Live Review: The Wildhearts – Earth Vs 20th Anniversary Tour, Manchester Academy 05/04/2013

Greetings From Shitsville
TV Tan
Shame On Me
The Miles Away Girl
My Baby Is A Headfuck
News Of The World
Drinking About Life
Love U Til I Don’t

Caffeine Bomb Vs Sick Of Drugs
Got It On Tuesday Vs Schizophonic
You Beautiful Thing
Vs Red Light Green Light
Naivety Play Vs Dangerlust
Mood Swings & Roundabouts
Vs Now Is The Colour
Deep In The Arms Of Morpheus Vs Turning American
The Duck Song
Vs Hate The World Day
Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes Vs Geordie In Wonderland
29 X The Pain
Vs I Wanna Go Where The People Go

Last April my brother asked me to be his best man, an honour, for sure, but I’m not the most organised person. So when the Wildhearts announced a tour to celebrate Earth Vs The Wildhearts 20th Anniversary it certainly took a lot of pressure off my shoulders.

They’re not just a band who my brother and I share a love of, but also my girlfriend, her brother, several of our closest friends. All of whom made the trip over the Pennines for this gig. In the past I’ve been on road trips to Dudley, Nottingham and Scarborough to see them, as well as closer to home, so a jaunt to Manchester felt like the perfect choice for this stag do.

The gig had been upgraded from The Academy 2 to the main Academy, a fact that underlines the appeal that The Wildhearts, and more specifically the Earth Vs album continues to have. Thankfully tonight the line-up, which consists of Ginger & CJ from that era, together with Rich Battersby and Jon Poole, do the album justice. As does the sound in the Academy, Rich’s bass drum is particularly punchy during opener Greetings From Shitsville. The crowd is also in fine voice as well, singing the ‘So, So, KO’ line in TV Tan with gusto. The fact it’s a Friday night and most people are willing to lose their inhibitions no doubt aids this. During Everlone I even found myself pogoing for the first time in years, something my knees weren’t thankful for the next day.

Shame On Me  is one of the less familiar album tracks, so there’s a slight lull, but the trio of songs that follows The Miles Away Girl, My Baby Is A Headfuck and Suckerpunch is pretty much unbeatable, especially the one-two combination of the last two. Suckerpunch sounds as frenetic as ever, echoing Ministry’s Jesus Built My Hotrod in terms of its impact the first time I heard it, it was the song that converted me to the Wildhearts in the first place. Following this News Of The World is never going to compete, which is the inevitable issue that arises at shows such as this, whereas a straight ‘hits’ based set wouldn’t leave room for comparative filler. Still the meaty, almost thrash, riff near the end compels my neck muscles into action.

The outset of Love You Till I Don’t’s brings a touch of sunshine to the Manchester night, whilst later in the song Rich Battersby’s drum tattoo brings to mind the opening of another classic song from 1993, namely Anthrax’s Potters Field. Catchy choruses to kill for, thrash riffs, near industrial hit singles and a pop sensibility that has always served the band well, it’s fair to say that the band and Earth Vs in particular covered a lot of bases which explains the diversity in tonight’s crowd (More of which later). So far, so good.

The second half of the set offered that crowd a chance to select what the band played, an intriguing premise that despite being highly enjoyable initially was slightly flawed. There was a slight air of inevitability that when presented with a choice of Caffeine Bomb or Sick Of Drugs. The majority of the crowd opted for the former, which appeared on Earth Vs when it was re-issued in 1994. For me it would have been preferable if it had been featured in the main set and something else went up against Sick Of Drugs, perhaps If life Is Like A Lovebank I Want An Overdraft.

The next two choices presented an interesting dilemma, pip for the song you’ve heard of or go for a surprise in my case. Schizophonic won out, a track that originally appeared on the band’s legendary, initially mail-order only, EP Fishing For Luckies. The alternative was Got It On Tuesday, a B-Side from the Red Light – Green Light EP, which on the night I couldn’t remember. Both choices show how prolific The Wildhearts were from their early nineties inception right through to their initial split after 1997’s Endless Nameless. Nearly every single they put out came with 3 new songs, some of which happened to be amongst their best material.

I was at the bar during the next choice and a gent in what can only be described as glam-rock attire, including a fur coat, planted a kiss on my cheeks by way of an apology for spilling some beer over me. A gesture which underlines the love in the room for the band, having an uplifting affect on those in attendance. Had he spilt that beer in one of Manchester’s many bars later in the night over a less open-minded individual he may well have got into a physical altercation!

The next choice, You Beautiful Thing was a B-Side on the Suckerpunch single and was a fairly unanimous selection over the somewhat novelty Red Light – Green Light (The video for which is well worth looking up on Youtube just to contemplate how the band got away with putting it out). Granted there’s no guest saxophonist but just hearing such a gloriously hook laden song and realising that this wasn’t even the best B-Side on said single makes you realise how much the quality of that format has nosedived since the advent of downloading.

The crowd certainly seems to be largely populated by singles and rarities aficionados, who go on to select Dangerlust from the TV EP over PHUQ album cut Naivety Play and Mood Swings And Roundabouts, which came from the band approved re-release of Fishing For Luckies and wasn’t on EastWest’s cash in version (Are you keeping up, following The Wildhearts was certainly an exhausting pastime!) over Now Is The Colour (An Endless Nameless album cut).

