Monday, 30 May 2016

Magnum - Bristol Review

Magnum are one of those bands that, despite achieving considerable success in the 1980s, were always caught between two camps. Their music was too keyboard-heavy to really extensively appeal to the hard rock and metal crowds, and they had too much a rock crunch to fit in with the American AOR crowd. That being said Magnum did, and still do, continue to do well for themselves. They had two top 10 albums in the 1980s and 1990s; and since reforming in 2001, they have had two albums reach the top 40. They still have a strong cult following, especially here in the UK and on mainland Europe, which is helped by their regular album releases and plentiful touring. Magnum are never a band to rest on their laurels. While their sets always contain plenty of choice old classics, they always include plenty of new material too. The band's current tour is supporting their nineteenth studio album Sacred Blood "Divine" Lies (which I reviewed here) and it has taken in much of Europe and a generous helping of UK shows to round it off. Magnum's recent sound can be characterised as tougher and more guitar-heavy than their more radio-friendly 1980s output, which suits frontman Bob Catley's aging voice which has now acquired some grit. Prior to this show in Bristol, I had seen the band twice live previously - both of which were at festivals. Both their 2010 High Voltage set, and their 2013 Cambridge Rock Festival set were excellent, but I have wanted to see them headline in their own right for some time now. They usually tour the UK every couple of years but, for various reason, I have just not been able to make any plans work. Therefore, this night at Bristol's O2 Academy was long overdue, and I was looking forward to finally seeing a full length Magnum set.

Before Magnum hit the stage however, the growing crowd was treated to 45 minutes or so from British melodic rockers Vega who impressed the crowd with a confident set packed full of classy tunes. While I own some of the band's albums, I had never really given them a proper listen, and was looking forward to using this rare opportunity to see the band live to do so. I was impressed with the band's set, which was culled mostly from their latest album Who We Are. Explode ensured their set started with a bang, and Nick Workman proved himself to be an excellent frontman, with a strong voice for this sort of melodic rock. The highlight of the set was the extremely catchy Gonna Need Some Love Tonight which is from the band's previous album, and gave Marcus Thurston (guitar/vocals) plenty of opportunity to show off his lightning-fast guitar skills. The band's line-up seemed a bit different to usual. It did not look like James Martin behind the keyboards (not sure who the fill in is, so apologies for not name-checking him) and there was a rhythm guitarist added to the live line-up, letting Tom Martin handle the bass. This was one of the better support slots I have seen (although, in fairness, I have seen lots of good ones recently - which makes a change!), and the ending of Saving Grace brought their set to a melodic end. The setlist was:

Explode
Kiss of Life
Gonna Need Some Love Tonight
Every Little Monster
Stereo Messiah
All or Nothing
We Got it All
White Flag
Wherever We Are
Saving Grace

There is certainly plenty of love left in the world for Magnum, with the band's newer albums still receiving excellent reviews and the amount of people that still go out and see the band live.  By the time they hit the stage, the place was pretty full, and the large crowd was in fine voice throughout the night. Usually, the band pack the front half of the show with new material, and save the classics for later, but this show saw the band mix things up somewhat, with newer numbers and classics more evenly distributed throughout. Two bona fide classics, Soldier of the Line and a personal favourite of mine On a Storyteller's Night, opened the evening with a bang. Catley was in fine voice throughout, and these early songs gave Mark Stanway (keyboards) chance to flex his muscles with plenty of majestic keyboard flourishes. Lots of new material followed, and half of the band's new album was featured throughout the evening. The title track was one of the highlights (although there was a strange moment where Catley stopped singing and everyone in the band looked around at each other in confusion - not sure what happened there!), as was the heavier Dance of the Black Tattoo from 2011's On the 13th Day. The beautiful ballad You Dreams Won't Die, also from the new album, is destined to become a future live classic. Stanway's piano-work is fantastic, and Catley sung it beautifully. Next was the epic How Far Jerusalem, which was extended to feature a lengthy guitar solo from Tony Clarkin (guitar/vocals). While he will never be included in anyone's best guitarists list, he writes all of the band's songs so he deserves his moment in the spotlight occasionally! Les Morts Dansant is always a highlight of a Magnum show. The poignant ballad always evokes a great reaction from the audience, and no matter how many times I see the band live I do not think I will ever tire of hearing it. The main set came to end with two great songs. Princess in Rags (The Cult), again from the band's latest album, is probably the closest the reformed band have come to sounding to their 1980s heyday; and it went down well live. This, followed up by Vigilante, was a high-energy end to the set, and saw lots of the crowd jumping up and down and singing along. A two-song encore followed however. It started with the whole band sitting down as Clarkin led everyone through a rousing version of the slightly folky The Spirit, before everyone got up and rocked the final chorus with the whole crowd joining in. The evening came to and end in familiar style with the ever-present Kingdom of Madness. It is a great live song, and always evokes a strong reaction from the crowd who helped Catley and Al Barrow (bass guitar/vocals) sing the melodic and anthemic chorus. The setlist was:

Soldier of the Line
On a Storyteller's Night
Sacred Blood "Divine" Lies
Freedom Day
Dance of the Black Tattoo
Crazy Old Mothers
Blood Red Laughter
Your Dreams Won't Die
How Far Jerusalem
Unwritten Sacrifice
Twelve Men Wise and Just
Les Morts Dansant
All England's Eyes
Princess in Rags (The Cult)
Vigilante
-
The Spirit
Kingdom of Madness

My trip to see a Magnum headline show was long-overdue, but it was worth it. The veteran band still put on a fantastic show, and with a large portion of their set dedicated to their post-reunion albums, it shows they are always looking forward (with half an eye kept on the past of course!). Vega were hanging around by their merch desk after the show, so I managed to get my copy of Who We Are signed by them all, which was a good bonus.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Diamond Head's 'Diamond Head' - Album Review

