Posts Tagged ‘Raging Speedhorn’

Christopher Nosnibor

I’m struggling here. I know that people standing texting, Facebooking, taking selfies and shooting videos while dancing is immensely irritating for a band. It’s immensely irritating for other people in the audience, too. But I’m struggling to think of a scenario when it would ever be acceptable to harangue a woman in the front row with the line ‘get off your fucking phone, bitch!’. Or, indeed, to interrupt a lengthy and rousing right-on speech about inclusivity, about how it’s ‘bullshit’ to hate someone for being black or gay, etc., with ‘get your fucking hands in the air, bitches!’ (followed by a head-shaking ‘Shit, women!’). I’ll let that sit for a moment because I’m here for the supports, Raging Speedhorn and local monsters of noise, RSJ.

Arriving at 7:35 for a show with an advertised door time of 7:30, I’m a little surprised to find the place heaving and RSJ half-way through their thunderous set. But I’m able to worm my way to the front as they piledrive their way to the set’s climax, ‘Play it Again, Sam’. Look up ‘intensity’ in the dictionary, and you’ll probably find a picture of RSJ playing live.

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RSJ

Things have been a bit unsettled in camp Speedhorn recently, with Frank Reagan being forced to sit the tour out on doctors’ orders. And so RSJ’s Dan Cook is filling in, and despite playing back to back sets, his energy – and intensity – is unwavering. Cook looks comfortable and the dynamic between the two vocalists is on-point as they go all-out on the confrontation (and occasional off-the-cuff banter) which is integral to their shows. Building the tension by drenching the venue in howling, humming feedback, they erupt onto the stage, John Loughlin opening a bottle of beer with his teeth and spitting the cap to the floor before the band assume their places to commence the set with the customary menacing stare-out.

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Raging Speedhorn

These guys are good: they never fail to build their sets to a point of total frenzy. Slam-dancing breaks out during the second song, ‘Bring Out Your Dead’, but the band goad, harangue, hassle and coerce the audience, with both encouragement and abuse, and it works: the crowd get closer in, and they get moving. ‘Motörhead’ is utterly ball-busting, and Cooke’s menacing presence and lighting-rig climbing antics make for one hell of a show. By the end of their too-short set it’s mayhem.

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Raging Speedhorn

While they’re setting the stage for Skindred, the rammed crowd are getting down to Red Hot Chilli Peppers blaring from the PA. I’ve always detested them, and the funk groove of ‘Suck My Kiss’ epitomises everything I loathe about them. I’m no purist, but some crossovers simply aren’t meant to be, which is primarily the reason I’ve spent the entirety of Skindred’s career avoiding them. The Queen singalong orchestrated by some bozo near the front is beyond embarrassing: isn’t this supposed to be a metal gig? Queen aren’t even rock.

But Skindred’s Benji Webbe harps on endlessly about ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ during their set, which is every bit as vibrant as their reputation would suggest. However – and please, (s)top me if you think that you’ve heard this one before – if Brexit and the advent of Trump (and the success of Oasis, for that matter) tell us anything, it’s that popularity is no measure of artistic merit. The crowd lap it up. No, more than that: they go absolutely fucking ballistic.

I get the deal of being ‘in the moment’ at a live performance. It’s why I live for live music. Even when reviewing, I will, often, forget to take any notes and will return with only a handful of photos because I’ve been enjoying the music, the performance, the atmosphere, soaking it all up and immersing myself in the show from the same perspective as everyone else. I may be a music writer, or critic, but I’m a fan first and foremost. Skindred, I witnessed as a detached spectator. I simply could not get into the moment.

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Skindred

The union jack pegged to the mic stand set me on edge for a start. In the current climate, it’s a divisive symbol. For a band fronted by a big black guy to flout, it’s clearly intended as a signifier or unity and collectivism, of being black and British, but even so. There’s a certain incongruity there, just as there’s an incongruity in a Welsh metal band fronted by a guy sporting a pair of sequinned hammer pants. The trouble is, it’s neither challenging nor funny. It’s therefore not funny when Webbe plays the race card, taunting the audience – being a packed-out crowd who’ve paid £20 to see his band – with ‘black guy on stage… what’s he saying? I don’t understand what he’s saying’. I would say it was insulting and patronising the audience’s intelligence, but they’re all in the moment and aren’t taking a critical stance on this. It’s banter, innit?

