Tag Archives: Iron Maiden

Review of Download Festival, 10-12 June 2016

Yet again, the rain came, the mud grew ankle deep and tents got washed away in the campsites.  The traffic queues for the day ticket holders were appalling and people moaned about the line up.  I’m not entirely sure why we still put ourselves through it every year, but it’s like some sort of addiction; Download just has to be done.  It’s one of those quintessentially British things, like having to wait in a queue (don’t mention the toilets), or stoically paying a fiver for a pint …

Download_2016_lineup_WEB_1000px_wide

Anyhow, as I have always said, it is ALL about the music.  Except … it really wasn’t.  Last year, I didn’t review the festival because we had an exceptionally good time with friends and it was all about networking and enjoying the social side.  This year, we didn’t really see any friends, we didn’t see many bands, but … well, it was still good.  The Mockney and I sunbathed, we had a really good laugh and I made some new friends.  I will tell you about the bands that we did see … but here are some numbers to ease you in gently.

Number of …

  • Miles to get there and back – 404
  • Trips between the campsite and car park – 8 in total
  • Hours that it took to put the new tent up – 2
  • Beers consumed whilst trying to put said tent up – 6
  • Bands that cancelled their performance – 3
  • Bands that I wanted to see – 32
  • Bands that we actually saw – 11
  • Pints of lager/beer/cider consumed – Somewhere between too many and not enough
  • Decent nights’ sleep – 0
  • Pounds spent on mediocre, nutritionally bad food – approx. £65
  • Times we have been to Download – 7 between us (10 if you count ‘Monsters of Rock’ back in the day)
  • Times we got rained on – oh, please – I’m still trying to dry out now. Standard.
  • Episodes of tent springing a leak – 0 (thanks, Go Outdoors!)

Phew.  Now, let’s get to the serious bit …

raven eye

RavenEye on the Zippo Encore stage, 10 June 2016 – Photo courtesy of Dirty Rock Photography

First band to be seen on Friday was RavenEye (7/10), kicking things off on the Zippo Encore stage.  This was their first time at Download and many people hadn’t seen them before, hence the singer advising, “We can pop this cherry together”.  They seemed nervy to start with, but soon got into the swing of things, with a big groove and an appreciative audience.  A swift beer stop and a trek over to the undercover Maverick stage saw us in front of Zoax (8/10), fresh from an appearance at last weekend’s Camden Rocks Fest.  I can’t remember if it was raining at this point, but even if it had been, this band still would have packed out the considerably sized tent.  Blatantly pleased to be there, they belted out quite a few bruisers but also slowed it down with new track ‘The Wave’ from the newly released, eponymously titled album.  A pleasing set, with Adam singing from the crowd, rather than in front of them.  They loved it and so did I.

zoax

Zoax on the Maverick stage, 10 June 2016 – Photo courtesy of Dirty Rock Photography

Next up were The Wildhearts (10/10).  A band that is very close to my heart, one of my earliest memories of being a rocker is playing ‘Earth vs The Wildhearts’ to death.  Having seen Ginger play a very different set in Camden last week, it was a real pleasure to hear such songs as ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’, ‘TV Tan’, and ‘Suckerpunch’, as well as the ever awesome ‘Caffeine Bomb’, which was dedicated to the late, great Lemmy.  Energetic, musically tight and humble, The Wildhearts absolutely knocked it out of the park.

the wildhearts 2

 

The Wildhearts on the Maverick stage, 10 June 2016 – Photo courtesy of Dirty Rock Photography

With a few hours to kill and the rain not letting up, we spent a couple of hours chilling out undercover in the guest area before stopping at the Lemmy stage to see Rammstein (8/10).  I don’t have too much to say about their performance; if you have seen them before, you’ll know how compelling they are on the live stage.  Although they had some technical issues, they blasted through favourites such as ‘Reise, Reise’, ‘Seemann’ and ‘Du Hast’.  If you haven’t seen them, put it on your bucket list as everybody should see them at least once.  This was my first time and I wasn’t disappointed.