The subsequent choice of Turning American from Don’t Be Happy…Just Worry over Deep In The Arms Of Morpheus was described as a forgone conclusion. Perhaps not surprising considering a recorded version of the latter has only surfaced on Ginger’s fan funded 555% in 2012. It’s similarly unsurprising that the audience implore Rich Battersby to come out from behind his drum kit in order to sing The Duck Song (The football chant style ending to 29x The Pain) rather than Hate The World Day; a Life Is Like A Lovebank… B-Side which itself ends with a rather memorable football terrace friendly chant (Something the band excelled at, Don’t Worry About Me still gets sung by the audience at the end of any of their gigs).

Geordie In Wonderland, which successfully mixes an almost Mediterranean feel with its lilting folk and lyrical subject, is a crowd pleaser that would have trumped most songs, so the chances of hearing Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes were always slim, and so it came to pass.

The final choice of the night, described as a heavyweight clash by our announcer sees perhaps the greatest Wildhearts song (And one of my all time favourite songs), Suckerpunch B-Side 29x The Pain pitted against one of the band’s most popular singles I Wanna Go Where The People Go. It’s a close run thing. Thankfully, for me, the former got the nod and I was in heaven for the next few minutes.

Giving the audience the final say in the second half of the set led to some enjoyable moments, but it robbed that portion of proceedings of some momentum. That the audience frequently chose B-Sides suggest the band should have just stuck to the Earth Vs singles and played all the B-Sides from the TV EP, Suckerpunch and Caffeine Bomb. Five of them made it in anyway. There was also a noticeably less banter from Ginger tonight, but what little there was mostly revolved around the fact the band genuinely didn’t know what choices the band would be presented with. In that sense tonight was, for better of for worse, truly about people power.

If you want to have a hand in deciding what the band play next time round they have added another batch of dates in June:

21st June – Bournemouth Academy
22nd June – London Forum
23rd June – Bristol Academy
28th June – Leicester Academy
29th June – Newcastle Academy
30th June – Leeds Academy

Post by Andrew Whittaker


Live Review: Hammerfest V: In Fear Of The Dragon – 14th-16th March 2013 @ Hafan Y Môr Holiday Park

Pwllheli is a quiet place tucked away in the extreme rural area of North-West Wales. If you travel via Snowdon, you’re likely to cast your eye on small frozen waterfalls, big slate cliff-faces, fields of green and plenty of stone ruins.

However, from the 14th-17th of March, Penychain was invaded by a metal mass from all over the UK (and abroad) who were ready for beers and headbanging. Eyesore Merch was a part of it all and so here’s the rundown on the bands who stood up to the challenge of Hammerfest V and how they did.


The first slot for any festival is always going to be a hard one – the crowd will never reach its full potential as half of the occupants might not have even reached Penychain yet. However, undeterred, Goddamn Electric started the afternoon with their bluesy and slightly sleazy brand of Pantera-esque metal, vocalist Tommy seeming to mould both Phil Anselmo’s roars and M Shadow’s cleans. While the crowd was pretty thin, they managed to stir interest with offers of Jagermeister and throwing free albums from the stage. For an opener, they did good!

However, Dyscarnate were up next and within seconds of the trio kicking into their set a question screams to mind: Why in the hell are they playing a) Thursday, and b) so early? DyscarnateDyscarnate are a visceral machine that rips throats and chews on bones, and for a band like that to start when the crowd is so small is a real wonder. For those unfamiliar to them, just think of some of the most technical and brutal death metal, and then exaggerate it with scary pinpoint precision. The guys also had the loudest bass/drums sound – trying to breathe at the barrier was almost impossible, feeling like you were repeatedly punched in the throat. Safe to say, Dyscarnate killed it.

Savage Messiah step up next and throw out their thrash-tinged heavy metal, although never really bringing anything new or mindblowing to the table, but the crowd seemed to enjoy. Vicious Nature followed with their grandiose take on old-school heavy metal and the entertaining vocalist could probably give Bruce Dickinson a run for his money when it comes to energy – the combination just making it a fun set. Sacred Mother Tongue on the other hand feels incredibly lacklustre in comparison, and their fairly predictable metal didn’t really help grab much interest either.


Sansara are the first band to open the Jagermeister stage at Hammerfest and are cursed with a small crowd, who are either too hungover or just uninterested to really show any enthusiasm. While they pump out a slightly chirpier version of Alice In Chain’s style of hard rock, there’s nothing that really grabs your attention.

Deadman Sugar do slightly better, delivering heavy metal with a doomy Black Sabbath edge, and manage to attract a livelier crowd throughout their set, thanks to the cheery and entertaining vocalist who spurred the crowd a little. Fire In The Empire unfortunately didn’t take advantage of the effort and pretty much played a straightforward heavy metal with a flat delivery.

Heading over to the mainstage, named Dragon stage, The Idol Dead play their sleazy rock’n’roll with a slight punkish delivery – a definite for fans of Velvet Revolver. It becomes clear as they churn through song after song that the guys would have probably done a lot better with a larger crowd, the one at this stage actually falling shy of the Jagermeister stage’s numbers.

Talking of the Jagermeister stage, South Wales’s Triaxis take to the stage and is the first sign on the stage of a band that knows how to stir some interest. Frontwoman Krissie manages to engage with the crowd between songs and even gets some sympathy when she announces that she’s ill, which doesn’t really show that much during songs. Bassist Owen also jumps around the stage like a banshee unleashed, and so while musically the band are pretty straightforward heavy metal, Triaxis upped the performance level a bit.

