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Kreator Heralds The European Apocalypse

I've mentioned before that 2018 had some of the most exciting tour packages in recent years. It can be argued that the most exciting of these was the Headbanger's Ball tour (see report on the London show here,) but for those who want more variety in a lineup, the European Apocalypse had you covered. What more could a metal fan ask for than to spend the evening with thrash metal gods Kreator, black metal outfit Dimmu Borgir, American hardcore stars Hatebreed and Swedish death metal supergroup Bloodbath? It was one Hell of a way to cap off the year and when the tour rolled into London, I was there to catch it in all of its glory.

Kicking things off in suitably dark fashion was Bloodbath. It was interesting comparing their opening slot inside the Roundhouse to the well received performance on the main stage of Bloodstock Open Air four months earlier. Frontman Nick Holmes proves once again that he's a natural fit for the band, delivering powerful screams interspersed with dry humour throughout and casting a tortured shadow over the stage. Material from their new album, "The Arrow Of Satan" is drawn sounds fantastic live and fits in perfectly with older songs such as "So You Die" and "Outnumbering The Day," before the quintet closed their set with a rendition of "Eaten." Great performance and an adrenaline raising way to get the night going. More...

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Lawnmower Deth Host The Greatest Christmas Party

Since their return to the stage in 2009, Lawnmower Deth has established a reputation among a younger generation of British headbangers as one of the most fun live acts going. Having made no less than six appearances at the famous Download festival, Lawnmower Deth has become one of the most beloved names in retro British thrash once more, perhaps only eclipsed by Onslaught. The group has also become known for hosting annual Christmas shows and last year saw them put on a real treat for old school fans as they were joined by fellow thrash veterans Xentrix and Solitary.

Kicking things off was Lancashire lads Solitary. Formed in 1994 and releasing their first full length, "Nothing Changes" four years later, the band were greeted by a modest sized audience when they took to the stage. Frankly, the sound wasn't the best during their performance, at least from where I was standing and it lessened the impact they could have had. The audience seemed pleased enough with Solitary, but didn't give them much of a response, making things seem a little awkward at times. They weren't bad at all, but the somewhat quiet audience seemed to rub the group the wrong way and they looked as if they were glad to finish. More...

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Exodus Holds The Headbanger's Ball In London

December has been one Hell of a month for tours. Great Britain has been treated to a wide array of bands visiting this month, while there's also been some real treats when it comes to tour packages. Perhaps there was no tour with more to offer, especially to fans of thrash metal, than the Headbanger's Ball tour, which made its only British stop in London a few weeks ago. Denim vests, high top running shoes and band patches at the ready, it's a night of old school thrash.

Opening the show, all the way from Athens (Greece, not Ohio,) was Suicidal Angels. Many will remember about ten years ago, there was the thrash revival, which saw a number of young bands bring back the thrash of the eighties, many going full retro and singing songs about Robocop. While many of these groups simply rehashed the style, there were some who brought a freshness to the genre, either by putting a modern spin on things or adding some new elements. Suicidal Angels were one of the few that fall into the latter category and proved on this night that they're still going strong not just because the music's good, but because they're a real force live. Obviously, they had the shortest set time on the bill, but fans who arrived early were treated to a quality display of thrash metal, which instead of being a nostalgia act, was an energetic outburst of metal. Opa! More...

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Skeletonwitch Casts A Spell Under The Dome

It's been something of tumultuous tour for Skeletonwitch and friends this past few weeks. Being joined on the road by German duo Mantar and their compatriots Deathrite, as well as Belgian thrashers Evil Invaders, the tour has hit a few snags including visa issues at the Norwegian border and Mantar vocalist Hanno Klänhardt coming down with a serious illness, forcing the two piece to pull out of the British shows (though I was able to film an interview with drummer Erinç Sakarya, which you can watch here.) Evil Invaders were also unable to join the other bands in the UK, disappointing some fans. However, Skeletonwitch aren't a band to let the odds defeat them and there was no way they were going to let down their fans in the English capital.

