Skindred Kill The Power DoubleCross Records Out Now 9 out of 10

Skindred
Kill The Power
DoubleCross Records
Out Now
9 out of 10

If you’ve not heard of Skindred yet, you’ve proably been living in some kind of cave for the last few years. However, for the benefit of our hermit readers: Skindred realeased their last album Union Black in 2011 to much critical acclaim. Despite this, the welsh band seem to still not have quite conquered the mainstream. Sure the live reviews are always good, and quite rightly so, this is a band you don’t fuck with live. It can be guaranteed that they will lay waste to any venue, from tiny little sweatbox clubs, to the main stage at Download.

What Benji and co. have done on Kill The Power, is take everything positive about their previous releases and mix it up into one neat little package. The raw aggressive metal of Babylon, the massive choruses of Roots… and the more experimental dub and hip-hop elements which were abundant on Union Black can all be heard. This is a mission statement. This is a band saying “This is us, and if you don’t like it fuck you!”.

The album starts with the insanely catchy title track, a pretty typical Skindred song and one which will inevitably become a fixture of their live set. This along with ‘Ninja’ and ‘Proceed With Caution’ display the Welsh four piece’s continued passion for creating super heavy music infused with reggae and hip-hop. As always with The ‘Dred, there are the weirder songs, 3rd track ‘Playing With The Devil’ is largely dub based, yet still manages to sound heavy as fuck in a way that only Skindred seem able to pull off.

The band have also made no secret of their lofty intentions for this record. Sing along anthems like ‘We Live’ and ‘Saturday’ see them exploring new territory with relatively straight up rock songs, which wouldn’t sound out of place on mainstream radio. Album closer ‘More Fire’ provides the almost compulsory softer track, it’s surprisingly addictive vocal line will get stuck in your head for days.

Overall, Kill The Power seems to have all the right ingredients to finally propel Skindred to the dizzy hights of which they are most certainly deserving. But more importantly than that, they’ve accomplished this by staying true to their vision through years of relentless hard work. Get ready, because with tours booked and another main-stage slot booked at Donington, 2014 looks set to be the year of The ‘Dred!

Kill The Power is available to purchase now from iTunes, Amazon, HMV and all other good vendors of things a-musical.

Words: Alex Loach

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Words – Alex Loach

Of course, it’s that time of year. You’ve almost definitely read through a whole host of lists like this one already, but we’re going to do it anyway. Mainly because it’s fun! Obviously any list like this is heavily subjective, and is by no means fact. These are the records that keep me coming back for more.

My 20 albums of this year in reverse order:

20. Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance

Darkthrone-–-The-Underground-ResistanceOne of the most legendary Black Metal outfits decided to re-visit the roots of their music, producing an outstanding record that incorporates elements of each genre the band have explored. With much of the focus on NWOBH and large sections of clean singing, it’s probably the most accessible album Darkthrone have ever produced. Equally though, the snippets of Black Metal and Crust will not leave die-hards in the dark.

 

 

 

19. Ghost – Infestissumam

ghost-bc-infesstissumamProving to be something of a phenomenon, Ghost have made their name largely through their image and the air of mystery around them. This year’s release saw them build on their critically acclaimed debut by upping the catchiness, making the hooks massive, and darkening further that sinister edge which continues to intruige metalheads. It’s little wonder the likes of Phil Anselmo and James Hetfield have been spotted wearing their t-shirts. The box set containing a ghost themed dildo and butt-plug may have proved a little too much for some fans, but it certainly created a talking point.

 

 

18. Avantasia – The Mystery Of Time

the_mystery_of_timeMasterminded by Edguy mainman Tobias Sammett, The Mystery of Time’s list of personell reads like a Who’s Who of melodic metal. With guest appearances from the likes of Saxon‘s Biff Byford and ex-Helloween frontman Michael Kiske, the album is suitably epic, with the sweeping vocal melodies of Sammett himself proving to be the jewel in the crown. It’s the one the dedicated Sammett fans have been raving about.

 

 

 

17. Evile – Skull

evile-skullHuddersfield’s own thrash revivalists keep getting stronger record by record. Skull places a real focus on groove and kicks up the pace a notch from previous release – Five Serpent’s Teeth. Standout tracks ‘Underworld’ and ‘Tomb’ are reminiscent of Metallica before Lars forgot how to drum; with dashes of Death and Pantera thrown into the mix. Unfortunately the news of the departure of Ol Drake from the band has cast a shadow over 2013 for Evile, which is a shame as the real talking point regarding the quartet should have been how good this album is.

