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Saturday, 23 May 2015

Reviews: Sammy Hagar & The Circle, Howlin Rain

Sammy Hagar & The Circle: At Your Service (Mailboat Music)

We here at the Musipedia don't really review live albums all that often but this was a massive exception. As many of you may know Sammy Hagar made his name as the second singer of Van Halen, he was the man that brought them into the nineties and skilfully stepped into the void left by Diamond David Lee Roth. However Hagar is much more than that; he was also the first (and arguably most famous) singer of classic underrated rock band Montrose, he has a successful solo career for many years, he formed supergroup Chickenfoot with Joe Satriani, Chad Smith and VH's Michael Anthony and he is shrewd businessman creating his own brand of tequila and his own restaurants/bars. A man of many talents then but one who is obsessed by music, his previous band Chickenfoot had run it's course due to the commitments of Satch and Chad Smith so Hagar was left at somewhat of a loose end, here was his chance to record and album featuring some of his best friends in the business, this came to fruition in the album Sammy Hagar & Friend album which saw him hook up with guitar virtuoso Vic Johnson. Since this album, Hagar has found some kindred spirits and he has formed another band this time called The Circle.

The band is formed by longtime cohort Michael Anthony on bass, Vic Johnson on guitar, Hagar on vocals (obviously) and behind the kit one Mr Jason Bonham (a man who is no stranger to a supergroup himself). This album is taken from various dates on their US tour and while it shows the band in full flight showing all of their collected skills it also is a picture of four guys having a great time, the production is slick, the crowd is not too intrusive, the performance is mesmerising, Hagar is humble yet fierce frontman and while you do get a bass solo (mercifully short) and a guitar solo (also short) all can be forgiven by the tracklist that includes a drum solo that breaks into Bonham's Dad's magnum-opus Moby Dick. Yes it is indeed the track listing that is the best part of this album never has the word 'greatest hits' been so apt. Opening with Hagar's own There's Only One Way To Rock the band kick off with full steam ahead, however when this is followed by Rock Candy from Montrose, Good Times Bad Times from Led Zeppelin and Poundcake from Unlawful Carnal Knowledge then you know you are in for a good time. The set brings in Zep classics like When The Leveee Breaks, Rock & Roll and the perennial Whole Lotta Love on which Hagar does his best Plant impression while Johnson and Anthony are Page and JPJ respectivly, through some Hagar era Van Halen tracks like When It's Love, Finish What Ya Started, Right Now, The Best Of Both Worlds and Why Can't This Be Love and a sprinkling of Hagar solo stuff with Can't Drive 55 and Heavy Metal.

These well known rock songs combine perfectly with a band that have passion and skill, special kudos to Vic Johnson for having Page's feel and EVH's flair, to create a live album that makes you wish you were there. There are some failings in Hagar's voice at times but this is live album capturing the band in raw environment not with studio overdubs or trickery. A passionate, powerful album that has seen these legends come full Circle (although I still think Bonham's suggestion of Red Zeppelin would be better). A must for fans of The Red Rocker, Zep, Van Halen and indeed rock music itself! 10/10

Howlin Rain: Mansion Songs (Easy Sounds)

Howlin Rain's last album The Russian Wilds was widely critically acclaimed, the band are the creation of Ethan Miller frontman and guitarist for the band, the album was released on a major label and despite the critical plaudits, as Miller puts it himself he "walked out of the back end of my major label run and the first 9 years in Howlin Rain with no band, no label, no foreseeable immediate move forward" however he also goes on to say that he had "a figurative suitcase full of songs, my talent, invigorated by having nothing else to lose, exhausted by the bullshit and grind of the music business, this musical life, and all it's absolute bullshit and fucked tests" that inevitably made him cynical but not bitter. The Russian Wilds has the honour of being one of my most played albums so I was very excited to see what Miller had up his sleeve next. To his latest record then, apparently the first of a supposed trilogy, Mansion Songs which was made with a handful of musicians and continues the last album's Americana infused Californian rock vibe while adding new elements and stripping it back with more country and folk additions.

