NWOBHM stalwarts Tysondog return with their latest collection of riffery – ‘Midnight’. The band enjoyed some limited success back in the 80s while being signed to Neat records (Venom etc). Since then, the band have been side lined with health issues inflicted on the original vocalist Clutch Carruthers (that’s never his real name) after he had a very serious car accident.

The band regrouped in 2008 and since then there have been more lineup changes, new vocalist Alan Ross (a much more sensible name) is the latest recruit. The band has recently signed with a new Danish label From the Vaults and Midnight is Tysondog’s debut release on the label. The album is well recorded and has some solid performances. These are by far the only positives….

Vocalist Ross has a touch of Blaze Bayley about his voice, it gets annoying after a while if I’m honest. The band are fine musos though and there’s some great playing here. It’s all a bit metal by numbers though, and there isn’t really a riff or melody that has stuck in my head. Tracks like opener ‘Battalion’ just drift on by in the background, double bass drums, generic riffs, and lyrics about war (yawn) are the order of the day. Saxon are the masters of this metal genre, unfortunately, Tysondog are just a pale imitation. Leave it to the big boy’s lads. The rest of the album just plods on, the title track has a few mildly interesting moments, but mostly it’s just uninspiring.

A very forgettable album that doesn’t really get out of second gear. Disappointing

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Hi Geoff, welcome back to Wales.

“Thank you”

Have you got good memories of being in Wales?

“The first time we came to Wales was with Ronnie James Dio in 1984. I have a distinct memory of being in Cardiff on a day off, being in a nice hotel, and being in the bathtub. A fire alarm got set off by some of Dio’s crew members, this was a tour of pranksters. They thought it was great fun, I had to get out of the bath, go all the way downstairs in my bathrobe, go outside and stand in the street!”

Oh dear! Ha ha.

Queensryche played my favourite ever venue – Newport Centre a few times, I believe the last time was supporting Judas Priest on their Epitaph tour in 2011?

That’s right, that was our last tour together”.

Did you keep busy during lockdown? Is there any more to come from Sweet Oblivion or have you recorded any more solo material?

I’ve done all kinds of things, that’s all I did really was hang out in the studio, write stuff, yeah, primarily that’s all I did. I worked on the Sweet Oblivion album, the Avantasia album. I also wrote some music for two different projects of my own that will hopefully be launched sometime this year. Busy, busy y’know?”

Did you manage to keep your voice in shape?

Well, it’s one thing to sing in the studio, it’s a whole different thing to sing live y’know? Starting back out live I had to work for a couple of weeks to get myself back on form again. Singing’s one of those things, that you just have to do, there’s no way around it. You have to power through it and do it. You just have to keep working at it.”

Why did you decide to play ‘Rage For Order’ in it’s entirety rather than say, ‘The Warning’?

“I love the album, absolutely love it. It’s my second favourite Queensryche album. My favourite is the last album we did together, Dedicated to Chaos, that’s the one I listen to the most.

What are your favourite songs to perform live from ‘Rage for Order’ and ‘Empire’?

“I love playing the whole albums. I tell the audience every night that it’s been on my bucket list to play Rage for Order, we never got to play it back in the day. We only played a couple of songs off the album, that’s kind of the curse of most albums, you never get to play everything y’know? You just get to play a couple of tracks because people wanna hear what they know. They are really into hearing what they are familiar with (laughs), some people are not musically adventurous. The best response you have from an audience when you’re playing your album or your songs is, you come out with a new album, you only play a couple of songs, the rest you play are oldies. Next year when you come back, they are starting to like and get used to those songs, it’s a cool dynamic”.

What are your memories about the recording of ‘Rage For Order’?

“The Rage For Order album was a really fun album to make from my perspective. We were working with Neil Kernon as a producer, and he was a wild man that we got to hang out with. One of the greatest personalities to be in the studio with, he could run with your idea, and he had such a vast technical background. At the time, I didn’t have much technical experience in the studio. I would say ‘I want my voice to do this, or I want this sound I’m making to do this’, he’d go ‘ok, I’ll just turn this up here, and oh!, let me plug this box in’ (laughs). He would always have a workaround on how to make it happen. He just came in with a jovial, happy personality, he was glad to be there and contribute, a really good ‘idea guy’. I loved working with him.