Opening the show was Deathrite, from the German city of Dresden. Combining a string of styles including grindcore, thrash and death metal, Deathrite come across as a much faster Obituary, which is no bad thing. Promoting their fourth full length album, "Nightmares Reign," which was released this year through Century Media Records, quintet put on a crushing display of Teutonic heaviness from start to finish. Those in attendance were very receptive to them too and seemed to really enjoy their set, with a few chants of "one more song" being heard at the end. All in all, Deathrite are well worth checking out, either live or on record. More...

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Terror Defends The Faith In London

New York may have the biggest reputation when it comes to hardcore music in the modern sense but there are so many great bands in the genre from all across America. If we travel from the East Coast to the West Coast, we'll find one of the most popular hardcore groups in recent times in the guise of Terror from Los Angeles. Fronted by the charismatic Scott Vogel and having built up a fearsome live reputation over nearly seventeen years, Terror has gone from strength to strength. Now with the release of their seventh full length album, "Total Retaliation," the quintet has been back in Europe, decimating stages once more. I went along to their performance at The Underworld in Camden, London to experience Terror first hand in an intimate setting.

Though there were four support acts, a combination of things, including an interview with Terror drummer Nick Jett (which can be watched or read here,) meant that I barely caught the very end of the third band of the night. My first full set came from the tour's main support band, Deez Nuts, all the way from Australia. Forming from the ashes of I Killed The Prom Queen, this quartet has all the familiar traits of the average hardcore band, but with a bit more emphasis on rapping than many other groups.

They're frankly quite a difficult band to judge, as one song may sound very mediocre, but the next could be an absolute barn burner. Add to this the likeability of vocalist JJ Peters, who thanked the audience constantly throughout the show and ultimately you have a band which rises above their faults to endear themselves to the neutral attendee. Some may find their name offputting, but I would recommend looking past that and giving them a serious try, because they clearly care about and work hard at what they do to deserve attention. More...

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Saxon Sends A Thunderbolt To Bath

It's funny the places metal gigs can take place. From stadiums to high school gymnasiums, leisure centres to the green fields of the countryside. On this night, British heavy metal legends Saxon brought thirty nine years worth of head banging to The Forum, an all seated venue in the well to do town of Bath. They were in good company too, bringing with them German trailblazer Doro Pesch and Toby Jepson's new band, Wayward Sons. While we came to rock out, did we actually get out of our seats? Read on, MacDuff.

Opening the show was Wayward Sons, the latest band to feature vocalist Toby Jepson, formerly of such bands as Little Angles, Gun and Fastway. Having only formed in 2016 and released their debut album, "Ghosts Of Yet To Come" this past September, they're still a very young band in the eyes and ears of most people. Security unfortunately decided to enforce their seated only policy for the openers, which made it a little difficult to gauge peoples' reaction, though they received a strong round of applause every time they finished a song. By the end of their set, a few devoted fans to the audience left were stood, fists pounding and heads banging. Wayward Sons, though security did their best to prevent it, were a success. More...

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C.O.C. Teams Up With Orange Goblin In Cardiff

We all look forward to seeing our favourite bands live in almost any setting. The most special though is when they're part of an impressive touring lineup. This Autumn, North Carolina's legendary Corrosion Of Conformity returned to the United Kingdom for a headlining tour, teaming up with British heavy metal flag bearers Orange Goblin, as well as fellow Americans Fireball Ministry and Yorkshire bred, Black Moth. At the penultimate show of the tour in Cardiff, I had the pleasure of witnessing this stellar combination for myself.

Opening the bill was Black Moth, the youngest band on the trek. While only having a short set, spanning a little over twenty minutes, this stoner metal outfit boast an impressive sound and presence, led by vocalist Harriet Hyde. Not being too familiar with the band, I'm not able to name any of the songs they performed, but Black Moth were good enough to warrant looking up at home afterwards. Better than that, they're a group that deserved to be checked out again when given a longer set. A great way to open the show. More...

