Monday, 22 January 2018

LIVE REVIEW: 36 Crazyfists at 02 Islington

IT was in the early 2000s when I discovered 36 Crazyfists. I was in a Virgin Megastore taking advantage of their 5 for £30 CD offer and needed one to fill my quota. Having heard Slit Wrist Theory, I took a punt on getting Bitterness The Star.

I then followed the band through all the following releases - some critically acclaimed, some less so, but all with enough to warrant regular revisits.

2015's Time And Trauma was perhaps their best in recent times with some absolute belters, the title track among them.

And when I heard Death Eater - the first track from last year's Lanterns - I knew I had to be in London when they came by on their European tour.

The gig at the O2 Islington saw support from US noise punk duo '68 and All Hail The Yeti. The former were strong and engaging but I got distracted by the amount of spitting they did - I guess it was to show how raw they were, but ended up seeming like they had some sort of condition. All Hail The Yeti were OK, but a bit metal by numbers.

Crazyfists, though, stepped things up a gear right from the get-go as they launched into the powerful Death Eater as their opening track.

Frontman Brock Lindow's vocals are unique and while not always hitting the mark, they carry that sense of raw and brutal emotion that endeared the band to me all those years back.

The set is long - 14 songs plus three more on the encore - and interspersed with what feels like genuine thanks from Lindow and the band for the support. He remarks that age and distance means they cannot tour to these parts as often as they'd like, but they appreciate the following nonetheless.

They play new songs like Wars To Walk Away From and Better To Burn along with oldies such as At The End Of August and Bloodwork.

They finish with the live debut of Sea And Smoke from Lanterns followed by Time And Trauma. It's safe to say the crowd are delighted and the demand for more is on.

"I thought we were going to have a beer," says Lindow as the four-piece come back out and play Eightminutesupsidedown and then cover Alice In Chains' We Die Young.

Not unexpectedly, the final song of the night is the one that brought them into many people's consciousness - Slit Wrist Theory. The emotion and power in that song has not faded as the years have passed and neither has the band. A fantastic performance.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Marilyn Manson & Bullet for Download 2018

A FRESH barrage of acts have been announced for Download Festival 2018 with Marilyn Manson, Bullet For My Valentine and Parkway Drive among them.

Matt Tuck from Bullet says the band a delighted to be returning to Donington Park after a five-year break. He added: “We’re more than ready to get back on that legendary stage and do what we do best.”

Other acts in the new swathe include Rise Against, Babymetal, Alexisonfire, Black Veil Brides, Asking Alexandria, Neck Deep, Meshuggah, In This Moment, The Hives and Body Count with Ice T.

Mayday Parade, Dream State, Wstr and The Pink Slips make up the announcement.

Ben Bruce of Asking Alexandria said: “Download Festival is hands down one of the most exciting festivals in the world to play and so we have decided to bring our biggest show to date with us.”

And if that doesn’t sound exciting, I’ll remind you that the headliners for that weekend in June are Guns N’ Roses, Avenged Sevenfold and Ozzy Osbourne.

Tickets are on sale already and for more information visit

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Guns N' Roses to headline Download 2018

SHUT the front door! Guns N’ Roses have been announced as the Saturday night headliners for Download 2018 with Avenged Sevenfold and Ozzy Osbourne also named as bill-toppers.

With Slash and Duff McKagan rejoining Axl Rose in the band, Guns have been tearing up the place on tour over the past few months.

Download booker Andy Copping has joined the rest of the festival’s regulars in being filled with excitement at the prospect of seeing the band at Donington next summer.

He said: “I am sure I am not alone when I say I have been wanting this to happen for years. 

"It will be an incredible show and will be one of the highlights of the Download weekend.” 

No shit Sherlock.

Ozzy Osbourne had previously been revealed as the Sunday headliner in what will be his first solo performance at Download in what could be his final UK festival appearance.

Copping says: “The Download family are without a shadow of a doubt, in for a treat.”
And the third headliner will be Avenged Sevenfold, who are fast becoming one of the biggest metal bands in the world.

That man Copping counts putting them top of the bill a few years back as a career highlight and the band themselves are delighted to be coming back.

They said: “We are more than honoured to be a part of this legendary show and line up.  Being asked to headline Download for the second time is a career highlight.  We would like to thank our UK A7X family”

Download Festival takes place from June 8th to 10th at Donington Park, Leicestershire. For more information and tickets, visit

Saturday, 21 October 2017

LIVE REVIEW: Bury Tomorrow at Chinnery's Southend

I WAS covered in sweat, aching and getting more and more frustrated as I tried to piece together a Ikea chest of drawers for my son's bedroom in the height of summer - that was when I first heard Bury Tomorrow.

The song that came on the radio and eased my mood was Lionheart from the Southampton metalcore outfit's second album Union of Crowns. That track has been a favourite since.

Daniel Winter-Bates on the bar
I saw Bury Tomorrow perform at Download Festival in 2016 but their gig at Chinnery's in Southend was the first headline show I'd seen them play. 

The venue is sold out and plenty of the crowd are in place to see support act Loathe - a Liverpudlian band of similar ilk to BT.

