Posts Tagged heavy metal

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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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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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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Raging Speedhorn: ‘Fuck The Voodooman’

By the time you read this, I’m going to be getting battered in the mosh pit for Raging Speedhorn’s last ever London show. The wonders of pre-scheduled blog posting.

Raging Speedhorn first rose to metal prominence after Ian Camfield started playing their demos on the XFM Rock Show. Soon their rough demos turned up on Metal Hammer cover CDs, and on the bonus disc of the impossibly good (seriously – you don’t get compilations this good anymore) 21st Century Media Blitz Vol.2. As their stock started to rise, so did the size of their support slots – the band endured a bottling from the crowd at a Ministry gig to go on to bag support slots with Amen and Biohazard (who would get on so well with Speedhorn that they would produce their second album, of which ‘Fuck The Voodooman’ is taken). They were the only UK band – other than Black Sabbath – to play the last UK Ozzfest. Then suddenly they were headlining the Astoria.

It couldn’t last.

As the band’s star began to wane, things started to get tougher. Members left – Tony Loughlin (guitar) and Darren Smith (bass) left, to be replaced by ex-Defenestration members Jay and Dave Thompson. Frank Regan (one of the band’s vocalists) left shortly after the band’s third album, How The Great Have Fallen, was released, to be replaced by Bloody Kev. Viking Skull – originally a side-project joke band consisting of half of Speedhorn and a couple of their roadcrew – started to take off, shedding the Speedhorn element in their ranks as they went. A fourth Speedhorn album was to come – last year’s Before The Sea Was Built – but the writing was on the wall. It was frustrating being a fan, so Satan knows what it must’ve been like in the band itself. Eventually Raging Speedhorn announced they would be making one last tour, to fuck the shit up one last time, and then split in an explosion of fucked-up noise.

I chose this track because it sums up everything I think of when I think about Speedhorn. It’s got the classic vocalist line-up of John Loughlin and Frank Regan. It’s got the pure don’t-give-a-fuck attitude – who else but the Speedhorn would put out a single with ‘Fuck’ in the title? I remember listening to Zane Lowe struggling to announce the track name after he played it on drivetime, back in his old XFM days. The fact that it’s two minutes of sheer, face-fucking hatred, aimed squarely at their ex-manager.

There are nine shows left in the band’s final UK tour, and seven dates to follow in Japan. If you live near one, don’t miss this last chance to catch the band. The band still have a myriad of other projects on the go between them – you only have to check their various inter-linked MySpaces to see how many. Our pick of them is I’m Fashion, You’re Victim, who serve up filthy sludged-up post-hardcore racket. Go consume.

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Pulkas: ‘Loaded’

Pulkas were one of the great nearly-were bands of UK metal in the 1990s. They were one of the first metal bands I ever saw live, stepping up from support act to headliner status on One Minute Silence’s ‘All Out Of Bubblegum’ tour when the headliners had to pull out. They opened up with ‘Loaded’, and the bass damn well made it feel like they were about to shake the entire Reading Alleycat down. The second time I saw them – on a tiny, 6″ off-the-floor stage at Reading University, singer Luke Lloyd (who famously collapsed a lung during a practice section when he screamed too hard) met the eyes of anyone who dared with a look of pure, unadulterated hatred. This was a band that fucking set out to kill its audience.

However a successful future was not to be – the band split after just releasing a single album, the quite frankly fucking amazing Greed. The band put this down to “boring tedious music business bulshit.” In their all-too brief lifespan, the band won plaudits from everyone who saw them – 5K gig reviews in Kerrang!, the fourth-best album of the year according to Metal Hammer’s 1998 Best Of list, and fan-voted the Best New Band the same year in said-same magazine. They received favourable comparisons to the crushing intensity of bands like Neurosis. And they thoroughly deserved every word of praise they got.

The band – sans drummer Rob Lewis – reformed briefly under the moniker of I-AM-I, but never released anything. Bassist Jules McBride showed up in Murder One, a heavy metal supergroup of sorts, which also included members of Raging Speedhorn (which reminds me, their last ever London show is on Tuesday – it’s gonna be brutal) and Medulla Nocte. But then they also split up. Why do all the great bands go and do that?

PS: There is a video for ‘Loaded’ – but it’s shit.

PPS: If anyone knows what the members of Pulkas are up to these days, drop me a line in the Comments. I really, really want to know!

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Romeo Must Die: ‘Defined By Enemies’

For a brief period I considered covering the latest AC/DC record here, but let’s be realistic – if you’re in any way interested in AC/DC, you’ll have probably already downloaded one of the leaks and be buying tickets for next year’s tour already. Instead, today’s all about Romeo Must Die

After I mentioned Stampin’ Ground a few entries, I thought it a good time to bring up Romeo Must Die. It turns out the video for ‘Defined By Enemies’ was released about a week ago, which is all the more reason for me to post it here.

Stampin’ Ground were the angriest, most metal unit to emerge from the UKHC scene. Indeed, whenever they were covered in the metal press, they always seemed to be asked why they didn’t just become a full-on metal band, such was the Slayer-level intensity of their riffs. When they split up at the end of 2006 (with a fucking killer send-off show at the Camden Underworld, UK hardcore lost one of its prize fighters.

Luckily, two of the band re-surfaced in 2007 in a new outfit, Romeo Must Die. A mini-album emerged earlier this year (go get yourself over to their MySpace page and buy yourself a copy), sounding like the audio blueprint to the fiercest mosh pit kicking you’ll ever likely receive. The band are currently getting ready to play some shows across the UK and Europe (with support on two dates from The Defiled, who we’re just itching to write about in a future blog entry) so get yourself ready to tear it up in the pit.

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