Onslaught @ O2 Academy 2 Sheffield, 18/7/2014

On a very pleasant Friday night in the middle of July, at the invitation of Mike Exley of MEPR, who look after Onslaught in the UK, I trekked down the M1 to the O2 Academy 2 in Sheffield to see a band I’ve somehow managed to miss at every single opportunity: the mighty Onslaught!

The Academy2 is nice, intimate club-sized venue, so is something of a sweatbox, especially on the kind of day we’d just had.

Unfortunately, I missed seeing last minute substitution opening act, Demonic Resurrection since I was sat outside in the evening sun having a chat with Sy Keeler.  From what I overheard when a portion of the audience came outside, the reaction to the quintet from Mumbai was very favourable.  Having spoken to one of the band members, we’ll see if we can sort out a Skype interview over the coming weeks.

Next up were one of the very first exponents of European Thrash: Denmark’s very own Artillery, on their first ever tour of the UK.  This was a band that Sy was excited about bringing over, and it was fairly easy to see why.  The Danes are exponents of Proper Heavy Metal – fast riffs and solos coupled with gymnastic vocals in a fairly similar manner to Spreading The Disease-era Anthrax.  Admittedly, they aren’t offering anything new or particularly spectacular, but they deliver a very enjoyable brand of Old School Thrash of the kind you really don’t hear anymore, with the older material blending very well with the newer stuff from their current .  Frontman Michael Bastholm Dahl’s enthusiasm was hugely infectious and his charm coupled with the tightness of the band in general, as you’d expect from a Scandinavian outfit, won them some friends on the night.

Dad... can you play bass in my band, please?

Dad… can you play bass in my band, please?

Then came the main event: Bristol’s very own Onslaught.

Sy Keeler

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Nige Rockett

This is most assuredly a band whose name fits them perfectly.  From the very first note played by the quintet, it’s obvious they mean business.  Onslaught have been doing this in it’s current form since 2004 (when they reformed), and thanks to the crystal clear sound quality delivered by The Academy’s rig and the sheer proficiency of the band, they delivered a crushing performance.

The combination of Nige Rockett’s punk-fuelled Thrash riffing and soloing, working together with new boy Leigh Chambers, Sy Keeler’s snarling delivery and the sheer power thundering out of the rhythm section of Mick Hourihan (drums) and Jeff Williams (bass) mean calling them Onslaught really could be classed as a textbook case of nominative determinism.

The classics, such as In Search Of Sanity (“…one I wasn’t on!” said Sy as he introduced the song), Onslaught (Power From Hell) and Let There Be Death were there as you’d expect, as well as a sprinkling from post-reformation albums like Sounds Of Violence and newie, VI.  The musical box tinkling followed by brutal battering of 66Fucking6 generated the night’s first moshpit.  The musical highlights came thick and fast.  They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but the Eastern influence on Children Of The Sand put the lie to that, showing that this band really are at their best when pushing the outside of the envelope.  Onslaught ain’t your Dad’s Thrash band, despite Sy (at least) being the Dad of a teenager!

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Jeff Walker and Sy Keeler

On the evidence of this show, long may it continue.

SONISPHERE FINAL ROUND UP – Cat A

1) Posessions Lost?

Do the tents count? I nearly lost my Headcharge hat again, but I went back for it!

2) Injuries?

Just a couple of bruises it seems, and I found some muscles I forgot I had, stupid hills!

3) Best Food/Vendor?

The Motley Brew. I love those guys so much, I am a tea addict.

4) Most Perfect Moment

Seeing Suzi’s face when she finally got to see Iron Maiden!

5) Worst Moment

It’s a toss up between when the press area ran out of Monster, and the horrendously disappointing sausage sarnie on Sunday morning. If I’m fed and caffeinated I’m happy…

6) Best unexpected band find?

Bleed From Within

7) Set you wish you’d missed?

Deftones

8) Set you wished you hadn’t missed?

Black Dogs

8) Credits-

My wonderful NotEvil Twinnie Suzi H, Mr Carl – the Wyrd Ways almighty overlord, the Noise Cartel for being brilliant all weekend, the bands I spoke to and their PRs and not to mention the Motley Brew for the amazing cups of tea!

