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Review: A Long Time Coming by Profane and The Sacred

Posted by on Jan 23, 2015 in Album Launch, Featured, Reviews | 0 comments

It’s that time again, New Year and New Music, so here at the flag we strapped ourselves in for a morning of sore neck muscles as we go horns up and heads down for the debut album from the UK’s own Profane and The Sacred, A Long Time Coming.

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REVIEW: Sex, Drugs and HIV – Various Artists

Posted by on Dec 8, 2014 in Charity, Featured, Pinned, Reviews | 0 comments

The Sex, Drugs and HIV project was started by Mat Sargent back in 1995 to raise funds and awareness for the charities The Terrance Higgins Trust, Release, Rape Crisis and Cancer Research. Almost 20 years later and the album is finally finished and available to the public. And what a great body of work it is.

Let me start by saying that this is a phenomenal album that rightly deserves a place on any serious music fans shelf. From the first track on disc 1, the title track itself ‘Sex, Drugs & HIV’, which is a country/hillbilly drawl about not sharing needles you are taken on a musical journey that twists and changes genres constantly. And that’s one of the great things about this album, at has chosen each musician for each song, meaning you could have a metal guitarist working on a reggae track with musicians that they have never worked with before. The fact that there isn’t one single disasterous track on the album is a testament to Mat’s skill as both a writer and a producer.

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Mat and Howard marks

To list every individual track would simply take too long and to be honest its hard to find an addition on the album that I don’t like. I think for myself the highlights are ‘Road to Morocco’  which is a rocky eastern influenced instrumental track, Hashish another instrumental track (which is a great driving tune as I’ve discovered), Tortured Genius which features vocals from the late X-Ray Specs lead singer Poly Styrene.

The first track on the second CD ‘Easy Target’ is a SKA track featuring some of the major names in SKA and Reggae such as the late Judge Dread, The Selectors Pauline Black, Roddy Radiation of the Specials fame, Rhoda Dakar and many more. As a long time SKA fan this is probably my favourite track on the double album.

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Mat and Charlie Harper

‘Pain/Mercy’ is another great addition to the album and features the unlikely pairing of Afrika Bambaataa and Paul Roony from Vice Squad, on a funk track that wouldn’t be out of place on a the Jackie Brown soundtrack except of course for the fact that it’s about about the creation of HIV for Biological warefare.

As well as two CDs of some of the best music I’ve heard in a while, Sex, Drugs & HIV also includes a DVD with over 170 hours of footage about the making of the album, which is a phenomenal amount of great material.Whats more the DVD contains a video for each track on the album which all join up together. Keep a look out as Mat’s making 30 1 hour documentaries in the near future.

All in all ‘Sex, Drugs and HIV’ get a cool 9/10 as it’s a seriously awesome compilation that you’ll keep coming back to time and time again. It’s well worth the £20 price tag and it’s for some great causes which as far as I’m concerned makes it a bargain.

Rating: 9/10

Sex Drugs and HIV is available to buy now from Amazon

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Reporting on Skindred live at The Welly Club: a performance like you’ve never seen

Posted by on Dec 1, 2014 in Featured, Gigs, Reviews, Tours | 0 comments

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On Tuesday the 25th on a frosty November evening, I and about two-hundred others packed ourselves into an intimate room at The Welly Club to experience the “Ragga Metal” band from North Wales, Skindred, perform live. This is a night I will always remember. You could tell that there were people there who had already seen a Skindred gig, and knew what we were all in for. I had been an amateur to such an experience – but nothing could have prepared me for it. Watching Skindred perform has added a whole new dimension  to my experiences of live music, and I could sum up this entire review with one sentence: that they are the ultimate band to go and see with your own eyes. This is a total guarantee. There is nothing like them – and I feel like I am quite late in experiencing this revelation. They have already been awarded with “Best Live Band” at the 2011 UK Metal Hammer ‘Golden Gods’ awards, and granted  the “Devotion Award” from Kerrang! magazine. Indeed, their onstage presence is a force to be reckoned with, as the band have presence and talent in seemingly all areas of music and entertainment: mixing reggae, metal and punk influences along with jungle, ska, hip hop and dubstep, a beautifully executed mashup delivered with ecstatic dexterity.

