Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Lamb of God - Memento Mori (Official Music Video) out now!

Lamb Of God
Lamb of God, Aftershock 2019
New single from Lamb of God, taken from their upcoming new album. Lamb Of God, planned for release May 9th via Epic Records and available for pre-order now. Memento Mori has a gentle start... but take a listen... watch... wait for it....



“There is a vast amount of indisputably real and depressingly negative occurrences happening across the globe,” vocalist D. Randall Blythe explains. “Currently, at the forefront of everyone’s mind is the global COVID-19 pandemic. This is a very real concern, and proper precautions need to be taken by EVERYONE in order to protect those most at risk - the elderly, infirm, and immunocompromised. It is indeed a scary time, but in this hyper-connected age with its 24/7 never-ending news cycle of atrocity, outrage and lurid click-bait headlines (not to mention ill-informed lunatics running amok and spreading misinformation and panic on social media), it is all too easy to lose sight of the fact that life is still carrying on, and good things do in fact still happen.”

Lamb of God are D. Randall Blythe (vocals), Mark Morton (guitar), Willie Adler (guitar), John Campbell (bass) and Art Cruz (drums).

Lamb Of God
Lamb of God, Aftershock 2019
Assuming the world returns to some sort of normal, Lamb of God have a vast North America tour planned for later this year. Not to be missed!

Also take a listen to guitarist Mark Morton's recently released solo album, Anaesthetic: it's a keeper!

Review and photos from Lamb of God at Aftershock festival in Sacramento, California: https://www.camerasandcargos.com/2019/10/aftershock-2019-lamb-of-god.html
Photo gallery: http://www.alisontoon.com/-/galleries/music/lamb-of-god/lamb-of-god-at-aftershock-2019

Randy Blythe, vocals, Lamb Of God
D. Randall Blythe, Lamb of God

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Five Finger Death Punch, Megadeth and Bad Wolves: Cardiff, Wales, UK

Five Finger Death Punch, Cardiff, 2020
Five Finger Death Punch, Cardiff, Wales, 2020
Five Finger Death Punch, touring Europe and supported by both Bad Wolves and Megadeth - yes, that Megadeth - zoomed into the UK to play two dates, mid-tour: Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena and London's Wembley SSE Arena. Cardiff was a bit more of an adventure - hadn't been there since many, many years - and a little more personal, with a capacity of 5,000 versus the SSE's 12,500. I'm used to seeing them in front of tens of thousands at USA festivals so the smaller venue would be cool; Cardiff is reachable by train, road, bus, and plane, accomodation is more affordable than London... and there are dragons... who can resist dragons! So for this tour, Cardiff was my choice, though I'm sure Wembley was stunning and those who were able to experience both shows must have been ecstatic and there was a teeny, weeny bit of green monster wriggling in my thoughts after the Cardiff show - and a question: why didn't I plan on going to both? (Must not be greedy. Must not be greedy. Must not be greedy. Let everyone have their turn.)

Five Finger Death Punch, Cardiff, 2020
Five Finger Death Punch, Cardiff, Wales, 2020
With show-openers Bad Wolves (so much more than their excellent cover of Zombie), and mega-metal-stars Megadeth playing too (with Dave Mustaine now happily cancer-free), this was a not-to-miss tour.

Five Finger Death Punch, Cardiff, 2020
Five Finger Death Punch, Cardiff, Wales, 2020
Five Finger Death Punch opened with Lift Me Up and the crowd erupted. A full, high-energy, more-up-than-down FFDP setlist including an acoustic Wrong Side of Heaven and ending with The Bleeding. Accompanying the music; visuals including a giant skull and crossed bats, lasers, blasts of pyro that heated the entire arena; two, yes two, explosions of wonderful confetti; Jason Hook rising way, way up into the sky on the  pointy end of a vertig-inducing, tiny platform; dreadlock swirling from Chris Kael's beard and Zoltan Bathory's hair; epic drumming from the new boy, Charlie Engen; and in front of it all, Ivan Moody. Love the hat, Ivan. Love the hat.

Five Finger Death Punch, Cardiff, 2020
Jason Hook, guitar, Five Finger Death Punch
Five Finger Death Punch have a way of involving every person in the audience; whether it's shining flashlights for a birthday song, celebrating sobriety, or simply singing along to the songs. This, together with knowing just how much they do for military veterans and other causes, make the show is a moving experience; if you haven't seen them yet, a) why not and b) it's about time.

The tour continues in Europe throughout February with dates in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, and Bulgaria. Catch them if you can.

Five Finger Death Punch have a new album, F8, set for release on 28th February and available for pre-order now.

Five Finger Death Punch, Cardiff, 2020
Confetti... Five Finger Death Punch, Cardiff, 2020
Sometimes I'm at a show with an official photo pass and pro cameras; sometimes I'm there to embrace the fan experience. This was definitely the latter - the photos are all phone pics taken from the crowd. Atmospheric maybe - zoomable, poster-size quality, definitely not! You'll find a more photos here. I'm very happy to have shared the experience with one daughter who travelled in from France, two best friends from the East Midlands, and a whole slew of fans from all around the UK and further. Music tourism is great - we should have added on a day, and tickets to the Wales-Italy rugby match too (I'm sure some FFDP fans did just that!)

