Fans of legends shouldn’t always get what they want, Getintothis’ Nedim Hassan tells us why, as he brings us the latest news and releases from the world of metal.
The notion of public service broadcasting – no, not the London-based weirdo post-rockers, but the philosophy behind much radio and television provision especially in parts of Europe during much of the 20th century – is not one that immediately springs to mind when thinking about contemporary developments in the world of metal.
Yet, in the light of debates regarding recent tour and festival news, the concept may be instructive.
The recent news that Ozzy Osbourne has had to postpone his European tour yet again due to ill health prompted some to ponder whether the legendary frontman, by striving to give his loyal fans what they want, is endangering his ability to retire gracefully.
The short answer to this question is most likely no. Ozzy and his management team have rarely done anything that he is not comfortable with doing (and in any case since when did the Ozz want to retire gracefully!?).
It goes without saying that veteran classic rockers like Ozzy live for their fans and love to go out on tour.
Such artists remain a compelling draw for fans, partly because their back catalogues are stuffed full of classic anthems, but also perhaps increasingly because there is the realisation that time is running out to see those songs performed live.
This is where the analogy to public service broadcasting comes in.
In the early years of the BBC their Director General (the formidable Lord John Reith) sought not just to give audiences what they want, but what he felt they needed.
While certain programmes (especially those containing commercially popular music) were listened to more than others, that did not stop Reith providing audiences with musical content that was varied (classical in particular being one genre he wanted listeners to engage with).
As elitist as this approach might have been in the 1930s and 40s, one thing it did do was attempt to ensure that there was mixed musical programming on the airwaves.
As enthusiastic fans themselves, as well as business people who want to sell tickets, festival organisers and promoters are often obliged to give the people what they want and the evidence is that they still want these rock legends.
Classic rock and metal artists continue to be enduringly popular as festival headliners. Maiden, Metallica, Def Leppard, Kiss, the list goes on.
If Van Halen had been announced as the headliner for Download next year, this writer would have been the first one to purchase tickets, regardless of the fact that they haven’t sounded good live since Sammy Hagar left.
But it is not always about what we want.
What we need is new acts to be able to have a chance of headlining at high profile events.
After all, whether we like it or not, the current crop of metal and heavy rock veterans who defined the genre in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s are not going to be around forever.
This is why, within the eco-system of festivals catering to those who like their music hard and heavy, we need booking policies that continue to be bold and embracing of new talent.
The recent announcement of Devin Townsend as the first Bloodstock headliner for 2020 is a case in point.
The safe option for their 20th anniversary would have been to go with a previously established headliner, but instead they chose to elevate an innovative performer who is still offering fresh ideas within the genre.
In a similar vein, Roadburn is a festival that has innovation built into its core due to its policy of giving over a slice of the festival line up to a carefully hand-picked curator who puts their own distinctive stamp on proceedings.
For 2020, Roadburn has two curators stepping up to the plate.
Emma Ruth Rundle will bring her broad musical tastes and expansive creativity to the event, while dark synth artist James Kent (aka Perturbator) has tastes deeply rooted in metal and will bring an ability to explore heaviness in innovative ways.
Ultimately, such events have to deliver audiences to stay afloat.
Yet, in the hope of unearthing the next generation of stadium-filling metal legends, perhaps, to paraphrase Lord Reith, the supply of good new talent will lead to the demand for more.
Autumn is already proving bountiful with the amount of local gigs that are cropping up over the next few weeks.
The visit of A Pale Horse Named Death to Liverpool’s Phase One on November 4 will be one of the highlights of this year’s calendar for sure.
We are also thrilled to be part of the event and seriously stoked at the prospect of not only seeing New York’s finest gothic doom merchants, but also catching the crushing support acts OHHMS, Petrichor and MAIRU.
Tickets for the event are available here.
