The Answer @ The Electric Ballroom

25th  October 2013

Abandoned for the night I head alone into the electric ballroom with trepidation. Only to be greeted by a bunch of howling guitar slinging Aussies! Business as usual then! Tracer we’re good value go their sub slot tonight and played with the swagger of a headliner with nothing to lose. Thumping guitars riddled with hard blues fuzz gave them more of an outback stoner sound akin to QoTSA than fellow hard rockers acdc and Ac/Dc Jnr (Airbourne).

Tracer (1)

Tracer

Plenty of heavy toe tapping drop d riffs and a fare dose of sing-along sections which had even the stoniest faced onlooker humming the in a joyous crowd chant. Plus they were good at working the crowd too, plenty of jokes and japes all with that cheeky Oz charm. A startlingly good set from a band I’ve not given enough credit till today!

Tracer (3)

 

Following the desert beer swilling fist pumping rock fest of Tracer, The Answer had much to prove, especially s Ii hadn’t yet spun their new album New Horizon.

The Answer (3)

The Answer

I had need not worry despite them kicking off with the new eponymous title track as it was roof raising. Full of sparkling melodies, driving bluesy rhythms and supersonic vocals…all the best The Answer has to offer.

The Answer (4)

Cormac Neeson

With brilliant delivery of new material and great clear sound they didn’t seem to want to do much else. In fact between this and their debut album, this accounted for what felt like 90% of the set. I’ll never complain about hearing golden oldies again, but it did feel like I was trapped in a time warp. Familiar also was their double header renditions of bluesy and soulful Memphis Water and Preachin’. Both put a very rootsy spin on classic rock and blues but clocking at 15mins between them, I’d rather have heard 3 or 4 other tunes (No New Day Rising…sad face).

The Answer (6)

Not to wholly disappoint on set listing, On and On and Under The Sky were aired with aplomb, as 2 of the best hard rocks songs in the game. The best song of the night however was a really beautiful mellow and vocal heavy reworking of Nowhere Freeway, a moving and beautiful power semi-ballad. Brilliant solos, extended jams, crowd walks, ‘all sit down’s and thunderous guitars made to fling your noddle to is what they do best. Playing blues and musicianship is high on their agenda which despite the extended noodling, The Answer are still the class prefects of the new school (of the old school) of classic rockers!

 

The Answer (7)

 

The Thermals @ The Garage

23rd July 2013

After a rip roaring outing at the Monto Water Rats many years ago (Over 7 years ago now, wow), I could not resist the lure of The Thermals once more. This time they come after a couple of poppier LP’s laying back their sound, would their show be equally electrifying? The support tonight came from Slowcoach. After 6 months has elapsed, it turns out I have no recollection of the performance or their sound, which in itself is evidence in its own right.

Slowcoaches

Slowcoach

The Thermals however left another rampaging wake in my memory with their blistering indie punk which belies their relatively polishes LP’s. Each song was a short sharp burst of energy, played with buzzing fuzz guitars and romping bass lines, enough of which have memorable pop chorus’s to keep the crowd happy. Alongside their true rock out moments which sparked crashing bodies to fly this was a balanced set of songs from old aggression, recent fine melodic moments all delivered with bursting enthusiasm.

The Thermals (1)

The Thermals

Set highlights includes the recent return to fine rock out form “Born To Kill”, slow melodic bounder “Never Listen To Me” and the terrifyingly brilliant assault of “Here’s Your Future”.

The Thermals (4)

The advancing years have not taken any toll on The Thermals, plus there’s no sign of them slowing down any time soon either.

The Thermals (2)

Japandroids @ Dingwalls

18th July 2013

***Playing catch up on the review front…memories are hazy at best…Pics AWOL***

One of the less widely known buzz bands of the past few years made the trip to London in the summer for a rather intimate outing in Camden in support of their latest album Celebration Rock. Mr Flowers and I were in the venue early and caught their support act The Wytches.

Their inoffensive indie rock was jaunty and light. Mr. Flowers was suitably impressed with their style and tunes, their underground lo-fi’ness an attractive attribute (henceforth shattered by their rise over the last 6 months). For me however it sounded like every other indie band who seem to all share an effect pedal/rig harking to surfy 60′s guitars packed with reverb which lacks in punchy tones (I think they all must use the same one on timeshare). Still young and with far to go they get a half thumbs up from doesitrock.net on this occasion.