Once described by MCA Records as 'the new Led Zeppelin', Stourbridge's Diamond Head always feel like a band who have never quite been given the success they deserve. While MCA's marketing statement was of course ludicrous, Diamond Head found modest success in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the NWOBHM movement was really gathering speed. With semi-classics like 1980's Lightning to the Nations and 1982's Borrowed Time to their name, the band seemed poised to really break into the big time but, for whatever reason, it just was not to be and the band broke up and faded into obscurity. Diamond Head are a band who have benefited from a fair bit of retrospective critical acclaim however. James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich of Metallica, and Dave Mustaine of Megadeth are all outspoken champions of the band. Metallica have recorded plenty of Diamond Head covers over the years, and hailed them as early influences in their sound. When the Big 4 of Thrash played their legendary shows back in 2010, the evenings always came to an end with all four bands on the stage jamming along to Diamond Head's anthemic signature song Am I Evil?; this shows how much love there is for Diamond Head out there. The band's founding member, guitarist, and sole original member Brian Tatler has also guested on stage with Metallica a few times in the past. Despite these thrash admirers Diamond Head are not, and have never been, a thrash band. Sure, some of the band's songs are quite fast and based around strong riffs, but Diamond Head's sound is rooted far more in classic rock than many of their NWOBHM contemporaries. They also had a strong prog streak in their songwriting, with a few lengthy compositions and unusual twists to be found. 2016 sees the release of Diamond Head's self-titled album, their first since 2007's What's in Your Head?. The band have not been very prolific in the studio of late, but have always been active live and have a decent global following. The new album, simply called Diamond Head, shows that the band still have something to say and, while not groundbreaking, is a solidly enjoyable slab of classic heavy metal. While Tatler is the band's sole founding member, many of the rest of the band have been around for years. Bassist Eddie Moohan and drummer Karl Wilcox have both been in the band the best part of 25 years, and guitarist Andy Abberley has been around for 10. Only frontman Rasmus Bom Anderson is making his debut with the band on this album, as he replaced long-time frontman Nick Tart back in 2014. This is a self-written and produced album, and has the raw feel of a band just making music for the fun of it. Diamond Head do not really have anything to prove, but this album proves they still can make enjoyable songs.

Album-opener Bones kicks things off nicely with a stuttering guitar riff that contains plenty of strong grooves. This also forms the basis of the song's verses, which are the first time we get to hear what Anderson brings to the band. Vocally, his is very similar in style to the previous singers the band have employed previously. His voice is quite melodic, but can have a snarling grit to it when necessary, like the screams at the end of the choruses. Effects-heavy clean guitar chords compliment the heavier riffing perfectly, and brings the band's classic sound right to the fore. Shout at the Devil is a faster, more metal song that sounds like it could have appeared on the old NWOBHM Metal for Muthas compilation back in the early 1980s. Wilcox's slightly frantic drumming drives the verses as Anderson croons over a raw-sounding guitar pattern. The clean guitar contrasts are used again to good effect, which makes me realise how much the band have used this signature technique previously. The chorus is more of a metal affair, with a strong vocal display and a simple, but powerful guitar riff. There is a very fluid guitar solo too, presumably from Tatler, that moves away from the shred-heavy sound of metal and into the more lyrical realms of classic rock. Opening with a methodical, slightly doomy, riff Set my Soul on Fire is a great mid-paced rocker that is driven by Tatler's riffing. Anderson's almost bluesy wails here definitely have something of Robert Plant about them in places, especially his wordless sections. The chorus stings a little, with harsh stabs of guitar that compliment the vocals perfectly. Tatler and Abberley team up mid-way through for a slow, dual guitar solo while Moohan's thick bass keeps perfect time. See You Rise is a very bass-driven song. The intro is dominated by it, and even when the main guitar riff kicks in properly, Moohan still makes his presence felt. The fast verses are strong, and the drop in speed as the song moves into a dark-sounding chorus only helps to make it more powerful. The song contains Anderson's grittiest performance on the album too, and that makes it one of the best songs here. While the majority of this album has a raw sound, All the Reasons You Live is more polished, with a simple string arrangement over the song's acoustic intro that ramps up as the electric guitars kick in. The song has more an 1980s sound to it, with a polished, rumbling bass sound, and a chorus backed by subtle but dramatic string section. It helps the song stand out from the rest of the album. There is a pretty dramatic guitar solo too, that really shows off Tatler's phrasing skills. He has always been an extremely underrated guitarist, and this shows whys. Wizard Sleeve gets back to the rawer, more rock sound the band is known for. This is a short, simple, but upbeat riff-based rocker with a memorable chorus and a really great bouncy riff that is full of energy.

Our Time is Now is quite a contrast to Wizard Sleeve, with a heavy blues sound and plenty of excellent bass guitar playing. Moohan owns the song with a melodic bassline throughout, which gives the guitars more room to sit back and play simple, crunching chords over the top. The song is quite a powerful one however, and the huge guitar chords really come pounding out of the speakers. Anderson really croons his way through this song, injecting plenty of emotion into his delivery. He has a surprisingly wide vocal range that is not instantly apparent, but this song showcases his versatility well. The little tribute to Am I Evil? at the end is also fun and welcome! Speed opens with Wilcox's drums and slowly builds up adding bass and guitars as it moves on. The song is a simple rocker however, which really benefits from the overall raw sound the album has. It is just a real heads down rocker, a song that relies on it's energy and does not pretend to be anything else. Tatler has another excellent guitar solo here too, which is faster than usual, to fit the name of the song I expect! Blood on my Hands is another mid-paced number that has a riff reminiscent of Black Sabbath a little, and a varying song structure which keeps things interesting. The chorus soars, with some screams from Anderson, and mid-way through the song drops into a slow, melodic, crawling section. The change of pace works well, and the song slowly builds it's way back up to full speed as the guitars slowly get louder. A final reprise of the ringing chorus ends the song in a strong fashion. Diamonds opens with a slightly funky-sounding guitar pattern, which makes it stand out instantly. This does not last long however, as the verse really speeds out of the blocks with a speedy chugging rhythm. The funky section does return in the middle of the song to form a slightly strange breakdown before the song takes off again with a melodic guitar solo. The album's final number Silence is another song that uses prominent string sounds. It builds up from a haunting clean guitar melody, and explodes into a symphonic rock song with driving strings and a staccato guitar riff. The verses retain the haunting atmosphere and rumbling bass of the song's intro, but it is not long before the strings come back in with real force. This is an extremely epic song by the band's standards, and shows off the slightly progressive edge they have to their songwriting. It is definitely the most ambitious song here, and works well to close out an album that has mostly been simple and powerful. Overall, Diamond Head is a solid new album from a band that has not been active in the studio much over the past few years. It proves the band still have something to say musically, which is great to see.

The album was released on 22nd April 2016 via Dissonance Productions. Below is the band's promotional trailer for the album.


