onsdag 6 december 2017

Turn the Page

So, it's that time of the year again when it's time to prepare the lists of best records, concerts and so on. It's always a hassle to get it together. Right now I'm pretty blank when it comes to the list. I have a few that I know will make it on. It's not that I don't have enough to choose from, rather the opposite. According to Metal Archives there has been 6690 Full Length albums released this year, which is really crazy. Not that I have listened to that many but there sure has been a lot of music spinning this year. And, with recent reviews, all bands are not listed at Metal Archives. So there are more than that to consider.

But I do love lists. And I love to look back and dig into what has happened during the year. And I really enjoy writing about music that I like. That's actually the main driver for the year list... And apart from the 10 best records there will be the best concerts, other records that has meant a lot during the year and I was thinking of listing some favorite songs also. We'll see if I get overambitious with this all... 

If I don't get around to list the songs, I start here;  

I really like Mike Tramp's "Maybe Tomorrow" record, the things on that I find really good is outstanding. Like this song and a few more. But in general, as a record it's a little too soft for my taste. Love to see him live though and it gets even better when he hits the stage.

Ok, I haven't been using this page much this year... I had a plan to do it, mainly for myself as it's a lot of fun to look back and see what was going on or what I was thinking a while back. I don't really care if anyone reads it. But it's easier to write here compared to sharing on facebook or instagram. Especially when it's time to dig things up again...

Then, another favorite song this year;

The track wasn't available on Youtube... For good and bad, I think everyone should pay for music but sometimes it's hard to share when there's no video of the song. I don't like spotify, spotify don't like my computer (or is it because I'm using the free version still???) but I've been using it a bit this year. Mainly since there's some setting on my computer which makes some tracks from youtube play without sound. I don't know what it is as they sound ok from the phone. And of course, everything isn't available on Youtube. The same rule still applies though, if I've listened more than 3 times I have to buy the record. This becomes the next hassle... When records isn't available anymore and second hand is the only option. I know supporting unlicensed releases isn't the way to go but to choose between an original LP (which I will in most cases) for $100-200-300-400-500 or a Russian reprint for €5... It's not like the band is making money from second hand sales anyway. Perhaps Spotify and other streaming sites are better then?

But, the LIONHEART record "Second Nature" keeps growing and again I'm a bit surprised that I'm this hooked on a record really too soft for my taste. But the songs are fantastic and the musical performance is fabulous. So what's there not to like...  

I also like to set targets, challenges and goals for myself. A little like a newyears resolution. I don't tell anyone since I know I won't follow through. I always aim too high. One thing was to keep up with the live-reports which has worked out ok with Concerts but I'm still hopelessly behind with the massive Festival reports. I love doing it but I'm trigger happy and it takes time to edit all pictures. I've also exceeded my target for number of reviewed records. I said 2 a month and I've done around 60 so far... Which is a bit crazy actually. One interview a month has not happened yet, so that one will have to tag along to next year.

There are a lot of other cool things that have happened during the year but that will come in the summary with all the lists and so on. 

For now... Looking towards 2018, it will start off good! The TRESPASS record sounds awesome, out on Mighty Music in January if remember correctly...


NP: TRESPASS - Footprints in the Rock

onsdag 29 mars 2017

The end is just the beginning

I've forgotten how hard it is to clean a flat for a move. Even if it is the shoe-box one. Takes forever to get through it all. Been spending hours and hours the last few weeks but now it's moving towards the end at least. Have tomorrow also and then the check on Friday.

Friday is my last day at /// too. Had the last week in Kista last week and it felt rather hard to say goodbye to some people. Will be the same this one in Borås.

But it will be nice to live in the Void Mansion every day. Have tons of things to do on my list and I'm looking forward to it.
I also was asked to help out with some promotional work for Nordic Noise Festival and that I accepted. Never done anything like it before but I have been thinking about it. An opportunity severed and I couldn't turn it down then, could I!

