Blast From The Wasted Past

Blog, Live Music, Rock/Metal

If you’ve read the About Me section of this website, you will note that I used to be in a metal band called Wasted. We were a bunch of Metallica wannabes at the time and to be honest, we sounded more like a cross between Venom and a bunch of pissed mates doing their best to be metal.

One cool thing we did was a Metallica medley at a bunch of gigs with a mixture of new and old songs including St. Anger (it had just come out). Recently the guitarist and singer dug out an old VHS tape of one of these gigs and hastily uploaded it to YouTube. I’m proud to say I’m about to post it here. I’m semi-relieved I didn’t suck as much on drums as I thought I did…

‘Black Gives Way to Blue’ on Piano

Blog, Rock/Metal

First of all, many apologies for not posting on here for a while. I’ve been off rebuilding the website for my band after a lineup change. Whilst I get back into the flow of posting stuff again I thought I’d put up a video of me I recorded yesterday playing Alice in Chains’ song ‘Black Gives Way to Blue’ on piano.

I learnt most of this by ear so I don’t know if it’s 100% accurate but it’s good enough for me… The original song has Elton John playing piano on the recording which was a collaboration I never saw coming. Anyway hope you enjoy it, leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Live Review: Sonisphere 2010 (Day Two)

Blog, Live Music, Reviews, Rock/Metal

So on Saturday I was most fortunate to attend the second day of the Sonisphere festival. I’d only known I was going since the day before and ended up on Anthrax’s guest list but in my opinion the second day had the most enticing line-up of bands. What I thought I’d do is talk through the bands I saw and how good there were. Some were great, some not so and one performance will remain in my memory forever. So without further ado, let’s crack on…

When Metal Rocks Pop

Blog, Internet, Rock/Metal

Last month, I made a post about some of the atrocious Metallica covers out there on the interweb. This time I thought I’d post some great tracks where metal covers pop music (I’m not biased, honest!). Some of these are genius, here are my top three…

Korn – Another Brick in the Wall
On paper, it sounds awful. Surely Korn should never even go near Pink Floyd? I was pleasantly surprised by this one and right now, I want to go for a drive with this cranked up.

Listen to Korn cover ‘Another Brick in the Wall’

Volbeat – I Only Wanna Be With You
Now this I like. Two completely different genres of music and it works. Danish rock band Volbeat take on Dusty Springfield and win. Good for you – and your hairstyles…

Listen to Volbeat cover ‘I Only Wanna Be With You’

Firewind – Maniac
Now this is the Edam of pop covers. Let’s be honest, Firewind are as cheesy as it gets when it comes to metal, but put this with Michael Sembello’s 1983 classic ‘Maniac’ and you have white Stilton drizzled with Brie. I promise you two things. 1) You will really enjoy this. 2) You will need to wash afterwards. Enjoy.

Live Review: ‘We Are Them’ at the Essex Arms

Blog, Live Music, Reviews, Rock/Metal

Last night my band Le Monnier played at the Essex Arms. Supporting us were ‘We Are Them’ a great band from Essex, a four-piece eccentric metal band. I wanted to write a review about these guys and let you know about them. The band consists of Adamski on Vocals and Keyboards, Drew on Drums, Doc on Guitar and Marc on Bass. The first thing that strikes you when you see these guys live is how they are not your typical unsigned metal band. Their front man looks like he can’t be bothered to be there yet there is something so entertaining about him and his presence on stage is incredibly entertaining. There’s no doubt about it, this is a band that actually makes you happy when you see them.

Something very different... We Are Them

So what do they sound like? Well they have a similar scatty presence to System of a Down, strange fusions of different genres like Faith No More and the in your face metal brutality of bands like Disturbed and early Deftones. Yet they don’t really sound like these bands, they just sound like… ‘Them’. On the way into the gig I heard someone outside say ‘They sound a bit shit.’ Strangely enough, they still went in and looked like they were having a bloody good time! Live, this band are the complete package. Their music is unique and enormously creative blending their metal sound with synthesized sounds and great vocals; so many interesting textures to their sound but their music is also very memorable. Seeing them play in the flesh is an experience too such is their charisma with a refreshingly humorous approach to their style not seen in so many ‘serious’ unsigned bands.

You can check out their music (a few rough demos) on their MySpace page. These tracks don’t really do them justice but they have an album on the way and I’m sure it’s going to be killer.

Dude, Where’s my riff?!