 

 

16. Orchid – The Mouths Of Madness

Orchid-The-Mouths-Of-Madness-ArtworkEasily dismissed as just another Sabbath worship album. Sure the riffs are Iommi-esqe, but Orchid expand on the foundation layed by Metal’s forefathers to deliver a record full of doomy riffery and superb vocal melodies. The strongest of their albums so far. If they can break through in the right way, look forward to hearing much more from this band.

 

 

 

 

15. Carcass – Surgical Steel

CarcassSurgicalSteelYes, 2013 saw the return of undisputed Death Metal legends; the incomparable Carcass. And holy fuck do they know how to come back properly. Easily up there with their finest work, Surgical Steel is an absolute monster of an album. The grooves are infectious, the vocals are raw and furious, and the song names are beautifully repulsive – ‘Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System’ and ‘A Congealed Clot Of Blood’ are particularly delightful. With a main stage slot at Bloodstock festival next year, the re-birth of Carcass has been more sucessful than anyone in the band could have ever imagined.

 

 

14. Chthonic – Bù Tik

Chthonic-Bu-Tik_400x400What do you get if you fuse Traditional Taiwanese music, Black Metal and massive symphonic bursts? The answer is Chthonic and their most stunningly put together album so far – Bù Tik. Given the ingredients that make up the sound of the band, it SHOULD be a horrible, unlistenable, mess; but after just a couple of minutes of this record you begin to understand why it works, yet you can’t explain it. It blends together to form one of the most bizarre, yet strangely compelling genres you’ve ever heard.

 

 

 

13. Children Of Bodom – Halo Of Blood

Children-of-Bodom-Halo-of-BloodSeen as something of a return to form for the Finish Melo-deathsters, Halo Of Blood, sees Bodom returning to their black metal inspired sound. this is particulary obvious on the title track. The solos are blistering, the keyboards are phenomenal, and Alexi Laiho’s rabid bark ties the whole thing together, making this easily the best album the band have produced since Hate Crew… The fantastic cover artwork captures the melancholic mood of the record as a whole. Hopefully this will prove to be the turning point that Bodom needed, after a few painfully average releases.

 

 

 

12. Motörhead – Aftershock

Motorhead-Aftershock1It’s not been the easiest of years for Motörhead. Cancelled tours and festival appearances cut short due to the poor health of Lemmy have grabbed the headlines. But underneath this drama, the band have released one of the best albums of their monstrous career. Aftershock is quite simply classic Motörhead at their very best. Opening track ‘Heartbreaker’ has the furious pace and distinctive vocal work which has come to be the band’s trademark.  It’s now no secret that Lemmy has made some big lifestyle changes which will hopefully see the band around for a good while longer, so that they can bring out more releases of the same quality as this one.

 

 

11. Ihsahn – Das Seelenbrechen

IhsahnDasSeelenbrechenalbumcoverartworkpackshotThrashHitsImagine the creepiest, most fucked up psychological horror film you’ve ever seen, then try and imagine it’s musical equivalent. The perenially metamorphasising Ihsahn returned this year with such an album. Atmospheric black metal interspersed with massive sounding sections of bombast which wouldn’t be out of place on a power metal album. It’s the mid to end section of Das Seelenbrechen that really ups the terror factor. Do not listen to this album on your own or in the dark! This record has to be heard to be believed.

 

 

 

10. Airbourne – Black Dog Barking

AIRBOURNE-BLACK-DOG-BARKINGThe Aussie rock and roller’s third proper album may not have the same raw energy as that explosive debut, but that’s not necassarily to it’s detriment. Black Dog Barking saw Airbourne incorporate a slightly more mature, polished edge to their rough and ready rock. Of course the obvious influences can still be heard but the emphasis on melody and flawless production may be more in-keeping with bands of the Def Leppard mentality than the previous comparisons to AC/DC would suggest. The almost tangible energy and rock n’ roll attitude throughout will keep you coming back for more.

