earthtone9: ‘Tat Twan Asi’

There can’t be anyone who was a fan of metal in the 1990s that hasn’t seen earthtone9 dozens of times. Just off the top of my head, I can think of a fair few times I saw them:

  1. Supporting Pulkas at the Reading Alleycat.
  2. Watching them play at the horrendous Lost Weekend festival, where vocalist Karl Middleton performed wearing nothing but a pair of pants made of cling-film.
  3. Supporting Soulfly at the Astoria, where Karl admirably provided the Grady Avenell vocal parts of ‘Pain’ (with Glassjaw’s Daryl Palumbo for the encore.
  4. Outshining Disturbed (oh, I’d be ashamed if I paid for the ticket), as main support at their fist Astoria show.
  5. Rumbling the shit out of the Zodiac in Oxford, which is now the Carling Academy Oxford (of which their support act will be the subject of a future blog…)
  6. Supporting Kill II This, where Karl’s vocal warm-ups would ruin half of an interview I did with Mark Mynett for a fanzine I used to produce when I was but an idiot teenager.
  7. And finally calling it a day with their last-ever show at the LA2. There’s probably a whole lot more that I can’t remember right now.

Despite ruining half of an interview with smeone else, I would later corner Karl and guitarist Owen Packard in a chilly corridor of the Astoria, right before they supported Fear Factory. I remember asking them why they’d become the Support Bnd Of Choice for, everyone, and they couldn’t really give me a straight answer. Sure, they were a considerable amount more talented than the competition, but why wasn’t that talent enough to propel them into the stage where they were perennial headliners instead of the warm-up guys?

So what happened after the split? Karl Middleton turned up in The Blueprint for a while, before going on to provide vocals for Twin Zero, although he appears to have slid off the map recently. You used to see him drinking in The Purple Turtle in Reading a few years back, maybe someone should go and ask him? Owen Packard did the six-string thing for a track for uber-group This Is Menace, and now runs a PR company, handling press duties for a number of UK rock acts. But everytime I get a bit nostalgic for the late 1990’s, I’ll stick on their final full-length album, arc’tan’gent, and think about what might’ve been.

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Miocene: ‘9mm High & Rising’

Miocene at it live

Miocene at it live

Micoene were one of those bands that we didn’t appreciate when we had them, and now they’re shockingly overdue some kind of retrospective praise. Pre-dating the current resurgence in intelligent UK metal such as The Arusha Accord (there’s more to UK metal in 2008 that Bullet For My Valentine, thank fuck…), Miocene were one of a clutch of British metal bands making music outside of trends around the time of the millenium.

The band eventually released three full-length albums, and a mini-album (of which today’s track is taken). It was the mini-album that really grabbed me at the time – I’d just read Watchmen for the first time, and the rorschach blob on the cover of Refining The Theory lept out at me almost as much as the music it packaged. Closer to earthtone9 than the nu-metal apologists that made up most of the rest of young UK metal at the time, Miocene injected a spiky sense of IQ into my teenage listening habits.

And – guess what? – they’ve split up. Hey, it’s almost a Nostalgic Metal Bullshit tradition now. The London four-piece might not have sold a million records, but I like to think they had a impact on everyone who ever bought one of their CDs or caught them playing live. On the rare occasions I bump into another fan at a gig or something, then everyone always seems to a have a war story to share about them.

Okay, so the production on the drums is fucking horrible. But it was the dawn of a new century, and people were too busy angrily demanding a refund for all their redundant Anti-Millenium Bug software to care too much about drum sounds.

Anyway, your download’s below. There’s more where that came from on Miocene’s old MySpace page.

Miocene – ‘9mm High & Rising’

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Karmic Jera: ‘Deathrace’

Plastic Toys NOT Karmic Jera

Plastic Toys NOT Karmic Jera

So, yeah, been a bit slack with the updates. My raft of posts about bands that have split up has hit a real mine of inspiration in me – there’s a whole load of great bands I’ve got lined up to mouth off about.

First up is Southampton’s Karmic Jera, who are not in the above photograph. That’s Plastic Toys, the band that formed from the bloody scraps left after Karmic Jera split. The guys in Plastic Toys seem rather embarassed with their former incarnation, with frontman, “Jon Plastic”, saying “we were a White Zombie-esque band, so they made us do photoshoots in graveyards like we were Cradle Of Filth or something. We recorded an album we hated, all the kids preferred our self-produced demo and we lost our hardcore fanbase.” Oh.