The coming weekend there will be another trip to High Voltage to see Treat. Looking forward to that one. Was September 1988 I last saw a Headline show with Treat. I have seen them after but only short sets on Festival-type stages. Thinking about it, when they played the Sweden Rock Cruise perhaps they had a full time slot? Never shot them though so with that it's even more exciting.
Saturday it is Doom Over Scania which also will be awesome, Crimson Dawn, Doomocracy, Hands of Orlac, Memory Garden and one more... Super!

I think I deserve a glass of wine now...


onsdag 15 mars 2017

Tarot Woman

Well, I would be rather surprised if Joe Lynn Turner is playing that one tonight but damn it would be cool to hear it live.

I decided to take the bus in to Gothenburg today also, deviate from my mission to not drink beer at local shows but it's sunny, it's the last one before I become a SKÅNING full time... And frankly, I'm checking out from Ericsson more and more each day. The only downside is that I have a meeting at 8:30 tomorrow so I have to take it a bit easy...  And I of course need to catch the bus back home.

I'm really looking forward to the show tonight. Even if I doubt there will be any real surprises in the set... I do hope for some solo songs though and what Joe did as originals with the bands he was in and not other bands classics. Fantastic songs of course but I don't want them from Joe.

Anyway. He really amazed me when I saw him last,  his voice is outstanding still and it was a fun and cozy event. I hope it will be just as cool tonight!


måndag 13 mars 2017

And the bands played on...

So, with this I have three more weeks to work at Ericsson. It feels strange and I guess it will be very weird when I'm home. And it will be rather sad to leave, it's been a good time and I have really enjoyed what I've been doing.

The past week was really good though! Took the opportunity to work from home, catch up with some documentation and so. And combine that with some concerts. 2 times Anthrax, Turbocharged & Wasted, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, Marco Mendoza and yesterday S.O.T.O. A lot of good music and I really enjoyed the shows. But I must admit that the S.O.T.O show really stood out. Fantastic band and Jeff is amazing, it was great fun!

And now there are three Joe Lynn Turner shows coming up. That will be great too but I'm a little afraid I've pushed my expectations a little too high. I don't doubt the band and Joe will sound great but when it comes to the setlist... We'll see. Supercharged!


torsdag 9 mars 2017

Survival of the fittest

When I bought my flat at Kaplansgatan in Gävle I got moving in gifts from my parents, cousins, aunt & uncle and so on... For some reason they all got me plants, flowers to keep in my windows.

I DEFINITELY don't have green fingers and most of them died rather quickly. A few survivors was eaten by my pet rats when I forgot the plants in the kitchen when releaseing them to roam free.

And now these 4, that was three from the start but one got so big I had to split it. And it survived that too. This year they turn 20 and even if they look s**t I can't throw them away as long as they're alive...

They won't be for long though! As you can have cats OR plants, not both. And they for sure has taken beatings already. I brought them from the shoe-box flat last weekend. One of the bigger is reduced to less than half now as Tipton made a run, jumped over the back of the couch and landed directly on it. At least the two in the livingroom window matches in size now...

And it's damn fun to dig in the dort too and then run around swiping the shoveled dirt all over the floor!

Lucky for the cats they are cute...

So nope, cats and plants is definitely not a match. I doubt these ones will reach the age of 21...


tisdag 28 februari 2017

Home Sweet Home

So... It's official! My employment at Ericsson is terminated and my last day of working is March 31st. I admit it feels strange and I would probably never have had the guts to quit on my own. And yes, in a way it feels sad. I'm leaving a bunch of great colleagues and good friends, and many I would probably never see again. Also, I don't feel done with the work I've been doing the last few years.
On the other hand, I'm rather sick and tired of all the travels and never being at home. Sick of the shoebox flat with no TV (ok, I have a TV but no subscription so no channels, just a DVD/Blu Ray player), sick of always having my suitcase packed and most of all being away all the time from Peter and the cats. And I have a very good guy replacing me, skilled, dedicated just nice in general which make the hand-over a lot easier.
Also, it will be exciting to dig in to new tasks at a new company, to dig into new challenges. What I will do? Have no clue right now...
But, I have time. Ericsson's lay-off deals are very sweet so I have almost two years to find a new job before I'm out of money which feels nice. So if everything works as I want them to (I can't not apply for a good job if it appears) I'll be on a LOOOOOONG vacation and start a new job in September or so. 
Or, I will renovate the kitchen in the Void Mansion, build the Cats & Foxes Pub in the basement and develop the Isle of the Black Cat brand... I mean, the Apple-Bourbon, Apple-Rum and Apple-Single Malt-Cinnamon marmalade's was very much appreciated. Also the home made apple-sauce, gooseberry jam (Bourbon in that too). Build my Photography homepage, dig into video-editing and start doing interviews for Metal Kaoz a lot more than I'm doing now... A pod-cast or youtube channel would be cool... (and transcribing audio interviews is SOOOOOO boring) and maybe not the most fun, clean the house from the cellar up to the attic... (But I'm actually looking forward to that too) 