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Threshold Tells Of "Legends" In London

The idea of performing an album in full is one which has become a common trait these days. Everyone from Slayer and Metallica to Amorphis and even Snoop Dogg performing classic record from their back catalogue in full. Few bands however, take the decision to perform their new album in full and when they do, it can be seen as self-indulgent and short changing the fans, as many British Iron Maiden fans complained when the group played "A Matter Of Life And Death" in its entirety in 2006. Threshold however, have chosen the perfect moment to do this. Their latest album, "Legends Of The Shire" has received overwhelming praise from fans and critics and a year after the release, giving fans time to digest the record and so it seems the opportune time to embark on such an endeavour, which I was able to see at the concluding show in London.

Opening the show was Swiss outfit Maxxwell. Bringing with them a more classic heavy metal sound which would fit in well in arenas, the quintet are a great opening act that filled the room with excitement and a sense of fun. Promoting (heavily) their new album, "Metalized," the old school vibes of songs like, "She's Mine" went down a treat and delighted attendees who were polite enough to turn up early and check them out. Chants of "We want more" as they were finishing up and leaving the stage was an interesting sight for an opening band, especially one which had never performed in the country before. More...

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Anthrax - Arizona State Fair 2018

For those metalheads that live in Arizona, specifically the city of Phoenix, they were lucky enough to see two Big Four bands at the Arizona State Fair in recent memory while enjoying corn dogs and roller coasters to boot. Three years ago, it was Slayer, and this year said band was Anthrax. Scheduled among other popular and commercial Arizona State Fair concert series acts such as Pitbull, The Flaming Lips, and 38 Special, they were not to be outdone. Anthrax proved that even a heavy metal band can pull in a crowd at a family friendly event such as a state fair.

As soon as “The Number of the Beast” cracked the PA system minutes before the start of the concert, you would have sworn that Iron Maiden had hit the stage. The roar from the crowd was deafening and I looked around to see if Eddie was rumbling through the crowd. But once the Blues Brothers version of Otis Redding’s "I Can't Turn You Loose” followed, everyone knew what was about to happen next. Ripping into a ferocious rendition of “Among the Living,” Joey, Scotty, Frankie, Charlie and former Shadows Fall guitarist, Jonathan Donais, cruised through a greatest hits inspired set-list that locked in the audience for the entire show.

At one point, Joey Belladonna remarked that they didn’t know what to expect when they signed on to play the Arizona State Fair. Well, what they got was a very enthusiastic and adoring crowd that soaked in every note and every beat of every song. I saw some homemade Anthrax banners and plenty of their shirts being worn among the living…err…I mean the crowd. Joey even made sure that those working in the photo pit had fun, borrowing cameras to take photos and rolling live video of those in attendance.

Anthrax concluded their set with an encore of “Indians” finishing with Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell” as an outro which in turn blew the roof off the place. As the amped up crowd left the coliseum and dispersed throughout the fairgrounds to possibly take on the Remix ride and/or wolf down a bacon wrapped turkey leg, I couldn’t help but think if it’s in the realm of possibility that Metallica would perform at the Arizona State Fair someday? Megadeth would probably be more likely and for the record, Dave Mustaine looks like some of the animals at the petting zoo nowadays. More...

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Diamond Head Tops Off A Night In New Cross

What can be said about Diamond Head that hasn't already been said? As one of the shining lights of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, they were considered to be right up there with the likes of Iron Maiden, Saxon and Def Leppard, with several publications referring to them as "the new Led Zeppelin." Their fast paced, exciting sound not only created a loyal fan base in Great Britain, but was to be one of the most important influences on thrash metal. So much so that not only has their classic song, "Am I Evil?" been a regular in Metallica sets, but Metallica would join forced with Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax to cover the song during the "Big Four" shows.