Monday, 23 May 2016

Blind Guardian - London Review

Blind Guardian are not known for doing things either quickly or often. This is why, after last April's somewhat disappointing London show, I feared it would be a few years before I got the opportunity to see the German power metal legends again. To clarify, last year's show was not disappointing because the band were poor (as they were excellent), it was because I was not feeling well during the set which hampered my enjoyment of the evening. I was very pleased then when another European leg of tour dates was announced earlier this year, which included a few UK dates. It is great to see the band opting to play a mini UK tour this time around rather than the usual sole London appearance. Despite the greater choice this time around, I opted for London again as it made the most sense at the time job-wise - although I have since changed jobs, which would have made Saturday's Nottingham show easier, but I had already booked my ticket and hotel by this point! The now O2 Forum in London's Kentish Town really is not my favourite venue, but it seems to be the favourite 'big' venue of choice for metal shows at the moment, so I endure it. I find the stage very low, and the pit hard to get out of if the crowd is large. These issues contributed to my disappointment of the previous Blind Guardian show, so every other time I have been there since I have stood near the back, just above the sound desk. I did this again, and I feel this is the best place to stand in this venue. The view of the stage is excellent and unobstructed, and the crowd is much less tightly packed here. This is where I stood throughout the evening, and I feel this was the correct decision.

Support came from Gloryhammer, a power metal band who have been making waves with their extremely over-the-top fantasy concept albums and tongue-in-cheek attitude. I had heard their debut album Tales from the Kingdom of Fife a couple of times before the gig and, while it had not made a big impression on me, I was looking forward to seeing them live as I had heard lots of good things about their shows. Despite a rather muddy sound mix, Gloryhammer impressed me during their 40 minutes or so on stage, and packed their set with plenty of anthems about fighting dark sorcerers and undead unicorns. Frontman Thomas Winkler, clad in green and gold armour, is a great showman, and constantly interacted with the crowd to good effect. He his some pretty impressive high notes throughout the set too which demonstrated his skills as a vocalist. Despite the mid-song banter mostly seemed to consist of alcohol-related humour (why do so many bands seem to rely on this? It really is not funny anymore), Gloryhammer's set was extremely enjoyable and will definitely be giving their albums another go. An upbeat rendition of the anthemic The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee, with plenty of soloing from Paul Templing (guitar/vocals) and Christopher Bowes (keyboards/vocals) brought the set to a powerful end and the crowd, that seemed to consist of many Gloryhammer fans, lapped it all up.

When you see a band more than once on the same touring cycle, there is always a chance that you will see an identical setlist. Blind Guardian have obviously realised this, and on this second leg of the Beyond the Red Mirror tour, made enough changes to the set to make seeing the band a second time so quickly worthwhile. When the house lights went down, the now-familiar industrial/orchestral intro of The Ninth Wave greeted the cheering crowd, and the strange, lengthy piece makes for a strong, atmospheric to the band's concerts. André Olbrich's (guitar/vocals) seven-string chords and Frederik Ehmke's (drums) slightly tribal rhythms drive the song, that is quite unlike anything else the band have recorded, and shows the band's progressive side. Despite some muddy sound early on, that did gradually improve throughout the evening, the rest of the set was extremely anthemic as Time Stands Still (at the Iron Hill), a song not played last year, showed. From the off, the large crowd was very loud throughout, and the strength and volume at which the song's chorus was sung seemed to impress even the veteran band. The early part of the set was identical to last year, with the riff-heavy power thrash Tanelorn (Into the Void) and the new melodic entry Prophecies being early highlights. The Last Candle saw the first real extended crowd interaction moment as frontman Hansi Kürsch encouraged the crowd to sing the closing refrain over and over, as Ehmke kept time. It was also a chance for Marcus Siepen (guitar/vocals) to solo. He usually sticks strictly to tight, heavy rhythms, but this song shows he is also an accomplished lead player, able to compete with Olbrich when he wants to! He was also the star of Lord of the Rings, a song he wrote, as his precise, clean playing formed the basis for the whole song as Kürsch sung the words of the folky ballad with plenty of passion. Some older songs followed, including a rare outing of the speed metal workout Time What is Time, and Majesty - from the band's 1988 debut album - which received a huge cheer. The main set came to end with the classic track Imaginations from the Other Side, but this was far from the end. As with last year, the band's encore was lengthy, and consisted of two groups of three songs. It still seems strange to have such a long encore section, but when the material and the performance is this good it barely matters. A rare outing for The Curse of Feanor was the highlight of the first section, although a rousing Valhalla with plenty more audience participation ran it a close second. The second part opened with the lengthy Sacred Worlds, which is one of my favourite songs the band have written so it was a treat to hear it live. The obligatory acoustic sing-a-long of The Bard's Song - In the Forest was as loud as ever, and the fast, headbanging ending of Mirror Mirror brought the show to a triumphant and crowning end. The setlist was:

The Ninth Wave
Tine Stands Still (at the Iron Hill)
Nightfall
Fly
Tanelorn (Into the Void)
Prophecies
The Last Candle
Lord of the Rings
Time What is Time
Majesty
The Script for my Requiem
Imaginations from the Other Side
-
War of Wrath
Into the Storm
The Curse of Feanor
Valhalla
-
Sacred Worlds
The Bard's Song - In the Forest
Mirror Mirror

With the set clocking in at well over two hours, Blind Guardian really delivered and this was the show I was really hoping it would be. Some slight sound issues aside, this was a near-perfect evening of power metal with a really varied and career-spanning setlist (2002's A Night at the Opera was the only album not represented in the set). I would not be surprised if it was now some time before Blind Guardian return to the UK, but I thought that last time so I may yet be surprised! I shall take the next opportunity to see them live immediately.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Treat's 'Ghost of Graceland' - Album Review