Big Red Moon opens proceedings with a Nashville twang, sounding like it could have come off Blackberry Smoke album, all blustering mouth harp and slide guitar (both coming from Miller) topped with Miller's full throated howl and Southern honey croon which is part Springsteen, part Young, part Petty with the same kind of delivery of an ageing punk rocker although Miller himself evokes the spirit of The Big Lebowski's The Dude or a hard rocking Rabbi. This song is an upbeat whiskey drinking song that hides the dark subtext, a theme that continues on Meet Me In The Wheat which could have featured on a Outlaw Country record with it's "Hallelujah" refrain and pounding electric organ. Miller handles most of the instrumentation but he has acquired some top level musicians to help him out with Meg Baird being the one that reoccurs regularly and is most notable by providing drums, acoustic guitars and vocals; most notably on the haunting Coliseum which has all the the hallmarks of a self-loathing, emotion filled track from a Roger Water's album as Miller whispers his vocals as Baird floats in and out of the song built on just two acoustic guitars providing great juxtaposition from the two preceding tracks. The New Age is a song that speaks of redemption and reinvention think a folky version of U2 driven by a viola and a double bass, this song passes by quickly resetting things for the organ drenched 70's stomp of Wild Bush a song that would sound great blasting out of an open top Chevy in 1970's Harlem.

For an album with only 8 tracks this album is a grower after repeated listens it opens up into something else entirely, there are immediate elements but on the slower more atmospheric songs like Restless they take a few spins to really grab you. This is a good thing however as it means you have to really listen to this album, I suggest playing it through a set of headphones, or outside as the sun sets. Everything on Restless is numbed and smothered leaving just Miller's broken vocals to tell the tale of a man descending into madness, Lucy Fairchild is a song of redemption and morality set to an Elton John-like backing full of driving piano and orchestral swell in the finale. This final part of the album is slower burning affair than the opening part which could be due to the trio aspect creeping in, this is only part one of the story that leaves you in a dreamlike state on Ceiling Fan filled with references to the most creative directors, musicians, artists and writers and driven by one acoustic guitar hook, whispered train of thought vocals and a choral chorus before bursting into a crescendo at the end that sees guitars fizz behind the Floydian track that imitates The Walls hope filled finale. I do hope the second part of this trilogy comes soon as yet again Ethan Miller has shown why Howlin Rain are the thinking man's rock band, intelligent lyricism merging with deft considered playing to create a vibe that is both nostalgic and fresh. A truly fine piece of music yet again 10/10

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Reviews: The Vintage Caravan, Lesoir, Godsized

The Vintage Caravan: Arrival (Nuclear Blast)

The history of rock music is littered with classic three pieces but The Vintage Trouble draw from the early 60's style of Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, and Mountain. Now all three of these bands are seen to be based around their legendary guitarists but they were also made up of bunch of legendary bassists and drummers such as Felix Pappalardi, Jack Bruce, Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell and Ginger Baker. Those band's sounds were due to the fact that all those involved were immensely talented worked together to create the fantastic songs that they were known for. The same can be said for The Vintage Caravan, Óskar Logi has a sonorous wide vocal range and plays his guitar like demon on rockers like Babylon while Alexander Örn shuffles the bass licks on Carousel on which he gets a bass solo and Stefán Ari Stefánsson who plays for his life anchoring everything especially on the latter part of Innerverse on which he really shows his mettle. Now as I said the band draw most of their influence from the late 60's early 70's style of hard rock based in blues and adding psychedelic elements that allow them to have wig outs in their songs relying more on the feel of the songs than too much structure, Shaken Belief's is a prime example of this, where as Crazy Horses (not a Osmond cover) is a balls out rocker that is part Neil Young, part Ted Nugent with it's Western piano playing and chugging riffage, Sandwalker has the sound of another three piece echoing the boogie of Billy, Dusty and Frank. The Vintage Caravan have upped their game on this second album really honing everything they showed on their debut, Arrival is a testament to just that; this is The Vintage Caravan's statement of intent more so than their looser debut and because of that this may be the album that sees them explode in the next 12 months. 8/10