Japandroids are not your typical indie rockers, they are a power duo who like to play rawkus noise rock, yet want people to sing along too. This was all in evidence this evening as they started their aural assault kicking head splitting drums and amping up layer of fuzz, over overdrive, over fuzz, over overdrive etc… Their thumping melodies were only matched in stature by their towering chorus’ from their latest LP.

Standout moments included the rampaging Evil’s Sway and the summery sprinkled chant vocals of The House That Heaven Built. The venue was packed and crowd in fine voice throughout generating a buzz of its own all night.

With just guitar and drum kit it’s hard to be truly diverse, where on occasion they suffered from repetitive riff syndrome on their lesser known album tracks. But with enough cannonballs in their arsenal there was plenty enough bombardment of fret board firepower to keep us happy, ranging from chugging punk strikes to chimed high notes providing the backdrop for the effect heavy vocal howls.

Tonight Japandroids showed themselves to be a star band, deceptively big and heavy despite their pop angles and love of a huge sing-a-long melody. 

Albums of 2013: 10-1

This years countdown is into it’s top 10, time to find out who takes home the title, and who’s a dirty rascal…

10)  Frank Turner  - Tape Deck Heart

Franks transformation from the hardcore punk turned touring folk troubadour who would gladly sleep on your floor after a show to the UK’s premier acoustic rock star and all round national treasure has been confirmed. His latest album matches this step up in profile with a packed LP of undeniably huge songs fit for stadium sized singalongs. This is more pop rock than folk but his adept skill at writing both catchy but meaningful songs is still in tact. This is about the most happy sounding breakup album ever! Full of rousing chants, yet the lyrics document a outpouring of heartbreak and lost love. Frank has never lost the ability to pen raw and honest song and here, he is back at the top of his game.

9) The Virginmarys – King Of Conflict

Finally, after many years of circling with excellent EP’s teasing us with unhinged raw blues energy, 2013 saw the Virginmary’s unleash their debut, which was everything we’d hoped for. This trio strip back all of the production gloss and turn the amps up to make gloriously noisy and punchy blues rock packed with killer hooks, boundless enthusiasm and infectious chorus lines. King of Conflict is a rampant riot of a record, which is both exhilarating and exciting!

8) Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies

Volbeat have been making great records for a while now, their latest is another to add to their rising credentials as Scandinavia’s finest Hard Rock/Metal band. Musically akin to a hard rock juggernaut armed with metal jagged guitars, yet vocally as soulful and as clean as a whistle, all while walking the line between dark and deep grooves chugged from huge amps to concise and bright pop songs. The mood swing-o-meter pinball’s about which keeps this album interesting, but its their catchy rock numbers (of which there are many) and melodic soaring choruses which kept me coming back. Nice and cleanly produced this is a big album from a bad assed band.

7) Clutch – Earth Rocker

Clutch have cometh once more, and they bring southern attitude. style and massive songs. This is their rockiest record for some time and they reminded me of just how good they can be when they crank their amps and play all out attack rock and roll. Spinning weaves of blues & deep south into their version of hard rock, this truly stands out as a terrific record, full of high octane energy, thrusting tempo’s and the ragged croak of those deep booming vocals. Varied, engrossing and fiery, Earth Rocker just takes the bull by the horn, gives a huge kick and lets you see how long you hang on tight.

6) Coheed & Cambria – The Aftermath Descension

After the loose and proggy pop of The Aftermath Ascension, I wasn’t sure what to expect with 2013′s second Aftermath album, Descension. Like the title suggests this is a brooding and dark album which is as beautiful as any of their previous works. Tuning down the tempo and letting Claudio’s vocals fly like a bird in flight allow for a different side to be showcased, one that has me addicted. The guitars (technical as ever) are still there in abundance but mainly used to bolster the drama and create huge waves of noise at the melody crescendo’s. Taking nods from classic rock, metal, prog and pop, C&C are always able to write brilliantly different songs which are still familiar and composed of the up most emotion and impact. This Descension is pure genius.

5) The Bronx – IV

The Bronx, after doing the totally unexpected and converting (temporarily) to a mariachi band…I’m please to announce they are back doing what we have come to expect of them. Straight talking, no nonsense blasts of punk attitude and a 6 barrels full of lock and loaded energy punk rock. Swaying closer mainstream sound with less abrasive vocals and more melodies than on previous releases this album is a surefire success. Each song produces either a captivating guitar riff, an addictive vocal harmony or thundering melody, each driven along at 100mph by non-stop thudding drums. Like a vice, once it has you in its grips…The Bronx barely relents.