Musically, from a detached, distant, and critical perspective, it’s a fucking mess. Based around a metal / reggae crossover more heinous than the funk / metal hell of RHCP, Skindred also drag in elements of hardcore punk, dancehall, jungle, ska, hip hop, drum and bass, dubstep, and they do so clumsily, their sub-RATM stylings, and with endless calls of ‘C’mon! C’mon!’ all ripped into some horrible stew which simmers the bones of House of Pain, Shaggy, and Funkadelic into a stinking, foamy broth.

Amidst the sea of ubiquitous metaller beards, the ratio of XY to XX chromosome is uncommonly high. But this makes the beaming grins and the willingness of the female segment of the audience to buy into and participate in the band’s crudely-executed agenda, laced with sexism and misogyny, all the more perplexing. Sure, the Newport Helicopter – a ritual which entails the majority of the audience, regardless of sex, removing their t-shirts and rotating them above their heads, regardless of the danger to those around them – is pitched as symbolic of unity and empowerment. But when you’ve got Webbe up there yelling ‘get them titties bouncing!’ and so forth, it sounds more like a guy playing the rock star and getting his rocks off by exploiting the crowd than a true moment of collective liberation. And, in context of everything else, it’s deeply unplasant.

RSJ and Raging Speedhorn were ace, though.

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Ahead of the two sell out dates at The Black Heart in March, Raging Speedhorn are set to join ragga metallers Skindred on their upcoming February tour, following on from the success of their earlier tour in late 2016.

 

Guitarist Jim Palmer had this to say of the upcoming tour: “After the fun we had last year, it’s a huge honour to hit the road once again with Skindred and finish what we started! Skindred have grown into such an

incredible band so it’s an honour. It’ll be like stepping right back to those days in the early 2000’s when we last shared a stage. Bring on the party!"

 

Raging Speedhorn will appear on the following dates with Skindred:

Jan 31st – Brighton – Concorde 2

Feb 2nd – Derby – The Venue

Feb 3rd – Edinburgh – Liquid Room

Feb 4th – Inverness – Ironworks

Feb 5th – Carlisle – Brickyard

Feb 7th – Liverpool – O2 Academy

Feb 8th – York – Fibbers

Feb 9th – Holmfirth – Picturedrome

Skindred Tour Poster 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s the hottest day of the year so far: the mercury’s teetering in the top twenties and I’ve had a hectic and predictably crap day at work. The train from York to Leeds is fucking rammed, and I almost melt as I make my way from the station to the little underground space that is Leeds’ primary dedicated rock venue, The Key Club. At least I can attribute my heavy perspiration to atmospherics rather than anxiety over interviewing full-throttle sludge metal masters Raging Speedhorn. The simple fact is, I don’t know what, or who, to expect.

In the event, tour manager Jim is as welcoming and affable guy as you’re likely to meet, and while I’m amazed just how busy it is backstage – it seems the entire world ants to interview Raging Speedhorn tonight, and the press are out in droves for video interviews and other kind of features – things are simultaneously organised but laid back. It’s not surprising it’s busy: the release of their first new album in nine years, which also sees Frank Regan return to the fold, has reignited interest in the band.

I’ve been booked in to chat with drummer Gordon Morison, and I’m reminded of the first interview I conducted with a ‘proper’ band, (the local bands I shot the breeze with for the local paper back in the 90s really don’t count) when I waited an age outside The Well in Leeds to interview Rolo Tomassi and was given some five minutes with drummer Edward Dutton. In the event, he was cool and eloquent, while I was shamefully anxious and anything but cool.

Settling into some big leather sofas at the back of the venue’s extended backstage area – really, the backstage area is bigger than the public space, but then, there’s a lot of kit in for these bands, and I expect that’s not uncommon – I immediately feel at ease: there’s no pretence or celebrity bullshit here. Nevertheless, I promise a quickfire Q&A, not least of all because I like to get in and out as efficiently as possible, and without outstaying my welcome. Besides, I have to transcribe the exchange afterwards, and wading through over half an hour of audio is a real chew. And so, with the thunderous drums of By Any Means soundchecking, we quickly get down to business:

AA: You’re back on tour: how have the shows gone down so far?

