Archive for April, 2014

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Picture the scene: We’re in a town called Bad Arolsen which is somewhere in Germany. It’s the summer of 2008 and a group of us trekked to Europe to catch the annual metal festivals and on Wednesday, July the 9th, we were on our way to the Magic Circle Festival to witness the almighty Manowar play their first six albums in their entirety. It was going to be epic and we knew it. Before the onstage shenanigans of the leather clad bad boys of heavy metal took to the stage to deafen us with those classic albums, San Francisco’s thrash legends, Death Angel were playing a surprise set… at three in the freakin’ morning! Ok, so for the hardcore gig goer, that’s no big deal but we were jetlagged, we were tired, we had trekked with backpacks full of a month’s worth of crap and we watched as Poodle struggled to put his tent up opting to just do what he could and that would suffice. The first night’s antics found us hanging with like-minded individuals who were gathered around a Hummer that was painted with Manowar imagery and signatures with a stereo blasting Crown & The Ring at full volume. And why not? The festival’s opening day saw Alice Cooper headline the stage with legendary support acts tearing the small town of Bad Arolsen a new one like Michael Schenker Group (who were terrible but they had the legendary Chris Slade on drums so that’s cool) and Ted Nugent (who shot a crossbow and arrow on fire into a guitar… as you do). By the time Cooper’s incredible two hour set was done, I was knackered and told the guys to wake me up at 2:55 so I could see the bay area thrashers do their thing. Well, right on 2:55, I get my wake up call “Damo! Let’s go see some fuckin’ thrash!” and up I got and we headed to not the main stage where Cooper and his band did their thing, but this tiny shed where a stage was set up and Death Angel took to that stage for a blistering performance to about 50 people. It was truly a sight to see and by the time they were done, I was beyond exhausted. I headed back to my tent and was quite pleased at what I had witnessed. I never thought that I’d ever see Death Angel again so I was in no position to complain about anything, ever.

Fast forward six years and I am at the old Billboards venue, which is now aptly titled 170 Russell St, and I am getting ready to watch one huge double header thrash fest as Death Angel were supporting Germany’s greatest thrashers, Kreator. Ok, so I will say now that the term ‘thrash’ is going to come up quite a lot in this review and that is simply because there is just no other way to describe it. Besides, I’m not some wacko journo who likes to use big words to describe something we all know as one simple word. It is what it is. The doors opened at 7:45pm which meant the 8 o’clock start time saw a line go around the corner and down the street. I took one look and thought to myself “I’m gonna miss me some Death Angel at this rate!” but once inside, I found myself witnessing a packed house as Death Angel were delivering one insanely powerful set that stretched across their entire discography. For a band who have been doing this genre of music since the early 80s (they had a lengthy break in the middle but we won’t count that), it’s amazing to see a band stay true to their roots and just deliver each song with power and aggression. Vocalist Mark Osegueda belted out each tune with so much energy whilst shredders Ted Aguilar and long-time guitarist Rob Cavestany just didn’t stop all their fiddly noodling which was just awesome to see. Newcomers, and I use that term loosely cos five years is still a long time, bassist Damien (heaps cool name!) Sisson and drummer Will Carroll deliver a pounding rhythm section that just didn’t let up. And why would you want it to? These guys haven’t aged a bit musically and for thrash purists, that’s welcomed with open arms. They smashed through all the “hits” including Evil Priest (I love that song title, I mean, how clichéd and metal is that!?!?! So good!), Sonic Beatdown, Claws In Too Deep, The Dream Calls For Blood and Succubus. Of course there was no way they would be omitting possibly their most well known tune, Seemingly Endless Time, which went down a complete treat. So were they good? Yeah, Death Angel, I like ‘em and you will too. Good stuff!