 

 

9. Hell – Curse & Chapter

HellHell‘s biggest impact in recent years has been firmly anchored in the live scene; their OTT show making them a regular and popular festival booking. Curse and Chapter saw the revived outfit from Derby build upon this in their second album, upping the sense of satanic theatre. Vocalist David Bower delivers lyrics about death and decay in his trademark wide eyed, sermon-like screech. Of course with Andy Sneap closely involved, the production was never going to be anything but superb; making the whole thing sound absolutely stunning from beginning to end.

 

 

8. Watain – The Wild Hunt

08-21-Discs-Watain-The-Wild-HuntBlack Metal’s fastest rising stars typically did things their own way on The Wild Hunt. The usual furious black metal storm was present in all it’s glory, as you would expect from a Watain album. The biggest surprise though, came in the form of an 8+ minute, clean sung, cowboy ballad entiled ‘They Rode On’. This was the moment for the Swedish act to show the metal world that they had more than one trick up their sleeve, and they accomplished this in a characteristically overblown fashion.

 

 

 

7. Black Spiders – This Savage Land

BlackSpidersThisSavageLandalbumcoverartworkpackshotThrashHits-500x500How do you top releasing arguably the greatest debut album of the last decade? Well if you’re Black Spiders, apparently it’s easy. Ramp up the energy, turn all the dials up to twelve (that’s right, twelve) and lay down some of the catchiest, meatiest riffs heard in recent years. It also helps if you have a track like ‘Balls’ on your record. If you’ve not heard it yet, get on it. It’ll be stuck in your head forever.

 

 

 

 

6. Von Hertzen Brothers – Nine Lives

cover_4759182032013_rProbably the least conventionally “Metal” album in this list, Nine Lives still has moments of genuine heaviness, interspersed with catchy melodies and hooks big enough to hang a mammoth from. It’s extremely difficult to pigeonhole Von Hertzen Brothers to one specific genre, as such they’ve been labelled as simply “Progressive” by the industry. Whilst not easy to choose just one stand-out track, the sublime ‘Flowers and Rust’ will have you listening time and time again.

 

 

 

 

5. Stratovarius – Nemesis

nemesis-cover1

There are no two ways about it, Power Metal is not fashionable anywhere – except perhaps mainland Europe; but this has not stopped one of the giants of the genre from releasing their most stunning album in years. Nemesis delivers on absolutely every level. Lyrics about dragons and castles are prevelant, yet subtle enough to not seem like parody. The obligatory ballad ‘If the Story Is Over’ is majestic without being overbearing, and the synth sound is like nothing heard on a metal album before; enabling it to sound fresh but still true to the genre’s roots. If you only bought one Power Metal album this year, it really should have been this one.

 

 

4. Dream Theater – Self Titled

Dream-Theater-2013-albumChoosing to self-title an album so far into a career may seem like an odd move, but for Dream Theater this was a statement of intent. Their first album with no writing credits from a certain Mr Portnoy turned out to be their freshest and most original sounding work since Scenes From A Memory. While the heaviness is still obviously present, the band seem to have retuned to focusing on the progressive elements of their music, which is definitely the area in which they perform best. The album’s crowning glory is the 22 minute epic, ‘Illumination Thory’ which features a full string section and some of the finest vocal work that James LaBrie has ever produced. The false ending and quiet synth play out just leave you wanting more.

 

3. Clutch – Earth Rocker

Earth+Rocker+ClutchEarthRocker604x604Clutch‘s last record Strange Cousins From The West, was met with a somewhat luke-warm response from all but the most die-hard of fans. If ever there was an album that could be dubbed a return to form, Earth Rocker is most emphatically it. From the out and out rock and roll of the title track, to the rumbling groove of ‘The Face’, Neil Fallon spits out his unmistakable vocals like a possesed preacher man. Everything about this album is absolutely incredible. The production is flawless and the feel of it is spot on. An instant classic, and certainly up there with Blast Tyrant.

 

 

 

2. Black Sabbath – 13

Black_Sabbath_13The prospect of a new Black Sabbath album this year was met with all the excitement it deserved, however the absence of Bill Ward and the news of Tony Iommi’s illness also saw it’s approach greeted with a sense of trepidation by the metal community. Add into the mix some tabloid headline shit-stirring regarding Ozzy and let’s be honest, most of us thought that the whole thing could be an unmitigated disaster. How wrong we were to doubt. 13 is an absolute belter of an album. The riffs are up there with some of the best that Iommi has ever written and the songs themsleves are pure, old school Sabbath. Ozzy and Geezer are both on top form, and new recruit on drums, Rage Against The Machine‘s Brad Wilk, does a sterling job. The album ends on a tolling bell in a storm, bringing the whole Black Sabbath legend full circle.