GM: Really good. It’s just been really nice to get back out and play some more shows. This is the longest we’ve been out, probably the longest tour since we’ve been back together, so it’s hard – we’re not used to it any more – but…

AA: Does it get harder as you get older?

GM: I think it does, but…

AA: Everything does?

GM: Yeah… I think the alcohol numbs the pain until the next morning, and then you’re feeling it again but yeah, it’s been really, really good.

AA: You’re playing some pretty small venues this time around, but you’ve also played some big festival sets since returning to the live arena. Do you enjoy the intensity of the more intimate shows, getting up close and personal with the fans?

GM: Yeah, we’d rather play the small venues, to be honest. But sometimes it’s not really up to us. We’ve got to work with our agent, and it’s got to be about the fees and stuff.

AA: Well, you’re not going to turn down a major festival show.

GM: No, I mean, the major festivals, we’ve been blown away by what we’ve done… headlined a stage at Sonisphere, headlined a stage at Download this year… So it’s moving in the right direction of where we want the band to go. We’re getting back to where we want the band to be now, and it’s better now, because we’re in charge of the whole situation. There’s no-one telling us we have to do this, or we have to do that. We decide as a group if we want to do it or not.

AA: Your new album, Lost Ritual, was crowd-funded through PledgeMusic and smashed the target. How does that feel?

GM: Awesome. Amazing. I mean, it was just a little idea, like ‘should we do a new record?’ and it just… It took a while to get to the target, and we were a bit nervy about it, but then as soon we get to the target, and then it went ‘Boom!’ and it went crazy. I think the crowdfunding this is the best way, especially for our band, because we’ve been signed to these big major labels and sometimes it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be.

AA: There’s no question that the Internet has revolutionised the music industry? A lot of people – a lot of them major artists and industry people – complain about it, but you’d say that for some people, like yourselves, it’s a change for the best?

GM: Yeah. I think that PledgeMusic is the best way for bands to do it. It’s quite stressful, and if you’ve got a manager it’s easier, but me and Jim manage the band, so we have to deal with day-to-day stuff. And it’s great, because you actually see the product from nothing to having it in your hand, and that’s amazing.

AA: And the end product is amazing. Lost Ritual is a belter, one seriously intense record. Historically, you’ve a reputation for songs about nihilism drugs of various kinds. What was the inspiration and driving force behind the new album?

GM: The only thing we really wanted to do was go back to our roots, like the sound of what made the band successful in the first place, the first two records. Especially ‘cause Frankie’s come back into the band.

AA: What was it like being back in the studio with the original twin vocal assault reinstated? Was it a powerful feeling?

GM: Yeah. To be fair, I love Kev, and he’s still one of my best friends now, but it was never Raging Speedhorn without Frankie being in the band. And I think he needed the break, and I think we needed the break, not from him, but other things were going on at that time. It’s just the best thing we’ve done. we all got in a room and practiced, and finally thought ‘this is gonna work’. So yeah, it’s great.

Raging Speedhorn

AA: You emerged from the Nu-Metal scene, but were never actually a Nu-Metal band. How do you think the metal scene, particularly in the UK, has changed since you first started out?

GM: It’s changed a lot, definitely. I think it’s changed… I don’t know if it’s changed for the better. I think it’s a lot better for the UK bands now because they seem to be getting out there a lot more than when we first started, it was all American bands coming over here.

AA: It also seems a lot more grass roots now, with bands emerging from local scenes with bands getting up and doing things for themselves.

GM: Exactly.

AA: So the drive has changed, with things moving from the bottom up. And I think in the current climate, people are angry, and metal is a response to that in a way.

GM: Certainly, especially with what’ going on. I think it’s going to turn out some fucking bangin’ bands. There’s amazing young bands coming out, not only in the metal scene, but in the rockier scene as well. I see it a lot because I work with bands, I tour manage bands. I have my own splitter van company [vanmorisontours]. So I see it first-hand, seeing bands going from no-one really giving a shit to being quite biggish bands, and it’s great. There’s a band called Milk Teeth now, they’re more grungy, and they’re fucking great. I work with them quite a bit, and it’s just so good to see these bands just doing it on their own.