While Sweden is known for having a history of producing great melodic rock and metal acts, veterans of the scene Treat had eluded me until very recently. I subscribe to the Frontiers Records Youtube channel, and their videos fill up my recommended videos lists. I discount the vast majority of their 'supergroups' and 'projects', as they are often vehicles for their in-house songwriters to use up heaps and heaps of samey and generic melodic rock songs, and instead focus on the original bands (old or new) the label is promoting. Treat is one of those bands that one day appeared in my recommendations with their new single Ghost of Graceland. I instantly enjoyed the song, and pre-ordered the corresponding album almost straight away. As someone who considers themselves extremely knowledgeable on rock and metal bands, I am surprised a band of this quality had eluded me for so long. A quick bit of research shows that they were formed in 1983, and that their new album Ghost of Graceland is their seventh studio release. Lead by founding members - frontman Robert Ernlund and guitarist Anders Wikström - Treat, at least in 2016, play a classy and modern-sounding brand of melodic rock/AOR. I cannot compare this album to their past sound, as Ghost of Graceland is the only Treat album I have heard so far. I have bought a copy of their 1985 debut album Scratch and Bite (on vinyl, as their old albums seems very hard to get on CD - it was difficult enough to find on vinyl!) but I wanted to get to know and review this new album first before delving into their back catalogue. Looking at the band's picture on the back of Scratch and Bite, I would imagine that album is heavier than Ghost of Graceland, and probably quite typical of the hair metal sound that was popular at the time. Joining Ernlund and Wikström on this album are keyboardist Patrick Appelgren (he also plays some rhythm guitar) and drummer Jamie Borger - both who have been in the band for the best part of thirty years. The only new face in the band is bassist Pontus Egberg (Dark Illusion; The Poodles; King Diamond) who has joined Treat for the recording of this album and future shows. He is a well-known name in the Swedish rock and metal worlds though, and brings plenty of his own experience to Treat. The album was produced by Peter Mansson, who also co-wrote much of the album with Wikström. His production job is very clean, with plenty of space for Appelgren's keyboards (he also co-wrote a good chunk of the material on this album) to shine and produce a big sound. This is not a pomp-rock album however, and it lacks the cheesy, overblown keyboard sounds of the 1980s.

The album opens with the title track, the excellent song that persuaded me to give this album a go in the first place. After an electronic opening, a heavy, methodical guitar riff takes that sets the tone for the song. It has some good crunch to it, but the song has an overall smoothness as Appelgren's keyboards dominate the sound as the riff snakes around them. Ernlund's voice is strong throughout, and he commands this song, especially during the soaring chorus - which is one of the album's best. The subtle us of vocal harmonies works well to emphasise the melodies and make it very memorable. A piano-led mid-section leads into a melodic guitar solo. Wikström's playing starts off slow, but soon explodes into a shred-fest with some very nice licks. I Don't Miss the Misery utilises more of a modern hard rock sound, which works well as a contrast to the 1980s sound of the previous song. The main riff has something of the lighter end of post-grunge about it, and the upbeat, percussive verses are instantly catchy. The chorus is very strong too, which again uses plenty of good vocal harmonies, even if there is a hint of autotune there somewhere! The 1980s metal sound returns in Better the Devil You Know, which has a slightly neo-classical riff and washes of dramatic keyboards throughout. Ernland really impresses throughout this song with an excellent vocal performance, and does well to stand out in front of Wikström's crunchy guitars. A great old-school keyboard solo is one of the highlights of the song however, with some great organ sounds from Appelgren. It leads into an impressive guitar solo from Wikström that ends up mirroring Ernland's chorus vocal melodies to great effect. Do Your Own Stunts is the first real change of pace on the album, and is easily the album's best ballad. Opening with some delicate piano, Wikström's cutting clean guitar soon takes over to drive the mellow verses, but it is the soaring chorus that really makes this song. Layers of keyboards and strings surround Ernland's voice as he delivers his best single section of singing on the album. The song beefs up with the addition of drums and bass afterwards, but it remains a great song and repetitions of the chorus only make it stronger. Endangered gets back on the rockier path of the album's earlier songs, and has a great energy throughout that makes a great impact after the slower previous song. Appelgren's keyboard stabs are right from the 1980s, and the fast-paced chorus with plenty of range really grabs the attention. Wikström even throws in a few passages of slide guitar throughout, which adds a slightly strange but welcome addition to the song. Despite opening slowly with piano, Inferno has a great rock energy with a verse that is built on an AC/DC-style riff (but with added keyboard backing) and a great rumbling bassline. The mordern-sounding pop chorus is a contrast to the verses, but it works well with plenty of electronics and backing vocals to bulk it out. It is another strong song on an album that does not contain a lot of filler.

Alien Earthlings starts off with some appropriately strange keyboard sounds, but launches into a guitar and keyboard riff that sounds like something that could have been on Deep Purple's Slaves and Masters album. The song itself is a strong mid-paced rocker, built around that strong guitar and keyboard, and plenty of neo-classical flourishes. There is even some gang vocals used to good effect as a sort of post-chorus piece that works well to add a bit of grit to an otherwise smooth song. Nonstop Madness is a short song, but really packs a punch. It is full of poppy melodies, but these are perfectly blended with a staccato guitar riff that is surprisingly heavy when compared to the rest of the song. The chorus is one of the most overt on the album, with some huge, soaring melodies that are instantly memorable. Wikström's guitar solo is also short but sweet, and is the icing on the cake. Too Late to Die Young is one of the few weaker moments on the album. The more modern sound that worked so well during I Don't Miss the Misery fails to make the same impact here, and the song overall just lacks any standout melodies. The rather bland riff the song is based around does not help much, and it just never really gets going. Luckily, there is so many other strong songs here, that this one is soon forgotten. House on Fire is better and gets the album back on track with a slightly atmospheric, but heavy tune. Appelgren's keyboards provide a really interesting backing during the sparse verses, but the extremely melodic chorus is the song's high point. Appelgren dominates the song's solo section too, with plenty of spacey keyboard runs that have a slight progressive feel to them, which adds an extra dimension to the song, before once again exploding into the big chorus. Wikström sings the penultimate song, the ballad Together Alone. His voice is a little lower than Ernland's, but I am not sure I would have noticed the difference if I had not read in the album's sleeve notes that Wikström was singing. His voice is strong though, and fits this piano-led ballad nicely. It is a really nice song, with a massive string arrangement that helps to drive the song along with Appelgren's piano. It is quite a heartfelt piece, and Wikström's slightly lower voice gives the song plenty of emotional weight. The album comes to an end with the simple upbeat summer rock of Everything to Everyone. There are plenty of strong synth sounds here, and Ernland reinforces his vocal dominance after Wikström's little detour in the last song. While the song is fairly unremarkable, it is the perfect feel-good song to end the album on. Overall, Ghost of Graceland  is a strong release from Treat and a great new discovery for me. I will definitely be checking out some of their back catalogue, starting with my vinyl copy of Scratch and Bite.

The album was released on 15th April 2016 via Frontiers Records. Below is the band's promotional video for Ghost of Graceland.