Saturday dawned with bright sunshine and a balmy temperature; we were slow to get going, so the first band we caught sight of was Inglorious (6/10) on the Encore stage.  They were one of the bands that I had marked as a must-see, but to be honest, I wasn’t that enamoured with their set.  To be fair to them, we were hungover and hungry; we also bumped into a friend, so I didn’t give 100% focus.

Turbowolf

Turbowolf on the Maverick stage, 11 June 2016

A band that did manage to keep my attention was Turbowolf (8/10) back at the Maverick stage.  I couldn’t tell you any of the songs they played, only that they gave 150% in a mad, whirlwind of a performance that went down extremely well.  I’ve seen these guys before, but they’re so good live – always worth catching if you can because they rock hard.  It’s worth it just for the keyboard action!

sixx AM 2

Sixx:AM on the Lemmy stage, 11 June 2016 – Photo courtesy of Dirty Rock Photography

Band of the day for me was Sixx:AM (9/10) on the main stage; the only reason they didn’t get a 10/10 is because I fail to see the relevance of two scantily dressed backing singers whose vocals we actually couldn’t hear.  Anyway, they smashed it out of the park with tracks such as ‘Rise’ and ‘Life is Beautiful’, also showcasing new songs from the recently released album, “Prayers For The Damned”.  Loved their set, can’t wait to get the new album and I hope that I get to see them again soon – outstanding.

It’s no secret that I am a massive Rival Sons (8/10) fan – I have seen them many times and I love their music.  However, much as I really wanted to give them top marks, I just can’t.  They looked sharp and they sounded almost perfect, but it appeared to be lacking something that I can’t put my finger on.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a great set, with some real crowd pleasers such as ‘Electric Man’, ‘Secret’ and ‘Pressure and Time’ but … I wasn’t feeling it as much as I normally would. Perhaps it was because I haven’t yet got the new album, “Hollow Bones”, and they played a couple of songs from it, including the title track. Maybe I’d just had too much sun at that point. I can’t wait, however, to get my paws on that album and I look forward to seeing them with Black Sabbath on their farewell tour next year.

Rival Sons

Rival Sons on the Lemmy stage, 11 June 2016

Which brings me neatly on to the Saturday headliner.  After I had just caught Megadeth’s ‘Symphony of Destruction’, the clouds were darkening ominously once more.  We experienced what can only be described as a cloudburst shortly afterwards and changing into dry clothes didn’t cheer me up.  By the time Black Sabbath (9/10) exploded onto the stage, my mood was blacker than the sky.  Quite fitting,  then, that they should kick off with ‘Black Sabbath’.  That iconic intro ratcheted up the excitement levels in the crowd and the atmosphere in the arena was intense as Ozzy did his usual manic run from one side of the stage to the other.

Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath on the Lemmy stage, 11 June 2016

They were clearly enjoying themselves as they cranked through a surprisingly short (only 15 songs), but nostalgic set.  The soggy crowd didn’t seem to mind the downpour, moshing along to classics such as ‘Snowblind’, ‘War Pigs’, ‘Rat Salad’ and ‘Iron Man’.  The outpouring of affection for Birmingham’s most famous rockers almost  brought a tear to my eye, as they encored with ‘Paranoid’ and the arena erupted. We left at that point, but I believe that they ended a triumphant set with the introspective “Zeitgeist”, perhaps a strange choice.  Step up and pay your money, ladies and gents – ‘The End’ farewell tour tickets go on sale on Friday 17th June at 9am from Live Nation.

By the time Sunday limped around, we were pretty broken and quite looking forward to going home; having already packed the car, by 11 o’clock it was pouring down again and we were pretty miserable.  We did manage to catch The Raven Age (8/10).  They absolutely killed their set, which I thoroughly enjoyed, although I’m baffled as to why the singer kept disappearing every five minutes.  Hard, heavy and sweaty, every single member of this band played and sang their arses off and were rewarded with a very appreciative audience.  I’ll definitely catch them again if I have the chance.

the raven age

The Raven Age on the Maverick stage, 12 June 2016

Last band of the day for us was The Temperance Movement (9/10); a band who I have followed with interest over the last couple of years.  Having grown exponentially in fanbase and confidence, TTM played a blinding set on the Lemmy stage (last time I saw them, they played the Zippo Encore stage), it’s just a shame that there weren’t as many people watching them as there should have been (let’s not mention the day ticket traffic).  My favourite song, ‘Midnight Black’ had me dancing in the mud!

mud!