It will be interesting though how I react at being home. I've been traveling almost weekly for almost 10 years now. Lately up to Borås and Stockholm which isn't very exciting all the time. But I will definitely miss going to more exotic places like China, Brazil, Jordan, Ethiopia, Malaysia...
I guess commuting to Copenhagen for shows will have to do for a while now. But ok, there are a lot of them and some really cool concerts.

It really sucks though that the Helstar show was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. It's hard for me to understand since this is one of the best things happening. I love the band and they always kick-ass live. To see a show cancelled due to this reason sucks and I'm really disappointed with the Gothenburg Metal Heads to not step up here and buy the very cheap tickets... Definitely gonna plan for a German or so show next time to make sure I get to see the band. And if they come up north again that will be a bonus. 



torsdag 5 januari 2017

Another year has passed

And where did that year go? In one way it's been a very long year but it also feels it was a few weeks ago I was falling to pieces of excitement waiting for the Michael Schenker concerts in Stockholm and Malmö. That was in February and the first shows of the year. It was very strange since from the hell-week in early december 2015 with Judas Priest, Saxon, Motörhead and some more there was no shows at all until the Schenker ones. That is very unusal for me. But I did go to a lot of shows. In total I spent 72 days at shows or festivals, if an average of 3 bands per day, that makes it 216 bands... Might seem extreme but I know I have a lot of company here and I bet some of my friends have spent even more time seeing bands. It's what I like and there were some real surprises. Best show of the year was just a last minute decision... Also, at Festivals when there are clashes I've been try to select bands I haven't seen before or if it's a chance they won't come back which gave me both good and bad experiences. That I'll try to keep in mind, you can't know until you've seen it if it's worth seeing. And no concert has felt like waste of time... Ok, perhaps I haven't been super-thrilled about all opening acts but in general they have been ok too. 

I set a target for myself last year and that was to keep up with the concert reports, do 24 record reviews and 24 interviews. The concerts are all done, still behind with the Festivals though and I did far more that 24 reviews... Didn't do many interviews though so I need to get better there. I'll try to do the same this year, no increase in numbers or anything like that.

But yes, I've been listening to a lot of records and there were a lot of good ones. There were a few really standing out though, that really blew me away.

1. SALEM - Dark Days
The Hull laddies impressed me with "Forgotten Dreams" a few years back also but I got it too late so it didn't make it up on the top 10. I had this one for over 2 months before the review was due, for good and bad. I knew the record note for note writing it but it put pressure on me to write a review as good as I thought the record are also. I love it from start to end, the variation between really dark tunes and more classic hard rock songs is fantastic.
Favorite track: "Nine Months"

2. VICIOUS RUMORS - Concussion Protocol
First studio release with Nick on vocals and it is a full-hit if you ask me. I think Vicious Rumors could have used Nick more though but I love the mix between hin and Geoff and it is one fantastic album. It continues in the same vein as the previous two but it feels the band is boosted even more nowawdays. I listened to this one extensively also since it normally takes time for the Vicious Rumors records to settle for real. I thought I knew it but picking it up a few weeks after the release, for the shows it was even better than I remembered it.
Favorite Track: "Chasing the Priest" 