Ancient Ascendant unleash their torturous sound next, mostly death/thrash metal with slight black metal influences (mainly on the vocals), they’re the first band to push beyond the classic hard rock/heavy metal sounds of prior bands, waking the crowd up. They simply put on a thunderous set.

Iron Knights
feel like a metal band that isn’t afraid to get a little battle metal with their sound, and frequently refer to the audience as ‘legions’ and set forth a kind of bravado throughout their set, making it entertaining at least. Back to the Dragon stage, Attica Rage blasts their old-school heavy metal with some fairly technical vibes, with a heavy dose of cheese on top. To add to the fun, the band had their own entertainers during parts of their show – at one point, two guys showering the sky with sparks with saws and metal rods, while during another song, a female fire-breather criss-crossed the stage. With plenty of silly riffs and charisma between songs, Attica Rage layed down a good fun show.

At the Jagermeister stage, RSJ are to come, but when the lights dim, instead of a roar of guitars and a “HELLO HAMMERFEST” we get some bubbly synthpop for a minute, until a sample of scientists talking about the Higgs Boson Particle rings out. The band walk onstage, soon jumping and riffing to the sample like rabid chimps. Vocalist Dan Cook looks ready to assault anyone at the front, while guitarists Guff Thomas and Dan Kentley slam their tools with no remorse. The sample stops and RSJ begins to plough through a pretty overwhelming set – imagine Converge, Will Haven and Shaped By Fate constantly cutting each other up: you get RSJ. Juxtaposing their intense music, songs are often broken up with humorous samples, Keisha’s Tik-Tok and Olivia Newton-John’s (Let’s Get) Physical being just some of the ones catching you by surprise. By the end of the set, one of the guitarists climbed over the barrier and proceeded to walk through the crowd with his guitar held above his head like a sacrifice. Needless to say, they put on a great show.

Iron Saviour filled the Dragon arena and basically delivered a ballad-heavy take on power metal which the audience seemed to enjoy – one tall fan in a white shirt working himself into such a frenzy that would exhaust any high-ranking athlete. Vocalist and guitarist Piet Sielck had a fair amount of cheery banter to keep the mood at a constant high too.

Chimp Spanner managed to gather a pretty big crowd back at the Jagermeister stage, mesmerising a good majority of it with incredibly atmospheric instrumental technical metal, or djent if you prefer. Although dealing without vocals is sometimes a barrier when it comes to a live setting, it didn’t seem to appear here, with a fair few people headbanging and fistpumping along. Next up is Bloodshot Dawn, who upped the ante with their technical death metal and actually manage to get a circle pit out of the crowd. Dyscarnate vocalist Tom Whitty joined the band for one song, helping Bloodshot Dawn to somehow further the brutality of their live set, and they absolutely nailed it.

Next up was one of the headliners, UK’s currently wave-making black metallers Winterfylleth, who came on to a roar of cheers – obviously a highly anticipated band for most people there. If you’ve never seen Winterfylleth before but heard their music, what Winterfyllethyou might expect visually is a lot different than what you get: no corpsepaint or inverted crosses but four regular guys in jeans and t-shirts. Without all the gimmicks, the band just rip through song after song with such a verocity that it feels like the skin on your neck is slowly being ripped away, and you could feel a small gust between the holes of the front barrier. While the band did experience some technical difficulties, vocalist and guitarist Christopher Naughton joked about ‘finally’ being able to play near a Papa John’s, which was met with laughter. They just put on amazing show that made the stage feel that bit bigger than it really was.

After that, Lifer came on to another lot of cheers and simply played an impressive set with their straight-up metal. The crowd seemed to love them and they no doubt made themselves a fair amount of new admirers that night.

Back at the Dragon stage, Germany’s thrash veterans Destruction are next, and you can feel the electricity of the crowd’s anticipation. Eventually the band walk onstage to excitable Destructioncrowd, but what you don’t expect is just THREE people – usually there is a second guitarist but Mike Sifringer is the only six-stringer onstage. All doubts were cast aside once they opened with Thrash ‘til Death, instantly injecting the crowd with adrenaline and sounding pretty perfect – gaining even more enthusiasm from the crowd when they played another fan favourite Nailed To The Cross. Destruction were just perfect and being short of one guitarist did nothing to hold them back, the aggression, the heaviness and the speed were all present and delivered without a hitch. If you love your thrash metal, and haven’t seen Destruction, then you’ve got something to add to your bucket list.


The third day of Hammerfest V was a breaking point for a lot of people with hangovers, finally feeling it catch up with them, yet OAF was the ideal remedy to the problem. A two-man band and offered the most bizarre set of the weekend. On drums and backing vocalsOAF is James Rayment, dressed like a 50’s dad in a woolly sweater, tie, trousers and smart shoes with his hair slicked back; while on bass and lead vocals Dom Lawson, who looks like Corpsegrinder’s friendlier brother. This odd mix caught a lot of people’s attention, and so did their comedic take on punk meets prog, with song titles like Wanking With A Fistful Of Shit and Fuck Off Seagull (which featured guest vocals from Evil Scarecrow’s Dr. Hell), and a lot of dry commentary inbetween, often with the crowd. The whole crowd was in stitches and OAF were just the perfect start to the day.