That’s it!  Bands I didn’t get to see, who I heard good things about included Skillet, Savage Messiah, Santa Cruz, Reigning Days, Juliette and the Licks, Cane Hill and of course, the mighty Disturbed.  Gutted I didn’t see them.  I also hear that a little band called Iron Maiden went over extremely well on Sunday evening …

I moaned about the mud and the severe lack of straw to soak it up, but I really do have to hand it to Andy Copping; the Download organisers continue to learn from things that have gone awry in the previous years and  tried to put it right.    I do think that the whole event could be moved to later in the year to try and avoid the ‘Drownload’ syndrome, but that’s a whole other article … I’ve already booked a hotel for next year so bring it on!

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Album review – Dendera “Pillars of Creation”

Review – Dendera “Pillars of Creation”

It’s been an eventful couple of months for Hampshire-based hard rock band, Dendera.  They stepped up a stage from last year for a dark performance at Southampton Uni’s esteemed Takedown Festival in March; then they found themselves a man down as Tony Fuller, axe-man extraordinaire, left the band this month.

However, one good thing to come out of 2015 despite Tony’s departure, was a new album, “Pillars of Creation”, which the outgoing guitarist featured on before he left.  Anyone who may have written Dendera off as an Iron Maiden sound-a-like band can firmly shove their opinion where the sun doesn’t shine, for this new album is 100% Dendera – unique and heavy as hell.  It’s clichéd to say a band have matured, but with this album, Dendera really have stepped things up a gear or two.  Always cohesive as musicians, this is a tight, polished diamond of a record that will hopefully silence the critics once and for all.

Dendera Pillars of Creation artwork

“Pillars of Creation” is only eight tracks long, however each song is loaded with killer riffs, sweet vocals and 100% pure musicianship.  It’s clear that Dendera aren’t messing about with this record; they mean business and this could be the one that gets them the breakthrough that they deserve.

First track ‘Claim Our Throne’ could be a tongue in cheek homage to the place they’re hoping to take on the rock scene with this album.  Starting off with an intro that could have come straight from a Machine Head album, ‘Claim Our Throne’ is a bang up to date metal track that also screams overtones of more traditional metal … it’s a bruising, belter of a track.  I particularly like the backing vocals, which bring a new dimension to Ashley’s voice.

Second offering, ‘Bloodlust’ is brutal; a romp through some awesome guitar work with some dark vocals and superb drumming.  It’s more recognisable as Dendera, in my humble opinion, but that makes it even more exciting to listen to because it shows how much they’ve evolved since ‘The Killing Floor’.

Ever since I heard third track ‘In High Tide’ live back at the Joiners last year, I loved it.  It chugs along with some classic Ashley vocals thrown in, but the riff reminds me vaguely of 80’s Megadeth.  Anyway, it’s one of my favourite tracks and well worth repeated listening.

‘Disillusioned’ starts with a charming vocal, “Broken and bound by the pain that consumes you, eaten alive by the lies and deceit …”; you just know that this is going to be an epic track and it doesn’t disappoint.  Almost melodic in places (oh, how we hate that word, right?), this is a classic track with some awesome musical work.

Track number five, ‘The Daylight Ending’ is an aural delight that will make your ears bleed if it’s turned up high enough and there is more of the same with ‘The Chosen One’, which will be a firm hit with the stoner rockers out there who prefer a slightly slower pace.  Still epic, nonetheless.

