Category: features

Album review: Johnny Halliday ‘Mon Pays C’est …

Credited for having brought Rock’n’Roll to France, Johnny Halliday AKA Le Taulier’s 51st opus, ‘Mon Pays C’est L’amour’ released in October by Warner France, reintroduced us to what we love the most about the man: his passion for Rock, lust for life, American dreams, torn love and jailbirds. 

A potshumous album that may be lasting a mere 38 minutes but full of rock’n’Roll, ballads and intense lyrics. Most songs either written by Maxim ‘Yodelice’ Nucci or co-written with Yarol Poupand. Johnny also used authors from past albums such as Christophe Miossec ‘Back in LA’ , Pierre Jouishomme, Jérôme Attal, Pierre-Dominique Burgaud who adapted JD McPherson’s ’Let The Good Times Roll’ into ‘Made in Rock’N’Roll’ and even newcomer Boris Lanneau with ‘Tomber Encore’.

Straight off, first song ‘J’en Parlerais au Diable’ stabs us in the heart with its uncanny premonitory title that feels like a message coming from beside the grave. Full of piano, synth and strong vocals, this seems like a prelude to what is yet to come, a sombre confession to the devil, not unlike Roy Wylie Hubbard’s Country spell on ‘Conversation With The Devil’, but with a Johnny Cash undertone.

’Mon Pays C’est Lamour’ and ‘Made in Rock’n’roll’ bring Johnny back to its roots, rekindling his love of rockabilly in the 21st century followed by his first ballad ‘Pardonne Moi’, a seemingly last ode to his wife Laeticia. 

Half way through, Yvan Cassar gives us a breather with a short instrumental interlude leading us to the second part that feels more like a narrative, a story that needs to be told for prosperity.

With ‘Les Portes du Penitencier’ closed, it is now time for bluesy Rock ‘4m2’, an apparte on the carceral universe so dear to johnny’s heart.

Back to the American dream with ‘Back To LA’ where Johnny sings about girls, or more specifically about a girl that abandoned him and ’L’Amerique De William’, a country/gospel ballad paying tribute to the images of photographer William Eggleston .(Did I also hear a clin d’oeil to Elvis towards the end, I leave you the judge of that.)

‘Un Enfant Du Siècle’ thumping drums and electric guitars at the forefront keeps the pace and would be worthy of any Rock FM aficionado.

The album also contains the unexpected story of Boris Lanneau, the fan who gave a notebook filled with lyrics to Bertrand Lamblot . Out of it came ’Tomber Encore’, words filled of love and desire under a pop/rock envelope. 

Just as the intro title, the climatic ’Je Ne Suis Qu’un Homme’ concludes on a premonitory note ‘J’aurais voulu rester/pour le pire le meilleur/mais je ne suis qu’un homme’, as if, knowing what lies ahead, he is saying goodbye to his audience, the final curtain.

Having already reached Disque du Diamant in a mere 3 days ( over 630.00 physical sales ) and beating his own record achieved with ’Sang Pour Sang’, johnny’s last opus will no doubt makes it way under the Christmas tree, bringing a touch of pure and savage Rock into 2019.

https://youtu.be/CobeBZNlR8E

Interview: SKIES TURN BLACK

Words: Matt D

What’re your highlights of the year so far?

Jamie Jordan (Vocals/Guitar) – Personally it was getting our debut album No Place Like Home finished, we’ve all worked so hard on it for the past 2 years and now we finally have something to show for it!

Dan Woodhead (Bass) – Finishing the album has been a massive accomplishment, but still for me its been gigging places we haven’t played before, having no clue who is gonna be at the shows or anything and it just being epic. We had a beautiful outdoor festival we got booked for that we had no idea about but shows like that are just off the scale.

Which new bands/artists are you into right now?

JJ – I’ve been really digging Creeper recently, those guys have something really special.

DW – Loving some of the UK scene at the moment, metal or not. Peur have an album out that is just outstanding. Fatherson’s new tune is beaut. And Lost Ground’s EP is just wow. For real though, look them up. They’re great.  Further afield the band to watch for me though is The Faim, they’re going on to big things!

What was the band or artist that got you into music or inspired you to be a musician?

JJ – For me, it was Trivium’s Ascendancy, I remember my Dad bringing home that record and it totally blew me away, it was shortly after that I got my first guitar.

Adam Jones (Drummer) – For me, at the time it was mostly Nirvana.

DW – Rush did it all for me. After listening to 2112 for the first time I just wanted a bass. Although, I remember the first time I ever heard Iron Maiden and that shook me a bit too. I think it was the intro to Run to the Hills that gripped me.

How best do you write; in a jam room or a studio?

DW – Probably studio rather than jamming, we produce our ideas individually then present them as recordings, or Midi files. Sometimes we take each others ideas and play with them and change them, but there’s no set way really, all of us are creative in different ways.

JJ – All of my best ideas tend to come from times when my mind can wander, like long train journeys or when I meditate, so neither I guess?

AJ – Just listening to the track and thinking of how things can be emphasised or imply where the song is going next.

