Friday, 27 August 2010

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Northern Star

Grand Magus' 2008 platter, Iron Will, came as a breath of fresh air to my ears. Not as doomy as you might expect, moving more towards a traditional metal sound, head down powering along stuff. So with great anticipation for their newest release, Hammer of the North, I sat down to discover if JB and the boys had travelled further down that road.

In a nutshell they have. Hammer of the North continues down the path taken on the last album, that of real metal that makes you want to headbang, fists raised. It has all the swagger of old, late eighties metal without ever becoming pompous and crossing the line into power metal.

Opener "I, the Jury" rocks along like an old NWOBHM anthem with European vocals, JB's delivery soaring above the riffs.
"Mountains Be My Throne", with it's opening riff that certain ex Ozzy guitarists would have killed to have written, is the perfect vehicle for JB's powerful vocals.
"Northern Star" is my favourite track on the album though, sounding like Dio joining latter day Motorhead.
The album closes with "Ravens Guide Our Way", with a sinister yet melancholy bass and drum introduction, then moving into a fists in the air verse that you can just imagine European festival crowds singing along with.
Grand Magus have the future of Heavy Metal in their hands, hopefully they'll go from strength to strength.

The Final Frontier of the Hammer of the North.

This past week or so there has been sheer metal madness for us to enjoy with the release of Iron Maiden's long awaited studio album The Final Frontier coupled with getting our grubby mitts on the new Grand Magus longplayer Hammer of the North.
These two are already fighting for position as best releases of the year, and the addition of a few albums I overlooked when they were released originally mean that I've had plenty to sink my teeth into lately, so expect a review or three over the next couple of days.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Battle Jacket of the Month

As seen at BLOODSTOCK festival, UK

SUNN O))) To Curate Roadburn Festival 2011

As seen on

Roadburn festival is thrilled to unveil the curator for the 2011 edition of Roadburn: Sunn O))). The band, to be specific Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley, has agreed to curate our festival on Friday, April 15th, 2011 and host a special event.

As curator, Sunn O))) will personally select the bands that will play during their special event as well as perform a headline show. Sunn O))) will be Roadburn’s fourth curator, following David Tibet in 2008, Neurosis in 2009 and Triptykon’s Tom Gabriel Warrior at this year’s festival.

Right now, Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley are gearing up for two major Sunn O))) events in September: performing Altar with Boris at ATP New York and Brooklyn’s Masonic Temple, but you can expect to hear from them in the future with respect to their thoughts on the 2011 Roadburn festival and Sunn O)))’s performance.

We are overjoyed to join forces with Sunn O))) for the upcoming Roadburn festival. Their metal-based drone experimentations have proved groundbreaking and hugely influential for an entire new generation of musicians practicing the art of avant-garde metal, drone, post rock and psychedelica. Sunn O))) is also widely acclaimed for their eclectic collaborations with everyone from musicians Attila Csihar, Masami Akita (Merzbow), Boris, Steven Stapleton, Justin Broadrick, Oren Ambarchi, Ulver, Joe Preston, John Wiese, and Julian Cope to filmmaker Jim Jarmusch and visual artist Banks Violette.

Greg Anderson, who is also Goatsnake’s songsmith and the entrepreneur behind Southern Lord Records, and Stephen O’Malley, a prolific improviser and composer who is well-known for being involved in Burning Witch, KHANATE, KTL and DACM/Gisèle Vienne theatre-works, have performed in different guises during various Roadburn festivals over the years, which is exactly why we felt they would be the ideal curators. Both of them consistently push the envelope musically, and one of our steadfast goals has been to make Roadburn a festival that explores the cutting edge while celebrating the familiar, too. With that in mind, we could think of no better spiritual guide for 2011 than Sunn O))).

We are truly looking forward to the new ideas and visions that the crossover drone duo will bring to the festival next year. When asked to sum up Roadburn in one word, “progressive” would be a fitting choice. Evolving and improving are part of this. The festival is a tribute to the open mindedness of its bands, curators and audience. The joy comes from expanding musical horizons, and with Sunn O))) acting as our curator we’ll definitely be in for some artistic surprises.