Next up was a more serious matter, this time Flayed Disciple, who churn out a gruelling version of technical death metal that never lets you settle comfortably – a groove might last seven seconds before they spiral into another extreme direction. Vocalist Tim Whyte looks like a madman with his poses and facial expression, which sort of adds to the insanity of their music – especially during The Westboro Massacre. It’s pretty unfathomable to think of any complaints with a band that played as they did and it’s probably safe to say they won some new fans in the crowd.

Driven took to the stage next and for the most part sort of flopped in comparison to the two previous bands; which probably wasn’t helped by their easy-listening rock’n’roll style. Despite this, they eventually won the crowd over and loosened them up, even getting a big number of the audience to partake in a huge conga circle, which eventually morphed into a circle pit – which was pretty astonishing to see happen so early in the day, and so you couldn’t help but respect the band for their efforts and determination.

Monument followed with a sort of mix of power and old-school metal (just think Judas Priest and Iron Maiden), and while the vocalist, Peter Ellis, had a lot of flair in his performance and crowd interaction, the crowd stayed at a timid mood throughout – but did fill out a lot more by the end of the set. They also cranked out a pretty great cover of Deep Purple’s Black Night. Bull Riff Stampede came on next and gifted the audience with a nice mix of thrash and death metal, which got them a decent turnout.

Then Making Monsters arrived and it seemed that if there had been a bigger audience, the band would have had a much warmer reception than they got, ultimately left with a tough crowd. Providing metalcore with more interesting twists, the band clearly tried their best to get a reaction which never really came, despite vocalist Emma’s pretty intense activity onstage and impressive mix of cleans, screams and growls, and the performance of the band was flawless. It really seemed like a case of the wrong time with the crowd.

Oxford’s Undersmile soon began setting up, and during this time you see that Hel Sterne and Taz Corona-Brown are both dressed in pretty red dresses, and being new to the band (as probably a fair number of the audience was too), expectancies were a bit all over the place. BUT… as soon as the band kicked in, it became obvious that Undersmile were simply practicing champions of doom/drone metal – just think of the sludgy moments of Jucifer, lather it with more reverb and a suicidal feel with monotone chants. HEAVY. The atmosphere throughout was nothing short of intense and compelling; which wasn’t interrupted by chatter from the band at all, something that would have surely ruined the sensibility of it all. Undersmile simply slayed, leaving the crowd literally screaming for more. Just go see them if you get the chance!

Serpent Venom followed with their own doomy goodness, this time of the sludge variety, Serpent Venomand delivered a pretty straightforward performance, although bassist Nick Davies nips in some friendly banter with the crowd; a few of which are clearly good friends of his. Just imagine all the classic doom bands morphed into one Eyehategod style delivery, and that’s Serpent Venom. Just a great, solid performance!

H A R K from Swansea came on next and downright blew the crowd away. Vocalist and guitarist Jimbob Isaac, formerly of the great Taint, just shredded, pounded and yelled sludgy goodness, with a progressive touch. At one point, he announces how happy he is to be playing there and points to a member of the audience with a Welsh rugby shirt, and dedicates a song to him – which was enthusiastically met with chants of “Wey-ales! Wey-ales!”. For those who knew Taint, it felt like an immense sense of return to form for Jimbob, who was sorely missed in the South Wales metal/rock scene when the band called it quits. H A R K made a triumphant stand and just conquered the audience.

Heading over to the Dragon stage, Candlemass are soon to hit the stage and the anxiety is almost torture, especially when they run a little late. Yet as soon as the band strides Candlemassonstage, joyful cheers are screamed towards them. Even though the majority of its members are old enough to be grandfathers now, Candlemass are rocking just as hard as much as the younger bands and vocalist Mats Levén proves himself more than worthy of standing in the frontman spotlight. Although their set is short, they manage to squeeze in many of the fan favourites like Solitude, Black As Time and At The Gallows End. Just a brilliant set by the doom legends.

Saint Vitus were next to be unleashed on the Hammerfest crowd next with their more stoner/heavy metal style of doom, which was just as warmly welcome too. Wino had the Saint Vitusthousand mile stare and looked like he could rip heads off at any moment, while guitarist Dave Chandler seemed like the most friendly dude going. The band seemed to be experiencing sound problems too, but they continued blasting out a set of favourites with I Bleed Black, Let Them Fall, Dying Inside and The Bleeding Ground. And when it comes to soloing and pulling off guitar stunts, Dave seems too bring everything to the table; at moments biting the strings, sliding the guitar with his bracelet and an array of others. There was also a point where security began grabbing people near the front due to smoking, which angered the band into telling the security to leave them be – which seemed to work from a distance. Saint Vitus was everything you’d expect them to be and more, truly stunning.

Last up was the infamous (and rightly so) Napalm Death, the Birmingham grinders brought the the day to brutal end, leaving barely any room between songs for you to breathe (apart from two or three gaps where Barney explained viewpoints and song meanings). The crowd simply lost it throughout too with a sea of swinging heads, flying fists and a myriad of crowdsurfers; which seemed to be cultivated in Barney’s unpredictable and chaotic domination of the stage. The only unfortunate thing was that because of a recurring lateness of bands coming on, the set was fairly short, but not without playing the greats like Scum, Suffer The Children, Silence Is Deafening and the legendary You Suffer. Once they finished, walking offstage and the lights came back on, all you could see was sweaty but grinning faces, bringing Hammerfest V to a great end.