Last weekend, the New Cross Inn in South East London put on a weekend of rock and capping off the bill was the aforementioned legends, Diamond Head. While there was some decent acts beforehand, fans had flocked to see the headliners this evening, who prior to the set were happy to take photos and sign various items of memorabilia. When it did come time to take to the stage, they proudly opened with "Shout At The Devil" from the 2016 self-titled album. For those who haven't heard the latest offering, it's vintage Diamond Head and subsequently, other songs such as "Set My Soul On Fire" and the superb, "Bones" fit in perfectly with the old material. More...

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Voivod Wakes Up The Underworld

It's been five years since Canadian progressive thrash metal legends Voivod released the album, "Target Earth," during which time they gradually released the "Post Society" EP. Last month however, the band finally released a new full length album, "The Wake." The ambitious concept album is sure to get fans excited and people talking but some would say it's in a live setting where Voivod really shines, so I popped along to The Underworld in Camden, North London to see what a headlining Voivod show is like.

Having unfortunately missed out on the bulk of opening act, Cryptic Shift, it was on to the main support for the evening, Bio-Cancer. Hailing from Athens, the Greek thrashers have a lot more to offer than the eighties throwbacks of the mid to late 2000s thrash revival, containing some grindcore influences and a trace of black metal. Those who appreciate the genre found much to like about the Hellenic thrashers, though I did notice that the longer they were on, the bar was becoming more crowded. While there may not be too much to remark on when it comes to their live show, if you're a fan of old school thrash that likes to walk on the extreme side a little, Bio-Cancer are worth checking out. More...

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Vodun Casts A Spell Over Bristol

Vodun could well be one of the most exciting and original rising bands in the United Kingdom today. Combining classic heavy and doom metal with African and Latin beats, presented with striking imagery and a bombastic live show. With their new album, "Ascend" now available and with a European tour underway, now is the perfect time to be introduced to this one of a kind trio.

The show took place at The Crofters Rights in Bristol, a smart little venue in the increasingly trendy area of Stokes Croft, a far cry from the last time I visited when it was known simply as The Croft, a tiny, cramped but welcoming club which hosted such hardcore legends as Sick Of It All and Madball. Vodun were joined tonight by local outfit Age Decay, who themselves have a lot to offer. The band can very much best be described as doom metal, with echoes of early Cathedral to be found, but there's a strong aura of progressive rock too, a little like a darker North Atlantic Oscillation. Given the usual long run times of both doom and prog songs, it's hard to say how long they were on for, which is actually a compliment in that I was entertained throughout enough not to check my watch once. Fans of slower, gloomy rock and metal would do well to check out this group from the English south west. More...

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An Evening With Acid Reign's Howard H. Smith

And now for something completely different. We almost exclusively report on live shows at Metal Underground, but every now and then, there's an event which calls out to us and our love of metal which doesn't see a guitar strummed or a drum beat. This evening at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden, London, Howard H. Smith, comedian and frontman of one of Britain's most beloved thrash metal bands, Acid Reign, was joined by a few dozen people to hear his stories of the heyday of thrash and life in a metal band.

It's difficult to talk about a spoken word set without giving away much or spoiling the material, which I certainly don't want to do. H opened up with humour and a genuine likability, which made the anecdotes not just entertaining, but relatable and therefore, touching. Anyone who's ever been in a band will find a connection in his recollection of Acid Reign's formation, gigs and internal problems, the last of which he covers respectably by refusing to bring anybody's name into the negative aspects. More...

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Relentless Raven Wrecks London

When digging through what was labelled the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, fans can find a plethora of amazing music, with so many different styles of heavy metal at a time before the likes of thrash and death metal were established genres. A common theme though is bands losing members to the point where groups such as Diamond Head, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Saxon and Venom only have one member who appeared on the first album. However, one of the era's most exciting bands, Raven, still have their backbone firmly in place, as the Gallagher brothers (John and Mark) are still going and after forty four years, making sure the Raven is flying as high as ever. Now with a new drummer, Mike Heller, the trio are on a headlining tour across Europe and all who attend are guaranteed a great show.

