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Evil Invaders Interview

Posted on March 18, 2015 at 2:30 AM Comments comments (0)

 "The faster and crazier your music is the more adrenaline pumps through you."





Mick sits down with the frontman, Joe, of thrash metal up and comers Evil Invaders to talk about how they went from being a small cover band to playing the big festivals and touring with legends like Destruction. Also, we find out where his passion for metal came from and what their debut album, Pulses of Pleasure, is about.

Mick: Just as a brief introduction to Evil Invaders. How did you guys start as a band originally?

 

 

Joe: Well we started out in 2007. We were just kids having fun and we could barely play our instruments the we just started jamming, playing Black Sabbath and some Saxon. Actually it wasn’t until 2009 that we had our first gig, back then we played covers a maybe a few of our own tunes playing in Belgium and some of the neighbouring countries. That went on for 4 years and then we released our first EP in 2013 and since then we’ve realised we could take this to a new level, because people didn’t know our music before, it was just our friends and family that came to the show because we had no proper recording. However, once we recorded the songs, we noticed that people were actually singing along, and that was really cool. We put it up online and people just started to like so we started to play more abroad. We played in spain and then shortly after Napalm Records contacted us.


Mick: I’d heard you’d been signed, so what’s it like now having your name associated with the big names that on that label?

 

Joe: Well that’s really cool, I mean, we weren’t expecting things to go that fast. You know like being a proper band, when we started we were just partying and got drunk all the time. We didn’t expect things to go that fast at all. You really feel it, you know, what the label can do for you. They just let us do what we want to do, but, the promotion they can give you is amazing. If you’ve seen the video for “Fast, Loud and Rude”, they posted it online and it had like 10,000 views in only a couple of days and that’s amazing.


Mick: So you mentioned that at the start you just played covers. How did that translate into playing thrash metal?

Joe: Well, even I don’t know that [both laugh]. I guess as improved as musicians, we just played faster and faster, it’s just a rush. You know, we love to feel it on stage, because the faster and crazier your music is the more adrenaline pumps through you and we love that feeling. We playing Black Sabbath at the beginning because we weren’t that fast yet. As we got better the music just grew with us.


Mick: So, what are you plans for 2015 after the album drops?

Joe: We we’re just going to hit the road and play as many shows as we can. We’ve got 2 tours planned. One of them, we’re supporting Majesty, we’ll play that from mid-March to the beginning of April. Then shortly after that we’re going on a summer European tour with Skullfist and that’s like 5 week, from the middle of May to June. Then we hope to do some festivals, we’ve already got some planned like, Out n Loud in Germany and Metalfest in the Czech Rep.


Mick: So last year you broke out in the UK, supporting destruction what is like touring with them?

Joe: That was really cool. That must have been the coolest tour we’ve ever done. I mean we were there with Lost Society and Destruction. We didn’t know what was going to happen, because, Destruction, their a lot older than us. They could be our dads. It was amazing, we had this really close bond with all of the guys, because we were all on the same bus. There was parties every night, like after every show, Destruction, took all the booze from the back and put it on the bus and we’d just partied so hard, it was really cool. The UK is amazing, it was the first time we were there and it was a great experience, just seeing the different cities. The fans were great too, we were in places we had never been before but everyone was so cool. I think because we’re all thrash metalheads they came early just hear something else but still something they loved.


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Mick: Yup, I was on the front row in Manchester. In fact the first time I caught you was at Graspop Metal Meeting last year, and you put on one hell of a show. So on the subject of touring, who would you most like to tour with?

 

Joe: Of course opening for Iron Maiden would be great, because their be so many people who’d show up. I think Exodus would be really cool, you always get so much energy coming off of them and the fans just go crazy. I think their crowds would be perfect for us. One of our favourite thrash bands.


Mick: Well they’re on tour in the UK this year, maybe you should then.

Joe: May just try that [both laugh]


Mick: Just to talk about your new record for a minute. Who were your major influences going into this album?

Joe: It’s hard to say, because there’s just so much and everyone in the band has their favourites too. Well mine in particularly... I listen to a lot of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, you know the classics, but I dig a lot of thrash stuff too like Exodus and Forbidden. Also, some of the more progressive stuff like Sabotage and Sanctuary for example. Also I’m a big King diamond fan too so it’s hard to say where I get my main influences from. I just take what I like and combine it with what the other guys like. I would say we’re mainly influenced by the 80’s metal scene.


Mick: So as a fan of metal, what’s the best gig you’ve been to as a paying fan?

Joe: Errm fuck! That’s good. Well the first time I went to Graspop Metal Meeting in 2005 that was awesome. There was just so many bands, and I remember watching Dio, I didn’t know him back them but when I saw him I was like “what the fuck?!” [both laugh]. I was just blown away, I’d never heard his music but I was immediately into it and later on I checked it out and just fell in love with it. Also the first time I saw Exodus, that was crazy, the pits were mental and there were two posts in front of the stage, because it was this really crappy venue and there was just the circle pit just going around it. That was was so amazing, you ain't seen nothing like it.