4) Monster Truck – Furiosity

 

New boys Monster Truck knew they were onto a winner. So much so that they had to invent a new word to describe just how awesome and powerful their debut album! Furiosity is about an apt a description I can think for this rocket fuel powered, nitro guzzling hard rock beast. Equal parts harmony, melody and gruff classic rock vocals yet overwhelmed by the carnage created by the blazing guitar riff destruction derby. Pure simplicity of the good old blues lick and hell for leather fury combine to make a stonking release which looms over all comers like the champion it is. If you love rock, you’ll love Monster Truck.

3) Dinosaur Pile-Up – Nature Nurture

Dinosaur Pile-Up’s sophomore effort was created just as number #1, entirely by front man and lead guitarist Matt Bignall. There is no doubt his incredible talent for writing songs and vocal hooks large enough to see from space. Grungy guitar thumping typify their more energetic punked up songs, but more modern rock and foo fighters comparisons can be drawn as the tracks tick by. Honestly there is not a single dud tune on Nature Nurture, plus the album flows so beautifully through rampant rock, to perfect pop on what is a tremendous alt-rock record that deserves to be noticed!

2) Heaven’s Basement – Filthy Empire

Author Bias Alert! After nearly 5 years of following these guys through the underbelly of London’s gig circuit, they finally landed a coveted record deal with Red Bull and boy have they delivered. Heaven’s Basement play ferocious modern rock inspired by the classic exponents. Bulging and pulsating with unrestrained energy and flair. New songs have stood up well alongside the material pulled from their early singles and EP’s, especially when doubling up the vocals and unleashing the mesmerizing guitar pyrotechnics. Riffs are tight, melodies are massive and the production is clean. Sweeping from all out attack to infectious pop-rock catchiness, Filthy Empire is loaded with soaring rock anthems which demand you to raise your fists to the sky, sing your heart out and jump about like you just don’t care! A fine debut, years in the making!

 

1) Alter Bridge – Fortress

Alter Bridge have returned to set a new career defining standard in Hard Rock, one which blasted all fellow AOTY contenders into oblivion with its epic power. By far their heaviest album to date, the dropped tuning creates immense Richter measurable riffs and melodies which are astoundingly good. In the words of the band, “it’s like dumper trucks falling from the heavens”, who am I to argue. Technical and complex dual guitar work is pervasive throughout and create memorable melodies both challenging and familiar. Lead singer Myles shows why he’s one of the greatest rock vocalists of a generation. Fortress packs the impact of a meteor, the wake of comet and the staying power of a planet. That’s why its DoesItRock.nets Album of 2014!

Let’s hope 2014 is half as good as 2013!

Albums of 2013: 25-10

Another year has rolled on by with a fair dose of cracking rock and roll. Only the finest fist pumping, guitar slinging melody madness all cranked up to overdrive have made this years DoesItRock.net Album of the Year countdown. As usual we’re free from critical scoffing and only driven by honest and pure love of guitars, drums and voices.

EP’s) Buckethead – Pikes

Famed for being a supreme technical talent (but more famously for wearing a KFC bucket on his head, the latest in Buckethead’s long and varied discography is the Pike’s collection. Stunningly prolific, he released 30 EP’s of original material in quick succession, each packed with supreme guitar virtuosity, a huge swathe of moods and textures, beautiful leads and brutal metal moments plus cataclysmic of mega-melodies. A sparkling talent whose eclecticism/madness is unparalleled, in this universe or any other. 

 25) Templeton Pek – Signs

These brummy lads took me by surprise with this their debut full length LP. In a year without a Rise Against release this fills this void nicely with fast paced and confident power punk with soaring sing-along choruses, nifty guitar interplay and frantic drumming. This lustful fist pumping punk and energetic bouncing melodies made this stand out of the 2013 crowd.

24) Black Star Riders – All Hell Breaks Loose

Not content with just playing the greatest hits, the amalgam of the few remains of the Thin Lizzy line-up has been given a second bite at the cherry with the Lynott-esque vocals of Ricky Warwick at the helm. Not to dilute the Lizzy name this reformed line-up decided a name change was in order to release new material. To be honest the only thing which has changed in the name. Double guitar melodies, driving riff rock and powerful anthemic tunes which can easily sit alongside some of their former bands highlights.

23) Highwater Or Hell – Begin Again

The side project of Atreyu’s clean vocalist/drummer was a great success. This album moves away from the punk/scream mayhem of his main band and firmly into radio friendly American hard rock. Plenty of adrenaline pulsing numbers which while never re-inventing the wheel, soar with some catchy chorus’s and big ballsy guitars.