 

SONISPHERE – DAY 3: SUNDAY (aka Metallica Day)

Cat: Sunday dawned to many a bangover and a sense of anticipation for some brilliant bands for the final day of Sonisphere 2014. Unfortunately for the Terror Twins, their list of ‘who to see today’ started at 11:30. In the morning. After a disappointing search for a sausage butty it was over to the Satellite Stage for an up and coming band that we were Very Excited About – The One Hundred. I’ll let Suzi take you through their set, but I will just say “omg wow!”

Suzi: I have rather liked The One Hundred since I listened to some promo or other and went ‘holy Ronnie James Dio this is EXCELLENT’. I’d lucked out and seen them in Oxford the weekend before Sonisphere when they were supporting my friends Salvage, but the chance to see their big UK festival debut was one I wasn’t going to miss. And friends don’t let friends miss out on great new music so I had to share them with Cat even if they were playing at an ungodly hour in the morning. At the start of their set there were maybe 40 people in the tent. By the end of the set the One Hundred had growled, hip-hopped, jumped, synthed and howled their way to a reasonably full Satellite Stage tent and they demonstrated exactly why I (amongst many others) am just so excited about them. Definitely worth getting up early for.

Next up on our radar was Devin Townsend Project. Devin is one of the few artists I’ll actually go a bit googly eyed for – I don’t think he’s produced a single musical project I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed and from the moment my mate Damon played me Strapping Young Lad almost a decade ago to the first time I listened to Casualties of Cool he’d always hit the mark. Plus he’s the funniest human I’ve ever interviewed so his set was one I rushed right down the front for!

The set didn’t disappoint – from his humorous introduction to the final note the set was by far one of the most sublime musical experiences I’ve ever had. Devin Townsend doesn’t just stand and play music at you, he engages the audience and riffs with them, and, takes the piss out of the sometimes too serious stagecraft of others (‘I know at this point I should be asking you to give me some kind of circle pit… but for all our sakes just please don’t do it. Let’s just remain calm shall we?’). It was a phenomenal addition to an already excellent Sunday and I will be making sure I can see his Ziltoid show at the Royal Albert Hall next year……..

C: Devin Townsend is someone I had been meaning to listen to for a long time but with one thing and another he slipped under my radar. How much of an idiot am I? I loved it! The man has an amazing stage presence and charisma and had everyone eating out of his hands. Plus he’s hilarious.

Then we had to go and do some work, so we heard Karnivool from very afar, and I can’t comment other than they sounded on top form, and I was quite jealous of everyone who could watch them but in all honesty, for us, Sunday was all about Alice in Chains. We had finally done our sensible press things and got to watch bands with some mates.

S:  Alice in Chains. 90’s grunge at it’s finest and again one of those bands I’ve been listening to for donkey’s years and always wanted to see live – a chance I never thought I’d get what with the sad death of Layne Staley and the inactive years. Anyway, this was my chance to see if William DuVall can fill those very big shoes and the answer is, yes, yes he can, 100 times over.

By this point it had got so hot I’d abandoned my customary black clothing for an actual honest to goodness dress. It’s brightly coloured and everything Cat you can put the picture in here but grooving away in the sunshine with only the lightest fluffy clouds in the sky it was… appropriate somehow. Alice in Chains took the festival from being excellent to being utterly transcendental. They had far to short a set in my opinion.

hippy dress

Suzi H – being a girl in a dress that isn’t black!

C: Not feeling particularly enamoured with staying staring at the empty stage, nor watching Dream Theater, so the only other thing for it was Raging Speedhorn on the Jagermeister Stage . They reformed for a tour to “see if they could get along” and there were a fair few old fans in the tent for a set comprised of material from their first two albums. They had sure regained some energy from when I spoke to them the day before, and hurtled across the stage like they had never really been away and their fans responded with the pits when they were asked to.

There is always something bittersweet for me about the final headliner of a festival weekend, even if that headliner happens to be Metallica. The final headliner means that it’s nearly time to go home, and if the set isn’t so great then it kind of puts a dampener on the atmosphere. The By Request nature of their set meant that the most important decision of exactly which songs to play from a massive back catalogue was largely taken away from them, and ensured that we heard all the favourites.