Mick: Would you say those experiences is where your passion for music came from?

Joe: Yeah those were, but the first time I listened to metal was like when I was six years old. On a tape my brother brought me from someone at school, and he said I should listen to it, so i did and I really enjoyed it from the get go. It was just so heavy and evil, that’s when I started to get in to the music. However, I didn’t start playing until I was 13. One day I was with my cousin and we found some Sabbath records. We played “Masters of Reality”, but we played it too fast because we didn’t know how a vinyl player worked, it was like triple speed and the vocals were super fast and the guitar parts were just insane [Joe starts making guitar noises, both of us laughing] and that’s where I first heard speed metal.


Mick: So just to end on. With your new album (Pulses of Pleasure) coming out this year, how would you sell the album to someone who hadn’t heard of you?

Joe: This album is for people who like the 80’s thrash metal scene. For people who like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, like NWOBHM mixed with thrash metal. It’s something new but will remind you of the old school bands. Something thrash but classic metal at the same time.

Interview: Mick Birchall

 

 

De La Muerte - De La Muerte

Posted on March 18, 2015 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (3)

Heavy rock inspired by the Mexican “Nuestra Senora de la Santa Muerte” cult




De La Muerte’s self-titled debut album promises heavy rock and progressive metal in one tasty little parcel, does it? Well they had just over 40 odd minutes to convince me.

Honestly, before this record I had not heard of the band and with very little information on the net I am shooting in the dark a little here. The one repeated piece of information is that the Italian based rockers were so heavy influenced by the Mexican “Nuestra Senora de la Santa Muerte” cult that every one of their 10 “damned stories” contained on the album was inspired by them. Here I select a few.

Their first song Tequila Funeral is definitely a mood setter, with whistling wind and a spaghetti western sound that leads me to half expect a cowboy walking through the door before moving onto an almost fun fair, carousel twinkle of instrumentation. Then some heaviness kicks in with solid drums and whining guitar with an 80’s twist. An entirely instrumental offering that leaves me confused to say the least. Am I going to get serious heavy rock, light-hearted rock with a twist…what? The band's direction so far is unclear.

Fallen Angel follows; right from the off thumping drums, heavy guitar riffage and I love it but wait, what fresh hell is this? The vocals kick in and to say I am disappointed is putting it politely. Sounding like a cross between Bruce Dickinson gargling acid and an opera singer with his head stuck in a fence. The vocals are shocking, just shocking. For me they just do not work in any way.

Silver Bullet again offers a rip roaring start, the drums and guitars are fantastic, grinding loveliness and to begin with the vocals are ok, not mind blowing by any shake. But with a nod to some real talent, backed by the gruff, gravel like shouts for the chorus, this song has promise. When the opera acid gargling is kept to a minimum, I like it. The heavy guitar and drum work do blow me away though, the dirty grinding bass pleases me immensely and then their vocalist does it again; breaking into the fake opera bullshit that quite frankly makes my teeth itch. Just stop man! However to ease the pain a wonderful guitar solo comes in and almost all is forgiven in place of axe twiddly ace-ness.


"Hard hitting drums and guitar superbness, demonic chanting to gritty bass it all works so very well, nodding towards Motorhead heaviness."



Desaparecido; another thumping good start to a cracking song here, one that I want to listen to repeatedly, with the chanting chorus, phenomenal axe work and steady drum backing it is well worth a listen. The vocals, yes, they do hit opera like screams at points but he manages to restrain himself well and the song is that much better for it. Definitely one that will have you bopping around the kitchen whilst waiting for the toaster to do its thing.

Die ‘n Roll is then an immediate slap in the face, heavy hard hitting drums and guitar superbness, demonic like chanting to gritty bass and the bizarre rattly sound effect it all works so very well, nodding towards Motorhead heaviness at times before pulling right back to the softer side of rock. And while that is ok, I would have liked to have heard them go hell for leather throughout the entirety of the song.

I’m Not A Legend is up next, hello 80’s soft rock - but it feels at odds with the rest of the album. Although it gets heavier and infinitely more ear pleasing it just doesn’t work, it feels too chaotic, like two songs amalgamated to form the one multi-personality mess. Such a shame; at times I hear glorious glimpses then it has passed and the mundane strikes again.

 

"Sounding like a cross between Bruce Dickinson gargling acid and an opera singer with his head stuck in a fence, the vocals disappoint."

Sorrow completes the album with a crackly intro before the 70’s groove flecked guitar begins bringing soft and subtle drum work, the “40-a-day- Marlboro- habit” vocals with before the cannons, yes literally, explode leading to the heavy once more. Overall a good way to finish what has been a rollercoaster album.