The album they all hated was Zombies, Blood and Go-Go Girls, which the band recorded as part of a prize that KArmic Jera won by through a Battle Of The Bands feature run by Kerrang! and Dreamcatcher Records. Overall, the record falls somewhere between Rob Zombie and Powerman 5000 (the band fronted by…err….Rob Zombie’s younger brother, Spider 1), and while it has some horrendously cringeworthy moments (the opening track, ‘Do U Wanna Cyber?’, has one of the worst titles of any song ever), I don’t think it’s half as bad as the band make out.

The band are doing a bit of touring before the end of the year, and while they’ve ditched almost all of the White Zombie-isms that caught my attention in the first place, they’re still probably worth checking out live if you fancy a break from pure metal with a night of electro-rock. Their website has the tour dates if you’re interested.

So yeah, your download link – right-click (ctrl-click if you’re a Mac person):

‘Deathrace’ by Karmic Jera

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Pitchshifter: ‘Un-United Kingdom’

This was the track that marked the beginning of the end for Nottingham’s Pitchshifter. Towards the end of the late 90s, JS Clayden and his gaggle of techno-metallers a hideous turn of phrase, but it’s the firstone that springs to mind) were one of the biggest home-grown metal acts, but after a series of splits, reformations, and seemingly more Last Ever Shows / Comeback Shows than Black Sabbath, they pretty much squandered any goodwill they might’ve had with the UK metal scene. Okay, the albums of ever-diminishing returns didn’t help either. Nor the fact that everyone I know seems to have at least one horror story of frontman JS Clayden acting like a prize-prick. It’s a shame really – both www.pitchshifter.com and Infotainment albums have some cracking tracks on (although today’s track, which I include in the ‘Good Pitchsifter’ bracket, isn’t on either), but I can’t listen to them now without hearing the wasted potential.

But it’s Bonfire Night tonight, and ‘Un-United Kingdom’ is pretty much the only metal song I could think of that name-checks Guy Fawkes, the most celebrated participant of the failed Gunpowder Plot. You’d think that there’d be more, considering the major themes of Guy Fawkes’ life – explosions, conspiracy, rebellion, torture, execution – are all Pretty Damn Metal things to write songs about.

The band still perform the odd show here and there, and allegedly have a retrospective (or is it a whole new albun? who knows) due out next year, provisionally under the title 20 Years of Madness. Bassist (and brother of JS), Mark Clayden and drummer Jason Bowld are both mainstays of occasion metal uber-group, This Is Menace. Ex-guitarist, Jim Davies, was The Prodigy’s live guitarist for a while, but he’s gone on to form his own band now, the slightly flaccid Victory Pill, and plays in DJ Hyper’s vanity live act, the imaginatively-named Hyper.

Since the audio is so shot to shit on the above video, I had a bit of a rustle in my record collection and found a pristine recording of the exact same performance, which was never released except on a cover CD of an old issue of Metal Hammer. Enjoy:

Un-United Kingdom (Live) – Pitschifter.mp3

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Viking Skull: ‘Beer, Drugs and Bitches’

After the sonic abortion of the last blog entry, I think we ought to get back to Proper Metal as soon as fucking possible – which calls for Viking Skull. The above video was shot at the 2006 Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards – I was there, slumped up in the gallery, hiding behind a Rob Zombie cowboy hat. A friend of mine was PR’ing the company providing the free booze to the journalists and rock stars, and I’d happily taken her up on her offer of free VIP tickets. She would later inadvertantly vocalise the thoughts of a thousand right-thinking metal fans when she remarked during Dragonforce’s performance, “This band isn’t for real, are they? They’re a joke band, right?”

In case you’re not familiar with them, The Golden Gods are Metal Hammer magazine’s annual exercise in back-slapping and gong-dishing, and so are scheduled to take place immediately after Download Festival ends, in order to maximise the number of international metal figures can be in attendance. In 2006, I’d somewhat….”overdone” it at Download, and had passed out in the middle of a field on the hottest day of the year. Resulting in second-degree burns all over my face.  I was looking more like a member of Lordi (who later picked up a Spirit of Hammer Award in recognition of their Eurovision win that year, and of whom I later help pick a member of off the floor of the Gent’s after he collapsed in the venue’s sweltering heat).

The band initially started as a joke band, made up by members of Raging Speedhorn at their roadcrew – you can spot a few of them in the video. However, the band would self-destruct in a booze-fueled punch up a mere three months after the above video was shot. Thankfully, Jess Margera, brother of Bam and drummer with CKY, a long-time fan of the band, stepped in and gave frontman Roddy Stone the kick up the arse needed to re-start the band. A few line-up changes and releases later, Viking Skull are now set to release new album, Doom, Gloom, Heartache & Whiskey, in the UK today. And a fucking fine piece of retro-tinged, bulldozer-strength riff indulgence it is too.