Sunday, 15 May 2016

Black Stone Cherry's 'Kentucky' - Album Review

Black Stone Cherry, once a raw and in-your-face southern rock revival band, have been undergoing a transformation (for better or worse) over the past five or so years. The band's self-titled debut album was a furious, but soulful, affair, and one that appealed to younger rock fans and older hands who probably saw bands like Blackfoot and Lynyrd Skynyrd at their prime. Black Stone Cherry is easily one of the best hard rock debut albums of recent times and many of the songs have become extremely well known. Two years later the band's second album, Folklore and Superstition, was released. While being smoother overall, and containing some ballads, the album still contains plenty of hard rocking anthems. I might even prefer Folklore and Superstition slightly to the band's debut as it contains some of my favourite songs the band have written. Unfortunately, for me, it started to go downhill somewhat from here. 2011's Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea is a very enjoyable album, but the shift away from the band's southern rock roots is hugely apparent. Instead, the album is a big slab of well-produced and written post-grunge-style hard rock, the type that fills American rock radio stations. While there is still some soul and groove to be heard throughout the album, it really pales in comparison to the first two. Reading between the lines, I think that Roadrunner Records was pushing the band towards this more commercial and generic sound as it is easier to market. It must have worked, as Black Stone Cherry are now an arena band - especially here in the UK - but they have lost some of what made them special in the first place (this is all conjecture by the way). Two years ago the band's fourth album, Magic Mountain (which I reviewed here), was released. This album initially seemed like a return to the band's original sound, but over time this album has becomes bland and uninteresting to me. It is definitely the band's weakest album in my opinion, despite containing a handful of excellent songs. Last year the band split with Roadrunner Records and signed with Mascot Records, a smaller rock label and announced they were recording their new album in the same studios were they recorded Black Stone Cherry. That album, called Kentucky after the band's home state, was released last month and it is easily the best thing the band have done since Folklore and Superstition. While there is still a big post-grunge influence in their sound, it has been fused much better with their original modern southern rock sound. This is an album that is packed full of soul and groove, and the songwriting is the strongest it has been in a while. It is a self-produced album too, and the involvement of outside songwriters is minimal this time around, so you can tell the band has revelled in this new-found creative control.

The fuzzy opening riff of The Way of the Future takes you right back to the band's early days, as is it packed full of the band's trademark groove. It is a methodical, mid-paced rocker with a really heavy sound as the guitars of Chris Robertson and Ben Wells mix well together to create a wall of sound. Some songs on this album are the closest the band have ever been to being a metal band, and it is definitely the band's heaviest work yet. Robertson's voice has a perfect growl throughout this song, and he unleashes his inner rock god during the song's soaring chorus. It is a great start to the album, and it makes you realise how commercial the band had become in recent years. Despite starting off with a grungy clean guitar line, single In Our Dreams soon takes off with another big dirty riff. It is a bit of a strange song, with Jon Lawhon's bass guitar driving things in the verses with a fat, heavy sound. The chorus, which is more reminiscent of the band's more recent work, is a little on the post-grunge side for my liking, but it still remains memorable. Those old school-fans clamouring for a return to the band's southern rock heritage will love Shakin' My Cage. A bluesy guitar intro soon gives way to a fantastic riff and a catchy guitar lead that sits above it. This is one of the best songs the band have written in years, and contains one of their best choruses over that intro riff and some fantastic drumming from John Fred Young. Robertson is a great guitarist as well as a great singer, and there is a strong solo in this song, with just enough wah effects to take you back to the heyday of southern rock. Those who like a good party tune will love Soul Machine, which in my opinion is the superior cousin to songs like Blame it on the Boom Boom. Opening with another stonking southern riff, the song is packed with plenty of groove as Young lays down a slightly funky drum beat as the guitars and bass dance above. If Shakin' My Cage has one of the best choruses on the album, the Soul Machine has the best. The slightly gospel-esque backing vocals help with the vibe, and the feel-good atmosphere is palpable. I think this song will become a live staple for years to come, and I can see it lighting up arenas around the world. One of the criticisms leveled against the band recently is the amount of ballads the band have included on albums in recent times. Long Ride however is an instantly memorable slower song with a strong emotional chorus and an even better guitar solo. Black Stone Cherry have always written good ballads, they were just becoming too common. This song comes in after four rockers, and offers a nice change of pace. Next up is a rocking cover of Edwin Starr's Mowtown classic War. Like all good covers, the band have managed to stamp their own identity on to it, which makes it stand out from the many previous covers of this song around. It fits well within the sound established so far on the album, but the horn section and strong vocals do make it stand out. Hangman is the first song on the album that does not really appeal to me. This sounds like a leftover from the Magic Mountain sessions, and is build around a clunky riff that never really takes off. The song is a bit too much like Nickelback for my tastes, without any of the southern charm of the band's best material. That being said however, it does contain an excellent guitar solo that is faster and more metal than Robertson's usual style.

Cheaper to Drink Alone, a co-write with famed Nashville songwriter Brandon Kinney, really gets the album back on track with a tongue-in-cheek feel-good vibe, and some really excellent guitar work. The song's bouncy riff and methodical pace is a good combination, as the talkbox guitar lead weaves it's way around Robertson's strong vocals. The song's chorus is the song's focus point, as it is really anthemic and catchy. It is one of those moments that instantly sticks in your head, and one of the things that stands out about the whole album on first listen. The song's guitar solo is also good, although it is Lawhon's bass lines underneath that actually catch my attention more! Rescue Me opens with some effects-heavy vocals, before exploding into what is probably the fastest riff on the album. It is another strong song, with a soaring chorus that deliberately slows the pace to good effect. The song has a slight 1980s feel to it, with overt melodies and plenty of vocal harmonies to create a big sound. Feelin' Fuzzy, which sounding dangerously close to the Magic Mountain sound again, does have some redeeming qualities. The guitar sound is appropriately fuzzy, with plenty of room of some understated leads. It is definitely not the album's strongest moment, but it has more about it than Hangman. Darkest Secret is a heavier song with a crushing riff and a groove-heavy verse. Unfortunately however, the song is let down by a poor chorus that really lacks any standout melodies. While the change of label seems to have driven a large percentage of the band's post-grunge influence away, there is still a bit of here clinging to life. The chorus of Darkest Secret is one of those moments, and it really does not fit with the southern groove of the song or album. Born to Die is better, and has quite an epic feel throughout. The verses are quite downbeat, with some excellent bass lines and some slightly strange guitar sounds. The chorus packs a punch however, with Robertson's soaring vocals capturing the attention. It sounds like there is some subtle hammond organ in the background too, but this is not confirmed in the album's sleeve notes. There is some great harmony lead guitar sections too, where both Robertson and Wells lock in well together. The album comes to an end with the acoustic ballad The Rambler, which is one of the band's best slow songs yet. It has a perfect southern/country sound, but not as contrived as some of the band's other acoustic songs. The lyrics are strong, and Robertson sings them with just the right amount of emotion and conviction. The delicate violin that plays in the background just adds something special to the song, and it makes it the perfect song to close a heavy album with. Overall, despite a few weak moments, Kentucky is Black Stone Cherry's best album for sometime. There are songs here that will no doubt become live staples for years to come, and it is reassuring to see the band back on the right track.