22) Stone Sour – House Of Gold And Bones: Pt II

The slipknot side project has always had the promise of greatness in the hard rock circles, with this year’s second part of the House Of Gold And Bones series they accomplish their goal. The deep and down tuned strings show a real statement of intent, giving the darker and slower moments a real sinister clout. Overall the guitar work is impressive as is the vocals from Corey Taylor, combined they create a powerful and thunderous rock epic full. A very well rounded album which varies its tempo’s and moods, providing many different reasons to love it.

21) Alice In Chains – The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

AiC continue on their return to the top with a sombre but jubilant release of mid tempo rockers which mix between their dreamy grunge sound, thunderous hard rock topped with a strong vocal performance. This lumbers along like the album title suggests but the epic-o-saurus bass riffs and guitar walls are enough to shake the foundations of Jurassic park more effectively than that damn T-Rex.

20)  The Temperance Movement  - The Temperance Movement

This smells like Creedence Clearwater Revival, sounds like The Black Crowes, but oddly is a British blues band from Glasgow! Fantastic vocals and a debut of great assurance and positive energy. An album for those long summer night drives packed with racy and rawkus upbeat numbers and mellow heartfelt moments. This is how to play the blues with supreme swagger and pure class.

19) The Answer – New Horizon

Still the premium classic rockers The Answer returned in 2013 with another corking album packed with songs you wished you wrote. Simplistic big blues, melodies in abundance and the whisky soaked vocals are a perfect recipe for a rollicking hour of high octane rock and roll. The consistency of this album is its greatest strength, with chorus after chorus of uber catchy lines and hooks, all driven by one of the most the tightly packed guitar arsenals around. If classic blues based rock takes your fancy, my Answer is The Answer.

18) Alkaline Trio – My Shame Is True

A proper return to form for the punk rockers who have created one of their finest ever songs in “She Lied To The FBI”. A catchy, punchy, bouncy, brilliant album opener which sets the tone for the rest of the album which is packed full of short sharp pop-punk anthems. A feel-good album of melody-first powered-up power chords which pump each track full of enthusiasm and energy.

17) Airbourne – Black Dog Barking

Airbourne are never going to shake the Ac/Dc comparisons, hence they revel in its glory and yet again load their classic rock cannon full of flashy guitar solos, snarling riffs and adrenaline pumping melodies to bang your head to. Their beer swigging swagger and strutting temperament gives this a real feel good vibe which is as macho as can be. A tight song writing unit, some of these tunes are sure-fire future classics. Thrilling and exhilarating this is big, dumb and fun at its finest!

16) The Fuzz Drivers – The Fuzz Drivers

Like a shooting star, this band has shone brightly for a very brief moment in time. As by the time I’d spun this bluesy rock behemoth, this Portuguese band had split with their lead vocalist, we’re dropped by their record label and we’re giving it away for free! Packed with infectious riffs and boulder sized rhythm guitar these are responsible for 2 of my favourite romping rock anthems of the year, each seeping with power and passion and a thundering melody. The album is string all the way down the track list, slower bluesy numbers aptly fuzzed in an accessible stoner style and the vocals are totally engaging. Here’s to a quick reformation!

15) Scale The Summit – The Migration

I fell in love at first listen to this instrumental album packed with crushing metallic moments, beautiful melodic highs and impressive guitar slinging. Each song swoops and soars between the peaks of each song, rising and falling between epic atmospheric walls of solid rock power. The sound flicks between clean and crunch with effortless ease and these songs shift tempos in progressive flamboyant style. These compositions are layered with up to 3 guitar sections which intertwine in perfect harmony and technical brilliance, forming epic tunes which flow and flare with captivating effect.

14) Kvelertak – Meir
 

More Norwegian triple guitar madness plundered our ears during 2013. The kings of black n’ roll returned with another album packed with aggression and nitro-fuelled metal carnage. With riffs and melodies sweeping and crashing in a glorious pile-up of noise it’s impossible to ignore their thumping tunes. Foreign lyrics spat in a hostile growl, completes their package. They’re a total blast live too…

13) Enforcer – Death By Fire

Enforcer are Sweden’s answer to old school classic speed metal. Fantastically fast and precise riffs which fly along the fret board at breakneck speed properly harks back to days gone past. For a debut album this is a definitely not new, but yet the vibe is spot on and it’s packed with addictive songs. All the styles elements are here, with the powerful racing drums and a high pitched squealing lead vocalist completing the old school package. If you are an old school metal man, or just a fast guitar lover, Death By Fire is not to be missed.