 

1. Battle Beast – Self Titled

Imagine all of the best elements from classic heavy metal, NWOBHM and power metal all blended together into one stupendous genre, then add a female singer with one of the most powerful voices you’ve ever heard. Finish with an absolutely stunning production job; which leaves the product sounding raw, fresh and gigantic all at the same time. Well done, you’ve just imagined your new favourite band. And guess what? They released an album this year! Yes, traditionally, the second album is the one that band dread most and can often be the breaking point for many an aspiring act. Finland’s Battle Beast though, have grabbed the opportunity, saddled it, and ridden it into glorious victory. Their roots are planted firmly in the classic metal sound, with hints of influence from the likes of Judas Priest, Dio and Manowar creeping in. Crucially though, these are most definitely only influences, as Battle Beast put enough of their own spin on things to make a sound that is completely their own. Every single track is absolute gold and as a result it’s impossible to choose a stand-out song. This is why Battle Beast sits firmly at the top as my album of the year. Let us know your own in the comments box below!

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Words – Alex Loach

Photography – Jane Driver Photography

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The River 68’s – Not quite right

To say that tonight’s opening act, The River 68’s (5), are a bit out of place on the bill would be a bit like saying that a helicopter is a bit out of place in a refrigerator. It’s a fucking stupid idea and it just doesn’t work. Try as they might, their acoustic bluesy songs are completely lost on an audience who, in reality, just came to rock out and have a good time. It’s a bit of a shame, as some of the vocal work by their frontman is impressive – reminicant of a young Robert Plant at times. There’s noting at all intrinsicly wrong with the duo, but realistically it’s just all a bit downbeat and bland for a Friday night.

Lost Alone - Just plain lost.

Lost Alone – Just plain lost.

Doing nothing to increase the quality on offer are Derby trio Lostalone (3) who’s, at best irritating, at worst god-awful, blend of pop punk and emo rock ‘entertains’ the now packed room. Seriously, if you’re 12 and your favourite band is Green Day, you’ll probably adore them. A few songs in, their frontman decides it’s a good idea to jump in to the first row of the crowd, a brilliant stage move, if the crowd are into it; if not it leads to awkward looks and people trying to edge away. The latter, inevitably being the case in this scenario. A couple of their songs are catchy enough to insight the odd clap-along amongst the younger attendees, but they won’t have made any new fans amongst the rock fraternity attending tonight.

The phrase “Fall from grace” could have been coined for tonight’s headline act. From a multi-platinum debut album and legendary appearances at Glastonbury, to a poorly received follow up, to a well documented cocaine addiction, and inter-member feuds causing the band to disappear into near obscurity in only a few short years. That being said; the phrase “Rise from the ashes” also applies. The Darkness (8) announced their return to the world of music in 2011, and since then have been striving to re-build and re-create the magic of THAT debut. 2012’s Hot Cakes was heralded as something of a return to form for the four piece, and with all original members back in the fold, high profile slots at Download Festival (amongst others) saw them explode back onto the scene in a cloud of glitter and spandex. Tonight’s show is all about celebrating that rise and fall and as the band take to the stage accompanied by a blinding white light, the crowd lose their collective shit. The first half of the set comprises of some of the more well known songs from albums two and three (despite One Way Ticket… being a bit of an underwhelming record, there are a few gems on there). ‘Is It Just Me’ and ‘One Way Ticket’ are the best recived of these – New song ‘The Horn’ less so…

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Justin Hawkins takes flight…