S: Back years ago, my ex-husband and I formed a relationship based on a mutual love of four things – Bikes, Beer, Maiden and Metallica. Iron Maiden on Saturday had set the bar really high for what a headliner at Sonisphere should be doing and I have happy memories of evenings spent watching my ex’s bootlegged videos of Monsters of Rock or whatever it was where Metallica were headlining and being absolutely desperate to see them.  Sonisphere was the culmination of 13 years of wistfully hoping my moment to see them would come.

Sadly, much like my first marriage Metallica were a complete let down. I know Team Rock have raved about their set, I know my very good friend Bernie was howling with pure unadulterated joy but I was disappointed. Where was the energy? Where was the rage?  Where was the pioneering Thrash band who’d excited my youth?  Wherever they were they weren’t playing at Sonisphere on Sunday night.  There were brief flashes – when they played The Unforgiven was the point I was excited but it quickly abated and then flared again when Nothing Else Matters and Enter Sandman was played.  Aside from that this was a set played by an old band who couldn’t hope to recapture the energy they had once brought.  I know there are many people who would disagree but for me the set was a timely reminder that sometimes, nostalgia should just be left as it is – a rose-tinted look back on the past.

The Terror Twins - a little bit broken but happy!

The Terror Twins – a little bit broken but happy!

Sonisphere UK 2014 – Day 2: Saturday (aka Maiden Day)

Cat: Day two of Sonisphere began with a downpour, the occasional blast of baking hot sunshine to lure you into taking your hoodie off before some more rain, and the Terror Twins being painfully reminded that it is not the year 2002 again, and ageing happens.  Still, a few cups of tea and a rather tasty bacon sarnie and it was time for another busy day!

I was stuck interviewing, so I’ll hand you over to the NotEvil Terror Twin for her thoughts on the day.

Suzi: Day two of my very first festival started off with me getting up FAR TOO EARLY and in a burst of enthusiasm I was up, showered(!) dressed and sitting in The Motley Brew with a cup of tea before half 8…

This, as it turns out, was much more enthusiastic than I should have been, but the nice chaps at TMB kept me in tea until my Evil Twin emerged a few hours later.  Saturday is the day we had most of our interviews booked, so after tromping into the press area and doing some work-type things, I wandered off to go and check out an up-and-coming band from New Zealand.

Rival State had nabbed us as we were wandering around aimlessly exploring the merch market and reviewing the site on Friday night and promised us a proper show at an ungodly hour of Saturday morning.  So because I promised them I would, I toodled off to the Satellite Stage and promptly had my socks blown off and the last bit of sleep well and truly blasted from my eyes. Rival State play very hard and you can expect to  hear them in a Shock of The New feature soon.

After that I went and did a bit more work and then it was time for Babymetal and Ghost.

I like novelty bands – probably far more than I should –  Babymetal are as novelty as it gets though and whilst it isn’t fair to call Ghost a novelty band they certainly are… unusual.

I was interested to see how Babymetal went down, but sadly because of schedule conflicts I didn’t catch their whole set.  However when I got there, there was a circle pit in progress and the the teeny (they are SO SMALL) J-pop Metallers put on a good show and brought some amusement to Lunchtime.

Ghost followed Babymetal on the main stage and they bring a good show and  are properly creepy.  They were certainly creepy enough to pull a decent crowd on Saturday lunch time in the main arena and I bopped along  quite  happily for their whole set.  I’m not sure they’re Metal because they are so – well – weird and unique but they are well worth a watch and I’d certainly add them to a “bands worth seeing live” list.

After Ghost there was more work scheduled, which included the funniest and most incoherent interview I’ve ever conducted. No, readers, I was not intoxicated, I was just meeting with Devin Townsend.  Listen out for the interview on the show in the future because it was possibly the most surreal 10 minutes of my entire life.

I did manage to finish up interviewing (thank you legendary punk band who re-scheduled) which meant I could go and see that troubadour of punk – the mighty Frank Turner. I might have had a little cry watching his set, when he played Long Live The Queen.  He had the crowd dancing and singing and frankly I think it’s a crying shame he was on so early and had such a short time slot. He should have been swapped with The Deftones. More on that later though.