12) Amaranthe – The Nexus

Euro Pop/Heavy Metal meshing masters Amaranthe return with another album of undeniably addictive songs. It’s slickly produced and the songs are riff heavy with plenty of dark and light moments, fired by chunky metal guitars and beautiful female vocals retrospectively. Aimed less at the heavy metal crowd and more at the commercial rock fans this is easily accessible to all, there is no surprise each song is sublimely catchy.

 

11) Free Fall – Power & Volume

No other band on this list are as deeply submerged in classic rock as Free Fall, soaked in Zep and floating on Sabbath, this album is not original but it’s so damn good at what it does. The songs are compact and varied with catchy riffs (faintly familiar) which mix between slow burning thudding melodic moment and upbeat raw blues power. The secret here is the vocalist whose vocal chords have a stunning range and a passionate force. Step back in time with Free Fall!

Stay tuned for the top 10!

 

 

 

Iron Maiden @ Download Festival 2013

Once again I headed once again to the spiritual home of Rock, Donington Park for a stunning lineup to listen and capture some eclectic up-comers, resurgent groups, underrated rockers and true megastars taking influence from the entire spectrum of the rock/metal clenched fist.

I took some photos and watched some bands, here’s the day in brief…

UFO

UFO (2)

Stood still for the camera, which was more to do with their advancing years. Proper classic rock still sounds good to these ears.

UFO (1)

Highlight: Storming rendition of Doctor, Doctor

Heaven’s Basement

Heaven's Basement (1)


Finally the band we have been trumpeting here at DiR.net for years have made it onto the first rung of the ladder, destination rock rocket to the top. They truly ran rampant on huge stage and I loved every glorious minute of this power packed energetic set of high attitude modern rock and roll. Huge crowd and fantastic reception…the general public seem to now agree with me! Sure to rise and rise on from here.

Heaven's Basement (3)

Highlight: The band’s remarkable display of happiness,astounded that so many people actually turned up, each rewarded with a huge version of Executioners day!

 

Hardcore Superstar

Hardcore Superstar (2)

Swedish sleaze glamsters clad in objectionable outfits came and conquered the utterly terrible weather which saw 2 huge downpours deposited on the crowd. Despite this their upbeat party anthems and fist pumping punk rock tunes provoked much singing in the rain and dancing in the aisles.

Hardcore Superstar (1)

Highlight: ’We Don’t Celebrate Sunday’s‘, sparking a massive sing and dance along in the middle of a torrential soaking. it was a case of “c’mon skies, is that all you got!”

Black Star Riders

Black Star Riders (1)

Ricky Warwick and the remains of the Thin Lizzy crew were back again this year under their new moniker with a set of (oddly enought) Lizzy-esque rock tunes which could be easily be plucked straight from the 70′s legends. Throw in some greatest hits such as Jailbreak, Boys Are Back In Town, Rosalie and another rain defying epic Whisky In The Jar…their set was a absolute pleasure from the first rings of Scott Gorham’s guitar to the final note of Wawick’s Lynott lined lungs.

Black Star Riders (3)

Highlight: Whisky In The Jar getting a field full of old drowned rats jumping around like youthful loons in bright sunlight.

Katatonia

Katatonia

With dark clouds looming and a mist like patter of rain descending over the 2nd stage, there was no better atmosphere for my next band, the black metal titans, Katatonia. Their dour gloom, huge guitars and soulful clean vocals cut a lonely figure which crashed wave after wave of sorrow into the skies. Yet somehow there is a glimmer of hope running through them which is hard to pin, melodic and beautiful, a unique set.

Katatonia (3)

Highlight: The Parting’s soaring vocal section, juxtaposed against their deep earth excavating riffs.

Karnivool

Karnivool (3)

Aussies Karnivool were here to make a statement that Progressive Rock/Metal still reigns, on a performance like this its hard to disagree. A dazzaling assortment of melodies and sounds, given punch with sparse but crushing overdriven guitars and bound together with the beautifully fragile and powerful voice of front man, (one of my favourite vocalists). His emotive and distinct vocals were just as good live as it cut like knife through the gathering booming soundscapes. A pause for thought and refelection, but unmissable nonetheless.

Karnivool (1)

Highlight: Simple Boy and its xylophone melody giving way to a stonking deep 7 string bass riff machine

Mastodon

Mastodon

Being a hell of a long way back I could only pick out a few cool riffs here and there, time to exercise the zoom lens.

