Live Review : Skid Row + Backyard Babies + H.E.A.T. @ O2 Ritz, Manchester on January 22nd 2019

It’s as regular a night in Manchester as you are likely to find. There is evidence of rain and daytime activities have transitioned into minor night time reveries. The crimson death wagon has sped into Manchester with the grace of a drunk at an open bar. We arrive late, H.E.A.T are just about to go on stage.  Johann makes the scramble to the pit, leaving me at the bar. Apologies to Vega, domestic shenanigans and Manchester never ending roadworks hold us up.

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Live Review : Powerwolf + Amaranthe + Kissin' Dynamite @ Academy 2, Manchester on January 19th 2019

It’s that time of year were the family tries to kill off the weakest member by incubating the most virulent strain of cold, flu or chest infection possible and infecting a member at the most inconvenient possible time.  All attempts to resist are futile, alcohol gel, tissues, exercise and pre-firing (See Call of Duty) day and night nurse are not barrier enough and my wife manages at the very end of her own ordeal to pass the lurgy onto me.  Both myself and Johann’s crimson death wagon cough and splutter into Manchester for a mid-afternoon chat with Johannes (Hannes) Braun, vocal songsmith for Kissin’ Dynamite, more to follow as a separate piece on rockflesh.com.

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Live Review : Avatar + The Mahones + Dylan Walshe @ O2 Ritz, Manchester on January 18th 2019

Avatar's rise has very much been an old fashioned word of mouth occurrence. They haven't been the subject of any kind of media or industry hyperbole and instead they have slowly but surely become a big deal as a result of hard work and the building of a fearsome reputation as an astounding live act. Not only is tonight’s show at the one and a half thousand capacity Ritz sold out, but Avatar have achieved this feat purely on their own merits as the of the bill is head scratchingly odd in its eclecticism.

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Live review : Architects + Beartooth @ Victoria Warehouse, Manchester on January 14th 2019

Tonight feels like a graduation, a celebration, an inauguration and perhaps even an ascension. After fifteen long years, Architects, always the bridesmaid and near the bride of British metal, have finally morphed into the slick stadium bothering juggernaut they always threatened to be. But before I pour platitudes on the newly crowned masters of our metallic world, there is the small matter of Beartooth (due to the indescribably long time it takes a three year to consume sausage and beans I miss openers Polaris. They could well be the greatest band in the multiverse, however due to my sons propensity for eating one bean at a time I will never know).

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Live review : Myrkur + Jo Quail @ Gorilla, Manchester on December 19th 2018

My best mate is as musically obsessive as I am, but his aural drugs of choice are opera, folk and classical. Over the last ten years we have entered into a Faustian pact and have taken each other to shows. He has taken me to the Opera house at Covent Garden to see an astonishing production of Salome, to the Royal Festival Hall to see experimental symphonies and to a tiny folk club hidden in the back streets of London to witness an eighty year old man recite centuries old revolutionary ditties. On the other hand I have taken him to see Dying FoetusAlestorm and the mighty Slayer.

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Live Review : Grá + Damim + Agrona @ Star and Garter, Manchester on December 16th 2018

So after doing a week of mega-gigs courtesy of Nightwish and Def Leppard, here I am back in my element. Namely a dark, dinky poorly lit upstairs room of a pub and also as usual there are probably less than 40 locals joining me, but none of this matters as this for me, is where our music really comes to life.

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Year in Review by Paul Flett

Our life, like the universe, is largely made up of dark matter punctuated by the occasional bright spot.  As we stare into the unnatural canvas of brake lights and computer screens, sat in our prescribed clothing trying to remain within prescribed behaviours, is it any wonder how close our demons lurk beneath this veneer?  Something as simple as the organised vibration of air particles is enough to lure the beasts from all of us, unleashed and unburdened, a second state of you, fist in the air. Screaming “It has to start somewhere It has to start sometime, what better place than here, what better time than now? All hell can't stop us now”.

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Live Review : Clutch + The Picturebooks @ The Academy, Manchester on December 20th 2018

Before I was able to rationale an argument against religion I often found myself as a child, stood behind a lectern reciting a letter from the Corinthians or some such babble to the elderly parishioners of Kirkby.  Now as a young boy I didn’t know much about a rabbits dick, but I’m fairly certain not one person mentioned within the New Testament called Jesus “a shit stained cunt”.  Alas the sheer misery of negotiating Manchester’s gridlocked streets took its toll on Johann.  That was just the start.    

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Live Review : Sólstafir + Talons + Telepathy @ The Deaf Institute, Manchester on December 19th 2018

Sólstafir for me, are one of the most inventive and vibrant bands currently earning their crust playing Heavy Metal, so why are they yet again in one of Manchester’s most select venues (ie its smaller than my living room) is beyond me. But more ranting about the fact that a band of Sólstafir’s stature are playing in place that would give even the smallest cat a headache later. We have two support acts to look at first.

