Tag: hard rock

Live review: Stormbringer

STORMBRINGER The Roadmender, Northampton September 6th Opening an evening of metal at the Roadmender are Broken Empire. Bringing a groove-laden sound and delivering it with punk aggression this four-piece from…

STORMBRINGER
The Roadmender, Northampton
September 6th

Opening an evening of metal at the Roadmender are Broken Empire. Bringing a groove-laden sound and delivering it with punk aggression this four-piece from Oxfordshire/Northants are a bundle of finely-honed energy. Displaying little in the way of nerves they deliver original tunes like ‘Parasite’ which are both heavy and emotive. Lyrically astute, their first single ‘No More Lies’ follows and is peppered with neat time changes that remind me of ’90s era Metallica. A twin-guitar attack creates a huge sound as set closer [and forthcoming single] ‘Time Running Out’ is a real earworm, and brings things to a suitably climatic crescendo.

Hitting the stage like a gang of whirling dervishes Parallax haven’t come to take prisoners and by second track, ‘End’, their enthusiasm has infected the whole venue. Some powerhouse drumming creates an earth-shaking sound that’s underpinned by some fine finger-tapping on the bass, while the vocals mirror the rhythm and alternate between hardcore growls and something almost soulful. The guitars fire in unison to create an artillery barrage as ‘Losing Control’ and ‘Hero’ are unleashed in quick succession. It’s great to see a band enjoying themselves, but the in between song banter could be toned down so their stage presence matches the ferocity of their sound.

Local band Still Remains appear as a blur of Flying V’s and throwing shapes. It’s no surprise the band cite Metallica, Saxon and Thin Lizzy as influences because their sound perfectly captures that moment in time when the NWOBHM was morphing into speed metal. Originally formed in 1993 as a reaction to grunge their unique take on trad metal has been immovable and seen off various fads and trends. With no pomposity Still Remains are simply four guys on stage, having a ball and living out their fantasies as guitarist Andy Green delivers blistering solo after blistering solo and his vocals have that earthy touch of Paul Di’anno. The whole band lock in well together as the set ebbs and flows smoothly with the songs paired by tempo. ‘What I Am’ broods with a moody riff, while the ferocious set closer, ‘Redeemer’, ensures they leave as they arrived: in a blaze of sonic fury.

Tonight’s headliners Stormbringer have a sound that’s built for the biggest stages, and they’ve taken the right route by paying their dues in clubs and bars. While the Roadmender has become their spiritual home you have the feeling they will soon outgrow the venue. Since I last saw Stormbringer they have shuffled personnel with Darren Caven-Quantrill coming in on guitar and original vocalist Mike Stockley returning after a hiatus. Fans shouldn’t worry as it’s the same Stormbringer, only more groove-orientated and with a more expansive sound. Appropriately they open with their very first single ‘Grinder’, and it’s like Mike has never been away. Slotting right back in the band he immediately commandeers centre stage, constantly punching the air and standing astride the barriers. He’s one of those rare frontmen who can make the whole venue feel involved and, despite the line up changes, the band hit the ground running, like a well-oiled machine they’re firing on all cylinders as ‘Bleed For’ and ‘Save Me’ are discharged in quick succession. It’s a career spanning set which pulls tracks from their three albums while the new song debuted, the moody ‘Mirage’, stomps like a giant and has that huge feeling that Metallica captured on their Black Album. ‘Stick to Your Guns’ follows along with ‘Bad Blood’ as drummer John Paul Quantrill provides a thunderous soundtrack to which bassist Darren McCullagh prowls like a caged animal. Two from their debut album MMVIII follow in the shape of ‘Mark Anthony’ and ‘Gazing at the Grave’, both of which provide plenty of foot-on-the-monitor, fist-in-the-air metal action before guitarist Dom Wallace lays an explosive solo over the anthemic ‘Smother’. Still driven by an insatiable hunger the band look visibly exhausted as they near the sets conclusion; yet they drain the tank to deliver an explosive closer in the shape of ‘Dying Breed’.

Peter Dennis.

