Live Review : Within Temptation @ O2 Apollo, Manchester on November 10th 2018

Let's get this out there first, during the entire gig the sound is utterly atrocious. It is far too quiet, the guitar and bass are lost in a muddy quagmire and the whole thing sounds like it is being relayed through a dodgy mono radio. I believe that protracted conversations at gigs should be defined as a criminal offence and with the sound so muffled and faint you can hear quite clearly every single conversation happening across the packed Apollo, most of them about why the sound is so dreadful.

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Live Review : Slayer + Lamb Of God + Anthrax + Obituary @ MEN Arena, Manchester on November 9th 2018

It was only in 2010 that I saw Slayer headline a three quarters full Academy, just eight short years later they pretty much filled the Arena. But this is no bog standard Slayer gig, this is, apparently, the end and everyone wants to get one last look at Slayer before its all over. Because the truth is at some point over the last decade Slayer replaced Black Sabbath as being the officially recognised dictionary definition of Metal. They have become metal's spirit and essence distilled into one band. And now they are going away.

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Live Review : Shining + Alithia + Countless Skies + Saurr @ Satan's Hollow, Manchester on November 4th 2018

It’s been that long since I jumped in the Johann’s Crimson, German death wagon that I have changed career paths, got past a serious medical scare (not mine) and watched Johann jet-set about Europe.  Going to a unvisited venue is always exciting.  Aside form the new things too write about each venue has its own character.  Satan’s Hollow is off the beaten track a little, situated in the back roads between Oxford road and Piccadilly it sits askew to its corporate surroundings.  A large, dark, heavy gate greets the visitor, a portent of things inside?  We traverse the usual entry problems, god help us if Johann forgets his phone.  Once inside we can see an unusual layout.  It’s a small venue, 500 people would see this uncomfortable. The stage is a small penned garden of metal right in the centre of the oddly shaped room. Shining have wrapped a large banner around one side of the pen creating a temporary backdrop to the normally circular stage.  The room is intimate but has space for two separate bars.  

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Live Review : Damnation Festival @ Leeds University Students Union on November 3rd 2018

Damnation is like a choose your own adventure experience for Metalheads. Four stages spread across the bewildering labyrinth that is Leeds University Students Union (the Citadel of Chaos ain’t got nothing on here) provides access to some of the finest morsels of black, doom, death and post metal available. With twenty-seven acts spread over twelve hours simply remember which band you wanted to see next (never mind which stage they are on) is a chore all in itself, hence the reason you see plenty of confused looking people wandering around with spreadsheets and maps wondering why the keep ending up back at the pasty shop.

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Live Review : Eric Martin + Rob Wheeler @ Eleven, Stoke-On-Trent on October 30th 2018

Rob Wheeler appeared on stage for his acoustic set to an excited crowd no doubt waiting to see the local lad perform. Rob was accompanied on stage for his 9 songs set by Stephen Tams on keyboards & Elizabeth Birks on backing vocals, he played a mixture of songs from his debut album 'Little Ghosts Full Of Songs' from last year & his new album 'Luxury of Time' that will be released early next year.

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Live Review : Corrosion Of Conformity + Orange Goblin + Fireball Ministry + Black Moth @ O2 Ritz, Manchester on October 30th 2018

There is nothing better than a well-constructed and immaculately curated package tour and tonight's sludgetastic double header of Corrosion of Conformity and Orange Goblin is made even more appetizing by the inclusion of cult stoners Fireball Ministry and Leeds’ Black Moth. The latter are shoved on ten minutes after opening and initially have a mere smattering of a crowd, which is a shame as this is slick doom done remarkably well.

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Live Review : Marcus King Band @ Night and Day Cafe, Manchester on October 27th 2018

The gifted Marcus King Band play to a sold out Night and Day Cafe tonight. Punching well above his years Marcus King is already a star with blues music lovers due to his exceptional guitar prowess. His debut album ‘Soul Insight’, released in 2015 had all and sundry getting their knickers in a twist due to his age, 19 years old, being too young for the quality of the songs on that release. Strong connections with Warren Haynes (produced their second album, The Marcus King Band) and Derek Trucks from the Tedeschi Trucks Band who King opened for on TTB Wheels of Soul Tour in 2018 gave the band much needed exposure.