A little nearer to the festive season, Max and Iggor Cavalera celebrate their thrash metal masterpieces, Beneath the Remains and Arise, during their forthcoming dates on the Return Beneath Arise tour, which hits our shores in December, with a date at Manchester Ritz on the December 17.
Looking ahead to next year and there are already some jaw-dropping tour announcements coming in thick and fast.
First up, fresh from their triumphant Back to the Start show at Grand Central Hall, Anathema have announced that they will be celebrating the 10th Anniversary of their iconic release, We’re Here Because We’re Here, by taking the album on the road for a series of exclusive shows throughout Europe in March 2020.
Their first collection of new material in six years at the time, We’re Here Because We’re Here saw Anathema explode back into action with a multi-coloured, multi-layered work of unbridled emotion, passion and intensity which was awarded Classic Rock’s ‘Prog Album of the Year’.
They will play one-off shows in St Luke’s Church, Glasgow on March 6 and at the Palladium in London on March 7.
Another announcement that caught our eye was that French blackgaze specialists Alcest will hit the UK during March 2020.
They will be showcasing material from their upcoming studio album Spiritual Instinct that will see the light of day on October 25.
This headline tour will take them to our shores for two dates in March 2020, in Manchester and Bristol, following on from an extensive European run.
The French hardcore punk act BIRDS IN ROW as well as the Icelandic synth pop trio KÆLAN MIKLA will support them on all 29 dates.
Away from the live gigs front, this weekend sees the launch of a brand new metal club night.
Boneyard launches at the Shipping Forecast on Saturday October 19 and promises to deliver the best in metal, hardcore, nu-metal, industrial, metalcore, prog and more.
Before we dust off our best denim and leather and prepare to go clubbing, though, we have just got time to bring you the latest platters that have been damaging our eardrums over the last few weeks.
Aggressive Perfector: Havoc at the Midnight Hour
Dying Victims Records
The debut album of British speed metal merchants, Aggressive Perfector, Havoc at the Midnight Hour is a belligerent and exuberant journey into a nuclear holocaust.
Tracks like Into the Nightmare boast genuinely evil sounding Slayer-like riffs, prior to a riotous evocation of the apocalypse. While the venomous Chains of Black Wrath conjures up the spirit of early Iron Maiden with savage efficiency.
The sonic equivalent of being strapped to a chair and forced to watch a snuff movie festival, Exhumed’s latest gore-drenched opus is upon us.
Rotten chainsaw sharp riffing is the order of the day, especially on Ravenous Cadavers when the combination of guitars and the hoarse screams of vocalist Matt Harvey evokes images of marauding zombies.
The dual impact of Harvey and bassist Ross Sewage’s contrasting vocal styles works to satisfying effect here on short but sweet shocks such as Ripping Death and Slaughter Maniac.
Screamer: Highway of Heroes
The Sign Records
Don’t listen to Screamer’s latest album on your headphones in public folks because you will simply be compelled to raise your horns in the air or play those air guitars with reckless abandon.
Highway of Heroes is unashamedly, unreservedly old school and Sweden’s Screamer do not care.
In fact, they love it.
Their enthusiasm for the frenetic, overdriven sound of 80s Dio and Priest is front and centre on this gloriously anthemic record. Highlights include Shadow Hunter, which features a truly killer shredding solo, and Rider of Death with its galloping rhythm and urgent guitar riffing.
Exhorder: Mourn the Southern Skies
A hugely influential thrash act that never quite seemed to get the limelight their music deserved, Exhorder reformed last year and have now released a record that confirms their status as true heavyweights.
Mourn the Southern Skies is indeed arguably the highlight of their career to date.
A magnificent achievement from start to finish, there is a real relish and hunger that emanates throughout tracks such as the brilliantly acerbic Asunder and the absolutely monstrous riff machine that is Hallowed Sound.
We are off to practice our air guitars in case we get caught listening to Screamer.
In the meantime, keep supporting your scene so our grandkids have got their own stadium rockers to worship.