Friday, 23 July 2010

LIVE: Zuprowski Connection - Bumper, Liverpool 22nd July

It is interesting to discover Cypher 16's summer tour is being headlined by up and coming hard rockers Zuprowski Connection, but it is just for this show only. The look of the Bumper venue in Liverpool tonight is set out the way any good metal gig should be; claustrophobic and allowing crowd-band communication, or so it seems. With a late start, opening act Whytewater kick off to an unfortunately bland start. With no real stage presence to speak of they fail to back up their generic metal/rock arsenal, let alone gain much crowd interest. Things soon look up as local heavily metallers Pandemik wake the crowd up in a violent death metal frenzy. It's good to see a band that not only produces heavy music leaning much more to Behemoth and Emperor as opposed to the metalcore of today, but more to the point, has a good sense of humour to go with it. Vocalist Moses runs back and forth from the stage during songs, humorously forcing people to stand closer and watch them rather than sit at the back. Why pay to see bands when you're just going to sit there? I asked myself. With song titles such as 'My Right Hand' (said to be about "Thing from The Adams Family becoming a barrister!") and 'Satan Helps Me Kill' ("Oh this one's about death it's great this one!" Moses says with such an overwhelming joy to his voice) Pandemik, it is safe to say, are crazy bastards, and that's why they are so good. Next on the bill is the thrash metal brilliance of Entropy, who border along Metallica/Slayer territory (think Metallica riffs with Tom Araya vocals and you've got the idea). Unfortunately thanks to a blown amp they have to cut several songs out of their set but they still get the crowd going. With thrash metal becoming more popular in recent times it's only fitting that Entropy are leading the local scene. London's own Cypher 16, tonights headliners, despite playing a sub-healdining spot tonight deliver a headlining performance. Garnering as many circle pits and walls of death than your average Lamb of God or Devildriver gig (one person is even body slammed by an over-excited reveller). They also deliver the first cover song of the night, a blistering run through of Metallica's 'Creeping Death'. Not your average band, with influences as wide as a black hole they cover everything from thrash to symphonic metal, check them out next time they play your local venue. Grunge may have fallen out of favour with many, but Zuprowski Connection are on a mission to keep it alive, and tonight they don't disappoint. Their alternative take on the genre is unique in it's own right, as they rock through 'The Mirror's Light' with it's speed-funk drum intro it is the perfect headbanger to start a set. Singer Mark Smith's powerful vocal range can still be heard over the noise despite limited amp use. Although there is limited interaction with the crowd they are far from sombre, tearing through sludgy number "I Am" (one of my favourite songs off their s/t album). The biggest crowd pleaser has to be their unique cover of the Divinyl's smash hit 'I Touch Myself' which get's the biggest sing along of the night. With time to spare they finish with a cover of Tool's 'Stinkfist' bringing an end to an eclectic night of heavy metal madness. 8/10

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Back From The Dead! Korn III: Remember Who You Are

'Nu-metal' is a term that may often leaves a sick taste in the stomach of many metal purists, but there's no denying that nobody does it better than Bakersfield's own pioneers KoRn, who return to form with their new album III: Remember Who You Are. The band once thought to be dead, with the departure of founding member Brian 'Head' Welch and more recently drummer David Silveira, 2007's Untitled release was considered a critical and commercial disaster (though it did receive Gold certification). With the addition of now full time member Ray Luzier; original members Jonathan Davis, James "Munky" Shaffer, Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu return to the down-tuned sound that put them on the map to begin with. For this there was only one man for the job; producer Ross Robinson (the man behind 'KoRn' and 'Life is Peachy'). All of this fits perfectly with the albums title of remembering who KoRn are!

Track by track it is like being transported back to their early days, and that can only mean one thing, 'raw aggression. First single Oildale, the name of a neighbourhood close to Davis' hometown, is arguably on a similar level to the classic Blind, with it's darkened tone and headbanging riff it is classic KoRn, something that has been missing on the last few records. In spite of the frenzied nature of musical style there is a sense of focus on this album, as each song compliments the other in terms of sound as well as lyrical style. Pop A Pill demonstrates the funkier side of KoRn while still remaining as heavy as can be. Drummer Luzier is beyond impressive, displaying a more technical style to his predecessor, complimenting the frenzies guitar and bass combination. Move On; one of the more stripped back sounding songs, moves in and out of chaotic territory, with Jonathan Davis at first sounding calm before storming through a devastating chorus that could be seen as an attack on KoRn's critics and doubters.

The more slowed down The Past, allows room for Fieldy to shine, unleashing his signature bass style and create a disturbing dual sound with Luzier's drums, as Munky's guitar sound creeps in the background. the atmospheric punch of Never Around shows a brutality only hinted at in the past, further demonstrating their determination. If at this point you're not convinced that KoRn's anger fizzled out long ago, I suggest you listen to 'Are You Ready To Live', possibly one of the more brutal sounding songs Korn has ever written, made even more disturbing with Jonathan Davis' whispered vocal style and soft melodies, that instantly change to screams and violent drum sounds. Closing track 'Holding All These Lies' launches into an almost thrash metal tirade before straining itself for a heart whelming finale not to be forgotten.

With a new record label in Roadrunner and a newfound hunger, KoRn may just as well have delivered their best album since 'Issues'. Also stripping away the mask they chose to wear through their last few experimental records has given Korn a new lease of life, in remembering who they are.

Top Tracks: Oildale (Leave Me Alone), Pop a Pill, the Past, Are You Ready To Live?, Holding All These Lies