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Insane Clown Posse: ‘Piggy Pie’

I was originally going to run this in Halloween Week, but then I realised that by featuring an act as god-awful as Insane Clown Posse before Halloween might actually result in some kind of karmic retribution, and some freak force of nature, like a spontaneous country-wide hurricane, might manifest in order to ruin the night for everyone.

Okay, I’ll admit it – I have a degree of guilty-pleasure when it comes to old ICP – today’s track, ‘Piggy Pie’ is off the almost-tolerable The Great Milenko, although the version in the video is from the Forgotten Freshness Vol.2 rarities collection (which have subsequently reached Volume 4 – I told you they were a guilty pleasure…) I even went and saw them play live when they last toured the UK, way back in 2003. They played such a brief set there was still time to go the Bull and Gate afterwards and drink for an hour before last orders. ICP had spent the entire gig throwing as much ‘Faygo’ (ie, panda pops) into the crowd that by now our clothes had dried hard and sticky with all the processed sugar. When I stood up I tore half the fabric of the pub chair off as it was stuck to my back.

Yes, I know ICP aren’t a proper metal band – although they happily rode the nu-metal wagon while it lasted, adding limp-wristed dead-fish flaccid rock riffs to their increasingly embarassing vocals. Yes, I know they are shit – Blender magazine called them The Worst Act In Music History – but that’s half the point of writing about them. Their success in the face of their sheer total and utter crapness is truly something to behold.

I even found a video version with rap-along subtitles. Yeah, I’m too good to you.

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Misfits: ‘Dig Up Her Bones’

Oh, like it was going to be anyone else? I don’t give a flying foxfuck that Jerry Only has prostituted, mass marketed and slapped his band’s logo over almost as much merchandise as KISS – the Misfits are legendary for a reason, the reason being they were Fucking Amazing.

Unlike every Camden emo-kid sporting a Misfits t-shirt, I can actually boast that I’ve seen the legendary ghouls play live – albeit by accident. Rewind to June 1999: I was just one of a small gang of teenage metalheads hanging around Reading (yes, as in: Reading Festival), going to any and every gig going. As a commuter satellite of London, Reading didn’t always get gigs, so anything even slightly rock or metal taking place, and we’d go along. Our lives revolved around a venue on Gun Street known as the Alleycat (which would later be re-branded as The Fez Club as part of the Po Na Na Empire, before being re-furbed into the ghastly Sakura). It was a warm Wednesday night in Summer – school had just broken up, and we saw a large queue of skull costumed punks had built up outside the venue. We investigated.

Even as stupid teenagers, we’d heard of the Misfits. They’d just put out Famous Monsters, and had been getting a few column inches in Metal Hammer as a result – Cradle of Filth frontman and then-columnist of the Hammer, Dani Filth, had reviewed it and given it 13 out of 10. We were the only people there without full Misfits make-up, and we only knew about two songs. My abiding memory of the gig is my mate, “Peter Hillbilly”, jokingly slamming me in the mosh pit so I flew into the back of the largest, most obese human I have ever seen. The man made Rik Waller look anorexic, and clad only in a pair of black lycra cycling shorts, with his baby-like skin slick and greasy with sweat. I somehow slid straight up him, and ended up crowdsurfing right into Jerry Only’s ridiculous shoes.

Which is why I’ve gone for a song featuring Michale Graves as frontman, rather than with The Misfits iconic frontman, Glenn Danzig. Because Graves was my Misfits frontman. Standing on the barrier at the Alleycat, shaking his head from side to side like a dog with rabies, he’s my abiding memory of that Misfits gig.

And I didn’t pick ‘Scream’ because it’s too fucking obvious.

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White Zombie: ‘El Phantasmo And The Chicken-Run Blast-O-Rama’

White Zombie

Deep down right to my bones and my blood, I love White Zombie. Their masterwork, 1995’s Astro-Creep: 2000 – Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head (to give its full title), is one of those rare albums where every track fires perfect.

The reasons for posting about White Zombie are three-fold. 1) The aforementioned fact that they are AWESOME. 2) They’ve just announced the final tracklisting of Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, the CD/DVD boxset due out next month (if you know me personally, it’s on my Christmas list, HINT HINT). And 3)? Well, there’s no-one more Halloween-ish than Rob Zombie & his gang of carnage-wreakers, so they fit Halloween-theme week pretty damn tight.

White Zombie…on Letterman?


Sadly, as with most of the bands I seem to be covering at the moment, it didn’t last forever. The band collapsed in 1998, without ever releasing a studio album. There was a remix album, but that was never that satisfying. Which is why the release of the new box set is so damn exciting if, like me, you’re a total fan-boy.

What frontman Rob Zombie went on to do is common knowledge – a series of solo albums, that moved further away from the classic White Zombie sound with each subsequent release, and his current work as a film-maker, his last project being a re-imagining of – yep, Halloween. What’s less well-know is what happened to the other members of the band.