Elsewhere, Fallen Angel and Silver Bullet are both perfect examples of pure, arse kicking modern (ish), heavy rock and when the egotistical opera bullshit is kept to a minimum they really impress me. Secret Witness has a bad arse groove that sends the odd shiver up the old spine.

They work harmoniously for the most part, and taking a step back here to remember that this is their debut album, they have done well. I am hoping that as they evolve and their music together develops they will perfect their act and delivery and the next album I hear will really knock my socks off, they have the potential to do so for sure.

There is certainly no denying the talent that they all have and the potential that at the minute feels trapped, like a bird in a cage just looking for the opening, once they find it they will soar, of that I am sure.

Words: Kat Hilton 

Sense and Saleability: The Commercialisation of Rock

Posted on March 17, 2015 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (36)

A look at how the composition and consumption of music has changed over time, with the burgeoning industrialisation of music the major catalyst





Ever since some greedy, green eyed and besuited businessman realised there was money to be made from music, when they realised that it was a sellable product and transformed it into an industry, bands with raw talent have been increasingly left in the dark in favour of slick image and saleability. So much so to the point that it seems almost the entirety of the mainstream music scene right now is awash with style over substance. The process has been slow, admittedly, but the music we see atop the charts is music made with a financial goal as the main incentive, not just for the sake of enjoyment, love and to temporarily calm a restless soul.

Often coupling itself with the poster boy, cliché endearing image that has been chiselled into the industry is a more generic musicianship as the style outweighs their substance on the scales of importance. Good looking singers get more column space than pureblood virtuosity far too often. You only need to look at the fact that someone like Jedward or, to use a non-musical example, Kim Kardashian are household names when the likes of Lamb of God and Opeth are very much the opposite. But - and here's the clincher - as I find myself sitting and enduring another hapless money making drone croon their way through the latest fad single – and I’m damn sure I’m not alone here – there is no doubting that whoever this artist is will be revel in popularity and commercial viability, most likely with, like a bottle milk, a sell by date slapped on their side. But because it sounds like all that has sold well before, because it’s such a safe bet the general populous seem eager to lap it up in favour of something perhaps a little darker, daring and altogether more artistically intrinsic. The same could indeed be said of the label bigwigs responsible for signing new acts. That’s not to say that talented artists are being ignored entirely and indeed a lucky few get the break they deserve, but when gazing over the bigger picture, it’s incredibly disheartening to see who exactly the world deems a megastar these days. Of course, within the circles of rock and metal, bands do get the credit they deserve, but the focus here is on rock inside the greater circle of the mainstream.

Music has, over time, gone from being something natural, emotive and powerful – fanfares were written to mark the grandiose arrival of a King in a stately court, classical composers would write entire symphonies, lavish in instrumentation, technicality and pure aesthetic beauty, to confess their undying love for a woman, American slaves used music as a way of channelling their emotions and voicing their opinions – to something that merely sky rockets some label executive’s bank balance.


 

 

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Did you know: Wade in the Water, a song of The Underground Railroad, written in the early 19th Century was written to tell others black African Americans how to escape their captors. It is believed that songs such as these were used as secret coded messages for escaping slaves. Wade in the Water warned them to flee dry land for the water so that the dogs and owners chasing them couldn’t track their scent.

 

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Where Vivaldi once scored a four part symphony dedicated to the seasons, a sprawling, multi-dimensional and emphatic piece, Nicki Minaj now wiggles her zeppelin sized arse while ‘singing’ about how her “anaconda don’t.” I look at that and say that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong. Minaj’s song sells almost entirely on its thinly veiled euphemistic value and the softcore pornography that parades itself as an accompanying music video. The music – the actual substance to it all – comprises of samples of Sir Mix-a-lot’s 1992 hit Baby Got Back and was penned by no less than six songwriters. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, for comparison, written solely by the Venetian composer, is ten times longer and he didn’t feel inclined to don a pair of hot pants and twerk against a snowman for the accompanying music video for Winter. It just seems the class has been sucked out of the maintstream music industry, leaving unintelligent, sex-obsessed drivel left to bask ignorantly in its own unimportance.

But alas, here I stand toe-to-toe with the trigger which caused these impassioned scrawlings, staring the bugger right in the eyes and take aim. It’s Thursday night in early March and while Spring is trying it’s damndest to disarm the darkness and hinder its late afternoon arrivals and colder than a supervillain’s heart nature, Winter – reflected in Vivaldi’ more evocative and eerie movement – still plays King Of The Castle in Manchester’s bustling city centre.

Inside the Hard Rock Café things are much warmer as gear is set up for Hard Rock Rising. A yearly contest, pitched at the world’s biggest battle of the bands competition, it sees three bands contest one of three heats, leading to a final, to be crowned regional winner. The said winner then fights for a national hierarchy with the overall prize, at this point a speck of light at the end of a pitch black and overbearingly long tunnel, a spot at Hard Rock Rising Barcelona – a two day festival which attracts around 60,000 fans.