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Live Review : Attila + Eskimo Callboy + Browning @ Academy Club, Manchester on October 22nd 2018

I am often struggling to comprehend if we will ever have decent motorways in the U.K. I had it all planned and set off earlier than most occasions but the gods of travel decided otherwise tonight. After having spent an hour stuck on the M57, it became quickly apparent that no matter what, I would be a no show for the supporting act, Kansas City based electro-deathcore fusion item The Browning. Being always on the look out for new bands and missing out on support acts makes my blood boil and must admit that screaming a few times in my car was more than therapeutic.

Eventually, I made it to the Academy Club in Manchester on a rather busy night for a Monday. The Student Union building reception is surrounded by over-emotional youth bringing drama to the scene as ambulance staff arrives for reasons unknown.

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Live Review : Saxon + FM + Wayward Sons @ Academy, Manchester on October 21st 2018.

Wayward Sons marks the second (or to be honest third or even fourth) musical coming of former Little Angels frontman Toby Jepson. Their debut album ‘Ghosts of Yet to Come’ emerged last year and was an enthusiastic and passionate collection of well-crafted and highly charged heavy rock songs. Live they display that same energy, lust for life and authenticity that made their first album stand out from the crowd.

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Live Review : Black Peaks + Bossk + Gold Keys @ Academy 3, Manchester on October 17th 2018

In your mind’s eye draw what you think the stereotypical Hoxton dwelling uber hipster looks like and voila you have Gold Keys. They wander on stage giving the distinct impression they are about to accept an award for creating the trendiest of trendy hairstyles or the hoppiest craft beer ever and then precede to be rather subdued Radiohead copyist. I was expecting vim and vigour but what we do get is, to be brutally honest, rather dull. 

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Live Review : Evil Scarecrow + Ten Foot Wizard @ Academy Club, Manchester on October 12th 2018

Over the course of an hour and a half Evil Scarecrow provide one of the most enjoyable stage shows I have seen this year. There are more props and special effects than most Sci-fi movies and yes its more Plan 9 from Outer Space than Star Wars but that’s part of the charm. We get battling robots, drumming skeletons, aliens, UFO’s, massive slugs, NASA spacemen, robotic crabs, one of those huge inflatable men you get outside car showrooms and guest appearances from Link of Legends of Zelda and Chun-Li from Street Fighter 2. They may all have been lovingly created with Papier-Mache and sticky back plastic in someone’s garage but the effort that Evil Scarecrow go to make their show a riot of colourfulness and wackiness puts most other more ‘serious’ bands to shame.

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Live Review : Enslaved + High On Fire @ Academy 2, Manchester on October 8th 2018

Enslaved and High on Fire make for interesting tour bedfellows. The former are the thinking person’s Black Metal band. Pedalling an intricate, complex and subtle take on a musical genre that can be rather harsh and one dimensional. On the other hand High on fire are the drinking persons Doom band, offering up a guttural, primitive and brutally direct take on what an often be an introspective genre.

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Live Review : Deafheaven + Inter Arma @ Gorilla, Manchester on October 1st 2018

Due to children and trains I miss the first ten minutes of openers Inter Arma, given that they manage to traverse a good twenty-odd genres and musical touchstones in the four tracks I do see (it could have been six, they did rather blur into each other), I could have easily missed their takes on Nu-country, Bolivian folk and Hi-NRG dance. What I do see is a collusion of Doom, Black, Post and Prog metals with a splash of Faith No More and generous glug of Pantera. It's not bad at all and the introspective Prog breakdowns (which see vocalist Mike Paparo reverentially kneel in front of the drum kit) makes it stand out from other identikit Blackened Doom acts I could mention. 

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Live Review : Sons Of Apollo + Schiermann @ Academy 2, Manchester on October 1st 2018

I’d literally just clicked send on the Just Eat order, the anticipation of a large chicken kebab swirling around the axions and synapses.  Was I droolin?  Then that little ping and a blue message “I’m on my way”.  What? Why are you on your way?  What purpose? I check the Rockflesh calendar, clear as a bell 1st Oct - Sons of Apollo.  I quickly throw a t-shirt and hoodie on and dive out. Johann’s late for a gig I thought was tomorrow.  He roars down the street, I’m already missing the kebab.  The rain has turned the roads black, slick and shiny.  Distorted brake lights multiplied in the windscreen.  After a few death defying, maybe law breaking manoeuvres we are at the familiar side street in Manchester city centre.  The Academy 2 is the epitome of a box auditorium.   It looks like a glorified Punch and Judy stand.  

