Archive for Bloodstock

Great Metal Album of 2018: Black Emerald- Hell Can’t Handle All of Us

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2018 by 80smetalman

It’s been four days since my weekend in Reading and after listening to their debut album, “Hell Can’t Handle All of Us,” I can still say I’m really into Black Emerald. I’ve now given the album three spins and I am completely impressed. Back in the 1980s, I used to love to listen to up and coming bands because they were hungry and that hunger was reflected in their music. So, it’s great to see that more than thirty years on, that theme is still present.

Things start off with an intro that totally reminds me of Black Sabbath. You know, that slow gloomy bass and guitar sound that gives the eerie feeling of impending doom. Something I have always loved about Sabbath. However, unlike Sabbath, that mood quickly changes to a faster uptempo sound which the earlier hook leads you into banging your head away to. This is a good opener to the album.

Following on is the more speed metal “Life of Anxiety.” Gutlocker vocalist Craig McBrearty lends a hand on the lead vocals and his vocal trade off with Emerald front man Edd Higgs, is just great to listen to. On “Dr Stein,” we have a fusion of Black Sabbath meets Megadeath. An interesting combination to say the least but it works very well on this song. There is the speed of Megadeath to start and even the first chorus reminds me a tiny bit of one of my favourite Megadeath tracks, “A Tout Le Monde.” Later in the song things go to the slower, gloomier Black Sabbath sound. “Dr Stein” ends with a very interesting combination of sounds from the guitar, bass and drums.

Next comes my favourite song on the album, “B.O.D.” I have said many times before that if the music is good in a song, the content of the lyrics won’t matter. The song could be about loving Jesus, eating fruit or doing terrible things to cats with a spoon and I wouldn’t be affected. “B.O.D.” is an anti- drug song and at my age, I shouldn’t be amused by the lyrics but with the song being so good, I don’t care that the opening line is:

“Shoot it up and snort the line

Dropping acid to drinking wine.”

Even later in the track, there’s “Smoking weed to smoking crack,” but I’m still rocking away. It could be down to the fact that guitarist Simon Hall really opens up on this track.

“One For the Road” continues to show how well the band can change it up during a song with elements of speed metal and melody. Afterwards, there’s “Voodoo Princess” which features Remnant guitarist Andy Gunn. The guitars on this track give the song a Jimi Hendrix feel to it. Like I said when I saw Remnant, Andy Gunn can play a guitar and Simon is playing along with him. I get impressions of guitar solo trade offs in the forms of Tipton/Downing, Smith/Murray and even Hanneman/King.

The second song from the demo tape I was given at Bloodstock is “Drown in the River.” It’s is done even better on the album and now that I have the lyrics on hand, I know know that the singer is drowning in the Thames River and not the River Death like I thought he was the past four and a half years. It also has a cool guitar solo and a great fade out at the end.

Black Sabbath rears its influential head again on the intro for “Sculptures to the Sky.” Now before every starts going WTF? let me say that this track is what Black Sabbath would sound like if Tom Arraya was lead vocalist. I don’t know if that would work in real life but Black Emerald makes it definitely plausible here.

The final crossover track from the demo is “Figure on a Barbed Wire Cross.” During the show, Edd explained that the song was about Charles Manson. Reading the lyrics, I can see that but they could be singing about a Hitler, Manson, Satan orgy and I would still like this song. Another weirdo fanatic is featured in the near ten minute track, “Jonestown.” The song is about Reverend Jim Jones who ordered his cult to commit suicide in 1978. What I love about this song is that’s it’s a celebration of what the band is capable of. Great vocals, musicianship and some cool tempo changes just so you don’t get bored. Not that you would. “Jonestown” leads into the closing instrumental that is “Revelations” and that is a brilliant way to end the album.