When the main act arrives on stage, they do so with gusto tearing into Royal Blood, An Honourable Reign and the aforementioned Lionheart. I'm a happy camper already.

With the promotional commitments for their last album Earthbound well and truly out the way, the band - spearheaded by Daniel Winter-Bates' raucous vocals alongside guitarist Jason Cameron's smoother voice - are able to deliver a greatest hits set.

That said, they follow next with Cemetery, Last Light, For Us and title track Earthbound from that album with only Sceptres thrown in to mix it up.

They then take things back to their 2009 debut album Portraits for You & I and The Western Front before rounding off with The Torch and Man on Fire.

This tour - of which Southend was the second date I believe - was titled the Stage Invasion Tour, and so it was only appropriate that during Man on Fire the crowd was invited to climb up and surround the band for their final song.

It was another show of the connection between the band and the fans first seen at that Download appearance when Winter-Bates had vowed to stay by the front of the stage until he'd signed every autograph and fulfilled every selfie request.

And that is no style over substance gimmick. The band have a quality catalogue of metalcore songs that they perform with passion and ferocity. I loved it and would've welcomed a few more songs - and I can't wait to see them live again.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Download Festival 2017 - Day Three Review

EVER seen the film Speed? Or as Homer Simpson so brilliantly described it - "The bus that can't slow down." Well that was me on the Sunday at Download.

In Flames - Picture by Matt Eachus
I was struck with a piercing backache that only abated when I was either sat up against something or walking. And so that led to me taking in a hell of a lot of bands on the Sunday and clocking up thousands upon thousands of steps on my pedometer.

It all started OK with Chris Jericho's FOZZY on the main stage, but then I took in bits of GROOVE STREET FAMILIES, ORANGE GOBLIN, THE DEAD DAISIES, BLOOD YOUTH, CADILLAC THREE, DEAD! and DEVIL DRIVER in the next three hours. 

I made sure I stayed in front of the main stage for IN FLAMES - another one of those bands with a load of great tunes but never seem to be able to push themselves further up the bill. I enjoyed it and Anders Friden's banter with the crowd.

After that it was back to hiking from stage to stage as saw ANATHEMA, AIRBOURNE, TOUCHE AMORE and MINISTRY.

And then came one of the highlights of the weekend. I had only stopped by the main stage to see STEEL PANTHER do one song so I could see "the joke" and then I would be on my way to see a "proper" band. I owe those guys an apology.

Steel Panther - Picture by Ross Silcocks
It is more than just one joke, it is a constant barrage of them mixed in with some brilliant, brilliant songs. I had so much fun that for an hour I completely forgot the agony my back was putting me in. I'm smiling again thinking about it now. I underestimated Steel Panther and I am happy to be proved wrong.

As you may be able to tell, my back pain sapped a lot of energy and enjoyment from the Sunday. I watched a chunk of ALTER BRIDGE and MOOSE BLOOD and a healthy dose of SLAYER (well, it would be rude not to) before heading for the gate. I caught the drift of AEROSMITH from the car park, but I was done.

The sun did not give up all weekend, which meant for once we could all focus solely on the music and having a good time - and boy did I have one. See you again next year.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Download Festival 2017 - Day Two Review

REMEMBER that big ball of fire I mentioned was in the sky yesterday? Well it is still there and brought with it some real heat to the festival.

After a champion's breakfast of two Cornish pasties and a can of lager, I was out in front of the main stage well in time to see HACKTIVIST open at 11am. Not an easy slot but there was a decent crowd and great energy from the band.

A Day To Remember - Picture by Ben Gibson
CREEPER were up next and were a band I was keen to see - and were excellent. They may not have been around for a long time, but they have a stage presence of old pros - not bad considering the size of the stage.

And next up were some old pros as SIKTH, who turned in another great performance. Not a bad way to start the day at all.

I also enjoyed THE ONE HUNDRED, a band I first saw at Sonisphere a few years back and continue to have great power and aggression in their music. OF MICE AND MEN too were great, if a lot more polished that those Brit upstarts I mentioned before. 

I drifted again for a bit, taking in some PIERCE THE VEIL and KNUCKLE PUCK but not enough to review. I did very much enjoy the set from CROWN THE EMPIRE, however, over on The Avalanche Stage before getting a bit of AFI and then COHEED & CAMBRIA.

Then came another of my favourites and a band that will surely one day be headlining this festival - A DAY TO REMEMBER. Their set was packed with great songs from All I Want and I'm Made Of Wax... as openers, Naivety and Paranoia in the middle and All Signs Point to Lauderdale and then The Downfall of Us All to close. Brilliant stuff.

Biffy Clyro - Picture by Matt Eachus
There was a lot of debate about Saturday's headliners BIFFY CLYRO. They were decried as a pop band by the hardcore and dismissed as some sort of novelty act that didn't belong at Download at all, let alone as headliner. And while ROB ZOMBIE's crowd as the second stage headliner was probably swelled as a result, those who stayed got a treat.

