Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger – Wolverhampton Civic Hall

As the musicians of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra filled the stage, two spotlights beamed a top the lone keyboard and empty mic that would soon be occupied by two of the most influential rockers to come out of the flower power era of 60s Los Angeles – Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger formally of The Doors.

The audience gave a mature applause as Michael Matijevic sauntered on stage with black shirt opened revealing pecs that even I was jealous of and leather trousers. Well of course, he’s filling the shoes of the great Jim Morrison. The women in the balcony sitting next to me cooed at the unmistakable intro of Love Me Two Times.

The Royal Philharmonic seemed a bit drowned out from where I was sitting. I moved about but the sound didn’t really get balanced out until after the intermission. Despite this initial observation, I was blown away by Matijevic’s “impersonation” of Morrison’s token singing style…it was almost eerie.

A jungle rhythm broke out to Break On Through and the few people that had congregated near the stage were dispersed by a portly security guard. By the time Love Her Madly hit the set list, I could see that the audience in their seats were just a throng of contained energy – feet tapping, spasmatic body movements, chair-bound dancing, on the verge of being whipped into a frenzy.

The orchestra came into its own for the fourth song, Waiting for the Sun, with powerful strings and intense timpani fills against Matijevic’s gloomy vocals and metallic keyboard skills of Manzarek.

Moonlight Drive, Wild Child, The Changeling and Not to Touch the Earth filled the remaining first half set. Finally, Manzarek appealed to the audience that despite the intellectualism that comes with performing with an orchestra – this was a …

Through Her Eyes – Winter Of Ashes

A seven track mini album from this Black Country quartet, that is a brutal display of in your face Midlands Metalcore.

It kicks off with Scavengers Of The Damned, a four and a half minute aural assault, which sets the tone for the rest of the album.Rich on vocals has that rare knack of producing a great metal growl, where you can still hear the words clearly, whilst the drum and bass lines of Ste and Chris are so heavy, there should be a health warning on the cover! The glue that holds all this together is the guitars of Mark. Whether it’s out and out thrash riffs or more technical breakdowns, Mark has more hooks than your local tackle shop, it’s hard to believe that there’s only one of him!

Speed freaks will love this album, it’s pretty much non-stop throughout, tearing along at a breakneck pace, with nicely timed breakdowns. Track 2, Solitary, is a fine example of this, there’s even a nine minute epic which will keep even the most ardent metal aficionados happy.

All in all this is a fine album from a young band, and final track “Injustice” just confirms that Through Her Eyes are a quality outfit who are on the cusp of taking their music to the next level, and whilst Midlands Metalcore fans contemplate the recent demise of local favourites, Beyond Redemption and the forced hiatus of Adust, then they could fill that gap in their lives by checking out these guys  

 The album is launched on Sunday 25th July with a gig at JB’s, Dudley

 Track Listing

Scavengers Of The Damned

Solitary

Bloodlust

My Place Is Nowhere

Smile Carved From Bone

Winter Of Ashes

Injustice

Sepultura + Gama Bomb + Obzidian + Heresy @ Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton

The Wulfrun gives Heresy the opportunity to show a large audience what they can do. With keyboard player Karl no longer part of the band, Heresy’s sound is as full as it was and allows guitarist Tom and bassist Dan more space to flesh the sound out. Between songs, front-man Rob works the crowd and before their last song gets the whole place chanting the band name in unison. Not a bad way to get your name out there huh? They adapted brilliantly to a big stage and they won a few more fans tonight. Quite a feat for a band most had probably not heard of. The crowd were really into the band and I suspect we may be hearing more from these guys.

Obzidian’s next album Damned Eternal is to be unleashed on August 1st. And to make that fact known, Obzidian thrust their songs down the audience’s throat with a live set that was brutal. Drummer Paul destroyed his kit with every beat; bassist Matt’s sound is huge; Barry’s riffs are mammoth; and vocalist Matty J is possessed! He hurls himself into the songs, into the performance, and all over the stage. The crowd swallow it up and a monster of a pit forms and throbs and the venue threatens to explode. Obzidian shift the evening up a gear or two with a set of killer songs that shakes the walls. Fierce, vicious, violent, if you missed them tonight get to their next gig. With monster riffs, grooves deeper than the Grand Canyon, and a lunatic front-man, you won’t be disappointed.