Track Listing:

  1. Hell Can’t Handle All of Us
  2. Life of Anxiety
  3. Dr Stein
  4. B.O.D.
  5. One For the Road
  6. Voodoo Pricess
  7. Drown in the River
  8. Sculptures in the Sky
  9. Figure on a Barbed Wire Cross
  10. Jonestown
  11. Revelations

Edd Higgs- bass, lead vocals

Simon Hall- guitars, backing vocals

Connor Shortt- drums



You know what? Of the many hundreds of albums I have covered here, I have never broken an album down this extensively. This is because every track has something to offer. Black Emerald are hungry and this debut album is surely evidence of that. So, I hope I’ve converted all of you and you will all go out and buy this album.

Next post: WASP

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Metal Madness in Reading

Posted in Concerts, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2018 by 80smetalman

Not long returned from my short break in Reading with Mrs 80smetalman. We spent the Saturday afternoon at The Oracle, which is Reading’s big shopping precinct. While there were many eating places along the Thames River, which runs right through the precinct, we wanted to get out of the rain and went straight for the mall. With her ability to sense out these places, my wife found the Lush shop and added to her collection of bath stuff. We can also say that Lush staff are super friendly wherever you go. After that, we hit a few places in the mall, had dinner and then returned to the hotel where I prepared for big night at the Face Bar, where I was invited to attend the launch party for Black Emerald’s debut album, “Hell Can’t Handle All of Us.”

After a couple of detours down some dead end side roads, I found the Face Bar without any real trouble. On the outside, it looks like any other rock club I’ve been to and probably on the inside too. However, the first honour done to me on the evening was when I announced who I was on the guest list, the people at the door seemed to be expecting me. Once inside, I met Sharon, the mother of Black Emerald’s drummer as well as the bassist/lead vocalist’s father, who incidentally, was the one who gave me the Black Emerald demo CD at Bloodstock 2013 and told me to go check them out at the New Blood Stage. A recommendation I will forever be grateful for.

Sharon and me. Sharon worked her socks off to make sure the evening was top notch. Full marks to her!

Four bands were on the card this night and the first one on stage was Remnant. Here’s one band you can’t pigeon hole in any way. Remnant are a mix of thrash, groove and a few more genres of metal. They have dual male/female vocalists who share the duties but unlike say Amy Lee of Evanescence or Live Christine of Leaves Eyes whose vocals are very melodic, Tori Walter’s vocals are just as gritty as her male colleague Lee Gordine. Another gender stereotype broken here resulting in a one-two vocal punch that doesn’t let up. Both do a great job but what impressed me the most about this band was the lead guitar work of Andy Gunn. When you weren’t getting pounded by the two vocalists, he shredded in spectacular fashion. All of the combinations worked well together to make one great sound. It was a great way to begin the night!

Remnant begin the festivities

Tori and Leigh on the vocals

Andy Gunn shredding away

FFI on Remnant, go to:

The next band up was Thirty Giants, however, I never saw 30 giants go onto the stage. What I saw was four men who knew how to play heavy metal. Thirty Giants have a style I’ve become quite fond of in my waning years. They come out with some powerful metal during the verses only to go slightly more melodic while singing the choruses to their songs. Luca Cossu handles most of the vocals and does a great job with it but he has some good support from bassist Sam Yard. Meanwhile, Dave Gilburt does most of the lead guitar duties and solos very well but Luca does lend a hand at times on the guitar. They did do a solo trade-off on one of the songs and I always am impressed when that’s done well, which it was. My biggest impression of Thirty Giants was that I am convinced I heard a little Asphalt Ballet influence in a couple of their songs and that made me like them even more.

You can hear some of their offerings here:

Luca and Sam begin things for Thirty Giants

Guitarists Luca and Dave wailing.

Luca on the vox

Dave plays a solo

Anyone thinking that after the first two bands, they might have a reprieve, they were completely wrong. Up next was Gutlocker, who set out to pound the ears of everyone in the Face Bar with their brand of sludge metal. Lead singer Craig McBrearty has the power and range in his voice as well as the charisma of a good front-man, while the other three members did a great job in supporting his vocal efforts with power chords, thumping bass and drums. They might have only been on stage about thirty minutes by they let you know they were up there that entire time.