Review by RichReviewz

Live Review: Deftones – 19th February 2013 @ O2 Academy, Birmingham

It’s hard to believe that it’s been around three years since Deftones last graced the UK with a tour (rather than lone festival appearances) and judging by the eager queue that forms outside the O2 Academy in Birmingham on that very cold night, it’s been long awaited by many fans.

The mixed crowd alone says a lot about Deftones: 40-year-old punks, young couples folded around each other, long-haired metal fans, a few indie kids sprinkled here and there – all show how diverse the Deftones crowd is and proves that the band doesn’t cater to any one stereotype alone. So then it’s no surprise that the support acts for the night represent the band’s range in both musical styles and tastes.

First up was London’s Three Trapped Tigers; a synth-heavy post-rock band who rely more on electronics than the regular band set-up, and are made up by Tom Rogerson on keyboards and vocals, Matt Calvert on guitar and synths/electronics and Adam Betts on drums. As the trio cover so much ground between them instrumentally, it became clear that they were practically glued to their positions because of it. Although completely understandable, it just didn’t bring the potentially excitable atmosphere as their music indicated at times, which was a shame. In fact, it was perhaps drummer Betts who was the most entertaining due to his frantic flurries during the up-tempo phases. While the set was enjoyable, it didn’t really leave much of an impact personally, yet it seemed that I was alone due to the positive cheers they had between songs.

Next up was California’s post-hardcore outfit letlive. If you’ve been paying any sort of attention to the band over the last year or two, you’ll know that letlive. have whipped up a dedicated cult-like following in the underground via their energetic and highly talked about shows – so much so that the band seem to be nearing mainstream success for it. Any negative connotations you might apply to that sentence would be ill-set however, because letlive. aren’t Mumford & Sons; but a raging beast frothing at the mouth for a feast.

‘Tired’ doesn’t seem to run in Jason Butler’s vocabulary as the frontman pounces across the stage, arms swinging, and apt to leave the microphone in his mouth as he screams to the ceiling. Guitarists Jeff Sahyoun and Jean Nascimento, along with bassist Ryan Johnson, aren’t far behind as they swing their axes while jumping around the stage without missing a note. The band proved that they were right for this tour and probably bagged themselves a bigger fanbase in Birmingham, which is well deserved after the performance they gave.

Finally, after several chants of increasing impatience and thirst, Deftones humbly straddled onstage to a roar of gleeful cheers and wasted little time before hammering into Diamond Eyes, the crowd instantly turning into one big a shuffling battlefield. Chino’s vocals held up remarkably well between the cleans and screams and the whole band were precise and executed it well, which went for the whole set.

The crowd was, to put it bluntly, fucking crazy throughout and only let up a little during the softer moments in the set (which were gifts after being almost crushed on more than one occasion) where the crowd sang in unison instead; which felt magical with the lightshow flowing over us. Chino was pretty fun inbetween songs too, casually interacting with the crowd and the rest of the band (particularly with bassist Sergio Vega, who had his name chanted a few times and looked like he was in his natural environment onstage). The band just seemed at their happiest and closest at this point in their history.

And despite supporting their latest release, “Koi No Yokan”, they only played a couple of tracks from the album (a ‘couple’ being Poltergeist, RosemaryEntombedTempest and Swerve City) and featured a larger number of fan favourites from other albums: “White Pony” made its appearance through PassengerChange (In The House Of Flies)Feiticeira; “Around The Fur” with Dai The Flu (dedicated to original bassist Chi Cheung), My Own Summer (Shove It), Headup and Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away); “Diamond Eyes” via SextapeRocket Skates and CMND/CTRL; the self-titled with Bloody Cape; and “Adrenaline” with Engine No.9 and 7 Words as the encore – the latter of the two being especially brutal to witness.

Needless to say (and unsurprisingly) Deftones killed it and gave more than what the ticket price was worth. By the amount of grinning, sweaty faces I saw once the lights came back on, I think you’d be lucky to find anyone who’d disagree.

Simply unmissable.

Review by Rich Reviewz

Live Review: Damnation Festival – 3rd November 2012 @ Leeds University, UK

So in 2012, Damnation reached its 7th year of providing Leeds and its visitors a strong dose of extreme metal and underground rock music, and what a line-up to celebrate it with!

Sporting headliners consisting of Electric Wizard, Pig Destroyer and Amenra; while joined by the likes of My Dying Bride, Extreme Noise Terror, Belphegor, Primordial, Winterfylleth and more – possibly the bargain of the year considering that a single ticket only cost around £32.

The day started with The Atrocity Exhibit, who warmed up the Terrorizer stage with their filthy grind, armed with head-banging grooves and ferocious vocals. Despite the band being pretty fun (the bassist constantly flickering his tongue like a rabid man couldn’t help lighten the mood), the crowd remained still for the most part; perhaps still suffering from hangovers or early hours of travelling. Otherwise The Atrocity Exhibit seemed just right to open the stage.

Thirty minutes later, Hang The Bastard walk on to plenty of cheers, soon rolling into their sludgey hardcore as vocalist Michael Carver jumps around the stage, winding himself into the crazed man that appears during songs, at times staring into the crowd as if everyone had just offended him for the last time. Meanwhile, inbetween songs and during a moment of technical difficulties, Carver is more polite, thanking the crowd for watching or apologising for the wait while one of the guitars is dealt with – providing a humorous mix of dual personalities. That said, the band were tight and managed to stir a moshpit with little effort.