The heaviest band tonight is a classic rock band – the talented, blues-infused Renegade and Retrospect. The two band’s which follow – to a more sizable crowd may I hasten to add as more and more people arrived overtime – were indie bands. Without this coming across as music genre snobbery, lest we forget this is billed as Hard Rock Rising.

Renegade and Retrospect, while hardly mind-blowing, packed solid musicianship in their ranks. Guitarist Jordan Leppitt unravelled incendiary, fast licks from his long fingers throughout; although they were a little formulaic, craving the occasional elongated bend for added flare. Daniel Godwin finger picked his intricate bass lines flawlessly while interacting with the crowd regularly and drummer Gareth Hodges provided a solid heartbeat. It was a punchy set of hard rock but playing to a smatter of early arrivals it was hard for their set to truly burst into life.

Next up, accompanied by a large following of understandably biased fans – which could so easily have an influence upon the judges – were The Jade Assembly. Replicating the wardrobe and attitude described in the NME’s compelling book ‘How to be the World’s Best and Coolest Band Ever in the World’ and consequently brown nosing all their ultimately disposable, trend adhering idealism, this was the definition of style over substance. Only moments before had Real XS’s Steve Berry, one of the judges alongside Manchester Rock’s very own Daniel Clifford, been moaning about how a friend and colleague hoped for typical parka jackets in band. That’s what ticked his boxes in terms of what to look and listen out for in band, this was a man crying out for anything that bore similarities to Manchester’s infamous 90s indie scene. He had only just walked away from our table when the band began to set up – in parka jackets and gurning like Liam Gallagher as they did. Unbelievable.

During their set, built upon a foundation of one dimensional barre chords and run-of-the-mill structures and phrases, they sounded like every other band clutching to the coattails of this city’s musical heritage except lacking in the charisma and showmanship to get away with it. Despite their songs being supremely simplistic, their eyes rarely flicked away from their instruments, giving the audience nothing to feed off except frontman John Foster’s purposefully sour yet unconvincing swagger. They tried too hard to be typically Mancunian that the transparency fell flat on its backside for me. But for the others here, especially the mass following of converts they brought along to bolster their claim for a place in the regional final, the fact that it was so linear with hugely successful bands like Oasis and New Order meant it went down easily and harmlessly – like a pint after a hard days graft. To top it off their guitarist Gareth Smedley ended the set by raising his guitar in the air triumphantly with a snarling, ‘look at how cool I am’ look on his face. This is all despite the fact he hardly even played the thing. Yet they bowled off stage with a palpable buzz around the place. In spite of shoddy musicianship, a lack of ingenuity and the stage presence of a fart in a lift they’d gone down well. Much like Airbourne’s success is because of their kindredship with the unequivocally popular AC/DC, the fact this slotted into a tried and tested framework guaranteed them an easy ride. But this is a battle of the bands and you toeing the line will get you nowhere – or so I hoped.





For the third act, House of Thieves, the heat was theirs for the taking. Renegade and Retrospect were exactly what this competition was all about, talented rock n’ roll music, but minor faults here and there let them down. The Jade Assembly were nothing original, nothing the world doesn’t already have enough of and already have it in a better quality. But it was as if the organisers were afraid of offending anyone by putting the only actual rock band in any other slot than the opening one, where attendance will still be sparse. I hope this is simply a fear rather than a reality.

House of Thieves, thankfully, despite the fact they were overly image conscious with their singer adorned in a purple velvet blazer, the guitarist looking like a slicker, pouting Josh Homme and the bassist, in his black turtle neck jumper, looking like Julian Casablancas having a quiet night in, they actually knew how to play their instruments. Musically I will still stand by the fact that they really aren’t what the eventual winners of this competition should be, but on the night they were by far the best act. They played a variety of chords - add9s, sus4s and so on as opposed to the previous act's bog standard work in that respect - they had an undoubtable stage presence, crowd participation was frequent and were simply entertaining – albeit not enthralling. This wasn’t the definition of rock n roll, far from it in fact, but they produced a slick, faultless performance that, in three short, snappy songs gave a flavour of what the band is about.

When they were crowned winners of the night, there was a sense of relief sighed out from my disparate lungs. Musically speaking, Renegade and Retrospect fit the bill – they’d be a potent addition to the Hard Rock Calling Barcelona line-up, but were lacking in that edge to see them through. But the best band on the night did claim their just desserts.