Photos by David Jackson

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New Music Friday: We Are Giants

Northampton trio We Are Giants, with the huge sound and quirky style, keep coming up with the goods. Following last years well-received debut album The Empire they are back with…

Northampton trio We Are Giants, with the huge sound and quirky style, keep coming up with the goods. Following last years well-received debut album The Empire they are back with new single ‘Respond’. Time to ch-ch-chat…

How did you guys get together?
We first started in mid-2015, originally connecting through adverts on joinmyband.com. Our first gig was on NYE of that year. We started off as a four-piece playing softer rock and practising in Griffs lounge, but soon found our heavier sound and transitioned into a trio. Alex came on board as a WAGlad [and drummer] last summer. We play together as good friends and because of our passion for writing and playing original rock music.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
This is the question that usually throws people off! Our sound is heavy modern rock but with gritty vocals rather than any screaming. That being said….Griff can sing quite beautifully as well. Our influences range from Alexisonfire, old-school Biffy Clyro, Don Broco and Press to Meco and we certainly think that you can hear a little bit of each of those bands in our tunes.

What was the reaction like to The Empire?
Lee’s Nan loved the artwork but not so much the music. Being serious, it’s tough being a small unsigned originals rock band, and unless you’re pumping money into pushing your stuff it’s difficult to get heard. That’s why it’s always fantastic when people grab a CD from us at gigs or stumbling across us on the streaming platforms. BBC Introducing has also played some tracks off of The Empire, which is cool! We’re proud of the songs that we’ve created and recorded together, and if nothing comes from it then at least we’ve had some good times doing it all and have something for our grandkids to listen to [and hate].

Tell us about this new song, ‘Respond’.
‘Respond’ was written by all three of us pretty much as soon as Alex came on board. Griff came up with the riff at 1am when we were all pissed, and we never looked back. We recorded the song at the WAG studio and had a great time adding all of the layers….especially the ukulele in the breakdown! When it was time to release the song, we thought about ideas for a music video and being the lazy bastards we are, we decided to stand in front of a green screen and shoot a one take dancing video…..but it turned out great! It seems that when we run out of ideas we always turn to the comedy, crazy costumes, green screen video approach. We probably did the main video in one take but also created five or six bonus clips that we released before the launch and those probably took the most time because we were laughing so much! Recording and shooting videos is the most fun part of being in a band for us because we get to have a laugh and record whatever idea pops into our heads.

What are your live shows like?
We like to have fun and bring energy to the stage, it’s usually a weekend so why would we want to be all serious and moody? Crowd wise, it’s always hit or miss. We’ve played some absolutely insane gigs, and also played to practically no one on many occasions. Our proudest moment has to be when we were runners up in MK11’s battle of the bands competition, but we won the best bassist and guitarist award. We also got a cool support slot for a CJ Ramone gig from that show.

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire, playing with like-minded bands? Any favourite bands/venues to play with?
We’ve had the opportunity to play with 100s of bands in 10s of venues in our brief history. We’ve made great friends playing shows in Northants and always enjoy playing at The King Billy, The Roadmender and the cool pubs in Daventry. These days there are a lot of gigs where the majority of the crowd is the bands that are on the line-up, so it’s important to drop the egos, have a beer and enjoy each other’s show.

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Shooting the music video for our next single…coming out soon! The video was soooo much fun to film and we hope that comes across on camera. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more details soon on that.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Lee – Biffy Clyro Balance Not Symmetry
Alex – Press To Meco Here’s To The Fatigue
Griff – Acoda Truth Seeker

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
We have a new single coming out soon with an awesome video to match. We think that this is possibly our best work to date so we’re excited to release it! After that we’re just going to focus on having a good time being in a band: whether that’s working on new tracks, jamming or recording and shooting video content. We’re not ruling out the odd live show but we live busy lives and the rewards for the time, effort and money that you put into playing shows is slim, but that’s cool….we have a laugh together and do what we want, when we want.