Opening up their final British show of the tour was Manchester based hard rockers, Heavy Sentence. I've criticised some bands in the past for offering nothing new but in this case, it was good fun to hear some no frills, balls out rock and roll in the vein of Motorhead and Rose Tattoo. As opening band, they almost naturally played to the smallest crowd of the night, though those that weren't here were treated to some hard and heavy, foot tapping rock. Sometimes the simplest things in life can be the finest. More...

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Soulfly Enthralls The Bristol Tribe

With a new album, "Ritual" just around the corner, Max Cavalera and his cohorts are very busy preparing to unleash the record and nothing gets fans pumped for a new live album like a blistering live performance. This is just what fans were treated to in Bristol last week at the intimate Fleece venue just outside the city centre.

Opting to use local support throughout their tour of the United Kingdom, they were joined on their final night in Britain by BOE (Beginning Of Extinction.) BOE perform a brand of music best described as early 2000s nu metal, reminiscent of bands like Drowning Pool, Saliva and to a lesser extent Coal Chamber. It's a little difficult to report on the performance of a local band because it's hard to tell how much of those cheering are friends of the band to begin with, but as someone who doesn't know the band but enjoys some the aforementioned bands, I can say that they were unremarkable, but by no means terrible. There's nothing to get excited about and their second vocalist contributes as much to the music as Bez from the Happy Mondays, but as a whole, they're fine. BOE clearly strikes a chord with some people, but there was also plenty of others hanging out in the smoking area. All in all, check them out if you miss the sound of fifteen years ago and judge for yourself. More...

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Bloodstock 2018: Day Three

All good things must come to an end, as they say. And so it was that after two days full of metal, the Bloodstock Open Air festival drew to a close with one last blast of high octane music. It's strange to say about a metal festival, but given the amount of children and seasoned rockers in the audience over the course of the weekend, it can honestly be said that Bloodstock is fun for all ages, not just in terms of the festival and its fairground attractions, but for some of the bands who performed over the weekend too.

As had unfortunately been becoming a tradition, I missed out on the opening band on the Ronnie James Dio stage and instead got to the main area to see progressive metal outfit, Evergrey. Having witnessed some of their set at 70000 Tons Of Metal this year, it was interesting to see the band in a different light, quite literally as the atmospheric lighting of the ship's ampitheatre had been replaced with the cold, grey skies of the East Midlands morning. Attending the festival with a group of prog metal fans, I can safely say that the Swedes delight their fan base and target audience. Their long, intricate pieces are a must see for fans of the style but for those who aren't so keen or consider themselves more of a casual fan, this brand of music might do a lot to excite and certainly doesn't help wake you from the night before. More...

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Bloodstock 2018: Day Two

Following a highly entertaining opening day which featured standout performances from Judas Priest, Suicidal Tendencies and Doro, Bloodstock Open Air had much to offer for the middle of the weekend, from death metal legends to up and comers to elaborate stage shows.

Having missed out on main stage openers, Nailed To Obscurity, my Saturday began at the Ronnie James Dio stage with one of the most talked about young bands going today, Texan thrashers, Power Trip. Thrash metal, being comprised in part by hardcore punk, can often be a gamble when translated to a large, outdoor stage during the day, with some bands not always able to make it work. It's safe to say however, that Power Trip don't have this problem.

Promoting their latest album, "Nightmare Logic," which was released last year, the group tore apart the main stage and attacked the waking audience with a tenacity that couldn't have been more confrontational unless they continuously shouted, "WAKE UP DICKHEADS, IT'S TIME FOR POWER TRIP!" It may have been morning but the energy that the band transferred to the crowd already resulted in mosh pits and crowd surfing, as vocalist Riley Gale spurred on the madness with his performance alone. A great way to start the day thanks to a band who will only get bigger and badder with time. More...