Lesoir: Luctor Et Emergo (V2 Benelux)

I will admit I hadn't herd too much of Lesoir but with some research I found that they are Dutch rock band formed and fronted by Maartje Meessen, they fall into the Artrock category drawing influences from Anathema, Skunk Anansie, Crippled Black Phoenix and A Perfect Circle. The album title translates to "I Struggle And Emerge" and this echoes the dark tone of the record with loud dynamic guitars from Ingo Dassen (with Eleen Bartholomeus and Meessen contributing live) who also provides the pulsing synths and electronic beats on tracks like the Porcupine Tree-like (A Lady Named) Bright and the pulsating Flawless Chemistry. The rhythm section of Ingo Jetten's bass and Bob Van Heumen's drums provides the band with a wide and compelling backing that gives them a real sense of force on the rockier tracks such as Going Home and Deliberate but equally on the quieter moments they both show off their expertise and technical prowess mostly on Hold On To Fascination which has progressive tendency. With the wall of sound style of playing Dassen's guitars sound like a tidal wave of sound bringing to mind Anathema and CBP who also get a nod in the lyrical content with struggle and strength all being included. The sound of Lesoir is very much anchored by their front woman she is the reason for the dark, chaotic heaviness and the fragile, whispered emotion her piano and flute undercut the electric assault on the more melodious quieter moments such as the title track. Her voice however is where her true talent lays it is stunning, effortlessly moving between an almost aggressive operatic roar to a lulling, hushed chant, vocally she sounds a lot like Alanis Morrisette with her feisty fired up vocal delivery that can move from sweet to shouted in an instant on Press Play From Start and the thunderous In Reverse. Luctor Et Emergo is a stunning piece of work that sits perfectly in the same category as Steven Wilson, Anathema, A Perfect Circle and British Artrockers Panic Room this is alternative rock music with a progressive bent and a hell of a lot of talent on show. Buy this album! 10/10    

Godsized: Heavy Lies The Crown (Metalville)

Godsized have always been compared to their American cousins and multi time tour mates Black Label Society and yes they do have a similar style to Zakk and his boys; huge slabs of riffage based on a pace setting rhythm section that bring everything together. Things kick off slow on Welcome To Hell with some intricate clean lead playing starting the song before it gets heavier and faster from there on in. As I've said the band have a pounding rhythm section in the shape of Dan Kavanagh and Gavin Kerrigan and when underscoring the twin guitars of Chris Charles and Glen Korner their contribution speaks for itself. Charles and Korner are no slouches themselves riffing like bastards throughout bringing some big rockers that Charles can boom over with his Myles Kennedy like vocals. In fact the band have drawn a lot more from the Tremonti school of musicianship with a modern metal sound with heaps of melody they play well and their songs are good. However there is a problem, they are trying a little too hard to be Alter Bridge on this record, this maybe to move away from their British BLS crown but it makes them sound like a different band. There are glimpses of their old biker metal background but not as much as I and indeed anyone who enjoyed their debut album would want, the songs on this album are a little boring in places. I have no doubt that in the live arena they will still punch you in the mouth but this record does seem a little restrained. 6/10    

Monday, 18 May 2015

Reviews: Karmaflow, Anekdoten, Ghost Ship Octavius

Karmaflow: The Orginal Soundtrack Album (Self Released)

Karmaflow or Karmaflow: The Rock Opera Videogame to give it, it's full title is the soundtrack album to videogame that is part puzzle platformer, part rock opera, the game is entirely sung with an emphasis on the symphonic and power metal genre and as such features some of the biggest names in the game lending their talents to it, all of them are no strangers to rock operas or indeed symphonic metal. The vocalists involved are:

Simone Simons (Epica)
Mark Jansen (Epica/After Forever/MaYan)
Dani Filth & Lindsey Schoolcraft (Cradle Of Filth)
Marc Hudson (Dragonforce)
Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy)
Elize Ryd (Amaranthe)
Charlotte Wessels (Delain)
Henning Basse (MaYan)
Mariangela Demurtas (Tristiania)
Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica) 
Daniel de Jongh (Textures)
Lissette Van Den Berg (Scarlet Stories)
Bas Dolmas (Ex-Xystus)   