My point here however, is the fact that a band like The Jade Assembly got this far in the first place. Tonnes of bands entered this competition and were subsequently put up to public vote as to who should be entered in the heats. They beat off metal and rock bands to get here – bands more talented, more diverse and quantifying in their original songs and bands working hard to keep the flame of proper heavy music alive. These were bands driven by passion, not image. But you could argue that by doing so, they alienated the general audience of the Hard Rock Café which is becoming increasingly mainstream. Indeed, throughout the night videos by the likes of Taylor Swift and Ellie Goulding played between The Melvins and more. Although there are redeeming moments, it’s not exactly a place for diehard metal fans, a haven for heaviness. Because, to the general populous, heavy music is ungraceful and a little bit disgusting, it isn’t commercial and so more widely appealing assets are injected in to steady the ship.





The thing is, music isn’t selling as it used to be for a myriad of reasons. Those green eyed, be-suited businessmen who clutched onto what wasn’t once an industry are getting worried that their bank accounts are plummeting back down to earth and so a band like The Jade Assembly are just what the doctor ordered: Risk free.

We here at Manchester Rocks pride ourselves in supporting the bands that are deserving of our attention as lovers of rock and metal and the following night I was treated to just that – an evening which distilled my faith that rock isn’t just some powerful money making commercial vehicle for the suits upon high. It may not get the glitzy appraisal and notoriety that their talent, song writing and all round excellence should do, but the following evening feels much more like home, much more like a place where you’d want to stay, where image isn’t of importance, where all are accepted and where all here are brothers and sisters in arms. And here, dear reader, is why...

End of part one.

Words: Phil Weller 
Photos: Phil Goddard 

 

Fateful Finality - Battery

Posted on March 17, 2015 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

 

Second attack by these German battering rams





 

 

The battering starts with Possession, a smashing start to the album. A thundering rhythm section, heavy riffs, fast solos and grinding vocals with melody and aggression completely sets the scene for the rest of the album. Lamb of God came to mind here.


This southern German metal band was formed in 2007 by Philip Murder (bass), Mischa Wittek (Drums) and finally settling with Simon Schwarzer, Patrick Prochiner on guitars and vocals. This led to their first full length release three years ago King of Torture. Following this they got a big boost by winning Wacken Metal Battle Germany in 2012. This lifted their profile enormously in Europe which in turn gained the band slots on tours and festivals. Now they have returned with an in your face metal blast entitled Battery. Expertly produced by Eike Freese with Alexandra Dietz (Heaven Shall Burn) aiding, this has given the release an extraordinary powerful sound which hits you right between the eyes and cracks your skull in two. These guys seem to be grouped with the thrash movement but I disagree, yes there are fast thrash tracks here but there are also nu-metal grooves as well as traditional heavy metal riffs which power the album along.

The battering starts with Possession, a smashing start to the album. A thundering rhythm section, heavy riffs, fast solos and grinding vocals with melody and aggression completely sets the scene for the rest of the album. Lamb of God came to mind here. Now we turn into the outside lane of the Autobahn where the thrash starts, Get Things Straight catapults you into the mosh-pit, pummelling your brain into a minced up, blood dripping, soggy disgusting mess. Nice!


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Three more tracks follow with the same crushing sound. Misfits surfaces with a punk attitude which then progresses to a totally ball crushing ending. The following two tracks are in my top three. Rite is an out and out thrasher whilst Unchained has the speed reigned in a little which leaves the crushing riffs to slowly mash your brain to mush. The top track for me is the albums closer Remain in Mind, it has everything. Won’t tell you too much you will have listen to this when you buy the album. You won’t be disappointed metal-heads.

There has been a definite musical...

Read the rest of the review on our new website here - http://manchester.rocks/?p=629

Live Review: Lonely the Brave at The Ruby Lounge

Posted on March 17, 2015 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Lonely The Brave impress Manchester and Manchester impresses them in return




I had previously seen Lonely The Brave at Sound Control along with Zico Chain and Exit State about 18 months ago and even on that shitty little stage in the bar area, and with such great competition, LtB really stood out with their set.

Fast forward to now and not only have the band released their debut album, the excellent The Day’s War, but also have been lauded in the mainstream press. The album is flawless, the songs are hook laden and catchy, it is rock with a touch of emo. Singer David Jakes comes across as both strong and sincere. The band are clearly aiming for the big guns – Biffy Clyro and 30 Seconds To Mars.

Tonight’s show sees The Ruby Lounge rammed. Support was from an alternative singer songwriter Hannah Lou Clarke who unfortunately seemed to pass most of the crowd by, receiving polite applause for her work. From my perspective the problem was her material just didn't hit the spot when we were all ready for LtB. A more up-tempo support might have been appropriate.


"Lonely The Brave take no prisoners."


Lonely The Brave dived into their set opening with Victory Line and Trick Of The Light, all guns were blazing with everyone putting in 100%. Singer David Jakes fronts the band from the back; he cuts an awkward presence facing the drum kit, performing with a shy intensity, absorbed in what he was doing.

The band were taking no prisoners. Their set was mainly culled from their album with Black Saucers going down particularly well with the audience. A chant from the crowd “David David give us a wave” did finally persuade the reluctant singer to acknowledge the audience.