On the ‘Rage For Order’ tour, Queensryche supported the likes of Ratt, Bon Jovi and Ozzy Osbourne. Did you ever feel pressured to play with other artists who were very different musically to you guys?

“We weren’t trying to sound like anybody, that whole idea of making bands conform to each other, that was later. We came in that great era when they put all kinds of different music together. We played with Jethro Tull (laughs), Roger Waters and the Psychedelic Furs. We also loved bands like Ratt, we had some great tours together, in fact we had a pretty intense bowling competition with those guys while on tour (laughs).

How do you juggle the touring and family life?

It is what it is, my wife and I raised our kids on and off the road. They just grew up like that, they are used to travelling, eating in restaurants, being able to order a French meal (laughs). They have high expectations; they won’t go to a concert if they don’t have backstage passes y’know? (Laughs).  

This week marks the 34th anniversary of your seminal album ‘Operation:Mindcrime’, how does that feel?

“It makes me feel old! (laughs) Most things make me feel old nowadays, it’s a strange time when you get into your sixties, you’re looking at all of this life that you’ve had. My grandkids are approaching their teenage years now. I’m doing shows, and everyone in the audience, has grey and white hair! (laughs) It’s just a really strange time, I don’t really see myself that way,as being an old fart, even though I am an old fart!”

Do you think that a concept album like Mindcrime would work in today’s environment with people’s poor attention spans?

“I don’t know..it was hard to get people to pay attention back in the eighties (laughs). That’s the thing about music, it’s a personal journey, music is a very personal thing for people. Some people are going to get it, some people aren’t. Some people hold music in a highly revenant regard in their lives, others don’t give a fuck”.

There’s a great line from the song Speak from the Mindcrime album: ‘The rich control the government, the media, the law’. Do you think that line is even more relevant in today’s society?

“I couldn’t even imagine the context of ‘rich’ in today’s situation with people being multi, multi billionaires y’know? (laughs) and then they don’t pay taxes, it seems incredibly wrong. A guy like Elon Musk, with a lot less that he paid for Twitter, he could eliminate hunger in the US for example. He could make a living wage for people, they could work and be paid a living wage which is enough to survive on, or at least live on. He could do so many wondrous things, but he buys a social media site, y’know? I can almost understand Jeff Bezos flying into space because they are looking for minerals and ways to mine that are not going to impact the earth”.

I must ask you about the Hear N Aid project back in 1984, how did you get involved?

“Ronnie James Dio called me, he said that was doing this thing and would I want to get involved in it. I absolutely said yes! I didn’t know what it was, or understand what it was, I just said yes, I’ll be there, just tell me what you want me to do. He sent me a cassette tape of the song Stars and a lyric sheet. A week later, I go down to LA and walked into A & M studios amidst this circus that was going on! There were so many people there, I was a very young man at the time, and I wasn’t used to that kind of situation where all of these very famous people that I looked up to and admired were all gathered together in this room. Many of them were sitting in the same room behind the glass listening to me sing my part which I didn’t know very well (laughs). It was very intimidating! It was a cool moment in time and Ronnie and Wendy (Dio) had great intentions and put their heart and soul into it. They brought together so many different people to participate, it was amazing. Especially as we didn’t have any social media or cell phones back then. I don’t know how they even got hold of all those people! (laughs).

You have a range of wine called Insania. Can we buy here in the UK?

“Normally yes, but everything is kinda messed up with the world transportation issues. If you’re in the UK you can order it from Germany, that’s where we make it, and they can send it to you. I need to find out if the Brexit thing will have an effect on the shipping too actually. Ironically, you can’t get it in the US (laughs) it’s because all of the ships are backloaded and delayed out a year. Thanks a lot Covid!”

You have another company called Backstage Travel, tell us about that. Is it back up and running? Fans can just book up and spend time with you eating and drinking?