3. FATES WARNING - Theories of Flight
The best thing with Fates Warning is how much emotion they get into their music. It's not Hard, Fast and Heavy but it's still more intense and has a nerve few manage to create. Ray Adler does a fantastic job here and with the Old School shows featuring John Arch and these fantastic new releases it's the best of two worlds. I really don't want this to go away to have John Arch back in Fates Warning, love to see him perform though. On the other had, Ray too is fantastic.
Favorite track: "S.O.S"

4. GLENN HUGHES - Resonate
Quite a surprise for me even. I've admired Glenn for a long time and as a performer he is fantastic but his releases has been a bit to Funky for my taste. This one though is one Heavy piece without completely abandon his trademark sound, the songs have touches of soul and funk but it's not taking overhand. And the whole record is heavy as hell.
Favorite track: "Flow" 

5. SARASIN - Sarasin
I was lured by the cover, I think it is super-cool and when digging into the music that too got me hooked. I love the hooks and odd rhythms, sometimes it feels like it's not quite right just to realize it's a strange beat instead. I spent hours trying to figure out the as long as we're willing to let them lead us to the slaughter, it's crazy but damn cool Also the Heavy, gloomy and groovy songs appealed to me.
Favorite track: "In Our Image"

6. DIAMOND HEAD - Diamond Head
Wow, I realized I don't have any new bands on my list this year... Well, Myrath can perhaps be stated as new but as both Salem and Sarasin has their roots in the 80's, this year is definitely the guys with routine and experience that has dazzeled me. The self titled Diamond Head I bought because I was going to see them and it ended up in the stereo for weeks in a row, I couldn't put it down. It's vibrant, full of energy and damn good songs. Again it feels like the band has new energy and inspiration, can't be anything but since this record kills. 
Favorite track: "Shout at the Devil" 

7. ANVIL - Anvil is Anvil
It sounds like Anvil, it is Anvil and it sounds damn good. Both from a song and production perspective. And now when the buzz after the movie has settled people start to see that Anvil is good for real. Here Anvil has managed to capture the energy they have on stage, the joy and the fun in a bunch of very good songs. 
Favorite track: "Zombie Apocalypse" (Zombie? A Coffee Lips?)

8. MYRATH - Legacy
I picked up this promo as Myrath was opening for Symphony X and was excited about them being from Tunisia. Took ages before I could get my hads on the real CD though. Their Prog Metal with oriental melodies and rhythms sets them apart from most other bands in the genre and that Zaher Zorgati both sounds and look like a mini-version of Ray Adler is not setting this down. 
Favorite track: "Nobody's Lives" 

9. HELSTAR - Vampirio
Some years ago there was a style-change for Helstar and they moved to Heavier and Faster tunes. It sounded good but it felt like something was missing to get to the top. Now with "Vampirio" everything has fallen into place and this is a true smack in the face, fantastic riffs and fantastic songs. A true killer record simply.
Favorite track: "Repent in Fire"

10. DEATH ANGEL - The Evil Divide
There were many good Thrash Metal releases during 2016, Testament, Flotsam & Jetsam, Anthrax... But it was this one that struck the hardest for me. In general I've been a bigger fan of Death Angel live than on record but perhaps I haven't listened enough, with the shows during the last years and this record things changed and this is a record to put on when energy is needed to do something. The drive is fantastic and it holds a good deal of great songs:
Favorite track: "Lost"

And Peter's Top 5;
1. ANVIL - Anvil is Anvil
2. HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE - Dead Revolution
3. KANSAS - The Prelude Implicit
4. VICIOUS RUMORS - Concussion Protocol
5. BLAZE BAYLEY - Infinite Entanglement

The ones just outside the Top 10 list;
BLAZE BAYLEY - Infinite Entanglement
ETRUSGRAVE - Aita's Sentence
EVIL MASQUERADE - The Outcast Hall of Fame
SAVIOR FROM ANGER - Temple of Judgment
TESTAMENT - Brotherhood of the Snake
THE CULT - Hidden City
THEM - Sweet Hollow 

And the ones that could have made it if I would have gotten around and started listen sooner (or if they'd been released earlier in the year...);
AFTERSHOK - Detonate
ATTACKER - Sins of the World
FLOTSAM & JETSAM - Flotsam and Jetsam
HERMAN FRANK - The Devil Rides Out
MEGADETH - Dystopia
RAGE- The Devil Strikes Again
RUNNING WILD - Rapid Foray
SODOM - Decision Day

A new thing that we started to discuss last year was, what if albums, regardless of release year, that has meant a lot during the year was to be listed. It's of course hard to remember all and sometimes it's so many from one band the list would be endless. But it was a fun idea so why not give it a try...