From the very beginning of their set the band surprised us, bouncing onstage to a remix of the Star Wars opening theme tune. The audience was completely gripped – a state of total attention that I have never before witnessed at a gig, yet Skindred completely deserved such attention. There was not a moment’s silence for the whole set, each member of the band pouring tremendous effort into bringing their tracks to life and communicating personally with us. I think you would be hard-pressed to find somebody who wouldn’t enjoy them – even if you believed that their music wasn’t for you (which seems to be impossible, as they cover such a wide range of musical styles) it is undeniable how entertaining the lead singer, Benji Webbe, actually is. After every couple of songs, the eclectically-dressed and multi-talented singer would pause to joke with his audience, encouraging us to sing with him and making dynamic, short speeches, building a truly electric atmosphere in the room as we responded to him. At one point he asked us how many of us had bought his music over the years, to which we responded with a cliche “woo” and airpunch, the given audience-response to live artists. He then asked us how many of us illegally downloaded Skindred’s music, to which an even louder “woo” was given. His answer was roughly this – “*laughing* you’re all a bunch of c****s. The next song you’ll probably all know then from STEALING IT you b******s”. Webbe’s genuine attitude was brilliantly witty, and – cheesy as it is – really created the feeling that we were all good friends: unified by humour and a passion for the band.

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Each live track, of course, was amazingly executed. You could distinctly tell that they’ve have been in the industry for years (since 1998) as their talent is so raw it’s basically palpable. They covered songs from their older albums, like “Union Black”, including a version of Cut Dem which began with Damien Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock and my favourite song of the evening Doom Riff, alongside tracks from their newest release “Kill The Power”, which came out in January this year. Webbe can go from throaty, ominous screams to fast-paced, energetic rapping in 0.11111 seconds, keeping the audience in a constant headbanging state as each track switched between styles. Not only this, Webbe switched styles like he switched his look, wearing a Steampunk-style tophat at the beginning of the night, before later swapping it for a fluffy red hat, roaring passionate vocals into the mic whilst sporting a fairly adorable look, making the audience possibly love him even more. I cannot mention enough the pure energy that Skindred pours into their live performances, both in delivering their music to a crowd and entertaining them between songs. These efforts did not go to waste,  the adrenaline in the room only spiralling higher and higher until tiredness seemed to become an unknown concept to us all. There is no doubt that Skindred really loves their fans,  shown through their constant attention to us, a love which further perfectly mirrors their ethos of unity between all people.

Benji’s dynamic personality and Skindred’s rousing music practically bounced of the walls Tuesday and have left me feeling slightly empty and a little nostalgic since. I would recommend an extensive listening to their music as it can only inspire and excite you more to go and see them for yourselves, but stay away from YouTube live videos. Let that be a surprise. It’s worth the wait. Book your tickets.

Laura Demaude

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REVIEW: Job For A Cowboy: Sun Eater

Posted by on Nov 10, 2014 in Featured, Record Releases, Reviews | 0 comments

From the band that made it socially acceptable to pig squeal in metal, comes the fourth full-length to this epic saga. Let’s just point out for a minute here that it’s been almost 10 years since the release of their debut EP Doom and these guys have definitely still got it. What ‘it’ is however is all to do with how heavy you can handle your metal. Personally, ‘it’ would be phlegm spewing, guttural vocals, insane bass licks, borderline techy guitars and furious beats that hold both groove and technique in one. Sun Eater is definitely set to excite and arouse your eardrums.

With the 6-minute leviathan that is Eating The Visions Of God, we’re introduced to a sinister guitar intro followed by a purely demonic growl from Jonny Davy with the rest of the band following suit. Job For A Cowboy have always sparked some intrigue within myself with their song titles and this album doesn’t seem to disappoint with names such as the former, The Stone Cross and Buried Monuments conjuring up images of ancient times and a much more primitive approach to metal. I wouldn’t say this sounds like cavemen playing their instruments for the first time but there’s a much more animalistic and instinctive approach to this album than what’s come before. As talented as each member may be, everything seems a lot more mature in its delivery, which is a great sign for a band still going after 10 years.