Following the airing of a few rarely heard numbers and a fantastically timed shout of “I can see your genitals!” from one audience member (comedy gold) during a dramatic song climax, The Darkness leave the stage in preparation for the main event. A drawn out (perhaps over-long) introduction sees each member return to the stage individually accompanied by a documentary style voiceover noting the many accolades lavished upon the album which the band are about to play in it’s entirity. The first few bars of ‘Black Shuck’ ring out – yes, it’s time for Permission To Land in full! And it’s as though the last decade never happened. Of course everyone knows the words to ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ but it seems as though every audience member knows ever word of every song on this occasion, as they frequently drown out the cat-like shrieks of Justin Hawkins. There are the obligatory lighters in the air during album closer and innuendo strewn ballad ‘Holding My Own’ (a health and safety no-no apparently, as security attempt to put a stop to this).  As the crowd decends into rapturous applause, the band exit only to return for a festive encore – it’s that Christmas song! You know the one. Suitably attired in gaudy jumpers and bobble hats The Darkness finish this show in suitably ridiculous fashion, they even bring a christmas tree on stage with them! How many bands do you get that kind of a show with?  If you’re one of those people who questions the credentials of this particular act or brings up that whole “Are they even serious?” debate. You’ve missed the point of this band completely. It’s all about having a good time. And that’s pretty goddamn rock ‘n’ roll right?

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Dan Hawkins – Classic Rock pose master!

 

Words – Mark Sworder

Seated up in the gods of the former Boscombe Grand Theatre, the anticipation amongst the quickly forming crowd was clear. With this being an acoustic gig by a somewhat unique band, many were perhaps unsure of whether or not there would be a support act. But then a Sasquatch bounded onto the stage, picked up a guitar, began kicking the bass drum, and promptly burst into ‘Black Betty’ by Ram Jam! Why anyone ever expected anything different I don’t know!

Sasquatch (Michael Joe Bray) roared through a 20 minute set of big bluesy songs with just guitar, vocals and bass drum, enlivening the already eager crowd. A brief drum solo also provided further entertainment, before Sasquatch left the stage to cheers a plenty.

When Hollywood Jack and the Rage Kage, otherwise known as Tenacious D, finally took to the stage, they burst straight into Kickapoo. I have to say, for a venue that only holds 1,800 people, the volume of the crowd was evident right from the offset, making for a fantastic atmosphere. It was nigh on impossible not to have a smile on your face as the set progressed through ‘Classico’ and ‘Baby’, both from 2006’s ‘The Pick of Destiny’, before Kyle inevitably quit the band, leading to Jack’s outburst of ‘Kage come here I want you!”. Replicating some of these comedic moments from the albums could easily come off as overtly cheesy and unfunny, but that was not at all the case – it just added to the spectacle!

‘Dude (I Totally Miss You)’ and ‘Kyle Quit the Band’ then signified the reunion, and the set continued apace, with plenty of material off of last year’s ‘Rize of the Fenix’ , and a Led Zeppelin cover for good measure. While the nature of an acoustic show meant that some songs that many would have liked to hear couldn’t be played, those that were in no way suffered from lacking a full band – a testament to the talent of both members. As the set drew to a close, with an encore of’ Wonderboy’ and everybody’s favourite romance based acoustic guitar song, the crowd were as loud as ever, and mass sing-songs then ensued as everyone filed out of the venue – surely the sign of a thoroughly fantastic show!

Basically, see this duo live! They’re utterly fantastic, and clearly know it, judging by the somewhat comical bows after each and every song! Catch them while you can!

Words: Alex Loach

Photographs: Jane Driver Photography

The Treatment - Just what the Doctor ordered.

The Treatment – Just what the Doctor ordered.

Kicking off tonight’s proceedings are young British sleaze revivalists The Treatment (8). As a consequence of starting their set only 15 minutes after the doors open, their high energy rock ‘n roll takes a few songs to really make an impact. Fortunately the room fills up quickly and the early-comers are treated to a masterclass in how to take an out-dated genre and make it sound fresh and relevant again. It comes as no real surprise given their recent journey accross the States as support on the Kiss and Crüe tour, that they have the stage presence to pull it off, just enough swagger to make it convincing, but not so much that it becomes parody. A solid start and things are just warming up.

London’s own Orange Goblin (9) Are back on English soil after the biggest year of their musical journey so far, and they look fucking thrilled to bits. Man mountain-come-lead singer, Ben Ward can’t seem to keep a gigantic grin from spreading accross his face each time he looks accross the capacity filled room. Their winning combination of heavy as fuck riffs, coupled with psychadelic space rock solos is perfect mosh-pit material, and inevitably it’s not long until the centre of the room becomes a frenzy of flailing limbs and wild head-banging. They close on the gargantuan ‘Red Tide Rising’ taken from last year’s critically acclaimed Eulogy For The Damned album. A triumphant return to their home-land if ever there was one.