“Yes, we just came on this tour from Tuscany, we did a weeklong trip with 32 people, and it was fun. If you like to travel, if you like to drink, if you like to eat great food, and if you like music, it’s a really fun trip to take y’know?”

What are your thoughts on the whole streaming debate?

As long as they pay people fairly, then I’m all about it y’know? It’s one thing to make music and another thing to sell it, if you have an outlet that’s selling your stuff and you are being compensated fairly, then you’re way ahead of the game. It’s funny, the whole vinyl comeback thing, they’ve been saying that since the eighties, ‘vinyl’s coming back’ (laughs) I dug out my old turntable a while ago, and it was very expensive back in the day. I put a record on and, yep, still got that crackly thing going on!”

I was wondering if you have seen any of the classically trained vocal coaches on YouTube who spend a lot of time analysing one performance of yours, the Tokyo concert from 1984, and specifically, the song Take Hold of the Flame?

“I’ve not seen any of them, but someone has mentioned them to me. Is it a good laugh or what?

Ha ha, on the contrary, the coaches are in awe of your voice. I think they are of the opinion that heavy metal is just noise. They certainly change their opinion after watching the video!

“Oh wow, I’ll have to check that out! Sounds interesting.”

On behalf of RPM Online, thanks so much for taking the time out to talk to me today, I’m looking forward to tonight’s show and I hope the rest of the tour goes well.

My pleasure, me too, so far so good. And on days like this, it doesn’t get any better”.

Author: Kenny Kendrick

Ghost first appeared on my radar when I saw them live at a festival, it may have been Download, or it may have been Sonisphere? Anyway…I didn’t really get them. I thought they were a little bit like Kiss, the image and the music don’t sit well together. I heard the odd song here and there; I loved the track Ritual from their debut ‘Opus Eponymous’ but didn’t really explore them much further at the time. It was with the release of the Rats video from 2018’s Prequelle that I really started to sit up and take notice of Papa and the boys. That album is never too far away from my turntable or CD player, it really is an exquisite piece of work, ‘Dance Macabre’ should have been a worldwide hit for the band, it’s their ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You‘! I then delved deeper into Ghost’s back catalogue and loved it all. There really is no denying Tobias Forge’s genius, and I genuinely feel that Ghost is one of the only bands around now that can take the reigns from the old guard and headline big shows and festivals.

I did of course wonder how they could ever top the Prequelle album, it really is their ‘Master of Puppets’ or ‘Led Zeppelin IV‘. The first glimpse of the new material was sprung on us last October with the first single and video ‘Hunter’s Moon’ which was included on the soundtrack to ‘Halloween Kills’, (I waited for the end credits in the cinema to hear it in all its glory). While it’s a decent enough track, it does feel a little bit like Forge just phoned it in.

Next single ‘Call Me Little Sunshine’, however, is Ghost doing what they do best. Atmospheric, heavy when it needs to be and downright catchy. The video is great too. Let’s get to the new album then! ‘Impera’ is Ghost’s fifth studio album, and it gives us twelve new tracks to get our teeth into. Opener ‘Imperium’ is an atmospheric instrumental leading into ‘Kaisarion’ which jumps out of the speakers with abandon. A brilliant, up-tempo song with some superb guitar work from whichever of the latest ghouls are crunching the fretboards.

Spillways’ is next up, it really shows us the vocal acrobatics that Forge is capable of, he has a fantastic range. Another ear worm of a song with a keyboard riff that isn’t a million miles away from Bon Jovi’s ‘Runaway’!Watcher In The Sky’ kicks off with a riff that George Lynch would be proud of, some lovely crunchy accents combined with another memorable chorus make this a real stand out track. Twenties is my favourite track on the album as I write this, just purely bonkers, it shouldn’t work but it works perfectly. A combination of prog, metal, and pop with some hilarious lyrics: We’ll be grabbing em’ all by the hoo – has. It’s just so damn catchy! Darkness ‘At The Heart Of My Love’ is one of those power ballads that Forge churns out effortlessly. It should be a major hit. Honestly, if Ghost could get mainstream airplay, I’m sure they would be huge, such is the quality of their songs. Griftwood sounds like something that would sit perfectly on a Ratt or Van Halen album from the 80s. I can imagine it on a montage from a Rocky film. The album closes with the epic ‘Respite On The Spitalfields’, a sprawling, atmospheric beast that enters a myriad of musical styles.