What was your wildest show so far, and why?

DW – We always get the mad drunk that totally digs what we do. One guy decided to climb on a round table to have a dance. To be fair to him, he made it through half of the song before he ended up sending the table over with a few pints flying about. Best part was his glasses fell off and he spent the rest of the tune like Velma from Scooby Doo trying to find them.

Where is the furthest across the globe you’ve played so far?

JJ – We’ve actually never played outside the UK! We’d love to do so in the near future though.

DW – Yeah we have only played in the UK as yet, but we have been sending merch out to Norway, Belgium, Canada, France, so we know there are some fans out there.

Interview- SNEW: Curtis Don Vito

Words: Matt D

What’re your highlights of the year so far?
CVD – First off we recorded our fourth album. We spent three months recording, then a couple months mixing and mastering. So that took us half way through the year. The album is called “You’ve Got Some Nerve” and it comes out September 17th. Right now we are in the process of getting ready to head to the UK for a tour that brings us to the Hard Rock Hell Festival Nov. 9 with a bunch of other dates after that. This has been a busy and exciting year for us.

What are your goals for the rest of the year?
CVD – Putting the new album out and heading to the UK for the first time ever. People have been asking us to play there for years and we’re finally making it happen.

Which new bands/artists are you into right now?
CVD – Every independent hard rock and metal band on the planet. Every artist that is playing this kind of music because they love it and the only reason is because it means everything to them and they just can’t live without it. There are lots of us out there and I support them all, we’re family.

What was the band or artist that got you into music or inspired you to be a musician?
CVD – There are so many bands and artists that have inspired and taught me what music is and how to create it. Kiss, Motörhead, Judas Priest, Sabbath, MC5, Maiden, UFO, Sweet, Dio I could go on and on and on. All the bands that make me crazy and fill me with that raw electrified unrelenting energy. The ones that no matter how many times I’ve heard them I still want more. Wanting more is what inspired me to make music and write more of those kinds of songs.

How best do you write; in a jam room or a studio?
CVD – You can’t force a good idea it just hits you all of a sudden. When it does I’ll usually write it down or sing it into a recording device then I’ll call Andy and say “Dude I got this idea let’s work on it while it’s fresh”. Then he and I will work out the basic parts then get together with the rest of the band and jam it out until it sounds right. Then we take that into the recording studio and the process begins again, refining it, finding the holes that need something or changing parts that sounded great in the jam room but somehow don’t come across in the recording. So, both the jam room and the studio are essential.

What was your wildest show so far, and why?

CVD – Then the last night of our “Thunderdog” tour in 2014 we got booked to play some concert hall in North Texas, some place we never heard of but that’s not unusual. So we drive and drive and drive and we can’t find where the hell this place is. We’re looking for the address but it’s not showing up on GPS and we can’t get anybody on the phone. We’re surrounded by trees and forest. We didn’t even know Texas had forests. We get to an area where it seems like it just has to be it but again, nothing there but trees. We’re thinking we may just have to forget it and go home.

Then we see someone walking along the roadside so we ask if they have any idea where this place is. They say “yeah, follow me”. So we are driving slowly following this guy on foot and it leads to a house. We see tons of people all everywhere but we’re looking at each other, WTF? Turns out it’s a house party that this person puts on every year where he turns his garage into a makeshift club. Half the band wanted to leave feeling like someone was playing some kind of  joke on us. But Lenny and I said “No were staying. This is the perfect way to end the tour”. We ended up having a blast. Hundreds of crazy Texans, drunk off their asses, cheering, screaming, dancing. They loved us and I gotta say we loved them. So what started off as what could have been the worst gig ever turned into one of the best nights of our lives.

Where is the furthest across the globe you’ve played so far?
CVD – We’ve played all across the United States from coast to coast. We’re from Los Angeles so the furthest point so far would have to be New York. We are finally about to head overseas for the first time. We are playing the Hard Rock Hell Festival in Wales on November 9th with a bunch of other UK dates to follow that. We cannot wait!

Interview – UNDER – Matt Franklin

Words: Matt D

What’re your highlights of the year so far?

 

Matt Franklin – Bass and Vocals: 2018 has been a cool year for us. Recording our latest album “Stop Being Naïve” has been amazing, we’ve played with some excellent bands including Part Chimp and Primitive Man… We’re also writing the best stuff we’ve ever written so we’re already getting excited for next year!

 

What are your goals for the rest of the year?

 

MF: We want to get this album heard by as many people as possible so we can continue the fight against international naïvité and horrify more people at the remaining gigs we have booked for the year.

 

Which new bands/artists are you into right now?

 

MF: We’re all big fans of Boss Keloid, Kurokuma and Vow – playing with those guys is always a pleasure. We also share a label with bands like Hyena Kill, Mastiff and Trevor’s Head so we’re in excellent company.

 

What was the band or artist that got you into music or inspired you to be a musician?

 

MF: it seems very weird to me now as they’re not exactly an influence, but as a kid I saw a documentary on MTV about Blink 182 and started to learn guitar the same day!