The album was released on 1st April 2016 via Mascot Records. Below is the band's promotional video for In Our Dreams.


Thursday, 12 May 2016

Amon Amarth's 'Jomsviking' - Album Review

Sweden's Amon Amarth are bit like the AC/DC or Status Quo of melodic death metal. Since forming in 1992, the band have released ten albums of high quality melodic death metal anthems that follow an established pattern and theme. This is not a criticism of the band, far from it, as the band have become one of the biggest and most-loved exponents of the genre. It is true though that there has been little deviation in sound or style throughout their career however. Their heavy, Norse-themed anthems are all, on the whole, quite similar. Energy has always been on Amon Amarth's side, and they have managed to keep their sound sounding pretty much fresh throughout. Jomsviking is the band's tenth album, and the first since 2013's Deceiver of the Gods. That was a very well received album, and even cracked into the US Top 20, no mean feat for an album that could be classed as 'extreme metal' by some. Melody has always been a big part of the band's sound however, with the dual lead guitars of Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg creating plenty of memorable riffs and lead lines, despite frontman Johan Hegg's powerful, demonic growls. Jomsviking builds on the success of Deceiver of the Gods, and could possibly be the band's most melodic and anthemic release yet. It also a concept album, the first in the band's career, which gives the album a very unifying sound and feel. This is one thing that sets Jomsviking apart from much of the band's back catalogue, but another is the striking album art. The usual golden fire, mythological creatures, and Viking lore are conspicuous by their absence; replaced instead by a lone Norseman, standing axe in hand above his defeated foe, against a backdrop of stormy waters and distant Longships. This striking artwork, dominated by the colour blue, really stands out when held next to the other band's in the band's discography and it looks amazing. The music contained within is just as good too. Produced once again by Andy Sneap, this album sounds massive and is extremely well produced. The guitars really stand out, but Hegg's vocals dominate as he barks out those memorable choruses. Jomsviking is the first album since the band's 1998 debut album Once Sent from the Golden Hall not to feature drummer Fredrik Andersson who left the band last year. While no permanent replacement has yet been recruited, a long-time friend of the band Tobias Gustafsson (Vomitory; God Among Insects; Cut Up) played the drums on Jomsviking, and does a sterling job throughout. While this album does not deviate too far from the band's established, winning formula, the concept does give Jomsviking a unique identity, and is sure to be another big success for the band.

Opening number First Kill gets the album off to a very familiar start, with some tight guitar harmonies, before Ted Lundstrom's bass guitar takes over to drive the verses. The song's first verse are something a bit different for the band, with a more downbeat tone lead by the melodic bass riff. Hegg almost speaks the vocals in his deep, gruff voice; but the song really gets going with some tremolo guitar picking and furious drums. The chorus is a real anthem, with some rousing vocal lines that are sure to fill venues for years to come. For a band that uses harsh vocals exclusively, they really do have some powerful, melodic choruses, and this is one of the best. Wanderer follows, and it more of a mid-paced rocker, with a stabbing riff and some methodical, precise drumming. This is another memorable song however, with some really catchy guitar work throughout, but Hegg's vocals dominate with some serious growl. While Amon Amarth are more known for their faster songs, they also excel at these more mid-paced affairs. There is a real power in their slower riffing, and these songs give Hegg real room to breathe. There is an excellent guitar solo in this song too, which is packed full of melody. On a Sea of Blood opens with one of the album's best riffs, and also proceeds to become one of the album's best songs. The speed is back here, with a heavy, Iron Maiden-esque guitar melody to drive the song as Gustafsson shows off his fast footwork. While he will not be the band's drummer full time, he has done them a great favour here with his excellent and varied performance. The song's chorus is a real winner, with more lush guitar harmonies and some really powerful vocals. One Against All opens with a droning riff, and the song continues on in that vibe throughout. The band's two guitarists employ lots of fast picking techniques throughout, which gives the song that droning feel. The notes do not change that often either, which gives the song a unique, and strangely doomy feel. It works well however, and makes the song appear faster than it is. In Raise Your Horns, the band have creates a new live anthem that will no doubt become a staple of their live shows for years to come. The verses have a great chugging quality to them, before the fist-pumping chorus becomes the highlight of the song. This is a definite drinking song, and I foresee many pints being held aloft to this song as that chorus is shouted loud at the top of collective voices. The band have often written catchy pieces like this, and this is another to add to the collection. After a slow start, The Way of Vikings explodes into a real slab of epic metal with plenty of classic NWOBHM swagger. The guitar work throughout the song is excellent, with lots of catchy riffs that create a majestic backdrop of Hegg's snarling, but grand, vocal delivery. The guitar solo is impressive too, starting of slow before becoming a real speed-fest that demonstrates the skills of the band's guitarists.

