Author Archive

h1

It’s been quiet!

April 20, 2011

Hi guys, Alex here.

As you can see it’s been a bit quiet here since the new year. We’ve all been rather busy you see, but I understand that some of you still want to read about the latest releases and all that jazz.

Which is why I’m writing a quick one to inform you that my personal blog and review site has been going for about a year now. You can find it at http://www.twaddlefish.wordpress.com if you would still like to read the kind of stuff we’ve made here and previously at HeadBang. We do count on your support for all this, so please subscribe!

Thanks for reading guys,

Alex/T-Fish

Advertisements
h1

Gwar – The Bloody Pit Of Horror

November 22, 2010

As you can probably see, I’ve been on a bit of melodic stint lately. Roughly since…2001, so I thought it’s about high time we shook things up a bit with everyone’s favourite B-movie extras Gwar, and their new record. Catching these guy at Bloodstock was…enlightening, certainly with thoughts of “Is that…yes, yes that’s Hitler and he’s…he’s ejaculating green into the crowd. Well, the members of the yacht club won’t stand for that!”

While a large part of Gwar’s live show is the shock factor of the stage antics, and the admittedly great costumes and personas, it’s significantly harder to put that across on record. The album begins with the four part title track, a violent fusion of thrash, early hardcore and all the low budget horror violence a man could wish for. Therein is the essence of Gwar, there are no giant memorable riffs that pull a song out from the rest, but the throaty shouts of songs like Tick-Tits and the question “What could be better than ticks on your tits?”.  I’ll give it to them, Gwar a very crude, but very funny band. Without lying on the outright clinical horror of death metal, although Litany Of The Slain might just be the one semi-serious song on the album.

While I wouldn’t exactly call Gwar a singalong band, choruses that are shouts of “Tick-Tits!” and/or “Genocide!” are annoyingly infectious the extent you wonder if the band haven’t put them in just to piss you off. Regardless, the few moments of melodic hook are lost in a thrash maelstrom who’s main focus is often naught but unbridled malevolence toward the listener.

I have a feeling if you own a Gwar album, you pretty much own them all. Despite the juvenile bristling energy leaping off TBPoH, it’s true that Gwar have honed their sound to an art. If, the last time someone offered you a hug, you punched them in the dick, I’d certainly recommend it, you angry angry badger.

6ish/10.

Twaddlefish

h1

Michael Monroe – Another Night In The Sun/Live In Helsinki

November 12, 2010

Monroe has been fronting Hanoi Rocks since it’s inception, and has been the driving force behind their 2002 reunion with the killer 12 Shots On The Rocks.  ANITS is live from Helsinki and features Ginger from The Wildhearts on guitar and Sami Yaffa, a previous H-Rocker, on bass.

And if you do like Hanoi Rocks, you’ll be very happy, as a fair part of the set list is made up of their material. What you have on offer is a nice helping of sleazy glam rock from the early 1980s, with anthems like Back To Mystery City and Malibu Beach Nightmare. I really dislike reviewing live albums, because by and large you comment on the actual performance rather than the actual material, aside from setlist objections. The playing is perfectly good, Monroe sounds as good as he did back ten years ago, and the band sound exactly the kind of thing you’d go to a sweaty, dark shithole of a club to go and see.

ANITS oozes sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, all of which Monroe has had plenty of in his career. While his solo career will never achieve the dream of mega-stardom he’s always wanted, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a belter of hard rock band playing dirty blues like Dead, Jail or Rock N’ Roll.

6/10

Twaddlefish

h1

Doro Pesch! 25 Years of the Warlock

November 4, 2010

Not that I like to brag, but Doro Pesch called me this afternoon. I’d missed her at Bloodstock because my phone decided it had better things to do other than work. Nevertheless, here we are on a gloomy November afternoon to have a chat.