So with this amount of talent backed by musicians coming from members of Epica, Within Temptation and HDK and MaYan and of course the extremely talented and versatile Metropole Orkest who are the solid backbone of the album there was always going to be a lot of talent on show throughout the album. An album that really has to be listened too to be believed but much like Tuomas Holopainen's classical album, the Avantasia and Ayreon projects. This is a bit like audio Marmite some will love it, some will hate it, I am firmly in the love pile as I am enamoured the overblown nature of this record that successfully merges classical music and metal a great album from an interesting concept. 8/10

Anekdoten: Until The Ghosts Are Gone (Virta)

How do you start a prog rock album properly? A ten minute song full of swirling organ-led psychedelia, clean, sinuous guitar work, chugging bass and percussive, technical drumming, that will do it. Anekdoten are from the old school of prog with long instrumental passages, haunting vocals and virtuoso musicality all producing some pastoral, jazz influenced music on tracks like All Comes Down To You as well as rocking freakouts on Get Out Alive. The band have been doing the rounds for a while which means that they have honed their sound to play the best they can. As far as what they sound like goes they are not too dissimilar to the last two Opeth albums indeed Per Wiberg supplies some more organ to this album that is laready stuffed with more organ than you can jangle your keys too. The other organs come from main man Nicklas Baker (guitarist/mellotron/organ/vocals) and Anna Sofi Dahlberg (mellotron/organ/Rhodes) who are backed by Jan Erik Liljeström's jazz-like bass and Peter Nordins' superb drumming. With long spiralling songs filled with instrumental prowess Anekdoten are band that will entice and excite prog fans that love the Canterbury scene and classic folk flavoured progressive rock. 7/10   

Ghost Ship Octavius: S/T (Self Released)

Van Williams is the ex drummer of Nevermore and current drummer of Ashes Of Ares, he has recruited Ashes Of Ares guitarist Adon Fanion on guitars and vocals and former God Forbid guitarist Matt Wicklund to add their talent as the nucleus of this band taking most of the instrumentation between them. Sound wise we are in the prog metal territory with the ghost of Nevermore looming large, Fanion's vocals are a booming mid range that echo Warrell Dane and Matt Barlow and work well with both of their heavy prog metal riffs and Williams' excellent drumming. Now a man like Van Williams has some high quality contacts and he obviously went through his contact book to get some guests on this album, first of all is Dagna Silesia handles the bass playing, but nearly all of them are guitarists adding leads and solos with Scar Symmetry's Per Nilsson, ex-Nevermore and Ashes of Ares man Jeff Loomis, Savatage man Chris Caffery, Freak Kitchen six stringer Mattias Ia Eklundh and virtuoso session man Rusty Cooley. This album is nothing wildly removed from William's other work but when you play drums like a Gatling gun with progressive flourishes then this kind of music will always be the easiest to produce. If you love Nevermore, Iced Earth and modern day Symphony X then you will love Ghost Ship Octavius as it features some powerful, progressive metal played by some great musicians. 7/10

Another Point Of View: Triaxis (Review By Paul)

Triaxis: Fuel, Cardiff

An opportunity to see one of the brightest bands in the UK is rarely missed and when it happens to be a band from your own back yard launching their third album, well, it was a done deal.

Much has been written about Triaxis in the pages of the Musipedia and it is always positive; Matt’s very extensive and complimentary review of new release Zero Hour being the most recent. Our last encounter with the band in the live setting was in the very same venue where the band played a great pre-Christmas set which included Victorious from the new release.

Having pledged for Zero Hour, I was lucky enough to have the download of it into the in-box about 72 hours before the gig, allowing a little time to have a listen to the new compositions and whetting the appetite for the new stuff in the live arena (okay sweaty little club).