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Orange Goblin – Larger than life.

There are some bands, and they are few and far between, who can always be relied upon to put in a top class performance, no matter what the circumstances. One such band, luckily for those in attendance tonight, are Airbourne (10) who explode onto the stage in a cloud of beer and testosterone (and a rather liberal amount of dry-ice smoke) launching straight into the lead track; ‘Ready To Rock’ from their latest album Black Dog Barking. The incessantly shirtless Joel O’Keeffe has the kind of manic energy usually reserved for a child having eaten one too many blue Smarties. Very few frontmen cover as much of the stage as he seems to tonight, not an easy task considering he also holds lead guitar duties. The set-list is mainly made up of songs from their explosive debut album Runnin’ Wild with a smattering from their latest and a couple of token tracks from arguably their weakest record No Guts, No Glory. In reality it makes little difference as the devoted crowd sing every word from every song back at O’Keeffe with gusto, to which he replies by climbing the nearest amp stack and smashing some beer cans over his head. If you’re planning on seeing Airbourne any time soon (and if not, what’s wrong with you?) be warned, the first few rows WILL get wet! Of course the detractors will always say “They just sound like AC/DC”, and maybe there’s a hint of truth in that, but it’s not something that the band shy away from. They even throw in a few cheeky bars of Whole lotta Rosie during their encore tonight. Really if there’s any band to base your sound on, there can’t be any better choice than the biggest Rock ‘n’ Roll band in the world can there? It’s certainly not doing Airbourne any harm having sold out tonight and moving on to headline Hard Rock Hell in a couple of days. They continue along the path to rock greatness, leaving no stack of amps unclimbed and a trail of destruction in their wake.

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Does Joel O’Keeffe even own a shirt??

Words: Alex Loach

Photos: Jane Driver Photography

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Dendera: Face melting!

Any regular attendee of metal gigs in and around Southampton will already be well aware of tonight’s opening act. Dendera (8) power through a short but effective set with a renewed energy following their recent UK tour supporting Gloryhammer. Their classic metal inspired riffery is the perfect warm up, and it’s obvious to see that their devoted fanbase is rapidly increasing – several of the front row can be seen belting out the words, their chests emblazoned with the band’s logo. It’s also worthy of note that their stint on the road seems to have upped Dendera’s level of showmanship consideraby, all while not missing a note. With fans already demanding their appearance at Bloodstock festival, expect 2014 to bring big things for the Hampshire based metallers.

Santa Cruz: More glam than you could shake a glittery stick at.

Santa Cruz: More glam than you could shake a glittery stick at.

Main tour support comes in the form of Finland’s own 80’s hair metal revivalists Santa Cruz (7). First thing’s first, they’re certainly not the most original of prospects; glam has been done to death now surely? But (and this is a big but) they are a hell of a lot of fun. Channeling the spirit of classic Guns ‘n’ Roses combined with Motley Crue in their prime, the four piece hit the nail on the head. Enough hairspray to solidify a Wookie; songs about women and partying and jumping. Lots of jumping. An obvious choice for a support band, their songs are catchy and it’s easy enough to shout along to the choruses having only heard them for the first time. Predictably, the front rows lap it up and clap along willingly when prompted by charismatic frontman: “Archie”, who effortlessly owns the stage , striding around with the kind of swagger that the genre demands. No new ground broken here, but Santa Cruz are fantastic at what they do and their fun-factor cannot be argued with.

It’s been a hell of a ride for Canada’s Kobra and the Lotus (8) since their formation in 2009. Having released their debut album and being signed to a certain Mr Gene Simmons’s record label in the relatively short space of four years, the band have gone on to play at several festivals including a brilliant Main Stage slot at 2011’s Bloodstock Festival. It hasn’t all been plain sailing though, they’ve had their fair share of line-up changes to contend with – their Wikipedia page already boasts a roster of six ex-members. This however, seems of little to no consequence as the band take to the stage tonight. Led by their dazzling frontwoman, Kobra Paige – KATL launch in to their opening track “Nayana”, sending the first couple of rows into a fit of frenzied headbanging.  Paige commands the audience superbly and is living proof that women can kick ass in metal bands too. Certainly there is more Doro Pesch than Amy Lee about her, a good thing in any classic metal fan’s eyes. Their 12 song set (13 if you include the drum solo) includes a sneak preview of the next album, with the delightfully Judas Priest-esque “War Horse” actually proving to be one of the highlights. The evening ends on the soaring “Welcome to My Funeral” during which, Kobra dons a funeral director’s hat –  an odd touch it has to be said, but all’s fair in Rock and Metal, or something. Ignore this band at your peril, if they can maintain a stable line-up you’ll be seeing much more of them in years to come.

