Posts Tagged “Blogs Of War”

Orange Goblin’s Ben Ward is currently hanging with the amazing trio of bands on this year’s Lords Of The Riff tour! Here’s how it’s going so far…

Day 4 – Wednesday March 19th – Another Day Off!

Woke up to the smell of bacon cooking as our good host served us up a full English breakfast and a pint of tea! Before we left Colchester we stopped off to pick up some sleeping bags (essential touring kit) and debated going to visit a zoo or a castle but everyone decided to get to the hotel in London and get some much needed rest. In no time we were back in the smoke and the band got some sleep whilst I managed to go home and do some laundry. Later that evening we all met up for some food at possibly the worst Chinese restaurant in the world before heading to The Red Lion in Leytonstone for beers.

We were joined by a few friends including Joe, the guitar player from Orange Goblin, and the night soon started to get messy as everyone started sampling the wide range of guest ales. We ended up back at a friends house drinking whiskey, wine, cider, more beers and whatever else was going whilst rocking out in the kitchen to Captain Beyond and Budgie. I don’t remember leaving but I must’ve staggered home at some point and the band jumped in a cab for the hotel. Days off RULE!

Day 5 – Thursday March 20th – o2 Academy 3, Birmingham

Off to the birthplace of Heavy Metal! The home of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest amongst many others. Everyone was feeling a little sceptical about this show as we knew that Red Fang, The Shrine and Lord Dying were playing across town and could seriously affect the turn out. With this in mind I did what anyone in my position would do……….I got in touch with my friends in Red Fang and arranged for them to put us all on their guest list for after Scorpion Child had finished!! We rolled into Brum around 3pm, found a place to eat and did some press before the doors opened. The turn out in the small room was great and all the bands put on a fantastic show. A fan arrived with an awesome cake for the bands (see pic) which I was amazed remained intact throughout the entire evening.

Unfortunately due to the timings of both shows we didn’t make it across town to catch up with Red Fang but we all considered the night another massive success for all involved. After the van got loaded we headed to a friends house, drank some beers and played the cheesy band name game, which involves trying to incorporate different cheeses into band names. I can’t take the credit for it but the best was ‘Crosby, Stilton Nash’!!! Tomorrow, the Lords of The Riff head north!

Fri 21 Mar – SHEFFIELD Corporation (SC closes)
Sat 22 Mar – GLASGOW King Tuts (MT closes)
Sun 23 Mar – NEWCASTLE Academy 2 (SC closes)
Tue 25 Mar – NOTTINGHAM Rock City (MT closes)
Wed 26 Mar – LONDON Underworld (MT closes)
Thu 27 Mar – MANCHESTER Roadhouse (SC closes)

Tickets are on sale now. To buy online, visit www.seetickets.com (Sheffield shows),www.livenation.co.uk (Newcastle, London, Manchester), www.gigsinscotland.com(Glasgow) and www.alt-tickets.co.uk (Nottingham). See you at the front.

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Orange Goblin’s Ben Ward is currently hanging with the amazing trio of bands on this year’s Lords Of The Riff tour! Here’s how it’s going so far…

Day 3 – Tuesday March 18th – The Arts Centre, Colchester

Everyone was surprisingly refreshed after the Crobar last night and after some pub grub we were on the road from East London for the short drive up to Colchester. We arrived at the venue, which is stunning. It’s an old converted church set within the old roman wall of Colchester complete with it’s own ancient graveyard. As stunning as it is, it’s a pain in the arse to get a van and trailer to in order to unload and load equipment!

The band set up in quick time so that they could go for the obligatory photo shoot in the said graveyard. Scorpion Child were headlining the night and the stage looked great with the backdrop in front of a huge stained-glass window! Dinner was a delicious vegetarian Chilli that I probably ate too much of and soon the venue was filling up nicely. Again, Buffalo Summer kicked things off and they were soon followed by Monster Truck. I was half expecting the Monster Truck keyboard player to set up in the pulpit at the side of the stage! By the time Scorpion Child hit the stage the crowd had swelled and everyone was ready for the rock! Scorpion Child definitely brought it too! An hour of high energy, high volume rock and roll and again all the punters went home happy! After the show we headed off to get pizza and kebabs (again!) before having a few beers and discussing horror movies back at a friends house. And the tour rolls on…

Catch Lords Of The Riff on the following dates:

 