“We’ve been going 27 years and it’s the first time you’ve seen us?” asks Doro, as we get straight down to business and talk about the tour. I probably shouldn’t mention the fact that I was born in 1986. “We’ve just come back from Japan, we had an amazing time and it’s such a great place to go and visit. We’ll be about again around Christmas time with Motorhead in Europe, but not England sadly”

The 25th Anniversary show took place in December 2008, in Dusseldorf. The new DVD, 25 Years in Rock hits shelves at the end of the month which includes a three hour concert with guest appearances from someone of the many high-fliers Doro has worked with over the years; “There are so  many of my friends on there who made this night very special for me! I asked Klaus Meine (of Scorpions) if he could do it and he said he’d look in his schedule but I didn’t hear back so I assumed he couldn’t do it. But I was so happy when he said he could! There are so many other great people too, Tarja Turunen, Bobbi Blitz, Warrel Dane. We met him when we toured with Megadeth and Sanctuary in the US back in the 1980s”.

Admitting to having sixteen records over four decades, there is a wealth of material to draw on for live shows, including the experimental albums in the 90s, foraying into experimental and rockier territory. “When we only have a sixty minute festival show, it’s really hard to sometimes pick the ones you want to do, so we go for the really big songs like All We Are and Burning The Witches. We love playing these songs so much, even when we came to England in 1986 on the True As Steel tour and played Castle Donington, we never get tired of playing these songs. And the newer stuff is a lot heavier so we can play that. It’s what most fans want to hear, and we do it for them!” Mentioning the eighties, I bring up the jump of model career to being a metal queen. “That never happened! People keep saying this and it’s on the DVD cover I think too, but I was never a model. No, I started singing when I was three years old and I loved it! I eventually got into a band called Snakebite in 1980 and then I eventually joined Warlock and we got a deal with a Belgian record label to release Burning The Witches. It was very strange, there was no metal press in Germany really. The UK had Kerrang, but the only real thing in Germany was stuff that people were photocopying and handwriting, and it wasn’t until a few years later when in 1986 we suddenly had a succesful album. I was a graphic artist, and told my boss I was quitting and he said I was mad! But that year we went on tour with my favourite band, Judas Priest. It’s all I’ve ever want to do, since I was three!”

“When I first began singing in metal, there was already many women singing in rock and metal bands at the time. My absolute favourite was Jody Turner from Rock Goddess, if you remember them?” Well, I was born in 1986. “Haha, but yes they were great and many others, Lita Ford and Joan Jett. And these days there are many others doing different things like Tarja and Sabina Classen, so it wasn’t really that very different. And obviously Girlschool as well, they came and played at the 25 years show”. Interestingly, Motorhead, who are taking Doro on tour, were the only band that’d take Girlschool on tour, on account of others refusing because of the all-girl lineup. “I’m really looking forward to the tour, really sorry we’re not coming to England! I love the English fans so much and we were here last year with Saxon and we had so much fun. But no, after that we’re going to South America for a tour”.  Any news on a follow-up album? “Well, we’ve started thinking about it. We have a couple of ideas that are floating around and we know what we want…some really heavy songs, then some dark gothic ballads, like what we’ve done before.”

But as for current events, it’s no secret that First Lady of heavy metal is thrilled about her upcoming release. “It’s out November 26th and it has so many great things on. We played for three hours and then there’s a documentary and interviews with some of my great friends saying so many wonderful things. Have you seen it yet? No? Well, you should because it’s really great. I love the artwork as well, it’s by an Englishman who lives in France called [someone tell me his name, I didn’t catch it!] and he did this great artwork for the music. When we did the orchestral album we had a very simple black and white photo that was really suited to the music, but this new cover is just what the music needs!”

So, there we have it folks. Doro Pesch, the undisputed queen of metal is still going strong after nearly thirty years. Look at it this way, you can tour the world and make awesome albums, but a door to door salesman will still come and interrupt your interviews.

Twaddlefish

h1

Markus Grosskopf of Helloween

October 18, 2010

Markus has been playing bass with Helloween since 1984, and after twenty six years, their latest album Seven Sinners is just about to come out.

