Monday, 30 March 2015

The Metal Project: Planets Of Metal

 Hello headbangers, moshers, rivetheads and people who like bellowing along to "Ace Of Spades" when pissed. Welcome to another collection of songs that celebrate the Metallic lifestyle.
I don't have a theme this time around, just a buncha stuff  I think you might like.  Enjoy.

Trance(Mission) - Metal Men (2003)

See how many song references you can spot. 

Honour to: SteelIvsMetal

Babylon - Metal Fire (Malaysia 1990)

I quite like this one. I wouldn't mind hearing more of these boys. 

Honour to: besikrom

The next band describe themselves as "Progesssive Black/Doom Death Metal"
See what you think. 

Hidden - Planets Of Metal  (USA 2005)

Honour to: Sortiarus

Warning SF - Metal Maniac (USA 2002)

If I didn't know better I'd have sworn this song was from  some mid-80s cult heroes.
Honour to: Rafael Sabino

Dare - Heavy Metal Machine (Brazil 2012)

Not to be confused with Darren Wharton's melodic rock crew. 
Although frankly I can't see anybody remaining  misinformed for longer than ..oh..a few seconds. 

Honour to: Thiago Gomes Coutinho

And finally...

Dirges - Metal Attack (Colombia 2006)

Starts of slow and epic before launching into frenzied South American Thrash

 Honour to: MercilessPain95

That's all folks.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Gig Review: Truffle/Siege/Kodiak Jack/Toledo Steel - The Glasshouse 21/03/15

  Much to my shame, I don't go to as many gigs as I'd like.  As a general thing, I tend to see bands that I know reasonably well - or know the Greatest Hits, anyway.

 On Saturday night I made a definite exception to this rule.

Yes, the bill featured two bands I'd never heard of and yes, with the other two I'd only heard the odd song here and there.

But how often do you get proper, old-school heavy metal bands in Portsmouth? NWOBHM bands at that.

" This..." I thought "This , I have to see."

I've never been to The Glasshouse before and it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Bigger than I was expecting, nicely done up and the toilets were clean.  A few more signs wouldn't hurt though...

 The next surprise was the crowd. I had this mental image of a relative handful of grizzled 80s rock veterans and while there were plenty in my age bracket or older, there was also a good solid contingent of younger metalheads. In fact the age range ran from grannies to primary school, which gave the whole thing a nice family affair.  Quite a sizeable turnout too. 
 I indulged myself with a bit of t-shirt spotting and got to witness several rarities I never expected to see in the wild: Tygers Of Pan Tang. Praying Mantis. Mythra(!) and one I didn't get a clear look at but may well have been a Vow Wow t-shirt. Nice. 

 Long-maned youngsters Toledo Steel were the perfect openers. Clearly big fans of early 80s metal and with a strong tint of Iron Maiden in their twin-guitar runs. Their energetic frontman was definitely a big fan of Bruce Dickinson's stage moves and it would be nice to see him on a bigger stage.
 I was trying to work out who his vocals reminded me of. (Helloween's Michael Kiske maybe?  I'll work it out eventually.) Regardless, he hit some impressive high notes.
 Meanwhile the guitar team traded solos and even snuck in a classic Maiden-esque instrumental passage.
 I suspect if Toledo Steel were German or Swedish they'd have attracted a lot of attention by now.
 Great fun.

Best song:  Toledo Steel - where they go out-and-out Power Metal on yer ass.

Kodiak Jack are a little bit older, a little bit rougher around the edges and don't have anywhere near as much hair. Their lead singer didn't show off his vocal range, opting to demonstrate his ability to go from smooth to throat-shredding grit instead. It's probably a crap comparison but the band that came to mind was The Almighty - gritty, no-prisoners Rock with a touch of Punk, a touch of groove and enough melody to catch the ear.
 Perfect music for a dingy Biker pub and an evening that hurts the next morning.
 Up until this point the crowd had been reluctant to get too close to the stage. Well, the semi-circle of wooden tiles before the stage looked like somebody spent ages polishing them and nobody wanted to be the heathen that got them dirty.
 Toldeo Steel got the punters to shuffle forward. With an appeal from the stage Kodiak Jack drew them a little closer. Since that was still too far the  frontman closed the distance himself, hopping off stage for the last song.
 I looked them up and they're local boys, so with a bit of luck I'll see them again.

