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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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Therapy? Go Unplugged And Unleashed

Back in the nineties, the word "alternative" was thrown around like a jobber in the ring with The Undertaker. Over time, the bands who were being tagged with this label began to sound like each other, though some groups proved they were worthy of such a title, sounding like no one else and being difficult to pinpoint. If ever there was a band who fit that description, it would be Northern Ireland's own, Therapy? Achieving underground and then mainstream success with such albums as "Nurse," "Troublegum" and "Infernal Love" and are still going strong today. "How strong" you ask? Well, how many bands can tear the roof off the place at an acoustic show?

The show took place at Nells Jazz and Blues Club in Kensington, London, a charming club which was able to host one of the best atmospheres one could have at a Friday evening gig, letting the sunlight in through the surrounding windows, while candlelit tables welcomed rockers of all ages and tastes to the show, anchored by friendly and talkative staff. There was no support tonight, Therapy? would take to the stage with their instruments and that would be that. They received a hero's welcome as they did so and opened the set with the memorable, "Living In The Shadow Of A Terrible Thing" from their superb 2012 album, "A Brief Crack of Light." More...

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Psychostick Brings The Joy To London

One of the great things about heavy metal is the ability to laugh at itself. Going back to the days of spoofs like Bad News and Spinal Tap to the more modern takes like Okilly Dokilly, Dethklok and Steel Panther. One of the most popular group of jokers in metal today is Psychostick of Tempe, Arizona (though drummer Alex "Shmalex" Dontre is Canadian.) Facing the task of celebrating Independence Day in London (which was continuously referred to as "traitor's day" by the crowd,) the band opted to perform without a support band and instead play two sets at The Borderline in Soho.

First of all, The Borderline is a very impressive venue. It comes across as somewhere between a jazz club and a love letter to Stanley Kubrick, drawing comparisons to the Korova Milk Bar from A Clockwork Orange in the main area and a surreal lighting in the corridor leading to the toilets and backstage exit which was reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Drinks were also surprisingly cheap and the bar staff were superb. I personally would like more gigs to be held here in the future. More...

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Eyehategod Gives Bristol A Revelation/Revolution

Eyehategod a truly a law unto themselves. Celebrating their thirtieth anniversary this year, the influential band from New Orleans has fought through addiction, violence and even death to be here today. They've been hitting the road heavy this year, touring with the likes of Black Label Society and Corrosion Of Conformity and this week have been performing throughout the United Kingdom. I was able to catch their show at The Fleece in Bristol and witness first hand what an Eyehategod show is all about.

With no more than four support bands on the bill, I entered the venue in time to see the third, Beggar. Beggar are great for fans of doom and Black Sabbath, as unlike many others in the field, they don't merely imitate Sabbath, rather they take just as much influence from the blues as Birmingham quartet did. Following on from them was DVNE, from the Scottish capital of Edinburgh with plenty to offer. At first, they sound like most doom bands but as time goes on, one begins to notice and appreciate the progressive nature and sounds on display, as well as the post metal tones. Both bands are well worth checking out if you like your metal slow but interesting. More...

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From Satan To Sumeria: Belphegor And Melechesh

Black metal is a genre which has been debated and argued over perhaps more than other sub-genre. What is black metal? Should it be changed and expanded upon? Is it OK for black metal bands to achieve commercial success? Whatever the answers to those may be, it's a fascinating area of discussion and a style of metal in a world of its own. Last week at The Dome in Tufnell Park, London, I witnessed three bands all rooted in black metal, but with three different ideas on how to go about it.

Unfortunately, I hadn't realised that German death metal outfit Commander were performing tonight, so I missed out on them, though I did arrive in time to see Utrecht, Netherlands based blackened thrashers, Bleeding Gods. Having only released their sophomore, "Dodekathlon" a few months ago through Nuclear Blast, the band were fired up and ready to promote it, along with their debut, "Shepherd Of Souls." The Dutch sextet put on a blistering performance which will have delighted fans of Behemoth, Vader and tonight's headliners, Belphegor. Unfortunately I'm not very familiar with their music and I couldn't find a setlist but I can confidently say that Bleeding Gods are destined for headlining European tours of their own and their fan base is only going to get bigger with both music and live performances as strong as this. More...