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Bloodstock 2018: Day One

Festival season is drawing to a close for another year, with the likes of Wacken, Graspop, Hellfest and others all over until 2019. This year, Metal Underground had the pleasure of attending Bloodstock Open Air, the fastest growing metal festival in the United Kingdom, held at Catton Park, Derbyshire and featuring bands from all across the globe, from legends to unsigned acts. So how did this year's edition of Bloodstock go? Read on, MacDuff.

The grounds open on Thursday, as the finishing touches are being put on the main stage, though fans are still treated to an evening of metal courtesy of the second stage, named after the SOPHIE charity (Stamp Out Prejudice Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere) which this year was headlined by Russian folk metal band, Arkona. I was only able to catch one set, which was from British death metal outfit Bloodshot Dawn, a solid performance which attracted a decent sized crowd and a positive response from those in attendance. One thing that will hit you immediately after entering the arena area is how expensive everything is, even by festival standards. We expect prices to be raised at festivals, but £7 for a standard burger is ridiculous, add fries and a soft drink and it comes to £14.80, way more than the mediocre refreshments should cost. This is why it's useful to bring food and drink of your own and eat in the campsite during some downtime. More...

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Danzig And Paradise Lost At Brixton Academy

Some pairings just fit perfectly. Bread and butter, salt and vinegar and in tonight's case, Danzig and Paradise Lost. The two veterans are both celebrating thirty years of their respective bands this year and joined forced for two nights only in the United Kingdom last week, the first taking place in Glasgow and the second in London. I went along to South London's Brixton Academy, one of several venues in the country under the sponsorship of mobile phone company, 02.

Taking to the stage with "No Hope In Sight," from the 2015 album, "The Plague Within," England's own, Paradise Lost offered no frills but plenty of darkness and Gothic visions with a lively set which featured no more than one song per album represented. This included only one song, "Blood and Chaos" from their latest opus, "Medusa," along with more recent material such as the title track from 2009's, "Faith Divides Us Death Unites Us" and "The Enemy" from "In Requiem."

There was also a number of older favourites on display such as the anthemic "Ember's Fire" and the "Shades Of God" standout track, "As I Die." The quintet also brought out a cover of the Bronski Beat hit, "Small Town Boy" before finishing up with "Say Just Words" from the 1997 album, "One Second." From start to finish, Paradise Lost carried themselves with the standing of the legends they are, whilst retaining an intimate feeling throughout, resulting in a solid performance and a setlist which delighted fans. More...

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Ministry Brings Madness And Mayhem To Bristol

With over thirty years of music, drugs and resistance under their belts, industrial pioneers Ministry, led by charismatic and enigmatic frontman Al Jourgensen, have accumilated a catalogue of a quality the likes of which most bands would kill for. They have never been one to rest on their laurels however and their live shows are very much in the moment, both in terms of their music and the general climate the world finds itself in. With their first album in six years, "AmeriKKKant" out now, the band once again has a lot to say. Donald Trump fans, stop reading now!

Opening the initial shows on their trek across the United Kingdom is singer songwriter, Chelsea Wolfe. I had heard much about her but not her music, which was introduced to me with the visceral opening number, "Carrion Flowers." Wolfe's music is powerful, haunting, reminiscent of several but all of its own.

Cloaked in darkness, Chelsea and her band continued to promote latest album, "Hiss Spun" by performing such new songs as "Spun," "Vex" and "16 Psyche," they received a very warm reception from a crowd who expect to see the unexpected and unconventional, given the headliners. Some older compositions such as "Dragged Out," "Demons" and "Feral Love" were also brought out, before closing with another song from the latest release, this time, "Scrape." Chelsea Wolfe is a law unto herself, stirring up images of Siouxsie Sioux, Kate Bush and Bjork, trapped together in an iron maiden. A true artist who must be heard to be believed. More...

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