Best song - Waves  

Next up were the first of the veterans.   Siege gigged a  fair bit in the mid-80s but only released one privately pressed 7" before fading away again. Unusually they had a female vocalist so I was a bit non-plussed when the reformed band  trooped onstage and began blasting away. Not only were they a lot heavier than I was expecting but the three members were all indisputably male.
 (Afterwards a little bit of research revealed that after the untimely death of singer Sharon Thompson, three of her bandmates decided to reform for a tribute gig, before recording new material and gigging again)
With the exception of the singer's rather snazzy bass (LEDs down the fret and a laser-pointer in the headstock. I wants one!)  Siege are a no-frills, heads-down, Brit metal outfit. Think the sort of thing that was coming out of the NorthEast in the early 80s. No instrumental flashiness,  just solid headbanging  stuff .
I should mention that while the vocalist didn't show off his range or his lungpower,  he got the job done in fine style. Sometimes all you need to do is sing.

 And once again the crowd got just that little bit closer to the stage...

Best Song - opener Razorwing

  Headliners Truffle, like so many NWOBHM acts, never quite managed to make the jump from local heroes to national stardom. And like many others, they may have done themselves no  favours with their choice of name. (Still not the worst offenders though. I'm looking at you, Ethel The Frog. And you can stop sniggering Split Beaver.) 

 Despite well-received gigs, some favourable mentions in Kerrang and releasing one of the best-named cassettes ever ("The Bacon Slicer Strikes Back")   Truffle threw in the towel by the end of the 80s with some members moving on to covers outfit The Mafia. - a band that soundtracked some particularly good nights out I've had over the years.
 Anyway, now they were back and I was really looking forward to seeing them in action. So was the rest of the crowd as they finally set foot on the sacred Wooden Bit before the stage. 
I have to say, I was really impressed.  
  I could probably have spent the entire set watching the drummer -possibly moonlighting from his day job as mad scientist - setting about his kit with sticks a-twirling.
 The lead singer mentioned a couple of times that he wasn't well, eliciting sympathetic cries of "Aww" that he milked shamlessly. From where I was standing, it didn't seem to slow him down any. In fact the rest of the boys had their working shoes on that night with plenty of effort all round. One guitarist soloed like he had 12 fingers, the other one threw shapes that would dislocate my hips.
 What I did find interesting was how varied their material was. ( Please don't ask me to tell you the song titles. I knew a couple of them from Youtube and that's it.) There was the long rock epic with equally epic soloing. There was the ones that were out and out Heavy Metal. There was the song I actually knew - the synth-enhanced and rather catchy "Starlight". You get the picture, yes? 
 Not 101 variations on the same basic template which seems to be the norm these days. 

Enough fanboying. 

I enjoyed them a lot, basically, and rather hope to see them again.
Best Song - Starlight (obviously)

To sum up, two young bands that show a lot of promise. Two veteran outfits still ready to roll. And one happy Big D. 

Let's give them all a plug shall we?

That's all folks. 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Heavy Metal Cover Girls: Maidens Of The Spear

Hello and welcome to a slightly overdue collection of Metal/Rock/AOR album covers celebrating the beauty of the female form. 
Or, if you prefer,  where the band told the artist "Put a sexy girl on it"

 The theme today is: Warrior Women with spears. 

Hope you like them.
And remember to check out the music too. 

Clamfight - I Versus The Glacier (USA 2013)

album art viking women with spears
Blonde " Look yonder. The glacier awaits us. To arms and let us give battle
Redhead: "Are you sure about this whole 'fighting a glacier' thing. It seems a bit silly. And why are you talking like that?" 

Band homepage here: 

The Eagle

Virgin Steele - Age Of Consent (USA 1988)

snake with a face, warrior woman, metal album cover

Ah, the classic "looking thoughtful on a mountain top" pose.

Hang on.
I've just noticed that the snake has a freaking face
Oh dear gods, that's just wrong. 

Let It Roar

Moving hurriedly on, for the sake of my sanity...

Nubian Rose - Mental Revolution (Sweden 2014)

album cover African woman with spear
Frontwoman Sofia Lilja looking fierce and stuff.

Band homepage here

Break Out

And now a band I have actually seen live

Cruachan - The Morrigan's Call (Ireland 2006)

album cover celtic woman warrior
The Morrigan was an old Celtic Goddess Of  Battle, Strife and generally being very scary.
Whether she was actually a naturist is open to debate.