A new song was played, Science, which started slow and built up to the sort of anthemic song we would expect from them, it is good to know they are working on new material.

The Blue, The Green saw lead guitarist and bandleader Mark Trotter blown away by the participation of the Manchester crowd, “I wish the rest of the fucking country could do that”. This was a dedicated audience and in this town we are renowned for getting involved at gigs.

The set finished off with Diamond Days and Backroads, the latter getting the biggest reaction of the evening. There was no encore which was fine, they are not obligatory and no-one was going to leave disappointed. But after the show the band were more than happy to meet fans at the merch stall. A blistering show and I am eagerly awaiting their return.

Words: Anthony Firmin 

The Tattoo Tea Party

Posted on March 16, 2015 at 8:40 PM Comments comments (0)

The Rock Fairy pays a visit to Manchester’s biggest independent tattoo convention




Inked folk (and folk not so inked) from all walks of life descended on Event City last weekend for Manchester’s biggest independent tattoo convention, the Tattoo Tea Party. Despite a ridiculous clash with the Manchester International Tattoo Show, it seems like Tattoo Tea Party was a roaring success with many getting confused about which tattoo show they had bought tickets for!

A note on aforementioned ridiculous clash: Tattoo Tea Party has always been around this time every year for a good few years now and the Manchester International Tattoo Show decided to move from its usual spot later on in the year to the same weekend. Whether this clash was intentional or not, it was a daft thing to happen. It splits your crowd in half and means artists have a tough decision on which convention to attend. Thankfully, a bit of social media ranting gained Tattoo Tea Party a bit of an underdog status and I think the move by the “big boys” actually boosted attendance at Tattoo Tea Party as a result! Don’t let the big boys win!

Back to the event itself. A chance to check out some amazing tattoo artists and add to your expanding ink collection is awesome in itself but aside from this, there was lots of alternative stalls and a couple of vintage hair and make-up stations. I decided to take advantage of this as I was out at a gig later on in the evening so getting someone to do fiddly victory rolls for me was…well…a victory! It also meant I could stay at the convention longer as I didn’t have to go home to sort out my hair and make up! I’m such a girl.





On the tattoo front, I only have two little inkings and I am looking to expand my collection but I stupidly didn’t really research any of the artists at the event so was a little bewildered at the amount of choice! If you’re thinking of getting ink at a convention I would highly recommend researching the artists first. Despite not partaking in the ink side of things, it was fascinating checking out the array of work being completed as well as numerous portfolios. I have a collection of business cards to sift through to decide where to go for my next one. Some of the work on display was truly breathtaking, tattoos truly are an art form.

As a total shopaholic, the alternative stalls were of particular interest to me as well. Vintage stalls, handmade handbags and pretty much everything you can think of was available to buy! Lots of the stall holders don’t take card which was probably a blessing for me to be honest as spending on card doesn’t feel like spending real money! I personally would have liked to have seen more local traders there as we have a wonderful alternative shopping scene in Manchester and this would have been an ideal opportunity to celebrate that.

All in all, Tattoo Tea Party was a great event and I would love to see it grow next year. I’d like to see more on the music side of things too. We have a thriving rock music scene in Manchester which is supported massively by the alternative community. Who knows, maybe Manchester Rocks will have a stage there next year!

Words: Rock Fairy 
Photography: Mark Coxon (Jaded Images)


Dark Stares - Soul Contract

Posted on March 16, 2015 at 8:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Dark, Queens of the Stone Age inspired rock




Dark Stares; hailing from St Albans the British Rockers have steadily been building a name for themselves since their inception in 2011. From requests to support Enter Shikari and The Darkness to gaining national airplay and press with the likes of Metal Hammer and XFM for their previous EP’s Tell Your Friends and Octopon. This lot seem to go from strength to strength, so is their latest release something to shout about or is it set to get lost in the sea of mediocrity that becomes radio playable music?

Right from the off Liquid Reign is dark, dingy, stoner influenced rock that taps into the soul and makes it sway, like the last drunken man at a party. It just oozes style and what is more it has the substance to back it up. The bass here is immense, the vocals haunting and the riffs easily imprinted on the brain. Think Queens of the Stone Age, think stoner rock heaven, here you have it. This little ditty sets the tone for the entire album, with a slow bass riff that screams early Black Sabbath to the melodious vocals it is just an out and out hit from start to end.

Followed by Hypnotize, yes you will be, more heavy riff work, with a slight 70s vibe reminiscent of Hendrix at points throbs through the speakers all whilst you are being transported by the immensely talented vocals of Miles who is backed superbly by the consistent drum beat that leaves you wanting more.

Third up is Ordinary Way, what can I say? Intricate guitar play, steady drum work; almost a diluted version of Muse at points, and whilst this is by no means a bad thing, there is something not quite right. It lacks a bit of power here, if any of the tracks were made for radio it is this. It is not that I dislike it, far from it; it just seems a bit more generic and lacklustre than the other stuff they have produced so far.