Thu 20 Mar – BIRMINGHAM Academy 3 (MT closes)
Fri 21 Mar – SHEFFIELD Corporation (SC closes)
Sat 22 Mar – GLASGOW King Tuts (MT closes)
Sun 23 Mar – NEWCASTLE Academy 2 (SC closes)
Tue 25 Mar – NOTTINGHAM Rock City (MT closes)
Wed 26 Mar – LONDON Underworld (MT closes)
Thu 27 Mar – MANCHESTER Roadhouse (SC closes)

 

Tickets are on sale now. To buy online, visit www.seetickets.com (Sheffield shows),www.livenation.co.uk (Newcastle, London, Manchester), www.gigsinscotland.com(Glasgow) and www.alt-tickets.co.uk (Nottingham). See you at the front.

 

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While She Sleeps: Flying the flag for British metal

Last night (Wednesday August 28), While She Sleeps rocked up to a tiny Vans store on Camden High Street to officially launch the countdown to Vans Warped Tour UK 2013. The result? Fucking bedlam. Here’s what happened…

6.30pm

There’s a massive gaggle of eager fans camped outside the Vans shop along Camden High Street. While She Sleeps are due on in about 15 minutes or so. Hammer is eating a £3 Chinese from the Bang Bang Chicken Man down the round. Everything is going swell.

www.derekbremner.com

6.40pm

We’re let into the store and everyone immediately crowds around the tiny stage wedged into the far corner of the shop. Things are about to get very, very messy.

6.50pm

The fans have flooded the shop floor (and there’s still a fuck-ton left peering through doorways and windows from outside), but there’s not any sign of the band yet. Tensions are rising. Luckily, someone’s passing While She Sleeps cupcakes around. Cupcakes are metal.

6.52pm

Too many cupcakes. Feeling sick.

7.00pm

While She Sleeps run through the crowd, grab their instruments and smash into Death Toll. Bedlam ensues. Loz is already in the crowd. The crowd are on the stage. Oh god everything’s everywhere.

7.05pm

“This is a celebration of life and death!” screams Loz as they plough into a gruelling Dead Behind The Eyes. Loz is back on stage. Mat’s in the crowd. Everyone’s going absolutely nuts. No one seems to be trying to pocket any hoodies either, which is always nice.

www.derekbremner.com

7.10pm

This Is The Six draws a monstrously huge reaction from everyone involved – including the people still stranded outside, who Loz happily acknowledges and demands just as much action from.

7.12pm

Mat is on top of the shop.

7.13pm

People are now circle-pitting around Mat.

7.14pm

People are now circle-pitting in the street.

7.17pm

Mat is now also outside and getting carried down the high street like a messiah with a guitar.

7.21pm

“This is the title track from our debut,” snarls Loz. “It’s called This Is The Six.” Cue singalongs and “WOOOOOOAH”s so big they can probably hear them at the Vans store in Oxford Circus. This is madness. Absolute madness. There’s clothes and cupcake and Relentless energy drink everywhere.

7.25pm

Loz is back outside again. We think Mat’s inside. We’re not sure. Fuck knows what’s going on.

www.derekbremner.com

7.30pm

An anthemic Seven Hills brings things to a maddening close. There’s traffic being stopped in the street outside. This is ridiculous.

7.34pm

Within seconds of Sleeps’ set finishing, the band head straight outside to meet all the people that weren’t lucky enough to get in. Cue an hour or so of photos getting taken, fives getting highed and hugs being delivered. What. A. Gig.

SAY CHEEEEEEEEEESE!

8.00pm

We are fucking knackered. Can we do this every week?

Vans Warped Tour UK takes place at Alexandra Palace on November 16 and 17. Get your tickets now from http://vanswarpedtouruk.com

Blog by Merl

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While She Sleeps: Flying the flag for British metal

Last night (Wednesday August 28), While She Sleeps rocked up to a tiny Vans store on Camden High Street to officially launch the countdown to Vans Warped Tour UK 2013. The result? Fucking bedlam. Here’s what happened…

6.30pm

There’s a massive gaggle of eager fans camped outside the Vans shop along Camden High Street. While She Sleeps are due on in about 15 minutes or so. Hammer is eating a £3 Chinese from the Bang Bang Chicken Man down the round. Everything is going swell.

www.derekbremner.com

6.40pm

We’re let into the store and everyone immediately crowds around the tiny stage wedged into the far corner of the shop. Things are about to get very, very messy.

