Friday, 28 March 2014

Metal 2 The Masses 2014: Heat 2

My last review ended speaking about people outside a venue and not going in to watch the bands even though it’s free entry and if that’s bad enough they don’t even use the bar etc.
That may have upset a few people so I’m probably going to upset a few more with this review.

Metal 2 The Masses is another free event organised by The Ivy with Bloodstock Open Air and here is an exact copy of what I posted on the Facebook event page for all those attending.

"To all attending M2TM at The Ivy.
This is a great event where you get to vote for the best band of the evening.
Whilst many will be going to see their mates play and vote for them please take a moment to think.
Was another band that played better than your mates?
Whilst you would love to see your mates play Bloodstock was that other band better than your mates?
Think about the quality of the songs, the stage presence, crowd interaction.
You get the thing.
Basically, use your vote wisely.
Thanks for reading and let's get THE BEST OF THE BEST to Bloodstock."

 I think that was a very fair and honest comment with quite a lot of people clicking the ‘Like’ button.

What’s that got to do with people not watching bands? I hear you ask.

Here goes.

There were four bands playing tonight.

Whilst Pressurehead were playing I think there was about ten, maybe less, people watching. I took a quick look outside and there was more than ten people.

The same with Word Of Nod but this time a few more outside.

Near Ruin had a few more people watching them. I think they managed to get a few mates to come along which is great.

When Los Alcatraz played the majority of people that were outside were now inside watching them. This is great too that they brought a crowd with the but I refer you to my Facebook entry which is exactly what I am talking about.

If they had watched the other bands they may have discovered another band that took their breath away.

I know I did that night.

Rant over and if I haven’t upset you too much I’ll crack on with the review!

Pressurehead come from Gravesend and I’ve never heard of them before which is somewhat strange as I have been going to The Red Lion since 1985.
They start their set with a Pearl Jam sounding song which was really cool and clearly showed where their influences lie but this is M2TM and I’m looking for originality in M2TM.
They continue with some blinding songs, some did and some didn’t sound like Pearl Jam, and they certainly raised my eyebrows and got a smile from me especially seeing them enjoying themselves and having fun.
I especially like the fun filled “Living Dead Cock”. Cracking!
For the first band of the evening and being this good the other bands had better be bloody good if they’re going to get my vote.

Click Here For More Photos Of Pressurehead

Playing next is another band I’ve not heard of before.
Coming from the Kent / Sussex border it’s Word Of Nod.
It’s difficult to describe a genre for them if, in fact, they even have one.
Heavy Rock? Alternative Rock / Metal? Indie? Who knows?
But what I do know is that they were pretty damn fine and completely different from any other band I’ve seen enter M2TM before.
And What's not to like about a song called “Starving To Death In The Belly Of A Whale”?

Click Here For More Photos Of Word Of Nod

I saw Near Ruin quite some time ago in Chatham when I thought they were okay and got a thumb up from me.
Unfortunately tonight they don’t do much for me.
They don’t really appear to have progressed any since I last saw them. (See my comment about Vulgate in Heat 1.)
They brought their own light show which is something different and gets a bonus point from me but in general the songs lacked originality for a band that have their sights set for Bloodstock.
However I was impressed with the guitarist / keyboardist and the way he switches between them during songs.
A lot of people say that keyboards don’t belong in Metal but the way Near Ruin have added them I kinda like it.
A good show by Near Ruin but I’d like them to come up with something a little more original for next year if they enter.

Click Here For More Photos Of Near Ruin

The final band tonight is Los Alcatraz.
I’d heard of them but not seen them before.
Those that know me will know that I don’t like to judge a book by the cover but when Los Alcatraz took to the stage and their mates came to the front it became apparent to me that they were a hardcore band.
And those of you that know me will also know that I quite like hardcore and have done since the early days and I especially like local hardcore monsters Pay No Respect but there was something that I didn’t quite get about Los Alcatraz.
I don’t know what but I just can’t put my finger on it.
I know hardcore is a sub genre of Metal and a lot of people will say that if it wasn’t for hardcore there would be no thrash metal but M2TM does stand for Metal 2 The Masses, not Hardcore 2 The Masses and I really wanted to see a Metal band. Or at least Rock.
And I have to ask, “What’s with this two step thing?”

Click Here For More Photos Of Los Alcatraz

The winner of tonights heat was Word Of Nod. And deservedly so. They are different, whacky, and, well, bloody good.
And well done to Pressurehead for making the semi-final.
I couldn't have agreed more with the outcome.

Don't forget to check out and like my Facebook page and subscribe to my YouTube channel where you can see the videos of this gig.
Support your scene by going to local gigs and buying merch.
Remember, They're your bands.