A solid album with everything thrown at bar the kitchen sink! Is ‘Impera’ as good as ‘Prequelle’? Not yet…But there’s still time.

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Author: Kenny Kendrick

Geordie metallers Satan first came to prominence as part of the NWOBHM movement in the late seventies and early eighties. They were considered as a proto thrash/speed metal band and were a cutting-edge band at the time. The band reformed in 2011 much to the delight of their loyal fan base. Satan signed with Metal Blade Records in 2018 and released Cruel Magic the same year.

Their latest effort, Earth Infernal tackles subject matter around climate change, politics, and capitalism. Very heavy topics for a very heavy band! The album was recorded in their home city of Newcastle with Dave Curle handling the engineering and mixing of the album with help from the band in the creativity department. I absolutely love the sound of the album; it has a rawness but still enough polish to highlight the great musicianship of the band. It has that NWOBHM feel, the instruments sound ‘real’, I’ve gone on record before stating my dislike of the sound of many of the NWOCR bands that seem to be everywhere and sound the same. None of that here I’m pleased to say!

Opening track Ascendancy kicks off with some nice twin guitar melodies before breakneck drums kick in and take the track into full-on headbanging mode. Vocalist Brian Ross wails away, his range is really shown off here, he sounds incredible. Burning Portrait highlights the skills of drummer Sean Taylor, his jazzy style gives him a Bill Ward vibe that fits perfectly here. Twelve Infernal Lords has an early Maiden feel with the twin guitar attack of guitarists Russ Tippins and Steve Ramsey. The instrumental Mercury’s Shadow starts off with some atmospheric acoustic guitars being strummed aimlessly, the track builds nicely after this and showcases the band’s musical chops.

A Sorrow Unspent’ is another barnstormer, a real earworm this one! The album continues to impress with other highlights; ‘Luciferic’, ‘From Second Sight’ and ‘Poison Elegy’. ‘Earth Infernal’ is a quality traditional heavy metal album with strong songs, performances and production values, a very enjoyable listen. The album artwork by Eliran Kantor is fantastic too. If you love your old-school metal, you’ll love ‘Earth Infernal’, there’s plenty for rabid metal fans to sink their fangs into here. Hail Satan!!

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Author: Kenny Kendrick

There were many bands that got tagged with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal label back in the early eighties. Some of those bands embraced it, Saxon, Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Samson etc, and some hated being lumped in with it, Def Leppard being the most obvious example. Even bands like Budgie, Judas Priest and Motorhead who had been around long before the NWOBHM moniker was thought up by Sounds magazine, were getting pulled into the whole NWOBHM movement. Of course, Budgie and Priest were nothing to do with it, but it was easy to see why they got caught up in it. Budgie’s Power Supply album was by far their most heavy metal sounding album and was released in 1980. Priest had released their breakthrough album British Steel in 1980 as well. It can be argued that Motorhead were indeed a NWOBHM band though because their seminal albums Overkill and Bomber were released in 1979 just as the NWOBHM got started, and their most successful period started in 1980 with the ‘Ace of Spades‘ album. Anyway, I digress!

Tokyo Blade were forged in the fires of the NWOBHM and released their first self-titled album in 1983. By this time the wind in the sails of the NWOBHM had started to die down. The album is a full-blown classic in my eyes with songs like ‘Powergame’ and ‘Break the Chains‘, it’s just heavy metal personified. The band suffered with many line up changes but continued to release material until the late nineties.