 

How best do you write; in a jam room or a studio?

 

MF: In the practice room. Occasionally one of us has something already that we bring in but our best work happens collaboratively.

 

What was your wildest show so far, and why?

 

MF: we don’t have that many “wild” ones in terms of crazy crowds, we tend to inspire head-scratching and stoned facial expressions! We’ve played with some fucking nuts bands though. Our tour with Kurokuma was a lot of fun…

 

Where is the furthest across the globe you’ve played so far?

MF: London hahaha which is very far away if you go around the planet the long way…

Interview: David Lukas from Invoker

Words: Matt D

What’re your highlights of the year so far?

David Lukas (Vocals) – Our highlights so far are probably our first single release from the upcoming EP. We also had an awesome time we spent in the studio and, there have been also some pretty sick shows! So far, we’re having a blast this year and I think it will only get better.

What are your goals for the rest of the year?

DL – Hopefully releasing our new EP “Cursed To Feel” on time hahah! Jokes aside. To play as much shows as possible and bringing our new release to the people out there who care. We are very proud of the record and the feedback for the first single has been great so far, so we cannot wait how how people react to the rest of the EP.

Which new bands/artists are you into right now?

DL – Currently my favourites are Peace Of Mind, the new Drangsal record and the latest Brian Fallon album. Not really new bands/musicians, but new releases.

What was the band or artist that got you into music or inspired you to be a musician?

DL – That would probably be Metallica when I was a 6 year old. My older brother Peter who plays in Invoker too as a guitar player, was listening to heavy heavy-metal and showed It to me, and then I got hooked. From there it was journey through different bands and genres until I landed on the ground of hardcore. Those bands woke the desire to stand on stage in me early on, so I joined my first band, a beat down project called prison planet, when I was 15.

How best do you write; in a jam room or a studio?

DL – Jams, it combines current mood with spontaneous ideas and you can right away work on something with everyone involved. Peter and Andy, our other guitar player bring in ideas, riffs or even whole songs, and together we try to put it all together and work on it until we are satisfied. Afterword I add the lyrics to the songs.

What was your wildest show so far, and why?

DL – It was definitely the show in Beocin, Serbia last year. We arrived there, got wonderful Serbian dinner and for dessert there was a lot of Rakija, a Serbian booze. The lovely people from Beocin poured one shot after another so… You can imagine how the rest of it went. Thankfully the crowd was ever drunker than we were, so it all ended up in a huge party!

Where is the furthest across the globe you’ve played so far?

DL – The beautiful city of Sofia in Bulgaria last year. We haven’t played anywhere outside Europe, but we hope to change that soon!

Live review: ASH  – Kentish Town Forum, London…

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Ash were back to play Kentish Town Forum, supported by Norwegian garage rock act Death by Unga Bunga to open for them, two decades after their first appearance on the same London’s venue prestigious stage.  This twentieth anniversary, a reason itself to sense this night as an eventful one from start, for the many in the audience that have followed the three piece Northern Irish band since they emerged in the nineties alternative rock scene, and even more so, for the ones that attended that very show back in 1998. 

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Opening with True Story,  also the first track of their seventh new studio album, Islands, released May 2018,  and following with an alternation of songs from their vast repertory and  recent material from the new album,  they reconfirmed to hold, as if there was any need for that, a powerful and  electrifying  stage presence dominated by a sound that feels way more extended, complex  and loud than one that can possibly be created and delivered  by three instruments.  High energy levels untouched by time and a contagious enjoyment of their own performance, seem to prove effortless and be qualities that come naturally to them, while the tension held never falls, lowers or fades.  

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From Cocoon to Annabel, Oh Yeah to Confessions In The Pool, A life less Ordinary, a perfect blend of new and favourites enthusiastically received by a crowd of younger and middle aged fans, showing the same display of energy by jumping and dancing all the way through the entire set, as if flashbacks of 1998 and the present 2018  were blending too, and time travel made very possible by the music played  in the room.   There’s more in store when Tim Wheeler calls on stage The Undertones’ Damien O’Neill to join in for a memorable Buzzkill and Teenage Kicks.  

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The momentum is kept by the immediate start of Girl From Mars,  Wheeler red probe light painted for a moment,  his figure armed with guitar striking his own iconic pose, and for that split second it is Live On Mars London Astoria 1997 again.  There is no time, if time makes any sense in this instance,  to realise this is coming to an end with the start of Burn Baby Burn,  as for the encore  Death by Unga Bunga are called on stage again, for a grand finale where both bands join forces for a cover of  ABBA’s  Does Your Mother Know.  An unruly party unfolds with musicians on and off stage, diving and surfing the room on top of and within the crowd, that want to lift them triumphantly and to touch and engulf them.

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 Ash are leaving with the promise to be back soon, so that everyone present can be content to have been part of an extraordinary night and to aim for more on next occasion, because over decades they never disappoint but live above expectations, so can be trusted to keep their promise.  The tour resumes in November with dates in Australia, Asia, then back to Europe to come home and end in Belfast December 20th. 