Penultimate track ‘Unholy’ is the undoubted winner for cranking it all the way up to 11 … it whips along at a mad pace and with lyrics such as “All shall perish for my wrath” and “Unholy, my anger, I’ll take a chance upon the other side”, it’s a vitriolic, spitting creation that will go down well at your next party, when you want to upset the neighbours …

Final track, ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ ends the album exactly as it started.  Explosive, with crashing, manic riffs, thoughtful lyrics and some serious changes of pace, it’s an epic track that quite rightly finishes off one of the best local band records I’ve heard for some time.

With an album launch party planned for Thursday 18th June at the Garage in London, it’s clear that Dendera are fully prepared to come back stronger following Tony’s departure, and you better watch out if you’re not expecting them to melt your face off.  If you miss this one, you truly will miss out.  See you at the front!

Tickets can be bought here –  http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/checkout/event.php?eventId=AJI1806X&camefrom=TW_TICKETMASTER_TMLISTINGS

Pre-order Pillars of Creation –

http://denderauk.bigcartel.com/product/pillars-of-creation-cd

Track Listing: –

Claim Our Throne

Bloodlust

In High Tide

Disillusioned

The Daylight Ending

The Chosen One

Unholy

Edge of Tomorrow

www.dendera.co.uk

www.facebook.com/DenderaUK

Interview with Screaming Steel

I recently caught up with Martin and Ryan from Hampshire-based rock band, Screaming Steel to talk about all sorts of lovely things, including their eclectic musical influences, how they came by their band name and … why they’re ‘friends’ with inflatable swords … enjoy!

 

Screaming Steel pic

– How was the recent Joiners gig (supporting Dendera) for you?  The crowd seemed to like you … the inflatable swords went down a storm!

Ryan:  It was the best response we’ve had so far and not just down to the inflatable swords, we hope. It’s always easier for the first band to be watched as the crowd are more engaged at that point, so we were chuffed that everyone turned up to watch.

Martin:  I really enjoyed the Joiners gig from where I was sitting.  Like Ryan said, it’s easier to be the first band on but at the same token, it can be a killer if no one turns up when the doors open.  We had to make an impact both visually and musically and the inflatable swords and the music were our friends on the night.  We all had a great time.

– How did you choose the name ‘Screaming Steel’?

Ryan:  I actually can’t remember!

Martin:  That was down to me, I recall.  We needed a “metal” name and I grabbed a band name generator from the net, specifically a metal one and after two attempts, Screaming Steel popped up, it was a no brainer as it just fitted the band perfectly.

– How would you describe your style?

Ryan:  Judas Priest with Pantera vibes

Martin:  I’d like to add that our style can’t be specific to one or two bands because every member of the band has different influences.  My music taste is very eclectic and I’m proud to admit it, so listening to different genres of music, from funk and soul to heavy metal, has defined my playing style.  If I had to put my finger on one ancestral origin for the band, I’d say NWOBHM (Saxon, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath).

– If you had to recommend one of your songs for a new fan to listen to, which one would you pick and why?

Ryan:  ‘Deathclaw’ or ‘Hammered’?

Martin:  I am particularly proud of ‘Rider’. Joe (our singer) phoned me just after I joined the band and said “You ride a motorbike don’t you?  I’m gonna write a song about riding a bike”; the rest is history.  ‘Rider’ shows all sides to “The Steel”, it’s just a pulsing great foot-tapper.  However, if I was to recommend a chanting metal anthem, it would be ‘Hammered’, a song we wrote in five minutes and has had little change in composition since its inception.  I have a great friend in California – he builds the best snare drums on the planet – I sent him a copy of our demo and within a week ‘Hammered’ was played on his local radio station (they had a charity day where they’d play anything you requested for a $20 donation) and the DJ’s were singing the chant during the song that was played after ‘Hammered’.  It was a proud moment to know we’d been played on radio in the USA.

– You’ve been doing your bit for charity lately, do you feel it’s important for bands to get involved in charity work, or do you just do it because it’s a local cause close to your hearts?