Sun Of Nihility shows more proof that the individual musicians on this record have so much talent. The bass riffs are mixed unusually high for a record of this day and age, which can only be assumed, has been done for a reason. And this reason is because bassist, Nick Schendzielos is truly mind-blowing to listen to. The intro wouldn’t be too far off listening to most prog bands but it fits with JFAC’s development into becoming veterans of the death metal scene. Once the vocals kick in it just smacks you in the face with no apology. The guitars are machine-gun quick but leave so much room to pick up on their nuances as opposed to a lot of other death metal bands nowadays that think it’s a race to see how fast you can pick. The guitar solo is precise and methodical sadly and there seems to be a lack of feeling within this aspect of the song. Interesting to listen to but not necessarily solo of the year, although the interplay with the drums are interesting to say the least.

I would recommend if you’re a fan of early JFAC to listen to A Global Shift. It feels like a lost track from their early work with its speed, ferocity and relentless double kick. The standout track for me would have to be Buried Monuments with a stunning dual guitar solo that emanates almost an Avenged Sevenfold sound but with its signature JFAC stamp.

The only issue with Sun Eater is I would personally find it hard to recommend to someone who hasn’t heard of JFAC already. It’s definitely accessible but honestly, it’s not exactly pushing any boundaries. Yes as musicians, these guys are way ahead of the competition but at the same time that presents an issue. There are moments on this record when it feels like each member is trying to outdo the other in their performance, which stops it from sounding like a band and rather a backing band with a soloist on top. This is a reoccurring problem with the bass guitar throughout. Apart from that, JFAC fans will not be disappointed. This is a band who haven’t strayed too far from their roots, have written an album that could easily be played with many other death metal bands right now and are just great at what they do.

Rating: 7.5/10 

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The new Blodhemn album, “H7”, is quite something to behold

Posted by on Nov 10, 2014 in Featured, Record Releases, Reviews | 0 comments

The upcoming album from Norweigan Black Metal band Blodhemn, entitled “H7”, is fated to impress. Continuing on the path paved by the genres musical predecessors, including bands like Immortal and Gorgoroth, Blodhemn – essentially a one-man band commandeered by the multi-talented Invivus – manages to create an iconic, aggressive sound that captures the listener with relentless beats and a medley of savage riffs. After an excellently received first album, “Holmengraa” (2012), the band is back to stun again with this phenomenal second release.

Due to come out on November 10th, “H7” consists of seven punchy, rousing tracks, reminiscent of the Black Metal tradition whilst also being distinct to Blodhemn’s particular style. The music almost dares you to listen, drawing you into its unique strain of old school metal combined with dynamically thunderous and raw sounds. Invivus’ dark guitar work is magical (or, should we say, black-magical) and serves as the driving, urgent force behind each track, matched with ruthless vocals that particularly resonate in the opening number “Flammenes Virke”.

Blodhemn are renowned for being phenomenal live and on listening to this album you can only imagine how incredible it must be to translate Invivus’ raw music to the stage. Instantly big with the underground scene on their fruition in 2004, Blodhemn’s live presence is heralded by existing fans as mesmerizing, a must-see for all fans of both Invivus and the metal genre. Even through their recordings it is obvious that Blodhemn masters creating atmosphere – an atmosphere once again spreading as the band have announced their first ever European tour to promote the release of this album and support metal band Mayhem, commencing on November 2nd. This remarkable testament to the Black Metal tradition will be (and already is by many) adored by fans of the genre, and those who have not yet listened to Blodhemn I invite – and urge you – to do so.

Tracklist:

  1. Flammenes Virke
  2. Slettet Av Tid
  3. Evig Heder
  4. Veiten
  5. Andenes Ansikt
  6. Fandesvenn
  7. Holmengraa
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Review: Headcase’s Handbook by Medusa

Posted by on Oct 17, 2014 in Album Launch, Featured, Reviews | 0 comments

We’ve been a bit battered by the shitty British weather here at the flag the last few days so to make ourselves feel a bit better we decided to treat ourselves to a bit of fantastic new British rock. We slapped on the new Medusa album, slaughtered a pig and treated ourselves to a feast of greatness.

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