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review and images by Julia Savi

DAMNATION FESTIVAL 2018: Interview with Gavin …

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Words: Matt D

With 2018′s event getting closer we catch up with Gavin McInally to talk about how the planning for 2018 has gone, Facebook madness and news regarding food at this year’s event…

So we’re less than a month away from this year’s damnation – how have you found preparing for this year’s event?

This year’s been an odd one, ultimately as I stand here today I’m delighted because ticket sales are fantastic, there’s a real chance we’re going to sell out again and we’ll be able to look back in hindsight and say it was an absolute cracking year and there was no hitches but in reality it was an absolute bastard of a year because what happened was we did last year and nothing could have gone better, everything just fell into place – other than the fire alarm going off in the venue – it was flawless; we had the bands we wanted, we had the exclusives we wanted, the fans came and enjoyed it, we sold out of merch. I just looked at 2018 and thought it’ll snowball from here, it’ll be easier – more bands available, the security that these bands are going to return again etc etc and then what happened is we couldn’t get our hands on any big name bands. Just bad luck on the timing – nothing to do with the festival itself.

Bands like Converge were no longer touring at that point, Opeth were going to be recording a new album, Immortal – it just seemed like every band we approached they weren’t able to do it, we thought we had Sleep at one point but that fell through. At one point we’re like OK, ticket sales are doing well, the line up is strong but you’re still selling 3,000 tickets and you need a name to hang it on, fortunately things started coming together when Napalm Death became available – at first it wasn’t we were looking at but then we thought let’s try this, Napalm Death’s a band no one’s going to complain about, everybody loves Napalm Death but are they going to sell 3,000 tickets? That was the gamble but to their credit so far with the rest of the line up that’s behind them it’s coming along nicely.

Going into the summer it was a bit tougher thinking that – why has this year been a struggle? It should have been a piece of cake – but looking at the sales and the line up now I’m chuffed!

I mean when the first announcement came out with Ihsahn as an UK exclusive and the Fukpig reunion – it was like Wow! This is how we start!

Exactly! It’d be the easiest thing in the world to just book 27 decent bands who are touring, there’s bands touring left and right and center we could pick up, the whole point of trying to get you to come from another country or from London or down from Scotland or over from Ireland is what are you getting from Damnation that you’re not getting anywhere else? It’s worth it because then they realise we’re not booking the biggest metal bands on the planet but we’re booking something that’ll mean a lot to a certain group of fans – for some people the Fukpig gig will be the best thing about Damnation, for some people it’ll be trying to catch Insanity Alert who are coming as an one off gig, Celeste are flying over from France for an one off, Ihsahn as well. Last I counted there were 10/11 exclusives along with the bands that are on tour or have played elsewhere, for me for £43 you’re getting your money’s worth and that’s why we aim to go for those bands and see what we can do, it’s not easy but it’s worth it.

You mentioned ticket sales and on Facebook – and we’ll get to another thing about them in a bit – are we past the ‘safe to plan 2019’ stage on the Ticket tracker?

[laughs] Yes! That alone there’s a lot of truth to that Ticket tracker, I mean it’s got wee emojis on it, it was never meant to be taken as the business plan for Damnation festival but I mean  some folk have taken to it like that, but yes we are very safe to start planning for 2019, we’re pretty much at the breakeven point now so it’s all gravy from hereon in and we do our largest chunk of sales traditionally in the last six weeks is when you’ll do 50% of sales unlike say last year when you’ve already sold out by this point but it’s realistic we might sell out this year or if not be so close to it.

Now this year has been interesting when it comes to facebook and promoting because of a couple of names on the line up shall we say…

When it first came back from the bot saying there was profanity [Fukpig] we tried doing a poster with just Anaal Nathrakh on it and they came back and said that was profanity as well so we took it to the bot and said look we had our poster with Fukpig blurred out a bit and argued the case for Nathrakh that isn’t profanity and then we got a response back it was being banned because of NUDITY, at that point it started to become a farce, we argued again and were getting absolutely nowhere with it so we put out some tickets for competition hoping fans will spread the word for us – the last poster we put out to win tickets had a reach of 120,000 people, to pay for an advert to reach that many I dread to think how much that would cost so thank you to fans for supporting us.

It became tiresome – the last time we tried to promote the poster we were told there’s too much text, it should be a picture. I’ve managed to get it on a banner of Napalm Death, Entombed A.D. and Vader with a little snippet about Damnation. At the end of the day the algorithm seems to be when we took a few months off we started losing hundreds of likes, strangely enough when I started trying to pay them that stopped, it’s a headache but a necessary evil.

Now so far Tim and myself have picked our top five bands to catch at Damnation this year – now who would be your five to catch?

Celeste definitely – I don’t know how I’ve never seen that band, I’ve been to so many festivals and gigs and still not managed to see them so that’s my number one pick.

Batushka as well who I’ve oddly enough never seen either, that’s another one I think’s going to be great.

Let’s go with Fukpig for the same reason as Nathrakh and Napalm Death but it’s rare – anyone that was at Damnation 2010 and the second Deathfest knows that it is utter carnage in the best possible way, it’s a shame for anyone that has a hangover so early in the day!