C: Now while Suzi was having all that fun, I was locked away in the press barn with a big list of people to speak to, a lot of whom were still suffering from the past couple of days.  Keep an ear out on the show to hear them.

It was at 4:30 that I managed to escape, and I couldn’t resist going to see the incredibly funny Andrew O’Neill, and in the process I caught the end of a very politically incorrect yet utterly hilarious comedy act called The Noise Next Door who do a strange type of improv and sing songs that had me nearly crying with laughter.  Andrew O’Neill I had seen before, and he’s someone that you would remember – a long haired Metalhead transvestite who has a direct route to my funnybone, so it was a perfect way to ease myself in to the more relaxed part of the day. He has a show called The History of Heavy Metal, and I’m hoping to get to see it at some point.

The Deftones were someone I was quite looking forward to seeing as some of their songs have been part of my life soundtrack for a while, and every time I’ve attempted to watch their set at a festival before fate has conspired against me and I’ve missed them.  I quite wish I’d missed this one too.  I want to say that I enjoyed their set, and people I’ve spoken to have told me that they loved it, but for me they were just not on form, and when a band who rely on so many precise, off-beat rhythms are missing timing it really shows up.  We gave it three songs and then wandered off.

S: I had also looked forward to seeing The Deftones. They were an unmitigated disappointment.

C:I had promised Bleed From Within that I would see their set – so naturally I was there at the front.  They’re certainly one to watch, and having a lineup clash with Deftones and the period where people were finding their spot for Slayer was unfortunate because otherwise I think that they would have pulled far greater numbers.  Still, there were a decent number in the Jager tent to enjoy some ear-bleedingly heavy tunes from the Glasgow Metallers.  They are certainly one to watch; they’re angry and they want you to know it!  That’s not all there is to them though.  Beneath the rage there are well composed harmonies and tight as hell playing combined with Scott Kennedy leaping around on stage like a man possessed – well they’re a bit good!

SLAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEERRRRRRR!!!! \m/ *ahem* sorry, Slayer were, well, Slayer. They’re not very talkative but they make up for it by thrashing so hard I’m surprised no-one’s head came off their shoulders.  I’ve seen them before, and this was one of the best sets I’ve seen them do and while I wasn’t down in the circle pits of doom, I happily headbanged along to most of their set as they screamed through the likes of Disciple, War Ensemble, South of Heaven and Angel of Death.

S: Finally, finally the moment I had been waiting for was here.  Back in 2000 I discovered Heavy Metal when I (for a giggle) borrowed my housemate’s copy of Best of the Beast and played it to see what all the fuss was about.  I fell in love with Iron Maiden, and that album sparked me sidling into the local Metal pub and then discovering well, METAL! I saw Maiden in 2005 when they played Reading – I had a day ticket just to see them, and I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to see them again.

Watching them close out the three year long Maiden England tour at Knebworth will honest-to-gods go down as one of the best experiences of my entire life.  From the first note of Moonchild to the last note of Sanctuary, Maiden did not put a note wrong. They ran about the stage with a level of energy and abandon that bands half their age fail to manage and you wouldn’t have guessed at any point that two of the bands playing the Satellite Stage this weekend had members who are Maiden’s children.

There were three Eddies, there were multiple costume changes for Bruce, there was Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, there was pyrotechnics and through it all Iron Maiden demonstrated once again that they, above all others, are the undisputed kings of NWOBHM. They closed the show with Bruce promising us something new.  We may never see Seventh Son of a Seventh Son  live again but we might just see a new album!

C: Now I’m going to be a bit weird, and admit here that I am not a huge Maiden fan.  I don’t know all their songs, but wow those guys showed just exactly why they’re one of the biggest bands on the planet ever.  Yeah.  More please. 

S: It’s almost anti-climactic to say that after I’d screamed myself hoarse we went and saw Sisters of Mercy who created an appropriately eldritch atmosphere.  We enjoyed their set most thoroughly and then rounded out the night in the Jaegermeister stage for the Silent Disco.  The Silent Disco did allow us to answer the question – ‘what happens when you put a few thousand Metallers in a large tent and play the Backstreet Boys at them?  Specifically Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).  The answer is they all sing along and jump up and down.