“I’ve been expecting you” says the bass player, almost like a cliched Bond villian. Nevertheless, he’s an amicable sort of chap who like all bass players, loves talking about playing bass. “Well, Edguy’s bass player’s wife was having a baby so they asked me to fill in just for the one show. I was there at Wacken just in case waiting, but I decided to come on and do a few songs anyway!”

Seven Sinners is released at the end of the month, but as we’ve not had a chat in a while, I thought it’d be best to ask about the previous best-of with a non-metal twist, Unarmed.  “The reviews were very mixed. Some thought it was good, a lot of people said it was crap because it wasn’t metal. But it was for us, it was a way to keep the songs fresh and it’s something that we wanted to do. We didn’t really do any of it live, a few acoustic shows here in Germany maybe. But the main focus was getting back onto what Helloween are, and making a metal album”

So, was it a conscious decision to take the sound to almost the other extreme? Seven Sinners is one of, if not the, heaviest album the band has ever produced. “Well, it was a very natural process. We all knew what we wanted to do and how Helloween should sound after all these years”. It’s good to see that there’s a decent spread of credits across the album, with Herr Grosskopf penning two numbers, including album highlight If A Mountain Could Talk. “Well, when I first started playing I couldn’t write a note. I was having fun drinking beer and going to all the parties and bars. I still have fun doing that, but I got interested in the theory of songwriting, so I started sitting down with my four track and just began writing”. As usual, there are nods and hints to older songs, Who Is Mr Madman? in particular; “That was Andi! It’s been 16 years or something since Perfect Gentleman so we thought we’d bring him back a bit. We feel we can do that with Helloween, we have these little bits and pieces like the pumpkin and the Keeper, so we can have fun with it and put it into our newer stuff as a reference”. And what of the flute solos? “That was crazy Weiki’s idea! He always wants to do something that’s a little bit strange, and we eventually found a guy who’d do it because we couldn’t get who we originally wanted. Again, it’s something that we like putting in just to make it a bit different. I’m not sure how we’ll do it live though!”

Well, if Helloween’s long-term bass player doesn’t make it easy for me to make this flow. Helloween hit the road at the end of November with Stratovarius tagging along for the ride. “I’m leaving Friday to start practicing with Dani [Loeble, drummer]. It’s a bit tricky as we all live away from each other. Two are in the south of Germany, I’m in the very north and two are in Spain. What happens is I practice with Dani and to get the bass and the drums right, and then bring in the others once we have our stuff done. It’s just easier that way, and better for me. When the guitarists get here they spend hours going over notes in songs to get right, and I can be there for ages not doing anything. When the basics are down, we bring it all together. We’re off at Christmas until the 10th January, and then we’re doing the second leg of the European tour. After that we’re off to South America, possibly North America, then Indonesia. Places like Malaysia, Singapore, Japan…and then possibly to Australia too. We’ll see!” Helloween are an internationally acclaimed band, but Markus admits he does prefer the European version of going on tour. “I like the bus. When you’re on you can sleep and go back to it after a show. We can go to a bar after a gig with all of the family and the crew and then the next day we can be stood on the stage in a different town. It’s a lot different when you’re on planes. Lots of waiting in airports for flights, for missed flights…it’s a bit more lively when long distance isn’t involved”.

What’s evident about Helloween is that they’ve made a remarkable comeback. From playing arenas in the 80s to being demoted to small clubs in the early 90s, an unfortunate combination of lineup changes, poorly received albums and metal taking a turn for the worse. “Yeah, it was difficult in the 90s because no one was playing anything like this, so we struggled. Everyone was saying metal was crap so we’re quite proud we came out the other side and now people are playing it again. It’s good because we’ve managed to come through it and still be here alongside all these new bands that are playing classic metal again”.

Ever to add the personal touch, we finish up with a quick bit about Markus’ own sideproject, the wonderfully titled Bass Invaders. “We just don’t have time! It’s getting everyone’s schedule to meet. It was great recording though, with Billy Sheehan, Tom from Sodom and Schmier from Destruction [among others]. The problem is that record companies aren’t willing to support a project like that at the moment. In fact, it took more time to schedule everybody together than it took to record!”