6.50pm

The fans have flooded the shop floor (and there’s still a fuck-ton left peering through doorways and windows from outside), but there’s not any sign of the band yet. Tensions are rising. Luckily, someone’s passing While She Sleeps cupcakes around. Cupcakes are metal.

6.52pm

Too many cupcakes. Feeling sick.

7.00pm

While She Sleeps run through the crowd, grab their instruments and smash into Death Toll. Bedlam ensues. Loz is already in the crowd. The crowd are on the stage. Oh god everything’s everywhere.

7.05pm

“This is a celebration of life and death!” screams Loz as they plough into a gruelling Dead Behind The Eyes. Loz is back on stage. Mat’s in the crowd. Everyone’s going absolutely nuts. No one seems to be trying to pocket any hoodies either, which is always nice.

www.derekbremner.com

7.10pm

This Is The Six draws a monstrously huge reaction from everyone involved – including the people still stranded outside, who Loz happily acknowledges and demands just as much action from.

7.12pm

Mat is on top of the shop.

7.13pm

People are now circle-pitting around Mat.

7.14pm

People are now circle-pitting in the street.

7.17pm

Mat is now also outside and getting carried down the high street like a messiah with a guitar.

7.21pm

“This is the title track from our debut,” snarls Loz. “It’s called This Is The Six.” Cue singalongs and “WOOOOOOAH”s so big they can probably hear them at the Vans store in Oxford Circus. This is madness. Absolute madness. There’s clothes and cupcake and Relentless energy drink everywhere.

7.25pm

Loz is back outside again. We think Mat’s inside. We’re not sure. Fuck knows what’s going on.

www.derekbremner.com

7.30pm

An anthemic Seven Hills brings things to a maddening close. There’s traffic being stopped in the street outside. This is ridiculous.

7.34pm

Within seconds of Sleeps’ set finishing, the band head straight outside to meet all the people that weren’t lucky enough to get in. Cue an hour or so of photos getting taken, fives getting highed and hugs being delivered. What. A. Gig.

SAY CHEEEEEEEEEESE!

8.00pm

We are fucking knackered. Can we do this every week?

Vans Warped Tour UK takes place at Alexandra Palace on November 16 and 17. Get your tickets now from http://vanswarpedtouruk.com

Blog by Merl

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Bloodstock: Bringing the heavy

The last day of a festival is always the most gruelling, as the excesses of the weekend take their toll on the battered bodies of many a punter. Gama Bomb ease people in slowly with a joyously fun set of party thrash, pulling a sizeable crowd who windmill the hangovers out of their fuzzy heads. The perfect wake up call to any day. Fun is not on the agenda for Whitechapel, instead they ram headfirst into the audience with their precision, groovy, modern, death metal. It’s quite a sight to witness a pure blue sky being slowly turned grey, seemingly, by their crushing brutality.

Old school thrash is definitely back in a big way judging by today’s bill and no one plays it quite as fast or as crusty as Kremated do over on the New Blood stage. They pull in a crowd very respectable in size, but not in attitude, as a bunch of belligerent metal heads lose their shit to their dirty, inspired crossover.

On the Dio stage Brit hopefuls Sacred Mother Tongue fly the flag for good, no-frills metal. Fist pumping anthems, melodic hooks and, typically, Andy James’ startling guitar work are the order of the day, refusing to rely on cheap gimmicks and instead relying on the strength of their talent and song writing. The polar opposite of Fozzy, in other words. They bring a Hollywood sheen to a grubby field in Derby with their metallic hard rock. Yeah it’s big and dumb but they certainly know how to put on a show and in Chris Jericho have the perfect festival frontman.

Over on the Sophie Lancaster stage, Bossk do their very best to crack the Earth’s surface with volcanic post-rock riffs, proving there’s more to being heavy than pure speed.

Back on the Dio stage, meanwhile, Amorphis bring musical proficiency back to the table, with a mix of heaviness and fragility filtered through folk tinged prog. With such a distinctive sound they are certainly an acquired taste, but where better than Bloodstock for a band of this ilk? The crowd at the front lap it up, but the casuals at the back don’t get involved quite as much as they did for Fozzy.

If Amorphis split the vote then Exodus casually unite everybody, place them in the palm of their hand and then crush them into a bloody pulp. It’s a testament to the continuing virility of thrash that they sound more like the sweat soaked, bong chuffing, beer guzzling adolescents that made these songs than the middle aged men that they now are. The likes of Lesson In Violence are still as fresh, exciting and extreme as ever. When Bonded By Blood is dedicated to Paul Baloff and Jeff Hannemann and Exodus proceed to smash it out of the park it’s the moment of the day, possibly the festival, so far.