Roadburn Festival 2011, including Sunn O)))’s special event, will run for three days from Thursday, April 14 to Saturday, April 16 at the 013 venue and Midi Theatre in Tilburg, Holland. There will be an additional afterburner event on Sunday, April 17, 2011.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Twisted Sister @ Bloodstock 2010

Saw TWISTED SISTER last night at the 10th Bloodstock festival in the UK. They played a great set, lots of on stage rants in between songs (about the weather of all things) and they played a lot of their early stuff, a greatest hits performance.

People who think that TWISTED SISTER are only about 2 hit songs... fuck off!


Come Out and Play
The Kids are Back
Stay Hungry
Captain Howdy
Shoot Em Down
You Can't Stop Rock & Roll
The Fire Still Burns
I Am, I'm Me
We're Not Gonna Take It
The Price
Burn In Hell
A drum solo
I Wanna Rock

They played an encore too but, for my sins, I started the long walk to the car park around that time. I hear they played SMF at the end... fuck!!

The Bloodstock guys put together a really good list of bands for the Sunday this year, including SUFFOCATION and GWAR, and the weather was really good. I have got sunstroke today I think. My own fault for not wearing a hat or corpse paint. But then, people who wear corpse paint to outdoor festivals are fucking losers, haha.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

From The Dark Past

I first heard of Euronymous when Darkthrone dedicated their second album, A Blaze in the Northern Sky, to "the true father of underground black metal". When we got further and further into Black Metal, moving away from the Death Metal that we had been listening to for years, one name kept cropping up over and over again: Mayhem.
We knew from reading zines and from contacts that they had been going since the mid eighties and were weird; they avoided all conventions of what we expected from people in bands, even underground bands, self financing albums, the suicide of Dead, the whole evil image that made Glen Benton look like a puppy dog.
We watched with interest the growth of the scene centred around a few bands, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Thorns, Havohej, Beherit and the mysterious one man project Burzum.
One day, I was on my way home from college, I stopped off to buy some smokes, and something interesting caught my eye. Was that really Emperor on the front of the Kerrang? It was, and the article (We Are But Slaves of the One With Horns) that was inside was the start of Black Metal as we know it, but th death of Black Metal as we had known it.
It seemed to accelerate away from us weekly, K came out every tuesday I think, and Every Week there would be a story about Grishnact or Euronymous or Faust or someone.
Each time, the magazine would exaggerate, Varg would play up to the interviewer and we could not believe it. Black Metal had gone from something mysterious in zines to being on pages next to interviews with the Almighty.
It still came as a shock to us when it was announced that Øystein had been murdered, the shock magnified by reading about it in Kerrang, which just seemed a bit improper. After all, they thought it was a bit of a joke. Varg was interviewed, saying he was glad he was dead, he would dance and piss on his grave.
He also said that he wasn't shocked, he had enemies in Sweden and there were a lot of "drug people" near Øystein's flat.
This is something that I often feel is overlooked when people talk about that time. We all know what the court case said happened that night, but people often forget that there was a noticeable rift between Varg and Øystein that was cloaked in respect for what the other did musically.
They both had different visions of what they wanted and when Varg offed Øystein he won. He reinvented himself so much after the event that few people remember the smaller interviews in zines and things, he actually used to be a metalhead once.
Euronymous' death meant that the whole direction of Black Metal changed, his vision was of elitism, dictatorship, total dedication to the underground.
Those ideals went out of the scene with him, to be replaced my crazy neo pagan Nazism one hand, and due in part to the sensational coverage in Kerrang lots of mainstream metal fans got interested and seemed to congregate around more gothy bands on the other. What would he have made of that?
I often wonder how his admiration for communism and dictatorship went over with Csihar when they recorded in the Grieghalle.

Like I say, it was the birth and death of Black Metal at the same time.