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On Animal they are back - the stoner, grunge vibe comes back nice and strong here and I love it, don’t ever change, please! The melodious backing track hits the soul from the beginning and just does not let go. Echoed by the immense vocal work of Miles and his sultry performance, it is an instant hit. Around the half way mark there is some guitar instrumental loveliness that is downright eargasm material. And on that note I shall move on…

Cruise Control the finale of this so far outstanding album, dark and dingy, again, yes please! The screaming bass, the hard hitting guitar, the sludgy vocals, all of it just works. The chorus will stick in your head, the pounding bass will make you weak at the knees and it will, without a doubt leave you wanting more.

Their five track EP is jam packed with slow pounding riffs, consistent, solid drum work and throbbing bass that transports you to another world, one that is slightly hazy and ever so fuggy through the weed soaked vibrations emanating forth. I likes it.

The real stand out; scream from the rooftops, highlight of Soul Contract is this; the fusion; the harmony of the performance. Mile’s vocals soars above the heavy riff work, the unswerving solid drumming, the throbbing bass, it all works together to create a unique vibe that whilst harkens to other acts stands out as theirs and theirs alone. They could become trail blazers.

The entire EP, as short as it is, is quality personified, the riff work intricate but not so complex as to deter the listener. The songs are not about ego, pomp and circumstance just good, clean, sharp productions that offer an easy and enjoyable listen. You don’t have to think about it, it is a mind wandering journey without the hassle of listening to something that will make your ears bleed.

It is an exceptional offering that is sure to push them to new heights within the British rock scene, I know I for one have added them to the list of band’s to see.

Words: Kat Hilton

R.I.P Sir Terry Pratchett

Posted on March 16, 2015 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Neil Mclean pens a heartfelt tribute to the most rock n' roll of writers




Here at Manchester Rocks we are very proud of to be shouting about the music, both new and old and from infamous bands and unearthing underground gems. This being said we always acknowledge anything that we think rocks and for me personally I have taken much of my inspiration from other things outside the box labelled music. Things like comedy, which if we are honest is the rock and roll of all the performing art - basically anything that opens our minds to the new and the outrageous like rock and metal music.

One such influence came into my life about twenty years ago in the form of the novel Soul Music, not Terry Pratchett's first and by no means his last but it was my first foray into the world and mind of such an amazing man. For those of you that haven’t had the enormous pleasure of any of the Discworld novels the brief overview is a flat world sat on the backs of four great Elephants which in turn ride on the back of a great Star Turtle and focuses on the happenings of the inhabitants of this world, a world of magic and myth but on the cusp of science as well. Soul music was Terry’s way of introducing the spirit of rock and roll into this world, making it a sentient force instead of an occurrence was a stroke of sheer genius and enabled the reader to see the rise of a new form of music even if it was through a slightly warped mirror. As in our own world he encapsulated the initial response of the public ranging from the fans and zealots to the previous generations misgivings and abhorrence to this riotous form of noise. In one brief novel the whole of the history of rock and roll was laid out in front of us, all be it is a different setting and with the added inclusion of a manic Orang-utan playing rock organ and building what would seem to be the first chopper bike and an enlivened old Wizard who was determined to paint his room black and wear studded messages on the back of his robes.


"He managed to grab the ethos of rock n' roll and put it into words with added humour and love."


Admittedly this was a tongue in cheek look at our world but as lovers of rock music this is one of the best novels written with our appeal in mind, I don’t even know if Terry was a lover of rock music and if he wasn’t then that would make this book all the more special due to the fact he managed to grab the ethos of our passion and put it into words with added humour and love. So, if you haven’t read this book then I seriously encourage you to and if you have then why not pick it up again and enjoy this special mans talent. Lets face it, where else are you going to read about the Grim Reaper emulating Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell album cover on a chop built by an Orang-utan Librarian or giggle at the fact that Death’s horse is called Binky and is currently being ridden by his Granddaughter Susan?

In closing I feel that all is left for me to say is a monumental Thank you to Sir Terry Pratchett for truly being the rock of writers and bringing so much pleasure to so many over his years, and I hope where ever you are it is filled with the wonderment that you created.

 

R.I.P R.I.P Sir Terry Pratchett 1948-2015

Words: Neil Mclean

Live Review: Placebo at Manchester Aollo

Posted on March 16, 2015 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (31)

Stefan Olsdal on low-slung bass guitar who cuts a dominating presence on stage




 

I completely missed Placebo’s start in life back in 1995 as I was living in the USA at the time so it was time to finally catch up with them as they had been on my list of bands to see.