The current line-up of Andy Boulton (Lead guitar), John Wiggins (Rhythm guitar), Alan Marsh (Vocals), Andy Wrighton (Bass) and Steve Piece (Drums) have been together since 2016 and recorded the albums ‘Unbroken’ (2018) and ‘Dark Revolution’ (2020). Their latest release ‘Fury’ was written and recorded in lockdown with Andy Boulton utilising his home studio to record the album.

The end result sounds great with a powerful mix. There is some fantastic traditional heavy metal on offer here with solid performances and some well-written songs. The opening track ‘Man in a Box’ highlights the vocal abilities of Alan Marsh and is polished with some guitar wizardry from Boulton. ‘Blood Red Night’ has an epic feel to it, ‘I am Unbroken’ is a full-on chugger with some tasty drumming from Piece holding the track together. The album flows well but my only real criticism is that is overly long with fifteen tracks.

The album has both a foot in the past and one very much in the present. A solid metal album that deserves to be listened to. There’s plenty on offer here for old and new fans alike. The cover art is fantastic too, let’s not forget that Tokyo Blade had utilised the Samurai on their artwork long before Iron Maiden’s Senjutsu! The album is released via Cherry Red Records in Jan 22.

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Author: Kenny Kendrick

Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia Murder Van hit all the criteria that their hilarious bio leads us to expect. Old school thrash riffs, a hint of doom, raw production values and some tight ass drumming. The only thing that I don’t want from a thrash band is a death metal style vocal, when I think of thrash vocalists, I want to hear a clean vocal al la Joey Belladonna or Coburn Pharr. Saying that, Sepultura are one of my favourite thrash bands and they certainly incorporate the death metal growl. Maybe I’m just talking bollocks…Ha ha.

 That’s not say that there isn’t plenty to love about their latest release Crooked Smiles. The four track EP (I’ve never been a fan of EPs, either build up enough songs for a full-length LP, or just put out a single), the only EPs I’ve really connected with are the fantastic first release from Queensryche back in 83 and maybe the Alice In Chains acoustic EPs.

Opening track Clawing the Casket tells us exactly what Murder Van (Great name!) are all about, fast riffing, breakneck drumming and shouty vocals get your head banging from the off. I really do like the production here, it gives us that old school thrash feel, the drums actually sound like drums, I’m not a fan of the whole digital recording thing. This EP sounds like an analogue recording, I may be wrong on that though. The other stand out track is Factor X with it’s moody and almost pretty opening, this doesn’t last long though and we are soon back in full on metal mode.

Well performed and recorded, Crooked Smiles is an enjoyable jump into the mosh pit, I can smell the sweat and beer from here.

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Author: Kenny Kendrick

US rockers Anti – Mortem consist of members of Texas Hippie Coalition and Sign of Lies. This self-titled EP marks eight years since their last release of a bunch of singles. Here we have eight tracks full of spit and venom, and the sound is very much entrenched in the White Zombie, Corrosion of Conformity and Prong of the 90s. Crunchy riffs, screaming vocals and stabbing double bass drum flurries are very much the staple here. The bands logo doesn’t really sit with their sound though. I expected more of a Black Stone Cherry kind of vibe, but they are certainly not of that ilk.

The songs are short, tight, and straight to the point. With song titles like ‘STFU (Shut the Fuck Up)’, ‘Yeah Right’ and ‘Money’, Anti – Mortem attempt to address some of modern society’s issues and the lyrics are on point with their current themes.

An enjoyable listen with some interesting dynamics, the production values are great, the EP sounds relevant and old school at the same time. Check em out!

Author: Kenny Kendrick

What comes to mind for you when you think of Motorhead? For me the name conjures up all sorts of images and sounds. Greasy, loud, metal, punk, rock n roll, warpig, ugly, Rickenbacker bass guitars, plane shaped lighting rigs, Jack Daniels, warts, the Young Ones, huge double bass drum kits, bullet belts, Strongbow and absolute coolness defined. The worldwide cultural importance of Motorhead as a brand is probably stronger than ever with celebrities being papped wearing Motorhead shirts, and every metal band of any stature stating Motorhead as a huge influence. Metallica’s Lars Ulrich was the head of Motorhead’s fan club back in the 80s. I can guarantee that if you go to any metal gig you will see the immortal image of the warpig (or snaggletooth as it’s also known), on a shirt, battle vest or inked on a body.