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A Perfect Circle: Strictly For Fans

After a long absence, A Perfect Circle are back. Now with their fourth studio album, "Eat The Elephant" in stores, their first in fourteen years, A Perfect Circle are once more on the lips of all rock and metal fans who like their music on the more progressive side of things. As part of their tour of Europe, I went along to London's famous Brixton Academy to see what the band are like in the live setting.

Opening the show was Cork, Ireland's own, Talos. While there seemed to be a few fans in, for the neutral this was as boring as music gets. From the slow, whale like vocal delivery to the meandering music, which may have had the intention of a nature walk, but was more of a slow moving traffic jam. I'm sure Talos work well as background music and as mentioned, they clearly work for some people, but there wasn't anything to get excited about, or even interested in for those watching out of curiosity. More...

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Body Count Brings South Central To London

If there's one word thrown around in music all too often, it's "legend." However, if there's one person that deserves that tag, it's Ice-T. The man credited with the first gangsta rap song ("Six In The Morning") by many has earned a reputation for his social commentary and tales of life in poor America, as well as his precise vocal delivery and story telling prowess. However it isn't just rap where Ice-T has had a profound effect, as in the early 90s he revealed his band, Body Count, put together with long time friends.

Their self-titled debut sold well but was massively controversial for its lyrical content, most notably the song, "Cop Killer," which was condemned by actor and NRA spokesman Charlton Heston and even President George H.W. Bush. Fast foward to 2018 and Body Count now have six albums under their belt, the most recent of which, "Bloodlust" was released last year. So, at the tender age of sixty, does Ice-T, Ernie C and company still have it? What do you think? More...

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Discharge Delight The London Faithful

Metal owes a lot to punk rock, some bands moreso than others. At the top of the list must surely be Discharge, the punks from Stoke On Trent who have had their music covered by such bands as Metallica, Sepultura, Anthrax and Machine Head to name a few. It's surprising then that for a band as legendary as this, the turnout in London was quite disappointing. Despite this and the absence of bassist Royston "Rainy" Wainwright, the band made sure that all that did attend went home happy.

Opening the show was The Migraines, based in both Bristol and London. The band is very much what one would think of when it comes to punk bands, minus the Mohawks, in that they have some solid music but are very loose and non-nonchalant about things. They're a good laugh at first but the novelty of their simple lyrics wears off pretty quickly, there's only so many bands that can sing songs about weed before it becomes very stale. Despite my criticisms, they're at least very good musically and well worth checking out if the style and humour are to your taste. More...

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Leaves' Eyes Leaves An Impression In London

Symphonic metal is one of the most popular sub-genres of metal today, with bands headlining festivals across the world and even holding their own in the case of Epica. One of the more prominent bands from this area is Leaves' Eyes, who earlier this year released their superb new album, "Sign Of Dragonhead," their first with new vocalist Elina Siirala. To promote the album, the band has been on an extensive tour of Europe, joined along the way by MaYaN, the side project of Epica mastermind Mark Jansen and Almanac, the new band from former Rage guitarist Victor Smolski. How did the show go? Read on, MacDuff.

Opening the show was Almanac, a power metal project from Victor Smolski with no less than both male and female vocalists. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see a good portion of their set as I was interviewing Leaves' Eyes, but what I did see was very impressive indeed. Smolski has gained the reputation as something of a modern guitar hero and it's easy to see why, as his one of a kind style leads the group to a fresh sound with a unique take on a genre which makes it easy to be bland. Of particular note too was the talents of singers David Readman and Jeannette Marchewka, who were in fine voice throughout. It wasn't a sold out show tonight and opening acts don't always get a large audience, but those who were here for Almanac would find plenty to enjoy. More...

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Crowbar Comes Out On Top In London

It's always intriguing when bands from different genres or generally different styles come together. Cathedral on the Gods of Grind tour was an interesting experiment, as was Sick Of It All on the New Titans On The Block tour. On this night, I made my first visit to Camden's famous, Electric Ballroom to see a show headlined by Converge, where they were joined by special guests Crowbar, another pairing which might raise a few eyebrows.

First of all, credit must be given to The Electric Ballroom. Camden is known for being overpriced and something of a tourist trap, but this large and tidy venue which has hosted everyone from Sid Vicious (who recorded a live album here) to Paul McCartney is very reasonably priced indeed and all the staff from the bouncers to the bartenders to the cloakroom attendants were very friendly and helpful. I don't normally make notes like these about venues, but The Electric Ballroom was so impressive I felt I had to praise their work. More...

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