At Dawn's First Light really pushes the band's obvious Iron Maiden influence into the fore. A lead that could have featured in Hallowed be thy Name is the focus of the song's intro, before the song takes off a break-neck speed, with more excellent drumming from Gustafsson. His drumming really brings the album to life, and is certainly more varied and interesting than Andersson's simpler style. This is another song that is vying to be classed as the album's 'best' moment, and the guitar solo really makes a serious claim on that front. The Iron Maiden-esque lead dominates the chorus which serves as a perfect backdrop of Hegg's inhuman vocals. One Thousand Burning Arrows is another of the band's more mid-paced numbers, and is led by a technical and memorable guitar melody that just lodges in the brain and refuses to budge. A variation of this melody plays throughout the song, with a perfect backing of doomy, ringing rhythm guitar chords and marching drums. The chorus is a little faster, with more tremolo picking, but maintains that mid-paced feel with slow chord changes. Vengeance is my Name is a more standard fare for the band, with a muscular riff driving everything at a fast pace with Hegg's barking vocals whipping up a storm. There are some gang vocal techniques used throughout to powerful effect too, which gives the impression of a horde of Norsemen getting ready for war! The song's chorus is another really catchy one, with cutting guitar leads and extremely memorable vocal lines. A Dream That Cannot Be stands out due to the fact Doro Pesch (Warlock) lends her vocal skills to the song. I believe this is the first time the band have ever used proper clean vocals before (although I might be wrong - I do not own all Amon Amarth albums), and it works surprisingly well. Pesch holds her own against Hegg's growls, and her gritty cleans add another dimension to the band's music. She does not have a 'pretty' voice, which certainty helps, and she is used to singing over heavy music. The duet is strong, and climaxes in a powerful, soaring chorus where both singers shine. The album's final song, the seven minute plus Back on Northern Shores, is easily the most epic moment on the album. The song's mid-paced riffing only enhances this feeling, and Hegg unleashes some of his deepest growls on the album during the verses. Despite the slower pace, a fairly jaunty guitar melody keeps things melodic, before the song's anthemic, slow chorus really lets rip and ensures the album ends on a high note. Overall, Jomsviking is a new high point for Amon Amarth. While they have not introduced many big changes to their well-established sound, they have managed to make a fresh-sounding piece of work that contains many memorable songs. I would not be surprised if this was viewed as a classic of the genre in the future.

The album was released on 25th March 2016 via Metal Blade Records. Below is the band's promotional video for At Dawn's First Light.


Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Lords of Black's 'II' - Album Review

Last year, an unknown Spanish metal band called Lords of Black were catapulted into the spotlight of the hard rock world. The legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore; founding member of Deep Purple, Rainbow, and Blackmore's Night; for so long caught in the renaissance/folk rock world as a member of Blackmore's Night, decided that he want to rock once more! 'Who would front this new incarnation of Rainbow?' well all wondered. Joe Lynn Turner was confident it would be him but, like he so often does, Blackmore surprised everyone by announcing that the unknown Chilean singer Ronnie Romero would be his new frontman. Rainbow fans immediately scoured the internet for clips of Romero singing, and that is how Lords of Black came into the public consciousness. Lords of Black were formed in 2014, and their self-titled debut album was released the same year. That album was released independently, but the increasing interest in the band has led to a record deal with the big Italian rock and metal label Frontiers. The band's second album, imaginatively titled II was released in March via this label. While it is Romero that has been put under the microscope, Lords of Black is guitarist Tony Hernando's band. He writes the majority of the band's songs and, on this album, plays all of the guitars, bass guitars, and some of the keyboards. Romero and Hernando are joined by drummer Andy C. who also plays the majority of the album's keyboard and piano parts. Bassist Javi García has since joined the band, and appears in the band's new music videos, but played no part in the recording of the album. Obviously there are going to be lots of comparisons made between Lords of Black and Rainbow, which I fear may effect people's enjoyment of II. Lords of Black do not really sound like Rainbow at all. Romero does certainly have more than a hint of original Rainbow frontman Ronnie James Dio's vocal styles in his delivery at times, but this is about as far as the comparisons can go (with the exception of the band's cover of Rainbow's Lady of the Lake, which is a bonus track on this album and thoroughly excellent take on a seriously underrated Rainbow song). Lords of Black's sound can be characterised as a mix of progressive and power metal. Imagine a mix of the heavier end of Kamelot's atmospheric, moody sound; the guitar-heavy parts of Pagan's Mind's sound; and the energy of early Blind Guardian, and you will not be far off imagining what Lords of Black sound like. They are not, by any means, a revelation and there are many other bands out there that do this type of music better; but this album is a worthy addition to the genre and contains many memorable songs. It also shows that Romero will be a great fit for Rainbow, as his vocal performance throughout is stellar.

A gothic instrumental intro Malevolently Beautiful soon gives way to Merciless, the album's first proper song. The song, with it's shredded neo-classic guitar opening and fast double bass drumming, has something of Yngwie Malmsteen's early work about it, and Hernando often displays skills that are comparable to the great Swede. The song is very vocally driven however, with a chugging atmospheric verse and a faster power metal chorus. They keyboards do not dominate, but provide a solid backing to the song and Hernando's crunchy power chord rhythms. His first guitar solo of the album is jaw-dropping and lengthy, with lots of excellent neo-classical motifs and a strong sense of melody. This song really brings out the best in the band, and is an excellent opening number. Only One Life Away opens with a riff that sounds a little like classical Rainbow actually, before a emotional guitar lead takes over that sounds like Kamelot. The song's verses have an excellent muscular quality to them, with some really tight drum patterns and matching guitar chords. The song does not seem to have a proper chorus, as it transitions seamlessly from the verse. This works quite well however, as the tension slowly builds and the layers of keyboards slowly increases. Romero even channels a little of the late Steve Lee in his vocals during this song, which sounds amazing. Everything You're Not is a piano-driven song which, after a heavier intro, descends into ballad mode with some excellent piano from drummer Andy C. that displays he is a true multi-instrumentalist. He wrote the music for the song too a shows a slightly different side of the band. The song gets heavier as it goes along, with a majestic chorus being one of the album's highlights. Even in the more metal moments, the piano lines are still very prominent which gives the song it's identity. New World's Comin' is actually quite similar, with a piano arpeggio providing the focal point during the song's intro, but this song maintains it's crunch throughout without slowing down. There is definitely a big chunk of Kamelot's sound here, with the heavy atmospheric sound they are famous for. This is another memorable song however, with an excellent vocal display from Romero. The song contains another excellent chorus, and another really excellent lengthy guitar solo. Hernando always goes all out with his solos, and each one is memorable and enjoyable. Cry No More is a fairly anthemic piece of power metal, with a effects-heavy intro and a really inventive and standout riff that comes in later which the verses are built around. It is not a fast song, but has a bounce like a classic HammerFall tune. The chorus is very catchy, with some serious grit creeping into Romero's voice. Hernando also really shred here, with a really fast and impressive solo! Tears I Will Be is another piano-heavy piece, although it is actually a powerful bassline that makes it's mark the most in the verses. It is very simple song, but still contains plenty of strong melodies to get your teeth into. Romero's chorus is a strong point and provides a good mid-album sing-a-long.