It thins out slightly for Devildriver and for a while it looks like they may be upstaged by what’s just happened. But, despite a somewhat patchy set list, Dez Fafara and co. just don’t do bad shows. The hardcore fans at the front seem to spread and spread as the set progresses until half of the field is a circle pit. Some of it is due to an improved choice of tunes, but most of it is down purely and simply to the fact that Dez is one of the most rabble rousing, yet down to earth, frontmen in the world of metal. As they leave, triumphant, he seems genuinely delighted. As do most of the crowd.

Before we get to Slayer there is the little matter of another member of the big 4. Anthrax have had many questions over their heads recently; the unstable line up, the dithering over album releases, the fact that today Joey Belladonna looks, and sometimes sounds, like someone’s Grandmother being chased by a swarm of bees. The one thing that you can never question is the tunes they have in their back catalogue, today we get a load of them, back to back, with no let up. Frankly, when they are on their game, they take Bloodstock up to another level. Indians, Caught In A Mosh, I Am The Law and the closing Antisocial have horns thrown and lyrics chanted back from the barrier to the sound desk and beyond, it take just one hour for Anthrax to lay down the gauntlet and leave Slayer sweating.

One of the more curious decisions on the bill was to match Slayer with Dying Fetus on the Sophie Lancaster stage, leaving fans of pure, unadulterated brutality with a conundrum on their hands, and quite a few do plump for DF. Those that do are treated to some super technical, classic death metal that would make Slayer seem like easy listening by comparison. What other festival than Bloodstock could you say that? God bless this place.

Review by Stephen Hill

Bloodstock 2014 takes place August 7-10. For more info, head to Bloodstock.uk.com

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Bloodstock: Bringing the heavy

Day two and 3 Inches Of Blood bring their crash course in heavy fucking metal to the main stage, as well as the first glimpses of sunshine. Granted, they’ve made a career out of rehashing Priest riffs as their own, but who cares when it’s this much fun?

Hell are up next and bring a stage show unheard of for this time of day, along with their classic metal riffage. Frontman David Bower struts the stage on stilts as some sort of demonic faun, with a head mic enabling him to be hands free for some rather adventurous gesturing. Flaming gargoyles, stained glass windows, giant pipe organs…it’s ridiculously over the top and bombastic, which is exactly why this crowd fucking love it. Make sure you catch them on our Defenders Of The Faith 4 tour with Amon Amarth and Carcass!

Kataklysm know exactly how to make death metal fun, brutal and accessible. The Canadian powerhouse deliver one of the tightest sets of the weekend, and it’s the perfect soundtrack to get heads banging and the first beers of the day in. Glorious stuff.

There are bands. And then there is Gojira. The French metal titans sound absolutely colossal today, despite some of their equipment and stage gear getting stuck at customs. But Gojira at even 70% is still leagues above their many contemporaries, and the earth-trembling heaviness of anthems such as The Heaviest Matter Of The Universe and Backbone make it crystal clear this is a band that can do no wrong. A surprise appearance from Randy Blythe understandably gets a deafening response and Gojira end their set as the unrivaled gods of the weekend so far.

No band can really follow that, but the show must go on and Sabaton do their best. Luckily, there are a fair few fans in the crowd who sing along to every word of their odes to battle and tanks and suchlike. Good work.

God knows why Avantasia are main support tonight. Whilst there are clearly a few hundred diehards losing their minds at the front, and the musicianship on stage is certainly impressive, the main stage crowd thins drastically due to the drop in momentum. There doesn’t seem to be one person that doesn’t agree this really should have been Gojira’s slot. Oh well…

Review by Amit Sharma

Bloodstock 2014 takes place August 7-10. For more info, head to Bloodstock.uk.com

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I’d already heard quite a bit about Roskilde before I got the chance to actually rock up and check it out for myself. Denmark’s (and, in fact, Northern Europe’s) premier mega-fest is renown for consistently providing one of the most impressive and diverse lineups in the world, and it is this year that has perhaps rammed that particular point home further than any other.

From Slipknot, Anaal Nathrakh and Kvelertak to Rihanna and Chase and Status via Sigur Rós and Kris Kirstofferson, this really is one of the few events going where you can legitimately say that there’s something for everyone, and the non-profit, environmentally friendly and arts-fuelled approach to the manner in which the festival is put together means it has as much in common with Glastonbury as it does Download. Although there are admittedly a lot less stinky hippies running about than at the former.