Motorhead are one of my favourite bands ever, (I even have a Motorhead tattoo). The band have been a mainstay throughout my life, they first battered my senses as a thirteen-year-old flicking through my mate’s older brothers record collection and finding Ace of Spades. After spinning that particular black circle, I was hooked and did my best to digest as much of their music as possible. My go to album at that time was a compilation – No Remorse, which contains one of my all time favourite Motorhead songs Killed by Death, a fuckin’ barnstormer that stills sounds amazing today.

Bringing us right up to date and we have been given another Motorhead compilation album – Everything Louder Forever. As we all know there have been countless Motorhead compilations thrown out there over the years, the quality ranging from poor to pretty good. I have to say that Everything Louder Forever is the most comprehensive to date covering every incarnation of the band. They are all here in their deafening glory, of course you get the standards – Ace of Spades, Overkill, Bomber, Orgasmatron, The Chase is Better than the Catch, Iron Fist, Killed by Death.

 You also get bangers like Burner, I am the Sword, Brotherhood of Man, Overnight Sensation, We Are Motorhead, and the heart felt 1916, Lemmy’s lyrics were always a highlight for me and always felt he was underrated as a lyricist. Their throwaway cover of the Sex Pistols God Save the Queen didn’t need to be here, and there are a few tracks that really should have been included such as – Metropolis, We Are the Road Crew and Damage Case, but I guess there’s always going to be tracks missing that people love when you have a back catalogue as extensive as Motorhead’s.

That being said, this is a fantastic compilation and a great place to start if you’ve never been exposed to the wondrous world of the Motorheadbanger. 42 tracks spread over a Deluxe 4LP foldout edition plus 2LP and 2CD formats.

They were Motorhead and they played Rock N Roll!! Thanks for the music guys.

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Author: Kenny Kendrick

Formed in 1982, LA metallers Armored Saint have been well respected and revered by fans and peers alike throughout their colourful and sometimes tragic career. Vocalist John Bush was given the opportunity to sing for Metallica after the release of their debut Kill ‘Em All as James Hetfield wasn’t confident enough as a singer and wanted to concentrate on guitar duties. We all know how that story ended, but I’ve often wondered how that collaboration would have sounded. Bush left Armored Saint in the 90s to join Anthrax after Joey Belladonna exited and that was effectively the end of Armored Saint until they reformed in 1999.

Their fourth album ‘Symbol of Salvation’ was released in 1991, this was the first album featuring guitarist Jeff Duncan after original member Dave Prichard died from leukemia before the recording of the album. Prichard had demoed a lot of the material that would end up on SOS and one of his guitar solos was used on the track Tainted Past.  The album would go on to be well received and remains a fan favourite.

To celebrate the thirtieth birthday of ‘Symbol of Salvation’ we have been given a fantastic live recording and DVD of the album played in its entirety. Recorded in 2018 at New York’s Gramercy theatre, it captures the band in full flight. Bush sounds incredible (as always) and the band consisting of bassist Joey Vera, guitar duo Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan and Gonzo Sandoval on drums put in a fantastic performance. The album benefits from a punchy and clear mix and the album is available in various eye-catching formats. You can choose from a 2 CD/DVD digipak autographed by the band or a gatefold double vinyl ‘splatter’ LP. The vinyl version features demos from the 1989 writing of the album by Dave Prichard.

This is a great live album that really showcases one of metals most underrated bands that really should have crept up the ladder of success further than they did. Bassist Joey Vera sums up the album as follows – “All we’ve ever wanted was to make our own music, to take joy and take pride in doing it. The fact that we also have very loyal fans who continue to support what we do is the best icing on this cake. I try to look at our records as objectively as possible, and when I can do that, I’m very proud that this record is a huge part of the band’s legacy, and I am extremely humbled that I’m a part of that.”

 

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Author: Kenny Kendrick