Blog, Rock/Metal

It’s Friday night, I should be out but I live in the middle of nowhere and the mud hut I live in is warmer than it is outside. What I usually do at home is listen to music. I use Spotify if I’m the mood for listening to something new. Don’t get me wrong, I have a pretty good record collection but sometimes I just want something different. It’s just after I load up Spotify that I’ve realised I’ve failed. I can’t actually think of anything to search for. So I search for a band I like, listen to a track then look for a related artist on the menu at the top.

Today I started with ‘Within Temptation’. I like metal and I like classical so this band are a pretty good fusion of the two. From here I select ‘Lacuna Coil’. All good fun so far, so let’s keep clicking. ‘HIM’, ‘We are the Fallen’, ‘Avril Lavigne’ (It was the least worst in the list), ‘Paramore’, ‘Linkin Park’…

Um… this isn’t right, I have a headache. Okay, so these aren’t the best bands in the world, but music shouldn’t have this effect. Then it hits me. I’ve just had 40 minutes of Epic-Chorus overload. I understand now. It’s like too much of a good thing; like eating Minstrels for 40 minutes solid and forgetting to chew. Then an epiphany. What are all of these guitarists doing? I’ve listened to all of these tracks  and I haven’t heard a single riff. What are riffs too good for you guys now?

All I’ve heard is big open chords and palm-muted power chords in predictable harmonic sequences. Where’s the riff? That wonderful guitar lick? Are you guys even awake when you’re playing this stuff? I really don’t get this new fashion for uber-epic choruses and simplistic guitar parts. Okay, some riff material may sound very dated, but it’s the job of forward-looking musicians to see where music is going and evolve into something new, expressive and something that represents the now. If this stuff is where 21st century music is at, we might as well just all become mental dutch painters and hack off the very things that made us enjoy the nineties.

I know it’s such a teenage thing to say, but are these bands selling out? They’re all popular and successful and I have no idea why. Answers on a postcard, preferably a blank one. I wouldn’t want you to be more creative than these guys…

When Pop kills Metallica

Blog, Internet, Random

I was listening to Katherine Jenkin’s last album at about 2am last night. I’d heard she’d covered Evanescence’s ‘Bring Me to Life’ and I wanted to know if she killed it or not. To be honest, it wasn’t really killed it just sounded like the original with the band taken away. It’s a risky business trying to cover another track, particularly if it’s music from the last 10 years or incredibly well known. Some artists pull it off by completely changing the vibe and style of the track. Check out James Morrison’s cover of ‘Man in the Mirror’. On paper, it sounds like a vasectomy; in reality, it’s actually quite good and quite clever.

It’s no secret but my favourite band is Metallica. Listened to them for years and I know their music well. Today I had a browse around YouTube (always dangerous) for any covers of Metallica songs. There were some good ones from Disturbed and Nickelback (I know, I was shocked too), but they are just bands covering other bands. So, what happens when clueless record company execs try to be clever and force their talent show winners and social rejects to perform songs which quite frankly, they’ve probably never heard of?

I bring you the three of the most appalling pop covers of Metallica ever heard…

#3 – Avril Lavigne – Fuel
There are going to be some people who’ll moan and say that Avril Lavigne isn’t pop. She’s pop. When her lyrics are about boys, she sings out of tune (chorus of the song ‘Alice’) and she’s from the wrong half of North America (the Bryan Adams half), she’s pop. So here we have her cover of the song ‘Fuel’ performed at the MTV Icon award show. I love the way they’ve tuned the whole thing up a few keys so her emo neck doesn’t explode…

Avril Lavigne Kills Fuel

#2 – Aliqua – Nothing Else Matters
Whilst this lot can clearly sing, the instrumental arrangement makes the intro sound like music from Titanic. I’m afraid it’s a sinking ship from start to finish (oh ha ha). I’m sure I’ve seen these girls at the jewellery counter at John Lewis…

Aliqua Kills Nothing Else Matters

#1 – Stefanie Heinzmann – The Unforgiven
Hold me back! Hold me back! This cover version of the 1991 song ‘The Unforgiven’ is surely the most excruciating piece of musical sadomasochism ever recorded. The video has everything. Neon lights, ugly kids and the Man from Del Monte all around a wooden chair which presumably is their tribute to the original music video. Great. I would say I’m surprised that this was allowed to happen, but then I remember that Lars is in the band and probably thought this was ‘really cool’.

All I can say, is that it’s a pity their instruments weren’t plugged in on the second verse at 1:40. Have a listen and get ready for therapy.