Good to see that get every bass player together, and they still can’t organise a record in a studio, as the old saying goes. With that, I left Markus to go and have another listen to his new album.Seven Sinners is out October 31st on Spinefarm Records.

Twaddlefish

h1

Symphorce – Unrestricted

October 18, 2010

I remember being somewhat ambivalent at Symphorces previous album, Become Death when it arrived through my letterbox sometime in 2007. I’m a Brainstorm fan, Anthony B. Franck bringing some much needed balls to power metal, so it always eluded me why another band that would, in essence, sound like Brainstorm was needed.

Well thankfully, Unrestricted isn’t a Brainstorm album under a different banner. While it is as unrelentingly heavy in places, it’s a much more varied affair, album opener The Eternal teasing us with a mournful piano intro before descending into some truly aggressive and catchy guitar work.Whatever Hurts follows similarly with jilted showground organs, but by this point it’s evident thatUnrestricted is nothing short of a fantastically written album with nigh on perfect execution.

Unlike previous releases, the keys do play a more prominent role, if only in intros and occasional background noise. The vast majority of the songs have slowed down to less than a breakneck pace  which have allowed for some far superior riffs, with Worlds Seem To Collide creating a groove that professional routers would be jealous of. The closer Do You Ever Wonder is by far the best thing on offer, a blend of serrated guitars and the menacing vocals of Mr Franck that nail the Symphorce sound of subtle melody with unrelenting aggression.

Unrestricted is a great album, full of catchy hooks driven by some titanic vocal pieces.  For once, I’m glad an album doesn’t try and blow my mind, but instead tries to beat it to death with a steel girder.

8/10

Twaddlefish

h1

Blind Guardian Live – Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 26/09/2010

October 17, 2010

There aren’t many things that’ll take me south of the Midlands. Short of beating back the French of our shores, I make all manner of excuses to avoid nodnoL. However, the German bards make their way over for only the fourth time in their twenty five year career, so having talked to Hansi in June and dropped a nut at the new album, I figured it was only polite to go and see them live. Again.

As had, it seems, half of the known world. The venue is absolutely jam packed, sold out. More worringly, it seems oversold, there’s so many people by the time the show begins. First up though, is Steelwing. Enforcer have unfortunately had to pull out, so Steelwing jump in headfirst and deliver an incredibly solid half hour or so of classic NWOBHM, complete with arm braces, leather waistcoats and dual guitar solos. They’re pretty decent if nothing else, but all through their set the air is thick with the anticipation of the main act.

Finally, the lights dim and the orchestration of Sacred Worlds greet us and the place goes berzerk. The band are on top form tonight, third show in on the tour, and welcome us to their show in the classic Guardian manner with Welcome To Dying, swiftly followed with Born In A Mourning Hall and Fly. Any fan of any era of the band will be satisfied tonight, the a set that encompasses all points in their career, from the masterpiece Nightfall In Middle Earth, which gets a good old going over through the evening with no less than three songs, including perennial set close Mirror Mirror. In between then and now, however, we get treated to the rare Traveler In Time and the expected singalong in Valhalla which no doubt wrecked many a neck that night, to the classic folk regimen of Lord Of The Rings (and two thousand people shouting “Mordor!” at a rather appropriate volume) and Hansi’s only break in the set, The Bard’s Song, having realised long ago it’s better just to let us get on with it. The band is backed up by some awesomely cheesy light screens that have all the mystical light stuff, but also some impressive hand drawn animations using the Imaginations… and At The Edge Of Time artwork.

 

Best we could get photo wise, was absolutely packed!

The encore is none the less packed with the unexpected, Punishment Divine making an appearance, as well as the barnstorming finale of At The Edge Of TimeWheel Of Time, before finishing us off for the evening with the monstrous Imaginations From The Other Side,  hands down the best rendition I have ever heard. This was a very special night, with the band being blown away by the audience reception, and bar a couple of personal opinions on which songs ‘should’ have been played, an absolutely faultless performance.