Tag Archives: metal

That’s Not Metal!

That’s Not Metal Podcast – Soundcloud & iTunes

When I was a small child, I would get up off my bunk-bed after my mum and sister were asleep, put on my record player and massive headphones, and dance in the dark to More Than a Feeling by Boston. 30 years later, that song still makes me feel the same joy and childlike abandon, although I am less likely to bother getting out of bed these days.

Music has never been something that I just listened to; it’s something that I breathe in. I see songs playing in my mind. Music moves around underneath my skin, and touches me in ways and places that nothing else can – not even a double-entendre. There is no such thing as “background noise” for me. I find it impossible to tune bad sounds out; they make something in the middle of my head vibrate, and it drives me into a fizzing rage faster than anything else I can name. But when I hear something I like, wherever it is, it soothes me and draws me to it in the same way that the wafting cartoon smell-hand from a baked apple pie used to drag Tom the cat by his nose. I am, and always have been, deeply connected to music.

But a few years ago, I lost my way in life and in the process, I let massive parts of me drift away.

I got into a bad relationship. The details aren’t necessary, beyond the fact that I isolated myself away from everything that was important to me, and rejected a lot of the things that I was quietly steered into believing were bad about me. I cut myself off from everything that made me who I was, and I ended out as simply a mannequin with a bad wig. Except the wig was actually my real hair.

The weight of reality eventually caught up with me, and the relationship – belatedly – ended. As soon as that happened, I began the process of reclaiming myself. I spent most of 2014 grovellingly apologising to friends, ridding myself of a load of unhealthy ideas, and going to an obscene amount of gigs, catching up with the music that I loved. I began to breathe again.

Christmas 2014, and some little shitbag cut the cable from the old Sky dish I was using to pick up free channels. It was no loss, since I hardly watched TV, but it did mean I had to find something to fill the space left by BBC Breakfast. Enter TeamRock and Stephen Hill.

That radio show opened the door to a world of music that I had been missing. It was like going back in time to when mates would send you new songs on MSN messenger every day because they thought that shit was awesome and that you should listen to it too. It brought bands like While She Sleeps, Marmozets and Blood Command into my world and I loved it.

But then, September 2015, and the That’s Not Metal podcast – featuring Messrs Terry Bezer and Stephen Hill – turned up and kicked that recently opened music-door off its fucking hinges.

Beez and Stephen Hill have the same passion and joy for music that I have, but they have it squared. And fuck me, do they know what they are talking about. Between them, they have an encyclopaedic knowledge of music, and whenever Stephen starts enthusing, I sit with a notepad scribbling down the band names that come tumbling out of his brain. He has forgotten more about metal than I will ever know.

What I also love is the spewing venom and hatred for bad music, that only comes from people who truly and deeply care. Honest, unbiased, intelligent debate over music, mixed with the sheer power of anger and disgust over musical charlatans and cynical money grabbers.

I think one of features I like the most is the Album Club, where each week they sit and talk about their personal thoughts and experiences with a particular classic album – good or bad – and I get entranced. I could happily listen to them talking for hours.

Of course there’s the swearing too. You all know how much I love swearing.

That’s Not Metal has very quickly become one of my favourite things, and I get excited about listening to the new podcast every week – I don’t normally get excited about anything that isn’t beer.

Whether it be stuff I had on tape but never got round to getting on CD, bands I have never heard of before, or albums that had simply passed me by, this podcast has filled my life with music. I drifted for a long time, and I genuinely cannot remember the last time I felt happier and more connected to the world outside my front door. I’m not actually kidding about the amount of music either – I have bought all of these CD’s in less than two months, off the back of the podcast:

Goodbye, Disposable Income

Goodbye disposable income

I offer genuine and heartfelt thanks to the That’s Not Metal boys, and a massive endorsement from me to everyone else; if you care – and you should – you need to get on this Podcast.

You’re welcome.

Album: Strapping Young Lad – Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing

1995, Century Media

1995, Century Media

  1. S.Y.L.
  2. In the Rainy Season
  3. Goat
  4. Cod Metal King
  5. Happy Camper (Carpe B.U.M.)
  6. Critic
  7. The Filler: Sweet City Jesus
  8. Skin Me
  9. Drizzlehell

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the mighty Devin Townsend‘s first solo album, so I thought it was well worth revisiting for the sake of posterity.

I will be the first to admit that I did not groove to this album when it came out. As you might get from the title Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing, it’s not big on singalong melodies. Back in the heady days of 1995, it was too alien for me, and it was only in revisiting it 10 years or so later – after drawing the connection to Devin Townsend who I had latched onto in the meantime – that I had laid sufficient musical foundation for it to have a place to bed in.

