: ROSS BAKER
PHOTOS: ECHOES IN THE WELL PHOTOGRAPHY
Justin Broadrick has always been a mover and shaker. Active in underground music with many projects from the Drum ‘N’ Bass assault of Techno Animal to Final’s ambient elect-drone, the Birmingham musician is a key underground figure whose influence can be felt from Fear Factory to Isis. Reforming in 2009 having played a smattering of shows but little more Broadrick has finally birthed a new four song EP from his most famous musical endeavour with the promise of more to come. Before the Brummie industrial icon can dish out the punishment it’s time for Alt rockers Loop to woo the audience with their droning riffs and throbbing bass. The venue is just over half full as but the band still receives a positive reaction with many shaking their bodies in time to the rhythm. Relying heavily on repetition you found yourself swaying in time to the soothing molasses of feedback. Hypnotic and alluring this trance inducing spectacle is fine for a kick off but nothing prepares you for the harrowing sounds of urban decay that follows.
The stark contrast between the terrifyingly bleak and nihilist sounds of Godflesh from Loop’s warm psyche could be felt by all in attendance. Justin Broadrick’s scowls intensely while thrashing at his guitar and bellowing like a wounded animal. The hour and ten minutes over which Godflesh inflict their scathing assault upon the bewildered crowd is as claustrophobic as is it compelling. The catacombs of The Cockpit cater for Godflesh’s Molotov cocktail of neurosis over grim industrial sounds.
New number ‘Ringer’ is dished out early and gratefully received by a crowd many of whom probably felt they would never hear a new Godflesh track. Material from the newly released Decline and Fall EP is foul and depraved, harking back to their early material without being an exercise in hopeless nostalgia. ‘Like Rats’ and the bruising ‘Christbait Rising’ are dispatched with frightening efficiency sounding as vicious and life affirming as ever. Crushingly devoid of humanity save for Broadrick’s anguished tones, no intensity has been lost in the thirteen year absence between recorded works.
Godflesh Set List:
New Dark Ages
Crush My Soul