Martin:  Well, I can answer that one as charity gigs stem from links to me.  Last year in May, our first gig was a joint concert with various acts from the Isle of Wight who came together to perform a concert to raise funds for the Lottie Rann trust.  Lottie is my niece and to cut a long story short, contracted meningococcal meningitis twice. That type of meningitis is the most dangerous of all and can be a killer.  We all rejoiced when Lottie recovered from the first one, but when she got it a second time (which is a billion to one chance) she was paralysed from the neck down.  That was two years ago and now she’s in an electric wheelchair, has control over her limbs, can speak and is able to feed herself.  The concert was all for her, so that she had funds to get a wheelchair and all the adjustments to the family home to make it wheelchair friendly.  Ironically, I met Ryan and Joe for the first time the evening after Lottie contracted it for the second time to talk about joining them to form a band, so Lottie has been there from the beginning of The Steel and thus is a cause close to the heart of the band.

We are doing a joint charity night in Ryde, Isle of Wight in November for another charity cause that’s personal to me – Ryde Inshore Rescue.  Recently some nasty individual took a screwdriver to both of the rigid inflatable lifeboats and destroyed their capability to save lives.  Both boats were out of action and still are right now, but they’re being fixed.  So both The Steel and another band I am in (Ozzy Osbourne tribute band We Waz Ozzy) are doing a gig to raise funds for RIR.

Obviously we can’t perform for every charity we’d like, but charities that are close to us get our undeserved attention.

– You recently acquired a new bassist; how has that affected the band dynamic?

Ryan:  Dramatically, he has reaped new life into the dexterity or our playing and writing.

Martin:  When James, our founder bassist decided to leave we thought it would be a struggle to find a replacement, but we found Sam through an internet ad and he’s brought an explosive dynamic to the band that we’d never thought possible.  He’s brought fun and oodles of enthusiasm and the whole direction of the music has improved, he really is a diamond (but don’t tell him I said so!).

– I understand you’re currently writing some new material, can we expect to see a release soon?

Martin:  With Sam on board, we’re foregoing songs that were in the pipeline for songs that the four of us have written together, normally through a warm-up jam at rehearsals.  The new material, like ‘Deathclaw’, is an improvement from the past songs, and we’d like to think we’ll have enough new material to start recording an album in the early part of 2015.

– Who influences you musically?

Ryan:  Everyone!

Martin:  Where do I start?  Drumming-wise, it started off with Phil Collins and Phil Gould (drummer for Level42) but as I progressed with my playing and listening to different music, I have a plethora of drummers who I’ve pinched ideas from.  Musically, I’m a big fan of 80’s American hair metal (Poison, Cinderella, Mötley Crüe and Dokken, to name a few) and that whole genre has become a major influence and source of playing ideas.

– If you could tour with any band, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?

Ryan:  Metallica, just because they are Metallica.

Martin:  I’d like to say Led Zeppelin but then our performance would have to be legendary for the audience to remember us.  Opening for our heroes like Judas Priest and Iron maiden would be a real compliment.  And I love Rammstein, so supporting them would be just as cool.

– What do you think about the current state of the music industry?  Where do you see rock and metal heading in the next 5-10 years?

Ryan:  It’s pretty much a developing world with metal. It has been around since ‘69 and has a very stable dynamic in the musical world. The fact it’s managed to stay a niche for so long is fantastic and keeps itself fresh. New bands come and go; eventually the style shifts slightly but usually for the mainstream, not the fans. Metal is an intellectual people’s music and will always be a back burner of any household from Thin Lizzy to Dimmu Borgir. I hope I’m still part of it in 10 years, or at least helping to shape it.

Martin:  Ryan has summed it up perfectly.  I see that rock will never die, it’s just ace to see young kids walking round with Guns ‘n’ Roses t-shirts and them actually knowing who G’n’R are.  You never see youngsters walking round wearing a t-shirt of a boy band from 20 years ago.  Rock will never die, it’s too awesome.

– What’s the plan for the next 12-18 months?

Ryan:  Ride the unknown!

Martin:  I’d like to think that The Steel will collect new friends, or ‘Screamers’ as we call them.  I’d also like to see us record some of our songs, we have some great feedback from people who’ve been to our gigs and they’ve been hungry for an album size collection of material.  The great unknown, as Ryan put it, is actually where it’s at, we can’t predict our future but if we’re healthy, still great mates and having a blast, then that would be the best thing to look forward to.