Respond is out now

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Album review: Empyre

EMPYRE Self Aware [self-released] The opening track ‘My Bad’ sets out the template for the debut by this Northampton quartet and their wrought, minor-chord melodrama of a debut album. Solid…

EMPYRE
Self Aware [self-released]

The opening track ‘My Bad’ sets out the template for the debut by this Northampton quartet and their wrought, minor-chord melodrama of a debut album. Solid and thick rhythms; crunchy blues-metal riffs, intense-yet-introspective lyrics sung by front-man Henrik Steenholdt. Self Aware is not something that’s ever going to wash over you in the background.

Taking their cues from the likes of Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots, with occasional forays into Muse-like bombast, Self Aware is a thrilling and atmospheric ride to be on. Recent single New ‘Republic’ is the first heads-down rocker to come along, cruising confidently on those Soundgarden-style verses and Metallica vocal workouts. 

A band that’s no stranger to accomplished and almost progressive songwriting ideas, they aren’t afraid to be bold when they need to, as ‘Just A Ride’ with it’s gentle feedback passages, ably demonstrates. But then ‘Too Close’ shows they are able to be just as melodic as any classic band you care to name. Steenholdt’s wail on the latter is something to truly behold too, holding long notes with aplomb.  

‘Drive’ perhaps sees them coming too close to aping their heroes, not offering the originality that’s clearly evident elsewhere on the album.  It’s the mid album dip I guess; same applies to ‘Only Way Out’. ‘Cut To The Core’ though has a touch of the pop-punk in its rhythm, and it suits them well. The previous single, the catchy and hard-hitting ‘Too Little Too Late’, is the one to ease yourself into their world; the drums cut hard, as do the lyrics. By the time the finale, the atmospheric and epic grunge workout ‘Homegrown’, finishes you do feel emotionally exhausted, but in the best way possible.

A hard-working band, the general buzz around Empyre is there for good reason. They come alive in the gig environment, and they’ve done a great job of getting that energy in the studio across these eleven tracks, whilst still adding enough texture to warrant repeat plays. If you like your hard rock with some proggy bites then Self Aware really should be happy nestling in your collection very soon.

Phil Moore

Self Aware is out now

 

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New Music Friday: Empyre

Empyre are a Northants grunge/hard-rock band. Henrik Steenholdt  on vocals and guitar, Did Coles on lead guitar, Grant Hockley on bass, and Elliot Bale on drums. New single ‘Too Little…

Empyre are a Northants grunge/hard-rock band. Henrik Steenholdt  on vocals and guitar, Did Coles on lead guitar, Grant Hockley on bass, and Elliot Bale on drums. New single ‘Too Little Too Late’ has just come out the traps, and it’s enough of a beast for New Boots to go searching for more info.

How did you guys get together?
Did: Empyre really got started in 2016. Henrik and I were gigging in a busy covers band, and that naturally evolved into writing our own music. The original band relied on friends, who were for the most part session musicians. We realised we needed a dedicated line-up to move the band forward, and set off on the hunt for the right drummer and bassist. During that time we focused on the acoustic side of Empyre. Some of that acoustic duo activity you can find on our YouTube channel. We persevered with that hunt for some time, and have now solidified the four-piece format with Grant on bass and Elliot on drums, both of whom are also Northants based.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences in music?
Henrik: Our music has been described as “atmospheric rock”, “contemporary rock”, “atheist rock”, “hard rock” and “the love child between Pink Floyd and Soundgarden”. We fuse the roots of rock’s tradition alongside some dark, introspective songwriting, but don’t expect dreary and depressing….expect intense, sometimes raw, sometimes anthemic rock. Exactly what the name of that music is we’re not sure anyone agrees on.
Did: We would site influences ranging from Seattle-era grunge bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden to rock heavyweights like the Foos, Guns’n’Roses and Audioslave. But each musician brings their own personal influences to the table, which shapes the band sound. For example Elliot loves Twenty One Pilots, Henrik is a huge fan of George Michael, Alter Bridge and Abba, Did loves modern country, instrumental rock and Taylor Swift, and Grant loves Tool, King’s X, and Faith No More. Varied, I think! As well as music we are influenced by the world around us. The forthcoming album has songs inspired by philosophical comedians like Bill Hicks, a HBO series protagonist from True Detective [Rust Cohle], atheism, existentialism and relationships. All fun and games.