The Brown Bull of Cooley

Sticking with terrifying Celtic Amazons. 

The Wolves Of Avalon - Boudica's Last Stand (UK 2014)

warrior queen in a chariot art

It seems appropriate for a British band to honour the legendary British warrior-queen .
They even used the proper spelling.

Homepage here:

Sadly I couldn't find the wonderfully titled "The Icknield Way Is Dripping with the Juice of Our Marrow-Bones" on Youtube
So here's "Famished Wolves Befogged With Blood" instead.

Seven Witches - Year Of The Witch (USA 2004)

Redhead with spear album art
She's looking a bit pensive, isn't she? 

Fires Below

And finally

Tyr - Valkyrja (Faroe Islands 2013)

To me this cover screams of despair.
More specifically, the moment a young woman decides that she's had 
enough of walking though fields littered with the bodies of young men.
And the uniform sucks too. 

Blood Of Heroes

Let me know what you thought of the album art and the music and if you have any themes
 you'd like me to do next time, stick something in the comments box. 
As long as it doesn't involve  naked men or  torture porn, I'll see what I can do.

That's all folks.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Cheapo DVD Review: 30 Nights Of Paranormal Activity With The Devil Inside The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2013)

I trawl through the offcuts of the movie industry...So you don't have to. 

And today we're looking at:

And since there is no fucking way I am typing all that out every time, henceforth it shall be referred to as "30NOPA"

Thursday, 12 March 2015

R.I.P Terry Pratchett

This isn't the post I was planning to write.

Up until 5 minutes ago I had something else lined up but that was before I fired up my PC to see this:

Sir Terry Pratchett, renowned fantasy author, dies aged 66.

I don't think a public death has ever hit me so hard. It was like cold water down my back. 

I first discovered The Discworld books somewhere in about 1988ish when I spotted a little paperback with a brightly-coloured cover in my local WH Smiths.
 I took it home, read it at one sitting and spent most of an evening pissing myself laughing. 

 Comic Fantasy is difficult to do. Most authors either forget to add the jokes or overdo the silliness. Here was a book that got it right. The characters were idiots but they were idiots I could love. 

 I picked up each new book, snatching up the latest offering in hardback just so I could read them a little earlier.  I have them all on a shelf over my bed and each has been read many times.  

 Over the course of time the Discworld books evolved from a skewering of fantasy cliches to something deeper. It was still about Dwarves and Wizards and Witches but at the same time the Discworld was about people with all that involves. Sometimes silly, sometimes evil, most of the time flawed men and women trying to live their lives.  
  I can truthfully say, there has never been a fantasy series, let alone a comic fantasy series that made me care so much about the characters, or come so close to bringing tears to my eyes.
 Or made me laugh so consistently.  

 I wish I could write. More than anything else, I wished I could write like Terry Pratchett. 

  In later years, of course, there was the terrible spectre of Alzheimer's Disease but I admired enormously the way Mr Pratchett refused to go out without a fight. He said he was going to make this disease regret having met him. I think he may well have achieved that. 

So Mr Pratchett, thank you for Rincewind and Granny Weatherwax and Sam Vimes and Reg Shoe and Captain Carrot and The Librarian and so many others that kept me company over the years.

 Thank you and goodbye.

Terry Pratchett 
28 April 1948- 12 March 2015


Saturday, 7 March 2015

Eurovision 2015 - And Who Britain Should Enter This Year.

 Once again the annual Guilty Pleasure that is the Eurovision Song Contest is bearing down upon us.

Now I will cheerfully admit to watching it religiously every year, although I do have to temporarily disable my musical filters. As any fan will tell you,  Eurovision exists in it's on bizarre bubble of cheesiness and naive sincerity and normal musical rules do not apply.

However as a proud Brit, I have been more than a little dismayed at how badly our entries have gone of late.
We've tried aging crooners 

We've tried aging Welshwomen

We've tried aging boybands

We've even tried new blood.

 And every single one of them ended up in the bottom end of the table, looking up at all manner of Eastern European oddness.  

Face it, the only reason we even qualify these days is because the BBC pays a small fortune for the privilege.

I think this year the UK should do something differently.

I think this year the UK should send these guys.

 The one, the only, the semilegendary...

Personally I think the 'Deth boys are supremely qualified.  And here's why.