After all that fun, we went to bed.

To prepare for METALLICA DAY.

SONISPHERE UK 2014 – Day 1: Friday

Suzi: For the uninitiated, Sonisphere is a music festival that in terms of heavy sits somewhere between Download (at the young, emo/indie/alt end of rock) and Bloodstock (loud, heavy, circle pits, LOTS of new and unsigned bands).

For the Terror Twins, Sonisphere is my first ever festival (we’re not counting the one time I had a day ticket to Reading), so what you’re getting here is a newbie festival go-er’s experience!

Cat: Hi there guys it’s Cat A here, who is far from the festival virgin. This is my second Sonisphere, having been here in 2010.

Anyway, we rolled up on Friday and due to some unfortunate tent related disasters I managed to hear but not see both Anti-Flag and Gary Numan’s sets. From the campsite behind the main stage both sets sounded pretty damn good – so for those of you who are going to Alt-Fest do try to make sure you don’t miss Gary there!

C: I managed to miss pretty much everyone that I wanted to see, including Brutality Will Prevail, Devil You Know and CarnifexThis upset me quite a lot, but once we were sorted and a cup of tea was acquired the world righted itself again for the rest of the evening. 

S: After much to-ing and fro-ing (do you have any idea how far it is from main camping to the guest camping area? My legs hurt! – Cat) we eventually managed to lay our hands on two not-broken tents and so with our accommodation sorted we then ventured into the main area of the festival to see what was what.

I’m really impressed with the layout of Sonisphere – there’s A LOT here.  The merch market is huge but is laid out in a really open format so it’s not crowded.  I’ve always been led to believe that there are two dreadful things about festivals – the food and the loos!  This is not the case with Soni – from fruit salad to noodles to Ostrich burgers there is a stall for everything and every taste.  Of course it’s all a bit on the pricey side, as is the beer, but it’s not completely outrageous.

The loos were also a surprise in that they aren’t totally disgusting and were clearly cleaned and re-stocked overnight!  Also, there are showers.  I approve of this.

Enough waffling about the layout and the loos anyway – onto the important bit – THE MUSIC!  Friday night was kicking off in a rather non-metal sort of way with HIM, Limp Bizkit and The Prodigy leading the charge on the main stage.

I rather like both HIM and Limp Bizkit.  Because of interview schedules I only managed to catch about ten minutes of HIMs set and I have to say I wasn’t massively impressed – however I’m not going to slate them because I don’t think it’s fair to judge a band on a tiny sliver of their set.

Limp Bizkit however were not even a little bit limp – Fred & co took to the stage and absolutely killed it. With crowd pleasing favourites including Nookie, Break Shit, Rollin’ and an absolutely brilliant cover of Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name. Given that Limp Bizkit are one of the bands that were the soundtrack to being 17, it was a pleasure to see them live at long last and for one glorious hour I was 17 again!

C: I’ve seen Limp Bizkit before and I have to say that this time was an improvement on the last, and they were damn good then! It was one of those moments that make me a happy little nu-metal mosher again even though I am not a huge fan of theirs I thoroughly enjoyed myself!

S: The Prodigy were the first headliner of the festival and whilst they are not my normal cup of tea they were brilliant and very well received and I was surprised by just how many songs of theirs I knew.  The main arena basically turned into a giant strobe lit rave and I don’t think anyone stood still from start to finish.

The night didn’t end when the main stage closed though – we sauntered over to the Bohemia tent and spent a very pleasant hour or so listening to 65daysofstatic play instrumental ambient metal. It was brilliant!  I thoroughly recommend checking them out.

To finish off the night we went and joined the silent disco in the Jägermeister tent.  This is a bizarre experience in which you have a set of wireless headphones with two channels and thus can disco away without breaking noise restrictions!  It’s not actually silent of course, because everyone is singing away (mostly in tune) at the top of their voices.  It’s a good fun way to close the night though, and a genius idea and we will definitely be going again on Saturday!!

I’ll be back tomorrow with a round up of all of the fun from Saturday!