What was the reaction like to those first couple of singles that predated the new one?
We released two taster EPs in the band’s early development, alongside the release of a few acoustic music videos. We had a good enough reaction from that to start building a fan base and attract management. This helped in connecting us with the wider rock scene in the UK, and we started gigging more consistently.

Tell us everything about this new release, ‘Too Little Too Late’.
This single is the first release from our debut album Self Aware, which comes out on July 5th. The song was inspired by the breakdown of a relationship, so might strike a chord with anyone who has any angst towards their exes! The theme goes along the lines of an exploration of an obsessive and toxic relationship preceding, during and after its collapse. Initially your pride is damaged and your emotions feel like they have been severely tainted. Ultimately, you turn your resentment into detachment, realising you have come out better off than the other person involved.

The single also has a music video that we filmed last year [see below]. It conveys the lyrics, with two actresses portraying the difficult relationship. It’s gritty, a bit raunchy even, and Facebook just banned us from advertising it. Spoilsports.

What are your live shows like?
Henrik: My favourite description of our live show was when someone came up to me wide-eyed after a gig, and said “Woah, that was intense”. That, for me, was a great compliment. It’s certainly intensity that I try to put into my performance, especially vocally. We aim for a big sound, and that doesn’t mean deafening. We want the audience to hear the nuances in the music, and the vocals, even when we’re blasting out the heavier tracks.
Grant: This really depends on venue, audience, gig and us. Empyre are equally at home blasting out the heavier tracks as we are sitting down playing softer, acoustic arrangements, sometimes with piano. The best way to answer the question is to come see us!

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire, playing with like-minded bands? Any favourite bands/venues?
Did: Northants has a thriving music scene, and we are regulars at The King Billy and The Craufurd Arms down the road in Wolverton. Plus we have a decent support base in Brackley, where we gig a couple of times a year.
Henrik: We can’t say that we are embedded in the scene here though. We’d love to establish ourselves more within our home county, and we’d welcome all the support Northampton wants to give us. Hopefully there are plenty more potential fans of our music in the county yet to discover us. That’s why it’s great to do interviews like this, and play at events such as Northampton Music Festival, because hopefully it will allow a wider audience to embrace our music. As much as we love playing The King Billy and always have a great time we’d really like to play all over the county.

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Henrik: Tough to choose, but probably playing an acoustic set in an Arctic-themed amphitheatre with a pool, in an abandoned zoo in Ibiza, to a few hundred people. Surreal, and fantastic.
Grant: It’s been an amazing year, so there has been a few! The feeling just before going onstage at some of the larger festivals or hearing a track being played on the radio for the first time is up there.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Did: Lethbridge Owen Mind over Matter released this month. Empyre joined this talented outfit on the Isle of Wight last year.
Grant: Full Nelson by Massive Wagons. They are on the same management as us [Rock People Management] and we have supported them a few times. The album charted in the UK at 16, it’s great to see them do so well! The last album I streamed was Lykaia by Swedish prog rock band Soen. I love this record and have listened to it daily for the last few weeks.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Henrik: Imminent plans include the inaugural tour to support the singles and album releases. On the RPM Takeover Tour we’re joined by Ryders Creed and The Rocket Dolls. Then we play Northampton Music Festival on June 16th, catch us on the main stage in the Market Square. There are at least three more singles to be released over the next few months, and of course the album on 5th July. Plus we’re doing a special acoustic set at Arena Birmingham on June 28th before the Eagles play there that evening, which we’re really looking forward to.
In terms of burning desires, I want the band to play Download, Ramblin’ Man fair, and some of the equivalent European rock festivals.
Did: I’d love to go out with Empyre on a European tour at some point in the future.
Grant: My burning desire would be for Empyre to be established as one of the UK’s top rock bands.

Too Little Too Late is out now via the usual digital platforms. The album Self Aware appears on July 5th.