Arriving in time to catch the end of main support band Collibus, it was noticeable that there were many more packed into Fuel than on previous occasions. A large number of Triaxis t-shirts were in evidence, always a good sign. Having been greeted warmly by lead singer Krissie, we made our way to the front, catching up with a couple of old acquaintances before Triaxis signalled the start of a quite brilliant hour of heavy metal. CJ hit the blistering riff to Liberty, the opening track on Zero Hour before the band hit full throttle. Glyn’s shredding, Becky’s pounding bass lines, Giles’ brutal powerhouse drumming and of course, the quite stunning vocal delivery of Krissie all combine to make Triaxis one of the best live bands around today and the confidence flowing through the band in the opening track ensured that any fears about their delivery of the new stuff in the live setting evaporated immediately. A quick one-two of 2012’s Sand And Silver and Under Blood Red Skies followed, both delivered with power and passion, gaining a massively positive and raucous reaction from the crowd.

As it was the album launch party, it was only proper that the bulk of the set came from the new release and we were treated to a hefty six newbies. Kicking off with Stand Your Ground, the band played with a confidence and polish born out of many hours of practice and more importantly gigging in the live setting. Although the whole is usually greater than the sum of the parts, what makes Triaxis so special to us at Musipedia is that all the parts are so bloody good. They have always been extremely professional but the arrival of Becky and her demonic Rickenbacker bass lines has enhanced the Triaxis sound further. The band always look like they are enjoying themselves and tonight it was a real joy to observe; CJ constantly smiling and singing every word (even more than a certain Steve Harris!) whilst playing with more freedom and confidence than I've ever seen before. Mr Wilson behind the kit is a total drumming machine and the engine room of the band. His driving momentum on the heavier songs such as Death Machine and the blistering Victorious is stunning on the album but in the live setting increases to 11. It’s not all 100mph with him though as demonstrated by the more delicate elements of the epic (and very brave choice) set closer Zero Hour, all 11 minutes of it. He even cracked a smile a couple of times. With the engine room working at optimum level, lead guitarist Glyn was confidently throwing out solos and licks like they were going out of business and once again having an absolute blast. Like CJ, his playing was more relaxed and smoother than in previous shows. The band have added more backing vocals to their new tracks, such as the Iron Maiden styled Terraform, which worked brilliantly, allowing the fantastic voice of Krissie to do its stuff. There are not that many vocalists in the metal world that can deliver on record and transfer exactly the same quality to the live stage, but Krissie is one of those who genuinely can.

During the gig we were also treated to a bit of the bizarre. Party hats and cupcakes were handed out in the middle of the set, enhancing the already buzzing party atmosphere whilst a heavy metal happy birthday to two members of the crowd (including esteemed Ed Matt) just about worked! Having admirably demonstrated that the new music works in the live setting, Triaxis made the brave decision to close with their ‘behemoth’ title track, Zero Hour. A brave decision alright, but one that worked magically, plenty of heads banging in the audience providing ample evidence of the quality of the track. One final song, obviously the anthemic Black Trinity complete with crowd participation brought the set to a close, leaving one very hot 45 year old man extremely content. Its nights like this that remind me why I choose to attend metal gigs and spend my money on music. Triaxis are on fire at the moment and have the momentum. Metal Hammer’s decision to stream their album can only be a good thing and we at Musipedia Towers are already planning our assault on the barrier at the Sophie Lancaster Tent on August 10th at BOA. It’s going to be epic. 10/10

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Reviews: Kamelot, Cain's Offering, Mammoth Mammoth

Kamelot: Haven (Napalm)