While Biffy do have the odd slower song in their repertoire, they know how to write brilliant rock songs. And it was a performance with energy, movement, enthusiasm, passion and a show - exactly what was missing from SOAD the previous night. They finished and treated the crown to an awesome firework display. A cracking end to the great day.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Download Festival 2017 - Day One Review

SOMETHING very weird has happened. Download Festival has had a whole day without rain. Not only that, but it was sunny - proper, fucking sunny.

'But what of the bands?' I hear you ask. Well I'll give you a spoiler alert - despite the sun and beer and quality music all around, the day all ended a bit flat. But we'll get to that.

Motionless In White - Picture by Paulo Gonçalves
For once I was at Donnington bright and early and ready when NORTHLANE kicked off on the main stage and the Aussie boys were cracking and followed by the very popular MOTIONLESS IN WHITE. Great stuff to get the juices flowing.

I moved about for a while, taking in bits of ASTROID BOYS, CODE ORANGE and MACHINE GUN KELLY. The latter of those bands I didn't quite get and their cover of Oasis' Wonderwall was appalling - even if it did get the crowd singing.

MASTODON were next on the main stage and they too were a little disappointing. Not the band, I must say. You could see they were working their socks off and giving it their all as always, but the beautiful intricacies of their musicianship were - oddly - blown away in the wind. The sound just didn't carry as best it could. I did still enjoy the set though.

And then came the double-whammy that really cranked things up for me. I love a bit of FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH and they did not disappoint with a fierce set that included many of the favourites including Burn MF, Was It All Away, Bad Company and ended with The Bleeding. 

Five Finger Death Punch - Picture by Ben Gibson
They were followed by PROPHETS OF RAGE, who really rocked. Chuck D has such an amazing presence and the rest of the band were superb. Their set included a poignant tribute to Chris Cornell as they played a vocal-free version of Like A Stone. Beautiful.

SUM 41's return on the second stage was a welcome one. Frontman Deryck Whibley does look like he's been through the ringer, but there is still a power and angst there and some of the new songs are excellent. Alas, I missed the classics - Still Waiting, In Too Deep and Fat Lip - as I had to get to the main stage for the headliners.

SYSTEM OF A DOWN have a rightful place in rock and metal royalty. They are as original as they are brilliant in their music creation. I was excited to see how this translated to a live performance - a first for me. And it was a disappointment. For me, Serj Tankian's voice just didn't seem up to it and Daron Malakian seemed to have the hump with him.

And I don't think I've seen such a static headline act. Shavo Odadjian made something of a fist of it, but Serj and Daron were happy to remain behind their mic stand at all times. That meant the energy that their songs possess just didn't come across. It was OK. But you expect a lot more than OK from your headliners.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Devin Townsend joins latest additions to Download 2017

DOWNLOAD Festival's already bulging bill just got even bulgier with the addition of 20 bands.

Code Orange, Devin Townsend Project, Max and Iggor Cavalera, Sikth, Suicide Silence and Krokodil are among the new acts announced this week.

They will join headliners System Of A Down, Biffy Clyro and Aerosmith at Donington on the weekend of June 9-11.

Five Finger Death Punch, A Day To Remember, Alter Bridge, Airbourne and Mastodon are among the other bands playing the festival.

And the organisers have announced that Kerrang! Fresh Blood will be hosting the Avalanche Stage.

Its presenter Alex Baker said: "Right now, there is an undeniable, electric excitement about new music in the air and as soon as we saw the new Avalanche Stage we just had to be involved. 

"Download has always been amazing at supporting new talent and I’ve always admired them for that – so it was a no-brainer to get as involved as much as humanely possible!"

You can find out more about the festival line-up and ticketing details at

Monday, 20 February 2017

WEAK13 release video for Obey The Slave

UNDERGROUND post-punk band WEAK13 have released the video for their song Obey The Slave.

The track is taken from their 2016 album They Live and the video was filmed in a magistrates' court. It revolves around the theme of law and order with the song raising questions about authority and activism.

The band is currently preparing to record their second as yet untitled studio album with producer John Stewart at FrEQ in Coventry, England. 

Frontman and guitarist Nick J Townsend said: "We were so impressed with his engineering on the They Live album; it's important news that we'll be able to work with him again and we know already that he'll do the new material the justice it deserves." 

You can find out more about the band and the album at and watch the video below.

And check out the Q&A the band did with RealSoundsOK here.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Nearly 50 acts added to Download 2017 bill

Photo credit:
Ross Silcocks
THE organisers of this year's Download Festival are getting serious - as they announce nearly 50 acts to play the Donington rock bonanza in June.

Steel Panther, A Day To Remember, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Suicidal Tendencies, In Flames, Hacktivist, Creeper and Moose Blood are among the dozens of bands headed to the East Midlands.

Northlane, The Devil Wears Prada, State Champs and Touché Amoré are also on the list. System Of A Down, Biffy Clyro and Aerosmith headline the event.

Download Festival's Andy Copping said: "We're committed to delivering the best in rock and metal year on year for the fans, and this year is no exception. 

"Right through from The Dogtooth Stage, all the way to the top, fans are guaranteed to witness an incredible weekend of music from their trusted favourites, and discover new favourite bands."

The festival takes place over the weekend of June 9-11 and for more information on tickets and the full line-up as it stands, visit