Much is related to shows of course but looking at the playlist, Winger - "IV", Deep Purple - "Now What?!", MSG - "In The Midst of Beauty", Motörhead - "Overnight Sensation", Heir Apparent - "By Inheritance", Cage - "Ancient Evil", Black Sabbath - Eternal Idol, Deep Purple - Slaves & Masters, Blue Öyster Cult - "Imaginos" and Tempest - "Control the World" antology has been spinning A LOT, or for other reasons set me off.
One thing that I need to point out is how much I've been listening to Joe Lynn Turner, been digging up most everything I could get my hands on. He also played an acoustic set at the PH Cafeen in Copenhagen and even if it wasn't the same blow-away as Kip Winger it was still damn cool. Very cool to be able to stand 1-2m away from him listening to music and stories. Fantastic show of course and then I went shopping... That's my way of stalking bands and musicians, GET ALL THEY'VE EVER RELEASED!!!
Also Michael Schenker has been spinning frequently and basically his whole catalogue but it was "In the Midst of Beauty" that struck the hardes and when putting it on "Cross of Crosses" goes on repeat for a few times before I let it spin. It's the same with "Tales of Rock'n'Roll" also, then it's "Dreams Inside" and "Rock'n'Roll" that gets that treatment. 

Peter did the same and picked his ones;

He's been digging in the vaults and listed;
Winterhawk - "Revival", Blue Öyster Cult - "Club Ninja", Uriah Heep - "Fallen Angel", Kansas - "Audio-Visions" and Marillion - "Fugazi" 

As mentioned earlier, there has been a lot of concerts this year, a lot of good ones too and when standing there watching I can't for my life understand why people decide to sit home infront of a TV or computer instead of seeing bands live...

The one show that stood out the most though came as a real surprise. I love to be proven wrong but I also become a bit bummed with myself that I didn't realize a bands greatness sooner...

1. KIP WINGER - PH Cafeen, Copenhagen, Denmark
I wasn't even sure if to go to the show, I've never listened to Winger what so ever, also it was a very hectic week and I decided to rest instead. Next minute I'm panicking and buy tickets. And I'm glad I did, acoustic set and very intimate. How someone can create that dynamic with a sole guitar is beyond me. We missed train after train home but there was no chance we were leaving the show before it ended. He played for more than 2 hours and there was not a dull second.

2. VICIOUS RUMORS - Frimis Salonger, Örebro, Sweden
Vicious Rumors always kick ass, it's on stage they should be experienced. A classic set with a few new ones worked very well. Nick sounds fantastic in the old songs, he nails it flawlessly. The disappointment was the cancelled headline-show I had booked though. An opening slot is far from enough if Vicious Rumors.

3. SAXON - Trägår'n, Gothenburg, Sweden
The mighty Saxon, this was the fourth Saxon concert for me in 2016 and I was still looking at the possibilities to go to Ronneby the night after this one. Saxon at Trägår'n is special, they were on fire and so was the crowd. I think they added 4-5 songs compared to the Copenhagen and Malmö shows. 

4. Michael Schenker - KB, Malmö, Sweden
I would like to say the Michael Schenker Fest at Sweden Rock since that one featured Robin McAuley (and Graham Bonnet and Gary Barden) but it was the club shows that really set me off. It's amazing to be so close and see everything from the front. Michael's energy on stage these days are fantastic and the Temple of Rock albums kicks ass.