Let’s throw some support for my fellow countrymen in Saor, that’s again one of those bands that have done big things in Europe playing festivals and big stages but not got the recognition they deserve in the UK so I thought it was time to promote some Scottish metal!

My final pick: you know who I really enjoyed at ArcTanGent? MOL. They were fantastic. That Cult Never Dies stage – Hundred Year Old Man, MOL, Bong, A Forest of Stars, Mourning Beloveth it’s just a strong fourth stage.

Speaking of Cult Never Dies this is their first year as a stage sponsor – what led to them being picked for the fourth stage?

The original email I think they asked about a stall, they dropped us a message on Facebook and I checked out their site and thought this is such a great fan, after the death of Terrorizer there hasn’t been a publication as interested, these guys really put their heart and soul into it, what they do they do very well and I thought not only is it a good match with the sponsors we already have, if they’ve got a stall with memorabilia or merch the others aren’t selling it adds a bit more to the festival as well, fans can get they might not otherwise see so if these guys are up for it, so am I!

Jagermeister have been around forever, Eyesore Merch for the last five or six years we have a great relationship with and the guys from Tone Mgmt who have now moved up to the second stage – they’re a company who want to see UK metal flourish and that sits well with what Damnation does. I’m very happy to see those brands on the back of the merchandise, lanyards, stage times – it’s not Monster Energy, it’s not Red Bull – each of the sponsors are doing something to promote metal and alternative music in the Uk so it’s great to have them involved with Damnation.

Recently there was the production meetings – as seen by the pictures with the posh tables…

The thing with the venue is firstly it’s amazing, it doesn’t matter how many times you go or how many different ways it’s set up, we’ve been there since 2008 and I still get lost! I can only imagine if it’s your first time at Damnation and you’ve had too many pints [laughs] trying to find the stages is an absolute nightmare and it doesn’t help when people keep stealing the signs on where to go! The venue over the last few years has had a lot of refurbishment – places have popped up, rooms have been created, what we do for backstage, what we do for press, production, the bands so you go down each year to get a feel and just make sure you don’t got a plan on paper that doesn’t work out in reality. The venue management are incredible, they’ve always been supportive of what Damnation does, they’ve nothing but good things to say about our fanbase – these guys deal with student nights week in, week out; people puking in corridors, people tripping up stairs – so Damnation’s like a peaceful day in the park for them so it’s good to see them again to dot the I’s and cross the t’s and make sure there’s no surprises.

The thought of Nathrakh in that reflectory room…

[Chuckles]

Here’s the thing about extreme metal in the UK right – people who like extreme metal in the UK are very vocal. Let’s take a band like say Skindred and a band like say Marduk, if you said to our fanbase which one? The Marduk fans would outnumber the Skindred fans 9:1 but if you ever put Skindred on at Damnation I could guarantee there would be three times the amount of people at Skindred! It’s an extreme imbalance between the reaction you get online to the reality of the people that actually buy the tickets and show up.

With that main stage I’ve always had a wee bit of fear with extreme metal because I’ve been stung before: when I put on Watain in Glasgow and lost money, two Deathfests didn’t make any money so I’ve always thought if you can get a big band say Carcass or a Bolt Thrower you’re laughing but otherwise I’ve always been a bit of you need to make sure there’s balance on that main stage – maybe get an Electric Wizard or My Dying Bride or Kreator or Dillinger Escape Plan to try and bring the fans in but this year I thought you know what let’s try it – if Napalm Death’s the band that are going to be headlining let’s just try it: let’s get Entombed A.D. on there, Nathrakh on there, Cancer on there and it runs in sync with the Tone Mgmt stage which is traditionally the extreme stage, what’s the worst that could happen? My fear is gone now because you see we can do it! I’m almost certain when Nathrakh play it’s going to be rammed! In 2010 we had them on the Mine stage, we’ve seen how they’ve played everywhere – I’ve seen them in tiny venues, I’ve seen them on big stages, I’ve seen them at Hellfest playing to 10,000 folk – they’ll be fine. They’ll sound great and look great. It’s amazing to have those bands on the bigger stage, we had a year – 2012 maybe, don’t get me wrong it was an fantastic year, the atmosphere wasn’t quite as highly charged as I think this year will be, with your My Dying Brides, Electric Wizards and Primordials you get your slow headbanging on, there’s not going to be as much chance this year!

Heads will be banged, circle pits will be done, maybe a Stamping Ground homage with a Wall of Death..

Fuck aye! As long as no one tries to jump off the balconies I’m fine.

Is there any news regarding the replacement for something that was much loved in Damnation circles – DeliKate?

There is no replacement you and I both know that – Delikate was a one off and the Damnation burger was a thing of great joy for many, there won’t be a van to replace DeliKate as such HOWEVER the venue have taken it on board…

There will be a full barbeque in the Terrace area and a pizza making place in the area – both of these places will do everything from pulled pork, burgers to vegan options and gluten free options – we attract a lot of vegans to Damnation so that’s a big concern – I’m also told all the stalls will be open so the pasty place, the salad box place, the Hot Wok place.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the barbeque goes – sounds delicious!