Photos used with kind permission from Nathan Hammond Photography.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Ivy Presents - 8th March 2014. Infected Dead, Victim Identified, Cursed As Angels, Skarthia and Greg(o)rian

Tonight I was supposed to be in Birmingham at the very first British Brutality Festival where the mighty Victim Identified were to play their come back gig.
Unfortunately that got canceled due to reasons out of control of the organisers.
But never to fear, Victim Identified played the same night at their 'home venue' of The Ivy in Sheerness with a just as spectacular, if not better, line up.

Opening the evening was a band I've never heard of before called Greg(o)rian.
They play atmospheric blackened sludge doom post rock (I think) and they were absolutely amazing.
If you don't believe me just ask anyone else that was at the gig. I don't think there was anyone watching them that didn't have a smile on their face.
The awesomeness of sound they produce (a three piece) is somewhat incredible and one that I really like.
Lou from Infected Dead described them on stage as his 'new favourite thing'.
I really can't praise Greg(o)rian enough especially as they only had time to play one song that lasted about thirty minutes.
It is rare that a band you've never heard of before takes you by this much surprise and tonight Greg(o)rian have done that to me.
I'll stop now before I'm accused of blowing smoke up their arses!

Click Here For More Photos Of Greg(o)rian.
Next to play is another band I've never heard of before.
What? Me not hearing of two bands in the same evening? Unheard of!
They are Skarthia from North London and again I am overwhelmed by a band I'm seeing for the first time.
Their Facebook page describes them as Groove Metal with a mix of melodic riffs and death vocals.
I only have one thing to add to that... 'And then some'.
They are both brutal and beautiful to the ear for any discerning Metal fan.
But the winning factor for me as always was that you can see they love what they are doing and it shows in their stage presence.
Another band I look forward to seeing again some time.

Click Here For More Photos Of Skarthia.

Those who are regular readers of this page (I hope there are some) will know how much I like Cursed As Angels.
So them being on the bill tonight pleased me somewhat and their different style of music was a nice addition by The Ivy giving a break from the thrashier Metal or the calm before the storm if you like.
They played the same set as the previous week at The Red Lion which as I stated in that review was the perfect setlist as they are usually a headline act.
But again Cursed As Angels were cursed by equipment fucking up again and Mac's pedal or something not working properly so he couldn't be heard.
He was told of this after a couple of songs so turned his amp up a bit.
Holy shit!
I have never heard The Ivy so loud.
It was still clear enough not to distort which Anthony must be praised for but it did get a bit painful to be honest.
But, hey, we're Metal, right?
Another great performance by Cursed As Angels despite the hiccups and your's truly was invited to the front to receive a T-Shirt as a 'thankyou' for doing what I do.
That was a really nice gesture and I give a heart felt 'Thanks' back to you guys.

Click Here For More Photos Of Cursed As Angels.

After a four year hiatus, or whatever you call it, Victim Identified are back to show the world of Grind how it is done.
I first saw and recorded them at The Ivy about five years ago (according to my You Tube records) and they were kind enough to play my 40th Birthday Bash at The Beacon Court in Gillingham.
So to see Aaron and Ad back on stage at The Ivy blasting out all new material for an all new Victim Identified probably meant as much to me as it did to them.
Ad is an amazing guitarist however the volume of the guitar at the start was fairly quiet. Thankfully this was soon rectified and it started shredding like the old days.
And how the Hell does Aaron sing like that without barfing a lung or some other internal organ into the audience.
Grind may not be everyone's cup of tea and it isn't my favourite genre. But when it's two guys with a drum machine who clearly know their stuff you can only stand and watch in awe.
Victim Identified are back and are even more brutal than before.
You have been warned.

Clich Here For More Photos Of Victim Identified.

Ending tonights proceedings is Infected Dead.
They've come a long way since winning Metal 2 The Masses last year.
For those that don't know they changed their name from Neon Halo but hopefully the majority of you reading this will.
They have a new drummer in Martin Tang (Venomous Outrage) and have restructured the songs a little making them sound heavier than before.
This is the second time I've seen them in this guise and there is a vast difference between the beginning of February and now.
The transition and Martin finding his feet is going to take a little time but the progression is fast and furious just like their songs so all I'll say is go and watch them to see for yourself.
You won't be disappointed.
But what about tonight?
As always Lou Ede commands the stage and is a great front man and loves what he does. He is a very sick puppy and the titles of the songs a proof of that.
Penetration Trauma”, “Forensic Pornography” and my favourite title of all time thus far “She Was Dead When I Got There”.
A bloody awesome show from Infected Dead again.