So let’s go back to 2008 but skip to the end of July. We make it to the infamous Wacken festival for what was to be the end of all parties with the likes of Iron Maiden, Airbourne, Nashville Pussy, Carcass, Nightwish, Avantasia, Exodus, Hatebreed, and the original German thrash attack of Kreator. They were incredible. This was a band I was introduced to through seeing the video for Betrayer on RAGE in the early hours of the morning; Coroner’s Masked Jackal usually followed, if you care, and I was immediately hooked. Who else besides everybody loves that breakdown in the middle with the bitchin’ mosh part? Exactly. Kreator were insanely awesome that night and the crowd worshipped the stage they played on. It was totally rad. Really, you haven’t seen Kreator until you’ve seen them whilst you were surrounded by 79,999 other metalheads all headbanging in synch. Such a surreal experience.

So here we were, 2014, Kreator’s intro music hits and out on stage they came. Immediately the crowd were whipped into a pool of flailing bodies as they danced up a moshable storm of the most epic proportions that the likes of 170 Russell had ever seen, maybe. Even though a few fan favourites were not part of the setlist (nothing off Extreme Aggression or Terrible Certainty – What the fuck, dudes?), they still managed to find 90 minutes worth of insanely awesome ass kickin’ thrash metal. Opening with the immediate classic Phantom Antichrist (the title track of their last album which is most bitchin’), the band blasted their way through the likes of People Of The Lie, Endless Pain, Pleasure To Kill, Violent Revolution, Enemy Of God, Riot of Violence, but not before finishing with an encore that included the classics Flag Of Hate (complete with flag waving) and Tormentor. It was heaps good and was definitely well worth your $59 (plus booking fee).

Both bands really gave 100% and then some. It was quite a step back in time yet in a way it showed that the original formulas still ring true in 2014. Of course it does. I’d like to say thankyou to all involved in bringing out these two great thrash (that word again) bands. Two thumbs up… even if Kreator didn’t play Betrayer. Well, at least they brought the flag so we’re good on that.

Bonus (at no extra cost!): Here’s a video of Betrayer since Kreator forgot to play it last night!

 

#MyPhotosAreShitAndIDontCare

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Going through my archives recently, I have been spinning many different records and CDs and re-realised that there really are some incredible songs out there and sadly, for the most part, they are ignored. Why this is so continues to baffle me and the only reason I can come up with is that there are too many bands and a lot of good ones just get lost in the heap. So what I have done is to help make the next 30 minutes of your day that little bit more interesting by presenting to you 10 great songs that you probably missed out on or just simply forgot about. Turn up the speakers my friends and listen away. Things get better from here on in.

1. THE DEXATEENS – “Down Low” (from the album Single Wide)
I discovered this band many moons ago as they released some records on one of my all time favourite labels, Estrus Records. In 2009 when I was traveling the USA, i noticed they were playing at the Grog Shop in Cleveland the same night that I was in town. Of course I had to get along to that and what I discovered was nothing but cool guitar jams and classic blues inspired rock n roll. A little different to this song but that night, guitar slinger, Elliott, gave me a promo of this album to check out and when I got home, I chucked it on and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now you can too!

 

2. THE GOODNIGHT LOVING – “Dead Fish On The Banks” (from the album Cemetery Trails)
On the 4th of September 2009, Milwaukee’s very own The Goodnight Loving waltzed into Off The Hip Records in Melbourne and performed an instore to a packed house thus turning so many on to this “new” band. While not new in the true sense of the world, many that night had never heard the band before and were instantly converted to lifelong fans, well, that is until they fell off the radar once they disbanded which was a real shame as they were definitely one of my favourite discoveries in 2009. When I visited Milwaukee in 2012, I ventured to the only two record stores I could find to search out any vinyl that I didn’t have from these cool cats of garage pop n rock. I was a tad successful in obtaining this very LP and it has span consistently on my turntable ever since. Better late than never, right?

 

3.  TROUBLED COAST – “Patient Hands” (from the EP I’ve Been Thinking About Leaving You)
I bought this record without even hearing a single note from the band. I was on a merchandise website picking up a limited single by The Wonder Years and figured that I should make the postage worth it so I picked up a triple pack of different coloured vinyl variants of this 7″, (trust me, the half white / half blue limited to 200 variant looks bitchin’ and you would have bought it too) and just hoped for the best. What I found was that this song resonated with me in all the right ways and my ears just thanked me from the bottom of their tinnitus-infected heart. I was moved. Maybe you will be too?