Entering the stage to the score for John Carpenter’s classic movie Escape from New York, Gama Bomb takes the crowd back to the 80s with Marty McFly as the driver. Their off-the-wall themes – ninjas, sci-fi,

Allegaeon – Fragments of Form and Function

Metal Blade’s roster is impressive. The addition of technical progressive death outfit Allegaeon (pronounced “uh-legion”) serves to fortify the label’s reputation as one of the best in metal today. They made a wise move grabbing these guys. So many bands blur into each other, each sounding like the other and no more than a dilution of whatever extreme genres are in vogue. On Fragments of Form and Function, Allegaeon combine technical proficiency with excellent songs to produce a dynamic take on extreme melodic metal. 

The high quality production of Dave Otero must be given credit. Each instrument is crisp and sharp, crystal clear. Even the bass – an instrument that seems to provide no end of nightmares for producers unsure what to do with it – is audible. In so doing, Otero has allowed each band member’s high level of musicianship presence in the mix. Drummer/machine Jordan Belfast lays a concrete foundation that is unyielding in its technical precision. Vocalist and lyricist Ezra Haynes’ growl is intense, utilised for dark delivery as well as laconic effect. Guitarist Gregg Burgess’ skills are untouchable, his fretwork is fluent, his riffs brutal, and his classical training shines through particularly in the coda of Biomech – Vals 666, adding melancholic majesty to a technical palate overflowing with technique and feel. Shredder Ryan Glisan’s work compliments Burgess and together they make for a brutal unit with solos that exude feel and inventive riffing skills. And growling beneath all of this is bassist Corey Archuleta, providing low-end support and harmonious countermelodies in the breakdowns. This combination and composition of two guitars and bass bring together melody and harmony in remarkable style. Check out the melodic instrumental sections of From Seed to Throne and Accelerated Evolution.

Songs? Slow grooves, hook-laden riffs, huge grooves,

Revolting Cocks – Got Cock?

Hailing this album as a ‘return to form’ would be somewhat of a misleading description, as even at their best (I’m thinking Beers, Steers & Queers here) RevCo albums are decidedly patchy. However, there’s some evidence here that since he wound up Ministry, Al Jourgensen is putting a bit more effort into his Revolting Cock guise.

The first two tracks, ‘Trojan Horse’ and ‘Filthy Senoritas’, throw something of a curveball as they both possess a traditional verse/chorus structure and sonically fall somewhere between Vision Thing-era Sisters of Mercy and Type O Negative. Not exactly what I was expecting from a RevCo album in 2010, but really good instantly catchy stomp-a-longs.

Things get back to a more traditional RevCo stylee with ‘Dykes’, which features the perfect balance of tongue-in-cheek lyrics (pun intended), shouted industrial vocal, four-to-the-floor drum pattern, sampled guitars, soaring chorus, techno synth swirls.  And for most of the rest of the album the band stick with this well established RevCo industrial-techno template – it’s Ministry with a sense of humour and a permanent erection, and is all the better for it!

‘Juice’ features a hilarious vocal from some juice-hating Teutonic character, another storming chorus and some great percussive synths.  ‘Piss Army’ is RevCo’s anthem for the most dedicated of their fans, and should prove more than motivational enough to rally the troops into assuming the position.  ‘Fuck Money’ (how they keep coming up with these song titles after so many years I don’t know!) features a very honest refrain (“boo-fucking-hoo for you, just buy my fucking album!”) but very little else.  Fortunately things pick up again on next track, ‘Bitch Addictive’ – which has a kind of glam-edge to it that has me thinking of Billy Idol.

‘Air Traffic Control’ is another strange one, …