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Kobra and the Lotus: A shining beacon of hope for female fronted metal.

Words: Alex Loach

Photos: Jane Driver Photography

Baby Godzilla - Up close and personal.

Baby Godzilla – Up close and personal.

Ok, everyone knows the deal with opening bands by now. They turn up, play their half hour set to ten people, fuck off again and, if they’re lucky, might gain a couple of Facebook “likes”. Having said that, however, most bands are not Baby Godzilla (8) who seem to think they’re headlining tonight. To call them enthusiastic would be a bit like saying that Dave Mustaine was a bit miffed with Metallica. Their rampant energy can only be confined to the stage for the sum total of about three minutes, after which only the drummer and bassist remain, the other two members having taken to the crowd to flail their guitars around wildly (much to the apparent discomfort of some audience members). Musically they don’t break any new ground, their standard mixture of hardcore punk and deathcore is listenable enough but they way they deliver it is exceptional. The use of crowd members as living mic stands is particularly inspired. Such is the intensity of their performance, by the end of their set one of their guitar players seems to have misplaced most of his finger skin and calmly proceeds to shower his instrument and other people in blood. How fucking metal is that?

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Hawk Eyes

By comparison the muddy riffage of Hawk Eyes (6), whilst by no means inferior, just doesn’t pack enough of a punch to keep people interested. Which is actually a shame because in terms of pure musicality they are head and shoulders above the openers. Where they fall down is their stage presence (or lack thereof). It might be considered “cool” at the moment to keep crowd interaction to a minimum but it’s certainly not the best way to pick up new fans whilst supporting a band with as fierce a reputation as tonight’s headliners.  Even so, those who do stick around are treated to a fine selection of desert rock-lite tunes and, as stated previously, there’s certianly nothing negative to be said about the chops of the musicians onstage.

FUCK YOU BLACK SPIDERS!

FUCK YOU BLACK SPIDERS!

Now. The small matter of tonight’s star attraction. And no it’s not fecking Bowling For Soup (who are playing one of their farewell shows all of 100 metres away – good riddance). When it comes to Black Spiders (10) all kinds of superlatives have been thrown around regarding the quality of their live performances, and for once it’s not all just industry hype. Put quite simply, the Spiders are in the top 2 British live bands at the moment, the only other act providing any real challenge being a certain welsh reggae metal outfit. Today is no exception to this, the Sheffield mob are firing on all beer powered cylinders. Midway through second song “Stay Down” proceedings are halted for a rendition of the band’s trademark “FUCK YOU BLACK SPIDERS” chant, following which the frenzied audience, packed into this dingy little sweatbox, belt out every last word and jump along to every chorus in unison.  It’s a genuine mystery that a band of this quality is still playing venues of this size, the anthemic “KISS Tried To Kill Me” and new single “Balls” (It’s a fucking cracker, if you haven’t got it yet, do it) sound every bit as stadium worthy as the best work of the classic heavyweights that influenced them. Despite  several high profile support slots and appearances at festivals such as Download, Black Spiders have remained something of an underground sensation, possibly owed, in part, to their determination to do things their way and not conform to any of the current trends. This is made blindingly obvious by certain members’ rather bizzare attire – Drumming wildman Tiger Si sports a rather fetching pair of denim hot-pants coupled with a bullet belt (of course) and bass player “Fox” is the proud owner of one of the finest handlebar moustaches since The Village People. Black Spiders really do have it all, the tunes, the energy and the stage banter in enough quantity to go on to be real world-beaters. And as their final song “What Good’s A Rock Without A Roll” reaches it’s blistering conclusion there’s time for one more round of “FUCK YOU BLACK SPIDERS” before Britain’s biggest hope for the survival of real rock and roll leave the stage to adoring cheers.

Black Spiders - Rock 'n' Roll!

Black Spiders – Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Fox on Bass

Fox on Bass