Placebo are a band who are difficult to pigeonhole, they are rock in so many different subgenres. They can be described as alternative, glam, goth, electronic, industrial, progressive and experimental. Their music is a combination of heavy guitars, heavy bass and droning, bruising synth sounds which, when combined with their angsty lyrics, give the band a great deal of strength.


They opened with B3 which with its heavy synth intro and crashing guitars set the scene for the rest of the gig, Loud Like Love providing a wall of that signature heavy guitar sound. “We are Placebo from London” announces guitarist Brian Molko in a semi-American voice - these bits of information are always useful for clarification!

By the time of Every You Every Me they were on a roll, at times sounding a lot like Killing Joke. Placebo these days comprises of Brian Molko on guitar and Stefan Olsdal on low-slung bass guitar who cuts a dominating presence on stage. The ‘band’ are supplemented by a group of touring musicians. But it was difficult to make out the band as they were stood in front of sheets of flashing LED lights, playing as silhouettes. This along with the strobes was very hard on the eyes.





Songs Scene Of The Crime, Rob The Bank and Purify continue the heavy synth laden theme.  Too Many Friends comes across as a moment of regret with Molko's voice in fine form along with the continuing heavy synth sounds and crunching guitars. “Space Monkey” with its driving deep bass riff comes across as a much more coherent piece live than it does on record.

And so the set continued with Exit Wound, I Know and Meds. Touring musician Fiona Brice played violin on Song To Say Goodbye but it was inaudible. This was followed by a bouncy Special K, which saw the crowd going fairly wild. Set closer was The Bitter End which continued the seriously up-tempo feel. This again featured Brice on violin and this time you could hear her playing.

At this point I was starting to get a serious headache from the light show. It was intense, very intense, and it was awesome, but you can only look head-on into lights like that for so long. For the remaining songs I headed to the bar and listened rather than watched.

The encore was made up of Begin The End, Post Blue and Infra-red, but most interestingly in the middle of this was a cover of the Kate Bush song Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God); a slow intense almost depressing version which is in complete contrast to the original.

Interestingly, from their debut album they only played one song, I Know, and it was highly surprising that Nancy Boy was not played considering it was a huge hit. The majority of the material played was culled from Meds and their last album Loud Like Love and although highly enjoyable they missed an opportunity to revisit a lot of their back catalogue. Maybe next time.

Words: Anthony Firmin / https://twitter.com/Ant_Zant" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">@Ant_Zant 
Photos: Adam Spencer Young / https://twitter.com/AdamYoungPhotos" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">@AdamYoungPhotos





Terror Empire - The Empire Strikes Black

Posted on March 11, 2015 at 11:10 PM Comments comments (0)

 Hard, fast Portugese thrash: If it isn't broken, don't fix it





An email appeared in my inbox last week, nothing exciting and particularly unusual about that, however what was different was the subject of this email which simply read Review? What an opportunity I thought to myself as I proceeded to rush past the rest of the email, ignoring the main details and desperately clicking links, eagerly anticipating what the editor had sent to me. The link gave me a the band name but not much on the front of what genre and style this band would be. Terror Empire are their name and The Empire Strikes Black is the name of their latest album.

Upon selecting the first track, The Empire Strikes, my sound system already primed to receive what I only presumed would be some amateur tat that you would be lucky to get through half a song without vomiting. How wrong my expectations were. The sub woofer kicked in first, a low undertone, an ambient wind like sound rumbled and then the first chord struck like the hands of a clock reaching your final hour. Continuing on, a riff reminiscent of early Black Sabbath played between each struck chord. The lead guitarist appeared to tease the main riff harmonising and weaving syncopated melodies creating something special, these are not amateurs by any means.

I knew instantly I liked what I heard, I only prayed the vocals were going to meet the same musical standards set in the introduction by the guitarists Alexandre and Alves, bassist Puga and drummer Dourado. The Empire Strikes leads the listener into a ferocious frenzy for Black, throwing away all my misconceptions I could of been given a rubbish album to review. Involuntary head movements up and down confirmed that this was infact awesome! Here is a band its fair to say I'd go and see, if their live shows are anything close to this studio album then I urge you to check them out.

Vocally, each track holds well, Ricardo Martin's aggressive shouting style is very much Slayer in a nut shell, this is good, I've always found Slayers vocals a bit easier to understand, albeit the speed of which Araya sings them. Songs like Revolution Now show off the vocals more, really exposing Martin's dynamic range. There is a level of sing-a-longability to tracks like Servant and Skinned Alive, so much so that it requires made up words to be used to get my point across. I can really imagine myself throwing my fist in the air chanting back at this band like a brainwashed soldier giving his allegiance to the Terror Empire.


 

 

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Halfway into the album and I've already decided I really like this band and finding a negative point to say was going to prove very difficult, and that is because there is nothing wrong with this album, production wise its great, through a loud sound system the crisp guitars pop out and the bass shakes...

Read the rest of the review on our new website here - http://manchester.rocks/?p=300


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