Alice In Chains

Alice In Chains (1)

A faithful following swarmed around the main stage for the return of these heavy grungers. New material from their comeback albums were typified with some pretty awesome bass riffs which had the hard rock crowd salivating. Vocals from DuVall/Cantrell were as good as expected, not overplaying but leading charged singalongs on their biggest hits Rooster and Down In A Hole. Despite the lyrical subject material they sounded uplifting and this well rounded set of loud and soft moments really impressed.

Alice In Chains (2)
Highlight: The sheer number of blow up chickens which found their way stagewards during Rooster.

Motorhead

Motorhead (2)

This was not their finest outing, plenty of really old and obscure tracks had the faithful worshiping and the classics were all here too. Nothing out of the ordinary, but still you can’t mess with Motorhead, neither would I recommend it.

Motorhead (1)
Highlight: The set ending knockout 1-2 combo of Ace of Spades and Overkill

Queens Of The Stone Age

QOTSA

A newly re-invigorated QotSA were here today, which marked one of the best sets of the day. Equal measures of high quality, heavy desert stoner drawn from the latest album and Fuzz driven upbeat dance rock from Songs From The Deaf, they stuck to the formula which has brought them so much success. Their greatest hits were all aired and picking the more melodic and high octane tracks really pumped up the crowd. A fitting warm up for the epic headliners to come.

QOTSA (2)

Highlight: Little Sister, where the guitar solo and thumping bass line collide, caused carnage.

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden (5)

When you can commission a flypast from a WWII Spitfire to start your set off with a bang, you are clearly in for something very special. Their ‘Maiden England’ tour was a success on its first outing, today its reprise was just as epic. Triple Guitar attack and a greatest hits set spanning their best albums this was a blast from the past which has endured its time and is clearly still as popular today. Pyrotechnics, flames, fireworks, costume changes, a 20 ft Eddie, plenty of British & war imagery was all part of the elaborate staging which was just as absorbing as the music on offer. The crowd were in full voice and knew every word coming from Bruce Dickinson’s falsettos vocal chords. A magnificent performance from a band who has been doing this size show for decades! A Superb Show!
Iron Maiden (6)

Highlight: Fear of The Dark, with the entire crowd bellowing the opening riff a Capella.

 

Iron Maiden (4)

Fucked Up & Titus Andronicus @ The Electric Ballroom

30th May 2013 @ The Electric Ballroom

A trio of North American acts packed tonight’s bill, all sharing a loose punk connection. It certainly provided a varied night of guitar driven energy.

Canadians Metz occupy the punk spectrum labeled, “I don’t care what you think we sound like…because we like it, and you can lump it!”. With barely any regards to their aural chainsaw guitar attack the profusely sweating front man blasted distorted guitars with no remorse. This was unrelenting and aggressive music making, with the faintly audible screams of probably very decent songs  resonating deep inside, desperately failing to escape. Not for the faint hearted, one for the hard of hearing.

Metz

Metz

The American meat in the lineup’s Canadian sandwich shuffled out, totally unassuming as they tooled up. These guys I had all but written off. As much as I liked their latest LP, I never took to it for a repeat spin beyond a catchy ditty or two. Still, there’s nothing like a good live outing to show me where I’m wrong. Titus Andronicus play melodic rock which doffs it’s cap to Americana through a technical triple guitar attack of multi-melody madness. These weaving guitar lines were not effect heavy but still powerful while occasionally mimicked tin whistle style familiar Americanish marching melodies.

Titus Andronicus (1)

Titus Andronicus

Epic crescendo’s were the general result of the meandering which were lively and resulted in many man turning to their friends partners stating ‘I’ll be back soon’ as they dashed stage wards for some jumping about lunacy. Yet Fans far back were happy reciting these terribly verbose lyrics and the non-simple chorus lines were seemingly rolling off everyone’s tongues right back at front man Patrick Stickles. Oddly he casts a rather Rich Hall shadow in both appearance and vocal delivery. The latter Dour and grumpy with a hint of irony and alcohol. The casual listener would have no clue what he was warbling, but that mattered none! These danceable toe tapping tunes turned on the smile machines which really captivated me in a shared wave of euphoria emanating from the buzzing overexcited masses of onlookers. A brilliant set which totally took me by surprise!

Now after Titus came the Fucked Up crew, trying to earn their headliner stripes this night. Sad to say they failed.Fucked Up

Fucked Up

Although a large portion of the crowd would disagree as this was clearly one for the ‘hardcore’ hardcore punk fans as the hugged their sweaty frontman hero Damian Abraham, all set long and bounced around like supercharged pin balls. But while I’m all for singers to come down on the level of the fans, after spending the whole set hanging over the guard rail it gets kind of irritating as you a) can’t see them b) vocals are interrupted by mic passes to enthused fans, c) you lose the band ethic! (although it’s not like ‘singing’ in it’s truest sense was really ever on the cards here.)