To hear more, go to:

Craig with guitarist Peter Tucker

Peter and drummer Dean Walker

Bassist Ben Rollinson

Three bands had come and gone. Three different styles of metal, all of which were completely enjoyable. Now, you might have noticed that I didn’t say anything about the rhythm sections of any of the bands. That’s because I would have been repeating myself three times. I can safely say that the rhythm sections for all three bands were spot on. All three bands also did a great job warming things up for the main event. After all, this was Black Emerald’s evening.

The atmosphere was almost electric by the time Black Emerald took the stage. I could have been back at the old Philadelphia Spectrum in the 1980s seeing such greats as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Twisted Sister or Dio. It was like that. The first thing I noticed when they took the stage was that while I said how good they were in 2013, they were miles better four and a half years later! Edd Higgs’s shredding had come on leaps and bounds and the vocals of Simon Hall sounded even better. Plus Simon and Connor Shortt had become an even more tighter rhythm section and I was very impressed with Connor’s drumming. They played their entire album, including the song “Dr Stein,” which I uploaded from  Youtube when I announced they were cutting an album. Plus, they played the songs from their demo, all of which I liked. During the set, Craig from Gutlocker came on for a guest vocal slot and it proves the versatility of this band, that they were able to fit their sound to his vocals. Just as good was when Andy Gunn from Remnant came up to play guitar on “Voodoo Princess.” It was a treat hearing Andy and Edd shred together on this song. When they announced their last song, the nearly ten minute long, “Jonestown,” I couldn’t believe that more than an hour had passed. Black Emerald were fab!

Edd shredding

Simon on bass and vocals

Connor on the drums

Craig on stage with Black Emerald

Simon working some more magic

Andy shredding with the band

Another shot of Edd

Simon has the pipes

Don’t forget Connor

Here’s an interesting observation. You hear all the time of parents disapproving of their children’s interest in playing music. Hell, even John Lennon’s mother told him that playing guitar was a nice hobby but it wouldn’t get him anywhere. Boy, was she wrong! Therefore, it was great to see the parents of the members of Black Emerald, truly supporting their sons. Special kudos goes to Sarah, (Connor’s mum), who worked tirelessly throughout the evening, helping to make it so good.

When I left the Face Bar, I began to ask myself: “Is Reading an unknown mecca for metal?” True, the other bands weren’t from Reading but close enough. Thirty Giants were the furthest away coming from Brighton. If it is, I must go there more. There was one more surprise in store for me. I went to purchase “Hell Can’t Handle All of Us” before I left but Sarah told me to hold on. Moments later, she returned with a goody bag which featured the CD, a flier signed by the band, a Black Emerald coaster and a Black Emerald mug! That was a nice surprise and I thank the band for it and all the bands for a great night of heavy metal in Reading.

My goody bag. Note: when I didn’t need to buy the Black Emerald CD, I bought Remnant’s one.


Next post: Black Emerald- Hell Can’t Handle All of Us

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Great Metal Albums of 1984: Armoured Saint- March of the Saint

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2018 by 80smetalman

One question I have been asked many times back in 1984 and today by non-afficianadoes of heavy metal is: Don’t you get tired of listening to the same sound all the time? My answer is no. The stereotype on metal is that they all play the same four chords over and over. That might be true with some bands but at least every band chooses four different chords to play. That is what makes their sound unique. Plus, it also has a lot to do with the singer and lead guitarist as well. I was asked this question when I was listening to some Armoured Saint back in 84 and their debut album, “March of the Saint” proved my point. They were pure metal but at the same time, sounded unique.

Most people who have experienced Armoured Saint know of the title track to this album. It has become their trademark song pretty much and I was exceedingly glad when they played it at Bloodstock in 2015. Boy, how time flies. If one song were to be used to introduce anyone to Armoured Saint, it would be that one. A great song to bring in the album and a great song to hear live. Of course, everything they played live on that day sounded great.