Skeletor : Salvage and friends, Oxford O2 Academy, 28th June 2014

Take any genre name with ‘core’ at the end of it and the chances are I like it.  A lot.  I make no apologies for this even though it seems there’s a sizable contingent of the metal fan crowd who are quite scornful of all things ending in core. Anyway the excellent Skeletor Promotions  were presenting their June band night and I was quite excited about it- this line was just made of core ending win and with 5 bands available for less than ten quid it promised to showcase the best (and sometimes the worst) of Oxfords local talent.

On the billing for the night were Retribution, K-Lacura, Dead Mesa, The One Hundred and headliners Salvage. If some of those names sound familiar its because Salvage supported Breed 77 in 2013 and were recently featured in Shock of the New and The Hundred were one of our Sonisphere Shock of The New picks. All in all the line up looked pretty damn promising. But how did it stack up?

 

Retribution. Photo Credit Suzi H

Retribution. Photo Credit Suzi H

First up were Retribution and Holy metal batman! Bring me your heavy thrash sound add vocals dirtier and heavier than the combined minds of the Terror Twins and you have Retribution. Any band where the guitarist and the singer spend the gig body slamming each other and *never miss a note* are a winner by me! This band were a brilliant start to the night- they were fast paced, they clearly enjoyed themselves and they mean business! I bounced around quite happily for the whole of their set. Sadly they were then outstripped by the next band on the billing, the mighty K-Lacura

 

K-Lacura. Photo credit Suzi H

K-Lacura. Photo credit Suzi H

K-Lacura EXPLODED onto the stage and ripped into a set full of metalcore at its heaviest and finest. Imagine if Iron Maiden were a rugby team. Take them to the gym and feed them anabolic steroids and hard core weightlifting for a year and then put a vocally beefed up Jesse Leach on vocals and you *might* come close to the brilliant and aggressive sounds these guys produce. I didn’t take any notes during their set- I was to busy headbanging and being awestruck by just how utterly awesome they were. They should, in my opinion have ranked higher up on the play order and were so good, that I will be keeping my eye out for more shows of theirs so I can see them again. It was also impossible to get a decent picture of them because they didn’t stay still- they were in motion continuously. Which is brilliant to see but is rubbish if you’re trying to take pictures.

 

Dead Mesa., Photo Credit Suzi H

Dead Mesa., Photo Credit Suzi H

And then there was the band that let the line up down. If you have more than two bands playing it’s an inevitability that one of them won’t be much cop. And Dead Mesa were so painful, I just tweeted all the way through their set. And honestly, please believe me I feel awful about it- I want to like all the bands I see, I want to only be able to say nice things about new bands- because I want them to succeed and anything which brings more music into my life is a good thing. But, oh god these guys.

Somehow they manage to make prog whiny. And annoying. And the vocalist was slightly sharp in every single track. Dead Mesa are a band who, from the lead singers carefully ripped up stiff little fingers shirt to the the emo lyrics layered over proggy riffs,  are just trying that little bit to hard. Any band where I’ve written the introduction to the article by the end of the first song in order to stave off the boredom are not off to a promising start. They eventually ended their set with two covers- one of Audioslaves Cochise and one of Tools The Pot. I was immensely irritated by the hatchet job they did on both these tracks, and I and my companions breathed a sigh of relief when they finally went away.

Now because taste is utterly subjective and  I do not in any way wish to be mean, especially not to a young band who are putting in a fair amount of time on the local gig circuit,  I will say in their defense that they had a large group of people on the barrier jumping up and down and screaming along very enthusiastically, so even though I thought they were dire they clearly do have a local fan-base. And who knows? Practice makes perfect and if these guys can polish up a bit, stop trying so hard to ‘be a band’ and stop doing hatchet jobs on other people’s songs they have some potential.

 

The One Hundred. Photo Credit Suzi H

The One Hundred. Photo Credit Suzi H

I was very excited about The One Hundred as they were my Sonisphere pick for Shock of the New in WWRS CCLXXXIV. There’s always a worry  that when you see a band live having only heard their recorded work, they won’t quite be up to scratch- there’s a difference between a band who are great in the studio and a band who can pull off live performances with a bit of flair.