5.LETHAL - Up The Hammers, Kyttaro Club, Athens, Greece
I tend to forget between the times I see Lethal how damn good they are. No exception here. Fascinating was that Tom barely could speak prior to the show but still deliver something absolutely fantastic. It was also cool to have Dell Hull in the line-up.

6. FATES WARNING - Keep It True, Tauberfranken-Halle, Lauda-Königshofen, Germany
If I missed it completely or just surpressed it I don't know but it came as a complete surprise to me when John Arch came out on stage. Thinking about I should have realized that was to be the case. Still, the excitement the surprise brought made this show even better. It all sounded fantastic.

7. HEIR APPARENT - Keep It True, Tauberfranken-Halle, Lauda-Königshofen, Germany
Heir Apparent did great on UTH too but it seems all fell into place for the KIT show. Their dynamics was fantastic and it all sounded fabulous.

8. ANVIL - La Belle Angele, Edinburgh, Scottland
Anvil always deliver, it is always very good. But Lips was struggling with a cold for the first 2 of the UK shows. Here he was back to normal again and the energy was phenomenal. How they manage to do this night after night is beyond me.

9. CLOVEN HOOF - NWOBHM X MAS Rocka, 02 Academy, Sheffield, England
Lee Payne has drafted George Call and Danny White to the line-up and that sure is a perfect match. Cloven Hoof has always sounded very good but there was something missing from the last line-up. Now they look the part and their force won't be able to be stopped. The drive and intesity created on this small stage was fantastic, and this is just the beginning.

10. SYMPHONY X - Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, Denmark
Wow, it's amazing how such a "pretto" band can deliver so much rock'n'roll and still perform flawlessly. I mean, Prog-Metal bands normally focus on playing and frankly, the shows can be dull. It is Russel Allen that stands for most of the show but how the rest deliver and seem to have fun is amazing. Also, to hear the whole "Underworld" album live sure was a treat.

There's actually two more records that played a big part of last year (and the year before too for that sake) but for what they are I couldn't put them on the lists...
I'm realy super-proud of the Void Moon - "Deathwatch" records, the hours spent with the guitar paid off. It would have been so much fun to play more, visit places and just enjoy it but history wanted other things for the band.
And then also Assassins Blade - "Agents of Mystification". Not that I have much to do with it more than being a house-wife when Jacques recorded the vocals and then just listening to the ideas created with or without beers by David and Peter. A good one it is!

So, now I'm looking forward to a new year. It will be an odd one, that's for sure. It's confirmed that I'm affected by the lay-off's for Ericsson this time, 20+ years and I'm unemployed. But, I get up to 23 months payment (19 guaranteed which I keep even if I start working as soon as I'm out of the doors) so there's no worry what will happen. My biggest concern is if I should dare to take the summer off and start applying for jobs so I start in September or so? Or do I need to start right away... Don't know when I will leave yet but it should be end of March-April sometime. 
Then I need to decide what to focus on, a new Cult of the Fox record it will be. I'm also trying to set up a photo-page to have a gallery with better resolution pictures, posting on facebook kind of kills them, for not to say the ones posted through instagram. But both are very good to spread the word about it at least. And I need to save money to change my Canon EOS 50D too, it's just so frustrating to not have the same capacity as on the EOS 5D MkIII, especially when the lights are poor. Just as a sample, if using ISO 2000 on the 50, I can push the 5 up to 12800 or even 16000 before it gets as grainy as 2000 on the 50. So... A Canon EOS 5D MkIV is on my shopping list...Unless someone wants to buy me one! :O) (so, if I start working and get double salarys...)

And then the usual, food, drinks and work-out... I've actually been off sugar completely for a week now. The only thing I've had is 6 dades and the suger I use in the food but that's very little. I feel it! Let's see how long I can keep it up... Will HAVE to have some chocolate sooner or later...
One thing I realized is that how DAMN expensice beer and wine is on airports, trainstations & hotels. Also at clubs, so it's no promise to not drink beer, just a try to not buy it when the money spent on one beer could have gotten me another record or 1/300 part of the new camera... Ok, cutting out THOSE beers will not buy me the camera though!  


NP: ARDUINI / BALICH - "Dawn Of Ages"