Haven is Kamelot's second album with new singer Tommy Karevik who first featured on Silverthorn which brought back the symphonic/progressive style of their early years while also maintaining the more progressive style that featured on the latter albums with former singer Khan. Having been underwhelmed with my initial viewing of the bands live show at Hammerfest, but having always loved them on record. I will admit I was a bit hesitant about this new album of all new material, however any doubts are quickly washed away by the plaintive piano intro to Fallen Star before the strings sweep in and Thomas Youngblood's guitar takes up the baton, he is the major part of Kamelot's sound and his interplay with keyboardist Oliver Palotai is what thei band have made their name on, his riffing is unrelenting  and his solos never outstay their welcome like a flash of brilliance in every song. The doom laden Fallen Star moves in to Insomnia which could have easily come off the band's breakthrough Ghost Opera album driven by Sean Tibbett's low bottom end, Casey Grillo's driving drums and of course Youngblood's guitars. As is usual with most major power/symphonic metal albums the production comes from Sascha Paeth and mix from Jacob Hansen so everything is crisp and sharp allowing the bands talents to shine through. Once again Karevik shows off his amazing vocals moving between a low croon and a dramatic highs on all of the tracks, he once again shows himself to be the perfect replacement for Khan by having a similar operatic delivery to his predecessor meaning he fits in perfectly. Silverthorn was a Gothic more romantic album, (something that has always run through Kamelot's music) but this album is heavier and more dynamic than their previous effort relying more on the guitar work of Youngblood and Palotai's theatrical keys and orchestrations was witnessed on the thrilling Veil of Elysium which powers along at a fair pace. As with most Kamelot albums they have the odd helper to contribute to the sound, on the folk balladry of Under Grey Skies they have Delain's Charlotte Wessels and Nightwish's Troy Donockley and once again Arch Enemy's Alissa White-Gluz adds her growls and indeed vocals to Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy) and Revolution. No matter what I think of Kamelot live (next time they are anywhere near I may give them another chance) their talent and magic lies in their recorded output and yet again they have struck gold with Haven. 9/10

Cain's Offering: Stormcrow (Frontiers)

The first Cain's Offering album was released in 2009 shortly after main man Jani Liimatainen left Finish power metal veterans Sonata Arctica, it was an album full of love songs performed in a power metal style. Happily then they have returned with their second album which is still an album that deals with love, relationships and isolation, played in the style that Liimatainen and indeed the other musicians he has recruited are known for. These musicians are a relatively unknown rhythm section that bring the rampant drumming and bass work this kind of power metal are known from, he has also yet again acquired the services of Stratovarius men Jens Johansson and Timo Kotipelto. Johansson's keys provides a perfect foil for Liimatainen's guitar, as well as the orchestral swells that give this album a cinematic sense on the title track and an almost electro-pop feel on The Best Of Times. Timo Kotipelto is one of the best vocalists in the business and he shows this time and time again on this album except on the instrumental I Am Legion. He has a powerful set of pipes and one of the most emotive voices in metal, see the ballads on this album like To Tired To Run which needs to be on film score and even rockers like Constellation Of Tears and the fantastic I Will Build You A Rome which has all the slushy romance of a pop song set to a rapid backing and is the kind of song Liimatainen's previous band would kill for! Yet another excellent album from this power metal supergroup with the best elements of Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica thrown together with and played with passion and technical expertise. 9/10  

Mammoth Mammoth: IV: Hammered Again (Napalm)

Mammoth Mammoth are the Australian love child of Motorhead and Monster Magnet with a punk rock edge on Lookin' Down A Barrell and a drug reference filled stoner stomp on Fuel Injected. The four piece band play dirty scuzzy rock and roll with a bollocks to you attitude, with a rhythm section that is like a runaway train, some choppy four on the floor guitar playing, slicing solos and shouted vocals Mammoth Mammoth are the soundtrack to an all night bender. Still as the album rolls on very little changes in regard to style or indeed speed, with only Promised Land having a more doom-like feel, but if you want music to drive and drink beer to (not at the same time please) and you love bands like Motorhead, Mustasch and indeed the punk n roll of The Wildhearts; Sick (Of Being Sick),  then you could do much worse than Mammoth Mammoth. 6/10  

Reviews: Satyricon (Monster Review By Paul)

Satyricon: Live At The Opera (Napalm)

18 months ago I was fortunate enough to catch Norwegian black metallers in Belfast in support of their excellent self-titled album. That was a fantastic evening and I awarded them a 10 for a quite astonishingly excellent show. Two months before that night, Satyricon had performed with the Norwegian National Opera Chorus and the resulting release is nothing short of breath taking.