Attitude was ever present though as the vocalist made multiple jaunts amongt the crowd, spitting vocals like a venomous rattler.

Musically though, something was missing. The much revered melodic elements and complex arranges were lost in the crashing waves of energetic guitar onslaught. The static band was at opposites with their absent front man which is not surprising really. Their attire was vastly at odds too with the slimline clean cut blue collar band and the rough unkempt half naked punk singer. A juxtaposition if ever they stood near each other.

Fucked Up (1)

The crowd provide a host of entertainment. A guy doing a blocker lemming impression, a stoned/drunk wobbler trying is best to stay vertical and a arm sling bearing chick smashing into the mosh pit!

Titus ruled the night, a sublime show of top notch rawkus energy nonetheless

Voodoo Six, New City Kings @ The Garage

9th May 2013,

A fairly sparsely inhabited Garage awaited for evenings openers Fighting Wolves. They came, they played a few tracks, they departed. My notes read thus… “amateurish, bad sound, over stretched vocals. Decent songs, poorly executed…possibly.” I think that just about covers it.

Fighting Wolves

I was totally unaware of the sub-headline act, which I think has made my new found admiration all the more greater. Alongside their home town, the new 2012 Jubilee city of Chelmsford, New City Kings are rising fast. There was a marked swing in the female direction as their charismatic front man stood tall centre stage as many besotted onlookers swooned. With plenty of local support cheering them on they played a remarkably assured and professional set, packed with melodic hooks and strong chorus’s, I was rather impressed. Note to self, add these guys to the watch list.

New City Kings

Voodoo Six strutted rather than walked, postured rather than stood and rocked their hearts out for a hours worth of corking hard rock anthems worthy of any festival stage or arena venue.
Voodoo Six
While a twin guitar will always make my eyes light up, these axe men were a delight to watch a they entwined their licks and solos between each other raising the bar each and every time. What works the best is that their two totally different musicians, which doesn’t really come across on record. There’s the metal head and the blues man, long hair vs. short, smooth soulful licks vs. frantic shreds, wailing string bends vs. sweep picked speed. Put together their a force to be reckoned with. Vocalist was strong and they played their home town roots to rapture and applause all night.
Your Way was the pick of their new material with twin solo in Falling Knives being the highest moment  of melodic thin Lizzy-esque bliss, while oldies such as groove heavy Long Way From Home and the wahhed stomper Like The Other Did didn’t  fail to impress. Tonight was a masterclass in hard rock and working of a smallish crowd into a buzzing riot of wide eyed acolytes ready to obey all commands from the Voodoo Six bible of hard rock.

And So I Watch You From Afar @ The Garage

16th April 2013,

It was a busy night in north London, police lined the streets and the riot gear was out in force. Thankfully the couple of hundred fans of And So I Watch You From Afar were not the reason behind such tactics. An Arsenal home game was in fact the cause of the red and white army moving towards The Emirates for a clash with Everton.

Crowd troubles aside (it took over 10 mins to get ascend to street level from the tube!), The Garage was stiflingly hot and already packed as Antlered Man took to the stage (I do admit to being a tad disappointed that there were no Minotaur’s in the band). This London bunch of alt-rockers plundered the stage with their heaving and hefty whirls of clanging guitar noise. A vast array of odd sounds and warped effects were generated with gusto and frenetic intents. Shame a lot of it was buzz and wailing amp feedback, especially the slide guitar which howled extra-terrestrial whoops and whizzes throughout the set. They were however enjoyable and had a good set of book end tunes with opener and closer being incredible hook heavy eclectic rock chaos. The meat of the sandwich however was a blur of noise which passed primarily unnoticed. However they get extra marks for basing a song on a 4 note riff played on a tin whistle. Not bad, but room for improvement in the depth of quality, time will tell for the Antlered Men.

Antlered Man

Next up (well almost) were Gallops, who decided a full 10 minutes before their set time that they were too ill to play. Groans from the busy crowd but having almost slept through their set supporting Maybeshewill, this was fine by me. It did mean an awkward pause ensued, but earlier than planned the instrumental post-rockers …And So I Watch You From Afar took the stage.