Unfortunately I'm going to end this review on a sour note so I do apologise.
I wish some of the people who attend The Ivy and don't bother watching the bands, remaining outside would come in and watch them.
It's a free entry veune for the majority of gigs so there really is nothing to lose.
What makes it worse is they don't even use the bar.
For a venue such as The Ivy to continue putting on gigs, especially free entry ones, they rely on people using the bar. Even if it's a diet Coke it all helps to keeping a great venue going and not closing down as so many do nowadays and losing another place to go and watch your bands.
Thanks Anthony and the team at The Ivy for doing what you do.

Don't forget to check out and like my Facebook page and subscribe to my YouTube channel where you can see the videos of this gig.
Support your scene by going to local gigs and buying merch.
Remember, They're your bands.

Photos used with kind permission from Nathan Hammond Photography.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Metal 2 The Masses 2014: Heat 1

It's that time of year again when there are lots of gigs in succession and lots of 'thankyous' to be said to my forever suffering partner for being so understanding of my mission to bring you the best coverage of local and further afield Metal bands.

I am, of course, talking about the annual Metal 2 The Masses competition. This year I'm able to make all except one of the heats and the semi final due to being out of town so I'm really looking forward to reviewing them and bringing you the videos so you can watch for yourself and see if you agree with the judges' decisions.

2014's South East Region is being held at The Ivy in Sheerness. This is the second year they've held the event.

Heat 1 is started off with a band called Abyss.
They play traditional Metal which is really nice to hear nowadays as it was not what I was expecting from a bunch of lads whose age group usually play Nu-Metal or screamy stuff.
They had a really solid sound with strong vocals and some cracking riffs and they certainly set the standard for the evening and, in fact, the competition.
They're song titles are fairly traditional too with the likes of “All Seeing Eye” and “Burn The Witch”.
But the top title which is not very traditional has to be “Trains”. Dedicated to how crap the public transport system is.
I really enjoyed watching Abyss and look forward to seeing them again.
Incidentally the vocalist also plays drums in Spyder Byte. So if you like Abyss, be sure to check them out too.


I first saw Mantora at Herofest 2013 at The Red Lion in Gravesend where they impressed me somewhat.
It's hard to describe their sound other than old school Metal with extra riffage and harder vocals.
They are a band that certainly know their stuff and are a pleasure to watch with the vocalist moving back and forth at crowd level rather than on stage which adds to the crowd interaction.
Only a couple of issues, one is taking a bit too long between songs tuning. The other I'd like to hear a little more polished endings. Sort this guys and as far as competitions go you'll be well away.
Another enjoyable set and “Craving Conspiracy” is the nuts!

Vulgate played last years Metal 2 The Masses and reached the semi final. They hooked up with winners Neon Halo (now Infected Dead) and have played quite a few gigs in Kent earning a respectable following.
I've seen them a few times since last year and this year they have certainly upped the anti.
Some of their songs have been slightly restructured and they've thrown in a new one entitled “The One Who Knocks”.
They are a very solid sounding band now and their stage presence has evolved nicely making it a pleasure to watch them.

Hunter Killer are a new band to me and I was really looking forward to a headline act that would blast the other bands of the evening out of the water.
Unfortunately this was not to be the case.
Whilst being able to play, their inexperience showed and you could almost feel the nerves coming from the stage.
Still, they are the ones on the stage and not me so I will always praise that.
They play a five song set which included two covers which is fine with me in ordinary circumstances but not in the M2TM competition.
This is where I want to hear as much original material as I can in a set so maybe another year before entering would not have gone amiss although their enthusiasm shone through.
I know this sounds harsh guys but please keep at it and surprise me next time I see you.

Hunter Killer

With the bands finished it was time to wait for the winner of the heat.

Unsurprisingly it was Vulgate this evening.

A well deserved place in this years final for a band who have really shown commitment and effort over the last year to get there.

Well done lads.

As you're Death fans you'll appreciate this...

Perseverence Pays.

Don't forget to check out and like my Facebook page and subscribe to my YouTube channel where you can see the videos of this gig.

Support your scene by going to local gigs and buying merch.
Remember, They're your bands.

Thanks to my mate Debbie Davies for the photos on this blog.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Earl Of Morley's Birthday Gig Review

What better way to celebrate your birthday than organising a gig at one of the best, no, the best, venue in the South East of England, no, in England, no, The World and inviting everyone along to have a bloody great time?

Of course I'm talking about The Red Lion in Gravesend and that's exactly what my buddy Liam, The Earl Of Morley did.

Playing was Monumentomb (Their first ever gig), Cursed As Angels, Wretched Soul and Abandon The Faith.