The opening strains of Voice Of Shadows give little clue as to how effective the combination of Satyricon’s dark metal groove, Satyr’s gruff delivery and the operatic choral will be but this soon changes as Now Diabolical followed by Repined Bastard Nation are given an incredibly sinister edge. At first, I thought this was going to be another of the many combined orchestral/band releases, some of which can be pretty special and some of which are utter dirge. However, this is Satyricon plus choir, so the metallic edge remains throughout with the usual demonic drumming from Frost propelling the band. Each track benefits from the enhancement provided by the choir, whether it be from the soprano voices on Our World, It Rumbles Tonight, the tenor and bass harmonies during Die By My Hand which really add The Omen type atmosphere to the song or an absolutely captivating Phoenix from Satyricon, complete with a tenor duet with Sivert HØyem, reprising her vocal duties from the studio album.

As I said, every track is enhanced by the operatic choral voices, but also retains the brutal metal assault that Satyricon deliver. In fact, as the concert moves through the middle section, with Den Siste, (and then what would have been at the time new tracks) Tro Og Kraft and The Infinity Of Time And Space you can feel the pacing slowly increasing towards an absolute classic crescendo: To The Mountains and The Pentagram Burns once again highlighting the incredible drumming skills of Frost, blast beats powering out whilst the rest of the band provide musicianship of the highest quality. The encore of Mother North, complete with excellent audience participation which merges with the Chorus and favourite K.I.N.G bring one of the best live albums I've ever heard to an end. 92 minutes of absolute quality and I defy any metal head who listens to this not to be desperate to catch them live at some point in the future. Quite brilliant. 10/10

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Another Point Of View: The Prodigy (Review By Paul)

The Prodigy: Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

The devastating results in the general election ironically segued into the arrival in Cardiff of THE drum and bass outfit of the last 20 years, The Prodigy. Ironic because the government was Tory when the Essex outfit’s first release hit the shelves, and it’s the fucking Tories who find themselves in control again on the day The Prodigy roll into town.

Anyway, enough of the political analysis (Agreed - Ed) what about the live experience of The Prodigy? Well, first off, it is worth saying that The Prodigy can draw a crowd. The MIA was rammed to capacity, busier than any metal gig I've seen in there since Maiden in 2006 and even surpassing the last visit by the Foo Fighters, a gig so hot I was sweating in the balcony.

It has to be said that away from the metal/rock festivals of Download and Sonisphere, The Prodigy draw a much more varied crowd than just the Slayer or Metallica fan. However, despite the limited metal contingent, full marks to all of those present; a complete absence of menace or any aggravation which I have to admit surprised me; just a lot of people who enjoyed a few beers or chemical enhancements and a chance to blow off some steam.

Our crew numbered 10, which included Sir Rhod Of Moose, complete with the smell of the 20 litres of oil he had spent most of the day cleaning up. After a reasonably early meet in the Gatekeeper, we headed to the MIA at around 8.20 and caught some of the most insane sights ever witnessed in this god awful venue. Massive queues at the bar, huge numbers trying to access the loos and overall just a bit of a cluster fuck. Did the management not know that the crowd was likely to want to booze? It was Wales for fuck’s sake!

Although the security staff had told us it was 9 pm start, the opening bars of the immense Breathe didn't blast out until 9:15 pm. However, it was so worth the wait. For the next 90 minutes, Howlett, Flint and Maxim controlled the rabid crowd, exhorting and coercing them into a pit of absolute insanity. What can I say about the set list? Blisteringly good, a mixture of tracks from the latest album The Night Is My Enemy, and a greatest hits package (Firestarter, Invaders Must Die, Omen, Run With The Wolves) which maintained momentum throughout the evening. I have to be honest here: I spent little time looking at the stage (impressive lighting aside) as I was too busy kicking the shapes which this band demand from you.

A brutal encore of Their Law and Take Me To The Hospital concluded the evening by a civilised 10:40 pm. We were exhausted, soaking wet with sweat (even Stief had begun to glow) and having given a really good account of ourselves (some shapes thrown hadn't been seen since 1996). The Prodigy live are a force of nature; breath-taking, impressive and unstoppable. I doubt that a better gig will cross my vision this year (and I have two Opeth gigs to cover yet). My bitch was truly smacked up. A most awesome evening all round. 10/10