Devil Sold His Soul began playing at the Jagermeister Stage shortly after and provided a great setlist as well as a hypnotic performance as they mixed their soft-loud dynamics and syncopated riffs, playing a range of tracks from each of their albums, the most striking moments during The Starting and Sirens Chant from their debut “A Fragile Hope”. The band were incredibly on point, proving that they had more than earned their right to play the main stage.

Next up were noise-pushers Blacklisters on the Eyesore Merch Stage. Playing to their home city, the band did Leeds justice and they undoubtedly made it one of most talked about sets of the day. If you’ve listened to their debut album “BLKLSTRS”, you might be prepared for what could happen, but even then band managed to throw wilder and messier versions of their already chaotic music at first time viewers of the band – myself included – they took many people by surprise. While guitarist Dan Beesley looks like he’s trying to break his instrument in half, vocalist Billy Mason-Wood shakes and spasms like a man possessed, pouring cans of lager down his throat between songs, even making his way through the crowd during Ok47. They played a few new songs too; as well as announcing a new album in the works. A ridiculously fun band to witness live.

Darting towards the Terrorizer stage, I managed to catch the majority of Extreme Noise Terror‘s crust-ridden set from the safety of the balconies, witnessing the most energetic crowd yet – a moshpit taking up the centre of the crowd below and frequent crowdsurfers, some grabbed from the front barrier while others fell back into the crowd. The band themselves were a constant flurry, rocking back and forth or storming around the stage while managing to maintain a clear sound, inciting the audience to give it their all. The coarse Dean Jones gave his opinions on religion, wishing he had more beer and dedicating one song to the late Phil Vane (RIP); but looked like he was having a great time throughout.

Unfortunately, I left ENT a bit later than expected to see sludgey post-rock titans Bossk back at the Eyesore stage, who had already managed to fill the whole room and so it was a difficult job to wade through the crowd in order to get a decent view. Although hearing the likes of Truth and Define in person was a chilling experience, it felt slightly underwhelming with them being on a small stage, and seemed they would be more suitable for a larger stage with a bigger light show to accompany their heavy atmosphere. After Bossk, I spent an hour to replenish and headed to the Terrorizer stage to catch Aura Noir; who were nothing short of entertaining. Even though the band plays heavily thrash-influenced black metal with a serious demeanour, the slightly cheesy style and the seriousness itself couldn’t stop me from smiling or chuckling – not in a negative light, just that it was… well… unexpectedly fun.

I then left the Terrorizer early again to head over to the Eyesore stage to witness and enthralling set by Maybeshewill. No words could justify just how intense they were; especially during fan favourite Not For The Want Of Trying, the sample of Network (1976) inspiring a few shout-alongs before the band burst into human-shaped balls of energy, yet never missing a note. Maybeshewill proved that having a vocalist isn’t necessary to keep your audience engaged in a live setting and were simply brilliant. Thirty minutes later, Amenra took to the same stage, swamping the audience in their progressive doom/sludge, with help from a projector displaying grim images on the band themselves. Although hardly injecting a whole lot of energy into the audience, the set was mesmerising and crushing, making me feel guilty when leaving early in order to catch one of the headliners…

Speaking of which, at the Terrorizer stage, the audience is noticeably fidgety and impatiently hungry – men and women are staring as the band casually go through soundcheck on stage, and this is what strikes you: Pig Destroyer look like average guys, humble in every sense, seeming like friendly regulars at your local pub or local labourers that you recognise. As the lights dull down and a monologue from Tropic Of Cancer (1970) plays, the anxiety of what these guys will be like kicks in. Just a few moments ago, vocalist J.R. Hayes looked like a friendly woodcutter smiling at the crowd while noise/sampler Blake Harrison looked like someone who had accidentally wondered on with a beer in hand; but when the sample ends and Adam Jarvis blasts into Rotten Yellow and the band start swaying, jumping and looking downright scary, especially Hayes.

The setlist covered a fair range of their material too: Piss Angel, StarbellyThumbsucker, The BugDeathtripper, Alexandria and Pretty In Casts were all played as well as a handful of others. Unfortunately, a portion of the band’s set was taken up by trying to fix a problem with Hull’s guitar, resulting in three false starts, breaking the onslaught so far and killing the mood slightly. The band also finished the set a few minutes early, which was a bit of a disappointment considering the time lost with the guitar issue, but otherwise it was a mighty set, leaving a lot of battered people wandering slightly concussed afterwards, unable to comprehend what they’d just been through during the past 55-minutes. Even though the band admitted themselves that they’re plagued with the bad luck of technical difficulties live, which became reality on the night, they’re definitely worth seeing if the chance arises. Unmissable.

Electric Wizard:

Some highlights from an hour long video found on Youtube:

Written by Rich Reviewz

A Night Of Salvation III Live Review (Santiago Bar, Leeds. 2/11/12)

Eyesore Merch sponsored the Damnation Festival this weekend just passed. We will be posting a full review of the event shortly but in the meantime, a new friend (Rich Reviewz) from the blogosphere that we met at the event just posted a great review of the Damnation Fest pre-show which took place the night before. We have posted it below for your reading pleasure.

A Night Of Salvation III Live Review (Santiago Bar, Leeds. 2/11/12) by Rich Reviewz
It’s the night before Damnation Festival 2012 takes place at the Leeds Union and walking through town alone, you notice a good number of people wearing extreme metal t-shirts, and it seems that they all end up at one place on the night: the Santiago Bar.