You mentioned earlier that plans have started for next year – is there concerns regarding flights and other things due to Brexit?

I’m so done with the whole Brexit thing –  to queue at airports, change mobile carriers or whether bands have to get visas to come in – I’m done, it’s going to be whatever it’s going to be. I invested a lot of time and energy when it was happening and afterwards, it’s my personal point of view and if  it comes down to it and we do get fucked over and bands from anywhere that isn’t the UK cost this extra amount to come then the reality is something’s going to need to change because I’m not going to run the festival at a loss. There’s no point worrying about next year or 2020 if I’ve got no idea what’s coming to fruition, if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen and I’ll deal with it.

It IS a genuine concern for folk as well – if you’re a band, tour manger, promoter you think these things, we’ve already taken a hit over the last ten years for the pound against the Euro – it used to be a band would say we need 8,000 Euro to play and you’d be like ah five grand that’s not too bad as it’s 75 cents to the pound whereas now just because the pound is tanking it doesn’t mean they’ll play for any less, I can’t say to fans the pound is tanking and German bands don’t want to sing for free so can you pay £60 for tickets, every year’s got it’s own problems – bands that think they’re bigger than they are in the UK and say they got ten grand in Japan, last time you played the UK it was fifty tickets in a pub so don’t start!

Everyone’s going to try and use this to their advantage so when it happens I’ll give it some thought then.

Interview: MATT FINUCANE by Matt D

We catch up with Matt Finucane for his highlights of 2018 so far, upcoming goals and shoutouts to some artists such as Fukushima Dolphin!

What’re your
highlights of the year so far?  
Matt Finucane (Guitar,
Vocals) – Survival, with health and marbles intact.  Otherwise, all kinds of DIY activity that
went surprisingly well: an EP out, another one due, a mini tour, bit of
promoting gigs and gig swaps…  Standing
on a hill in Glasgow in the rain after one of those, thinking “wow, I’m
actually doing this.”

What are
your goals for the rest of the year?  
MF – More of everything.  More of
the grim struggle to get taken seriously in this insane business.  Work ethic!
No surrender!

Which new
bands/artists are you into right now?  
MF – If I tell the truth and say “nobody”, I sound hopelessly out of
touch and ready for the grave, or a total egocentric prick.  Fact is, I’m recording a load of new stuff
and don’t want any stray influences creeping into it, and once it’s done I’ll
be receptive again.  There are loads of
great local artists I like seeing play live in Brighton though: Fukushima
Dolphin, Emperors of Ice Cream, Chop Chop, Map 71, Trench… just to throw some random
names out.  

What was the
band or artist that got you into music or inspired you to be a musician?  
MF – Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground.  I heard that first album and that was it for
me.

How best do
you write; in a jam room or a studio?  
MF – I mainly write at home, when it’s quiet and I can concentrate
alone.  But my live band keeps finding new
ways to play, so I’m thinking of switching back to writing in the rehearsal
studio.  We use a converted Victorian
public toilet, this underground bunker, which is… atmospheric.

What was
your wildest show so far, and why?  
MF – Maybe Trans Pride 2-3 years ago, backing a singer on acoustic guitar,
very exposed on a huge stage in a sunlit park, in front of the biggest crowd
I’ve played for.   A beautiful day, but it wasn’t mine, wasn’t my
show: I was an impostor.  Also, I had one
of the worst hangovers of my life, my feet were floating a couple of inches
above the floor and everything was blue round the edges…  So I boshed down a handful of diazepam the
moment I staggered offstage.  Wild under
sedation.

Where is the
furthest across the globe you’ve played so far
?  MF – Inverness, just after Halloween last
year.  Two 45-minute solo sets in a
fantastic venue with the worst flu of my life.  There’s a pattern developing here…  Maybe I did something dreadful in a past
existence and this is how I’m paying for it?
Well, that’s fine with me: I look forward to feeling like hell all over
the world.

DAMNATION FESTIVAL 2018 preview

It’s that great time of the year once more when we all gather towards Leeds to take in the mixture of metal, doom, post rock and more that is Damnation and with nine exclusives – including one UK live debut – this year, the high standard that proves why Damnation is one of the best festivals going today still remains large.

What follows is both Matt D and Tim’s picks on who to catch at Damnation this year… 

Matt D

To begin my picks let us start with a slice of tech with Monuments who are making their Damnation debut and are one of the bands that were part of the tech metal boom a number of years ago with the likes of Periphery and others. With new album Phronesis about to make an impact, it will be interesting to see how it all goes down with the Damnation audience.

Next is Norwegian art rockers Arabrot who are also making their Damnation debut in 2018 and for me could be a potential show stealer. Following their excellent The Gospel album there’s been shows in which Kjetil Nernes has worked with writer John Doran as the latter reads poems/rituals such as Lacerated Sky plus a special immersive show in Stoke based around the Japanese short ‘A Page of Madness’ and now it is time for the Damnation faithful to experience the fun for themselves…

For the doom lovers this next pick will hit the spot with Bong who no doubt will have a set that will define a pure experience as their combination of doom/drone and stoner has the potential to truly open the third eye of anyone that views the true psychedelic trip.