Still, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect as I arrive on site early Friday morning (annoyingly, mag deadlines mean I had to miss Slipknot, BOOOOOOOOOO). With the sun already breaking out and bearing down on my pasty neck and a 3.30am start to catch my flight earlier, I’m feeling about as fresh as a poo in a sock, and the tent I’ve got pitched and reserved for me in hospitality camping, complete with blow-up mattress and lovely pillow and duvet (what do you know about glamping, though?!), is a helluva tempting sight right now. Also, there are tonnes of bikes everywhere. Like literally hundreds and hundreds parked up all over the place. It’s mad.

Of course, there’s no rest for the wicked or, in my case, whiny music journalists, so rather than trying to sneak in a cheeky nap I’m whisked off to the fucking massive backstage guest area, where I’m introduced to an absolute humdinger of a press area that’s situated outside over a huge pond and looks like something out of a Famous Five book.

There’s no time for ginger beer and dicking about solving mysteries, obviously, so I’m ushered round the corner and plonked in front of an audience for a panel discussion debating the current state of festivals in Europe, what sets Roskilde aside and what the future may hold for its unique approach. Given that I haven’t actually gone out and explored the festival yet, I feel like a bit of a wally at first, but the discussion is a genuinely interesting one and a lot of great points are raised and debated. Those who listen to the Metal Hammer Podcast know my stance on festival lineups and music genre divides in general, and the general outcome of the debate can pretty much be surmised as Roskilde Is Awesome And More Festivals Should Definitely Book Slipknot And Rihanna.

Looking right at the camera, what a wally

Finally, I get the chance to walk out into the festival itself, where many of the punters tearing around the site have been here for the best part of a week already. The stages look awesome and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and it’s instantly obvious how much effort has gone into Roskilde being much more than just a music festival. Almost every single bar, tent and even shop has been done up in a specific style to give it its own identity, many of them graffiti’d up or sat next to weird sculptures and imposing works of art. Dotted all over the place are individual performers doing a variety of acts from juggling to trombone playing, with hosts of fans dressed in particularly OTT costumes and attires to add to the friendly mayhem. Clearly, this is a place where all types of art can flourish, and it’s heartening to see how people enjoy being able to express their own creativity in such a maddening environment.

Eventually, I’m taken to the main campsite, and it’s here where the real heart of Roskilde truly lies. Camps filled with metalheads bouncing around to Slayer sit side-by-side with ones brimming with bucket hat-wearing ravers and flower-haired indie girls. One moment you feel like you’re at Bloodstock, the next Creamfields. It’s fucking nuts. As it happens, upon arriving to the site I find out I’ve been entered into a sort of campsite heavy metal pub quiz at this place:

Definitely not scared at all. Apparently the Build-Your-Own-Soundsystem thing is a big part of campsite life here, but I’m not going to get the chance to find that out right now, because there’s the small matter of our newly-created team of music journos and industry types having to go head-to-head with this:

…We won 10-8. They didn’t know when Slipknot’s self-titled album was released. The fools! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Luckily, they’re all total dudes despite having a penchant for shouting “SA-TAN! SA-TAN” quite a lot, so our grand prize of a ton of beer is happily shared out and we get the chance to chat to some of the people who make the pilgrimage here every year. It’s maddening to think that these guys are sat here, right now, having an awesome time talking about how much Goatwhore are going to rule tomorrow, when the headliner for tonight’s main event is Rihanna. Despite everything I’ve seen so far, it’s this realisation that rams home what an incredible creation Roskilde is. There’s no tension between different music fans here. Sure, not every guy in a Blind Guardian t-shirt is looking forward to throwing down to Only Girl In The World, but there’s an awesome sense of coexistence going on that’s quite unlike anything I’ve really seen before. This is a festival that people come to because it’s a fucking amazing festival. It really is that simple.

I bid my newly made chums farewell and take a stroll around the immensely huge campsite area, where yet more bizarre creations and freshly created communities spring up all over the place. All great festivals have great campsites with their own atmosphere, of course, and Download in particular is a fine example of a festival that has gone to lengths to give its campsite a real sense of identity in recent years, but here this really is a culture unto itself. Dozens upon dozens of “mini-cities” are spread across a landscape that looks like a cross between a Utopian dream and something out of Mad Max, and it’s not hard to imagine coming here for the week and forgetting completely about the small matter of, you know, going to watch some bands and stuff.