A Night Of Salvation (III) is the pre-show for Damnation Festival yet doesn’t seem remotely overshadowed by the event – people are excited for the bands playing on that pre-show; discussions are in full force in some areas of the bar and outside it. The place itself is full of eye-catching memorabilia – a poster signed by the Foo Fighters (Dave also seems to have gained a blacked out tooth and a unibrow from a pen fiend) and a signed drum skin by Torche hung up on one of the walls/rafters – and so it seems fitting that a night like this should take place in a bar like that.

First up was BongCauldron, and as their name might tell, they inflicted a set full of dirty, bass-heavy riffs along with some solid drumming and vocals taken in turns by the guitarist and bassist – the former roared as the latter was more guttural and throaty. The three-piece made a punishing wall of noise and even though the majority of the set consisted of the doom/sludge mid-to-slow-pace tempo, the band got a lot of heads banging, leaving a lasting impression on the crowd (who seemed under a weedian haze throughout the set).

Next was Liber Necris, perhaps an unlikely band to hear on the night, being of the deathcore influence, but actually held their own really well, even intimidating due to the crazed vocalist who churned out some insane vocals immaculately – screams, growls and pig squeals in regular rotation. Plus, instead of the expected breakdowns that deathcore is famous for, the band seemed to flourish in blastbeats instead – definitely showing a bigger death metal influence than anything else. The band put on a hell of a show and were a great surprise.

Diascorium soon followed and despite showing some technical prowess and black/death metal influences, the band fell short of really engaging with the crowd or moving them in any way as the previous two bands had managed. The performance itself was tight and scarily flawless, but there was just something missing from the performance, which is a shame for a clearly talented band. It just felt there was just a lack of genuine excitement; or that it just didn’t transcend very well on the night.

Then there was one band left, the one that a large portion of the crowd had obviously come to see, the great Humanfly. To describe Humanfly musically is like trying to argue what Mona Lisa is feeling – not that the music is blank, but the band venture into so many styles that you never know whether to mosh or gently sway; mixing sludge, progressive, post-rock, hardcore, drone and even more into their undefinable sound. To add to the confusion, even during moments of crushing riffs where the aggression was sonically ripe, the band looked like the happiest people ever, clearly enjoying the moment. It was also unbelievable at times with the sounds the guys were producing with their guitars, as a few seconds of staring at their array pedals confirmed – the band could not stick to one sound if their livelihood depended on it; which is a good thing.

Simply put, they gave a stellar show, and were absolutely hypnotising. It’s almost a shame that they weren’t playing on the day of Damnation (again, having made an appearance on the bill last year), but to see the band on such an intimate level was a great experience in itself – a band definitely worth seeing if you have the chance.

Read more posts by Rich Reviews HERE

Live Review: Napalm Death – The Well, Leeds, UK – 4th Oct 2012

It’s been five years since I last caught a Napalm Death headline gig, at the sadly now defunct Leeds Rios. So the prospect of catching them at an even more intimate venue, thankfully recently saved from closure, was more than welcome.

As with their Rios gig they have opted to have local acts opening for them, which lead to a low key feel, certainly in contrast to the first time I saw Napalm in 1996 with Crowbar and Face Down in tow. In fact I don’t think I’ve seen Napalm given a run for their money by their supports since The Haunted left them looking somewhat pedestrian in 1998.The blackened riffs and vocals of Diascorum do little for me, whilst Hawk Eyes burgeoning reputation is still something of a surprise. Certainly an interesting band, there’s an off-kilter edge to their music, which brings to mind Helmet on more than one occasion, I just feel other Leeds bands such as Black Moth and Gentlemans Pistols currently edge them in the live arena.

It’s gone 10pm by the time the strains of ‘Circumspect’ finally herald Napalm’s arrival, but no-one seems to be escaping for the last train to wherever. Anyone who did have to leave early would have been kicking themselves as this was a classic performance by the boys from Brum.

The opening salvo of ‘Errors in The Signals’ and ‘Everyday Pox’ (Complete with grindcore sax attack sample!) from this year’s ‘Utilitarian’ underlines Napalm’s continued relevance, with said album easily maintaining the standards of the band’s 21st century output. Live they are noticeably tighter since slimming down to a quartet, although seeing them turn in such a life affirming display inevitably brings to mind the late Jesse Pintado. His one time partner in crime, Mitch Harris, is for me something of an unsung hero. Until tonight I’d assumed that Barney provided the Burton C Bell-esque vocal on new track ‘The Wolf I Feed’, but it’s Mitch who steps up to the microphone for that section, proving a much more convincing clean vocalist in the live arena than Fear Factory’s frontman.

Alongside the cuts from ‘Utilitarian’ in the first half of the set are a number of modern Napalm classics, including ‘Silence Is Deafening’ and ‘Fatalist’, the breakdown at the end of the former never failing to bring a smile to my face. They also delve into their often overlooked late nineties album, ‘Words From The Exit Wound’, with a run through ‘Next Of Kin To Chaos’.

With such an extensive back catalogue to plunder there were inevitably some omissions (Sadly no room for ‘Mass Appeal Madness’), but in general this was as well balanced a set as you’re likely to hear, with the second half taking in material from their first two Earache albums, whilst still throwing in refreshing reminders of the band’s ability to pen a tune as catchy as ‘Breed To Breathe’. The only cover of the night, ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’, is a staple of the band’s set that frankly would be a glaring omission if they didn’t play it.