The One Hundred didn’t disappoint. Despite playing to a crowd that is quite unforgiving of anything that’s not reasonably metal they played hard and I’m desperately hoping my interview schedule at Sonisphere means I’ll be able to catch their set. These guys are as they say ‘a new breed’- they aren’t hip hop, they’re not dance but they don’t have enough of a metal element to count as a strictly metal band. Either way they’re bloody brilliant and will be regular features  in my music listening. I’d recommend everyone who likes hardcore or metalcore gives them a listen- I listen to them thinking ‘I’m sure I *shouldn’t* like these guys’ but I love them. They are another band who are impossible to photograph because they don’t stay still!

 

**INTERUPTION KLAXON** Sorry, It’s Cat A, The EVIL TWIN here. I approve of these guys- its like linkin park got smacked with hatebreed and smothered in prodigy. Go and listen to them. And watch them at Sonisphere!!

 

Salvage. Photo Credit- Suzi H

Salvage. Photo Credit- Suzi H

Ahhh the reason I came out on a Saturday instead of staying home and having an early night. I have been a big fan of these guys since I saw them supporting Breed 77 last year and I recently featured their new single from their upcoming album in the Shock of The New. Sometimes though its easy to worry that you’ve built a band up too much in your mind and then you see them again and they disappoint.

Of course Salvage don’t disappoint! These guys are pure class and were more than deserving the nights headline slot. They played plenty of new material which promises that the album they are currently recording will be more than excellent. Their set flew by in a rush of frantically paced music with barely any let up. Luckily this time Keir (on drums) did not cut his knuckles up and bleed all over his kit, although Jonny did seem to be having a few vocal issues. Despite that the set didn’t suffer and from the first head-bang to the last I left that set with an aching neck and a comment for the band- Hurry up and finish the album already!!

 

All in all, Skeletor once again came up trumps with a brilliant line up. As always I’ll end this review by begging you all to check out nights like this on your local scene and go- for the cost of less than a tenner you can generally see  a couple of bands and discover new music as well as supporting your local scene. Go forth people and listen to the music.

American Head Charge – The Underworld

June 17th 2014 – The Underworld, Camden

Review by: Cat A, Interruption Klaxons by: Suzi H

AKA Cat and Suzi’s Headcharge Adventures

Be seated for  Aunty Shini wants to tell you a story. This particular story began when an email landed in my inbox probably around the start of September 2013 advertising the American Head Charge tour that November.  Interest piqued having loved them ‘back in the day’ I headed down nervously to interview them, and review the show on my  first ever Wyrd Ways live assignment.

Roll forward a mere seven months and it becomes obvious just what flavour of monster has been created.  My love of the band was reignited to epic proportions – membership of the American Head Charge Death Squad swiftly followed,and then there was the Indiegogo campaign to bond the reformed group of utter headcases who spent two months spreading the news and raising the funds.  I might have contributed heavily to that campaign and acquired myself some goodies, including a VIP live experience that gave access to soundchecks and hanging out with the band then watching the set from the side of the stage. In Camden. The day before Suzi ‘Elfie’ H- the Not Evil half of the  Terror Twins‘ – birthday.

**INTERRUPTION KLAXON** Sorry, Not Evil Twin here – Last November when my Evil other half was getting very excited about this band called American Head Charge playing I had to go and look them up on Youtube because I couldn’t recall knowing anything about them. Of course I did know something – like all young moshers of my age I’d listened to The War of Art more than once back in the dawn of the Millennium.  Anyway, I saw them on their November tour last year, decided they were the best thing in heavy Industrial since sliced bread and when Cat asked if I wnated to see them for my birthday… well I wasn’t going to say “No” now was I?

Needless to say, we were GOING to the show, because we couldn’t afford to go to Download.

Now we, the Terror Twins, have a rule when we go to a show we’re reviewing – we don’t drink til the end (ok maybe *one*) and we’ve made notes, and by that time we’ve normally been up for 20 hours and are desperate for bed, not partying. So should you see us ordering a second round at the bar, it means that we are well and truly off duty, and the World’s End is just next door to the Underworld so it would have been rude not to…

AHC rehearsal show

AHC at their VVIP rehearsal gig left to right Karma Cheema, Justin Fowler, Chris Emery, Chad Hanks, Ted Hallows. Double Bonus Points if you can spot Cameron Heacock.