 

Catch the video for ‘Deathclaw’, filmed at the Joiners gig https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=664586440301511 – you can also check out Screaming Steel at www.facebook.com/ScreamingSteel

 

Interview with Dendera

 Stalwarts of the Hampshire metal scene, DENDERA smashed their headline gig at the Joiners at the end of July – I caught up with them for a brief chat beforehand.

Dendera band pic

Your first album, ‘The Killing Floor’ was well received; what can we expect from album no. 2 and when might it be released?

The album will hopefully be released in the first half of 2015. We are really excited about the new album, the new material is sounding heavier, bigger and maybe a bit more modern, but still has a distinct Dendera sound.

How do you keep your writing innovative and fresh when people come to expect a certain style from you?

Our influences are always developing and changing with what we are into at the moment, but when we write together the end result is consistent with the sound we are aiming for.

You cite many influences as a band, including Iron Maiden and I’ve heard many people say that you sound like them.  Does that bother you or do you take it as a compliment?

Any comparison to one of the best metal bands in the world can only be taken as compliment. We write music that we love and like to play, and so our influences will always come into the music. But that’s not to say we will always sound the same as we are always striving to find our own niche.

Have you any touring plans for the rest of this year?

If an opportunity arises we will definitely take it, however our priority is making the best album possible.

You’ve played with some big names, including Saxon, Soulfly and Gloryhammer.  Who have you most enjoyed sharing a bill with?

We’ve loved sharing the stage with all those acts and the Gloryhammer tour was definitely a highlight. I think we will all have our own personal favourites for example, Steve playing with one of his guitar heroes Vivian Campbell with Last in Line.

If you had to choose one Dendera track to introduce a new fan to the band, which would it be and why?

If we had to choose one it would be Senlac Hill, we feel this shows our own sound and where we come from and our influences in one package.

You already have an existing, loyal fan base; how do you engage with people to promote the band?  Do you think social media helps or hinders bands’ growth?

Social media is a valuable tool and allows bands to directly connect with their fans all over the world. It’s helped us to grow our fan base and reach people that would never had, had the opportunity to see us live at this point. In terms of engaging with fans we are a very social band at live shows and always try and interact with our fans.

What’s been the biggest Dendera highlight so far?

It would be hard to decide between releasing our debut album or the UK tour with Gloryhammer.

Dendera the killing floor

If you could tour or record with any band or artist (current or past), who would it be and why?

You would probably expect us to say Iron Maiden and that would be amazing, but we all have our own particular favourites! Whilst Tony would say Van Halen, Steve would say Dream theater.

I watched the Gloryhammer tour diary from last year – most amusing!  You’re like one big family; who throws the toys out of their pram the most when you’re touring?

Thanks for watching our tour documentary! Others can watch it at the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpIZnbzc5Jc . In all honesty, on the road we all get along so well so there aren’t many toys being thrown. If we were to pick something though Andy doesn’t seem to enjoy falling flat on his arse in the shower whilst hungover!

What’s your opinion of the state of the local/national music scene?

Based on our most recent headline show the local music scene seems to be doing well. That being said, it takes a lot of effort from bands and fans alike to keep it going. We all need to pull together to help it thrive.

What’s next for Dendera?

After recently joining AMP Management, the new album on the horizon and big tour plans for next year it’s a really exciting time. We can’t wait to show everybody what we have got coming. Can we also take this time to thank everybody who has supported us so far. We love you all!

See the link below for the Rock Regeneration review of Dendera’s headline gig last month at the Joiners in Southampton.  You can catch them again when they support Phil Campbell’s All Starr Band back at the Joiners on 29th August 2014 – it’s sure to be a huge gig and tickets have been flying out – message Dendera via their Facebook page for further details!

www.facebook.com/DenderaUK

www.dendera.co.uk

http://www.rock-regeneration.co.uk/wordpress/2014/07/denderatoledo-steeldeath-headscreaming-steel/