Armoured Saint establishing their dominance at Bloodstock, 2015. 

Following the historic title cut are nine equally, well nearly equally, fantastic songs. Each song possesses the unmistakable vocals of John Bull and the guitars of Dave Prichard and Phil Sandoval backed up the rhythm section laid down by Joey Vera and Gonzo Sandoval. What you get is a total metal package. While most of the songs are pretty much equal in the kick ass stakes, I do think that “Seducer” does slightly rise above the rest in my opinion. I can’t explain it but it just catches my vibe. However, there are lots of great things about the other songs. “Glory Hunter” is also a really cool track with some interesting little riffs in the middle of the song. Then again, there are some rather cool intro riffs in most of the songs. “Take a Turn” and “Envy” are great examples of that. That’s the problem when I listen to this album. Every time I want to praise one particular track, the next one comes along and deserves equal praise. So, I have to go back to my previous statement, you get the total metal package on “March of the Saint.”

Track Listing:

  1. March of the Saint
  2. Can U Deliver
  3. Mad House
  4. Take a Turn
  5. Seducer
  6. Mutiny on the World
  7. Glory Hunter
  8. Stricken by Fate
  9. Envy
  10. False Alarm

Armoured Saint

John Bull- lead vocals

Phil Sandoval- guitar

Dave Prichard- guitar

Joey Vera- bass

Gonzo Sandoval- drums

Since “March of the Saint,” the band have said that they were totally disappointed with the final mix of the album because it was too commercial for the more heavy metal sound the band wanted it. They would make up for that for sure in future albums. Still, I have always enjoyed this album and will continue to do so.

Next post: Another band I who impressed the hell out of me at Bloodstock 2013, Black Emerald, will be having their album launch party for their debut: “Hell Can’t Handle All of Us” in Reading, UK this Saturday. I’m on their ‘Special Guest’ list to which I am truly honoured! See, a note to fellow bloggers, say great things about a band and you get invited to album launch parties. Although everything I have said about Black Emerald is certainly true. Don’t worry, next post, you will all get a full account of the evening with plenty of photos.

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Happy Metal New Year 2018! Some Big Decisions

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Death, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2017 by 80smetalman

Another year has come and gone and as we enter into 2018 tomorrow, I am faced with some choices for the coming year. Don’t panic, 80smetalman’s Blog will continue on until the very last relevant album of 1989 is posted about and as I’m only in 1984 at the moment, it’s safe to say that there are a few more years left in this engine. However, reflecting upon all the great musicians that have departed this world in the last two years and the passing of my mother in law three days ago, I have come to realize that I’m not exactly a spring chicken myself. Therefore, it’s time to slow down a little.

What I am really talking about is the physical side. Four of the past five years, I have gone to one of the major metal festivals in the UK and hopefully, have entertained you with my accounts of those. The fact that I’m turning 57 this year and family history isn’t on my side with health of the heart, I know that frolicking in the mud and living out of a tent for a few days isn’t something I should be doing much more down the line. That is why and enough of the morbid crap, I have decided to go out in a huge blaze of glory in 2018! I intend to go to both Download and Bloodstock this year and end my festival days on the ultimate high.

The lineups for both are ideal for my departure from the festival scene. Like me, Ozzy says he will be calling it a day after this tour. He will be headlining Download on the Sunday. He won’t be like when I saw him in 1986 when he had come out of his first spell in rehab but seeing him again will be brilliant! Plus, I’ve never seen Guns N Roses or Marilyn Manson before so that will also be brilliant. I only hope that Manson isn’t headlining the Zippo Stage on the Saturday evening when Guns N Roses are doing the same on the main stage. That would be a tough choice. Other bands playing include Black Veil Brides and Bullet for My Valentine, so there’s a lot to look forward to.