I later find out that the campsite is actually opened up 100 days before the festival even starts to let people come in and work on their creations, which take on forms as varied as pop-up clubs and bars to mini-radio stations, bike shops (yes, really) and even extra stages. It’s so vast and multilayered that it becomes quite easy to get lost in, so I decide to not risk getting stranded in the Dream City camp until next year and head back to the arena.

The next two days are effectively spent either staring bug-eyed at the endless menagerie of cool stages, lovely people and mad onsite activity or losing my shit to the many awesome and extremely varied bands and artists playing across the weekend. Friday night’s fun include predictably chaotic sets from Devin Townsend and Turbonegro as well as an admittedly fun-as-hell turn from Rihanna and a triumphant closer from Danish superstars Volbeat. On Saturday, there’s a host of awesome stuff going on, including a typically boisterous Henry Rollins spoken-word set, great showings from Hatebreed and Goatwhore and, perhaps most stunningly, an incredible set from Kvelertak, who play to a packed-out Arena tent of 16,000 people. To put that into perspective, that’s a crowd about halfway between Wembley Arena and the O2. Like I said, it’s batshit out here.

Hatebreed throw down

Goatwhore: Metal as FVCK

The evening climaxes with a maddening double header of a Metallica in fine form as the main stage’s headliners and Chase and Status turning the place into a gigantic club-friendly mosh pit soon after. Obviously, Download quite successfully booked Chase and Status last year, so to see these two sharing a bill is nothing new, but to have a band of that ilk come on after Metallica have played? It’s nuts, it works and it’s awesome. Oh, and there was also time to trundle off to one of the smaller stages at around 3.30am to watch Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats before stumbling out half an hour later into daylight. Not weird at all.

Metallica: Danish famileeeh

Uncle Acid: far out, man

With my flight due out on Sunday (which means I miss Kraftwerk doing a show in 3D, DOUBLE BOOOOOO), there’s just about time that morning to go and sit in on a press conference with some of the people who put Roskilde together each year. Many subjects are covered, from the festival’s non-profit set-up (any profit made each year goes straight to charity) to their continuing mission to become more eco-friendly (many Green Schemes got tested in Denmark for the first time this very weekend).

One ultimate message rings out over the next hour of chatter and Q+A sessions, however, and it’s a thought that sticks with me as I pick up my bags and am sent on my merry way home: In their own words, this is a Progressive Festival for Progressive People. If you can’t bear the idea of a festival catering to all corners of music, regardless of background or creed, then Roskilde is definitely not for you. If you’re not interested in getting stuck in with everyone else and becoming part of the festival, rather than simply an attendee, then Roskilde is probably not for you. If, however, you want to try something a little different and risk finding some awesome new music from the unlikeliest of sources in the process… If you fancy spending a week in the heart of a brilliant mini-city surrounded by people that want to be there because it’s fucking awesome… If you just like the idea of getting wasted and watching great bands until 4am every night… Give Roskilde a go. I’ll be back next year for sure, and I won’t make the mistake of only doing two days next time. Maiden, The Prodigy, Jimmy Cliff and Lady Gaga for the wishlist please…

“Slipknot fans love Rihanna”

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Roskilde will be back next year. Head to http://roskilde-festival.dk for more info on this year’s event.

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Probably barred for life

We sent our Features Ed Amit out to Helsinki to learn as much as possible about Finnish festivals, music and… booze. He came back and told us Helldrinki was indeed the capital of Funland. Good lad.

DAY ONE

I like the idea of Finland. I like the idea of being surrounded by endless evergreen forests enveloped in an invigorating misty haze, like those Timotei adverts from the 90s. I like the idea of scantily clad men painting their bodies and singing about battles, even if the closest they’ve been to war is shopping in Tesco on a Sunday.

So, despite still being in recovery mode after Download Festival and our best Golden Gods awards yet, when the opportunity came to to experience Helsinki in the blazing mid-Summer heat as two festivals take over Europe’s hardest drinking city, it was a total no-brainer. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

We arrive at 9pm and head straight for Bar Bäkkäri (Bar Backstage) to get a taste of the city before Tuska Festival kicks off the next day, with the King Diamond headlining. Our hosts explain it’s very important to try the Finnish delicacies on offer, which pleases us greatly as they’re all alcoholic.