They're good at writing short, but catchy songs. 
With only 3 minutes to play with, any Eurovision has to make an impact 
right away and then linger in the  Judges's heads afterwards.
Lawnmower Deth are quiet good at that. 
Try getting this song out of your head.  

Their lyrics deal with serious social issues. 
Eurovision loves bands with a message. 
How about a song about the harsh life of the modern working man? 

Lawnmower Deth songs transcend national boundaries.
I think no matter what your creed or colour you can relate to these lyrics.

 Lawnmower Deth are accomplished and entertaining as a live act.
Their lives shows are legendary and people from all over Europe flock to see them.
 See for yourselves. 

 If Lordi can win for Finland, why can't the Mower Liberation front win for the UK?

I honestly think these Nottingham lads would be in with a chance. 

And if all else fails, having a Lawnmower-themed Thrash Metal act would deliver an unmistakable message to the rest of Europe.

Vote Lawnmower Deth for Eurovison 2015.

Not only will they be great but it'll really piss off those continental twats. 

That's all folks.

Monday, 2 March 2015

DVD Review: Devil's Tower (2014)


Roxanne Pallett
(Her from Emmerdale)
Jason Mewes
(The one who plays Jay in all Kevin Smith's movies)
Frances Rufelle
(Who represented Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994)
Jessica Jane Clement
(Lads-mag favourite)
And some other people

  When teenager Sarah Maccoll (Pallett) is violently ejected from her home by her alcoholic mother (Rufelle), she is hurriedly rehoused by the council in the notorious Albion Court.     Initially it's not so bad but then odd things start happening.  Unpleasant accidents. People disappearing. Strange voices. Stranger things on the TV.

 Can Sarah and new friend Sid (Mewes) work out what the hell is going on?  

 After the initial, bloody intro, Devil's Tower settles down to that old horror standby - "Young woman moves into a new home and spooky shit happens".
 Well that's what it starts out as, anyway. 
 It's made very clear that Albion Court is a bit of a shithole. There's drug dealers lurking outside, squatters camping out in the empty flats and the entire top floor is an abandoned, rubbish-strewn no-go area. 
 There is a caretaker but he's a surly, cynical old man with delusions of authority and a disturbing addiction to the security cameras that are everywhere.
 I'm guessing the  director wanted to say something about the 21st century obsession with watching others through a screen. He's not exactly subtle about it and it gets more blatant later on.
  There' s also a bit of time spent on introducing Sarah's new neighbours as well as getting into a bit more depth on Sarah's relationship with her mother (Rufelle). 
 It isn't pleasant. 

  Interestingly, the most suspenseful scene in the entire film is when our young heroine makes a sneak visit back to her old house to pick up some stuff. The girl is clearly bricking herself at the thought of running into Mummy Dearest. And once Mum makes her appearance, you can see why. 

 So far, so good. 

We've introduced our heroine, given her some new people to play with, including potential love-interest Sid  and oversexed neighbour  Kate (Clement) then established that something is very wrong in Albion Court. 

Here's where our opinions might start to diverge wildly.

We get to find out what exactly is going on up on the top floor as Sid's mate gets a reality TV makeover with a big, sharp knife. 

 And it just looks silly. 

All the tension and unease that had been building up so far just deflates.

Don't even get me started on the frankly bizarre dream sequence/dance routine Pallett and Mewes get lumbered with a bit further on. What the hell that was all about I have no idea. 

Then  Devil's Tower decides to ditch Urban Ghost Story and become a Zombie movie instead.  

No, wait. First we get some gratuitous shagging and some random lesbians. Then we get the Zombies. 

Lots of people get chomped, Sid and the caretaker break out the choppy, choppy tools and Sarah gets proper heroic. The end.
Or is it?

  I wanted to like this film and God knows all the cast did a good job. Roxanne Pallett goes from somebody in dire need of a hug to feisty in believable fashion, Jason Mewes shows us why he's so much more than stoner hero Jay and Frances Rufelle's drunken, sneering, bullying Kim MacColl is a monster even before the supernatural stuff happens.   
  Decent cast. Decent idea. Decent setup and some good moments all through the film. The zombie attack isn't bad at all, for instance. 

I just thought it could have been better. Maybe letting us get a good look at the Big Bad so early on wasn't such a brilliant idea after all. 

Here's the trailer so you can make up your own mind

That's all folks. 
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