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Live Review : The Treatment + Airrace + Tequila Mockingbyrd @ Rebellion, Manchester on September 25th 2018

A midweek gig in Manchester on a Tuesday Champions League soccer night is always a blessing for me. When one half of the city is in a stadium and the other glued to their TV screens to watch guys chasing after a ball, it generally means getting there should be a doddle. But for live bands, Tuesdays are more of a predicament and as I get through the door of Rebellion, tonight is no exception for the Cambridge quintet The Treatment who is halfway through its UK tour.

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Live Review : Jaret Reddick + The Dollyrots + Lacey @ The Arts Club, Liverpool on September 16th 2018

Finally reaching the third installment of live music this week, I head tonight to the Arts Club in Liverpool City Centre. I had been there recently, attending the Russian World Cup troublemakers Pussy Riot. But this evening the performance is set in the smaller and more intimate room up the stairs; Jaret Reddick’s 5 U.K. shows Heartache & Hilarity tour or in other words '‘songs on acoustic and a few stories in between’.

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Live Review : SikTh + Loathe + Lotus Eater + Vulture Cult + Our Divinity @ Hangar 34 in Liverpool on September 15th 2018

It’s the second part of a trilogy of live rock viewings this weekend and tonight I am heading to Hangar 34 in Liverpool for the djent founding father SikTh. Situated in the middle of the rejuvenated Baltic Triangle, the venue lends itself well to the dance scene happening most weekends. Now that our familiar rock venue, the Krazyhouse has closed its doors and is unlikely to be developed into a new rock club, Hangar 34 have recently taken up the mantle by picking up the occasional metal gigs here in scouse land.

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Live Review : Europe + King King @ The Academy, in Manchester on September 14th 2018

The red Audi screeches to a stop outside my door. I jump in, Johann is drumming the steering wheel. He is super excited and roars up the road. Manchester can’t come soon enough. I’d already been warned that Europe are a first love. Still integrity and all that.  No one is fast enough and Manchester’s myriad of perma-road works aren’t helping. Doors open at 7:00pm so a 7:30 kick off isn’t unlikely and there is the usual gauntlet of getting in to run.  The Academy has a large pool of staff so we don’t get recognised as press quite so quickly.  There is also the matter of the little jaunt between parking and entry.  All aforementioned problems evaporate, a smooth entry and we are at the bar. King King are due to start at 8:00pm. This is the start of Europe’s European tour.

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Live Review : L.A. Guns + Jared James Nichols + Stone Trigger @ The Tivoli, Buckley on September 8th 2018

We’re in Wales, well Buckley, on a wet Saturday night on what feels like the start of winter.  The accents in the queue are thick with wool.  Why the queue? Technical difficulties are holding back the doors.  I always wonder why they don’t just let us in, they’re not keeping a secret from us.  We know how bands sound check.  The bar is still working.

Johann is nervous, I missed the deadline for last review, by some way, a gig I requested.  There is talk of interlopers, a support slot for the headlining act. I don’t blame him, I’m a naturally lazy fucker and he’s not. I must be a pain in the arse to know. 

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Live Review : Blaze Bayley + The Clan + Fugitive @ Tivoli, Buckley on September 1st 2018

With no particular expectations as to what the evening may bring, I am, tonight travelling down the M56 to the Tivoli in Buckley. Once again, as well as photographing I am back on penning duties. Rock writers these days are as unpredictable in their delivery as a deal for Brexit.

Blaze Bayley is currently on a 4 date mini UK tour before heading for the continent, showcasing his latest release “The Redemption of William Black”, the final instalment of the trilogy “Infinite Entanglement”. Blaze Bayley is infamous for being the guy who was a lead singer for a decade in the band ‘Wolfsbane’ with no notable success (compared with his peers of the late 80s). That is, until Blaze got to be that guy who was picked to replace Bruce Dickinson; Iron Maiden lead singer during the mid 90s Just for a couple of albums whilst Bruce Dickinson was going through a bit of a midlife crisis, being an airline pilot, writer in no particular order. Anyway, I digress.

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