AA: What do you think it is about Raging Speedhorn that sets you apart, and has been the main factor in your enduring appeal?

GM: I think it’s just because we’re completely different. I mean, there are bands around like us, but we’re just lucky we got through the mainstream and had that for a while, I think it’s just that in this scene, there’s no one-one really sounds like us. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a band that sounds like us.

AA: And perhaps the ferocity gives you the edge?

GM: Yeah, I think it’s the attitude. I just don’t think people get what we’re all about, and I don’t think we know what we’re all about. We’re just a bunch of six guys out to have a fucking good time. But then, I read an interview the other day that said we’ve got a ‘yobbish’ attitude, and it made me laugh because I’d never thought of it in that way. Basically they said that we were like six chavs playing metal. I suppose it could be seen as yobbish ‘cause we don’t really care.

AA: Who wants middle-class metal?

GM: Exactly, and that’s just it. We’re all from complete working-class backgrounds, so we’re just who we are, and we don’t really care if anyone likes it or not. But luckily people do, so I think that must be the appeal, I think it’s ‘cause we’re just normal people. When you go to these big festivals, you see bands going backstage and they won’t go out front and don’t hang out with people, we just go straight out, we’ll go and see our mates in the camp, we don’t really care. The only thing that’s different between me and the people watching us is that I’m up there playing drums, so why the fuck shouldn’t I go and speak to people? It’s stupid, really.

AA: Your Facebook page describes the band as a ‘12 legged, beer fuelled hate machine’, which I’d take over an 8-legged groove machine any day. But what’s your beer of choice?

GM: Oh! There’s too many now. I’ve really go me and James, our guitarist, really into ales now. It’s unbelievable. I love it all, to be fair. There’s not really many beers I don’t like. I love Brewdog stuff. I live in Wales, so there’s loads of really nice ales. I like more pale ale kind of vibes. But I just love it all. We were drinking white Russians last night till five in the morning. Frank literally hasn’t stopped since we got out, so the last five days…

AA: Got to keep the momentum.

GM: Yeah, you’ve got to, ‘cause if you don’t then you crash and burn. This morning I was thinking ‘I’m going to be fucked today’, but I feel alright again now. But they’ve just been drinking. Jim, our tour manager, and Frank, came with these big stein glasses. We’d stopped at Morrisons earlier on, then they had a bottle of… something, and poured it into these steins, and then orange juice, strawberries, in the van. Fucking hell. They’ve already started smashing it. Idiots!

He laughs. I applaud the band’s commitment to living the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle on the road. It seems a good time to wrap up, not least of all because it’s sweltering and all this talk of beer is making me all the more thirsty for a pint of something fresh and hoppy.

The show was a barnstormer.

Lost Ritual Artwork

Lost Ritual is out now.

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s the hottest, or second-hottest, night of the year so far, with temperatures teetering at the top of the twenties. I managed to knock off work early to get the train over from York to Leeds in order to conduct an interview before the show, and having managed to chill with a pint in the North Bar for half an hour before the gig, I’m now back underground in the small, dark, box venue that is The Key Club, trying hard to make my £4.20 330ml bottle of Punk IPA last more than five minutes while I sweat my tits off and wait for the first of tonight’s three bands, By Any Means.

Sporting beards, vests, tattoos, and knee-length shorts, the Belfast band crash in hard. Their front man may strongly resemble Brian Blessed, but I suspect he’d be more likely to crush Flash’s oesophagus with his bare hands than proudly declare him to be alive. They crank out a set of intense, dense, throbbing metal and these no shortage of chug ‘n’ grind(core) in their meaty riff-driven tracks.

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By Any Means

Next up, Stoneghost, sporting beards, vests, tattoos, and knee-length shorts take to the stage with a holler of “Leeeeeds! How the fuck is everyone?” Everyone is fucking melting, as it happens, and the relatively restrained response is by no means an indication of a lack of appreciation. In comparison to By Any Means, Stoneghost are sonically denser, the guitar lines more technical, the drums more frenetic, the sound more brutal, and the front man more bullish. He’s got a mean look, and I certainly wouldn’t mess with him. But for all the thunder and aggression, they’ve got some monster choruses, and they earn themselves a one-man slam-dancing moshpit for their efforts.

