June 8, 2013 in Blog

Live Review: Cancer Bats, Gacy’s Threads @ Stiff Kitten, Belfast

The Stiff Kitten is rammed to the rafters with sweat, tattoos and beards; Cancer Bats are back in Belfast.

Gacy’s Threads are the main support, receiving a heroes welcome from their hometown crowd. Gacy’s produce a barrage of chaotic metal; intense, dark and relentless and the crowd lap it up – a vicious circle pit, limbs flailing, it’s all a bit mental. But it’s controlled chaos as vocalist Aaron Vance has the crowd in the palm of his hands while genuinely humbled and appreciative of the response. Once the sentimentality is out of the way, Aaron jumps off stage into the middle of the pit, growling into the mic while being shoved from all angles.

Watching Gacy’s Threads is a pure adrenaline rush akin to watching a horror movie, and there’s no more fitting soundtrack than their own music. One of the best bands Belfast’s produced in years.

If Gacy’s Threads are an awesome B-movie, Cancer Bats are on the hardcore A-list, currently touring in support of their new record, ‘Dead Set on Living’.

Blasting through several songs without stopping for breath, Liam’s a kinetic ball of rage, roaring from one side of the stage to the other, drums pounding and guitars riffing mercilessly creating a groove-laden slab of noise. Eventually stopping for a breather, they seem genuinely pleased to be back in Belfast; even the weather hasn’t dampened their spirits (“we weren’t sure we were in the right town earlier but then it started raining!”). Each song’s greeted by roars of approval, stage divers and crowd-surfers (including one big fella who seems to enjoy squashing folk half his size while kicking them in the head with his desert boots). Highlights of the set include Lucifer’s Rocking Chair and Shillelagh (see video), dedicated to everyone who saw them supporting Gallows in Auntie Annie’s all those years ago.

After informing the crowd there will be no encore (boo) as they’d rather listen to a little R Kelly and hang out with fans after the show (yay), they blow the roof off with their cover of the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage, before closing the set to rapturous approval with the title track from second album, Hail Destroyer. Lights on, and to the dulcet tones of R Kelly (yes, really), Liam and the boys come off stage, chat, party and take photos with their fans.

Cancer Bats are the kings of hardcore with a punk rock ethos; they’re one of the hardest working bands on the planet but you can tell they love it, they’ve mastered the art of making heavy metal fun. It’s something a lot of bands forget, it’s alright to have fun, y’know. Tonight was fun.

February 8, 2013 in Blog

Album Review: Pure Love – Anthems

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As the front-man of Gallows, Frank Carter was the poster boy for a disenchanted, pissed-off generation full of anger, hatred and rage. How times change, eh? Pure Love’s first single, Bury My Bones, opens with the line, “I’m so sick of singing about hate, it’s never gonna make a change!” setting the scene for Carter’s new project alongside Jim Carroll Of The Hope Conspiracy.

Anthems is a bold title for any album, but it’s appropriate in this instance. This record’s been written to make mainstream waves; songs crafted for stadiums. Or at least, that was the intention. In doing so, they’ve summoned the spirit of brit-pop – opener, She (Makes The Devil Run Through Me) echoes Oasis’ D’You Know What I Mean, while Beach Of Diamonds wouldn’t have been out of place on a Dodgy or Shed Seven album. That’s not actually a bad thing, as it has a way of worming into your head (especially the “Dive in, dive in” refrain), while Bury My Bones is a contender for single of the year.

Although the vibe running through the album is stark contrast to anything Gallows produced, Carter harks back lyrically to Orchestra Of Wolves in Handsome Devil’s Club, asking for “a good girl, the kind that wants to please / down on her knees”. At least he stops short of asking her to wash his cum off her fucking face this time around.

While the more upbeat tracks are killer, there’s an awful lot of filler. Dreary numbers like Heavy Kind Of Chain and Burning Love are instantly forgettable, even worse, March of The Pilgrims hears Frank doing his best Bono impression and failing.

It’s difficult to sum up this album because it’s so far removed from what you would expect from these two. Old-school indie with a Gallagher-esque British swagger, there’s also a bit of rock-opera era Green Day, The Darkness and U2 thrown in for good measure. Frank’s obviously happier now as positivity flows through these songs but maybe that’s why there’s a bit of a spark missing.

We don’t love Pure Love but we like them – it’s not ground-breaking, it’s a bit cheesy and there’s some muddled ideas but there’s also some cracking tunes that deserve to be blasting from your radio this summer.