The final two picks are linked as they’re both veterans of Damnation itself and are both getting their biggest slots to date at the event: The Ocean and Anaal Nathrakh.

Regarding The Ocean it’s from a small room in 2010 to headlining the Eyesore Merch stage and with a great catalogue (including Precambrian hitting its 10th anniversary) including showcasing live the brand new album (released the day before Damnation on November 2nd!) Phanerozoic I: Paleozoic – with part 2 out in a couple of years – it’s a Damnation moment in the making.

Speaking of which – possibly doing their biggest show to date in the grand hall that is the Reflectory – are Anaal Nathrakh and for those that have yet to see the greatness of a Nathrakh show – this will be one not to miss as not only will it be the first show since the release of A New kind of Horror but the only chance to catch them as 2018 comes to a close.

Tim

As ever Damnation festival returns this year with a line up stronger than ever. Gav and his team work tirelessly throughout the year to ensure the one day extreme festival is Leeds is the very best of its kind in the UK.

Having had the full bill announced for a good month now, I look on admiringly at the achievement of a line up. It’s hard to pick who my favourites are, but here’s a selection of five bands not to be missed!

Cancer

The death metal stalwarts will be playing the Jager stage this year in a UK exclusive show and with a brand new album, their first for thirteen years, due for release the day prior to their appearance. They are the UK’s finest purveyors of traditional death metal and the trio of Ian, Carl and John will put on one hell of a show. 

Fukpig

The reunion of the band is one of the most talked about and anticipated additions to this year’s bill. The masked Birmingham necro punks bring their dirty sound and lyrical hatred of the world to Leeds again. The last time they played the festival they destroyed it, quite literally. Expect the most volatile of mosh pits and the most violent of performances. If you have never seen them these are not to be missed and if you have seen them previously, I know I’ll be seeing you in the pit again!

Vader

Poland’s biggest music export started the year touring the UK with Testament on a sell out run of dates and will finish it with an appearance at Damnation Festival. Piotr’s throaty vocal girth accompanied by his and Marek’s duelling guitars will deliver excellence in the extreme and no doubt a performance on par with that of Cancer before them. For fans of Star Wars look out for the tribute at the end of the set 😉

(Video for Sword of The Witcher:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Rx_AA5GfNE)

Anaal
Nathrakh

Anaal
Nathrakh are another band with a new album out. Opinions are mixed on the new
material, but my own personal view is that the album is phenomenal. Look for a
mix of material old and new during their set and a heavy cross over of
personnel from Fukpig. Deathly growls and dirty looks from Dave Hunt will be in
abundance and fully anticipate a crowd as wild as Fukpig’s just on a bigger
scale.

Napalm
Death

Festival
headliners Napalm Death are without doubt the booking of the festival. Through
decades of aggression the band have gone from strength to strength. No longer
the small cult grind band they once were their music has far greater appeal
these days, despite the band themselves not changing direction at all. Shane,
Barney and the gang are the perfect way to close the day and with a later
curfew this year things could get messy!

(Video for When All is Said and Done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIRUzqHTNh8)

The Hinterland and The Harvest Team Up Volume …

So for this volume we decided to do a little bit of crossover – our Avengers/X-Men team up if you will – as both myself (Matt D) and David talk about their favourite albums of 2018 to this point (the definitive coming of course at the end of 2018) while Tim, following his recent trip to Catton Hall taking in the wonder that is Bloodstock tells us his favourite new discoveries from this year’s event.

Without further ado and as he is our guest it is only fair that David tells us his favourite albums first:

Hide – Castration Anxiety

So angry! Hide’s frontwoman Heather Gabel has stated that their music and live performances are political and come from a place of anger, and for her is a cathartic way to process the negative things that would otherwise fester in her psyche and it’s clear to hear in the music. This is proper industrial, music that has a point, music that needed to be made and music that will kick its way into your head and set up camp.

https://hide3.bandcamp.com/album/castration-anxiety

BlackWater HolyLight – BlackWater HolyLight

Industrial is my go-to music for aggression these days so I’m always on the lookout for heavy music with a mood that isn’t angry and macho. This has led me to female artists like Chelsea Wolfe, Darkher and now BlackWater HolyLight. The self-titled album is an incredibly accomplished debut and a melting pot of all kinds of doom, psych and metal influences. Brilliant.

https://blackwaterholylight.bandcamp.com/album/blackwater-holylight

Schwefelgelb – Aus Den Falten

I like pretty much everything Schwefelgelb release and Aus Den Falten is no different. German-made Techno Body Music that makes you feel like you’re in a sweaty Berlin nightclub at 3am when you’re actually in on a Friday night sipping strawberry cider and relentlessly updating Facebook for the illusion of human contact. Which I am in no way doing. Shut up.

https://schwefelgelb.bandcamp.com/album/aus-den-falten

Thanks David for that triad of industrial/techno goodness, now time no doubt to surprise people with at least one choice on my list! (Videos are at the bottom of the post.)

