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Archives by month/year

Skinny Puppy – Weapon

Metropolis

Skinny Puppy - WeaponWeapon, Skinny Puppy‘s twelfth studio album and the latest entry in a catalogue going back more than thirty years, doesn’t really fuck about. Tangentially, at least, it’s all about guns. Apparently. Of course, being Skinny Puppy, it’s a mish-mash of ranting, nursery rhyming, shouting, screaming – and irritating spelling and capitalisation, all delivered over, or rather in the midst of, their trademark dancefloor-friendly beats, squirts, whooshes and bleeps. And you wouldn’t want it any other way. Or I wouldn’t, at any rate.

And it’s very recognisably Skinny Puppy from the outset, as “wornin’” piles in with its ’80s synth sounds and hard beat rhythm section, blips and glitches flying off in all directions as Ogre growls and scrapes his anguished way through the middle. It’s a pretty good idea of what to expect, and simultaneously

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Bearded Theory festival 2013

Mark Chadwick of The Levellers at Bearded TheoryKedleston Hall, Derbyshire 17-19 May 2013

Bearded Theory is, pretty much by definition, a party that got out of hand. It started out as a birthday bash, and is now in its sixth year as a music festival. Somewhere in among this tangled web of history is an obsession with beards, and on the Sunday they have an attempt at the world record for the most fake beards gathered in one place. Which is… definitely a thing. It’s also a sign that it doesn’t take itself too seriously – although everything’s handled incredibly professionally and there are few problems, there’s never a sense that anyone, including organisers and security, aren’t actually enjoying themselves at the same time.

Friday

New Model 

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Bath Salt Zombies

MVD Video

Bath Salt ZombiesBath Salt Zombies sets out its stall pretty early on; which is just as well, seeing as how it’s probably not really for everyone. It opens with a great animated spoof public information film about the dangers of bath salts (the drug, not the actual toiletries) which sees a trashy teen given the drug by a foul-mouthed Satan, with predictable murderous consequences. By the time the announcer says “Bath salts may seem like a crackerjack time, but believe you me, sonny Jim, they’re nothing but a menace”, you’ll probably have a fair idea of whether you’re going to like this one or not. And then, before the opening credits, we get some drugs, some gratuitous nudity, a couple of murders and an idea of just how low-budget this movie is.

And it’s REALLY low-budget. Think somewhere between

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Godflesh – Hymns

Music For Nations

Godflesh - HymnsHi there. Can we talk about Justin Broadrick again? I like talking about Justin Broadrick. What’s that? Hymns remaster? That’ll do nicely. OK, let’s talk!

Justin Broadrick has been responsible for more amazing music under more identities and in more bands than I have written pieces praising them, which is quite a lot. Final, Jesu, Techno Animal, Napalm Death, Pale Sketcher… the list goes on, and keeps expanding. But for most people the primary association on hearing his name will be Godflesh. And that’s no bad thing.

Godflesh were legendary. Godflesh were legendary for a bloody good reason. Godflesh were phenomenal. Between 1989’s Streetcleaner and 2001’s Hymns, they pumped out music like a severed artery, relentless, crushing and, most of all, EXTREMELY fucking heavy.

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The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing + Thee Faction + Reprisal (live at The Borderline)

London 27 April 2013

Andrew O'Neill of TMTWNBBFN (Picture: Zoë Gillard)TMTWNBBFN (Picture: Medwyn Jones)It’s raining. It’s cold. And it’s the West bloody End. But it’s also The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing‘s biggest headline gig yet, so let’s check it the fuck out anyway. As we walk in, Reprisal are onstage, and making quite a splendid racket. Three longhairs, heads down, studiously cranking out some loud as fuck death metal riffs, while a massive skatepunk-looking dude bellows his face off at the front. It’s quite a winning combination, and certainly succeeds

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Mark of the Beast

MVD

Mark of the BeastOne of the classic structures to horror fiction is pretty much the same as the classic “two men went into a pub” joke. As are so many things in life, chiefly among them instances of two men going into a pub. Get some broadly-drawn characters, put them in a place and a situation, work through the story, and then BAM!- hit ’em with the punchline. Jon Gorman and Thomas Edward Seymour‘s latest defiantly indie horror pic does this almost to perfection, and is all the better for it. An adaptation of Rudyard Kipling‘s “Mark Of The Beast,” it takes the unusual step of simultaneously sticking very close to the original text and uprooting the action from colonial India and plonking it down in the rural USA and making it dress up as a cabin in

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An interview with Justin Sullivan

Justin Sullivan (Photo via NMA)OK, so I’m interviewing Justin Sullivan of New Model Army and I’m shitting myself; one of the finest living British songwriters, veteran of a 30-plus-years of playing kick-ass protest rock’n’roll, a man who’s played more good gigs than I’ve had bad ideas… no, this won’t be awkward at all. But I’d be a dumbass to pass up the opportunity – and I’ve seen interviews where he’s been very patient with people even more inept than me – so here goes! I dial.

And here he is! Talking! In person! And he’s a very agreeable chap. He very kindly takes a break from compiling vocals on the forthcoming new album (of which more later) to talk to me about, among other things, “something that happened 73 years ago or whenever it

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Neurosis – Honor Found In Decay

Neurot

Neurosis - Honor Found In DecayThere’s something eternal, something relentlessly omnipresent about Neurosis, despite their constant shifts in sound. They’re not so much like a band who play music at you and every couple of years record some of it; they’re more like a BIG FUCK-OFF ASTEROID where the music is ALWAYS playing, and which sometimes passes close enough to Earth that we can hear it for a while. Although it’s fucking loud, so it doesn’t actually come close enough to wipe us out, although at times it sounds like it really wants to. And at other times it sounds like a transmission back from a future after it HAS wiped us out.