Drummer John Tempesta carried on drumming with Rob Zombie at first, but later went back to being a sticksman for hire. Aftar appearing on a number of projects, including Helmet (!), he’s currently banging the skins for The Cult. Nice work if you can get it.

Guitarist J (aka Jay Yuenger) is pottering along as a producer, although he’s never produced anything that lives up to the records he helped make as a member of White Zombie. Although one of the acts he’s produced is Rock City Morgue, a New Orleans 50’s flecked voodoo mob, who boast on bass duties….

…White Zombie’s former bassist, Sean Yseult. When White Zombie went belly-up, she first formed Famous Monsters, a psycho-surf band with an image better than their tunes, before later joining Rock City Morgue. She currently also runs a fashion business, Yseult Designs. And is an occasional touring member of The Cramps. The Cramps!

And my choice of track? Well, anything off Astro Creep: 2000 could do, but as far as song titles go, you’ve got to admit that it’s hard to top ‘El Phantasmo And The Chicken-Run Blast-O-Rama’

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Send More Paramedics: ‘Blood Fever’

They just don’t make enough videos like this anymore – it’s like a punk rock ‘Thriller’ (we prefer the one we’ve linked to the Jacko original…). There’s a nod to John Carpenter in the intro music, gore that would do  George Romero proud, and a killer track that sounds like the soundtrack to that houseparty you went to as a teenager that ended up when the police turfed everyone out at 5am after someone set fire to the bedroom and crashed the bath through the floor. In short: perfect.

Send More Paramedics were a Leeds-based zombiecore (yes, really) that couldn’t fit my Halloween theme week any better if they tried. I saw them whip up the punk tent at Leeds 2006 into a feeding frenzy of circle-pit moshing. Approximately a year later they split, leaving behind them three cracking albumsA Feast for the Fallen, The Hallowed and The Heathen and The Awakening.

They loaded their songs with references to classic zombie flicks – hell, The Awakening is a straight-up concept album, a soundtrack to a zombie film that doesn’t exist. For six years the band stuck to their schtick, and made their gimmick work for them rather than becoming a slave to it.

Members of the band have re-surfaced in the bands The Dead Eyes of Quint (think Down if they’d grown up in Huddersfield), and Humanity’s Gone (more traditional UKHC than Send More Paramedics, but still crushingly destructive) so their legacy still endures.

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The Defiled: ‘The Resurrectionists’

The Defiled, my new favourite band

This next week is going to be a tough one – because it’s Halloween, clearly one of the Most Metal times of the year – it’s all about skulls, monsters, Satan, wearing far too much black and shouting too much. Which means I really need to out-do myself in the acts I’m gonna highlight this week. Well, considering Slayer‘s Unholy Alliance Tour is kicking off next week, with a London show on Halloween itself, I’d be well within my rights to pick one of the bands on the bill. But seeing as I launched this blog with one of those – Amon Amarth – and Slayer are almost too big to cover, so instead I thought I’d get some words in on a few acts I’ve always associated with All Hallow’s Eve.

First up are The Defiled, the best-kept heavy metal secret London has to offer. The band has been playing the toilet circuit for a few years now, supporting everyone from Dry Kill Logic and The 69 Eyes, right through to previous Heavy Metal Haiku subjects, Romeo Must Die. As well as serving up metal that’s harder than diamond drillbits, The Defiled deliver the complete package. Not only do they look like a metal band – there are far too many gangs of fat blokes in t-shirts and jeans making boring metal these days – but they’ve got the kind of live show that leaves the audience bruised, the band bloodied, and their equipment lying in pieces on the floor of the venue. The Defiled don’t do anything in half-measures.

The Defiled tearing it up at Bloodstock 2008:

The track I’ve chosen is ‘The Resurrectionists’ – while I’ve got a clutch of their older songs on a demo CD that aren’t over on their MySpace page, the quality of the recording of those tracks isn’t as good, and the band have recruited a new keyboard player and drummer since then. Actually, they’ve had a bit of a Spinal Tap-esque relationship with drummers – they’re on stickman number 10 right now. But the line-up has stabilised now, and with it so has their ferocious metal assault.

It also has the benefits of being spooky and Halloween-sounding. Track title is a slang term for grave-robbers? Check. Creepy intro involving thunder claps, screams, church bells, and a decapitation? Check? The kind of pummelling metal groove you suspect most bands would commit a Satanic human sacrifice to be able to replicate half as well? Check, check, check. The band have an EP prepped for release soon – as soon as it’s available to buy, you better believe we’ll be pointing you in the direction of where you can get yourself a copy.

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