And So I Watch You From Afar

ASIWYFA, only have 1 gear so it seems…full throttle! From the very first sombre chords to the highest pinnacle of their epic rock repertoire, they bombarded The Garage with bomb after bomb of explosive guitar power. For a band with no lyrics, they manage a very good job of manufacturing a connection with their audiences, sparking crowd exuberance through bombastic man-rock sections and rising spirits alongside the harmonious crescendos of their muscular and often chaotic tunes. Somehow the music is better for their omission, but that has not stopped ASIWYFA attempting to slip some in on their newest album. While a simple tool, the odd “yeahs!” of yore have been updated with “woos!”, “las!”, and most vexing “Ka Ba Ta Bo Da Ka” alongside other actual words. Sometimes they word to bring the crowd up in reflected harmony, other times it’s just filling a gap where another corking fret board run could be inserted.

Tonight was special for ASIWYFA as this was their biggest sell out crowd outside of their native land of Northern Ireland, something which could be read from the beaming smiles on the faces of the band. In fact at every opportunity they could not help but thank each and every one of the crowd for being here. Truly genuine and honourable, as this venue is a long way from Shepherds Bush Empire, let alone Brixton Academy or Wembley.

After an extended run of sonic pummelling ASIWYFA retired knowing that each of the crowd would be back for another sample of their intense and exhilarating performance, most probably dragging all their friends along for the white knuckle ride too!

Kvelertak & Truckfighters @ The Electric Ballroom

14th March 2013,

After missing out on Kvelertak’s first time down at the Borderline last year, it was with great pleasure I wandered into the Electric Ballroom tonight ready to be blasted by the monsters of black and roll. As you may imagine many things have grown over this last 12 months for tonight’s headline act; the budgets, the crowds, venue capacities and line-up quality.

Sadly the latter does not account for the openers El Doom and The Born Electric. Their 70′s retro influenced guitar and piano noodling outfit, had a couple of decent melodies in among their expansive songs indebted more to Americana than their native Nordics. Still they were entertaining to watch as the lead singer (who is the Father of a Kvelertak Guitarist) act as if he’s 21 and doesn’t have a son backstage. Calls to screw groupies and plenty more crude jokes must make a son proud of old dad! To his credit though, he’s still can rock a cool cowboy hat!

El Doom & The Born Electric

A few weeks before DesertFest 2013 arrives in Camden for a 2 day/3 night Stoner spectacular, one of the main attractions were here tonight for a trial run in support of their Scandinavia counterparts. The reigning lords and masters of fuzz, Truckfighters! After witnessing their incredible set. I believe I have found the true definition of ‘the’ power trio. Every sonic wave created by this band is intended to knock you on your ass with it’s mighty seismic force, obliterating all in its path. The Orange amps were kicking out was more fuzz than the combined casts of The Muppets and Fraggle Rock.

Truckfighters

Despite being an mainly instrumental band, these guys are a blast live. All eyes were on the adrenaline fueled, semi naked guitarist Dango, who was bouncing, pogoing, spinning and pulling skateboard tricks Tony Hawks would be proud. His axe partner in crime bassist/vocalist Ozo, by comparison was far too cool to be jumping about like a loon, concentrating instead on thumping out some hefty bass lines and sparse vocals. Minds were sore after this set due to the epic noise onslaught and the infectious head bang which pervaded through the enthused crowd. Brilliant and boisterous!

Ozo

Kvelertak were here on serious business tonight with 5 of more professional video cameramen were strewn around the floor at varying vantage points (the guy who was placed to cover the unfolding chaotic mosh pits must have drawn the short straw tonight). From the very first glimpse of the band, they were here to make a big impression. When all 4 guitarists and the lead vocalist wearing a menacing owl headdress lined up on centre stage,  back dropped by their huge amp stacks and lit up by blinding lightning strike strobes you wouldn’t be hard pushed to imagine the Apocalypse was coming. I for one can’t shake the captivating visuals of this raw and unhinged Norse Viking power, both sonically potent and visually striking.

Erland Hjelvik

Immediately into their groove they gave a lesson in high octane rock with a rasping metallic edge as they showcased many new tracks from their upcoming album, Meir. These new tracks had all the melody and attack of their fantastic debut, but also shifted into slightly more accessible realms for the casual listeners.

Kvelertak

Gang vocal hooks and even a high bend classic rock solo were on display. Vocals were literally as understandable as Norwegian screams, but it never seems to matter as they provide clout and machismo to the stunning triple guitar work. Their live axe wielding is some of the best I’ve seen as the talented trio chop and change between solos, dueling riffs and rhythm responsibilities never missing a chance to flare or thunder another huge chord.

There was no mistaking tonight that Kvelertak have most definitely arrived…on tonight’s performance, they are also here to stay! Long live Black and Roll!