Basically, Neurosis are BIG. Big men playing big music on very big

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New Model Army – Vengeance: The Whole Story 1980-1984

Attack Attack

Vengeance: The Whole Story1979. A young snot-nosed punk steps up to a microphone, shouts “GO!” and a national treasure is born. The punk is Justin Sullivan, New Model Army the national treasure, and the “GO!” the unleashing of the hounds which heralds “Christian Militia,” the opening track on their classic mini-album Vengeance.

2013, and Vengeance is back (has been since the end of 2012, in fact) and it’s now over four times longer. So it’s… kind of back with three Vengeances. Take that, Bruce Willis! And it’s amazing how fresh it sounds, and how the songs still work today. Those strained, impassioned vocals, those part-moshpit, part-parade ground drums (courtesy of the late Robb Heaton) calling to mind the dancefloor as much as the squat party, and those awesome, looping bass

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Alien Sex Fiend (live at The Batcave)

The Dome, London 1 December 2012

Picture - (C) Ben Guiver (ben-guiver-photography.blogspot.co.uk)Picture - (c) Ben Guiver (ben-guiver-photography.blogspot.co.uk)Thirty years ago, thirty years ago to the very day, the original power couple of electro-goth, Nik Fiend and his wife, erm, Mrs Fiend, first unveiled their psychedelic horror show for the first, and for what they admit they believed would also be the last, time. And somehow they’re still here, thirty years on. And it’s time for a party.

Onto a stage festooned with cobwebs, skulls with glowing eyes and all the usual Sex Fiend malarkey capers Nik, seemingly dressed as every

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

Constellation

I believe it was the great Neil Young who sang “…only Swans can break your arm” back in the dim and distant mists of musical history, and up until now he’s been right. No band other than Michael Gira‘s monolithic spacegod-baiting machine has ever had the capacity to damage limbs simply through sheer heftiness. But all that’s changed now with the arrival of the new Godspeed You! Black Emperor album, and in particular its opening (and topically-titled) track “Mladic.”

Starting with a cacophony of bells, strings and unidentifiable (by me at least) high-end stuff, it quickly settles into a relentlessly chiming groove, which practically screams “we haven’t even started yet, motherfuckers” at you. When the drums

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Zombie Zombie/The Oscillation (live at The Lexington)

The Lexington, London 24 October 2012

The weirdest thing, it would seem, about tonight’s opening act The Oscillation, is that they didn’t go the whole hog and add an extra “e” to that pronoun. Because this is a band who take their psychedelia seriously. Possibly a little too seriously, but if you’re a psych band then you can’t really be blamed for that. They start straight into a pleasingly massive swirl of echo, effects and coloured oils, and from then on the overall effect is like a package tour of psychedelia itself.

There are many enjoyable stretches relaxing by the Hawkwind pool, and a brief trip to see the ruins of Syd-era Floyd (fortunately they avoid the overpriced and somewhat tacky tourist traps of post-Syd

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Om/King Midas Sound (live at The Scala)

London 30 September 2012

Tonight is all about the HEAVY. Not so much the Metal, though its ghost and spiritual guidance flow out of everything Om do like ectoplasm, but definitely the HEAVY. In capitals. Always in capitals. On paper, given a reductive genre-based taxonomical description of each act, King Midas Sound, Kevin Martin‘s ultra-deep “dub” project, seem a weird choice to support Al Cisneros‘ ultra-deep “doom metal” band (well, apart from the bit where I described them both as “ultra-deep”, but that’s kind of key) until you realise that, like a particularly unbalanced game of Team Fortress 2, it’s ALL ABOUT THE HEAVY. Then it becomes clear that there are very obvious parallels.

King Midas sound take the stage, beginning with Martin himself whipping up a full-on sonic onslaught that’s almost Swans-like in its relentlessness, the vast spaces of their recorded work quickly becoming filled to capacity with brutalising

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Om – Advaitic Songs

Drag City

There’s something that’s always struck me as a bit weird, not to mention lazy, in Om‘s usual categorisation as a doom metal band. Sure, they are one of the awesome phoenixes to have arisen from the ashes of doom pioneers Sleep, and they’re kinda droney and dirgey, but they’ve always been more celebratory than doomladen. Not quite joyous, but certainly devotional. They’re more like stoner metal but on weirder drugs – possibly incense, communion wine and ayahuasca. You know, the religious stuff.

That is, of course, not to say that they won’t, or indeed don’t, appeal to the same kind of people, and the same parts of the brain, as doom metal does. Deep, languid riffs cycling endlessly through the lower

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King Midas Sound/JK Flesh/Glatze (live at Corsica Studios)

Corsica Studios, London 9 August 2012

As I walk in, a crazy man is on stage, pumping out some lovely squelchy bass sounds from a laptop which are instantly recognisable, thanks in part to his wonderfully overwrought vocals, as Black Sabbath‘s “Black Sabbath” (from the album Black Sabbath). And then it gets stranger and sillier from there, for this crazy man, it transpires, is Glatze, self-styled “musician and live music nutjob” (note- usually “self-styled” is an underhanded way of saying “bloke who actually ISN’T a…” but in this case he’s styled himself pretty well), and he’s loads of fun. More sonic silliness ensues, until he ends by accompanying himself on the melodica to an epic yet lightweight tale of musical instruments set to a jaunty dub/accordion backing, which ends, not unreasonably, in the deaths of all the characters. This makes no sense, I know. But it will when you see

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