I recently reviewed the Monumentomb EP “Ritual Exhumation” and couldn't praise it highly enough for both the quality of the songs and recording for a debut EP so now it was time to see if they can bring that monstrous sound to the stage.
And they most certainly did.
The sound was as immense as I'd hoped for but, then, sound maestro Vic Wintergreen was at the helm.
They played the EP back to back which suited me just fine with a sweet little surprise for my favourite track “Perpetual Execution Torment” when they were joined on stage by none other than Wretched Soul's Chris Simmons to carry out the vocal duty.
There was, unfortunately, a few technical issues, which were very quickly resolved so I won't mark them down on that front as it was their first gig.
As I said in my EP review, if you like traditional Death Metal then Monumentomb are a band that you really don't want to miss out on.
A great debut show and I must say, I really can't wait to see them again.

View more Monumentomb photos by clicking here!

I've said before how much I like Cursed As Angels and tonight was no exception.
They are usually a headline act at The Red Lion so tonight they played a shorter set of seven songs but they are seven carefully chosen songs which made it great nonetheless.
A new drummer (or rather loaned for a year from Warhorse) makes a huge difference. Dan Cole is an awesome drummer, don't get me wrong, but Richard Still has a classic drummer ego which raises the feel good factor to another level.
Paul McIntosh had a huge problem with his guitar which I'm not quite sure what it was but ended with him making an emergency repair and kneeling on the stage whilst playing.
As always Cursed As Angels were impressive to watch and listen to. Just a shame about the guitar problem.
But Paul Mac played the last song in his boxers – So they're forgiven.

View more Cursed As Angels photos by clicking here!

I've seen Wretched Soul numerous times and they always deliver the goods with tonight being no exception.
And we're treated to a six song set instead of the usual five.
A quick line check and they're off.
Starting with “Where Shadows Ride” and “Summon The Hunter” the openers for their awesome debut album “Veronica” one can only stand in awe at the ferociousness they slay upon you.
They, of course, play “Veronica” which I reckon is a classic song and the meaning behind it somewhat scarey. Do your homework if you don't know already.
And what's a Wretched Soul gig without “Dash To Destruction”? Three words. That's all there is to the singalong. So shout it back when commanded to.
Chris Simmons is such an amazing vocalist who still sends shivers down my spine. His mix of guttural Death Metal growls and high end screams just improve every time I see them making my poor spine feel more and more twisted. A bit like Wretched Soul, really.
And with The Clifford Brothers slogging it out on guitar and drums and bassist Luke Mayell swinging his head and windmilling as though it'll land in the crowd any minute this finely tuned machine should be on everyones playlist.

View more Wretched Soul photos by clicking here!

Abandon The Faith played this gig as a reunion show for a good friend and ex band member, Liam's birthday.
They were everything I remember.
Very Heavy. Very Loud. Very Death. And A Lot Of Fun.
When I say Fun I mean that they really enjoy themselves on stage. Lots of smiles. Lots of making fun of each other. And Mike Crampton the keyboardist jumping about like who knows what and generally having a good time.
They play all their old songs from “Bloodtised” and “The Onslaught” right through to “Sede Vacante” with a nice little cover of Napalm Death's “You Suffer”, played twice in case you missed it the first time and an absolutely magnificent version of “Holy Diver” with Chris Simmons taking to the stage once again making my spine even worse than it was before.
Abandon The Faith played a really good, long set. They may not be everyones cup of tea but if you like Death / Black Metal then be sure to check them out.
During the gig I heard rumblings that they are going ahead with a reformation after this gig which can only be a good thing.
Let The Onslaught start again.
Nice one Liam.

View More Abandon The Faith Photos by clicking here!

Don't forget to check out and like my Facebook page and subscribe to my YouTube channel where you can see the videos of this gig.
Support your scene by going to local gigs and buying merch.
Remember, They're your bands.

Photos used with kind permission from Nathan Hammond Photography.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

When Luke met Howard

At a Death Angel gig last year I was standing in the bar area at The Underworld in Camden with my good friend and Wretched Soul bass player Luke Mayell, his girlfriend Claire and one of my oldest mates Craig.

The Camden Underworld

I was approached and greeted by another old friend of mine named Howard.

I did the obligatory introductions, with Craig knowing Howard of old too.

Luke commented on the tshirt Howard was wearing - an Acid Reign "Obnoxious" one.

Here's a link to the Acid Reign Facebook Page!

 Howard replied, "Thanks!"

So I decided to add a little more to the introductions by saying to Luke that Howard was the Acid Reign singer.

Image lifted from All About The Rock. Be sure to check them out.

You could have knocked Luke over with a feather in the few seconds that followed whilst that statement sunk into him, and his face was an absolute picture.

Luke was influenced in his youth by early UK thrash bands with Acid Reign being one of his favourites but he never had the chance to see them play live.

I hope this introduction has remedied this.

And that both he and Howard like this blog!