 

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New Music Friday: The Big Dirty

Northampton’s hard rocking quartet The Big Dirty are on the comeback trail, and celebrate this with new tracks ‘Safeword’ and ‘Queen Of Hearts’. New Boots catches up with bassist James…

Northampton’s hard rocking quartet The Big Dirty are on the comeback trail, and celebrate this with new tracks ‘Safeword’ and ‘Queen Of Hearts’. New Boots catches up with bassist James Cutler.

How/when/why did you guys get together?
We have been in bands together in some form for the past 15 years! Dave and Chris were played together at school/college and myself and James have been in a few bands since the age of 15. We gave it a rest for a few years until we started to get the itch for the rock n roll lifestyle again. So we started up The Big Dirty! We called on Dave to play the drums as our previous guitarist had played with him before and couched for his abilities. It was only this year that Chris joined as our new guitarist. Chris composed the score for the Rhythm Of My Drum music video and we have been working with him on an up and coming collaboration project with local rapper Tony Ceasar. We instantly clicked and haven’t looked back.

How would you describe your sound?
We like to say it’s Sex Rock! we all have massively different influences which we like to think gives us a fresh sound! We like to sing about all things sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.

Who are your main influences?
We all have a wide range of influences such as He is Legend, Underoath, Pink Floyd, Matt Corby, Emery, Breathe Caroline, Buck Cherry, Pendulum, Led Zep, Dead Sara, Alter Bridge, Ozzy, Dream Theatre, The Beatles, Foo Fighters, Bon Jovi, Bloc Party & The Libertines.

Tell us about the new songs
‘Safeword’ is the first track we have written with new guitarist Chris. In our first practice he showed us the riff and two hours later we had the track! Everything we’ve written has just felt natural and fun which we think shows in the music. ‘Safeword’ is a good example of how our sound has changed and what to expect.

We are releasing ‘Queen of Hearts’ this Monday so make sure you pop in and check it out.

What are your live shows like? They look pretty wild from some of the footage we’ve seen…
For us music is about the live show! It’s no good having a great energetic track then standing there like lemons while playing it live. Nothing is planned, we just get up on stage and whatever happens happens! Things do get pretty wild!

What has been your favourite band moment?
This is a tough one! Being on tour with Synergy Protocol from Denmark was an amazing experience, it showed us that being in a band can be hard work and we loved it! All our live shows are our favourite moments, it’s why we do it! We have amazing loyal fans and watching them go nuts is the best!

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
JC…Underoath ‘Erase Me’
Chris…Deadmau5 ‘Wheres The Drop?’
James…Marshmellow’
Dave…Justin Bieber ‘Baby’

What plans do you have for the rest of 2018?
We have a lot of great shit going on already this year! We are working on a colab track with Northampton rapper Tony Ceasar and Giant Dwarf, who directed and filmed our Rhythm Of My Drum music video for us. Keep an eye out for this cause its different than anything else you’ve heard! We have a new booking agent so loads of shows to come and we’re currently working on a new EP which will hopefully be released end of summer/autumn time!

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New Music Friday: Acolytes debut EP

Rushden. Army boots, rough-cut Diamond footballers, and some lakes with soul-destroying shops surrounding them. But now some small salvation comes in the shape of Acolytes and their debut EP Pounding…

Rushden. Army boots, rough-cut Diamond footballers, and some lakes with soul-destroying shops surrounding them. But now some small salvation comes in the shape of Acolytes and their debut EP Pounding Dance Music, via Five Wound Records.

The “NN10 noise brigade” comprise singer/guitarist Hamm, guitarist Tom Bird, bassist Bewlay Stanton and drummer Marcus Lever. The five track EP is not for the faint-hearted, as they fray the senses with the Black Flaggy screamcore of ‘Lord Of The Land’ and ‘Worst Case Scenario’, but also give it some with the good old hard rock/metal sounds (think Kyuss, Nirvana, Motorhead, Mudhoney) on opener ‘Coup de Grace’ and ‘Wanting A War’. The politically-charged DIY band have been building themselves a name through 2017 and so this is a masterly way to begin the year.

Listen below on Spotify or purchase (as a ‘name your price’ deal) from Bandcamp. It’s supposed to be available on CD and cassette from the live shows too, so do get along and see them when you can.

 

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