The first is a Fisu shot, made by infusing chilled vodka with pastilles of Fisherman’s Friend. Sounds horrible, right? Yet somehow, the dark brown mixture (which looks more like what you’d find in a broken toilet) has a truly refreshing Arctic burn. Next up is the Salmiakki, which is another vodka shot but this time with salty liquorice. Equally as delicious.

Decisions, decisions

Looking around, various bands are dotted around the room, each of them as clueless as the next on what time of day it is – Finland in Summer doesn’t get dark, the bars don’t seem to close and things are getting blurry. We like it here. Turisas warlord and all-round gent Mathias Nygård comes over and recommends us five things to do in Helsinki. Watch the video below!

Sean from The Blackout buys me an alcopop (thanks mate), James from Tesseract is staring at the cocktail menu trying to work out whether he wants the Alexi Laiho or Lemmy Kilminster. We tell him to get both (you’re welcome). Somewhere else, Sid from Heaven’s Basement seems to be accumulating quite the gathering of female fans (high five). It doesn’t take too long for tables to crash and drinks to spill everywhere. Brits abroad, eh?

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As we speak, our brave Editor Alexander Milas is bombing it across the UK on a bicycle alongside the Heavy Metal Truants on the 2013 Charity Bike Ride To Download. We got him to call in and let us know how it’s all going…

And so, with all the fanfare anyone can muster so early in the morning, the bleary-eyed Heavy Metal Truants began their 161-mile trek from Alexandra Palace to Download to raise money for kids in need.

When you put it that way it seems so simple, but with nearly 40 riders, that many bikes to sort out, equipment, food, water, routing, traffic, and the very real threat of predicted showers throughout the day promising to dampen spirits and arses, it’s hard to describe the feeling of actually setting off. It’s excitement, moderate fear, and the searing after-effects of hearing Prog editor Jerry Ewing talk in detail about anti-chafing products for those intimate areas.

Jerry Ewing and Classic Rock Editor-In-Chief, Scott Rowley

As it stands, the man talks sense. With 106 miles to go we’re already aching, and rides of this length have a way of causing pain in parts you didn’t know you had. As I write this it’s just past midnight and our alarms are set for 5:30am for breakfast and a very tight schedule. With 82 miles and the rumour of gales and showers, we’ll need to haul ass.

After a day like today though, an early night requires zero encouragement – undulations, a technical term our guide uses to describe big goddamn fucking hills that ceaselessly hammered us like a gigantic, hydraulic testicle-crushing machine made today a life-affirming experience. The camaraderie pulls you through though, and Ben Joliffe, James Monteith, Nick Holmes, and Paolo Gregoletto, and Perry all cut some impressive figures across the landscape.

They seem to be very good at this. In fact everyone does. Best finish the beer and hit the sack. Follow us @hmtruants, honk if you’re driving up and see one of us on the road, and please spread the word – every donation helps. And wish us luck for today. We’re gonna need it.

Stay metal.

The HMT gang are riding 161 miles from London’s Alexandra Palace all the way to Donington Park for Download 2013, pulling into the festival around lunchtime on June 14, just in time to see the likes of Slipknot, Bullet For My Valentine and Korn.

All proceeds from the ride will go to three charities: Nordoff Robbins, Teenage Cancer Trust and Childline.

“Metal fans are concerned about stuff like this – we’re an active crowd,” notes Rod. “Metal fans get off their asses and do things. It’s communal, a fraternity, and I hope this opportunity will be appealing to them.”

Heavy Metal Truants have received a groundswell of support from the industry, bands, and fans alike, and sponsored riders have signed up from Parlophone, Sony Music , Universal/EMI, BMG Rights, 5B Artist Management, Raw Power, Phantom, The Agency and a host of other industry heavyweights.

For a £250 entry fee that will cover the cost of hiring a bike plus hotels and food for all three days, you can join in the fun, getting to ride alongside awesome bands and industry heavyweights, all while raising a nice bit of money for charity. DONATE NOW AT https://www.justgiving.com/HMTruant

Head to www.heavymetaltruants.com for more info and to find out how YOU can join the ride. As an added bonus, everyone who joins us will get themselves a pair of tickets to this year’s Golden Gods! On yer bikes!

