Hugh Platt

I used to write for Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Clash and Terrorizer, and I used to run Thrash Hits. I work in the digital media department of a large UK charity.

Homepage: http://www.thrashhits.com

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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