I am neither a musician nor a visionary, and I do not easily embrace new things; the music I like now absolutely stands on the shoulders of the music that went before it. Notable examples that I rejected out of hand when I first heard them, which within a couple of years went on to become two of my favourites, were Carter USM (on Top of the Pops in 1991) and Korn (on some-metal-show in 1994). I really didn’t understand what was happening to my face, and it was only time and intervening layers of other music that moved me to a place where I could actually hear it.

[…if you will, it was like inaccessible content; I had to go and level up my music experience before I could unlock those musicians…good grief, I actually said that…]

I digress! The Devin Townsend Project, Zimmer’s Hole… while Townsend is incredibly talented, and I really enjoyed the humour that seemed to thread through everything else that he touched, that is not as apparent in this album. You’d think with tracks titled Cod Metal King and Goat that there might be more room for having a bit of a giggle, but the music and lyrics both feel like much more of a protest and a wholehearted “Fuck you” than anything else.

Actually, with the benefit of Wikipedia and the album notes from the remastered copy, that all bears out. I won’t simply re-type what I’ve read, as if it was all my own research; in fact, it’s funny as fuck so I’ll just include Devin’s own words at the end of this.

The album itself, I really like now. It’s not my favourite, because it misses that mischievous spark and devilment that appeals to me in Townsend’s other projects. But it is balls-out, loud, an interesting mix of noise… and it’s great for thrashing along to. I am not going to go back through musical timelines to see who did what when, and who might have influenced whom, but in places Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing has elements of the same rolling, dirty, industrial sound that is present in most of Revolting Cocks – Linger Ficken’ Good, and also in White Zombie and Fear Factory stuff of the same era…but then with the next track it leaps feet-first into out-and-out thrash metal.

I’ve been punched in the head before in my life – twice in fact. I have no desire to ever get punched in the head again. Due to this, there are certain tracks that as soon as I hear them, they send me scurrying for the corners of the room without a backwards glance because I know what’s coming. There is one of those particular tracks on Heavy As… called Happy Camper. As soon as it kicks off, you just KNOW it is going to trigger a furious meat-grinder of a circle pit with the kind of fists-and-feet frenzy that I simply do not have the balls for.

That for me is the special thing about this album; it’s heavy, but loads of different kinds of heavy, and heavy that I had never heard before, all in one place. Was it ground breaking? Honestly, I don’t know enough about everything else that was around at the time to be able to stake any money on it. Sue me.

You also get a couple of tracks with that signature Townsend vocal, the soaring, ethereal wail that wouldn’t be amiss in a darkened cathedral in any good horror movie soundtrack.

For me, this is not the best album, but I do feel that it’s significant, and worth your time to witness the first flourishes of the genius that is Devin Townsend. My personal favourite track is Skin Me;

Also, as promised;

SYL1 SYL2 SYL3Enjoy.

OUCH MY GENERATOR! The Underworld, Camden, 18th October 2014

The Underworld BannerOne of my friends has been away touring with a band for a while, and they played last night at The Underworld in Camden as part of an all day music event called “OUCH MY GENERATOR!”. It was and *cough* I quote;

An all day mash up of progressive and heavy live bands ready to blow the ampage! Playing underground genres such as Doom, Sludge, Prog-Metal, Noize and Math Rock…

I had never heard of any of the bands, but it sounded like it should be fun, and since fun, beer and music are three of my favourite things, I decided it was only right and proper that I go. Add into the mix that I love it in Underworld, and I’d be getting to catch up with someone I hadn’t seen in a while, I was anticipating a really good day. I wasn’t disappointed.

The first two bands were on at 15:00 (Meadows) and 15:45 (Mine) but I missed them since I didn’t get into Camden until just around 16:00. It’s a shame, but given my tendency to DRINK ALL THE BEER, it boded better for my chances of remembering the end of the evening. I decided to have a pint upstairs at The World’s End, which was a mistake – I forgot how busy it gets in there, and a quick pint is definitely not a thing that happens on a Saturday afternoon.

I headed down into the depths and was immediately assailed by the smell of piss. It’s astounding to me exactly how reassuring I find that these days. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a formula that can very easily go wrong, but you really know where you are when the Eau de Toilette is in fact Odour of Toilet.

Speaking of toilets, this is the back of one of the doors in the Ladies. Winner.

This is what you want from your toilet experience

This is what you want from your toilet experience

There was an interesting mix of people in the audience. There was no consistency in terms of age, gender or visual metal tribe affiliation. I liked it.

The first band I actually saw were Telepathy and they blew me away. I was really impressed with them, to the point that I have just gone and pre-ordered their new album. They’re a 4 piece band who according to their Facebook page are from Rewa… and Colchester. Interesting cultural mix. I am too old to keep up with all the metal sub-genres, but they define themselves as Progressive/Post-metal/Sludge. For me, it was noisy, ethereal, expansive and had no vocals to fuck it all up. The bass was buzzing through my feet and made my shorts vibrate, and with a beer in my hand, I don’t think I could have been any happier.