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Limp Bizkit: Better than you

Earlier this week, internet mock-a-zine Vice posted an article questioning the validity of being a Limp Bizkit fan in 2013. Well, our Merl is a Limp Bizkit fan in 2013, and he reckons you should be too…

Limp Bizkit have rarely been the first name to be grabbed at when it comes to that ever-sacred My First Metal Band conversation. You know the one I’m talking about; not the first heavy band you ever heard, necessarily – we can’t all pretend that we went from N*SYNC to Napalm Death in one gleeful, genre-smashing leap, whatever your mate outside Crobar says about downing rusks and cranking up Scum while still in Pampers – but the first one that was, from the very second you heard them lay riff to record, your band. The band that you felt that affiliation with that none of your mates could ever really appreciate. The band that you’d stick up for in any argument in any situation, regardless of who they were pitched against or, to be perfectly honest, if they even had anything to do with it in the first place:

“I just can’t see Boris Johnson seriously putting together a campaign to become PM without risking the wrath of some of his more senior colle-”
“PARKWAY DRIVE, SHUT UP.”*

Put plainly, the band that changed your life. For most metal fans, the Panteras, Iron Maidens and Metallicas of the world are the usual nominees for such a prestigious role. For me and, I have no doubt, a much larger proportion of mid-to-late-20s metallers than people would like to admit, that band was Limp Bizkit.

I should probably back up a bit here. Obviously Limp Bizkit are not Iron Maiden or Metallica or Pantera. This is not news. What Limp Bizkit are, however, is fun. Pure, unabashed, shameless, ludicrous fun. The appeal of this band is not their groundbreaking forages into forward-thinking progressive metal or intelligently executed political themes and ideological approaches. Their appeal is big, fat, fuck-off riffs and songs that earn word-for-word singalongs at every single gig. It’s not rocket science. And that’s why it’s brilliant.

In 2000, Limp Bizkit, who already had two successful albums by this point, released one of the most fantastically titled albums in the history of rock music – Chocolate Starfish And The Hotdog Flavoured Water. Basically, they put out an album titled Bumhole And Wee. Said album, half the tracks of which are still rotated for pretty much every single bangers-based rock club night in the world ever, all but took over the world; producing numerous top 20 hits and brilliant music videos aplenty, making red caps, white t shirts and baggy shorts totally cool for a summer or two and establishing the Bizkit as one of the dominant forces in heavy music.

Most importantly, it was fucking brilliant fun and boo hoo to anyone who wasn’t in. I was in, and it kicked down the door for me to discover an endless stream of amazing bands. My journey into heavy music was kicked into fifth gear by this most ludicrous of bands, and it’s still rolling on as we speak.

By the time the 2000s’ first decade was coming to an end, however, not only did it look like Bizkit were little more than a jolly memory from a fun summer a very long time ago, but people who grew up in that era were already being made to feel ashamed of having not been about when Napalm Death first broke or when Kill ‘Em All dropped.

For the best part of five years, it was admittedly pretty tough being a Limp Bizkit fan.

Then this happened.

Limp Bizkit came to Donington six years after they pulled out of the very first Download and put on one of the best sets in Donny history. Yes, really. Funnily enough, they’ve continued to do similar things ever since, even releasing a great comeback album in 2011’s Gold Cobra, with another new opus due out this year. Bizkit are indeed back, and they’re still putting on the most fun live shows you’re likely to see in this or any other year. I don’t care if your favourite band is Gorgoroth or Ghostface Killah – there is no excuse for not wanting to flip tables when DJ Lethal brings it on.

Which makes this blog by VICE all the more odd. What’s more worrying is that their attempt to mock people who still love Limp Bizkit in 2013 is not exactly a unique one. Whenever I post something Bizkit-related on the Hammer site, I regularly see people question the relevance of the boys from Jacksonville these days, regarding them as a dinosaur from an era of music best forgotten. Perhaps I’m being biased here because I love excellent music and that, but since when has fun had a Best Before Date? Did the Mathews Bridge close in 2003? I think fucking not, pal.

The fact is, Limp Bizkit will roll up to Download in a couple of weeks, they will get one of the biggest, most batshit mental crowds of the whole weekend – and yes, I am sticking with that despite them clashing with the almighty Rammstein – and the results will be typically glorious. I am still a fan of Limp Bizkit in 2013, and you should be, too. They’re my band. They’re our band. They always will be. Plus, the new track is a total banger:

Limp Bizkit headline the Download second stage on June 16. Get your tickers here and get ready to Roll

*Studies have shown that “PARKWAY DRIVE, SHUT UP.” is an acceptable response in any debate.

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