Bloodstock is just as good, especially on the Friday. I’ll get to see Suicidal Tendencies again although the stage layout will prevent me getting another high five from Mike Muir. Headlining that night is none other than Judas Priest! Also, I have been told that the festival will be keeping with the precedent set down in 2016 where the headliner of the Sophie Lancaster Stage goes on after the headliner of the Dio stage is finished. So, on the Friday, after getting blown away by Priest, I’ll hop over to the Sophie Stage and get rocked by Doro! On the other two days, Gojira is headlining on Saturday and Fozzy, Devil Driver and Mr Big all playing the Dio Stage on the Sunday. The lineups for both festivals aren’t complete so there may be more surprises in store. Whatever happens, I’ll be ending my festival days with a massive triumph!

Welcome Suicidal Tendencies


Fozzy begin


Gojira are welcomed by their fans

Like me, I hope that all of you have great things to look forward to in 2018. Thank you all for taking the time to read and comment over the past seven years and I assure, there will more great things to come.

Happy New Year!

Next post: I’ll start 2018 out with one of my favourite 1984 albums, Dio: The Last in Line




Great Metal Albums of 1984: Twisted Sister- Stay Hungry

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2017 by 80smetalman

With all the fuss about the upcoming Christmas holidays and reading about various opinions of the “Twisted Christmas” album and why Twisted Sister made such an album, I thought I’d treat everyone to their most defining album, “Stay Hungry.” It was by and far the most successful Twisted Sister album of all time and it made, to quote Dee Snider, 1984 “the year of the Sister.”

Let me take you back to the golden year and where it first started. The massive sales of the album were spring-boarded by the huge hit, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and the very amusing video for it, that got tons of airplay on MTV. I never minded the fact that during the summer of 1984, it seemed to be on every time I turned the station on. The video for said song featured actor Mark Metcalf, famous for playing Niedermeyer in the greatest party film of all time, “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” Metcalf plays an overbearing dictatorial father who shouts constantly at his rock loving son. The son gets his own back by propelling his father out windows after turning into Dee Snider. It was all very hilarious and only those without any sense of humour wouldn’t enjoy it.

A scene from the video, “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

“Stay Hungry” spawned two more singles, “I Wanna Rock” which did fairly well in the charts. The video carried on the zaniness of the Niedermeyer debacle. It too was a very funny video. The other single was the power ballad, “The Price,” which didn’t break the top forty, but who cares because it is definitely up in my top ten of power ballads.

Singles aside, the remaining seven songs are just as awesome. The closest track to filler is “Don’t Let Me Down” but it’s better than many songs on other albums which  aren’t considered filler. While “The Beast” never got played the last two times I saw Twister Sister at Bloodstock, it did get played the two times I saw them on tour for this album. “Captain Howdy” is a cool song. The title track is one of the best album openers of all time and the closer “SMF” is also outstanding as a closer and build the foundations as to why this album is so great. To my knowledge, there isn’t a sane soul in the metal world who doesn’t like “Burn In Hell.” Except for the first time because it hadn’t been written yet, it got played all the other times I saw the band live. However, the one small disappointment whenever I saw them live  was that they never played the song I call the hidden gem, “Street Justice.” I like everything about this song from the cool intro to the guitar solo to the serious lyrics. Maybe that’s why I think I’m different to the rest of the world because I seem to be the only person who really likes it. I’ve read that they played the song in 2009 when they played the entire album live. I wish I could have been there.

Track Listing:

  1. Stay Hungry
  2. We’re Not Gonna Take It
  3. Burn In Hell
  4. Horror Teria

a. Captain Howdy

b. Street Justice

5. I Wanna Rock

6. The Price

7. Don’t Let Me Down

8. The Beast

9. SMF

Twisted Sister

Dee Snider- lead vocals

Eddie Ojeda- guitars, backing vocals

Jay Jay French- guitars, backing vocals

Mark ‘The Animal’ Mendoza- bass, backing growls

AJ Pero- drums, percussion

Three videos from this iconic album is my Christmas treat to all of you, enjoy. Whatever else happened in the band’s history before or since, the obvious thing is that “Stay Hungry” made Twisted Sister in 1984. It was definitely the year of the Sister and I wonder sometimes if I didn’t convey that point in Rock and Roll Children.