The next band up were Bast. They’re a 3 piece metal band from London and for me, I felt they suffered by comparison to Telepathy. They were tight enough, and they did the whole vibratey-shorts things well enough, but they definitely weren’t covering any new ground. To be fair, I am not familiar enough with the genre to know if Telepathy were covering any new ground either… but they sounded like it. That being said, there was a big chunk of the audience singing along so Bast are clearly popular. I am never one to say that anyone else’s art is bad (the source of more than one blistering argument with my ex…) but they just didn’t touch me in any of my special places.

The drummer for Kruger simply warming up was more exciting to me than the entire previous band’s performance. There was immediately something sharper and fresher about them. Also –  I don’t know about you – but I love a good nutter, and the frontman for Kruger was just that. He was either mental, or on something the like of which I haven’t been involved with in a good 20 years. You know that when your singer is doing warm-up stretches, you are in for a treat. I think I kinda fancy him…


“Don’t mind me, just rearranging the venue…”

There was a totally different energy about Kruger; it was way more punk and main-line crazy, as opposed to the heavier, more prog vibe from the previous two bands. They are apparently Swiss, and the singer (Renaud) fucking MEANT it. Combat rolls on and off the stage between the monitors, and if you took your eye off him for a minute, he’d appear in some random part of the audience, no doubt making someone incredibly nervous. I liked them a lot.



I took a chips-and-gravy break after Kruger’s set. Food of the gods, my friends, food of the gods.

When I got back, I got really excited when I saw Undersmile setting up; they had two female singers in dresses and clumpy boots, and that is always something I approve of. Sadly, that didn’t last long. I will reiterate my previous statement that I will never say that someone else’s art is bad, and I really don’t like saying this, but I did not enjoy these at all. The music felt like it was trying ever so hard to be darker than it was, overly much feedback, one chord every four beats, it just felt really dirgey. I feel awful for saying it, but I had to leave. I went upstairs to get a half until they finished their set. Yes, I bought a half. In the notes I was making on my phone, in my pitiful drunken state, I have written “Please make them stop. Someone…?”


I am really beginning to hate my phone camera…

I am confident they are to someone’s taste, just not mine I am afraid.

Next up were Bastions, and a much needed injection of energy. They very much made me think of Enter Shikari, with an unlikely looking singer who I have a sneaking suspicion may be carrying some personal issues around in his back pocket. As with Bast, there was a genuine fanbase in attendance, loads of passion from the audience, while the singer smacked himself repeatedly in the face with the mic. I liked these, but they were by no means my favourites of the day.

The band that my friend has been touring with are Coilguns and step forward another fucking nutter. They struck me as very much like At The Drive-In, both musically and in terms of the volume of the frontman’s hair. He bodily launched himself into the audience, lassooed a group of unsuspecting punters with the mic cable, dragged them around for a bit before leaping back onto the stage and tearing shit up. There was a young lad, maybe 16 or 17, who had been right up at the front for Bastions and he quite literally fled to the back of the venue in the face of Coilguns. D’awww.

There was a genuine moment of stunned silence at the start of their set while the audience struggled to catch up with what had just happened. I’d been stood up at the top of the stairs looking down on the stage up till that point, but there was just an infectious energy that made you want to throw yourself into the middle of it all. There were some lads up at the front who were pacing back and forward in front of the stage like big cats in an enclosure. Suddenly it all exploded, and I somehow managed to stay right on the edge of the maelstrom of windmilling arms and microphone cables without getting pulled in.


The energy off of this band is contagious and addictive


I’m winning no prizes for my photography.

I have just noticed on their Facebook page that the singer – Louis Jucker – is credited with ‘vocals’ and ‘crowd fighting’. Excellent. Also fairly accurate. One of the funniest moments of the evening for me was when I was at the merch stand chatting to my friend, and I turned around to find Louis being carried towards us by some dude that he had leaped on, and was clinging onto for dear life. I liked Coilguns a lot.

Headlining the evening were Oathbreaker. The singer was a delicate looking lady in a floaty white gown and a forest-green shawl/cape. Obviously this is who most people were here to see, because the audience lit up again. She spent most of the set with her hair over her face like the quintessential small dead girl-child from Japanese horror films, so there’s no real way to tell whether she was enjoying herself or not. As a rule, I am not a big fan of female singers in metal, but this lady was OK actually. I tend to find with most metal, musically a band can’t really go wrong and it’s the vocals which will make or break for me. She didn’t break it, they were listenable and really commanded the stage and their audience well.

No, that's not a ghost, just the singer from Oathbreaker.

No, that’s not a ghost, just the singer from Oathbreaker.

I appreciate that as an event, it wasn’t really focussed on the kind of music that I gravitate towards, but there were some genuine wins for me; Telepathy were very very good, and I would also definitely recommend checking out Coilguns and Kruger.

Incidentally, I encountered these on the way home.


*shrug* Iunno. You tell me.