Before the Birthday Shenanigans adventure however, I ventured alone to Birmingham for a very special show indeed; the VVIP rehearsal show before Download.  In a ridiculously tiny club with a tin roof called Asylum were 20 spectators and it was an incredibly informal affair that involved pizza, Cameron Heacock burning dollars, being fed something I think was vodka by Chad Hanks and  receiving a merch bundle at least four times as big as expected.  So many hugs, so much dancing, Skype calls with the two “officers” of the Death Squad in the States and Netherlands respectively… It’s not often that you get the chance to be in such an intimate setting and it’s an experience that will probably never come along again.

I think this explains just how much of a fangirl I am for American Head Charge.

Back to London.  Then there was the nine… yes nine,  hours of travelling just to end up in the correct city.  This included the slight detour to reunite the Terror Twins for “shenanigans”.  Sadly because I was cashing in my VIP live experience, we didn’t end up paying as much attention to the support acts as we normally would.  Apologies Reverted guys, I was kidnapped by Headcharge.  Hope you understand.

Camden Underworld is a venue of legend, at least from where the northern half of the night’s reporting team comes from. Unfortunately though, due to the 9 hours of public transport hell we missed the sound check, but we did manage to end up in the dressing room, where I completed my Pokemon-esque mission to “catch ‘em all” that had become all consuming since the rehearsal show.

signed shoot EP

Ta Da! Mission Complete!

The VIP experience involved being able to hang out with the band before the show; in our case Christopher Emery, Justin Fowler and Ted Hallows.  Which is why we missed half the show but for being able to see their reaction to the promotional cover of Loyalty that we were a part of making was worth it.

**INTERRUPTION KLAXON** That is still THE MOST embarrassing thing I’ve ever posted on the Internet. EVER. Justin said I was a nice singer though – The Terror Twins people, we do reviews, presenting and bad karaoke to bands we really like. As a ‘tribute’.  I’m not sure they think that word means what we think it means….

Anyway, we were there to see a show, and finally ended up inside around two thirds into Kill Devil Hill’s set. Formed from members who have previously played in big hitting bands; Pantera, Type O Negative, Pissing Razors to name a couple from the resumes, these guys are professionals with a truly impressive stage presence and the skills to match. The presence of Rex Brown on bass stole the show, (I was WAY MORE EXCITED By Jonny Kellie. But I love Type O with a fiery passion- Suzi H)  and they couldn’t have hit the mark any more than they did by exiting with a blistering finale of Mouth for War. What I saw of them, despite not really having listened to them before, had me dancing and banging my head. I thoroughly recommend if you get the chance to see one of their shows that you take it opportunity.

American Head Charge used to be known for their stage stunts and special effects, but that was 13 years ago, and the men who launch into the opening song from their breakthrough album The War of Art are older and wiser, and have no need to resort to gimmicky tactics. From our vantage point at the side of the stage it was clear that the crowd were loving it.  It was the first time since 2006 that a complete lineup was present on UK soil – Justin Fowler missed the Shoot tour due to personal reasons – and if they were good last time they were here, this performance was nothing short of brilliance. Call me biased all you want, but all of the favourites were there: Cameron Heacock’s vocals were spot on, and the guitars were tight.  Ted Hallows has slotted into the lineup wonderfully, and shows that he is loving every minute.

Seamless, Writhe, Sugars of Someday, Loyalty, Ridicule, To Be Me… all the great tunes saw play, but as ever the second that the opening notes of Just So You Know were played all hell broke loose.  It’s the first time I’ve been on a stage with the entire room singing along, and it gave me goosebumps.

In all honesty they could have done with a larger stage, because with all the kit present Justin spent half his time operating a laptop through a barrier fence, and the side of stage viewing could have been a little more organised, but it was honestly one of the most exhilarating shows I’ve been to.  All the VIP stuff just added to the experience, and it was great to meet up with people who I’d only spoken to on the internet during the Indiegogo campaign.

So now, it’s a show in Chicago before going into a “cabin in the woods” to nail the album that we’ve been waiting nearly 10 years for.  They’ll be back over here in October with Soil and (hed)PE and The Terror Twins  know full well where we’ll be – front and centre!

Rating: Do we only go up to 5? *****/5