Photos from previous Five Finger Death Punch shows at Aftershock Festival, Louder Than Life, Chicago Open Air, and Reno Nevada: http://www.alisontoon.com/-/galleries/music/five-finger-death-punch. Previous show and release reviews are scattered throughout this publication.

Here's a preview from the new album: Inside Out, available now:

Just a couple of nothing-to-do-with-the-performance-or-the-band niggles:

  • Timing: people were at the venue early, patiently waiting for 6.30 pm: snaking around the building for what felt like miles. Security clearance was rapid and efficient, and yet so many folks missed part, if not all, of Bad Wolves set - including those who were there specifically to see them. Maybe Motorpoint Arena should have opened the doors thirty minutes or an hour sooner. Someone must have known how long it would take to bring a capacity crowd into the venue - it's not rocket science.
  • Beer: I have been to many, many concerts over many, many years, in many countries and venues, and never have I seen so much spilled beer - and dumped plastic cups - all over the floor, in my hair, and over other people and left in puddles at the end of the show. Back in the day, you wanted to drink (and talk loudly), you stayed in the bar and consumed from oft-reused glass mugs; the venue floor was for the music and the music alone. Would I be a party-pooper to say I preferred that? 
  • Merch prices: the sticker-shock was palpable. I don't know who set the prices for the UK merch (way higher than USA prices) - it might have been the concession at the venue rather than band management - but if they had thought about the average UK salary they'd have known just how far out-of reach many of the items were. If you're someone who resisted a purchase because of the cost, perhaps consider ordering a release bundle for the new album - music and a hoodie together make a much more reasonable offering! (Scroll down to the bottom!) Or at the official UK merch store via the website or on EMP for licensed merchandise. More affordable if you didn't bring home a treasure from the show!

Five Finger Death Punch, Cardiff, 2020
Happy fans, FFDP, Cardiff Motionpoint Arena, 2020

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Insomnium: at the Waterfront, Norwich, England

Niilo Sevänen, vocals, Insomnium
Insomnium at The Waterfront, Norwich, during the Tour Like A Grave tour
All the way from Finland to Norwich's Waterfront venue, by way of about a million European cities - and with a North America tour beginning in March - Insomnium. With several UK dates still to go - including London tonight. Their eighth studio album, Heart Like A Grave, released in November last year, this tour is aptly named Tour Like A Grave - but the music is very, very much alive, and the band are clearly enjoying themselves.

Markus Vanhala, guitar, Insomnium
Insomnium, Norwich, England UK
Vocalist Niilo Sevänen's growls flow like warm honey over a bed of rusty nails, entwined with the melodic riffs of guitarists Markus Vanhala and Jani Liimatainen (Ville Friman is not touring), and the throbbing, drubbing heart of drums driven by Markus Hirvonen. And headbanging is a must, a must.

Jani Liimatainen, guitar, Insomnium
Insomnium, The Waterfront, Norwich, January 2020
Heart Like A Grave is at the same time melancholic and beautiful; the hour-long album is one to be listened to many times to hear all the nuances, the layers, the depth... and to explore Finnish poetry and folklore. Here's a taster, the title song, in case you haven't heard them yet:


If you have seen the "Scandinavian death metal" categorization of Insomnium, (I so detest genre labels), don't let that label define they for you nor dictate whether-or-not to listen. Check out the band's influences and a picture will form... whether you like your metal progressive, or your prog more metal, or your hard rock melodic, or your folk heavy-as-hell: Insomnium should fit well with your collection. (And note: the artbook version of the CD is a sombre collection of bleak, gorgeous photos and the lyrics to all the songs. It's a keeper.)

Insomnium
Insomnium and fans, Norwich, UK
Keep up to date with Insomnium on their Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

More tour dates here: http://www.insomnium.net/news/42/68/EURO-TOUR-BEGINS-UK-Ireland-and-NORTH-AMERICA-will-follow

More photos from last night's show in Norwich, UK: http://www.alisontoon.com/-/galleries/music/insomnium/insomnium-norwich-2020

Niilo Sevänen, vocals, Insomnium
Insomnium

Friday, January 17, 2020

Band to look out for: Those Damn Crows: preorder Point of No Return now!


Hailing from Bridgend, South Wales, Those Damn Crows not only have an intriguing, listen-to-me-now name, evocative of a horde of persistent, characterful creatures who once you've noticed them are ever-present, no matter where you look... they have a distinctive sound with songs well worth a listen.  Hard rock but very melodic - with wonderful vocals.

While they've been making their presence known here in the UK, with appearances at Download last year and other festivals, they'll no doubt appeal to a worldwide audience - are they on a Sirius XM Octane playlist yet?

Their debut album, Murder and the Motive, was released in October 2018 and the new album, Point of No Return, drops on February 7th. Available for pre-order now and with a subset of songs already available for listening on Spotify. Check out the latest, Set in Stone:



Those Damn Crows are Shane Greenhall (vocals), Ronnie Huxford (drums), Ian 'Shiner' Thomas and David Winchurch (guitars) and LLoyd Wood (bass). Find out more on their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Also - several interviews with the band on YouTube, including this one with Total Rock Radio.

Take a listen!