Insane is a moodier song, but it still packs a good punch. The verses are characterised by clean guitar patterns and thick bass, before the chorus picks up with a heavier feel and some dense keyboards. This song contains what is possibly Romero's best vocal performance on the album. His verse delivery is more restrained, before he really lets rip in the chorus with a melodramatic howl that showcases his gritty style perfectly. This makes the song really stand out and, as a result, it is one of the album's best moments. Live by the Lie, Die by the Truth is another simpler power metal romp that has something of Primal Fear about it's direct, to-the-point approach. It is built around a strong chorus that has plenty of strong vocal hooks and is one of the most memorable on the album. Like all good power metal tunes, the song also has an excellent guitar solo that brings the best out of Hernando's impressive playing. The lengthy Ghost of You the album's most progressive moment. Opening with a delicate classical guitar melody, the song slowly builds up to a more traditional metal song over time. The intro is impressive and diverse, which leads nicely into a downbeat moody verse. The verses are some of the song's strongest moments however, with an excellent vocal display and some slightly doomy guitar playing. The song's chorus does not really live up to the song's more epic tendencies with a clunky melody. That being said, there are plenty of redeeming features here, including plenty of flashy guitar playing throughout. The classical intro showcases a different side of Hernando's playing, but the rest of the song features more of his impressive shredding. There is a really long guitar solo at the heart of the song that is probably the best guitar moment and shows that Hernando is a very underrated guitar player that will hopefully one day reach a larger audience. The Art of Illusions - Part III: The Wasteland is a continuation of a series of songs started on the band's first album and is a good slab of power metal with a catchy lead guitar intro and a relatively jaunty chorus with a subtle keyboard backing that really helps bring it to life. The sort of song is the band's most in-your-face material, and for that reason is also the most immediate. It is songs like this one that stand out the most what you first hear II, and what initially attracts you to the album. The album's last song, besides the Rainbow cover, is Shadows of War which is a heavy, faster metal anthem with some really impressive drumming from Andy C. There are some slower, Eastern-tinged lead guitar sections throughout to break up the pace, but it is the fast choruses that steal the show here with a dynamic vocal performance that ends with a strong high note. Overall, II is a strong album from a band which are sure to grow in stature over the next year or so. While much of the album is quite derivative of other bands who do this sort of music better, Lords of Black are still a good band, and this album sees them beginning to make their mark.

The album was released on 18th March 2016 via Frontiers Records. Below is the band's promotional video for Everything You're Not.


Sunday, 1 May 2016

The Treatment - Birmingham Review

Despite having the seen The Treatment four times prior to this Friday's gig in Birmingham, the band's show at the Asylum 2 was the first headline show of theirs that I have seen, and it was worth the six year wait. I first saw the band at the Cambridge Rock Festival back in 2010, before the band's debut album was released, but I have told that story here before so I will not bore anyone with it again! Since then, I have seen the band at the High Voltage Festival in 2011, supporting Slash in Nottingham in 2013, and supporting W.A.S.P. (also in Nottingham) last year. With the band's third album Generation Me just over a month old, the are band are currently trekking around the UK on their first headline tour with the current line-up. The new band members seem to have given the band a bit of a shot in the arm, and the now-solidified line-up has gelled together really well. Joining the band on their tour are the Scottish three-piece rockers The Amorettes, who I had seen previously supporting Europe and Black Star Riders last year. This show was originally meant to take place at the Oobleck, a strange venue in Digbeth where I had seen At the Gates previously, but the closure of that venue led to the show being moved to the Asylum 2, a new venue for me that is not too far north of Snow Hill station. It was not the nicest venue I have ever been in, but the sound throughout the evening was pretty good and, by the time The Treatment came onstage, there was a decent-sized crowd in attendance.

The relatively local four-piece rock band Stone Broken opened the show, and they made a pretty strong impression throughout. Their sound is firmly rooted in the post-grunge rock of bands like Alter Bridge, and their songs all contained pretty big riffs and some enjoyable choruses. The star of the show for me however was lead guitarist Chris Davis who lit up every song with an incendiary solo that showed some real quality. Overall, I enjoyed Stone Broken's set and they made their half an hour or so on stage count. I shall probably make an effort to check them out in the future.

The Amorettes had the luxury of playing to a slightly bigger crowd by the point they went on stage, but I felt it took the crowd quite a bit of time to warm up to their set. While their songs are not very original at all, they are an entertaining live act, and seeing them on a smaller stage showed that their stage craft is strong. The band manage to create an excellent energy when playing live, and I think it was this that finally won around many of the people in attendance. The cheers gradually increased as the set moved on, and by the end I think they had made many new fans. The band have just recorded a new album, so I look forward to hearing what that is like when it gets released.

It is clear that The Treatment have a decent amount of fans in Birmingham, and by the time they came on stage there was a good-sized crowd in attendance. The band opened with a couple of new numbers, with the first song Let it Begin being a real highlight. It is one of the best songs the band have ever written, and the energy that the main riff creates is unreal. Frontman Mitchel Emms is constantly growing into his new role, and he already seems to know how to work a crowd. The Asylum 2 is a small place, with a low stage, but he made sure he was seen a lot throughout the evening, and really engaged with everyone in the audience. The new songs from Generation Me dominated the set, which was great to see, but there were some older numbers thrown in to great effect too. I Bleed Rock + Roll always goes down well live, as did the real oldie The Doctor later in the set. Another highlight was the title track of the new album, which has an excellent chorus made for the live performance, and the Grey brothers on guitar made for a formidable partnership. The excellent power pop of Backseat Heartbeat was the last of the new songs to be played, but it went down a storm as the crowd helped the band to sing the anthemic chorus. The main set came to an end with the oldie Shake the Mountain, which still sounds as good now as it did at the CRF back in 2011! Due to the design of the venue, leaving the stage for an encore break and coming back was not really an option, so after some large cheers the band went straight into Get the Party On which was extended to feature a lengthy guitar solo and some crowd participation vocal sections. Even the two ladies behind the bar were dancing at this point! The setlist was:

Let it Begin
Cry Tough
Running with the Dogs
The Devil
I Bleed Rock + Roll
We are Beautiful
Bloodsucker
Generation Me
The Doctor
Backseat Heartbeat
Drink, F**k, Fight
Emergency
Shake the Mountain
Get the Party On

Overall, this was an excellent gig from a young rock band that have all it takes to really make it. While this is unlikely to happen now three albums in, they are still putting on high-energy shows that will surely be enjoyed by fans for years to come. After the show the whole band came out to the merchandise desk to sign CDs and take pictures with the fans which is always great to see. I got my copy of Generation Me signed, which is always a bonus!