Next post: The 12 Days of Christmas, several versions

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Rest in Peace Warrel Dane

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Death, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2017 by 80smetalman

NEVERMORE & SANCTUARY Frontman Warrel Dane Dead At 48”

When you thought 2017 couldn’t suck any more, we lose another great metal man. Warrel Dane, lead singer for both Nevermore and Sanctuary died of a heart attack on the 13th in San Paulo, Brazil. He was 48. Admittedly, I never listened to much Nevermore but I was a big fan of Sanctuary loving both their albums “Refuge Denied” and my personal favourite, “Into the Mirror Black.”

It was always my intention that when 80smetalman reaches the end, my final quote would be lyrics from my favourite song from my favourite album. Warrel’s death makes it more important, I do this. When I read about it, I found myself regretting the fact I couldn’t get to Bloodstock, 2014 and see Sanctuary perform. Rest in Peace, Warrell.

80sMetalman’s Band of Underrated Musicians

Posted in Concerts, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2017 by 80smetalman

Since tomorrow is my first day of supply (substitute) teaching in the new school year, I thought I’d get a bit of practice in by giving all of you an assignment. Hopefully, you’ll find it as fun as I did although there was a struggle in the area of female lead vocalist. I had to go on Youtube and listen to songs by both ladies before I finally made a choice and that was tough. The choice, I’m talking about not listening to their music. That bit was fun.

Now to the assignment, for nearly the entire life of 80smetalman, I have been banging on about musicians whose talents have been ignored or grossly underrated. So, with my weird and wonderful mind, I thought I would take the ones who I feel were the most underrated and put them together in a band of my own. The theory is that with all that combined under appreciated talent, they would come together and form an awesome band. I think the ones I have chosen, though a few may be deemed controversial, would fill the bill. So, here’s the 80smetalman Under Appreciated Band!

Danny Vaughn- male lead vocals

You know him from Tyketto and Waysted and his own band, Vaughn but I think that Danny Vaughn has never gotten the accolades he so deserves as a lead singer. He’s got a great voice, end of.

Liv Kristine- female lead vocals

When I saw her band, Leaves Eyes, at Bloodstock, 2010, I was totally captivated by the vocals of Liv Kristine. Hailing from Norway, she has a beautiful operatic voice that is just mindblowingly seductive.

Derry Grehan- guitar

I sang Derry’s praises not too long ago when I visited Honeymoon Suite’s first album. I was and still am very impressed by his guitar playing. I talk about underrated guitarists a lot on here but Derry Grehan really is.

Frenzy Phillipon- guitar

You might remember, I came upon this French fingerboard smoker nearly a year ago when I saw his band, Mystery Blue, support Canadian greats, Anvil. His band hasn’t made the big time but boy can he play that guitar.

Dom Lawson- bass

Another amazing discovery from Bloodstock, this time it was 2015. It was then I saw Dom Lawson, in his band Oaf, shred a bass like no one ever has before or since.

John Galvin- keyboards

It was another difficult choice picking a keyboards player. Originally, I was going to go with Claude Schnell of Dio fame but then when I listened to the 1984 Molly Hatchet album, “The Deed is Done” after so many years, I have come to really like John Galvin’s keyboards skills on the album. Southern Rock bands didn’t do much with keyboards but John really shines when given the chance.

Gina Schock- drums

I know this one will seem controversial to some but I am picking former Go Go’s drummer Gina Schock for my band. I think one of the reasons she is underrated as a drummer is because she’s female but I think she’s really good as well.

Well, there’s my band. Now, I want you all to go back, listen to your albums, have a good think and put together your own bands of underrated musicians. Trust me, it will be a fun assignment.

Next post: The Rise of Christian Rock

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