Author Archives: Tim Hall

Emerald Mind – Astronaut In Her Space

As the press release says:

Emerald Mind plays a unique mixture of power and progressive metal with one of the most professional female vocalists on the Russian metal scene Svetlana Vysotskaya.

The band released a new video for the song “Astronaut In Her Space” from their second album “Civilization”. This song draws parallels between the depths of the universe and a human mind. One person explores the other one like a spaceship, drifting among the space. Anyway even if you are far from philosophy you can just enjoy powerful riffs, catchy melodies and exceptional vocal of beautiful Svetlana!

Give it a listen, and see what you think. Catsuits seem to be back in fashion again. I blame Space Elevator.

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Erja Lyytinen announces new album “Stolen Hearts”

Erja Lyytinen Stolen Hearts

Guitarist and singer-songwriter Erja Lyytinen releases her new studio album “Stolen Hearts” on 7th April 2017, and occompanies the release with a five-date UK tour.

In the meantime, she’s released a music video for “24 Angels”, taken from the album,

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Cairo announce London gig with special guests Kyrbgrinder

Cairo Promo Photo 2017

Cairo will be playing Boston Music Rooms on 31st March with the prog-metal power trio Kyrbgrinder as support, billed as “Scarab Spring”. The band also confirm that Lisa Driscoll, who stepped in at very short notice for the November launch shows is now a permanent member of the band.

We are pleased to be playing this London show in advance of the Nineteen-73 Promotions Stephen Lambe Birthday Special at Bilston on 2nd April.

We are even more pleased that the mighty Kyrbgrinder, who are enjoying something of a renaissance, will be launching proceedings with their powerful sound and massive drumming from one of the best in the business – the inimitable Johanne James, also, of course, of Threshold fame. With Lisa Driscoll now a permanent fixture in Cairo – this will very much be a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ show, although whether that reflects band playing order will be for others to decide…!”.

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Angela Nagle on the self-flagellating left

Good post from Angela Nagle on the self-flagellating left. As well as mentioning some very obvious usual suspects such as Laurie Penny and the reliably ridiculous Arthur Chu, she quotes this much-ridiculed Tweet from Michael Moore

“No women ever invented an atomic bomb, built a smoke stack, initiated a Holocaust, melted the polar ice caps or organized a school shooting.’ (This is false. The Manhattan Project had its unsung female heroes, there are plenty of female oil and gas executives, and female school shooter Brenda Ann Spencer inspired the 1979 Boomtown Rats hit “I Don’t Like Mondays.” Ironically, Moore erases women’s history by neglecting its greatest villains.)

Though in fairness Michael Moore has said many far more sensible things since that.

Nagle makes comparisons with 70s Marxist and Maoist cults with their “self-correction sessions”, but this sort of lefitst reminds me strongly of something else: 1980s Evangelical Christians. There was the same sort of competitive holiness involved; you gained status depending on how much of your record collection you publically destroyed because it was “Satanic”. You gained even more points if you purified your friend’s record collection without their permission.

It’s a completely different ideology. But it’s a very similar mindset.

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Saga call it a day

Sad news for fans of Canadian pomp-rockers Saga; the band have decided to call it a day after 40 years. Their current 2017 tour will be their last, and their appearance on 2018′s “Cruise to the Edge” will be their final show. They put this announcement (sorry, no accessible version) on their web page.

Saga Farewell

I’ve only seen Saga live the once, at an early 80s Reading Festival very early in their career, and their swirling keyboard-heavy science-fiction music made a pretty strong impression. It’s always sad when a band reaches the end of the road, but 40 years is a good innings by anyone’s standards. And it can’t have been an easy decision to make.

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Firewind – Immortals

Firewind - ImmortalsPower-metal can be a funny old sub-genre. With so many of the common tropes teetering on the edge of self-parody, some bands can easily end up on the wrong side of portentousness; Sonata Arctica, I’m looking at you. Others, most notably Scotland’s excellent Gloryhammer, avoid that fate by taking a deliberately tongue-in-cheek approach.

With their eighth album “Immortals”, their first for five years and first to feature mew frontman Henning Basse, Greece’s Firewind are neither of those things; their approach is simply to be extremely good at everything they do. Featuring song titles like “Ode To Leonidas”, Firewind sing about ancient Greece in the same way their Scandinavian comrades-in-arms sing about Vikings. They fight the beast for Zeus rather than for Odin.