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Live Review : Skindred + Sonic Boom Six + Scare Tactics @ O2 Academy, Liverpool on December 15th 2018

Why is everyone at Def Leppard tonight? Don’t they know the real party is on Hotham Street? Newport “Ragga Metal" pioneers Skindred are back with their “That's My Jam" tour, and I’m ever in the mood for the kind of fun packed shenanigans that the band routinely bring to their live shows. I flew out the house without my bank card and my train home has been cancelled, but even that doesn’t dampen my spirit. I might just have to walk 17 miles home, that’s all.

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Live Review : Def Leppard + Cheap Trick @ Echo Arena, Liverpool on December 15th 2018

I may spend approximately eighty percent of my time listening to obscure extreme metal (according to Spotify) but I absolutely adore Cheap Trick. They are the sonic equivalent of devouring all of a king-size packet of Haribo by yourself; decedent, indulgent, sickly sweet and so so wrong but god oh so enjoyable.

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Live Review : Uriah Heep + Von Hertzen Brothers @ O2 Ritz, Manchester on December 12th 2018

Johann rocks up to the house, sends me a text “Thanks, Love!”. It’s sweet but I think the sentiment is misguided, I’ll take it though, it’s a harsh world and the cold is eating through my chequered shirt. If K is reading this, I think it was meant for you! We are on the road early; New Years resolutions are being activated early. It’s the new way, Johann assures me. So of course we get to the gig with ten minutes to spare. “Should I move to Manchester?” He jokes, “Manchester people are so much friendlier!” just as he is cut up by an errant Mancunian in a silver Volvo.

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Live Review : Nightwish + Beast In Black @ MEN Arena, Manchester on December 11th 2018

I've traveled all over this country and to the continent to see Nightwish, so it was quite nice for once to see them with just a simple twenty minute tram ride home. Though, to be honest I suspect booking the cavernous Manchester Arena may have been a slightly over-ambitious move on their part as it is only about at best, a third full and there was enough space at the back of the seating area to build a small nuclear reactor. Though I shouldn't really complain as taking residence in the biggest venue Manchester has to offer means that they have been able to bring their full mega production and that production includes obligatory support act that haven't played UK before.

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Live Review : Spock's Beard + The Flower KIngs @ Academy Club, Manchester on December 10th 2018

I regularly dip my toe into Prog and my signed vinyl copy of ‘Misplaced Childhood’ would be the thing I would save in a fire, but tonight I may be out of my depth as I am in serious hardcore Prog devotee territory. This is top shelf, sold in a brown paper bag, hundred percent proof, not for lightweights full strength stuff and this is an audience of devotees and connoisseurs, very much not the ‘I heard one song on the radio I thought I would check them out’ crowd. 

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Live Review : Graveyard + Bombus @ Academy 3, Manchester on December 6th 2018

It may be cold out but tonight, in the wind tunnel that is the Academy 3 we are gathered to be warmed once more by the great blues rock revival (though I was at University here in the nineties so this room with always be the Hop and Grape or even the hope and grope…). Anyway there is a vague feeling of hip and trendy about this evening as the moustaches and beards are out in strength and the PA is pumping out obscure Swedish rock n roll, sung in Swedish. 

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Live Review : Zeal & Ardor @ Gorilla, Manchester on December 5th 2018

The question of where Metal goes next is something, we fans debate frequently as there are very few genre's left that Metal hasn't sidled up to and fluttered it's eyelashes at. Zeal & Ardor have taken a very unique direction by looking for inspiration from the musical cornerstones that shaped the Blues, namely Gospel and Afro-spiritual. By combing the raw power of Black Metal with these two equally earthy and guttural influences they have managed to create something that sounds completely and utterly unique. 

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Live Review : The Magpie Salute + Maker @ Academy 2, Manchester on December 3rd 2018

The most satisfying success comes when you push and push and something happens beyond the prescribed boundaries. Often it is where you can see opportunity that others can’t. So it was, that in the sixth minute of four minutes injury time, Divock Origi saw what no one else did and caused much celebration for one middle aged Frenchman, who now sits beside me, bottle of water to hand and the effects of a 96th minute derby winner steering him nauseously to Manchester in the red, bullet wagon of death.  “I don’t skimp on brakes and tyres” he assures me, testing his unnerving creed to the limit, but thankfully not past it.

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Live Review : Aborted + Cryptosis + Ingested + Unfathomable Ruination @ Rebellion, Manchester

It is very apt that as we enter the festive season that Rebellion should provide such a celebration of the strength, power and utter hedonistic joy that is Death Metal. In fact the bill is so strong that even though it has been upgraded from the much smaller Factory, the venue is still packed to the rafters from the first notes of the first band until we are unceremoniously kicked out 10pm to make way for a Trance Night.

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