 

4. JEFF DAHL GROUP – “I’m In Love With The GTO’s” (from the album Scratch Up Some Action)
When I saw this record way back in 1989, I was in a music store called Seeing Ears which was in a basement in Rundle Mall. The guy behind the counter there told me that this album would blow my mind. He put the record on for me and this is the opening track from that classic slab of awesomeness. I hadn’t even gotten to the second chorus and I was like “Here, take my money!”. Top notch purchase there and I still see this album around and wonder why it’s in stores and not in people’s collections. This song is a killer.

 

5. LIZ PHAIR with MATERIAL ISSUE – “The Tra La La Song” (from the album Saturday Morning Cartoons’ Greatest Hits)
There is no way this could fail. What we have here is the one and only Liz Phair backed by a band most have never heard of singing one of the coolest and most enjoyable TV theme songs (which was also covered by The Dickies) from the golden era of children’s television. How could you not sing along? And do I have to remind you again that the vocalist is the sultry Liz Phair? The video is full of good times and features some amusing moments from The Banana Splits and brings back fond memories of a time when Saturday Morning TV was simply fun.

 

6. WESTON – “Retarded” (from the album Got Beat Up)
I first heard this song on a compilation way back in the day and immediately I was hooked. This song is pure pop perfection of a time when you’d make mixtapes for people and want them to pay close attention to the lyrics for whatever reasons you saw fit; love, lust, anger, frustration, etc. This was an era of life that will probably never happen again. Sure, people will still make mixtapes but it will never be the same. This part of my life was a very happy time for me musically. So many great songs, political correctness wasn’t too overboard (now a band would probably get inundated with abuse for writing a pop song called Retarded), and love really could be found within a mixtape. The lyrics to this song are one we can all relate to at some time of our lives. This song was my life in 1996/7.

 

7. JETS TO BRAZIL – “You’re The One I Want” (from the album Perfecting Loneliness)
I think anyone who was a Jawbreaker fan was eager for frontman Blake Schwarzenbach to continue writing classics and he did just that with Jets To Brazil. This is off their second album and it stuck with me for quite a while. The album is a little different to their debut, Orange Rhyming Dictionary, but it is still a winner if you are in the right frame of mind / mood to handle such stuff. Blake stings deep with meaningful and emotive lyrics. This song is a perfect example.

 

8. NADA SURF – “Weightless” (from the album Lucky)
I remember when I bought the album Lucky I was told that this album would brighten up all my dark days as I was going through a pretty rough time. I got home and once I put the needle on the record, laid down on my bed and just lost myself within the music, things started to look more promising again. This song is just one of many feel good anthems found on this record and I suggest that if you are feeling down in the dumps, maybe this album will be a pick-me-up for you just as it was for me.

 

9. SLUSH PUPPIES – “You’re So Perfect” (from the 7″ titled You’re So Perfect)
Australia’s very own Descendents. A song so infectiously catchy that I find myself singing it at the most strangest of times. I received a mixtape from my friend Jenny way back in the early 90s and this song was on it. Immediately I set out to find this song and low and behold, I found the 7″ vinyl on one of my many travels from Adelaide to Melbourne. I was over the moon as this song, and it’s B-Side (which is also on YouTube), were two slabs of power pop punky perfection that I have always loved and continue to enjoy over 20 years later.

 

10. BANE – “As The World Turns” (from the 7″ titled Rome 12:58am)
One of the coolest hardcore songs from the last few years. Released in 2009, this classic sound of old-school straight edge hardcore finishes with one of the most epic 65 second brackets that you will ever hear in hardcore music. Fast forward to 2:32 if you don’t like what you’re hearing  at the start and sing it with me: “I took the whole damn ride with my best friends by my side. The days turned into nights and we held on with all our might. Cos nothing stays no way, no how, there’s no forever. The only thing that lasts forever is right fucking now!” Thankyou and goodnight.