All the expected features of power-metal are here; there are razor-sharp riffs, big singalong choruses, spectacular shredding solos based on classical scales, gallopingly fast tempos and the occasional epic cinematic intro complete with occasional scenery-chewing spoken word parts. All of which would mean little if the band didn’t have the songwriting chops to back them up, but Firewind have that in spades.

There is absolutely no filler on this record; There are face-melters like “We Defy” with its incredible spiralling guitar line, “Back on the Throne”, and the pyrotechnic instrumental title track. “Ode to Leonidas” and “Live And Die By The Sword” with its extended classical guitar intro aspire towards the epic. And “Lady of a Thousand Sorrows” is the obligatory power-ballad.

Henning Basse acquits himself well on lead vocals, with a classic old-school hard rock voice, but this album really belongs to mainman Gus G, his incendiary guitar playing lighting up every track. While there is a degree of showboating in his gravity-defying runs, this being a power-metal album after all, the pyrotechnics are never allowed to overwhelm the songs.

If you’re into power-metal, this album is strongly recommended.

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The Silk Railway

Silk Road LocoSome textbook transport-illiterate sub-editing from The Guardian here on the return of the silk road.

No, that Chinese hood-style diesel locomotive will certainly not be rolling into Barking. As the text says further on, the train will be hauled by several different locomotives over the course of its seven and a half thousand mile journey. The final leg is almost certainly either going to be hauled by a British class 92 or 66.

When the East Wind train rumbles into east London this week, it will be full of socks, bags and wallets for London’s tourist souvenir shops, as well as the dust and grime accumulated through eight countries and 7,456 miles.

The train – made up of 34 wagons – will be the first to make the 16-day journey from Yiwu in east China to Britain, reviving the ancient trading Silk Road route and shunting in a new era of UK-China relations.

Due to arrive on Wednesday, the train will have passed through China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before crossing under the Channel and arriving in the east end of London at Barking rail freight terminal.

There is something depressing about the first train along a historic and legendary route to be laden with cheap tat for the tourist market.

Update: It enters the Channel Tunnel behind a pair of DB Cargo UK class 92s.

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Kim Seviour added to Trinity Live

Trinity Live featuring Kim Seviour

Former Touchstone lead singer Kim “Elkie” Seviour” returns to the live stage after a long absence, sharing a bill with her old band at Trinity Live on 27th May at The Assembly in Leamington Spa.

After a while of radio silence, I’m ecstatic to announce that I’ll be showcasing all-new material at Trinity festival in Leamington on May 27th. As with the previous Trinity, we’ll be raising money for Cancer Research and Macmillan Cancer Relief, and I’ll be sharing a lineup with the Touchstone clan. I can’t wait to see you there!

It’s been a while, but we’re glad to have Kim back.

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Summer’s End announce 2017 Lineup

Summers EndWith the Friday night headliner still to be confirmed, Frost* will headline on Saturday night, with The Tangent and Karmakanic co-headlining on Sunday.

The bill also includes Franck Carducci, Maschine, Southern Empire, Elephants of Scotland, Midnight Sun, Half Past Four, Karobow and Weenbo. If you haven’t heard of half of those, neither have I, but that’s the whole point of Summer’s End. It’s not one of those festivals with a predictable lineup heavy with heritage acts; it’s all about new discoveries, and brings in bands from Australia and the US who seldom perform in the UK

The festival will be held on October 6th to 8th 2017 at The Drill Hall, Lower Church St, Chepstow.

More details on the bands at the The Summer’s End Progressive Rock Festival website.

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Fish announces December 2017 tour

Fish has announced an eleven-date UK tour in December 2017 including two nights at London’s Islington Assembly. The dates are as follows:

  • Fri 8 Leeds University
  • Sat 9 Manchester o2 Ritz
  • Sun 10 Leamington Assembly
  • Tue 12 Cardiff Tramshed
  • Wed 13 Bristol o2 Academy
  • Fri 15 London Islington Assembly
  • Sat 16 London Islington Assembly
  • Tues 19 Cambridge Corn Exchange
  • Wed 20 Newcastle Wylam Brewery
  • Thurs 21 Glasgow o2 ABC

Billed the “Weltschmerz- Clutching at Straws tour”, the shows will feature a full performance of Marillion’s 1987 album “Clutching at Straws” alongside material from his forthcoming album “Weltschmerz”.

These will be his only 2017 live appearances, though a European tour is planned for 2018.

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