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Stoneghost

Raging Speedhorn may be purveyors of gnarly sludge metal, but they’re certainly not uncivilised: drummer Gordon Morrison pours beer from bottles into (perspex) glasses before they play. After an inter-band playlist that featured, amongst others, Fudge Tunnel, they walk on to ‘The Heat is On’ by Glen Frey, and yes, the compact basement venue is fucking boiling. With the stage drenched in feedback, vocalists John Loughlin and Frank Regan stand, silent, at the front of the stage, simply leaning out toward the crowd, looking menacing, they hold it for a full minute. This is showmanship, and it’s the band’s commitment to the performance element of the show is integral to the live experience. That said, they’re not posers, by any means: in fact, they’re just a bunch of middle-aged guys with beards and tattoos, wearing vests / T-shirts and long shorts, but they give one hundred percent to the music, and the aggression, the brute force with which the songs are played is so genuine it’s scary. Their contrasting styles work well: Loughlin screams maniacally and looks deranged as he charges he stage, while Regan is almost nonchalant and looks like he’s relishing goading the crowd with ‘come on’ hand gestures before he spits and snarls into the mic.

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Raging Speedhorn

They pile in with ‘The Hate Song’ from second album We Will Be Dead Tomorrow, although much of the set focuses on the new album Lost Ritual, which is fair play, and no bad thing given that it’s a riff-led stonker. ‘Bring Out Your Dead’ and ‘Motorhead’ are slammed down early. Delving back to their debut for ‘Redweed’ elicits a strong reaction, and before long there’s a tornado of bodies frothing in front of the stage.

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Raging Speedhorn

One guy who’s filming the set on his mobile has his phone confiscated and starts whinging like a kid about how he wants to show his friends the show. No doubt he’ll be gutted that his footage won’t include the ball-busting climax: they close the set with a pulverising rendition of ‘Thumper’, and still have it in them to return for an encore of ‘Ten of Swords’.

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Raging Spedhorn

The full set – twelve tracks – may have lasted just under an hour, but no-one’s feeling short-changed. In the blistering heat, they’ve delivered a relentless set that shows Raging Speedhorn are as vital now as ever.

15th July 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Raging Speedhorn, with a name that was always guaranteed to see them eternally shunned by the mainstream and mass media (and a sound to match), seem to have been around forever. Emerging around the turn of the millennium in the tidal wave of nu-metal, they never really conformed to any genre stereotypes. Abrasive, aggressive and in-yer-face, the chances are they wouldn’t have been at the top of the list for one of the class of 2000 acts you’d have marked out as still being a going concern in 2016. And yet, here they are, one of those bands who won’t go away or die quietly. This is a good thing: after all, why should they? In fact, following their 2008 split and 2014 reformation, they’re as big and nasty and full of bile as ever, and after some heavy touring and some big festival appearances, including Sonosphere, Bloodstock and Damnation, they’re throwing down their first album in nine years. It’s also their first release to feature the first to feature original vocalist Frank Regan since 2005’s How the Great Have Fallen.

It’s got the backing of the fans: they funded it via PledgeMusic, and the band have justified their faith with an album that, however you look at it – or listen to it, which is what it’s designed for – absolutely slays. The density of the guitars is a defining element of the throbbing, chugging riffage which dominates the ten tracks. And the twin vocal assault is utterly ferocious.

If the cover art seems to suggest they’ve gone all mystical shit, well, you’d be half right: ‘Dogshit Blues’ and ‘Shit Outta Luck’ cover the excrement side of things, if not the mystical, and if the two lengthier workouts (‘Ten of Swords’ and ‘Unleash the Serpent’, both of which clock in well past the six-minute mark) hint at a more prog-influenced twist, it’s the kind of progressive metal in the vein of Neurosis, mingled with Sabbath-esque riffs filtered through the sludgy stylings of Melvins.

In the main, Lost Ritual is uptempo and sharply focused, with the snarling ‘Motorhead’ and pulverising ‘Dogshit Blues’ exploding with fury and ‘Comin’ Home’ a gnarly, brawling bastard of a song. It’s one hell of a comeback, and a purebred monster of an album.

 

 

Lost Ritual Artwork