To begin with I’m picking two releases off one label that throughout the years has been consistent in high quality: Rolo Tomassi – Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It and Boss Keloid – Melted on the Inch both on Holy Roar Records.

With many things in common between the two bands : powerful vocalists and music that grabs your attention from the offset – Rolo in particular being able to go from ambient and melodic to their darkest work yet in a way that feels gradual rather than a whiplash effect, a deal that’s been consistent since Kasia/Sakia from Cosmology – these two records showcase both bands’ strongest work and yet you know they’re going to find a way to top it because they’re THAT damn good.

Next comes what many would consider the ‘curveball’ I guess in Spanish Love Songs : Schmaltz, a record that reminds me more – along with honourable mention to Dollar Signs’ latest – of the original version of emo, think more American Football than My Chemical Romance, more than the pop punk label they’ve been given with songs concerning anxiety, grief and even an anthem of sorts in Buffalo Buffalo with an overall message – life may not be fair and the ride’s going to have some bumps in the way but there are ways to get through it.

Now for something completely different – where the only emotion essentially is RAGE – as we get the combination of Napalm Death, Anaal Nathrakh and Fukpig joining forces to create one of the best grindcore records in quite some time and considering it’s Shane Embury, Mick Kenney and Duncan Wilkins coming together anything less than just feeling the short sharp shock of brutality followed by wanting to listen again would be just wrong – welcome to Born To Murder The World’s The Infinite Mirror of Millennial Narcissism and of course for those going Damnation – how can you not love seeing Napalm, Nathrakh and Fukpig in one day?!

Lastly – if you want a great album to satisfy your doom metal love (with a BLEH thrown in for good measure) Khemmis’ Desolation (Nuclear Blast) hits that spot the same way label mates Pallbearer did in 2017. With pretty much catchy choruses (to songs about grief and death no less) and great riffs Khemmis carry on the high that Hunted began in 2016 with wonderful results.

Finally here’s Tim with his Bloodstock 2018 discoveries…

The past few years I have covered Bloodstock Festival as a media representative, covering the bands as per my editors steer and ensuring the best possible coverage photographically and in written form that delivers for the outlets. 

This year was somewhat different, as I stepped up to work for the festival as an in house photographer. It provided a different challenge but also gave me a different perspective on the festival. From this i discovered a few bands that I may not have even covered from my normal angle.

With that in mind, I bring you my top 5 discoveries of the festival weekend!

5. Combichrist

I’ll be honest if I was covering the festival for a media outlet I would still have covered these this weekend. However, personally, I’ve never really given them the time of day and oh how my eyes were opened! Their industrial sound grabs you buy the balls and thrusts you into their world. The dual drummers add a twist to the sound and add to the theatrics of the show. As the multitiude of drums beats reverberate through your soul the gnarling guitars and vibrate vocals hold you firm and batter your senses.  

4. Exhorder

A legendary band, one who forged the “groove metal” sound back in the day long before anyone had every heard of Pantera or Machine Head. Despite their long and storied past this was their first appearance in the UK and thus the stage was packed with fans. Their groove-orientated thrash sound anthemic and aggressive delivered on point. having laid the foundations on which others would later build successful careers, the appreciation of the rare show in the UK is shown by the crowd. Snarling guitars the highlight with vicious vocals leaving everyone broken, battered and bruised. 

3. Pelugion

The “Newblood stage” often delivers a few surprises at the festival, with it being filled with battle of the band competition winners from up and down the country, you can always guarantee discovering some great bands here. This year was no exception and the first in my highlight real is  Coventry three piece Pelugion. Infectious riffs draw you in along with inspiring vocals to give you that warm feeling inside and throbbing drums that inspire. A fantastic outfit I encourage you all to check out. 

2. Psychotype

It’s not often a band bring a breath of fresh air to a festival, mix things up and create a storm. On the Newblood stage, Psychotype did just that. It doesn’t take much to work out the band’s inspiration, eerie stage lighting and dark figures adorned with masks prove the Slipknot influence is strong. Its hard to pigeon hole such a band and nor would I want to, the bands unique sound pushes boundaries, crosses styles and mixes the unmixable. All of which results in a show not to be missed; sound, vision, aggression, mysticism and intrigue.

1. Alien Weaponry

By far and away my highlight of the 2018 festival, outside of the big names. Much is being made of New Zealand youngsters Alien Weaponry in the music business at the moment and we are about to find out why. A traditional Haka by drummer Henry de Jong is the bands intro before the fireworks really start. Ferocious angst driven thrash metal, technically superb from one of the youngest bands on the bill. The three piece put on a performance that belies their age. Masterful, controlled and perfectly delivered. These lads are not to be missed, I recommend you check out their album now.

As ever the festival was a raging success, but working in a different role gave me a different perspective and proves that every stage throughout the weekend will throw out some surprises. The best festival of the summer as ever delivered the goods.