Following the encore of ‘Scum/Human Garbage/You Suffer/Instinct Of Survival’, I speak with a few long term friends who rate this as highly as any previous encounter with the band. The majority of us, all in our thirties, have seen the band countless times, thankfully as we hung back around the middle of the venue a new generation of fans has taken over from us at the front, ensuring that the chaotic pits I would once have thrown myself into live on. Near the end one skirmish led to Barney acting as a lost property attendant, trying to locate the owner of a mobile phone and a single shoe, speaking into said ‘Shoe phone!’ he played the joker for a moment that reminded me why I so love this band. For all their intensity there is a human side to proceedings, and I would like to think that people take to heart some of Greenway’s words, as they continue to be a relevant, raging, force for good.

Andrew Whittaker

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Leeds Fest 2012

It’s been a few days now, I’ve slept in a real bed and I’m not drinking gin for breakfast so I am ready to write about Leeds Festival 2012! It’s been a long time since I went to Leeds, my last visit was when Temple Newsam decided they didn’t want the festival back, so my bags were packed and I was off to Bramham Park.
The great thing about festivals is the opportunity to discover new bands and great music and Leeds was no different, I knew a couple of bands from the line-up but otherwise it was a weekend of discovery!

Friday started with my discovery of the weekend – Band of Skulls (I’m actually listening to them while writing this, sadly there are no vinyl releases yet). A heavy three-piece who make match a driving rhythm section with male-female vocals and some super-sweet guitar licks over the top.

Band of Skulls is the band you’d want to stumble across playing the darkened back room of a bar… lights low, drink in hand and their hard rock filling the room, which has plenty of groove to get the crowd moving (I’ve not been surprised to see they toured with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club who share a similar sound on a number of their songs).

Friday also delivered my first tastes of the Eagles of Death Metal and The Gaslight Anthem, both impressive, but the Eagles of Death Metal slightly edging it as they followed the Band of Skulls perfectly, plenty of hip shaking bar room swagger for a Friday afternoon!

Friday evening saw the arrival of The Black Keys and I freaking love The Black Keys, from the early blues duo records to the more recent fuller sounding albums they have never lost their blues and ability to get you moving… it was an amazing early evening set that featured “Howlin’ For You”, “Strange Times”, “Lonely Boy” and “Tighten Up”… hard rockin’ blues, hit after hit this was a perfect festival set and they ruled the main stage.

Friday night was closed by the Foo Fighters who spent two and a half hours belting out classic after classic, from someone who doesn’t really know much about the band’s back catalogue it’s staggering how many of their songs you know. The field was packed for them and they worked it, at one point Rufus, the son of the Roger Taylor from Queen was playing drums while Taylor Hawkins sang “Tie Your Mother Down”… didn’t expect that!

Saturday brought a hangover that was eased with painkillers and coffee and then it was off back to the arena to see what the day brought and to build up to The Cure! The first band to stand out was Coheed and Cambria who had an impressive looking guitar rack at the side of the stage. Intricate and technical they showed how to be heavy and not rely purely on screaming vocals. Coheed and Cambria are next to hunt down after the Band of Skulls.

Paramore were also new to me (seeing a theme here) but were great fun, massive crowd and oh so many Paramore t-shirts on the Saturday! They made way for The Cure…. THE CURE… this gig has been a long time coming for me and to see the band live was momentous. And they were awesome, a huge sound filling the Leeds sky, plenty of smoke and Robert Smith’s vocals sounded amazing – the sound was beautifully mixed. A two hour plus set that featured the hits you would expect (“Boys Don’t Cry” and “Love Cats” were saved for the encore) but it was two songs in particular that hit home the hardest, a mind-melting “Pictures of You” from Disintegration (the album that made my love The Cure) and a spell-binding “A Forest”. This was two hours plus of magic, an effortless demonstration of how good this band is as each song weaved into the next – it wasn’t about gimmicks just beautiful music enveloping a crowd of fans.

Los Campesinos opened the final day, and these lot had more bite than I remember from when a friend played me their first album a few years ago. The beefier sound suits them and it was a great way to ease into the day.

Highlights of Sunday were the brilliant on-stage antics of Santigold and plenty of “hits from ads” that you would recognise if you watch enough TV like me! Another highlight was my introduction to Billy Talent in the NME/Radio 1 Stage, watching a circle pit open up was an impressive site like a vortex… obviously if I wasn’t edging closer to 31 and wearing wellies I would have been in there! I’ve had “Devil On My Shoulder” stuck in my head since in Sunday and you couldn’t leave the set without a massive grin on your face.

Florence could really do with being more machine like and toning down the wispy arms because she can most definitely sing… but wispiness and being marvelled by a sofa can distract me from the songs!

This left Kasabian to close the day and festival. I have a lot of early Kasabian records and remember seeing them in 2004 before they headed off to Glastonbury. Those early records came out of nowhere and for me weren’t tainted by the “lad-ness” that has built up around them. Live, they are amazing and have a huge number of songs which are perfect for the outdoor arenas and it was great to hear a number of the early singles. Kasabian are always a much better band (in my old opinion) when their guitar sound is mixed with the darker electronic beats and this was delivered during their live set… great to hear “Club Foot” and “LSF” live again.

Finishing their set in skeleton suits, Vlad the Impaler was much heavier than the recorded version and reminded me of that feeling in the air on a Sunday night that always drifted over Leeds Festival… waiting for that spark that used to signal to people to cut loose. Followed up by “Fire” they definitely delivered.